Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cobra Air Viper w/ C.L.A.W.

QUICK INFO:
Name: Cobra Air Viper w/ C.L.A.W.
Line: G.I. Joe: the Rise of Cobra
Year: July 2009

Price: $9.99
Info: Target exclusive


Today will take a look at one of the many repainted toys in Hasbro's new G.I. Joe line, the Rise of Cobra (ROC). This is one of the many Target store exclusive deluxe action figures. For essentially 10 bucks you get an action figure, a mini-vehicle and a lot of accessories...not a bad deal in my book.


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Let us first start off taking a look at the Cobra Air Viper. This toy is essentially a repainted AVAC pilot (packaged with the Firebat) from the 25th Anniversary G.I. Joe line. First thing you should notice is the odd color pallet Hasbro decided to use. The helmet along with the chest, shoulder and leg armor is almost an olive color. I've also seen it referred to as pewter, but it has too much of a green tint to me. The rest of the uniform is a purple-ish gray. The colors are odd, but somehow mesh together and give a good while muted overall look. He comes w/ one rifle, a removeable knife for the sheath on his leg and action figure stand. The rifle has a rather large molded strap which keeps the gun hanging over a shoulder quite well. Figure has your standard articulation we've come to expect.


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Next we have the Cobra C.L.A.W. vehicle. Old school fans may remember this as the white rocket powered backpack jet from the original A Real American Hero line in the 80's. This is the same toy that we last say in multiple iterations in the 25th Anniversary line as well. Now sporting a sleek black deco, it looks so much better. There isn't much to the toy itself as it's rather small, light weight and simple. I should also mention that the handle bar piece just snaps on. So if you're like me and don't care for the look w/ the handle bars sticking down you can simply remove them. From wing tip to wing tip it only measures 5 1/2 inches long. On the underside of the wings are 4 pegs that allow you to attach a number of different included missiles.


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You get a total of 12 missiles. The largest missiles (upper left corner) feature the same color as the Air Viper's armor. The tips feature a dayglow neon green. The 4 green missiles and 2 large bombs are the same weapons that were originally included w/ the Cobra F.A.N.G. helicopter. Both the bombs and 4 smaller missiles are the same purple-ish gray color.


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In my own opinion I think some of the larger missiles and the bombs are a little overkill on such a small aircraft. My favorite combination is 2 of the green missiles on each tip and 2 small missiles on the inside. Whatever you tastes are in terms of the combination of weaponry it's nice to have several options unlike the previous releases of the C.L.A.W. that only came w/ two single small missiles.

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Overall this is a decent figure. You get a lot for your money which is always a plus. This isn't my favorite figure by far and judging from how many I've spotted @ Target stores in my area alone I'm guessing he's not wildly popular with other fans either. I'm not an army builder collector, but I can see how people may want to pick up a few of these if for no other reason to have multiples of the C.L.A.W. vehicle.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Machine Robo Mugenbine: Kaiseijuu (Mugen Pirate)

Today's review is a fantastic "candy toy" set from Bandai. These simple plastic toys come in a case of 12, but meant to be sold individually in the candy aisle at Japanese markets. Unlike many candy toys these are not blind packaged so you know which character you're buying. Early sets came packaged with a sweet tart like piece of candy, but later this was switched to a light blue fruity piece of gum. Kaiseijuu or Mugen Pirate consists of 6 individual robots: Mugen Captain/Skull Captain, Mugen Stingray, Mugen Shark, Mugen Scissors, Mugen Kraken and Mugen Whale. The Roider's name (pilot) of the set is Roider Deep.

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#1 in the set is Mugen Captain / Skull Captain. Pictured above are the contents of the set minus the gum. Note the small shield and sword which the robot can wield. The robot is of similar fashion to other Mugenbine candy toy sets' robot.

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This is Mugen Captain with all of his stickers applied. The small white stripes are very tiny and skinny stickers which wrap around the body. The yellow belt and belt buckle are also very small stickers. So far all of these stickers have stayed in place...hope I didn't just jinx myself.

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Flip Mugen Captain over and you now have the skull faced Skull Captain figure. There aren't many paint apps on these toys, but the skull has been painted white with a small black eye patch. If you are familiar w/ these candy sets you'll know that some of the stickers are small and hard to apply. Sometimes you don't even have solid portions of plastic to apply the stickers to. The tops of Skull Captain's arms have deep ridges in the plastic which once the stickers have been applied don't stay in place very well. The rest of the stickers weren't too bad to apply.

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#2 in the set is Mugen Stingray, one of my personal favorites. Here are the contents of the package. Notice the small Roider figure, Roider Deep. The other large piece is the stingray's tail which doubles as Mugen Pirate's sword.

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And here is Mugen Stingray with all of his stickers applied. Thankfully most of these stickers are large and easy to apply. The tips of the wings are hinged, note the small gray hinge. One of mine always wants to hang down a little bit which slightly annoys me. Not sure if this is a problem on other sets.

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#3 in the set is Mugen Shark, a very nice hammerhead / sawtooth shark hybrid. All of the external fins come attached to a plastic tree. Not many of the Mugenbine sets have pieces attached like this. Notice all the small thin red stickers. These will be applied to the sides of the fins and around the gray sawtooth portion.

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Stickers applied, Mugen Shark looks much better. The red stickers on the rear fins are supposed to wrap around the sides, but will most likely start to peel off shortly after applied. Same goes for the longer red sticker on the sawtooth portion.

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#4 in the set is Mugen Scissors. This is a great mold as the crab's claws are fully articulated. Mugen Pirate's fists are included with this set. Outside of one sticker, these are rather easy to apply and stay in place fairly well.

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Mugen Scissors are stickered up. If you'll take a look at the yellow painted eyes you'll notice a gray sticker that has been applied that wraps around and underneath. The details on this sticker make these tube like features look like machine guns in my opinion. What's so awful about this sticker is they do not want to stay in place. Any sticker that is wrapped around like this will want to peel immediately. I used a very small dab of super glue to keep this sticker in place.

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#5 in the set is Mugen Kraken, a squid type creature. This mold is more or less a brick. Nice design, but little to no articulation. Easy to apply stickers thankfully.

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Mugen Kraken with stickers applied. Nothing else to look at here.

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#6 and last in the set is Mugen Whale. Ironically this is one of the smaller figures in the set. His side fins also come attached to a small plastic tree. It may be hard to notice because of the flash glare on the sticker sheet, but the large brown stickers have a wooden grain detail. I'll explain more about that in the next section. The rest of the stickers are large enough that it makes the application easy. Only exception is the yellow skull looking sticker. Notice the small gray piece on the whale's back? This piece has all the same details, but is covered up by the yellow sticker.

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Mugen Whale with stickers applied. The side and rear fins do have a limited amount of articulation. The whale's lower jaw is fully articulated which is a nice touch. Notice the black and blue rear section? It's basically the same piece as the middle portion of Mugen Kraken. More on that later.

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Here is where that wood grain on the stickers comes into play. The middle portion of Mugen Whale is actually a "wooden" treasure chest! Now what pirate is without his chest of booty? As you can see the lid on the chest is articulated and opens all the way up.

The next portion of the review will cover the gestalt, Mugen Pirate. Instead of just jumping to pics and a description of the combined robot I opted to show each step in the construction.

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The first step is to compose each arm. Here we've got pieces from Mugen Scissors, Shark and Stingray. The articulated arm portions are from Mugen Scissors along w/ the crab claws. The large fins on the top of the claws are from Mugen Stingray and the small blue fins are from Mugen Shark.

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The next step is to build the legs. Here we have multiple pieces from Mugen Captain, Kraken, Scissors, Shark and Whale. There is a good bit of articulation in the feet thanks to the hinges on the arrow shaped portion of Mugen Kraken. The red blocks that help form the ankles also have small hinged pegs that allow for more articulation in the feet. The middle and top portion of the legs are identical pieces, one each from Mugen Shark and Mugen Kraken. Mugen Captain's robot legs fit on the back of each leg and help give them stability.

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Next we build the Mugen Pirate's helmet if you will. The main portion is Mugen Shark's hammerhead piece and the sawtooth nose along w/ the skull piece from Mugen Whale. This piece will fit snugly over Mugen Captain's small robot head.

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Moving up from the legs we now have the waist portion. Composed of Mugen Captain, Kraken and Shark. Mugen Kraken's tentacle pieces now forms an articulated armor coat tail if you will.

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Now we build the upper torso to snap onto the waist that we just built in the previous step. This is mostly Mugen Captain's upper torso and head along w/ 2 pieces from Mugen Kraken.

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Next is to add a few pieces to the upper torso. Snap on the red wing tips from Mugen Stingray and Mugen Captain's shield to the chest.

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It was hard for me to get a good picture of the next step...which is to snap on a few left over pieces that really don't contribute to Mugen Pirate's overall robot. Here we have Mugen Whale's rear fins, Mugen Stingray's main body and Mugen Whale head. This all plugs into the back of the upper torso and forms a backpack if you will.

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The last step in the construction of Mugen Pirate is his large anchor weapon. The sides of the anchor are the arms of Mugen Captain / Skull Captain. The U shaped piece is from Mugen Kraken while the red crown looking piece is from Mugen Stingray. The middle and top portions of the anchor is the Mugen Captain's sword. On the back of the U shaped piece is a peg that allows Mugen Pirate to wield this large anchor as a weapon or perhaps for defensive purposes like a shield.

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And finally, after tedious laboring we have the final finished product...Mugen Pirate. He stands approximately 9 inches tall and has a menacing look. He has several points of articulation in this form. Feet, ankles, thighs, hips, waist, arms, elbows and head. The tail of Mugen Stingray forms a large sword, but the way the sword's hilt is made doesn't allow the sword to be placed in the hand the way I thought it should. The curved portion of the "blade" faces the back. I've seen pictures with the sword facing the other way in Mugen Pirate's hand, but I for the life of me cannot figure how they made that happen.

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My only complaint with Mugen Captain is the head. The helmet that fits over Mugen Captain's robot head and almost obstructs or hides the robot's face. It's a minor complaint, but I feel it's a valid point.

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Robot looks best when viewed from the front. That backpack portion I mentioned just seems to jut out the back and can make the robot a little top heavy.

In closing, I really wanted to give his set high marks...but I don't feel like I am being honest with myself if I do. The individual toys all sport fantastic designs and fun little toys, but combined the gestalt just seems to fall a little short of my expectations. The colors blend together well and he's got a good overall look, but he just doesn't stand up when compared again Mugen Pharaoh or even Mugen Arthur. Is he worth purchasing? Based on the individual figures I'd say yes. But if you intend on displaying him in gestalt mode exclusively you may want to consider picking up one of the other sets.

* Special thanks to Roanstalker & Seawing of the TFW2005 boards for the English name translations.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Transformers Gentei! / Henkei! Strafe

QUICK INFO:
Name: Strafe w/ Rocketbot (Cybertron/Autobot)
Line: Transformers Henkei! (Japan)
Year: August 2009

Price: 3,465 (yen)
Info: Transformers Collector's Site exclusive


Behold! The latest Gentei! / Henkei! release from Japan. Strafe is simply a repaint of the Henkei! Cyclonus figure, but is supposed to be the Generation One version of the character. Regardless of of who he really is, let's get right to the review!

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Like past Gentai! exclusives, Strafe comes packaged in a monochrome black/white packaging of the toy it was repainted from...in this case Cyclonus. Not much else to say.

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When I first saw the solicited pictures back in February/March I wasn't sure what to think...other than I liked him. Some people have referred to him as the "candy cane" Transformer. I just think he's so oddly different he's cool. As you may be able to tell the wings have remained chromed, now sporting a shiny red deco. Strafe's Targetmaster companion is Rocketbot, a repainted Nightstick that was also included w/ Cyclonus. I am happy to report that the gold on Rocketbot is a metallic gold and NOT chromed gold. When used right I'm OK w/ chrome plating, but I'm glad Takara Tomy decided to tone down the Targetmaster and go with a metallic paint instead.

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I hate when jets don't have landing gear so I'm happy they were included on this toy. I also hate it when you've got a robot basically hanging underneath the alt mode. Glad to see they were able to engineer this toy to hide most of the robot bits.

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Strafe and Rocketbot ready for combat!

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I'm glad Takara Tomy decided to make the feet, legs, elbows and fists orange because it helps break up the Christmas themed red & white. The orange really pops and makes the figure stand out even more. Some would say that is a bad thing, but alas I disagree. His eyes feature translucent blue lightpiping to allow light to enter from the rear of the head and give his eyes a glowing appearance. A bright red Cybertron/Autobot symbol appears right in the middle of his chest.

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One of the best features of the toy however is the articulation. I count 17 points of articulation. His feet have 2 toe tabs each that are independant of each other that combined w/ articulated knees, thighs and waist joints let you pull off some really good action poses.

So a lot of people will be wondering if they should plop down their hard earned money for a simple repaint. That's always a hard question for me to answer. I find myself buying less and less repaints now days thanks to a number of reasons, but I just couldn't pass this one up. I love the overall color scheme, mold and character so it made the decision rather easy for me. If you have the Hasbro Universe or Takara Tomy Henkei! version of Cyclonus then you essentially know what you're getting. All in all I think this is a great toy with a great color scheme (just screams Fire Guts in my opinion), but due to his price tag and limited nature he's not a Transformer for everybody.

Machine Robo: Battle Base

QUICK INFO:
Name: Battle Base
Line: Machine Robo (Japan)
Year: 1984

Price: Unknown (yen)


I've always had an interest in obscure toys or toys never released in the U.S. for some reason. I often pour over several websites and internet searches looking for more info on (fill in the blank) toy or where to purchase one. One such instance is when I first flipped through the awesome Machine Robo Wedge book I imported. Without going into too much history and detail, Bandai had created a toy line of simple transforming vehicles/robots for the Japan market in the late 70's/early 80's. Several of these toys were eventually brought to America by a joint venture with Tonka under the brand Go-Bots. Often considered the "poor man's Transformers", the Machine Robo line in Japan offered a vastly superior line-up than what we received in the States. Today's review is of one such item. Called the Battle Base, this was a fairly large transforming playset that offered plenty of play value for kids...no matter what continent you lived on. So follow me as I attempt to describe the awesomeness of this toy.

I should preface my review with this bit of information. The majority of this toy is molded in white plastic and with age and exposure to sunlight it has started to yellow quite a bit. Seeing how hard it is to find this item I decided to go ahead w/ my purchase anyhow.

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As you can tell from the above photo this isn't a small toy. It measures approximately 18" long, 12" wide and 3" tall in this mode. Upon my first interaction w/ this toy my imagination immediately took off as I thought of how this would have been utilized by the robots. The bottom portion of has black treads molded into the sides to give you the impression that it could traverse most flat surfaces. There are free rolling wheels on the underside of these tank treads which was a nice touch. Other things you can see include a runway of sorts on the top, a helicopter landing pad and towards the rear a set of small red wings.

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Turn the Battle Base around and you'll see a large sticker featuring 6 jet engines. I don't know about you, but the number of engines gave me the idea that the base was capable of traveling quite the distance through space. Interstellar perhaps?

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One thing I wanted to point out in this angle. Notice the chrome missile launcher at the front. This piece can be folded and tucked inside or flipped out for some minor firepower. Unfortunately mine didn't have the missiles and I doubt I'll ever find any for sale.

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I wanted to include this close-up of behind the missile launcher. There is a small hatch that opens up to reveal what appears to be a small cockpit of sorts. You can also see the aforementioned yellowing of the plastic. See how snow white the plastic is on the underside of the hatch compared to the main body?

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You'll have to excuse the use of the phrase "there's more than meets the eye" here as we take a look at the amber colored landing pad. This translucent piece flips up to reveal a holding area large enough for 2 vehicles. Fold out the blue ramp and now the vehicles are ready to speed into battle. Again small, but nice touches in terms of play value.

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Now you may ask what is so special about this toy? Well the play value doesn't stop here. There is small black tab on the front of the base that when depressed allows you to transform the base into a much larger playset. In this form the base stands at an impressive 20" tall!

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You notice the bottom of the base has several things going on. On the left you'll see a set of train tracks. One of the earlier Machine Robo toys released was a small black locomotive aptly name Loco. In the middle is another run way for a jet vehicle. On the right is smaller ramp with a extendable ramp. You'll notice a small red mechanism at the rear of this ramp. There is a fairly powerful spring that allows you to pull the red tab back and when released, it would spring forward and launch a vehicle out of the base and down the ramp. I also want to point out that the entire bottom is one large piece of cardboard. Since stickers and easily tear and peel off I thought this was a nice touch by Bandai. Towards the rear is an elevator shaft that actually functions.

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The second level features a command type area with a large computer sticker on the back wall. Sadly most of the details are either cardboard inserts or stickers. Not much detail in the interior portion of the base is molded into the plastic. Here you can also see the corkscrew mechanism behind the blue elevator floor.

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At the top of the base you'll again see that chromed missile launcher along with a blue knob that when turned operates the elevator. Not much else is to be said of this area.

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Here are a few other angles.

In closing, I think this is a good toy. Is it great? Maybe not when you compare it to today's standards. Is it a fun toy? Depending on your level of imagination I'd say yes. As a simple playset it stands head and shoulders above the often compared to Go-Bots Command Center. It seems much more "sci-fi" in nature and not nearly as goofy looking as the Go-Bots base of operations. I've only seen this for sale twice in the last 5 years or so. The last one I saw was on eBay and was in similar condition and the seller wanted around $100. I'm glad mine only cost me $25. I have seen these appear more frequently (and sometimes boxed) on Yahoo! Japan auctions, but be prepared to pay a pretty penny since most of us would have to resort to using a third party to bid.

Vintage Japanese toy commercial featuring the Battle Base: