Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lights, Camera, Action!

I just got notice a few days ago that the local CBS news affiliate wants to interview me and film my Transformers collection.  My mom put in a word for me with a producer from the local channel for a program called Carolina Camera.  I talked to the producer a few times back in late summer.  I wasn't sure if it was going to go anywhere, but now I know.  I've got a reporter and a film crew coming over on Tuesday, January 10th. 

Now I've just got to finish getting the final touches done to my new hobby room and make sure everything looks "camera ready".  That said I probably won't be doing much in the way of reviews until after filming has been completed.  I do have several things in the pipeline to share, but those will have to wait.  I'll try to keep everyone (who cares) updated.  It looks like they put some of the episodes online so I'll make sure to provide a link if that happens.

I of course hope to share my own pictures and maybe even some video of the room after it's completion.  I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Machine Robo Mugenbine: Carryeagle "Lucky Draw"

You may be familiar with the term "Lucky Draw" if you collection Japanese toys.  From what I know the term coined thanks in part to contests that people could enter to win one of usually only a few special toys.  Takara did this a lot with various series of Transformers.

In late 2003 Bandai continued the current re-imagining of the Machine Robo brand with the creation of Mugenbine.  By the time 2005 had come around Bandai had created a figure for just about every letter in the alphabet.  Through the company's official website (http://www.mr-club.jp) you could somehow enter a contest for several different limited toys.  One of which was Mugen General 3.  The toy is comprised of Airleon, Buildgiraffet and Carryeagle and each figure was made in a chrome like silver.  From what I could gather off the website at the time only 3 sets were made.  Years ago when I was crazy about Mugenbine I ran across an auction for this silver "Lucky Draw" Carryeagle and I could resist the opportunity at adding such a limited toy to my collection.  Because of it's limited nature I'm a little leary handling the figure much, but since I had to move my toy room I decided to do a proper post on this awesome rarely seen figure.


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The box is rather boring being a plain white box with a black and white label.  The box is the same size as the majority of the 'alphabet' series toys.

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Inside the plain white box you'll find a plastic tray containing all the shiny chrome parts including the clear translucent Mugenroid figure.

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The only paint apps on the figure is the lime green used for the eye visor.  The rest of the Mugenroid is entirely made of clear plastic.

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The set came with it's own sticker sheet and other than the colors being different from the one included with the normal release of Carryeagle they are the same.  I of course had or have no intention of ever using these however.

There aren't any real changes to the toy other than the silver chrome so I'll just share a few pictures of each mode.  We'll start with the animal mode:

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I was never too fond of the eagle mode.  The large wheel sections that double as the feet are just too big for my tastes.  You can tell that Carryeagle was one of the early Mugenbine releases as the modes got much better with subsequent releases.

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The dump truck mode is by far my favorite.  Being a big Transformers fan I would have loved to see this set released in neon green and purple!  You can see in both modes here that some of the Bine parts aren't chromed.  The silver pieces does have a metallic look, but overall it's more flat than shiny.  Surprisingly they fit in well overall with the silver chrome and the translucent Mugenroid.


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Carryeagle comprises the top half of the Mugen General 3 gestalt so it's appropriate that his combiner head has the chrome treatment as well.


This is a fantastic toy in it's own right.  Throw in the silver chrome and the limited nature of being 1 of 3 in existence and it puts it over the top.  Since I acquired this piece I have sold off most of my Mugenbine collection so this figure can be had if you really want it.  Price is negotiable so if you are serious please don't hesitate to contact me.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The best Christmas gift ever!

I'm a very blessed guy.  I've got a wonderful family who loves me and they showed me this in part by the number of gifts I got for Christmas.  However one gift really stood of the bunch...a homemade gift from my 2 year old daughter (with help from my beautiful wife).  Take a look:

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A homemade "snow globe" featuring a Lego Minifigure!  A few weeks before Christmas my wife was looking around in my room and asking me if she could have various small toys she was looking at.  I said no to just about everything she asked about, but I figured she wouldn't be asking if she didn't have something up her sleeve.  Thanks to the Lego Minifigures being blind packaged I had an extra Indian so I let her take it.  Several weeks passed and I forgot all about it...until Christmas morning with my daughter gave me a brown paper bag she had decorated herself.  I reached inside and pulled out this awesome creation!  Shake it up and you'll see specks of gold glitter float around in the water.

Thank you so much to my daughter and wife for the very thoughtful and well made gift.  I was the highlight of the Christmas gift giving season.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fun with Zombie-Vipers

Reading and participating in various toy and action figure forums and message boards led me to start this very blog here.  I wasn't sure that I could contribute anything new, but it was nice to have an outlet to share my opinions.  It also gave me something else to do with my various toys.

One of the things about this toy community I enjoy is reading other people's reviews and admiring people's diorama skills.  One of the best pictures I've seen to date was found earlier today on the HISSTank.com message boards.  The Cobra Zombie-Viper has recently hit retail stores and it seems that it's an early on fan favorite.  Just take a look!

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Now if only I could find these awesome Zombie-Vipers in my neck of the woods...not that I have the skill to create something as awesome as this!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Daigunder: Tri-Horn

Several years ago Takara tried something new - combining a video game with a transformable robot ala Transformers. The result was a series called Web Diver. I'm not sure what kind of success it had in Japan, but I'm assuming it was modest as Takara released several toys over a short period.

Daigunder is the successor to Web Diver. The premise of both line of toys is you have one larger figure that acts as the "game system". All of the other figures act as secondary items in the game itself. The larger figure attaches to a television with standard RGB cables and features infrared sensors to interact with the other figures. Are you following all of this?

I had the fortune (or misfortune depending on who you ask) of owning several Web Diver toys when they were new - including the leader and "game system" Gradion. The game itself was rather boring and the small controls on the back of the figure weren't all that responsive. As far as the other figures interacting in the game was just a well designed marketing scam if you ask me. It's kind of like this new Skylanders game that is hitting the current gen home consoles. You fork out a lot of money for the core game and then you have to buy additional figures to unlock things in the game. Instead of digitally downloading this content they make you buy a figure to get the in game content. Really smooth idea from a business stand point - but sucks for us as the consumer.

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Getting back to Daigunder I missed the boat originally when they were released. I had seen plenty of pictures of the toys online, but finding the toys (especially here in the US) I found difficult. I remember seeing Daigunder himself at BigBadToyStore's table at a past Botcon, but I glossed over it.  Eventually these toys were popping up all over the place in Korean packaging and a fellow TFW2005 board member a gew years ago was gracious enough to hook me up with a few of the toys for super cheap.  One of these was an early favorite of mine, Tri-Horn.

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Judging from the screen shots of the video game it looks to be a huge step forward from the Web Diver game.  Looking at the health bars and time across the top of the screen I'd guess the game is your standard 2D fighter like Street Fighter...only with transformable robots.

Across the bottom of the box you can see the cross sell images of other Daigunder toys.  Tri-Horn was part of the Dino Unit along with Bonerex (red tyrannosaurus rex) and Deathspector (blue pteranodon).

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The side of the box shows you another way that Tri-Horn can interact with the main figure of the series.  Along with Bonerex you can combine them both to form a large gauntlet like weapon.  Prior to obtaining this toy I didn't know about this feature.

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Tri-Horn is a very bulky and stout figure.  With a little re-tooling it looks like he could be a ape with those large fists that just barely drag the ground.  Most of the paint apps here are nicely done and feature a metallic shine.  The light blue on the head and legs looks a little out of place, but I guess it works.  There isn't much articulation to speak of.  Standard points of articulation include the elbows and hips - not much else.  I'm guessing the electronics inside the figure contribute to making this a brick of a figure.

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If you look on the back you'll see the video game components - a thumb button that pivots right to left and a larger button with red chrome trim.  I have no idea what these buttons do in game.

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Takara did a nice job with the head sculpt.  He has a large chin that sticks out which fits his stocky nature.  The bone like helmet is also a nice touch as it gives the appearance of him being a tough fighter.

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The whole triceratops head comes off and forms a staff like weapon for Tri-Horn to wield in robot mode.  Simply fold the horns up and you have your weapon.

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You gotta admit he looks pretty bad a in this form.  From the large weapon to the massive fists he doesn't look like a robot I'd want to tussle with.

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I was surprised to see that the triceratops is really small.  I guess its the lack of a tail that makes the dinosaur look small and well...a little off.  What I do like about the dino mode is how all of the robot parts are incorporated.  His chest splits into two pieces and forms the front legs while his massive fits form the middle.  Very clever design if you ask me.

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Overall this is a fun little toy and lived up to most of my expectations.  Thankfully with these Korean editions now on the market they are much more accessible if you want to track one down.  There are usually a few sellers on eBay that routinely sell a decent selection of Daigunder toys.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More limited Transformers Microns


(from left to right)
Aimless, Fracas, Peaceman

Takara Tomy strikes again with more limited (i.e. expense) Microns.  Starting December 28th in Japan shoppers can get one of 3 different limited Microns with a minimum purchase at various retail stores.

Aimless is named after G1 Misfire's Targetmaster of the same name and is a repaint of Power Core Combiner Sledge's Micron partner Throttler.  Fracas is named after G1 Scourge's Targetmaster of the same name and is a repaint of Power Core Combiner Heavytread's Micron partner Groundspike.  Peaceman is named after G1 Pointblank's Targetmaster Peacemaker and is a repaint of Power Core Combiner Smoulder's Micron partner Chopster.

Now I'm a self confessed Mini-Con/Micron hoarder.  I love the little guys and I can't see to get enough.  However I must say these are unimpressive.  The best thing they have going is that they are cast in sold plastic as opposed to the clear translucent plastic Hasbro used in the Power Core Combiner line.  One day these may find a way into my collection, but if that day ever comes I don't think it'll be any time soon.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Bring back the mail-in programs

Am I the only one that misses the old main-in programs that the toy companies used to do?  While flipping through an old comic book this weekend I came across this old ad inside the front cover.  I vaguely remember filling out the order form to send in.  What made this program so different than the others was that you got to create and personalize your character.  I never was a huge fan of the Steel Brigade concept, but with the new 30th Anniversary version I'm starting to see why others have always had a soft spot for the Brigade.

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What shocked me a little was the cost.  This program took place in 1987 so you would think a simple action figure such as this would only be a few bucks plus shipping.  Not sure if you can read the fine print or not, but parents had to send in a check for $7.50 plus an additional $1.50 for shipping.  You can buy a new 30th Anniversary Steel Brigade figure at retail for less than $9.00 these days!  True you don't get to personalize your figure and it doesn't come with the nifty patch.

In this day and age of internet these types of mail away programs are all but dead.  I however would love to see something like this be utilized again.  I know Hasbro tried a mail away program with their Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen line of toys...but the "exclusive" Ravage figure sucked hard.  Hasbro hasn't tried the mail away program with the G.I. Joe brand since the Joe vs. Cobra days with a Storm Shadow figure that featured a removable mask.  Correct that.  I forgot about the Doc program from the 25th Anniversary comic packs.  By the time I collected enough stickers to mail in the supply had been exhausted.  Boo!

Who else would like to see some sort of mail in program for your favorite line of action figures?  Sound off!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mastermind Creations: Hexatron unreleased prototype photos & etc

Mastermind Creations: Hexatron unreleased prototype photos & etc: These are the photos that we rendered and displayed with the prototype of Hexatron in Victoria's Ultimated Toy Show Oct 16 in Victoria, BC.

I'm really starting to think I should abandon my search for a G1 Sixshot (at least for the moment) after seeing colored pictures of Hexatron.  It appears that Mastermind Creations will have a smash hit on their hands.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chinese Transformers Cybertron trading cards?

Several years ago (?) I remember seeing these packs of Transformers Cybertron trading card packs for sale on Robot Kingdom.  Since they were only 2 bucks and I'm a sucker for Transformer cards I bought a few packs.  Long story short they got shuffled around with the rest of my cards and I haven't seen them for awhile until recently.  I don't know anything about these, but from what I can tell the language on the cards appears to be Chinese.  The back of the card is basically that character's tech specs.  The bio also features English.  Seeing the prominent Hasbro logo tells me these are a official release, but none of my searches have turned up anything.

While collating the cards I came up with several duplicates.  If anyone reading this is interested in them just let me know and we'll see about working out something.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Free Comic Book Day Sketch

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There was a time when I was all about comic books.  While I still enjoy reading I just don't have the time nor the funds (or space for that matter) to collect comic books.  One of the great things about comics for me each year was Free Comic Book Day.  One of the local comic shops in town always treated the event really big each May.  Several notable artists would be invited and for several hours would provide sketches by request for FREE!  Most of the artists didn't just scribble something down either.  They would take there time and craft some beautiful pieces of art.  I've got several from Mark Brooks currently framed and on my wall at home.  I don't remember what kept me from attending FCBD in 2010, but my brother graciously requested a Scarlet Spider sketch for me from artist Tom Lyle.  When he brought it home to me I was floored at the level of detail Tom put into it.  I still need to find a suitable frame, but once I do this piece will be proudly displayed on the walls of my home.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Versus: Beast Wars Terrorsaur

If you are a fan of Transformers then you probably know by now that Takara strives to produce show accurate figures as opposed to Hasbro.  That's not to say that Hasbro hasn't released some great decos on some of their figures, but on average the Takara version seems to be the superior deco.  One case that couldn't be more true of this is Beast Wars Terrorsaur.

Terrorsaur was a fan favorite character due to the portrayal of his character on the awesome CGI Beast Wars television show.  However when Kenner/Hasbro released the first figure of him they strayed from the CGI character model for some reason.  While the toy is a rather excellent "flipchanger", the Hasbro decor is horrible.  Why did they decide it was a good idea to omit the yellow from the "beak" on the dinosaur's head?  Why did they think a stripe of green spots down the back would look good?  If you don't follow me take a look of this screen capture of Terrorsaur first.



Now take a look at the deco on the Hasbro version of Terrorsaur.

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Where did that purple come from in addition to the green spots?  What about the black on the body?  Honestly until I realized the Takara version got the deco right I had no idea the Hasbro figure was that ugly.  Trust me though - wait until you see the comparison pictures.

Before we take a look at the Takara version be forewarned that if you want to track down this toy you better pack some patience.  I don't even remember how long I looked for this toy it took me that long to find it!

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The best mode alone is reason enough to purchase this version.  Not only are the ugly green spots missing, but the red plastic is much brighter and vivid than what Hasbro used.  The addition of the yellow paint on the "beak" and the eyes also makes a huge difference.

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Gone is the purple on the head, fists and legs.  The black has been replaced with a more show accurate gray.  The deco on this figure is down right sexy.

I'll leave you with some side by side comparison pics to truly show you in the words of G1 Soundwave - "Hasbro inferior, Takara superior".

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Machine Robo Mugenbine: Quest Knight Wedge

In 2005 a Japanese publisher released the definitive Machine Robo book simply called Machine Robo Wedge.  The book featured lots of text (that unfortunately I can't read since it's all in Japanese) and lots of colorful pictures for Machine Robo toys that ranged from the beginning of the line through the then current Mugenbine line.

The book also came packaged with a region 2 DVD full of vintage Machine Robo commericals.  I've only seen a few of these as I'm afraid to switch the region code on my laptop's CD-ROM drive too many times, but it was an excellent addition to the book.  If you are a fan of any iteration of Machine Robo then I highly recommend you pick up this book.  I believe at the time of this post HLJ still has it in stock.

Part of the book was some sort of contest for a special Mugenbine set called Quest Knight Wedge.  Unfortunately I don't know much about the contest itself or how the toy was awarded or how many exist, but I did manage to run across one a few years ago and purchased it.  I had completely forgot I even owned the toy as it never made it to one of my display shelves in my toy room and I only recently came across it buried in a box as I was moving.  While I still love the Mugenbine toys my collection focus has changed so the toy wasn't a fixture in my collection.  I did find a fellow collector to sell the set to and I'm happy it's going to a good home.  Before I let it go however I had to open him for a quick review.

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Quest Knight comes packaged in a plain white box with only a sticker letting you know which character is hiding inside.  My Lucky Draw Carry Eagle came in a similar box.  Slide the inner plastic tray out and you'll see the Turboroid and his Bineparts all laid out.  Quest Knight Wedge is (obviously) a recolor of the regular Quest Knight figure.  I believe he was one of three released that first used the new Turboroid figure as the base.  The translucent smoke colored plastic combined with the orange and silver paint apps are beautiful.  In some ways it looks better than the regular red version.

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The Turboroid figures featured the same articulation and close to the same style that the "regular" Mugenroid figure had - only with wheels!  This allowed the figure to convert to a vehicle of some sort with the attachment of other Bineparts.

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Not the greatest range of motion and articulation, but the combinations can be endless.

Quest Knight Wedge has 3 different combined modes.  The first is his beast mode - a dragon.  Because this version is recolored from the original I have to say the dragon doesn't look as good being mostly translucent.  The original featured a vibrant red plastic with white and gold paint apps.  The toy still looks great in this mode however.  Take a look.

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I should mention that the dragon's tail is comprised of a sword so it's rather thin.  On the dragon's back you can also see the combined robot's head exposed which is a major drawback.

The second mode utilizes the Turboroid's vehicle form.  Again without having the original red color you may not look at the vehicle form and immediately recognize that it's a fire truck of sorts.  The rest of the included Bineparts form some sort of base if you will.  None of the these Mugenbine Turboroid sets had very convincing structures if you ask me.  I'll just call this thing a make shift fire house.

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Is the dragon tail / sword a large fire hose or a ladder?  You tell me!  While the construct may be lacking the fire truck mode is actually pretty good.  You basically just lay the Turboroid face down and snap on 3 pieces and wa-la you have a fire truck!

The last of the combined modes is a robot.  I should also mention that Quest Knight can also form a larger robot with two other Turboroid sets (Razor Ninja & Save Gunman).  Quest Knight's combined robot mode stands at 3 inches or so.  It's not small, but it's not the size of a Transformers combiner either.  The robot can wield the dragon's tail in either hand.  You can rotate the arms out, but that's about all the articulation in this mode that you'll get.

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The head sculpt is excellent and the bright orange really pops on the translucent smoke colored plastic.  This is a great set and has a lot of great parts.  I was immediately reminded of why I was so attracted to these Mugenbine sets in the mid 2000's after taking these pictures.  Part of me wishes I had more room for these toys as I would've loved to have kept my set as I had nearly the entire Mugenbine line.  I doubt you'll run across this Wedge version, but if you can find the regular issue Quest Knight set pick it up.  If you can find the other related sets and you have a good imagination you'll be able to pull off some great combinations.