Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Charticon 2013 Transformers Panel

Back in 2013, I helped some friends of mine put on the very first un-official Transformers convention to be held in my home state of North Carolina, Charlotte to be exact. August 9th through the 11th, 2013...a time I'll never forget!

While my role in helping plan and staff the show was smaller than some of my friends and cohorts, the lead honcho of the show, Arkvander, asked me if I'd put together a panel for the convention. I immediately was flattered that he'd ask me to do something such as that, but what on earth would I begin to talk about? In the grand scheme of Transformers and the collecting community, I was/am a nobody!


I went back and forth trying to figure out what the topic of my panel would be. Would I talk about unreleased G1 transformer toys? Would I go into the related series such as Beastformers in Japan? I remember being at a crossroads for so long that I began to get really nervous as August was quickly approaching and I had to get something nailed down.

I eventually decided to do a brief history lesson if you will on the Transformers toy line in Japan. Granted I'm not an expert and I probably left some key stuff out, I created a Powerpoint presentation for Charticon. I was really nervous about presenting it, but thankfully my good friend in attendance, Allen Greenwood, stepped up and volunteered to sit at the table on that big stage with me.

I can't remember how many people were in the room for my panel. I know a lot of people couldn't bare to pull themselves away from the awesome dealer room, but for those that never got a chance to witness the panel, you're in luck! I recently found my presentation buried on an old SD memory card and after some fancying Googling and I found a way to share this presentation online.

The slide show is below, of course there is no commentary however so you're only getting part of the experience. Anyhow, the slides will change after 15 seconds or so, but you should be able to follow along. Enjoy!


So, what did you think? I know, I know...it's not professional in any way and I'm sure I left out some key points. In the end however I had a blast putting it together and presenting it. After I got into it, I really felt comfortable on stage. Thanks to my friend Arkvander, Allen Greenwood and the rest of the guys (you know who you are) for helping put together such an eventful and memory filled weekend. Until the next Charticon?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Visionaries: Cindarr



Here is a line of action figures from the 80's that I always wanted growing up. I immediately fell in love with the animated cartoon and also being a fan of GI Joe I was all into action figures and their cool vehicles.

I'd have to wait a very long time before I acquired my first first (loose) Visionaries figures. Cindarr, one of the Darkling Lords was my first acquisition.


Right off the bat I was surprised that these figures were the same size as the GI Joe A Real American Hero figures. Instead of being 3 3/4" these figures measured in at about 4 inches tall. I don't know why the scale was changed, but this did assure you that you'd be getting new figures and not frankenstein figures using Joe body parts.

The body construction isn't far off from the way the Joe figures are built. They have the same level of articulation, including an o-ring in the waist and swivel joints in the arms. The thumbs on the figures are prone to breaking so be careful when you arm the figure with it's weapons.

I like the detail in the figure's armor, especially on the legs. It appears he has a turtle shell design on his legs. The back of his chest armor has a lot of intricate detail molded into the figure, however without paint apps none of them stand out very well.


The holograms used on these figures are some of the best I've ever seen. However they are prone to wear so when buying these toys be sure to carefully inspect the holograms. As you can see Cindarr's totem hologram is scratched up a bit. This leaves little black marks which detract from the beauty of the holograms. 


Cindarr's chest hologram is a gorilla. In the show he uses this power to change himself to a gorilla, whether to travel the diverse terrain or to fight the Spectral Knights. He was given this totem power by Merklin because of his climbing ability and great strength. In the show, he is voiced by non other than Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime).


His magical staff gives him the power of a gobin of some type. He can use to aid himself and the other Darkling Lords in battle.


In addition to the magical staff, Cindarr comes with a gold colored club or mace. It's rather small and top heavy so prepare for it to flop around a bit once you put it in his hands. I will say that I have seen any signs of GPS (Gold Plastic Syndrome) on this figure. The frame around his totem hologram, staff and weapon are all cast of that infamous swirly gold plastic.


His helmet is made of a softer plastic that seems to be a bit more pliable. It fits snuggly on Cindarr's head, but not too tight.


Overall I was impressed with my first Visionaries figure. I think they can be fun toys, however this is one of those cases (at least for me) where the animation series trumps the toys. Now if the toys had came with a translucent green (or blue for the Spectral Knights) of the animal on the figure's totem, perhaps that would have added some more play value. As such, I'm limited my Visionaries figures in my collection to be MOC so I can enjoy the beautiful artwork.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Shinkalion: N700 Mizuho (09)

This is the third post of the three Shinkalion combiner trains. Scroll to the bottom for links associated with this post. Since all three of these combiners are basically the same mold, please refer to my review of 700 Nozomi for a complete breakdown. This post will basically be a photo gallery for Mizuho. Remember, you can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.

MIZUHO



robot head, left | combiner head, right

 accessories




First off let me apologize for the lack of images of the packaging. I had a little file corruption after I took the shots and with so many things backlogged, I just didn't have time to get to taking new images of the box.

Mizuho has a very nice train mode, but I just don't care for the overlook look of the robot mode. I guess it's the purple and pink highlights that turn me off. The combiner head looks as if it's wearing some sort of Native American headress. Just looks "off" on a robot to me. Overall its a decent toy and needed if you intended on combining the three to form Unity.

RELATED POSTS:
- 700 Noizu
- 700 Railstar
- Unity (combiner, video review)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rock Lords: Narliebat

Rock Lords, a spin-off of GoBots, was a series of transforming rocks. Yes, you read that correctly. If that wasn't odd enough Tonka decided to create companions for them, Narlies. These odd creatures were prominently featured in the animated Rock Lords movie.

Unlike the rest of the Rock Lord toys that were basically created by Bandai / Popy and imported from the Machine Robo series in Japan, the Narlies were wholly unique and created by Tonka themselves. This wasn't an unusual move as they previous released new characters and toys in the GoBots series as well.


The toys were unique. Covered in different colored "fur", their mouths, tail and feet were all made of plastic. Underneath the toy was a large wheel. When you would push the toy across a smooth hard surface, the mouth would open and close and the tail would essentially "wag". Add to this that the toy wasn't full of stuffing underneath all that fur. As you would move it along the ground, you could feel the mechanism working inside. This would give it a feeling as if it were alive! There was also a noise the wheel would make when turned...almost a cranking sound.


The Narlies were released in two series', with the first being the more common. The second series contained four more Narlies, all being evil this time around. I'm guessing the toy line was starting to die out around this time and due to poor sales or distribution, this second series of Narlies is really difficult to come across now on the secondary market. It's a real shame too as the designs are much more interesting in my opinion than the ones in the first series.

Narliebat is based on, well, a bat. The toy surprisingly has a good bit of detail. Just look at the ears, mouth and the wings on his side. While most of the detail is in the molding, his nails and wings are highlighted with some pink paint applications. Being that this toy is over 20 years old and most likely played with by a kid at some point, the paint on mine does show some wear. The very tip of his tail has been snapped off, however with all the fur it's kind of hard to tell. 


I understand that not every Rock Lord fan likes the Narlies. At first I didn't care for them myself either, but as I started to round out my Rock Lords collection I found that the Narlies were some of the only toys that I didn't own. I only picked up a few, including Narlielion, before I stopped due to space restrictions. However they are fun little toys and the non-educated Rock Lord fans will most certainly ask you about them when they see them on display in your collection.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Shinkalion: 700 Hikari Railstar (08)

This is the second post of the three Shinkalion combiner trains. Scroll to the bottom for links associated with this post. Since all three of these combiners are basically the same mold, please refer to my review of 700 Nozomi for a complete breakdown. This post will basically be a photo gallery for 700 Hikari Railstar. Remember, you can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.


PACKAGING



HIKARI RAILSTAR



 robot head, left | combiner head, right

accessories




700 Hikari Railstar is yet another excellent Shinkalion figure. While he really doesn't differ that much from his two combining brethren, Takara Tomy did a good job at changing up the base mold to make a different character. This color scheme works well together. I'm glad he wasn't white as the light gray as it brings some diversity to the team. When combined to form Unity, he looks the best when he comprises the center of the combiner.


RELATED POSTS:
- 700 Noizu
- Unity (combiner, video review)


Friday, March 10, 2017

Q-Transformers: Optimus QT-09

It amazes me sometimes how I have so many toys, especially Transformers in my collection that I forgot I even owned. Today's post is yet another example of this. I guess it's easier to understand how this small toy has stayed off my radar.


While the Convoy / Optimus Prime character would initally receive a release in the Q-Transformers line in his Generation 1 form, his Alternity form would eventually get a release. I love all the different versions of the Alternity Nissan GT-R mold so this one was an instant purchase for me. What puzzles me a little is how he was named Optimus and not Convoy. (note: it's just Optimus, not Optimus Prime)


Takara Tomy did a fantastic job at capturing the real world likeness of the Nissan GT-R and crammed it into a Choro-Q style toy. The car is molded in red plastic and it's a brilliant shade of red, especially in hand. Paint apps are perfect, there is even a small GT-R logo on the back of the vehicle. The toy rolls well on a hard, smooth surface. Only flaw I can find, and it's a very small flaw is that the spoiler doesn't want to see to line up correctly.


Transformation for many of the Q-Transformers toys are basically the same and Optimus Prime here is no different. Pull down the legs, pull up and back on the car canopy to reveal the head, seperate the back of the car to form the shoulders and pull down the arms. The head sculpt matches his larger Alternity brethern really well.

I'm still amazed at how fun these little toys are. Just the other day my 5 year old daughter was sitting in my office playing with many of my Q-Transformers toys. She said they were some of her favorites because the cars were so "cute". Not sure if that was what Takara Tomy was going for, but hey I'm just glad she was having fun.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Shinkalion: 700 Nozomi (07)

Takara Tomy's Shinkalion series is back with some new releases, 3 to be exact. Instead of release yet another version of a single train they have opted to give us something new and different...the series' first combiner. Released individually as well as in a gift set, I purchased them individually so we'll look at each robot on their own and eventually get to a review of their combined form, Unity.


These new combiner trains are smaller than the other robots/trains in the series, so their packaging is smaller and more compact. Today we'll be looking at 700 Nozomi, the box on the top of the stack. I do apologize for not having an upclose picture of the front of his box. Between shooting all the pictures at once for all 3 and doing a video review of the combined mode, Unity, I missed a few shots that I otherwise would have normally had.

I do have to commend Takara Tomy for the excellent looking box art they have provided for all of the Shinkalion releases. I think it really helps sell the toy. In addition to the box art, there are few images of the actual figure as well as a small blurb about it being able to combine with two others to form a larger robot.


The back of the box gives you a better idea of what the figure looks like in both modes, as well as how it can combine. The upper right corner does show you that the toy is compatible with previous releases in the series. More on that later.

The side of the box shows a very basic transformation sequence from train to robot, as well as the combined form again. The other side of the box was just all text so I didn't nother to take a picture.



The toy itself is rather small, about the size of a modern deluxe Transformer figure...maybe a tad shorter. When I first saw these for sale at HLJ.com it was hard to get an idea of their size. I prefer toys, especially combiners to be a tad smaller so I was perfectly fine with size of these. The robot has a very basic look and all 3 of these share the same overall look. They do suffer from having the nose of the train protruding out on their chest, but if you can look past that I think it's got a pretty clean look.

The other major drawback (for some) is the lack of articulation. The only real movement these guys have is in the waist and shoulders. You can rotate his top half a full 360 degrees, but his arms are just simple hinge joints that allow his arms to lift up and down. He has limited elbow joints, but his arms are kind of stubby and don't allow for many great poses.

Transformation if you are wondering is very simple. Basically you detach the back half of the train as this will form the legs. Simply pull the sides apart to form the legs, pull down to extend the legs, flip out the feet and you're done with this part. The top half is a little more complex, but it's still easy. Flip out the sides of the train and fold down the waist piece. Comtinue to fold out the arms to the side to get them out of the way. Once you attach the top half w/ the bottom half, the top panel will pop open to reveal the robot head.


From the side you can really see how far the chest hangs out. Not a deal breaker, but I can see how some may not care for this look. The other thing I should point out are the hands. The fists are molded on the inside the side panels of the train, the train wheels inbetween the fists and side panels. At first I really didn't care for this look at all, but now I just imagine the wheels being used as an offensive weapon (or maybe even defensively) in battle.


The head is spring loaded and pops up during transformation. Sadly there isn't any light piping for the eyes, but I'm not surprised seeing how the plate behind his head would block most of the incoming light. Overall I like the head and face sculpt. The blue trim around the forehead and the lime green eyes help break up all of the white.


Each of these three releases come with 3 accessories, differing between each figure. You get a weapon, a combiner head and this plate. Since I really can't read the instructions I'm not sure what purpose this plate serves as pictured, other than a display stand of sorts? The plate is used in conjunction with previous releases. This was shown on the back of the box and we'll look at that in a second.


Nozomi's weapon is odd. It collapses in half for storage purposes (maybe?), but when unfolded is a sword. That is what the box art makes it out to be. I will mention that the weapons in the gift set version are made of a translucent green plastic as opposed to this slightly metallic brown/black plastic. He can wield his weapon in either hand, but the limited art articulation will severely limit your action poses.


Each of these three release come with their own combiner head as the robots are interchangeable. Each of the combiner heads mimmicks the look of the robot it comes with, so here you can see a resemblance to Nozomi's face. The outer shell if you will of the head kind of looks like the front end of the train. This is just a hollow head that in G1 fashion simply sits overtop of the smaller robot head when in combined form.


As previously mentioned, Nozomi is quite smaller than the previous Shinkalion releases as you can see here. 



Again, because I can't read the instructions I'm really not sure what point this combined mode serves. You are basically making a large backpack for the larger robot by using the bottom half of Nozomi and attaching him to the back. This of course is done by attaching that base plate to the back of the larger robot, then attaching part of Nozomi. Personally I don't care for this look as I bought Nozomi and his comrades for their combined formed. However you have this option if you want it.


Finally we come to Nozomi's train mode. I absolutely love the look of this train, even though it may look a bit basic. At first look it may remind you of one of the trains from Car Robots or Robots in Disguise. This figure is a little smaller and shorter than it's Transformers cousins, but it does have a hitch on the back that allows you to link it up with another Shinkalion train. The wheels are rather large, however this was done for a few reasons I believe. 1) It makes the toy roll really well on a hard, smooth surface and 2) It's compatible with Takara Tomy's Plarail (or Tomica) line of train track. As you can see I have a few pieces of this blue track that I scavenged from some old Tomica toys my girls used to own.

I really like this toy. The transformation is basic, the robot has limited articulation, but the sculpting and styling is fantastic. I love trains and transforming robot trains are even cooler, especially with the combining feature. Individually these retailed for about $20 USD and at the time of this post are still available at HLJ.com. If you're going to look into picking one of these up you might as well go ahead and get the other two as they were meant to be a set. Keep an eye on the blog as we'll be looking at the other two robots in the set, as well as the combined forms and how they stack up to classic G1 combiners very soon. Until then, thanks for stopping by.


RELATED POSTS:
- Shinkalion: Unity


screen captures from Takara Tomy's website