Saturday, 24 December 2011

WTRTW Awards 2011 aka 'the Palindromes'

Welcome to the first annual WTRTW Toy Awards, which I have nicknamed the Palindromes. The categories have been determined upon by the carefully considered method of 'whatever I thought up late on the Saturday night I decided to invent the awards'. There's a good chance that as soon as I post this I'll think up more worthy winners, but hey, this is mostly just for fun.

Look, I even cobbled together a proper little trophy for anyone wishing to collect their prize -

(Yes, it does look as though someone cobbled it together in 5 minutes, but... Well, I guess I don't have any excuse - it was cobbled together in 5 minutes.)

Without further delay, it's on to the winners...

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Review of the Year 2011

First off, I can't remember exactly what toys were released this year. As much as I like playing with the things, I don't keep a catalogue of when everything was released. Therefore, a lot of what's in this post (and likely the awards one coming later in the week) will be guesswork. 99% was almost definitely released this year rather than last. The bigger problem is me forgetting some really, really great toys that were released this year but I thought were last.

But, hey, I never said I was perfect.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Toyology 2011: A Look Back

6 boxes. 6 months. 42 toys. 42 reviews, ranging from the barely-sane to the outright crazy.

For a number of years I ran the weekly quiz at the University of Birmingham Guild of Students. Our quizzes were never exactly what you'd call 'normal'. They were more about trying to get people to have fun than testing people's knowledge. You only have to look at the Loser's Round & it's tenuous links, the Design A Care Bear/My Little Pony/Guild President rounds, or the end of term specials where, despite protesting otherwise, bribes were commonplace and people ended up on scores in the millions...both positive and negative.

With the End Of Terms especially, you either got into the spirit of them, or you left in protest after Round 1.

The same goes with my toyology reviews over the past 6 months. It's been rare that I've done a 'normal' review. Whenever possible, I've done slightly off the wall reviews, which I hope readers have found interesting and drawn more attention to the products for toy vendors that might have been achieved with a 'normal' review (I could be wrong, of course - I may had inadvertently turned people away from all the toys & upset all toy manufacturers across the country). From the start I've aimed to make the reviews interesting even if you had no interest in the product. I have no idea whether I've achieved this, but if nothing else they've kept me entertained.

Toyologist Review: B.I.G. Power Hand

BIG Hand Kombat

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Review: Doctor Who Junk TARDIS

On Doctor Who there's a different location every week. And not just a different city, but a different planet.  Very often this planet will never be visited again, at least not in the same time frame, by which point it will look very different indeed.

Which makes playsets quite a hard thing to make a toy of. There haven't really been any locations that would make decent toys. The only constant location, of a sort, is the TARDIS, which acts as home and companion to the Doctor.

Actually, referring to the TARDIS as both home and companion is quite apt for this review of the Junk TARDIS. In the episode from which it appears ('The Doctor's Wife'), the TARDIS (regular) is turned, through a complex series of events (or not - it took about 2 min in the episode) into a woman called Idris. It's like The Last Unicorn...but not.

The toy is a bit...well, weird. I can't see it being very desirable amongst children for two reasons: a) it was in 1 episode for all over 5 minutes and they've probably forgotten all about it by now, and b) it doesn't really do a lot. 

I can only really see that this toy exists because it was designed as a result of a Blue Peter competition and therefore Character hoped that it'd get a lot of promotion on the show. And they were stuck for ideas for playsets.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Toyologist Review: Fast Wheels RC

Fast Wheels RC: The Musical

It seemed like such a good idea when I thought there was no chance of ever getting the music...

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Review: Kreons

Everyone likes to copy everyone else in the toy manufacturing game. The current 'craze' is not-Lego, i.e. bricks which look remarkably like Lego but which are made by someone else. In the case of Kre-O, the Transformers not-Lego, the 'someone else' is unsurprisingly Hasbro.

But this review isn't about Kre-O. Or rather it is, but just about the little minifigures that come with they set. Hasbro has named these critters 'Kreons'.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Toyologist Review: GX Buggy

£34.99 from Toys R Us.

BBC2 at 6pm used to be home to all the good stuff. Yes, it was annoying if you worked and got home too late, but I was at high school (or university) so this wasn't a problem (except for lab days). Star Trek, Buffy, The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, Quantum Leap, Sliders, the Fresh Prince (actually, I hated the Fresh Prince and its endless repeats), ...

Everyone would rush home and ensure evening meals were cooked & ready for a sit down at 6pm, where you would remain (on a good night) for 90 minutes watching quality television.

I don't know where it all started to go wrong. Maybe it was when BBC2 stuck Voyager on Sunday instead of a weekday slot. Or possibly when Channel 4 got Angel and the term 'Channel 4 edit' was coined. Angel would walk into a room full of bad guys. Instantly - as though someone had hacked at the film reel with a machete - Angel would leave the room, bad guys all on the floor.

Some shows just weren't meant for 6pm.

Of course then the BBC lost the Simpsons and it was all downhill from there. No more Buffy, no more Trek. Even Robot Wars disappeared, off to Channel 5.

Remember when Jeremy Clarkson hosted it? Yeah, that series was terrible. All the good robots, the highly weaponised fighting machines, were knocked out by the maneuverability challenges early on, so when it got to the Big Fight at the end all that were left were... Well, not good ones.

Then Craig Charles took over. We had Philipa Forrester in a corset, the early rounds were thrown out in favour of pure battles, and robots like Razer and Hypno-Disc came to the fore.

In the event of a tie, the battles were judged on damage, control, style and aggression. Control was very important when facing some of the big guns. Once they had hold of you, you were in serious trouble. The amount of people who, at the start of the battle, drove straight forward into the waiting pincer of Razer... Idiots.

Speaking of control...

The latest item out of the Toyology box is the GX Buggy from Tomy. First thing you have to do after extracting the car from its packaging is sit and wait for 20 minutes while it charges (from which you get 10 minutes driving time) from the box it comes with, which drove my sons insane. You know how annoying it is when you buy a new mobile phone and have to sit and watch it charge for hours before you can use it? Imagine that, but with the patience (or lack of) of two young brothers. I don't think it would have added much to the weight of the car to simply stick a battery into the car to allow for instant play.

Friday, 2 December 2011

News: £500 trolley dash at Toys R Us

Competition closes at 5pm today

Anyone wanting to take part, time is running out fast! Film you/your kids/the cat singing/dancing/acting along to the Toys R Us theme for 2011, upload to YouTube and fill out the form here.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Count N Crunch Cookie Monster

£29.99 from Toys R Us.

A little while ago we tried out the new Elmo. The general conclusion was that it was ridiculously overpriced for what you got (thankfully the price has plummeted almost everywhere since). We've now received Count N Crunch Cookie Monster, a simpler toy which is priced much, much lower. What did we think of this one?


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Chuggington Championship Deluxe

£29.99 from Toys R Us.

The Trial of Chuggington Championship Deluxe

The Chuggington Championship Deluxe is accused of raising hopes, dashing dreams and generally being a not very good toy. It is hereby sentenced to--

Defence: Hang on a minute, we haven't had the trial part yet! Chuggington Champ... Can we just call it CCD? The full name is a bit of a moutful.

Prosecution: Agreed. It'd be impossible to fit the full title on a letter to Santa. Yet another crime it is guilty of!

D: Well, if we're going to get that petty...

P: Hey, I was perfectly happy to sit back and skip straight to the sentencing. If you're going to insist I do work... Look, I don't need to 'get that petty' to ensure this toy remains on the shop shelves of Toys R Us and not in the trolleys of the good hard-working people of this land. CCD's crimes are numerous and severe. Is it really necessary to highlight them all?

D: That would generally be what trials are for. That way the defendant gets a chance to, you know, defend himself.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Lightning McQueen Feature Plush

£24.99 from Toys R Us.

Lightning McQueen Feature Plush Review Crossword!

7. The manufacturer of this toy.
10. Noises are activated when you place a ____ key on Lightning McQueen.
11. The length of the car in cm (6,4).
14. Lightning is recommended for ages ___ and up.
15. One of the directors of Cars 2 (4, 8).
16. Lightning has a 'walking' action, which it does very, very ___
17. Lightning McQueen's catchphrase in the film and said by the toy!

1. The sound is extremely ___
2. Batteries are ___ !
3. The number of AA batteries Lightning takes.
4. Lightning has problems walking on this.
5. One of the production companies that made Cars 2.
6. Lightning's nickname in the films.
8. The other director of Cars 2 (4,5).
9. The voice of Lightning in the film, and probably the toy, but it's a bit hard to tell for sure (4,6).
12. The fictional make of tyres Lightning uses.
13. The other production company that made Cars 2.
15. The month Cars 2 was released in cinemas in the UK.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Review: Memorabilia, Nov 2011

For those not in the know, Memorabilia is 'the ultimate movie, comic and sports show'. Since this will mean absolutely nothing to most people, I shall explain further. A big hall at the NEC is filled with famous people signing autographs and a bunch of stalls selling various 'collector' things. The 'collector' bit varies from vintage toys (usually action figures and related), trading cards, comics, posters... In recent years, in order to reinvigorate what was a dying show, there has been added a few 'extras' such as live wrestling matches and Robot Wars fights.

There is a rule regarding Memorabilia, which we (ie those people who I first started going with over ten years ago) soon discovered: no matter how much money you take, you will always spend it all. There have been some really crappy Memorabilias in recent times, the show having been hit hard by the rise of ebay and internet shopping, but the rule has always held true.

Apparently these people are from Doc Martin. I only really know the
couple who have been in that other series about a GP.

I could go on about the history of Memorabilia, tell you how I once gave Brian Blessed a haircut there, but really this post is to show you some of the stuff I bought, then got home and wondered where the hell I was going to keep it.

As always, as soon as I got there I get a quick initial sweep (yes, it is a bit like a military operation) to see what stalls were where, who was selling what, and taking note of their prices. No purchasing at this stage unless there is a complete bargain.

Second pass, and I thought I was going home with nothing. I didn't really see anything that caught my attention. A bit annoying when you've paid £15 to get in.

Third pass and I start paying more attention to the stuff displayed under tables, or hidden beneath other things. Now things start to get interesting and I finally spot something I'd quite like. And once the first purchase is made...

Review: Hexbug Nano Habitat Set

Let me start by saying that MacGyver isn't a show made up by the writers of The Simpsons. Despite what my uncle (and probably loads of other people) thinks they didn't just make up something to be Patty and Selma's favourite TV show. Richard Dean Anderson is a real person, not a fictional character created for the Bouvier sisters to kidnap.

Not convinced? I have 4 pieces of evidence for this.

1. There's an entry on wikipedia for it. Since wikipedia is the source of all knowledge in the universe, it's a reasonable assumption that whatever's there is indeed true. Okay, so occasionally there's a mistake on wikipedia, which is why I am providing further evidence...

2. The opening titles are on youtube:

'That could have been made by anyone!' you cry, but there's more...

3. The complete Macgyver DVD boxset sits on my shelf. Actually, it doesn't sit on my shelf, it sits on the shelf with all the children's DVDs because my shelf(/shelves) are packed full and there's no where else for it to go.

4. I have a vague memory of watching it in my childhood. The memory is of an episode where someone gets eaten alive by killer ants. A bit like what happens in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, but with less CGI.

With Hexbug Nanos you can recreate this scene in MacGyver! I've since learned (thanks to my boxset) that the scene in question was in an episode called 'Trumbo's World' and the person who was eaten was Peter Jurasik, who later went on to play Londo in Babylon 5 (and some other stuff, but according to the Word of Me, that's his most famous role).

Monday, 21 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Moshi Monsters Mosh N Chat

£21.99 from Toys R Us.

For the past 6 boxes (aka '6 months' - we toyologists measure time in boxes), James Spence has been doing his reviews in the form of comics. For the final box, and my continuing series of 'experimental' format reviews, I thought I'd have a go too. The toy in question: the caramel-coloured Moshi Monster Katsuma!

I have just read on the Toys R Us product page that there's a manufacturer warning about this: 'Warning. Contains fragrances that may cause allergies', which is strange since Katsuma doesn't appear to be in any way fragrant.

If your child loves Moshi Monsters, or just slightly evil-looking toys (I notice he's been made a lot more evil-looking since the photos were taken for the box - check out the difference between the one I took for the comic & those on the TRU page), then this would be a great buy.

Other Toyology reviews can by found in the Toys R Us Toy Box on Facebook.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Playmobil Agents Car

£17.99 from Toys R Us

Choose Your Own Review

Reviews usually flow logically from A to B, but sometimes it's fun to shake things up a little. What if the reader controlled where the review went? What if instead of going from A to B, it went from A to H via G S D and M? Welcome to Choose Your Own Review: Playmobil Agents Car. Read it once, read it twice, read it many times to get the full review!

Hopefully I've got everything set correctly and a wonderful adventure awaits you. If not then, um, this isn't entirely expected and you'll have to try and make the best of it!


You are the newest recruit to the Top Agents, an organisation determined to bring down the sinister Robo Gangsters and their nefarious schemes.

In their latest sinister plot the Gangsters have been hard at work in their secret laboratories, creating an army of robots to TAKE OVER THE WORLD! It’s your mission to locate the factory and destroy the robots. If you could bring down the whole Gangster organisation too, that’d be great, though we would lack a plot were there ever to be a sequel.

Agent codename M.U.M., your superior and head of the Top Agents, has offered you a choice between two modes of transport for the mission.  Which do you choose?

18 – Panthor

Other Toyology reviews can by found in the Toys R Us Toy Box on Facebook. I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to stick this review in there! 

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Review: Star Trek Monopoly

There can be only one.


Yes, once upon a time there was only one version of Monopoly, the game which...well, pretty much everyone has played at some point in their lives. Be it a rainy day, a Thursday afternoon at school, or family gathering [spoilers!]

The game was created in America, then very quickly (before the game went into production in the US) brought to the UK in 1935, where the 'outside the USA' license was bought and the locations changed to those of British streets.

Roll on a few years and some genius decided that it'd be a good idea to start selling more versions of Monopoly. When you sat down and thought about it, there are loads of other things that can be adapted to fit a Monopoly board. The problem with a lot (actually, all) of them is that the designers didn't change the game board much at all. The picture in the middle of the board changed, sure, but the bit where the game pieces went round looked almost identical. The corner pieces were exactly the same and ruined the whole experience.

My home-made Monopoly board looked a bit like this.
I thought of one in the mid-90s. It wasn't licensed, obviously, but it was pretty darn cool. It was based on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The board was a circle (predicting what would actually happen many years later in the official 'Monopoly Revolution'), based on the space station in the TV show. Instead of buying streets you bought up bits of the stations - the infirmary, docking pylons, holding cells, etc.  The most expensive bits were Quark's bar & the Ops (or was it Ops & Sisko's office? It's been quite a while since I made it).

Monopoly Revolution. Again very similar-looking to my board.

Mine looked a 1,000 times better than any of the 'official' versions out there because I'd altered the board and pieces to make it into a game of Monopoly set in the Star Trek universe, instead of a game of Monopoly with a couple of Star Trek pictures.

At around the same time, Star Trek was popular. Hard as it is to believe, but around the 30th Anniversary (1996) Trek was in a golden age. Next Gen was finishing, DS9 three quarters of the way through its run, Voyager just beginning...

So of course someone else thought Trek would be a good idea for a Monopoly version too. Someone who had the ability to get it manufactured and into the shops.

News: 20% off at ELC & Mothercare until midnight

The Christmas (shopping) season is definitely here (if you believe the shops) and so there's almost a new offer every day from someone trying to sell you their toys. There's currently 20% off all toys online at Mothercare & ELC. Haven't looked to see if there are any particular bargains there to take note of, but worth a look if you're after something.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

News: ThunderCats 6"

Bandai have announced that the next two figures in their modern 6" ThunderCats line are to be Tygra & Cheetara. This is nice, but no where near as interesting as the announcement of their new 6" Classics line. We already knew the previous 8" line was dead after only the first two figures (which have yet to be released in Britain - will they ever be now?) due to complaints from collectors that they were two large. In an interview with MTV Geek, Bandai have released pictures of the new Lion-O and Mumm-Ra figures.

Two questions: where are Mumm-Ra's cape and sword? And who on Third Earth decided that having a 'roaring' face on Lion-O was a good idea?

Full news & more images at MTV Geek

News: MattyCollector November items on sale today

The list includes Swiftwind & Snout Spout from the Masters of the Universe Classics line and a host of DC figures. Also included is Bubble Power She-Ra (aka She-Ra 2.0) which is not included in the 2011 MOTUC subscription and is the only version of She-Ra that will sit on Swiftwind. Expect the White Screen of Death to be present as everyone attempts to get this figure!

The items go on sale today at 5pm GMT.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Review: Blobimals

Currently on offer at £4.99 at Find Me a Gift.

Sunday mornings were peaceful in my house in the mid 90s. I used to use the time to do my homework. This was a great time of the week to do homework due in on Monday morning as the library was shut and the internet hadn't been invented yet*.

*may not be quite true.

But enough of my creative Fact Invention. Why was the house peaceful, you ask? Because my sister was busy beating people up at her karate lesson. As well as Peace For Homework, her absence meant I had free reign of the TV. This may possibly have taken priority over homework.

Anyway, it was during these Sunday mornings that I was introduced to two all-time classic TV shows: Rugrats and Bump in the Night. The first, I suspect everyone knows about, the other, however, is more of a cult classic. A bit like The Evil Dead...but less scary, or Pi but, it's pretty much as crazy as Pi. A different type of crazy, but equally mad.

Its insanity is key to its brilliance.

It's about the adventures of Mr Bumpy, a 'wild green guy' who lives under the bed eating socks; his best friend Squishington, the toilet monster; and Molly, a ragged comfort doll. They run around the house having wild adventures, escaping the clutches of the Closet Monster and Destructo the robot. The best bits were always the Karaoke Cafe sections, where one of the gang grabbed a mic and burst into song...

Take my love of Bump in the Night, my childhood enjoyment of making blu-tac models, my lifelong enjoyment of fiddling with stuff with I'm doing something else (watching TV, sat thinking while at work, ...) and combine it with an offer from Find Me A Gift to send something for us to test and...

Blobimals are possibly the best thing I have ever received in the post. It's essentially a pot of something very similar to Silly Putty, with added feet/eyes/tails. The idea is you sit and make a monster. Then you make another. And another. And another.


Sunday, 13 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Chou Chou Magic Pacifier

£44.99 from Toys R Us

Granted, they're not aimed at me but I've always wondered about dolls.  Specifically, how many does one child need?  One, I understand.  Little girl wants to play 'mummy' (yes, I'm generalising with the genders, forgive me!), put baby in pushchair, take her for a walk etc etc.

But does a little girl want 2 dolls?  Gets harder to transport then.  What about 3?  You're a bit stuffed then, right?  Normally by the time an adult has 3 children the first is one is big enough to do a bunch of stuff (like walking) by himself (okay, on rare occasions there are triplets etc).

But, like dads, dolls never grow up.

What I'm getting at is if you're going to only have one you need to make make sure it's a good one.

Do you go for a straight-forward static doll? Or something that takes a handful of AAs and does something? And then does what in particular? None of them can do everything, after all a doll is a model of a baby, not a real one. As George Box said, 'all models are wrong, but some are useful.'

Chou Chou does perform a baby function. Bizarrely, it's actually an improvement on real babies; an evolutionary jump. It hasn't sprouted wings, or able to fire optic blasts from its eyes but it does something every parent desires more than anything. More, even, than getting a good night's sleep. This baby tells you what's wrong when it cries.

More than once in my parenting career I've been faced with a screaming baby and no idea what's wrong with it. Hungry? No, just been fed.  Nappy? Clean. Wind?  Nope.  Then what?  What's wrong, Baby?  It's 3am and you've woken me and won't stop screaming and I'm tired and irritable and... WHY WON'T YOU TELL ME???!!!!!!

And breathe.

Chou Chou comes with a dummy (definitely not a pacifier, despite what the box says), a Magic Dummy, for indeed only magic could reveal the inner workings of a child's mind! Place the dummy in Chou Chou's mouth and her desire is revealed!

Friday, 11 November 2011

News: 3 for 2 at TRU

They say an image is worth a 1000 words, and I think that's more than enough to describe this piece of news.

News: Star Wars 2012 figures have a whole host of pictures of the latest Star Wars figures, due for release early next year. The packaging very clearly inspired by the 3D release of A Phantom Menace.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Review: Robot Heroes

I'm going to cover Kreons in a few days, but before I do I thought I'd look at the previous Clone line which featured Transformers: Robot Heroes.

Robot Heroes was a line of cute 'kid-friendly' PVC Transformers, featuring robots from all eras of the franchise. G1, Beast Wars, Bayformers - all were present here. They didn't transform and articulation (which varied by robot) was generally limited to shoulders and head.

Their main selling point was that they were cute and you could stuff a load of them in your pocket.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Handz-On Creativity Table

Available in store at Toys R Us.

Before Mister Maker there was Neil Bucannon. Before Neil there was Tony Hart. My old art teacher once said that she didn't agree with some of the things Tony put in his shows, but she did think he was one of the greatest ambassadors for art in the country. In his time Tony Hart must have encouraged thousands and thousands of kids to pick up a pencil and draw something, so I guess my teacher was right (for once).

It was a tragedy that two strokes left him with the inability to draw. In a weird way, I was kind of happy when he died, as he no longer had to suffer being deprived of his greatest love.

Which is all a little depressing, so we'll move swiftly on to the table review.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Toyologist Review: Leapfrog Learning Table

£34.99 from Toys R Us.

For the purpose of this review (for reasons that will become clear shortly) I attempted to think up the most famous Frenchperson I could.

Obviously, this was Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise.

Now I know he doesn't sound very French, but this is probably because he's spent a lot of time warping about the galaxy, having his body upgraded and asked about room illumination.

I'm almost certain that for when he was a young Picard, his parents, Maurice and Yvette, almost certainly bought him something along the lines of the Leapfrog Learning Table. Why? Well, every Starfleet captain needs to begin his learning somewhere and it will certainly help to know both your native French language and also - since Starfleet Academy is in San Francisco - English.

News: 10% off toys at's deal of the day is 10% off all toys with the code TOYS10OFF.

My bargain pick is the Doctor Who Junk Tardis, which you can pick up for £8.09 using the code. I know it's not the most exciting toy in the world, but it does give your Idris figure somewhere to stand.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

News: £500 trolley dash at TRU to be won!

My name is Damian and I like the new Toys R Us advert. Yes, I think I like it even more than the old one. I will admit that the repetition of 'kid, kid, kid, kid' at the beginning is a bit annoying, but otherwise I think it's great.

To celebrate its arrival, Toys R Us are holding a competition to win a £500 trolley dash. To enter all you have to do is post a video of the children and/or you singing and/or dancing to the new song on their Facebook page. 'But my filming skills are non-existent!' you cry. Well, that doesn't matter. The idea is to have a bit of fun, not win an Oscar for Best Director. The winner will be chosen at random from all the entries.

What's even better is that so far there has only been a single entrant. This means if you entered now you'd have a 50-50 chance of winning!

Hang on, if you do enter then you'll be making my upcoming entry slightly less likely to win.


Yeah, don't enter. Don't go here and read all the detailsDon't download the mp3. Don't get your mobile and film your kids for 30 seconds singing & dancing (or sitting staring at the camera, like my 2yo). Don't post it on Facebook. Don't make my entry less likely to win!

News: 20% off at TRU

Until Thursday, there's 20% off a number of brands at Toys R Us if you use this voucher.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Toyologist Review: Secret Agent Torpedo diver

As we learned from previous sets (here and here), there's always a 'gadget' in the Playmobil Agent sets. So, what is it with this one? Well, it'll be the little big propeller at the back of the boat-thing which spins and powers the boat-thing along in water.

News: Ghostbusters sale ends today!

The Matty Collector Ghostbusters Halloween Sale (aka 'end of line clearance sale') ends today. Buy now for what is probably your last chance to get hold of these figures before they're gone for good.

Update: Ghostbusters are now 60% off!

Is this the end of the line? Undoubtedly. I'm extremely doubtful there'll be anything released now in 2012.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Toyologist Review: Snazaroo Face Painting Sticks

Marmite. Jedward. Let's Rock Elmo.

There are no in-between opinions on any of these. You either love them or hate them with a fiery vengeance. There's another thing that can be added to the list: face painting.

Some kids love face painting. They form large queues at fairs to be transformed into tigers or butterflies. Others, however, run in fear when someone approaches them with a paintbrush in a way someone might from a man wearing a William Shatner mask.

My children, well, they never like to make my life easy and thus have decided that face-painting is one step above 'having hair washed' on the Hate Scale. This made reviewing these face painting sticks potentially a little difficult.

Maybe it's my fault. Maybe I shouldn't have scribbled a little Tony Stark goatee on my youngest son's face when he was tiny. How was I supposed to know permanent ink would be so difficult to remove?

So, in the end, it was down to me and me alone to test. Applying paint to my own face in front of a mirror proved a little problematic, but the results...  Well, they weren't too bad.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Toyologist Review: Follow Me Thomas

Currently £39.99 from Toys R Us

"What can be dreamed can be achieved," Scully once said on the X-Files. I think (it's been a while since I saw it) she was referring to the moon landings, but it applies equally to the imaginations of toy designers.

There's nothing more annoying (apart from those things that are) about a toy being advertised as doing something clever and then, when you get it home from the shop - or even worse, unwrap it on Christmas day - only to discover that it's not all it seemed to be on the advert. At least on a regular day there's the option of taking it straight back to the shop, but on Christmas day? When you've pinned all your hopes on it entertaining you through to at least Boxing day? You're stuffed.

Thankfully, there are times when this isn't the case. When a toy claims to do something clever and, well, it does.

So which category does Follow Me Thomas fall into? Success or failure? Was Granddad awestruck as he watched the demonstration or not?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

News: Sainsburys 1/2 Price Toy Sale

From tomorrow morning (/midnight for 24 hr stores) Sainsburys will once again be selling all toys at half price.

Expect CHAOS as 000s of slightly greedy people cram their trolleys with anything they can get their hands on. How much will end up in Christmas stockings and how much sold on ebay for a profit? I really wouldn't like to say.

News: The full length TRU advert for 2011

In response, I assume to the 'uproar' by (crazy) people on the Facebook page, TRU have unveiled the full-length Christmas advert on FB.

I know there are a couple of hundred people on Facebook who might lynch me for this (compared to the 30,000 other people in the FB group who don't seem to care either way), but I kind of like it. The visuals are a vast improvement (time had taken its toll on the old cartoon), despite what people are claiming Geoffrey is definitely still in the ad, and neither new nor old song is really very Christmassy.

The real question is, is there anyone who's really bothered about the change? Since these days commercial breaks between shows are easily skipable, how many people are actually going to watch it? Kids, maybe? Well, I think they're all going to fall 100% in favour of the new ad.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

News: ThunderCats toys online

A quick random browse on the Internet has revealed that the toys for the new ThunderCats toys are online (if out of stock) at The Entertainer. Not officially released in the UK until December (and Bandai have gone to great lengths to ensure importing them from the USA is near-impossible), it's the first indication (as far as I know) of what a large toy shop will be stocking in the line and what the prices are going to be.

Most interesting is that the two 'classics' figures (Lion-O and Tygra) are listed, despite the rumours that this particular series has been cancelled in favour of making them in a smaller scale.

If the TV series is as popular as the press releases make out, expect much panic-buying just before Christmas (who on earth thought is sensible to release them that late in the year?)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Review: Power & Honor Foundation Catalog Vol. 1

I had an absolute blast growing up in the 80s. As anyone who's ever seen my house (or seen some of the photos on this blog, for that matter) will know, I have desperately tried to cling on to these days by collecting as much of it as possible in the form of small plastic figures.

ThunderCats, Transformers, Centurions, Visionaries - the list goes on and on. I loved every single one of these toylines and the universes the characters lived in. And it wasn't because they all had cartoons (aka 'half hour adverts') - despite what adults may think, children aren't stupid and want anything they see on TV. A lot of work went into some of those shows, but that's a story for another time.

The one that kicked off this toy/cartoon revolution was Masters of the Universe, created as a competitor to the Star Wars toy line. It wasn't the cartoon or even the comics that attracted me. It wasn't even the amazing artwork that adorned the toy boxes. What I really liked best were the figures themselves - just like the boys in the child focus group who attempted to steal the prototypes. As a child, I simply thought they looked fantastic.

When the 200x (as it is referred to due to its non-exact year of arrival) Masters of the Universe line arrived, I started lurking on the forums. It was from there that I began to learn the rich history of the toyline. The dispute over who exactly created created He-Man. The early mini-comic stories I'd completely forgotten about due to them being hugely overshadowed by the Filmation cartoon. When the Classics line began, characters such as Gygor appeared, who'd been designed for the 80s line but never gotten past the prototype stage.

And now a load of this information has been put into a book - The Power and Honor Foundation Catalog Vol. 1

Saturday, 22 October 2011

News: Shock! Horror! TRU changes their ads!

There's currently uproar on the TRU Facebook page. Why? Because Toys R Us have dared to change their Christmas advert from the usual 'magical place, we're on our way there...' to something new!

Lots of people are complaining that it's not as good as the old one (fair enough). Lots of people are complaining that their 8 month old children are upset about it (what the?!).

It's all great publicity for TRU. Lots of people are talking about it and, if/when the 'classic' advert returns, it's another great burst of publicity for them.

Toyologist Review: Batcave

Boots are big at the moment. Wellingtons, UGGs, Waders, and Reboots.

No, not the fantastic 90s animated series, but taking a franchise and starting it over fresh.

Bond's had a go. Star Trek sort of did it...while also not (it's technically still in continuity with the previous things). Spider-Man. Planet of the Apes. Superman...

It all began (more or less) with Batman Begins, which (almost) made up for the travesty that was Batman & Robin.


And last month the entire DC Comics universe has rebooted.

(Batman is part of the DC universe, for you poor non-comic fans out there).

While I read a lot of comics ('how much did you spent on comics this week, Mr Johnson?!' 'Um, not too much, Mrs Johnson. Quick, must hide the receipt...'), I don't read a lot of DC ones. Obviously I've read all of Sandman and (most of) Preacher, but they're probably not a great basis for a child's toyline (but then there was an Aliens line). Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run was a favourite, but that's the closest I've gotten to mainstream DC Universe.

The idea of rebooting is to refresh something old and bring in a new audience(/readers). DC's reboot has kinda worked, as I'm now buying Swamp Thing and Animal Man.

And so we come, via a semi-relevant route, to the rebooted Batcave.


Okay, so it's not a 'reboot' in the technical sense, it's simply a new version of the Imaginex Batcave.

Friday, 21 October 2011

News: Free Kreon in Doctor Who Adventures #240

Quick heads up that there's a free little Transformers Kreon figure (aka 'Transformers Lego man') in this week's issue of Doctor Who Adventures, #240 (released yesterday). It's Optimus Prime with his chest open (just a picture, not really open) showing the matrix 'inside' him. It's been given away as a promo figure at various places in the US and is not available in any of the Kre-O sets in shops.