Tuesday, September 17, 2019

** UNDER CONSTRUCTION **

When I first started this blog I used Photobucket to host just about all of my pictures. Over the years this service seemed to work just fine, however recent changes have led to some of the pictures on my older reviews disappearing and being lost.

I really like the idea of archiving items in my collection with this blog and I really don't want to lose some of the things I've posted in the past. That said the blog won't be receiving much new content while I work to go back through my catalog of posts and back up the photos, clean some of them up (if necessary) and remove all ties to Photobucket.

I know this will take some time as it's a little tedious (and boring) so I do plan on posting some new content here and there...but I really want to get this work done before I charge forward.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Leave on the Light

Just in time for Friday the 13th! Since I've moved to ordering my comics online my horizons have been broadened. What I mean was that I've always been a Marvel superhero comic fan and I've often ignored other genres such as horror. A few months back I saw an title solicited by Antarctic Press, a small comic publisher that I somewhat follow. Simple titled Leave on the Light, the cover image and description of the book immediately had my attention.


I've always been a fan of horror movies, especially the 80's slasher sub genre, and this book looked really appealing. The description straight from the Previews website:

Brace yourself for a shocker of a horror story! In a small town near New York, an undead serial killer has begun claiming the lives of children by using the city's electrical system.

I received the book in last month's shipment of comics and I sat the book aside, originally wanting to wait until all 3 issues had been released before I sat down and read them. However with Halloween just around the corner I've been on a little kick of late, watching horror flicks and even re-visiting Dead Rising 2 on my Xbox One.

I thought with today being Friday the 13th it would be a great day to go ahead and check out issue #1. While the book was short, it was great! You're immediately introduced to the story's villain, a old prison inmate that is back from the dead? If you like gore and violence then the opening few pages will be right up your ally. While not overly graphic with gore, the violence is right up there with your typical 80's slasher movie.


After the initial opening scene, the reader is then introduced to the other two main characters (police officers) which have been assigned to the case. The lead detective soon learns that things are starting to look a lot like a case he had years ago and that something wasn't right. 

The book is 21 pages long, filled with some gorgeous art and coloring. Leave on the Light is the creation of Bradley Golden. What I didn't know going in was this project originated as a Kickstarter campaign. Similar to another Antarctic published horror book, Rags, somehow the creators got a publishing deal w/ Antarctic Press for a wider distribution.

I've already got issue #2 on order and after reading the first issue I anxiously await to read the next part of the story. The book has a cover price of $3.99 and there is a gold foil variant you can chase down if you wish. The book also features a flip cover and I believe the other two issues will feature flip covers as well.

If you are a fan of horror in general, especially in comics then you may want to give this book a try. Even though comics aren't necessarily rated like movies, this is definitely not a book for the kids. At the time of this post I've seen several reasonably priced listings on eBay, however larger online shops my MyComicShop.com has both the regular issue and the variant currently in stock without a mark up.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

KO Korner: Poison Dragon - Transformers G1 Skullcruncher KO

To kick off the 11th year of Random Toy Reviews, let's take a trip back to the KO Korner. Ever since I created an Instagram account I've seen a lot of great vintage G1 KO toys posted. Most of these come from countries in the east. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone as copyright laws are more lax outside of the U.S., especially 30 years ago.

Everytime I'd see one of these awesome G1 KO toys I'd always wonder just where that person found them. Was it a recent acquisition from a store in some other country? Was it old stock that was recently found? Or has this been sitting on someone's shelf for the last 20-30 years? Whatever the case, most of the oddly colored KOs I've never seen for sale. If I would happen to come across one on eBay, usually the asking price was far outside my comfort zone.


Luck would finally be on my side as I ran across a listing on eBay for Poison Dragon, an obvious KO of the G1 Transformers Headmaster Skullcruncher. The price was much more reasonable than I thought so I bit the bullet and made the purchase. Then the waiting game had to be played as the toy was coming from Malaysia I believe. Man, I think the last time I bought a Transformer from Malaysia was when I bought a complete, MIB Transformers Blue Bacchus for $50. True story, I swear...but that'll be for another time.

When Poison Dragon finally arrived at my doorstep, he was crammed in a small box with a little bit of newspaper padding inside. The backing card is cheap cardboard and had already shown some wear. However what I didn't fully realize before I made the purchase was that the bubble (which was very close to cracking apart) had started to lift from the backing board. At some point someone stapled a portion of the bubble back down, but not before the gun must have slipped out. Bummer.


The back of the blister card seems to have been lifted straight from the actual instruction booklet that was included with the legit Skullcruncher toy. The back of the packaging even refers to Poison Dragon as "Skullcruncher" and the Headmaster "Grax". Best that I can tell there was never a label sheet or tech spec decoder included.




Once I was able to carefully fish Poison Dragon out of his flimsy packaging, I could immediately tell that the quality of this KO was rather good. That's the thing with KOs, especially toys as old as this. You never know what the build quality is. Will it be shampoo bottle quality plastic or the good stuff? 


Poison Dragon features a similar color scheme to his G1 counterpart, however where Skullcruncher had green this one features blue. The pink sections are similar and even the shade of pink used is very close to the G1 toy. As far as I can tell, there are no differences in the mold. Even the factory applied stickers (minus the rub symbol on the gator's head) are the same as it's G1 counterpart. One of the main differences that you can easily spot is the addition of some gold (or is it copper?) paint applied to the ridges and notches alongside Poison Dragon's gator back. Being as old as this toy is, I was surprised to see that some of this paint has already started to wear off.


Where as Skullcruncher came with his Headmaster trainer, Grax, Poison Dragon comes with this "Headmaster" figure. He's not named and he's not a 1:1 KO of Grax or any other Headmaster figure that I recognize. 


This nameless Headmaster figure still retains the ability to ride inside the mouth of Poison Dragon if you so choose to. The figure seems to be just a smidge taller than Grax so I had to slide him down a little bit to get the gator mouth to close all the way.


Once I really started to inspect the Headmaster figure I could tell the same quality that went into the main figure was not used here. This plastic felt cheaper, almost slick to the touch. I had to shave off a few plastic spurs on the feet just to get him to stand up in robot mode. If you look at the right knee joint, you can see that it's bulging out a bit. I was worried when I transformed into head mode that the lower leg may pop off. Since I don't plan on transforming him much (if at all) I guess I shouldn't be too worried.

I gotta say this has to be the happiest looking Deception Headmaster I've ever seen! The facial expression really doesn't match the toy, let alone the red and yellow used. Ah, gotta love KOs is all I can say!


The transformation is spot on to the vintage G1 toy. Transforming Poison Dragon from gator to robot was one of the scariest things I've done in awhile. He was far tighter than my original Skullcruncher. The hinges of the tail section that splits apart were so tight I didn't think I was going to get them to split and fold down. Once I got them moving, I just knew something was going to break. I noticed what appeared to be small, flat excess pieces of plastic just above and below the hinge. I thought these were adding to the resistance so I took my pocket knife and carefully jimmied them out. I don't think it really helped loosen up the hinges, but it couldn't have hurt to remove them. The upper half of the toy seemed to transform just fine. I did find that the arms were a little loose, but nothing too bad.


If you remember both the Autobot and Decepticon (large) Headmaster toys had a gimmick where you could see partial stats of the robot once the head was plugged into the body. Not surprisingly this play feature was removed on the KO. The flip down chest plate is still there, but as you can see where the meter once was is now a solid piece of plastic.


As I mentioned earlier, the gun was missing from the packaging however he can wield the tip of his tail as a sword just like his authentic counterpart. I did notice the holes in the fist were a little tight. This made it a minor challenge to fit the peg on the underside of the tail piece into the fist hole.

On it's own this is a great KO. I love the colors (minus the Headmaster) and it reminded me of just how awesome this mold is. Now it's time to get the KO alongside the authentic toy for some comparison shots.









As great as Poison Dragon is, I love seeing these two side by side. They compliment each other so well. I may eventually try and pick up another Skullcruncher gun just to complete the look.


Last, but not least I was curious if Poison Dragon was compatible with his G1 self. Without any issues I was able to swap the heads just fine.


With the notches on the bottom of the KO Headmaster being different lengths than on Grax, when you plug him into Skullcruncher's body you get different ratings in the Speed/Strength/Intelligence categories. 

If you are a big G1 Transformers fan such as I and you enjoy a good quality KO TF then I highly recommend this bootleg toy. While I've seen several packaged and loose pictures of this toy before, I've never seen one for sale until I ran across this one a few weeks ago. I know Chromedome was KO'd in a similar fashion, as well as Highbrow (in an awesome Sprite "lemon & lime" color scheme!), but I don't know if any of the other larger Headmasters received KOs. I know for one I'll be on the search. Pictures will probably surface on Instagram at some point!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

10 Year Anniversary of Random Toy Reviews!

Exactly ten years ago to the date, I published my very first toy review on this blog. It's hard to believe it's been ten years. I can remember however starting up the blog, being so excited to share many of the cool toys that I owned at the time. It was about a month before my first daughter was born too.

However what I didn't realize at the time was that blogging was "work". The time it took to take pictures, edit them and them piece it all together in the form of a blog post took more time than I thought it would. There were times I thought I'd let the blog die since the number of views per post have dropped, but then I would stop and realize that if I'm being truthful with myself, this blog is for me and how it helps me document and remember the toys I once had.

Space is an issue any collector of anything faces at some point. With me having multiple hobbies and thus multiple collections, it becomes necessary at times for me to part way with certain toys. I find it fun to look back at old posts and remember what was going on during that time in my life. While I do enjoy seeing a lot of people visiting the blog and reading/commenting on the posts, I don't do this for others. I do this for me and my own enjoyment. 

For all of those who have supported me and the blog, I thank you. It's been a wild ten years, full of ups and downs. I've covered everything from Transformers, to GI Joe; Marvel to odd Japanese toys and everything else in between. Most toy reviewers have taken to YouTube to share their thoughts and opinions, however I find it almost therapeutic at times blogging. I know I may not always be the most eloquent when it comes to words, however this is something that I have enjoyed and still enjoy to this day. If there is one thing about having this blog that drives me crazy is that I tend to sit on opening items and enjoying them for far too long. I know I can't do a post on everything I buy. After I get through my backlog of some items, I have a new approach to toy collecting / blogging that I hope will keep things fresh and exciting for me.

I know there have been times where the content has suffered, but ten years later I still find it fun to create new content and share it with others. I don't plan on stopping, though as my family grows older and my work responsibilities increase, I don't see me being able to pump out a lot of new content on a regular basis like I once did. However I hope if you're reading this you'll bookmark the site, or give our Facebook page a like so you can follow on.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Hot Wheels: Corvette C7 Z06 Convertible (HW Roadsters 5/5)

Anytime I see a Hot Wheels Corvette I don't already own I can't resist the urge to pick it up. In this case I found a new version of a model I previously own...but this time in my favorite color!






Beautiful car. I ended up having to look at several different specimens as the paint apps are hit and miss, just like on action figures. I particularly like the red chrome outline on the wheels.



I found the blue model first, but the red is definitely my favorite. Fits this model Corvette like a glove.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Transformers Cyberverse: Gnaw

The Cyberverse series of Transformers has been pulling in characters from other TF series and even though there are plenty of characters based on their G1 selves, I didn't see a new Gnaw toy coming. Last released in the Titans Return series, this version of the Decepticon Sharkticon shares a lot with his "little cousin", but also brings a few new tricks to the table.


I was a little shocked to find Gnaw at a Target a few weeks ago. He must have just been put out on the sales floor because when I went to check out the toy didn't scan at the register. While I don't go hunting for toys like I once did, I still have yet to see another Gnaw at local retail.

Gnaw is part of the Power of the Spark subseries in the Cyberverse series. Like other Warrior class toys, he has a gimmick called "Mace Mash". We'll look at that in a bit. Packaging is your standard fare for the series, however I'm digging the new artwork at the top of the blister card.

Upon taking Gnaw off the pegs, I could immediately tell that this toy looked a lot like the Titans Return version, only bigger and beefier. In the G1 animation / movie, he was always portrayed as a hefty 'bot in both robot and beast mode. I'm glad that this toy takes those cues as he has more girth than the smaller Legends scale Titans Return mold.


Out of the packaging you can really tell Hasbro "upscaled" this mold in some ways. The figure's construction is similar to the Titans Return mold and transformation is pretty much the same. Looking at the rear of the figure however you'll see some changes. First of all the shark fin is much bigger/longer as this acts as a lever for the Mace Mash gimmick. You can also see two stickers on the back of the figure - one is an instructional sticker for the gimmick while the other is a warning. I thought about removing these, but once you transform Gnaw these stickers are concealed.

Articulation is limited this time around. His head does turn side to side, but the plastic that houses the hinges for the mouth does restrict some of the movement of the head. His arms are attached with ball joints at the shoulders so you've got a good range of motion there, but at the elbow are these odd joints. It's possible to pull the arms off at this joint if you aren't careful. The stubby little legs attach to the torso using ball joints. The knees are on a hinge, but the Skarkticon kibble on the back of the legs make it tough to pull off any good action poses. I do want to point out that the little Sharkticon arms on the sides of the legs are not poseable.


Gnaw comes packaged with his mace which also acts as his tail in beast mode. He has a great head sculpt and his colors are pretty spot on to his G1 self. Overall he has a great look and I wouldn't mind picking up another one for the collection at some point.


I mentioned his Mace Mash gimmick before. Basically you unclip the lower jaw on Gnaw's chest to disconnect the top half of the figure from the lower half. Then you reach around to the rear and push the blue shark fin down/in. It's on a spring so it'll come back up and you can keep pressing this down/in as much as you want. With each press of this fin the top half spins around. If you're old enough to remember the Berserkers from Thundercats, Gnaw spins around a lot like Topspinner.


I only own one other Warrior class Cyberverse figure, but he seems to scale well here with Shockwave.




Transformation from robot to beast mode is basically the same as the Titans Return version. You collapse the upper and lower jaw around the head, folding up the legs behind the figure to form the main body of the Sharkticon. Position the arms, which are now the legs as you like and clip in the mace to form the tail.

Again I love the colors and the big, beedy green eyes are awesome...however I just can't get past how the robot head is still visible in the mouth of Gnaw. I also wish the blue shark fin on his back would stand up a little higher in this mode. 

If you can look past these minor issues this is a great looking Sharkticon figure in my opinion. I really wish I could have got to the cabinet where my G1 Gnaw is on display so I could have provided a few comparison shots, but alas my office/toy room floor is/was a mess and I didn't have a clear path to him. However I was able to grab the aforementioned Titans Return version so let's check that out.




Other than the size differences, the other major difference is the shade of gray plastic that was used. The Cyberverse version of Gnaw uses a much lighter gray and better resembles his G1 self. The eyes are opaque lime as opposed to a translucent darker green. There are additional paint apps to the upper row of teeth. Mold wise, the arms/legs attach to the body much higher than the Legends version. 


In this shot you can see why I said the Cyberverse version has more girth. The body itself is wider and longer than the Legends version. The robot head is more prominent as well.

Overall this is a great Cyberverse toy. I know this line is aimed at a younger Transformers audience, but a character like Gnaw had to be thrown in to appease the older generation of TF fans. While I don't care for the gimmick, it doesn't detract from the figure too much. Gnaw in my opinion looks great in either mode and most importantly is a fun figure. Since I opened him he has been one of my deskbots and has often been fiddled with, going back and forth between robot and Sharkticon.