Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Hello Carbot: Zetren

I've used this blog over the last 6 or 7 years to share my thoughts and opinions on toys generally from my own collection or from items that interest me. I was recently asked to share my thoughts on a toy that I know very little of so this post features raw information. Usually I know what I'm getting into so this is new territory for me.

Introducing Zetren (or is it Jetren?) from Sonokong's line of transforming robots, Hello Carbot. From what I've been able to gather from information on line, this line of toys is supplemented by a CGI television show. This may be part of a larger series as well, but I've not been able to confirm that. 

When I first saw images of this character, I figured he was one of the villains of the series...being mostly red and black. However I was wrong. In fact I'm not sure Sonokong even produced any toys of the villain characters. I know with Transformers in Japan, the Cybertron (Autobot) toys always outnumbered the Destron (Decepticon) toys due to the good guy characters always sold better. I'm guessing the same logic applies here?

The packaging for this toy is quite nice. The box roughly measures 12 inches tall, 10 inches wide and 4 inches deep. The cardboard is of typical thickness and quality. It features a nice large window for you to view part of the actual toy inside. 

Top & Bottom of Box

Sides of Box

On the back of the box are some additional images of the toy, both in robot and vehicle forms. There also appears to be some sort of ad for a related app, however I assume this is exclusive for the Korean market. A good chunk of the bottom of the box features your standard safety warnings.

Packaged inside the box is a tray that houses the toy. The inner tray is lined with a reflective silver foil. This looks quote nice in person. The toy is held in place to the form fitting translucent bubble insert with traditional plastic ties.

The instruction sheet unfolds into 4 panels. Each transformation step highlights the moving parts in red to help ease the process. I used these instructions the first time I transformed Zetren from robot to his vehicle form, but after that I no longer needed the instructions as the transformation process very easy to figure out and perform.

The first thing I noticed when I removed Zetren from his plastic tray was his heft. This toy isn't made of thin, cheap plastic. I guess I shouldn't be surprised as I know Takara has partnered with Sonokong in the past to distribute and market it's various Transformers lines. There aren't any stickers and for the most part all of the colors you see are molded plastic.

Now I do have to add that he is ever so slightly mistransformed in the above images. This is how the robot looks straight out of the packaging. The car panels on his shoulders actually peg down onto the center hole of the front tires, giving him a bit of a cleaner look. On the back of his legs the top portion of the rear car collapses a bit to fill in his hollow calves. I didn't notice this until after I had completed taking my photos and I never went back to correct my images.

Zetren has a very nice, yet odd robot head. His large black crest if you will is very noticeable, but doesn't look that bad in person. It does however do a good job at hiding his eyes. It's hard to tell in above picture, but his eyes are made of translucent yellow plastic. He does have light piping that works quite well when a light source is directed onto the back of his head. In addition to his head crest, he has nice red wings on each side. I apologize for not doing a better job capturing this in my photos. The last step of his transformation from vehicle to robot involves pushing a red button on the back that splits open the windshield, revealing the head which also pops up into place.

I know there maybe several people reading this that are wondering about the articulation of the robot. Surprisingly there are several points of articulation. His head can rotate a full 360 degrees, but it's unable to look up or down. His shoulders can rotate 360 degrees on ratcheting joints. The arms can swivel out side to side in a hinge joint. He has ratcheting elbows that are quite loud when positioned. His fists are molded into the forearm so they do not move. He doesn't have waist articulation either, but features tight, ratcheting hip joints. They allow the legs to go out and effective let him do a split. He has a light thigh swivel joint that lets you rotate the legs about 180 degrees. He has ratcheting knee joints that offer a fairly good range of motion. His feet don't offer any movement, nor do his ankles, but they are molded in a way to allow you some good poses.

Zetren comes packaged with one weapon, a yellow spear type weapon. At first I thought it was some sort of rifle, then I noticed there weren't any pegs on the weapon to slide into the fist. The bladed tip of the weapon appears to have molded teeth, giving the appearance it was modeled after the lower jaw of an animal, perhaps a T-Rex? I believe the weapon would have benefited from being larger, or at least having a longer pole. However I have a feeling it was made this size so it could be stored underneath the vehicle. More on that in a bit.

I'm happy with the overall size of the toy, in fact I'd say he's near the same size as the current Leader Class size of Transformers. You can see above he's a good deal bigger than the Voyager size Classics Optimus Prime and on par w/ Combiner Wars Megatron.

His vehicle form is really nice in my opinion. I noticed that many of the cars from this series are modeled after real world vehicles, many of them being Hyundais. I'm not sure of Zetren falls into this category or if his vehicle design is completely original.

Is anyone else here getting an A-Team vibe?! I love his vehicle form. The shiny black plastic with the red highlights really make this car look nice. His windows are translucent, but are very dark and resembles that tinted window look. Both my wife and I thought the hood portion didn't snap together well, but upon closer inspection it appears that he has vents on each side of the hood. With all of the sharp lines this is kind of hidden. Both the front and rear lights are translucent plastic. On the front is a symbol of some sorts molded into the bumper. I assume this is some sort of faction symbol? His tires are molded plastic, but roll very well on a hard, smooth surface.

I'll also point out that this guy will show finger prints so if you are planning on picking him to display in car mode, make sure you wear gloves or are prepared to wipe him down afterwards. 

Zetren's aforementioned weapon fits snugly underneath the vehicle and it doesn't effect the profile. The car will still roll freely with the weapon attached. Kudos to the designer for doing so. I love it when weapons can be cleanly integrated into the alt mode as such.

I really wish I had a Transformers Alternators vehicle to compare it's size, but I have very few of them and what little I still have left are displayed on my very top shelf in the back corner. However I did grab a few toys I had at hand for some comparison shots.

Zetren is a good bit larger (and heftier) than a modern deluxe class Transformer. I happened to have a M.A.S.K. vehicle near by and grabbed it to compare. Surprisingly these two vehicles are very similar in length and width. Hopefully that helps give you a better idea of Zetren's vehicle size.

In closing my complete, unbiased opinion of this toy is positive...very positive. I'm impressed by the overall quality and engineering of the toy. Ratcheting joints with above average articulation, molded detail in both modes, a sexy deco and intuitive, yet fun transformation all help create a great toy. Whether you're buying this to play with or just stick up on your shelf for display, Sonokong has a made a very nice toy. It has me intrigued about other toys in the series. I noticed there are several different scales with some of the characters and some have animal forms over robots. You can find Korean sellers on eBay that offer up these items, but beware that many of them are marked up high in most cases. This toy as of this post currently retails for the equivalent of $60 USD. If you are intrigued enough that you want to pick up Zetren or something else from this series, check out my new friends at KoreanToyShop.com for all of your Korean toy needs.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Transformers Adventures: Sideswipe TAV22

One of the main cast members in the 2015 animated Robots in Disguise series is the juvenile, show off Autobot Sideswipe. I'll admit it, he's pretty annoying in the show when he's bickering back and forth with Strongarm; however he's got some good combat moves when in battle against the Decepticons.

Hasbro was first to release a Warrior class (deluxe) version of the character and it really annoyed me that the red tones of the plastic didn't match. I figured that Takara would eventually correct this with their release so I waited. 


In typical Takara fashion even the packaging is an upgrade over what Hasbro offers. Sideswipe comes packaged in a blister card, but the bubble can be easily removed without damaging the backing card. The back features his tech spec and lets you know about the mobile app and how you can scan the Autobot symbol on the toy.

Tech Spec

The designers did a pretty good job at capturing Sideswipe's show counterpart, however the toy has a lot of kibble. From the windows that hang off the undersides of his arms to the car's hood and windshield on his back. The kibble isn't that bad however; I'm more annoyed by his un-usually large clown feet. I also don't care for the two pieces that sit on each side of his head. They don't lock into place and I found it hard to get them to me symmetrical. His headsculpt is pretty spot on and even includes that smug smirk he wore at times in the animated show. Sideswipe comes packaged with black sword.

In vehicle mode this is where this toy really shines. I absolutely love the overall, sleek look of this red sports car. It also helps that the different red panels match better than the Hasbro version. The hood and the rear of the car has what appears to be some Japanese characters (is it Kanji?), but at least to me it doesn't detract from the overall look. Sometimes it's just the subtle differences that help complete the look such as the thin blue paint app to the tires.

I still find that the Decepticons have the more interesting character designs, although I really like Sideswipe's alt mode. I chose to compare him here against Thunderhoof since the two characters had a pretty cool one on one confrontation in the animated series.


Is Sideswipe worth importing? It's hard to say. I'm not a huge fan of the mold, though the changes Takara made do make the toy look much better. I ended up importing pretty much the entire Adventures line as I preferred to have a more show accurate display on my shelves, but I'll let you make that final call.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Spider-Man (2010): Power Charge Rhino

I've been reading comics now for over 20 years and Spider-Man and his rogue gallery have been some of my favorite characters. For the most part I have avoided buying Spider-Man action figures, however when Hasbro started a new trend in 3 3/4" Marvel action figures with the Universe series back in 2009, I found myself picking up Spider-Man and many of his villains. 

Some characters however didn't make it into the Universe series, but did end up in a different Spider-Man series of 3 3/4" figures. The line was simply called Spider-Man (released in 2010) and it featured some truly great sculpts of some classic Spider-Man characters. This is the series that one of my favorite villains, Rhino, was included in.

First of all if you have a keen eye then you may notice the figure in the packaging that I lifted off the 'net looks a little different compared to mine. That's because this toy came packaged with spiked armor bits you could put on the figure. I never cared for them so I opted to leave them off. Rhino has a thick rhino hide as-is so why would he need additional armor? Plus just look at this sculpt. This is a beefy 3 3/4" figure and is quite beautiful. Next to the current Marvel Legends Build-A-Figure version of Rhino, this is my favorite.

The designers did a marvelous job at capturing the realism of the rhino hide on this figure. The paint applications really help to bring out the detail all around. The figure is quite poseable too for a beefy, stout figure. His shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and ankles are all articulated.

If you look closely on the back you'll see holes on each side. These are for those aforementioned armor bits.

Overall this is a fantastic action figure of this classic Spidey villain. It can be had for under $10 on the secondary market if you are looking for a loose version. He scales perfectly with the various Marvel Universe (or now called Marvel Legends Universe) figures.

Alongside his fellow villain, the Lizard from the same line

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Rock Lords: Narlielion

Rock Lords, a spin-off of GoBots, was a series of transforming rocks. Yes, you read that correctly. If that wasn't odd enough Tonka decided to create companions for them, Narlies. These odd creatures were prominently featured in the animated Rock Lords movie.

Unlike the rest of the Rock Lord toys that were basically created by Bandai / Popy and imported from the Machine Robo series in Japan, the Narlies were wholly unique and created by Tonka themselves. This wasn't an unusual move as they previous released new characters and toys in the GoBots series as well.

The toys were unique. Covered in different colored "fur", their mouths, tail and feet were all made of plastic. Underneath the toy was a large wheel. When you would push the toy across a smooth hard surface, the mouth would open and close and the tail would essentially "wag". Add to this that the toy wasn't full of stuffing underneath all that fur. As you would move it along the ground, you could feel the mechanism working inside. This would give it a feeling as if it were alive! There was also a noise the wheel would make when turned...almost a cranking sound.

The Narlies were released in two series', with the first being the more common. The second series contained four more Narlies, all being evil this time around. I'm guessing the toy line was starting to die out around this time and due to poor sales or distribution, this second series of Narlies is really difficult to come across now on the secondary market. It's a real shame too as the designs are much more interesting in my opinion than the ones in the first series.

Narlielion is based on, well, a lion. The toy surprisingly has a good bit of detail. Just look at his snout, chin and those sharp teeth! He even is sculpted in a way that it looks like he is about to pounce. While most of the detail is in the molding, his teeth and nails are highlighted with some pink paint applications. Being that this toy is over 20 years old and most likely played with by a kid at some point, the paint on mine does show some wear. However it's been a cool conversation piece in my collection for years.

I understand that not every Rock Lord fan likes the Narlies. At first I didn't care for them myself either, but as I started to round out my Rock Lords collection I found that the Narlies were some of the only toys that I didn't own. I only picked up a few, including Narliebat, before I stopped due to space restrictions. However they are fun little toys and the non-educated Rock Lord fans will most certainly ask you about them when they see them on display in your collection.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Shameless Plug

As I've been tearing apart my toy room / office at home I've found that I just simply don't have space to display everything that I own. I'm not one for packing things away as I'd rather be able to see and enjoy what I own. That said it figured it was just time to let some things go. Time that with the holidays coming up it was the right time to load up my eBay store.

So far I've put some new Transformers, GI Joe and Marvel related items in the store. You'll also find some retro video games, baseball cards and other toys such as Visionaries. I'm not done adding items either, it's just late and I'm feeling a little under the weather at the moment.

Once I'm able to clear some of this clutter I've made for myself, I hope to get back to posting some reviews. I guess the good thing here is I've got lots of the new photos/content to share...now just have to find the time.