Wednesday, May 30, 2012

An encounter w/ Don Figueroa...kind of

While doing some e-mail cleaning up this evening I ran across a message I saved dating back to October 18, 2003 (thanks Yahoo!).  Earlier that year I had sold my MIB Brave Red Guist toy.  If you aren't familiar with that toy it was a nice red redeco of the Transformers Breastforce leader Deszaras/Deathasaurus.  I sold it on eBay for something like $300.  This was before PayPal...or least for me so when the buyer contacted me it was none other than Don Figueroa!  Don was currently drawing the Armada comic for Dreamwave.  I'm not sure how the conversation arose, but I asked for a sketch of Red Guist and this is what he sent over.



Nice, huh?  I believe this artwork was later used in Dreamwave's More Than Meets the Eye profile books.  I guess technically this is Deszaras and not Red Guist, but who cares.  I guess I was a little "star struck" at the moment.  Anyhow just a little story I wanted to share as I forgot about the whole instance until I saw the e-mail again.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day haul

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend.  I got the chance to go on a date w/ my wife and spend some great time w/ my two little girls.

My wife and I had some time to ourselves this weekend as well as my mom kept the girls overnight.  First time we've been away from both of them at the same time and while we missed them, it was nice having a chance to do...well whatever we wanted!


 In addition to dinner we had a chance to hit a few stores and not feel rushed.  I was able to peruse GameStop while my wife went shopping for clothes.  I'm not a big fan of GameStop for many reasons, but I get free gift cards for filling out surveys online.  That said I had a few bucks left so I dropped on in.  I really didn't figure I'd find anything, but several things caught my eye.  Since I had lots of time to look I browsed just about every section.  In the Wii section I noticed a few used games were marked pretty cheap...like $4.99 cheap.  One of these games was Rygar: The Battle of Argus.  I was big fan of the PS2 version of Rygar and I figured this would be a fun play through again w/ the Wii controls.  Plus combined w/ my membership card and gift card I only had to toss in a buck from my pocket to make the purchase.

A lot of stores were sticking to the street date of the 28th for the new G.I. Joe Retaliation toys so I didn't find anything until today.  While my wife hit Old Navy I hit a Super Target and found a few new Joe toys.  I'm not buying nearly as many toys these days - especially Joes, but a few of the Cobra items piqued my interest once I saw the promo pics online awhile back.  Plus w/ the movie being pushed back to March 2013 and the rumor about Hasbro asking retailers to return their toy stock of Retaliation toys I figured if I want 'em I better grab 'em while I can.  So I grabbed the Cobra Fangboat, a Red Ninja and Cobra Trooper.  Expect to see reviews of all of these at some point in the near future.

Lastly I made a "emergency" trip to Walmart this evening to grab some dry cat food.  I had previously bought some food from Walmart that was a $1.50 a bag...and my cat wouldn't eat it.  I left it in his feeder dish for several days and I don't think he touched it.  I felt bad so I grabbed a bag of food for him this evening since I forgot to earlier today.  This Walmart had finished up their new reset in the action figure aisle and I saw a shopping cart of trash and broken down boxes.  In the cart was this small Transformers KRE-O signage.  I looked around for an employee to ask if I could take it.  Shockingly there wasn't an employee around - so I took it.  Held it in my hand as I grabbed my wallet to pay for the cat food...cashier never said a thing.  Not quite sure what I'm going to do w/ it yet, but I've amassed a small collection of Transformers promotional pieces now.

All in all it was a great weekend.  Thankfully it'll make for a short work week - especially for me since I'm calling it a day early on Friday so my wife doesn't have to spend her 30th birthday all alone.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Transformers G1: Rage (Stormtrooper)

Around the same time as I got back into collecting Transformers again at the tale end of G2, my exposure to the internet was expanding.  It didn't take long before a e-pen pal of mine told me all about the "G1.5" figures as I call them.  When G1 died a slow and painful death in the U.S., Hasbro Europe continued to release new figures that were exclusive to the European market.  When G2 was released in the U.S. some of these new toys were included in the series, but many never made it across the pond.

Most collector's should be familiar w/ the color changing cars from G2.  4 were released, 2 Autobot and 2 Decepticon.  Each had a self contained weapon that had a air billow allowing it to squirt water.  The front of each car was made of a different type of plastic that would change colors when exposed to water.  Not my favorite gimmick by any stretch and the 4 figures released were just OK.  For whatever reason a few of these color changers stayed in Europe (called Stormtroopers).  When I found out about these I knew that one day I'd have to have them.  It took many years before I was able to track them all down - but well worth the work.

Rage

Rage is by far my favorite of the Decepticon Stormtroopers.  This is the 2nd Rage I've owned, opting to upgrade my loose figure for this nice MOC specimen.

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These have to be some of the largest blister cards I've seen used for Transformers!

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I know a lot of these exclusive European TFs came in different packaging depending on where in Europe it was released.  Some toys even had different names in different regions.  Rage is also known as Aquanaught.  I'm not sure though if all of them had multi-lingual packaging.

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Rage was released in 1993, but thankfully Hasbro didn't go too crazy w/ the neon colors.  Perhaps that is one of the reasons I was always drawn to him over some of the other Stormtroopers.  His colors don't look completely out of place...well with the exception of the green headlights and windows!

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Stupid factory applied Decepticon decal isn't centered.  I would've tried moving it, but I was afraid it wouldn't stick if I tried and I don't think these guys have ever had their stickers reproduced.

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Say what you will about their water guns, at least the designers found a way to integrate them in their vehicle modes.  One less thing to have to keep up with!  Rage's weapon actually runs underneath the length of the car and the top is integrated in the front bumper.

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I love the simplistic transformations of older TFs.  While articulation is nice the lack of it doesn't necessarily take anything away for me personally.  Rage's transformation is very easy.  Pull out the car doors/arms, flip down the car hood and mull pack on the rear of the car/legs.  Flip down the toes and position the arms.  See, told you that was easy.

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The only downside to the Stormtrooper figures are their weapons and how they are wielded in robot mode.  According to the instructions the air billow is supposed to tab into the roof of the car on the back.  Problem with this is the plastic tubing gets bent doing so.  I wanted to show this problem to everyone, but right after I took the picture I took the gun out of his hands.  For display purposes I just laid his gun at this feet.  It's a shame there isn't a better way for him to hold his gun...or is there.  If you are reading his and have any ideas please let me know.

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While the gun is a small set back I still really enjoy this toy.  I was even happier to pick up the carded version for about what current "voyager" TFs retail for.  I've got more "G1.5" toys to show in the coming months.  In fact my this part of my collection has grown so much I'm faced with moving them and giving them their own space...but first I have to find that space in my already crowded collection!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Transformers Beast Wars II - C-13 Big Horn

Looking back I loved Beast Wars.  When I was just coming back to Transformers I was able to catch the tail end of Generation 2 toys on clearance at various stores.  Shortly there after I was first introduced to Beast Wars on a visit to Toys R Us.  I didn't have access to information like I do now so I knew nothing of the series or the toys.  Fast forward a bit and Takara released their own series of Beast Wars in Japan simply called Beast Wars II.  I was already enamored by the animal choices Hasbro had chosen for release here in the States and one of those was a bison called Bonecrusher.  For whatever reason I never bought him and as time went on I started to regret that decision.  Thankfully Takara decided to use this mold for their line - with a better color scheme.

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Bio:  Big Horn always dashes forward recklessly and hates to turn his back on the enemy, and it sometimes causes him to play into their hands. He also has a gentle side which appreciate the nature. He especially favours red flowers and has painted his body red. He has Buffalo Missile with his tail as the trigger. By having his comrades adjust the trigger timing and pull his tail, he can increase the accuracy because he himself can concentrate on setting his sights on the target. He has a habit of stomping his feet.

Strength:  9  Speed:  9  Rank:  8  Firepower:  8
Intelligence:  6  Endurance:  9  Courage:  7  Skill:  8

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Takara opted to go with overall darker colors.  The back and silver look fantastic on the bison.  The robot bits were changed from cream to red and unfortunately those red parts tend to stand out a bit more.

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This picture made the tag line of "robots in disguise" pop into my head.  Can you see Big Horn's eyes "peeking"?

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Transformation into robot mode is fairly simple and there is a good bit of articulation for a mid 90's figure.  The red is a stark contrast to the rest of the figure, but I like it.  It gives me the sense of rage which juse seems appropriate for him.

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Take a look at the robot head.  I've got a lot of Transformers and never have I seen another face like this.  I love how the bison's hair gives him a brow...kinda like the rocky brow the Fantastic Four's Thing has.  The horns protruding from each side of the head and the open mouth makes this a memorable face. 

The mouth is exposed as such as it doubles as his weapon.  A lot of the early Beast Wars figures had self concealed weapons.  His mouth doubles as a spring loaded rocket launcher.  Cool.

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If there is a downside to this is the fact that it gives him a backpack of sorts.  The way the launcher works is you pull on the tail.  See how it looks almost like a trigger?  Pulling on the tail will elevate the head and launch the missile from this mouth...quite far actually.  The figure has good balance so this firing mechanism doesn't hinder the robot's stability too much.

This is a fun figure and I personally like the color changes over the American version.  He isn't that hard to find either as he was also packaged in one of those versus sets paired off against Starscream & BB.


I will also mention this figure was released in Japan as a Lucky Draw item.  He is supposed to be blue in color, but because of it's rarity finding the toy let alone the actual toy is very hard.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Black Widow on cardboard

I don't duplicate posts between my 2 blogs very often, but I figured some readers here may find some interest in this post I did for my trading card blog.  Earlier today on my other blog I shared some nice colored 1/1 sketch cards from Upper Deck's new Avengers Assemble set.  Those sketch cards are exclusive to hobby boxes so one may ask why bother w/ retail?  I'll give you 7 reasons.

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#1
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#3
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#7
Need I say more?

In all seriousness Upper Deck did a great job with this set.  I like how they took images from both Iron Man movies, Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America as well as the new Avengers movie.  I've put together 75% of the set already and I hope to post my want list and extra cards soon just in case anyone else is working on this set as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers - Geek Confessions

This week's assignment from the League is an interesting one.

What is something you absolutely hate or love or just don’t get, or maybe it’s something you have never even seen or read. What is your deepest, darkest geek confession? 

This topic ought to get some good responses and I can't wait to read what my fellow bloggers have to say.  For me I'm going with the 'I just don't get it' angle.

AFA graded toys.

The whole issue of grading collectibles seems to have started with coins and later made popular by PSA with trading cards.  Then comics were graded and now toys - specifically action figures.

I just don't get it.

I guess I can understand grading coins and trading cards...but comics and toys?  Once that comic is sealed in that plastic slab you can't even read it anymore!  Same thing with toys.  Isn't part of the draw in collecting toys (for me - Transformers) being able to fiddle and dare I say play with our toys?  

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I do have one AFA'd Transformer in my personal collection, but I didn't buy it.  It was a birthday gift from a good friend of mine a few years ago.  I do have to admit the presentation of the graded toy is very nice and I'm glad I have it, but I just don't think I could pay any amount of money to grade a toy.  The only reason I see myself doing this was to re-sell that toy at a higher price...and on that it brings me to another point.

High prices.  You basically are having to pay through the nose to buy a AFA'd toy just because some self professed "expert" says your toy is mint or near-mint or whatever.  Blah.  I know it gives some buyers a sense of security when making a high dollar purchase that the item is in the condition the seller says it is, but it's just not for me.

This isn't a slam against anyone who collects graded toys at all - it's just one of those things in hobby that has gained in popularity that I just don't understand.

I'm not the only one that has some geek confessions to get off their chests:

- Memories of Tomorrow doesn't get some types of video games.
- The Surfing Pizza hasn't beaten the original Super Mario Bros. for the NES (what a lightweight!)
- Tupa's Treasures doesn't get the Avengers?  Wha?!
- Life with Fandom doesn't get cosplay...and I couldn't agree more! (sorry)
- Lair of the Dork Horde...well just read the post as it's quite good


Monday, May 14, 2012

My wife went to Walmart...

...and brought me home the only Vehicon hanging on the pegs!

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If I wasn't so dead tired from a crazy day at work I'd open this bad boy up as I've been waiting a long time for this toy...but I'm doing good to type this so he'll have to wait.  At least I don't have to sticker this like I do the stack of Arms Micron figures that have been staring at me for the past month!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Transformers Campaign Micron - Firebolt Clear Yellow Version

I have a confession to make.  I'm a Mini-Con/Micron-aholic.  Ever since the small collectible Transformers first appeared in the Armada series of toys I knew I was in trouble.

While the flow of new Mini-Cons in the U.S. has just about come to a halt, Takara Tomy keeps churning out Micron toys.  I did a pretty good job keeping up with a lot of the exclusive Microns released in Japan during the Unicron Trilogy series, but man is it getting hard to keep that pace.

The Power Core Combiners (PCC) series of Transformers weren't released in Japan (but a few are coming soon) and the series introduced some new Mini-Cons.  Takara Tomy found a way to release these figures in Japan as part of a various campaigns.  Some toys were given away with a certain purchase or amount spent while others were given away free.  That's were the clear yellow version of Firebolt comes in.

Firebolt

Given away in to children on January 15, 2012 exclusively in Japan at the World Hobby Fair.  I was late coming to the party on this one.  I knew of some of the other campaign Microns, but this one completely flew underneath my radar.  I ended up finding this one for 800 yen loose.  The small instruction sheet was missing, but since I already owned the PCC version I wasn't too worried.

When I first saw the pictures of Firebolt I had to do a double take.  Was Firebolt the same as Pinpoint that came packaged w/ PCC Leadfoot?  I poured over the photos time and time again and I couldn't come to any conclusion.  Most would say screw it and just pass this release over.  Being hooked on these little guys I just couldn't walk away.

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Can you tell which one is Firebolt and which one is Pinpoint?  No?  Me neither.  Crap.  Ah well.  Just to let you know Firebolt is on the left.  If anyone knows of a way to tell these two apart please let me know!

Firebolt

Of all the exclusive Microns recently released I have to say this is one of my favorite molds.  I love the articulation in robot mode.  I love the gun mode even better.  I also like how he reminds me of the old G1 Powermasters with the engine block on the back and the exhaust pipes on the arms.

I was a little disappointed after receiving this clear yellow version of Firebolt in the mail only the realize he's dang near identical to Pinpoint that I already had, but I knew I was taking that chance.  At least I'm in good company as there is only one other Shmax user that owns this figure (for now).

Friday, May 11, 2012

We aren't surprised, are we?


I guess Marvel realizes they are sitting on a cash cow by now, wouldn't you think?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Free Comic Book Day Haul

This past Saturday (5/5/12) was the annual Free Comic Book Day (FCBD) event.  I'm lucky enough to have a big and equally awesome comic book store located in Charlotte, NC (Heroes Aren't Hard to Find).  Each and every year they do up FCBD big.  In addition to all of the free books available they bring in all sorts of artists to do free sketches.  Yes, free!  Most of these guys and gals don't skimp on the sketches either.  In years past I've gotten some awesome art from Mark Brooks that he easily could've charged $40+ for.

While my interest in comics may have waned a bit I was still excited to attend the event so I took my oldest daughter and met my brother for breakfast before the event.  Other than one book I really didn't know which publishers were participating and what titles would have free books.  I figured Marvel would do something Avengers since the movie and all just launched in the U.S.  Pretty much though I was flying blind.

After we ate we got to the store about 15 minutes after they had opened and the crowd was already out of control.  I'd like to say I had fun browsing the comic racks, but there were so many people in the store I couldn't step back from the rack far enough to see anything that was on display from the middle down.  If the fire marshal had driven by I'm sure the store would've been fined by the sheer amount of people crammed inside.

I did manage to get my hands on a fair amount of free comics for myself and a few for my daughter.  I wanted to browse the discount boxes they pulled out, but both my daughter and I were already tired of being stuck in the crowed so we left and went to Target.  I promised her a new My Little Pony so I had to make good on my promise.

Back to the books.  Here is what I ended up taking home with me.


I have no idea what this book is about, but that's what FCBD is all about - trying new things.  Arcana Comics decided to launch this new title with issue #1 being the freebie.  From a marketing angle I can see this working as plenty of people will read the first issue and many may want to know what happens next and pick up issue #2.


How could I pass up a free Star Wars comic?  I also noticed the Whedon name on the front so I thought why not.


I didn't notice at first, but the Star Wars book is actually a flip book w/ a Serenity story on the reverse side!


Flip the book over and you'll see why I was interested...


Wrath of the Titans baby!  I can't wait to read this one as the cover is awesome looking.  Check out Medusa there in the lower corner.


Never been much of a fan of Witchblade, but it was free and I saw Tim Seeley's name on the cover.  I loved his art from his Devil's Due G.I. Joe days.



Image decided to go with a big flip book packed with stories from several different series - none of which I'm familiar with.


Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.  Need I say more?


I became a huge fan of Abnett & Lanning with their various cosmic stories over at Marvel Comics so I'm really eager to read this.  If it's as good as I hope I may have to look into this title as a regular read.


This is the book I was wanting the most...Transformers: Regeneration One.  Simon Furman finally gets to continue the stories he started way back when for Marvel Comics.  I actually already have this book coming to me thru my mail order subscription so Arkvander - if you're reading this and forgot about this book - it's all yours.


I wasn't surprised to see a freebie Avengers book.  From flipping through it while at the shop it appears to be a new story.  Not a fan of Bryan Hitch's cover art though, blah.


I didn't know about this Spider-Man book, but with the new Amazing Spider-Man movie right around the corner this one shouldn't be a big surprise.


Both the Avengers and Spider-Man book have this big ad on the back.  Since I dropped ASM from my reading list last fall I really don't know what this is about...but I'm intrigued.  

Outside of the obvious reasons to be excited about FCBD it acts as a perfect launching pad of sorts for the big annual comic book convention that Heroes also hosts - Heroes Convention.  This year my wife is planning on coming with me to hunt through all those bargain boxes.  I think she is more interested however in getting a hotel room in uptown Charlotte so she can have a night to sleep with no children!  I do look forward to this time we get to spend together and her help will be much appreciated.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The League of Extraordinary Bloggers - The Sweetest Ride?

This week's League topic is:  Besides the Batmobile, what is the sweetest ride cruising the streets of pop culture?


I had to think about this one for a bit before responding.  I'm not the biggest car fan out there so unlike some I didn't have anything that immediately came to mind.  I thought about some classic television shows & movies I watched growing up.  A-Team, Back to the Future, Dukes of Hazzard...



What about the Fall Guy's 1980 GMC Sierra Grande 4x4?  My first few vehicles were trucks and how you can deny the coolness of Colt Seaver's ride?  While cool it doesn't answer the question phrased...at least for me.  Back to the think tank.


If you haven't already figured out my "thing" is Transformers.  There are a LOT of sweet looking vehicular Transformers to choose from and the one I ended up going with is actually a recent release.  I give you the exclusive Transformers Collector's Club Runabout...er, I mean Over-Run.


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Come on now.  There is simply no denying how sweet looking this car is!  From the black and red to the translucent red windows this is one sleek ride.


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The car on the right is the original 80's Transformer.  Amazing how far we've come, eh?

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If you don't agree with my pick then Over-Run will have to transform and come over to your house to have a little "talk" with you.  Being a maniacal Decepticon I wouldn't want to take my chances here so why not just smile and nod your head in agreeance with me?


For more great posts on this week's topic why not check out some of my fellow League members?

- Branded in the 80's talks about motorcycles, helicopters and heli-choppers!

- Haxbee is all about the Green Hornet's ride

- Tupa's Treasures likes Firebirds and Speeder Bikes

- Action Figure Chat is Mad about Max's car