Thursday, June 30, 2011

Burger King Transformers Dark of the Moon Flip-Outs

Fast food and Hollywood always seem to be intertwined when summer rolls around and this year is no different.  The latest live action Transformers flick has hit theaters this week and so has the latest promotion at Burger King.

Fast food promotional toys and Transformers have never meshed well in my opinion outside of the first McDonald's Beast Wars promo in the mid 90's (ok, some of the toys sucked, but some were cool).  When I first heard the news about these new DOTM BK Flip-Outs I quickly discounted the idea and moved on.  Running short on cash and hungry I hit up the drive-thru and got me a Big Kids Meal so I could see first hand what these toys were like.

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Right out of the bag I wasn't sure what to think.  I was a little surprised to see the level of detail sculpted into this large floating head.  They did a good job capturing the movie likeness of the Autobot weapons expert Ironhide.

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The gimmick here if you will is that the head splits open to reveal a small body inside...a la Pretenders from the Generation 1 age!  Ok, now I'm hooked on these.  I didn't bother to look at the included "instructions", but I did notice the small gray button on the body.

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Once the body is folded underneath the large head you have your "transformed" robot.  Just like I noticed the small gray button on the robot's back I noticed the little camera like lens on the front.  I tried holding it up to the light to see if I could see anything.  Nothing.  I pushed the button.  Nothing.  I saw a small black switch on the back beside the button...but it didn't want to see to do anything.  So I took a peek at the instructions and found that the switch has to be flipped to the "on" position by moving it up.  When you press the button you now get a Batman like symbol shining on the wall!

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It was really hard to get a good picture, but as you can see it shines a red Autobot symbol on whatever you aim the robot at!  I had no idea these Flip-Out toys even had this feature.  I'm still unsure if all of the toys do this or if each toy has its own unique gimmick.

These little figures have a Japanese feel to them with the whole super deformed vibe.  There have been some really BAD Transformers related fast food premiums over the years, but these seem to buck that trend.  They almost look like little bobble heads.  I'm not going to go crazy and put thousands and thousands of calories into my body to pick up more of these, but I wouldn't mind having Optimus and Shockwave.  If you're hungry and are planning on picking up a burger then why not hit up BK and grab one of these.  At least it'll make a nice desk ornament for your office.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Kre-O Transformers Mirage

QUICK INFO: 
Name: Mirage
Line: Kre-O Transformers (Hasbro)
MSRP: $11.99
Year: 2011


Just like Nintendo has dominated the handheld video game market LEGO has dominated the building block toy market.  That doesn't mean though other companies haven't tried to duplicate LEGO's success and try to get their share.  Hasbro tried getting into the building block market years ago with horrible results.  Some of you may remember their Built To Rule (BTR) toys.  Hasbro used both their Transformers and G.I. Joe properties, but it didn't matter as the quality was inferior to the competition.  A lot of people were surprised to hear that Hasbro was taking another stab at building blocks when they announced a new line called Kre-O.  I believe that is a take on the Latin word Creo which means create.  Most of the sets come with small figures called Kreons and resemble LEGO mini-figures.  I'm not a huge LEGO fan, but I was intrigued enough to pick up one set last weekend when I saw them at the local Toys R Us.  Join me as we look at one half of the Mirage set.


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First off let me say the packaging is really nice.  Yeah, I know most could care less about that.  The building sets come packaged in small cardboard boxes called a Kre-O Container.  Once you cut the seal on the box the top lifts up to reveal the parts inside.  I like how you don't have to rip open the box to get inside.  There is also a little handle on the top of the box for easy transport.  That shiny sticker you see in the upper right corner says the blocks are compatible with leading brands.  I haven't tried Mega Blocks since I don't own any, but these blocks do work with LEGO quite well.

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Some people were turned off from these when they found out you couldn't actually transform these.  To get from one form to another you have to disassemble and then build the other form.  To me it's not a big deal as part of the fun and charm of these sets is the actual construction.  They do take a little bit of time to build so I don't see myself going back and forth a lot.

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Once you open up the box and lift the lid you'll find a few things.  First off there are 3 bags of building blocks, 2 bags for the Kreon figures and a sticker sheet.  Yes, just like with the recent trend with LEGO there are small stickers to apply to certain blocks.  Blah.

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I am happy to report that the instruction booklet is in full color and is easy to decipher once you start to build whatever form you choose.  The booklet is rather thick as well.

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With my busy schedule I've only had the time to build Mirage's vehicle mode...which I might add is quite impressive.  If I had a G1 Mirage toy I'd provide some comparison pictures...but that is one G1 toy that I've (sadly) never owned.  All of the pieces hold together really well and the vehicle has a very solid feel.  The tires are a nice smooth rubber and once assembled roll freely on a smooth surface.  They also appear to stick to the surface ever so slightly like real racing tires.  My only gripe here are the stickers.  Some of them look down right cheesy.  The font is also really lame.  At least you don't have to apply the stickers.  The "26" sticker on the sides and nose of the vehicle look good, but the rest I could've down without.  The large Autobot symbol sticker is applied to a curved piece which is never a good idea.  It is hard to get the sticker on the block without it starting to wrinkle.  If any block were to have the design stamped/painted on it should've been this piece.

Now let's take a look at the reason a lot of people are buying these sets...the Kreon figures.

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It seems that most of the sets come with at least one generic human figure.  In this case you get a race car driver.  OK.  Not the best looking mini-figure, but I guess it'll work for the vehicle mode.  My complaint about this figure is the helmet doesn't fit the head/face very well.  There are shades of some sort painted onto the face and as you can see in the picture the bottom of the helmet does come down quite far enough.

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And finally we have the awesome little Mirage Kreon figure.  What can I say about this little guy other than he is awesome?!  Look at the awesome sculpt of Mirage's helmet.  These figures surprisingly have a good amount of articulation.  The arms/shoulders have a good range of motion as do the legs.  The construction of the figures are nearly identical to that of the LEGO mini-figures.

I had more pictures to share, but for whatever reason Photobucket wouldn't let me upload the edited photos I have so I omitted several.  I'll also apologize for the crappy quality of some of the pictures as I was having trouble with settings on the camera.  That said I think Hasbro has finally figured out the whole building block thing.  Rumor has it that Hasbro paid a good amount of money to a LEGO employee(s) to oversee their Kre-O line to make sure it wasn't a second coming of Built to Rule.  I do plan on building the robot mode at some point in the near future.  I tried to get a good close up of the robot head, but I wasn't able to.  I wanted to show off how awesome the head sculpt was.  I compared it to my Classics Mirage action figure and the sculpts are very close to one another.

If you are a fan of building block kits and like Transformers in any form then I think you may enjoy these.  At this point I only have this set and one other (Jazz), but I plan on picking up a few of the others.  I won't lie when I say that I wish Hasbro would take a cue from LEGO and Mega Blocks and blind package the awesome Kreon figures since that seems to be the main draw for a lot of people.  Perhaps one day we'll see that happen, but for now I'll enjoy building the various Transformer sets.
 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Transformers DOTM Mini-Con "Dinobots"

Today I bring you the latest Dark of the Moon exclusive offering in the form of "new" Mini-Cons! Before I start I have a confession. I'm a Mini-Con whore. I love these little TFs. I've got a butt load already and I have a hard time resisting buying more...even if I already own the molds 3 times over! When these were first announced as a shared online exclusive I couldn't wait. While the dinosaur Mini-Con molds may not have the best robot modes, the dino modes are quite fun. I still can't believe it took Hasbro this long to release these toys in G1 Dinobot colors. The inclusion of Catilla is a little puzzling, but I'll take it.

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I can't say I'm too surprised that Hasbro chose to release these toys under the current Dark of the Moon (DOTM) banner. The packaging is really nice as it uses the Legion Class Cyberverse style. If you can get past the names you can see miniature versions of Grimlock, Swoop and Slag. 2 of the 3 names were just used in Animated so I'm surprised to see Hasbro didn't use the classic G1 names here. At least Catilla shares the name with the G1 Pretender big cat, Catilla.

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 Dualor, or Grimlock if you will is the best of the bunch in my opinion. The paint apps on the figure are really nice. I was surprised to see that all of these toys have the old Armada Mini-Con faction symbol tampographed on them. I really wish there was a back story on these guys, but unfortunately there isn't any information given for the character outside the individual rankings. I should point out the tail on mine wants to come off really easy. My guess is this mold is starting to show some wear as it's been used several times between the U.S. and Japan markets.

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 Rav, or Swoop is a great example of a great dino mode and a horrible robot mode. You can barely see the robot's face! The best thing going for this particular toy are the colors. G1 Swoop didn't have any gold, but it still looks good overall.

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Triceradon, or Slag (or Snarl in Animated) also suffers from a crappy robot mode. The distance between the legs is just too much for me. He does appear to look strong with his wide upper body and fists.  I'll be displaying him in dino mode.

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Catilla, the "extra" figure as I see it. I like this toy. The beast mode is great and while the robot mode isn't the best it works for me. Normally I don't like it when robots have a animal head/mouth for a hand, but like Beast Wars Megatron it fits pretty good here. I like how the lower jaw is painted silver as well as the little cannon inside the mouth. Overall the use of the silver paint really helps break up the gold plastic and gives a better robotic look. I also love the square shaped head as it reminds me of the G1 Scramble City toys (Combaticons, Stunticons, Terrorcons, Protectobots, Aerialbots). I thought my favorite version of this toy was Snowcat, but I'd have to put Catilla up there at the top now.

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 The question at hand is should you buy them?For me the answer was easy for all the reasons I listed in the opening paragraph. $5.00 per figure may be a little pricey for what you get, but the colors are really nice and the G1 homage is probably enough to en tice some collector's to buy these even if they don't collect Mini-Cons. At the time of this posting you can grab the set via Amazon.com or Entertainment Earth for a little cheaper than what I paid so what are you waiting for?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Today is obviously a special day.  My birthday aside this is a day where we get to celebrate the father or fathers in our lives.  I want to take a few moments and share some things about both my (late) father and my heavenly father.

"I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.  When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.  Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life." -- Proverbs 4:11-13 (NIV)


What better wisdom can one receive?  I give all the credit to both of my fathers for the man that I am today.  If my dad didn't have the relationship w/ our heavenly father that he did then he would have not been able to pass along his wisdom and raise me to the be who am I now. 


My dad passed away June 13, 1997 after a long fight with a rare form of cancer.  I lost my best friend that day.  I'll admit that I was angry w/ God.  After all I was a few days shy from turning 20 years old.  I had my whole life ahead of me and lots and lots of questions.  My dad wasn't going to be there when I got married.  He wasn't going to get the chance to become a grand parent.  I wasn't going to have my friend by my side as I took on life.  As hard as it was/is it was and still is comforting to know that above all else I know that I am still loved and that my heavenly father is always there for me.  He has brought me through so much and while things have been really tough at times He is right there beside me.


This is my dad.  Danny Hopper.  Some say I look like him.  At least in his later years he still had hair.  I lost mine in high school!  Everyone says it, but my dad was the best.  If you had the chance to know him that you would probably agree with me.  He put his family first and his wants and desires last.  He worked his entire career for Hoechst Celanese in Charlotte.  What he did there I never quite did understand.  I just knew growing up that by the time the Duck Tales cartoon was over my dad would be home.  My dad made sure that me and my brothers went to church every Sunday morning.  He sang in the choir and was part of an awesome southern gospel quartet called the Lighthouse.  I have a few of the quartet's songs on my computer hard drive and hearing his voice after all of these years is still very comforting.  I can close my eyes and see his standing on stage singing.  One of my favorite songs they sang was "Step Into the Water".



Growing up my dad would alternate between my older brother and myself taking us on Father Son trips after school let out for the summer.  He would take us wherever we wanted to go (within reason) and we'd spend the long weekend or week together...just dad and me.  I still have fond memories of going to Ghost Town or Tweetsie Railroad in the Maggie Valley, NC up in the mountains.  Or visiting the U.S.S. North Carolina in Wilmington, NC.  One of my favorite places to visit was the U.S.S. Yorktown air craft carrier in Patriot's Point located in Charleston, SC.  I remember marveling at the size of the ship, the old aircraft on display and touring the submarine nearby.  My dad was around 6'1" or 6'2" so watching him navigate through the tight corridors of the submarine was fun...especially for a little kid.  We would also visit Fort Sumter in Charleston and my dad would fill me in on all of the American history that took place in the area.  Those trips were the best and I cherish all of my memories.


Of course all of my memories of my dad don't revolve around special trips and such.  My dad was also my coach when I played ball.  My dad is the tall guy in the blue jacket.  I'm standing right in front of him.  I wouldn't say that my dad was a sports nut, but he did enjoy a variety of sports.  He coached me through tee ball and baseball.  When I got to the age where other kids would pitch I got cold feet and quite playing.  My dad didn't push me into doing something that I didn't want to.  In retrospect I wish he had pushed me a little as I loved playing baseball...but that was the kind of dad he was.  If his kids were happy then he was happy.  I have one vivid memory of playing for the Astros and our coach got in a huge dust kicking argument with the home plate umpire.  The coach was later ejected and my dad took his place.  The rest of the game was all the sudden fun because we didn't feel like we had the added pressure from our regular coach to win.  My dad wanted everyone to have fun playing while out on the field or standing in the batter's box. 


On most weekend's you could find my dad outside.  It seemed his "deal" with my mom was that he would take care of everything outside of the house if she took care of the stuff inside.  He took pride in his vehicles and always kept them cleaning.  Just about every weekend he'd be in the drive way washing and waxing his truck.  My favorite was his 80's model Chevy Silverado two tone red/white pickup.  He was ever so careful of getting his truck dirty.  I can remember being somewhere in Charlotte with him driving down the road.  I'm not sure where we were going of where we came from, but I do remember playing with a  G1 Transformers Dinobot (Swoop) in the truck.  All of the sudden I felt sick and as if I was going to throw up.  He quickly hit the brakes and pulled into the parking lot of a Burger King so I could get out of this truck before I made a mess!  He did it in a very loving way.  When I became old enough to drive I of course wanted a truck like my dad.  We went to McKinney Chevrolet in Belmont, NC to look at a few different S-10s.  After a test drive I settled on a maroon S-10.  I didn't quite emulate my dad when it came to washing it every weekend!  He though was more than happy to help me work on the truck on the weekends.  When high school graduation came around my parents bought me new tires and rims for my truck.  I think the only reason I chose such a gift is because my dad had recently done the same for his truck at the time.  I look back and think how silly I was to spend so much money on something that.  As you can probably tell my dad had a lot of influence on me. 

My older brother got off the hook pretty easy since I got to take over all of the lawn duties when I became old enough.  We lived on a fairly decent size of land that had lots of trees and a big yard to mow.  As I got older my dad entered a "business agreement" with me and we started a little lawn care business.  It never really went anywhere, but it was one more thing that I got to spend time with my dad.  Earlier I mentioned his "deal" with my mom to take care of everything outside.  This meant he really didn't do much to help out in the house outside of unloading the dishwasher from time to time.  One is his favorite things each evening was to sit in his blue recliner in the corner of the living room with a bowl of sugar free Eskimo Pie ice cream while watching something on the television.  I can remember my mom fussing at him for leaving the bowl on the little table by his chair the next morning!  I only say that because the memory is so vivid and I think its funny.


On vacations to the beach or wherever one of the things the whole family enjoyed doing was playing mini-golf.  We had a Putt Putt Golf & Games in town that we would play from time to time, but I loved the courses at the beach with all of the crazy landscaping and gimmicks.  My dad was always a fan of golf and he tried to share that with me.  At first it was by playing skins whenever we played mini-golf.  We would usually play for 10 cent a whole or something like that.  Of course with him being the superior player I would end up owing him a few bucks at the end of 18 holes.  Do you think I had to pay my own dad when it was all over?  You betcha I did!  He didn't mind at all taking money from his own son!  One summer vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC he took me to the driving range at Cane Patch.  I had fun hitting balls on the range so he asked if I'd like to try my hand at the par 3 course.  I really didn't know what to expect so I said sure.  I had been with him before when he played golf.  I remember driving the golf cart off a little bridge.  I remember looking all around in the woods for my dad's ball only to find and kick over a large fire ant mound and having my foot engulfed in ants and ant bites.  Looking back why I ever agreed to play par 3 with him now I have no idea!  He let me tee off first on each hole.  At first it was kinda fun...but over time I grew bored.  I was getting tired and so was my swing.  I eventually discovered it was much easier for me to pick up the ball and throw it when he wasn't looking.  Yeah, I'm a cheater...so what?!  Needless to say he never really pushed the whole golf thing on me after that weekend.


You know sitting here just thinking of my dad and how awesome of a man and dad he was I could probably go on and on.  If you are still reading this however I'll give you a break and wrap it up.  My dad was my best friend.  I miss him so much.  I can't tell you how many times I wanted to wake up and think that he would still be down stairs as a kid...or that I'd see him sitting in his chair when I'd go to my mom's house.  I know that he is in a better place and that my heavenly father is taking good care of him...but that doesn't mean that I don't miss him every single day. 

Now that I'm a father I hope to be able to share the same teachings and experiences with my children.  I am truly blessed to be married to my wife Katie and to have a beautiful daughter in Olivia.  We have one more little girl on the way in a matter of days? weeks?  They are the joy of my life and I only wish that my dad had the chance to meet and get to know both my wife and his granddaughters. I know that he is up above looking down on me even as I type this.  I love you dad.  I miss you dad.


I hope everyone out there has a great father's day!  I know that I'll enjoy the day spending time with my family and thanking God for all of the blessings in my life.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Coming soon to a import store near you...


A Bathing Ape exclusive!

Seriously, I know nothing of this or if this is even real.  You can find this toy listed HERE with a slated release of 7/23/11 for 7,140 yen.  It's ugly...so why am I so intrigued?!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Nintendo Wii U




Wow, I mean wow.  I knew Nintendo was creative and walked to the beat of their own drum...but wow!  From what I can tell this new Wii U will be backwards compatible.  Wonder if that means the older GameCube games will still work?

Controller is very creative.  I just wonder how comfortable holding something so wide for marathon gaming sessions.  I can wait to find out more about the console and the coming games.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Botcon 2011 - Hide your wallet!!

Botcon 2011 is happening as we speak in Pasadena, CA this weekend.  I've been very fortunate to have attended 7 Botcon/OTFCC shows in the past.  However with the current trend of climbing prices I don't see myself being able to attend in the future unless the convention ends up in my back yard or at least nearby.

While browsing Twitter and TFW2005.com late last night looking for news, pictures and the reveal of the attendance freebie and at show exclusive souvenir toys I was a little surprised (as were a lot of TF fans) at the increased prices.  Let's do the math for all of the exclusive toys offered up at this year's convention.  Believe me when I say your wallet will run and scream when it's all said and done.  All prices are based being a member of the Transformers Collector's Club.

Pre-registration (Stunti-Con-Job box set + free Fisitron attendee figure) = $315.00
Autotrooper 3 pack - $89.00 (1500 production run)
Animated Sideswipe & Toxitron - $89.00 (1500 production run)
Shattered Glass Galvatron & "Action Master" Thundercracker - $92.00 (1800 production run)

Total cost = $585.00!

I could easily rant and rave about the prices, but no one twists your arm to buy all of the toys.  If you do decide to do so you can easily see why your wallet might hate you!  I do have to say that the toys this year look really nice.  I've got a trade in the works for the Stunt-Con-Job box set and I would love to be able to grab Toxitron and Thundercracker. 

Let's take a look at said toys starting with the souvenir toys.  (pictures courtesy of TFW2005)


Autotrooper is based off the Animated Ironhide / Ratchet mold.  It does feature a new head, but it's the same head used on the attendance freebie toy Fisitron.  I myself am not that big on these "troop builder" figures, but Autotrooper does look really nice.


Animated Sideswipe features a G2 black and red color scheme with the remolded head also used for Brakedown in the boxed set.  At first I didn't care for this figure, but the more I look at it then more it's growing on me.  Toxitron was slated for release at some point in the early 2000's and was originally a repainted G2 Optimus Prime.  I remember seeing him first hand during the Hasbro tour at Botcon 2007.  To choose this character to get the Botcon treatment was totally out of left field thus making it a must have for me.


The last set of souvenir toys available @ Botcon are Shattered Glass Galvatron and a Euro "Action Master" Thundercracker.  This appears to the be the one set that people are on the fence about.  There are those out that love the garish AM Thundercracker color scheme and will sell their first born to get the figure.  Shattered Glass Galvatron on the other hand seems to be a different story.  What I mean by that is that since the figures don't fit into this year's Animated theme and doesn't really look like Galvatron I don't see him being as sought after as some of the other figures.  Galvatron is based on the Galaxy Force Live Convoy / Cybertron Evac figure.  While it's an excellent helicopter Transformers mold it just doesn't fit the character at all.

The Stunti-Con-Job box set is really nice looking and I hope my trade for the set goes through.


(picture courtesy of Full Metal Hero)

Behold!  Animated Stunticons!!  Motormaster is based on Optimus Prime with a new awesome head.  Brakedown is based on Hot Rod, Wildrider based on Lockdown, Drag Strip based on Arcee and Dead End based on Jazz.  The only figure in this set that I'm on the fence about is Drag Strip.  In my opinion the Arcee mold looks really femine and I'm not sure how they can pass that off as a "male" Transformer.  I'm hoping this figure will look so much better in person.

(picture courtesy of Full Metal Hero)

Fisitron is this year's free figure for the pre-registrants.  He is based on the Wreckers character Ironfist.  This figure shares the same mold (and new head) as do the Autotrooper 3 pack.  Ironfist was one of the first Euro/UK exclusive toys I bought when I got back into the TFs years and years ago so this is another figure I'd love to add to the collection...but due to his availability he'll be a challenge to obtain.

In addition to toys there are a few other exclusives items offered up for sale.  


One thing that caught my eye was this Animated Starscream lithograph offered in the non-autographed and autographed varieties for $10/$20 respectively.


The t-shirts look awesome and I don't normally care for black t-shirts.  Not too bad for $20.00.

All in all the exclusives look really nice this year despite the higher prices from previous Botcon conventions.  While sitting at home reading Twitter tweets and looking at still images on the web isn't as fun as attending an actual Botcon it is fun speculating at what will happen this weekend.  If you're reading this and have decided to go after any of this year's toys wait.  After a week or so the prices should come down a bit.  Prices are always inflated during Botcon and right after.  I can see Toxitron and Galvatron being the 2 figures that people could care less about in the future possibly making them a little easier to obtain.  At least this is what I'm hoping for since Toxitron is high on my current want list.

For continued Botcon 2011 news, photos and video make sure to drop in on my buddy's TF blog, Mostly Transformers Redux as Arkvander is in Pasadena attending the convention all weekend.