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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A few frustrations at the current state of collecting...

A few frustrations I have as a collector mostly toward Hasbro...am I crazy?  Does anyone else feel this way?

1. Collecting a simple line is next to impossible for years now if you like Star Wars or Transformers and want to buy product from the big 3 (Target, TRU and Walmart)

2. Why do retailers overstock and continue to overstock garbage waves that no one buys...TVC Phantom Menace...40 dollar Star Wars vehicles that sit and sit...Year of the Horse OP...like dozens of him?

3. Why won't retailers put every figure from a wave on their online site?  Even if they don't have it...can they at least acknowledge that somewhere in one of their stores carries said figure? (e.g. every Black Series figure past wave 1 or Transformers legends class...)

4. Seriously, why can't they do #3?  Tailgate...Skrapnel...SWERVE!?!?! Where are these Goddamned figures???

5. Why doesn't HASBROTOYSHOP.COM have it's own products listed?  Forget preorders (which makes no sense that they refuse to do that one).  Why can I not order a product directly from them and have to wait...up to 6 months for a figure that apparently has been on ebay for half a year to show up in my local stores?  Do you just not like making money?

6. KMART and now WALGREENS exclusives? WTF? When I think Walgreens, I think collectible toys. Why don't you fix your relationship with an actual TOY SELLER like Toy's R Us before you broaden to drug stores.

7. Angry Birds....Transformers....because the star wars shit I've seen sitting on clearance for months wasn't a big enough red flag that this is a line to satiate a call NO ONE ever asked for.  Honestly, what target market are you  trying to hit?  It's like you hate your true blue collectors so much that you are trying to make the shelf space for actual Toys (action figures) that aren't stuffed animals, or board games, or dice games or whatever stupid ass minifigure game you are shilling that nobody wants so small that we just all give up.  It worked for me and Star Wars, I'm currently selling off my modern figures out of disgust.

8. Why are your waves so random?  Remember "Collect 'em All!" That concept doesn't even exist anymore! Collect 'em All...why? So I can recreate that scene where that one single Jabba Skiff Guard fought Hoth Luke while a Clone Trooper watched?  Put some shit out with at least a speck of continuity!

9.  Playsets aren't cost feasible yet a 70.00 Slave 1 Amazon exlusive or a Linkin Park Soundwave is?

10. Why do you refuse to make commercials?

11.  Why are you creating a line of dumbed down transformers?  You already have a line for little kids called rescue bots sold in the ages 1-3 section but we need easy change bots for older kids now?  What is going on?

12. Do you honestly know you suck this hard that 3rd parties from every direction are stepping up to deliver on the vacuum you've created in demand for two of the greatest toy lines ever produced???

13. Why did you effectively let G.I. Joe die on the table?

I realize that as an adult collector I make up maybe 1/20th of the market as a generous guess but here's the thing.  If you want the other 19/20ths of toy buying children to foster a love of your lines and toys the way we do it's real simple...take your business model from the 80's and copy that.  Stop changing everything for the worse.  Stop showing up at toy shows to tell everyone what new great stuff you're planning and then doing as little as possible to make those products reach your customers.  Seriously, I'm excited as hell over your combiners but then I thought..like I'd ever find 6 separate figures stocked anywhere near me unless I plan to pay 20 percent more from an online retailer or sky's the limit from a scalper on ebay.

Am I alone? Anyone? Anyone? 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Toy Review: Transformers: Reveal the Shield - Lugnut (Voyager Class)

Transformers: Lugnut (Reveal the Shield - Hunt for the Decepticons - Voyager Class)

Here's a nice bit of straight up, 100 percent praise.  It goes without saying, hand's down that this is my all time favorite Transformer figure.  I hunted this guy for months and managed to score him new in box for about 35.00.  The story behind this guy's figure in general is rather disappointing considering what an absolutely awesome all around figure he truly is.   He is a pure example of someone in the design department really caring for their work and is an answer to a request most collectors didn't even know they wanted.  He is a much more fleshed out and "realistic" version of the mindlessly loyal to Megatron henchman from the Transformers: Animated Series. He's not really, to my knowledge, from any other TF canon besides the animated series so I find it remarkable that someone went ahead and gave this figure a much needed upgrade.

Unfortunately, for me, because this guy was a relative unknown to those who didn't watch or collect the animated line and thus his sales were poor.  So poor that most collectors who did find him ended up scoring him in the bargain clearance bins at T.J. Maxx, Marshall's and Ollie's.  (The one I got on ebay still had a 10.00 clearance sticker on him and there's a review on youtube where the seller stated the actually got him for 2 freaking dollars!!!!) While apparently everyone who was on board from the start was scooping this puppy up for literal dirt cheap prices, those of us late to the party have been paying upwards of 50 bucks on the after-ebay-market.  Yikes!   He's so worth it, I have no regrets whatsoever.

Figure-wise, he's a great sculpt that could easily fill in as a chest piece for the Combaticons as his vehicle mode is modeled after the likes of a B-17 Flying Fortress with WWII canopy and belly guns along with a nice little dual molded tail gun in the rear.  It has two wing mounted engines sans propellors and has a flip back pilots compartment and the gimmick consists of a deployable missile cannon that is hidden by the tailgunner which can be positioned down to front and fire a spring loaded missile.  

Where this guy shines is in his bot mode.  He takes everything that made the animated version cool and takes it all to the next level for the sculpt, paint, color and just hulking nature of the figure.  He is a big Lugnut to say the least. He is bulky and weighty with lumbering arms, a nice gorilla-like physique, shoulders of a bruiser with the hands down funnest transformation I've seen in a long time.  The paint is great with nice detailing on the nose art in true WWII fashion and he is a nice army green with purple highlights and read transparent plastic and I love every bit of it.  His call sign is labeled on his tail and wings with LU-6 NU-7...clever.   You can also get upgrades from reprolabels which add bomb compartment graphics, your choice of custom nose art and decals for the wings.

His face is centered with a monocular cycloptic eye which is teeming with personality and includes an articulated jaw with two bucktooth-like squares on the lower mandibles.  He has a lot of nice light-piping on the canopy and eyepiece and everything is ball-jointed and poseable...hell, his fingers are on their own joints which is great for a voyager figure and you can even play with his feet which are jointed between the heel and toe portions!


If you missed him, get him.  If you have him, take him out and play with him.  If he's on your shelf already, move him to the front!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Toy Review: Transformers Onslaught (Ultra Class: Universe Classics 2.0)

Transformers: Universe Classics 2.0/ Onslaught (Ultra Class)

Here, we are looking at 2008's Ultra Class Onslaught.  He was fashioned into a larger commander bot with serious armament and intimidating size after a smaller version of him was created for the combiner Combaticon set of Bruticus Maximus also in the Universe toy line.

Instead of being a flatbed military truck with mobile artillery gun, he is now an armored tactical S.W.A.T. vehicle.  The translation works pretty well as he retains major qualities like big tires, a double barreled cannon, similar headsculpt and color scheme.  He works very well for me and I wish they released his buddies on this scale to make an Ultra Combiner based on these molds.  I would love to see a Ultra class Swindle, Brawl or Vortex.  The stuff coming from Warbotron in this department is leaving little to be desired...seriously check out Heavy Noisy or Sly Strike and tell me those aren't dead on G1 faces.  (Is it possible for something in 2014 to look more "G1" than the original G1?)


He combines fairly easy with a fold out read section of wheels that converge to his feet with armor plating with bendable knees and hip joints.  He has electronic features that make a blaster noise, a crushing noise and a siren noise. I scored an early version that had a bug in the sound that only lets it play in 1 second bursts so there is no prolonged sounds of machine gun or sirens as was intended and later released in the U.S and Japanese versions.  Point of note, the Takara version also had colors that directly matched the original G1 toy while these seem a bit darker.

He's got a nice headsculpt with light up eyes on a battery jointed arms and shoulders with a flip out cannon on his right wrist and a flip out holder on his left to hold a detachable S.W.A.T. shield. (A feature I absolutely love)  It makes him look like a freaking gladiator in my opinion and it seriously rules.  His cannon is essentially not functioning on his back and only really works if you make him bend over.  I tried and he really cannot do it without looking totally stupid and needing a hand to prop him up.  In his vehicle mode, he is meant to look armored and bulky and it works well.  His wrist gun is belly mounted and he has two flip down spiked battering devices hinged on the helm of the vehicle.  While the shield can be positioned onto the top for an armored roof, it doesn't feel like it belongs there if they are trying to make this look realistic.  I find with a nice suspension of disbelief put into place, you can make the design work.

This guy truly reinvents Onslaught and lives up to his name....Just wish his main cannon could be better utilized in bot mode.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Toy Review: Transformers - Generations: Cosmos and Payload (Legends Class)... and Hasbro minirant

Transformers Generations: Cosmos and Payload (Legends Class)

I picked this small set up a few weeks back at my local Target and have been meaning to do something with these guys.  I originally wanted to pick up Swerve, Tailgate and Shrapnel...oh right, Skrapnel (whatever).  So far, this has been a bit hard.

Sufficed to say, the newer generations legends class figures are rare as hell to find.  I actually HELD a Swerve and Flanker in my hand and put it back on the shelf thinking...ah, well the fact that he's sitting in Target means we're done with the Starscream, Megatron, Bumblebee, Optimus waves that have been pegwarming for a year now...to my chagrin only discovered on my next visit with intent to buy that not only Swerve was long gone but THREE racks were filled with Optimus Legends figures....which have sat now for about a month.

Seriosuly (mini-rant) but again, Hasbro, why do you have this ball-itching quality to compulsively clog your toy lines with pegwarmers at every turn while refusing to properly distribute lines of figures people want...first of all...NOBODY wants a tiny Optimus Prime that's Bumblebee sized! Let alone three racks of him.  What are you thinking? Even from a little kid's perspective..."Hmmm...do I want a tiny little OP or this nice sized chromed out one with a full sized Grimlock for fifteen extra dollars or a nice foot tall AoE figure for 5 bucks more?"  So you do this...while you develop an honestly great run of original sculpts with great paint and package art which coincide with a great IDW series and just refuse to distribute them and not carry them on your own website...but to add insult to injury state you plan to offer repaints of the exact same pegwarmers! (a la Nemesis Prime and Cliffjumper which I can only hope are ways to pawn off the overstock of wave 1 figures which would be smart but probably is incorrect)...This is on top of offering stupid "exclusive" TRU Masterpiece variants like Acid Storm who sat for a whole year and is on clearance now or (now upcoming) Sunfire.   We still haven't gotten a MP Thrust, Dirge or Ramjet which I would jump at for any of them.  Or how about the garish and tacky Gold and Transparent "year of the horse" Optimus Prime...Why not just re-releasing MP-01 that everyone is dying to get another shot at since even the KO without the trailer is going for 110.00 on ioffer.com?  Nah, let's clog the stores with a giant expensive shelf jammers while short supplying desired products like MP Soundwave and super-undersupplying MP Grimlock...honestly, did he even make it to some stores after his whole half hour that he was posted on TRU.com for sale.  TRU just pulled this shit with preorders for leader class Jetfire who was on the site for a whole 3 days before they removed the sale.  If the figure isn't even released yet, why can't the sellers just take indefinite preorders and send the numbers to the supplier for fulfillment... does Hasbro and Toy's  R Us just NOT like making money???

OK, I'm done.

The figure is a great, albeit, super hard to find Legends Class figure. The Universe line also put out a remake of this cool minibot but I just never felt like shelling the 20 plus on him on ebay.  This little guy is a perfect update of the original G1 version that really left much to be desired.  I know Takara and Hasbro were working with what undiscerning buyers deemed acceptable back in the 80's hence such an awkward little original figure but this guy is truly an Action figure meaning you can pose him and he has positionable arms, legs and waist!  The first guy as with many of the G1 line could do just about one thing in bot mode...stand up straight and/or point a gun if he was packed with on and has a peghole in his hand which wasn't always the case.

This version of Cosmos has an added bonus, he's also a very small targetmaster as he is packed with a cannon Targetmaster named Payload who transforms into a space shuttle which is an awesome touch I love with this new line of Legends.  He's simple but detailed and makes for a nice extra addition with an almost too simple transformation between weapon, bot and ship but nothing out of the ordinary for a mini-con or micromaster.  

Figure-wise, Cosmos is a great build with a lot of articulation for a figure his size, great paint detailing and tons of grooves, engine detailing, and paneling on his ship mold.  The ship has some cool grey cannons on the bottom, three windows on the front, a tail rudder with tow yellow engines.  Snazzy. 

 In Bot-mode, he has nice sturdy hands and feet with ball jointed legs, a rotating waist and articulation at the elbows and knees.  For a little guy, he looks like he can pack a punch.  His paint is very nice with bright yellows and greens with some extra care put into his face. (as expressionless as it is)  Even payload has a couple colors in there with nice attention to detail, especially on his ships front window paneling.

If you can find this pair, grab them up or prepare to get fleeced on Evil-bay.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Toy Review: Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters - Shockwave (Voyager Class)

Transformers Prime / Beast Hunters: Voyager Class Shockwave

This'll be  a quickie.  I already said I recently started back up on some fairly modern Transformers (most stuff from the 2000's up to now.  One of the first figures that caught my eye through some stylish tumbler photos (honestly some of the toy photography on that feed is amazing) was this guy and I had to have him.  I managed to score him for 14 bucks compete with shipping which was a pretty nice deal.  This character has held a special place in my heart since my very first memories of toys as he and Jetfire were my first bots G1 I received for Christmas.  I loved his blaster alt mode and was deeply saddened when he went missing forever. I did get him back albeit through Chinese KO format but its all the same to me, he looks great and I had nothing bad to say about him in my previous review

When his incarnation was featured in the Fall of Cybertron figure line, I jumped at it but was  disappointed at the space ship cannon he turned into and the overall lighter weight to his feel for a deluxe which I paid 18 or so for at Wal-Mart. I sold him off after a few weeks and was pretty disgusted.  In retrospect after knowing about Tidal Wave/ AKA Shockwave in Japan and seeing he was originally a purple and grey space cannon it made a lot more sense.  Seriously, if you wanna read this figure's whole history and crazy origins, read this amazing Transformers article.
Considering he wasn't even a Diaclone and was his own damn standalone robot figure is impressive.

So onto this guy.  He's got the beast motif with horns, spikes and ragged teeth-like protuberances.  All works great and he looks very ready for battle. Really, I see some photos of a battle against Springer calling my name as I type this with a nice purple against green theme.   His colors are vibrant with great light piping through his one even cycloptic eye.  He has a nice gimmick on his arm which spins and exposes a nice internal weapon on his arm-cannon and his alt-mode tank treads unravel and turn into an ammo belt which attaches to his arm.  He also has translucent piped plastic on his chest to enhance reflection and glow.  He's a beautiful figure all the way to the headsculpt with nice articulation although my figures right leg is incredibly loose at the hip.

In his alt-mode, he turns into a giant artillery/ railgun looking thing.  I'm not crazy about it but the bot-mode definitely makes up for it.  He transforms easy enough and his alt-cannon mode is sturdy with nice small wheels to help him slide around and the central gun is a cool touch with treaded tracks in the back.  Very Beast Hunter-y and if you like the animal look, also included are some rubber claws and a face maw to attach to the front which I've never done because I hate how it looks.  If you like this, great... If you like the orange add ons in purble and green, check out the Takara "Transformer, Go!" redecoed version.

Verdict: If you love Shockwave or want to give the Beast Hunters line a shot while the figures are still sanely priced and accessible, give this guy a definite look.  He's totally worth it!

Toy Review: Transformers Prime - Wheeljack

Transformers Prime: Wheeljack

This great figure just came in the mail yesterday and I couldn't be happier.  He's a very slickly presented Autobot Ferrari Testarossa  with high stylization, great paint application and a nice sturdy but poseable frame.  I love the modern take on the great G1 (Porsche) favorite while still holding onto some of the nice aesthetics that made the original Wheeljack so iconic.   Hell, any version of him with legs that are actual legs is a 1up to the original blocky fellow.

He comes equipped with two samurai katana swords which attach to the front of his vehicle mode or underneath for stowage as well as (I'm not sure if intentional) in the slots in his shoulders to make nice makeshift sheaths.  Decent touch and I've noticed a lot of swords and weaponry with the newer figures with swords and shields for various figures.  Hey, gotta  have something to slice those cannon fodder vehicons up with, right?  In the animated series, they deflect energon blasts.  His articulation is fine with bendable joints in all the right places at wrists, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees and every part of him looks great with little if any kibble and my only gripe would be that his back fins don't branch how like the old school "wings" did but that's more for nostalgia's sake since it works for me.  I'm more stating it should be an option even it's not one I'd pursue.

He's got a nice headsculpt with little lightpiping however and doesn't have the slight up side portions of his head as in his Generations model.   However this doesn't happen on the show so no worries.  His head is also presented with his battle faceplate up to more harken the look of his G1 incarnation.  When down he's got a much more articulated humanoid face a la Optimus Prime.

Due to the fact that I'm on a pretty restricted budget, I'm having to be pretty choosy with my purchases as of lately.  I researched the various Wheeljacks and landed on this guy.  His exact replica is available from the Takara Arms-Micron line where he comes packed with a little cool Micron weapon which would have been an instant win for me, however, the AM line don't have much in the line of paint aps (strange for Takara) and in lieu of this, decals are included.  From comparing shots between the two models, I just think the Hasbro painted apps look richer and cleaner than I ever could do with my hands.

I freaking love this guy and am glad he's my first Prime Series figure who arrived.  I have a deluxe Starscream on the way and will keep you posted.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Transformers: Armada - Tidal Wave

 I have recently started rebuilding and reformatting my Transformers collection.  Pretty much done with G1 and G2 due to expense and the annoyance of collecting dozens of little pieces...(did you ever look at how much stuff comes with a Pretender figure???) and am focusing on moderns.  I originally wanted to focus on Voyager class due to size and recent improvements in quality but I've diversified and looked into getting anything that looks appealing without a pigeonholed need to "complete" any one or two lines.  Case in point, I picked up an Animated Soundwave and Laserbeak and probably will never buy another figure from the line with exception to Blurr or Longarm Shockwave.   I've made some pretty nice scores and have gotten quite a few guys at very decent prices so far.  I have however been noticing some self-kickingly high prices on fairly recent figures....some Prime series bots and cons are going for double their original retail cost which blows my mind considering they are 2 years old and literally warmed the pegs when I was only looking for Star Wars Vintage Collection figures.  I can't remember whose blog I read it on but there was some speculation that Hasbro's poor distribution of that toy line potentially killed the series way earlier than planned, pity because I'm looking over those figs and the Prime (and even some Beast Hunters) figures are some great slick sculpts that do a modern take on the Robots in Disguise with proper justice.

I gotta say, a simple look at the newer stuff has really been impressive and honestly, Transformers seems to be the only actual toy line that one can still collect in stores that has a nice variety of stocked and easily accessible figures that rotate waves fairly steadily.  I  have all but given up on Star Wars and have only bought 2 figures in the past 6 months their line. Hasbro still sucks balls as far as keeping the two and a half big-box toy retailers we have left stocked with figures where clear demand exists like Swerve, MP Grimlock, Tailgate and Cosmos for example.  But all in all, I'm still actively finding stuff to buy and to think Voyager Whirl was who I have to thank for getting back into the collecting pool...granted, I have to store ALL my stuff in my closet now due to space limitations.  Someday my amassed goods will have a nice shelf to call their very own.

Here, we are looking at a series I haven't touched yet.  I want to focus on the Armada Series', Tidal Wave.  He was released in Japan with much more appropriate purple and dark grey coloring and was known as Shockwave for the Micron Denetsu series (Our Shockwave was known as Laserwave over there).  He would later be recolored and re-released under the Energon line with a white, gold and translucent green motif as well.   He's a Mammoth of a figure comprising of three separate Decepticon Naval/Space vehicles that comprise the "Dark Fleet" which all combine together to form a massive attack craft (very much reminding me of Computron's Scattershot) which then transforms into the Giga-Con Tidal Wave.  Also included are two firing missiles and a mini-con version of Ramjet which is purple, grey and orange as opposed to the burgundy and white G1 Ramjet.  The Armada line's gimmick was to include a mini with every deluxe or voyager edition figure and the minicon unlocked various features by plugging into different points on the bot much like the Keys in the Cybertron series.

He's a totally solid figure standing tall and looking mean.  If you ever saw him on the cartoon when you heard "TIDAL WAAAAVE" you knew the Autobots were in some deep shit.   He's got a no-nonsense face with some beautiful paint detailing on his command consoles, the bridges, the (movable and poseable) gun turrets and the nicely articulated hands.  Although I far and away prefer the Takara (if you can even find it because the only stuff I've seen on aftermarket sights is the KO Sono Kong Korean models) paint apps, this guy does well with the colors and works.  There is also a feature that allows Armada Galvatron or Megatron to combine with him AND which isn't advertised is that his points of connections are also compatible with Cybertron Megatron and Galvatron, even Leo Prime as well for added weaponry.  None of it looks like it makes one lick of sense but its an option if you ever get curious with a couple of hundred dollars worth of figures. :)

The molding is great with nice details like the deck of the aircraft carrier, the grooves on the pontoon boats and the gold windows on the green command stations.  Again, his face takes it away and looks so much like a cartoon G1 combiner face and I absolutely love it.   He has nice articulation for such a big figure with movable guns, rotating chest place, bendable knees...his head does not move however...mer. There's also a feature where you plug Ramjet into the chest and it makes all the guns pivot and there are at least two hidden compartments on the ships to hide and store minicons as well as a fold out minicon command center where you can park multiples.  There's actually a minicon sea team from the MD series that matched his color and were originally directly designed for him however they were released state-side with a burgundy color and don't really got with him all that well for the U.S. version.  Speaking of minicons, lastly I'll touch on Ramjet.  He's a standard little  mini seeker mold with a unfolding fuselage, flip back conehead and clever flip out tail rudders that turn into his movable hands.  Decent three tone paint apps and a little blank faced mug on him.  Overall, nice little extra.

All in all, great huge figure that definitely fits in with the biggies and would look great next to Predaking or Vector Prime.