Friday, March 28, 2014

Racetron: Chrysbot

By now you the reader should know that my interest in transforming robots goes far beyond Transformers.  While TFs will always be my first love, I also find other transforming robot toys fascinating.  I have discovered some great toys (see Machine Robo and DiaRobo) and I've come across some not so great, cheaply made toys.

That said I stumbled across a section of Counter-X that peaked my curiosity.  Some of the toy lines they spotlighted I was already familiar with, while others were completely new to me.  During my own research of these toys and hunting for specimens for the blog, I came across a line that I haven't been able to find much documentation on....Racetron.

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK045_zps464c7cfc.jpg

Without searching the package, I'm sure the design and art work cues you in that this was original released in the 80's.

Now it's a robot!  Now it's a racer!  It's a incredible Racetron!!  Collect all 6 in the series and create your own Racetron Warrior.

Wait a minute...collect all 6 and create your own Racetron Warrior?  Yup, this sucker is part of a combiner!

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK047_zpse8daa18d.jpg

You probably noticed the robot is missing it's head.  The head is part of the car's front grill and simply slides in and out.  Over the years the piece just worked it's way back down into the body.  Anyhow, if you look closely at the legs and the waist you'll notice those pieces are cast of die-cast metal.  A lot of the Go-Bots sized transforming toys I've seen usually don't contain much, if any die-cast metal.  Behind the toy you'll see a red piece of plastic and a small gray gun located in between the legs.

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK046_zps17ec3853.jpg

Gotta love the old school art.  It's a tad on the cheesy side, but kudos to who ever manufactured this thing for taking the time for creating something original.  The robot's face gives me a Darth Vader vibe.

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK048_zpse55e5e1e.jpg

On the back of the packaging is where things get interesting...and confusing.  We knew from the blurb on the front that there was 6 robots in the set that formed the combiner.  Here we see the combiner, Racetron?  Wait a minute.  Is the line called Racetron and the combiner's name is Racetron?

The names of the individual robots are pretty bad too.  The manufacturer named each robot after the make of the alt mode.  Chrysbot obviously is derived from Chrysler, but I'm not familiar of the model.

The bottom of the packaging shows off the simplistic step by step transformation process.  Notice there aren't any directions for changing Chrysbot into a leg/foot for the combiner.

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK053_zps0a60be53.jpg

Chrysbot includes a combiner part, a hand gun and a decal sheet.  Did you notice anything off about this picture?  Scroll up back to the first image.  I'll wait a second.  The combiner piece packaged behind my Chrysbot is red, not blue.  This makes me wonder if all the parts come in different colors.  The mystery continues!

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK051_zps9566c227.jpg

It's easy to see that Racetron here (if that is his name) surely isn't comparable to a G1 Transformers combiner or even the Go-Bot's Puzzler.  The chest and waist pieces completely cover up two of the robots.  Talking about cheating!  And the head...that looks more alien than it does robotic.  While I'd love to complete the combiner, it's not one that I'd showcase in my Ikea display cabinet!

Racetron Chrysbot photo CK052_zpsae9a4d6f.jpg

One of the biggest mysterious behind this release is the manufacturer.  I have a loose version of the toy and it is completely devoid of markings.  All I can find is the 1985 copyright info.  Now what U.M. stands for is beyond me.  All my Google searches lead to no where, even for John Stanley Industries.  I'd love to hear if anyone out there knows more about the background of the Racetron toys.

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT001_zps9141fd7b.jpg   Racetron Chrysbot photo RT006_zpse962b047.jpg

I acquired my loose Chrysbot before I found the carded version, so unless I can find the other 5 with their combiner parts I'm leaving the carded one sealed.

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT002_zpsd8d1e8e3.jpg   Racetron Chrysbot photo RT003_zps897b685c.jpg

The vehicle itself looks nice, but without any paint apps or stickers its very plain and boring.  Part of the grill is chromed along with the outer border of the wheels.  The wheels themselves are a hard plastic with little notches.  Wouldn't a sports car like this have smooth tires?  The plastic used for the toy is light and feels very cheap.  The die-cast metal is solid, but the legs are loose on mine so the front part of the car wants to flop around unless it's sitting on all 4 wheels.

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT004_zps54e350b4.jpg   Racetron Chrysbot photo RT005_zpse1e1c4e4.jpg
Excuse the dust!

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT008_zps465e3864.jpg

When it comes to robot mode...let's just say I've seen better.  The head pulls up and out from the front car's grill, the arms pop out - fairly normal.  The legs split in half and then rotate up and around.  I mentioned the waist on mine is extremely loose, making the legs floppy.  With the die-cast being on the top half of the figure, it makes the toy top heavy.  Combine with a loose waist and he wants to lean forward quite a bit.

The little square you see on his crotch can be folded back behind the robot, but the instructions show it as-is.

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT007_zpsa7ac05ff.jpg

The robot's head is thin, flat and plain ugly.  Some black paint was slapped onto the toy for the eyes.  There is no mouth to speak of, just a slight indentation where a mouth should be.

Racetron Chrysbot photo RT011_zps0153eece.jpg   Racetron Chrysbot photo RT010_zps73c2b759.jpg

The combiner's foot is made by rotating the legs around and flipping the front of the car outwards.  That square metal crotch piece folds out and forms a heel.  Simple design, but it works.  The legs are essentially hollow, yet there are some marks in the cavity where you can tell an outside combiner piece attaches.  This monstrosity of a combiner really has me intrigued and I'll be searching for the other members to hopefully one day assemble this guy.

All in all I find this toy fascinating.  Is it for everyone?  Hard to say.  I scales well with Go-Bots, Convertors, Convert-A-Bots and other similar transforming toys, so if you are a fan of those other lines like myself the you may just yet enjoy the Racetron toys.  Good luck finding them though, they aren't easy to find on the secondary market.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

DiaRobo: Hino Profia Eneos DR-1002

Agatsuma's line of transforming vehicles, DiaRobo, has finally expanded beyond normal Hot Wheels sized cars and trucks.  Granted this isn't really new news as this release I'm spotlighting today was released sometime in late summer or early fall in 2013.

Several weeks ago I ran across a thread in TFW2005's Junkion section advertising DiaRobo toys.  I contacted the owner of the thread via email as requested and waited for a response.  Finally my email was replied to.  Turns out he had much more than what he listed, including the first transforming playset for the series.  I wasn't able to swing the latter, but he did make me a great offer on one of the two new tanker trucks.  Cue DR-1002.

DR-1002 photo CK001_zpsc9444583.jpg

DR-1002 photo CK002_zpse7930643.jpg

Ever since I first saw images of this toy online I knew I wanted it.  1) it's a big tanker truck and 2) it's a robotic dinosaur!  Unlike many of the other DiaRobo releases, I'm not sure if this one has an actual name or not.  I have him labeled as Hino Profia Eneos, but that isn't his name.

Turns out that Hino is a subsidiary of Toyota and in Japan they are one of the biggest manufacturers of industrial diesel trucks, buses and construction vehicles.  Profia is the model of cab over truck that was introduced in 2004.  Eneos is part of the Japanese company Nippon Oil.

DR-1002 photo CK004_zps9b098320.jpg

I really wasn't sure how large (or small) these tanker trucks would be, so I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the package for the first time.  The truck has some major heft and size.  Scroll down to the bottom for a few comparison pictures.

If you've handled any previous DiaRobo toys then you'll know the plastic used is fairly light, making the toys feel somewhat fragile.  Not in the case of DR-1002.  The toy has some heft and feels much more along the line of a Hot Wheels release, sans die-cast metal.

DR-1002 photo CK005_zps8a173433.jpg

The front of the truck looks very much like many of the images that my Google search for 'Hino Profia' brought up.  Being an officially licensed release, Hino's logo can easily be seen on the front of the truck's grill.  The truck is molded in several colors which is limits how much paint was used.  One each side of the tranker truck are the only stickers, featuring the Eneos name and colors.

DR-1002 photo CK008_zps351d4ba6.jpg

The transformation from truck to dino is rather ingenious.  First step is to pull apart the tanker halves.  These are connected via ball joint pegs.  The legs then fold out via a small hinge, then fold down as you see above.  The tail is folded up inside and simple unfolds.  Then you lift up the center gray portion to expose the dino head and neck.  Fold down the truck's cab and lift and pose the dino as you see fit.

DR-1002 photo CK010_zps7d3cdbb2.jpg

Now in my childhood we would probably call this dino a Brontasaurus.  However a lot has changed since I was wee little so I won't begin to try and label this dino now!  Let's just call him awesome, shall we?

DR-1002 photo CK009_zps5ed03678.jpg

The eyes are painted red and the lower jaw easily opens and closes.  Being that the dino has flat teeth I'm guessing he's a herbivore.  The whole neck piece is comprised of individual pieces, each connected with nall joints.  This gives not only the head, but the entire neck some great articulation.

DR-1002 photo CK011_zps42d18a33.jpg
"What are you looking at?"
DR-1002 photo CK012_zpsfffe9609.jpg

I know this pose doesn't make sense, but he looks cool.  Seriously though, would you think a transforming tanker truck to dinosaur would be so articulated?  I didn't.

DR-1002 photo CK013_zps888cff28.jpg

DR-1002 isn't the first dinosaur released in the DiaRobo series.  Priteradon DR-0008 was released earlier in the line.  It's alternate form is that of a Toyora Prius.  I've yet to do a proper review for this release, but one is in the works.

DR-1002 photo CK007_zps976312ea.jpg

DR-1002 photo CK006_zps0f91b763.jpg

If you've been on the fence as to whether to import one of the DiaRobo toys or not, I can whole heartedly recommend DR-1002.  There is also a different colored release (DR-1001) that features a different truck shell.  He is high on my list after playing around with the Eneos truck.

Many online retailers offer the DiaRobo toys now, but I would be in the wrong if I didn't point you over to the great guy that supplied my sample.  He is currently working on a new web store, but for the time being you can visit his eBay store, The Agabyss.  Tell him flywheels from Random Toy Reviews sent ya!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Marvel Comics' The New Warriors are back!

All is well within the Marvel Universe once again.  The New Warriors are back...sort of.  When I heard that Marvel was giving the Warriors another chance with a new title I was beside myself.  I wasn't a fan of the previous version of the title that was a part of the whole Civil War saga.  Even though this new line-up isn't exactly the same as the original, it's the closest it's been since the original series was cancelled with issue #75.

Let's rewind a bit to the summer of 1990.  I was on the verge of going into the 9th grade in Junior High.  My appreciation for toys wasn't in place yet and the only real hobby I had to speak of had just started, baseball cards.  My older brother had always been into reading and collecting comics, but I guess at that age I just didn't have the attention span to read a comic book.  However that summer Marvel launched two new titles that my brother would have me read, Guardians of the Galaxy and New Warriors.

Initially I loved both books and continued to use what little money I had at that time to read both titles each month.  After a year or so I dropped the Guardians (a decision I would later regret) and just stuck with the New Warriors.  Perhaps initially I was drawn to the New Warriors because the heroes were all young, like myself.  Or perhaps it was the fact that many of the characters were either new or seldom used characters so they didn't bring a lot of "baggage" to the team.  What I mean by that is if you didn't know that Nova had a title in the late 70's / early 80's or that Firestar was once a member of the White Queen's Hellions it wasn't a big deal.

I stuck with the original title and saw it through until it was cancelled.  I picked up all of the tie-in issues with Darkhawk, X-Force and various issues of Spider-Man once Marvel folded the team temporarily into the Spider-Man family of books.  I bought the Justice limited series as well as Nova and Night Thrasher's ongoing titles as well.  The more I read about the characters the more I was fascinated.  Fabian Nicieza was an excellent writer and Mark Bagley I thought did a great job with the pencils in the original series.  Like all good things however the title eventually came to an end after a decent run.

Marvel tried to bring back the Warriors with a volume 2 that just never caught on.  Of course I bought and read all of the issues, but with the book lacking some of the mainstays from the original team it just felt "off".  Apparently a lot of readers felt the same as me as the 2nd volume didn't even last a full year.  Marvel hadn't given up hope for the young heroes yet as the Warriors then received a mini-series that would lead into one of Marvel's biggest and most controversial summer events ever, Civil War.

The mini-series followed Night Thrasher, Namorita, Speedball and new characters, Debrii and Microbe as the Warriors were hosting their own reality television show.  Where the Avengers have Tony Starks' money to finance the team, the Warriors had Night Thrasher and his bank accounts.  However after the events of the 1st volume, Dwayne Turner Enterprises (Night Thrasher's company) was no longer so the Warriors had to find ways to finance their endeavors so to speak.  During a raid on a house full of super villains located in Stamford, CT the worst possible scenario happened.  Being that the team was being followed and filmed as part of their own reality television show, the events of that day would be forever captured on video.  Speedball crashed through the door only to find Nitro, a villain that has the power to explode.  While on his own Nitro's powers weren't nothing to laugh at, but this time however he and other villains had been playing around with MGH, a mutant growth hormone that amplified their powers.  During the skirmish between Nitro and Speedball, Nitro would detonate himself causing massive damage to the surrounding area.  In this surrounding area was an elementary school where hundreds of children would be killed.

Now I find it hard to believe that a story like this could take place in today's society what with all the school violence and shootings that have taken place in the real world.  But even then I remember reading these events in Civil War #1 and being shocked and almost disgusted.  I know the story isn't real, but it's easy to imagine and picture things in your head, especially when aided by artwork and that scene was disturbing to say the least.

After the events of Civil War #1 the New Warriors were basically no more.  Robbie Baldwin aka Speedball
temporarily lost his powers and was the only surviving member left of his team.  He would later adopt a new persona called Penance and wear a spiked suit of armor, punishing himself for the sins he committed.  He was used as part of the Thunderbolts for a period of time.  During the Civil War period Marvel found a way to launch a 4th volume of the New Warriors, however there really wasn't much of a tie to the original team.  Night Thrasher was mysteriously back, but it was later revealed that he was Dwayne's brother.  The rest of the new cast were mostly comprised of mutant characters I knew little about.  I bought the title because of the name, but I really didn't care for the stories.

There was now a huge New Warriors void.  Thankfully readers and fans of the team were teased with appearances by some of the original members in the pages of Nova's post Annihilation series and in the pages of Young Allies and Marvel Divas (mainly Firestar).  While it was a nice treat, I wanted more.  Then Marvel had the audacity to "kill" Richard Rider aka Nova as he sought to save his on and off again girlfriend and former teammate, Namorita.  I'm still waiting to find out what happened to those characters.  In the mean time we have to watch this new young Nova fly around in the pages of his own title.  I wasn't thrilled about the idea of a new Nova character, but I kept an open mind and read his book.  The stories seemed to get better and better and then Marvel started to have Vance Astrovik aka Justice and Robbie Baldwin appear!

Could a reboot of the New Warriors be on the horizon?!  At the time I was trying not to get my hopes up so I just continued to read Nova (and Guardians of the Galaxy!).  I figured I'd just let the creative team lead me where they wanted to go.

The other Marvel book I had been captivated by was the Superior Spider-Man.  While I won't go into much detail there, I was introduced to a new character by the name of Sun Girl.  It was kinda cool to read about her in the pages of Superior prior to finding out she was going to be one of the new members on the upcoming New Warriors reboot.

Of course I'm still waiting to find out more info on who these other new characters are that have been introduced in the newest New Warriors #1 issue.  From my time with Spider-Man I know a little about Kaine as Scarlet Spider and I knew he had "befriend" a girl (Aracely Penalba) during his time spent in Houston, TX, however I didn't realize that girl had super powers and or she went by the alias Hummerbird!  The musclebound shirtless guy on the cover is called Haechi, who is an Inhuman, but he really doesn't make his first appearance until issue #2.  We know the team will have an Atlantean that goes by the name Water Snake, but not much is mentioned about her in the first issue.  I do find it a nice nod by Marvel to include an Atlantean on the team.  She may not be Namorita, but for now she'll do.

Overall I'm super excited about this new title.  So far writer Christopher Yost has my attention and Marcus To, whom I'm not familiar with, is doing an excellent job on pencils.  In fact, the opening splash page featuring Justice and Nova reminded me a bit of Mark Bagley's work from the original series.  I have high hopes for this series and I really hope the creative team(s) have a chance to answer some questions that are currently left unanswered.  I refuse to believe Hasbro will leave Rich Richard and Namorita in the Cancerverse.  Even though I know that is a stretch, I believe that somehow Dwayne Turner is still alive.  With connections with the Atlanteans and Inhumans I can see several possible future stories there and what about Kaine and his connection to Peter Parker?  We all know that Peter is getting ready to make his triumphant return to the webs so will be see a Spidey / New Warriors crossover again?  And of course what about Firestar?  I'm reading the X title she is in, but she just doesn't fit.  I know she's a mutant and all, but she deserves a place with the team, especially since she has returned to her retro costume!

So until my questions are answered, make mine Marvel!