Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 Botcon G2 General Optimus Prime Autoroller

Back in the days of Transformers Generation 2, there were a few items that ended up being axed. Most of these were simple repaints of previous toys, like the Laser Cycles and Autorollers. One of these cancelled toys was a repaint of the Decepticon Autoroller, Dirtbag as General Optimus Prime.

picture courtesy of Seibertron.com
I rather liked the Autorollers and this new color scheme was too bad. Now calling him General Optimus Prime I could care less for, but I'm all up for repaints of molds I like. Well while doing a little searching on Yahoo! Japan auctions, I ran across an auction for a toy that had a striking resemblance to this General Optimus Prime toy. I didn't both do translate the description as I could easily make out 'Botcon 2015' in the title. 

What gave this away to me was the G2 style logo on the back fender. I immediately knew who this character was supposed to be. 

While I don't own the Roadbuster mold (I opted for Fans Projects' version), I'm kinda digging this. Along with the cancelled G1 Double Pretender in this year's Botcon set, this is the 2nd toy that I really like and could see myself acquiring some day. If a new version of Flywheels becomes a reality like he's rumored to be, then make it three 2015 Botcon toys on my radar.

In closing I'll add that I thought I had a scoop here and was making news with this reveal...but it turns out I'm a little late to the party. Oh well...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Masters of the Universe Classics: Scare Glow

I don't pretend to know a lot about the Masters of the Universe, but when Mattel was launching their Masters Classics series via Mattycollector.com back in 2008 I was hooked. I purchased just about every figure released...probably because of that dang "collect them all" mentality that often sets in. However when I first saw the solicitation images of Scare Glow I could not wait to get him in my hands.

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Just look at this figure! Everything about it just screams awesome. Did I mention that he glows in the dark too? Whether or not Scare Glow is the ghost of Skeletor or just a ghost that Skeletor commands from time to time, this figure looks great. He comes with his Scythe of Doom and a chained weapon of some sorts. 

Mattel loved to re-use and re-color the various body parts used to comprise the plethora of Masters of the Universe figures so it should come as no surprise that Scare Glow shares Skeletor's legs and feet.

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The new, unique head sculpt is what really puts this figure over the top. The crack in the head, the recessed red eyes and the craggly teeth gives this guy a very spooky look...whether he's glowing in the dark or not.

The rest of his body is painted just like his vintage figure. He's got the full body look, but once the lights are turned off you've essentially got yourself a glowing skeleton! His purple cape is removable if you want more of that skeleton look.

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I don't really know what this chained item is. Is it a weapon? Is it some sort of key? Al I know is that it attaches to his wrist via a bracelet and has a metal chain. On the end is a very intricate Castle Grayskull "carved" into the item.

While I don't collect Masters of the Universe figures anymore, this is one figure that I would've held onto had it not been for the amount of money he once commanded on the secondary market.

Monday, May 18, 2015

KO Korner: G1 Transformers Override

There are many knock off Transformers toys in today's market, however this isn't a new trend. KOs go back as far as the original Generation One series of Transformers. These are the ones that especially fascinate me. Some are oversized and most are made with pretty crappy plastic, but every once in awhile I run across the exception. This KO of the Triggerbot Override is one of those exceptions.

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The Triggerbots (and cons) were released in 1988, however this blue version doesn't have a copyright stamp anywhere that I can find. The toy is identical to the original size, however as you can see many of the colors have been changed and there are new stickers. In addition to the chromed guns, the wheels have been chromed too.

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Transformation is identical as well. Same limited articulation, same spring loaded gun gimmick. As far as I can tell nothing was changed on this toy outside of the colors.

One of the reasons I like this KO so much are 1) the new colors and 2) the plastic quality. I'd say it's on par with the vintage Hasbro version. My specimen's stickers and chrome show wear, but it is a 25+ year old toy (most likely).

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I have no idea which toy company released this KO of Override, but I find it quite fascinating from top to bottom. I know this also comes in a black/maroon color as well as the seller I bought the blue version from had the other color variation. I just kick myself for not grabbing it while I could as I know these G1 KOs can be tough to come across.


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Standing in for Override with his Triggerbot brethren

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Marvel Legends Infinite Series: Captain America - Black Widow

I may be a little late to the party (by a year or so!) with this post and truth be told I meant to get this posted last week. However there are times where the plastic has to be set aside to take care of more pressing "life" matters.

Last year Hasbro changed up their Marvel Legends line. Gone were the large blister bubble packaging, replacing it with a sleek black packing. The Build-A-Figure concept continued as well. The other noticeable change was when you got to the cash register with that figure in hand. Gone was the MSRP of $14.99. These highly articulated action figures now set you back $19.99, in most stores. At times it seems as if the higher price is justified, but that is strictly on a figure by figure basis. Some figures come loaded with accessories, while others lack accessories or gear. If you are just picking up a few figures here and there then the price hike isn't that bad. However if you are chasing the Build-A-Figure, like many do, then this is another $20-$30 depending on how many BAF parts you need.

The other big change of course was going to a overall theme for each wave. The first to receive this treatment was Captain America: the Winter Soldier. The figures in this wave are a good mix of comic and movie universes. I personally loved this wave and kept all the figures minus 2 - the movie versions of Cap and Bucky. For many the big draw of this wave was of course the topic of today's post, Black Widow.

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I have to say I like the new packaging Hasbro is using here. The inner blister tray can be pulled out allowing you to replace the figure and accessories back inside for display or just for safe keeping. I wanted to keep the packaging intact, but Lord knows I have enough empty toy boxes in my closet as-is.

Black Widow is based on her movie look. I usually skip the movie themed figures, but with her I made an exception. Perhaps it's because the sculptors did a remarkable job of capturing the likeness of one Scarlett Johansson.

Natasha comes packaged with an alternate head and another set of hands. The Build-A-Figure in this series is the S.H.I.E.L.D. Mandroid and you get the torso and shoulder gun.

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One of the criticisms lately from Transformers fans has been the watered down bios on the back of the packaging. This seems to have carried over to Marvel Legends as well as you don't get much in the way of learning about the character.

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The addition of extra hands and an alternate head is a nice treat, but no weapons? Seriously Hasbro, who thought it was a good idea to release a Black Widow figure and not give her at least one gun?

Black Widow's hair has changed a bit since she first made her debut in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) in Iron Man 2. Personally I think this alternate head is based on her first look - sort of. Her hair was the long initially so the short, slightly curled hair may be a little different, but still looks good. The face isn't bad...but I prefer the straight hair and face sculpt on the other head.

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Again, the alternate head looks pretty good once snapped on, but I still prefer the other version. I can't really explain it all that well, but the face just looks a little "off" to me.

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While Black Widow may not come with any actual guns for her to wield, her right hand is sculpted to hold a pistol very comfortably. She even has the trigger finger molded to fit the trigger of a gun...if you can find a decent weapon for her. She does however have a gun holsters sculpted on both of her thighs...with guns that she can't remove.

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I could be wrong, but I think this is an all new female sculpt for Black Widow. The proportions are nicely laid out and not grossly exaggerated as some female action figures can be. She is sporting high heel shoes as you can see, but the heels are filled in to allow her to stand on her own. Surprisingly I got her to stand without any assistance quite well. That's more than I can say about some other ML female figures (i.e. Gamora).

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Natasha is commonly portrayed wearing a black, tight fitting uniform. In the MCU she was given a more practical (and believable?) outfit. While it still shows off her figure, it doesn't leave her upper "lady parts" exposed near as much as many of her comic book outfits. Being that she is working for Fury in the MCU, she appropriately has the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on the upper part of her right arm.

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You tell me, curly or straight hair? Which one do you prefer? Regardless of your hair preference, just look at the face sculpt. The face on the left looks more round while the face on the right look more natural.

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The easiest way to remedy the issue of no weapons is to head down to your local Walgreens drug store and see if they still have an Agent Venom figure from the Spider-Man series of Marvel Legends. Flash Thompson comes packaged with two sets of guns, one black set and one gray/silver set. He can't really use all 4 himself so I loaned the gray/silver set to Natasha.

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Compared to Black Cat, Black Widow looks so much better. Then again these 2 figures are coming from different angles. While Natasha has been ripped straight from the MCU silver screen, Felicia Hardy has more of that comic book look.

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You probably noticed that I didn't really talk about the figure's articulation before now. Doesn't really matter as if you've bought any modern Marvel Legends figure, then you know what you are getting here. You can't really tell from my pictures, but this figure is loaded with articulation. I feel as if this is one of the best female Legends figures to date.

For many months it seemed as if this figure was impossible to find at retail. She commanded $50-$60 on eBay at one point. Then she started popping up more and more it seems and her price came back down closer to the MSRP. With the increased price I can't really say I'd pay much more than retail, but this is one of those figures that deserves to be bought.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Tomica Hyper Series: Hyper Blue Police Sonic Arrow & Sonic Breaker

The one downside of having this blog is that it tempts me as using this platform as an excuse if you will to try new toys that I otherwise wouldn't have messed with. Sometimes this means I find cool new toys (like DiaRobo) while other times I end up with toys left over I have no intention on keeping...and sometimes said toys can be kind of expensive and hard to move.

My first real exposure to Tomica came at Toys 'R Us when the series was brought Stateside. Growing up with tons of Hot Wheels I was intrigued. I ended up picking up a few train sets (that currently reside in my 5 year old daughter's room) to test out. It wouldn't be long after that it seems most of the Tomica stuff started to hit clearance and disappear from my local TRU's shelves.

Then about a month ago in a Google search for something else, the Hyper Series of toys from Tomica showed up on my radar. It appears these toys merge the traditional die-cast Tomica cars with new, larger transforming vehicles. Some of the vehicles act as transports, some transform into playsets while others combine with other vehicles to form larger vehicles and such. I'm guessing this portion of the series is thanks in part to Takara.

Well two particular sets really caught my attention, Sonic Arrow and Sonic Breaker; part of the Hyper Police sub-theme. I found a good discounted pre-order for both over at AmiAmi.com and I just happened to have a little extra sitting in the PayPal account. I dropped the pre-order and proceeded to wait until mid-March 2015 when they were scheduled to be released in Japan. A few days after their release a large box showed up on my doorstep.

For this post I'll focus on each toy as a stand alone piece, then we'll look at how the two toys interact with each other and the various play features.

Starting with Sonic Arrow, this sleek police car comes packaged a very colorful, yet busy box. From my previous experience with Takara products, the packaging has always been of high quality and top notch. The cardboard used is nice a thick and the images feature high gloss and are very colorful.

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As you can see from the back of the box (above), you can see the play features of the toy along with how it interacts with Sonic Breaker and other Tomica Hyper Series vehicles. The sides of the box (below) again show how Sonic Arrow and Sonic Breaker can combine...both as a larger armored police vehicle and as a large robot! The other side of the box showcases some of the small die-cast Tomica cars and vehicles in the same Hyper series,

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Sonic Arrow is housed in a cardboard frame if you will inside the box. There is no real assembly required, it's ready to play with right out of the box. A few AAA batteries are required however to power the electronic lights and sound.

Also included inside the box is a brief instruction page and a sticker sheet. Below you can see how Sonic Arrow looks straight out of the box along with a comparison with all the stickers applied. The stickers were easy to apply and seem of good

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While I didn't think of taking a measurement of the vehicle, it's quite bigger than what I originally imagined it would be. I did think however to grab another toy off my shelves for a comparison picture. Most of you reading this blog should be familiar with the voyager figure of Classics Optimus Prime...

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Underneath the gray panel at the rear of the vehicle is a compartment for a small die-cast vehicle. One of the play features of this toy (in addition to the lights & sounds) is launching a car. The whole center of the vehicle lifts when the car is launched.

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I should mention that these two vehicles are also sold in a larger two pack. This larger set contained an exclusive die-cast vehicle. I don't have any of the Tomica Hyper Series die-cast vehicles, so I had to use my Back to the Future Hotwheels Delorean instead. When the small yellow button on the right side of the vehicle is pressed, the center of the vehicle pops up and launches a vehicle if placed inside. The play feature works fairly well in the confined space of my light box. On the bottom of the vehicle compartment is what appears to be some sort of connection. I imagine this is for some sort of connection to a Tomica branded vehicle.

When the other yellow button is pressed (left side) it triggers the lights and sirens. There is some sort of voice mixed in with the sirens as well, but it's in Japanese so I have no idea what it's saying.

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The "second" vehicle in this set is Sonic Breaker. Where Sonic Arrow is more of a sleek police car, Sonic Breaker is a police hot rod of sorts. The layout of the packaging is just about identical to Sonic Arrow's, however it seems as if there is more of a emphasis on the combined aspects of the toys.

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Unlike Sonic Arrow, Sonic Breaker does require a bit of assembly once removed from the box. This toy is more like a parts former than a big Hot Wheel vehicle.

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At first look of this toy I thought it was modeled after a modern American muscle car, such as a Dodge Charger. The picture above has all of the extra parts attached - the gray pieces behind the cockpit, wings on the rear and guns attached to the sides.

Just like the other vehicle, this one too comes with a sticker sheet full of stickers just waiting to be applied.

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Ah, now this is much better! These stickers give the vehicle some much needed detail. Sonic Breaker is a beefier vehicle, but feels hollow due to how the vehicle is constructed and it's role in the combining of the two vehicles.

While Sonic Breaker may lack the electronic sounds and features that Sonic Arrow has, it has it's own unique play feature. Again referencing the small die-cast Tomica cars and vehicles, one can be stored in a hidden compartment on each side. When a small button is pressed, these hidden compartments pop open and launch the vehicles inside.

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Together the two vehicles are a lot of fun, however the fun is just beginning. The big sale of these two toys seems to be the combined robot...which is pretty darn cool, but the other combining feature takes both of these road vehicles and merges them together to form an even larger police vehicle.

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Sonic Breaker simply splits in half and attaches to the sides of Sonic Arrow. Sonic Breaker's removable parts are reassigned to new positions.

Now I gotta say this thing is huge and very cool. However I can't imagine something this large barreling down the highway in a high speed pursuit. I'd feel sorry for anyone else on the road, especially of this thing has to take corner as there is no way this beefy vehicle could turn on a dime!

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Again using Classics Optimus Prime for scale comparison, you can see what a monster this combined vehicle form is. As cool as this is, it's time to get to the big guy...

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First of all I don't know if this robot has a name or not. I'll also go out on a limb and say it's more like a large mech suit over a sentient robot like a Transformer.

To combine Sonic Arrow and Sonic Breaker into this large robot, you start off by separating Sonic Breaker into two halves as these form the robot's legs. Sonic Arrow then becomes the top half of the robot, with the hood become the arms. The silver wing section from Sonic Breaker basically becomes the shoulders along with containing the robot's head.

To finish off the look, many of those removable parts from Sonic Breaker attach on the tops of the arms and onto the waist. The two gun halves combine to form a larger rifle.

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The robot's head features a blue helmet with a small police badge sticker on the front. The gray wings on the sides are movable, but the instructions and pictures on the box show these in the upright position. The eyes are made with a translucent green visor with the lower half of the face being covered with a white plate.

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This robot is tall, about twice the half of most Generation One Transformers combiners. Here I've pictured him with G1 Bruticus...only because he was the easiest combiner I could grab from my collection.

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The robot is surprisingly stable given that he is pretty light in the weight department. Just like a G1 combiner, this guy is pretty much a brick. You can move his arms in a full 360 degrees, but that is just about it. For me that isn't an issue, especially when it comes to photographing the toy since I can't pull off those dynamic poses.

The electronic features still work in combined robot mode, in fact when you plug in the robot's shoulder/head piece to the body, the electronics give off a slightly different sound bit as shown above.

Overall I had a blast discovering what I'm sure many Japanese parents and children already know about these Tomic Hyper Series toys. I decided not to keep these toys in my personal collection for many reasons, but it wasn't because they aren't fun. In fact I'd love to get more of a hands on experience with other toys in this series, but due to the import nature of them they can get somewhat expensive. If you are a fan of transforming toys, 1:64 die-cast vehicles or just want to experience something a little different, you may want to check out either these toys or something else in the Hyper Series family.

As of this post you can find both of these toys listed in my eBay store as one set. My asking price is actually a few dollars less than what I paid and much cheaper than what most sellers are asking for these toys. 


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