Sunday, March 27, 2011

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero - COBRA Customs (Part 2)

In the midst of buying up Cobra figures when Hasbro's 25th Anniversary line of G.I. Joe was on retail shelves I decided to tackle another Cobra custom, but this time on a slightly smaller scale.  I also decide to use a non-Joe universe vehicle for my project.  Lanard Toys the Corps! were plentiful at Walmart and most importantly cheap!  While I loved the 1983 version of the Cobra F.A.N.G. helicopter as a kid it just didn't seem to age very well.  I thought if Cobra was going to have single manned copters in their aerial fleet the vehicle needed a little more "beef".  I liked the look of this Rapid Assault Copter and since it was only 5 bucks I thought it would be a good canidate for my upgraded F.A.N.G. project.

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Since I had previously used the traditional Cobra blue and black on the A.P.C. I still had a few cans of spray paint left so I went with those as the base colors.  I wanted to make it blend in if you will with the Cobra Viper so I picked up some silver and red paint to accent the black and blue.  First thing was to take apart the copter for easy painting.  Thankfully the whole mold was only held together by 3 small phillips head screws.  Once apart I sprayed the body blue with the landing pads and rotor blades being black.

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The engine surprisingly was a separate piece of plastic and fully removed from the copter's shell during disassembly.  This made it really easy to paint.  I first painted the engine a shiny chrome like silver.  It didn't dry as shiny as the spray can's cap, but it looked good.  I wasn't sold though on the look once completely dried so I took a clear coat spray to the whole engine.  Once that dried it gave it a very nice almost weathered or worn look to the engine.

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Once everything dried it re-assembled the copter and decided to go ahead with the finishing touches.  We all remember that the F.A.N.G. came with 4 small and slender missles that attached to the landing pads.  This verison looses 2 missiles in favor of 2 larger missles.  Of note is the missiles can attach to the sides of the landing pads or underneath the wings.  Originally missiles were a dull gray color so I went with a bright red.  Once dried it matched the red plastic used in the original missiles very well.  This copter also came with 2 optional wings that you could attach to the sides of the cockpit.  These were already molded in black, but I went ahead and painted them black anyhow since the shade I used was a bit darker.  Another homage to the F.A.N.G I tried to include was the red bands on the rotor's tips that I did free hand.  The only original piece that I didn't paint is the large twin barrel gun that attaches to the front of the copter.  I like this gun so much better than the pea shooter on the original F.A.N.G.! 

After a Cobra emblem decal was applied to the copter's nose and little bit of time the copter is complete!  I really like the outcome and it's probably one of the customs that I plan to keep.  The colors turned out to match the Cobra Viper figure very well.  Again, this was a very easy custom and I intended to use more of the Corps! vehicles, but perhaps that will have to wait for now. 

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero - COBRA Customs (Part 1)

Growing up in the early 80's I was a huge fan of the G.I. Joe "A Real American Hero" line of action figures and vehicles.  Sure my interest waned a few years later when Transformers showed up on the scene, but thanks in part to the low cost of the joe figures I had a good amount of toys to play with.  One thing I noticed even back then was that Cobra didn't get a lot of vehicles in the beginning.  I wanted to change that.  Thanks to inspiration from other fans across the 'net I wanted to try my hand at customizing some older G.I. Joe toys and effectively "Cobra-ize" them.  Before I share the any pictures just know that I am a rookie when it comes to anything along these lines.  My creations may not be all that spectacular, but it was the best I could do w/ my skill and the materials at my disposal.

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I wanted to start off by adding a troop transport vehicle to the Cobra ranks.  Why Cobra was never given a proper troop transport is beyond me.  I don't know if kids army built or troop built back in the 80's, but chances were good that some kids did have multiple generic Cobra figures and could have used a troop transport of some sort.  This is obviously was the G.I. Joe A.P.C. vehicle.  I got lucky when I was looking for this toy as I found one where the decals had never been applied.  This helped a lot as I didn't have to take the time to remove the stickers and or the residue left behind.  I started off by spray painting the canopy black.  I liked the camo look of the original and would have loved to replicate a black & blue camo, but again I'm not that talented!  The body was then painted a Cobra royal blue.  I didn't paint the interior of the A.P.C. in either the cockpit or the transport area.  I did paint the lap bar black, but no other changes were made to the interior.

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The windshield was original clear translucent plastic, but I didn't like the look after I painted the cockpit frame royal blue.  So I carefully tape off the areas and painted the windshields black.  I know it's not really realistic having opaque windows, but I like the look a lot better.

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The back bumper also doubles as a handle as the A.P.C. could be used for a make shift carrying case.  I wanted a little diversity in the overall color scheme so I painted it black.  That is when I noticed some tools and accessories molded into the rear of the vehicle.  I don't think I ever noticed those before either as a kid or when I bought this piece to customize.  I guess the dark olive green plastic did a good job hiding these details.

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Most of the paint used was the basic Walmart brand spray paint, but I wanted to use some better quality paint since I decided to free hand the details on the back of the vehicle.  I grabbed some Testors model paint and some fine tip brushes and gave it my best.  I thought the outcome was rather good.  It definitely brought up some much needed color and helped break up the blue and black.

All that was left was to apply a few Cobra emblem decals on various parts of the vehicle and done - a proper troop transport for the Cobra ranks!  This was really easy (with the exception of the wheels maybe) and a lot of fun.  I made this several years ago and still have it on display.  This was my first ever attempt and I thought it turned out so well that I tried my hand at a few other things which I plan to share in the coming week.  So, did I do a good job for a rookie?  Comment - let me know!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

LEGO Minifigure Collection Series 3



On a quick trip to Walmart the other day to pick up a few supplies for work I noticed on one the island displays in the toy department was a large gravity feeder type display full of the new series 3 LEGO Minifigure Collection packs.

I had read online that the 2 previous series had been found at Walmart stores, but this is my first sighting of them.  I was pinched for time (and money) so I just grabbed one pack and headed to the checkout lane.

I know that there are lists of the barcodes online that help you figure out which figure is in the pack, but I haven't bothered with searching out that information thus far.  So for now let's open the pack and see which minifigure is inside.

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Just like in past releases you can see a few of the figures from the series on the front.  The green bug eyed alien really stands out - so does the indian. 

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Each pack contains a folded up poster checklist.  A quick scan of the list and I really want the mummy and the baseball player.  Having vacationed in Hawaii the hula girl is also a neat figure.  I'm also loving the beard accessory on the fisherman.

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I ended up with the female snowboarder.  OK, not a bad figure.  Good design of the figure's uniform.  Love the big goggles on the helmet.  The snowboard accessory is very nice.  The board itself is a shade of navy blue and with the light blue and purple snowflakes it goes well with the minifigure.  You can attach the snowboard to the included stand if you so wish to display your snowboarder in action.

At $3 bucks a pop and being blind packaged these can be a fun purchase.  I may grab a few more of these if I head back to that particular Walmart as I know in the past the inventory can be gobbled up fairly quickly by rabbid fans.  If anyone reading this already has the mummy, baseball player or the fisherman and you want to trade for this snowboarder let me know.

Friday, March 11, 2011

G1 Transformers (German?) Catalog

Continuing from my previous post I found this item inside the bag of Transformer goodies I purchased in a small toy shop in the Netherlands years and years ago.  When I pulled the catalog out to scan I noticed (maybe for the first time) that the cover and first page is missing.  This only adds to the mystery of the history of the catalog.  My guess judging by the language printed inside is that it is of German origin.  I don't recall seeing these pictures used in other catalogs - you correct me if I'm wrong.  There isn't any thing here that most G1 Transformers collector's haven't seen before, but I find it interesting none the less.

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This is page 3 of the catalog.  It features both the Autobot Sparkabots and Decepticon Firecons.

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Pages 4 and 5 feature combiners.  Computron (Technobots) and Piranacon (Seacons).

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Pages 6 & 7 feature the Junior Headmasters and Junior Targetmasters.
(Siren, Nightbeat, Hosehead, Squeezeplay, Horri-Bull, Fangry, Landfill, Scoop, Quickmix, Needlenose, Quake, Spinister)

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Pages 8 & 9 features a large splash page of Powermaster Optimus Prime.  How does
the catalog make the toy look so much cooler than it actually is?

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Pages 10 & 11 features Powermasters.
(Double Dealer, Getaway, Joyride, Slapdash, Darkwing, Dreadwind)

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Pages 12 & 13 feature my favorite subgroup of Transformers, the Pretenders!
(Waverider, Landmine, Cloudburst, Submarauder, Bombburst, Skullgrin, Chainclaw, Catilla, Snarler, Carnivac)

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Page 14 features the Autobot six changer Quickswitch.

I really wish I had other pages of this catalog, but even as is this is a neat little Transformers memento from my missions trip to the Netherlands all those years ago.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

G1 Transformers Stickerbook

I traveled to the Netherlands with my church for some missions work in the mid 2000's.  Before heading across the ocean I did inquire about any possible toy shops in the area on the TFW2005 boards.  Someone did inform me of a shop located near the Anne Frank memorial so on one of my "free" days we ventured into the city.  While some of our group was happy with general sight seeing I myself was on a hunt for Transformers!

After a lot of walking and wondering around the beautiful city I finally found the toy shop I was told about.  For the life of me though I can't remember the name of the store sadly (Animax maybe?).  It's been so long since I was there it's hard to recall everything about the store, but I do remember it was small and chocked full of various toys, comics and action figures.  The employee there was very energetic and probably happy to see an American walk through the door.  In my international travels it seems that other people generally tend to view Americans as wealthy...or at least the kids in Africa told me that since they equate a fat belly with being rich!  Well that wasn't the case for me...I only had so much spending money with me since the main focus of our trip to the Netherlands didn't involve shopping.  After quickly browsing the shelves and not really seeing anything that stood out to me I asked the guy behind the counter if he had any Transformers.  His face lit up as if finally someone asked about his favorite line of toys.  He informed me that another person bought up everything he had recently, but he did pull out a small zip lock bag of Transformer items as he told me this.  In the bag was a incomplete G1 Targetmaster Misfire and some paperwork.  I was so eager to buy something at this point that I asked how much he wanted for the bag and I did my best currency conversion to make sure I wasn't getting hosed.  I don't remember the transaction amount, but I seem to recall I spent maybe $20.00 USD.  Because I spent so much of my precious free time hunting for the store by the time I found it there wasn't much time left before we had to turn around and head back to where we were staying.  I purchased the bag of Transformer items, thanked the guy and had to leave. While walking back to a bus stop I opened the bag to get a closer look at the enclosed items.  At first it just appeared to contain several TF catalogs that didn't appear to be any different than what was released in the US.  Then I came across a stickerbook!  I've never seen anything like this before in all of my years of collecting.  I've never really shared this with anyone in person or online so if you have seen one of these books before or know anything about them please comment and share!  Enough of the talking - onto the pictures already!

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The front of the stickerbook features the G1 logo along with stickers of Springer and a Autobot symbol.  Sadly the Autobot sticker is missing as you can see.  The copyright date is 1987 Hasbro, Inc. so I know this is an official item.  To the left of the copyright date are the words Rodekoratie Den Helder.  I have no idea what this means or who that is.  There is no dialogue so it's not an author.  All the artwork was taken from toy packaging so the name isn't an artist.  The booklet itself is rather small at only 5 1/2 inches tall by 4 1/2 inches wide (approximately).

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The back of the booklet did feature a big sticker of the Sharkticon Gnaw and a Decepticon symbol, but as you can see both stickers are MIA.  Too bad too as the Gnaw artwork is really nice.

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The first two pages reveal black and white box art drawings of Astrotrain and the Snarl.  The paper appears to be the same type of paper commonly used in coloring books.  It has a slightly rough feel and a off white tint.  I'm not sure if that is because of it's age or if that is the way the paper originally looked.

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The next 2 pages feature some white square stickers (Rodimus Prime, Wreck Gar, Omega Supreme & Slag) again featuring box art along with 4 Autobot stickers.  On the right is the Aerialbot combiner Superion!

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The middle pages features all stickers.  From left to right, top to bottom:  Bumblebee, Pipes, Blaster, Perceptor, Silverbolt, Metroplex, Snarl, Superion, Ultra Magnus, Hot Rod and 4 more Autobot symbols.

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In the back end of the booklet we have more black and white art of the Construction combiner Devastator the the Junkion Wreck Gar.

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More stickers!  This time we are treated to Decepticons.  From left to right, top to bottom:  Kickback, Bombshell, Menasor, Rampage, Soundwave, Divebomb, Galvatron, Longhaul, 4 Decepticon symbols, Blitzwing & Razorclaw.

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Continuing we have Scavenger and more Decepticon stickers:  Astrotrain, Devastator, Trypticon, Cyclonus and more Decepticon symbols.

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The last 2 pages featured Trypticon and Sky Lynx.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Transformers: Beast Wars - McDonald's Happy Meal

McDonald's has a rich history of their Happy Meal toys tying into various toy lines over the years and Transformers was no exception.  In 1996 McDonald's released 5 toys to coincide with the launch of the Beast Wars brand.  What I found interesting was the actual Happy Meal box had perforated "cards" of the different characters.  Some of the cards were of the new characters designed for the promotion while others were of characters that would eventually be featured in the main line of toys as well as the awesome CGI rendered television show. 

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What I really liked about these cards is the artwork.  I don't believe I've seen  this artwork used anywhere else.  The art does a good job capturing a organic feel.  Also note the Transformers logo used is that of Generation 2.

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No monkey here!  Optimus Primal is featured in his bat form from the comic book 2 pack release.

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Cheetor here looks resembles his first deluxe release action figure very closely.

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Polar Claw I was surprised to see on the box.  While not the greatest figure I still love the alt mode and the art.

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Dinobot - the fan favorite.  Razorback - the character that should've been in the television show.

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Panther & Rhino - 2 of the Happy Meal exclusive characters.  Panther I can live with, but I swear I always thought of Rhino as the poor man's Rhinox.  Notice these cards contain the McD's logo.

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Megatron, leader of the Predacons.  I love Megs as a alligator - more so than a T-Rex.

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Scorponok pictured here with his alternate or "mutant" head.

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Waspinator - the lovable loser!

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Tarantulas & Terrorsaur

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Beetle & Manta Ray - 2 more of the Happy Meal exclusive characters.  Beetle in my opinion was the best toy.  Blame it on Depth Charge, but I always see Manta Ray and think of him as a Maximal.

If anyone has a lead on a 1996 Transformers Beast Wars Happy Meal box that is still intact please shoot me an e-mail.  

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Transformers Animated: Microbots Collection

Japan loves to cram things into vending machines - underwear (yes, underwear), cigarettes, candy and toys...or more specifically Transformers.  I was recently sent 3 of these new Transformers Animated Microbot PVC figures and I wanted to take a second to share them with everyone.

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These figures come packaged in small egg shaped capsules along with a little brochure.  There are 6 figures in the set.  Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Megatron, Blackarachnia & Starscream.  I'm not sure how much they retail for in Japan, but they can be found for rather cheap online.

Each figure reminds me of Takara's past Myclone figures...only these don't have near the articulation.  These stand at about 1 inch tall.  Like a lot of things from the land of the rising sun these feature enlarged heads on top of a smaller body.  Prime here doesn't really have any moving parts, but I love the sculpt.

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Megatron here is my favorite of the 3 I have.  The head sculpt is fantastic and dead on to the animation. Both of his arms are slightly articulated allowing some minor poses.

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Blackarachnia like the others looks fantastic.  I love these little things and I'll probably track down the other 3 figures now.  If you like PVC figures or just want something a little different then hunt these little critters down.