Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Walking Dead: Mystery Minis

Blind packaged toys and vinyl figures I'd argue are at the height of their popularity.  Funko has decided to cash in on both this popularity and their Walking Dead license by releasing a series of vinyl figures.  I've seen these at the local comic shop for $9 a piece, but thankfully they can be found in the trading card aisle at your local Target for only $5.99.

Walking Dead Vinyl photo 100_5439_zps458ef06d.jpg   Walking Dead Vinyl photo 100_5440_zpsfa941ca1.jpg

These figures are done in a very stylistic way and judging from the art I was very intrigued to see what the actual figure looked like.  Series 1 contains16 possible figures.  Of course there are variations to be found such as blood splattered figures.  There are numbers beside each figure shown on the back of the box, but I'm unsure what these numbers represent.  Are they odds for each particular character?

Walking Dead Vinyl photo 100_5441_zps135f4270.jpg   Walking Dead Vinyl photo 100_5442_zpscef22f9c.jpg

More great artwork can be found on each side of the box.  Being based on the AMC television show as opposed to the comic, you can see a few characters from the first 2 seasons of the show.

Walking Dead Merle photo 100_5443_zpsed6aa6e9.jpg   Walking Dead Merle photo 100_5444_zpsb79891cc.jpg

Score!  Merle Dixon...and the blood splattered version at that!  Now while I'm a huge fan of the AMC show, I never cared for the character of Merle.  However like many viewers, I was touched by his change of attitude towards the end of season 3.

These vinyl figures are nicely done by Funko.  They don't feature any articulation unlike the Disney Vinylmation toys I recently looked at, but that doesn't hinder the figure at all.  While only standing roughly 2 inches tall, these little figures pack a lot more detail than I thought they would.  The paint apps are very nicely done, something that you don't always expect with a toy such as this.

I'm not sure if I'll pick up any more of these, but I do have to say I'm very impressed with Funko's effort here.  For the time being, Merle will be accompanying me at work on my desk, watching my back for any zombies strolling around the office.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I was reminded last week at church of what I should be most thankful this holiday season and that is God's love.  Lord knows I don't deserve everything I've been blessed with or deserve the awesome people in my life.  It's easy to get fixated on being grateful for family, friends and physical possessions.  There is nothing wrong for being thankful for those things either, but this year I wanted to make sure that I send my thanksgiving upward to the One that has blessed me more than I deserve.

Colossians 3:17

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 2:6-7

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Psalm 95:1-2

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

Psalm 100:4-5

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

1 Corinthians 1:4-5

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge—

The band Petra summed up all of this with their song "Thankful Heart" from their 1986 album, Back to the Street.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Transformers Energon: Insecticon

The best part of Transformers Armada (in my opinion) was the introduction of Mini-Cons.  While I was excited about the entire line in general, I eventually felt a sense of disappointment with the non-Mini-Cons.  When I heard of the toy line's sequel, Energon, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Then pictures started to hit the internet and I started to get excited.  While I like bigger Transformers, I've always preferred the smaller "basic" scale.  Blame that on G1 and most of the toys I had were small to medium sized.

Energon Insecticon photo 100_5037_zpsb7e4496c.jpg

While the name Insecticon may not win any awards for originality and might bug (no pun intended) some long term Transformers fans, the toy I find fascinating.  I guess you would call Insecticon here a stag beetle.  He's kind of like an updated G1 Bombshell.

Energon Insecticon photo 100_5038_zpsc252306e.jpg

The front legs are on ball joints, however the back legs are connected together as part of the transformation.  The "horn" section on the front can be lifted up and down.  That is about all articulation wise you'll get in insect mode.

Energon Insecticon photo 100_5039_zps07771c32.jpg

All of the basic sized Energon figures came with translucent weapons.  The Omnibots were able to generate weapons for the Autobots forged from Energon.  I assume these weapons would be made of Energon as well.  Insecticon comes packaged with two weapons that can be merged to form a large drill.  This can be clipped onto the front.  He also comes with a yellow Energon chip.

Energon Insecticon photo 100_5040_zps4c623142.jpg

Things really get interesting in robot mode.  Transformation is very simple and only involves a few steps.  In this form he is very short and stout (hm, wonder where is his handle & spout?).  He sports a very odd looking robotic face and has very large fists.  I myself always liked this toy for this reason, he looked different and stood out amongst some of the other smaller Energon figures.

Energon Insecticon photo 100_5043_zps7834c895.jpg

It's not documented in the instructions, but you can take the front insect legs and fold them up and over his shoulders.  If you look carefully at the feet of the insect legs, they look a lot like guns.

Energon Insecticon photo 100_5044_zpsbe9642df.jpg

He doesn't have to rely on these pseudo shoulder guns however as his Energon weapons are that of a sword a gatling gun.  You can merge them together to form the large drill weapon, but honestly he looks better wielding two separate weapons.

Now in the Energon cartoon and comic, Insecticon here was a mindless drone and did not feature his own personality.  Like Battle Ravage and Divebomb, Insecticon was a Terrorcon and Megatron used them to do his bidding.  They basically were cannon fodder.  In Japan, this toy was also repainted in a bright shade of green, Chromhorn Forest Type, and featured translucent green weapons.  I used to own that one as well, but he ended up being a casualty when I sold off the majority of my Unicron Trilogy collection.

These days it's hard for me to suggest anyone buying toys from the Armada / Energon / Cybertron era.  There are a few decent toys to be found, but if you do decide to buy this one just don't spend more than $5.  If you really want this mold, then track down the Superlink version.

Friday, November 22, 2013

GI Joe Manimals: Slythor

From a distant universe, where life evolved over a complex series of alien and reptile mutations, come the body-changing Manimals.  As if they weren't hostile enough in their "normal" form, when provoked, these monsters mutate into the meanest bounty hunters this side of the Milky Way!

Manimals Slythor photo 100_5448_zps001c7072.jpg

The Manimals were intended to be the next phase of the "Lunartix Empire Star Brigade" figures.  Six figures were planned for late 1994, but the G.I. Joe line was canceled before these figures were released to retail.  However in 2001, three of the Manimals were released with new color schemes as Kay Bee store exclusives.  Even the exclusivity of these figures couldn't help them sell and they quickly ended up in the clearance bins for just a few bucks each.

Manimals Slythor photo 100_5449_zpseb7b473e.jpg

When I had a larger collection of G.I. Joe toys, I owned Warwolf and Iguanus.  Slythor never showed up in the clearance bins in my area, but when I came across this carded sample for a few bucks I couldn't resist - despite not having the other Manimals any longer.

Towards the end of the original A Real American Hero line, Hasbro introduced the sub-series into the line called Star Brigade.  Cobra wasn't the major opposing faction, replaced with by the Lunartix Empire's cast of aliens such as Carcass, Lobotomaxx and Predacon.  The Manimals are bigger than your standard 3 3/4" figures.  There were a total of 12 figures planned to be released in 1994-1995.  I always wondered why these three were chosen for release at Kay Bee as some of the other unreleased Manimal designs are far superior.  For a better look at these, check out YoJoe's unproduced section.

Manimals Slythor photo 100_5450_zpsa402f6e7.jpg

I kinda dig the whole Manimal concept and the story behind them, but I can see why these toys failed to capture the attention of G.I. Joe collectors.  By 1993, Joe collectors had put up with a lot of weird stuff.  D.E.F., Eco Warriors, Street Fighter II had all been crammed down their throats.  Then G.I. Joe is taken further from their military roots and shot into space as a part of the Star Brigade.  Throw in a heavy sci-fi layer and I can see why the original G.I. Joe line ended.  It's really a shame though as Hasbro did have some pretty cool plans after all of this sci-fi stuff.

As you can see from the above pictures, the artwork used for these Manimals is quite nice.  Unfortunately that is the best part of the toy.  Once you open the figure, you will probably wish you left it sealed.

Manimals Slythor photo 100_5451_zpscd88afc5.jpg

Right off the bat you'll notice that Slythor is green versus his orange-ish character art.  I'm not sure a different colored plastic would really make much of a difference however.  I like the beefy build of the figure, kind of reminds me of how a Visionaries figure was built.  What I don't like is the goofy looking head.

Manimals Slythor photo 100_5454_zps2bf77205.jpg

I can only guess the popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the time helped influence the design of this head sculpt.  If you doubted before, are you now starting to see why these figures were ultimately a failure?

Manimals Slythor photo 100_5455_zps24e8c961.jpg

Most of the Manimals shared the same "transformation" sequence in that their chests would lift up, revealing their alternate alien form.  Slythor is obviously some sort of reptilian creature.  If you look inside his chest cavity you can see his spine and ribs molded into the back.  The reptile head is, uhm, interesting.  Perhaps if it better matched the package art I'd like it better.  After all, where did his lower jaw go?!

Manimals Slythor photo 100_5456_zps9c2b2b67.jpg

There are two points of articulation on the reptile head that does allow you to display the figure in a few different poses.  However you can see the stupid "humanoid" head doesn't really fold back just sits there.

Manimals Slythor photo 100_5457_zps096a8b13.jpg

Slythor comes with two weapons and while they look cool, it's hard to get any good poses of him wielding either weapon.  He has the bicep swivel and hinged elbow joints, but his forearms are solid.  He really needs wrist joints because without them he really can't aim his weapons all that well.  Then again he has bone spears protruding from his wrists so why does he even need guns?

For some strange reason I still want to get all three of these Manimals sealed on card to display on my wall alongside my MOSC Cobra collection.  I know they are silly/stupid looking, but they represent the end of the first toy line I was all about as a kid.  That said I really can't recommend these Manimal toys unless you are like me and like the odd stuff.  Even then, I'm not pulling the trigger again on these guys unless I can find them on the cheap

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oh. My. Goodness.

Last night several highly sought after Japanese exclusive G1 Transformers sold on eBay.  Several of us TF collectors in my local circle were closely watching where these auctions would end...and let me just say we are still in the process of picking our jaws up off the floor this morning.

If you are a die hard TF collector then you know these particular toys don't come up for auction very often, let alone listed on eBay.  One could argue that the popularity of Transformers is still at an all time high and there are more collectors competing for vintage items now.  However, these prices seem insane.  I would expect these prices for complete, boxed versions in mint condition...not loose.  Of course we'll never known how these were obtained, why they were being sold or why someone bid what they did.  Then again who knows at this point if the winning bids are legit and the seller will receive the winning amount.  For the sake of the seller I hope the back end goes smoothly.

$606.00!  I acquired a boxed Roadfire in the late 90's for $200.  I later sold it at one of the OTFCC shows in Rosemont, IL to fund my entire trip.  I believe I got around $450 for mine in the mid 2000's.  $606 doesn't see too awful all things considered.  Box looks to be in good shape, toy is complete and no yellowing.

I only know one guy that owns this toy and I don't know what he paid for his MIB specimen, but $710.00 seems like a lot for a loose toy.  At least it's complete and again it's not yellowed like so many I see.

I'm wondering if this one didn't fetch more than $415.00 because people still think he could be re-issued at some point?  It's not a stretch since Sixshot was just re-issued a second time for the Asian market.  Personally, I'm still hoping Mastermind Collectibles still tweeks Hexatron for a Greatshot release.

I so prefer this deco over Quickswitch's.  Even though he's loose, he comes with all his paperwork and even the tech spec card and still finished at $395.00.  I can't remember the last time I saw a sold Sixknight so I can't really comment on the final price.

Holy crap!  $1,406.99?!  This one stings...a lot.  Not sure if I've shared this story before or not, but I swear it's true.  I used to run a very crude Transformers database I had Tripod host.  At some point a seller in Malaysia contacted me and asked for my help identifying a Transformer be just acquired.  Take in mind this was really before digital cameras and the ease of sharing photos.  He described to me Blue Bacchus.  Complete in it's original box.  I was in shock.  I asked if he was selling it and he said yes, so I made him an offer of $50 shipped and he agreed!  I can't remember the year, but it had to be in the late 90's as I was in college still.  I held onto this guy for several years, but ended up selling him to a guy I can across at Botcon 2001 held in my home state of North Carolina.  I sold him for $800 and I was happy w/ my profit margin.  Now I really hate myself for parting w/ a toy that I'll probably never own again.  Fun fact - I believe the seller was Paul Hitchens of the famous Space Bridge.

Here's another one that surprised me.  $1,225.00!  I know that is more than a friend of mine paid for his, a lot more.  Speechless.

$971.01 for a loose Dinoking.  Man, that makes me really happy owning MIB versions of all 6.  I always thought if I had to sell I wouldn't take less than $1,250.00.

I guess it's encouraging to see that in these economic times we live in people can afford to pay that much for pieces of plastic.  I know I can't and I sure hope that prices on vintage pieces like these come back down to earth so the speak, otherwise I know that I'll never be able to afford another vintage Japanese G1 TF again! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Another 80's childhood staple - Garbage Pail Kids

A few nights ago I took my oldest daughter to Target to buy her a treat as instructed by my wife.  Before we headed back to the toy department, I stopped by the card section to see if anything new caught my eye.  Sure there were lots of new Panini baseball sets I know nothing about.  Football card season has started so there were several new things, but I'm still having a hard time bringing myself to buy a pack of cards these days.  I thought about buying another rack pack of GPK Chrome, but I didn't want to drop $10 on a few cards.  Thankfully the new series 3 GPK cards were finally in $2.49 a pack now?  I saw they had rack packs too and did the quick math to see what was the better deal.  10 cards for $2.49 or 21 cards + a bonus sticker for $4.99.  Grabbed the rack pack and headed on back to find a Barbie or something girly for my daughter.
I grabbed several packs of series 1 and a few of series 2, but never actively tried to complete the set (a or b) because I was building so many sport card sets.  Now that I'm not really chasing any one set, I just may have to put more focus on GPK again. I ended up buying a second rack pack last night and I was very disappointed that 19 of the 21 cards in my 2nd pack were dupes!  The collation was horrible.  I'll try a 3rd rack pack, but if I get similar results I may just have to resort to trading to fill my holes.  That said I'll list my dupes for anyone wanting to make a trade.  Just send me an e-mail and we'll work something out.
No odds listed on the pack for parallels?
Bonus sticker

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Transformers Bot Shots: Starscream

February 2012, Transformers Prime First Edition toys had just hit local Toys R Us stores in my area. I was on my way out of town for a business meeting and there just happened to be a TRU right off Hwy I-85 I was traveling. I ran inside hoping to find the new Prime figures (which I did, grabbed Arcee and Starscream that day). I also found something else that was just released, Bot Shots.

I had previously saw pictures of these toys on TFW2005, but this was my first encounter with them at retail. All I knew about them was they featured a spring loaded transformation that was activated when they were crashed. The figures were used as part of a 'paper, rock, scissors' type game. They were small, super deformed-esque and inexpensive. I grabbed a few to see what they were like. The first wave only contained a few, Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Starscream.

These toys are small, simple and don't feature a lot of paint apps or articulation, however the designers crammed a lot of detail into each figure. I love the head sculpt of Starscream (as well as most of the other figures) as they nailed his G1 self. Even the sly little smirk on his face has been captured in plastic.

While I ended up buying a lot of the G1 character based Bot Shots from the next few waves, I ended up giving them away to children at Charticon earlier this year. I had originally planned to do a Bot Shots tournament, but my plate got full and that idea was scrapped. The kids that stopped by my table didn't seem to care however as they were able to play w/ the toys and even take a few home with them for free.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Beast Saga: Turlock BS-19

It's been awhile since I've visited one of my new favorite non-Transformers brands...Beast Saga!  Has it really been over a year since I did my first Beast Saga review?  Well in the past year I've managed to acquire the entire line of figures to date!  Every single release, every 3 pack as well as the gift set containing a total of 6 figures.  I have every intention on showcasing each figure over time, but until then I thought we take a look at Turlock.

BS-19 Turlock photo Saga001_zpsc4a5da83.jpg   BS-19 Turlock photo Saga002_zps6dd433f2.jpg

If you didn't already know, Beast Saga is essentially the spiritual successor to Battle Beasts, or Beastformers as they were known in Japan.  Replaced are the rub symbols featuring fire, water and wood.  In their place are dice.  Yes, there is a card and dice game associated with these cool figures.  Unfortunately I don't know squat about how the game is played.  There are three tribes represented in Beast Saga.  Land (good), Air (good) and Sea (evil).  Turlock falls into the last category...although does he look that evil?

Bigger and more robust than their Battle Beast cousins, these Beast Saga figures pack a lot of detail into such a tiny sculpt.  From the design of the armor to the features of each animal these toys aren't just bland little action figures with a gimmick.  Putting the game aspect aside, I like the dice launcher in the chest.  When a dice is inserted the plunger does stick out the back of the figure, but not so far that it would impede on other figures in your display.

Now that I've got all of the figures opened finally, I'm working on a display for each tribe.  I really hope Takara Tomy does more with this line of figures.  It's been awhile since any new figures have been released in Japan so I hope that doesn't mean this is the end of the line.  If it is, I've got plenty to keep me busy.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Vinylmation: Marvel Comics - Dr. Strange (Series 1)

Another part of my Walt Disney World haul I brought home last month was another Vinylmation figure.  This was actually my first Vinylmation purchase and I grabbed it while my wife and I were childless one evening at Downtown Disney.

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On our way back to catch the bus (and to seek out something sweet for my wife to eat) I saw a store that had a lot of Marvel Comics memorabilia.  While my wife was getting herself some chocolate next door, I popped in to see what the store had to offer.  I saw some cool t-shirts and some nice painted canvas art by artist Ed McGuiness.  Most of the items in the store were pretty expensive so I kept walking.  Before I headed out I noticed several trays of blind packaged vinyl figures.  Marvel Vinylmation?  I hadn't seen these before!  Little did I know they were literally just released maybe a day or two earlier.  Explains all of the case fresh display trays that hadn't been picked through yet.

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Vinylmation Marvel photo 100_4974_zps5a5659aa.jpg

The boxes feature some really nice art by Ed McGuiness and along w/ the matte black top and the bold Marvel logo, these little boxes really stand out in a crowded store.  Just like the Little Mermaid figure I bought, these too retailed for $12.95.  I had to at least grab one to see what they were like, right?

Vinylmation Marvel photo 100_4975_zpsb235492f.jpg

I was already sold on taking a chance, but then I flipped the box over and saw the 11 characters that could possibly be in the box.  I really wanted Captain America as he is one of my favorite Marvel characters and he appeared to be the only figure that came w/ an accessory (his shield), but dang just about all of them look cool.  Iron Man, Hulk, Vision, Spider Woman...which one would I get?  And what is this mystery figure?

Vinylmation Dr Strange photo 100_4976_zpsc9a79d0a.jpg   Vinylmation Dr Strange photo 100_4977_zps1eb76b79.jpg

Dr. Stephen Strange.  OK, not one I was hoping for, but still a cool figure none the less.  After messing around with him for a bit I did notice that his cape is an extra piece that the other figures don't have.  Then again Black Widow doesn't have a cape.  These figures are painted very nicely and look great in person.  I love the way the back of his head is painted.  You get his salt and pepper hair along w/ the top part of his cape.  I'm guess his Mickey ears are supposed to be some sort of spell he is conjuring.

After getting back to our room later that night I hit up Google to find out more information on these Marvel Vinylmation figures.  Turns out there are two variant figures to chase in addition to the mystery figure.  That mysterious figure happened to be Ultron by the way.  While I couldn't find production codes to give away the surprise inside, I did find a few images of supposedly in the order certain characters were packaged.  Black Panther seems to be the most common so at least I defied the odds a bit.

I've thought about checking out the local Disney Store at some point to see if they carry these as I still really want that Captain America figure...and maybe a few others.  Because of their blind packaged nature it seems a lot of people are buying them in search of the variants and Ultron, yielding lots of them for sale on eBay.  In some cases for less than what they retail for.  Hmm, perhaps Cap will be mine before too much longer.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Vinylmation: Disney's Little Mermaid - Max

Last month my family and I traveled down to Orlando, FL on vacation to spend a week at Walt Disney World.  While I didn't find any Transformers while I was away, did you think someone like myself would return home without some sort of toy?  Nope!

Vinylmation Little Mermaid photo 100_4966_zps4715a07d.jpg

Before leaving for vacation my wife and I had brought our daughters to the Disney store are the local mall a few times.  Each time while waiting for my wife to checkout, I had stared at these Vinylmation figures with curiosity near the checkout.  The whole blind packaged toy angle has exploded in the last few years and these Vinylmation figures fall in line here.  It seems no matter the subject the figures are based on (generic Disney, Star Wars, etc) there are 11 figures and 1 elusive chase figure to find.  At $12.95 a pop I wasn't willing to take the chance, but since I was on vacation and hadn't bought much for myself I decided to grab one of the Little Mermaid figures towards the end of our trip.

Vinylmation Little Mermaid photo 100_4967_zps69612afc.jpg

Vinylmation Little Mermaid photo 100_4969_zps8910ecbc.jpg

The figures come packaged in a really nice looking square box, but unlike other blind packaged toys that come bagged it's really hard to figure out which character is in the box.  I don't know if there are any production codes stamped on the box that signifies what is inside, so I just let my oldest daughter grab a random box from the tray.

Vinylmation Little Mermaid photo 100_4968_zps0457870a.jpg

We ended up buying this figure from the gift shop at our Disney Resort versus buying it from one of the parks.  The advantage of that was the shop had the regular 11 figures on display.  The Ariel, King Triton and Ursula figures were the most impressive in person.  My daughter, Olivia, of course really wanted Ariel.  So who did we end up with?

Vinylmation Little Mermaid photo 100_4970_zps3677a12a.jpg   Vinylmation Little Mermaid photo 100_4971_zpsabcc4407.jpg

Max!  Prince Eric's faithful companion.  OK, we didn't get Ariel like we were hoping for, but this is still kind of a cool figure.  All of the Vinylmation figures have these translucent Mickey Mouse ears, but they are painted differently depending on the character.  Max here has a storm going on up there, most likely from the last scene of the movie where Eric steers a ship's broken post through the giant Ursula's heart.

I also noticed that Max has different sculpted hands from most of the other figures.  His are curved down and forward as opposed to the more human type hands.  The arms do rotate a full 360 degrees as does the head.

What's most impressive about these little 3 inch vinyl figures are the way they are painted.  The artist did a fantastic job of capturing the likeness of the various characters.  They even look more dimensional with some of the details.

I really dig these Vinylmation figures and I wish I would've grabbed a few more before heading home.  I haven't been back to the local Disney Store yet so I have no idea if these Little Mermaid figures are stocked there.  I've seen several of the lower tiered characters selling for $5$8 each on eBay, but Ariel was going for $20 plus.  Maybe I'll surprise Olivia w/ the Ariel figure for Christmas.  More the reason to get her a little display shelf up on her wall soon.