Saturday, April 19, 2014

Battle Beasts: Web Slinging Spider

It's a rainy, messy day here in the Carolinas and I'm stuck working on this dreary Saturday.  I don't have the time to delve into a big, in depth review so I thought we could take a quick look at a Battle Beast I picked up at a show a few months back.

Battle Beast Web Slinger Spider photo BlogTFphotos004_zpsc103e780.jpg   Battle Beast Web Slinger Spider photo BlogTFphotos005_zps33ca2085.jpg

I vividly remember Battle Beasts growing up, but with the likes of Transformers and G.I. Joe you could say I was pleasantly distracted.  It wasn't until many years ago that I discovered the ties to Transformers the Battle Beasts line had...well at least in Japan.  Ever since then I've been on the casual look out for deals on Battle Beasts and their Japanese counterparts, Beastformers.

One of the animal choices that I always thought looked great in the original series was the spider, Web Slinging Spider to be exact.  The Decepticon purple armor on the dark gray spider body works well.  To keep the animal "accurate" they even sculpted his other 4 appendages on his back.  Head sculpt looks great and I like all the red painted eyes.  This is one ugly critter, and I love it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Marvel Comics Review: New Warriors #3 (2014)

I've enjoyed the Marvel Now! re-launch of the New Warriors thus far.  It's hard to call it a team book as the cast hasn't completely come together yet, but with the third issue things are starting to fall into place.

Writer Christoper Yost is still trying to set the stage with not only explaining who the characters involved are, but setting up the first story arc as well.  I read some complaints that there wasn't enough action in the first two issues or that the story was dragging, but in typical Marvel fashion there is a great story unfolding.

Issue #2 concluded with Sam Alexander (Nova) being captured by the High Evolutionary.  Sam is told the Celestials are returning to Earth to pass judgement (and a little execution more than likely).  Issue three opens up with "flashback" story explaining who the Celestials are and how mankind's evolution has been tainted.  Radiation infused super powers, mutantkind, Inhumans, Atlanteans, clones, magic, alien...these were never meant to be uttered the High Evolutionary.

Scarlet Spider, Hummingbird and Water Snake did not defeat their foes when attacked on the beaches of
Mexico.  Instead they are captured and brought back to the High Evolutionary's base of operations.  Meanwhile back in New York City, the Police have cornered Justice, Speedball, Sun Girl and the Inhuman we only know as Mark.  Frightened by the recent events involving the Inhumans, the police pull the trigger and shoot at Mark!  Justice wisks away everyone just in time.

I should point out that Justice addresses the police that is a member of the Avengers, while Speedball standing in the background murmurs 'Warrior'.  It appears he is a bit frustrated with Justice over not fully adopting the Warriors name.

Standing on top of a building in New York, the four of them start an argument over Mark and what to do next.  Justice is taken by surprise when Sun Girl, who was walking away in disgust of Justice's attitude, quickly turns away and shoots a blast of energy directly at Mark.

You can already see that this team of New Warriors isn't exactly going to come together like the original team.  On the flipside, our other characters awaken to only find themselves in energy bubbles...or something like that.  Hummingbird catches Sam up to speed as to who everyone is.  Sam repeatedly refers to the Scarlet Spider as Spider-Man on many occasions.  It's funny to see how this obviously irritates Kaine, only later to see Kaine acknowledge when he fails to ward of the High Evolutionary's minions that if he were indeed Spider-Man he would have not failed.

Kaine sends Nova off for help, only for Sam to return to the battle and save the Scarlet Spider from sure extermination.  While it was good to see Nova join in on the fight, I can't help to notice how underpowered he seemed against his foes.  As a regular reader of Nova's solo series I've seem him tear loose and be very powerful.  He even held his own briefly against Beta Ray Bill and Stormbreaker!

We get to see some good battle action with the Scarlet Spider and Water Snake.  Marcus To's pencils are really nice, but I can't help to notice some slight similarities to the original Warriors penciler; Mark Bagley.  Another nice reference to the original Warriors team comes from Water Snake as she too becomes overwhelmed in combat.  Right before it appears she is captured, she says "I have failed you, Kymaera...".  I know this isn't the 1990's New Warriors, but I love it when writers and pencilers toss in stuff like that.  The is the Marvel Universe after all and if Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier and TV's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have come to shown us, everything is connected.

The creative team I feel is doing a good job as I am left with that feeling of wanting more at the end of each issue.  The pacing is picking up and it appears these unlikely teammates will be forced into working together as a team if they are to ward off the impending Celestial encounter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Transformers Henkei!: Cheetor C-12

Transformers Henkei! is Takara Tomy's version of Hasbro's Classics/Universe line of Transformers.  In typical Takara fashion most of the figures received premium paint applications and some of them had chromed pieces.  I went a little crazy and imported near the entire line.

Hasbro released new deluxe molds of the Beast Wars characters Cheetor and Dinobot under the Universe banner.  Takara Tomy opted to include these characters in the Henkei! line, albeit at the end of the line.  Neither of the toys sold well for Hasbro.  While Dinobot can be fairly expensive on the secondary market these days, Cheetor is a little more affordable - no matter which version you go after.  Up until the recent Generations voyager Rhinox toy was released, I really had no where to display Cheetor.  So once I acquired Rhinox I wanted to snap some shots of him w/ Cheetor...and Dinobot if I can ever find a decent priced specimen.  Initially I didn't care either way for Cheetor, but after messing around with him for this review I have to say I have a new found appreciation for this new mold.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox026_zpsafcc18b6.jpg

You'll have to excuse me skipping over the packaging.  His blister card packaging is packed away and I just didn't have the time to go digging it out.  One of the things I hated most about the original Beast Wars Cheetor mold was the fact that the beast mode was fat!  Cheetahs are some of the fastest land animals and as a result are pretty lean animals.  Takara remedied this with a new Cheetor mold.  I know a lot of people just don't like this toy, but if you give it a chance it has a lot of good things going for it.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox030_zps1db50efa.jpg

In beast mode the toy features several points of articulation.  It's no secret I'm not the best when it comes to posing my TFs, but here you can see how Cheetor can get low to the ground as if he's ready to pounce on a Decepticon or go running across the landscape at break neck speeds.  Shoulder, hip, knee and toe articulation give you free range of motion to pose him however you'd like.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox029_zpsf7b9cefe.jpg

Cheetor does have a large chest in beast mode as you can see from the above picture and especially from a side view.  That aside I personally think the beast mode looks a lot like an actual cheetah.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox027_zps08335427.jpg

Cheetor does feature one "action" element.  On the back of his neck is a button that sits flush with the body.  When depressed his mouth opens and his eyes change from green to red.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox028_zps77f1b8f6.jpg

If you don't know, the red eyes are a homage of sorts to the original Beast Wars mold.  Both Hasbro and Takara originally released Cheetor with red eyes, but as a running change later made the eyes green.  Perhaps this was done to better match his CGI counterpart on the television show.

While I don't normally care for action features, this is a subtle touch and one that doesn't necessary detract from the toy overall.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox031_zps09d74290.jpg

Cheetor carries his slender and sleek look over to robot form.  If I'm being completely honest with myself there are several aspects of robot mode that I don't care for.  While the over robot looks pretty good, it's hard to get past his his robot arms carry beast mode leg kibble and his large paw feet.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox033_zpse90ad80e.jpg

And oh, did I mention his honkin' huge "backpack"?  Thankfully his feet are large enough to help balance the robot where he can stand un-assisted.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox032_zps14985ef8.jpg

Takara opted to chrome Cheetor's head where as Hasbro went with a flat colored plastic.  The gold chrome does stand out, but surprisingly it doesn't look gaudy in person like I thought it would.  I like how the feline traits carry over to this robotic face as well.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox034_zpsa7813e5f.jpg

Located on each side of Cheetor's legs are these unsightful "pouches", however they do serve a purpose.  Each pouch opens up to reveal a shuriken like throwing star.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox035_zpsfaf8911f.jpg

Pull out one "blade" and the others fold out simultaneously.

Henkei! Cheetor photo Rhinox036_zpsa66e67a8.jpg

Generations Rhinox & Cheetor photo Rhinox041_zpsac706a86.jpg

Generations Rhinox & Cheetor photo Rhinox025_zpsfb16304e.jpg

Generations Rhinox & Cheetor photo Rhinox023_zps4e68a49c.jpg

Generations Rhinox & Cheetor photo Rhinox024_zpse5ea1e8c.jpg

I prefer Cheetor's beast mode over his robot mode any day, but he still blends well with the new Generations Rhinox no matter how you pose him.  I can't wait to complete this pair w/ the new Generations Rattrap coming soon.  Just as I opted for Takara Tomy's versions of Cheetor and Rhinox, I too will probably go for the "premium" deco Takara Tomy's version of Rattrap will most likely sport.

This updated Cheetor toy is far from flawless, I get that.  What I don't understand is the extreme hate from a lot of the fandom over this mold.  In my opinion the most show accurate Cheetor toy to date is still the first Beast Wars Transmetal.  I didn't care for this Transmetal 2 look or Beast Machines.  I've heard some think that Cheetor might not receive a new mold in the near future, but I'm OK with that.  I can overlook the weaknesses of this mold and focus in on the excellent, well articulated beast mode.  Thankfully whichever version of this mold you may go after neither are terribly expensive on the secondary market.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Transformers Energon: Optimus Prime transforming ink pen

It wasn't often that I received Transformers for Christmas.  Granted I did get some pretty sweet G1 toys back in the day on that glorious morning every kid dreams about, as an adult it's been a different story.  Even today my mother still asks me for a Christmas list.  Every year I put TFs with weblinks of where they can be purchased, but it's very rare I end up with any of them.

Back when Beast Machines was in full swing, that Christmas I received a new BM Primal Prime and a box of Takara's S.F.C. figures.  In my stocking was the usual candy and small stuff - including a transforming Energon Optimus Prime ink pen!

Energon Optimus Pen photo 100_5057_zps86659c1c.jpg

Energon Optimus Pen photo 100_5056_zps0d06387d.jpg

I'll be the first to admit I wasn't a huge fan of the Energon toy line or TV series.  That doesn't mean I didn't appreciate this gift from my mother.  The pen when transformed into truck mode has a rather faithful version of the deluxe/voyager toy, albeit scaled down to the size of a modern basic/scout figure.

Paint apps are limited, but mostly applied pretty good.  All 6 wheels are free rolling and the transforming does share some similarities with the larger versions.  In fact other than the pen's tip being on the back end of the truck, you can't really tell this is an ink pen.

Energon Optimus Pen photo 100_5058_zpsee77a161.jpg

Due to the nature of the figure also doubling as a functioning ink pen some sacrifices were made to the robot mode.  Other than the head not lifting high enough and the slender legs, it looks pretty much like Energon Optimus Prime.  The arms are articulated at the shoulder and elbows.  There aren't any real feet so I had to prop him up against the back wall.

Energon Optimus Pen photo 100_5060_zps61ec55e7.jpg

Optimus even retains his larger combined helmet and Spark of Combination features!  I don't recall who made this toy/pen hybrid, but they did a pretty good job.  If nothing else it makes a nice oddity for any Transformers collection.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Marvel Comics Review: New Warriors #2 (2014)

Marvel still has me pinching myself to make sure I'm not dreaming every time I see images from the newest issue of New Warriors.  I'm thrilled Marvel decided to give my favorite super hero team another chance, but I'm still in a state of disbelief!

Issue #1 was pretty good.  Writer, Christopher Yost, did a good job setting the stage of the first story arc yet while introducing readers to the characters that will eventually come together to form this iteration of the New Warriors team.

The first book ended with the Atlantean Watersnake standing in the shallow waters of a beach somewhere in Mexico.  Kaine, aka the Scarlet Spider greet the Atlantean with fists a blazing.  It wasn't until Hummingbird uses her powers to instill fear into Watersnake that the two cease fighting and we learn of her appearance.

Before we get to Watersnake, the book opens in the subway of New York City.  A unknown, unnamed Inhuman is riding the subway.  It appears the driver of the subway slams on the breaks after seeing some commotion down the tunnel.  That is when we see Selah, aka Sun Girl trying to fend off 3 assailants from harming some Mutants.  I'm not that vested in the mutant community, but I believe the mutants being attacked are Morlocks.

Switching back to New Salem, Colorado, the same assailants attacking the mutants in NY are also going after Justice and Vertigo, a magic user and resident of New Salem.  The "bad guys" as Justice refers to them end up taking a DNA sample of Vertigo's friend, Brutacus.  After that they vanish before Speedball can assist his teammate.

Looking for answers, Justice and Speedball pay a quick visit to Jarvis at the Avengers Tower in NY.  There they learn from the Avengers database that their assailants are the Evolutionaries.  Cyclops was on record of saying the Evolutionaries should be labeled as an extinction level threat.  Before leaving Avengers Tower, Justice and Speedball intercept a report of an explosion in the 7th avenue subway terminal.

Back to the subways, the unnamed Inhuman "sacrifices" himself by jumping into the line of fire as one of the Evolutionaries tries to eliminate Sun Girl, only for the Inhuman to absorb the energy blast. At the same moment Justice and Speedball arrive and the Evolutionaries once again disappear.

The issue finishes up w/ Sam Alexander, aka Nova, being trapped in a energy field of some sorts.  He is greeted by the High Evolutionary and proceeds to tell Sam that himself and Sam are the only ones that can save Earth from Judgment.  Turns out the Celestials are returning!

I can appreciate Yost taking the time to set the stage which should bring all of these characters together to combat a familiar foe, but I can understand how some people may find the 2nd issue a little blah.  Speedball has been the driving force to rebuild the Warriors team so it ought to be fun seeing all of the characters come together and how they interact with one another.  We still don't know much about this new Inhuman character introduced in the series, but I'm thinking that will change really quick with the next issue.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Racetron: Chrysbot

By now you the reader should know that my interest in transforming robots goes far beyond Transformers.  While TFs will always be my first love, I also find other transforming robot toys fascinating.  I have discovered some great toys (see Machine Robo and DiaRobo) and I've come across some not so great, cheaply made toys.

That said I stumbled across a section of Counter-X that peaked my curiosity.  Some of the toy lines they spotlighted I was already familiar with, while others were completely new to me.  During my own research of these toys and hunting for specimens for the blog, I came across a line that I haven't been able to find much documentation on....Racetron.

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK045_zps464c7cfc.jpg

Without searching the package, I'm sure the design and art work cues you in that this was original released in the 80's.

Now it's a robot!  Now it's a racer!  It's a incredible Racetron!!  Collect all 6 in the series and create your own Racetron Warrior.

Wait a minute...collect all 6 and create your own Racetron Warrior?  Yup, this sucker is part of a combiner!

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK047_zpse8daa18d.jpg

You probably noticed the robot is missing it's head.  The head is part of the car's front grill and simply slides in and out.  Over the years the piece just worked it's way back down into the body.  Anyhow, if you look closely at the legs and the waist you'll notice those pieces are cast of die-cast metal.  A lot of the Go-Bots sized transforming toys I've seen usually don't contain much, if any die-cast metal.  Behind the toy you'll see a red piece of plastic and a small gray gun located in between the legs.

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK046_zps17ec3853.jpg

Gotta love the old school art.  It's a tad on the cheesy side, but kudos to who ever manufactured this thing for taking the time for creating something original.  The robot's face gives me a Darth Vader vibe.

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK048_zpse55e5e1e.jpg

On the back of the packaging is where things get interesting...and confusing.  We knew from the blurb on the front that there was 6 robots in the set that formed the combiner.  Here we see the combiner, Racetron?  Wait a minute.  Is the line called Racetron and the combiner's name is Racetron?

The names of the individual robots are pretty bad too.  The manufacturer named each robot after the make of the alt mode.  Chrysbot obviously is derived from Chrysler, but I'm not familiar of the model.

The bottom of the packaging shows off the simplistic step by step transformation process.  Notice there aren't any directions for changing Chrysbot into a leg/foot for the combiner.

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK053_zps0a60be53.jpg

Chrysbot includes a combiner part, a hand gun and a decal sheet.  Did you notice anything off about this picture?  Scroll up back to the first image.  I'll wait a second.  The combiner piece packaged behind my Chrysbot is red, not blue.  This makes me wonder if all the parts come in different colors.  The mystery continues!

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK051_zps9566c227.jpg

It's easy to see that Racetron here (if that is his name) surely isn't comparable to a G1 Transformers combiner or even the Go-Bot's Puzzler.  The chest and waist pieces completely cover up two of the robots.  Talking about cheating!  And the head...that looks more alien than it does robotic.  While I'd love to complete the combiner, it's not one that I'd showcase in my Ikea display cabinet!

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK052_zpsae9a4d6f.jpg

One of the biggest mysterious behind this release is the manufacturer.  I have a loose version of the toy and it is completely devoid of markings.  All I can find is the 1985 copyright info.  Now what U.M. stands for is beyond me.  All my Google searches lead to no where, even for John Stanley Industries.  I'd love to hear if anyone out there knows more about the background of the Racetron toys.

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT001_zps9141fd7b.jpg   Racetron Chrysbot photo RT006_zpse962b047.jpg

I acquired my loose Chrysbot before I found the carded version, so unless I can find the other 5 with their combiner parts I'm leaving the carded one sealed.

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT002_zpsd8d1e8e3.jpg   Racetron Chrysbot photo RT003_zps897b685c.jpg

The vehicle itself looks nice, but without any paint apps or stickers its very plain and boring.  Part of the grill is chromed along with the outer border of the wheels.  The wheels themselves are a hard plastic with little notches.  Wouldn't a sports car like this have smooth tires?  The plastic used for the toy is light and feels very cheap.  The die-cast metal is solid, but the legs are loose on mine so the front part of the car wants to flop around unless it's sitting on all 4 wheels.

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT004_zps54e350b4.jpg   Racetron Chrysbot photo RT005_zpse1e1c4e4.jpg
Excuse the dust!

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT008_zps465e3864.jpg

When it comes to robot mode...let's just say I've seen better.  The head pulls up and out from the front car's grill, the arms pop out - fairly normal.  The legs split in half and then rotate up and around.  I mentioned the waist on mine is extremely loose, making the legs floppy.  With the die-cast being on the top half of the figure, it makes the toy top heavy.  Combine with a loose waist and he wants to lean forward quite a bit.

The little square you see on his crotch can be folded back behind the robot, but the instructions show it as-is.

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT007_zpsa7ac05ff.jpg

The robot's head is thin, flat and plain ugly.  Some black paint was slapped onto the toy for the eyes.  There is no mouth to speak of, just a slight indentation where a mouth should be.

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT011_zps0153eece.jpg   Racetron Chrysbot photo RT010_zps73c2b759.jpg

The combiner's foot is made by rotating the legs around and flipping the front of the car outwards.  That square metal crotch piece folds out and forms a heel.  Simple design, but it works.  The legs are essentially hollow, yet there are some marks in the cavity where you can tell an outside combiner piece attaches.  This monstrosity of a combiner really has me intrigued and I'll be searching for the other members to hopefully one day assemble this guy.

All in all I find this toy fascinating.  Is it for everyone?  Hard to say.  I scales well with Go-Bots, Convertors, Convert-A-Bots and other similar transforming toys, so if you are a fan of those other lines like myself the you may just yet enjoy the Racetron toys.  Good luck finding them though, they aren't easy to find on the secondary market.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

DiaRobo: Hino Profia Eneos DR-1002

Agatsuma's line of transforming vehicles, DiaRobo, has finally expanded beyond normal Hot Wheels sized cars and trucks.  Granted this isn't really new news as this release I'm spotlighting today was released sometime in late summer or early fall in 2013.

Several weeks ago I ran across a thread in TFW2005's Junkion section advertising DiaRobo toys.  I contacted the owner of the thread via email as requested and waited for a response.  Finally my email was replied to.  Turns out he had much more than what he listed, including the first transforming playset for the series.  I wasn't able to swing the latter, but he did make me a great offer on one of the two new tanker trucks.  Cue DR-1002.

DR-1002 photo CK001_zpsc9444583.jpg

DR-1002 photo CK002_zpse7930643.jpg

Ever since I first saw images of this toy online I knew I wanted it.  1) it's a big tanker truck and 2) it's a robotic dinosaur!  Unlike many of the other DiaRobo releases, I'm not sure if this one has an actual name or not.  I have him labeled as Hino Profia Eneos, but that isn't his name.

Turns out that Hino is a subsidiary of Toyota and in Japan they are one of the biggest manufacturers of industrial diesel trucks, buses and construction vehicles.  Profia is the model of cab over truck that was introduced in 2004.  Eneos is part of the Japanese company Nippon Oil.

DR-1002 photo CK004_zps9b098320.jpg

I really wasn't sure how large (or small) these tanker trucks would be, so I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the package for the first time.  The truck has some major heft and size.  Scroll down to the bottom for a few comparison pictures.

If you've handled any previous DiaRobo toys then you'll know the plastic used is fairly light, making the toys feel somewhat fragile.  Not in the case of DR-1002.  The toy has some heft and feels much more along the line of a Hot Wheels release, sans die-cast metal.

DR-1002 photo CK005_zps8a173433.jpg

The front of the truck looks very much like many of the images that my Google search for 'Hino Profia' brought up.  Being an officially licensed release, Hino's logo can easily be seen on the front of the truck's grill.  The truck is molded in several colors which is limits how much paint was used.  One each side of the tranker truck are the only stickers, featuring the Eneos name and colors.

DR-1002 photo CK008_zps351d4ba6.jpg

The transformation from truck to dino is rather ingenious.  First step is to pull apart the tanker halves.  These are connected via ball joint pegs.  The legs then fold out via a small hinge, then fold down as you see above.  The tail is folded up inside and simple unfolds.  Then you lift up the center gray portion to expose the dino head and neck.  Fold down the truck's cab and lift and pose the dino as you see fit.

DR-1002 photo CK010_zps7d3cdbb2.jpg

Now in my childhood we would probably call this dino a Brontasaurus.  However a lot has changed since I was wee little so I won't begin to try and label this dino now!  Let's just call him awesome, shall we?

DR-1002 photo CK009_zps5ed03678.jpg

The eyes are painted red and the lower jaw easily opens and closes.  Being that the dino has flat teeth I'm guessing he's a herbivore.  The whole neck piece is comprised of individual pieces, each connected with nall joints.  This gives not only the head, but the entire neck some great articulation.

DR-1002 photo CK011_zps42d18a33.jpg
"What are you looking at?"
DR-1002 photo CK012_zpsfffe9609.jpg

I know this pose doesn't make sense, but he looks cool.  Seriously though, would you think a transforming tanker truck to dinosaur would be so articulated?  I didn't.

DR-1002 photo CK013_zps888cff28.jpg

DR-1002 isn't the first dinosaur released in the DiaRobo series.  Priteradon DR-0008 was released earlier in the line.  It's alternate form is that of a Toyora Prius.  I've yet to do a proper review for this release, but one is in the works.

DR-1002 photo CK007_zps976312ea.jpg

DR-1002 photo CK006_zps0f91b763.jpg

If you've been on the fence as to whether to import one of the DiaRobo toys or not, I can whole heartedly recommend DR-1002.  There is also a different colored release (DR-1001) that features a different truck shell.  He is high on my list after playing around with the Eneos truck.

Many online retailers offer the DiaRobo toys now, but I would be in the wrong if I didn't point you over to the great guy that supplied my sample.  He is currently working on a new web store, but for the time being you can visit his eBay store, The Agabyss.  Tell him flywheels from Random Toy Reviews sent ya!