Monday, August 31, 2015

KO Korner: Triple Changer Dunebuggy (Transformers G1 Sandstorm)

At some point in the last few years I've found myself collecting vintage Transformers Generation One knock offs. I'm not exactly how I ended up on this road, but it's been a fun ride. Not only do I find it fun collecting these oddball items, but I also find it fun sharing my discoveries with the Transformers community. I know not all people care about knock-offs and that is why I've kind of narrowed my scope of collecting these to vintage G1 molds.

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My latest G1 KO acquisition is one that I've seen a few times on eBay, however the high price tag has always kept me a bay. A few weeks ago however a seller in Italy posted a sealed specimen that I was going after. Sadly I was out bid and the toy sold for near $90. A week later the same Italian seller listed another version. This one had been opened, but was complete with unused stickers. This one ended up with a slightly wallet friendly price and I was all too happy to be the high bidder.

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After waiting a few weeks it arrived. Triple Changer Dunebuggy, No-6727. Trying to find out information on toys like this is basically a dead end road, having based on the packaging and the number the toy received I'm going to say this toy falls under the KO banner, Metamorphs. I could be wrong, but if I am does it really matter?

As you can see Dunebuggy here, aka Sandstorm, features a box layout very reminiscent of his G1 self; complete with the Start/Finish transformation sequence on the top of the box.

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Thanks to Botch the Crab and his awesome Box Art Archive, we can see side by side the KO and the G1 artwork. I can see a few small, subtle changes, but overall it appears original art was just recolored for this KO release.

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You probably have noticed by now that the image of the toy doesn't exactly match the toy inside the box. The box art features primarily teal and pink, while the toy samples sport more of green, blue and some pink. Even the 'Finish' step on the top of the box shows two different colored figures. The sample used for the packaging even shows the helicopter having the normal 4 blade rotor. Now whether there are variations to this KO I have yet figure it out. Personally I like the blue/white look a little better and I'd jump at the opportunity to pick up this mold in those colors...if it exists.

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I love how the layout for the original instruction booklet has been shoehorned onto the back of the box. The 1986 box art found on the back of many Transformers seems to be unaltered for the most part. In a way it's a shame because I've always liked this battle scene, even if there are a few errors to be had. Botch the Crab again supplies an unaltered view of the epic battle scene here for your viewing pleasure.

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Enough of the packaging though, let's get this brightly colored toy out of his cardboard prison! Inside you'll find the toy is housed a very cheap, brittle plastic tray. I was afraid the end was going to fall apart in my hands just trying to remove the tray from the box.

Located right on top of the figure was a little plastic insert that seemed to help stabilize the figure inside the tray. Underneath the figure were a few sticker sheets and his gun.

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The first thing I did after getting the figure out of the packaging was to take these horribly curved sticker sheets in between some heavy books to try and flatten them out. Most of the stickers appear to be replicas of the original G1 stickers. I doubt I'll use these stickers as I have no idea 1) if I can get them flat and 2) if their quality is any good or not. I may have to eventually pick up some Reprolabels for Sandstorm. The sticker sheet in the lower right corner goes on the top rear portion of the helicopter. This gives it the white lines you may be familiar with on Sandstorm.

The other thing I noticed after some hands on time with the figure is the helicopter has 3 blades as opposed to 4. Well actually I noticed this when I got Sandstorm off the shelf for a few comparison shots. I thought the helicopter looked a little "off". I can't decide if I like the 3 blade look better or worse than the regular 4 blade layout.

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Outside of the change to the rotor blades, I couldn't find any changes to the mold itself. Surprisingly the plastic seemed to be of good quality. The figure held together really well and I didn't feel like anything was going to break off while I moved parts around.

The thing I've heard many people already mention about this figure is how it could be a great stand in for a G2 Sandstorm or maybe even an evil Shattered Glass version. However when I see teal, pink and purple on a transforming helicopter all I see is Spinister.

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OK, it's not a dead on take of the colors, but it's close enough. Coincidence? The KO's packaging doesn't really have a date anywhere on it that I can find, but my guess is the KO was released after 1988 when Spinister was originally released.

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I could handle the helicopter's color scheme, but once I got him transformed to dune buggy...well it's a whole other story! Look at all that pink! Maybe if the wheels had been cast in another color plastic it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe the black windshield and window stickers would help break up this Willy Wonka inspired color scheme? Transformation to helicopter to dune buggy was fairly painless. Everything went back to where is should go and the parts that clip together seemed to hold just fine.

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Remember how I mentioned that the plastic quality seemed fairly decent and how smooth the transformation from each form was. Look at his right arm. See how it looks a little different? Yeah, well I spoke to soon. While transforming it from dune buggy to robot mode the right arm broke off at the screw. I swear I didn't feel anything break or even notice this until I tried to flip up the arm and fold down the fist. 

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Thankfully it looks like it was a fairly clean break and I've the part drying with a little super glue as we speak. I really wanted to finish with the photoshoot when I discovered the broken part that I went ahead with the photos of the figure as-is. 

Believe it or not, but this is the first G1 KO that I've had break on me. I'm really hoping that glue does the trick because this figure is becoming one of my favorites in my KO collection.

Now what good would a review like this be without some comparison shots with the original mold?

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While I had the figure in each form I poured over the toy looking at each piece carefully to see if I could find any differences. Other than the obvious missing copy right stamp on the bottom of legs, I could find anything different.

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Even the gun mold is the same from what I can tell!

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While repairing the broken arm I did notice the screw used was slightly different than the one in the G1 toy. The screw in Sandstorm's arm has more of a shield around the head of the Phillips screw where as the KO's Phillips screw has a larger head.

I then looked at the screws on the wheels and noticed that the rear wheels both share the same type of flat head pin, but the front wheels of the KO have a Phillips screw. The center hole on the KO wheel also seems smaller. Could they have by chance cast a new wheel mold?

I realize that some people reading this may be thinking "why did he purchase that ugly thing?" and others may be thinking "wow, this is kind of cool!". I guess for me the thing that makes this and other vintage G1 KOs so fascinating is the uniqueness of the figure. Whether its the background of the toy, the packaging, mold changes or just out there color schemes; collecting these G1 KOs has been a fun journey and one that I don't plan on stopping anytime soon.

I do ask that if anyone reading this knows anymore about the background on this release or knows if the blue/white version was also released, I'd love to hear from you. Please drop me a line and let know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

And the Winner is...

Last week I posted some photos of several of the items I've had just sitting in my room waiting to be opened and reviewed and asked you, the reader to decide what I open next. Across many different social media platforms the answer that I kept seeing was the non-TF product. While some specifically asked for the Metamorphs Triple Changer "Sandstorm", I'm going to assume the other votes were for this same toy.

I've already begun the photo shoot and will start editing the photos this weekend, but a little accident happened during said photo shoot so I need to get that corrected before I can continue. I hope to have the final post up this weekend or the first of next week.

Thanks to all that voted. If this is the item you were most interested to see, stay tuned!

Friday, August 21, 2015

You pick the next review!

You know those memes you see on Facebook and Twitter, the ones with the grown man crying with words such as "I have a job so I can collect toys", "I have a job so I can't enjoy my toys"? Well that sums up my last few months at work. Ever since I took a promotion I've noticed my free time has dwindled to almost nothing. When I do have a little free time, I either want to crash on the couch and watch TV or play my new Xbox One. Opening toys, photographing toys, blogging about just doesn't come first anymore.

And I don't like that feeling.

I need to change that. How? Heh, you tell me. However I got to thinking this afternoon when I got out of the office a little early and was surrounding my a sea of new, unopened Transformers in my hobby room at home, how on earth do I decide what to photograph first so I can actually open the toy? Is it my imported Transformers Adventures items? Or the Robots in Disguise stuff? 3rd Party figures? Or the random, non-TF items?

So I'm going to leave it up to the readers. In addition to choosing the next item I review, I'm also asking help getting this post out in front of as many fans/collectors/bloggers as possible. Please post, tweet, +1 this as much as you can on social media. I'd like to see several comments/votes on the next post.

What are your options you may ask? Well here are the candidates that I've chosen. All of these are items that I've acquired over the last 1-4 months and have just been sitting, unopened, waiting for me. Patiently.

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Instant Takara Tomy Transformers Adventures collection!

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Autobot RID Mini-Cons!

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Decepticon RID Mini-Cons!

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Combiner Wars

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More Takara Tomy stuff

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3rd Party

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Random non-TFs

So what's it going to be? What is your vote? I know I have a few things I'd like to tear into and share right off the bat. With my hectic work schedule I can't promise I'll have the winning item posted in a day or two, but I do want to make an effort to get some of these opened and photographed very soon so I can at least start to share some of these awesome figures.

So share away! Let your voice be heard! For once in the history of this blog, it won't be Random Toy Reviews because you are choosing the next toy review!!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Transformers Robots In Disguise (2015): Thunderhoof (One Step)

I've you've been following the new Robots in Disguise toy line by Hasbro then you know the Decepticons are really getting the short end of the stick. The Decepticon releases have been far a few between. Steeljaw is the only one to get a proper Warrior class release while the others have been regulated to Legion class, Titan class or to the One Step class.

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Now I wasn't going to mess with any of the 1 Step figures (outside of maybe Fixit) as I didn't care for the simplified nature of the toy, however the more and more I've watched of the new RID show the more I wanted more Decepticons! Dang it Hasbro, where are the other Warrior class Decepticons?! Well when I saw a lone Thunderhoof hanging on the pegs at my local Walmart back in June I caved and picked him up. There is just something about his design that captivated me from the beginning and I got tired of waiting.

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Right out of the package and you can tell that you're not getting a whole lot with these One Step figures. The design is very basic, as are the paint apps. However the toy feels some what solid and rolls fine on it's 4 free rolling wheels.

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In true one step fashion, to transform Thunderhoof to robot mode you simply lift the front end of the vehicle and flip it around to the other end, locking it into place. By doing so you reveal the robot head and the arms and legs spaced out.

In robot mode there isn't any articulation to be had. These are like miniature bricks...however that isn't to say that a young child wouldn't have fun with these. My 4 year old daughter played with Thunderhoof for a few minutes and seemed to enjoy it better than some of the newer Rescue Bots toys she has.

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I like everything about this character. His name, design, his television's just a shame there isn't a better figure of him at retail thus far. I know a Legion class figure is coming as well as one of the larger 3 step changer figures coming this fall. I'm still holding out hope that Hasbro (or Takara Tomy) will give us fans a Warrior class figure before the Robots In Disguise series ends.

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

Transformers G1: Deluxe Insecticon Chop Shop

The Deluxe Insecticons were never some of my favorite toys from the Generation One days of the Transformers. However in my childhood the Decepticon Chop Shop would find his way into my hands. As a kid I never quite understood why these were so different from the regular Insecticons. I even wondered why the plastic and build of the toy seemed to differ from my other Transformers. It wouldn't be until the wonders of the internet that I would realize that the Deluxe Insecticon toys weren't made by Takara or Hasbro and started off as something completely different.

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Created by Takatoku Toys for their Armored Battalion Beetras series, Chop Shop was called Beet-Gugal and sported a gray color scheme over his G1 brown. To this day I still haven't been able to land a nice MIB Beet-Gugal for my collection, but I did get this fairly nice MIB specimen of his G1 self.

Maybe it was the box art, or maybe its because Chop Shop was the only Deluxe Insecticon I ever owned growing up, but I've also liked this toy. As I've been trying to piece together a full G1 run of toys, I don't usually look for boxed versions. While I love the old school packaging, the boxed versions usually command more money than I want to pay and the boxes will just end up in the closet anyways (unless it's a Japanese G1 release). I can't remember what I paid for this MIB Chop Shop, but I'm pretty sure it was around $40 to $45.

Until I re-purchased Chop Shop, I don't recall his function being a Thief. I guess I always thought more of him as a body guard or front line infantry.

Did you notice the small red and white AM sticker on the front of the box? Look back at the Beetras image and you'll see the same sticker. This was for the company Artmic, or ART-Modern Ideologist for Creation. They were responsible for working on a slew of Japanese animation series. While Beetras never had it's own animated series, its quite clear why the Deluxe Insections were never used in any sort of US media.

Chop Shop came with a set of instructions, translucent label sheet, Photon Cannon and Vibro Spear.

While remove the figure from the box for this review, I found the original cash register receipt tucked away neatly inside the box. Purchased from a store called Children's Place back on January 02, 1986 for a mere $11.97. I'm guessing some kid had some Christmas money left over that was burning a hole in their pocket and convinced their mom or dad to take them toy shopping. I love finding stuff like this!

His tech specs mentioned he could fly up to 30 mph, however with these jets on his back I would think he could muster up a little more than a measly 30 mph. As you can tell my Chop Shop is "naked". I couldn't decided if I should take the unused sticker sheet and "dress" him up or not. Perhaps I'll just leave the vintage labels as is and see if Reprolabels has anything I could use.

I've always thought Chop Shop had one of the more unique and interesting head sculpts in all of G1. I love that Hasbro used orange for his mouth and antenna and the red eyes really make complete that evil look.

If you've ever held or owned one of the Deluxe Insecticons then you know these seem to have less articulation than most G1 TFs! Chop Shop can move his arms out to his sides, but that's it. He can't even aim his Photon Cannon at an Autobot and I'm assuming he is stuck trying to poke his adversary with his Vibro Spear!

It would take 28 years before Chop Shop would receive new, official toy. Packaged with Legends scale Megatron under the Generations banner, this small Chop Shop caught me by surprise. While this tiny figure lacks some of the detail his G1 self has, this new version can also double as a Targetmaster type weapon for Megatron!

Now that my G1 collection only lacks 10 or so figures from completion, I can see his pre-Transformers version starting to fall into my collection sights finally. I find this a fun and interesting mold and one of the better Deluxe Insections.