Wednesday, February 29, 2012

VOR-Tech: Battle Tracker ATV w/ Brad Logan


Be part of the VOR-Tech Undercover Conversion Squad, where things are not always as they seem!  Enter a world where a team of ordinary people in ordinary vehicles use amazing computer technology to convert themselves and their vehicles into an incredible fighting force, dedicated to saving Earth from an evil power spreading a deadly plague.  Join in this titanic struggle of human against cyborg, brother against brother, and machine against machine!

I first discovered this interesting line of Kenner toys in the late 90's as they were being clearanced out at both Toys 'R Us and KB Toys.  I was able to acquire two pieces, but the inventory quickly dried up.  Trying to find new VOR-Tech toys on the secondary market has proven quite difficult, but a few months back I found a toy that I didn't own, sealed too!  I quickly snatched it up so I could offer it up in review form here.

Right off the bat most of you reading this should be able to recognize the uncanny similarities to the toy line M.A.S.K..  Kenner obviously decided to re-use some of the M.A.S.K. molds and tweek them for their new line.  Sadly the line (and accompaning television show) didn't last past one wave / season in 1996.

Why the cartoon and toy line didn't make it past one year is beyond me.  While some of the toys we just recycled older toys there were some new molds and ideas integrated into the series.  What I've seen of the cartoon seemed to be just as good as anything else on the TV at the time.  Let me get this back on topic though.  We're here to look at the Battle Tracker ATV toy.

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VOR-Tech toys came packaged in one of two ways.  Boxed or on a blister card as shown above.  I like the large colorful logo.  I'm sure that stood out in the crowd of 90's toys.

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The back of the card gives you several bits of information.  There aren't any instructions packed in so this simple diagram shows you the conversion process of converting the ATV into hovercraft mode.  Kenner also did little bios for the driver/vehicle which was an added bonus in my book.  And what good toy company wouldn't include a ad somewhere on the packaging for other toys in the series?

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Sorry for the glare.  I tried taking the picture from several different angles and I couldn't get rid of the stupid camera flash.  I thought it was interesting that they list the cover occupation for the driver...in this case Brad Logan poised as a TV news camera man.

" Called to action, Brad Logan drops his news camera and hops on the Battle Tracker all-terrain vehicle, ready to make headlines himself.  Armed with his VOR-Tech helmet he converts the wheels of his ATV into jet pads, plus instantly activates dual front gun turrets and a rear laser cannon as his 4-wheel ATV becomes an awesome crime-fighting hovercraft. "

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My first ever VOR-Tech purchase was the equally awesome Sonic Stinger sports car.  I'll eventually do a proper review for the blog as the vehicle was one of the new molds Kenner created.

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The Battle Tracker ATV itself is a pretty nice mold.  It's much beefier than the M.A.S.K. toy it was based upon (Bullet).  The plastic is of a good quality and the large wheels are free rolling.  For a small toy there is a good bit of detail molded into the ATV, especially around the engine area.  There are only 4 stickers pre-applied - the headlights and a gray sticker on the rear fenders.

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I don't know if the figures are re-used M.A.S.K. figures or not, but they are in the same scale - small.  The only articulation are in the hips, shoulders and to some degree the neck/head.  I have two complaints about this figure however.  1) the hands are molded to grip the handle bars of the ATV and thus look odd when the figure isn't riding.  2) the head - it just looks off.  It's too small and it the sculpt is plain goofy.  Of all the VOR-Tech toys I own this is the worst looking figure of the bunch.

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From a head on point of view the figure looks OK on the ATV, but when you look at it from the side you'll see that the figure seems to be undersized.  You can cram it down a little bit more, but his butt still seems to hover over the seat (no pun intended).  Once you do cram him down he's practically looking down at an angle.  How can he see where he is driving or flying?!

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His bio mentions his helmet.  To me this thing looks more like a mask than a helmet.  The small black helmet just snaps onto his upper chest and around the head.  As you can see his red hat is still exposed.  Unlike in M.A.S.K. I have no idea if his helmet has any special power or ability of it's own.  From what I saw in the cartoon the helmet basically unlocks the conversion sequence of the vehicle.  From a toy perspective this piece could have really benefited by some sort of paint application(s).  It's just blah the way it is.

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This is where this toy starts to shine in my opinion.  The hovercraft mode is nice looking and offers up some fun play patterns.  To convert the ATV you simply flip down the wheel assembly on each side to create the hovercraft jet pads.  Slide the handle bars back to reveal the front mounted machine guns.  On the rear of the vehicle is a laser gun that flips up.  You can then position the gun facing either direction you so choose as it's mounted on a ball joint.

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This isn't my favorite VOR-Tech toy by a long shot, however there are a few redeeming qualities.  The ATV looks good and the alternate form is fantastic.  It's simplistic, but that is one of the things that I like about it.  I remember playing w/ M.A.S.K. toys as a kid and I loved that you could switch from form to form so quick and easy.  It made playing with the toys that much more fun.  Where this toy fails is the Brad Logan figure.  That shouldn't be a deal breaker for you though if you like the rest of the toy.

Trying to find this toy or any other VOR-Tech toys for that matter will prove to be difficult.  Even though they were on clearance at some point there just doesn't seem to be that many floating around the secondary market these days.  If you are a fan of M.A.S.K. and you've never heard of VOR-Tech or seen these toys then you owe it to yourself to at least track down one toy.

For a great look at all the VOR-Tech toys and what would've been in the 2nd wave check out the awesome Albert Penello M.A.S.K. and VOR-Tech site here!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Crave.com closing it's doors...

I got this e-mail yesterday regarding Crave.com's demise...

We're writing to let you know that after almost two years of building up Crave to be the marketplace for fans, by fans, we will be closing the site next month.  We were working earlier in February on options to keep the site running, but unfortunately none of those came through, so we've sold the business to a new owner.

Our vision for Crave was to create a social marketplace for fans of anything collectible.  We heard your frustrations with eBay and we set out to deliver a better experience.  As a member of the Crave community, you played a big part in guiding what we built.  Thank you for all of your help and for making it the fun and engaging marketplace we were aiming for.  We are sad to see it end and will miss you terribly.
Although the marketplace did not grow fast enough to keep the business going, it has been a rewarding experience for us.  


What's next?  In the next couple weeks, the current site will be shut down.  All sales have already stopped and transactions in process have been completed.  The new owners have future plans, so stay tuned.  You are welcome to post farewell comments on Facebook or Twitter.  You can also email us at support@crave.com.   Our new permanent address will be crave.information@gmail.com.  We'd love to keep in touch.

All our best,
Erin, Kabe, Cole, Matt, Damon, Laura, and Jonathan

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I for one will miss their services.  Was Crave flawed?  Yes.  There were several things that needed to be improved upon, but it was nice having an alternative to eBay.  I've seen a lot of services come and go that tried to complete w/ eBay (Yahoo! Auctions, BidVille to name a few) and it's sad that no one can seem to stand up to the juggernaut that is eBay.  I had a lot of great experiences on Crave and I hope that whomever bought the company will resurrect it at some point...with a few improvements. 

I've had a link in the sidebar to my items for sale on Crave.com for awhile now.  During the month of March I plan on setting up a toy store of sorts here on the blog to continue selling my items as I still have Transformers, G.I.Joe and Marvel figures left over.  I may even sell off some of items you have seen reviewed here as well.  I'll make an announcement once the layout is in place.

Monday, February 20, 2012

KO Korner: G1 Transformers Metamorphs SL-313 "Quickmix"

Anytime you have something popular and sells well at retail there is the likelihood there will be knockoffs at some point.  Toys, specifically Transformers aren't any different.  I'm sure you've seen a few KO Transformers at your local dollar store, discount store like Big Lots or even at the flea market down the road.  Most aren't worth purchase price.  However every once in awhile you run across a knock-off that is intriguing.  This post is about one of those instances.

I have no idea about the back story of the line of KO Transformers simply labeled as Metamorphs.  I don't know who made them, what year they were made or which G1 characters they did.  I just know that the few I've come across in my collecting years all have been decent - some bordering good.  Before I decided to jump head first into collecting and building Liokaiser I ran across the Metamorph equivalent of Gaihawk.  The colors were spot on.  The small Breastforce member was included.  Heck, even the box used the original Takara box art.  It was cheap so I bought it.  Once in hand I was surprised at how well it was made...especially for a KO.

The next KO I acquired was that of the G1 Micromaster base Skyhopper.  Again I was surprised with the quality of the plastic and that the colors were dang near perfect.  There were a few small differences, but nothing glaring.  So after going 2 for 2 I formed the opinion that of all the "vintage" KOs these Metamorphs were better than a lot of the garbage I've seen flooding the market.

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All this brings me to this post.  SL-313 - or better known as the G1 Targetmaster Quickmix.  When I had the chance to acquire this awhile back I didn't hesitate.  Metamorphs don't show up for sale that often and when they do they ain't always cheap.  I saw a MIB Double Dealer go for $100+ a few months back.  Anyhow one of the things that stood out about SL-313 was the color scheme.  Obviously this one isn't G1 accurate...and for once I didn't mind.  Actually I kind of liked it!

We'll start with the packaging.  The box uses the same style logo and design I've seen with other Metamorph releases such as "Landcross".  There are two things about the box that stood out to me though.  1) The toy is shown in two different color schemes and 2) the box art is - dare I say original.  To the left is the box art from the original G1 Quickmix.  The new art isn't bad, but it isn't to the level of detail as the real deal.

Quickmix originally came packaged on a blister card, but the back of the Metamorph box does have some similarities with the back of the blister card.
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Oddly enough the original box art is used for the instructions.  Even the names of the two Targetmaster robots retain their original G1 names.  Odd.  Actually the whole instruction panel is a reproduction from the original as seen here.

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On the top of the box you can get a better look at the two different color schemes as well as the Targetmasters Boomer and Ricochet.  Oddly enough my Ricochet is lime green and not a hot pink/red as shown.

Enough of the packaging though.  Let's open the box and take a closer look at the figure itself.

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Not to be surprised the toy comes in a cheap plastic tray with molded areas for "Quickmix" and his Targetmasters.  I was surprised to see the sticker sheet was held in place by a piece of double sided tape.  Speaking of the stickers I got a chuckle out of the window stickers with the driver.  So much for holograms.  I also liked the little Mercedes emblem sticker.

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I've got to say the toy is a faithful reproduction (is it a reproduction or just reverse engineering?) of the original G1 Quickmix toy.  The white and orange colors look good on the mold too.  Dare I say these colors look better than the original red and white?

There were a few factory applied labels that I removed before taking these pictures.  On top of the cab (which form the legs and feet of the robot) were two ugly gray rectangles.  One of them was horribly faded and peeling so I removed both.  There was also this weird starburst like sticker on one side of the mixer barrel.  The only other sticker already applied was the black 'CE' on one side of the cab.

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As with the vehicle mode there aren't any real surprises or differences with the robot mode.  The plastic is much shinier than the original, but it doesn't feel that cheap.  Actually the mechanism that hides the head inside the cement mixer works better than it does on my G1 Quickmix.

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Boomer and Ricochet appear to be cast from the same mold as the originals as well only with a different color of plastic.  Thankfully the gun barrels are tight and not floppy.  Loose joints always seems to plague KO Transformers.

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The Targetmaster guns fit snuggly in each hand.  They also fit into each other quite well if you want to combine them for a bigger gun.

I've referenced the original G1 Quickmix several times already so let's take a look at a few comparison pictures.  I'll let them do the majority of the talking as there isn't much more for me to say.

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I'm not a collector of KO TFs, but I can appreciate a good KO.  That may sound odd, but when it all comes together and has a unique look of it's own like SL-313 does here I can find a way to work it into my collection.  If you are curious about "vintage" G1 KOs and you run across anything branded as Metamorphs then give it a try.  They aren't perfect - but they aren't dollar store trash either.  Hope you enjoyed this look at a unique odd ball piece of Transformers lore.