Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Shinkalion: Unity Combiner (video review)

I've been at this blog now for many years and I enjoy it. I feel as if old school written reviews are slowing fading away in this YouTube world we live in. However I can't deny the power of video. Heck, I even enjoy watching the random Transformers video review from time to time. Taking some inspiration from my 5 year old daughter, I decided to do a quick (is a 20 minute video quick?) video of the latest set of Shinkalion transforming trains from Takara Tomy. I had just finished shooting the photos for the upcoming blog post, but I was enjoying the toys too much to just put aside.

I hope to have the individual posts up for the three trains very soon, but for now you may want to check out the video. Tell me what you think...do you want to see more videos in the future or is my current written format sufficient? I'd really like to hear from some of the readers. Untl then, take care!

Saturday, January 21, 2017


On March 24, 2014, I shared my first post in the Racetron series of transforming robots, Chrysbot. Ever since I picked up a loose and a carded specimen of this toy I've had the Racetron toys on a saved eBay search, hoping more (affordable) individual robots would show up. Needless to say that hasn't happened, thus the lone Racetron entry in the blog's database of reviews.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by ConteDDracula. He had ran across my review of Chrysbot and had asked if I still owned the carded copy he had seen in the review. He told me about himself and his quest to complete the figure and needed a new Chrysbot to complete his quest. I still had the figure, sitting in the top of my closet. He offered to buy it and I didn't hesitate as I knew my chances of finding the other 5 were slim to none. Plus it felt good knowing I was helping a fellow collector. So off when Chrysbot on his long trip to Italy.

ConteDDracula told me he was going to share some words and pics with me after the package arrived. I was just as excited to see what he was going to send over as I am today with sharing it with my readers. While these toys may leave a lot to be desired, one can't help appreciate what this combining team of robots still is able to bring to the table. Thank you for sharing this with me ConteDDracula, I really do appreciate it.

After some years of research, I finally completed the Racetron thanks to my friend and fellow collector Colbey (Flywheels) too. The Racetron is a combiner made in Taiwan of 6 small car-robots (Bmbot, Fiabot, Chrysbot, Cadilbot, Porschbot and Pontibot) very similar to Gobots and with a good amount of die-cast metal. 

To do this I preferred to buy individual packages as were sold in Italy through the importer/distributor GLOBO and other minor brands. Curiously, in individual packages, the weapons were placed randomly while in giftset have fulfilled the picture of the final product.

The producers, though it is not written on the cards, are the same of funny not-Devastator Mr. Hard Hat and many other robots of cheap vintage American line, "Transistor Robots" by Four Star. To complete it I bought 2 members already previously opened and had to open 4 others blister MO(S)C! 

But having it in the collection is priceless, despite having spent about EUR 200/250 in a handful of years. I spent good money and enough time after all. The giant robot is pretty sturdy, heavy, about 26 cm tall and has a head like a robot of an old Japanese anime series: Galaxy Cyclone Braiger. The rifle instead is the same of Mr. Hard Hat.

At last Its final shape and the hooks do look like a Puzzler of Gobots "shaked" with Multiforce of Zybot Z. But Four Star will give us more surprises, to be continued!"

ConteDDracula (staff of www.giocattolivecchi.com)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Toys 'R Us: December 21, 2016

I meant to get this posted before Christmas, but you know how the holidays can go. Anyhow, I had to make a quick trip to my local TRU store in Pineville, NC the week of Christmas and I thought why not document my trip if you will. I always get a kick out of those old photos of the toy aisle that you see pop up on the internet from time to time. I thought why not take a few photos of the aisles I was browsing and share them. Remember, you can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.

The dedicated Nexo Knights end cap display prominently at the front of the Lego section. Nothing new here, but the sheer awesomeness of these sets will still attract your attention.

I started my visit in the Lego section like I normally do. I usually gravitate to the City section since that has traditionally been my favorite theme, however the Nexo Knights have caught my attention ever since they were released in early 2016. The good thing about late December is you can sometimes find some of the new sets already out on shelves. This was the case as I found several of the new Nexo Knights themed sets for 2017. If only I had more space and money I'd buy all of these sets!

Across from the Nexo Knights section was the aforementioned City theme sets. I noticed a few new sets, like the Pizza Van, but many of these were sets that have been out for awhile now. Surprisingly I didn't see many of the "Cops vs Crooks" sets I've seen at places like Target and Walmart. The selection was still pretty good, especially if you don't have a Lego store nearby.

The end cap around the corner from the City section was supposed to be spotlighting the new sets, but it had been picked over. I swear that jet and limousine set looks awfully familiar. I keep saying I'm going to buy that construction set w/ the Port-A-John before it disappears from retail shelves.

Being the Marvel van that I am, I didn't bother to take pictures of the DC Super Heroes sets! I should mention that many of the larger Marvel sets were actually on the action figure aisle shelves. Other than one small Captain America set from when Lego first started releasing Marvel sets, I've stayed away. It's not because I don't like the sets, but like other collectors I only have so much money and room for my collections. This new Spider-Man and Ghost Rider set looks pretty cool though.

My wife and I finally caught the new Star Wars Rogue One movie in the theatres as part of our wedding anniversary celebration on New Year's Day. Man oh man was that a great movie! Makes some of these new sets that more intriguing, especially that new TIE fighter.

Before leaving the Lego area, I walked around to where the Mega Bloks were and noticed a few of the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sets. I've seen the Krang set before, but the Turtle van and Technodrome I hadn't seen before...at least in person. I couldn't believe the $249.99 price tag of the Technodrome however. Guess I shouldn't be surprised as it looks to be similar in size to the Lego Star Wars Deathstar.

After finishing in the building block section, I made my way around to the other side of the store where the action figures were. I first went down the comic themed aisle, looking specifically to see if there were any of the new Spider-Man/Sandman Marvel Legends figures. There was one lone figure of the Jackal, but that was it. The rest of the selection was average fare...Absorbing Man, Ant Man, Juggernaut and Dormammu Build-A-Figure waves. There were a few of the 4 inch figures that I hadn't seen before. The figures of Gamora (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Rage (New Warriors) were particularly favorites of mine. I will eventually pick up that figure of Rage as the New Warriors was the first Marvel title I read when my brother first introduced me to comics in 1990.

Sadly the Transformers section was pretty poor. It had been shopped, but not well managed by the store staff. Do you ever find yourself tidying up the shelves and pegs at your local stores like I do? I couldn't help to put things back in the right spots...I guess it comes from all those years I worked retail while in high school and college. The only new items I saw was the new packaging for Robots in Disguise. They had the new wave of Legends figures, but TRU is asking $8.99 when they can be bought for $5.99 at Target/Walmart. I'm OK with a small mark up, but $3? Come on, man!

What I didn't intend on seeing on this visit was Playmates new Voltron toys. These of course are based on the new Netflix series. I started to watch the new show while on vacation last week, but after walking 6 miles through the streets of Savannah, GA I just couldn't make it very long and fell asleep. I'll have to revisit the show again very soon.

The non-combing lions were present, as well as some figures of the enemy. There was a full set of the combining lions which was surprising...especially after I've heard from others that they have been hard to find. There was 3 of the black lion too. I was tempted, but ultimately held off since Christmas was just around the corner.

The last section I checked out was the "collector's area" that has taken over a part of the R Zone where the video games and other electronics are held. This is where you find a lot of the comic and movie franchise figures. There didn't seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to the way this area was set up, however there was some cool stuff there. I particularly liked the Funko Dark Crystal figures...always loved that old Jim Henson movie.

Well that about wraps it up. I wanted to take more pictures in the action figure aisles, but being that it was only a few days left before Christmas the store was busy. I was already getting odd looks from other customers taking the pictures that I did, so I just settled for what I had. 

I will make mention that I visit a TRU store in Greenville, SC when I travel for work and it's a much nicer store. It's one of those combined TRU / Babies R Us stores so it's much larger. The video game area usually leaves a lot to be desired, but their Lego and action figure sections are always well stocked. The store also seems to be given more attention than the one located near me.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

GI Joe Loyal Subjects Wave 2: Roadblock

It's been awhile since I've looked at anything GI Joe related on this blog, so let's take of that shall we? While out doing a little Christmas shopping or my nieces and nephews at Toys R Us, I came across a fresh, undisturbed box of Loyal Subject's wave 2 Joes. I'm familiar w/ the company, but not these actual figures. I had a few of LS Transformer figures, but ultimately decided to let them go as they just didn't do anything for me. However these GI Joe versions, especially wave 2 caught my eye. How could I pass up the chance to see what these were like first hand?

They come blind packaged in nice little retro style boxes. The front features Snake-Eyes in all his comic art glory. The chocking hazard warning is a sticker...I'm guessing it was an after thought?

The sides and back of the box show off the entire wave of characters, along with the general odds of which one you'll get. Of course the more desired Cobra figures are the ones that are hardest to get, that being the Baroness, Crimson Guard and Cobra Trooper.

I love the inclusion of the old school Flag Points on the back, but what really intrigues me is the line "Collect GI Joe vehicles and playsets, sold separately". Is there more than meets the eye here? Is Loyal Subjects teasing us with more possible offerings, or is that just for looks?

The figures are packaged in a sealed foil bag along with a little file card. I like this because I see a lot of blind packaged toys these days opened on retail shelves. At least if some jerk opens the box to peek inside they'll still have to get into the foil bag to see which character is inside.

The included file card is sized to that of a traditional trading card. Being a card collector I love this. The back side of the card has the same image of Snake-Eyes from the box. I don't have any file cards of Roadblock so I don't know how closely the info matches any prior versions, but Loyal Subjects nailed the look of the classic cards.

Unlike many collectible vinyl figures on the market today, these are Action Vinyls, meaning they have articulation. The head appears to be a on ball joint and that allows the head to freely move around as well as up and down. He has articulation at his shoulders, wrists, hips and thighs. He appears to have what feels like a classic o-ring in his waist area, but I'm not sure if that is 100% the case.

Some people may be put off by the large head of the character, but I like it personally. Gives the toy a unique look and feel. The paint apps (at least on mine) look great and aren't messy at all. The plastic quality feels solid.

Just like the classic A Real American Hero toy, Roadblock comes packaged with his classic weapons an accessories. You get a helmet, backpack and his machine gun with removable tripod.

Overall these are great little figures. Toys R Us retails them for $12.99, which isn't too bad. I would imagine if other mass retailers carried these they may be in the $9.99 to $10.99 range. Either way, I'm glad I was able to check one of these out and will keep my eyes open for more in the future.