Friday, January 6, 2017

Toys 'R Us: December 21, 2016

I meant to get this posted before Christmas, but you know how the holidays can go. Anyhow, I had to make a quick trip to my local TRU store in Pineville, NC the week of Christmas and I thought why not document my trip if you will. I always get a kick out of those old photos of the toy aisle that you see pop up on the internet from time to time. I thought why not take a few photos of the aisles I was browsing and share them. Remember, you can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.

The dedicated Nexo Knights end cap display prominently at the front of the Lego section. Nothing new here, but the sheer awesomeness of these sets will still attract your attention.

I started my visit in the Lego section like I normally do. I usually gravitate to the City section since that has traditionally been my favorite theme, however the Nexo Knights have caught my attention ever since they were released in early 2016. The good thing about late December is you can sometimes find some of the new sets already out on shelves. This was the case as I found several of the new Nexo Knights themed sets for 2017. If only I had more space and money I'd buy all of these sets!

Across from the Nexo Knights section was the aforementioned City theme sets. I noticed a few new sets, like the Pizza Van, but many of these were sets that have been out for awhile now. Surprisingly I didn't see many of the "Cops vs Crooks" sets I've seen at places like Target and Walmart. The selection was still pretty good, especially if you don't have a Lego store nearby.

The end cap around the corner from the City section was supposed to be spotlighting the new sets, but it had been picked over. I swear that jet and limousine set looks awfully familiar. I keep saying I'm going to buy that construction set w/ the Port-A-John before it disappears from retail shelves.

Being the Marvel van that I am, I didn't bother to take pictures of the DC Super Heroes sets! I should mention that many of the larger Marvel sets were actually on the action figure aisle shelves. Other than one small Captain America set from when Lego first started releasing Marvel sets, I've stayed away. It's not because I don't like the sets, but like other collectors I only have so much money and room for my collections. This new Spider-Man and Ghost Rider set looks pretty cool though.

My wife and I finally caught the new Star Wars Rogue One movie in the theatres as part of our wedding anniversary celebration on New Year's Day. Man oh man was that a great movie! Makes some of these new sets that more intriguing, especially that new TIE fighter.

Before leaving the Lego area, I walked around to where the Mega Bloks were and noticed a few of the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sets. I've seen the Krang set before, but the Turtle van and Technodrome I hadn't seen least in person. I couldn't believe the $249.99 price tag of the Technodrome however. Guess I shouldn't be surprised as it looks to be similar in size to the Lego Star Wars Deathstar.

After finishing in the building block section, I made my way around to the other side of the store where the action figures were. I first went down the comic themed aisle, looking specifically to see if there were any of the new Spider-Man/Sandman Marvel Legends figures. There was one lone figure of the Jackal, but that was it. The rest of the selection was average fare...Absorbing Man, Ant Man, Juggernaut and Dormammu Build-A-Figure waves. There were a few of the 4 inch figures that I hadn't seen before. The figures of Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Rage (New Warriors) were particularly favorites of mine. I will eventually pick up that figure of Rage as the New Warriors was the first Marvel title I read when my brother first introduced me to comics in 1990.

Sadly the Transformers section was pretty poor. It had been shopped, but not well managed by the store staff. Do you ever find yourself tidying up the shelves and pegs at your local stores like I do? I couldn't help to put things back in the right spots...I guess it comes from all those years I worked retail while in high school and college. The only new items I saw was the new packaging for Robots in Disguise. They had the new wave of Legends figures, but TRU is asking $8.99 when they can be bought for $5.99 at Target/Walmart. I'm OK with a small mark up, but $3? Come on, man!

What I didn't intend on seeing on this visit was Playmates new Voltron toys. These of course are based on the new Netflix series. I started to watch the new show while on vacation last week, but after walking 6 miles through the streets of Savannah, GA I just couldn't make it very long and fell asleep. I'll have to revisit the show again very soon.

The non-combing lions were present, as well as some figures of the enemy. There was a full set of the combining lions which was surprising...especially after I've heard from others that they have been hard to find. There was 3 of the black lion too. I was tempted, but ultimately held off since Christmas was just around the corner.

The last section I checked out was the "collector's area" that has taken over a part of the R Zone where the video games and other electronics are held. This is where you find a lot of the comic and movie franchise figures. There didn't seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to the way this area was set up, however there was some cool stuff there. I particularly liked the Funko Dark Crystal figures...always loved that old Jim Henson movie.

Well that about wraps it up. I wanted to take more pictures in the action figure aisles, but being that it was only a few days left before Christmas the store was busy. I was already getting odd looks from other customers taking the pictures that I did, so I just settled for what I had. 

I will make mention that I visit a TRU store in Greenville, SC when I travel for work and it's a much nicer store. It's one of those combined TRU / Babies R Us stores so it's much larger. The video game area usually leaves a lot to be desired, but their Lego and action figure sections are always well stocked. The store also seems to be given more attention than the one located near me.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

GI Joe Loyal Subjects Wave 2: Roadblock

It's been awhile since I've looked at anything GI Joe related on this blog, so let's take of that shall we? While out doing a little Christmas shopping or my nieces and nephews at Toys R Us, I came across a fresh, undisturbed box of Loyal Subject's wave 2 Joes. I'm familiar w/ the company, but not these actual figures. I had a few of LS Transformer figures, but ultimately decided to let them go as they just didn't do anything for me. However these GI Joe versions, especially wave 2 caught my eye. How could I pass up the chance to see what these were like first hand?

They come blind packaged in nice little retro style boxes. The front features Snake-Eyes in all his comic art glory. The chocking hazard warning is a sticker...I'm guessing it was an after thought?

The sides and back of the box show off the entire wave of characters, along with the general odds of which one you'll get. Of course the more desired Cobra figures are the ones that are hardest to get, that being the Baroness, Crimson Guard and Cobra Trooper.

I love the inclusion of the old school Flag Points on the back, but what really intrigues me is the line "Collect GI Joe vehicles and playsets, sold separately". Is there more than meets the eye here? Is Loyal Subjects teasing us with more possible offerings, or is that just for looks?

The figures are packaged in a sealed foil bag along with a little file card. I like this because I see a lot of blind packaged toys these days opened on retail shelves. At least if some jerk opens the box to peek inside they'll still have to get into the foil bag to see which character is inside.

The included file card is sized to that of a traditional trading card. Being a card collector I love this. The back side of the card has the same image of Snake-Eyes from the box. I don't have any file cards of Roadblock so I don't know how closely the info matches any prior versions, but Loyal Subjects nailed the look of the classic cards.

Unlike many collectible vinyl figures on the market today, these are Action Vinyls, meaning they have articulation. The head appears to be a on ball joint and that allows the head to freely move around as well as up and down. He has articulation at his shoulders, wrists, hips and thighs. He appears to have what feels like a classic o-ring in his waist area, but I'm not sure if that is 100% the case.

Some people may be put off by the large head of the character, but I like it personally. Gives the toy a unique look and feel. The paint apps (at least on mine) look great and aren't messy at all. The plastic quality feels solid.

Just like the classic A Real American Hero toy, Roadblock comes packaged with his classic weapons an accessories. You get a helmet, backpack and his machine gun with removable tripod.

Overall these are great little figures. Toys R Us retails them for $12.99, which isn't too bad. I would imagine if other mass retailers carried these they may be in the $9.99 to $10.99 range. Either way, I'm glad I was able to check one of these out and will keep my eyes open for more in the future.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hello Carbot: Zetren

I've used this blog over the last 6 or 7 years to share my thoughts and opinions on toys generally from my own collection or from items that interest me. I was recently asked to share my thoughts on a toy that I know very little of so this post features raw information. Usually I know what I'm getting into so this is new territory for me.

Introducing Zetren (or is it Jetren?) from Sonokong's line of transforming robots, Hello Carbot. From what I've been able to gather from information on line, this line of toys is supplemented by a CGI television show. This may be part of a larger series as well, but I've not been able to confirm that. 

When I first saw images of this character, I figured he was one of the villains of the series...being mostly red and black. However I was wrong. In fact I'm not sure Sonokong even produced any toys of the villain characters. I know with Transformers in Japan, the Cybertron (Autobot) toys always outnumbered the Destron (Decepticon) toys due to the good guy characters always sold better. I'm guessing the same logic applies here?

The packaging for this toy is quite nice. The box roughly measures 12 inches tall, 10 inches wide and 4 inches deep. The cardboard is of typical thickness and quality. It features a nice large window for you to view part of the actual toy inside. 

Top & Bottom of Box

Sides of Box

On the back of the box are some additional images of the toy, both in robot and vehicle forms. There also appears to be some sort of ad for a related app, however I assume this is exclusive for the Korean market. A good chunk of the bottom of the box features your standard safety warnings.

Packaged inside the box is a tray that houses the toy. The inner tray is lined with a reflective silver foil. This looks quote nice in person. The toy is held in place to the form fitting translucent bubble insert with traditional plastic ties.

The instruction sheet unfolds into 4 panels. Each transformation step highlights the moving parts in red to help ease the process. I used these instructions the first time I transformed Zetren from robot to his vehicle form, but after that I no longer needed the instructions as the transformation process very easy to figure out and perform.

The first thing I noticed when I removed Zetren from his plastic tray was his heft. This toy isn't made of thin, cheap plastic. I guess I shouldn't be surprised as I know Takara has partnered with Sonokong in the past to distribute and market it's various Transformers lines. There aren't any stickers and for the most part all of the colors you see are molded plastic.

Now I do have to add that he is ever so slightly mistransformed in the above images. This is how the robot looks straight out of the packaging. The car panels on his shoulders actually peg down onto the center hole of the front tires, giving him a bit of a cleaner look. On the back of his legs the top portion of the rear car collapses a bit to fill in his hollow calves. I didn't notice this until after I had completed taking my photos and I never went back to correct my images.

Zetren has a very nice, yet odd robot head. His large black crest if you will is very noticeable, but doesn't look that bad in person. It does however do a good job at hiding his eyes. It's hard to tell in above picture, but his eyes are made of translucent yellow plastic. He does have light piping that works quite well when a light source is directed onto the back of his head. In addition to his head crest, he has nice red wings on each side. I apologize for not doing a better job capturing this in my photos. The last step of his transformation from vehicle to robot involves pushing a red button on the back that splits open the windshield, revealing the head which also pops up into place.

I know there maybe several people reading this that are wondering about the articulation of the robot. Surprisingly there are several points of articulation. His head can rotate a full 360 degrees, but it's unable to look up or down. His shoulders can rotate 360 degrees on ratcheting joints. The arms can swivel out side to side in a hinge joint. He has ratcheting elbows that are quite loud when positioned. His fists are molded into the forearm so they do not move. He doesn't have waist articulation either, but features tight, ratcheting hip joints. They allow the legs to go out and effective let him do a split. He has a light thigh swivel joint that lets you rotate the legs about 180 degrees. He has ratcheting knee joints that offer a fairly good range of motion. His feet don't offer any movement, nor do his ankles, but they are molded in a way to allow you some good poses.

Zetren comes packaged with one weapon, a yellow spear type weapon. At first I thought it was some sort of rifle, then I noticed there weren't any pegs on the weapon to slide into the fist. The bladed tip of the weapon appears to have molded teeth, giving the appearance it was modeled after the lower jaw of an animal, perhaps a T-Rex? I believe the weapon would have benefited from being larger, or at least having a longer pole. However I have a feeling it was made this size so it could be stored underneath the vehicle. More on that in a bit.

I'm happy with the overall size of the toy, in fact I'd say he's near the same size as the current Leader Class size of Transformers. You can see above he's a good deal bigger than the Voyager size Classics Optimus Prime and on par w/ Combiner Wars Megatron.

His vehicle form is really nice in my opinion. I noticed that many of the cars from this series are modeled after real world vehicles, many of them being Hyundais. I'm not sure of Zetren falls into this category or if his vehicle design is completely original.

Is anyone else here getting an A-Team vibe?! I love his vehicle form. The shiny black plastic with the red highlights really make this car look nice. His windows are translucent, but are very dark and resembles that tinted window look. Both my wife and I thought the hood portion didn't snap together well, but upon closer inspection it appears that he has vents on each side of the hood. With all of the sharp lines this is kind of hidden. Both the front and rear lights are translucent plastic. On the front is a symbol of some sorts molded into the bumper. I assume this is some sort of faction symbol? His tires are molded plastic, but roll very well on a hard, smooth surface.

I'll also point out that this guy will show finger prints so if you are planning on picking him to display in car mode, make sure you wear gloves or are prepared to wipe him down afterwards. 

Zetren's aforementioned weapon fits snugly underneath the vehicle and it doesn't effect the profile. The car will still roll freely with the weapon attached. Kudos to the designer for doing so. I love it when weapons can be cleanly integrated into the alt mode as such.

I really wish I had a Transformers Alternators vehicle to compare it's size, but I have very few of them and what little I still have left are displayed on my very top shelf in the back corner. However I did grab a few toys I had at hand for some comparison shots.

Zetren is a good bit larger (and heftier) than a modern deluxe class Transformer. I happened to have a M.A.S.K. vehicle near by and grabbed it to compare. Surprisingly these two vehicles are very similar in length and width. Hopefully that helps give you a better idea of Zetren's vehicle size.

In closing my complete, unbiased opinion of this toy is positive...very positive. I'm impressed by the overall quality and engineering of the toy. Ratcheting joints with above average articulation, molded detail in both modes, a sexy deco and intuitive, yet fun transformation all help create a great toy. Whether you're buying this to play with or just stick up on your shelf for display, Sonokong has a made a very nice toy. It has me intrigued about other toys in the series. I noticed there are several different scales with some of the characters and some have animal forms over robots. You can find Korean sellers on eBay that offer up these items, but beware that many of them are marked up high in most cases. This toy as of this post currently retails for the equivalent of $60 USD. If you are intrigued enough that you want to pick up Zetren or something else from this series, check out my new friends at for all of your Korean toy needs.