Monday, 29 June 2020

VR Troopers Christmas Ornaments from 1995

Blogging about retro Christmas decorations in the summer… Why not?

I came across these treasures during a random search for VR Troopers merch.

For those not in the know, VR Troopers is the Americanized amalgamation of Japanese shows Superhuman Machine Metalder, Dimensional Warrior Spielban and Space Sheriff Shaider. This was part of the ongoing 90s toei translation trend after Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers proved a success.

Released in 1995 by Kurt Adler, these are basic resin representations of the main Troopers trio (Ryan, Kaitlin and J.B). Instead of Lightning Lances and Laser Pistols, these virtual vindicators are bearing gifts of present boxes and holly wreaths to give their existing designs a holiday-themed edge.

To have these preserved (aside from some boxwear) for the past 25+ years is pretty decent! Assumedly, these were only released in the US as I’d never seen these decorations before. Best of all, these ornaments have hanging strings attached! Most modern tree decorations no longer have that included and it’s a task to find some string to hang with. We’re looking at you, Hallmark!

The designs on these are not as detailed by modern standards, but after quarter of a century there is a retro charm about this set and that charm was a selling point alone. VR Troopers as a TV series and toyline was an acquired taste, and to have Christmas Ornament based on this brand is a new level of awesome.

The only thing missing, is that Grimlord has the potential to have been an equivalent of The Grinch to spoil the Troopers Christmas! Still, I have his action figure pictured by a fallen Ryan Steele.

This has truly been one of the happier events of the year 2020...

Saturday, 23 May 2020

A £10 Evening In by Poundland: Lockdown Edition

With the current pendamic, there’s going to be Evenings In a-plenty! Even though the original “Poundland Trilogy” went full circle in 2019, I’m bringing back more Poundland ramblings given the circumstances of 2020.

Brace yourselves for more nonsensical writeups about cheap toys, candy, strange stationary and bottom-of-the-barrel DVD’s provided by my local Keynsham Poundland store. 

The rules are the same as before: Spend (waste) £10, 10 items at £1 each, a variety of categories (e.g not all toys or food). Every item as before will have their ‘class photo’ together and examined individually. At the end of the day, it is just for fun and a great way to pass some lockdown time. 

This time round, the latest haul was a different challenge altogether. Social Distancing Rules between shoppers, bulk-buying and cranky self-service checkouts. I also became a Vegan in recent months, so a lot of the junk food options have become off the table.

So. Here’s the menagerie of mess I squandered 10 Pounds sterling on for an evening’s amusement.
1. Sparkle Squad.
A blatant My Little Pony knockoff reusing the Hasbro Rarity mould from Friendship is Magic. The ponies are in a variety of colours with the same Butterfly cutie mark. Of all the poached toy designs, these ponies are the least cheapest in translation and good for collectors who want to overpopulate their display with army built figures at a low cost.

2. Men Men & Little Miss DVD.
Before Transformers, TMNT and anything else, Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Men is the first franchise I got into. I have books dating back to the early-70s and still treasure them today. The basic flat, yet colourful and well-laid designs of these characters encouraged me to start drawing.

The DVD section of Poundland was almost bare from all the panic buying with 18+ Rated movies mostly still left. This Mr Men offering screamed out as the soul surviving kids DVD. £1 for 12 episodes of fun and antics is a pretty good deal. Mr Bump takes centre stage in this collection!

3. Transform A Snax.
Classic Spicy Tomato snacks in the shapes of wheels and robot bodies. This is Top Tuck Shop tucker that’s timeless. Sadly, the bag I bought was either crushed in transit or dropped in the warehouse as the crisps inside were broken. I didn’t eat these, but my kids didn’t complain about the smashed up snackage.

4. Inflatable Shark.
That cute overbite grin on the design already makes for an instabuy. The potential of this goofy looking shark is endless. As of this articles publishing, the shark now resides propped up in my front  room window goofily gazing back at passers by.

5. TranBot 360.   
A typically fragile Transformers knockoff toy that Poundland has been through many of. The packaging depicts the toy as wielding a sword accessory in robot mode but is nowhere to be found when opened. The Sparkle Squad pony which was presented in similar style box packaging at least came with a comb.

6. Chunky Wax Crayons.
Amongst the plethora of peg-warning gelpens, the only decent colorsticks available was this pack of crayons. All the felt pens had gone as well as the note pads. Still, keeping within the blog rules I had the receipt to write on.

7. Cyber Combat Soldiers.
This isn’t our first foray into the Cyber Combat brand. This time a bucket of red plastic soldiers featuring the logo. Surprisingly one of the best items in this bunch! The soldiers work nicely with the other toys - especially TranBot 360.

8. Fun Dough.
A pack of two different colours of plasticine and some shape cutters. I made a little custom mascot out what was available. It looks pretty neat and there’s play value a plenty with the other toy items involved. Not sure if this is available in other grouped colors, but red and yellow screams Hulkamania, and that is fine with me.

9. Spikey Ball.
Not only does It look like some sort of evil alien ghost orb, it also produces a crazy LED lightshow from within its translucent design. Throw the ball across the room or on the ground and the flashing begins. Again, this makes for a fun pretend anomaly to go with other toy displays. Which reminds me, I have some Proton Pack wielding Ghostbusters figures to break free from the archive.

10. Chupa Chups: Sour Infernals.
Again: Sensitive Teeth, Going Vegan, and abstaining from various junk food means my candy consumption has taken a massive reduction.  Still, the 90’s surf shop style artwork on the packet and vibrant colors make for fun display fodder. I didn’t have a single lolly, but the goods add to the display. My daughter really loves these though.

All in all, I am pleased with this challenging haul of crud items – even more so than when I last wrote up about wasting money in Poundland. This was definitely a task mission and acquiring everything meant having to stick around in the store longer than I wanted. Maybe I picked a bad day for going in - or in general Poundland is struggling to stock up on anything more than usual. I wasn’t kidding, when I said the DVD shelf was almost empty!

Bringing back the Evening In Poundland series was fun and most likely is a one off given the unique situation 2020 has brought the world. I’m toying with the idea of doing a similar series of articles for smaller local businesses (rather than chains) that might appreciate the extra exposure and support.

Stay safe everyone. Hopefully this article will inspire "Evening In" hauls of your own. After all. Toys, DVDs and general Tat could be considered ‘essential’.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Trans Troop

Knockoff toys to me have this strange appeal of hot garbage mixed in with weird colours and liberties taken on the original designs bootlegged from.

Over the years, I have come into possession of these faux figures via Christmas presents, routine purchases and carboot acquisitions. Watered-down (and some decent) renditions of Transformers, Star Wars, TMNT, Power Rangers and other lines I don’t recognise have joined my archive or fallen apart from just standing there and doing nothing.

So, here comes Trans Troop, a captivating toy title in any context you choose. Imediately, my tat radar reads this as a mash up of Transformers and Goof Troop! :)

Looking at this figure through the blistercard - Trans Troop looks like some strange mash-up of Captain Power, VR Troopers and a smidgen of Silverhawks. The chrome adorning 98% of this figure looks cool and metallic, and also has a Golden Eagle companion to clip onto his back as the card illustration (and diagrams suggest).

Here is where I am glad I took packshot photographs before opening. As soon as the exacto knife removed the front bubble, the toy inside fell apart (or rather the right arm immediately dropped off). And there’s one big issue with buying knockoff toys in that the packaging these come in is the only thing holding the toy together. It’s a gamble.

Most toy collectors know of GPS (Gold Plastic Syndrome). This isn’t just a diagnosis taken from a Doc McStuffins episode, but also is a legit thing! Any toy vacuum formed in gold plastic is known to crumble or disintegrate over time. This is why most modern plastic items will never be colored in chromed gold. Assumedly, gold plastic has a self destructive chemical agent.

Further to my not-so-surprised horror, I discover the right arm that dropped from Trans Troop wasn’t a right arm at all, but rather a manufacturing cover up. As seen in the photo, the arm has an accessory attached in a way to make it look like a right arm. Dodgy going, but that’s knockoffs for you.  

As for the future of Trans Troop. It looks like the Raggy Dolls have gained a new recruit.

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

BLOGPOCALYPSE: Scoob! Movie Toys

In a unique situation with theaters staying closed, many movies are being released via the home streaming route. The latest Scooby-Doo incarnation Scoob! (2002) is one of these big releases.

Some of the toyline based on the movie has found its way into our office. Two sets of figures including: an Argos Exclusive 5-pack and a hard to find Blue Falcon & DynoMutt 2-pack. Most of this range features already released Scooby Doo toys repainted and retooled along with a few new toys to even it all out.

Without further ado - Marvel at the random photos we've uploaded!

Scoob! (2020) is released May 15th worldwide across Video on Demand.

(Left) Original Shaggy release, (Right) Movie repaint