Wednesday, August 16, 2017

GI Joe 25th Anniversary: Cobra Range-Viper (Defense of Cobra Island)

In 2009 Hasbro released a very cool box set of GI Joe action figures called Defense of Cobra Island. This 7 figure set included the likes of Night Creeper, B.A.T., Lamprey, Dr. Mindbender, Air-Viper and an Alley-Viper. Of course many fans were quick to buy multiples of these box sets so they could bolster their Cobra troops.

Like with most GI Joe toys, he was originally packaged with several weapons and accessories. I'm missing his tripod for the grenade launcher, a black rifle and his backpack.

His helmet has a skull like look, but since the details are painted blue its hard to tell unless you are upclose. Hasbro went with a masked look underneath the helmet and if I'm being honest, I prefer this look more than I do the helmet.

I feel that Hasbro was really starting to hit their stride with Joe figures during this time and this Range-Viper is a good example of their work.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Transformers 3rd Party: Impossible Toys - Animated Humans

One of the earliest 3rd party companies to make unofficial Transformers products was Impossible Toys. They were also one of the first 3rd party companies to go out of business. Before they did however, they released a set of PVC figurines of 3 human characters from Transformers Animated...Professor Sumdac, Captain Fanzone and Sair.

These figures were not articulated, but solid pieces of plastic. The paint apps for the most part were OK, but from what I've seen of this set there were some that were horrendous. I actually acquired this set for free at TFCon Charlotte in 2015 courtesy of Captured Prey. They pretty much left a bucket of these sets out near the registration table to people to take. Yeah, they sold that well!

Professor Sumdac

Captain Fanzone


I long have since sold my Animated collection so I really can't say if these scaled well with the actual Animated toys. I would think not as these figures were about 3 inches tall (maybe?). While I loved the Animated television show, I didn't care enough about the toys to keep them. I guess for some people/collectors this set would "complete" their Animated collection, but I ended up passing this set on to someone who actually wanted the toys.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Captain America, The First Avenger: Red Skull (movie)

Like any good Hollywood movie these days, 2011's Captain America, the First Avenger had it's own line of toys by Hasbro. The 3 3/4" action figures were released in two varieties, comic and movie. Impulsively I picked up a few of the figures back when they were on retail shelves and one of the figures I purchased was the movie version of the classic villain, the Red Skull.

I didn't mind the way that Hugo Weaving portrayed the character in the movie and I quite liked his look. This figure does a good job at capturing his movie likeness. Great head sculpt and uniform bring this figure to life. He came packaged with a few accessories including a hand gun, the Tesseract (aka Cosmic Cube) and a very large spring loaded rifle. The rifle is so large that I never could get him to properly hold it. Load the blue energy projectile into the rifle and it was even more absurdly large.

This figure is no longer a part of my collection as he was a casualty of downsizing, however don't let that fool you into thinking this isn't a nice action figure. It's a great sculpt and surprisingly had good paint apps as well. I love his his left hand was given a more open palm look as he can hold the glowing Tesseract quite well. If you are into the smaller scaled Marvel figures and need a villian for your heroes to combat, look no further than the Red Skull!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

GI Joe A Real American Hero: Cobra Condor Z25 w/ Aero-Viper

One of the greatest, and largest toy lines of the 1980's (and perhaps all-time) has got to be the run of GI Joe A Real American Hero. If the vast selection of action figures wasn't enough, Hasbro had plenty of vehicles and playsets to chose from as well. To date there hasn't been a toy line to this scale and I doubt there ever will be again.

Let's face it, the one aspect that made the GI Joe line so successful were the vehicles. While it was fun for boys to re-create battle sequences with their Joe and Cobra figures, what kid didn't want a tank or a jet to put their figures in while playing? I know I did, but due to the size of a lot of these vehicles I never got to experience many of them, especially the toys that were released later into the line.

In 1990 Hasbro released the Cobra  Condor Z25. It's described as a high altitude fighter / bomber. It was only on store shelves for about a year and retailed for around $20.00 USD. By 1990 I didn't have much to do with GI Joe or any toys for that matter, so I can't say I have any type of childhood connection to this particular toy. I just remember seeing it years later in I believe one of Mark Bellomo's Joe books and thinking how awesome of an aircraft it was.

The design of the Condor Z25 is very unique in that not only does it have the inverted wings, but it also has that long "neck" if you will. You can also tell it's pretty armed. Missiles under the small wings found on each side of the front canopy, wings underneath the large inverted wings, a cannon on the back of the jet asd well as the bombs you can see stored inside the wings. These little bombs especially are easily lost so make sure when you are buying this vehicle on the secondary market that all 14 small bombs are included.

Another feature the Condor had was retractable landing gear. Unlike some vehicles that may have just had molded wheels, the Condor has free rolling wheels. There were 5 sets of landing gear, partly due to it's gimmick.

In the center of the plane is what I originally thought as some sort of vent or engine. If you look inside those holes you'll see a gray/silver plastic piece. When you turn this, it will eventually line up with a slot on the bottom and drop a larger red bomb! The Condor came w/ 7 of these bombs and I believe it could hold all 7 at one time. 

Another cool play feature of the Condor were the smaller bombs. I personally loved how these were stored in the wings with a translucent cover. However these aren't just for looks. On the underside of the wing was a lever that you could slide towards the opening. As you slide it, it would push a bomb over and out the slot. Keep sliding and you could release 7 bombs one after another in quick secession!

Earlier I mention the number of retractable landing gear due to it's gimmick. If you didn't already know the Condor Z25 could be separated with the push of a button into two air craft. Now GI Joe was always known for pushing the limits on the believeability of some of it's weapons and vehicles and this is no exception. However I'm sure that kids back in the early 90's playing with this could have cared less. Shoot, I don't care...I think it's a cool design element. If nothing else, this explains why there are two cockpits on the Condor.

The rear of the Condor is now turned around and acts as bomber. It looks more like the head of a hammerhead shark in this mode. The large ring on the jet houses a silver twin cannon that you can move up and down. You still have two missiles underneath the wings and all of the smaller bombs at your disposal. If you turn the jet around, you'll see a turbine engine where the Condor was seperated from the other half. 

 The front half of the jet isn't nearly as impressive in my opinion. I guess this is supposed to be the high altitude fighter? In this form the jet still retains the larger bombs as well as two missiles up front. You can't really see very well in my picture, but inside the rear hull of the jet is a silver engine turbine, similar to the one found on the other end of the bomber.

I failed to remove the Cobra Aero-Viper from the jet to take proper pictures of the figure, I do apologize. it's one of the better looking Viper figures in my opinion. His jumpsuit has a nice texture to it, although the green looks out of place. His vest and gloves are done up in a flat gray color. His removeable helmet is a soft, swirly gold plastic. The head sculpt is pretty cool as the Aero-Viper sports a bandana that covers the hair and upper portion of his face. To make him look a little tougher, he also sports a black goatee. I believe this head scuplt was later reused as a generic Dreadnok by the official GI Joe club. If you have more than one, you can use them in both cockpits of the Condor.

I don't have much of a GI Joe collection to date, mainly because of a lack of space. I can say however this vehicle was a lot of fun to play around with and had I had more room I may have kept it just because it's so unique when compared to other Cobra aircraft. If you're looking to buy this on the secondary market, be aware that parts of the vehicle may be discolored. After all it's a 25+ year old toy made of white plastic. The stickers will also most likely show some wear. Being that they were printed on clear plastic, the edges may show dirt and wear as mine did. I don't know if anyone has made a set of reproduction labels for this aircraft either. The ring on the back of the jet, the twin cannon and all of the missiles/bombs can be hard to find unless you are buying a complete specimen. It's a great to and one that I highly recommend to any ARAH Joe fan.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Voltron: Starshooter 110 Camera

I'll be honest, when it comes to all things Voltron I have to rely on others (and Google) to help me out. I vaguely remember the animated television show, but I was busy watching both Transformers and GI Joe shows to care. 

When it comes to Voltron toys, I had one lion growing up. I had the Matchbox Yellow Lion, a birthday gift from a cousin I hardly knew. Needless to say when I found this Starshooter 110 camera in a large box of toys I purchased, I was confused. 1) At the time I had never seen this toy before and 2) I wasn't even sure if it was a legit toy or not. Turns out that it was a fully licensed toy made for Impulse Ltd. in 1985. I took pictures of this toy some time ago, but like a lot of my photos they were buried and forgot about in my laptop's hard drive.

All folded up this looks like a generic toy camera. Note that mine is missing the detachable lens and camera strap usually found on the toy. However like a Transformer, there is more than meets the eye. This is a real working 110 camera, but it's also the mighty Voltron!

While the camera bits make Voltron a little bulky in the center, I kinda dig his overall look. The lions that form his limbs are more detailed than I thought they would have been. Stickers replace paint apps to give each lion some color and detail.

He isn't very articulated in this mode, but how many action figures from 1985 were super articulated? His arms move a full 360 degrees. His legs do rotate thanks to the transformation, but his knees are backward hinge joints...again because of the camera transformation. He does have some heel pieces that can be folded down from behind the leg to give the bulky robot some extra stability.

Voltron does keep his iconic looking head. The entire head is concealed by two pieces of black plastic that form the top portion of the camera. His read wings are also present, but a little on the short side if you ask me.

Overall I found this to be a quirky, but fun toy. Being that mine specimen was so old and not stored in the best environment, I wasn't able to test to see if the camera portion still worked. Finding new 110 film could be a challenge too! If I was a big Voltron fan, I'm sure I'd want this odd ball piece in my collection. Somewhat recommended, depending on your tastes.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

GI Joe Collector's Club 2008 Club Exclusive: Cobra Commander

Growing up a fan of GI Joe, I had a metric ton of A Real American Hero figures, playsets and vehicles as a kid in the early to mid 80's. However the Joes would take a backseat to a certain brand of transforming robots later in the 80's and my love for the Joes seriously waned.

Thanks in part to Hasbro's relaunch of the brand in the early 2000's as GI Joe versus Cobra, that love for the Joes started to be rekindled. Hasbro has already teased long time fans with re-releases at Toys 'R Us stores, but the Joe vs. Cobra theme was brand new and introduced new characters and more importantly, new toys.

One could argue how successful this brand of GI Joe was for Hasbro, but it did well enough to enjoy several sequels at retail, such as Spy Troops and Valor vs. Venom. From what we know, the series that would have followed V vs. V would have been "Robot Rebellion" as it's known. Many of these ideas and design elements would eventually be used in the 8 inch scaled Sigma Six series. Other elements eventually were used in the Direct to Consumer line of toys and possibly other lines. During this time, Fun Publications, the company responsible for the GI Joe Collector's Club and the annual JoeCon convention got ahold of one of the unused Robot Rebellion molds and released it as their 2008 club freebie. Behold, Cobra Commander!

I was a member of the GI Joe Collector's Club for several years so essentially this figure was "free". Up until this release I wasn't a huge fan of the yearly free exclusive, but I was really impressed with this toy. While my mental image of Cobra Commander will always be of his blue leisure suit, chrome face plate and helmet, it was nice seeing him get a new look. Looking back at his original set of battle armor, if feel as if it pales in comparison to this new look he would have had in the Robot Rebellion series.

Gone is the leisure suit and funky looking silver battle armor, replaced with sleek black armor. he has a gray utility belt that has two sheathes on each side. He comes with a soft rubbery plastic cape that as you can see is removable. The cape does hinder the movement of the arms when attached, but gives him that royal appearance. The paint apps are minimal, but look good. The red on the black really pops and the gray areas blend in well.

In the accessory department Cobra Commander comes with a knife and a rather unique looking staff. On one end of the shaft is a very cool looking cobra head that is poised to strike. On the other end is a traditional Cobra emblem. This is a nice touch as it gives you a few different ways to pose your figure. Both accessories are cast in a dull silver plastic.

What I wasn't expecting was that Cobra Commander hood to be removable. It is made of the same type of soft plastic as the cape. This allows you to easily remove and replace the hood. Underneath the hood is a generic head that Hasbro would eventually use for multiple figures, but at the time (if I'm not wrong) was a new head sculpt. For those hoping to finally see what Cobra Commander really looked like, I'm kinda glad they kept this a mystery. My only gripe about this, and it's small, is that sometimes it was hard to get the eyes to line up perfectly with the eye holes on the hood.

All in all this is a beautiful figure and one that I wish I had kept. I've culled my Joe collection so many times over the decade that I'm not left with much outside a few modern figures (and sealed vehicles). I wish there was more information available of what this Robot Rebellion line would have looked like, but thanks to Fun Publications we at least got this physical example of what could have been.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Look Inside the Chaos

I had a little rare time on my hands on this Friday afternoon thanks to my work email and phone all the sudden being eeriely quite. Looking at my office I figured this was a good opportunity to work some more on getting some order to this chaos. Working from home most days you would think I have all the time in the world to get stuff like this done, but between my job and my family I often find myself with little free time.

Take this and combine it with one other aspect...procrastination. Yes, I'll come out and say it...I procrastinate opening new toys. I know some people can't even wait to get to the parking lot to crack up their newest plastic crack purchase, but for some reason I put it off to the side. It may be days, months or sometimes years before I get to opening it...if it ever gets opened. I know that may sound odd or down right dumb to some of you, but that's me in a nutshell. I can't really explain why I'm this way so don't bother asking.

However over the last year or so I have been (slowly) working on getting the office set like I want. I culled a lot of toys from the collection to pair it down to what I like the most. I bought a lot more Detolf glass display cases from IKEA to house and display my G1 Transformers collection. Where I used to only have two, I now have 9. I just purchased two cases last week and still have one to assemble. I feel like once this is done, then I can get down to opening some new toys.

To the left of my light tent is this messy stack of toys. Marvel Legends, Transformers Legends, Transformers Titans Return and Voltron make up the majority of the stack. I guess one of the reasons I tend to wait to open new items is because of this very blog. I want to photograph the items before I open them and because my lack of time the toys end up sitting there. It's gotten to the point where its really starting to drive me nuts and it's time I do something about it.

I mentioned above that I purchased two more Detolf cabinets last weekend. I assembled one last week and still need to work on the other this weekend. I plan to use them to house my Masterpiece collection. Perhaps one for the Autobots and one for the Decepticons? Or should I pair them up by year like I did w/ my G1 collection? 

Inside the case now are several 3rd party combiner figures that still need to be opened. Again, part of me wanted to showcase these toys on the blog, but now that so much time has passed I'm not sure if it's even worth it anymore. Between YouTube, fan sites and other blogs, all of these has been covered.

Inside my recently re-organized closet sit many, many, many unopened Masterpiece toys just waiting to be opened. Let me just say it's been really hard not busting into these. The more pictures I see of these toys the more it makes me look forward to the day I get off my butt and start opening these!

Surely I'm not the only one that has this "problem", right? Right? I'd like to think things will change soon, but the summer months are the busiest time for me at work and the next month I'm going to be on the road a lot. My goal however is by the holidays this fall to have everything you see that is still sealed, opened and on display. I'm going to continue to photograph certain toys when I can and put up new content, but I thought it may be fun to share a little of the behind the scenes photos of the chaos I call my office.

Now that I've bared my soul to all of you, are there any questions or comments? Let me know!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Transformers Titans Return: Roadburn

Hasbro's Titans Return series has been a lot of fun thus far. We have been given new modern updates to many classic Generation 1 characters that fans have been waiting for. Roadburn however just seemed to come out of left field.

Better known as the Throttlebot Chase, Roadburn makes use of the Bumblebee mold that released first. Hasbro has been making it a normal business practice to get multiple uses out of their new molds. Sometimes this means we get a figure with a new deco and a new head sculpt, while other times we get some slight changes to the mold to create a new character. Roadburn belongs to the latter category.

Roadburn is a Legends scale figure, or what used to be called Basic scale. While the figure is small, it's a great figure in my opinion. The new headsculpt is what sold the figure for me. The blue helmet with the gold face screams Throttlebot to me. It's not a perfect reproduction of the Generation One characters head, but it's close enough for me.

Chase was always one of my favorite Throttlebots. Blame it on his red Ferrari alt mode. As you can see the shade of red on Roadburn is a darker red than that of Chase. While it's not bad, I would have preferred a more vibrant shade of red. Perhaps Hasbro was worried that if they used a brighter red people would have mistaken him for Cliffjumper. Afterall, Bumblebee has been painted red and passed off as Cliffjumper multiple times in previous Transformers series. The Throttlebots didn't have the best defined robot modes so it was fairly easy to give them an upgrade. I wonder if you could recreate the "hood" of the back car piece with Roadburn?

At the time I found Roadburn at my local retail, I had not opened the Bumblebee figure I had previously found. My first exposure to this mold in hand was with Roadburn. Doesn't really matter since it's the same toy, sans the color and new head sculpt. The figure has a good bit of poseability for a Legends scale figure. It features a easy, yet fun transformation. I did notice that both figures had problems with some of the panels lining up and staying in place.

Over all I found this toy/mold to be a lot of fun. I don't always buy the simple color swaps anymore, but I knew I had to have Roadburn when I first saw images appear online. It's sad to think that we probably won't get any other upgraded Throttlebots in the Titans Return series (although Goldbug seems like an obvious choice), but I'll guess I'll take what I can get at this point.