Category Archives: Miscellaneous

DOMINICAN WOOD SHARK

Approximately 2 years ago I went down south for the first time.  I visited Mexico for my best buddy Miguel’s wedding. While I was there I purchased a wood-carved hammerhead shark souvenir which I reviewed on this site. I hadn’t vacationed anywhere since until last month when Vanessa and I, along with Miguel, his wife Ashley, and our pal, Ryan, all spent a week in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

It was an excellent vacation. Other than some excessive rain the first day or two I have nothing to complain about.  The resort was beautiful, the food was delicious, the company was great, and the drinks were constantly flowing. We spent the majority of our time either on the beach or in the pool (I won’t subject you to those pictures) which was extremely relaxing.  A couple of years ago I never would’ve expected such a hot and lazy vacation to be up my alley but there really is something satisfying about having zero plans and never having to take out your wallet.

The only off-resort adventure we went on was an excursion to “Monkey Land” which was a monkey sanctuary crawling with 30+ spider-monkeys.  I highly recommend it if you’re a fan of monkeys.

There wasn’t much in the way of souvenirs for sale on the resort that interested me. There were lots of hats, and t-shirts, and sunglasses…the usual.  There was also loads of mama juana. If you’ve ever been to the Dominican I’m sure you’re familiar with mama juana because it’s frigin’ everywhere. The first time it was offered to me I was certain the guy was trying to sell me weed. It can be purchased as a dried herb or as a drink.

There were also plenty of wood carvings for sale in the various shops and kiosks. I considered buying a wooden car from a fast talking vendor named PJ but then I saw this great white shark and knew I had to get it instead.  I have now officially started a wood shark collection.  Anytime I see one from here on out I will buy it.

I won’t pretend to be a shark expert but this one appears to be a Great White and it seems to be perched on a pile of rocks which is a little strange.  The carving is crude and there is no etching to associate it the Dominican (though PJ offered to do it at an additional cost) but it’s a charming trinket anyway.

I rated the Mexican Shark 10 out of 10 and this shark is clearly less refined so I’ll give it a 7 out of 10.

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RHINO CALF

rhino-baby-fullPAPO

2016 is drawing to a close so that means I’m preparing for my annual “best of” list. It’s my favourite post to write each year. Thus far I’ve narrowed it down to 31 action figures but I still need to whittle it down to my top 16 of 2016 by year’s end.  I had planned to write full reviews of every figure on my list so that I’d be able to link to a detailed analysis of each one but regrettably there are many toys on my prospective list that I haven’t gotten around to yet. So, after my month long blog hiatus, you’d think I’d be in a mad rush this week to get those top contenders reviewed but instead I’ve chosen to write about this little plastic rhinoceros, which I assure you will not be on my year-end list.rhino-baby-chicago

The reason I’ve selected this Rhinoceros calf to review today is less about sharing my thoughts on the actual toy but rather the vacation on which I acquired it. Last week I went to Chicago to visit my little brother, Brian.  Last time I mentioned him I may have said he was living in NYC but he moves around a lot and he now resides in Chicago. It was Brian and his twin sister Katie’s birthday last week so he flew her down there so they could celebrate together. I tagged along because I wanted to see Jerry Seinfeld perform at the theatre down the street from Brian’s apartment (and to spend quality time with my siblings of course).rhino-baby-back

 

I live in Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada and this was my first trip to the United States. It’s okay if you don’t know where Nova Scotia is; nobody in Chicago did either. Chi-town was a much bigger city than I’m used to but I navigated my way around all right. At times my brother was working and my sister was preoccupied with department stores and boutiques so I was forced to venture off alone to find the things I was after. Flying solo I saw Seinfeld which was amazing, I went to the Double Door nightclub to see local punk band the Lawrence Arms, I found an indie record store, and I found a comic shop. Graham Crackers Comics was a decent shop but it didn’t really have anything that I couldn’t buy back home.  I picked up a Captain Britain Marvel Legend and some Funko POPS to be supportive.  With my siblings I took a bus tour of the city, saw the bean, ate at a bunch of restarants and visited the world’s largest indoor aquarium. On Sunday we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo which is open year round and it’s free. We had a great time there and it proved to be the trip highlight for all of us.  There were hardly any people there, a light snow was falling, and the animals were all very active. We saw Lions, Tigers, Gorillas, Giraffes, Crocodiles, Polar Bears, etc. The last pavilion we visited was the one I was most excited about because it had the Rhinos.

Hippos are pretty cool too

Hippos are pretty cool too

As a child I always named Rhinos as my favourite animal and I’m still fascinated by them today. Unfortunately, I learned that the rhinos are the only animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo that don’t go outside in the winter and cannot be viewed from indoors. Apparently the zoo houses three rhinos but they are not for public viewing in the winter. Huge bummer.

As a pitiful consolation prize I bought myself this rhinoceros figure at the gift shop on the way out. It’s made by the fine folks at Papo who always do a stellar job on their animal figurines. This rhino calf a single hunk of plastic so there’s no articulation but the sculpt is nice, the multi-coloured paint job is subtle and believable, and he’s frig’n adorable. This toy is to scale with 3 3/4″ action figures so perhaps I’ll display him with my G.I. Joes.  He could be the adopted pet of the team’s jungle trooper, Recondo. It would’ve been nice if he was to scale with the adult Rhino toy I purchased on a trip to the Metro Toronto Zoo 30 years ago but what can ya do?

All in all, I had a great trip and this is a fun (but overpriced) souvenir.  7 out of 10.rhino-baby-mother

MALLEUS (2016)

Myth-Mallus full MYTHIC LEGIONS

My reviews have been few and far between these days. There are various reasons for that but a lack of cool action figures is not one of them. I still have a boat load of Vitruvian Hacks figures to review, new Marvel Legends, new Star Wars Black Series, new Transformers, and new Pop! vinyls; not to mention the thousands of older toys in my collection I’ve yet to review. However, what brings me to the blog today is a brand new line of action figures from Four Horsemen Studios.

Myth-Malleus head

The Horsemen are a group of sculptors who started out making action figures for companies like McFarlane Toys and Mattel but who later branched out on their own. Through their own company the’ve produced some excellent licensed properties like the Outer Space Men and wholly original lines like Gothitropolis.  Their newest line is the fantasy-based Mythic Legions.

The Horsemen launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the project on February 9, 2015. They were offering 22 different figures at a price of $45 each. As the funding increased they added new figures and accessories until they ended up with an assortment of 34 different characters. I would’ve loved to get them all, or at least a dozen or so, but money doesn’t grow on trees. I’d went all-in on 3 prior action figure kickstarter campaigns (Marauder Task Force, Vitruvian Hacks, and Marauder Valkyries) and my wallet was starting to feel the crunch.  I selected 4 figures and called it a day. Overall, 1,166 backers pledged $452,528 to make the campaign a huge success.Myth-Malleus all-in

I’ve become accustomed to long delays on kickstarter produced figures. So much so that when my Mythic Legion figures arrived last week (only 3 months behind schedule) it seemed like a very quick turn around.

I expected no less from the Four Horsemen but all four of my Mythic Legion selections are spectacular. Now I’m kicking myself for not buying at least a couple more. I chose 3 skeleton warriors and a yellow demon dude for some variety.  Some of the orcs and knights would’ve been cool but I’m mostly regretting not buying the other 3 skeletons.  A whole army of these undead warriors would’ve be sweet.

Myth-Malleus back

All the Legions figures come on resealable blister cards with original artwork on both sides and a brief history of the ML world on the back. On the side of the packaging is a character specific bio. Malleus is described as underworld royalty, the son of Necronominus. He’s a devout follower of his father’s scripture and he quickly dispatches those you stray from the path. Pretty cool.

The figure is a real beauty in both sculpting and paint applications. He’s covered in jagged armor that truly looks like weathered metal. Every single rivet has been painted; the Horsemen didn’t cut any corners. Many pieces of his armor such as the removable shoulder pads, neck guard, and loin cloth are sculpted in rubbery plastic so they don’t hinder his movement. The two shades of green mixed in amongst the blacks and greys really make this figure pop. The paint work on his bones is pretty great too making him appear grubby and aged.

Proud Papa

Proud Papa

The head sculpt is beyond cool. Of the three skeletons Malleus is the only one with an articulated jaw which I love. He’s cracked and missing teeth and with his mouth open he looks nuts. I totally buy into him being a religious zealot.

Then there’s the weapons. Malleus comes with two insane looking battle axes. These things are pure badassery. They have multiple paint apps and are completely customizable. You can make them double or single bladed and you can change the fixtures at both ends.  I think he came with a sword or two as well but I’ve already decided he’ll be displayed with the two double bladed axes.

Myth-Malleus boot

 

Malleus has loads of articulation and he’s a good solid figure. He has the coolest boots I’ve ever seen and I love him. A few of these Mythic Legions figures are currently available at BigBadToyStore. I’d highly recommend you grab as many as you can. 10 out of 10.Myth-Malleus armyMyth-Malleus Skeletor

 

 

RODAN (2015)

Rodan fullGODZILLA

My last toy purchase of 2015.

When I went to Strange Adventures on December 31 to grab my weekly stack of comics I intended to take advantage of their 25% off sale and buy myself an action figure. It was a toss-up between two figures I’ve been debating on picking up for a few weeks now: Marvel Legends Blizzard or DST’s Oogie Boogie from A Nightmare Before Christmas (NBX).

Rodan-BlizzardBlizzard is a D-list Marvel villain that I first encountered very early on into my comic collecting hobby and so I’ve always held him in a higher regard than I probably should. His costume design is simple but eye-catching. I blatantly ripped it off in my youth when I created a supervillain character named Icicle. Blizzard is exactly the kind of character I love to get in action figure form. The reason I hadn’t already purchased him was because A) I already have a decent Blizzard figure that was produced by Toy Biz in the 90s, B) I’m trying not to get completely roped into collecting Marvel Legends because I’ve invested so much time and money into collecting the smaller scale Marvel Universe figures, and C) this particular Blizzard figure’s physique is a little wonky.Rodan-Oogie

The Oogie Boogie is a fantastic looking figure with lots of fine sculpted details in his burlap skin.  Ten or Fifteen years ago I would’ve scooped it up immediately.  The thing is, my enthusiasm for NBX has waned significantly in the past decade. To be fair, it’s actually my enthusiasm for Tim Burton that has waned but as a result all of his past projects that I once held dear have been affected by my former favorite director’s fall from grace. I own a lot of NBX toys and collectibles but none of it is on display anymore so I had a hard time justifying spending $35 on a toy that’s likely to immediately end up in storage.  Oogie is one of my favorite characters from the film though and I used to really want a good figure of him and so I consider buying him almost every week.

Rodan backWhen I got to the comic shop I looked the two candidates over. Which would it be? I had them both in hand but decided to browse a bit longer while I made my final decision. It was then that I noticed a toy way up on top of one of the bookshelves, a toy I hadn’t seen there before; Rodan. I don’t know if it had been up there for months and I just never noticed it or if it was brand new but my decision had been made regardless. Blizzard and Oogie stayed behind and Rodan came home with me as my final toy purchase of 2015.

To be completely honest I’m not sure if this Rodan would be classified as a toy because it’s actually a piggy bank. His body is hollow and there’s a coin slot on his spine. However, he’s an awkward shape that I don’t think would hold much money. Plus, I don’t see any obvious way to get coins out of him. His head and body are separate pieces so I’m guessing the head pops off in order to retrieve coins but I’m not sure.   I don’t want to risk breaking it to find out.  However due to the swivelling head, which counts as articulation, I think it’s safe to classify Rodan as an action figure.Rodan movie 1

If you’re not familiar with Rodan he’s one of Godzilla’s buddies. He first appeared in his very own movie in 1956 but has since gone on to be featured in a multitude of Godzilla movies and other Godzilla media. Occasionally he’s an enemy to the King of Monsters but more often than not he’s an ally.

Rodan is a Pteradactyl-like monster with birdish features and a large wing span. Honestly, I always found him to be kind of goofy looking and I never thought he would stand a chance against Godzilla in a fight. Despite the fact that he’s one of my least favourite Toho Studios monsters I have a soft spot for them all and I’m happy to add one of the most recognized and iconic  kaiju to my collection.

Rodan fight

Years ago I acquired big hollow figures of Godzilla, MechaGodzilla, and Gigan produced by Bandai. I was hoping all of the monsters would be released eventually but the line seemed to end after only one wave.  This Rodan is not from the same line (it was produced by DST) but the scale seems to be about right so he fits in just fine with my other figures.

The sculpting and paint work are both pretty simplistic but are exactly as they need to be.  I’m glad DST went with Rodan’s later more dinosaur like appearance over his original big bird design.  This thing will look pretty great hanging from my ceiling.  7 out of 10.

OTACHI (2015)

PR-Otachi fullPACIFIC RIM

Let’s do a little Pacific Rim recap.  The film was released in 2013 and with it came a prequel graphic novel and the first wave of 3 action figures.  I was a little disappointed with all 3.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie is pretty awesome and I’ve watched it multiple times but I still think it could have been more awesome.  I didn’t feel invested in the human characters and many of the story elements failed to interest me.  But I don’t generally watch monster movies for the humans or the story anyway, I watch for the monsters, and the monsters/Kaiju in Pacific Rim did not disappoint.  The visual effects were amazing so despite a lagging middle section the movie is still a lot of fun to watch.  The graphic novel was okay but forgettable.  At least it wasn’t a chore to read like the new PR series, Tales from the Drift, which launched 2 months ago.  We’re 2 issues in so far and it’s a total bore.  As for the toys, I only bought Knifehead from wave 1.  It was a nicely sculpted figure but it was smaller than I had hoped and it was lacking in articulation. Fortunately NECA improved on those points with wave 2; the figures were bigger and more articulated.PR-Otachi front

The wave 2 Kaiju was Leatherback.  I still haven’t got around to reviewing it but it was a very nice action figure.  It just so happens that I didn’t love that particular creature from the movie so I wasn’t super excited about the toy (probably why I haven’t reviewed it).   The next bunch of Kaiju figures were Trespasser, an improved Knifehead, Scunner, then Axehead.  I bought them all and I liked them all but they were all pretty much the same toy with different heads. Those 4 Kaiju had the same basic build and if the line carried on that way I probably would’ve gotten bored.

PR-Otachi bellyThankfully NECA infused some excitement into the line by announcing that their next Kaiju figure would be Otachi.  He’s a completely different shape than the previously released figures.  He walks on all fours, he has wings, he has a tail, he’s got a crazy tongue….he’s awesome.  So needless to say I was really looking forward to getting this figure.  However, when this toy actually went up for pre-order at BigBadToyStore my excitement turned to frustration.  Otachi is bigger , he’s more articulated,  and he required more newly sculpted pieces than previously released figures so I expected him to be a bit more expensive. I did not expect the price to jump from 30 dollars to 80 dollars. And not only did they jack up the price but the figure didn’t have Otachi’s signature wings.  It pained me to pass on this figure but I had to. I just knew that NECA would release a winged version later so if I was going to overpay for this thing I was at least going to overpay for the version I wanted.

Version 2

Version 2

Sure enough a winged version of Otachi was released about 6 months later. My patience paid off, right? Wrong. The second version was lacking Otachi’s signature tail. What the hell NECA?  You expect me to buy two incomplete figures of the same character for $80 a piece?  Damn you.

To be fair, both Otachi figures are screen accurate.  When he first shows up in the film he has a long tail and he’s crawling around on all four legs.  Gypsy Danger snaps his tail off and only then does Otachi  spread his wings and take to the sky.  What NECA should have done is include removable wings and a removable tail with the first version then collector’s could choose to display him however they wanted.  I would’ve much preferred they did that and charged me an extra $20 for the removable pieces rather than try to sell me a whole other figure at full price.PR-Otachi spit

So after the second Otachi was released I had to decide what was more important to me, the tail or the wings.  As cool as the wings are, that second figure looked dumb to me with a stump for a tail.  The proportions seemed all out of whack.  At least the first version looked like a complete figure so that’s what I went with.

I bought this figure from my local Toys R Us a few weeks back and it cost me over $100 in Canadian funds.  I wasn’t happy with the price tag considering what I’ve paid for all my other Pacific Rim figures but if I wanted this guy (and I did) I had to pay the piper.  Version 1 was sold out on BBTS by then and I’d seen people selling it on ebay for over $100US so I figured I’d better do it now rather than wait and possibly end up paying even more.  So was it worth it?PR-Otachi open

It’s hard to say whether it’s worth $100 dollars or not but it is pretty f**king awesome so I guess so.  The sculpting on this figure is excellent.  It’s 18″ long and 7″ tall and every one of those inches is covered with sculpted detail.  He’s got scales, and armour, and spikes, and bioluminescent ports all over him. The front legs have great looking feet with creepy crooked thumbs and the folded wings are evident on his forearms.PR-Otachi movie

The head is particularly well done. He has a bat-like snout and two fleshy horns at the front of the face and the top of his head features a sculpted grainy wood-like texture.  The jaw splits in two to reveal a blue tongue covered in white nodules.   You have the option to remove the tongue and replace it with a stream of blue acid spit as seen in the movie.  The split jaw is pretty freaking looking and reminiscent of the mutated vampires seen in one of Guillermo Del Toro’s other movies, Blade II.  Personally I like to display Otachi with a closed jaw.

PR-Otachi tail

The tail is perhaps the highlight of the figure as is likely what resulted in such an increase in the price.  it’s super-detailed and it features over 10 points of articulation.  It’s very similar to the multi-segmented tail seen on the 2014 movie Godzilla figure I reviewed a while back.  The end of the tail features 3 articulated claws which move in unison.  It’s reminds me of a squid’s beak.  I like it displayed openly but it can be closed tight enough to grip other figures.  The tail is removable so you could take it off and attach it to the winged version if you like which is nice but I have no plans to buy version 2 myself.  The only problem with the tail is that I find it falls off of the figure fairly easily if you’re handling him.

The paint work on this figure is very nice too.  I think he’s molded in black plastic with a dark green wash over the whole thing but it may be the opposite.  He has lots of splashes of blue for the bioluminescence and a bit of yellow in the eyes and nose.PR-Otachi baby

The last thing I’ll mention is the accessories this figure came with.  I already told you about the optional  acid stream but Otachi also comes with his baby.  In the movie Otachi dies and a baby version bursts from his chest and chases down Newt only to be strangled by its own umbilical cord.  Well this figure comes with a teeny version of that baby which I suppose is in scale.  The baby has multiple paint apps and even has 3 points of articulation.  Pretty darn cool.  I only wish there was a compartment in Otachi’s chest where I could store it.

In summary, I love this figure.  I wish it wasn’t so expensive but if you’re on the fence like I was I say go for it.  I haven’t removed him from the coffee table in my living room since I got him; I just really dig looking at him.  Here’s hoping that the next Kaiju figure, Mutavore due out this month (pre-order for $59.99 at BBTS), is just as cool. 10 out of 10.PR-Otachi Godzilla

PR-Otachi group

GODZILLA (POP!) (2015)

pop-Godzilla fullFUNKO POP!

Almost all of my action figures are displayed in the second bedroom/man-cave of my apartment. There are a few in the living room and Kamala remains a fixture of the main bathroom but I generally try to keep everything together. I do however have a small secondary display area growing on my desk at work. Originally my office display only consisted of a few of odds and ends but I keep adding to it and now my desk collection is more than 40 strong. Luckily my boss is cool and doesn’t say anything about my cubicle slowly morphing into a Toys R Us. About half of my desk figures are vinyl POP! figures from Funko. They’re the kind of cute and harmless toys that I feel are safe to display at work as they are unlikely to offend anyone. In order to review these desk figures I have to cart them home to take pictures which is kind of a pain in the butt so I don’t usually do it. But, as I mentioned in my review of the Phantom yesterday, some of them are contenders for my year-end “best of” list so I decided to lug a few of them home this week for a photo session. Today’s candidate is a brand new toy that I just purchased from Strange Adventures yesterday; POP! Godzilla.Pop-Godzilla back

This is my first jumbo POP! figure. He’s substantially bigger than the standard figures and rightfully so seeing as he’s the King of Monsters. This figure is really impressive looking amongst the smaller POP! vinyls.  I love the Big G so part of me is hoping that Funko makes some of Godzilla’s rivals like Megalon or King Ghidorah. However, an equal part of me prays they don’t as I simply don’t have enough room on my desk (or in my man-cave) to display them. Space is quickly becoming an major issue for Mike’s Collection. If anything I need toys to start getting smaller, not bigger.Pop-Godzilla side

 

 

 

 

I really like this figure but I actually wish he was more POP!-like.  Funko’s vinyls have a very distinct look and its not obvious at first glance that this Godzilla is one of them.  Not only is he bigger but the proportions are quite different.  Most POPs have really large heads on small bodies.  That might’ve looked a little weird for Godzilla because he generally has a smaller head atop a large body.  This figure falls somewhere in the middle and ends up being reasonably well-proprtioned.  So while it retains the cuteness you’d expect from a POP! figure its actually less stylized than most.  That doesn’t make it a bad figure at all but I just happen to like consistency.

 

Pop-Godzilla compare

 

This is the fifth Godzilla figure I’ve reviewed  ( 1, 2, 3, 4) so I don’t have much left to say about the character or my history with him.  I’ll just reiterate that I’ve been a Godzilla fan forever and I’m always happy to add another variation of him to my collection.  I don’t buy every one that comes out but when one as unique as this comes along I have to.

The sculpt on this figure is great with textured scales over the whole body, spiky fins on the back, and a curved tail. The paint job is nice too.  He’s molded in a greyish green with white claws, silver fins, black eyes, and  red gums.  There is absolutely no articulation which is kind of a bummer but these are intended more for display then play so its not a big deal.  If you have any Godzilla fans on your Christmas list this is a must-have stocking stuffer.

Another win from Funko. 10 out of 10Pop-Godzilla group

WINKERTON (2009-2015)

Winky1I use this blog to write about my toy collection, hence the title “Mike’s Collection”.  It’s the only blog I have.  I don’t have a diary/journal type of blog where I can talk about slice-of-life type things so I hope you don’t mind if I veer off topic this one time to talk about something non-toy related.  I want to talk about my guinea pig, Winkerton.  I don’t mean to imply at all that Winkerton was a part of my collection by writing about her on this blog.  She was my beloved pet and friend and she passed away in my arms a few hours ago.

My family had a dog named Girl when I was very young but for most of my life we had cats when I was growing up.  Our first cat was Cloudy and she was gifted to my brother Doug from our grandfather.  Then my sister Angie got Thunder and later my sister Katie got Drizzle who was later followed by Tux. The first pets I owned that I could really call my own (with the exception of some fish) were four white mice.  Their names were Artie, Vince, Trent, and Ozzie.  They were cute but quite vicious towards one another so I eventually had to keep them all in separate cages.  I enjoyed having a small animal ever present in my room to talk to but the mice were not a very affectionate bunch.  I never felt like they recognized or knew me.  I considered getting a rat because my friend Ross had one and it seemed much more aware then my mice did but I knew my mom would freak out if I ever tried to bring a rat into the house.  After perusing the pet stores I decided that a guinea pig might be what I was looking for.  They weren’t as skittish as mice, didn’t have long creepy tails like rats, they weren’t as stinky as ferrets, and they weren’t as boring as hedgehogs.  It was some years after my mice were all gone that my then girlfriend Toni got me a guinea pig for Christmas.  I named her Wheels.Winky5

Wheels was an awesome guinea pig who loved to curl up in the pouch of my hoodies and watch movies with me.  She was quite affectionate.  After a while I felt bad that she was all alone in her cage so I got her a companion whom I named Widget.  There was an adjustment period but I like to think they became friends before too long.  Widget had lots of personality.  I used to put her on the floor of my apartment and she would chase me around like we were playing tag.  I probably went overboard when I bought a third pig whom I named Waffles.  A week or two after I bought Waffles she had a baby and I now suddenly had 4 guinea pigs in one cage.  My 3 pigs were all girls and the baby was a boy who would be sexually active in a matter of weeks so I had to find another home for him quickly before I found myself with a dozen guinea pigs.  Toni and I had split by then and I had moved into a bachelor apartment but she offered to take the baby off my hands.  She named him Baby and he lived a good life.

Winky6

After 4 years together Wheels passed away.  Widget passed away about a year later.  She was also around 4 years old. Both went quickly and quietly.  It was at about the 4-year mark for Waffles too when she got sick.  Unlike the others she hung in there for more than a week before she passed.  I took her to the vet and got her medication but it killed me to watch her suffer like that.  After she was gone and I found myself pigless for the first time in about 6 years I decided I would not be getting another.

Waffles’ death occurred shortly after a 4 year relationship ended.  I was pretty down in the dumps already and coming home to an empty apartment everyday didn’t help.  If you weren’t aware, guinea pigs actually make a lot of noise.  They squeak all the time and sometimes its almost like they’re singing. They shuffle around in their wood chips and they click on the water bottles.  I had become so accustomed to those sounds over the years that once they were gone completely the silence was deafening.   I lasted about a week before I went looking for a new guinea pig companion.  I found Winkerton.Winky3

I had originally planned to break the W-names pattern and name her Pinkerton after my favorite Weezer album but at the last minute I decided on Winkerton to honour the pigs that came before her.  Having another living thing to talk to in my bachelor apartment meant the world to me during that rough patch.  My action figures are great and I love them but they’ll never love me back.  I’m pretty sure Winkerton did.  Her cage was on my computer desk and she always pressed her nose up to the glass to see what I was doing whenever I was on the computer.  She liked it when I petted her and she never shied away from attention.  We were quite close in those early days and I took her out of the cage all the time.

Winky2

After a while I met Vanessa and we moved in together. We got a large 2-bedroom apartment which was a nice upgrade from the bachelor.  Winkerton got her own table next to the patio door.  I hope she liked it there because she got lots of sunlight and had a view of the outside but the days of watching me at the computer were gone.  I still talked to her often and went over to pet her frequently but I never spent any real time over by her table.  I feel bad about that.  Even when Vanessa and I separated for a while and I moved into my current apartment I relied on Winkerton to  keep me company but I didn’t take her out of her cage as much as I should have.  She loved running around the floor and exploring the place.  I may not have been as attentive an owner as I should have been the last little while but I still think she was happy. Winky8

I was out at Vanessa’s last night and I returned home this afternoon to find Winkerton on her side and breathing heavily.  I wrapped her in a towel and held her while she trembled and wheezed until she was gone.  It was tough. My eyes are still red and my cheeks are still wet. She was with me longer than any of my previous guinea pigs and she saw me through tougher times.  It’s Thanksgiving today in Canada and I’m thankful that she held on long enough for me to see her off.  Had I returned home to find her already gone I’d be plagued with guilt for a long time to come.

Winky was a great pet.  I don’t plan on replacing her anytime soon but if the silence gets too loud again you never know. It’s already too quiet in here.  Rest in peace Winkerton.  Thanks for indulging me guys, back to toys next time.Winky4Winky7

POWDERED TOAST MAN

PTM-fullREN & STIMPY

I used to be a big fan of the Ren & Stimpy show.  Up here in Canada it aired on Much Music (our version of MTV) and I believe it debuted when I was in junior high.  I think it aired a year or two earlier in the States even though the creator, John Kricfalusi, is Canadian.  I remember it was considered a racy show at the time, as was the Simpsons which debuted a year or two earlier, which seems pretty silly nowadays.

I thought both Ren and Stimpy were pretty funny but they were actually some of my least favourite characters on the show. I preferred the offbeat side characters like Mr. Horse, Muddy Mudskipper, and Powdered Toast Man.  As evidence of just how much I liked the C-list supporting cast check out one of my earliest toy reviews: the Shaven Yak.

Even though he only showed up a handful of times I absolutely loved Powdered Toast Man.PTM-back

He was a completely ridiculous yet awesome character.  As a fan of super heroes in general it can be fun to see them skewered in such a manner.   PTM’s secret identity was Pastor Toastman, a youth deacon.  He would shed his collar and leap into action wearing only his  speedo whenever the world was in danger or when a child was in need of a balanced breakfast.PTM-face

Powdered Toast Man was the spokesperson for the cereal Powdered Toast and he could make the stuff by scraping his toasty body with a butter knife or winking.  Once everyone’s bowls were brimming with freshly made cereal he would launch himself out the window either by ejecting his double-breaded head from a toaster or just by ripping a huge fart.PTM-deacon

His catchphrase was “Leave everything to me!” but the quote I most remember is “Are you clinging tenaciously to my buttocks?”

This little figurine is about 2.5 inches tall.  It doesn’t move at all and it is permanently attached to its display base.  I bought it at the first Blockbuster Video I worked at in my hometown of Lower Sackville.  I can’t recall what other figures were available, possibly just Ren & Stimpy, because this is the only one I got and that was many years ago.  The bottom of the base tells me this was made by Dakin (never heard of ’em) in 1994.PTM-toon

This is a great little figure and I’ve had on it on display somewhere in my home ever since I first got it.  At present he’s hiding out amongst the DC heroes on my Super Powers shelf.  The sculpt is spot on, the pose is very heroic, and the expression on his face is perfect.  8 out of 10.PTM-shelf

 

JAWS (2015)

Jaws sideReAction

I had planned to consecutively review all 6 components on the San Diego Comic Con G.I. Joe box set that I got in earlier this week but I’m going to have to stop after 3 (thus far I’ve reviewed AVAC, The Chimera, and Steeler). I’ll get around the second half of the set later but I need to talk about some of the other toys I got in this week. My latest shipment from BigBadToyStore included the brand new Combiner Wars Devastator figure which is an absolute beast of a figure and I was super stoked to get it. But as cool as Devastator is he was overshadowed by a much smaller and simpler toy that arrived in the same shipment. I’m talking about JAWS.Jaws boxed

Sharks terrify and fascinate me and the movie Jaws has a lot to do with it. I first saw it when I was very young and I’ve seen it dozens of times since. It’s probably one of the movies I’ve watched most in my life; up there with Indiana Jones, Star Wars and The Crow. I’ve also seen each of the three Jaws sequels a bunch of times too. None are as good as the original but even the worst Jaws movie is better than any other shark movie ever made. I have multiple shark films in my collection (Deep Blue Sea, Sharktopus, Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, etc.) and they’re all completely ridiculous whereas the first Jaws is one of the best movies ever made.  I never get tired of watching it.

Fisher Price Adventure People

Fisher Price Adventure People

When I was a kid I didn’t really care that there weren’t official Jaws action figures. I liked all the human characters well enough but they were just regular looking guys. The shark is what mattered to me and I had a Fisher Price shark that served as an adequate stand in for Jaws. The shark came with my Adventure People patrol boat. The whole set was pretty great but the shark definitely saw more play time than the dorky diver figures. I used that plastic shark with G.I. Joes,  He-Men, Battle Beasts, and anywhere else I could fit him in. He and my Adventure People octopus were very versatile that way. They were essentially the character actors of my figure drawer who managed to steal scenes in every play time scenario.

I had Jaws in mind every time I played with that old shark but the actual toy was nowhere near as menacing as the movie shark. The Adventure People shark had a very docile look about it with a closed mouth and a bored look on his face. I really had to stretch my imagination every time it ferociously attacked someone.  But no more!Jaws front

Funko, the company behind those lovable POP! figures, has produced an actual licensed Jaws toy and it is amazing.  Jaws is part of Funko’s line of  80s-style retro action figures called ReAction figures.  As with their POP! figurines I intended to only buy one or two of them at first but then I fell in love with ReAction figures and now I have a bunch of them.  The line covers a ton of properties and the figures come out faster than I can keep up with them.   The 3 human figures in the Jaws wave are what I’ve come to expect from the line, simple but recognizable 3 3/4″ figures with 5-points of articulation.  They have an obvious retro vibe to them.  As for the shark itself, whom I will continue to refer to as “Jaws”, the figure isn’t as obvious a throwback.  It looks like it could be included in any modern toy line.  It’s probably one of the best looking shark toys I’ve ever seen.

Jaws eating

The packaging, on the other hand, is extremely old-school.  Honestly, the packing of ReAction figures is half  the appeal of them. Most modern toy packaging sucks but Funko has nailed that classic 80s look that was commonplace when action figures were in their heyday.  These Jaws figures are actually the first ReAction figures I’ve opened.  If you look at my past ReAction reviews (Wolfman, Invisible Man, Rocketeer) you’ll see I kept them all sealed on their cards because I liked the cardbacks so much.  The Jaws cards were beautiful too but I simply couldn’t resist opening this Jaws figure and because I opened him I had to open Quint, Hooper, and Brody too.

closed mouth

closed mouth

The sculpt on Jaws is very nice.  The body is sleek with very few sculpted details but the face is rife with cuts and scars.  There’s no articulation on the body which is fine but thankfully he has an articulated jaw so you can open and close his mouth.  It opens quite wide so you can stuff Quint right in there if you want to recreate the final scenes of the movie (sorry, spoiler-alert).  Jaws has two rows of teeth on both the top and bottom of his mouth which is a pretty cool little detail.Jaws belly

The paint work is pretty much exactly what you’d expect:  Grey skin, white belly, red mouth, and lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eye.

This figure is nearly perfect.  The only thing that bothers me is how front heavy he is.  When out of the box he falls forward onto his chin and theres nothing you can do about it.  It looks kind of silly displayed that way with his tail up in the air.  I grabbed a loose transformer piece I had laying around to prop him up for these pictures.  A weighted tail would’ve been an easy fix.  Oh well, still amazeballs.  10 out of 10.

"We're gonna need a much bigger boat."

“We’re gonna need a much bigger boat.”

 

Jaws aquaman

THE ROCKETEER (2015)

Rocket Leg fullFUNKO LEGACY COLLECTION

The Rocketeer was a comic book mini-series created by Dave Stevens in the 80s, a movie directed by Joe Johnston in the 90s, and a comic book again in the late 2000s.  There’s not a lot of Rocketeer material out there but I grew very attached to the character anyway.  He had such a great costume that I always wanted a toy of him when I was a kid but sadly none existed.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s that I finally found a Rocketeer figure; though it was more like a dog toy than an action figure.  The hollow rubber toy with the red jacket was pretty underwhelming but I couldn’t pass it up because I thought it might be the only Rocketeer toy to ever get made.  For years I displayed that clunker proudly on my shelf.

I was floored a few years later when I saw the Rocketeer doll made by Medicom.  12″ inch dolls of that quality are common place now but a few years back that thing blew my mind.  I admired it every Wednesday on my weekly visits to Strange Adventures but I could never pull the trigger on the $200+ price tag.  Thankfully my girlfriend at the time came through and got it for me as a Christmas gift.  I was so pleased with it that I was certain I would never need another Rocketeer figure again because the quality of the Medicom figure would never be beat.Rocket leg boxed

Several years have passed and I was right about no one making a Rocketeer figure superior to the Medicom product but I was wrong about never needing another Rocketeer.  Damn you Funko.

I had never heard of Funko until a couple years ago.  According to Wikipedia they were founded in 1998 and started out making low-tech, nostalgia-themed toys like Bobble Heads.  The company was sold in 2005 and since then the owner has acquired a crazy amount of property licenses from comics, TV, movies, and music.

I took notice of them when they started releasing POP! vinyl figurines.  They were cute and fun and tempting to collect but I wrote them off as just another cutesy flash in the pan like Mighty Muggs.  But the line kept expanding and expanding and eventually I gave in.  I probably have about 20 POP! figures now; one of them is the Rocketeer.

Rocket Leg side

Last year Funko launched a new line of figures called ReAction.  The line began with Funko releasing a set of 80s-style action figures with 5 points of articulation based on the movie ALIEN.  Apparently the figures made it to the prototype stage when the movie first came out but they never got released.  Most likely because the film was R-rated and most kids weren’t allowed to see it.  Alien fans knew about the failed toy line though and always wanted it to see the light of day.  Funko delivered and I assume to great success because the ReAction line quickly expanded beyond ALIEN into properties like Taxi Driver, Pulp Fiction, and JAWS.  I now have 14 ReAction figures and I plan to buy more. One of the ReAction figures in my collection is the Rocketeer.

Lets take an inventory.  I now had a rubber bath toy Rocketeer, a super detailed 12″ collector’s piece Rocketeer, a cutesy vinyl Rocketeer, and a 3 3/4″ retro Rocketeer.  Surely that must have been enough Rocketeers, right?

Rocket leg back

Wrong.  Funko has now sold me their third variation of the Rocketeer.  This one is part of their brand new Legacy Collection; a highly-detailed line of 6″ figures.  A good portion of my toy collection is made up of 6″ figures (Masters of the Universe Classics, DC Direct, Marvel Legends, Star Wars Black, etc.) so I simply could not pass up a chance to own a compatible Rocketeer.  In truth, this is the figure I wished for when I was a kid.  As great as the Medicom doll is its not the kind of thing I ever really played with in my youth.  Had I owned it in the 1980s I probaly would’ve been too scared to touch it lest I break it so it would have sat on my shelf like a priceless heirloom as it does today.  But if I owned this Legacy Collection figure back then I’m certain I would’ve been running up and down the stairs and across the back yard with a soaring Rocketeer at the end of my outstreched arm.Rocket leg piggyback

The sculpt on this figure is great.  The pants and jacket are rife with folds and wrinkles, the boots have laces, and the jet pack is covered in vents, rivets and a wad of bubble gum.  The paint work is well done and movie accurate.  A wash of darker paint on the clothes gives them an extra level of realism.  I was super stoked that the ReAction Rocketeer had a removable helmet as it was the first to have that feature.  This figure doesn’t have a removable helmet but it  comes with 2 heads so you can display him either way.  I would’ve preferred a removable helmet but I’ll accept swappable heads if it allows for more realistic proportions ( though I had a hell of a time swapping them).

I do have a few complaints.  The head sculpt is alright but I wish it looked like actor Billy Campbell.  The paint work on the eyes makes him look either tired or crazy.  The backpack isn’t removable (at least I don’t think it is) which is also alright but a removable one would have been better.  And lastly the luger pistol he comes with doesn’t fit in his hand very well; it keeps falling out.Rocket leg head

None of these issues are deal breakers though so if you’re a Rocketeer fan you really should get this figure…even if you already have four Rocketeer figures.  9 out of 10.

Rocket Leg faceRocket leg fly