Thursday, June 14, 2018

HeroesCon 2018

I look forward to Father's Day weekend each year for many reasons. 1) Well, it's Father's day, 2) My birthday usually falls on or near Father's Day and 3) the annual Heroes Convention in my hometown of Charlotte, NC.

For years this has been one weekend where I get to spend some quality time with my older brother and hang out and talk comics. It's time I look forward too each and every year. In the past few years however it seems I've started a new tradition of taking my two daughters with me for one of the 3 days of the convention, usually on Friday. While my wife is sitting Friday out this year due to rolling her ankle on our recent vacation to Maine, my girls none the less are super excited about going.

From birth my wife and I have put books in their crib and now beds. They go to bed each night with books. Now that they are almost 7 and 9 and their reading skills continue to improve, I find each year's trip to HeroesCon w/ them that much more fun. Plus Shelton Drum and his crew do a GREAT job at making the convention family friendly. Usually each year there is a passport kids get at the admission booth where they can go around the floor and collect stamps from different booths and vendors. In exchange for a filled passport, they get free comics. To this day one my youngest daughters favorite was an Uncle Grandpa trade she got for free a few years ago!

We stopped in at Target this evening before seeing The Incredibles II movie and got them each something new to wear to the convention. My oldest, 9 (in October) was more worried about what she would be wearing to the convention than anything else! Love it!

While my girls may not have the same passion for comics that I do, I'm glad they enjoy going to the show with their old man. I'll miss not having my wife in tow this year, but I'm looking for some good quality time spent with my daughters and my brother this weekend...all thanks to comic books.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Transformers 3rd Party: Zeta - Fly Fire ZB-01 (Kronos)

It's rare that I purchase any 3rd party Transformers toys these days. My reasons for this are varied, but every once in awhile an item is released that catches my eye. This was the case with Zeta's take on the G1 Aerialbots, specifically Fireflight. He was (for some reason) my favorite of the original Aerialbots so I was intrigued by this new "masterpiece" style figure. The price was a lot more affordable than most 3rd party items these days so I took a chance and purchased Fire Fly ZB-01.

While I'm still not sure if this figure belongs with my Masterpiece collection, the packaging alone does make it look like it should be included. The packaging is nice, but without a lot of frills. The box has as flat black matte look with a thin white border around the front. The name is laid out similar to Takara Tomy's style with the black and yellow rectangles housing the robot's name and in this case, Kronos instead of the character's faction. The artwork for the character is beautiful. I'm not sure who is credited for the work, but they did a great job. They really captured G1 Fireflight's classic look.

The back of the box shows a portion of the Kronos (Superion) artwork. Apparently each box will have a different piece of art that act as large puzzle pieces if you will. Stack them all together and you'll have a full image of Kronos himself. The last time I saw this used was with Warbotron's version of Bruticus.

The two sides of the box feature product shots of the actual figure in both robot and jet mode. Again, nothing fancy, but I believe it gets the job done.

Fly Fire comes wedged into a form fitting block of black foam. I wonder if they hired the guys from Fun Publications to packaging these toys now that they don't have anything to do?! Actually the foam insert is rather nice as it does a good job at protecting the figure. There are three sections that house the figures accessories, two being the jet's missiles and the other being the hand gun. With the lower price point, I kind of expected a plastic insert tray. 

My first impression of the figure upon taking him out of his foam prison was that it felt sturdy. One of the things I always worry about with "unofficial" toys is the quality of plastic used. With my limited experience with 3rd party companies I really didn't know what to expect as I've ran across releases with thin, shoddy plastic and some with high quality plastic. Zeta seems to have used a plastic perhaps one grade down from what you'd find Takara Tomy use in my opinion. 

I found the paint applications to be well applied. I didn't see any over spray or any other defects. A few pieces did pop off during transformation, however I'm glad they did that as opposed to the pieces breaking.

The figure has the articulation that you would come to expect out of a modern masterpiece style figure. Out of the box his joints felt nice and tight, however not so tight that you thought you were going to break something during transformation. I'm not the best when it comes to posing my figures, but I was pleased with all the ways I could bend the limbs and pose the figure. The individually articulated fingers are a little annoying when it comes to getting him to hold his gun, but thankfully the hand has a slit in the palm that matches up to the tab on the gun's handle. This gives the weapon extra stability while being wielded.

If the designers can't nail the robot's head/face then they shouldn't even bother with the rest of the figure. Thankfully the Zeta guys did a great job capturing Fireflight's likeness. From the forehead crests, to the eyes and mouth plate...fantastic!

I would assume that their version of Silverbolt will include the necessary combiner parts, however I thought I'd put Fly Fire into arm mode. Transformation was pretty straight forward, however I had a hard time putting the chest back together after rotating the connector port out. In this form he's pretty solid and holds together well. Articulation can be found in the connector port, elbow hinge and at the waist effectively giving it a forearm swivel.

For size comparison, here he is with my G2 Fireflight in arm mode. I didn't want to bother getting into my glass case and de-assembling my G1 Superion.

Hands down the best part of this figure is the alt mode. Modeled after a McConnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, the likeness to the real world jet is quite marvelous. There is quite a bit of detail molded into the plastic all over the jet and the subtle paint applications just add to the beauty. Of course its lacking Autobot symbols on the wings, but overall there is no mistaking this is Fireflight.

I quite enjoyed taking pictures of the jet. I knew I didn't have room to leave him in this mode so I wanted to have fun with him while I still had him transformed in his alt mode.

Scaling is always something that is hard to pin down with masterpiece-esque toys, however I like how Fly Fire in his alt mode looks with an official Masterpiece Autobot car. The scaling in robot mode is a little off however. I thought I took a picture of him w/ Masterpiece Optimus Prime, but apparently I either forgot to accidentally deleted the picture.

 Side by side with his G2 self

Transformation between the two modes isn't far off from the G1 toy. Of course there are extra steps along the way, but the simple included instructions helped me out with a few steps that I couldn't figure out on my own.

Overall I'm really pleased with the figure. From the packaging to the design to the overall quality. Toss in a price that is well below the normal $100 mark that 3rd party combiners usually command and you've got yourself a great figure. I'm a little concerned that the robot mode is too large for an official Masterpiece collection. 

He's bigger than the Autobot cars, but smaller than Optimus. I haven't been able to find a good animation model of the Aerialbots standing aside fellow Autobots, but when I place the him in robot mode along with my other MP figures I think he's a tad too big. Perhaps once assembled in combiner form the whole scaling issues won't be an issue? I'm on the fence whether I'll continue to purchase the remaining figures in the Kronos set, but I don't regret my purchase of Fly Fire as he is a solid interpretation of the G1 Autobot, Fireflight.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Driven Pocket Series (Series 1) - Blind Boxes

I'm not familiar with the Driven brand or the company behind them, Battat. These small plastic "garages" can be found on the die-cast vehicle aisle at your local Target store and retail for just $1.99. I first noticed these during the Christmas shopping season and I was intrigued. I picked up three, one gray and two orange packages.

Like a lot of little boys growing up, I had a love for Tonka trucks and construction equipment. That later transitioned to Hot Wheels and Matchbox and then to Micro Machines. These seemed to be right up my alley and were worth at least checking out.

I knew there would be a small vehicle inside the plastic garage, but I didn't realize it would come with 3 pieces of road. These can be connected to one another as well as to the garage itself. Personally I love this little touch as I can see that aiding to the play pattern for kids. Heck, even this 40 year old guy was excited to connect all the pieces from all 3 packages together.

These vehicles are small, measuring around 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. They are all plastic, but surprisingly feature more molded detail and paint apps than you'd think a $2 blind packaged toy may have. One of my daughters took to this school bus upon first opening the gray package.

The two orange garages both yielded a yellow and black steam roller. Thankfully the included road pieces were slightly different than from before.

Not as cool as the school bus in my opinion, this little construction vehicle rolled around just fine.

Another nice undocumented feature is that the garages can snap together. On each side is either a 'u' shaped clip or a small peg.

I'm assuming these have sold well as return trips to Target I haven't seen these anymore. In their place is a Tonka branded product that appears to be similar. I know a Series 2 of Driven Pocket Series was released, but I've never seen them in person. They are available for sale on Target's website however.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Rabbids Invasion Series 2 Blind Bag

Over the weekend my wife and I hit the local outlet mall for her to do a little shopping of her own. I looked around for some shorts, but wasn't able to find anything I wanted. So as not to rush her, I left and walked around until I came across a little toy/gift shop. I've been to this store before around the holidays, but I thought it was one of those seasonal type stores. None the less, here it was. At the back of the store was a fairly large clearance area and while there wasn't much that caught my eye, I did find 3 blind bags of Rabbids Invasion mini figures.

Being a video game collector, I was familiar with the Rabbids, but have never really played many games with them in it. That was until I purchased Mario + Rabbids for Christmas this past year. I've laughed out loud so many times at the Rabbid dressed up as's mannerisms are hilarious. This lead to these little blind bags being an easy purchase. I believe they originally retailed for $4-5 each, but I got them for about $1.75 each. 

I can't say I really recall seeing these at retail before. The date on the bag is from 2014 and I was surprised to see that McFarlane Toys made them. The 3 bags I purchased were all from Series 2 which contains 7 different Rabbids, one of them being a mystery figure. The figures themselves are about 1 inch tall with the ears making them a smidge taller. They aren't articulated in any way, but the paint apps are applied well. Each figure comes with a small round blue figure stand. Each figure has a small hole in the bottom of one foot, allowing it to peg onto the stand giving it extra stability.

I was hoping for this one, Blondie, as it reminds me of the goofy one dressed up as Peach in the Mario + Rabbids game. So goofy this one.

This is Bill E. Rock, a goofy Elvis impersonator. At first I thought he just had a wig on like Blondie, but my 6 year old daughter recognized it as an octopus on this head...and she's right! If you look closely you can see the little suction cups molded into the plastic.

The last figure I opened was Professor Marker. I love the little black marker he's holding in his hand and all of the scribble on his face. 

The likeness of these figures matches their craziness that is brought to life in various video games. These are some of the best blind bag toys I've opened in quite some time. I hate that I missed out on these until now, however I'm glad to add these 3 to my video game shelves.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Web Diver: Jaguaron W-01 Lucky Draw

Once upon a time I used to spend countless hours perusing Yahoo! Japan Auction listings looking for the next elusive item I wanted to purchase. I eventually came across a listing for this black version of the Webdiver character Jaguaron and ended up placing the winning bid. I figured it was limited being that it was packaged in a plain white box and sported a slick black and yellow deco, however I really wasn't able to find anything else about the toy. Even to this day, I don't know how limited this figure is as there just isn't much info posted (at least in English) on the web. If anyone reading can shed any light on how this was distributed or how many were manufactured I'd greatly appreciate the information.

I don't recall what I paid for this piece and I don't recall what I sold it for. While I don't own many Webdiver toys today, I do kick myself for letting this one go. I'm sure the market for this toy is small so I doubt I got much in return for mine. 

I do plan on doing a more proper review of the regular release of Jaguaron, so this post is more or less to show off the pictures I took before I decided to part with mine.

Many of the Webdiver toys take an acquired taste as they differ from your traditional transforming robot, however I always liked Jaguaron and this darker color scheme made the mold look that much better.