Thursday, December 31, 2015

Q-Transformers: Prowl QT-06

The last day of 2015 is here and I realized that I haven't given the blog as much content lately as I wanted to. You would think with the Holidays and extra time off from work I'd have more time for things like this...but nope. None the less let me dig out a toy that I've been sitting on for quite some time, or should I say a new Transformers series I've been sitting on for awhile.

Transformers Q, a new series of Transformers that Takara Tomy introduced late in 2014. Based on the Choro Q designs, these are penny racers in disguise! I really didn't think this series would go on for as long as it has, but I've already got a few of the new figures on pre-order that are to be released in 2016.

This small figures come packaged in vehicle mode on a blister card. Like many blister card packaging from Japan, you can slit the tape on the back and easy slip out the cardboard blister card.

I try really hard not to swerve too far off my main collecting path, but there was just something about these figures that I couldn't resist. While I haven't gone crazy and picked up every single release, I have been picking up the majority of the G1 characters.

In vehicle mode these look great. Highly detailed there is no mistaken which characters these are supposed to be. In fact the level of detailing is a little surprising to me. While Prowl lacks his Highway Patrol motif on his side doors, you can take one look at this toy and know it's Prowl. Period.

Of all the Q figures I've opened thus far, the transformation is the same. Pull down the legs, pull out the arms and flip up the head. I really wasn't expecting the legs or arms to be articulated, but surprisingly they are. Attached via ball joints, the limbs have a decent range of motion.

I guess it's the "cuteness" factor that keeps me coming back, or maybe it's the cheap price tag (generally $10 or less are most online retailers). Whatever the reason these little guys have found a spot in my G1 one centric collection.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Marvel Legends Infinite Series: Soldiers of A.I.M.

One of the current trends with Hasbro's Marvel Legends series is having a pair of figures that share a common theme, or even share the included Build-A-Figure part. The Captain America these series of figures appropriately had the Soldiers of A.I.M. featuring Baron Zemo and a A.I.M. Soldier. Instead of breaking these down and doing separate posts, I thought we'd just look at them together.

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I noticed with the now current Spider-Man / Rhino BAF series the themed pair of figures (Misty Knight / White Tiger) share the same BAF part. This isn't the case with these two figures and I'm glad as both figures are fantastic and deserve to be bought regardless of which BAF piece is included.

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Being a huge fan of the 90's Captain America comic series, Baron Zemo was one of the earliest villains that I came to associate as a Cap villain, thanks in large part to the classic Blood Stone Hunt Marvel comics story. Later on I became a big fan of the original Marvel Comics' run of Thunderbolts, yet another relationship I've built w/ Baron Zemo. The designers did a great job w/ the sculpt of this figure, especially the head sculpt. He may be a tad more muscular than what I'm familiar seeing him portrayed, but it doesn't bother me.

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If only an unmasked alternate head could have been included with this figure. Over all this is a very solid very and worthy of getting the Marvel Legends treatment. He does come with a few accessories so let's take a look at those.

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Baron Zemo comes packaged with two weapons. He has a silver pistol that is made to fit firmly in his right hand. His fingers are molded as such to grip the gun and have his finger on the trigger. Unlike how his other weapon, his classic sword can be stored on his webgear, there isn't a place to store the pistol.

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There aren't many Marvel villains that carry around a sword (Taskmaster is the other that comes to mind), Baron Zemo isn't a slouch when it comes to the combat department. Thankfully the sword is cast of a thicker plastic and was packaged in a way where the sword wasn't warped right out of the retail packaging. It's got a good weight and feel to it.

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The classic look of the A.I.M. soldier has been often criticized in the past and yes despite looking like a beekeeper, I like the look. When this wave was original on retail shelves in my area, you could not find this figure (or the Hydra soldier). I'm sure a large part of this was due to collectors buying multiples. While I get the while army building or troop building that 3 3/4" collectors partake in, I can't see needing more than 2 of these particular soldiers.

The figure itself is another home run in my book. For a bland yellow and black outfit, the figure still looks detailed thanks in part to all of the wrinkles molded into the legs, arms and chest/waist areas. His bandolier is removable, but the soft plastic its made of doesn't lend well to often removing as the tab gets bent very easily making it tough to reattach. Sculpted on the front of said bandolier are several silver canisters, I'm assuming some type of gas grenade.

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Another area of detail can be found on the masks' visor. I've always assumed the visor section to be of a mesh type material to allow the soldier protection, but also as a way of allowing them to breathe in these suits. This mask isn't removable, but like with Zemo it would have been cool if there was an alternate unmasked head. However I guess it's easier to troop build these w/ the masks on.

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The A.I.M. Soldier comes packaged with two impressive looking weapons. I prefer this large yellow rifle, but the smaller pistol is equally a nice weapon. Unfortunately I had some problems editing the other photo I had with the figure wielding the pistol.

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The Soldiers of A.I.M. are some great looking villains that any serious Marvel Legends collector needs to round out their rogue gallery. I may be a little biased since I'm a big Captain America fan, however I don't think there is much not to like about either of these figures. Highly recommended.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Adventures in Video Games - A new blog / journey from yours truly

One thing that I enjoy is sharing my thoughts of my many hobbies whoever is interested enough to spend a little time reading what I have to say. Each blog that I run was basically started as a creative outlet for said hobby and to hopefully get more enjoyment...whether that be trading cards, toys, music or now video games. Today I launch Adventures in Video Games!

I never envisioned myself as a video game collector, nor did I see myself with a room full of Transformers and other action figures one day. However games have always been one of those "distractions" that I've had around since I was young. With so many hobbies and what seems to be so little time, I'm always looking for ways to get more out of my hobbies and these blogs have been a great outlet for me to share my thoughts and opinions. Some have even forced me to enjoy things that I've put aside and ignored.

That said I felt a blog for my game collection was perfect as there are many games I own that I've never played or haven't touched in years. My hope for the blog is to sit down and play some of these games and share some photos of the games as well as my thoughts and opinions. I won't be doing any "Let's Play" YouTube videos or anything like that. Instead I'll be sticking to the tried and true "pen and paper" so to speak to share my content.

While it may not be the most entertaining read at times, I hope if you enjoy games like I do that you'll stick around, or at least drop in every once in awhile to check out what I have to share. My hope is that I'll be able to provide new content on a somewhat regular basis moving forward, yet while trying to still juggle my posting duties on my other sites. I'm excited to see where this journey leads me so here I go.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Shinkalion: E6 Komachi

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Earlier this year Takara Tomy announced a new line of transforming Shinkansen trains. I don't much at this time about the background of the line, as if it's based on an anime series. I'm a sucker for trains already, but when they transform you've got my attention. Takara isn't a newcomber when it comes to transforming robot trains. Dating back to the beginning, Takara had transforming trains in their Diaclone series which later were used again in the Transformers series, Headmasters. There was also a team of transforming bullet trains in Car Robots / Robots in Disguise. Even Astrotain's train mode was given a makeover into a modern bullet train for the Henkei! Henkei! / Classics series. Now we have one of 3 new trains and I couldn't wait to get my hands on these.

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The first two figures in this new series were released simultaneously, E5 Hyabusa and E6 Komachi. I ordered both at the same time, but HLJ informed me that E5 Hyabusa had some type of problem and the release was delayed by Takara Tomy. As of this post I'm still waiting on the figure to arrive. Its a real shame both didn't come at the same time as they are meant to be more or less of a pair. If you look at the bottom image on the back of the box you can see that you can mix and match the two trains. While the trains aren't drastically different, the designers did a good job giving each their own character.

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The side of the box shows off the transformation from train to robot. It's a rather simple transformation and had I not been in a hurry to bring this review to the blog I may have taken pictures of each step. However as you can tell you basically take each end of the train and connect them nose to nose. This triggers a spring activated transformation where the legs pop open. When you fold down the other half of the train it presses against a button that reveals the head. Simply fold down the arms and feet and you're done.

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Inside the box you'll find two cardboard trays that house each section of the train. There is also an instruction sheet along with a small sticker sheet of about 8 stickers.

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The train is made entirely of plastic and is very light weight. The quality if the plastic doesn't feel on par with most Transformers release. It's not bad, it just isn't what I was expecting. The wheels are free rolling and from what I can tell from the packaging and other promotional images, the track these trains roll on are the same train track used in the Tomica series. My daughters used to have a few of the Tomica trains, but when I went to look for some track pieces I couldn't find any.

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Once the train components are linked together the entire train is about 12 inches long. There is quite a bit of room left between each section allowing it to easily turn while gliding along the tracks.

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Before you start the transformation process, you'll need to separate each section. The middle section isn't part of the robot, but it does open up to reveal the Komachi's weapons, a pair of assault rifles. Please note I hadn't applied the stickers to the guns at this point.

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Once transformed you've got yourself a very impressive robot mode. Most of the decoration on the figure are paint apps. The only stickers are the 3 red stickers you see applied to his gray abdomen. While the robot looks great, I do have a few small problems. 1) The arms can come unattached very easily while trying to pose them. They plug back in very easily, but it's kind of a nuisance they come off so easy. 2) There is basically no articulation. The arms can rotate a full 360 degrees and are attached to the "shoulders" via a swivel joint. The elbows are hinge joints. The head and lower half of the robot are not articulated at all.

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The head sculpt is quite unique in my opinion. The gray circles on his forehead make it look like he's wearing goggles of some sort. Because the head is molded onto a piece of the train's nose and is spring loaded, you can't rotate the head around or up and down which is a disappointment.

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Komachi's assault rifles come folded while stored in the center portion of the train, but they can be folded out to form a larger weapon. He can wield these in his hands or they can be mounted on the top of his shoulders. I think I prefer the look of him dual wielding the rifles personally.

Overall I'm impressed with the figure. It's got a great robot mode and the train mode is equally as impressive. However the thin/light plastic and the lack of articulation drop it down a notch. From a play perspective I can see this figure being played with quite a bit. From the train mode to the quick and easy transformation this is a figure that is built for play.

You may be also wondering how Komachi looks aside Transformers, since well he's a cousin of sorts. I really wanted to grab Car Robots' JRX for a few comparison pictures, but JRX is at the back of a crowed shelf and call me lazy but I just didn't want to re-arrange the shelf to pull him down. 

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While I didn't bother to grab JRX, I did grab one of the Trainrobo figures from the Headmasters series out of my glass case. As you can see Komachi dwarfs Yukikaze in full train mode, but is about the same size as one section.

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No comparison in robot mode!

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In robot mode he's a little larger than your standard voyager Transformer. After staring at these pictures for long enough Komachi is starting to give me a Brave vibe, how about you? I'm very tempted to grab an Autobot symbol and place it on the nose of the train that forms the chest.

If you are impressed and want to pick one up for yourself, HLJ has them on backorder. With today's exchange rate Komachi costs around $26.00.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Transformers Micron Densetsu: Zephyr Blade Micron X-Dimension MM-07

When Hasbro and Takara first introduced the concept of Mini-Cons and the small toys themselves, who knew they would be so popular with fans and yield so many toys and so many variations? In Japan as part of the Micron Densetsu series, the same teams of Mini-Cons released by Hasbro in the Armada series saw release. These Microns teams in Japan also had smaller production runs of variants called X-Dimension teams, as you can see below w/ the Zephyr Blade team.

In the manga fiction, X-Dimension was a universe that was composed of extreme radiation and flames. This was also the home of these teams of X-Dimension Microns.

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The Air Defense Team was one of the first Mini-Con teams that I was exposed to and I immediately loved them. 1) They are jets, 2) They have good robot forms and 3) They form the Star Saber! Once I realized that these toys had been given a new color scheme I knew I had to have them. Thankfully at the time I acquired them they weren't that hard to find. If you are looking for them now, well it may be a different story when it comes to their availability and price.

The new red and orange plastic mixed with translucent plastic and white trim makes these toys look fantastic. As you can see they still form a weapon, but instead of the Star Saber, they now form the Pyro Saber.

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The molds themselves haven't been changed, so if you are familiar w/ the Armada versions then you know what you are getting here...which isn't a bad thing. Individually these are some of the best Microns in my opinion, which says something since the while combining element had to be worked in.

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Mach's alternate form is that of a Concord like airplane. He forms the center of the Pyro Saber. The nice thing about the majority of the plane bits being cast in translucent plastic is it makes it hard to see the connector that hands down on his back. Normally this is easier to see hanging down between his legs and in my opinion detracts from the overlook of the robot.

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Jetter's alternate form is some form of jet. It may be modeled after a real world jet, I don't know. Jetter forms the blade of the Pyro Saber. He has small feet, but you can leave the front part of the jet folded down for an extra "leg" for added stability. I like the robot form, but with the translucent chest it almost looks like his arms, legs and head are just sitting there no attached to anything!

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Shuttler is perhaps my least favorite of the 3 Microns. His alternate form is a space shuttle. This form has always reminded me of the space craft from G.I. Joe. Shuttler forms the hilt of the Pyro Blade. No matter which version of this particular toy I've held in my hands, his legs always seem floppy. Perhaps this is a side effect of the transformation into the combined Saber form? It's got a great looking robot mode, just needs a little tweaking in the legs.

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Collectively this is one of the best Mini-Con / Micron teams. Individually they are great toys and the combined Saber form is still pretty cool after all these years. The new orange and red color scheme looks fantastic and are probably my favorite variation of this set. Believe or it not but this set has been used several times (Armada, Armada Air Assault, Micron Densetsu, Micron Densetsu X-Dimension, Micron Densetsu Micron Booster, Micron Densetsu CD Single and Micron Densetsu Kabaya Change Micron). At one time I owned every version and they all made for quite the display in their combined Saber forms.

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As you can see the Pyro Saber looks fantastic! Sadly I didn't have any of the other teams available for comparison pics. Right around the time I took these pictures I was in the process of packing up and selling 90% of my Mini-Con / Micron collection to TransformerLand. I was tempted to keep this set for my own, but then I'd want to keep the other sets and the whole purpose of selling them was to create some money and free up space. Trying to display tons of Mini-Cons and Microns isn't an easy thing to do! The unified color scheme is great and makes this version stand out over all of the other versions.

This is a fantastic set and one of the better X-Dimension sets if you can find it. I don't know how many were made, but this seems to be one of the harder sets to find. It's absolutely beautiful and sought after by many Mini-Con / Micron collectors. Pick it up if you ever have the opportunity.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Transformers Tiny Titans: Sharkticon

By now many you have probably seen those little blind packaged Transformers PVC figures called Tiny Titans. Part of current iteration of Robots in Disguise, these little figures encompass more than just the RID characters. Generation 1 characters have made a few appearances across the 3 series that have been released to date. One of these characters just happens to be the lovable Sharkticon, Gnaw!

Well he may not have looked this lovable or cute during his G1 days, but that's the charm with him being included under the new RID banner. If you've been following my other blog, the Transformers Bio Card Database, then you'll know these toys also come packaged with a trading card. That is the real draw for me personally. This particular figure is probably one of the best looking in both sculpt and paint apps. A lot of these figures have little no paint apps which are needed since they are molded in one color plastic.

Generations Legends class Starscream just happened to be the nearest TF I had when I snapped these quick shots of Sharkticon. These PVC figures are small, a little smaller than the previous line of PVC figures that Hasbro had (Robot Heroes). These little toys make for a good desk ornament, but that's about it. I've got a few different characters, but I'd rather spend my $2.50 on something a little more exciting.