Saturday, 30 June 2012

Review: Chuggington Wooden Railway & KoKo Torch

Thanks to Tomy for supplying the following items for review.

There was one toy I always wanted when I was small, but never had. Well, I suppose there were really several toys I always wanted, but the one I really, really wanted was a wooden train set. The type where you spent all day arranging the track into the most complex arrangement possible and then run out of time to actually play with the trains before a parent calls 'bedtime!'.

My mum said a wooden train set was too expensive. At least I think that's what the excuse was. It's hard to be sure of things that happened so long ago. But I do know how to hold a grudge.

Fast forward a few years and I've just finished my degree. My PhD is due to begin in a couple of months and - somehow - there's still some of my student loan left. Yes, a miracle indeed! I could, I suppose, have simply left it in the bank account where it was happily gaining interest. On the other hand, I was about to start my 3 year paid holiday so I figured 'what the hell' and went straight to the toy shop.

(Actually, I stopped at the electrical shop first and bought a large TV, but the next stop was definitely the toy shop).

I suppose some people thought it strange for a twenty-something year old man to have a wooden train set in his bedroom. But, hey, it was Thomas! Yes, they now did Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train sets!

My life seemed complete.

Fast forward a few more years, a couple of children, and suddenly there're a couple of large boxes of wooden railway littering the house.

In the meantime something has happened to Thomas. Once upon a time he was the sole train on the tracks, but no longer. Like Mario and Sonic, Transformers and GoBots, betamax and VHS, Thomas now has a rival:


 Chuggington is done with fancy CGI (though it didn't take long for Thomas to convert to that too), and has an incredibly catchy theme tune. It doesn't have the charm of the old Thomas series, when it was all done with little models, but it's really ten times better than the newer Thomas stories which bash you over the head with a moral in every episode. True, Chuggington has morality tales too, but they're a little more subtle.

So while Chuggington rides the rails on CBeebies, Thomas chuffs away on Five. Rivals at every turn.

Except when it comes to the wooden railways. Because both Chuggington and Thomas are made by Tomy. In the world of toys, they're all best friends.

Chuggington, Thomas, and all the other wooden railways are compatible with each other, which is really handy if, for example, Tomy sends you a Chuggington set and you've already got a load of Thomas stuff. This means you can start making HUGE layouts.

We were sent the Over and Under Starter set to review, which is a basic figure of eight layout with a clock tower in the middle. It also comes with Wilson and KoKo, two of the main engines from the series, and Vee - although Vee doesn't really do much except fall over when you try to stand her/it on carpet.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


So I haven't posted anything in the past 2 weeks. Bad me! The reason is that I've been insanely busy helping organise the school summer fair. Any and all free time (and some which wasn't free, but was stolen by the fair anyway) has been used to try and achieve the best fair possible for the school.

Well, the fair was last Saturday and it was pretty darn good. With it over with, I can now get back to using my time productively by playing with toys and writing long, winding and sometimes irrelevant reviews about them here.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Review: GoBots Scooter

Recently I wrote a review of the New Adventures of He-Man Starship Eternia. I mentioned that NA wasn't particularly well liked at the time. Coincidently, today's review is of a toy from another line which wasn't very well liked - GoBots.

GoBots was the competitor to Transformers and, despite starting off well, was soon massively overtaken in popularity and sales by its rival. The Hanna-Barbera cartoon was never as popular as the Transformers Sunbow one. Upon recent rewatching, I discovered it really wasn't as bad as people seem to think it was. In actuality it's the Transformers cartoon which is far worse than memory tries to insist. The cartoon is exactly what you'd expect from something created by the people behind Yogi Bear, Wacky Races et al.

One of the main characters from the show was Scooter who, thanks to ebay, is now mine to own. There were two scales to GoBots toys - the smaller ~4 inch one and the larger deluxe line. This Scooter is of the smaller variety.

Monday, 11 June 2012

News: Marvel Legends wave 2 in the UK

Hasbro UK have got back to me via their Facebook group with news about Marvel Legends. Wave 2 is coming! (yes, I know it's a very old logo I've used above but it'll do)

Wave 2 of the Marvel Legends will be hitting the UK around August. It will include the following characters: 

Which of course leads to the question of whether the variants are coming too...

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Review: He-Man Starship Eternia

There's a black sheep in the family.

There tends to be one in most families. I suspect, though no one's ever stayed around me long enough to confirm it, that it's me in my family. The oddity. The one people aren't sure about. The disliked one.

For the Masters of the Universe franchise it's The New Adventures of He-Man.

I only found out this was the situation when I started reading the stuff on, which was about the time the 200x series launched. As a child, I happily watched NA every school holiday morning. It was shown on ITV, usually paired with COPS or some other cartoon that most people have forgotten about, yet I have fond memories of. I didn't know, at the time, that He-Man wasn't supposed to be in space, that it was all just a rip-off of Star Wars, that the scientists were annoying, that all the characters looking different from the Filmation show was bad.

...That Skeletor having eyeballs was sacrilege.

Nope, I just thought it was a fun action-adventure series.

I didn't have any of the toys, however. Not being able to pin down exactly how old I was when I was watching, I'm not sure why I didn't have any. Maybe I just didn't like it that much. Maybe there was something else that was consuming all my pocket money. Maybe I wasn't taken to toy shops that often and so never knew the toys existed.

I simply have no idea.

From reading, however, it seems that one of the main reasons people disliked the toyline - in addition to the cartoon-dislike reasons stated above - was that the figures were a different design to the old Masters of the Universe line. The NA figures were a lot slimmer and had none of the GIANT muscles or other exagerated parts that the originals did. It was difficult to play with both the old and the new together since they looked so different.

It's interesting that these days it's a lot more difficult - and expensive - to get hold of NA figures (on the whole) than the original Masters ones. Presumably this is due to them being no where near as popular and therefore a lot less of them produced. It tends to be ~£20+ for a good condition figure, which is why I don't have any.

I do have the big ship, however.

I would go into details of my adventure in getting hold of Starship Eternia, but my getting lost in Birmingham probably holds little interest to readers of this blog. In brief, however, I found one on ebay for a reasonable price and bought it.