Thursday, 12 December 2013

Review: Transformers Metroplex

It's amazing really. How do you take a 25 year old toy, update with modern design and manufacturing techniques but generally keep everything  the same and yet have the final product somehow turn out worse than the original?

Because that's what Hasbro's done with their new Metroplex.

Not that I'm saying the old Metroplex was perfect. I mean, look at all the 'fortress' Transformers from the 80s.

  • Scorponok: cool scorpion mode, pretty good robot mode, terrible, terrible base mode.
  • Trypticon: cool dinosaur mode, terrible, terrible base mode.
  • Fortress Maximus: decent (if blocky) robot mode, iffy ship mode, surprisingly not too bad base mode.
  • Metroplex: decent robot mode, ok vehicle mode and hmm... could do better base mode.

Notice a trend?

Super-dooper-giant Metroplex takes the crown from Fort Max as being the Biggest Transformer Ever (in height, if not bulk), but that's about it prize-wise.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Review: Batman Classic 60s TV Batman & Robin

Ask someone to sing the Batman theme. Without a doubt they'll start humming the tune from the 60s TV series. Despite the Nolan trilogy, the Burton duo and all the other incarnations, it's the Adam West version that remains the most famous in popular culture. Why? It's hard to put a finger on. It's very much a product of the 60s, with limited special effects and high amounts of cheese, but despite this it's remembered with a fondness that none of the others have managed to capture.

Due to a convoluted rights situation, a DVD release has never happened. TV repeats still occur sporadically - we had a joyous time not so long ago watching episodes on ITV4 in a morning - but it's not been exactly 'high profile' for a long, long time. And yet not so long ago, somehow, a deal was struck and brand new merchandise has begun to appear.

Amongst this merchandise is a 6" line of action figures from Mattel. The first (only?) wave contains Batman, the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, and...Surf's Up Batman? I can only guess this came from the mind of the Mattel employee who came up with Disco Skeletor.

Bizarrely, the only way to get Robin is in a Batman-Robin two pack which is the subject of this review (I get round to the subject matter in this reviews eventually).

Monday, 4 November 2013

Review: Masterpiece Bluestreak

Bluestreak, eh? The unloved brother of police car Prowl and racing car Smokescreen. While Bluestreak is...well, he's not even blue. He's a dull grey and black combination. Odd hint of silver, but mostly he's a boring grey car. Sometimes a slightly 'meh' character can be saved by a cool back story, but he's never really gotten one of those.

Three Masterpiece Transformers are being released by Takara to round off the year, all slight remoulds of each other. Prowl, the most famous, arrived last month; Smokescreen, the cool one, is released at the end of November; and in the middle...well, there's Bluestreak.

There's hardly going to be fights in the toy aisles to get hold of this one.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Review: MOTUC Horde Troopers

How did we cope?

When I was little I had one stormtrooper. There was never any thought to owning any more. Even if I had, my parents would have answered with a resounding "No!" upon being asked to purchase a second. "You already have that one," they would have said, "Why don't you have a figure you haven't already got?" Which would have made complete and total sense. In many ways it still does. But in many others, it really doesn't. Stormtroopers come in packs, in units, in legions in hordes.

I never owned a Masters of the Universe Horde Trooper when I was little. I had most of the other Horde members, in fact the Horde was by far the largest faction I had He-Man figures for, but never a Trooper. And even if I had, I'd only ever have thought of owning one.

In more recent years, upon collecting those figures I was missing as a child, I've managed to pick up a Horde Trooper. But only one. Others, however, have hundreds in their collections, which is probably why the price of a Horde Trooper is generally more than the rest of the Horde characters. The trooper is the main army grunt, the stormtrooper of the Masters of the Universe world. There needs to be more than one to be an effective and imposing force of terror.

How did we ever manage playing with one?

The Horde Trooper figure in Masters of the Universe Classics has been a long time coming. It is, really, the last army building character released. We've had Eternia Palace Guards and Snakemen, but the set people really wanted was the trooper.

And now it's here. And I ordered a few.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Review: Matey Bath Book

When I was little we always  bought Matey bubble bath (except when there were other, exciting 'shaped' bottles available - Hero (/Ninja) Turtles and the like) because of its magical changing colour ability. The gloop is one colour and then, magically!, it changes colour once it hits the water. In the intervening years I've learnt how it not-so magically changes colour. While this goes to show my extensive education hasn't been a complete waste, it has taken the magic of the experience away a little.

We were sent this bathtime book from Matey to review. You will have to forgive the lack of 'bath' involved in this review as it has yet to hit the water, as it were. Once it arrived my 2 year old girl grabbed the book and it's been kept in her backpack ever since (along with a bunch of Megablocks, Jo Grant and Peri action figures and Blaster from Transformers).

Monday, 21 October 2013

Review: Transformers Prime: Beast Fire Predaking

When I was a kid, more than any other media incarnation, I loved the Marvel UK universe of Transformers. The box bios I never once read, the cartoon was annoyingly split up on Wack-a-day to ensure one episode lasted all week and the US comics...Well, those just weren't as good as the UK-created stuff used to 'fill in' while waiting for the next US story to reprint.

One of my favourites was a story featuring the Predacons and the Dinobots. In it Swoop, the Autobot pterodactyl fought with Divebomb, the Decepticon Vulture who'd long ago 'stolen' Swoop's old name. Riveting stuff for a young boy, and still so today. The Predacons had the ability to join together to form the mighty Predaking, a toy I never owned as a child (but thankfully managed to buy as an adult just before all the prices shot up).

This Predaking has absolutely nothing to do with the character from the 80s, except, I suppose, the colour scheme.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Review: Rock Lords

What's the most boring thing a Transformer could turn into? Tom Hanks suggested a building, but I think there's something even more dull. To make matters worse, they didn't just stop with the prototype on these, they went into production and made a huge bunch of the things. And a movie. Yeah, you know where I'm going with this, you've read the post title, it's the Rock Lords!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Review: Stargate

Before Universe, before Atlantis, even before SG1, there was the 1994 Emmerich-Devlin film. It wasn't great. Independence Day, this film was not. But hey, it had a cool theme by David Arnold!

To tie in with the film Hasbro released a line of toys. Hoping, no doubt, for a repeat of the success of the Star Wars line, was this toyline as good as that? Or more like every other film toyline; barely breaking even and quickly forgotten?

Friday, 20 September 2013

Review: Eaglemoss Star Trek Starships collection #3

Welcome to my third and likely final review of the Eaglemoss Trek range. Why last? Well, with this issue the price jumps to £9.99 which, at a fortnightly release, puts it out of my price range...or at least out of my price range when you take into consideration the Masters of the Universe sub, Transformers Masterpieces, etc. Oh, and utility bills. Apparently they have to be paid too. And food. Yes, seems the children like to be fed occasionally and the 'free school meals' don't kick in until next September.

The giant piece of cardboard is gone with this issue, leaving the magazine and model packaged one in front of the other in a plastic bag. This means you look slightly less ridiculous leaving a shop after having purchased it.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Review: Masterpiece Soundwave

In the UK we had to wait a million billion years for MP-10 aka Optimus Prime to make his way across the Atlantic. Many - me among them - had completely given up ever seeing him, but earlier this year, a little after Christmas (that was well timed) he finally arrived on the shelves of Toys R Us.

Due to this, when it was announced that MP-02 aka Soundwave (yeah, the numbering is completely messed up) was going to be released in the UK, everyone expected this to be in 2025. But no! He actually arrived in Toys R Us only a couple of weeks ago - barely a few months behind the US. It was a miracle indeed.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Review: Eaglemoss Star Trek Starships collection #2

Two weeks have passed and thus it's time for the second issue of the Starships Collection to be released, accompanied by a price jump to £6 (next issue it's up to its full and regular price of £10. Eep!). Since it's an Enterpise issue I've walked to the newsagent and bought it.

Sadly, after the great start with the last issue, I'm half wondering if it was worth the walk for this one.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Review: FT-03 Quake Wave

There are a load of 3rd Party 'fan' companies producing transforming robots inspired by the Hasbro originals. Some good, some bad, all improving with each subsequent release. It's wise to be wary when a brand new company produces something. There's bound to be flaws - plastic quality, breakages, poor paint... the list is endless.

Rules, exceptions and all that. Despite being labelled as #3 (the first couple of things they designed/announced have never gone into production), Quake Wave is the first release from new company Fan Toys.

And it's perfect.

Buy it now.

What, you want more? Fine...

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Review: Tonka Town Fire Station

Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was a young lad hanging about after my primary school's jumble sale, waiting for my mum to finish tidying up. I was pushing back and to on the table a battered, old, unsold and rather large Tonka truck. One of the helper mothers asked if I wanted it. A little later I was walking home, truck under my arm.

This was in the 80s (although the truck may have originated from before then), when Tonka produced big construction vehicles, usually involving a large amount of metal. Send my (newly repainted) truck rolling down the sloping driveway and pity anything that got in its way. It was a monster. An indestructable monster that survives to this day. Although Tonka produced a number of other toys in its time, including dolls, this is how I - and many others - remember Tonka: producing big, chunky, strong and tough trucks.

In 1991 Tonka was bought by Hasbro and now HTI have licensed the brand to produce a new range of vehicles, figures and playsets called Tonka Town. They're not made of metal (what is these days?) but they retain their strong, tough roots and have expanded from construction to also include police and fire. To accompany the new line there's a website ( and a Tonka Town magazine launching in mid-October - the first issue of which comes with a Tonka Town figure.

The fire station is the largest set in the range, costing just under £40. It's a 3-level playset, with garage, command centre and training tower. It's big and colourful and, having given it a reasonably good kicking for testing purposes, it seems to hold up to the strong & tough nature you'd expect from something branded 'Tonka'.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Review: Eaglemoss Collections Star Trek Starships collection #1

This is not a toy. It probably says that somewhere on the model Enterprise that comes with issue 1 of the new Star Trek ship collection from Eaglemoss Collections. But, hey! I'm going to review it anyway (and attempt to keep technobabble to a minimum so everyone understands which part of the ship I'm talking about when describing it).

I first heard about this last year at Star Trek Destination London, though it was likely being advertised before that. Finally the first issue (of 70 planned + specials) has been released for the bargainous £2.99.

Upon handing over your shiny gold coins at the newsagent you'll be given a rather large (these things always are) piece of cardboard. On one side is a magazine, on the other a 'die-cast' model of the Enterprise-D, as seen for seven years flying through space in Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Review: Friday 13th SDCC 'Video Game' Jason

The Nintendo Entertainment System, NES, arrived in Europe in 1986 and really kick-started console gaming as it is today. It seemed that pretty much everyone everyone could think of was soon turned into a console game - including such oddities as the red spot from the 7 Up logo. A lot of film franchises were turned into games, mostly the violent ones as running and shooting comes in very useful when trying to think up a game. Terminator, Robocop, Aliens - all of these were turned into games. And all of which the rights to the action  figures are currently owned by NECA.

NECA's been looking to the past for inspiration recently. Take series 10 of its Predator figures, for example, all of which are updates of the Kenner line from the early 90s. They've done a glow in the dark Robocop figure, again inspired by a figure of the past.

For SDCC decided to release a Friday the 13th Jason figure, based on his look from the terrible NES game. It's so terrible that it's regarded as one of the worst games of all time. But I'm sure that didn't stop a lot of children playing it simply because it was based on an 18-rated film, which, awful or not, automatically makes it cool.

The box for this figure is based on the NES game box. I love it when companies do this. I love this type of thing so much that I've made a bunch of custom covers to make my cartoon DVDs boxes look like their vintage toy packaging. Hmm, I should really post those on here sometime.

But I'm getting off the point.

The figure box even included fake wear and damage at the corners, making it look even more like the cheap-cardboard NES boxes of the 80s. Opening the flap shows a 'screen shot' of the figure in the game. The whole thing is brilliant and worth the price alone.

But we still haven't got to the figure.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Review: Predator skull pack

Over the past few years NECA have been releasing figures from the various Predator films. I'm sure you know about this, after all there have been reviews. Recently they released a trophy wall, like the one seen in Predator 2. This came minus the trophies as the idea was to use all the skulls that had come with the various 2 packs that NECA had released.

Brilliant, eh?

Assuming you had all the two packs.

A lot of people don't, which made the trophy wall a little on the annoying, not to mention empty, side.

NECA heard the cries echoing across cyberspace. And they responded. With this - 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Guest Post: Keeping the kids happy on those rainy summer days

Guest post supplied by

Yes, we’ve had our heat wave: the summer of 2013 can now be declared a success! For three glorious weeks in July, the UK was basked in unwavering sunshine and I’m sure everybody took advantage of it as best they could. However we are British, lest we not forget, and we love a good moan. Did anyone else notice how, as soon as the school holidays had started, the temperature dropped a good 5-10 degrees and those big white things in the sky suddenly dominated our skies once again? Inevitably, the sun wasn’t going to be here all summer; this nifty guide will help to keep the children happy when the rain once again sets in and they begin to get restless stuck inside their living rooms. What’s even better about this guide is that we’ll also tell you how to do it on a budget. Aren’t you lucky?

Get the toys out!

Now as you will be aware, this blog is predominantly based on toys, so we’ll start with them. You have read all the wonderful reviews from Damian and his children’s toys and hopefully this will give you a good basis to choose the toy perfect for your kids (or even you!). Usually, you’ll look for a bargain. The cost of toys really does add up after a while. One site often touted as the most reliable and the one that most likely to be the first port of call, particularly if you want something in a rush, is Amazon. But is it the cheapest? Well the simple answer to that is a resounding ‘no’. In fact, I can now say with 100% conviction, Amazon is never the cheapest option. Whilst ebay may often win out, if you’re ever going to buy something off Amazon then Flubit might be a better place to visit first. This is an online business that promises to beat the price of any product now sold on Amazon by up to 12%. You’ll struggle to find a cheaper price on the web to buy those toys that can be used on those days when going outside is not an option.

Video games are always an option

Admittedly, video games aren’t always top of the list for parents trying to entertain their offspring, and few of them will ever invoke the same levels of nostalgia that the toys Damian mentions do. However, if you have already purchased an Xbox 360 or PS3, you will probably know more than anybody that these are a sure fire way keeping the kids happy and, best of all, out of your hair! It must be advised that you ensure they don’t get hold of games outside their age range as there are now a vast number of incredibly violent games around. If your children have friends round and love football, FIFA 13 is perfect. It is a sociable game, anybody can play it, and it should hopefully encourage them to go out and play properly when the rain dies down. There are also many titles available that are as educational and informative, as they are fun. Don’t forget to check HotUKDeals for any voucher codes that can often crop up if you’re hoping for a discount. 

Board Games

They seem to have been forgotten in the midst of 21st century technology. When I was young, there was almost an air of excitement when a day of thunder and lightning came along. Without doubt, the likes of Monopoly, Scrabble and Cluedo were placed on the kitchen table and were played for hours on end...until I won. As time has moved on, these games have adapted. Monopoly have brought out local versions on their game so you can play with locations your children may be familiar with and understand. If you’d like to get them at cut prices, they can often be found at a charity shop or a nearby car boot sale. Alternatively, you can pay that little bit extra, to get a brand new version that can be found on Amazon, and more importantly, through Flubit. For something a little out of the ordinary, try different titles such as Munchkin, Settlers of Catan or Zombies, all of which can add a little extra pizazz to those wet afternoons.

Arts and crafts

Finally, this one is for those of you that are well prepared for the bad weather. Getting creative is great for your kids. It gives them skills they can use as they get older and help them think outside the box. It is great for all ages and an excellent way of spending time with your children. There really all sorts of activities – think cooking, painting, modelling and drawing. Whether you have a boy or a girl, they will fall in love with the Moshi Beads set, whilst the John Adams Kitchen Chemistry set is both entertaining and educational – music to a parent’s ears!

Whatever you plan to do with the kids on those unavoidable rainy days, don’t spend more money than necessary on keeping them cheerful at home. Whenever you’re shopping, be wary of whether you really have found the best price, or whether you can find it cheaper elsewhere. Think discount codes, daily deals sites, as well as car boots and charity shops, but certainly don’t forget who will beat Amazon’s price on any product you can find.

Review: Marvel Legends Iron Monger (Iron Man 3 BAF)

Once upon a time Marvel Legends toys could be found in every toy shop in the land. Then Toybiz went out of buisness, Hasbro took over and... Well, it's been a bit hard to find Marvel Legends toys ever since. At least in this land, the UK. Hasbro UK, Toys R Us, Smyths - someone decided that the UK deserved a second chance and thus, hopeful that the film release would boost sales, decided to release the Iron Man 3 Legends series.

The first 3 figures were released earlier in the year. Ranging from £15 to £20 a piece, these were annoyingly expensive, though the price wasn't entirely unexpected. At least, in addition to the figure, Hasbro added in a (reasonably) large Build A Figure piece of Iron Monger. Of course a film version of Iron Monger was released to coincide with the first Iron Man film, but this time we've got a figure based on the comic version.

Unfortunately, with only 3 figures released, Iron Monger was looking a little sad. Or he would have done if his head had been one of the pieces, which it wasn't. Until now!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Review: Trash Pack Trash Cans

I can't say enough good things about the Trash Pack. They're small, squishy, slightly disgusting and lots of fun. Plus - very useful with collectable toys - it really doesn't matter if you get duplicates.

One of the other great things about Trash Pack is that all the packs come with little trash cans (or 'rubbish bins', though since they're 'Trash' Pack I'll stick with 'can'). There are three sizes, and (currently) four colours - green for series 1, orange for 2, blue for 3, and red for the Ultimate Fighting Trashies (plus a modified red design for series 4). It's nice being able to keep what is essentially the packaging and is a reminder of MUSCLE toys from back in the 80s.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Review: Transformers Kre-O Battle for Energon

Against all the odds, and the first wave appearing on discount almost immediately after being released, Hasbro released a second wave of Transformers Kre-O building sets last summer. These took a little longer to be discounted, but they're all available pretty darn cheap now.

I had grievances about the quality of the first wave. The kreons in particular suffered from breakages and stress marks around the wrists and legs aplenty. Thankfully things have improved since then. There are still problems with stress marks, but I've had zero leg problems. The kreons in this set were all fine, apart from Optimus who came without any legs. Thankfully Hasbro customer service sorted out this little problem.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Review: Masters of the Universe plushies

Masters of the Universe was 30 years old last year. To celebrate Mattel sold a load of licenses to various companies for a whole load of merchandise - t-shirts, letter openers - all kinds of tat. It's the greatest amount of branded Masters stuff on the market since the 200x cartoon ended.

One of the licenses was sold to Comic Images for soft toys. The first wave came out last year, although I've only just got hold of them. It comprises of He-Man, Skeletor, Beast Man, Trap Jaw and Battlecat.

All the toys are very heavily based on their appearances in the Filmation cartoon - to the extent that I'm 99% sure the printed faces are directly lifted from cartoon screenshots. They're all in a slightly deformed style, which works better for some characters than others.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Review: Predator SDCC 2013 Exclusive Albino

Each year a load of merchandise is produced exclusively for San Diego Comic Con. Quite a lot of it is desired not only by those attending the con, but also those, for one reason or another, can't make it. Some companies make it easy for those who can't attend to get hold of their exclusives. Some make it impossible (cough Hasbro cough). Up until now I thought MattyCollector was the easiest for international fans. They put their exclusives on sale at a set date and time and ship abroad.

Seems I was wrong.

Up steps NECA who put their exclusive figures on sale on, where it was actually easier to get hold of them than it was for Americans. It's never been so great to be European.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Review: Transformers AM Wildrider

In another of what may or may not (depending on how I feel) be a glut of reviews that come under the heading 'stuff I bought from Auto Assembly', here's the Takara release of Wildrider from Transformers Prime.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Review: Predator series 9

I love a love-hate relationship with NECA. They produce a lot of really great looking figures from franchises that I really love, however more than once I've had arms snap off for no reason, or - in the case of the Alien figure from a few years ago - have pretty much the entire figure crumble to pieces.

A few months ago I picked up the first series of Prometheus figures. I know what you're thinking: Prometheus sucked. Yes, it was a bit of a disappointment on first viewing, but on second viewing... Actually I haven't been able to give it a second chance because for some reason the disc isn't in its blu-ray box. But anyway, the first couple of figures in the wave were of the engineers and you can pretend they're just Alien figures.

Before this turns into a Promethus review, I'll get to the point and say that I found the figures to be really well made; a vast improvement, quality wise, of things previously coming from the company.

So I picked up the Predator series 9, being sold at a heck of a lower price than anywhere else (that I can find) at Kapow Toys. Plus, since I picked these up at Auto Assembly, there was no postage cost!

Series 9 comprises of 3 figures - Jungle Encounter Dutch, Jungle Disguise Dutch (aka 'Poo Dutch') and Water Emergence Predator.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Review: Auto Assembly 2013

This past weekend was Auto Assembly, which, with eight hundred (and something) attendees, continues to be Europe's biggest Transformers convention. As you ought to already know, the last time I went to Auto Assembly was in 2000. Things have gotten a little bigger since then.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Review: Masterpiece Sideswipe (/Lambor)

The Masterpiece series of Transformers toys has been running for quite a number of years now. The aim: to produce collector-targeted high-quality toys based on the Transformers as seen in the 80s cartoon. After doing numerous jets and Primes plus a few other things, Takara have now moved onto cars. The first of which (there are many, many lined up for the end of this year and into the next) is Lambor, or, as most people reading this will know him, Sideswipe.

As a 'collector' figure Sideswipe comes with a 'collector' price tag. The price is high and when you look at the size of the box you can't help but feel ripped off. There's no other way to describe it: Sideswipe is tiny. As much as I like this toy (and I do - I'll get onto that in a minute), the cost of the thing is ridiculous and is why I initially passed on him. The only reason I eventually bought him is that Kapow Toys are selling future cars at a much lower price.

But onto the toy...

MP Sideswipe is an amazing update of the G1 toy and cartoon character. Takara have really outdone themselves with him. In many ways this is the ultimate Sideswipe toy and it's hard to believe that a better one could ever be produced. He looks like he's just jumped out of the TV screen. He feels solid and has enough articulation to be posed in any way you can think of. Whereas previous MPs such as Megatron, the jets, Hot Rod, I wouldn't let my children anywhere near, I think Sideswipe is well enough made that they could play with him without fear of damage.

Worth mentioning, because I didn't realise before I opened the box, is that Sideswipe comes with the piledrivers he used in the cartoon. I thought they were an exclusive, but it looks as though chromed piledrivers were the exclusive and non-exclusive Sideswipe comes with perfectly acceptable silver versions. No version, however, comes with his jet pack. Sad face.

Being licensed by Ferrari means that his car mode is exactly how you'd wish it to be. Ground clearance is limited so be careful what you drive over, but otherwise I can't really fault the mode. The gun clips handily into the roof for storage which is a nice touch. Transforming between robot and car is simple, intuitive and fast. You won't be needing the instructions for this.

He looks good in the photos. He's even better looking in person.

But it has it's flaws.

There are two main annoyances with the toy. The first is the legs: they're hollow. So while I said, slightly further, up that Sideswipe is solid, he's not quite as solid as he might be and it does look a bit silly when posed in certain ways and viewed at certain angles. There's also no clip to hold the legs in place so they come apart, to some extend, when trying to pose the legs.

The other big annoyance is gripping the gun in his hand. There's a small tab on the gun that fits into a slot on the inside on Sideswipe's hand (to ensure a more secure hold), however if you then close the fingers around the hilt, the gun will pop out of the slot and fall away. Sideswipe can hold it, but you have to remember to not close the fist too far. Something is wrong with the measurements somewhere and things don't line up quite as they should. It's not a major problem, but something that shouldn't happen on a pricey toy like this.

You can perform brain surgery on Sideswipe!

What will annoy some, but personally I've now gotten used to, is the complete lack of die cast metal. After it's reemergence with the Binaltech line and initial MP figures, it now looks like this is gone again indefinitely. Also gone are rubber tyres, which is more of a disappointment.

I can't decide on my final nick-pick. It bothered me at first, however I know that it's not something new and is sort of already established: the scale. Sideswipe is tiny compared to MP-10 (the 'new scale' version of Optimus Prime). Whereas the jets, MP-10 Prime, Grimlock and Hot Rod are all about the same size, Sideswipe is much, much smaller. I know the original toy was smaller, I know in the cartoon he was smaller, and I know at this size he fits inside Prime's trailer, but Sideswipe looks a little out of place stood next to his larger friends. Maybe this'll change when we have more cars released, when there are a range of heights, but for now I'm not keen.

With Binaltech Lambor

Overall, however, Sideswipe is a fantastic toy and - should you have the money spare - well worth picking up, especially since the others will cost less. It'd be even better if Hasbro would release him as I'm sure Sideswipe could then be sold in the £30-40 region which would be an absolute bargain.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Cartoon Review: The Legend of Korra, season 1

Seen Avatar? No, not the James Cameron 3D film of marathon length. Avatar: The Last Airbender, the... No, not the abysmal live action film. The amazing animated series, heavily influenced by Japanese animation.

If you haven't seen it, go do so now. Right now.

The Legend of Korra is the follow-up series. It's set many years after the adventures of the previous series, and most of those characters are deceased (Katara appears in a couple of episodes as an elderly woman), though their actions influence heavily this modern world. Time has moved on and now there are cars on the streets, electricity, radios and numerous other devices.

While Aang managed to settle the grievances between the various 'bending' nations ('benders' are people able to control one of numerous substances - earth, fire, water, air), there's now growing hostility between the benders and non-benders. Korra, the new Avatar (the only person who's able to control all four elements), arrives in Republic City initially to complete her air-bending training, but is soon involved in attempting to sooth relations between the citizens.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Review: Impossible Toys Kranax & Arbilus

Impossible Toys announced recently that it was stopping making 3rd party Transformers products. You can read the release here. IT became famous for it's 'Quint' series, making figures of the Quintessons from Transformers The Movie - something that Hasbro had failed to do presumably because they thought no one would be interested in Transformers toys that didn't transform (unless they were Action Masters). They were made in the style of 80s toys, i.e. with the idea that these would fit seamlessly in with existing Generation 1 toys.

The Quints were very good, on the whole, though IT faced design and quality criticism for some of their subsequent releases and they seemed to fall out of favour with Trans-fans as newer 3rd party companies emerged.

Kranax and Arbilus (the names are spelt slightly differently on the box) are, like the Quints, characters from Transformers the Movie (the '86 one aka 'the good Transformers film'). Their role was little more than a cameo, first (barely) escaping Unicorn eating their homeworld and then being fed to the Sharkticons. In the movie they never transformed, though they did in the comic adaptation. In an early draft of the script they were rock creatures, apparently.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Auto Assembly: Once Upon a Time...

The year was 2000. A statement which would sound fine for any other year except that one, since everyone referred to it as 'the year two thousand' instead of simply '2000'. It was October, something I only know because it helpfully says so on Wikipedia. Actually, I had been wondering if I'd been deluding myself and it was really 2001, but Wikipedia confirms my memory (on this, at least) is correct.

...but I'm rambling.

The first Auto Assembly, the UK's premier Transformers convention, took place in 2000. Thanks to a stack of flyers advertising it in Nostalgia & Comics, I was there. Despite living in a flat with a bunch of TF fans, I went alone due to it clashing with the Motor Show to which everyone else attended.

I can't remember much (it was thirteen years ago, after all) and what I do remember likely isn't 100% accurate. But I shall do my best.

It all took place in one room in the Ibis. There was a display of Transformer toys, though which they were I have no idea. There were two, maybe three dealers selling a few bits and bobs and there was a large screen which showed - from what I recall - the first couple of episodes of Beast Machines? (There's a very good chance I'm making that up).

I bought a couple of videos from the dealers (yep, this was before the DVDs were released). One of them, rather annoyingly, didn't work when I got back home, which caused a minor fit of anger. I bought a fair few comics in the auctions - again, this was before there were reprints aplenty. I remember getting into a bidding war with one guy over a lot; a war I didn't win. Afterwards he came over and very kindly gave me all but one of the comics. He'd only wanted the issue which still had the free gift attached, whereas all I wanted were some things to read.

I chatted to Sven (the founder) a little, but not really to anyone else. They all seemed to already know each other, which make breaking into a group conversation a little intimidating.

I haven't been back to Auto Assembly since. It's much larger now, having grown over the years and with attendees numbering in the thousands rather than the 31 of AA1. There are loads more dealers and numerous Guests and the event spans days.

So why haven't I been back? Was it the video? Was I that upset over the broken tape that I've held a grudge for all these years? Or had I completely forgotten about that video until I came to type this blog entry?

The main reason, that I can put it down to, may seem a little odd: it was the quiz. I sat there during the quiz, listening to the questions and frowning as I was basically unable to answer any of them. Ok, I might have managed a couple but I certainly didn't had my answer sheet in since it would have been a waste of time anyone marking it. There were guys there saying it was too easy, but I struggled to write down anything. I know one of the questions was about G1 characters appearing in Beast Wars. At the time I'd seen barely a handful of episodes. Was another about naming all the combiners? I could do the basic Devastator, Superion etc, but robots like Monstructor? Never heard of him. I loved the Predacons (I'd had those issues of the comic) but had no idea what the name of the combined robot was.

Remember this was before DVD releases, the Internet was a much smaller place and comics were damn hard to get hold of (did ebay exist back then?). It was during the quiz that I figured that this type of event wasn't for me. I wasn't a big enough fan. This attitude has basically continued since. I've known a couple of Real World TF fans and they spend all their time on forums and rewatching episodes over and over. I don't, and never have had the time nor inclination for that.

So what has changed. Why am I going now? Mostly i think it's down to Full Metal Hero (and by association Kapow Toys). FMH is a relatively small forum where people are relatively sane. I visit the main page, have a read and comment now and again. Threads don't speed by so if you're gone for more than 2 hours you've missed all the conversation. It's become obvious that I don't have to be an expert at everything and indeed I know a lot more about TFs than many other people going.

So we'll see. If I enjoy AA2013 then I will surely be back for 2014 (it's the 30th Anniversary of Transformers, after all!) and - depending on how things go - can hopefully take my two boys along. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Custom: Marvel Zombies

For Christmas I kindly bought my mum Knit Your Own Zombie. Obviously she was delighted at receiving such a wonderful and thoughtful gift and has spent the time since then making the zombies contained within the pages of the book.

Being a good son and knowing that my mother likes to be set challenges, about a month ago I suggested she make some Marvel Zombies, as seen in the comic series of the same name. My mum was very grateful at being handed the task, and was handed a bundle of drawings by her 6 year old grandson for her to follow.

And behold! Here are the results...

It's worth noting that since the photo session a few amendments have been made. First, since the double-bead eyes make it look like Cap (or is it Colonel in MZ?) is wearing goggles, I've removed one of those and second, the 'A' has been added to his head. His shield is currently awaiting the paint to dry and Iron Man's mask hasn't been finished yet.

I know they're not exact replicas of the designs from the comic, but they had to be livened up a bit to make them more interesting. It's Banner, for example, who has the burst stomach in the story, which is repaired once he turns back into Hulk.

The children are very pleased with their zombies and soon Grandma will be hard at work on Spider-Man (and his removable leg) and Wolverine (and removable arm).

Monday, 15 July 2013

SDCC 2013: The Want List

San Diego Comic Con is this coming weekend which means it's time for my annual 'stuff I want' list. As usual, just because I want it doesn't necessarily mean I'll pay ebay prices for any of it.

MOTUC Rokkon & Stonedar (Mattel)
As a collector of Masters of the Universe Classics toys since the very first release (which was also a SDCC exclusive), buying this set is kind of a given - especially since it includes one of my favourite He-Man characters.

In addition Mattel are selling a mini-Masters two-pack, based on the characters as seen in the iPad game. If these were a hell of a lot cheaper, I might be interested but at 'exclusive' prices they're an easy pass.

As usual, the MOTUC stuff will be available on after the show.

ThunderCats Minimates series 4(?) (AFX)
As a new convert to ThunderCats minimates, these are a must-have. I'm not especially fond of minimates as a rule, but somehow the style really suits the 'Cats.
Marvel Legends Thunderbolts (Hasbro)
I've collected Marvel Legends since series 1 of the Toybiz line. There are now numerous large vats of the things in my house. Occasionally I'll think about selling them, cover the living room with them, remember how great they are and then put them all back in their vats, safe from sale for another day.

I've been reading Thunderbolts, can't actually remember. Think it was about the time Warren Ellis took over writing. The team in this set is one of my favourites and it's really upsetting that the Hasbro exclusives always cost so much on the secondary market that I really can't justify buying them.

The Hobbit Azog (Bridge Direct)
As anyone who went into my office while I was doing my PhD will know, I have rather a lot of Lord of the Rings ToyBiz figures. The Bridge Direct ones aren't a perfect match to these, but they're close enough. I really, really hope that Bridge Direct aren't stupid enough to release Azog, a relatively major character, as an SDCC-only release. Here's to hoping I can get hold of him, minus the fancy packaging, in a 'regular' toy shop sometime soon.

Doctor Who Ace (Underground Toys)
This is one which will definitely be easy to get hold of from Forbidden Planet, likely sometime in August if past SDCC 'exclusives' have been anything to go by. Ace was one of my favourite Who companions and it's great to finally get a figure of her.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Review: MOTUC Karatti

It's fair to say that the New Adventures of He-Man is the least-loved of the Masters of the Universe incarnations. Whether it be the toys changing design compared to the original line, or simply a dislike of being in space, NA He-Man has far more enemies from friends.

Possibly due to it's lessened fandom, NA has suffered greatly in the proportion of figures based on this era featured in MOTUC. In fact Karatti is only the fourth, behind Flipshot, Slushhead and Optikk. Even though the original NA designs has been 'clasicised' to fit them into a similar design as all the other MOTU characters, the NA figures are still the least popular faction (though not the least popular figures - that's a toss up between Spector, Molarr, the Star Sisters and the Fighting Foe Men).

Karatti is an unknown character to me. I've watched the NA cartoon, but can't remember him from it and certainly never had the toy. All the features from the original toy have been translated into this new Classics-style figure and he fits in perfectly with the others released so far. If you didn't know he was a NA character, you'd think he was one of Skeletor's minions living in Snake Mountain.