Friday, January 22, 2010

Transformers Micron "Mighty" team

QUICK INFO:
Name: Mighty Bull, Mighty Dozer, Mighty Sutora
Line: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Takara Tomy)
Year: 2009


To celebrate the release of Revenge of the Fallen in Japan a few retailers partnered with Takara Tomy to give away special Micron toys with the purchase of 2,000 yen or more. While they are simple repaints of Mini-Con toys released in the west under the Classics banner, many many Mini-Con/Micron collectors have sought these out to add to their collections. Are they worth the effort in tracking them down? Read on and lets find out.

We'll start off by taking a look at Mighty Bull. He is a repaint of the Classics Mini-Con Sledge.

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Let me start off by saying that I love Mini-Cons/Microns. I have found myself buying just about every one that I can find. I was thrilled to hear Hasbro was bringing Mini-Cons back w/ the Classics line a few years ago and was even more thrilled to find out there would be new molds. Then I got my hands on this mold (as Sledge). My excitement was quickly dimished. I hate this mold hands down. In vehicle mode it's passable.

Now that I've got my rant out of the way, let's take a look at the mold. Mighty Bull was available in Japan at Bic Camera and Yodobashi stores and free with a purchase of 2,000 or more yen. In vehicle form it's a decent figure. The front shovel lifts up and down and the back shovel arm can pivet from side to side while the shovel itself can swing up and down. That is where the good ends though. It has a very weak feel overall. The wheels are free rolling, but getting all 4 flat on a surface isn't as easy as it should be.

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If you thought the vehicle mode was bad, well the robot mode is just plain ugly. Come on, this doesn't even look close to a robot in my opinion. It just isn't very convincing. There is little to no articulation in this form. The "arms" (and I use that word loosely) only rotate up and down. You can't pose the arms very much at all. The waist is a ball & socket joint which doesn't give the robot a whole lot of stability. The legs...well if you look at them wrong they fall off. When I first fiddled with this mold as Sledge I thought the problem may be unique to my toy. I've got 4 of this mold now and they all suffer from the same issues. This is just a poor, sloppy executed toy. Unless you are a completist stay away from this mold.

I snapped a few comparison shots so you can see how the mold compares to one of it's counterparts, but I dislike this mold so much that I didn't even feel the desire to post the pics. So you can just click on the links here and here to take a peek.

Next we'll take a look at my favorite of the trio, Mighty Dozer. Growing up I loved the G1 toy Wideload.

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Mighty Dozer was available exclusively at Toys 'R Us Japan stores and was given away with more than a Revenge of the Fallen purchase of 2,000 or more yen. When I first saw pictures of Mighty Dozer on in the internet images of Wideload immediately popped in my head. First thing you should notice is the eye popping orange. The flash of the camera makes the orange appear a little brighter than the actual color, but it looks great on this mold. Originally this mold was released by Hasbro in the Classics line as Wideload (interestingly enough). Hasbro should have used the color scheme. This is one of the better new Mini-Con/Micron molds...at least in vehicle mode. The dump truck design is very well designed. The mold holds together really well. The bed of the dump truck sadly doesn't lift thanks to transformation restrictions. The wheels are free rolling, but the back wheels have an extra tire molded into the plastic on the inside of the rolling wheel to give it that needed size appearance. This molded wheel isn't painted though so at least to me it looks odd, though it really isn't that obvious unless you flip to toy over and look at the bottom. The only other complaint I have with this mode is the robot's head is partially exposed on the rear of the mold. The face is looking down, but you still have this little robot head protruding from the back.

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Here we have Mighty Dozer's robot mode. While it's not nearly as bad as Mighty Bull's robot mode it doesn't quite hit a home run. First thing you may notice is the, um, chest...boobs. Yes, this is the first "male" Transformer I've seen with giant man boobs. Again this robot mode just fails on some many different levels. Ignore the mammary glands for a moment if you can and lets take a look at the rest of the robot. You should notice the arms are simply the dump truck's bed split into two halves. The ends of the bed has a articulated flap that I guess is supposed to be passed off as fingers? Just doesn't cut it for me. The feet are the front part of the dump truck. OK, that I can deal with. The part of the feet that bothers me is the front wheels being fully exposed make it hard to stand this figure. There aren't any plastic tabs that stick down to help balance this guy. Make one wrong move, breath, cough or sneeze near this guy and down he goes. At least the robot head sculpt is pretty good.

As with Mighty Bull, here and here are some comparison pics of Dozer with the Japanese Micron Booser Refuser.

Lastly we'll take a look at Mighty Sutora, or also known as Mighty Stra.

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Mighty Sutora was exclusively at Bic Camera & Yodobashi stores and free with a purchase of 2,000 or more yen. Mighty Sutora is a repaint of the Classics Mini-Con Strongarm. It's obvious the alt mode this time around is that of a police car. While the color scheme may not invoke the image of a police car you or I would think about, the colors work really well. I like the "TF Police" stamp on the sides of the car. It would have been nice to see some extra paint apps on the light bar or to have the side windows painted black like the front windshield, but we are talking about a Mini-Con/Micron here. Not else much to say about this mold other than it's a rather long car and the wheels roll just fine.

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Not again! This is yet another new Mini-Con/Micron mold with a decent alt mode that suffers from a horrible robot mode. The best thing going is the transformation. It's rather cleaver I have to say. The whole car basically folds in half to form the robot. Unlike the other Mighty partners, Sutora does have limited articulation in robot mode. The arms bend at the elbows so at least you can some what pose him. The long vehicle mode also makes this figure taller than other Mini-Cons/Microns. Another good head sculpt is present, although it seems to get "lost" in between the arms. The paint apps are exposed in robot mode which helps the overall appearance. I still think the robot mode is weak, but when compared to Mighty Bull & Mighty Dozer it wins.

I was going to pull out Strongarm for the comparison shots, but I simply love the deco & name Hasbro decided to use on this mold for their 2nd Mini-Con 10 pack. Click here and here to see shots of Mighty Sutora and Overcharge side by side.

In closing I really can't recommend this trio of Microns. As I said earlier in the review I'm a sucker for these little TFs and I tend to buy as many as I can. If I weren't a fanatic I would be sorely disappointed in these 3 molds. I tend to display all my Mini-Cons/Microns in vehicle form so at least these look half way decent on my shelf (excluding the horrid Mighty Bull mold!). The decos Takara Tomy went with are an improvement over their Classics counterparts, but the price tag for them (thanks to their exclusivity & people like me) tends to be a little high on the secondary market. If you want the molds, then just stick to the Hasbro Classics versions.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

WWE (Mattel) - Batista

QUICK INFO:
Name: Batista
Line: WWE Series 1 (Mattel)
Year: January 2010

Price: $9.99



This is a first for Random Toy Reviews today. I often review toys from lines of which I grew up playing with, but today I'm going to venture into a type of action figure that I've never played with as a kid or even owned. Wrestling figures. Today we're going to take a look at one of the figures from Mattel's newly acquired WWE licensed series 1 action figure line. If you are like me and wondered how Mattel would handle the WWE super stars as compared to Jakks Pacific (the last company to hold the license) then take a few moments as we look at Batista!


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I gotta say that I really like the packaging...well at least the front. The blister card is rather slim in design and allows a good view at the wrestler depicted on the back of the card. The back of the card however is another story. I understand Mattel's desire to want to sell other figures, but the cross sell is a little overkill here. There is only one small picture of the actual product and it is at the bottom of the card. Usually the item you're buying is largely depicted on the card with the thumb nail like pictures of the cross sell items across the bottom. Yeah it really isn't that big of a deal, but it still bugs me some.

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Upon the first time picking up on these packages I was surprised to notice the air holes on the sides of the blister bubble. The first time I had ever seen this done was with Mattel's very own Masters of the Universe Classics line. I'm guessing this is geared to the collector's who don't want to open their figures, but worry that the plastic could degrade and break down inside the package without proper air flow. Personally I think that idea is silly. I understand the desire to collect figures and not open them (I have all of the Cobra figures from the 25th Anniversary G.I. Joe series carded, in display cases on my wall @ home), but the idea of the plastic deterating inside the package? I'm sure though to a lot of fans and collector's alike the air holes are a welcomed addition to the packaging. You can also see a small action shot if you will of the product printed on the small piece of cardboard insert.

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Here you can see Batista freed from his plastic & cardboard prison. My first impression of the figure is that he seems pretty solid and the likeness is fairly spot on. I know that Dave Batista is a very chiseled athlete, but the sculpting of the muscles on this figure just seems to rigid and stiff. The tattoos resemble the real thing which really surprises me. The red used for his outfit is too bright in my opinion and that really takes away from the overall presentation.

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Just take a look at the detail on the large tattoo that covers the majority of Batista's back. Amazing. Kudos to Mattel for giving this as much detail as they did. Too bad this detail can't be seen while packaged as I think this could be one of the figure's strong selling points.

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As I mentioned earlier I thought Mattel did a fantastic job capturing the likeness of Batista in plastic form...especially in the face. While the figure may not be as bronze or oily as Batista on a episode of Friday Night Smackdown, they were able to capture a lot of his facial features down to his signature gotee. Having never bought or paid much attention to the Jakks Pacific figures in the past it's hard for me to comment or make comparisons, but I'm going out on a limb and say the likeness of the Mattel figures is much greater to the athletes than what was produced in the past.

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What good is a wrestling figure you may ask if you can't pose it in a number of ways? Well I'm happy to report that this figure isn't lacking in the articulation department. I count 20 points of articulation to be exact. The head and rotate a full 360 degrees as well as up and down. The arms can rotate 360 degrees at the shoulders, biceps and wrists. Both the elbows and the wrists also bend back and forth. You can rotate the figure 360 degrees at the waist. Legs are articulated at the waist, but can only be moved back and forth. Knee joints bend as well as the ankles. The feet can be swiveled 360 degrees as well. There isn't any toe articulation as seen in other 8 inch scale action figures...but I like that. It gives the foot a more solid look and stable base. Batista's right hand is sculpted in manner which would give you the idea that he could hold something while the left hand is sculpted in a more open position. I'm also happy to report that the plastic used for the elbow and knee pads is made of a soft flexible plastic so it doesn't hinder the articulation in those areas. The knee pads on my figure do slightly move up and down, but for the most part are fixed into place...they are not removable.

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I'm a sucker for action figure stands and I'm happy to see more stands included with the toys. The stands are rather simple, made of black plastic with the now classic WWE logo recessed in the center of the stand. There is one peg that firmly rests in either peg hole on the bottom of the figure's feet. Also included is a thin cardboard name that clips into the front of the stand. While I feel this was a cost cutting measure versus stamping the names on each stand it still is a nice little touch. I just foresee these name tags easily being lost or damaged down the road.

I grew up watching wrestling with my grandfather and older brother. Many of my memories of my grandfather include gathering at his house to watch the then quarterly pay-per-view events. We watched more NWA/WCW growing up, but I remember the flashly WWF broadcasts back the in the day. Flash forward to 2010 and it's clear to see that the WWE hands a firm grasp on the professional wrestling genre. I can see from a business perspective why Mattel wanted to jump in the ring (no pun intended) and manufacture wrestling toys, specifically WWE toys. I'm sure this will be a cash cow for Mattel if they continue to make the figures as they have with this newly released series 1. All in all I have to say that I'm fairly impressed with Mattel's take on the 8 inch scale wrestlers. The attention to detail, articulation and overall likeness of the characters are handled very well and I'm sure the WWE loyal will appreciate this and gobble up just about everything that is released. Will I buy any more of these figures? I doubt it, but that isn't because the figures lack quality. If you are a die hard wrestling fan I believe you will like what Mattel has done with the license. As for me, I'll just stick to watching wrestling on TV and stick w/ my other action figures.