Saturday, September 29, 2012

MLP...here?

When I started this blog s few years ago I never thought I'd feature a girls toy here.  That was before I became a dad of two small girls.  Then again I did name this blog Random Toy Reviews.

One of the joys I have as a father is trying to turn my girls on to what daddy likes.  So far I've had modest success.  From early on both of my girls have taken a liking to Hot Wheels.  My oldest, Olivia is even starting to notice daddy's Transformers.  She doesn't really care play w/ my toys, but she does like all the various McDonald's TFs I've given here.  I also get a kick out of her recently calling them "transform robots".

Anyhow as a dad of two girls I have to make sure to go down the "other aisles" when visiting the toy department of Walmart, Target or Toys 'R Us.  Most of the time I dread it, but it is fun seeing both of them react when they see toys that catch their eye.  Olivia will be 3 in another week or so and my wife and I have both noticed that she is taking note of toy commercials on TV.  I'm beginning to think I'm going to be in trouble come Christmas!

As a many of you readers can attest to the blind packaged toy angle seems to be more popular now than ever.  Whether it's a LEGO or Mega Blocks figure, die-cast car or something else there is no shortage of blind packaged toys.  Not surprisingly Hasbro took the blind package idea across the aisle and launched a line of My Little Pony PVC figurines.

I don't know much about these other than they are affordable ($2 each) and my daughter loves them.  We've even begun to use them as a reward when my daughter fills up a chart with stickers for taking a nap and going to bed each night without fussing and screaming.  If you can't relate to what I'm talking about - you will one day after you have children.

Back to MLP.  If memory serves me correctly there are 24 ponies in each series and usually there are 3 "chase" figures.  I think the 3rd series was just released, but in the 2nd series the chase figures featured solid, metallic paint where as the regular figures were translucent and glittery.  I don't know the ratio of finding a chase figure, but what makes it so hard is many times when I find a box of these at local retail the packs have been ripped open to peek inside...that is if the toy was stolen.  It's a shame that collector's have ruined the experience for a lot of MLP fans.

Last week while @ Walmart I grabbed a few of these MLP packages to use for my daughter's reward.  A few days ago she filled up her chart w/ stickers and got to open one package.  I love watching her face as she reacts when pulling out the mystery pony inside the small bag.  This time her face really lit up as she pulled out one of the chase ponies...a metallic gold Applejack!

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Yes.  I do know some of the ponies' names and what their cutie mark is.  Gad, did I just type cutie mark?  Quick!  Someone get me a Transformer!

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I do have to say the collector in me is excited to see my daughter draw so much joy and excitement from something as simple as these little MLP figures.  Now if everyone will stop ripping open the bags or stealing the toys I can continue to reward Olivia with new ponies for some time to come.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

DiaRobo: Roidcop DR-0002

In Japan entertainment/toy company Agatsuma has created a new line of transformable vehicular toys entitled DiaRobo.  I discovered this new line of transformable toys on the TFW2005.com forums a few weeks back.  After seeing a few of the promo pics I was instantly hooked and had to find a way to add a few of these.  Thanks to AmiAmi.com I was able to add a few of these affordable import toys.

The line has just started and to date there are only a handful of toys to choose from.  Agatsuma has designed a neat website that you can check out here, and from the pre-orders I've seen it looks like this line will be extended by several waves w/ new vehicles in the near future.  One of the neat things about these toys is that they are officially licensed by the likes of Nissan & Toyota.  One of the figures I initially chose was one of the Nissan Fairlady Z molds thanks in large part because it was a cool looking police car - DR-0002 Roidcop.

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Priced at 460-600 yen a piece I didn't expect the toys to contain any die-cast metal and I was right.  These are all plastic and actually are fairly light in the weight department.  They don't feel cheap however.

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I love the packaging.  In typical Japanese style the plastic shell encases the whole card allowing you to remove the toy and repackage it for display with ease.  The only thing included inside the packaging is a small black and white instructions sheet.  Unfortunately there isn't a catalog or anything like that.

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I also got the DR-0000 Protoroid after opening up Roidcop and discovered just how cool this particular mold was!  You'll see more of Protoroid in some of the comparison pics below.  There is also an orange version (Zeroid) that I'm sure I'll eventually pick up to round out the 3.

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If you couldn't already tell these DiaRobo toys are very close to traditional die-cast scale.  The packaging is almost exactly the same size as Hot Wheels.

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I love the look of this vehicle.  Despite the lack of die-cast metal the car still has a cool feel.  There obviously aren't a lot of paint applications, but what little there are have been applied quite well.  All four wheels are free rolling allowing these little cars to move about on a smooth flat surface quite well.  I was tempted to borrow my daughter's Hot Wheels track set to see if he fit.  Probably the most impressive part of the toy is that it holds together really well.  It's not floppy and the seams are very tight.  Just a quick glance at this toy and one may not know that it transforms into a robot.

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Flip the car over and you can see the robot's arms inside the doors, but the head and the rest of the robot bits are fairly well concealed.

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Transformation is really quite simple.  The arms/shoulders are on ball joints so you simply grab the car doors and pull them out and down.  Extend the legs, separate and flip down the feet.  The windshield and roof portion of the car lifts up and folds back revealing the folded down head.  Flip down the car's hood and flip up the head.  Pull out the arms from the inside of the doors.  Done.

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For a small toy I was surprised at the amount of articulation.  The head, shoulders and hips are all ball joints.  The head does have limited movement due to the car hood and basic configuration of the toy.  The arms just fold in and out, but the arms do have some range of motion.

You may have been able to tell in some of these photos that it appears a different type of plastic was used for the hood portion from the rest of the car.  The hood did photograph a little whiter than the rest of the toy, but in hand it doesn't look as noticeable.  My favorite part of the robot mode is the head sculpt.  I love the silver helmet like look w/ the blue visor.

I'm a huge fan of smaller scale transforming toys.  One of these days I'll share some Go-Bots, Machine Robo, Converters and some Transformers Spychangers from my collection.  I mention that because I went a little crazy with some comparison shots.  I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking for me, but before we get there I'll just say if you like 1:64 scale transformable toys then I think it's safe that you'll like these.  I've got a few more I'll share in the coming days/weeks too because not all of them transform into robots.  How 'bout an ambulance that transforms into a t-rex?!  Stay tuned.

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Roidcop
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Well?  What are you waiting for?  Hurry on over to AmiAmi and pick up a few.  As soon as I can find my Reprolabel faction symbols a few of mine will be joining the ranks of the Autobots and Decepticons!  








Thursday, September 20, 2012

Transformers Universe: Autobot Countdown

After Hasbro had released their Classics line of Transformers and saw how wildly popular it was with fans, they continued on the tradition of updating G1 characters under the Universe banner.  Some fans have dubbed this Universe 2.0.  Unfortunately these character updates didn't receive new molds, but repainted and re-purposed existing molds.  Some of the mold and character choices worked, some did not.  I feel like this one fell right in the middle.  This particular toy was one of two Toys 'R Us exclusive voyagers.

In G1 continuity Countdown was a Micromaster moon buggy that commanded a rocket base.  For this upgrade it seems as if Countdown had merged w/ the rocket base he once was in charge of.  For this move Hasbro decided to use the Cybertron Defense Red Alert mold from the Cybertron toy line.

Autobot Countdown is a hero to millions of beings on thousands of planets, and a legend to even more. Even before other Autobots began venturing out into the universe, Autobot Countdown was out there, traveling from world to world, freeing those enslaved by tyrants, or oppressed by evil. He has traveled from end of the galaxy to the other, seen things that others can only dream about, and along the way he has left behind a trail of worlds basking in the warm glow of freedom. 

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No longer is Countdown just a small moon buggy with a rocket base, but now he is a large armored 8 wheeled rocket launching transport vehicle.  I like the mold and I like what Hasbro was trying to do, but something just feels off.  You've got the large missile.  You've got the blue and white colors from the original G1 toy, but I really miss the playset part.

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I can't think of a better mold to use.  I used to have him displayed with my Classics / Generations Autobots, but have since decided to move him to make room for more "fitting" toys.  As good as the mold is, perhaps I just can't get by having a Unicron Trilogy mold still on my shelves!

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While not as cool as the Botcon Darksyde Megatron figure, I do find that Autobot Countdown is a much better looking figure than the original CD Red Alert.  While the large missile may be a bit overkill as a shoulder mounted weapon I do like the fact you have the ability to remove it. 

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The figure is the exact same as CD Red Alert - same Cyber Key and key activated weapons / gimmicks.  Insert the key into the back of the launcher and the rocket splits to reveal a spring loaded missile launcher.

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I give Hasbro credit for trying what they did here, but for me I can't get past the aesthetic of the mold when standing side by side with the new Generations toys.  If I had unlimited display space this guy would probably stay in my collection, but with limited space and money this big guy is headed to Yardsellr or eBay in the coming days.

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Look ma!  I'm all grown up!



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Transformers e-Hobby exclusive: Clamp Down (91)

When Takara had started up their book style TF Collection line of G1 re-issues in the early 2000's the Japanese site/store e-Hobby had partnered to release new decos of some of these TFs.  They had previously re-issued such TFs as the Decepticon seeker jets, Ironhide, Ratchet, Hoist & Trailbreaker as limited exclusives.  This time around however they would be releasing these new TFs in sets of 2 each month for several months.  Most of these new decos would be based on their ancestors - Diaclone.

Now let me say that I'm not near as educated in pre-Transformers.  I constantly find myself reading Maz's articles or going over to heroic_decepticon's blog for info.  However back in 2003 I knew that Clamp Down was based on a pre-existing Diaclone toy...making it that much more desirable for me and many other collectors.

Clamp Down was first made available for sale in January 2003 along w/ his "partner" Deep Cover.  I had previously bought many of the other e-Hobby pairs, but for some reason I never pulled the trigger on this pair and opted solely for Clamp Down...a move I now regret.  Clamp Down came packaged in a large window box sans box art similar to their other releases.  My box is still packed up in the closet and I couldn't be bothered to spend 30 minutes unpacking the closet to get to the box!  Clamp Down was given the designation number of 91.

Courtesy of TFWiki:

Assigned to an Earth police force as head of the Interplanetary Personnel Exchange Program along with his brother Deep Cover, Clamp Down (クランプダウン Kuranpu Daun) is a tough, dedicated cop who works tirelessly along with his human partners. Uncomplicated in his way of thinking, the straightforward, sometimes black-and-white view he has taken thanks to the Autobot/Decepticon war occasionally clashes with the views of his new co-workers, not to mention the legal system.

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As you can tell Clamp Down is a redeco of the Red Alert mold.  The fire chief design has been replaced with a very nice police design.  Does he not remind you of Mach Alert / Prowl from Car Robots / RID?

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I don't normally care for white Transformers, but man does this Lamborghini look sexy in white.  I was never a huge fan of this mold (more of a Sunstreaker kind of guy), but the more I fiddled around w/ this toy the more I've come to appreciate all versions...another reason I kick myself for not getting Deep Cover when I had the chance.

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I'm not sure how I feel about the red used on this lower torso and legs.  I feel like it's a bit out of place what with his main colors being white and black.  Clamp Down uses the same rifle and shoulder mounted rocket launcher that Sideswipe, Red Alert and Deep Cover use.  Of note since this is a Japanese release the spring in the rocket launcher was left intact and fully functional.  Because of this I don't display many of my toys with their rockets in the launchers for fear of the spring's tension getting weak over time.  Like his rifle, his 3 included rockets are red as well.

I really really like this guy and he displays quite nicely with some of my other e-Hobby G1 figures.  I'll probably be sharing more of those in the coming weeks/months for everyone's viewing pleasure.

I know technically this guy is a re-issue since he's based on one of the early Sideswipe/Red Alert molds, but this guy doesn't feel like a re-issue.  I can't recommend this guy enough.  Whether you like G1 or Diaclone stuff, this guy is a must have.  Be prepared for pay $100+ plus on the secondary market however due to his limited nature.

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I'm sure I knew this prior to taking these pictures, but I don't own a G1 Red Alert!  If I had he obviously would have been used for the comparisons so for now Sideswipe will just have to do!

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Clamp Down along side his unofficial WST version that was recently obtained.  Pretty good representation outside of the Autobot symbol replacing the star on the hood of the vehicle.