Sunday, July 2, 2017

GI Joe Collector's Club 2008 Club Exclusive: Cobra Commander

Growing up a fan of GI Joe, I had a metric ton of A Real American Hero figures, playsets and vehicles as a kid in the early to mid 80's. However the Joes would take a backseat to a certain brand of transforming robots later in the 80's and my love for the Joes seriously waned.

Thanks in part to Hasbro's relaunch of the brand in the early 2000's as GI Joe versus Cobra, that love for the Joes started to be rekindled. Hasbro has already teased long time fans with re-releases at Toys 'R Us stores, but the Joe vs. Cobra theme was brand new and introduced new characters and more importantly, new toys.

One could argue how successful this brand of GI Joe was for Hasbro, but it did well enough to enjoy several sequels at retail, such as Spy Troops and Valor vs. Venom. From what we know, the series that would have followed V vs. V would have been "Robot Rebellion" as it's known. Many of these ideas and design elements would eventually be used in the 8 inch scaled Sigma Six series. Other elements eventually were used in the Direct to Consumer line of toys and possibly other lines. During this time, Fun Publications, the company responsible for the GI Joe Collector's Club and the annual JoeCon convention got ahold of one of the unused Robot Rebellion molds and released it as their 2008 club freebie. Behold, Cobra Commander!

I was a member of the GI Joe Collector's Club for several years so essentially this figure was "free". Up until this release I wasn't a huge fan of the yearly free exclusive, but I was really impressed with this toy. While my mental image of Cobra Commander will always be of his blue leisure suit, chrome face plate and helmet, it was nice seeing him get a new look. Looking back at his original set of battle armor, if feel as if it pales in comparison to this new look he would have had in the Robot Rebellion series.

Gone is the leisure suit and funky looking silver battle armor, replaced with sleek black armor. he has a gray utility belt that has two sheathes on each side. He comes with a soft rubbery plastic cape that as you can see is removable. The cape does hinder the movement of the arms when attached, but gives him that royal appearance. The paint apps are minimal, but look good. The red on the black really pops and the gray areas blend in well.

In the accessory department Cobra Commander comes with a knife and a rather unique looking staff. On one end of the shaft is a very cool looking cobra head that is poised to strike. On the other end is a traditional Cobra emblem. This is a nice touch as it gives you a few different ways to pose your figure. Both accessories are cast in a dull silver plastic.

What I wasn't expecting was that Cobra Commander hood to be removable. It is made of the same type of soft plastic as the cape. This allows you to easily remove and replace the hood. Underneath the hood is a generic head that Hasbro would eventually use for multiple figures, but at the time (if I'm not wrong) was a new head sculpt. For those hoping to finally see what Cobra Commander really looked like, I'm kinda glad they kept this a mystery. My only gripe about this, and it's small, is that sometimes it was hard to get the eyes to line up perfectly with the eye holes on the hood.

All in all this is a beautiful figure and one that I wish I had kept. I've culled my Joe collection so many times over the decade that I'm not left with much outside a few modern figures (and sealed vehicles). I wish there was more information available of what this Robot Rebellion line would have looked like, but thanks to Fun Publications we at least got this physical example of what could have been.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Look Inside the Chaos

I had a little rare time on my hands on this Friday afternoon thanks to my work email and phone all the sudden being eeriely quite. Looking at my office I figured this was a good opportunity to work some more on getting some order to this chaos. Working from home most days you would think I have all the time in the world to get stuff like this done, but between my job and my family I often find myself with little free time.

Take this and combine it with one other aspect...procrastination. Yes, I'll come out and say it...I procrastinate opening new toys. I know some people can't even wait to get to the parking lot to crack up their newest plastic crack purchase, but for some reason I put it off to the side. It may be days, months or sometimes years before I get to opening it...if it ever gets opened. I know that may sound odd or down right dumb to some of you, but that's me in a nutshell. I can't really explain why I'm this way so don't bother asking.

However over the last year or so I have been (slowly) working on getting the office set like I want. I culled a lot of toys from the collection to pair it down to what I like the most. I bought a lot more Detolf glass display cases from IKEA to house and display my G1 Transformers collection. Where I used to only have two, I now have 9. I just purchased two cases last week and still have one to assemble. I feel like once this is done, then I can get down to opening some new toys.

To the left of my light tent is this messy stack of toys. Marvel Legends, Transformers Legends, Transformers Titans Return and Voltron make up the majority of the stack. I guess one of the reasons I tend to wait to open new items is because of this very blog. I want to photograph the items before I open them and because my lack of time the toys end up sitting there. It's gotten to the point where its really starting to drive me nuts and it's time I do something about it.

I mentioned above that I purchased two more Detolf cabinets last weekend. I assembled one last week and still need to work on the other this weekend. I plan to use them to house my Masterpiece collection. Perhaps one for the Autobots and one for the Decepticons? Or should I pair them up by year like I did w/ my G1 collection? 

Inside the case now are several 3rd party combiner figures that still need to be opened. Again, part of me wanted to showcase these toys on the blog, but now that so much time has passed I'm not sure if it's even worth it anymore. Between YouTube, fan sites and other blogs, all of these has been covered.

Inside my recently re-organized closet sit many, many, many unopened Masterpiece toys just waiting to be opened. Let me just say it's been really hard not busting into these. The more pictures I see of these toys the more it makes me look forward to the day I get off my butt and start opening these!

Surely I'm not the only one that has this "problem", right? Right? I'd like to think things will change soon, but the summer months are the busiest time for me at work and the next month I'm going to be on the road a lot. My goal however is by the holidays this fall to have everything you see that is still sealed, opened and on display. I'm going to continue to photograph certain toys when I can and put up new content, but I thought it may be fun to share a little of the behind the scenes photos of the chaos I call my office.

Now that I've bared my soul to all of you, are there any questions or comments? Let me know!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Transformers Titans Return: Roadburn

Hasbro's Titans Return series has been a lot of fun thus far. We have been given new modern updates to many classic Generation 1 characters that fans have been waiting for. Roadburn however just seemed to come out of left field.

Better known as the Throttlebot Chase, Roadburn makes use of the Bumblebee mold that released first. Hasbro has been making it a normal business practice to get multiple uses out of their new molds. Sometimes this means we get a figure with a new deco and a new head sculpt, while other times we get some slight changes to the mold to create a new character. Roadburn belongs to the latter category.

Roadburn is a Legends scale figure, or what used to be called Basic scale. While the figure is small, it's a great figure in my opinion. The new headsculpt is what sold the figure for me. The blue helmet with the gold face screams Throttlebot to me. It's not a perfect reproduction of the Generation One characters head, but it's close enough for me.

Chase was always one of my favorite Throttlebots. Blame it on his red Ferrari alt mode. As you can see the shade of red on Roadburn is a darker red than that of Chase. While it's not bad, I would have preferred a more vibrant shade of red. Perhaps Hasbro was worried that if they used a brighter red people would have mistaken him for Cliffjumper. Afterall, Bumblebee has been painted red and passed off as Cliffjumper multiple times in previous Transformers series. The Throttlebots didn't have the best defined robot modes so it was fairly easy to give them an upgrade. I wonder if you could recreate the "hood" of the back car piece with Roadburn?

At the time I found Roadburn at my local retail, I had not opened the Bumblebee figure I had previously found. My first exposure to this mold in hand was with Roadburn. Doesn't really matter since it's the same toy, sans the color and new head sculpt. The figure has a good bit of poseability for a Legends scale figure. It features a easy, yet fun transformation. I did notice that both figures had problems with some of the panels lining up and staying in place.

Over all I found this toy/mold to be a lot of fun. I don't always buy the simple color swaps anymore, but I knew I had to have Roadburn when I first saw images appear online. It's sad to think that we probably won't get any other upgraded Throttlebots in the Titans Return series (although Goldbug seems like an obvious choice), but I'll guess I'll take what I can get at this point.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Masters of the Universe Classics: Skeletor

It's been awhile since I've owned any of the Masters of the Universe Classics figures, however recently I've discovered some old photos I took of many of the figures I once had. I had a horrible set up for photos and an old camera so many of the photos were terrible. While many of them were deleted, I did salvage a few and instead of letting them go to waste I decided to use a few.

Even though I really didn't grow up with the Masters of the Universe toys, I do have memories of watching the old cartoon. I'm not sure what the appeal was for me when Mattel relaunched these classic characters in new action figure form, but I gobbled up every monthly Matty Collector MOTU Classics figure. Mattel knew what they were doing by introducing Skeletor as the second figure in the line.

The Four Horsemen, who previously worked with NECA on their line of "staction figures" based on the designs of the Mike Young animated series, sculpted these figures for Mattel. They did a phenomenal job, especially with old Skeletor here. They managed to not only capture his animated likeness, but translate it into a great modern 8 inch action figure.

From the sculpted skull, to the hoodie and breast plate armor...ever detail was spot on. While body of the figure was sculpted in blue plastic, the head was painted and what a great job they did...blending the yellow and green hues together. The eyes were finished off with red for the what a great looking figure this is!

Like a lot of toy collectors, it's easy to get distracted from your core collection and pick up awesome toys. That's what happened with me with the Masters of the Universe Classics line. Eventually I realized that I didn't have the same love and passion for MOTU that I had for Transformers, so I pieced out the figures and sold them all. In retrospect I kind of wish I had held onto Skeletor (and He-Man) just because of the characters and the fact that they are great toys. I don't know what Mattel is up to these days with the MOTU characters and toys, but if you were ever on the fence of whether or not to buy this figure...don't hesitate! Skeletor is worth every penny he costs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Spider-Man (2010): Sewer Clash Lizard

Spider-Man has always had an excellent rogue's gallery of villians in my opinion, however these great characters haven't always been represented very well in toy form. That says a lot considering how many different lines of figures that Spider-Man and his ensemble have appeared in.

It wasn't until this 2010 series of 4 inch Spider-Man figures that many of this enemies got a good action figure. Dr. Curt Conners, better known as the Lizard was one of the villians in the series that I thought really stood out.

I can't remember if this particular figure was short packed or not, but when I first saw images of it appear online I knew I wanted it. Finding him at local retail wasn't so easy. I had to visit several Walmarts and Targets in my area before I finally found one. It was worth the hunt however as the sculpt was fantastic.

The Lizard's appearance is pretty spot on from how many artists depicted him in the comics. He is sporting is nearly trademark white lab coat (he is a doctor after all!) with a black t-shirt and purple pants. I wonder if Curt and Bruce Banner shop at the same place?

Apparently when he undergoes the transformation to the Lizard he bulks up. Look at how tight fitting the black t-shirt is. His lab coat is tattered on the sleeves and around the bottom. The sculpting of the lizard skin is great. It's hard to see in my pictures, but its got that reptil look as his skin is covered in scales. I love how they enlarged his hands as it gives him a much more menacing look, especially with that vicious, yet beautiful head sculpt. Just look at those reptilian eyes, the sharp teeth and that Venom-esque tongue hanging out of his mouth!

Smile for the camera!
Articulation is represented in the normal areas of the action figure. His head can look up and down, but the side to side is limited. His arms are on ball joints while his elbows are hinge joints. Sadly no wrist or hand articulation. Lizard does have a swivel joint at his waist allowing his upper half to be moved. His lab coat does hinder some of this motion however. The legs are attached to his waist with ball joints. These give his legs some swivel as well as great range of motion. The knees are your standard hinge joints. His tail comes seperate in the packaging and must be assembled. It's made of a softer plastic and does have it's own articulation. As you can see, the lab coat is molded around the tail so the tail is able to be posed as you see fit.

Like many collectors I've had to downsize a large part of my action figure collection so sadly this figure no longer resides in my collection. It's a great 4 inch figure and one of the best representations (in my opinion) of the sometimes villian / sometimes ally of the Amazing Spider-Man. He blends well with the current line of the smaller Marvel Legends figures. If you Spidey collection needs another member to his rogue's gallery, I can't recommend this figure enough.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Charticon 2013 Transformers Panel

Back in 2013, I helped some friends of mine put on the very first un-official Transformers convention to be held in my home state of North Carolina, Charlotte to be exact. August 9th through the 11th, 2013...a time I'll never forget!

While my role in helping plan and staff the show was smaller than some of my friends and cohorts, the lead honcho of the show, Arkvander, asked me if I'd put together a panel for the convention. I immediately was flattered that he'd ask me to do something such as that, but what on earth would I begin to talk about? In the grand scheme of Transformers and the collecting community, I was/am a nobody!

I went back and forth trying to figure out what the topic of my panel would be. Would I talk about unreleased G1 transformer toys? Would I go into the related series such as Beastformers in Japan? I remember being at a crossroads for so long that I began to get really nervous as August was quickly approaching and I had to get something nailed down.

I eventually decided to do a brief history lesson if you will on the Transformers toy line in Japan. Granted I'm not an expert and I probably left some key stuff out, I created a Powerpoint presentation for Charticon. I was really nervous about presenting it, but thankfully my good friend in attendance, Allen Greenwood, stepped up and volunteered to sit at the table on that big stage with me.

I can't remember how many people were in the room for my panel. I know a lot of people couldn't bare to pull themselves away from the awesome dealer room, but for those that never got a chance to witness the panel, you're in luck! I recently found my presentation buried on an old SD memory card and after some fancying Googling and I found a way to share this presentation online.

The slide show is below, of course there is no commentary however so you're only getting part of the experience. Anyhow, the slides will change after 15 seconds or so, but you should be able to follow along. Enjoy!

So, what did you think? I know, I's not professional in any way and I'm sure I left out some key points. In the end however I had a blast putting it together and presenting it. After I got into it, I really felt comfortable on stage. Thanks to my friend Arkvander, Allen Greenwood and the rest of the guys (you know who you are) for helping put together such an eventful and memory filled weekend. Until the next Charticon?

Monday, April 24, 2017

Visionaries: Cindarr

Here is a line of action figures from the 80's that I always wanted growing up. I immediately fell in love with the animated cartoon and also being a fan of GI Joe I was all into action figures and their cool vehicles.

I'd have to wait a very long time before I acquired my first first (loose) Visionaries figures. Cindarr, one of the Darkling Lords was my first acquisition.

Right off the bat I was surprised that these figures were the same size as the GI Joe A Real American Hero figures. Instead of being 3 3/4" these figures measured in at about 4 inches tall. I don't know why the scale was changed, but this did assure you that you'd be getting new figures and not frankenstein figures using Joe body parts.

The body construction isn't far off from the way the Joe figures are built. They have the same level of articulation, including an o-ring in the waist and swivel joints in the arms. The thumbs on the figures are prone to breaking so be careful when you arm the figure with it's weapons.

I like the detail in the figure's armor, especially on the legs. It appears he has a turtle shell design on his legs. The back of his chest armor has a lot of intricate detail molded into the figure, however without paint apps none of them stand out very well.

The holograms used on these figures are some of the best I've ever seen. However they are prone to wear so when buying these toys be sure to carefully inspect the holograms. As you can see Cindarr's totem hologram is scratched up a bit. This leaves little black marks which detract from the beauty of the holograms. 

Cindarr's chest hologram is a gorilla. In the show he uses this power to change himself to a gorilla, whether to travel the diverse terrain or to fight the Spectral Knights. He was given this totem power by Merklin because of his climbing ability and great strength. In the show, he is voiced by non other than Peter Cullen (Optimus Prime).

His magical staff gives him the power of a gobin of some type. He can use to aid himself and the other Darkling Lords in battle.

In addition to the magical staff, Cindarr comes with a gold colored club or mace. It's rather small and top heavy so prepare for it to flop around a bit once you put it in his hands. I will say that I have seen any signs of GPS (Gold Plastic Syndrome) on this figure. The frame around his totem hologram, staff and weapon are all cast of that infamous swirly gold plastic.

His helmet is made of a softer plastic that seems to be a bit more pliable. It fits snuggly on Cindarr's head, but not too tight.

Overall I was impressed with my first Visionaries figure. I think they can be fun toys, however this is one of those cases (at least for me) where the animation series trumps the toys. Now if the toys had came with a translucent green (or blue for the Spectral Knights) of the animal on the figure's totem, perhaps that would have added some more play value. As such, I'm limited my Visionaries figures in my collection to be MOC so I can enjoy the beautiful artwork.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Shinkalion: N700 Mizuho (09)

This is the third post of the three Shinkalion combiner trains. Scroll to the bottom for links associated with this post. Since all three of these combiners are basically the same mold, please refer to my review of 700 Nozomi for a complete breakdown. This post will basically be a photo gallery for Mizuho. Remember, you can click on any of the pictures for a larger view.


robot head, left | combiner head, right


First off let me apologize for the lack of images of the packaging. I had a little file corruption after I took the shots and with so many things backlogged, I just didn't have time to get to taking new images of the box.

Mizuho has a very nice train mode, but I just don't care for the overlook look of the robot mode. I guess it's the purple and pink highlights that turn me off. The combiner head looks as if it's wearing some sort of Native American headress. Just looks "off" on a robot to me. Overall its a decent toy and needed if you intended on combining the three to form Unity.

- 700 Noizu
- 700 Railstar
- Unity (combiner, video review)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rock Lords: Narliebat

Rock Lords, a spin-off of GoBots, was a series of transforming rocks. Yes, you read that correctly. If that wasn't odd enough Tonka decided to create companions for them, Narlies. These odd creatures were prominently featured in the animated Rock Lords movie.

Unlike the rest of the Rock Lord toys that were basically created by Bandai / Popy and imported from the Machine Robo series in Japan, the Narlies were wholly unique and created by Tonka themselves. This wasn't an unusual move as they previous released new characters and toys in the GoBots series as well.

The toys were unique. Covered in different colored "fur", their mouths, tail and feet were all made of plastic. Underneath the toy was a large wheel. When you would push the toy across a smooth hard surface, the mouth would open and close and the tail would essentially "wag". Add to this that the toy wasn't full of stuffing underneath all that fur. As you would move it along the ground, you could feel the mechanism working inside. This would give it a feeling as if it were alive! There was also a noise the wheel would make when turned...almost a cranking sound.

The Narlies were released in two series', with the first being the more common. The second series contained four more Narlies, all being evil this time around. I'm guessing the toy line was starting to die out around this time and due to poor sales or distribution, this second series of Narlies is really difficult to come across now on the secondary market. It's a real shame too as the designs are much more interesting in my opinion than the ones in the first series.

Narliebat is based on, well, a bat. The toy surprisingly has a good bit of detail. Just look at the ears, mouth and the wings on his side. While most of the detail is in the molding, his nails and wings are highlighted with some pink paint applications. Being that this toy is over 20 years old and most likely played with by a kid at some point, the paint on mine does show some wear. The very tip of his tail has been snapped off, however with all the fur it's kind of hard to tell. 

I understand that not every Rock Lord fan likes the Narlies. At first I didn't care for them myself either, but as I started to round out my Rock Lords collection I found that the Narlies were some of the only toys that I didn't own. I only picked up a few, including Narlielion, before I stopped due to space restrictions. However they are fun little toys and the non-educated Rock Lord fans will most certainly ask you about them when they see them on display in your collection.