Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Charlotte Comic-Con - 04/15/18

This past Sunday I had the pleasure to once again hang out with my older brother for a few hours as we talked comics and searched boxes for comics. The Charlotte Comic-Con was held in Concord, NC at the Embassy Suites Convention Center. We headed up after church so I don't know what the crowd was like in the AM when the doors opened, but it was crowded. The crowd seemed to dissipate shortly after we got there due to the nasty storms that were coming through the area. At one point, the whole sales floor was flooded with weather alarms as the storms got closer. We decided to stay there through the storms and I'm glad I did because I found a few books right before we left that I really hadn't been searching for, but wanted.

For the most part I stick to the cheap boxes, especially when my funds are limited (like they were Sunday). We generally search the room for the cheapest boxes and then start there. Occasionally I work my way up to the dollar boxes, however this trip there were plenty of books to be found in the $.50 boxes...just take a look at my stack!

I didn't realize the old Atlantis Rising story ran through the short lived Fantastic Force series, but I found the two issues from the story. I believe these were the first books of the day that I found.

I started with X-Men 2099, then Spider-Man 2099 and slowly branching out to some of the other 2099 titles. Apparently I already had a few issues of Fantastic Four 2099 so it made sense for me to pick up these. Issue one has a nice chromium cover.

Moving across the aisle I found a dealer who had a lot of $.50 boxes...all on the floor. I knew immediately this was going to be a long and painful day for my back!! One of the first books I pulled out was this Marvel Two-In-One featuring the Thing and Captain America. Anything Cap that I don't own I usually buy...and hey, I got it for cover price!

I haven't decided if I'm going to actively search out Punisher books, but I came across this one with part of the Dead Man's Hand story line that also ran through Daredevil and Nomad.

I don't believe I've ever seen this Midnight Sons Unlimited title, but this one has the final part of the Siege of Darkness story. Love the cover.

Speaking of the Atlantis Rising story, found issue #2 of the limited series. Love gimmicky covers like this clear acetate cover.

I actually already have Silverhawks #1, but I couldn't pass it up at $.50. I figured someone reading this blog may need/want this comic...

I'll buy comics of just about any series based on 80's properties/toys. These are my first Saga of Crystar, but I seem to recall seeing these issues in the cheap-o boxes in the past.

I found one of the Master Editions of the Official Marvel Index books at my LCS a few months ago and ever since I've been keeping my eyes open for more. While this isn't one of the Master Editions, it is the first issue of the index to Amazing Spider-Man!

I could have sworn I already had this Marvel Action Universe, but according to my CLZ app I didn't. This contains the first appearance of Firestar in non-continuity.

Nothing special, but this issue of Spectacular Spider-Man fills a hole in a nice little run I have.

Three more books down in this series of Spider-Man. Oh so close to finishing this run. I believe issue #25 there w/ the Green Goblin in the cover is the alternate or variant cover.

Web of Spider-Man is the one Spidey title I haven't paid a lot of attention to, however with these 6 books my Web collection is getting fuller and fuller. Still on the look out for a nice deal on a #1 direct edition.

I've already completed several titles of Spider-Man related characters, but this is my first issue of Black Cat. Andrew Wildman of Transformers fame supplied the art for the cover and the interior. Looking forward to finding more of these.

My brother who was helping me comb through all the boxes actually found this one. I grabbed it thanks to the Spider-Man appearance, but know nothing else about the issue.

I've only recently begun to go back and pick up 80s/90s issues of Iron Man and I've already found several issues. I found 14 that I needed...actually more but some of them were too dogged for me to buy, even at $.50. I'm not the biggest Iron Man fan today, but I liked the his title and the character more 20 years ago.

I originally bought the Image and later the MVC series of Masters of the Universe, but I never bought the DC title. Found this one lone issue so I grabbed it. Not sure what the likelihood of finding more will be at future shows.

I skipped over this book, but my brother saw it and asked me if I needed it. The Coven is one of the few non-Marvel titles I collect. I'm going for a full set of covers since it didn't last that long and surprisingly this Dynamic Forces variant of issue #2 is one that I didn't have. Not bad for a $1.

The last set of tables we stopped at before leaving had most of their books in alphabetical order. This was nice as it was late in the day and it helped me find what I was looking for a lot quicker. They had several issues of Amazing Spider-Man that I needed, but I settled with these two as I was down to using the quarters in my pocket.

Most of you may know who that red image is on the cover of Doctor Strange, but just in case you don't it's Amy Grant. Yes, the Christian music recording artist Amy Grant. This image was lifted from her "The Collection" without her knowledge or permission. Amy sued Marvel Comics not for copyright infringement, but for the association of her image with the occult. She argued that it would negatively effect her music career. At this point in time she hadn't yet "crossed over" to the mainstream market. Amy and Marvel eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. Today this book isn't hard to find, but this is the first time I've come across it in the cheaper back issue boxes.

About the only comics my older brother buys these days (he's moved on to digital comics) he likes stuff like Marvel Age because it contains info, stories and art from the pre-internet days. I'll grab issues of Marvel Age for myself if there is a story that relates to my interests...such as #56 with a feature on G.I. Joe!

The final purchase of the day was this Spider-Man Unmasked book. It's square bound, not a normal issue. It retailed for $5.95 back when it was new and it contains small write ups on Spider-Man's abilities, along with his supporting cast of characters and villains. I flipped through it the other night and it's pretty cool. I've never seen this book before and nor had my brother.

Over all it was a great couple of hours spent at the show. This particular Comic-Con happens 3 times a year so I like to try and make it when I can. It's one of the best one day shows I've ever been too and always look forward to them. David Hinson and Rick Fortenberry do a great job putting on the show. Up next, HeroesCon this June!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Hot Wheels Star Wars Starships: AT-AT

These Hot Wheels Starships were never really on my radar until I happen to come across several of them at my local Dollar Tree store. While I'm not a huge Star Wars fan, I've always liked small die-cast vehicles such as Hot Wheels. At a buck a piece, I cherry picked the few that I liked the best.

The iconic AT-AT vehicle used by the Empire has always been a favorite of mine. This was an easy choice to pick up. The body is die-cast metal while the legs are plastic. There is a little give to the legs, but they aren't really articulated. Like many of the ships, it comes with a circular translucent stand that bears the Empire's logo.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Transformers 3rd Party: Impossible Toys - Requiem TS-06 (Tetra Squadron)

One of the early 3rd party companies on the unofficial Transformers scene, Impossible Toys had a very hit and miss record with the fans. While they were responsible for some very nice vinyl Quintesson figures, their transformable figures weren't always met with open arms. Towards the end of Impossible Toys' run they released the Tetra Squadron, the Decepticon seekers in their Cybertronian forms. Being a fan of Dirge, I tracked down his Requiem TS-06 release at TFCon a few years ago. I've been sitting on these pictures for sometime, but I'm glad to finally get around to this post.

The overall presentation of the packaging is very nice. The box has a Generation 1 feel with the checkerboard background and the art. The quality of the packaging however leaves a lot to be desired as the box feels as if it was assembled using photo paper. It's very thin, easily damaged and could warp and not hold it's shape if you don't store the box carefully. It is supported with a little cardboard tray inside, but it could have been better. The back of the box does give you a good bio of the character, which is a nice touch.

On the side of the box you'll find a write up about the Tetra Squadron. I believe there is a typo in their motto however, "No one flies were we do, except for the dead." Just doesn't sound right.

Courtesy of Transformers Wiki

If feel that the designers at Impossible Toys did a pretty good job at capturing their animated likeness and transforming it into physical form. The cockpit canopy on the toy is larger, however I think that was done more for the look in robot mode. The lasers attached underneath the wings are removable. For a more authentic look my guess is you would leave those off.

The back of the jet isn't lacking detail either. From the single engine thruster to the intricate detail molded into the plastic. 

Transformation from jet to robot is a little rough, partly because of the jet's outer "shell". You can see from below how the robot parts aren't really hidden. The chest, arms and legs are all easily seen.

One thing that always bothered me in the animated show was how both the Autobots and Decepticons in robot mode still looked their Earth counterparts, however their alternate vehicle modes looked drastically different. 

In keeping with these theme, Requiem retains much of his Earth robot form, minus the large bombs his G1 toy came with. Overall it has a good look, however the quality of the plastic Impossible Toys used was really light and thin and I always worried I was going to stress the plastic or worse, break something. 

The figure has a decent amount of articulation, but the large wings can hinder the poseability. Points of articulation exist at the shoulder, elbow, hip and thigh.

Somehow the designers did work in his original cone head look. The size of the cone is much smaller than his G1 toy, combine that with his new sculpted face and I love the overall look.

If you like kibble then you'll love the Tetra Squadron! I seriously don't know what anyone else could have done with these pieces. If you add lines and hinges to make it fold up and compact down, then you sacrifice the clean look in vehicle mode. If you leave it all just hanging on the back of the figure then it hinders articulation and the overall look.

While the figure isn't a perfect masterpiece by far, it does give fans a version of the Decepticon seekers that surprisingly no one else has attempted thus far. These figures did hit clearance with most online retailers at one point. If you want one now you'll have to rely on the secondary market where they generally sell for even less than their clearance price...if you can find them. The original trio (Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker) are harder to find.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Transformers Generations: Megatron & Chop Shop

As part of Hasbro's "Thrilling 30" celebration of the Transformers Brand in 2014, several Legend sized two packs were released under the Generations banner. On the Decepticon front, Megatron was paired with the unusual choice of the Insecticon Chop Shop.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger view

I have always enjoyed this scale of Transformers so I was already on board, but the inclusion of Chop Shop really caught my attention. While the Deluxe Insecticon toys from the G1 era were never high on my list, I've always held an affinity for Chop Shop. Perhaps its because it was the only Deluxe Insecticon toy I owned growing up. None the less this new, smaller version of the character had to be mine.

Megatron himself is a retool/redeco of the Autobot Warparth. While the mold is OK, it does tend to fit Megatron better than Warpath. The tank barrel does sit on the side of the arm similar to Megatron's original fusion cannon, but its a little too thin for my taste. I also don't care for the different gray colors used. The lower half of the tank / legs are more of a silver gray, while the tanks turret / robot's thighs and legs are molded in a different shade of gray plastic. Then the armored bits on the arms have been painted a light gray. The colors don't mesh very well, especially in tank mode. His robot mode is passable with a new head sculpt. These colors issues were fixed with the Japanese Takara Tomy release.

My reason for buying this toy is this little guy. Chop Shop is a little bigger than your average Mini-Con figure. His arms and beetle mandibles are movable, but due to his transformation that is about the extent of his articulation.

The sculpting on this figure is great. I particularly love his head sculpt as it is a dead ringer for the G1 toy. The colors are spot on and he retains a good bit of his G1 likeness, minus the gray peg found on his chest.

This version of Chop Shop is basically a quadruple changer if you will. In addition to his two standard modes, he can also transform into armor for Megatron in his tank mode as well as a Targetmaster-esque weapon. Or does he form a shield?

Starscream was released in the same series and packaged with a new version of Beast Wars Waspinator. Fitting that Hasbro would give the fans a new Starscream to go with a new Megatron. The added smaller figures were just a bonus.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Masters of the Universe (200X): Snake Armor He-Man

I was never a huge fan of Masters of the Universe mainly because when it was popular, I was still fairly young. However I always liked the majority of the characters and watched the animated show growing up.

Flash forward to the Mike Young Productions animated show and I was hooked. Perhaps it was the art style or the animation itself, but I was much more interested in He-Man, the Masters of the Universe along with Skeletor and his evil minions. It didn't take long for me to find that Mattel had released figures based on this new animated show. I began driving all over town to various Target and Walmart stores looking for the figures.

By the time the Snake Men figures were released I was in full stride in my MOTU collecting. I was growing tired however of all the re-hashed versions of He-Man and Skeletor that seemed to be included in every wave. However there was one version of He-Man that I was all too happy to purchase, Snake Armor He-Man.


The legendary Four Horsemen were at the helm of creating these figures and their sculpting of this figure in particular was fantastic. I love how the armor goes up one leg, covers his abdomen and then covers his arm, complete with the oversized should plate. He looks like a gladiator of sorts that is ready to do battle against any form of evil willing to rear it's ugly head. Attached to his armored arm is a guard that contains a retractable claw. 

Now the included Power sword's size may seem like an overkill at first. I was in that camp at first, however once I got my hands on the actual toy I started to have fun with the massive sword. Surprisingly, the sword can be sheathed on He-Man's back. The sword has some weight to it so be mindful of how you pose the legs and feet as the added sword does make the figure a little top heavy.

The Power sword does open up to reveal a green missile which contains the Snake Men logo. This missile can fire from the sword, but from my memory the missile never traveled very far. Other than the oversized blade, the sword's hilt looks very similar to the regular Power sword included with the first release of He-Man.

I can understand why there may be some MOTU fans that just don't care for this figure, but me personally I think it's an awesome variation of the He-Man character. Yes, the sword is too big for the figure and it makes it hard to display your figure with him wielding his weapon, but if you look past that there are plenty of other features of the figure to enjoy.

Sadly this figure commands big money on the secondary market these days. I'm not sure if the initial release was limited or if it just didn't sell well because it was released towards the end of the 200X's life. Either way it's a great figure and if you can find it for a decent price and are a fan of this series you oughta grab it up. I will mention that the Classics series finally recognized the 200X series and released a version of Snake Armor He-Man in a two pack along with King Hsss. I'm not a fan of the new look myself, but at least you have that option.