Thursday, 30 June 2011

Toyologist Review: Picnic Table/Sandpit

RRP £169.99, currently £129.99 at Toys R Us.

Some people accuse me of being overly negative. I disagree. I thought Rise of Cobra was AWESOME! I sat through all the Friday the 13th films and thought that underneath all the terribleness there were some vaguely good ideas in most of them. I watched Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and thought it was merely average instead of the complete disaster others declared. I watched Dark of the Moon and thought... No, I can't deny it: that was terrible.

Which only goes to prove that there are some things where even happy little me becomes a little bit sad.

Picnic benches are supposed to be fun. They bring up images of Yogi stealing pic-a-nic baskets (although I guess having your lunch stolen isn't so much fun). Teddy bear's picnics out in the sunshine. Peaceful summer days...

I don't want to say this picnic bench from TP is evil. I don't want to say it's the Megatron of picnic benches, the Mumm-Ra of picnic benches, the Grotbags of picnic benches, the Darth Vader of picnic benches.


Actually, Vader might not be too bad a comparison...

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Toyologist Review: Sticker Collection (Blue)

£4.99 from Toys R Us.

Every kid loves stickers.  "Oooo, stickers," they'll say.  "Mummy(/Daddy/Gran/Uncle etc etc), can I have some of those?" Being a kind mother(/father/gran/uncle - you get the idea) and stickers not generally costing that much (at least not compared to the giant action figure they were eyeing up five minutes ago), you agree.

Now, what on earth does the child do with them?

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Review: Transformers Twin Twist & Topspin

~£5 each from ebay and specialist shops

Twin Twist, left, and Topspin, right.
Topspin & Twin Twist are the Jedward of the Transformers world. You either love them or hate them. Their incredibly simple transformation results in some siding against them, but to them there was always something special about them. The pull-back action? Maybe. In truth, I really can't put my finger on it.

Of course these days the pair have been written as part of the Wreckers (I think I'm safe in saying this is a fairly recent development in the comics). No one (well, at least not any Transformers fans) could ever deny that the Wreckers are anything other then Cool.

I'd go so far as to say the Wreckers are the coolest faction of Transformers. Maybe even hitting a temperature so low as to challenge the mighty Dinobots themselves. 

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Toyology Review - Jumbo Colouring Pad (Blue)

A few years ago on the He-Man forum I frequent stumbled upon by complete accident, someone decided to put together a colouring book of (you've guessed it) He-Man pictures! Everyone was invited to draw something that could later be stuck together in one big pdf file for everyone to download and hand to their kids to scribble all over.

The problem was that a lot of people didn't seem to understand what was required of a picture for a colouring book. Many just sent in black and white versions of some of the art they had been working on, not pictures they'd drawn especially for children to colour. It was highly detailed and would have been impossible for an adult to colour within the lines, never mind a child to manage.

Imagine asking a 4 year old to build a 1:1 scale model of the Eiffel Tower out of Meccano - it was that level of difficulty.

Thankfully, there's no such problem with this pad from Melissa & Doug.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Toyologist Review: Triangular Crayon Set

£4.99. Online/instore availability at Toys R Us is currently 'in negotiations'.

Crayons... A stick of coloured wax, charcoal, chalk or materials used for writing, colouring, drawing and other methods of illustration. These crayons from Melissa & Doug are almost definitely not made of charcoal and very likely made of something more along the lines of wax.

Reviewing these are Mr Bump (aged 4, above left) and Ace McCloud (aged 2, above right). For those new to the crayoning world, I asked Mr Bump to explain how they worked.
"You draw with them and the colour comes off on the paper."
So now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Doctor Who - Time Warrior Set

£34.99 from Forbidden Planet & .com

It's a strange world. Character own the rights to make Doctor Who figures, but 'classic' series toys don't sell too well in British toy shops. They do, however, sell quite well in America, where the 'collector' (/old men) market is much, much larger. As a result, American company Underground Toys gets Character to produce toys for them, which are then released here in the UK through the specialist comic shop(s) Forbidden Planet.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Review: Meccano

Available from all good toy shops...and probably some bad ones too.

The only time I've ever really played with Meccano was at school when I was around 10 or 11. One afternoon each week we'd split into groups to do various activities - baking, board games, Lego, or (drum roll) Meccano!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

What I want from SDCC

SDCC - The San Diego Comic-Con - is held at the end of July each year. As well as all lots of comic companies plugging their upcoming issues, or film makers doing the same with their releases, or indeed TV shows doing exactly the same thing, their are a number of toy companies present. Guess what they're up to? Yep, plugging their upcoming toys.

As well as announcing new toys, companies often have for sale toys exclusive to the conventions. In the past these were simple repaints of easily available toys - for example a figure might have a slightly different jacket, or whatever. More recently - and much to the annoyance of people who can't attend - the toys have been completely different to anything available in the shops.

Some companies have taken note of all the annoyed fans so have begun offering the toys for sale on their websites after the convention, such as on Matty Collector.

There's a pretty good list on AwesomeToyBlog, which is updated as new exclusives are announced. I'd like to say I read AwesomeToyBlog, but in all honesty I only check this one page. Naughty me.

Anyway, here are the things I want (note want, not will buy) that have been announced so far...

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Review: Doctor Who Character Building

£1.99 per figure (blind packaging)

There is a craze these days amongst toy manufacturers to produce, what are essentially, copies of other toy lines. I suppose it lessens the risk of failure if you're just putting a spin on an existing idea than creating something entirely new.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Review: Transformers Leader Starscream

RRP £40, currently £25 from The Entertainer

Let me put my prejudices on the table before we begin. I loathe Bayformers - the name given to the Transformers from the Michael Bay films. Bayformers take everything I love about Transformers and stomp all over it. I think the films are stupid and nonsensical.  I think the robot designs are messy and ugly. The toys are overly complicated to transform.


Saturday, 4 June 2011

Review: Robot Animal Changers

£5 each from Toy Sale in Torquay. Probably other little independent toy shops too.

Despite what these may look like, these are definitely not Beast Wars toys. Definitely. I know I bought very, very similar looking things from Toys R Us a good few years ago with a big 'BEAST WARS' logo at the top, but these are COMPLETELY different. I know it has something which looks like a picture from the TV show at the top of the packaging, but these are...

Yeah, okay - they're Beast Wars knock-offs. Cheap reproductions of a line of Transformers Hasbro made in the late 90s.

But 'knock-off' doesn't necessarily mean 'bad'...does it?

Thursday, 2 June 2011