Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lego #30002 Police Boat & #30010 Fire Chief

QUICK INFO:
Name: Police Boat #30002 & Fire Chief #30010
Line: Lego - City
Year: February 2010

Price: $2.99 (each)


Thanks to Adam Pawlus over @ www.16bit.com it was brought to my attention that Target had already put out 4 new Lego sets (2 City & 2 Star Wars) in their newly set Easter section. I'm a sucker for small, cheap City themed Lego sets so I had to check these out.



We'll start off by looking at the Police Boat. It consists of 30 pieces. It's a very small and simple set by design, but a very nice set. The colors are almost all traditional blue and white. One of things I like best about the boat are the controls. You may expect to find a steering wheel, but instead of the more traditional controls you'll find 2 black levers. They look like wrenches, but when attached to the bar piece they make convincing steering controls. The engine is nicely constructed. I'm not sure I've ever seen the piece used on the top of the engine.


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Another feature about the boat that is a nice touch is the spot light that clips onto the left side of the boat. Minifigure is your traditional police officer. Nothing we haven't seen already.

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Now we'll shift our focus to the Fire Chief. It consists of 31 pieces. This is my least favorite of the two sets, but this one isn't a complete throw away. First off all I would call this more of a Fire ATV than car as you can tell from the pictures. It's a very small and compact set, but the wheels freely move without problems and the water cannon on the back is different. You can position the fireman mini figure forwards like he is driving, or backwards like he is operating the water cannon. Mini figure pretty standard. I really can't say much else about this set other than it's what you would expect out of a $3.00 toy.

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For $2.99 you really can't go wrong with these sets. They are very easy to construct and have charm, esp. the Police Boat. If you could only afford one set however go with the Police set. It just feels more well rounded of the two.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Transformers Beast Wars: Icebird


QUICK INFO:
Name: Icebird
Line: Transformers Beast Wars (Hasbro)
Year: 2000

Price: $9.99


Sage-like leader of the mutants. Very wise and powerful. Possesses colossal size and strength in bear mode - silent aerial abilities in owl mode. Resentful of his lost ability to convert to robot mode. Believes mission is to nullify technology completely and evolve into a purely organic existence. Does not fight with the Maximals, but believes they are a necessary component of the organic evolution. Can communicate telepathically, become invisible, read minds and shut down machinery at will. Views Optimus Primal’s heroics with forgiving tolerance. Greatly feared by Megatron.

Strength:8 Intelligence:8
Speed:7 Endurance:7
Rank:10 Courage:9
Firepower:8 Skill:9

The story behind the Mutants:
Megatron developed an anti-conversion virus, intended to prevent the infected host converting into robot mode, resulting in eventual shutdown. The Mutants were previously Fuzors, and the virus reacted in an unanticipated way with their physiognomy; it caused their conversion abilities to change, trapping their robot modes between two different beast modes. The virus also bestowed 'potent extrasensory powers' upon the former Fuzors, with each member having several unique abilities, such as invisibility, teleportation, or technokinesis. Unsurprisingly, the foursome managed to escape Megatron's clutches and then went renegade, calling themselves the Mutants.

A few years into the Beast Wars run of Transformers Hasbro decided to try something a little different and introduced the Mutants subline if you will in Beast Wars. These were robots that were essentially trapped in their organic beast modes by Megatron. We'll take a look at the leader of the Mutants today, Icebird.

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I'll start off with Icebird in his snow owl mode since that is what is depicted on the packaging. Of the 2 modes it is my least favorite, but I can live with the design. Let's start with the positives. The owl face is done really well. The feathers that are sculpted into the plastic give it a nice touch. The beak is spot on and is ever so slightly articulated. The wings are the other highlight of this beast mode. While the feathers on the face are very lightly molded, these are large feathers that really stand out. Because of the transformation each wing has 3 points of articulation. Tip of the wing, middle of the wing and where the wing attaches to the body. This does allow some different poses for the wings which is a nice touch. Now to the negatives. In my opinion the most blaring obvious down side to this mode is the bright red claws. I'm guess they are supposed to represent blood, but it's just too bright and really detracts from the overall look. The paint deco on the lower half of the chest again is too bright. I'm not sure what kind of owl they were trying to imitate here, but I can't find any kind of specimen that has colors or patterns like this. Closet thing I can find is the Snowy Owl...at least the wings on Icebird are a match. The tail features are nicely molded, but they are on a spring mechanism and they don't like to stay in once place very well.

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Icebird's other beast mode is that of a polar bear. I really like this mode and how they pulled it off. As you can see from the photo he's got big feet that allows for some good poses. I've got Icebird displayed @ home like this...makes him look more intimidating (and takes up less space on the shelf!). The figure has more heft in this mode and feels more solid. There are 9 points of articulation in bear mode. Ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrists and jaw. The front paws split into halves to form the owl's claws, but you can rotate the entire claw. The shoulder joints are ball & socket, but mine are incredibly tight. More so than I've seen on other toys with similar construction. You can open and close the mouth too so you can have a more subdue or growling facial expression. Like feathers were molded into the plastic for the owl, this mode has molded fur. The things I don't care for in this mode again are the red claws. If it is meant to be blood then it makes a little more sense for a bear to have bloody claws than a snow owl, but they are just too bright. The other distraction carries over from the owl mode too, the colors on the chest. It didn't work for the owl and it definitely doesn't work for the bear.

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Here is a side view of the bear mode. Where did you think the owl's wings would go once folded up?! If the wings had been molded in the same white plastic it would blend in much better, but at the same time I don't think it looks too bad. You can also get an idea just how much larger the front legs and paws are compared to the back legs.

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All of the mutants have their own faction symbol molded on the toy. Icebird's is on his right shoulder. If you flip up the panel you'll notice some robotic circuitry of sorts underneath. This was a nice little touch and gave the character a more robotic feel.

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The other robotic feature of the mold is the inclusion of a robot head. Yes, while the toy cannot transform into an actual robot it does have a robot head. Sorry for the blurry picture, it was hard to get a good close up. The head still has a beastly look to it in my opinion, but so do most of the robots in Beast Wars. This head is on a spring mechanism behind the polar bear's head. You simply lift you the panel on the back of the bear and you can fold in the bear's head and flip out the robot's head. I've seen some people pose the bear standing up with the robot head exposed for a pseudo-robot mode. The head is very tiny so it looks weird on such a large body, but it's still a nice added touch.

There were only 4 Mutant toys produced and Icebird is hands down my favorite with Soundwave a close 2nd. Where Icebird's owl form is light and almost hollow feeling, the polar bear is heavy and solid. If you can forgot about the mass difference between the two modes the owl and the bear forms work hand in hand. While the toy may not have the same feel as a regular Beast Wars toy since it lacks a true robot form the toy makes up for that with the inclusion of a 2nd beast mode and it's on unique charm. If you're looking to expand your Beast Wars collection Icebird is a good place to start.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

2010 Topps first impressions


2010 Topps Baseball, Series One
First Impressions



Alright, so this has absolutely nothing to do with toys. My first hobby dates back 20 years to 1990. A friend of mine got me into baseball cards on the way home from a vacation in the mountains. We stopped at a rather large roadside flea market of sorts and I walked away with a large stack of 1990 Topps and Donruss baseball card packs. I guess as they say is history.

With the release of the 2010 Topps Baseball cards I've bought/collected baseball cards in some capacity now for 20 years. Just typing that makes me feel old! I thought it would be kinda neat (at least to me) to give my first impressions of the first baseball cards of the season since it's kind of a bench mark for me.

After reading some blogs and viewing some pictures of the 2010 Topps Baseball series 1 I decided to hit a few Target stores in my area to see what I could find. My first trip found one of those large gravity feeders of packs. I was particularly looking for the "blaster" boxes...but nothing could be found. A trip the following day to a different Target found me one lone box. I snatched it up with a little reservation. Since I'm not into set building I cringed a bit at the $19.99 price tag. Since it was the only box though I decided to go ahead with the purchase anyhow.

These "blaster" boxes give you 10 packs, each with 8 cards for a total of 80 cards. I guess the main draw of these boxes is that you get one exclusive patch card. I saw these with the 2009 cards so I knew what I was getting here. Nothing special since the patches are created just for these cards and not game used. The checklist for these patch cards is 50 cards long and features names such as Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Ryne Sandberg, Ichiro, Chase Utley & Albert Pujols. The other draw is that 2 of the packs are Throwback parallels. These cards are essentially the same as the base cards except they are printed on the old style brown cardboard. The Topps logo is also the old logo. I like these myself so the inclusion of these made the decision to buy the box a little easier.

So, what did I end up with you may wonder? For starters I got a Hank Greenberg (Detroit Tigers) 1935 World Series commemorative patch card. Nice looking, but I had rather have Chipper Jones or Pujols. Oh well. At least I got a Pujols from one of the Throwback packs.

As a Braves fan I was happy with some of the pulls. In the Throwback packs I got a Javier Vasquez. From the base set I got a few more Braves: Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, Reid Gorecki and Javier Vasquez.

Also ended up w/ 2 of the Million Card Giveaway cards. This program really intrigues me, but I'll have to wait another week or so before the program goes live. Pulled a few of the Cards Your Mom Threw Out (even one of the original back versions), one When They Were Young (Johnny Damon) and a few of the other low odd inserts.

I love the basic and clean design of the base set. The team logos are large and colorful and the names are easy to read. I could have done without the silver foil, but I'm afraid that foil stamping and the glossy U/V coatings are here to stay on the regular Topps set. Backs of the cards have been improved over last year's set as well. Biggest change I noticed and I know a lot of others noticed is the card number in the upper right corner is MUCH easier to read. I've never been a set builder so the card #s have been irrelevant to me, but it's nice to see that Topps listened to the complaints and rectified the issue this time around.

All in all this set is a home run in my opinion. Great base design and pretty good inserts. Yeah so people may be sick of the gold parallels or the ToppsTown inserts, but they are OK additions in my book. Without new kids coming to the hobby it'll start to die off so if Topps has to use the ToppsTown program or something else to attract kids I'm fine with that. So, what are you waiting for? Head on down to your local hobby shop (if you're lucky to have one) or to your local Target store and pick up some packs. I think after you've busted a few packs you'll be glad you did.