Monday, 30 January 2012

Review: Gremlins Mogwai George

I read an article online over Christmas listing 'unusual' Christmas films. Obviously Gremlins was on it, otherwise I wouldn't have brought it up, but the odd thing was that the article said that the film wasn't any good. I think the writer is the first person I've ever come across who hasn't loved it!

(Apart from my then-ten year old brother-in-law who made me turn it off part-way through due to FEAR)

I can almost understand a dislike of the sequel, though personally I love that just as much as the original. Wisely, director Dante decided to go full-out comedy on that one and it's hugely enjoyable if only for the weird and wacky variety of mutated gremlins. A TV studio and a genetic research lab in the same building? What was that all about?

I think everyone can agree, however, that the one thing that was a definite improvement in the sequel were the gremlins themselves, specifically that they all had personalities. In the original the only gremlin to have such a thing was Stripe, whereas in the sequel there was George, Lenny, Daffy, Brain...

I was out on a rare shopping trip without the children the other day. This meant that I was actually able to look in the shops for longer than 2 minutes, with no one shouting 'I WANT TO GO HOME!' the entire time. Bliss. The weird thing was that despite spending as much time as I liked looking round, I was only out for as long a time as I am when I'm with the kids. I put this down to my ability to use stairs instead of having to fight for space in a lift, or going the long way round with the pushchair.

I have no idea how disabled people cope in city centres. At least if things get really bad I can cheat & carry the pushchair up & down stairs. You're a bit stuffed if you're in a wheelchair.

Anyway, on a whim I picked up mogwai George from Forbidden Planet while I was out. I'm always a little wary of NECA toys for two reasons. 1) Often their products are more akin to statues and have little in the way of meaningful articulation, and 2) They seem to break on me all the time.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Review: ThunderCats Lizard Cannon

I've not spoken too highly of the new ThunderCats toys from Bandai. Certainly they've had potential, but there have been major flaws in most of them which have left me wary. ThunderLynx, especially, has seemed like a completely useless gimmick.

The main reason for buying the Lizard Cannon was to give the ThunderCats something to fight against. Mumm-Ra is fine, but the Cats currently have a great big tank so something with a little fire power to even things up was needed.

Turns out, the Lizard Cannon is possibly the best toy in the line thus far.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

News: Whatever you do, keep the packaging!

I was supposed to have been at the UK Toy Fair this week. I've had the badge stuck on the kitchen noticeboard since December. I've spent the last few weeks marking the little map with all the places I wanted to ensure I visited while I was there.

Well in the end I couldn't go. Logistics prevented it, which... well, never mind. Always next year!

There's been a whole bunch of news coming out of the show about new toys destined for toy shops this year. I haven't posted any of it here since I didn't learn any of it first hand. However, I thought the following was kind of cool and worth a mention, especially since I've done a load of ThunderCats reviews recently...


-  Kids able to play with toys without opening the box -

From today children can play with toys before even opening the box as new technology will allow them to see fully formed 3D models from the box packaging, allowing them to examine every part of the toy before purchase.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Review: ThunderCats ThunderRacers

A while ago I reviewed the new ThunderCats Thundertank. To save the lazy amongst you 5 minutes of reading, I'll tell you now that it didn't fare particularly well. Nevertheless, I decided - after a little pressure from small children seeing the picture on the Thundertank box - to buy the racers which attach to it. You never knew, maybe this would improve it.

There are two racers available - one that comes with Lion-O and one with Tygra. Both are essentially identical, bar the differing figure that comes with it and a small weapon that plugs into the side.  The Racers look fine. They're not super-attractive, but getting them out of their boxes I was perfectly happy with what I'd bought.

I don't want to say it went downhill from there, but things certainly didn't go uphill...

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Review: Kevin's DX Action Cruiser

I bought this in Asda a while ago for my son's 5th birthday. Being an 'Alien Force' toy and therefore a couple of years(ish) old, it was half price at £15. And for £15 it's pretty good, despite the big disappointment which I'll come to in a minute.

But first a description.

This is Kevin's car, which anyone who's sat through any of the Ben 10 Alien Force episodes will know, features quite a lot. Things can never be straight forward, so as well as being a car this transforms into 'battle mode' with wings and large guns.

Plus 'DNA alien ball-shooting' action.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Review: Space Precinct

In the 60s everything Gerry Anderson touched was gold. Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet - all time classic television. Afterwards, however, things went downhill a little. Space 1999 was...well, there are people who love it, but generally it's held in no where near as high a regard as the puppet series were. Terrahawks passed most people by unnoticed.

Then in the mid-90s, Anderson had another go at a live-action sci-fi series. Space Precinct confused a lot of people as to whom, exactly, it was supposed to be aimed at. Most of the episodes ranged from 'okay' to 'a bit crappy', although the two-part series finale was excellent. But of course by then it was too late.

Do you remember How Do They Do That? A show on the BBC broadcast around the same time as Space Precinct which featured...well, it's kind of obvious really. It answered lots of viewers questions about how certain things were done. There were quite a lot of explanations for the effects done in adverts, from what I recall. At the time the answers tended to feature a lot of camera trickery and clever set-building. These days I suppose it could all be summed up as 'CGI'.

Anyway, one week they featured an item on how a small British company had managed to get hold of an international toy licence for a top science fiction show. It was a very good question, I mean just look at the figures they made...

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Review: Power Rangers Serpentera

There's a big problem with Power Rangers toys, specifically the megazords. Be it Mighty Morphin or Samurai it's always the good guys whom you can buy a giant robot for. But the whole point of the zords is to fight bad guys and there are never any large-scale bad guys released, so the question is who are the zords supposed to fight?

We usually settle for dinosaurs. There are a couple of T-Rexs in our house which are around the same size as the zords so they have to suffice. But it'd be nice, just for once, to have a proper large villain for the Power Rangers to fight.


This turns out to be the amount of times a large villain has actually been released by Bandai. The toy was Lord Zedd's Serpentera and my eldest just received him for Christmas.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Review: Kre-O Optimus Prime (the big one!)

Over Christmas, while my son was busy making his little Prime set, I was working on this guy:

He's be far the biggest (aka most expensive) Kre-O set produced. But does that mean he's the best?

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Review: Kre-O Optimus Prime (the little one)

£8.99 from Toys R Us

There is a tradition in my house at Christmas. Well, there was a tradition in my house. It's not something that's actually been carried out for quite a while, ever since my parents refused to stop purchasing it for me, but this year it's back.

Yes, Christmas afternoon both me and my 5 year old were sat round the dining table putting together our lego. Well, Kre-O, aka 'Transformers Lego'.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Review: ThunderCats Thundertank

ThunderCats is back! You wonder what took it so long really - all the other classic 80s hits had comebacks ages ago. Think about it: He-Man had the 200x line, Ninja Turtles around the same time too, Transformers has been reincarnated thousands of times. But we got there in the end, and with it a new version of one of the best vehicles of the 80s: the Thundertank.

Looks pretty good, eh? Reminiscent of the old version, but more beefed up. On the face of it, Bandai have a hit here.  On the face of it.