Monday, 30 April 2012

News: Mattel SDCC Exclusive Reveals Extra

Likely due to the reaction on the Internet of Doom, Toy Guru (I know he has a real name, but I prefer this one) has posted a video showing Vykron, the SDCC He-Man figure, works with all his bits and bobs.

Opinion/News: Mattel SDCC Exclusive Reveals part 2

So, the other day I talked about the He-Man exclusive for San Diego Comic Con and today I'll have a little chat about what I think of (some of) the others.

First up is the Ghostbusters figure, Dana Barrett as Zuul. When the Ghostbusters subscription was cancelled for 2012, Mattel said that four figures would be released this year - 'Ready to Believe You' Venkman, The Rookie (which was previously supposed to have been the subscription exclusive), Dana and a fourth unnamed figure. With Dana now moved to SDCC this leaves Ghostbusters fans in a quandary: is this the last figure Mattel are releasing? After all, no one has seen or knows anything about the promised fourth 2012 figure. Maybe they're dropping it altogether. Maybe moving Dana to SDCC means that there are still 2 'regular' release slots available, possibly to allow for the release of the two remaining courtroom figures?

At this point no one knows, and we probably won't know until SDCC when Mattel show - or don't - any new figures.

As to Dana herself, I find her a little disappointing. She has a neat feature where the top half of her body detaches, meaning she can either be placed on standing legs or sitting on sitting on a bench. The fact that she's an all-new sculpt is possibly why she was moved to SDCC, in a hope of maximising sales. She suffers, however, in that she's basically a statue. If the photos are accurate, there are no points of articulation at all on the figure which is a bit rubbish really.

DC fans don't do very well at all this year. The toys are a DCU Tiny Titans set, Polly Pocket DC Villains & a statue of Death (from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series). As a Sandman fan (and who isn't?) I find Death the most interesting, however, she's a statue. If this had been an action figure it'd have been an instant buy, but as it is I'll be saving my money.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Opinion/News: Mattel SDCC Exclusive Reveals part 1

Yesterday Mattel released information on the toys that they'll be selling at the San Diego Comic Con this summer (and on shortly afterwards). Reaction has been... well, it's been mixed, to put it nicely, particularly in regard to the Masters of the Universe figure.

This year is the 30th anniversary of He-Man and his pals. Although not as big as he once was, he's still one of the most well known of Mattel's characters and to celebrate there have been a number of 'events' this year. The main one has been the 30th Anniversary figure line. This has been... Okay, I personally think this line was a bad idea. Apart from Photog (who should be there), the rest of the characters are 'all new'. Mattel's idea seemed to be that instead of celebrating the He-Man brand, they'd promote their staff instead and got them (and Geoff Johns since he's Big in the comic world and they're hoping he'll advertise for them) to design some new figures.


Anyway, the next part of the celebrations is the SDCC figure. It's this guy, Vykron -

The original idea for He-Man was that he could be anybody - with a change of clothes he could be a barbarian, or a spaceman, or a military man, or... Very Barbie-like, in this regard, I suppose. Ultimately this was abandoned in favour of the He-Man design everyone knows and loves. The SDCC figure comes with the three outfits above, so you can change him to be whichever you like. 

Reaction to the figure has not been great, to say the least. Toy Guru, the brand manager for MOTUC has responded - 
I usually don't ever want to comment on any one fan's choice in characters they like or don't like (Star Sisters vs. Fisto if you go by the boards). But man, I gotta say, I am SHOCKED at the reaction this time. It is the 30th anniversary 
 man! We wanted to do something that went really to the root of the line and offered a figure that just didn't fit into a monthly slot usually due to parts and pack out.  
Everyone around here from the Horsemen to Bill, Terry, Ruben and even management were all totally on board for this one. Yeah, they look goofy as hell, but they should! This is not a monthly sub figure. It is the SDCC exclusive. And viewed as that slot, I really stand behind the choice of Vykron. Slam dunk in my book.
Not often I say this, but I totally agree with him. Personally, I think this is one of the best ways to celebrate the anniversary - much more so than what's making up the anniversary line of figures. The only design I'm a bit iffy on is the Boba Fett-inspired spaceman who could do with a little more detailing on his outfit, but other than that they're great! Sure, a bit goofy looking, but then so are a lot of He-Man characters. A guy with an elephant head - how goofy is that?

My favourite, going by the pictures, is the military guy. Although having a gun firing that close to your head surely can't be sensible. The barbarian looks okay, although not super exciting since he's not too dissimilar to the final He-Man figure that was produced. I do like his silly hat. That's possibly my favourite accessory of the lot.

So the question is now, do I buy one or three?

Tomorrow I'll continue giving my opinion on the reveals by Mattel - including Ghostbusters' Dana & DC Comics' Death.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Review: Panini ThunderCats comic

I know I've mentioned this before (probably several times) but the best ever licensed comic based on a toy property was the 80s Marvel UK Transformers comic.

[Insert several paragraphs of me gushing all over it here].

However, it was very rare that I bought Transformers. I did buy the 'specials' which came out every summer/winter/most seasons which collected together a few of the regular issues into one fat holiday volume, but each week I was buying something else.

Which comic, you ask? Which comic could you possible have held in higher regard than the mighty Transformers? Well, it was ThunderCats.

I will be the first to admit that - other than the awesome story where the ThunderCats had to rebuild a map of Third Earth (so awesome that it was reprinted as a secondary strip some time later - which was slightly annoying since I'd already bought that story once) - the tales printed in ThunderCats weren't as good as those in Transformers, but I enjoyed it and looked forward to the paper boy delivering it to my door along with my parents newspaper (those times the newsagent remembered to send it out).

There were bits I didn't like at all - the prose stories I'll put my hand up and say I never, ever read - but on the whole it was good, simple, enjoyable fun. I still have all my issues at home (well, I say 'home', but I guess it would be more accurate to call it 'my parents' house' these days), even a slightly battered copy of issue 1.

Fast forward a few(/quite a lot of) years and Panini have just started producing a ThunderCats comic, based on the new reincarnation of ThunderCats. And I've bought it.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Review: Warbot Defender

Before I get into the review, I must point out that this is definitely not Springer, leader of the Wreckers and star of Transformers: The Movie. He definitely isn't an updated version of the triple-changer robot released by Hasbro back in the 80s.

Definitely not.

I mean, yes, he does share the same colour scheme and, okay, so he does change into 3 different modes which are a little similar-looking. But, look, he's called 'Warbot Defender' which is completely different to 'Springer' and he is completely bare of any Autobot logos.

...Unless you use the Reprolabels sticker sheet.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Review: Transformers Bludgeon

Simon Furman has a lot to answer for. I guess most of the General Public have never heard of him, or his crimes, but everyone in Transformer fandom certainly has. You see Simon Furman wrote a great deal of the Transformers comics in the 80s (and plenty more since). He was pretty good at it too. Actually that's a lie - some of the best comics I've ever read were written by Simon Furman, writing a comic that none of the Powers That Be really cared about as long as it was out there advertising toys.

Hasbro didn't really care much about what Furman wrote, beyond an insistence that any new toys they were making featured in the story. Most licensed comics of the time were not very good and the writers generally didn't seem to care much either. But not Furman. He created sweeping epics, with detailed characterisation. He made you care about this bunch of robots and their adventures.

Which is all well and good, but. Which brings me onto his toy-related crimes...

The characters Furman liked to write about best weren't always the most commonly available ones to buy in the shops. Grimlock, sure. But Nightbeat? Thunderwing?

These figures were, to be completely fair, not particularly good toys. But thanks to Furman writing amazing stories about them they now command stupid prices on the secondary market.

Possibly top of Furman's favourites was Bludgeon. Thanks to Furman's stories Bludgeon soon became my favourite Transformer. Of course I didn't have him back in the 80s, which meant I faced the dreaded ebay to get hold of him.

Thankfully I did this about five years ago and not today. At that time I saw him on sale for £40, went 'ooo, that's a bit pricey but...hmm...alright I'll do it!'

Today you can slap another £100 onto that price. Eep.

And it's all down to Furman as he made Bludgeon a favourite with almost everyone else who read the 80s comic too.

Bludgeon is a Pretender, which means that he's a little transforming robot inside a large plastic shell. The shell, in the case of Bludgeon, is a sort of samurai skeleton. He comes with a little hat. I mention the little hat to soften the blow that toy-Bludgeon looks no where near as cool as comic-Bludgeon.

Inside the shell is a little green and maroon robot. He's a bit basic, to say the least. His transformation is incredibly simple, even by 80s standards (swing his legs round and push his head down). The tank is...well, you can tell it's a tank but it's not great.

But it is Bludgeon. And Bludgeon is awesome. So stunningly awesome is the character that any deficiencies in the toy really don't matter. I love him to bits.

Sadly, so does my 5yo. It's at times like this that I think hard about going back on my rule that 'toys are meant to be played with'. For while Bludgeon is pretty sturdy, there are a few little pieces that can get lost and, well, it's a pretty darn expensive toy now. If Bludgeon breaks, I won't be getting another one.

I have impressed on my 5yo from an early age the importance of Expensive and so, generally, he takes care of such things. He does take care when playing with Bludgeon and so while Bludgeon doesn't live in the regular toy box, my 5yo is allowed to play with him whenever he likes.

I just have panic attacks when his non-trained friends come over...

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Review: MOTUC Kobra Khan

Kobra Khan has always been one of my favourite He-Man figures, for one simple reason: his water-squirting feature. Regular readers will know that generally action features ruin an otherwise great figure, but Kobra Khan is an exception because a) his feature didn't get in the way of his articulation and b) it was a really handy feature. I kept him handy even when I'd moved on from He-Man figures to other things because he was so damn useful when it was hot. The spray came from his mouth as a fine mist which was perfect for shooting your face with and keeping you cool.

The updated version from the 2000-and something Masters of the Universe series retained the squirting, but it was now more of a squirt. Great for annoying people with, less great for shooting yourself with. He did come with an articulated jaw, however, which I really liked.

All the best toys have removeable helmets or articulated jaws.

The latest version of Kobra Khan doesn't squirt water, for the Classics line (on the whole) is devoid of such things. I was sad, briefly, but got over it. Khan does, however, come with an interchangeable head (almost as cool as a removeable helmet) which allows him to be displayed with either his cowl up, in ready-to-squirt mode, or down, in not-going-to-squirt mode. I can't actually make my mind up which look I prefer and will become the semi-permanent-the-other-going-in-the-bits-box-so-I-don't-lose-it one.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

News: Marvel Legends Yet Live!

After news on what was happening on Marvel Legends in the UK, I went straight to the source. Well, their Facebook page...
Demand for the first wave was super-high and we're experiencing some stock shortages atthe moment, but we're hoping to get some new stocks over the next few months.....we'll know more soon. Watch this space!
So Legends aren't cancelled. In fact it appears the complete opposite is true and Legends are selling better than Hasbro expected. Excellent!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Marvel Legends: Terrax Wave

This time last week there was panic on the forums of t'interweb that Wave 2 of Marvel Legends wouldn't see release on these shores as orders were being cancelled by Hasbro UK. After a slight panic, it appears that the release has simply been delayed until the summer (possibly due to Americans complaining that the first and second waves appeared in shops on top of each other). From all appearances Marvel Legends is doing okay in toy shops. Indeed at Memorabilia yesterday I overheard countless conversations about the figures.

Getting back to the toys at hand. The first wave of Legends - the 'Terrax' wave - has recently arrived in shops and looks a bit like this -