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Monday, April 30, 2012

We've also got bears! McDonald's Happy Meal Berenstain Bears set

I said I'd follow up the Joe post with something a bit more random so here we are. These little guys have been synonymous with so many of our childhoods. I for one had about 20 of their stories. They had such neat illustrations that really rang true. Well, as true as anthropomorphic bears can ring. The junk food in the overeating one always looked so good, come to think of it most food in our kids books and cartoons looked awesome from the pizzas in the Donald duck golden book to gummie juice to the Ninja Turtles Pizzas which they managed to eat whole in one bite! I liked how the kids had problems we all did as kids from nightmares to messy rooms to nailbiting. My favorite being the one where Brother's sci-fi toys come alive in his dreams and attack him (the nightmare one). Well, besides my obvious bear-love, I also want to point out how awesome McDonalds was in their prime. You know before they got "urban" by "Lovin' It" and 86'ed Ronald and Grimace and the gang and parent groups didn't want to draw and quarter the Fry Kids for trans-fat content and before the utter ridiculousness of "Hope" in my happy meal, what "Mighty Kids Meal". Back in the day, even if you didn't like the food, McDonald's really was a master at promoting various children's licenses and products and producing fine, high-quality toys to go with it. I have a massive amount of these guys and am going to be displaying them over the weeks but I wanted to start with not only a complete set but one I really enjoyed playing with as standalone toys. These were the Berenstain Bears' which, I might add, was one of the only, if only, way to get these guys in toy format as was the case with Bambi, Fraggles, Muppet Babies and so on. (They are all coming up) From the pack in illustrations to the paint application to the actual fur they had, these toys were cool as hell for a 4 year old and still retain a lot of niche appeal just for collectibity's sake. Even though you've really lost your touch, hats off to you, Mickey Dee's for making some awesome toys even worth having still.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

We've got ninjas! Toy Review: Hasbro v1, v2 and 25th Storm Shadow

Gonna mix it up a bit and show off a couple very different items in these two posts.  My old blog name was "eclectic interests" so I wanted to keep that flavor and not get stagnated into just doing exclusively Star Wars or Joe stuff.  Now, I'm gonna start with some Joe and follow up with something a bit more random.  It truly was an exhausting weekend, visited both sides of the fam, traveled about the state, cleaned, shopped, went on a 4 mile adventure through our neighborhood with the bride but still managed to get home in time to snag a near complete G1 Metroplex for 40.00!  All in a day's work!  Also managed to find some super deals on the bay of e over the week for very little money and made the rank of "power seller"...whatever that entails. Honestly, two of these things I cannot wait to arrive so I can show em off on the blog...but later!  Anywho, I wanted to get a few posts in before another full school and work week get rolling so I'll get started.

This, I can say without much hesitation is probably one of the most sought after GI JOE figures in the franchise. He is easily one of the most popular and has depths of back story, lore which entails an entire solo story for just him. We're talking about Storm Shadow (as well as his antagonistic compatriot, Snake Eyes) You can't tell a GI Joe story without some major Storm Shadow segues occurring. Even in the Animated Resolute shorts or GI JOE: the movie, he is a major player who gets his own chunk of the narrative devoted to him, his origin or his rivalry. (However, he doesn't even get a line in the Sunbow animated movie...yet Thrasher does...okay. Regardless, he is a definite fan fav, no matter how you slice it.

This vintage fig can demand some serious bread on the aftermarket. This is one of the guys that (as generous as my uncle was) was not given to me. I had to find him on the aftermarket, which I did this year. I got this one without the chucks or the bow (two insanely hard to find items that go for a tenner each) and just now noticed he's missing a thumb for 7 dollars but I don't care, I still think I got a great deal. He came with a file card too but I hawked it for 9 bucks a while ago. He's one of those "white" figures that easily yellows and stains and he is very clean with a crisp red Cobra logo on him. He has some great molding of a dagger and stars into his waist belt, his folding backpack and 4 ninja accessories ( I have two, the long katana and short sword ) He is classic cool and was worth a 29 year wait.

I also have him with his 25th anniversary counterpart which is just an updated version of the classic figure.  He gets an entirely new mold from head to toe and it looks brilliant!  He has much better detail with a removable belt and harness, as well as dagger, separately molded throwing star and painted logo on his sword casings.  The chest mold has almost a flap on the front to mimic the fold of his ninja gear and has some find painted detailing on the trim of the chest and bottom of the tunic as well as finely painted sandals.  They left nothing out on this guy.  Really, I want to say he's an exception to the 25th and 30th anniversary series but this is a standard level of detailing Hasbro put into the entire series.  These figs are so detailed, it just blows the mind.   I scored him for 10 bucks along with Snake Eyes and Timber  (anniversary edition of the version 2 1985 molding)  He is minus the chucks and bow but the arrows are painted silver and there is gold detailing on the sword handle which stand out as even more great touches.  Also, I find his facial expression to nail the visage from the cartoon series.  He is a perfect figure, in my opinion and even manages to edge out the original for accuracy.  Find him and buy him if you haven't already!

Also, for your amusement is another reason why we love the 80's!  Storm Shadow V2...a wonderful model of sheer hooded, urban-camoed, tattooed, badassery!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

So much catching up! So much coming up!

One corner of the room which has since been updated

Since I've just recently moved into bigger digs to start the married life which is great (both of these things) I've just now began revitalizing my hobby of toy collecting which has long been placed on moratorium due to living quarters restraints.  That said, I have to do a lot of back collecting on lines I've missed out on as well as gearing up to grab stuff while it's on the actual store shelves. This is not as easy as it sounds since Toys R Us and Wal-Mart restock their items once a decade if they get new items at all.  (side note: I've stopped at TRU on a weekly basis since August and only have ever had one time where I've gotten anything  and I'm yet to see a single figure from the last 2 waves of original trilogy guys, thank you for the three Phantom Menace and Clone Wars lines we now have clogging those racks for a quarter of the year...honestly, how many Qui-Gon Jinns or Naboo guards can you possibly need on a rack?)   Wal-Mart can be pleasantly surprising since I've been able to randomly find most of my store-bought Vintage Collection figures as well as my 30th anniversary GI Joe guys.  I was able, after many, many months, to find Ponda Baba, Echo Base Hoth Soldier and Lando Sandstorm figures and these were all lucky Wal-Mart finds which can be seen below.

Anyway, I'm constantly challenged with the task of arranging and rearranging the small room I'm working out of due to the ever changing size of my collection which is pretty remarkable since it started as one single shelf on the wall.  I'm sure that's how it starts for a lot of us.  These next couple of months, particularly May and September, are going to be tough considering the Star Wars vintage line is finally coming back with some great additions like Luke in Hoth Gear, Grand Moff Tarkin, Kithaba, Imperial Naval Trooper and Dr Evazan and a ton of Fall releases like the Emperor's guard, Nien Numb, Weequay and Nikto as well as re-releasing some of the super hard to get guys from previous waves like the Gamorrean Guard and Wedge Antilles.  Not only that but we have two brand new lines hitting the shelves come September in the newly announced Takara remakes of the Battle Beasts (named Beast Saga) on top of the previously announced Diamond Select Minimate Battle Beasts to coincide with the upcoming IDW comics!!!  Also, (old news) there's a rehash of the classic Ninja Turtles in an 8 figure first wave and they look absolutely fabulous as well a great rendition of the Party Wagon and Sewer Playset coming this Fall.  The Turtles and Takara Beasts are all up for pre-order on BigBadToyStore and I'm doing everything in my power to not impulse reserve anything let along everything. 

Two upcoming TVC figures I'm psyched to see!

Battle Beasts, where you been all my life???

At least nothing that must-have is charted for release in the video game world it seems besides Bioshock: Infinite  however we just had a Shigeru Miyamoto announcement of apparently a new New Super Mario Bros game too.  Speaking of which, Fez came out this week for X-live arcade  and I managed to play a few minutes of the demo last night and it shows some very nice promise.  It's a good time to be an indoor kid.  I just wished I had this space to work with even up to a year ago so I could have bought the Transformers: Generations of first waves of Modern Joes at retail instead of getting everything on the much pricier after-market.  I keep finding myself looking into the other various collections like Hasbro's Bucky O'Hare, NECA's Turtles,  Playmates' Dick Tracy, Kenner's Mega Force and Palisades' (since closed awesome toy company) Invader Zim figures and doing what I can not to start up yet another toy line.  Man, self-control is for suckers!

If you weren't into the Ninja Turtles before, now's a good time to start!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mechs, Rabbits and Gremlins, Oh My!

Let's move into some random but neat items I have laying about my toy room...cough cough, office. hehe.  I sold one of these items and another I'm currently selling so I'd like to get a few words in about them while I still have them around to talk about.   These are all great pieces from my childhood and they all got some quality play time over the years. 

First up is my Gremlins Stripe figure.  He was produced from LJN toys in 1984 in a wireframed bendy rendition in the same manner as their wrestling superstars figures that soon followed.  He was part of a limited release to tie in with the gremlins movie and I don't think any other "bendy" gremlins figures were ever released.  He (Gremlin form and Mogwai form) and Gizmo were all
released as well in classic action figure modes and Gizmo was made into various sized plush dolls as well. I remember not going anywhere without my Gizmo as a little kid and even had him on a shelf in college but I lost him in one of my moves (still have a mini one at my parents house though ) Stripe's a very accurate depiction with the cool mohawk, long fingers and nice paintjob and anything with Megatron's voice (Frank Welker) is badass. Gremlins always is a movie I can watch start to finish no matter what is happening, it works on so many levels that could draw kids in buy has lasting appeal for adults. I remember getting this on a bootleg VHS tape from my uncle with Dragon Slayer on before it, nice two pack. The Gremlin effects are superb and hilarious and despite them being little evil monsters, you end up rooting for them. It also has some pretty disturbing imagery for a film geared at little kids that was marketed as a Christmas, family, E.T. clone. (which it most certainly isn't) The violence (and Phoebe Cates' horrifying Santa story) pissed off so many parents that this and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom are the double-handed reasons for the PG-13 rating's existance! This figure is shipping out on Monday so it was nice knowing ya!

Next up is a figure/vehicle set from the Exo-Squad line produced from Playmates in 1992. This one of the police E-Frame Mech with Shawn Napier driver figure above and with Arial Attack E-Frame with commander J.T. Marsh below.  This line was great. It had so many details and accessories and the molds and articulation was amazing. All of the sets came with a Frame of various size and a figure. Some came bigger like aircraft, tanks...some came with smaller stuff like rocket packs and standards came with mech suits called E-Frames. This was an extension of the Japanese Robotech line that carried into the states in various forms. Reminds me a little of the Transformers Macross Jetfire/Valkyrie figure Japan/US conversions. Each frame came with a little plastic crystal shard to power the suite, firing missiles or projectiles, action features on the suit itself, full articulation and moving parts to lock the figure in place as well as a mind-jack uplink cable that connects the figures head. The figure also was filly articulation in the manner of a GI Joe figure and included a weapon set of their own! Talk about fully loaded toys! The cartoon was on at random times so I only caught a few episodes but I remember them being really well animated and well written. I had this guy and JT Marsh (the commander) and got them both from K-Mart (thanks mom) but never got any more figures... I usually put them in with my Joes and just used them as future soldiers. If you can find these in complete form which is rare, pick them up there are a great toy line!

Last up is my absolute favorite figure from Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Line, Usagi Yojimbo "bodyguard rabbit".  Originally released as his own creation by Stan Sakai and 1987 comic series and gradually picked up into the animated series based comics through crossovers and featured on the animated series as a close companion to Leonardo, Usagi was just classic cool from top to bottom.  I love this figure, from the paint, expression, stance, accessories.  He is just a perfect action figure and a crowning achievement from Playmates Toys.  Pretty much anything that they produced was gold in the 90's.  They really did a great job translating animated properties into toys.  Their Toxic Crusaders toys and Dick Tracy figures  were superb as well all the way to the super colorful packaging and box art.   I plan to do more Turtles reviews and highlights of items I have since sold.  I tell you this, no matter what, Usagi isn't going anywhere.

Serpentor's Air Chariot review! This, I command!!!

I never was a fan of the whole Serpentor character in the G.I. Joe cartoon... he kind of heralded into the beginning of the end of good vintage Joe.  It's not so much him, Cobra Commander needed a good foil to put him in his place besides Zartan and Destro but Serpentor just seemed so pissy all the time.  Kind of like an abusive husband and wife (ergo, Starscream and Megatron, Krang and Shredder, Skelator and Beastman...wow, pretty common theme for villains)  I really liked the initial idea behind him of Dr. Mindbender combing the tombs of the leaders of history and using their DNA sequences to create a super-commander and "Arise, Serpentor, Arise!" is the possibly one of the best sets of episodes in the whole animated series.

I just found his character pretty useless; he was always screaming at people, he never has any real plans, Cobra's top people all have this unfounded respect for him.  Say what you will about Cobra Commander but despite his shitty plans, he is always coming up with new ones.  Also, the movie undoes any originality of his creation by making it Golobulus (worst villain ever) who used a psychic bug to motivate Mindbender to have such a brilliant (ridiculous) idea.  Props to him for nailing Duke in the heart with his viper staff, too bad Duke lived.

So beyond my feelings on animated Serpentor, that is inconsequential because I absolutely LOVE the toy version of him.  He originally came in a vehicle/figure pack from Hasbro in 1986 retailing for $4.20 (wow...so cheap), the set was available for 2 years and then was available for mail-order from Hasbro Direct in 1988.  It is a wonderful piece that translates amazingly well from his animated counterpart. 

He was one of the first Joe figures I ever received and literally it took me from age 6 to yesterday to complete this guy!  He was one of the figures my Uncle Brian let me pick out of his Joe box, I remember not knowing anything about GI Joe at the time but loving how he looked and the figure head inside the snake mouth and the gold and green scale armor and the metallic green cape.  He was absolutely mindblowing!  However, there was no vehicle or accessories.    Eventually I snagged the vehicle shell two years later from one of my dad's work friends older sons who didn't want it anymore without any add-on pieces (thrusters, blasters, snake head)... I got the gold snake accessory by chance when someone left it at my house around the two years after that.  All of it went into storage up until this year where his cape was absolutely destroyed.  I then started rebuilding him and he actually was a  major motivator behind me rebuilding my whole Joe collection!

 Found the Royal Cobra sticker on the side of the vehicle in a box of legos (weird) and glued it in place...Step one.  Got the fins and blasters for 5.00 as a lot from an ebay seller, Step two.  Got his dagger (the correct silver one)... I had him for the longest time with a Range Viper black knife by accident...thanks Whobit.com for clearing that up, step three. :)  Just got the snake head piece for the front last month for 3.00 (step four) and yesterday his replacement cape (step five) for 2.80 arrived in the mail and he is a beaut'!  Literally 24 years in the making to get the whole package. 

Relatively he's a kind of common figure but I don't care, he's pretty much a crowning achievement of a perfect sculpt and amazing accessories that stands a test of time and really shows Hasbro and hoe 80's toy makers in general where at the absolute pinnacle of achievement.  The vehicle is a spot on rendition of the air chariot from the cartoon and has a ton of extra (easily lost) parts like a movable handle bars, a two piece gold snake hear, a rotating exhaust fan on the pack, great decals and is sculpted in metallic gold and flat black.  I already gave a brief description behind the figure but I'll say again he is a really well sculpted figure with a perfect snake motif behind him with snake head wrist guards with little touches of while on the fangs covering his hands, the intercrossing of snake tails on his legs, his helmet and cowl are nice touches too as well as the two snakes he has on his shoulders.  Bravo Hasbro!