Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Transformers 2007 Dairycon Exclusive Checkers

QUICK INFO:
Name: Checkers
Line: Dairycon Exclusives
Year: 2007

Price: unknown




Function: 
Urban Surveillance
Quote: " I like Mankind just fine; it's people I don't trust. "

Profile:  Checkers signed up with the Autobot army to travel to strange new worlds and seek out new life. He ended up stuck in major American cities watching for Decepticon activity. To quench his boredom, he began listening to right-wing political talk-radio. He found kindred spirits in the hosts, even though some of their views can border on the extreme. Some Autobots (Beachcomber, for example) cannot even stand to be assigned with him due to his right-wing leanings. Wreck-Gar thinks that Checkers sounds a lot like a character from the ancient TV sitcom All In The Family. Openly campaigns for political candidates by attaching ads to his vehicle-mode roof. Dislikes being assigned to Milwaukee, and absolutely refuses to operate in Madison.

Abilities:  Checkers can monitor all radio, infrared, and microwave frequencies, including secret police and military channels. While his vehicle form isn't particularly fast or durable, it is dependable. With regular maintenance, he is virtually immune to breakdowns.

Weaknesses:  Sometimes takes his political views to the extreme. His roof light is permanently stuck in the "off duty" position.
Strength: 8 Intelligence: 4 Speed: 7 Endurance: 7
Rank: 5 Courage: 9 Firepower: 7 Skill: 6

Finally! I was able to track down another awesome Dairycon (Spychanger) exclusive. We'll take a look at one of 2007's exclusives from one of the wackiest Transformer conventions....Dairycon!


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Wow, all I can say is that I am so impressed with the packaging of this guy. For this to be a fan made toy offered at a unofficial convention I'm blown away. Whoever handles the graphic design for the packaging @ Dairycon should get a raise! While the box and insert tray are made from thin cardstock it has a very professional look. From the black and white street layout in the background to the checkered pin stripe around the bottom of the box...this thing is beautiful. Did you notice the age group listed in the upper right corner? Ages 30+ ...hilarious!

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The back of the box is just as beautiful as the front. As you can see there is a nice "illustration" showing you how to transform Checkers from robot mode to his taxi mode and the equally awesome 'quote' below: "errrarrrarrerrarrerrarearaaarr..." As with the Ages 30+ on the front of the box you can see a in the bottom left corner a image stating that is not intended for ages 0-29. Classic!

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Top, bottom and sides of box

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Now let's do the unimaginable and open the sealed box! Here's a closer look at the inner plastic tray that houses Checkers and his gun along w/ the paper tray.

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Here's a close up of the inner tray that uses the same street map layout as on the outer box.

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Checkers is a repainted Prowl 2 Spychanger from the Robots In Disguise (R.I.D.) line. The thighs, front car grill and robot face have been painted black while the the outer car parts have been painted taxi cab yellow. The rest of the head is a nice shade of gray while the eyes have been carefully painted a line green color. I can't stress how good the robot's head has been painted. Great care was exercised here. The large checkered area w/ the Dairycon cow logo is actually a sticker.

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As with the hood the rest of the design on the sides of the car as well as the 555-TAXI on the back of the car also stickers. The light bar on the top of the car has been painted white. Until I took a closer look at the toy I didn't realize the windows has been covered with a dark brown colored sticker. There is one small Autobot symbol still exposed on the back window.

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Top and bottom views

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Generation One styled Tech Specs

Overall this is one of the best fan made toys I've seen to date. There are several different characters made from various Spychanger molds for the Dairycon convention over the years. The only other one I have is Domino from 2008. I would gladly pay good money to acquire the others. If you are a fan of fan made Transformers, Spychangers (as I am) or just a crazy fan who likes taxi Transformers then this is a must have. I'm not sure how many of this toy were made, but because of the convention being so regional I don't see a lot of these exclusives available for sale on the secondary market. Because of this they can tend to be a tad on the expensive side...but well worth it. It is so obvious that a lot of thought and care go into the planning, creation and execution of these toys. A+ in my book.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Transformers R.P.M.s: Sideswipe

QUICK INFO:
Name: Sideswipe
Line: Transformers R.P.M.s
Year: 2010

Price: $2.99

Bio:
There have been a lot of Decepticon masters of the blade over the years, but every one of them has fallen before Sideswipe. In the history of Cybertron, there is no finder swordsman. Sideswipe is single-minded in his pursuit of perfection with a sword.


Vehicle Data:
Max Speed: 8  Horsepower: 8  Ramming Power: 8  Armor: 6

Today we'll take a few moments and look at a toy that combines two of my favorite toys from my childhood, Transformers and HotWheels.


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With the box office success of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallan movie Hasbro decided to milk the movie for all it was worth and introduce a new toy line. With the introduction of the R.P.M. line I feel as if Hasbro was trying to appeal to a wider audience (die-cast car market) than the standard action figure market. For the most part I think the line has been a success. R.P.M. is an acronym that stands for Robot Powered Machines. The vehicles are in scale with most die-cast vehicles like HotWheels and Matchbox, however the toys lack the die-cast metal. The gimmick is the Transformers robot is molded to the underside of the vehicle and you can stand the vehicle up to "transform" it per se. The packaging for these have been handled very well. The colors are a little on the dark side, but still look beautiful. The vehicle itself is packaged in a standard blister bubble and you can see the robot through the bottom of the blister.

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On the back side of the packaging you'll see a picture of the robot as well as some additional info on the character. In typical Transformers fashion you get a character bio. Something new is the vehicle data which basically replaces the old tech spec rankings from the action figures. I get the max speed, horsepower and even armor ratings...but ramming? That just seems a little out of place. The R.P.M. toys are also broken down into subclasses which Sideswipe here being part of the Speed Series. Other toys in this subclass are Bumblebee and Jolt from the Revenge of the Fallen movie.

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Sideswipe is a beautiful metallic silver Chevy Corvette. I have only bought a few of these so far - mostly upon their initial release and I didn't intend on buying many more if any. I couldn't resist picking up Sideswipe though due to his alternate mode. After my father passed in 1997 I started picking up the occasional Corvette HotWheel to honor his memory...so I was pleased to see that Sideswipe was eventually included in the R.P.M. line. One of the first things I noticed upon opening Sideswipe and the others I own is they are very light. I didn't expect any die-cast metal, but these vehicles seem so light they have a cheap feel to them. A friend told me he stepped on one accidentally and it basically shattered. I find it hard to believe since toys these days have to pass rigorous child safety tests. Weight aside Sideswipe is a fun little car. He rolls very well on hard smooth surfaces and I can only imagine if you were to use him on a HotWheels track that he would rather quick. I guess the light weight of the vehicle would help this and may not be such a bad thing after all. Hasbro has made one play set for these toys to date, but I don't have the room for such a thing nor do I have the expendable income. The only paint applications on Sideswipe are on the front and back. The front grill is painted black while the rear lights are painted red. The windows a very dark almost smokey translucent plastic. There doesn't appear to be a dashboard, steering wheel or seats molded inside the car. I can't complain too much about the paint apps since Sideswipe resembles his action figure brother and CGI movie model fairly well, but perhaps some detail on the front headlights would have been nice. The wheels are a nice shiny chrome 5 spoke design. Only other thing to mention about the vehicle is the rear exhaust pipes. All of the R.P.M.s have some sort of pipes or pegs that allow the card to stand up to reveal the robot mode. I like how Hasbro incorporated the exhaust pipes in the design to allow this feature instead of just adding some blaring obvious pegs. Overall it is a great vehicle and would blend in fairly well to any die-cast car collection.

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Front and Rear views...notice the exhaust pipes/pegs on the rear.


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Here we have a look at Sideswipe's robot mode. This is where the majority of the details lie. Hasbro did a good job sculpting the robot and cramming it onto such a small and narrow area. The nice thing about these robot modes so to speak are they are 3 dimensional and not simply a flat image. There is a good deal of detail to the robot. In fashion with the bio you can see Sideswipe is armed with his large blades. For some reason these blades have been painted red which seems out of place. Above Sideswipe's head you'll see a small red circle sporting the Autobot symbol and his name printed just below the feet.

In closing I can see how this line has been a winner for Hasbro. If I was a kid I was totally love these and would have probably begged my mom to buy me all of them. I believe the price has recently been dropped a dollar from the initial $3.99 price to $2.99. When compared to a HotWheel or Matchbox which are typically $1.00 each it doesn't seem like a good deal. However they must have sold well since Hasbro is bringing them back in the spring of 2010 (under a new name). Sideswipe makes the 5th R.P.M. I've bought and I may pick up a few others since the price is a little more reasonable now. If you are a fan of this scale vehicle or just a Transformers fan then you at least ought to pick up your favorite character and give the line a chance. Even though the vehicles lack the weight of die-cast metal they are still fun little toys that deserve to be part of the Transformers family.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

UltraForce: Ghoul

Today's toy reviews fits the name of the blog well...random. We'll take a look at a figure from Galoob's UltraForce line based off the short lived Malibu comic book and animated series of the same name.

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Ghoul is a member of the UltraForce team of super powered heroes. For more info on the character click here. I obtained this toy sealed for a few bucks. I was curious about the quality of these toys since I had purchased a few UltraForce comics recently at a show. First off I have to say I like the packaging. The bright yellowish orange back ground really makes the large red Ultraforce logo pop out. The sticker on the blister bubble featuring comic style art showing off the features of the toy is a nice touch. The little box on the upper left corner depicting a head shot and number is a direct reference to the comic series.

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Back of the blister card isn't anything like we've seen before. It features your standard cross sell toys for the line (figures such as Hardcase, Nightman, Prime & Topaz) as well as 2 vehicles that I'm not entirely sure were ever released. The upper portion does feature a small bio on the character as well as a comic book style instruction panel on how to activate the figure's special ability or function.

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Here we have a good look at the figure itself freed from his cardboard & plastic prison. He is the standard 5 to 5 1/2 inch size action figure. I count 10 points of articulation. His head swivels a full 360 degrees & arms rotate 360 degrees at the shoulders. The arms bend at the elbows, legs bend at the knees. Figure features a "t crotch" so there isn't a lot of articulation at the waist, but the legs can be positioned into a sitting form. I really have to say that I was impressed by the level of detailing on the figure. Most of it is molded into the plastic, but that is OK. The trench coat is nicely done. Notice how the rolled up sleeves almost hide the elbow joints? The paint applications are also nicely applied. The white paint on the chest and facial bones isn't sloppy nor is the white on the bandages. The blue on the jeans isn't too bright. The plastic is very sturdy. The only exception to that is the bottom portion of the trench coat. Since it is removable it is made of a softer more pliable plastic.

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The special ability or feature of this figure is that you can disassemble the figure. I guess since he is basically a decomposing dead person it makes sense! The neck and shoulder joints are your traditional ball and socket joints allowing the head and arms to easily pop on and off. The waist is more of a peg. I found this a little tighter when removing the torso, but I'm glad since this would hopefully help keep the figure intact with extended play wear and tear.

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The only accessory Ghoul comes packaged with is a rather large wooden coffin. It is rather nice looking I might add with the wood grain sculpted into the plastic and a little black paint to give it a worn look.

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I should have zoomed in more on the inside lid of the coffin as it's hard to see the scratch marks. I thought that was a nice added touch as it gives me the impression that Ghoul had to scratch and claw his way out of the coffin. On the inside part towards the bottom you may notice a raise area with 2 small pegs. Once you place Ghoul inside the coffin you can plug those two small pegs into the bottom of his feet. There is a small brown trigger on the side of the coffin that makes the pegs go up and down. You are supposed to be able to move the trigger and make Ghoul stand up and pop out of the coffin. It's a neat gimmick, but the weight of the figure makes it hard to pull this off.

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Here is a closer look at the pegs and trigger on the coffin.

In closing I have to say that I am rather impressed with this figure. The sculpting is top notch and the resemblance to what I've seen in the comics and the animated show is spot on. While the figure may not be the best of the bunch it does stand out thanks to the attributes of the character itself. I can't think of many rotting zombie action figures where you can pull off the head or arms! Galoob did a very nice job. I've only associated Galoob with Micro Machines so I give them 2 thumbs up on this figure. I'm glad I only paid a few bucks since I'm not a huge fan of UltraForce, but I found this to be a slightly above average 90's era super hero action figure.