Friday, August 30, 2013

Transformers Beast Wars: Air Hammer

So what do you get when you cross a Transformer with a hammerhead shark and an eagle?  You get this...

Air Hammer is one the basic sized Fuzors from the Beast Wars line.  Outside of the Silverbolt character (who's toy isn't that great if we're being completely honest), most fans just didn't seem to care for the Fuzor toys.  Well Quickstrike is a fun toy, but Air Hammer...well...not sure what to say!

While I appreciate what Hasbro tried to do here, and while I love the basic size TF that is no longer used, I just can't get that excited about this toy.  I'm not sure if it's the animal choices or just the execution of the toy itself.

The toy isn't completely garbage though as there is a lot of sculpting on the backside of the eagle portion of the creature.  If I had a better camera you would be able to see the detail on the individual feathers.  The transition from features to the shark skin on both the head and tail, while looks weird, was done well and features some good paint applications.

Transformation is very simple, which I like, but look at his hands.  I can usually deal with a Transformer that has an animal head replacing one hand, but to have both of the robots hand replaced with animal bits?!  You've gone too far this time Hasbro!!  Lord forbid Air Hammer gets a cold.  Can you picture him trying to hold a tissue having one hand full of sharp shark teeth and the other hand being a fin?!

While the original Beast Wars Airazor toy never looked that feminine to me, Air Hammer gives off more of a female vibe.  Perhaps it's the metallic blue chest?  

Air Hammer is a decent at best Beast Wars toy.  I'm not sure even if the character had been featured in the television show it would have helped.  Odd animal choices, no robot hands = a lackluster toy.  I'd say this one is only for the hardcore fans or completionists.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

LEGO Legends of Chima: Crawley's Claw Ripper #70001

Crawley's Claw Ripper is a good introduction set to LEGO's newest theme, Legends of Chima.  At 139 total pieces and 2 mini-figures and just under $20, it's a fun set.

I was excited about this series when it first launched, and although my interest has waned a bit, I look back on this set and remember how fun it was to build and to play around with.

Starting with Crawley himself, LEGO has done a fantastic job with these mini-figures.  I love the new sculpted alligator "helmet" for the figures.  I should also mention that there are two different sets of eyes on the head.  You can display Crawley with his more sinister eyes as such in the photo, or turn the head around for a larger, more frightened set of eyes!

Leonidas comes in this set too as the lion kingdom appears to be the main rivals of the alligators (or is it crocodiles?).  Unlike Crawley, Leonidas comes with a cool sword weapon for him to wield.  As with Crawley, he too has a new sculpted lion "helmet" and two different sets of eyes/face on the head.

One of the neat things about most of these Chima sets are that the vehicles are modeled after their animal pilots.  In this case the Claw Ripper looks like a alligator of sorts.  You have two large free rolling wheels in the rear of the vehicle along w/ rubber treads that move the front set of smaller wheels.

When pushed forward, the rubber treads roll and spin the triangular claws on each side.  The front "mouth" of the vehicle also opens and closes displaying large teeth.  Also note the flat red bricks used inside the mouth for the tongue...nice touch!

Located in the rear of the Claw Ripper is a small red storage compartment that hides the stolen Chima crystal.  Perhaps this is why Leonidas is packaged in this set...Crawley just looted this crystal from the lion kingdom!

What's for dinner?  Why, lion of course!

This is a fun and inexpensive set.  If you've been on the fence or just want to build a new LEGO set, then I highly recommend picking up this set.  There may be better and bigger Chima sets out there on store shelves now, but this little set packs a lot of punch.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Charticon - 3rd Party Panel

Since I was stuck manning my table in the dealer room Saturday, I missed out on the one panel I really wanted to see the most - the 3rd party panel.  Thanks to popculturehero, the entire panel has been posted to YouTube!  Check out some of the exclusive reveals of upcoming product.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Charticon 2013

Well, Charticon 2013 has come and gone.  It seemed to have taken forever to get here, but it sure was a blast being able to be a part of the creative team.  I can't remember the last time I was so tired after one weekend...and that is saying a lot begin the dad of two children under the age of 4!

Friday was tough on the old body.  When I arrived at the hotel / convention center we had the task of putting together the whole dealer room.  I've really never given the set up of a convention much thought before.  Setting up all of those tables and constantly taking measurements to make sure you meet fire code was something else.  I don't remember how long it took, but around 3 pm when the pre-registration started there were dealers in the hallway already itching to get in and start setting up their booths.

After seeing some of the finished dealer booths, I can see why they wanted to start early.  Dealers such as MegaToyFan had one monster of a booth.  I knew it would be big when I saw them offloading glass display cases such as you'd see in a retail store.

In addition to helping set the dealer room, I also had a table of my own to set up.  During this time I was helping Roy set up the tables, my toys were sitting in a hot mini-van.  Thankfully I was told it was OK to go and get my items and bring them in after the majority of the tables were up.  In the back of the room we had two IKEA Detolf cases that a few of us all pitched in to fill with rare Transformer toys.  I contributed several Japanese exclusive G1 toys such as Black Zarak, Dinoking, Sonic Bomber, Zetoca as well as a boxed Diaclone Sunstreaker.  I was told a countless number of times I was nuts for bring Black Zarak with me.  They were probably right, but I wanted to show him off.  Thankfully he survived the ride from SC up to Charlotte.

I wasn't sure what the best way to set up my meager 6 foot table, but thankfully by the time I filled up the cabinet my older brother and wife arrived to help.  It took a while before we finally got everything set up and all the boxed items priced, but the final result looked pretty good.  I was ready to get out of the large dealer room so I headed over to check into our hotel room.  After dropping off our stuff we talked about heading down to the exclusive patio party, but from what we could see from our hotel room it appeared that the party was light on food and I was HUNGRY.  A quick walk to Chili's solved that problem.  End of day 1.

Day 2 started off very early.  The dealer room opened to pre-registrants at 9 am and I still had a few things GetRightRobot exclusive Landshark toys.  Only 50 were made so I'm not surprised it sold out so fast!  I still had a lot to price before the onslaught of the crowd invaded the room.  When I got downstairs a fellow committee member told me that people started lining up outside the dealer room at 5:30 am!  This was mostly to have a chance at getting one of the 50!

All during set up the day before I had my eye on a few items from Captured Prey's booth.  They had 3 tables directly across from me so I had the pleasure of watching a long line build at Sidecutter's table.  By 10:30 am it seemed as if he sold through half of his inventory!  Crazy thing is Captured Prey almost didn't come to Charticon!  I betcha he was glad he did after the first hour of the show!  Thankfully however I got there early enough to buy Mastermind Creation's Hexatron, Fans Project's Last Chance and Downforce.

With my purchases finally behind me, I settled in at my table to hopefully move a lot of the unwanted toys that I brought with me.  Sales were slow starting off, but then things began to roll just fine.  In addition to all of this, it was my lovely wife's idea to set up a early check-in table for that night's charity auction that I was in charge of.

I was worried and nervous all day about that night's auction, but my nerves were calmed by my wife's continuous support and help.  It also helped that several dealers came through and donated some awesome Transformers.  About mid day we even had attendees coming up and making donations.  I was impressed with the overall kindness and generosity of everyone I cross paths with.  Just to the right of us was a empty table that didn't get used for it's intended purpose.  I used this table to set up my little Bot Shot toys to hopefully teach kids how to play the game.  I had the chance to show a few kids the rules of the game, but mostly just gave the toys away to kids that came by w/ their parents.  I thought it was so cool to see so many families there.  I had wished my girls had a chance to come, but we all were so busy it would've been a tad crazy.  The smile on the kids faces when they got a free toy made all the work worth it.

If you spent any time in the hallways then you probably saw several of the awesome Cosplay costumes.  It's obvious these people put a lot of time, effort and energy into their costumes and you could tell.  Just check out that awesome Prowl!

The dealer room closed at 5 pm.  That was a fast 8 hours.  I never really had much of an opportunity to walk around the room to see what the other dealers brought with them, or even to check out all the guest IDW comic artists.  My mind was fixated on all I had left to do to get ready for the auction.  I was tired and hungry and wanted to go eat, but the auction started at 7 pm so we had to fore go dinner.  I won't bother to go into all of the details, but we had some last minute changes made by someone outside our group that threw us for a major loop and delayed the start of the auction by 15 or 20 minutes.  Thankfully our guest auctioneer, none other than Hal Rayle (voice of the Dinobot Snarl and the Insecticon Shrapnel from the G1 cartoon) kept the audience entertained with his unique style of "fumfering".  Once things got started it seemed to go fairly smooth.  We ended up with 50 or so items to auction off for our chosen charity, A Child's Place.  After all the items were sold, I believe we ended up making nearly $3,500 for the charity!  We even had a dealer come up after the auction and ask the charity representative that was present if he could make a donation of new toys.  The next day I was given a stack of new Transformers Power Core Combiner toys!  I was really critical of myself over how the auction went over, but my wife, committee members and people in attendance really came through with lots of positive and encouraging words.  

Miko from Transformers Animated and Charticon's own Johnny Charticon

After the auction was a special screening of the 1986 animated Transformers movie.  I really, really wanted to stick around, but it was now nearly 11 pm and I still hadn't eaten dinner.  By now I was grateful my brother Toby picked me up a footlong from Subway for lunch!  After dropping off our computer in our hotel room and got to our car, it was approaching midnight.  We ran across the street to grab a bite from McDonald's, but that particular location is notorious for having a very slow drive-thru.  I told my wife to head down Tyvola to South Blvd. as I knew there was a Wendy's on the corner.  I was heart broken when I saw it was now some Caribbean restaurant!  We ended up heading back to the McDonald's, but wouldn't you know it...the line had barely moved.  So into the gas station next door we went to grab a hot dog and some snacks.  Someone must've not wanted me to eat that night as the guy in front of me grabbed the last two hot dogs.  Nachos and cheese it was.  I washed it down with a Mountain Dew and finished off my "meal" with a king size Nutrageous candy bar.  I hadn't eaten junk food at midnight since I was in youth group with my old church at Fort Caswell.  End of day 2.

Day 3 started early again, but thankfully I had a good night's sleep now that the auction was over.  The dealer room again opened at 9 am so I had to get down there a little early to start slashing prices.  If you've ever been to any sort of pop culture convention or show that is more than 1 day, then you know all the good deals can be found on Sunday.  I still didn't have time to shop as I was hosting a fan panel at 10 am.  I had never hosted a panel before, but I really hadn't had the time to think of it or to be nervous so that was a good thing.  At some point on Saturday I got to meet in person a guy from I had interacted with for quite some time, Superquad 7.  Allen had offered to sit in on my panel with me and pitch in wherever he could so I gladly accepted his invitation.  When 10 am rolled around we had all of 3 people sitting in the panel room.  This was the same time that the dealer room had opened to walk-ins and combined with being Sunday morning I wasn't overly surprised to see so many open chairs in front of me.  Eric, the co-founder of the show quickly ran into the dealer room and made an announcement of the show and before long, the room started to fill up!  The panel went over very nicely and it seemed that the attendees enjoyed themselves.  I know I did.  I really like talking about stuff that I have an interest in.

After my panel was over I finally had some time to walk around in the dealer room and see what I could find.  I started off at Transformerland's table and bought all but one accessory I needed for my G1 Abominus combiner.  I also found some good deals on a few other G1 figures (Targetmaster Needlenose and Ramjet).  I stopped to speak w/ one of the indie artists in the back corner of the room as I saw he had drawn some gruesome, yet awesome, Battle Beasts cards.  He told me a dealer up in the front of the room was selling Battle Beasts so I quickly made my way to the other side and picked up 3 complete figures.  I made one more trip back to Captured Prey's table and purchased the new Transformers Go! Gaidora figure and tried my luck w/ one of Impossible Toy's new Tetra Jets.  I wanted Thundercracker, but settled for Dirge, or TS-06 Requiem.

The main exclusive for the show is this awesome take on the G1 double Targetmaster, Quake.  Aftershock uses the Generations Warpath mold along with two exclusive Mastershooter Collectible Targetmaster guns and a new custom head.  I kinda sucked when we saw that Botcon had used this same mold, but after seeing the final product along w/ the awesome G1 inspired packaging...suck it Botcon!  I'm still on the fence trying to decide whether to open Aftershock or not.  Yes, Eric "Arkvander" Warren sealed this puppy.  No matter what I do in the end, Aftershock will receive his own post in the near future.

This was an awesome weekend and one I won't quickly forget.  The last time I had this much fun that revolved around Transformers was my last Botcon my wife and I attended, Providence, Rhode Island circa 2007.  Charticon I felt was much more entertaining and having been a part of the creative team that help bring this to reality was extra special.

A lot of people have already been asking when the next Charticon will occur.  We had said that we'd sit out 2014, but I wouldn't be completely surprised if that changes.  Right now we've got our sights set on sometime in 2015.  We learned a lot of what to do different next time.  We learned what worked and what didn't.  In the end though we exceeded our pre-registration goal, our hotel room goal, our walk-in goal and raised a lot of money for our charity.  Our invited guests, talent, dealers and attendees all left with a big smile upon their faces so I call that a successful convention.

If you are in the Charlotte, NC area or you are up to driving, I highly suggest you check out the next show so you can personally see what the hype is all about!