Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Cerebros Bootleg 1997

Another Knockoff showcase for today. This is a bootlegged Cerebros my missus picked up at Botcon 1997. Not sure if the rest of the Fort Max set was made into a knockoff though. All that's here is just the Cerebros head.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

DR WHO: Time Squad, Out in the UK

Heya. I just picked up some of the newly released Dr Who: Time Squad on a shopping trip to ASDA. I grabbed the 2-packs of Sontaran VS The Doctor and Slitheen & Weeping Angel. So far, I've only opened one of these packs.

These Mini figures are great!

Here's some photos:

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

REVIEW: TMNT 25th Anniversary, Reissues Wave 1

The old TMNT figures are back! Has the novelty of 20+ years ago returned or should these toys be recalled back to the 80’s, or early 90’s perhaps?

I’m remembering back to the year 1990 when TMNT toys had hit British stores, and during the later run-up to Christmas these figures were like gold-dust. People would queue up outside Toys R Us and wait for opening time (much like when the Wii and PS3 consoles were in high demand). Our local Toys R Us in Bristol had rationed 2 toys per customer and it took my mum a long while to make a full-set acquisition for me, and to this day I still thank her for this! So 18 years later I find myself owning a full set of these toys again via newer means of purchasing goods. No more cold mornings outside Toys R US, but the advantage of contacts in the states and the internet have made this possible.

The TMNT toys of the past took on a design far flung from the cartoon of that era and presented individuality beyond coloured bandanas. These Turtles were given different skin tones and slightly different attire to further define each other. These Turtles were less TV show accurate with the exclusion of pupils and toothless smiles, making them lean towards their original Mirage comic book designs. Yet, these toys were still popular with help from the cartoon, with a supporting cast and whacky vehicles making things all the more interesting.

Whilst these toys had their faults (which I will go into later), I have to praise that these have been commercially available in stores again (well USA Target and Toys R Us anyway), rather than the online exclusive route that Mattel are seemingly taking with their commemorative Masters of the Universe and Ghostbusters products. Playmates have shamelessly rereleased these old toys without any big mould updates or re-colouring via present day toy production. Whilst updating these figures would be nice, the authentic approach is sometimes the best way to pay a compliment.

Wave 1 of the TMNT reissues are quite simply the four brothers themselves: Leonardo, Raphael, Michaelangelo and Donatello, packaged each with a DVD. Each of the DVDs features an episode of the 1987 cartoon series, with the first 4 episodes of season 1. As before, each figure also has a weapons rack with break off weapons including each turtles’ signature arsenal. The weapons are normally easy to break away from the rack, although assistance with a penknife is a lot tidier. Get a grown-up for assistance, kids!

Leonardo returns still with the same worried expression of before. The expression itself has always been a part of the figure I wasn’t sure about. Surely the ‘star pupil’ of Splinter would at least have his eyeline either: narrowed, determined or aggressive like the toy of his less conformist brother Raphael. As before, Leonardo has his behind dual sword hilt for katana keeping as well as the usual belt buckle bearing his beginning initial letter. Leo looks great when displayed with katana if you overlook the expression.

Raphael is spot on! - Great posture, no-nonsense facials, stands up easily and is all round the best of the four brothers represented in this line. Raphael is simply the best figure of this set, if I had to choose one! Raphael is the easiest figure to keep standing up because the base of his feet are flat, unlike the other three turtles that have one foot with the heel raised up.

Michaelangelo is the same as the old toy, but with a slightly different left hand mould. The holding gap in-between the thumb and fingers is a lot wider than the previous toy making for Nunchaku holding a bit difficult. Aside from this, another issue is the fragile plastic wire between the Nunchaku (The Nunchaku look like scaled down skipping ropes) that requires careful handling. This Michaelangelo looks mean and the aqua shade of green skin tone suits him for some reason, maybe it goes well with his orange garb.

Donatello looking more on the brown side than his greener brothers has a hilt in his back for staff keeping and also has a spare. There isn’t really much more I can say in regards to this figure that has already been covered. The best thing about the old Donatello toy is that he certainly looks the business when posed with his staff in both hands.

With these reissues, it’s a simple matter of what you see is what you get. The extra DVD is an extra novelty, but probably nothing special to some. The same colourful, attractive packaging from the original release is retained aside from a 25th Anniversary logo and other trimmings added. This is about as good as a trip down memory sewer as it will get.

If you owned these figures years ago and want to retire or replace your older (and possibly battered) models, these are a great purchase to snap up. Newer and younger consumers of the 2K3 era will have the chance to experience these toys for the first time too. Reissuing these in my opinion is a complimentary nod to the 25 years plus legacy of the TMNT, and a nostalgic incentive to both retro and newer fans alike.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

REVIEW: Hound w/Ravage (Transformers Henkei)

Here I have on my desk a recent acquisition of Hound from the Japanese Transformers: Henkei range.

For those who don’t know, Henkei is the Japanese version of Transformers: Universe - a toy-line of old Transformer toys updated into newer (and some improved) renditions. Takara’s take with this line is a bit different from Hasbro’s approach by boasting cartoon accurate colours, chrome parts and bundling a collector card with a mini comic to boot.

The original Hound toy from 1984 was a good quality figure with detail and die-cast parts. Here, this homage of the toy has stepped up from its predecessor by having a more posable robot mode, and bigger size scale (since the original was small for its size-class).

Hound’s Jeep mode is solid and holds together well; on top of that - it’s a proper disguise! (Just ignore the Autobot insignia on the hood). Looking under the jeep itself, any possible revealing robot parts are hidden away, which isn’t a common occurrence on car based Transformers toys. Henkei Hound could near-enough pass off as a regular toy jeep to those not TF literate.

The shade of green Hound is coloured in is the same dark military tone from the G1 cartoon, whereas the US Universe version is a lighter mushy peas-like contrast. This Japanese interpretation also sports more decoration such as military stars and a golden stripe to make good effect.

Hound’s transition to robot form folds out quite nicely. The transformation follows some similar dimensions as the original 80’s toy in the front bonnet folding down (obviously!), windshield folding behind, and the back cargo area folding out into legs (complete with blocky robot feet). The robot mode itself is very posable and just looks great! Hound’s robot head, robot face and baby blue optics are all just spot on and add to expression.

The end result of this Hound remake is a well executed fusion of cartoon and Generation toy homage rolled into one. To really look at the work of this design you really have to compare this figure in person with the old toy (which I have referred to 50 times now) and stills from the series.

Of course, Hound isn’t alone in this Henkei offering, as he is also accompanied by a new version of the Decepticon spy – Ravage!

Ravage is presented not as a tape, but more or less a black slab (probably a large suitcase) that can attach to the back of Hound’s jeep mode. As a bonus, Ravage’s tape/suitcase mode can also fit inside the chest compartment of Generation 1 Soundwave in true spy minion fashion. What stops this new Ravage being defined as a tape is that there isn’t any tape markings like the Generation 1 toy, and in comparison the alt mode is a ‘black folded up thing’.

Now, Ravage’s Jaguar mode is magic! This toy resembles the dog-like black cat from his appearance in the 80’s cartoon series well. The cat mode is obviously the more important aspect and this is executed brilliantly. - A lot less 2 dimensional than the G1 original in terms of being ‘Ravage’.

Henkei Hound with the addition of Ravage is like a pseudo VS set. Both toys are either something that can be displayed opposing each another or burying the hatchet in each alt mode, with the option to attach Ravage onto Hound’s jeep mode to grab a ride. The play or display value of this package deal is certainly a winning combination and a highly recommended purchase for kids and collectors alike.