Monthly Archives: November 2013

TRICERATOPS

Dino-Triceratops leftDINOSAURS

Just over a year ago I reviewed a rubber iguanodon toy that I’ve owned since I was a little kid.  I thought I had gotten rid of all of my rubber dinosaurs years ago until they turned up in a box at my folks place when they were doing some cleaning.  My dad set my rubber dinosaurs and my old hockey cards aside from the junk being discarded assuming that I might want them back.  He was right.  I was stoked to have all my rubber dinosaurs back.  Dinosaurs have always been my thing.  My brother Doug and I grew up with nearly identical interests but a love of dinosaurs and big monsters was mostly my domain.  In fact, I can only recall Doug ever owning 1 rubber dinosaur of his own, a Stegosaurus, where as I owned 8 or 9 dinosaurs.  There weren’t too many toy line from out youth where my collection outnumbered his.Dino-Triceratops and iguanadon

The stegosaurus was always Doug’s favorite dinosaur.  But I’m not sure what came first, the favoritism of the toy. Was Stegosaurus his favorite before he got the toy or was Stegosaurus his favorite because it was the only dinosaur toy he owned?  We’ve had these things for so long that I doubt he even remembers.

My favorite dinosaur was always the triceratops.  How could you not think triceratops was awesome?  He’s built like a rhinoceros but with three horns on his face and a bone shield on the back of his head.Dino-Triceratops front

 

When I think triceratops my first thoughts go to this toy.  If you asked me to describe one I’d say, red face, green body, squatty legs, blank stare.  This is my default triceratops.  I love how the designers didn’t concern themselves with the fact that he’s a herbivore.  He looks just as much a deadly man-eater as my T-Rex figure, with that gaping mouth and needle-like teeth.  It may not be overly accurate but it made for a good toy.  His open mouth and hollow insides made him an excellent candidate to swallow up any  time-traveling interlopers.  I used my rubber dinosaurs with just about every toy line I owned.  Neither Snake Eyes nor Luke Skywalker could escape this guy’s wrath.

Despite his kinda goofy face this toy actually has a lot of nice details.  There are multiple sculpted wrinkles and bumps on the skin and his multi-colored paint job seems to have been done with purpose.  Call me nostalgic but this is a great toy. 6 out of 10.Dino-triceratops right

SHAWN MICHAELS

WWF-Shawn MichaelsWWF

Man I loved wrestling as a kid.  I almost completely lost my taste for it into my teens but I do still indulge by throwing on a classic WWF DVD from time to time.  My brother Doug is still pretty into wrestling but mostly in a nostalgic way.  He collects toys of the guys who wrestled when we were kids and he reads their autobiographies but he doesn’t follow current going-ons in the WWE.  Recently he told me about a special he watched which ranked , I believe, the top 100 pro wrestlers of all time.  I was shocked when he told me that Hulk Hogan wasn’t number 1.  I know some of you people grew up in the age of Stone Cold and the Rock and you think they’re the best and that’s all well and good.  Some of you may be older wrestling fans who would rank some guy from the 70s in your number 1 spot, wrestling has been around a long time.  But as far as I’m concerned, as a child of the 80s, Hulk Hogan is the undisputed greatest wrestler of all time. Yes, I know he actually wasn’t that great of a wrestler but I’m taking the whole Hulkamania package into account; the prayers and the vitamins and all of that.  The guy was a goddamned super hero.WWF-Shawn Micheals package

Anyway, the guy who topped the list was Shawn Michaels, HBK, the Heartbreak Kid.  I don’t agree with this choice but that’s not meant as a slight to Mr. Michaels.  I was a HUGE Shawn Michaels fan as a kid.  That was long before he was known as HBK though.  Doug and I idolized the tag-teams of the 80s: the British Bulldogs, the Hart Foundation, the Killer Bees, etc. Not only were tag team matches generally more exciting to watch, but the figures came in easily shared 2-packs.   Doug and I used to emulate our favorite tag teams when wrestling our stuffed animals.  When the Rockers, a team featuring a young Shawn Michaels and his partner Marty Janetty, came onto the scene Doug and I became instant super fans.  We were won over by their high flying acrobatic moves and their rock n’ roll attitudes.

When wrestling Scooby Doo and Stinky, our largest stuffed animals, in  our epic bedroom brawls it became common practice for Doug and I to tie our housecoat belts around our arms and legs in an attempt to replicate the Rockers look.  I was always Shawn and Doug was always Marty.  Pretending to be the Rockers was fun and all but we both so wanted LJN to produce action figures of the Rockers.  Back in those days LJN produced big solid rubber wrestling toys which were well sculpted and a blast to play with.  Sadly LJN lost the WWF license before they got a chance to produce any Rockers toys.WWF-Shawn Michaels-rockers

When Hasbro took over the WWF license shortly afterwards they began releasing shorter, articulated figures made of harder plastic.  Some of them were okay but in no way compatible with our beloved LJN rubber wrestlers.  Some of Hasbro’s toys down right sucked.  Their Jimmy “Super Fly”  Snuka figure received the lowest ranking I’ve ever given on this site (and yet for some reason it remains one of my most viewed posts??).  Hasbro released the first ever Rockers figures and unfortunately they were on the sucky side of the spectrum.  They shared the same action feature and construction as that god awful Snuka figure.  Their legs were stuck together and their oversized torsos could be pulled down over their legs, revealing a giraffe neck, in order to launch the figures into a drop kick or something.  Doug got the Marty out of the pack and I got Shawn.  I hated that Shawn Michaels toy but I played with it a lot anyway since it was the only Shawn Michaels toy available at the time.

I still own that figure and I still hate it.  He looks fat, has a growth on his back,  and his proportions are way out of whack.  You would never guess from looking at this figure that this guy would go on to make a solo career based on a heart throb persona.  I almost feel like I should go out and buy a better Shawn Michaels toy for myself as dozens have been made in the years since, but I just don’t care enough anymore.  This clunker shall remain my one and only Shawn Michaels figure.  I should give it a 1 but just because I idolized this guy so much and this was his first ever figure I’ll give it a 3 out of 10.

SWERVE (VEER) (2013)

TF-Veer full2TRANSFORMERS

When I was a kid one of my favorite Transformers was Gears.  The original 1984 Gears figure was 1 of only 3 Transformer toys I kept from my youth.  The character wasn’t overly memorable from the comics or cartoons and the toy wasn’t anything spectacular either.  It was a dinky little penny-racer style vehicle like the original Bumblebee.  I guess I always found the figure really cute which was part of its appeal.  And so I held onto that little figure during my teens and early twenties when I had little interest in Transformers (Beast Wars, meh).

In 2006 Hasbro released a new line of Generation 1 inspired Transformer figures called “Classics”(which was later rebranded Generations, then Universe).  The first Classics figure I got was Bumblebee.  I was very impressed at how well sculpted and articulated he was; plus he actually looked the way he did in the old cartoons (better actually).  That Bumblebee figure is the toy that got me excited about collecting Transformers again for the first time in years.  I figured that if they could make Bumblebee look that cool then they’d eventually  get around to making equally cool versions of my favorite mini bots; Gears and Cosmos.  The years went by and a Gears never came and the only Cosmos I ever got was this crappy thing. It seemed as though I might never get an updated Gears figure as Hasbro had shifted its focus to the crappy Michael Bay movie figures by then.  The original Gears was still cute and all but it looked rather pathetic standing on my Transformers bookshelf with all of the much larger more detailed new figures.TF-Veer face

As a side note, many of the mini bots that were released during the first couple of waves of Transformers in ’84 and ’85 were repainted and rereleased as new characters a couple of years later.  Brawn was repainted white and named Outback, Windcharger was repainted white and named Tailgate, and Gears was repainted white and red and named Swerve.  I never owned any of those repaints nor did I want them.  None of the repainted characters made an impression on me and I don’t remember any of them from the cartoons or comics; if they even ever appeared.  The Gears repaint didn’t even have the cute factor going for him. Instead of a little visored face with cheeks you just wanted to pinch Swerve had a more humanoid and less interesting face.  It didn’t help that his head had zero paint apps and was molded as a solid red piece.  It made him look like a cheap Transformers knock-off.TF-Veer vintage

Many years went by with me hoping for an updated Gears figure but I didn’t give a crap if I ever got a figure of his doppelganger Swerve.  That is until 2012 when IDW split up their on-going Transformers comic into 2 separate titles which focused on different groups of Autobots and Decepticons.  One book was called “Robots in Disguise” and it focused on Bumblebee’s struggles on Cybertron while the other book called “More Than Meets the Eye” focused on Hot Rod and his mission into space to find the Transformers’ lost ancestors.  Both books are excellent but if I had to pick a favorite it’s More Than Meets the Eye (MTMTE) written by James Roberts.  I’m not familiar with any of Mr. Robert’s work outside of Transformers but I feel confident saying that he’s one of the best in the industry; in fact he’s probably my favorite writer in comics at present.TF-veer comic

I’m enjoying Dan Slott’s Superior Spider-Man and Robert Kirkman’s Walking Dead.  Scott Snyder’s Batman and American Vampire are great.  But none of them move me the way Roberts’ work on Transformers does.  It’s almost a shame that he’s on a “toy book” as I’m sure he gets taken less seriously and won’t won’t win any accolades for his writing on the series but let me tell you, it is marvelous.   I just recently finished reading volume 5 of MTMTE and I was misting up during the emotional scenes.  That hasn’t happened to me since, well, since I read volume 4.  If you’re not reading Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, start.

The cast of characters Roberts chose for the title have all become favorite characters of mine.  Rewind, a robot that turns into frig’n cassette tape which I never owned as a kid and had no prior attachment to is now one of my all time favorite Transformers. Cyclonus, Ultra Magnus, Skids, Chromedome..all of them are so well fleshed out that I’ve come to care about them all.  Two of of the characters I enjoy most in the series are Swerve and Tailgate, 2 of those repaints I previously wanted nothing to do with.TF-Veer boxTF-Veer back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The combination of Roberts’ stellar writing and the top notch art on the book turned me into a die-hard Swerve fan.  I may even like him more than Gears now.  Gears is also in the MTMTE book by the way but he’s been relegated to background character status thus far.  The further along into the series I got the more I wanted a Swerve figure.  Last year Hasbro released a Swerve which was a repaint of their previously released Kup.  It looked nothing like the Swerve I’d come to know from the comics.  In the comics Swerve is short and stocky and full of life.  He provides much of the book’s comic relief.  Choosing Kup, a crotchety old-timer, as the base for a Swerve figure was a bad choice.  But it seemed unlikely that I’d ever get a comic accurate Swerve so I bought the Kup version and thought “this will have to do.”TF-Veer shoot

But then, in early 2013 third party toy company, iGear, revealed their upcoming Transformer homages.  Not only were they releasing an awesome G1 accurate Gears, but they were also releasing  a comic accurate Swerve.  Had they released these two figures in 2011 I would’ve bought Gears and ignored the Swerve but now, after reading MTMTE for a year, both were absolutely essential.

Since iGear is a third party company who doesn’t technically have the rights to make Gears and Swerve figures they left off any trademarked Autobot logos and renamed them Cogz and Veer.  I reviewed the Gears/Cogz figure right away.  I waited a while before reviewing Swerve/Veer so as to avoid repetition since they’re practically the same figure.  The only differences in the sculpts are the head and chest.  Their alt. modes are identical other than the change in color.  Gears is a vibrant red and blue but Swerve is a more subdued red(almost pink) and an off-white.  The color scheme makes him a bit duller than Gears to look at but that was also the case with the original figures.  I would’ve liked to see a darker shade of red but that’s my only complaint about this figure.  All the praise I gave to the Gears figure holds true for this figure.  It has great sculpting and articulation and the scale fits the character perfectly.  He came packaged with a gun which is nothing special but I appreciate that iGear gave him a unique weapon instead of just sticking him with the same gun as Gears.   This is an awesome figure which i’m very happy to have added to my collection.  He’s worth the high price tag.  10 out of 10.TF-Veer and CogzTF-Veer truck compare

MANTENNA (2013)

MOTUC-Mantenna fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

The Masters of the Universe toy line was awesome right out of the gate.  The original 1982 wave of figures contained heroes like He-Man, Man-At-Arms, and Stratos and villains like Skeletor, Mer-Man, and Beast Man.  The 1983 wave brought us Man-E-Faces and Trap Jaw.  1984’s wave 3 gave us Buzz-Off and Clawful.  Mattel was pumping out excellent new characters every year to join the ranks of He-Man’s Masters and Skeletor’s Evil Warriors. A surprise came in 1985 when an entirely new team of baddies, who were completely independent of Skeletor, was released.  Hordak and his evil Horde opened up all kinds of new play scenarios.  Most of the big boy’s toy brands of the 80s had 2 clearly defined teams of good guys and bad guys.  Adding a third party really shook things up.  Would He-Man and Skeletor be forced to team-up to battle this new threat to Eternia?  Maybe.  Mattel did it again in 1986 by adding King Hiss and his Snake Men.  I can’t think of any other toy line that had that many rival factions.MOTUC-Mantenna face

The Horde, of which Mantenna was a member, were marketed to boys as MOTU figures but they didn’t appear in the MOYU cartoon.  They were the primary villains in the MOTU spin-off cartoon, She-Ra: Princess of Power.  The animated Mantenna was a scrawny dork who was bullied by Hordak.  The original 1985 toy didn’t look much like his animated counterpart at all.  You can check out my review of the original here.  It wasn’t his bumbling cartoon portrayal that endeared this character to me, it was his hella weird action figure.  Instead of being scrawny, the Mantenna figure was one of the beefiest toys in the original line.  His four skinny spider-like legs were sculpted as two legs doubled up which gave the appearance of him having very thick legs.  They face on the toy was downright frightening with the weird creepy mouth, tusks, and big veiny ears. Not to mention the bulging blood shot eyes which popped from their sockets.  I don’t know if I would describe him as cool looking exactly but he was unique looking and that was good enough for me.  Upon his release in ’85 Mantenna became a fast favorite of mine.MOTUC-Mantenna pose

When the MOTU cartoon was revived in 2002 I loved the new character designs and I loved the new figures sculpted by the Four Horsemen.  I couldn’t wait to get re-imagined versions of all my old favorites.  In the first season He-Man fought Skeletor.  In the second season he mostly fought the Snake Men.  In the third he was slated to fight the Horde but unfortunately the series was cancelled after season 2 and the corresponding Horde figures never got released.  A statue based on the Horsemen’s 2002 design was released, which was awesome, but was almost like salt in the wound.  I wanted a new Mantenna toy.MOTUC-Mantenna torso

Well 28 years later I finally got one.  Mantenna was released as a part of the MOTU Classics line this past October.  I’ve been anticipating this figure since the Classics line started in 2008 and when there were rumblings of the line coming to an end last year I feared that I ‘d never see him.  Luckily the line survived long enough for Mattel to release him and he does not disappoint.  This figure is amazing.MOTUC-Mantenna back

I’m very impressed that Mattel put the money into this figure that was required to do Mantenna justice.  Many of the Classics figures are made up of existing parts but Mantenna’s 4 legged abdomen required all new tooling.  The results look great.  He can be posed in a ton of ways.  I like displaying him with a wide spider stance but you can push his legs together to kind of replicate the look of the original toy.  All four legs have multiple points of articulation and have a good degree of posability.  His torso looks great too and also uses some nice new pieces.  He’s not as buff as the original toy but not as scrawny as the animated look.  As Goldilocks might say, this figure is just right.MOTUC-Mantenna faceless

The head sculpt is really impressive.  It’s based mostly on the designs from the 2002 redesign as opposed to the original toy which I think was a good call.  His ears are like bat wings with lots of sculpted veins.  His eyes are bulging yellow orbs with beady little pupils, and his mouth looks like it could do some real damage.  Where the original had, I don’t know, exposed nerve endings around his maw, this version has sharp teeth and protruding tusks.  He came packaged with his Horde crossbow, which all members of the Horde carry, and he also has a second set of eyes.MOTUC-Mantenna eyes

The original toy’s eyes bugged out when you flicked a switch on his back which was pretty cool.  The Classics figures don’t have play features like the originals but Mattel always does a good job at replicating those features.  Mantenna’s mouth can be popped off which allows you to take his eyes out.  You can then plug in his bugged out eyes which have some nice veiny details sculpted onto their roots.  He looks cool displayed either way.

I’d have been willing to pay a premium for this figure but he was sold at the standard price which was a steal.  I don’t think Mantenna has ever looked better. I absolutely love it.  10 out 0f 10.MOTUC-Mantenna legs

AIRTIGHT v.4 (2013)

Joe-Airtight v4 fullG.I. JOE FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE

This here is the 2nd figure from wave two of the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club’s figure subscription service(FSS): Tiger Force Airtight.  Air Tight is the Joe team’s Hostile Environment Specialist.  The first Airtight figure was released in 1985, my brother Doug had him.  I always thought he was a cool looking figure as I was a fan of most characters with full face masks, it made them seem like super heroes or something.  Unfortunately Airtight’s cool factor was somewhat diminished for me by the way he looked on the cartoon, helmet off most of the time, receding hairline, kind of a dork.  After that initial figure Hasbro never released any other versions of him during the Real American Hero era (1982- 1994).  A second version of Airtight was released exclusively in Brazil by a toy company called Estrela.  That version was painted in a Tiger Force pattern and named Ar Puro.Joe-Airtight arpuro

A second official version of the character wasn’t released in America until 2008.  That version was one of the very last figures of the new sculpt era.  In fact the modern era had already begun a year earlier with the launch of the 25th anniversary series.  I never bothered picking up the 2008 version as I had fully embraced the new style of figures by then.  A modern version of Airtight was released in 2011. That was the first Airtight figure I had ever owned.  The 2011 version was an awesome update of the original.  He retained all of his signature characteristics but was more realistic looking and even had a removable helmet this time.  The figure was so good that I didn’t think I’d ever need another Airtight.  This is why I was not excited about Tiger Force Airtight, a straight repaint of the 2011 version, being included in the 2013 FSS.Joe-Airtight v4 carded

Well now I have the figure in hand and I’ll be damned but I quite like it.  It is the exact same figure as the 2011 figure; no new pieces.  Most of the accessories are even the same: vest, helmet, backpack, hose, and gas gun.  This version does has a futuristic looking gun that the previous version didn’t have and is lacking his predecessor’s rifle and gas canister.  The only real difference here is the paint job and, truth be told, even that’s not that different.  Airtight’s standard uniform is yellow and so is his Tiger Force uniform, all they’ve done is add stripes.  The main difference is that all of his gear that is usually green, like the boots, helmet and gloves, are now brown.Joe-Airtight v4 face

The changes aren’t significant but it’s a really nice looking figure regardless.  I don’t know if the brown gear would look all that great with a solid yellow uniform but the black stripes make it work.  Another thing I like about the paint job is that it’s consistent with Tiger Force Shipwreck who shipped out at the same time.  The pair look great together in a way the 1988 Tiger Force figures never did.  These figures have actually got me hoping that the Club releases more Tiger Force repaints in the future.  Who’d a thunk it?  The quality of these first two FSS 2.0 figures has me pretty excited about what’s to come.  8 out of 10Joe-Airtight v4 with shipwreckAirtight v4 compare

SHIPWRECK v.18 (2013)

Joe-Shipwreck v18 fullG.I. JOE FIGURE SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE

Hooray!  My first wave 2 Figure Subscription Service package arrived in the mail today.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a quick recap.  Last year the G.I. Joe Collector’s Club offered their first ever subscription figure program.  Club members could opt into paying a lump sum amount for 13 exclusive figures.  The identities of 12 of the figures were revealed in advance.  They were shipped out 2 at a time over the course of 6 months.  On the 6th month the 13th mystery figure was included. I was very pleased with the 2012 FSS.  It was a little late getting started but once the ball got rolling the figures arrived on time every month and for the most part the quality of the figures was top notch.  Even certain figures that I wasn’t that excited about ended up impressing me.  Signing up for the 2013 FSS was a no-brainer.

The club announced the 2013 line-up back in April and I wrote a preview post with my thoughts on all of the character choices. There were some great choices but overall I didn’t think the second year line-up was quite as strong as the first.  Skullbuster and Widescope were two of the new figures that I was most looking forward to.  The two figures that I was least looking forward to were Tiger Force versions of Shipwreck and Airtight, and of course, those were the first two to arrive.Joe-Shipwreck v18 and Airtight carded

What the FSS does best is fill holes in the modern Joe collection that Hasbro is unlikely to remedy themselves.  Big Boa and Topside were fine examples of that from wave 1.  Those are the kinds of figures I want.  What I don’t particularly need are figures of characters I already own in a change of clothes.

Tiger Force is a Joe sub-team that was first introduced in 1988.  The team consisted of older figures repainted with a tiger stripe deco.  There wasn’t much consistency to the Tiger Force uniforms other than the stripes.  Some had striped pants while others had striped shirts.  Their uniforms ranged from green to yellow to brown to black.  I didn’t really understand the point of Tiger Force.  Sure it was a way to sell kids repainted toys they already had but at least similar concepts like Night Force made sense.  10 Tiger Force figures were released in 1988 and neither Shipwreck or Airtight were amongst them.  Hasbro didn’t revisit Tiger Force beyond that first year.Joe-Shipwreck v18 face

However, the Estrela toy company operating out of Brazil produced a few additional Tiger Force characters.  In 1991 they released a Tiger Force Shipwreck named “Marujo” which means sailor and a Tiger Force Airtight named “Ar Puro” which means Pure Air.  Those figures became highly sought after items for some collectors.  Not me.Joe-Shipwreck marujo

Through the FSS and their convention sets the Club has been doing a great job of giving fans new versions of highly sought after foreign repaints.  Cobra De Aco and Cobra Mortal are fine examples.  Both of them were basically just foreign Snake Eyes repaints back in the day but both of them are viewed as unique characters.  The fact that the Club dubbed these guys Tiger Force Shipwreck and Airtight made them less desirable to me because they weren’t unique characters.  I already have Shipwreck and Airtight figures.  Had the Club named these guys Marujo and Ar Puro and changed up the info on their file cards, maybe painted Shipwreck’s beard black, then I could view them as individuals and that would make them much more desirable. Joe-Shipwreck v18 compare

I’ll review Airtight in my next post so for now I’ll focus on Shipwreck.  The first new sculpt Shipwreck was released in 2007.  I don’t mind that figure but it’s not without its flaws.  His head is pretty small and his forearms are comically oversized, drawing comparisons to Popeye.  They released an improved version of Shipwreck in his iconic sailor suit in a 2009 5-pack which I did not puchase. Earlier this year Hasbro released a Shipwreck in a cap and sweater which was cool but Shipwreck needs his sailor outfit in my opinion.  This Tiger Force Shipwreck is almost a straight repaint of the 2009 version.  The only noticeable difference I see in the parts used is this figure has long sleeves while the 2009 Shipwreck had short sleeves.  Since I never had the 2009 Shipwreck this sculpt is new to me. While I’ve been fine with my 2007 Shipwreck as my main display figure of the character, now that I see the two sculpts together I can clearly see that the ’09 version was superior, the proportions are much more realistic.Joe-Shipwreck v18 back

Besides the nice sculpt, this figure also has a nice paint job.  The black and yellow isn’t nearly as garish as the 1988  Tiger Force outfits.  I actually think it looks pretty cool.  I don’t have very many yellow characters on my Joe shelf so TF Shipwreck stands out in the crowd.  He also comes with some great accessories. He’s got a pistol that can be holstered on his leg, a speargun, a machine gun, a satchel and a hook.  Best of all is his sidekick, Polly the parrot.  My 2007 Polly has her wings tucked in and she’s rather dull looking.  This version (which is the same as was included with the 2009 Shipwreck) has her wings spread wide and is much more dynamic; and much more recognizable as a bird.  The satchel has two small, barely noticeable, nubs on the shoulder where Polly can be attached.   Having Polly on Shipwreck’s shoulder is much better than the wrist mounted Pollys of the past.

The club has done it once again.  They won me over on a toy I wasn’t looking forward to at all.  This figure looks great.  If I had the 2009 Shipwreck I don’t think I’d appreciate as much but that’s neither here nor there. During the course of this review I’ve decided that I will not regard this figure as a Shipwreck repaint despite what his display stand says.  In my Joe-verse he shall be Marujo the Brazilian sailor, an ally of G.I. Joe.  7 out of 10.

 

 

GODZILLA (1998)

Godzilla 98 fullGODZILLA

Last weekend was Hal-Con (Halifax’s own sci-fi /fantasy convention).  It was a 3 day event covering Friday, Saturday and Sunday. My brother Doug and I had decided to buy 1 day passes for Saturday since that was the day of Billy Dee William’s panel.  A single day was fine by me as I don’t think I could handle a full 3 days in a confined space with thousands of people dressed as anime characters.Godzilla 98 front

The issue I had with only attending on the second day was that I feared all of the good toys might get bought up on day 1.  Lucky for me the convention organizers decided to make the first floor, which housed the retail area, free of admission.  And so on my Friday lunch break I scooted up the road for a quick swing through Hal-Con’s retail space.  The doors had just opened at noon so I was literally one of the first customers to enter the place.  The local shops were all represented: Darryl from Giant Robot Comics, Cal and Dave from Strange Adventures, and Mike from Monster’s Comic Lounge were all present.  It was great to see them all but since I frequent those shops regularly they didn’t have any items for sale that I hadn’t already seen.  What I was hoping to find was someone selling old loose toys at decent prices.  Maybe a bin of $5 dollar G.I. Joes, maybe some vintage He-Man figures for a couple of bucks; stuff like that.  Sadly I didn’t have much luck on that front.

There were 2 retailers who fit the bill but their selection was limited.  One guy had loose Joes for ten bucks a piece and loose He-Men for thirty bucks which was too steep for me.  The other promising seller was a couple who were there thinning out his toy collection.  I was impressed by the wide range of 80s and 90s figures they had that were still in their original boxes and priced fairly.  They had a lot of 90s Toy Biz Marvel figures such as tie-in toys for the first X-Men movie.  Neat stuff but not what I was looking for.  They had a Dick Tracy doll which I was tempted by and a massive Batcave play set which was a steal at $40 but which I have no use for.  One thing I did find that caught my attention was an electronic Godzilla toy from the 1998 American-made monster movie.Godzilla 98 carded

I’ve previously reviewed 2 Godzilla toys.  One is a big hollow rubbery representation of the King of the Monsters as he appeared in the later films produced by Japan’s Toho Studios.  Read about him here.  I really like that figure because of it’s size and sculpting.  If I were allowed only one Godzilla toy in my collection it would be that one.  The other Godzilla toy I reviewed a while back was from the 1998 movie.  Read about him here.  That toy, which is technically just a key chain, is the only piece of merchandising I bought from the flood of products that were available to promote the movie.Godzilla 98 box back

As I mentioned in the earlier review I was working at Blockbuster Video back in 1998.  When the new Godzilla movie came out Blockbuster was fully stocked with all of the tie-in merchandise.  I wanted to buy a Godzilla toy back then but everything was so gimmicky with lights and sounds that I couldn’t be bothered.  The closest thing I could find to a traditional action figure was that dinky little keychain.  The renewed public interest in Godzilla did however give me an opportunity to purchase a bunch of classic Godzilla movies which hadn’t been available to purchase previously.  The majority of my Godzilla VHS library (yes, VHS.  I’ve since replaced them with DVDs) was purchased from Blockbuster that year.Godzilla 98 fight

The 1998 Godzilla movie by Roland Emmerich was not well received by G-fans, or critics.  The story was rather weak, the acting was questionable, and the changes made to Godzilla himself were not improvements.  They basically turned him into a giant dinosaur.  Despite these issues I like the film because I’m all for movies about giant dinosaurs.  Sure the acting and story line were flimsy but have you ever watched a Toho Godzilla movie?  Not exactly Oscar material.  I’m able to look past the film’s flaws and enjoy it as a popcorn picture.  Having said that I totally understand why many people hated the movie.  I have high hopes for the upcoming Gareth Edwards directed version.  Hopefully it will please everyone and turn Godzilla into a respected franchise.Godzilla 98 bite

The big hollow Godzilla figure I mentioned earlier was released by Bandai just a couple of years ago.  They also released a Mecha-Godzilla and a Gigan.  Each stands about 12 inches, maybe a bit more.  They make for impressive display pieces on the top of my bookshelf.  I have smaller Godzilla toys which look pretty underwhelming by comparison.  My keychain of the American Godzilla looks downright pathetic.  Since acquiring the large Bandai figures I’ve regretted not buying one of those larger Godzilla toys from Blockbuster back in the day.  In the Toho produced film “Godzilla: Final Wars” it was established that the American Godzilla is a unique character named Zilla.  Viewing Zilla as a new monster instead of a cheap knock off of the Big G made me want a decent figure of him all the more.Godzilla 98 remote

Happening across this Godzilla figure at Hal-Con was exactly the kind of score I was hoping for.  Something unique that can’t be found just anywhere and which fills a hole in my collection.  The size of him makes it seem an even more impressive find.  He’s actually quite a bit bigger than even my Bandai Godzilla figures, making him the new King of the bookshelf.  While the sounds and movement soured me on this toy when it was first released they don’t bother me at all now.  I wouldn’t even care if the features no longer worked but I am impressed that they do.  A black wire runs from Zilla’s belly to an impressively detailed remote control with two buttons.  When pushed the buttons make him walk forward and roar.  His mouth moves with each roar.  I considered cutting the cord off but it’s barely noticeable when he’s displayed so I may as well leave it attached.  I was also impressed that the previous owners had held onto the box this whole time.  I was tempted to keep it myself but I’m not a box collecting type of guy.Godzilla 98 buster attack

This toy has no articulation points.  There’s a skeleton inside that moves when the remote is used and it can be felt under the rubbery skin.  The sculpting is nicely done and the paint applications are impressive too.  There are multiple colors used on this toy including a shimmery metallic blue which looks quite nice.  My nephews visited me last night and they got a huge kick out of this Godzilla.  7 out of 10.

Before I sign off I want to tell you about another recent addition to my “collection”.  Last week Vanessa and I adopted a kitten whom we’ve named Buster.  He’s an adorable little scamp who likes to chew on action figures.  The door to my man cave must remain closed at all times now to avoid a collection catastrophe.   He had some fun with the Godzilla box before it was discarded. 
Godzilla 98 Buster

KOWL (2013)

MOTU-Kowl fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE CLASSICS

He-Man fans and regular readers of this blog know the deal when it comes to purchasing Masters of the Universe figures in this day an age.  For whatever reason the brand hasn’t performed well in brick and mortar retail stores on the last couple of attempts Mattel made to revive this popular 80s toy line.  So since 2008 Mattel has released figures geared towards collectors online only.   I didn’t get on board with the line right away but for the past couple of years I’ve been religiously logging onto their site, mattycollector.com, on the 15th of every month in order to get the latest Classics figures.  Yesterday was the 15th of November and I did not order any figures.  Most of the key characters have already been released so non-essential figures are becoming more frequent.  November’s Sea Hawk and Geldor didn’t do it for me. However last month was a very different story.  October 2013 may well have been the single greatest month of MOTU Classics releases to date.MOTU-Kowl animated

October’s releases consisted of 3 single carded figures, a 2-pack of figures, a vehicle with driver, and a weapons pack.  One of the single carded releases was Mantenna.  Second only to Mer-Man, Mantenna is one of my favorite characters from the Masters of the Universe line.  I had the vintage figure as a kid (still do, you can check it out if you click the link) and I loved him.  His appearance was just so bizarre and cool.  A proper Mantenna figure hasn’t been released since the 1985 original so needless to say I’ve been eagerly anticipating a new version of him.    Stay tuned for my upcoming review, he did not disappoint. Next up was a wicked cool (and first ever) version of Lord Dactys from the 2002 MOTU series. I passed on the third carded figure, the Pharaoh inspired Nepthu. But I did buy the 2 pack of Horde Troopers which are awesome.  I passed on the Jet Sled vehicle that came packaged with a new character named Sky High because it was kind of pricey but I’m regretting that decision now.MOTU-Kowl carded

Lastly there was the weapons pack.  This is the fourth weapons pack Mattel has released for the Classics line.  Each pack has had a different theme, this one is called the “End of Wars” weapons pak.  I didn’t buy any of the previous 3 weapons packs and I really didn’t need the weapons from this pack either.  I already have a bin full of loose MOTUC accessories.  I have more alternate swords, shields and heads than I know what to do with.  The weapons in this package are of little use to me.  pretty much all of them are pieces I already own only they’ve been painted different colors, such as He-Man’s iconic sword, shield and axe in neon green.  Why?  I don’t know. The only accessory that I’ll actually put to use is the Snake themed breast plate intended for Rattlor. The figure was previously released sans armor and Mattel has rectified that by including it here.  I actually think it enhances the figure nicely.  But Rattlor’s armor wasn’t reason enough for me to shell out twenty bucks for this pack.  What sold me was the inclusion of She-Ra’s sidekick Kowl.MOTU-Kowl Rattlor

Kowl is a cross between an owl and a koala and he uses his rainbow ears to flutter about.  Super gay?  Yes.  But also kind of awesome? Yes.  Where the He-Man cartoon had Orko to provide comic relief the She-Ra cartoon had Kowl.  I would’ve preferred Mattel to package Kowl with another figure as opposed to placing him in this weapons pack but I wanted him regardless and paying $20 for him isn’t so bad; especially since he came with the nifty armor for Rattlor as well.

vintage figure

vintage figure

Kowl is quite small, as he should be.  He comes up to about the knee of other Classics figures.  While Kowl was more of an orange color in the cartoon the vintage toy was yellow and that’s the color scheme Mattel opted to use for this figure.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we get an orange repaint at some point in the future.  He’s articulated at the shoulders and neck but his big ears prevent his head from moving much.  To save money they could have easily constructed him as a solid piece with no moving parts so I appreciate even these few points of articulation.   The sculpt is good and the colors aren’t overly vibrant.  He reminds me of an Easter egg with his pastel yellows and blues.  A decent little figure.  6 out of 10.

MOTU-Kowl with weapons

HORDAK (Pop!)

Pop-Hordak fullMASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE / FUNKO POP!

I know I said I’d review Godzilla in my next post but I’ve been very busy both at work and at home and I just haven’t had time to write up that review. But instead of posting nothing at all I figured I’d throw up another quickie review akin to the Kre-O Snow Job I reviewed the other day.

I bought 3 items at Hal-Con this year: Snake Mountain, Godzilla, and the Funko Pop! Hordak.  The first 2 items were exciting vintage finds while the Hordak was simply a case of me wanting to blow a little bit of money.  These Pop! figurines are everywhere right now.  All of the local comic shops are bursting with them and they can also be found at novelty stores and even HMV.  When the first ones were released I liked them right away but didn’t want to get into collecting them.  I figured they’d end up another short-lived cutesy fad like Might Muggs or Blammoids.  While I suspect the Loyal Subjects line will fade into cutesy obscurity I’ve come to accept that these Pop! figures might be here to stay, at least for a while.  The line keeps expanding into new properties and I find myself wanting more and more of them.  I already have Batman, Flash, Green Arrow, Rocky, Ivan Drago, the Rocketeer, and a flying monkey on my desk at work.  I’ve been tempted to pick up the Sex Pistols, the Ninja Turtles, Robo-Cop and others.  BigBadToyStore recently began taking pre-orders for an Iron Giant  figure which I will most definitely be getting.Pop-Hordak toon

A couple of months ago Funko added Masters of the Universe to their Pop! line.  The first wave consisted of a few of the brands top dogs like He-Man, Skeletor, and Hordak, and an odd choice to round out the wave, Spikor .  I wanted to buy them all but Pop! figures present a slippery slope, if I start collecting full waves of them I’ll soon have hundreds of the damn things.  So far I’ve been buying them sparingly.Pop-Hordak compare

 

 

Most places sell Pop! figurines for between $10 and $14 plus tax.  Multiple vendors were selling them at Hal-Con for $10 flat so it seemed a fine time to add a new one to my stable. Of the four MOTU options Hordak was the clear front runner for me.  Not only does he look super cool (and cute) but this is the first ever cartoon-based Hordak figure.  In the 80s He-Man and She-Ra cartoons Hordak had a blue outfit with a white face just like this toy does.  All the previous action figure incarnations of the character have changed up his look to appear darker and more skeletal/bat like.  I’ve always like those figures, my MOTU Classics one pictured here is awesome, but it is nice to see the ruthless leader of the Horde in his Filmation hues for once.Pop-Hordak mountain

This figure is both adorable and cool.  I like him so much that I’m certain I have doomed myself to pick up the other 3 MOTU offerings eventually.  I really hope Funko produces more waves as I’d love to get a Pop! versions of Mer-Man, Trap-Jaw, and so many others. As an added bonus, this little Hordak is more to scale with my newly acquired Snake Mountain than even the vintage figures were.  9 out of 10.

SNOW JOB (KRE-O)

Joe Kreo-Snow job fullG. I. JOE / KRE-O

Yesterday I reviewed one of my major Hal-Con purchases, Snake Mountain.  Today I had planned on reviewing my other major purchase, an electronic Godzilla.  However, yesterday’s post ran a little long and I feel that Godzilla could run long too so I decided to break it up with a short and sweet review.  Today I’ll be looking at Snow Job from wave 2 of the G.I. Joe Kre-O blind packs.  Kre-Os of the Transformers variety can be found just about everywhere these days.  Unfortunately the G.I. Joe themed sets and figures are exclusive to Toys R Us.  There’s only one Toys R Us in my area and even that one isn’t easily accessible to a guy like me who doesn’t drive.  I never found wave 1 of the blind packs at Toys R us and to this day only have about half of the figures.  When my pal Andrew notified me that he spotted wave 2 at Toys R Us a while back I sent Vanessa over to grab me whatever they had.  I was delighted to find out they had the entire wave, including the Cobra Eel I recently reviewed.  Toy hunting can be fun sometimes but it can also be very satisfying to snatch up an entire wave of new figures in one fell swoop and be done with it. Joe Kreo-Snow job art

Like the Eel, and most of the Kre-O figures for that matter, this block figure is is an excellent representation of the vintage 3  3/4″ figure.  The Joe team’s original Arctic Trooper was first released way back in  1983.  All of the details from that 80s figure are present here (on the front at least.  The backs of these figures still leave a lot to be desired).  Snow Job’s belt, shoulder straps, breast pockets and shoulder pouches, which were sculpted on the original figure, are all recreated here simply with paint.  He’s got his signature orange beard and big black goggles.  This tiny figure even one-ups it’s predecessor by having a removable hood.Joe Kreo-Snow job back

All of the vintage figure’s accessories are represented here as well.  He’s got his rifle, skis, ski poles, and backpack.  The poles can be stored on the backpack just like in the good old days but for some reason they failed to make the backpack able to store the skis as well.  I’m not sure why they would have omitted this crucial feature as I’m sure it would have been easy enough to replicate with the inclusion of a single brick.  Instead the pack has some weird circular piece on the back which I haven’t figured out yet.Joe Kreo-Snow job side

 

 

This is an excellent figure and I really hope this line lasts long enough for me to get Lego-ized versions of all my favorite G.I. Joe characters.  8 out of 10.