Category Archives: Toys & Action Figures

Sorry Kids, but my Voltron Would Own Your Megazord

By Nick Saunders
2/10/14

Being the crusty old man that I am, I would be remiss if I didn’t once in a while spend time touting the superiority of the toys I grew up with as opposed to the contemporary ones owned by my son. Today I have come to bash the Power Rangers with the assistance of my close personal friend, Voltron.

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While by no means a universal truth, most things were better back in the 1980’s. Sure, this is a biased assumption at best, and grossly inaccurate at worst, but I’m running with it regardless. By the way, I am jamming to the soothing sounds of Master P and his posse of “No Limit Soldiers” as I write this, so my tastes are notably and admittedly suspect.

So, two weeks ago I was out at Target with my son looking for a way to further spoil him and blow through some disposable income. I decided the best way to accomplish this goal would to be to buy a hollowed-out shell of a robot called a Megazord. To be specific, I bought him the Legendary Megazord from the Power Rangers Super Megaforce line.

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This current MMPR (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) Megazord clearly took its stylistic cues from Johnny Depp, as it reeks of scurvy-infected, swashbuckling piracy. This is driven home by the skull and crossbones symbols on each vehicle (which besides the primary red one, all have absolutely nothing to do with sailing the Seven Seas or pirate hookers whatsoever). Each vehicle/limb is hollow with a depressingly simple transformation, but I will say they securely connect to the torso and the robot is cool looking, if a tad brickish. I tried to get some decent shots of the vehicles, but between their Steven Seagal level of suckage and lighting issues I abandoned these efforts. You ain’t missing much.

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The closest thing I have to compare to this toy is my 1997 Trendmasters Voltron, which is a die-cast reproduction of the Matchbox Voltron III released in the 1980’s. For those who don’t own this toy, it is HEAVY.  Also just for the record, nowadays I prefer plastic toys because companies struggle to make joints strong enough to support the added weight of die-cast components- MP-01 Masterpiece Optimus Prime, I’m looking right at you and your heavy-ass legs.

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Die-cast metal versus plastic issues aside, there is a definite deterioriation of workmanship here. On Voltron, each limb transforms into an individual lion, with pop-out action features and ejecting heads for the Green and Red lions. On the Legendary Megazord, the limbs turn into non-descript vehicles that quite frankly reek of ineptitude and fail. They are also glaringly devoid of articulation when combined into the robot, whereas Voltron features fairly advanced articulation for his era.

Now, this MMPR toy was about $35, and while my Voltron was $30 back in 1997 it would probably retail for at least $100 if re-issued again today- $50 if done entirely in plastic. While I am  aware of this disparity, it doesn’t change the fact that if given the chance my Voltron would gladly use his Blazing Sword to bisect this mockery of a kaiju-fighter faster than dispatching the lowliest of Robeasts. Since the Megazord doesn’t have knee joints of any sort, he wouldn’t be able to do a dang thang about it.

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Now, I will leave you to ponder this while I resume grooving to “Bourbons and Laces”. Unnggggggghhh!!!!

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My Time with Azog and the Ghastly Crotch of Doom

Not particularly being a fan of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, I was concerned about my capacity for objectivity when my editor at The Comixverse asked me to review The Bridge Direct‘s 6″ Azog figure. Most of my thoughts towards Tolkien’s works can be best summarized by the character Randal in the film Clerks II, so I didn’t approach this task with my usual enthusiastic, ride-or-die zeal. Two months of procrastination later, I crawled out of my cave and gave it a whirl.

It turns out thatvAzog is a pretty sweet figure that I was able to take some great photos of, all while developing appreciation for a collectible outside my typical purveyance of transforming robots and superpowered spandex jockeys. His spooky loincloth had me at hello, without having to mimic Renée Zellweger’s perpetual bitter beer face or shoplift the pooty to get the message across.

So, whaddya waiting for?! Go on and check it out here and feel free to share your thoughts.

A final warning to the weak of heart: beware of the phantasms emanating from Azog’s pelvis, lest they devour your mind and steal your soul.

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figureBOMB Update: Predators, Pacific Rim, and NYCC!

Hey Everybody!

Sorry for the relative quiet over the last few weeks, I have been quite the busy bee over at The Comixverse.

Since I last posted, NYCC has come and gone, I received my promotional samples from NECA, and I surpassed 200 followers on Instagram (click here to check out my feed)! I have really been focusing on improving my photography skills, and am really happy with the improvements I have made. Now I can actually use my own photos for reviews, and not have them look like they were taken with my VGA cellphone camera back in 2002.

So head to The Comixverse to check out my recent work, and as always thanks for stopping by. Just don’t ask to borrow any of my toys.

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Transformers: Age of Extinction Optimus Prime severely underwhelmed me at NYCC

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IDW announced an ongoing Transformers/G.I. Joe series at NYCC. Heck yeah!

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Gipsy Danger, while battle-weary, still managed to impress this OCD reviewer.

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The Nightstorm Predator looks like some sort of nightmarish Egyptian god, which is just fine by me.

Transformers: Generations Metroplex Review up at The Comixverse!

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After many long nights of writing, editing, photography, conflict, and sacrifice, my long overdue purchase and review of Transformers: Generations Metroplex is finally in the bag! My epic journey that started at BotCon 2013, and ended two weeks ago at my local Toys R Us, is chronicled in full detail for your literary enjoyment. Hit the jump below to head to The Comixverse and see what I think of this super-sized, Decepticon-smashing, hardcore mofracken!

Honey, I Shrunk the Transformers (posted at The Comixverse)

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What up loyal readers?! For this week’s edition of Maximum Articulation, I take some time to explore the economic causes behind the ever-decreasing size of Transformers, and the rise in prices for action figures in general.

I take a slightly more academic tone with this week’s subject; hopefully you all will forgive the temporary divergence from my typical debauchery. Hit the jump over to The Comixverse and check it out!

Hold That Pose: Hasbro and the Attack of the Stick Men (posted at The Comixverse)

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I’ve posted my introductory article up on The Comixverse for my new column, Maximum Articulation. I explore the recend trend of Hasbro towards decreased articulation in their actuon figures, with the paleolithic tact you’ve come to expect from my writing.

Hit the jump to check it out!

Maximum Articulation | Hold That Pose: Hasbro and the Attack of the Stick Men

Dear Mattel: Your New DC Figures are Super Ugly

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By Nick Saunders
9/12/13

I still can distinctly recall my glee while reading Toyfare Issue 68 back in 2003, and discovering that Mattel had chosen to leverage the DC license into a line of 6-inch figures to compete with (or in my eyes, complement) Toy Biz’s (now Hasbro’s) Marvel Legends line. I had been an avid collector of Marvel Legends since its inception, and had been dying for a comparable line to be released for DC. Sure, there were DC Direct (now DC Collectibles) figures available of many characters, but their wonky 6.75” scale, minimal articulation, and cherubic, china-doll paintjobs made them stick out like lepers on my otherwise immaculate (and disease-free) shelf of awesomeness.

Then came Mattel’s Batman line in 2003. Recently off their stint with the Masters of the Universe 200X line, the Four Horsemen came in ready to take names and chew bubblegum. This line, while a vast improvement over any major release Batman series to date, still had a way to go in competing with Toy Biz’s quality, articulation and detail.

This soon gave way to Mattel expanding the line into DC Super Heroes in 2005, which is where they truly began to shine. They debuted their S3 sculpt that remained the base template for this line into the following decade. Some of my favorite figures and molds came from this series, including S3 Batman, S3 Superman, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, and Mongul, amongst others.

The branding eventually shifted to DC Universe Classics in 2007, and 20 assortments of figures were released until the line ended at the end of 2012. Some great, some obscure, and some downright awful characters were given life, but the quality was always there, both in sculpt and in manufacture.

For 2013, the line has been re-branded once again as DC Unlimited. Some figures are re-paints of prior DCUC or DCSH figures. However others, namely the abominations being targeted in this article, are all-new molds. The primary catalyst for this catastrophic decline in aesthetic appeal is the cross-marketing with the Injustice: Gods Among Us game produced by Netherrealm Studios. I can barely put into words how abhorrent the figures based on this game look. Batman and Superman in particular are hideous, and nothing that even a paper bag could remedy. This type of cosmetic monstrosity couldn’t even be fixed on The Swan.

Even the New 52 sculpts weren’t immune to this rampant design travesty-in-progress. Please see New 52 Darkseid, aka one ugly duck. I think half of the plastic used on this figure went to the head and shoulders. Especially when compared with the amazingly-crafted DCSH S3 Darkseid, this new figure is nothing but a wet, laughable flatulation after a hearty meal of franks ‘n’ beans.

In case I haven’t quite made my point clear, I am saddened and disappointed that one of my favorite toy lines has deteriorated so badly. I truly do wish that the quality of designs reverts back to previous levels, because at this point I think I would rather display My Little Pony on my toyshelf than a DC Unlimited figure.

figureBOMB Review: Transformers Constructbots Triple-Changer Blitzwing

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By Nick Saunders
9/2/13

Figure: Blitzwing

Line: Transformers

Sub-Line: Construct-Bots

Manufacturer: Hasbro

Size Class: Triple-Changer

MSRP: $24.99 (U.S.)

Availability: General

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Okay, anyone who has been following my Instagram and Facebook feeds will know that I am completely hooked on Hasbro’s new sub-line, Construct-Bots. These buildable figures were released to mass retail in mid July, and feature many classic Transformers characters.

While I have already purchased almost all of the first wave figures, I enjoyed Blitzwing so much I chose to focus on him for my feature.

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Like all figures from the Construct-Bots line, Blitzwing features the standard “skeleton” frame which makes him compatible and interchangeable with all other sets. Being a Triple-Changer class figure, he comes with a ton of accessories and parts, allowing him to convert to a robot, jet, or tank. Unlike the Transformers Kre-O line, covered previously here, Construct-Bots are fully transformable and do not need to be broken down and reassembled to change modes.

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Robot Mode:

With all of the accessories packed with this figure, Blitzwing is armed to the teeth. He comes with two small gatling guns, a blaster rifle, as well as a tank turret and additional blaster with launching missiles. All he needs is a survival knife, some rope, and a friend nicknamed “F-A” to be a full-fledged Boondock Saint.

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I am somewhat disappointed that he has the same chest mold as Soundwave, and would have preferred they found a way to make it feature more of a cockpit-type appearance like his Generation 1 namesake. I also wasn’t thrilled at first to see he had a re-colored Ironhide head, but it looks great up close. Plus they remolded the face to give him a nasty Tony Montana sneer that just screams, “I kill a communist for fun.” Overall it is menacing and easy to customize to your liking.

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Jet Mode:

I found it a bit irritating that the instructions do not show a method to transform Blitzwing into his vehicle modes in a way that would allow you to use all of the included parts. That being said, I was able to accomplish this by applying ingenuity that can only be honed from years of playing with children’s toys.

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The Jet mode is the better of the two, which makes sense since most of the parts included were designed for this purpose. It is most definitely Top Gun caliber hardware. As I made the conversion and began snapping my photos, I could hear the sweet sounds of Kenny Loggins playing in my head, along with visages of a semi nude Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise vying for volleyball supremacy.

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Tank Mode:

I use the word “tank” loosely here, as it is a bit of a stretch. “Jet-like car with tank-like turret” is a more appropriate name for this mode, but much too wordy to be included on the packaging. I was able to get a decent ground vehicle configured, but once again it strays from the instructions because I wanted to utilize all the parts. Kind of like how hunters try to use all parts of an animal carcass, but without all the unsavory blood and puking.

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While not the best representation of a tank in this mode, it still is an excellent vehicle form, with enough protruding blades and firepower to satisfy even the bloodthirstiest Road Warrior.

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Overall I’m really digging this figure, but have one final criticism: the price. The difference in included accesories doesn’t justify a $10 price hike from the Elite class figures ($14.99 price point). Despite this, if you can get over the premium price this figure is a solid purchase and will look great on any shelf- B+.

Can’t Knock the Hustle: Impressions from my first dealer’s event

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By Nick Saunders
8/26/13

This past Saturday I hosted my first dealer table at AZ Collectors Marketplace. I was extremely happy with how things went; I sold some merch and got to spend the day socializing with some great local collectors and sellers. If you could see me right now, you’d probably be clowning because I’m glowing like a pregnant Arnold Schwarzenegger in Junior.

While everyone at the event was kind, welcoming, and supportive, I definitely observed a vendor hierarchy right off the bat. The veteran sellers took the opportunity during set-up time to check out the new tables and do some picking before the general public came in. Many of the newer folks (myself included) are selling out of their personal collections and willing to sell below market rate to move product. The veteran guys know this and use it as a mutually beneficial opportunity to help new guys sell and to replenish their own stock. I actually had Grey from G.I. Joe vs. Transformers stop by while I was setting up shop to buy up a few of my items, so I had my vendor fees covered before the doors even opened up. The straight ballin’ had commenced.

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I met some cool guys at the show and got to talk shop about this awesome hobby of ours, and share tips on customizing, repairs, photography, etc. I don’t really have any friends who collect besides my brother and my cousin, so it was a new and enjoyable experience to interact with other fellow collectors somewhere besides an online forum. Also, it was all friendly banter without the passive-aggressive, flame-ridden, troll-like aftertaste I often observe online.

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Although a lot of work both in preparation and execution, I really enjoyed myself. It didn’t feel like a day at the office, which was a fear I had when first contemplating getting back into selling. I was even able to nab a couple of sweet items for myself, which was a nice reward for my efforts.

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While a small first step in my pursuit of eventually owning my own storefront, it was a huge milestone of the progress I’ve made in a relatively short timeframe. I’m already making plans for my next table scheduled for 9/7, and will continue to get my hustle on to the absolute fullest.

Until next time folks!

The Great He-Man Rehab

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By Nick Saunders
8/21/13

Recently, my house has been even more of a throbbing brothel of geekdom than it normally is. I have been working on a pretty major overhaul of my Masters of the Universe collection over the last two weeks. I took all of my vintage He-Man figures out of storage, as well as a couple of fixer-uppers I recently bought at AZ Collectors Marketplace, and got to cleaning and painting the mother-loving heck out of them. I even replaced the broken/worn rubber bands in the legs on some figures using an awesome tutorial I found on YouTube here. MacGuyver doesn’t have squat on the guy that came up with this trick.

All were painted by hand using a combination of Tamiya and Testors Model Master Acrylic paints. It is very important to not use enamel paints on MOTU figures as it will break down the soft plastic and rubber they are made of. I ruined a couple of good figures this way about 10 years ago. The great thing about custom painting MOTU figures is that you can get most figures loose for between 7 and 10 dollars, so there is no guilt about defacing an expensive piece.

First off is Man-E-Faces. I touched up quite a few dings in the blue areas, repainted in a deeper red the “tubing” across his chest and back, and then added some additional accents to bring out some more of the sculpted details. It was a tough blue to match, so I basically repainted entire panels to give him a two-tone look. This schizophrenic thespian SOB is officially back in bidness.

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Next was Moss Man; this one was a nightmare. When I removed him from storage, the glue from the velvet-like “moss” had broken down and turned all gummy and sticky. I ended up removing it entirely using a combo of elbow grease and Goo-Gone, then dry brushed a light green over the body to give it depth. “Dry brushing” is a technique where you use a brush with almost no paint on it to dust a light color over raised details to make them stand out better; it is not something done on a couch with your junior high girlfriend. I then gave him some of the yellow “Beast Man” armor from one of the old school weapon packs to complete the look, which I also lightly dry brushed. While he no longer has his Chronic 2001 sticky-icky-icky epidermis intact, he still came out pretty sweet.

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I then tackled what is probably my favorite MOTU figure- Faker. This blue-skinned evil robot clone of He-Man has seen better days. I repainted his scratched up face, replaced the rubber bands in the legs, and then detailed and did a dark paint wash over the armor. “Washing” is a technique where you slightly thin a darker shade of paint and brush it into details of a sculpt. The opposite of dry brushing, it has the same effect of making details stand out. This is entirely different than the washing I do to mitigate the effects of my ubiquitous and magnificent underarm odor.

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Speaking of odor, I also rehabbed the Stinkor I scored at AZ Collectors Marketplace. While he no longer possesses his signature musky-funk stank that all the girls pine for, he does have some freshly whitened stripes, brightened eyes, repainted boots, and some little colorful details added to his armor.

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You can’t have Hordak without Ho. This being the case, I mixed some off-white paint to repaint his face, and touched up his various bat details and his gloves and boots. I topped it off with an oh-so-epic, Project Runway-worthy, custom felt cape. Heidi Klum, come holler at your boy.

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Amazingly, I was also able to take my trashed MerMan figure and bring it back to life. I dry brushed light green all over the body, paint washed and dry brushed the armor, detailed the face, and added green details to his belt. I even dry brushed some yellow over his loin cloth to step his pimp game up another notch. And so he doesn’t break a hip grinding on mermaids, his legs got new rubber bands too.

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Some other figures that got minor touch-ups are Battle Armor He-Man (hair), Thunder Punch He-Man (hair and boots), Sy-Klone (gloves, arms, boots, belt), He-Man (armor details), and Battlecat (eyes and mouth).

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Once all these figures were completed, they were displayed on newly-mounted wall shelves in my man cave with my MOTU 200X figures. I couldn’t be happier with the end result, although having some of their freaking weapons wouldn’t hurt. Ebay here I come!

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