Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Gobots: Street Heat

I was never a fan of Gobots growing up, opting for Transformers of course. However as I grew older I started to appreciate many of Bandai's Machine Robo designs. There was a point in time where you could purchase new, sealed on card Gobots for just a few bucks. My how times have changed!

When I was a kid you didn't dare get caught in public with a Gobot, unless you actually liked being picked on! With today's collecting market it is acceptable for Gobot toys to be amongst your transforming robot collection. With this surge in popularity, the prices of loose toys has gone up as well. I don't usually actively search them out anymore, but if I find a good deal then I'll usually pull the trigger and snatch them up.

Gobots Street Heat photo 015_zps85afe89d.jpg

I may have had a few of the early Gobots growing up, but Street Heat was never one of those. As cool as Leader-1 was, I was always attracted to the cars. Blame it on the Autobots. Street Heat is one of the Guardians, otherwise a good guy. His alt form is that of a real world Chevrolet Camaro, modified for drag racing. Being a Chevy guy this one always appealed to me.

His red color has a touch of maroon putting it somewhere in the middle of bright and dark. His exposed engine and exhaust pipes underneath this doors are chromed. His windows are painted silver.

pic courtesy of Counter-X.net

In Japan as part of the Machine Robo series, Street Heat had a different paint scheme. I really like the blue on this mold. Even the flame stickers I can deal with. This is one I'd love to personally own someday.

Gobots Street Heat photo 017_zps98f5db26.jpg

Transformation to robot mode is achieved with just a few simple steps. Unlike some of the other Gobots, his transformation is a little more elaborate than just pulled out the legs and arms. Articulation wise he is limited, but I'm guessing most people know that. Overall he's got a good looking robot mode. Even his chromed head sculpt looks cool.

It seems that in today's market a good majority of loose Gobots command between $8 and $20. If you decide to go after him or any others, just make sure you inspect the photos well as the die-cast can tend to make some of the joints loose over time. Also many of the toys had chromed parts to make sure you pay attention to chrome wear as well as sticker and paint wear. I actually upgraded my Street Heat with this version as my previous one had some noticeable chips to the gray paint on the windshield.

Gobots Street Heat photo 016_zps6e5e14db.jpg

...waiting for the green flag to drop!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A guide to printing custom video game covers at Staples.com

If you've stopped by here before today then you should know I'm all about Transformers. However what you may not know is my ever growing love of the retro video game scene. I'm very close to completing my Generation One Transformers collection and with prices ever seeming to climb every day, I often look elsewhere to fulfill that collecting desire.

Having limited space for a video game collection shouldn't come as a surprise. Any type of collector will at one point or another face that issue of simply running out of space. One way I've found to save some space, and give me something fun to work on is making custom cases for certain game platforms. Many of you may be familiar with the big, clunky, fragile jewel cases Sega used for their Sega CD and Sega Saturn games. While I like the look, I don't like how much space they take up on my shelves. I had heard of this site called The Cover Project, but had never really looked into it much until some point last year. I had more games than I had space for, or some games missing cases all together. Enter this awesome website.

Thanks to a lot of great users in the gaming community, many cover images have been uploaded to The Cover Project site. Many of these images have been altered into custom covers. When I noticed many of the Sega CD and Saturn covers had been redone as DVD covers I started to take notice. It wasn't long before I was trying my hand at printing my own covers to re-case my entire Sega CD and Saturn collections.


While trying my own hand, I kept running into problems. 1) I didn't have a good enough printer at home, 2) trimming them down was a hassle. I saw a thread on the forums at The Cover Project where a user mentioned using his local Staples store to print his Nintendo DS custom covers. Instead of going down to the actual store, I tried uploading a few images at Staples.com and printing my covers that way. My first attempt was pretty successful, but the perfectionist in me meant I had to keep trying until I found what I thought was the best combination.


While I may have not figure it all out just yet, I think I've got a pretty good combination down that yields good, and best yet affordable results. Here is a step by step tutorial if you will if you want to try it out.


  • First thing you need to do is go to The Cover Project site and download the images you want to use. The site is categorized by gaming platform. Save your images to your computers hard drive or an external device like a thumb drive or SD card.
  • When downloading your cover images, make sure you are selecting DVD as some covers have multiple formats.
  • One you have your images, go to Staples.com, or more specifically here.
  • Add your image file by clicking on 'Add Files'. You can also name your job if you wish.
  • Change your quantity if you desire more than 1 print.
  • Under the Print Options column, we are going to make a few changes.
  • For Media, click the arrow to bring up the options window and select 8.5 x 11 80lb Elite Gloss DS
  • Change the Orientation from Portrait to Landscape
  • When done, click the yellow Add to Cart button.

Each print is only $.62 each! Now you may be wondering about the paper. While it's called Elite Gloss, it's not a thick, glossy piece of paper. If you want a thinner, glossier print then select 8lb Surpeme Gloss. Those cost $.76 each. While I liked the look, it was a little too shiny for my tastes. I think the Elite Gloss DS looks great, even once you've inserted it into your DVD case.

I've sent several print jobs to my local Staples store and they've always done a great job. Most of the time the prints are ready long before the estimated time the website lists. The last time I sent in an order the guy working the Copy & Print department gave me his business cards and just told me to attach the images with the paper/orientation/etc. He said he was easier for him, but if you're sending in a lot of prints you are best to just stick with the website.

I haven't had these orders shipped to me, but that is an option. I've simply gone down to the store to pick them up myself. Now my local store has let me use their rotary cutting tool free of charge the last few times I've been there. This is simply a large cutting board with a blade in a handle that slides down the side of the board. It makes trimming the covers a breeze and best of all, it's free. They told me it would be $.50 per page to trim, or I could do it myself.

I'm guessing you could also just take your memory card or thumb drive down to the store and tell them what paper and instructions to use as well.



Overall I've been really happy with my results. The paper holds the colors really well. I like using the standard black DVD cases for Sega CD, and white for Saturn. I also plan on re-casing my Dreamcast collection very soon and I'll too use white DVD cases for them. Personally I just love the uniform look of the DVD cases, plus the larger, brightly colored game logos on the spine look nice, especially on the Dreamcast games.

I know some collectors shy away from this sort of thing, but I personally love doing this. Most of the time I stick with using the original art, but I did go for some custom art / layout like on the Final Fight CD case. I've got to have all my Sega CD spines the same color!


I also use the same steps above to print custom covers for Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64 games. Those covers are made for the Universal Game Cases, but I re-use Genesis cases for my Genesis games.


Here is an example of a Genesis cover I recently printed. I found the game, Exile, for only $4.99 at my local game store. However the cover art was faded and had an ugly former rental label on the spine. I tried to remove the label, but it would have torn the cover or left too much nasty residue. Enter The Cover Project!


Thankfully the original art had already been uploaded into their database so I saved it to my hard drive and submitted it with my latest batch to Staples to be printed.


The original insert is on top. Notice how faded it is compared to the new printed copy? Looks great, doesn't it?


Here is another side by side comparison. Not only does it have brighter colors, but the spine looks 10 times better!


Simply slide the new print down into the original Genesis case it will form bend itself to fit perfectly. Now that I know how easy it is to print Genesis covers, I'm always on the lookout for cheap sports titles I can raid for their cases! I often don't even bother to look at loose Genesis carts because I prefer them to at least have their case, if not complete. However now I've got an affordable option to make my own cases in the event I find a good deal on a loose game!

I hope you find this "tutorial" helpful and entertaining. Once I finish re-casing all my disc based Sega games I'll post and update with plenty of pictures.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

eBay store restocked

Just a quick update that I've restocked my eBay store this afternoon with Transformers, video games and accessories and a few other items. As always I try to price the stuff low so I move them out and make room for new stuff. Click the images to go straight to the eBay listings.


Items of interest include a Walmart exclusive Transformers Age of Extinction Dinobot Strafe. Why it's interesting (at least to me) is that it's a repaint of the awesome Beast Wars Terrorsaur mold! Bidding starts at only $.99!



I didn't stick around collecting the GI Joe A Real American Hero line into the 90's, so this vehicle / playset wasn't all that familiar to me. I found this Fort America toy in a lot I purchased and I did my best using YoJoe.com to piece together as much of it as I could. Listed this today starting at $.99 as well.


Not really a new listing, but I did drop the price by 5 bucks on this Hard Hero Artist's Proof statue of Beast Wars' Rhinox. Beautiful statue, I just don't have the need for it anymore.


I used to have a subscription to Matty Collector's Masters of the Universe Classics series. After a few years I decided to let my collection of figures go. However 3 figures lept off the shelf where they were displayed and "hid" behind my arcade cabinet. Over the Christmas holiday I reorganized a major portion of my toy/game room and I unearthed Adora and a few others. The other figures have since sold, but Adora is still available.


Flashback to the 80's with this decent NES port of the smash hit, Double Dragon II: the Revenge. I've been playing my NES games all this time on one of those clone systems. I've recently reorganized my gaming set up and posted a few pictures in some retro gaming groups I'm a part of on Facebook. Most of the comments are positive, but I was given some slack over using a clone NES. So I recently worked out a trade for a "toaster" NES console and this was one of the games included that I already owned.


You can't play NES games without a control pad! While I use and prefer the "dog bone" style controller Nintendo came out with later, these classic pads bring back a lot of great memories. I have two of them up for grabs.



Friday, January 9, 2015

KO Korner: G1 Transformers Space Jet SL-811 "Falcon"

Now this is an entry into the KO Korner that I've been patiently waiting to share. Finding KO Transformers isn't that hard. A quick trip down to your local discount store or even flea market will usually yield some sort of knock off transforming robot. However, finding KO G1 toys proves to be a little tougher. Sometime last year, a seller on eBay was selling off his KO G1 collection. There were some very beautiful pieces up for bids, but man oh man did some of them bring in some huge bucks. Hard to believe some collectors will pay three or even four figures for a toy that isn't even authentic, but who am I to judge?

I was able to acquire 3 items off this international seller and this is one of them. The G1 Decepticon Predator jet, Falcon. Released at the tail end of Transformers as part of Operation Combination in Japan, Falcon also saw release in 1992 as part of Hasbro Europe's line up. When I first started to branch out from the domestically released G1 toys, a lot of the European stuff was fairly inexpensive and I acquired all of the Predators, and their Turbomasters counterparts.

(As a reminder, click on the images for a larger view)

KO Falcon photo IMG_1420_zpsac1f2d16.jpg
This version of Falcon is simply known as 'Secret Jet'. The toy comes on a blister card, complete with cheap plastic bubble and flimsy cardboard. To be honest I'm surprised this toy lasted this long without the bubble falling off the card. Packaged beside the toy are 3 missiles and a gold launcher. If you are familiar with the Hasbro/Takara releases of the Predator jets, then you know the missile launchers are plagued with GPS (Gold Plastic Syndrome). I fully expected the gun to fall apart upon opening the package.

KO Falcon photo IMG_1421_zpscae4ffb4.jpg

The transformation instructions are printed on the back of the card. Transformation is the same as the authentic G1 toy. I would love to more about the background of this release, but as you can see the packaging doesn't yield a lot of information other than it was made in Taiwan.

KO Falcon photo IMG_1422_zpsf27c45ed.jpg

'Space Jet', sticker sheet, launcher and 3 missiles

KO Falcon photo IMG_1424_zpsf486c378.jpg

KO Falcon photo IMG_1429_zpsc48f2a46.jpg

Falcon has undergone a color change as you can see. Gone are the gray/blue and black, replaced with green and yellow. As much of a depart as the colors are from the G1 toy, I can't really say that I don't like these colors. If we were to call this a G2 Falcon would that help? The other main change to the mold is the lack of the translucent cockpit window. The Predator targeting window gimmick, while present, has also been modified on this release. More on that in a bit.

KO Falcon photo IMG_1428_zpsa2c62d3e.jpg

KO Falcon photo IMG_1432_zps84fb7cc5.jpg

The underside of the figure is basically the same as well. Even the KO has the metal screw where the body slides upon as part of the transformation.

KO Falcon photo IMG_1435_zps142a9ffe.jpg

The gimmick if you will of the Decepticon Predators were the smaller jets had little clear translucent targeting windows. These spring loaded little windows had a targeting reticule over top one of the Autobot Turbomaster characters. When one of the Predator jets were attached to a larger toy (such as Skyquake or Stalker) these windows would line up as if the Decepticon had the Autobot dead in it's sights.

The KO has this targeting piece, however it has been cast in solid black plastic. The spring has also been removed. I'm sure you could fold it into place and still attach it to Skyquake, but I haven't tried.

KO Falcon photo IMG_1436_zps803376a9.jpg

As I've previously mentioned, transformation is the same. I was a little nervous transforming him, but I found that the plastic quality is generally pretty good. It's a hard plastic, not soft, however none of the moving parts ever felt brittle. Now granted I only transformed the toy a few times, but overall I'm pleased with the quality.

KO Falcon photo IMG_1437_zps67981384.jpg

The head sculpt is the same, minus the light piping for the eyes. Where the G1 toy has lime translucent plastic on the back of the head, 'Space Jet' has another solid piece of yellow plastic.

KO Falcon photo IMG_1438_zpsc23cf490.jpg

From what I can tell the included stickers are very close to the original stickers, however I didn't bother to try and apply them as I felt the adhesive would be pretty crappy. Speaking of the stickers, the red stickers that were factory applied to the wings fell off shortly after opening the toy. I thought about putting a little glue on them so I could re-apply the stickers, but ultimately held off.

Side by side I still think that 'Space Jet' looks pretty great. Frankly I'm glad that whoever made this toy opted for different colors, even if it makes the toy look like an advertisement for the soft drink Sprite. Outside of the cockpit, light piping for the eyes and the targeting window gimmick, it appears the rest of the mold is unchanged. Even the included missiles are a close 1:1 to the originals.

KO Falcon photo IMG_1439_zps463d64bd.jpg

Even his launcher fit snugly in his fist. Yes, I did hold my breath while putting the gun in his hand and removing it. It appears however that perhaps a different type of plastic was used as the gun felt as solid as the rest of the figure. Even the spring inside the launcher worked well as I launched the little lime missile across the room!

My little collection of G1 KOs is ever growing and this one has become one of my favorites. Surprisingly I got this guy for pretty cheap, in fact I paid more to have this guy shipped to me than I paid for the toy. I've never seen this toy before so I hope you enjoyed this look at the newest addition to the KO Korner.

KO Falcon photo IMG_1423_zps5351cdc4.jpg

KO Falcon photo IMG_1426_zps908eb837.jpg

KO Falcon photo IMG_1425_zpsc9d2f1b4.jpg

KO Falcon photo IMG_1427_zps3920289b.jpg

KO Falcon photo IMG_1431_zps519a2c02.jpg

KO Falcon photo IMG_1430_zps342656b8.jpg






Thursday, January 8, 2015

Transformers Q

I don't know about you, but I'm excited about this new series in Japan (Transformers Q) celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the (horrible) Nintendo Famicom game, The Mystery of Convoy.

In celebration of the game, a new version has been released for iPhone and Android devices. I tried downloading the game the other day in the Google Play store, but was unable to as it said it wasn't made for my region. Hmm...

In addition to the new mobile game, new toys are coming. Actually they've already been released in Japan. I'll have all of the G1 themed characters coming soon and I plan to share once I tell HLJ to ship them.


Turns out there is some sort of animation series that is planned too. My brother stumbled across this the other day and sent it to me. Of course I have no idea what they are saying, but I thought it was share worthy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Transformers Generations - Combiner Wars: Bombshell

The new year brings a new theme to Hasbro's Transformers Generations series. Combiner Wars. However not all the toys released under this new theme are combining toys. The Legend/Legion/Scout/Basic size class remains, however this time around these toys lack a transforming companion. Same price, less stuff. That seems to be the norm now.

While spending some time with my wife after Christmas, celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary, we did what any married couple does when they go shopping...we went our separate ways! She went to look at shoes, I went to look at toys. The area Toys R Us was still suffering from Christmas, however their Transformers selection had been restocked. Sure there were new Robots in Disguise toys I've yet to see, but I wasn't looking for those. I had hoped to find the new deluxes or voyagers, but I was happy to find the 4 new legend sized TFs.

Combiner Wars Bombshell photo 007_zps66152b6a.jpg

A quick post on Facebook asking which figure should get the spotlight first yielded with Bombshell. A very good pick too as that was the way I was leaning myself. Already owning the previously released Generations Skrapnel/Shrapnel figure, I was anxious to see how these 2 new Insections looked along side each other.

The Toys R Us where I grabbed these new figures had multiples of every figure except Bombshell. This one had a crushed blister bubble and the backing card was slightly bent. After close inspection I figured the toy and the included trading card were OK.

The new packaging is great, some of the best Transformers packaging to date. I really like the dark colors used as it makes the Transformers red type really pop and stand out. The artwork used for the packaging (and the trading card) I believe comes from the online Transformers game.

Combiner Wars Bombshell photo 008_zps4c466052.jpg

The back of the packaging features a ever so subtle gray grid, a la Generation 1. The one thing that I've noticed that is predominate on the new packaging is the number of steps involved in the transformation. Some people I've heard hate how they seem to be highlight "x easy steps" while others don't mind. Personally I don't care. I don't mind a complex transformation, but I'd rather have an innovative transformation over something will two pages full of steps.

Notice how the toy lacks a real bio or tech specs? Now this bothers me probably more than it should. Part of what made Transformers so unique was the character development. Now granted his bio (if you can call it that) does mention that Bombshell can manipulate others via mind control, but that's it. One line. No other abilities listed. No strengths or weakness. No mention of the other Insections. Boo! C'mon Hasbro, you can do better than this!

Combiner Wars Bombshell photo 009_zpse6849d37.jpg

Right out of the package I was in love with this figure. In recent years it seems as if the plastic quality Hasbro has been using was inferior to what most of us were used to. I'm happy to report that it seems the quality has been improved. The other thing that immediately stood out to me where his colors. They are spot on and look beautiful in hand. Notice the metallic sheen to the purple plastic? The deep, rich yellow on his chest? The colors match his G1 self really well. Now I'm kicking myself I didn't grab my G1 Bombshell and photograph the two together.

Articulation is really good for a figure of this size. He rotates at the waist, has ball jointed hips, swivel thighs and hinged knees. You'll find his shoulders and elbows are ball joints. His beetle "horn" has limited movement as well.

The head sculpt is near perfect and the paint apps look great. His waist, thighs and arms would benefit from some paint apps to bring out the sculpted detail, but overall he looks so good.

Combiner Wars Bombshell photo 011_zps0ec51b37.jpg

Beetle mode is a dead ringer for G1. Small, compact and sleek. The red paint apps give the insect some needed color and breaks up the purple and black. The 6 insect legs are not articulation and have very minimal movement. This is a little bit of a drawback, but doesn't ruin an otherwise great looking alternate mode.

Combiner Wars Bombshell photo 010_zps9d0dc8b8.jpg

Combiner Wars Bombshell photo 012_zps1ee1c668.jpg

Side by side with Skrapnel and Bombshell stands head and shoulders as the better Insecticon. Bombshell has the darker, metallic purple and the darker, richer yellow. Even the gray plastic used on Bombshell's beetle "horn" looks better than the plastic used for Skrapnel's pinchers. Bombshell has a slightly smaller alt mode, but stands taller in robot mode. I know the G1 Insections were basically all the same size regardless of mode, I'm OK with the subtle size differences.


Laugh if you will, but the inclusion of trading cards has this collector on cloud 9. I also hate this move by Hasbro as it'll get me buying toys I had no interest in buying. See Legends Windcharger. I doubt I'll review him, but you can rest assure the toy (minus the trading card) will be added to my eBay store very soon!

The cardboard used for these cards is very sturdy and thick. Almost has a matte feel to it. Nice to see in this day and age when most trading cards has that shiny, UV coating. The backside of the card just features the Autobot/Generations logo found on the front of the packaging. This may be a throw away for some, but for me it's another reason to buy the product. 

All of these new Generations Combiner Wars cards will be uploaded and added soon to my other project. the Transformers Bio Card Database.

The new Combiner Wars legends toys cost the same as their Generations predecessors, even though they lack the bundled small Transformer. However the plastic seems better and the paint apps almost seem to have a premium look to them. Overall this new version of G1 Bombshell is wonderfully delicious. Regardless if you have bought his Insecticon partner, you need to buy Bombshell. If you buy him and you aren't impressed, let me know and I'll buy yours.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Amazon Toy Store

Happy New Year everyone! I'm looking forward to sharing more Transformers and other toy/video game related content with everyone in 2015. While I'm working on my next review, I thought I'd point out that I've created a little "toy store" powered by Amazon.com. If you look over on the right hand side of the site, you'll see a few links. Clicking any of these links will take you to the actual store I've set up.

I've created my own categories of toys that I think will appeal to readers of this blog. I'll be adding new items from time to time. Right now you can find Transformers (including all the new Combiner Wars toys!), G.I. Joe, Marvel items and a small selection of KRE-O.


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Now you may be wondering why I bothered with this when there are so many other options out there, including some great retailers I've already linked to. Well my response is why not? Amazon offers a lot of good stuff, but sometimes now you don't have to navigate the whole site as you can go right to the category of Transformers you're looking for.

I've also added a few new links to some other great sites I visit time to time, such as Botch the Crab, BWTF and TFU.info.

Alright, back to work. My first Combiner Wars post is coming real soon...so stop "bugging" me. (was that a hint?)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Transformers Robots in Disguise (2015): Strongarm (Legion Class)

Transformers have come in varied size assortments pretty much since the line originated in 1984, but starting with Beast Wars circa 1995 the different size classes weren't really named. While the names for the different sizes changes every so often, the toys remain for the most part, the same. I believe it was during the Cybertron toy line that Hasbro introduced yet another size assortment, then called Legends.

I immediately loved this new, more simplified scale. While I'm not against multi-step, complex transformations, sometimes it's just fun to have a small Transformer you can carry around with you and transform in a matter of seconds. The Legends scale is now being called 'Legion' in the new Robots in Disguise series.

RID 2015 Strongarm photo 008_zpsb7164f52.jpg

When I learned of this new RID series I was on the fence. I think it's a continuation of the Prime series, which is a good thing in my book. However the cast of characters has changed a bit. Carry over characters (Bumblebee, Optimus Prime) have been given a face lift while the series also introduces new characters. Strongarm is one of the new characters. Little did I know until later that Strongarm isn't a he but a she! Looking at the art on the packaging and by looking at her animation model, I can see the fembot aspects. Neither the Warrior class (aka deluxe) or this Legion toy do a very good job though at highlighting the fact that she is a she.

RID 2015 Strongarm photo 009_zpsda33fdfa.jpg

As with the Optimus Prime Legion toy I review previously, Strongarm is part of the new Transformers mobile app whereas you can scan the Autobot badge to unlock new abilities and weapons in the game.

RID 2015 Strongarm photo 011_zpsc2e85324.jpg

As a Legion class toy, I think Strongarm looks pretty cool. I don't know if I like the doors handing out there like wings, but you can find them in if you'd like. For a Legion class toy you get all the same points of articulation that you'd expect to find in this size. Ball jointed shoulders and hips with hinge jointed elbows and knees. Paint apps seem to be pretty good, although a bit limited. What I don't get is the face sculpt. Compared to the packaging art, this almost looks like a different head. Gone is the feminine looking face, replaced by a face shield. It isn't a deal breaker to me, but to some I know that will be a low point in the figure.

RID 2015 Strongarm photo 012_zpse71276c3.jpg

I've watched a few video reviews of the Strongarm Warrior class figure and I have to say this is one of those rare instances where I actually prefer the simplified version. At least the Legion class figure resembles a fembot. Yeah she has the bulky shoulders and all, but it works. Besides, up until now all the fembots in the Transformers mythos have been skinny. Who says a fembot can't have a little junk?

RID 2015 Strongarm photo 014_zps19f79604.jpg

Usually the fembots get some super sleek and sexy sports car or motorcycle. Strongarm appropriately gets a truck alt mode. Small, compact and holds together white well. The wheels don't roll as freely as I'd like. I prefer the robot over the alt mode, but that doesn't mean the alt mode suffers from any real draw backs.

Strongarm is nice addition to the female cast of Transformers. It remains to be seen how she'll be protrayed in the new animated series, but from her looks alone I suspect she'll be one tough girl the Decepticons won't want to mess with.

RID 2015 Strongarm photo 013_zpsc5d32862.jpg