Monday, 28 April 2014

Toyology Review: BoomCo Twisted Spinner

BoomCo is the new toy gun range from Mattel. What differentiates BoomCo from the others out there are the darts. The BoomCo 'smart dart sticks' aren't sticky (the tips are kind of rubbery), yet they stick to certain surfaces (i.e. the supplied targets) and pretty much nothing else.  Believe me, I've gone round attempting to stick these things to absolutely every surface I can find yet the darts will only stick to the targets.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Review: Doctor Who: The Other Doctor

The 5" Doctor Who action figure line from Character came about more or less by accident. A couple of figures (aka statues) were bundled with some radio control daleks way, way back in 2005. The popularity of these resulted in additional 'proper' figures being released, sticking to the same scale which was about 5" in height. The size really being determined by what size was needed to fit the electronics in the daleks.

That line is now dead. At least in mainstream stores the Doctor Who figures have shrunk to 3 3/4", favoured by companies such as Hasbro. The main reason for this is the spiralling cost of plastic, though I'm sure the hope was that bringing Who into line with Star Wars, Power Rangers etc would help bump sales.

For collectors, however, who've been with the line since the beginning, this is a bit annoying. I can't be the only one with a giant box brimming with 5" and who thinks the new smaller figures look absolutely rubbish. There are occasional 'classic' series releases, featuring characters such as the Brigadier, Ace, old aliens etc, but hopes for getting anything from the latest episodes is nothing more than a dream.

It was a surprise then when the Other/War/John Hurt Doctor was announced. I still can't believe it's been released. As a SDCC exclusive I might have been able to understand, but it's widely (if you can use such a term) released in specialty comic shops Forbidden Planet (both of them).

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Review: Street Fighter II G.I. Joes

I remember the image clearly. I don't know exactly where I saw the advert, but I do remember thinking 'wow, these look terrible'. But despite this, I wanted them, because the thought of having little Street Fighter figures to fiddle with was really exciting.

These figures were based (and essentially sold as) GI Joe figures. As such they have all the characteristics of the original 3 3/4 GI Joe line. The articulation and accessories are extensive (though whether the Street Fighter characters actually need any accessories is open to debate - my suspicion is they were simply bundled with a bunch of existing GI Joe bits and bobs). The figures are able to (more or less) get into (most of) their signature special move positions, though anything with a fireball is obviously out of the question.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Review: Toy Collector Fair, NEC

So today, after much umming and arring, I went to the toy fair being held at the NEC. I've been wanting to go to one of the fairs organised by BP Fairs for some time now, however there's never been a suitable location-time match-up. Until now...

With my interest in Memorabilia waning in recent years (as it has with a lot of people), I was intrigued as to how a pure toy fair would compare. Of most concern was if it'd be purely Dinky cars and Hornby trains. But, hey!, it cost less than Memorabilia so even if it was a complete disaster it wouldn't be too much of a loss.

To a degree, my fears were well founded. Of the 600 stalls (so the advertising claimed) a good proportion were for cars & trains of which I have zero interest. Another large proportion of stalls were for Lego. This was a surprise - I knew people collected Lego but I didn't know it'd gotten quite this big in collector circles.

Finally there were enough 80s-related stalls to maintain my interest. I didn't spend a fortune but I did manage to pick up a few things that I'd been looking for. The only problem really was by the time I was into the swing of Haggling I'd run out of stuff I wanted.

In attendance, doing something Action Man-y was James May. There may (or, more likely, won't) be an extended clip appearing on TV in the near future of me spending 5 minutes attempting to push my way through the crowd.

The big problem with Memorabilia these days is that a lot of the dealers are selling 'modern' stuff. Not that I have anything against modern toys, but I tend to buy those over the internet (for reduced prices) which means that when I arrive at Memorabilia I already own all the stuff I would have been interested in. Gone, for the past few years, has been a decent selection of vintage stuff. Doubtless this has been due to the rise of ebay and unfortunately this is the stuff I'm most likely to pick up from a fair.

The toy fair was 95% vintage toys and I think the buying of older toys at fairs such as this is likely to be on the increase due to two big flaws with ebay -

1. You can see and inspect the things on sale. I think everyone has been disappointed with an item bought from ebay at some point, mostly due to 'good condition' being very open to interpretation.

2. Cost. Ebay fees for sellers are going through the roof. I'm informed that you're now hit with fees on postage costs now, on top of all the existing fees ebay claim. Then as a buyer you're hit with annoying expenses such as p&p which, especially on small items, easily take something from cheap to expensive.

I had a good time today. I'm not sure I'd rush to some of the smaller BP fairs simply because I'm not sure there'd be enough stalls to interest me, but I will make an effort to pop along to the next one at the NEC. Meanwhile I live in hope that 'vintage' returns to Memorabilia shows soon.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Review: NECA Videogame RoboCop

After the success of the Friday 13th NES videogame inspired figure, released as an SDCC exclusive last year, it was inevitable that more would follow. We've had Nightmare on Elm Street, RoboCop has just hit and Predator (and more!) are on the way. It's fortunate that NECA hold the rights to the characters from so many of these games.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Review: MOTUC Quarter 1 2014

For 2014, in an effort to counter rising shipping costs and postal company 'handling' fees, Mattel offered a quarterly shipping option for their Masters of the Universe Classics subscription. The first delivery of which arrived on my doorstep the other week. Since there's been rather a large break in my reviews, a bumper review seems like a good way to kick them off again.

You'll notice there's no pictures of the Unnamed One. This is because I have no idea where I've put him.

Most of the Princess of Power toys released in the 80s bore little to no resemblance to their cartoon counterparts, leaving many a child upset. Finally that has been corrected, with MOTUC Glimmer looking as though she's leapt out of the TV screen.

The major controversy with the figure, like a lot of the POP figures in MOTUC, is a skirt replacing the leotard seen in the cartoon. On Glimmer this really doesn't bother me at all. Whereas the skirt on Adora, for example, looking a bit rubbish, Glimmer looks absolutely fine. In fact, personally, I'd call this figure as being perfect.

I've stated before that I love New Adventures of He-Man. I have fond memories of watching the show on a holiday morning, usually twinned with COPS, while I sat in my bedroom surrounded by half-built Lego creations. I love all the NA characters so, unlike many, I don't dislike the MOTUC versions simply because they're from NA.


That armour does the figure no favours at all. It's far, far too bulky and ruins what otherwise would have been a great update. It's not quite as bad as some have ranted on the 'net, but it is bad.

Hydron comes with his crazy trident weapon thing, which looks weird yet I really like as 'alien' characters ought to have weapons which bear little resemblance to Earth ones. It's made of a very gummy plastic, which isn't so great, and has a holster on his belt where the trident can hang not particularly well.

What's always bothered me about Hydron is why he needs both the mask and the helmet. Surely one negates the need for the other? Or is he paranoid that the helmet will crack? A welcome addition to the toy would have been an unmasked head, especially since he was commonly mask-free in the cartoon. And, annoyingly, the helmet is shaped so that it forces Hydron to look down all the time.

It'd be difficult to choose the best figure in the MOTUC line, however picking the best toy is now incredibly easy. Modulok is an amazing amount of fun. You can (and I have) sat for hours building him in increasingly crazy ways. The ball and socket system works very well and the pieces are very easy to plug together, hold strongly, but are easy to pull apart again. He really is the highlight of this quarter's figures and is going to be very hard to beat as Figure Of The Year in this, or any other, toyline.

The Unnamed One
This is the subscription exclusive figure and supposedly one the fans will really get a kick out of. I think the general opinion is that TUO will get a kick from the fans back to wherever he came from.

TUO is supposed to be The Big Bad; he created the Snakemen and did various other nefarious deeds. And this is the figure Mattel have chosen to represent that character. Hmm...

It's not that it's a bad toy. I like the design, I think it looks good (apart from the bondage head, which is terrible and a complete waste of tooling budget when they are characters - such as Hydron - which are crying out for a second head) and he'd be a welcome addition to the ranks of MOTU bad guys. Just not as TUO. He's not impressive enough, not imposing enough, not evil enough.

I don't know what it is about Mattel with regard to Trollans (the species to which Orko & TUO belong) in MOTUC. They seem to want to make them super powerful. In the cartoon Orko was comic relief, a court jester whose tricks always went wrong. I'm fairly sure it was in the He-Man lore previously that Orko's tricks went wrong because of something to do with this universe and that at home they all worked fine, but now it's a Big Deal, a major story point. Heck, in one of the mini comics that came with an earlier figure, Orko kills all the snakemen! Yes, sweet lovable old Orko commits genocide!

As I mentioned, TUO comes with a second head which makes him look like someone who'd rather be locked away in a pornographic dungeon than taking over the universe. In addition he has a wand (which is perfectly ok) and a magic 'effect' which attaches to his hand. This is a nice accessory and something I wish we'd seen more of with magical characters, however it does make the figure a little unstable due to its bulk.

Overall, it was a pretty good start to 2014 MOTUC. A few design faults to be sure and I'm sure we could have all lived without TUO (was he really that demanded?) but Modulok more than makes up for any mistakes with the other figures. Roll on Q2!