Thursday, 11 December 2014

Review: X-Transbots Hoss (not Go-Bots Road Ranger)

3rd Party Transformers are a lot like boxes of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get. Sometimes you get a Quake Wave, a figure so good it puts Hasbro/Takara to shame. Sometimes you get a Grand Patriot, which, well, is a big pile of poo. Even a company with a good reputation can be a risk as quality varies from product to product. Take, for example, Fans Toys' follow up to Quake Wave, Scoria, which suffered a number of problems.

This risk factor is the reason why I refuse to pre-order 3rd Party products. Sure, there's normally a discount if you order early, but the quality issue and consistent pushing back of release dates isn't worth it, in my opinion. Even online reviews of 'test shots' aren't a reassurance as you never know for sure if minor niggles are going to be corrected (or become worse!) in the final product. It's much safer to wait and see what the final reviews are before committing money - especially with the amount of money these products costs.

X-Transbots hasn't got the greatest reputation in the world. While I don't have a lot of their products, the common complaints online seem to be plastic quality and general quality control. More than one online retailer is now refusing to carry their products because of this.

But I ordered Hoss anyway. And it's really not that bad.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Review: Wuzzles PVC figures

Those of you who read my Memorabilia/Comic Con review will recall that I mentioned buying 2 items there, both of them Trek-related. Neither of these is the subject of this review, the first of a (potential) batch of 'stuff I bought there'. No, instead this is a look at the first thing I dove into my wallet to pay for at the event: PVC Wuzzles.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Review: Marvel Universe Death's Head

Ask anyone (well, 30-something British male) who the best comic character EVER is and they will undoubtedly say 'Death's Head'. To which, 99% of the population will likely react, in the same way someone 6 months ago would have reacted to the words 'Star-Lord', with the single word 'Who?'.

Death's Head was created back in the 80s by the genius comic writer Simon Furman and artist Geoff Senior. You know, those guys who worked on a big chunk of the Transformers comics and are largely responsible for the Transformers being as cherished as it the UK, at least. Being a licensed book, any characters created for the comic immediately belonged to Hasbro and so, seeing Big Things ahead for the character, Furman was a bit sneaky and introduced him in another comic first. The rights now belonged to Marvel and thus Death's Head was able to appear in publications as diverse as Doctor Who, Fantastic Four and, of course, Transformers.

He immediately became a fan favourite, with collectors searching out his every comic book appearance. He's reappeared again and again over the years but sadly never really had the success he deserved. And he's never had an action figure...until now.

Hasbro, funnily enough, currently have the rights to make Marvel action figures and so, finally, they have produced the toy people have wanted for years. I don't (really) buy Marvel Universe figures and I've sought him out, a shared fan mindset which has resulted in getting hold of the guy being a tad difficult.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Review: MCM Memorabila/Comic Con Birmingham

I first went to Memorabilia about 15 years ago and continued to go to pretty much every show after that for a decade. Then I stopped. Why? Well, for the first few years things got better every time, the show increased in size, with more stalls and more guests whom I was interested in meeting. Then the reverse started to happen. There were fewer stalls and it really didn't seem worth the cost of entry. So I stopped. This was about 3 years ago.

During those last couple of years of me attending a change was happening to Memorabilia. As the stalls decreased, the amount of random other stuff increased. The Robot Wars arena was there every time, a wrestling ring, Back to the Future Delorean, all of them taking up big chunks of floor space. The name 'Comic Con' was being tagged on. This Comic Con was advertised as a separate event, with its own guests, but the ticket got you into both events, which made it all really rather confusing.

I returned on Saturday to find that the change had completed. Memorabilia is no longer Memorabilia. The name is still there, in small writing, but I can see this being gone completely by next year. It's now a definite comic con. And not a 'comics' convention either - the comics presence is really rather small - but a comic con in the vein of San Diego, i.e. a pop culture event.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

1 page comic #5

Another in a series I promised would end on the third. This was a complete nightmare to colour, for no reason other than I was being useless and kept making silly mistakes. I'm still not happy with it, but I eventually just admitted defeat and gave up.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Book Review: Hear The Roar! The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Thundercats

ThunderCats was one of the biggies in the 80s. I'd definitely say the top 3 franchises that launched  in the 80s (thus I can discount Star Wars as 'top 3' sounds a lot better than 'top 4') were Masters of the Universe, Transformers & ThunderCats.

This book, written by David Crichton, covers every single aspect of the ThunderCats creation, cartoon and toyline, in great detail. This book covers everything: the initial ideas for the series, its development, profiles of all the writers, all the voice artists, commentaries on all the episodes, the toyline and much, much more.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Review: Batman Classic TV Series Batmobile

To many the Adam West version of Batman is the definitive Bat-incarnation. It's campy and silly, but deliberately so. This was a TV show that was supposed to be fun and there's no denying that this it is. After years and years of waiting, the DVD/video rights have finally been sorted out (due this November!) and leading up to it there's been a mass of new merchandise.

I've talked about the figures before, but it's taken this long to get hold of the Batmobile that goes along with them. The main reason was off-putting online reviews, saying it was way over-priced, of low quality and generally a big disappointment. Since I was going to have to import this thing from America, this would have pushed the price up even further and it wasn't something I was prepared to risk.

Until now.

The price has dropped somewhat over time and the cost of importing reached a level that I was happy with. And you know what? I'm more than happy with it.

Update: The Batmobile is now available in the UK exclusively from Toys R Us for £50.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review: The Zoom #10

Earlier this year I organised a comic con for my children's primary school. You can read all about it here. Since then my (youngest) son has been pestering for another one. I'm no longer Chair of the PTA so I told him he should start a petition and if he got enough names I'd look into it for him. I didn't expect him to survey his entire school, but he did and the result is that I'll be starting asking the current Powers That Be with permission to proceed in the next week or so.

However, as is often the case with these reviews, I'm drifting off the point.

The point is that one of the guests at the con was Zoom Rockman. I was mighty impressed that we managed to get him since I'd actually heard of him. He'd been featured in an article (I want to say on the BBC website, but I can't remember exactly where it was now) about the comic he produced himself and how it had resulted in him getting work on the Beano. This is pretty impressive in itself, but the fact that Zoom is 13 years old raises the achievement to the next level.

Issue 10 popped through my letterbox yesterday morning and I sat down with a cup of tea and a biscuit for a read.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Review: Doctor Who Impossible set

When it was first announced that Character was changing the scale of their Doctor Who figures to 3 3/4" there was panic. Would this render long-time collectors' figures obsolete? What would happen about the new characters? Would we never get 'old scale' figures of new characters such as the 12th (or 14th, depending on your numbering) Doctor and Clara?

Turns out that we collectors are safe. Thanks to Underground Toys the 5" line continues, albeit in a lessened form compared to the 3 3/4" 'main' line. So while we won't get figures of every character in the current series of Doctor Who (Strax, for example, is looking very unlikely) we have at least got Clara and hopes are high for a 'proper' Capaldi Doctor (a regeneration figure is on the way to make do for now).

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Review: Ninja Turtles 2014 movie figures

Once upon a time in the late 80s/early 90s Playmates made a load of Turtles toys, most of which never reached the shores of the UK. The situation was repeated during the early 00s. These days (the early 10s for those reading in the future) it's not quite so bad and, as far as I know, we're getting most things in a reasonably timely fashion, including the 2014 movie toys which arrived over the summer.

Of course, the movie itself won't be out here until later this month. It was out ages and ages ago everywhere else in the world but we're having to wait. I presume this is so that we'll have forgotten about all the bad reviews it received elsewhere.

As such, during this review I'll be able to tell you absolutely nothing about how these toys relate to their counterparts on the big screen. Instead, I'll talk simply about the toys themselves.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Review: Independence Day

It wasn't often that I walked the aisles of Toys R Us in the mid-90s. As a teenager, this sort of activity, despite the amount of joy and happiness it can bring, is frowned upon. As a teenager giving everyone else any ammunition of any kind to fire back at you is not a good idea. And, hell, everyone else already found plenty of things to fire at me without handing them more.

Quite why I was in TRU that day, I don't know. It may have been to actually find a present for a younger person (instead of the 'I'm here to buy a present for my younger brother!' lie you may sometimes give to staff/other customers when they look at you strangely when studying toys on the shelf). I was walked past a big display of figures, paused to look at one, and was quickly told 'You're not having one of those' by my mother.

The 'one of those' she was referring to was an Independence Day alien figure.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Toyology Review: NERF Zombie Strike Crossfire Bow

NERF. Zombie. Crossbow. There is no part of that description that is not AWESOME. You should go buy this now, you hear me?!

Okay, review done.

What? You want more? Fine...

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Review: MOTUC Club Etheria Q1

Club Etheria has begun, hoping to increase the amount of Princess of Power figures in Masters Classics before it's demise/reincarnation at the end of next year. It's a line that just happened, missing the minimum subscriptions sold for it to go forward, but close enough that Mattel pushed it through.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Review: MOTUC Club Eternia Quarter 3

Expensive month, this one, what with the 4 figures arriving with the standard Club Eternia plus 3 more coming via the just-started Club Etheria (containing She-Ra figures) and a mix of characters spanning (most) of the incarnations of He-Man.

Monday, 22 September 2014

1 page comic #4: Masters of the Universe

A change from Transformers for this one and, after finding a new level of respect for colourists from doing the previous comics, now I have a new respect for letterers.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Review: Talisman (3rd Edition)

I have a distant memory of the shop. From what I recall (and we all know how unreliable memory is) it was probably in Chester and sold nothing other than bunch of board games. The walls were lined with piles of them, while the centre was taken up with...something. I don't think there were any windows; maybe it was in some kind of basement? I only went in that shop once, and can't be certain that it existed before or after that single visit.

Which lends itself very nicely to the kind of game Talisman is.

I think I bought what turned out to be the 2nd edition of Talisman (I understand it only has a cosmetic difference to the 1st edition) solely on the fact that there was a great big dragon on the front of the box.Wings spread, looking very dynamic. It turned out to be a very fun game indeed for 8 year old(? complete guess at age) me. Set in a fantasy world, you traveled the board, increasing your skills, before tackling the dragon in the centre and claiming the Crown of Command.

I had no idea about Games Workshop or their miniatures at the time, in fact it was only when the 3rd edition was released, in 1994, by now having painted a few Citadel Miniatures and attempted to read the rules of Warhammer, that pieced together the the game and the company in my mind.

Obviously I had to buy the new, improved version of my favourite game!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Review: Unique Toys Salmoore (Not Go-Bots Cy-Kill)

People tend to look down on Go-Bots. And it's true; despite being first to market they were never as successful as their transforming rivals. But I've always been of the opinion that Go-Bots were unfairly judged. Take the cartoon. Many would argue that the Transformers cartoon was vastly superior. I would suggest they rewatch a couple of episodes of the original Transformers cartoon first.  Fried gold, it certainly isn't.

The Go-Bots cartoon is exactly what you'd expect from Hanna-Barbera, in style and tone. I also liked the fact that 95% of the time they didn't cheat with their transformations, unlike Transformers. For example, burned into my memory is Rest-Q, in Ambulance mode, crashing and rolling within the first few minutes of the opening episode of the cartoon, revealing his face underneath...just like the toy. In the Transformers 'toon that toy-limitation wouldn't have been there and you'd have seen a perfect bottom-of-ambulance instead.

The Go-Bots toys were licensed by Tonka from Bandai in Japan. Unlike Hasbro, which bought the moulds to their Transformers toys outright, this means that the names and characters were owned by Tonka but the rights to the actual toys were - and still are - owned by Bandai. This means that it's 99% certain that these toys will never be reissued.

Much later Tonka was bought by Hasbro, who've since released a series of Go-Bots, which had absolutely nothing to do with the original line. They did, however, release Fracture, which is essentially an updated Crasher. But that was it.

Maybe spurred by this lack of production from Hasbro, a number of 3rd Party companies have released Go-Bot homages lately, which brings me nicely (and eventually) to my review: Salmoore aka Cy-Kill, leader of the evil Renegades.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Legacy Dragonzord

The Dragonzord is the best Power Rangers zord there has ever been; this is an undisputed fact. So says me. Yes, it may be limited in its range of arm movement. And in its range of leg movement. And... Well, look, it's just awesome, okay? The Green Ranger was the coolest ranger and he had the best zord. Even if he couldn't ride inside it.

As part of the 20th Anniversary line, some time ago (can't remember how long) Bandai released an updated MMPR Megazord, which was generally better than the original one because it featured a load of die cast metal. You can read all about it here.  Due to the success of that, next on Bandai's list of updates was obviously the Dragonzord.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Review: MOTUC SDCC Filmation Hordak

I posted in the lead-up to San Diego Comic Con about the disappointment that was the exclusive figure Mattel were selling at the convention. Despite this, I still went ahead and bought it from when he went on sale there shortly after the con ended.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Review: Transformers Generations Rattrap

Updates of Beast Wars toys have been appearing slowly but steadily over the past few years. It wasn't very long ago that a Voyager-sized Rhinox arrived on the scene and now we have Rattrap.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Review: Transformers Generations Skybyte

If was likely coincidence that led to 2015 having a new release of Skybyte and Peter Spellos, the voice of the character in the Robots in Disguise cartoon, being at Auto Assembly, but it was a great coincidence. Did the presence of Spellos increase sales of the toy? I guess we'll never know.

I think it's fair to say that RiD never got a fantastic welcome from Transformers fans. It was great to see the return of vehicles, Autobots and indeed the 'Transformers' name front and centre after numerous years of beasts, but I will put my hand up and say that I gave up watching the cartoon after a handful of episodes. It wasn't that I was a Grown Up and thus not the intended audience - I'd watched Beast Wars for the first time very shortly beforehand - it simply wasn't that good.

It's interesting that one of the things that was welcomed was the bizarre flying shark. Of all the characters from RiD to remake, Skybyte makes a lot of sense.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Review: Lego Ghostbusters Ecto-1

Ghostbusters turns 30 this year and you can speculate as to whether that had anything to do with this Lego Cuusoo (now Lego Ideas) becoming a reality. For those not in the know, Lego Ideas is a website where anyone can announce their idea for a new Lego set to the world. The ideas are voted on by the public and once it reaches 10,000 votes Lego take the set into consideration for making it into a 'real' set. There are a bunch of criteria as to whether this final step can be taken, for example it must be 'family friendly' and have no licensing issues.

Ecto-1 was one of those sets to make it through and a jolly nice set it is too.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Review: Transformers Generations Scoop

I don't know anything about the character of Transformer Scoop. I didn't have the original toy, I've never even seen it. As far as I can recall, I've never read a comic featuring Scoop either.

So why did I buy him at Auto Assembly? Well, I liked the look of him, I liked the price, and, most importantly, he came with two little Target Masters. Bless the tiny robots!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Review: Fans Toys Scoria (Transformers Masterpiece Slag)

The first of my reviews falling under the category 'stuff I bought from Auto Assembly' is Scoria, the 3rd Party release of Masterpiece-scale Slag.

Slag was at the top of my AA Wish List and, only being available from Kapow Toys in the UK, was probably only going to be on sale on one particular stall. Of course Kapow had the biggest crowd around it, so at first I was a sad little boy as it didn't appear that there were any available. But, no! I was wrong! As on a second pass on the stall I spotted him and was much relieved.

The relief was short-lived.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Transformers 1-page comic #3

The third (and final) comic. Grimlock SMASH!

(I know, I know, Grimlock's 'wings' are missing, but they were getting in the way!)

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Transformers 1-page comic #2

Being relatively happy with my first go, I've done another one-pager. Whereas the previous one didn't require any Transformers knowledge to understand it (though it makes more sense if you do), for this one you kinda have to know that Pretenders (Transformers in human/animal shells - a gimmick which makes sense to...well, someone working at Hasbro thought it was a brilliant idea) aren't universally liked. Mostly because the gimmick makes absolutely no sense.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Transformers 1-page comic #1

Last week, for the first time in ages, I picked up a pencil and tried to draw something. I was horrified with the level of terribleness. The next day I had another go and was a little more pleased with the results.

Transformers: Mosaic was a series of (mostly) fan produced 1-page comics created between 2007 and 2012 and it was in that vein that I made the following. I found it surprisingly hard to think up something - other than a joke - that began and ended within the space of a page, though ideas followed a little more easily once I got into the mindset.

Anyway, here's my attempt. It's not great, but hey! you ought to see the rubbish I produced on that first night...

Monday, 18 August 2014

Review: Auto Assembly 2014

Auto Assembly, Europe's largest Transformers convention, is over for another year and I have, more or less, now recovered. Adjusting to back to life outside after being, essentially, trapped inside a hotel for 3 days is a little weird. For that brief time you're trapped inside a little bubble, free of the troubles of Reality, where only the next talk, toy purchase, or chatting to some person you've never met before is of any concern.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Review: Transformers Age of Extinction: Generations Voyager Grimlock

Here on the blog, I'm not afraid to call a crappy toy a crappy toy. Who fails to remember the total monstrosity that was the TP table? It'd be very easy to have a similar rant about the Bayformers, but I think all that needs to be said about those abominations has been said many times before. So instead I'll have a rant about the Grimlock figure.

In response to the numerous complaints about previous movie figures being a complete nightmare to transform even if you hold a PhD in Transforming from the University of Cybertron, for the latest movie, Age of Extinction, Hasbro have greatly simplified their toys. I repeat, greatly simplified. These are the Transformers you'll find on every toy shop and supermarket shelf across the country.

In addition, to appeal to the adult/older Transformer fan, Hasbro have released a limited number of more complex figures in the Generations line. These are packaged identically to the 'normal' lines which makes them a tad difficult to spot on a shop shelf.

I guess we should count ourselves lucky, really, that we're getting any Generations figures at all in the UK. They're Toys R Us exclusives, in part because Toys R Us are the only ones who'll stock them. I say we should count ourselves lucky, but the Grimlock figure is really rather terrible.

My big mistake, I suppose was buying Scorn first. Despite being a Bayformer design, I really like Scorn. He's a lot like an old school Transformer. Next I bought Slug (definitely not Slag). Slug is, well, he's pretty good. Not Scorn good, but I still like him.

Finally I got Grimlock...

Oh dear.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Auto Assembly 2014

It's a Rule, apparently, for all attendees to do a pre-Auto Assembly video. Well, not a Rule, perhaps more a Tradition, or... a Thing. Yes, it's a Thing some people do before going to AA; telling people of their hopes for the event and giving out a few tips to newbies (which essentially boil down to 'wear deodorant').

Since a) my camera is currently 100 miles away, and b) no one really wants to look at my face or listen to my droning voice, I'll do it in the medium of text.

So firstly here are a few things I learnt from attending AA last year: don't get there too early; the NEC doesn't close at night so you don't need to time how long it takes to walk all the way round (for train purposes); and no matter how cool a toy is, you don't necessarily need to buy it.

I'm still working on that last one.

This year, to liven things up a little, my lovely wife will be coming along. I'm not quite sure why, but it may have something to do with her not wanting to spend another weekend all on her own (a la last weekend). This has its advantages since I'll no longer look like a Billy No Mates and thus won't have to attempt to join in conversations with complete strangers. On the other hand, purchases are now going to be closely monitored. No more 'it only cost a fiver!' excuses. I'll also have to, annoyingly, spend some of my (our?) budget on food instead of figuring meals are an easy expense I can skip when scrounging money for my next plastic fix.

Quite what Mrs J is going to think of the whole affair, I do not know. I should probably get her to write a review afterwards which you, the humble reader, can have fun compare and contrasting with mine.

Last year I went along to AA with a list of essential purchases. I bought hardly any of them. Instead I bought a load of GoBots and New Adventures of He-Man stuff. Which were pretty awesome, though isn't everything? This year I also have a list, though it's rather extensive and there isn't a hope in hell I'll be able to get even a fraction of it. Plus, you know, The Wife.

My biggest hope for this year is that the Saturday evening event doesn't suffer a Cable Crisis similar to last year, which meant a lot of time spent sitting about waiting and constantly checking the ol' watch to ensure I didn't miss the last train home.

AA is this weekend in Birmingham. If you like Transformers and have nothing better to do, it's well worth popping along. And of course if you don't like giant robots, there's always Quilt Con in the NEC.

Review: Game of Thrones Legacy: The Hound

Everyone watches Game of Thrones, right? I mean, if you add together all those who watch on TV and those who buy the DVD and those who...acquire it...though other means, you more than cover the entire population of the planet, right?

What I'm basically saying is that no introduction to The Hound is necessary, so we can skip straight to the figure itself.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Review: Dennis the Menace the game

Every Christmas, when I was small, I received a board game from Santa(/my parents). There are three stand-out classics from that time: one I've reviewed before, one shall feature as soon as I've found it in the loft and this one: the Dennis the Menace game.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Comparison photos

The other day, after a long absence, I got around to putting my email address back on the website. It originally disappeared when my old laptop died, taking the password with it. I had it recorded elsewhere, but there was Effort involved in getting it back. Since that address gets spammed to death (the reason why I stick that particular one online and don't use it for anything else) I wasn't in a big deal to put in Effort.

Within an hour of finally getting the password sorted & putting the address back online, I was hit with a couple of (non-spam) emails, which maybe means I should have reinstated it a tad sooner.

Anyway, one of the emails was from someone requesting comparison photos. Eager to please, I gathered up a bunch of figures (mostly whatever was sitting about) and took a few photos. Enjoy!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Review: 24" Ghostbusters Stay Puft Bank

When it comes to Mr Stay Puft bigger is always better. First we had the NECA version, then we had the Mattel version, and now we have the Diamond Select 'bank' version.

...because it's definitely a bank, right? With Mattel still hold the action figure rights, it means the stuff put out by Diamond Select has to have a coin slot to avoid any annoying court action. Accordingly, Stay Puft is completely free of articulation, but then the articulation on Stay Puft would have been so limited its absence is completely unnoticeable.

Sunday, 20 July 2014


I've been watching a lot of Toy Hunter recently and been fascinated by the amount of Americans who have huge toy collections stored in huge rooms/garages/barns and yet, somehow, just have everything stored in a giant mess of tatty cardboard boxes. Really, you spend this much money on toys, have a load of space available and then don't have everything sorted out properly?

All of my stuff has always been reasonably well organised, despite the lack of space, but over the past couple of weeks I've been having a sort out and general tidy. After buying a bunch of shelves from Homebase (the type you're supposed to stick in your garage - not quite the pretty glass display cabinets I dream of) and some plastic boxes, all my (and the kids') toys are stored neatly away...yet easily accessible for playing with.

A recurring problem during the sort out was the what to do with the cardboard boxes the toys came in (I've definitely against keeping things Mint In Box - toys are meant to be played with!). I've got loads of the things, plus even more cardbacks. I don't like chucking them out, but even flattened they take up a load of space that could be used for other things (namely more toys).

The question is why didn't I chuck them as soon as I got them? Some crazy idea that I might someday sell everything and boxed items sell for more? Because the boxes look pretty? Because some are 30-odd years old and it just doesn't feel right condemning them to the recycle after all this time?

Bits of all the above, most likely. I took a stand, however, and have pruned them back a little. Some of the less than exciting cardbacks have bitten the dust, as have a couple of boxes. Actually, as I write this, I'm beginning to think I ought to go and sort through some more right now. This little piece of text is convincing me that I really don't need to keep all these things, that the house would be better off without them.

It'd be a lot easier if I had useable loft space. But I don't. The loft has been filled with all the insulation in the world, which is great for The Planet and reducing The Bills, but not so great for storage.

...maybe I should just send them somewhere safe for the moment. Somewhere out of the way, like maybe Grandma's loft...

Friday, 18 July 2014

Review: MOTUC 2014 Quarter 2

3 figures and a beast for this quarter and, disappointingly, there are problems with all of them. Bah.

Transformers Construct Bots: Shockwave

In a time when plastic toys are facing heavy competition for childrens' attentions from electronic-based pastimes, Hasbro are keen to expand their properties into new areas and, hopefully, snatch back some of the lost pocket money. They're attempt at a Transformers Lego, 'Kre-O', was a moderate success. The mini-figures (kreons) were near-universally welcomed but the fact that you couldn't properly transform the block models (once the vehicle was built you had to take it apart to 'transform' it into the robot) was criticised.

So now we have the Construct Bots range. These promised to be fully customisable Transformers. You could build them from parts using the instructions in the box and then swap around pieces to your heart's content. Most importantly, the Construct Bots transform between modes without the need to dismantle them first.

Being a big fan of the purple dude (and him being discounted), I picked up Shockwave first. The instructions were relatively easy to follow and building only took me a few minutes. The plastic is quite thick, though I was in some fear that the clips would snap as I put pieces together (it should be noted that none did, however).

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Opinion: MOTUC - End of line

The end has been in sight for a couple of years now. We all knew it was coming, but 2015 is officially the end of Masters of the Universe Classics.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Review: MMPR Legacy Megazord

Thanks to an Amazon Prime Instant Video free trial, over the past few weeks we've been watching a lot of Power Rangers. Some are pretty darn terrible, with annoying characters, poor acting, bad storylines and new zords introduced for apparently no reason other than they were in the original Japanese series and Bandai want to sell toys of them. Other series, however, are the complete opposite. My personal favourite, so far, is Jungle Fury which not once has been really annoying and all the new characters/zords seemed to have a reason for being introduced.

Of course, I think any long-term fan would have to declare the original, Mighty Morphin, as the best. Even though, in many ways, it was terrible. I mean, I was too old, really, to join in when MMPR arrived, but I still thought the Dragonzord was cool.

...even though, in many ways, it was terrible.

For the 20th Anniversary, Bandai have been releasing 'Legacy' versions of past zords and accessories. These have been aimed at collectors, with die cast parts. We've had the morpher, dragon dagger, Dragonzord and Titanus on the way, and the subject of this review: the Megazord. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Review: NECA Spider Gremlin

My NECA Hellraiser figures used to be proudly on display in my flat. I've always loved the Hellraiser films (well, the first couple) and the cenobites NECA produced were fantastic (if a little breakable). I moved out of my flat coming up for 8 years ago. Since that time the cenobites have lived in a box at the back of a cupboard.

Coincidentally, this was around the time my eldest son was born.

There was a certain amount of worry that Junior would be a little scared of these particular toys, hence one of the reasons why they've only been out of their box a couple of times in the past 8 years (the other reason being I have no where to display them). NECA don't make cenobites anymore (they don't need to - they basically already made them all) however they do have the Gremlins license and not so long ago produced the Spider Gremlin figure.

"Dad, can you move the Spider Gremlin?" asked my now 7 and a half year old child. "It's scary."
"But you've watched Gremlins 2," I said. "You weren't scared then."
"Gremlins 2 is a film. That toy looks real."

Which pretty much all you need to know about how well sculpted and painted this figure is.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Review: NECA Predators wave 11

I've mentioned previously how much I'm loving the stuff NECA is producing at the moment and this holds true for their latest wave of Predators figures, featuring Wasp Predator, Thermal Vision Dutch and Battle Armour Lost Predator.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Opinion: MOTUC 'Filmation' Hordak

Yesterday, after essentially being forced by leaked pictures, Mattel revealed their Masters of the Universe Classics figure for this years San Diego Comic Con.

Mattel usually use this slot to release something that wouldn't fit in their regular releases of $25(ish) figures. Last year we had a Rock people twin pack, using the extra budget to pay for the large rock pieces. Previously we've had dual costume Queen Marlena & Cringer, Vykron with outfits to create 3 looks and so on.

Among this year's predictions were Rotar & Twistoid (due to their unusual shape) or, after they appeared in the mini-comic that came with the subscription figure, Laser light He-Man & Skeletor. Or perhaps Filmation Hordak.

Which turned out to be correct.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Toyology Review: BoomCo Twisted Spinner

BoomCo is the new toy gun range from Mattel. What differentiates BoomCo from the others out there are the darts. The BoomCo 'smart dart sticks' aren't sticky (the tips are kind of rubbery), yet they stick to certain surfaces (i.e. the supplied targets) and pretty much nothing else.  Believe me, I've gone round attempting to stick these things to absolutely every surface I can find yet the darts will only stick to the targets.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Review: Doctor Who: The Other Doctor

The 5" Doctor Who action figure line from Character came about more or less by accident. A couple of figures (aka statues) were bundled with some radio control daleks way, way back in 2005. The popularity of these resulted in additional 'proper' figures being released, sticking to the same scale which was about 5" in height. The size really being determined by what size was needed to fit the electronics in the daleks.

That line is now dead. At least in mainstream stores the Doctor Who figures have shrunk to 3 3/4", favoured by companies such as Hasbro. The main reason for this is the spiralling cost of plastic, though I'm sure the hope was that bringing Who into line with Star Wars, Power Rangers etc would help bump sales.

For collectors, however, who've been with the line since the beginning, this is a bit annoying. I can't be the only one with a giant box brimming with 5" and who thinks the new smaller figures look absolutely rubbish. There are occasional 'classic' series releases, featuring characters such as the Brigadier, Ace, old aliens etc, but hopes for getting anything from the latest episodes is nothing more than a dream.

It was a surprise then when the Other/War/John Hurt Doctor was announced. I still can't believe it's been released. As a SDCC exclusive I might have been able to understand, but it's widely (if you can use such a term) released in specialty comic shops Forbidden Planet (both of them).

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Review: Street Fighter II G.I. Joes

I remember the image clearly. I don't know exactly where I saw the advert, but I do remember thinking 'wow, these look terrible'. But despite this, I wanted them, because the thought of having little Street Fighter figures to fiddle with was really exciting.

These figures were based (and essentially sold as) GI Joe figures. As such they have all the characteristics of the original 3 3/4 GI Joe line. The articulation and accessories are extensive (though whether the Street Fighter characters actually need any accessories is open to debate - my suspicion is they were simply bundled with a bunch of existing GI Joe bits and bobs). The figures are able to (more or less) get into (most of) their signature special move positions, though anything with a fireball is obviously out of the question.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Review: Toy Collector Fair, NEC

So today, after much umming and arring, I went to the toy fair being held at the NEC. I've been wanting to go to one of the fairs organised by BP Fairs for some time now, however there's never been a suitable location-time match-up. Until now...

With my interest in Memorabilia waning in recent years (as it has with a lot of people), I was intrigued as to how a pure toy fair would compare. Of most concern was if it'd be purely Dinky cars and Hornby trains. But, hey!, it cost less than Memorabilia so even if it was a complete disaster it wouldn't be too much of a loss.

To a degree, my fears were well founded. Of the 600 stalls (so the advertising claimed) a good proportion were for cars & trains of which I have zero interest. Another large proportion of stalls were for Lego. This was a surprise - I knew people collected Lego but I didn't know it'd gotten quite this big in collector circles.

Finally there were enough 80s-related stalls to maintain my interest. I didn't spend a fortune but I did manage to pick up a few things that I'd been looking for. The only problem really was by the time I was into the swing of Haggling I'd run out of stuff I wanted.

In attendance, doing something Action Man-y was James May. There may (or, more likely, won't) be an extended clip appearing on TV in the near future of me spending 5 minutes attempting to push my way through the crowd.

The big problem with Memorabilia these days is that a lot of the dealers are selling 'modern' stuff. Not that I have anything against modern toys, but I tend to buy those over the internet (for reduced prices) which means that when I arrive at Memorabilia I already own all the stuff I would have been interested in. Gone, for the past few years, has been a decent selection of vintage stuff. Doubtless this has been due to the rise of ebay and unfortunately this is the stuff I'm most likely to pick up from a fair.

The toy fair was 95% vintage toys and I think the buying of older toys at fairs such as this is likely to be on the increase due to two big flaws with ebay -

1. You can see and inspect the things on sale. I think everyone has been disappointed with an item bought from ebay at some point, mostly due to 'good condition' being very open to interpretation.

2. Cost. Ebay fees for sellers are going through the roof. I'm informed that you're now hit with fees on postage costs now, on top of all the existing fees ebay claim. Then as a buyer you're hit with annoying expenses such as p&p which, especially on small items, easily take something from cheap to expensive.

I had a good time today. I'm not sure I'd rush to some of the smaller BP fairs simply because I'm not sure there'd be enough stalls to interest me, but I will make an effort to pop along to the next one at the NEC. Meanwhile I live in hope that 'vintage' returns to Memorabilia shows soon.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Review: NECA Videogame RoboCop

After the success of the Friday 13th NES videogame inspired figure, released as an SDCC exclusive last year, it was inevitable that more would follow. We've had Nightmare on Elm Street, RoboCop has just hit and Predator (and more!) are on the way. It's fortunate that NECA hold the rights to the characters from so many of these games.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Review: MOTUC Quarter 1 2014

For 2014, in an effort to counter rising shipping costs and postal company 'handling' fees, Mattel offered a quarterly shipping option for their Masters of the Universe Classics subscription. The first delivery of which arrived on my doorstep the other week. Since there's been rather a large break in my reviews, a bumper review seems like a good way to kick them off again.

You'll notice there's no pictures of the Unnamed One. This is because I have no idea where I've put him.

Most of the Princess of Power toys released in the 80s bore little to no resemblance to their cartoon counterparts, leaving many a child upset. Finally that has been corrected, with MOTUC Glimmer looking as though she's leapt out of the TV screen.

The major controversy with the figure, like a lot of the POP figures in MOTUC, is a skirt replacing the leotard seen in the cartoon. On Glimmer this really doesn't bother me at all. Whereas the skirt on Adora, for example, looking a bit rubbish, Glimmer looks absolutely fine. In fact, personally, I'd call this figure as being perfect.

I've stated before that I love New Adventures of He-Man. I have fond memories of watching the show on a holiday morning, usually twinned with COPS, while I sat in my bedroom surrounded by half-built Lego creations. I love all the NA characters so, unlike many, I don't dislike the MOTUC versions simply because they're from NA.


That armour does the figure no favours at all. It's far, far too bulky and ruins what otherwise would have been a great update. It's not quite as bad as some have ranted on the 'net, but it is bad.

Hydron comes with his crazy trident weapon thing, which looks weird yet I really like as 'alien' characters ought to have weapons which bear little resemblance to Earth ones. It's made of a very gummy plastic, which isn't so great, and has a holster on his belt where the trident can hang not particularly well.

What's always bothered me about Hydron is why he needs both the mask and the helmet. Surely one negates the need for the other? Or is he paranoid that the helmet will crack? A welcome addition to the toy would have been an unmasked head, especially since he was commonly mask-free in the cartoon. And, annoyingly, the helmet is shaped so that it forces Hydron to look down all the time.

It'd be difficult to choose the best figure in the MOTUC line, however picking the best toy is now incredibly easy. Modulok is an amazing amount of fun. You can (and I have) sat for hours building him in increasingly crazy ways. The ball and socket system works very well and the pieces are very easy to plug together, hold strongly, but are easy to pull apart again. He really is the highlight of this quarter's figures and is going to be very hard to beat as Figure Of The Year in this, or any other, toyline.

The Unnamed One
This is the subscription exclusive figure and supposedly one the fans will really get a kick out of. I think the general opinion is that TUO will get a kick from the fans back to wherever he came from.

TUO is supposed to be The Big Bad; he created the Snakemen and did various other nefarious deeds. And this is the figure Mattel have chosen to represent that character. Hmm...

It's not that it's a bad toy. I like the design, I think it looks good (apart from the bondage head, which is terrible and a complete waste of tooling budget when they are characters - such as Hydron - which are crying out for a second head) and he'd be a welcome addition to the ranks of MOTU bad guys. Just not as TUO. He's not impressive enough, not imposing enough, not evil enough.

I don't know what it is about Mattel with regard to Trollans (the species to which Orko & TUO belong) in MOTUC. They seem to want to make them super powerful. In the cartoon Orko was comic relief, a court jester whose tricks always went wrong. I'm fairly sure it was in the He-Man lore previously that Orko's tricks went wrong because of something to do with this universe and that at home they all worked fine, but now it's a Big Deal, a major story point. Heck, in one of the mini comics that came with an earlier figure, Orko kills all the snakemen! Yes, sweet lovable old Orko commits genocide!

As I mentioned, TUO comes with a second head which makes him look like someone who'd rather be locked away in a pornographic dungeon than taking over the universe. In addition he has a wand (which is perfectly ok) and a magic 'effect' which attaches to his hand. This is a nice accessory and something I wish we'd seen more of with magical characters, however it does make the figure a little unstable due to its bulk.

Overall, it was a pretty good start to 2014 MOTUC. A few design faults to be sure and I'm sure we could have all lived without TUO (was he really that demanded?) but Modulok more than makes up for any mistakes with the other figures. Roll on Q2!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Review: MOTUC Standor

There's quite a lot of hate going round the internet for the new(ish) MOTUC figure Standor. And now it's my turn to have a go at it!

Friday, 10 January 2014

WTRTW Awards 2013 aka 'the Palindromes'

It's the 10th January and you know what that means? Yep, I'm 10 days late with announcing this year's awards. You actually lucky you're getting them this year. I was this close to not bothering. I sat down several times and just couldn't bring myself to write anything. Until now.

As always the awards are based on what I remember being the best stuff from the past year, rather than what actually might have been best or what was actually released this year.

Anyway, enough of the preamble. On with the awards...

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Toyology review: Lego Cargo Heliplane

There's really no competition for the best toy of all time. Without a doubt it's Lego, who've been producing bricks since 1949 and, despite the current trend of looking down on plastic toys, is a firm favourite with everyone across the world.

With the abundance of 'themed' Lego sets - you can get everything from Star Wars to Lord of the Rings to The Simpsons in Lego form now, not to mention Chima, Friends, Castle etc - it's rare that we buy a 'basic' Lego City set so it was a nice change to receive this one for review from Toys R Us.

Plus it comes with a Lego chainsaw!