Monday, September 27, 2010

Machine Robo Rescue: #7 Submarine Robo


QUICK INFO:
Name: Submarine Robo
Line: Machine Robo Rescue
Year: 2003
Price: roughly $20.00


If you grew up in the 80's and like transforming robots then chances are pretty good that you remember the Go-Bots brand.  To many in that era they were the "poor man's Transformers".  While Go-Bots may have not faired as well against the Transformers brand juggernaut in the U.S., the toys called Machine Robo in their native land of Japan had much better success.

In the mid 2000's Bandai attempted to bring back the Machine Robo name with a fresh new look and design called Machine Robo Rescue.  The premise of the toys and the CGI/cel television show was the robots worked alongside humans (children) for the common good.  There were 3 individual themes/teams represented including fire, police and construction.  Each team had a leader robot if you will along with 4 identical drone like robots.  Each team had the power to combine and form a larger combiner or gestalt robot.  Occasionally their adventures lead them to do battle with an evil segment of robots called the Disasters.

The toys were sold in sets of 5.  Red Wings, Blue Sirens and Yellow Gears were the first sets sold.  Each team later branched out and had a another group of toys.  Today's review of the 7th set released falls under the Yellow Gears themed set.


Each of the MR Rescue sets came packaged very similar to each other.  The leader robot was positioned in the center with each drone around him.  The drones are numbered 2 through 4 respectively.  You can see the Yellow Gears logo in the top center of the packaging.
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The back of the boxes are also very similar to each set as it shows the toys in both robot, vehicle and combined forms.  On the bottom left side depicts other toys available.  At the time of this release only 7 total sets were available.  On the bottom right side you'll see that each leader robot is compatible with the drones from other sets.  It's not shown on the packaging, but you can mix and match the drones even more, but the stability of the combined robot may be compromised as some of them can make the toy top heavy without the proper drones serving as legs/feet.

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Submarine Robo (MR-06L) specializes in underwater rescues and is piloted by his Robo Master Shoh Ashikawa.  Each leader toy is roughly the same size and shares a very simplistic transformation.  I tried to include a close up of the robot's head, but the camera I was using couldn't pull off a clear enough picture.  Each of the leader's head has a design sculpted into the head that resembles it's main function.  In this case the robot has a small submarine "hat".  Submarine Robo here stands at about 2 1/2 inches tall and is made of plastic with a little bit of die-cast metal used in the torso upper thigh area and shoulders.  The only real articulation in robot mode is in the arms.  Each arm is attached with a die-cast metal ball joint like mechanism allowing each arm a full range of motion.  There isn't any articulation in the head, knees or legs however.  Transformation into his submarine mode is rather simple.

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Lift up on the cockpit window section and rotate 180 degrees.  Flip up the nose of the vehicle to cover the robot's head.  Fold up each arm to form the front and sides of the submarine.  Push each leg slightly in and up to form the rear.  It's as simple as that.  The submarine does have 4 small free rolling wheels on the underside and on a smooth surface it rolls quite well.

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The drones are very simplistic and in my opinion look very odd in vehicle form.  I say this because this set is based on the Blue Sirens #3 Police Robo set where the drones transform into motorcycles.  The drones in this set look like motorcycles minus the wheels.  It's a small complaint, but I felt should be brought up.  Each drone is identical with the only exception being each one is numbered 2, 3 or 4.  Each submarine drone has free rolling wheels on the bottom as well.  The only articulation is in the arms and they can only rotate in a 360 degree motion.

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Combining all the toys to make the larger combined form is also very simple.  Taking the leader figure in vehicle form you'll first loosen each arm to allow you to fold down the nose of the vehicle to expose the robot's head.  Reattach each arm and the fold out the white pegs on each side.  Separate the legs enough to allow a drone to be attached on each side.

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Each drone can be used to form an arm or leg - left or right - it doesn't matter.  This was a nice touch as it allows a lot of different combinations if you own multiple different MRR sets.  To form the arms take any of the 4 drones in vehicle form.  Flip it upside down and then fold out the back of the craft down.  On the end are 2 gray pieces that fold out to form the hands.  The arm will then connect to the leader via the white peg and the hole in the middle section of the drone.

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Forming the legs/feet is also very easy.  From the vehicle form simply fold the rear of the craft up.  Flip up the small white peg in the end as this will serve as the connecting peg.  Fold down a gray piece in the back as this will act like a heal and help stabilize the combined robot.  Plug the leg into the bottom of the leader robot.

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There you have the combined Submarine Robo toy.  A few things you may notice in this combined form is the lack of a unique head and the overall size.  Since each leader is basically controlling the drones this is more akin to putting on a suit of armor than transforming into a different or larger robot.  If the toy was any bigger the small robot head would really look out of place, but in this case it works.  I would like it if the head was a tad bigger, but I can live with it as is.  The overall size isn't very big either.  I apologize that I didn't include any size comparison pictures in this review.  The robot stands rough at 5 1/2 inches tall.  Since the toy is basically all plastic its very light weight.  Submarine Robo has a few points of articulation in this form.  The arms rotate up and down and ever so slightly from side to side.  The claws are positionable as well.  The legs also move ever so slightly from side to side, but not really enough that allows any dynamic poses.  These may be mid 2000 grade toys, but the engineering is very 80's so don't purchase one thinking Transformers type articulation.

I personally love the Machine Robo Rescue line of toys.  It's rather small as only a handful of sets were released.  There are larger transport toys for each theme that are very cool and are worth seeking out.  I own 2 of the 3 and I aim to post a review in the near future.  With these toys being marketed for Japan and in some Asian regions finding them in the U.S. (or anywhere outside the West) can be difficult.  I just recently purchased Submarine Robo as I drug my feet buying a lot of these toys when the likes of BigBadToyStore had them readily in stock so I ended up importing this toy via a proxy service company and spending way too much.  I'm glad I was able to add this toy to my growing MRR collection, but unless you can find them for under $30.00 a set (excluding the transports) you may be better off saving your money.  They are fun toys and if you own other sets in the series there are a lot of combinations awaiting your discovery.

Friday, September 24, 2010

TOMY Tomica line hits U.S. Toys 'R Us stores!

While doing a little birthday and Christmas shopping the other day at the local Toys 'R Us store I ran across something that made me very curious.  I normally head right to the action figure aisles and eventually to the LEGO section and trading card island before leaving or checking out.  This trip however wasn't meant for me so we went down all of the other aisles I normally ignore.  These toys were merchandised oddly enough in the girl's section of the store.  Why?  I have no clue.  What did I find exactly?  This...look below:


Apparently TOMY's Tomica line of die-cast cars and trains are a big seller in Japan and now they are hitting Toys 'R Us stores starting this month, September 2010.  The initial wave is supposed to include 7 different die-cast cars, 3 train sets, 6 accessory sets, 6 destination sets and 5 deluxe play sets.  Prices range from $4.99 to $79.99.

These basically appear to be connectible play sets that allow you to build your own city.  Because it's a Japanese branded toy all of the cars are officially licensed by the likes of Nissan, Toyota and Suzuki.  The only angle I don't quite understand is the inclusion of these mini figures.  They look like a cross of LEGO and something else.  The figures don't fit inside the cars since they are on the same scale as Hotwheels or Matchbox cars, but it does appear the figures fit inside the trains.  The figures are able to interact with the play sets however in a manner of various ways.




The trains are what really peaked my curiosity.  I love trains - always have.  I've got a Christmas themed LEGO train we always pull out and set up after Thanksgiving.  These trains or plarail as I believe they are called in Japan and battery operated using a C battery that operate on a special blue plastic rail system.  I saw some rail accessory packs for $2.99 each that contained 10 pieces of track I believe.  They were sold in packs of straight or curved pieces.  The larger scale train sets retailed for around $80.00, but seem to featured a lot of pieces.





I believe the destination sets referred to include the likes of a car dealership, gas station and pizza shop.  The deluxe play sets include a police and fire stations.  One of the aspects I think makes these toys so interesting is the road pieces.  Not since Micro Machines have I seen so many different play sets that are connectible as such.  I'm not 100% sure however if these road pieces are included with the sets or if they will be sold separately.  The packaging I saw in the store didn't seem to indicate this...or if it did I missed it all together.

The last thing I have the time/space/money for is to be drawn into another toy line, but there is this unique charm surrounding these toys that will eventually lead me to buying something just to get a hands on opinion.  I'm sure I'll post these opinions once I have the opportunity.  I doubt I'll be able to bring a review of any of the train sets (unfortunately), but I'm too curious not to buy something in this new Tomica series.

** Pics courtesy of the figures.com forums

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Transformers Beast Machines Scavenger & Robots In Disguise Scavenger

QUICK INFO:
Name: Scavenger
Line: Transformers Beast Machines & Robots In Disguise
Year: 1999 & 2002
Price: $4.99 (RID version only sold in 3 pack)

Beast Machines


Faction:  Vehicon
Function:  Demolition Drone

Motto:  " The road to ruin is short when I'm driving. "

Bio:  Perhaps Megatron's most horrific invention ever is his army of programmable drones which unquestionably serve his every wish. Falling under Tankor's charge of specialized tank drones, Scavenger's application is focused on one thing: brute force. Heavy armor makes Scavenger practically unstoppable. Galva-conductors on his back channel deadly electric currents. Enjoys nothing more than getting out and wrecking something.


Strength: 8 Intelligence: 2 Speed: 4 Endurance: 6
Rank: 4 Courage: 9 Fireblast: 7 Skill: 5

Robots In Disguise

Faction:  Autobot
* no official bio was ever created by Hasbro

Today we'll take a look at a very strange vehicular toy released under Hasbro's Transformers Beast Machines banner.  It is rather easy to find these days on the secondary market, but is it worth the purchase?  Let's find out together.

The review features the same mold released in two different Transformer lines, but the main review will focus on the Beast Machines version of Scavenger.

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At first glance you may have no clue what you are looking at!  I can remember finding this toy for the first time @ Walmart in 1999 and I too was a little clueless.  The best description I can give you is that he is some sort of Cybertronian construction vehicle.  Perhaps a power shovel or modified back hoe?  Whatever it is supposed to be its odd looking.  The primary colors are a neon-ish orange, olive green with black.  The rear claws are chromed.  The toy features 4 free rolling wheels and rolls very well on smooth surfaces surprisingly enough.  There are several points of articulation in vehicle mode and one gimmick.  The arched neck you see is on a ball joint allowing the whole neck assembly to rotate forward and back and side to side.  The other end of the ball joint is attached to a ratcheting joint allowing more articulation.  The middle joint allows the top half of the vehicle to move forward and back giving it a taller or shorter appearance.  This piece is cast in a translucent orange plastic and features a piston like mechanism that slides inside the hollowed neck.  The top of the vehicle or head if you will has 2 articulated weapons that rotate a full 360 degrees.  One side features 3 missiles while the other side has a mini gatling like gun.

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When you pull on the spring loaded rounded tab on the back of the middle neck joint the head opens and closes like a steam shovel.  There are even molded teeth that gives the appearance of a large mouth.  Inside there is some neon paint applications that makes it look almost like a tongue on the bottom.  There are two grooves that featured mechanical cylinders...a very nice touch for a part of the toy that is normally not visible.  I also want to point out the small door like panel in the 2nd picture.  This opens and closes to reveal the toy's spark crystal.

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In the Beast Machines story Megatron escapes from the pre-historic Beast Wars Earth and returns to Cybertron ahead of Optimus Primal and his fellow Maximals.  Upon doing so Megatron tries to shed his organic beast mode and purge all of Cybertron of organics.  To help his conquest he develops mindless and sparkless drones he calls Vehicons.  These are Transformers that are devoid of a spark or soul if you will.  Sadly Scavenger was never featured in the awesome CGI television show.  I'm guessing Hasbro just made the toy as a filler for the first wave of figures.  Here you can see the green Vehicon crystal.  All Beast Machine toys featured either a Maximal, Predacon or Vehicon crystal somewhere on the toy.

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The later repaint of this toy that was released in Robots in Disguise (RID) as part of a 3 pack had the spark crystals painted over.  Kinda ugly if you ask me so I'm there is a panel that covers this now red orb.

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Here is Scavenger in his robot mode.  Now this looks a lot better and resembles a Transformer.  Scavenger is a basic or scout class toy meaning he isn't very big.  He stands right at or a little taller than 3 inches.  Don't let his diminutive stature fool you though as this is a well articulated robot.  The hips and knees feature ball joints allowing moderate poses.  The large tank treads that hang on the side of the legs do hinder the overall leg articulation a little bit, but nothing too bad.  His feet are really tiny, but thanks to the aforementioned tank treads they give some much needed stability.  The arms are attached by ball joints as well, but the plastic fully surrounds the joint limiting the range of motion.  The elbow's ball joints however are not hindered at all.  Those silver chrome claws that hung behind in vehicle mode now are the robots hands.  Note the tips of the claws are the same shade of neon orange featured on other parts of the toy.  It appears the paint was applied with a air brush.  The large black wheels folded up and now give the appearance of some much needed bulk in this form.  

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Now one question you may be asking yourself is "where is the robot's head?"  That small black panel on top of the vehicle head lifts up ever so much to reveal a pair of eyes.  These robotic eyes even featured light piping using a translucent orange plastic!  The head is a little bit of a stretch, but if you can get past it I think the overall look of the robot is excellent.  As as I said in the opening this is a very strange toy, but for some reason I like it a lot.

For a smaller toy there is a lot of detailing sculpted into the mold.  I know this isn't really a fan favorite as even when the toy was new it warmed the pegs at a lot of retail stores.  Non-show characters always get snubbed when it comes to kids and their parents, but don't let his absence in the television show deter you from looking into at least one version of this toy.  I prefer the original Vehicon version, but the blue and white used on the RID version works well.  It's a striking combination and the fact that he's an Autobot is also interesting.  I believe he was the first Autobot to have the name Scavenger.  This toy won't win any rewards and the vehicle mode is very odd, but the robot mode makes up for the rest of the short comings in my opinion.  I highly recommend the Beast Machines version since it can easily be purchased individually.  The RID version was sold with other repaints of Beast Machines toys so it isn't as readily available, but I was able to find one for about $5.00 recently on eBay.


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Friday, September 10, 2010

LEGO City Toys ' R Us Truck

My wife gave me the heads up yesterday that TRU had all of their LEGO City sets on sale so I thought I'd take a look to see what they had. I'm a casual LEGO fan, but I try to keep up with all the new releases for the various themes, but this exclusive flew underneath my radar. As of this post too bad it's out of stock, but this is a very sharp set.

LEGO City Toys R'Us Truck - LEGO - Toys "R" Us

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Spider-Man: Spider Force the Wasp

Ah, good old Toy-Biz action figures from the 90's. This is a good example of how far action figures have come in the last 10 years. Today we'll take a look at one of the many Spider-Man toys released over the years...but wait. You say this isn't the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Why yes, you are correct. This review is for the Avenger's very own Wasp!


I guess in the mid to late 90's Marvel and Toy-Biz were running out of ideas for new action figures based on the popular Marvel Comics franchises such as Spider-Man and the X-Men so they started making some really wild toys. I'm guessing most of them didn't go over very well w/ the kids or even collectors as you can still find a wide variety of this product unopened at places such as eBay. I scored this sample for $3.00 from eBay. I've always been somewhat curious about these Spider Force toys and since it was cheap and I needed some new content for my blog I thought why not. As you can see in the first photo above the Wasp isn't the regular human version of Janet Van Dyne that most of us recognize. This is the insect like version first seen in the Avengers comics around the time of the Timeslide story. The Wasp comes packaged with transforming insect armor. Basically it's a big hollow piece of plastic that looks like a mutated wasp and comes apart to snap onto the figure as armor. Excited yet?


The back of the packaging gives a short story if you will of the character.

"The strikingly beautiful Janey Van Dyne proves that good things do come in small packages. This member of the Avengers can shrink down to the size of a wasp, complete with wings and a powerful Bio-Sting to blast her enemies. Small and speedy, the Wasp can avoid most attacks with ease, but her insect armor can fend off any attack. Her armor can even transform into a hi-tech mechanical wasp that fights side by side with her."

The toy line description reads as follows:

"Spider-Man's arch-enemies, Beetle, Tarantula and Swarm are up to their old tricks again. This time, though, they have gained transforming "Insect Armor" from alien technology they acquired, making them even more dangerous than before! Teaming up with the Avenger known as the Wasp, Spidey aims to put an end to their crime spree. With "Insect Battle Armor" of their own, our heroes will prove that the good guys will always win!"

It appears a lot of thought when into the development of this line. Kinda surprising if you ask me. The aforementioned villians are also displayed across the bottom of the backing card. Of the 3 the figures of the Swarm and the Beetle look the best, but the armor for all of them looks very very goofy.

On the right side of the backing card is a drawing of the figure depicting how to assemble to armor on the figure. At first glance I didn't think much of it, but after looking at it closer it appears that Mike Deodato Jr. may have supplied the art!


I can see how gimmicks attract kids attention, but I guess kids just didn't buy into the whole insect armor.



Let's take a look at the actual Wasp figure now. The figure stands about 6 inches tall and shares a decent likeness with it's comic book counterpart. There is a limited articulation in the shoulders and elbows, but the joints on my figure were extremely tight and felt like the arm may snap off if I applied too much force. The legs rotate at the hips, but thanks to the pre-posed nature of the figure pulling off a standing pose was next to impossible. Overall it's not a bad figure, but when compared with Marvel Legends or even the new smaller Marvel Universe figures this figure of the Wasp shows it's age. If it had more articulation and lost the fixed poses in the arms and legs I would like it better. There are 4 holes on the back of the figure that allow the goofy insert battle armor to be attached. Other than that there isn't much else to say about this figure.


  
When the insect armor is assembled it makes a rather large bug. The wings have a pink glitter shimmer to them which makes them stand out from the dark blue and yellow colors. The antenna on the head are removable. I'm not sure if they are supposed to be though as one of mine had fallen off inside the package.  I got it to go back in, but it still falls out rather easily.


Assembling the armor on the figure is easy. The wing assembly is one piece and it simply plugs into one of the holes on the back of the figure. The stinger portion of the armor separates into two halves and attach to the arm / shoulder area. The bottom of the wasp armor attaches to the front of the figure making a breast plate of sorts. Lastly the large insect head slips over the figure's head giving you the final grotesque look.

Overall this is a pretty bad figure...and I'm not using bad in a good way. The armor not only looks incredibly goofy it falls off when the slightest touch. I just can't see how kids couldn't have played with this toy and enjoyed it. The figure itself is OK, but it's a far cry from a being a good figure. I'll probably end up displaying this figure with my Avengers Marvel Legends collection as it does somewhat blend in, but I can't recommend anyone buy this toy at all. I may be on the lookout at some point for the Swarm or the Beetle toys for the figures alone, but don't buy this toy expecting much or else you will be disappointed.