Sunday, August 17, 2014

Toy Review: Star Wars Black Series: Sandtrooper 6"

Toy Review: Star Wars Black Series: Sandtrooper 6"


Going back two years for this guy who has been making his rounds through my shelves and storage.  This was from the very first run of the Fairly recent Star Wars black series 6" inch deluxe figures.  The Sandtrooper was THE figure to get and was nearly impossible to find at retailers.  He was notoriously missing from online sellers or going for nearly double the retail cost.  I myself found him at Target and only saw him one other time in the whole span.  He was one of four figures consisting of R2-D2, Luke in X-Wing gear and Darth Maul...a pretty random set of figures to start off a line but lets give it till wave 5/6 are out (if ever) and we have a nice cross section of both trilogies to look at.  Some of the upcoming stuff looks great and I very much like the focus on the OT but am surprised that there is yet to be a Grievous or New Hope Princess Leia...the Slave Leia choice just baffled my mind as these are extremely articulated figures and it doesn't work very well on a flesh clad mold...I know they cannot do Phicen but since that is they case, any clothed Leia would have worked better for me...(Apparently they are going to release a Ceremonial New Hope Leia in a future wave packed with a TIE pilot we will have to sell our souls to find on shelves)



Anyway, here he is.  One of the first troopers from the Original Trilogy and he looks great.  They really did a great job nailing the specific identifying features that differentiate him from the normal Stormtrooper...the knee pad, the helmet paint, the belt. Everything is very accurate. The desert wear on him is convincing but not over the top just like the Scout Trooper and his extra blaster and rifles are nice.  There is really nothing I would add to this guy and am happy he didn't get a Scout Droid packed in with him although I would understand if special edition fans might be a bit bummed at the loss.
 

He stands well on his own and is pretty sturdy with a removable oxygen backpack and shoulder ammo pouch that attaches to the backpack.  His orange paulderon also can come off if you pop his head off.  His articulation is very nice and he can hold his rifle and weaponry in many nice various poses.  The paint is very nice with a cool sheen that shows through the dirt.  Something about this series does a great job emulating various textures.  Armor looks plastic-like, as does vinyl, cloth, rubber etc.  Gloss touches in all the right places and dirt and wear looks strikingly convincing.  In the world were Hot Toys and Revoltech take the very expensive cake, it's good to know Hasbro can and sometimes will step up the plate and make high quality yet still affordable merchandise.


If you can still find him, go for it.  Otherwise a repaint of him with a black paulderon is right around the corner!

See ya!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

League Assignment: Compare and Contrast

League Assignment: Compare and Contrast!

I've been meaning to put a showcase of photos all up in one place to do this specific pop culture icon justice.  Call him/it what you will The Valkyrie, The Veritech Fighter, Jetfire, Skyfire... this one specific jet/robot hybrid has possible been the most manufactured cross-platform figure character ever.  Take a look at all the companies who tackled his mold, Takara/Tomy, Hasbro, Playmates, Revoltech, Bandai, Imai...it's really unheard of something being handled by so many properties across three different franchises...Robotech, Macross, Exo-Squad, Transformers.   The killer is that this figure was such an instant hit when he transferred over to Transformers that we are still seeing likenesses of him now with minimal changes to comply with cease and desist orders from Harmony Gold who rather than actually make a toy of him stateside will choose to just sue anyone else who tries.  To be fair, the American Robotech line and the EXO squad lines only released him in Jet mode but so did Hasbro who released him as a redecoed Sky-Striker (which was the source of the HG lawsuit)!

The story behind him in Transformers is amazing if you ever do your homework and look into the Diaclones/Microman lines when Jetfire was actually supposed to be the LEADER of the Autobots!  Pretty amazing trivia for anyone who cares for bipedal supersonic sentient jets.  His earlier origins can be linked here.

So let your eyes do the comparing and contrasting...I had to do some looking to find all of these pictures as they don't just come up on one comprehensive google search so enjoy what, in my opinion, is one of the best figure likenesses ever to hit our collections.


Matchbox - Robotech - Veritech Fighter

Revoltech - Macross Valkyrie

Bandai - Macross Valkyrie VF-1

Playmates - EXO SQUAD - Veritech Fighter

Takara Tomy/Hasbro G1 Transformers Jetfire

Hasbro SDCC 2013 exclusive Jetfire/Skystriker

Hasbro Transformers Generations Leader Class

Hasbro Transformers Classics Voyager Class

Imai model kit 
Check out more comparisons over at the league HERE!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Toy Review: Star Wars Black Series - 6" Speeder Bike with Biker Scout

Toy Review: Star Wars Black Series 6" Speeder Bike with Biker Scout.

 

 
 
 
This review will be simple and to the point.  Hands down, the best Star Wars item I own.  Absolute nicest version of the Imperial Speeder Bike and Scout I've seen in any action figure format. Every detail has been hit with perfect detail, the articulation is spot on, the paint apps are great (for mine) and there's honestly nothing closer to a perfect figure.  I cannot tell you how happy I am to look at this guy on my desk.  







With all the good there are still some very small gripes particularly with the bike.  Wish the handlebars and foot pedals could move and the shifter handlebar switches could adjust as well as the controls on the paneling.  Strange they didn't mold separate break line cables separate from the handlebars instead of into them like they decided.   It would have been a great touch for the cover/poncho to be removable or God-willing it to be a soft goods item and  I noticed the exhaust flaps only partially open which was a surprise.

 



 
 As for the Scout, I like him a lot.  Only things I'd add was a little more articulation in the waist and neck so he would be able to really hunch over those handlebars.  I also would have likes a flip up visor but that never happened in the film so they get a pass.   Now this seems like a lot of criticism but I noticed these things because I like the item so much.  They are small disappointments only because the black series touted itself to be the ultimate in detail/realism yadda yadda and I feel without these features it makes this cross the realm into a stature not meant to be played with.  Even collectors like features, you know?


The positives though are plentiful.  This guy is super articulated and I cannot say how much I love having a Scout who can mount and dismount without looking bow-legged, awkward or goofy-waisted.  The paint on him is absolutely great with mild combat wear yet still a cleaner appearance.  The boot blaster is a great small size and way more accurate than these magnum sized weapons previous scout received in toy form.  His helmet is greatly proportioned and detailed, as well as his backpack, armor and pads.  The sculpt is great and his armor looks like armor while his pouches, boots, pads and undersuit all look like actually different maters be it vinyl, leather, mesh, plastic etc.  The bike is perfectly suited for him with nice weathering in well spotted places.  The front comes off with fine engine details on the underside and the undercarriage in general is beautiful.  The exhaust fans on the rear look superb with each rivet and bolt looking highly realistic.  The stand is sturdy and can hold him from any three of the supports.  The back flaps open slightly, the cannon rotates and the foot pedals are removable to better position the rider for posing.  Hasbro did a whole lot right with this set and I cannot wait for the Tauntaun. 

 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

League Assignment: Top 10 / Looney Tunes shorts!

This week's assignment for the league.



TOP 10 Best Looney Tunes Episodes!


Fast and the Furriest - All time favorite Road Runner and Coyote Cartoon.  Set to the great March of the Comedians.  Although most of the earlier Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons are awesome before Bill Lava took over the music which I never cared for.  We get the character M.O.'s, an effect which I love, with RoadRunner as "Accelleratii Incredibus" and Wile E. Coyote as "Carnivorous Vulgaris" and includes all the classic tricks like painting the tunnel on the wall, fast sneakers, boulders and whatnot...no patented falling off a cliff gag though surprisingly but this one is the special episode for me.



Ali Baba Bunny - Bugs and Daffy interacting with someone other than Yosemite Sam or Elmer Fudd, it's nice.  "Hassan Chop" is one of the best lines in the Looney Tooniverse.  Daffy is at his best here and really ups the ante with his over the top greed and reactions to the treasure crack me up.  "It's all mine, mine, mine!  I'm independent!" was the first set of wav files I used on my first computer sounds.  Hassan is great too as well as Daffy's reaction to him. Just pure comic gold.



The Abomidable Snow Rabbit - Bugs and Daffy take the big, dumb, galoot to a new level with this guy.  Daffy in the mistaken rabbit identity is great and I love his reactions.  Honestly, Daffy is my hands down favorite character just in his facial animations.



It's Hummer Time - Great comic timing and physical gags galore as a cat chases a hummingbird around the yard and repeatedly lands in the path of a bulldog whom repeatedly beats the bejeezus out of him.  "Not the Birdbath" "Not Happy Birthday" "Not the Thinker!" All are hilarious especially from Mel Blanc's great frantic cat as the dog almost stoically delivers the torture.  It's even funnier that apparently all of these punishments happen at a frequent enough rate that they are all given names and once the punishment is delivered the cat just sits there and takes it while the dogs just sits there and delivers it.  All while the classic track "the works" plays in the background.  Superb.


Hot Cross Bunny - Bugs at his finest with a no-name straight character to play off of loosely based on a German accented doctor with intent to experiment on him.  Bugs dances, sings, does a magic act and does his iconic vaudeville dance that I remember served as a bumper for the "June Bugs" promotions.  When he runs into the skeleton closet, the reaction is priceless.  Bug's quick monologue is just so goofy and random, "Ladies and Gentleman of the jury..." To this day I don't even know what they are lampooning but it's still hilarious as it was when I saw this as a little kid.



Wabbit of Seville - Looney tunes infusing culture onto us young ones while including Bugs in drag, Elmer's speech impediment and a slew of slapstick insanity.  Rossini would be proud!



Rabbit Fire / Duck, Rabbit, Duck! / Fricasseeing wabbbit!  Fiddler Crab Season! Pronoun Trouble! Dirty Skunk Season!  Be it on land,  in the snow or wherever  with Fudd being the great shotgun wielding moderator to Bugs and Daffys' ceaseless debate of wordplay and semantics.  The plays on words here showed that they were quite a bit of smarts behind that writing intended for children.  This explains in my opinion why this was so universally funny.



Duck Amuck - Daffy doing what he does best this time alone against an unseen animator antagonist driving him nuts.  Breaking the fourth wall consistently and being an absolute comic genius is truly Daffy's great M.O. and why I love him most in the Looney Tunes family.



The Great Piggy Bank Robbery - Although I like Daffy lampooning Buck Rogers better just in production value alone and Porky being hilarious I gotta say this one makes the list just for the Dick Tracy nod and the great list of bad guys.  I still think Neon Noodle deserves to be made into a figure.

Monday, August 4, 2014

List-O-Rama: My top 20 favorite snacks we will NEVER see again!


List Time!

My wife and I were reminiscing over long lost Kool-Aid flavors and relishing in the sheer awesomeness of our youth through highly sweetened snacks, treats and whathaveyous.  As we talked she looked up a variety of Kool-Aid products including Mountain Berry, Rock-a-dile Red, Rainbow Punch and Purplesaurus Rex to name a few of the particularly awesome flavors...it's strange...I didn't live in a Kool-Aid house but because of that I could place the exact place I was whenever a packet of that good stuff got mixed up be it at the pool, at a friends house, a birthday party, a sleepover, anything.  That's the power of nostalgia when mixed with scent and taste I guess. :)

So I whipped up a quick mix of 20 great, yet completely unhealthy and probably better to not exist in the long run, treats from my youth I remember that still have a warm place in my heart and still make me a little hungry.


1. Hostess Pudding Pie -  Very tasty from 1987. I remember getting these at the Convenient Mart in South Side, they were like ├ęclairs crossed with Boston cream pies in a pouch...in retrospect I wonder how the pudding kept from getting rancid but screw it. It was the 80's! C'mon!



2. Tato Skins - I don't care...these were the Cadillac of chips.  Cheddar Cheese and Bacon, Sour Cream and Chives, Baked Potato, Barbeque, YOU WON'T BELIEVE YOUR EYES...that was the totally awesome theme song to these flavor monsoons!


3 and 4. Oboisies  and Pizzarias - Didn't really like them but giving credit where credit was due with the whole baked and puffed chip thing that is a huge craze now.  Oboises seemed like hollow chips to me and Pizzarias were self defeating since if you wanted pizza just eat a pizza or if you had a dollar, get some pizzeria pretzel Combos that were infinitely better.  It was like they tried to pack too much flavor and it ended up tasting like ragu flavored potato chips.


5. Bonkers - two toned, chewy candies in fruit, chocolate or any other conglomeration of articifical flavor.  I liked the green and red watermelon ones.  They kicked serious ass and I remember a commercial for them on a "Muppet Babies" VHS tape my mom made me off Saturday Morning Cartoons...They used to always have print ads in Star Wars comics too.



6. Gatorgum - Tasted nothing like Gator-Aid but still was pretty damn good.  Lasted like .3 milliseconds before having to cram another piece of "sports" gum in your mouth.  Go figure, they scrapped this idea but now we are stuck with "Goo." Bah.


7. Ice Cream Cones Cereal - There were quite a few cereals I remembered; some good, some bad....but even the bad ones had a place as a great period in our 80's lives known as merchandizing to the fullest extent. A literal mass of  "Space Balls the Breakfast Cereal!" but really..."Bill and Ted's Excellent Cereal", "Nintendo Cereal", "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Cereal", "Addams Family Cereal" all of which were pretty shitty however there were some genuine gems of which I have four listed.   The first was Ice Cream Cones Cereal...so good, I remember the chocolate Bugel-like cones with the malty ice cream balls.  My uncle always had this cereal and it was awesome.  I even loved the neon looking graphic design on the box.  Researching these pics bought back really fond memories.


8. Smore's Crunch Cereal - Really tastey cereal that can only now be emulated in the form of modified Golden Grahams that never really do it like this brand did.  They made an "exteme" version called "S'morze" in the 2000's and it's just was awful.  Smore's Crunch was truly where it was at.


9. Circus Fun Cereal - My hands down favorite cereal of all time.  Chock full of tasty puffs and more marshmallows than you could shake a stick at that were levels above Lucky Charms in tastiness. Super fun commercial too.


10. Ghostbusters Cereal - Rare instance where a movie tie in produced any food product worth a damn.  Ghostbusters did it twice.  The cereal was super cool with a glow in the dark box if I remember correctly. I remember winning Ghostbuster swag in there as a prize and the very first prize in the cereal I ever remember came from a box of this stuff and it was none other than a Wacky Wall Walker!  Double Nostalgia points!



11. Ecto-Cooler - Lightning in a bottle for the h nds down, best drink ever made.  Formulas have been repeatedly tried to recapture this magical tangerine, citrus, green-clad flavor.  It was the coolest shit you could drink and it commanded high prices at the lunch table for the kid who controlled the green flow. Seriously, Ecto-Cooler probably served as the first thing most kids ever hustled.  It stayed popular long after the allure of the Ghostbusters in any other capacity stayed relevant and always kept my young mind hopeful of a new movie or series...alas. My co-worker today just said he would blow up a school bus to get his wish of a fully stocked 'fridge of Ecto-Cooler every morning. Well played.



12. Clearly Canadian - Remember getting this tastey treat after swimming at my grandfather's house in the summer at the cornershop.  Best carbonated drink ever made.  Only makes sense it was discontinued.  There's actually a poll to reignite the franchise for a limited time due to popular demand. Click HERE!


13. Kool-Aid Rainbow Punch - Like I previously stated, this started the whole post but God help me, was this ever a treat when that magic pitcher made its appearance at a neighbor's house.  I remember my uncle Paul and aunt Deb having this specific flavor and I loved the design, rainbow and everything about the packet.  Then I tasted the punch...pure kick-assness after a day of swimming at Nay Aug Pool.



14. Mickey's Parade Ice Pops - Nothing said, "beginning of Summer" like Mickey's Parade pops.  I remember my neighbors who had siblings fighting over specific characters.  I just remember the cherry and orange being the best.


15. Dunkaroos! - I'd prefer a boomerang for the whole Aussie theme but still pretty great.  The fudge (which there never seemed to be enough of) was more valuable than gold and taught us at a young age the power of conservation....cuz it sucked ending up with a bunch of kangaroo cookies with nothing to dip them in.


16.. Shark Bites  - That God-damned Great White haunts my dreams.  It was like a big freaking deal if you scored the Great White... then they wussed out and released pouches of nothing but Great Whites.  Boo.


17. Amazin' Fruit - Gummy Bears...but fun as hell Gummi Bears that danced a conga line.  The tropical ones were pretty great.  I'd get them at the bus stop at the "Family Derbis" at Green Ridge Corners.


18. Giggles Cookies - One of the earliest cookies I ever remember having.  Happy faces.  Two Kinds of cream.   Memorable slogan and marketing.  Good stuff....let's get rid of it.



19. Bar-None - Unleash your chocolate Beastie...it really makes me wonder when a candy bar goes totally belly up.  Like we have 40 varieties of some candies now, dark, mint, cookie, pb, but a chocolate wafer, coated in chocolate, peanuts and more chocolate didn't seem to get enough takers...yet sonofabitching Mounds still gets to clog up candy aisles.  Honestly, you can still get  a 5th Avenue, Heath, Charleston Chew, Riesen, Zagnut, O Henry and Sugar Daddy Bar if you shop around but Bar None is forever dead?


20. Chicken Little Sandwich - I'll end with fast food...THE BEST FAST FOOD ITEM ever made.  99 cent amazingness.  My dad would stop at the South Side KFC...now a freaking drive through Cigarette store and load up on these tasty morsels.  Perfect size for a snack like if White castle's equivalent to chicken sandwiches.  They always had a burst of tangy mayo and a perfectly buttery bun.  We were super bummed when this got taken off the menu.  I was psyched when they instituted the chicken snacker but it didn't even come close to measuring up...that also was taken off them menu to make way for bowls and double down disgusting-wiches.   That's the rule, you like it: they are certain to take it away and burn down the evidence....same goes for the Bacon Mushroom melt from Wendy's, the Bacon Club Chalupa from Wendy's and the Roma Chicken Pasta from Ruby Tuesday.  Bastardos!

League Assignment: CONtemplation

CONtemplation.

 
SDCC 2014 is a wrap. What peaked your interest most this year? What was a disappointment?

Hello LoEB'ers!  I'm long out of the loop but have been steadily getting back into the swing of thing this past month.  With re-admission to the blog-roll pool, I feel it would only be pertinent to resume weekly posts to the League.  

SDCC...Some major good news in quite a few areas, namely in Transformers and Star Wars.

I've been getting back into Transformers modern Voyager, 30th and Generations stuff and the bar none biggest news was the reveal of the combiners slated for 2015.


That's right; Superior and Menasor with a beautiful set of Arialbots and Stunticons.  Headsculpts are amazing, tight paint, great looking articulation to match anything from the third parties and I absolutely cannot wait to have these monsters up on display!  There really wasn't any disappointing news from their camp.  Plus One, Hasbro!

In the world of Star Wars, there was some pretty cool showings from the 6 inch black series with a first look at a 6 inch Wampa and Luke encounter and a 6 inch Tauntaun (awesome!) with Hoth Han and TIE Fighter pilot.  Cannot wait for the Emperor and Royal Guard or Death Star Gunner. The 6 inch black series just really impresses me and I really like the direction they are taking now that there looks to be some nice variety on the way.   Not that thrilled with the essential repacks of "Han in Stormtrooper disguise" and repaint non-canon "Shadow Squadron" or how Hasbro handled the pullback of the super huge 18 figure wave by replacing it with (in their words) "Something else."  Boo.  

 

 
Bummer in general is how long we will have to wait especially myself who lives in a toy vortex where my Walmart doesn't stock toys, my Toys R Us is half Babies R Us and thus never changes their stock and my Target seems to be a month behind the curve.  Oi.

Plus Good: Finally We are seeing a great rendition of Marty McFly with the Delorian.


Bad:  He's hellishly expensive.


Those were my highlights...Also...LOOOOOVED the new Mad Max Trailer.


How about you?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Toy Review: Transformers Classics / Generations - Thundercracker (Deluxe class)

Transformers Classics / Generations : Thundercracker (Deluxe Class)


Up for review is the Transformers Classics reboot Thundercracker.  He is an all around update to the awesome G1 seeker for Starscream's original jet squadron and my personal favorite of the original jets.  He is truly a sight to see.

 
This is a perfect update to an already great and iconic figure (whom I own but am yet to review...it's coming I swear).  He has updated articulation to all the right places, additional details, molding and anything you could find issue with seems to have been addressed and fixed from design, to transformation to paint application.


His alt-mode is a great representation of an F-15 Eagle and has perfected grooves, etching, engine ridges, exhaust fans, missiles and anything you could hope for.  He has a yellow/orange tinted opening cockpit and a painted on set of red and white stripes to give him a striking look over his vibrant blue paint job.  His nose has a rubberized black pointed tip and he has two firing missile pods that fit on the underside of his wings.  The Decepticon logo is nicely displayed on the overside of the wings as well.


Transformation is smooth and fixed the nagging issue I had with the G1 rendering of having to physically take off his wings and stabilizers and reposition them between alt and bot modes.  Everything is connected and transitions into place nicely.  The only thing that comes off are the rocket launchers which can either be positioned on his forearms or in his hands as blasters to add some variety.  He has nice extended legs that bend at the knee and has pivoting arms with bendable elbows which add for some nice poses as shown.


As a bot, he is amazing.  Beautiful face mold although his head doesn't move nor does he have light-piping.  He's got a nice paint scheme on the chest with two exhaust fans for breastplates which are a great touch.  They even included the two red triangles on his shoulder guards like the G1 model.  Articulation is very satisfactory and as I'm repeatedly talking about touches and paint on the wings and body, yes, it is all paint now.  No stickers anywhere and the application of the paint is welcome and extremely well placed.

 
Presentation-wise, he's a slick update of one of the most popular original characters from the Transformers Universe.  If you can only decide on (or afford) one seeker, go with this guy.  He certainly will not disappoint and (next to Dirge) he seems to be one of the least expensive Classics you can still score.  Skywarp, on the other hand, is through the roof and Starscream...I dunno doesn't do it for me as an update like Thundercracker manages to do.