Monday, June 21, 2021

Matchbox Monday: 2020 074/100 International WorkStar Brushfire Truck

From the 2020 series, the International WorkStar Brushfire Truck is part of the MBX Mountain subseries.

This casting originated in 2010, but in 2014 the metal body and plastic chassis was replaced with a plastic body and metal chassis...assumingly to help cut costs. While I like die-cast metal vehicles, sometimes the change to plastic has it's benefits. In this case I find the body to be more detailed. The metal chassis still gives the truck some of the much needed heft.

The body is made using two different pieces - gray for the lower half and red for the upper half. All of the paint apps have been applied to the sides, including Los Angeles emblems on the door. While this look good, it does take away from the opportunity for the addition of much needed paint apps on the front grill. The plain gray grill looks very drab, but I understand the limitations on a $1 mold. The windshield and the light bar are cast in a light translucent blue and looks good against the red. The wheels feature a red chrome against the large off road tires.

I think I still prefer a more traditional fire truck, but the kid in me would love the larger, chunkier version like this one. This is the first time this mold has been used since it was featured in a 5 pack in 2018 and the 11th release overall.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Matchbox Monday: 2020 #020/100 MBX Garbage King

From the 2020 series, the MBX Garbage King is part of the MBX City subseries.

This is an original Matchbox casting that goes back to 2008 and was used until 2012. The casting returned in 2019 with some slight changes. The cab was now a separate piece, before it was integrated into the body of the garbage truck. The back of the truck no longer opens either, which is a little but of a bummer.

I believe the truck is based on a real world International garbage truck, but I could be wrong. For a basic model the truck has a lot of detail going on. The die-cast white cab may be a little non-descript, but the garbage portion, which is cast in a dark blue, is chocked full of design and paint apps. On each side is a MBX City Waste Services logo along with the city crest and a large recycling symbol. There are also some red/white caution reflector strips along the back and bottom of the truck. Look closely and you'll also see some small orange lights and even a fire extinguisher painted on. All of this sits on a gray die-cast metal frame which helps give the truck a little heft.

If I was still a kid playing with cars in the downstairs living room of the split level house I grew up in, I'd absolutely adore this truck. If you're going to have a city, I mean you're going to need city services like a garbage truck and this new version of the MBX Garbage King fills that role quite nicely.

Matchbox Monday: 2020 #081/100 Sonora Shredder

From the 2020 series, the Sonora Shredder is part of the MBX Mountain subseries.

This is an original Matchbox casting and as a result seemed to hang around on the pegs in 2020 longer than it's licensed brethren that shared the same case assortment. First released back in 2017 in a matte black with gray interior back and an orange tint to the windows , this is the 4th version of the casting. Gone is the matt black, replaced with a metalflake orange. The interior (and as a result the "cargo") is a white plastic. The windows have been given a light blue tint, which works well against the orange specifically. The die-cast metal body sits on a gray plastic frame that has been raised to accomodate for the larger than normal wheels used. These wheels feature a thin silver chrome band around the 6 spoke black wheels. The "cargo" if you will in the back of the truck really needs some paint apps, but those were spent on the sides of the truck. A Matchbox team racing #5 adorns the doors with some sponsors tampographed over the rear fenders. The back of the truck contains a big chunk of white plastic with a spare tire molded in. 

I'm a sucker for pick up trucks and while this one isn't a favorite casting released, I do like the orange and blue window combination. In my opinion pulling off a good off road racing truck can be a tough feat, but the Matchbox designers have done a good job with this one.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Convert-A-Bots: Porsche

Trying to find information on this series of transforming toys by Village Toys hasn't been easy, nor has finding packaged samples. I picked up "Porsche" several years back, but just recently got around to opening the toy for review purposes.

The packing overall was in OK condition. The blister card is rather flimsy and the blister bubble was brittle...perhaps partly due to it's age (circa 1983) and combination of cheap plastic used? The front uses artwork of a generic robot that appears to be the same regardless of the character. The back is just basically a cross sell for other toys under the Village Toys umbrella.

I'm not sure I noticed this until I pulled the toy out of it's packaging, but there is some yellowing to the right side. This of course isn't uncommon for 1980's white plastic, but still a bummer none the less. If you are familiar with Gobots or any other similar transforming toy of this size, you (kind of) know what you're getting. Made mostly of plastic, surprisingly there are bits of diecast metal as well. I can't tell if the tires are a hard rubber or just black plastic, but the rear wheels are a little wonky on mine thanks to the wheel pegs (or is it the chrome wheels?). 

Transformation is pretty straight forward. Lift the car hood on the back of the robot, covering the robot face. Straighten the arms and press them in towards the body. Push the legs together and up into the body.

The overall quality is OK at best so I wasn't even going to try to peel these 30+ year old stickers. I'm not sure how well they would have adhered to the toy when it was new so I wasn't going to take the chance. Remember when toys had trademarked logos like this?

I can only recommend these Convert-A-Bots to diehard collectors. The 80's were a interesting time period of transforming toys and I'm not sure where I'd rank these, but they are interesting none the less.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Transformers R.E.D. Series: Optimus Prime

Hasbro is not shy to try something different...even if different has been done before. What am I talking about? The new R.E.D. Series of Transformers. Robot Enhanced Design. If you're a log time fan of the series you may remember Action Masters from the original G1 series...or if you were a fan of what Takara was doing with the franchise over in Japan you may remember the S.F.C. series.

Either way, both Action Masters and S.F.C. figures were non-transformable action figures. You would think Transformers that don't actually transform would be boring or that people wouldn't care for them...and while there are some that could care less these toys do have their fans.

In June of 2020 Hasbro announced the new R.E.D. series of 6 inch non-transformable figures with Optimus Prime and Megatron being in the first wave. The first images that were solicited looked good enough to get me excited (at least for Prime), but it seemed as if it took an eternity before I would see these at local retail. I picked up both Prime and Megatron a good while ago and have been sitting on them. I wasn't sure I was even going to bother with them, but my curiosity got the best of me and I opened Prime.

Starting with the Transformers War for Cybertron Siege series, the packaging for deluxe size figures would be a trapezoid like window box. This packaging design was carried over to the R.E.D. series. The front right side of the box features a slanted corner and some beautiful original artwork. The back of the box features better poses than I could pull off, showing just how articulated the figure is.

The left side of the box features a long window that shows the included accessories. These accessories include two different sets of hands, an Energon axe, Prime's rifle and the Matrix of Leadership. All of these look really nice and are a welcome inclusion.

These images of Prime are straight out of the package. Immediately I felt the soft plastic that was used, especially for the smokestacks on the arms and even the small antenna used on Prime's head. The figure itself looks great, very close the iconic 80's animation model. The colors are spot on, though some may prefer the thighs and waist to be a shade of gray over white. The chest windows are translucent blue and you can see parts of the cavity where the Matrix sits. The Autobot emblem on this shoulder is raised, something that I was not expecting.

The chest windows are hinged on the outer edges, allowing the panels to open up to reveal the Matrix of Leadership. I don't care how many times this feature may have been used on previous versions of Prime, I'll take this feature every time. Knowing Hasbro's track record for repainting figures, I highly expect we'll eventually get a "sleep mode" version in black/gray. This will allow for re-creating that somber scene in the original 1986 animated movie that brought guys like myself to tears.

The default hands that come on the figure are your traditional closed fists, but included are a pair of pointing hands and open hands. These are interchangeable using a 5 mm peg and are fairly easy to switch out. The iconic orange Energon axe works the same way as a fist and can be plugged into to either arm.

With the gimmick if you will being the design of the robot, it makes since that the figures are highly detailed and articulated. Where liberties may have to be taken to account for the transformation of the figure which compromises the look of the robot mode, this obviously isn't a worry for the designers. As such Prime looks fantastic in whatever pose you put him in. Prime features your now standard articulation for a 6 inch action figure. Personally I love the addition of the ankle pivots, however I still have a hard time getting past how large his feet look.

If I didn't have an Optimus Prime collection I'm really not sure if I would have pulled the trigger on this figure. It looks really nice on it's own and even blends in OK with modern Transformers figures. It's scale may not make everyone happy, but scale and Transformers have always had a tumultuous relationship!

I really can't see myself picking up any future R.E.D. Series figures, but I am glad to see what they are doing with the line. The Arcee figure from the Prime series looks fantastic, much nicer than any transforming version would ever look, as does the Beast Wars Cheetor. Certain characters will lend themselves better to this series than others so I'm curious to see where the line goes. In the end though this series just isn't for me, but of course your mileage may vary.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Matchbox Monday: 2020 #029/100 Audi R8


From the 2020 series, the Audi R8 is part of the MBX City subseries.

I believe this based off the 2007 model of the Audi R8. Based on the LeMans Quattro concept, this Audi is set to compete with the likes of Ferrari, Porsche and Lamborghini. Equipped with a 5.0-litre V10 engine capable of producing 450 horsepower, the R8 can go 0-62 in 4.60 seconds.

This supercar comes in dark gray. Paint apps can be found on the head lights and grill along with the rear tail lights and license plate. The windshield and rear window are cast in a clear plastic blue, notice the side windows are down. The trimmed interior is cast in black plastic. The wheels feature 10 spokes and are painted black, the tires have a thin silver chrome lining. While I'm not that familiar with Audi in general, or this model I have to say this is a beautiful vehicle. I'm on the fence of whether this one has a place in my collection or not.

This casting debuted in 2007 and this release is the 12th use of this mold.

Matchbox Monday: 2020 #050/100 '69 BMW 2002

From the 2020 series, the '69 BMW 2002 is part of the MBX Highway subseries.

BMW rolled out the 2000 series in 1968 and until 1975 when it was discontinued. It was meant as an entry level BMW and would prove to be a highly successful model for the company/

This classic vehicle comes in a soft blue color.  Paint apps can be found on the head lights and grill along with the rear tail lights and license plate. The windshield are cast in translucent blue, notice the front side windows are down. The interior is cast in a off white plastic, while the front/rear bumpers are a soft gray plastic. I'm not particularly fond of the simple wheel design, but it fits the style/age of the vehicle I assume.

This casting debuted in 2019. This is the 3rd use of this mold.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Mega Construx: Terminator Genisys - T-800

The last great Terminator movie was the second movie, yet the franchise is still alive thanks to the latest installment, Genisys. I can't say I'm a fan, but I didn't hesitate too much when I found this T-800 Terminator Mega Construx figure in the clearance bin for a buck.

I'm more familiar with the older Mega Bloks brand, only purchasing a few Masters of the Universe Mega Construx figures prior to this purchase. I do like the larger figure stands that are included. The T-800 comes with a machine gun (that has a way too long handle IMO) and a white skull accessory.

Ever since I picked up my first Mega Bloks HALO mini figure, I have liked these figures. If it weren't for all the other things I collect, I may have gone head first into more of these series and figures. The level of detail included is absolutely gorgeous, especially on the head sculpt. Like with all of the mini figures that Mega Construx has released, the articulation is excellent for a buildable figure of this scale.

I found this to be a fun little "desk bot" to fiddle around with and I would think despite what you think of the source material, if you are a fan of the Terminator franchise you would like this mini figure.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Matchbox Monday: 2020 #052/100 2015 Jaguar F-Type

From the 2020 series, the 2015 Jaguar F-Type is part of the MBX Highway subseries.

The 2015 Jaguar F-Type comes standard with a V6 Supercharged 3.0 Liter engine. 340 Horsepower under the hood it has enough power to go up against the Porshe 911 or Chevrolet Corvette.

This is a beautiful car and the metalflake dark blue color looks gorgeous. Paint apps can be found on the front headlights and the rear tail lights. The windshield/roof is one continuous piece of smoke colored translucent plastic. I'm particularly fond of the wheels used on this release as well. This one is going into the personal collection.

This is the 4th use of this mold and the first time used since 2016 (not counting a dark green version found in a 2020 9 pack).