Sunday, July 27, 2014

A farewell post to Dinoking

Earlier this month I said farewell to a group of Transformers that easily was the feather in my cap.  Dinoking.  I've told the story of how I acquired them when I did a review of each Dinoforce member last year, so I won't bother to repeat myself.  I had always viewed these guys as "off limits" and I never entertain the idea of selling them.  Funny how things change as we grow older.

When I started collecting I was younger, not married and the prices of vintage TFs were by far cheaper than what they are today.  I was on a quest to obtain all of the Pretenders, both US and Japanese releases.  At the time I started I knew little of this group, but as I researched them my interest in owning them continued to grow.

A few months back I started my own big collection purge, devoting more shelf space and attention to G1.  During this re-organization phase I decided to also reset my one lone Detolf cabinet where most of my Japanese G1 exclusives reside.  It was during this time that I was yet reminded of just how "unstable" these Pretender shells seem to be.  I was first reminded of this almost a year ago when I carefully transported my set of Dinoforce Pretenders to put on display at Charticon 2013 in Charlotte, NC.  As I was packing them up for transport, I noticed the rubbery dinosaur Pretender shells had left oily foot prints on the glass shelf inside the case.  It also appeared that some of the gold paint on parts of the shells and the backpacks were starting to fade.  This got me thinking about the longevity of these toys.  The US Monster Pretender versions of these toys seem to share this same fate, however some of those shells are starting to get purple dots setting into the rubbery shells.

Even though I had marked these guys in my mind as being off limits, their secondary market value had risen since I acquired the six and there were times I just couldn't shake the thought of what I could do with the money had I sold them.  When life is going well it's easy to push things like the value of your collection to the side, but when life ain't so pretty...well sometimes things like this slowly creep back into your mind.  

I've made it clear to my wife that while I don't prefer selling things from my collection for just any reason, I'm not the kind of guy that will let my family suffer (financially).  My dad didn't raise that kind of person.  In just the last 5 years since my wife lost her job around the same time we started a family, I have been the primary bread winner so to speak.  Trying to make ends meet and support 3 other people all while trying to maintain a hobby hasn't been easy, but we've made it work.  I've sold a great deal of toys over the years to make ends meet when things fell a bit short, but it was something that I was glad to do.  So now you're probably thinking Dinoking fell casualty to me being short and needing cash to pay some bills, right?  Nope.

Dinoking is the first major sale I've made where my decision to do so wasn't because of a need, but of a want.  Yes, you read that right.  I wanted to sell Dinoking.  I still love Transformers and I still love collecting, but sometimes there is just a time to say goodbye and this was the time...assuming I could find a buyer.  Once the decision was made, I told my wife what I had planned to do and she asked if I was feeling alright!  She knew how I felt about these toys and asked why I was selling them.  I told her that I wanted to spend the money on her, well us.  This upcoming January will mark my wife and I's 10th wedding anniversary and I wanted to do something special.  With finances already being tight as is, planning something big just doesn't happen very often for me and my family.  I knew if I sold Dinoking that I'd have more than enough money to do what I wanted to do for my wife.

So the first step was taken, I made the decision to let Dinoking go.  The next step was finding a good home for him.  Do I break him up and sell all six Dinoking members individually?  Or do I try to find a buyer for the whole lot?  I did a little research to find a fair asking price for them each and for the lot.  That is when I immediately thought of a fellow collector that didn't have these figures and had been wanting them.  I also knew that they would be well cared for and a valued part of his collection.  I then reached out to this individual and we worked out a deal.  Just last week I carefully packaged up the lot and shipped them off to their new owner.  It does feel a little odd referring to these guys in the past tense now, but I don't have any regrets.  I have bought myself plenty of Transformers over the years so it feels nice to spend this money on someone other than myself.  While I do have an obvious empty space on my Destron Victory shelf in my display case, I'm currently working on something that will fill this void created by my recent sale.  Stay tuned for just what this 'bot could be!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Henshin Robo: Tomcat

One of the things I like best about blogging is discovering new things and then sharing my findings. As you may know by now I really enjoy other transforming robot toys. While Transformers will always be my first love, I find some of the smaller lines from the 80's to be intriguing. Trying to find out the history of some of these smaller toy lines has been challenging and I still feel there is a lot I don't know, but part of the fun is searching for the information.

I'm not really sure how I came across this toy, but when I did I knew immediately that I wanted to know more. What is it's history? Who made it? Are there more in the series called 'Henshin Robo'?

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I'm hoping someone will come along and can shed some light on these toys for me as I sadly don't have much background information. Henshin Robo. Never heard that name before. I've seen the red Excite logo that is partially hidden behind the Osco price tag. The bottom right corner has the Excite logo along w/ Gakken. Hmm. As you can see the character's name is Tomcat and the alt mode appears to be a Tomcat F-14. The artwork of the jet is nicely presented and reminds me a bit of the G.I. Joe Skystriker or even the Go-Bots' Leader-1.

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The back of the packaging isn't much to look at honestly, just the transformation instructions printed on the back of some very thin cardboard.  Still no clues about the toy or it's history really.

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Made in Japan...well at least it's not China or Taiwan. That should give me some clues, right? Copyright Excite, 1984 - Dallas, TX. There is still a company called Excite that operates in Texas and according to their website I found, it says they are an importer of toys. OK, that makes a little sense. They have offices located in Dallas, TX as well as in Hong Kong. Alright so the pieces are coming together slowly. Now all that is left to figure out is what company in Japan made this toy. My early thoughts were on Mark, the company behind many of the toys under the Convertors label, but the toy has absolutely no markings on it anywhere. Do you know?

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I carefully open the 30 year old toy and the plastic bubble all but falls off the card. The figure comes out easily and immediately I can feel the die-cast metal and I know this isn't some cheaply made toy. It would be easy  to disregard this toy as being a knock off or of dollar story quality, but this is nicely built.

The chest is painted die-cast metal, while the rest of the jet is made of plastic. I was surprised to see that most of the joints were still tight and the quality of the plastic is very good. The plastic feels a little light, but not thin or cheap. I never once felt like I was going to break the toy during the easy transformation sequence. Even the stickers appear to be of good quality. All of the stickers are still firmly attached to the toy.

Articulation wise is limited, but that is expected of a 30 year old toy. The arms can rotate a full 360 degrees, but the legs are static. The fists can be moved at a 90 degree angle, but that is more due to the transformation. The missiles that you see on the forearms and legs are permanently attached. Size wise, the toy is in scale with Go-Bots. I apologize for not supplying any comparison pictures as my Machine Robo / Go-Bot collection is currently packed up in storage.

While Tomcat may not have the most original robot form here, it works.  t's very simple a la Machine Robo or Go-Bots. Going from robot to jet is easy. Simply push the legs up and into the body. Flip in the fists and fold the arms into the body, starting at the top with the shoulders. Flip up the nose of the jet from behind and your done. The head does drop into the chest cavity a bit, but this seems optional. In fact if you leave it extended up a bit you'll get a fuller look in jet mode.

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Here you can see the robot bits are basically pushed in together to form the jet. Snazzy, eh? You can also see that one of the missiles is slightly crooked. I tried to correct it, but they are firmly in place.

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Jet mode is where this toy shines. I think it's a relatively realistic looking F-14. There aren't any paint apps on the jet, but at least the NAVY wing stickers help complete the authentic look.

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Remember the name Gakken that was on the bottom of the packaging's front. Turns out they are a publishing company based in Japan (1947). While most of their efforts were in books and magazines, they did manufacture a few toys. Most of us here in the US will recognize the name Robotech, where many of Gakken's toys would end up being used - primarily under the Robotech the Next Generation banner.

I find it odd that such a giant publishing company would manufacture toys such as this, but apparently they made many toys and action figures. I'm told that Gakken used the Henshin Robo banner to release many of their toys to foreign markets. That's were Excite comes in as they were the company responsible for working with Gakken and importing these toys.

In my research I've only come across one other packaged Henshin Robo toy. That is of a yellow dump truck that was manufactured by Mark. Look for more of that toy coming soon! I really don't know how many of these toys Excite may have imported under this Henshin Robo name, but I'm eager to continue my search.

** UPDATE 01/30/15 **

Turns out this was another to made by the Japanese toy company Mark. Most people are familiar with Mark's designs as they were used by the company Select as part of the Convertors. However Tomcat Robo (as he is known in Japan) was never used in the Convertors line.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Nickelodeon): Newtralizer

I haven't caught many episodes of the current Nickelodeon TMNT cartoon, but I love some of the new concepts, characters and character designs I've seen come out of the show.  I had heard a new wave of action figures had been released and low and behold I found most of them the other day at my local Walmart.  The store received two TMNT pallet displays, one for the new Michael Bay movie and one for the Nick series.  I thumbed through the display seeing the same figures I usually see, then I stumbled upon this guy, Newtralizer.

I thought the character looked really cool plus the name is a home run.  I noticed the subtitle, Amphibious assassin of Dimension X.  I thought it was safe to assume that he was a member of the Foot Clan, then I turned over the package...

Team Turtle?  Am I reading this right?  This is where it would really help if I were up to speed on the television show.

OK, so after reading his bio card it appears that Newtralizer appears to be more of a anti-hero than straight up hero like the Turtles.  However his hatred of the Kraang aligns with that of the Turtles.  

I've got to applaud whoever created this character as they did a very nice job.  Of all the mutated animals to choose from, I would have never thought of a newt!  His skin is a deep purple and blends well with his grey armaments.  I love the paint on his underbelly.  At first I thought it was a shirt, especially since the design just screams (Marvel Comics') Punisher!

The figure has your standard TMNT articulation with hinge joints in the shoulders and hips.  The head and tail have a small range of motion.  I thought his harness was removable as it appears he has a buckle of sorts on the front of the waist strap, but it seems that it has been glued shut.

Newtralizer comes with two weapons: a knife and what appears to be some sort of explosive device.  His knife can be stored in a sheath located on his right leg.  I was only able to get him to wield either weapon in his left hand however due to the way his hands are molded.  I also noticed that he lacks a lot of paint apps than what appeared on an early photo of the figure.

Comparing the images however revealed to me that the photo that posted is that of a different figure.  Same character obviously, but a different mold.  If I'm being honest I prefer the above image over the figure I freed from it's plastic prison.  The retail figure is just bland.  There are a lot of great detail on the figure that can easily go unnoticed due to a lack of paint.  Take the blades on his tail.  I almost didn't even know he had a bladed tail.  It's a shame Playmates didn't add a little more paint as this image shows how much potential this figure has. 

All in all it's a great toy and worthy of any TMNT collection, especially if you are looking for a new ally for your Turtles.  However I'm a little let down and disappointed at the lack of paint apps on his gear, etc.  I can see many people customizing this figure with a little silver paint.  Hmm, that's not a bad idea!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Transistor Robots: Carry Can

Last time we looked at a toy that was branded Transistor Robots, it was a blatant, but cool, knock-off of the Generation 1 Transformer Bombshell.  This time however we have what appears to be an original toy.  Manufactured by Four Star, this transforming dump truck scales well with Go-Bots and other similar scaled toys.  I found this carded sample online some time ago and was intrigued.  I quickly snapped a few packaged pictures before tearing into it so I could share my thoughts.  Was it worth my purchase?  Let's see.

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I remember seeing these toys sold in drug stores back in the day.  I believe the Revco store my parents frequented used to carry these.  Heck, I probably had one or two as a kid.  As you can see, this robot's name is Carry Can and transforms into a green garbage truck.  The font used for the logo strikes a resemblance to Hasbro's Transformers of the time, as does the grid pattern in the background.  What really gets me here is the block of text to the left of the robot.

Hauls for the strike force and marches with the robots.

Now it's a it's a robot...hours of fun!

Well, I'm not too sure about the hours of fun part!  Interesting toy to say the least.  Let's continue shall we?

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All of the Transistor Robot toys I've seen have this Index Card of sorts in the bottom corner of the packaging.  This release comes from the Convertible series.  I'm unclear of what the other series' are in this line.

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The back of the packaging shows an additional 4 figures from I presume to be the same series.  The trucks appear to share a similar transformation, while the other two are cars.  Hey, Rat-Race looks awfully familiar.  Haven't we seen him somewhere before?  Oh yes, as Chrysbot from the series Racetron.  Hmm...there appears to be more of a story here.  Let me research that a bit and I'll get back to you.

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As you can see, this release hails from 1986 and was made in Taiwan by Four Star.  Or did Four Star rip off this mold from someone else?  I believe we are in some shady territory here.

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The included sticker sheet is small.  I wasn't sure how much the stickers would help break up all the green or if they'd even stick to the toy, so I left them unapplied as-is.

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Right out of the package and I can tell this toy's plastic is that of the lesser quality.  I won't call it cheap as it does feel solid and sturdy, but it's not on par w/ Go-Bots or Transformers.  The gold chest is die-cast metal, but the rest is strictly plastic.  

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Nothing really that spectacular about this toy, but yet I like it.  Very little articulation, no paint apps, stupid looking chromed head/face and simplistic transformation.  Someone please explain to me why I'm digging this toy so?

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In dump truck form the toy is remains solid.  The wheels are fairly large and chunky, but roll with long as it is on a smooth, flat surface.  It measures about 4 inches long.  I can help but wonder if that design on the truck's drill is supposed to be the Mercedes symbol?  While the truck looks rather plain without any applied stickers or paint apps, it still is pretty cool.  Perhaps you could use him as the 7th member of the Constructicons that just didn't quite make the cut?

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Being a garbage truck, the back of the vehicle does lift up to reveal a shallow, but hollow area.  This is also where the "Made in Taiwan" stamp can be found.

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My Go-Bots are packed up at the moment so the only thing I had near by at the time I shot the pictures was (surprise!) another Transistor Robot!  I picked up this guy at the same time.  Look for his own review soon.

As a whole Carry Can is pretty cool.  I guess he appeals to me a little more since I like non-Transformers and such.  Since they scale well with Go-Bots, Convertors and other similar toys I'm sure more collectors would enjoy them...if only they knew about them or could find them.  It's toys like these that make me want to blog about them and share them with others.  Thanks for taking the time to stop by today.  More cool stuff soon!

Monday, July 14, 2014

General update and a 3rd party Transformers info explosion!

It's no secret that unofficial Transformers products by various 3rd party companies have been fueling the fiery passion for many collectors for quite some time now.  This trend started ever so simple by being upgrade kits for existing Hasbro/Takara Tomy figures.  Then wholly new figures started to make their appearance.  Quality has been all over the place.  You've got BTS Toys and their average at best releases, and then you have the fan favorite like FansProject or Make Toys.  Like quality, prices too have been all over.  Is it just me or does every new 3rd party release seem to ring in a $100?  What does a collector on a non-existent budget do?  You walk away.

Earlier this year I called it quits...kind of.  I sold my set of FansProject "Stunticons" and "Insecticons".  I sold my one Mastermind Creations Feralcon, Bovis and cancelled any ideas for buying the rest of them or just about any other 3rd party TF.  I only own a few 3rd party items now...FansProject's G3 trailer, Assaulter and Revolver, the Function-X "Headmasters" and the Glacialbots, Mech Ideas' Demolition Crue, TFC Iron Army sets and ToyWorld's "Throttlebots".  It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new 'bot being announced.  Heck, I've been glued to my phone this weekend looking for the latest update from TFCon!  While I see a lot to be excited about, very few I'd say will ever grace these meat hooves I call hands.

I have to admit these last 6 months or so have been pleasant.  There has been little on the Transformers toy front that has enticed me, heck even got my attention if I'm being honest.  It's not like the Age of Extinction movie or toys has gotten me back into the scene.  I've been able to focus my time, energy and money on other things.  I spent some great time with my family camping at the beach, turned in some record breaking numbers at work and got caught up on some comic reading I had been putting off.  It's been nice.

Then TFCon happened this weekend.  All of these cool images started to invade my Facebook news feed, thanks in part to Daim Choc no less!  I have seen so many great things unveiled this weekend.  So what's a guy to do that had previously walked away?  That is the million dollar question that I have been pondering.  I'd like to think I could pick up just what I really like, but even with that mind set I have to be really selective.  After my latest collection purge, it just doesn't make sense to dive back in and buy stuff that doesn't fit my current focus...that being G1 and Masterpiece.  Besides, where would I put the stuff?  By jettison my Animated and Classics stuff I was able to spread out my near complete G1 collection across 4 1/2 shelves.  Only room I have left now is the very top shelf where my random stuff sits (eyeing Amazon Unicron, Galaxy Force Primus, Car Robots and Alternators/Binaltech stuff left over).

I've rambled enough.  Time for pictures.  I've posted a wall of text already.  Here we go!

Maketoys' Quantron (Computron) was shown off, this time in full color.  I was very intrigued about this set when it was first mentioned, but the more and more I look at these guys I think I can say pass.  I'm not sure what it is, but the combined form just doesn't do much for me.  Individually from what I've seen is impressive, but something is missing when they are all merged together.  I only have one release from Maketoys', the Hover and Bomber set of minibots they did a few years back.  Good stuff and I'm sure these will be well made, but in the end this is a big bot and a high price tag I can't justify.

Maketoys has been busy.  Have you heard of their new city bot subline?  If the recent Generations Metroplex from Hasbro didn't float your boat, then how about this big guy?  I shudder thinking at how much this very impressive toy will come in at.  Love the pictures I've seen thus far, but based on the price along this is an easy pass for me.  Oh, and they are doing a new Scorponok as well in this city bot series.

When I heard TFC was taking a stab at my favorite Autobot combiner I was excited.  I thought here is one I can make an exception and go after.  Then I remember I had the entire Uranos set and traded it away.  The first release was put up for pre-order, Gumball, and I just stared at the pictures and remember feeling unimpressed.  Well in typical 3rd party fashion it was soon announced that another Defensor would be coming soon, this time by Maketoys.  Up until TFCon this weekend, not much has been revealed about Maketoys' Guardia.  After seeing these slides however has me on cloud 9.  Well I guess my collection purge isn't quite over yet * eyes that aforementioned top shelf *.  I love what I'm seeing and if Green Giant is any indication of what Guardia will be like, then I'll be one happy camper...assuming I find a way to afford him.

Still waiting to get more information on PerfectEffect's take on LioConvoy, Leonidas, but man does that rendering look nice.  This is a perfect example of something I'd like to have it money and space weren't an issue.  PerfectEffect seems to have upped their game lately and I'm sure this release will very nice.

FansProject started the excitement a few days before TFCon actually with their surprise announcement of yet another subline called Lost Exo-Realm.  With the Dinobot characters already being made in Masterpiece scale by various companies, I can't say I'm surprised to see FP (and other companies) releasing smaller scaled versions of the very popular Dinobots.  Columpio here looks great.  This is the regular version slated for release next month I believe.  TFCon had their own exclusive version where the gold paint is replaced wit gold chrome, the smaller robot is replaced with a Diaclone style pilot and the packaging is also done up with a Diaclone flavor.  Check eBay now and you'll see the TFCon version is already fetching $200+!

I'm getting ready to part ways with one set of Dinosaur TFs (that is a whole separate post for another day), so it'd be nice to replace those dinos with these.  Glad to see they are starting off w/ Sludge.  I never had his G1 toy as a kid and only recently have I acquired one thanks to a fellow blogger, but boy does Columpio look every bit as cool as people say he is.  By the way, I'm told his name is Spanish for swinging.  Not sure if that is true, but cool if it is.

Oh yeah.  Swoop!  And he's done up in his Diaclone / cartoon colors!  Swoop has always been a favorite of mine and this looks phenomenal.  This makes passing up Planet X's version of the character feel a little better now.

Slag looks just as impressive as the other two so far.  Nice to see FP is keeping with the red robot head as others (Fans Toys' Scoria) has done.  While Slag was the one Dinobot I never cared for in Generation 1, this take on the character has me wanting more.

Sticking with FansProject, the next entry in their Function X line was made known.  X5 is obviously the Decepticon Headmaster, Skullcruncher.  I'm not sure what FP will be calling this guy, but wow what I marvelous job they did.  Quadruple U (Weirdwolf) was a valiant effort, but the wolf just looked a little odd to me.  This guy however looks so nice in gator mode.  So nice in fact I've already forgotten about the ToyWorld version of this character...Swamper who?

It also appears that Highbrow will soon be joining FP's Function X line.  He is my favorite of the four Autobot Headmasters so this is very much nice to see happening.  No other information that I know of has been released yet.

A TFCon exclusive, Kar Krash by FansProject I'm sure took a lot of people bu surprise.  This Generation 2 homage looks excellent seems fitting seeing how a set of unreleased G2 Stunticons just sold on eBay for a earth staggering amount of money.  This is a great idea and well executed from what I can tell, but in the end not something for me.  Next.

Mastermind Creations shared these pictures of Commotus.  What?  You don't know who this is?  Yeah, me neither.  While I did mention earlier I've gotten myself caught up a bit with some comic reading, that did't include any of the current TF comics.  I think I'm one of the few fans out there that isn't up to date with what IDW is going with all of these characters.  So, who can tell me who Commotus is supposed to be?

I'm not sure who is behind what they are calling the Before and After Clone Twins, but these look pretty cool.  I never had the G1 Autobot Clones growing up, but I loved the mess out of Pounce and Wingspan.  Glad to see some characters that aren't as mainstream getting some attention.  Now if someone would just make a new version of Flywheels already!!

Unique Toys just released a GoBots homage to the Renegades leader, Cy-Kill.  Now it seems like he won't be the only modern day GoBot as a new version of Crasher is in the works.  I've already seen a few guys in a GoBots Facebook group go nuts over this picture.

Even Cy-Kill's black and green redeco from GoBots is getting the updated treatment...surprise, surprise.

Wreck-Gar too?  I thought the Hasbro release was pretty darn perfect.  I wonder how they can improve upon that?  I guess only time will tell.

So as you can see there was a lot of cool stuff revealed at TFCon this past weekend.  I had . in the forums at as well as on Facebook.  Now that this "distraction" is over, I can get back to my Transformers project I'm working on.