Thursday, February 24, 2011

Transformers Stealth Force: High Wire

Bio:
High Wire has a problem with authority.  He resents having to stay in disguise all the time, just because somebody in charge thinks humans can't handle the idea of a bunch of big robots stomping around.  He takes every chance he gets to pop out his weapons, just to shock whoever happens to be around.

Ever since Hasbro announced the Stealth Force toys I was intrigued.  Everyone immediately threw out the M.A.S.K. comparisons.  Some may argue that you can have a true Transformers toy if the toy doesn't transform.  However these toys do transform...per se.  The gimmick if you aren't already aware is that the vehicles have hidden weapons that pop out when a button is pressed or a certain part of the vehicle is pulled.  I've resisted the temptation to buy one of these until recently when I decided to pick up High Wire.  I thought my daughter would enjoy the toy if I didn't so why not give it a try?


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All of the Stealth Force toys come packaged where you try that vehicle's gimmick.  This was a smart move by Hasbro as you get a really good idea of what you are buying beforehand.  The downside of this out in the open packaging is it allows the toy to be broken.  I've seen many different vehicles with parts that won't stay in place due to the springs being broken or simply over used.  It is very easy to work High Wire's gimmick as you simply grab ahold of the rear wheel and pull.  There is a small perforated panel on the bottom of the box that you punch out and fold down revealing the connector pieces.  Simply twist the thumb tabs and High Wire is free from his cardboard prison.

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The box art is as close as you'll get to a robot mode for High Wire.  I can't but help think High Wire's intended robot mode shares a lot of the same features as G2 Road Rocket.

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The back of the box gives you a short bio for the character as well as acts as instructions for the toy.  There aren't any paper instructions included.  Then again you don't need it as the transformation is very simple.  Again, pull the rear wheel back and the hidden weapons pop out.

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The motorcycle I have to say looks very nice.  I have no idea if its modeled after any real world design, but it meshes well with other Transformer toys, especially the current Generations/Reveal the Shield deluxe class.  Both wheels spin freely and there is a small kickstand on one side to prop the bike up.  There are 3 main colors with red being the most prominent.  Silver highlights the wheels, engine, windshield and headlights.  There is a small black Autobot symbol on each side just below the handlebars.

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There are several spring loaded weapons that are exposed when the rear wheel is pulled out.  The seat reveals 4 small guns.  A single barrel gun pops up from the gas tank area.  The sides flip up and down to reveal small gatling guns on the top panel and twin guns on the bottom.  All of the weapons are painted a bronze or gold color.  You can also see more parts of the motorcycle's engine in this mode and it too is painted gold.  I really really wish I could have found my M.A.S.K. Condor before doing this review as that neon green bike was of similar size.

At only six bucks this is a fun, yet simple little toy.  Is about the same size as a $9.00 scout class toy without the robot mode.  These won't appeal to everyone, but I like them.  If you're looking for something slightly different then pick up one of the Stealth Force toys and give it a try...even if you're just fiddling w/ the toy in the store.  Keep in mind most stores merchandise these on the die-cast car aisle, not the action figure aisle.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Transformers 3rd Party: FansProject - G3 Trailer

QUICK INFO:
Name: G3 Trailer
Line: n/a (third party Transformers accessory)
MSRP: $79.99 
Year: 2009

The the popularity of all things Transformers one should not be surprised that everyone wants a piece of the pie.  Let's face it - both Takara/Tomy (of Japan) as well as Hasbro have a cash cow in the Transformers brand.  It's hard to believe the Transformers brand has been around for 25 years now and there is no denying it's growing popularity, especially with the 3rd live action movie coming this summer.

The whole third party companies slowly penetrated the Transformers scene over the years with small add-on sets for official licensed toys.  One of the first (and best companies IMO) that entered the third party market is FansProject.  Now they are known for their awesome City Commander, Protector armor add-on sets as well as the equally impressive Crossfire sets.  I'm not sure how I missed the release of their G3 trailer for Classics Optimus Prime / Henkei! Convoy, but now that I've held it in my hands I can say this is another fine addition to the FansProject line-up.  Lets just say there is definitely more to this trailer than meets the eye!

I would be doing this set a disfavor if I didn't take a few moments to talk about the packaging so we'll start there before opening up the box and taking a closer look at the trailer itself.

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The front of the box is beautiful and made from a nice white card stock.  The colors are primarily a metallic silver and blue - the same colors of G1 Prime's trailer.  Just like the City Commander box this release too shares the Parallax name.  More on that later.  The name of the set, G3 Trailer is very prominent on the box.  Above the name is a nice large window showing off the majority of the trailer.  What I didn't first notice upon receiving this toy is the area to the left of the window.  This section is actually perforated allowing you to remove it if you wish.  Underneath this cardboard expands the window and allows you to show off Optimus Prime in truck mode attached to the trailer.  This is a very nice touch for collectors who like to display their items in the packaging.

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As if the trailer itself wasn't cool enough FansProject also included several nice shiny chrome weapons that are all viewable on the top of the box.  There are 4 different guns in different sizes and one sword.  You can also see the new and improved Roller.  We'll look at these closer once the box is opened.

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The bottom of the box has the story that FansProject has built around many of their releases.  I apologize that I didn't make this photo larger so you could read the paragraph.

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On the back of the box you get a better idea of what is inside.  It shows off the various features of the trailer - repair bay (vertical position), stealth mode, repair bay 'bot, launching Roller and included weapons.

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Slide the inner plastic tray out of the box and you'll see the area where you can insert your Optimus Prime figure.  The tray that houses Roller and the weapons is a separate tray that fits on top of the trailer's tray.

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The cardstock insert also acts as a portfolio for the trailer's instruction & sticker sheets.  This is another nice touch as the pocket firmly holds these papers in place so they don't slide around inside the box.

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In past FansProject releases the instructions have been printed in the form of a comic book.  This time around it is a simple black and white sheet.  The instructions do a good job pointing out the various features.

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The sticker sheet seems fairly simple.  I didn't take a long look at the sticker placement map on the instructions, but I do plan on applying these at some point in the near future.  After all this toy will be proudly displayed on my Classics / Henkei! shelf.

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The trailer is beautiful and an excellent upgraded homage to the original Generation One version.  The colors are spot on as is the over design.  Notice the small blank square on each side in the blue stripe?  Get yourself a set of reproduction Autobot symbols and you'll be all set!


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The original G1 trailer did have some support to hold the trailer up when Prime wasn't attached.  This version does as well, but better resembles a real world trailer's support.  The silver legs at the trailer's nose fold down as do the small silver support braces on each side.

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On the left is the front view of the trailer.  Right is the rear view of the trailer.  I should point on that the rear tail lights are cast in a red translucent plastic.

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Open the back doors and fold down the ramp and a peak inside reveals the repair bot 'bot in the back.  This is where you can also insert and store Roller if you so wish.

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One of my favorite parts about the trailer is the ability to store one deluxe sized Transformer inside!  Here you can see the new Reveal the Shield version of Tracks fitting inside just fine.  I love how the doors open and the extending ramp.  I also tried Classics Sunstreaker, Prowl and Reveal the Shield Jazz and they too fit inside the trailer without any problems.

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Owning several different versions of this Optimus mold I grabbed the first one I put my hands on...being the Hasbro version.  Whether you attach this version of Prime or Takara Tomy's Henkei! version you can't go wrong as both versions mesh very well with the trailer.  The trailer's wheels even share the same design as Prime's which again is a very nice small touch.

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To transform the trailer into base mode / repair bay is very similar to before.  Separate the halves and fold down.  Open the rear doors and fold down the ramp.  The repair bay 'bot is basically the same as the original G1 version.  This one however replaces the fold up radar with another articulated claw arm.  The sides of the trailer before had small command consoles that were signed for the original Diaclone figures.  This time around there are rows of pegs molded into the trailer along with various mechanical details.  These pegs can be used to store the included weapons.

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The upgraded Roller can fit into the base of the repair bot.  If you push Roller into the base far enough you'll hear a click.  Pull on the trailer hit underneath will cause Roller to be launched out.  I was surprised at the strength of the springs as I was able to launch Roller completely out of the trailer and down the ramp!

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Roller is simple and yet I love the new look.  Both the head lights and cockpit are cast in the same red translucent plastic as the trailer's tail lights.  All 12 wheels are free rolling.  There is a hole on the back that allows you to insert a weapon of some sort.  I didn't try but I believe one of Prime's guns will fit in this peg hole.

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Roller himself also transforms...kind of.  Apparently there was a piece that was included with the repainted City Commander armor that fits down inside Roller allowing you to attach additional weapons.  To transform Roller simply extend the back end portion, fold back the blue block that has the peg hole and fold down the silver pieces on the side.  You now have a rectangular area to fit this module from the other armor set.

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Here is a close up from the instructions regarding Roller's transformation.

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The included shiny chrome weapons come attached to little frames.  It is extremely difficult to remove these weapons as the material used is thick and hard to cut with scissors.  I basically had to saw them with my pocket knife until I had cut in enough to twist them off. 

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Each weapon has a hole somewhere on it that allows it to be attached to one of those pegs inside the trailer.

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Another nice feature about this trailer is the additional set of wheels that are used to attach the City Commander armor or it's repainted version.  This assembly simply folds down from underneath the trailer and then rotates to the back.  Flip out the wheels and flip up the panel to reveal the trailer hitch.  You do have to lift up the rear bumper to deploy this rear trailer hitch assembly.  I only own the City Commander armor and it's attached to my Classics Ultra Magnus so I apologize for not being able to supply pictures of this armor attached to the trailer.

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There is one other feature that I should mention - stealth mode.  I'm not sure I completely understand how this is supposed to work however.  I noticed the side and top panels of the trailed seemed a little thick.  You can flip down the top and sides to expose a mirror like covering that completely covers the whole trailer.

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The mirror surface does have a protectant covering that you must peel off.  I'm leaving it intact as I just don't see the purpose of this mode.  How is a large rectangular mirror constitute as stealth?

I figured that this trailer would be a worthy purchase since it was released by FansProject, but I'll admit my expectations were rather low.  After all its only a simple trailer.  Doing this review however has blown me away.  I can't wait to finish reorganizing my Classics / Henkei! shelf so I can display this awesome trailer attached to one of my Prime figures.  This trailer was released a year or so ago and I'm not sure what the going price is anymore, but do yourself a favor and hunt down this toy.  Your Optimus Prime figure is naked without it!  Try TFSource for price & availability.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dead Island

In addition to my love of action figures I am also an avid video gamer...then again aren't most of us?  While checking a few things this morning I stumbled across one of the best teaser trailers for a new video game that I have EVER seen.  If you like horror movies, zombies, survival horror video games, first person shooters or all of the above then you simply must watch this video:


More Dead Island Videos

Check out this video if the first one confused you.  This video features the sequences in chronological order.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

M.A.S.K.: Fireforce w/ Julio Lopez

QUICK INFO:
Name: Fireforce w/ Julio Lopez
Line: M.A.S.K. (Kenner)
Year: 1987-1988

Transforming toys were all the rage in the 80's it seemed thanks in part to the success and popularity of the Transformers brand of toys.  Most children of the 80's will remember M.A.S.K. - Mobile Armored Strike Kommand.  Ordinary vehicles that transform into battle ready vehicles piloted by guys and gals w/ cool masks that each have their own "super power".  I loved these toys as a kid, but sadly I never owned many.  With the invention of the internet I was able to track down several of the toys that came out after my interest waned and this is one of them.

Fireforce was part of the Split Seconds line where the vehicle would separate into 2 different vehicles.  Each toy came with a clone of the included figure.  Today, these toys can be hard to find.  I was able to track down the Fireforce toy on a UK toy website a few years ago.  I'm guessing the interest was already starting to decrease by this time in the toy line's life and Kenner didn't produce as many toys thus making them hard to find on the secondary market.  It also doesn't help that the majority of the toys I've been able to get my hands on are inferior when compared to the first few years worth of toys.

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Fireforce is a sharp looking black Pontiac Fiero.  Kenner did a good job with the toy in this form...if you can overlook the rear tires that stick out a little too far.  You can't really tell by looking at the Fiero form that this is a M.A.S.K. toy as all the other parts are well concealed.  Both the exposed engine and the wheels are a nice shiny silver chrome.  The trim and bottom of the car are molded in silver plastic.  You can tell this is a toy from the 80's based on the neon green lines all over the car.  Looks like you're looking at some medical monitor!

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The car does feature an open sunroof.  To the best of my knowledge there was never a piece to pop in to close off the roof.  This opening does make it easy to place the driver or any other M.A.S.K. figure into the vehicle.

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The license plate on the back simply reads Lopez.  This is for the driver Julio Lopez that comes packaged with Fireforce.  You can see just how far the back wheels protrude here...this is part of one of the Split Seconds vehicle that you'll see shortly.  Getting that Miami Vice vibe yet?

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My specimen came with both Julio and his clone figure, but I only got Julio's mask - Streamer.  The clone figure is identical to the regular figure sans the neon green translucent plastic.

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Instead of the whole vehicle transforming into one battle ready vehicle the Fiero splits into 2 different vehicles.  The top half of Fireforce becomes a flying car a la the Thunderhawk or Raven.  The side doors raise up to form wings while the wheels fold back and act has jet engines.  The front bumper extenders to give the car a more aerodynamic look.  When the back spoiler is depressed it drops an orange missile.  This part is usually missing and very hard to find (i.e. expensive when it shows up on eBay).

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The bottom part of Fireforce forms a trike of sorts.  Again my specimen is missing a small, yet crucial part - the black handlebars.  Not much to say about these form other than it looks forced.  The rear of the trike is actually the front of the car.  It's attack mode is the front bumper can launch from the back acting as a big missile.

I have to be honest when I say this isn't that great of a toy.  The Fiero as a whole is pretty good, but the problems start when you split the vehicle.  None of the Split Seconds toys have impressed me outside their basic appearance.  To me it seems like the ideas started to run out which really hurt these toys.  When compared to my favorite M.A.S.K. toy the Raven there is no comparison.  One positive thing I can say is the Julio Lopez figure and his mask are very well sculpted.  Unless you can pick this up for less than $30 I'd say save your money and pick up the Raven or one of the other earlier toys.