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.