Saturday, 24 December 2011

WTRTW Awards 2011 aka 'the Palindromes'

Welcome to the first annual WTRTW Toy Awards, which I have nicknamed the Palindromes. The categories have been determined upon by the carefully considered method of 'whatever I thought up late on the Saturday night I decided to invent the awards'. There's a good chance that as soon as I post this I'll think up more worthy winners, but hey, this is mostly just for fun.

Look, I even cobbled together a proper little trophy for anyone wishing to collect their prize -

(Yes, it does look as though someone cobbled it together in 5 minutes, but... Well, I guess I don't have any excuse - it was cobbled together in 5 minutes.)

Without further delay, it's on to the winners...

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Review of the Year 2011

First off, I can't remember exactly what toys were released this year. As much as I like playing with the things, I don't keep a catalogue of when everything was released. Therefore, a lot of what's in this post (and likely the awards one coming later in the week) will be guesswork. 99% was almost definitely released this year rather than last. The bigger problem is me forgetting some really, really great toys that were released this year but I thought were last.

But, hey, I never said I was perfect.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Toyology 2011: A Look Back

6 boxes. 6 months. 42 toys. 42 reviews, ranging from the barely-sane to the outright crazy.

For a number of years I ran the weekly quiz at the University of Birmingham Guild of Students. Our quizzes were never exactly what you'd call 'normal'. They were more about trying to get people to have fun than testing people's knowledge. You only have to look at the Loser's Round & it's tenuous links, the Design A Care Bear/My Little Pony/Guild President rounds, or the end of term specials where, despite protesting otherwise, bribes were commonplace and people ended up on scores in the millions...both positive and negative.

With the End Of Terms especially, you either got into the spirit of them, or you left in protest after Round 1.

The same goes with my toyology reviews over the past 6 months. It's been rare that I've done a 'normal' review. Whenever possible, I've done slightly off the wall reviews, which I hope readers have found interesting and drawn more attention to the products for toy vendors that might have been achieved with a 'normal' review (I could be wrong, of course - I may had inadvertently turned people away from all the toys & upset all toy manufacturers across the country). From the start I've aimed to make the reviews interesting even if you had no interest in the product. I have no idea whether I've achieved this, but if nothing else they've kept me entertained.

Toyologist Review: B.I.G. Power Hand

BIG Hand Kombat

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Review: Doctor Who Junk TARDIS

On Doctor Who there's a different location every week. And not just a different city, but a different planet.  Very often this planet will never be visited again, at least not in the same time frame, by which point it will look very different indeed.

Which makes playsets quite a hard thing to make a toy of. There haven't really been any locations that would make decent toys. The only constant location, of a sort, is the TARDIS, which acts as home and companion to the Doctor.

Actually, referring to the TARDIS as both home and companion is quite apt for this review of the Junk TARDIS. In the episode from which it appears ('The Doctor's Wife'), the TARDIS (regular) is turned, through a complex series of events (or not - it took about 2 min in the episode) into a woman called Idris. It's like The Last Unicorn...but not.

The toy is a bit...well, weird. I can't see it being very desirable amongst children for two reasons: a) it was in 1 episode for all over 5 minutes and they've probably forgotten all about it by now, and b) it doesn't really do a lot. 

I can only really see that this toy exists because it was designed as a result of a Blue Peter competition and therefore Character hoped that it'd get a lot of promotion on the show. And they were stuck for ideas for playsets.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Toyologist Review: Fast Wheels RC

Fast Wheels RC: The Musical

It seemed like such a good idea when I thought there was no chance of ever getting the music...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Review: Kreons

Everyone likes to copy everyone else in the toy manufacturing game. The current 'craze' is not-Lego, i.e. bricks which look remarkably like Lego but which are made by someone else. In the case of Kre-O, the Transformers not-Lego, the 'someone else' is unsurprisingly Hasbro.

But this review isn't about Kre-O. Or rather it is, but just about the little minifigures that come with they set. Hasbro has named these critters 'Kreons'.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Toyologist Review: GX Buggy

£34.99 from Toys R Us.

BBC2 at 6pm used to be home to all the good stuff. Yes, it was annoying if you worked and got home too late, but I was at high school (or university) so this wasn't a problem (except for lab days). Star Trek, Buffy, The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, Quantum Leap, Sliders, the Fresh Prince (actually, I hated the Fresh Prince and its endless repeats), ...

Everyone would rush home and ensure evening meals were cooked & ready for a sit down at 6pm, where you would remain (on a good night) for 90 minutes watching quality television.

I don't know where it all started to go wrong. Maybe it was when BBC2 stuck Voyager on Sunday instead of a weekday slot. Or possibly when Channel 4 got Angel and the term 'Channel 4 edit' was coined. Angel would walk into a room full of bad guys. Instantly - as though someone had hacked at the film reel with a machete - Angel would leave the room, bad guys all on the floor.

Some shows just weren't meant for 6pm.

Of course then the BBC lost the Simpsons and it was all downhill from there. No more Buffy, no more Trek. Even Robot Wars disappeared, off to Channel 5.

Remember when Jeremy Clarkson hosted it? Yeah, that series was terrible. All the good robots, the highly weaponised fighting machines, were knocked out by the maneuverability challenges early on, so when it got to the Big Fight at the end all that were left were... Well, not good ones.

Then Craig Charles took over. We had Philipa Forrester in a corset, the early rounds were thrown out in favour of pure battles, and robots like Razer and Hypno-Disc came to the fore.

In the event of a tie, the battles were judged on damage, control, style and aggression. Control was very important when facing some of the big guns. Once they had hold of you, you were in serious trouble. The amount of people who, at the start of the battle, drove straight forward into the waiting pincer of Razer... Idiots.

Speaking of control...

The latest item out of the Toyology box is the GX Buggy from Tomy. First thing you have to do after extracting the car from its packaging is sit and wait for 20 minutes while it charges (from which you get 10 minutes driving time) from the box it comes with, which drove my sons insane. You know how annoying it is when you buy a new mobile phone and have to sit and watch it charge for hours before you can use it? Imagine that, but with the patience (or lack of) of two young brothers. I don't think it would have added much to the weight of the car to simply stick a battery into the car to allow for instant play.

Friday, 2 December 2011

News: £500 trolley dash at Toys R Us

Competition closes at 5pm today

Anyone wanting to take part, time is running out fast! Film you/your kids/the cat singing/dancing/acting along to the Toys R Us theme for 2011, upload to YouTube and fill out the form here.