January 27, 2014

An Open Letter to the President of Mattel Toys on the Planned Release of the Final Four DC Infinite Earths Action Figures

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 1:35 am

A more fulsome evaluation of what was DC Universe Classics and DC Club Infinite Earths - good and bad - is forthcoming. In the meantime, it was important to respond to the latest outrage from Scott “Toy Guru” Neitlich promptly and properly, so I offer the following in response.

Mr. President,

I am writing to express my dismay at recent comments posted on facebook by Scott “Toy Guru” Neitlich regarding the DC Infinite Earths collection of action figures.

As you know, Mattel was unable to entice an acceptable number of collectors to renew subscriptions for the 2014 DC Club Infinite Earth. Since then, collectors have been curious as to the final fate of the four figures that were actually advance solicited as part of this aborted line, namely “Hook” Aquaman, Ice, Superboy and Damian Wayne Robin. On January 23, 2014, fans of the line found the response of Mattel to this question - in the form of an open letter on the Matty Collector facebook page linked here - baffling and upsetting.

While Mr. Neitlich used this opportunity to officially announced that the aforementioned four figures would indeed see an official release, he indicated that each figure would be made available (a) in reduced numbers, (b) at a 20% higher price point, and (c) through Matty Collector’s “Early Access” program to those individuals who have a Masters of the Universe subscription.

While I can understand the rationale for reduced numbers and a higher price point - albeit on figures that clearly are already tooled and who represent a sunk cost to Mattel if not released - I cannot understand the logic behind allow them to be issued through the “Early Access” program. Although no doubt some collectors purchase both Masters of the Universe and DC Infinite Earth action figures, it is simply not reasonable to assume that collectors of one line are collectors of the other. To take the final figures in this run, already limited in number, and make them available to those who never directly supported the line is a slap in the face to those of us who had hopes for the continuation of this line.

There are only two reasonable ways forward that offer DC Infinite Earth collectors the respect they deserve for supporting a line across six years and 250 figures. Either MattyCollector can simply hold back on offering these remaining figures to anyone prior to the All Access period to ensure that DC Infinite Earth collectors have an equal chance in obtaining these figures, or MattyCollector offer an exception to those collectors who purchased a 2014 subscription service as a thank you for their contribution to the line. Anything less is simply a disgraceful way for a business that claims it wishes to “give a heroic sendoff to one of the greatest toy lines of all time” to operate.

The DC Infinite Earth collection is a toy line that failed to continue through no fault of the collector community. From its beginnings in 2012 as a collectors-exclusive line, the line has suffered from what can only be described as mixed and poor communication on the part of Mr. Neitlich and his team, communications that has come across just as condescending and malicious as it has amateurish and ill-informed. Coupled with the team’s complete unwillingness to provide even a list of proposed characters and preference to lean toward established characters often previously released through DC Direct (pretty much the entire 2013 line-up) and Mattel itself (Tier 2 Doomsday) at the expense of fan demanded figures upon which the subscription service was allegedly founded, it is no wonder so many fans let their closed wallets do the talking.

These are regrettably the facts. While I appreciate that this toy line is a small part of a tiny corner of your company, it is the little things that matter to customer satisfaction and ongoing retail and corporate success. There is not a lot one can do about past actions, but Mattel has the opportunity to do the right thing here and not end its DC Infinite Earth on yet another sour not. I ask that you consider the merit of this argument and change the decision to allow “Early Access” to these figures.


DC Infinite Earth Subscriber 2012, 2014

January 24, 2014

Transformers for Sale

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 1:07 am

Trying something different over here at the blog. A bit of a commercial interlude, as it were.

My nephew is retiring a chunk of his Transformer collection and has recruited me to assist in their repatriation to new homes. To facilitate things, I’ve taken pictures and provided descriptions and prices to each item. All proceeds will go to whatever terrible thing a 12 year old boy could get into (probably video games and soccer gear).

Let the sale begin!

January 20, 2014

TTTB Week Two: Reimaginings Part 2 - back in the game

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 12:27 am

So coming on the beginning of week three and hindered by technical (loss of internet connectivity) and other issues (laziness, photoshop requirements), we launch the second part of week two with Day 9’s Machine Wars Soundwave. The theme for the week is re-imagination and what a better way to show re-imagination than Machine Wars.

Day 9 - Machine Wars Soundwave, 1997

For those who don’t know, Machine Wars was a KBToys-exclusive line launched in 1996 on the heels of the success of Beast Wars and featuring many familiar old friends. The catch? Well, for the most part, they looked nothing like familiar old friends. Hasbro simply took 12 pre-existing transformer molds and turned them into a nod to the glories of G1.

The bulk of the line consisted of four leftover G2 molds, re-purposed twice each to create eight vehicle transformers. The only thing that could really be said here is that there was, in most cases, one or two similarities related to the characters’ name sake. Hupcap and Prowl were the right colour, although the former was never a tow truck and the latter never a race car. Although Mirage had the right form and came closest to resembling his earlier self, albeit in teal, Hoist became the Snake Eyes of tow trucks far removed from his glorious green and orange origins. For the Decepticons, Skywarp and Thundercracker were jet twins of each other, but crazy coloured jets with no mouths and a single eye guard. At the time, no one could believe Megatron could be anything less than a pistol or a tank (or possibly a hot wheels-style racing car), but in hindsight, Hasbro showed accidental clairvoyance by bringing forward his first depiction as a silver jet fighter. Megaplex was a clone of Megatron and the only new character in the line, but was still a new character so he really didn’t have anything to get wrong.

The line was rounded out by four reused molds that formed the first year of the European continuation of the Transformer line between the G1 and G2 years when there were no Transformers on U.S. shelves. Interesting all four molds did make their way to Canada as new characters, somewhat ironic since, without KBToys in Canada, we never had an official release for Machine Wars. The remaining molds included something of an attempt to colour correct a transport truck into Optimus Prime with a mouth, a large black jet in the form of Starscream that towered over everyone in the line particularly his leader, a camouflage helicopter in the form of Sandstorm and a dark coloured missile carrier. The missile carrier is of the focus here, of course, as he became only the fourth version of Soundwave released to that point in time.

Despite the controversy surrounding the line at the time and colouring aside, Soundwave actually holds up with Optimus and Mirage as the closest representation. With a tape player out of fashion, the design actually gave Soundwave something approaching his regular face (with a visor and face plate), and the rocket nicely folds onto his shoulder reminiscent of his shoulder launcher. His chest even looks vaguely tapish. Interestingly enough, this is not even the strangest reiteration of Soundwave we’ve ever seen in the 1990s, given that he previously appeared as another Hot Wheels-styled race car in his third appearance, and later became a weird bat-alligator hybrid without a distinct robot mold at the end of Beast Wars. Nor is this the only time this mold would be used for Soundwave, as the pre-cursor line to Classics and Generations created a deep blue version in 2004. Yet he remains the only Decepticon of the Machine Wars aside from Megatron not reintroduced by the Transformers Collectors Club at Botcon 2013. Given the less-than-spectacular reception to the overall theme of Botcon 2013, this may serve as the only version of the Machine Wars Soundwave we see for a long while.

Day 10 - Remote Control Knockout, 2012

Day 10’s Remote Control Knockout is an odd addition to the list, given that the character is so new to the fandom. But like any new character in the last 10 years, Knockout has already secured a number of appearances. In this case, he was the foil to a remote control Optimus Prime and Bumblebee from the same line, and curiously challenging for me to find (and frustrating too since he was the only one of the three that appealed to me). Although I would have loved a more sophisticated remote that did more than straight ahead and a turning reverse, the auto transformation is very smooth. Even better, the paint styling is better than all but the Legion scale of the toy. And he still looks saucy when he’s terrorizing the cats around the house.

Day 11 - Loyal Subjects Blank Supersize Optimus Prime, 2013

Day 11 features an odd departure from transforming robots in the Loyal Subject’s 8″ Blank Optimus Prime. An upscaled version of their 4″ designer line of vinyl toys, Optimus is meant to be open to one’s creative interpretations and I have a half dozen sitting around the house for myself or various commissions. He’s really the ultimate realization of the re-imagination concept and there are some fun ideas brewing in my head for him(s).

Day 12 - Generations Combat Hero 2 Optimus Prime, 2012

Back in the dying days of Generation 2, Hasbro promoted a number of repaints to vendors at Toyfair 1995 that never saw their way to retail shelves. One of them was a garish repaint of “Hero” Optimus Prime released a year earlier. A vision of dark blues and red, he really could pass as an evil version of Optimus Prime. In an example of how some concepts will never fully die, Day 12’s Generation 2-style Generations Optimus Prime was released with a Generation 2-style Generations Jazz, as well as Legion scale Thundercracker and Motorbreathmaster. As you can see, he’s still looking sinister but is a hit at this house, and leaves hope that someone will produce a similar scale version of Megatron in his grey camouflage colouring of the same era.

Day 13 - Kre-O Windrazor, 2013

Day 13’s Kre-O Windrazor is actually the Kre-O version of Generation One Cuttthroat by another name. He’s really here more because of the magnificent wings he sports than his reminiscent to the classic toy. He also illustrates Hasbro non-consistent naming practice when it loses (or can no longer use) a classic name from their archives.

Often Hasbro simply puts a designation in front of the character and is done with it, as it did most notably with Autobot Jazz starting with the movie. Sometimes though it decides to create a name reminiscent of the original but one that does not raise any issues - the recent Goldfire stand-in for Goldbug is an example of this. But Windrazor is an example of an entirely different practice where a completely different name is used. My feeling is that Hasbro is using it as a means of maintaining control over names they may lose control over, but the practice is jarring and frustrating. Really, would it be so wrong to just call him Terracon Cuttthroat and be done with it? Particularly issuing the character with an entirely different name rather than sticking a designation in front of the original. It would be one thing if Hasbro never did that kind of thing, but they do so all the time and often in the same toy package as those with seemingly randomized name changes.

Day 14 - Pretender Bumblebee, 1989

Rounding out the second week is an example of early re-imagination with Day 14’s Classic Bumblebee. Interestingly that I should note Goldfire in my earlier aside, as this Classics Pretender marks Bumblebee’s return from his brief time as the Throttlebot Goldbug. It’s also the first time he has a face that resembles his cartoon self. Bumblebee is the only Classics Pretender to actually grow rather than shrink as part of the process. Important to me, in those dark days when I tried to limit and repress my collecting tastes, he represents the only Transformer I actively sought out from toy shelves in 1989. As my original toy, he’s kind of special and a favourite, so we’ll leave with a few extra pictures of him for the archives.

January 16, 2014

We interrupt this broadcast…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 1:01 am

Behind on week two of Transformers to the Basement. Partly it is because I’m just back from work business and lacking preparation time. Partly it is laziness.

In the meantime, enjoy a good shot of what I found tonight at Value Village. Seriously! Yes, some parts (both body and accessory) are missing but still, what a series of finds! $32 total and that included a CD, two cassettes and a record set.

Seriously, that's a lot of Mudflaps...

January 13, 2014

TTTB Week Two: Reimaginings Part 1 - the folly of packaging

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 1:51 am

Preamble: There is (or rather was) no better way to start than to launch right into Day 8’s Generations Hoist. I say is because Hoist arrived this week and is the first of the new Generations figures I have been able to obtain and open. I say was because the post has become a long explanation and critique of a particular packaging decision by Hasbro Canada of such length that it blocks out the remaining six entries for the week. To compensate, I’m releasing Part 1 early as a stand alone, with Part 2 to follow at its regular scheduled time.

Day 8 - Generations Hoist, 2013

Let me get this right out of the way at the beginning - the recent decision to unveil comic specific renderings of classic characters, complete with IDW comic that ties into this particular imagination of the character is nothing short of awesome. Not only is it a great way to get amazing interpretations of familiar and less familiar characters, in a unified deluxe scale to boot, the packaging concept is highly reminiscent of the G.I.Joe three-packs that featured new and redecoed figures to match their Marvel Comic appearances, a series with which I have long been enamored (maybe a little too much as it turns out….) So this is a first rate endeavor for Hasbro U.S.A.

For Hasbro Canada, on the other hand, not so much.

For my American friends, you should be aware by now that les Canadiens et Canadiennes ont deux langue official. Yes, we speak both English and French officially up north, and as in other parts of the world with multilingual nations, this linguistic reality has long impacted how goods and services are marketed across the country. For toys, it means that packaging for the most part (more on this in a second) is prepared in both languages, so that it can be sold in Quebec as well as the rest of the country. In the 1980s, this meant Transformers came with a lot of extra text, although it did not negatively impact on the content - we didn’t get less content, just content in both languages. (This was unlike G.I.Joe which got measurably less content in Canada than compared to the U.S., although for me at least this was somewhat compensated with Canadian specific stickers.) Post North American Free Trade Agreement, it has led first to trilingual packaging, and more recently quad-lingual packaging, all the better to save on costing. This does mean that we get a lot less background information but, given that “tech spec” file cards have really disappeared post Beast Machines, it’s something loose collectors can mitigate. (It remains a significant challenge for Mint on Card collectors, as aftermarket prices have higher rewards for unilingual specimens.)

It's like Sunny is looking down with disapproval.

Now Canadians have had setbacks over the years in terms of packaging, notably the fiasco that was the original packaging for 25th anniversary Joes that featured an explosion and nothing else as the main selling point, something of which I’ve ranted about before. It did get better with more generic packaging that at least contained some level of artwork but you see the problem. For Transformer fans, we saw it with the Prowl classics wave where the artwork for Sunstreaker, Tankorr/Octane, and Prowl all featured Sunstreaker on the front and a cast assortment on the back. Transformers Animated was filled with examples of this and it made retaining individual card a pretty redundant kind of exercise. More recently things have gotten better and we are back to individualized cards, and we are finding English only packaging on store shelves owing to more U.S. exclusives making their way north.

Minimalism in marketing

Which brings us to Hoist and company. In the U.S., Hoist has a reprint of his IDW one shot, just as others of his class have individual IDW one-shots to accompany them. However, the packaging uses the comic strategically as part of the packaging, so when you buy Hoist, you see the comic. Hasbro Canada opted against going through the cost of translating a dozen odd comic books though and has released these characters to date without the comic book. And honestly, I would be fine with this situation if they then had the good sense to include something with the packaging to individualize it. Back when ToyBiz was working through its Marvel Legends line, it often substituted English only comics for posters, which allowed them to offer a toy that was at least visually appealing on the rack. Not so Hasbro Canada. No, they decided to take a picture of Orion Pax, make it into a poorly printed sticker, and run it across the otherwise individualized card. That’s right, when you buy Hoist in Canada you get a bad sticker of Orion Pax on the front, ruining an otherwise good looking back card with his particulars and pictures (or as in the case of initial productions, no picture at all.) The exercise ruins the package and hurts my eyes when I see what is an otherwise awesome toy languishing on the pegs. Would a poster insert have been too much to ask? Sheesh!

The irony that I am making a fuss about a comic book for which I already have the original is not lost on me. But sometimes these are the things that keep me up at night. Despite the $9.97 price tag on the toys at a few stores around town, I’m forgoing the Hasbro Canada failed packaging experience*, but I can’t bring myself to spend $24.97 at the specialty stores on the U.S. edition for what essentially means a $15 comic book I already own. Instead I’ve bartered partial payment of a Mighty Mugg custom for the U.S. editions that are retailing at a more manageable cost. It does mean I expect to end up ultimately with two Hoists because I netted one as part of the Predaking Amazon.com shopping expedition for $5.97, but that is mere collateral damage in the campaign. Given the sheer number of releases in this format (Orion Pax, Megatron, Bumblebee, Trailbreaker Trailcutter, Thundercracker, Hoist, Dreadwing, Goldbug Goldfire, Waspinator, Skids, Scoop, Armada Starscream, Centuritron mini-con team) I know this is going to get very old very fast (it already has) but I will continue to resist.

*I should admit for a minute that, despite the rant, I have a weakness for these toys. They must be on my shelf. So to take precautions while I await the U.S. versions in the mail from friends, I purchased five of the first six at $9.97 from Wal-Mart. They sit in the original store bag with the receipt. Once the U.S. versions arrive, they will be returned to the wild. But if for some reason something goes wrong… never let it be said I don’t hedge my bets…

January 8, 2014

TTTB Week One: The New Recruits

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 11:31 pm

So with limited adieu, here we begin our new segment, Transformers of the Basement, Week One: The New Recruits.

Day 1 - Construct-Bots Hound, 2013

Day 1’s Construct-Bot Hound arrival on my door step on January 1, 2014, signaled the arrival of a new toy year. When Construct-Bots were unveiled at Botcon 2014, they dominated a Hasbro new product presentation that otherwise looked like the end of Kre-Os and a return to simpler but less articulate Deluxe priced Transformers for the 30th Anniversary. In my mind, they are a fun fusion of our popular robot characters onto Bionicle-style bodies. Given the previous year’s initial push by Hasbro to encroach on Lego’s turf, Construct-Bots seemed to be an effort to keep the momentum going.

Originally I was going to skip this line altogether. Too many toy robots in the basement already to cede precious real estate to, once again, Bionicles by another name. Too lanky in both forms to be of interest. But curiosity killed the cat and I picked up Starscream in the summer, which weakened my resolve. “Oh I’ll only grab the key Decepticons and be done with it” has morphed into catching them all and really it’s all because of two factors - fun construction play and one adorable mug shot.

On the play side of things, I must attest that it is pretty satisfying to open a box of Construct-Bot and put it together in front of the television. All the Construct-Bots acquired so far have had similar assembly so, other than the occasional reference, the nevertheless well constructed instruction manual is just so much paper (that said, Hasbro really could have made a nod to the anal collector in us and run a title of each book down the spine). The robots do transform and, unlike their Kreon brethren, do not require complete dis-assembly to do so. That said, they really don’t turn into anything other than an oddly coloured skeleton car with rolling wheels or jet with crazy weapons. But as robots, they have a certain esthetic charm, and the bright colours really pop - bright, clearly defined character colours are in fact one of the reasons I am a Transformers fan after all (and one of the exceptions I take with the Michael Bay films).

There are a couple of other factors in their favour. First, the price point has come down significantly at some locations following their launch - from $12 to around the $6-$8 range for the basic cardboarded versions and and $18 to $10-$13 for the ones with the fancier reusable plastic casing. The ability to grab a hero and a villain for around $15 for my cousins’ children was a huge incentive to grab a handful for Christmas presents, which in turn encouraged me to grab some for myself as well. But like I said, the terrible tipping point for me was seeing Hound, a not-overly toyified Transformer to begin with, with that loveable smile on his face. One look and I was mush. Apres Hound, as they say, le deluge.

Day 5 - Construct-Bot Wheeljack, 2013

So, in a long winded way, review of the toy line kind of way, that’s the story of how Hound (and Day 5’s Construct-Bot Wheeljack ended up on my doorstep on a day when all the stores were otherwise closed in Ottawa. I don’t want to leave the line with the impression that it is a perfect toy line. The higher-still Triple Changing price point (including one of two Bumblebees for the line) were disappointing in that they could not handle all their various parts for their duel modes all at once. And there really isn’t anything other than differing character that seems to deviate significantly between the basic and deluxe price points other than the generic plastic case, hardly a $4-$6 value. But there is a lot that is right about this line, and I’m interested to see what 2014 holds in store for it.

Day 2 - Botshot Bumblebee with Launcher, 2013

It was sales that led me to Day 2’s Botshot Bumblebee with Launcher. New Year’s Eve saw a number of Botcon purchases afforded by significant sales at Target, including three-piece box sets (possibly mispriced) for $3.49. Launchers price dropped to $6.49 from $12.99 led to my acquiring of Optimus Prime, Cryo-Scourge and the absolute winner of the group, Warpath. It was only on January 2, on an mission to find a new iron, that the final launcher made its way home.

Botshots was an instant favourite for me. Cute little auto-transforming characters based around an updated version of rock-paper-scissors, I love grabbing the little guys the first year they came out. The second year, the folks in Transformersland, Providence decided to retool a number of the characters so they had more action-oriented poses and more complicated transformations. For me, both features seemed to take the lustre off the line to some extend, but they were still cute enough for the most part to come home on a regular basis. Bumblebee with his launcher is quite possibly the sixth or seventh Bumblebee of the line and, while the transformation looks good, I hate that egotistical face. Still, a completist is a completist, and home he came to join his fellow botshotters.

Day 3 - Reissue Razorclaw, 2013

I am over the moon for Day 3’s Razorclaw. With his brothers, he arrived on Christmas Eve from Amazon.com, purchased at the amazing price point of $62.99 plus shipping. The total package came to $82, more than $20 cheaper than Toys ‘R Us Canada’s offering before shipping. This is an impressive figure. Whereas the old 1986 Predacons came in both plastic and die-cast versions, all five figures come with die-cast parts. But rather than the old yellow plastic, the colouring has been updated to a very shiny gold, with additional stickers provided for you to apply. The set also comes with an additional sword, seemingly taken from the Voyager class Beast Hunter Optimus Prime’s Star Sabre, likely in recognition that (a) Razorclaw’s sword alone doesn’t cut it for a gestalt (combined form of a Transformer special team) of the stature of Predaking, (b) they had it lying around so why not throw it into the mix, and (c) folks were willing to hand over $16.99 for a proper sized sword on the third party market. It’s still not really big enough but it’s the thought that counts, right?

What’s truly incredible about this figure is the price point. According to Steve’s incredibly extensive research over at the Vintage Space Toaster Palace, the original Razorclaw retailed at between $13.97 and $17.97 in the United States. That’s compatible to my own more limited research of the time of Canadian retailers as Canadian Tire and Consumers Distributing. That means a lucky so-and-so could have picked up (likely) a plastic version of Predaking for between $70 and $90 in 1986, or between $29.25 and $37.66 in 2012 adjusted dollars. Twenty-eight years later, the same set, albeit die-cast metal construction, with superior colouring, box art and extra sword, would be $149.99 through Toys R’ Us Canada, and $119.99 through Amazon.com in the U.S., or a mere $24 to $30 per figure. On sale, it works out to be about $12.50 per figure, or a third of the adjusted for inflation price.

For fear of using Razorclaw to begin an academic piece about broader economic and societal changes that have afforded so much consumption in North America and elsewhere without corresponding increases in salaries, I’ll just say heck of a deal and leave it at that.

Day 4 - Masterpiece Streak, 2013

Day 4’s Masterpiece Streak was a purchase made back at the Ottawa PopExpo in early December. Unlike his brother Prowl, Streak (formerly Bluestreak and more recently Silverstreak) has somehow managed to not only linger upstairs longer than so many of his fellow bots but acquired a Buzzsaw to keep him company. I don’t know why Streak of the three Datsun brothers (rounded out by the yet-acquired Smokescreen) makes me so happy but he does. He looks fantastic.

Day 6 - Mighty Mugg Prowl, 2010

For Day 6’s Mighty Mugg Prowl, I decided to move away from new acquisitions (pretty much the theme for the week) and feature a figure that has not only been a welcomed addition to my collection but, egad!, actually on proper display.

Mighty Muggs in general was initially a mixed emotional bag for me. I love the cutesy super deformed look for my beloved Transformers, but Hasbro was clearly taking a run against KidRobot’s Munnies in doing so. With Munnies having outlasted the Muggs (so much so that they are now producing Marvelized versions), my conscience is a little clearer for liking them, and I can regret a bit not having more of the Transformers Mighty Muggs for the collection. Despite my initial reservations, I really believe it was an underdeveloped line, and I’m envious of the numbers and variety of figures produced for Star Wars (36 regular and 8 exclusive) and Marvel (25 regular and 9 exclusive). Heck, even Indiana Jones got nine figures, including the three exclusives, which is 50 percent more than G.I.Joe received (a situation made worse knowing that four more figures died on the development vine).

For Transformers, in some regards we were lucky to get ten regular releases. Wave One consisted of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee for the Autobots and Megatron and Soundwave for the Decepticons. Wave Two featured two new characters shipped with existing characters, and featured Grimlock and Starscream. Wave Three was an all new wave consisting of Jazz and Shockwave, as well as Movie Optimus Prime and Movie Bumblebee. And then in 2009, SDCC received as an odd exclusive choice a metallic repaint of the standard Optimus Prime.

But like G.I.Joe, there are two known Muggs that failed to get out the door before the line came to an end. That didn’t stop some industrious person at Hasbro from using SDCC 2010 as a venue to release Prowl. His Wave companion, Ironhide, unfortunately has yet to see the light of day, which may be an indication that Prowl was not a barn burner for SDCC or that Hasbro just didn’t want to waste more time on Muggs (although it would later produce a line of 4″ Muggs for the Avengers for SDCC). Given that the Mugg Joes were so easily forgotten, I should be grateful we ever got Prowl, and I am. Frankly, he’s one of my favourite Muggs, and I’m happy to show him off.

Day 7 - Botshot Inferno, 2013

Which brings us to Day 7 and Botshot Inferno, a curiously coloured version of the character. I say this because Inferno is typically red across the Transformers multiverse, which makes me wonder why yellow? Grappler is orange so it’s not a name screw up. Possibly, someone was thinking of the time Optimus Prime was a fire truck that was repainted as an exclusive. Or maybe they were thinking Movie Mudflap. Or maybe they just decided that making him red would make him too much like the Sentinel Prime Botshot that first used the mold (probably the case but speculation is fun!) Whatever the case, his significance is really that he was a Botshot that had managed to elude me at previous sales, while made me covet him more so than normal. He was one of the NYE finds which makes him ideal to close out week on.

January 5, 2014

Blogging Like It’s 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 6:36 pm

Hello faithful viewers… But wait, what’s that echo I hear? Is that really the sound that a 17+ month absence makes, ricocheting off the walls like so much silence?

Sadly, I fear it is just that.

2012 wasn’t turning in the most poignant or pervasive of blogging years, but when I took up with the League of Heroes at the beginning of the year, I’d hoped it would inspire me to return to the toy blogging world. But after a few efforts, I stumbled again. Who knew that a review of the Dark Knight Rises in July 2012 would be the hill my blogging efforts would linger on for a year a half.

I’ve not been without projects since then. There is a version of fairplaythings now hosting on facebook that gets some updates now and then. There is still a robust twitter presence, and appearance at both of the last two TransformerCons in Toronto, Canada. And I’ve been podcasting on occasion over at the roboplastic podcastalyse. And munny projects continue. But for all my plans for this site, like so many grand schemes sadly, they remain as yet unfulfilled.

Taking a look back at the site the last time I had a real presence on here was in 2009, when I began the Transformer of the Day epic. And it went along quite well too, with only minor bumps in the road until the update of the new computer took away my access to a functional version of photoshop. Even then, the series limped along to the mid-point of December, not a bad effort all things considered. Subsequent efforts to continue such relevance (2010’s Collectible of the Week and 2011’s Collectible of the Day) have not had that scale of success.

It makes me weary to try again.

But a funny thing happened on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2014. When all the stores were meant to be closed, there was an amazon package waiting for me on the front step of the house. Inside was a lone Constructobot, Hound, ordered in an ordering frenzy that brought home the Hasbro reissue of Predaking, among other (yet received) items. Realizing the sheer volume of plastic that comes into this house on a regular basis and ending up in the purgatory of the basement (who’s progress faces a similar fate, sadly, as the website), I thought maybe the best way back was to return with something along the lines of a daily Collectible.

Launching on Wednesday, and partially in celebration of 30 years of transforming robots from the planet Cybertron, will be the first of what I hope will be a weekly installment of Transformers to the Basement (originally “Transformers that Ended up in the Basement” which, while a spiffy title, doesn’t have an easy acronym). Rather than attempting to go forward with a regular daily episode of something fun from my collection, I’ll be putting together a collection of items newly acquired or more recently admired over the previous seven days. I’ll try and keep the theatrics to a minimum - just pics and light comments of life in a robot basement.

Look for the first installment Wednesday. Hopefully it will inspire me to clean up the place a bit and return to what this website is suppose to be.

July 23, 2012

Ten Harvey Dents in the Dark Knight Rises

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 11:59 pm

So just back from the Dark Knight Rises, and I don’t know what to think other than I liked it despite itself. Really it was when Bane came into view in Gotham that the movie started to come together, the previous 30 - 45 minutes seemingly oddly rough, choppy and not the smoothest of acting.

But even then, there are about ten things that stick in my craw, so at risk of leaving spoilers, I give you ten plot problems with the Dark Knight Rises:

  1. Eight years of moping - okay, I get it. Bruce put a lot of bank behind a perpetual motion machine and it turned out to be the mother of all bombs. And his girlfriend’s dead and his parents are still in the front yard. So he’s going to go away and sulk for eight years. Beyond this not being the promise at the end of the Dark Knight - I had imagined the first scene of Rises to be Batman fighting out some villain and wearing himself out after continuous clashes with police and villains, not hunkering down in Wayne pantry in the golden age of peace. But more importantly, you don’t just put back on the cowl after eight years of your muscles atrophying and there was no indication that he was really doing much more than working the cane before he decided to take on Bane.
  2. No organized crime - really? Eight years later and no organized crime in Gotham? And yet Blackgate prison seemed simply filled with thugs and goons. I can scarcely believe a single law would rid a cesspool like Gotham. Unless the real architect wasn’t the Dent law at all but the Joker killing off all the competition, which is a bit of irony.
  3. Election for life - which brings me to the mayor. Now it’s probably a minor point, but seriously, the mayor is still in office? I thought Americans had something like term limits or, you know, aspirations for higher office…
  4. Non-venomous Bane - Speaking of aspirations, I didn’t expect Bane to really be pumping venom into his veins and I like the use of the mask and lack of costume, but seriously, no human male is going to be able to shatter concrete with a single blow. Which Bane does in the city hall fight with Batman. Shatters cement. Venom-powered Bane, I can believe doing this. Morphined-up Bane, not so much…
  5. The speech - and while we are talking shattering stories, why would Gordon write a full speech that tells all of Gotham the truth about the cult of Harvey Dent, that he decides not to give at the last second, and then leave in his jacket to be discovered by Bane’s henchmen to be used later on to moralize Bane’s crusade. Pretty sloppy way of getting to the point really. Does Gordon not change?
  6. Don’t feed the cops - and then there is the pile of cops kept alive underground for why? So that Batman can lead them in a triumphant campaign against Bane’s forces? If you are gunning cops on the street down in cold blood, why not get rid of the thousands buried below ground?
  7. Don’t pet the cat - Selina Kyle. Aiming to get out of Gotham as quick as possible because she is so afraid of Bane. And then she promptly manages to remain unharmed for five months in a marshal-law controlled Gotham? Really, she had very little to worry about in the first place…
  8. Down and out in Afghanistan - so while Selina seems to be have no problem in Gotham, Bane seems to have no trouble in dropping a broken Bruce Wayne into unknowastan into a little prison there to nurse his wounds. And Bruce, penniless and recovering from back alley surgery on his back, seems to be able to get back to Gotham with little trouble and with time for a shave to boot! Really? You couldn’t have just locked him in Arkham down the street and kept a better eye on him?
  9. Every second counts - So Batman is back with just hours to spare. On a device that Bane seems to think, based on nothing really, will detonate in 5 months, give or take. Really? Really??? Do I need to say more here? Yes there was a clock on it but I don’t buy that it is related to the timing issue. I mean a device not intended as a time nuclear weapon really has no use for a timer of five months.
  10. Daddy issues - lastly, why does Talia want to blow up Gotham? The Joker wanted to show Batman that there was no goodness worth fighting for. Ra’s al Ghul wanted to show to destroy a city of decadence and decay. And Talia wanted to avenge her daddy who didn’t like her choice of Bane?
So yes the movie held my attention and interest. Bane was amazing and Catwoman was surprising good. Talia was the “is she or isn’t she” ongoing surprise that flirted with being a reveal from almost her first scene (albeit with a great origin arc). And I loved seeing Liam Neeson and Cilian Murphy. But for a movie that tried to be both Nightfall and No Man’s Land, there was a lot going on for a single movie, which made the fall and rise of Bruce Wayne feel rushed. And didn’t it seem that everyone knew who Batman was? Really, isn’t it only Clark Kent and Tony Stark who get away with their ties to the hired muscle - is anyone really believing that the master cat burglar Selina Kyle wasn’t on to Bruce Wayne being Batman when he showed up in her apartment?
But the last comment has to go to Batman’s cape. Never have I seen such a poor choice of cloth. Really, what was it doing there? Was it a holdover from the serials of the 1940s? Really?

May 2, 2012

I have so much to do… oh… shiny…

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 9:16 pm

One of the things I like to do when I have projects is make a visual list so that I can have a tangible reminder of what I actually have to do. Otherwise - forget until I’m lying in bed and I remember like a punch in the face.

Without a list, I get distracted, which usually means to a “hurry up and rush” or disappointment. May is rapidly becoming a month of that.

Allow me to elaborate by way of extended unrelated story. Last weekend was Botcon weekend. Which meant much toy excitement. Which meant a renewed pushed to tackle the basement and start freeing the many collectibles therein, laying dormant in boxes oh these many years. It’s a particular concern, the basement, because I’ve longed for the proper space to display the collection and, without movement, I will be stuck looking at box after unopened box that crowds out perfectly good living space.

But while the basement is finished, it isn’t toy ready. There are shelves to go up, but more importantly a design is needed to maximize space, while incorporating future advances in the space. Like a television so there is another reason to hang out in the basement than just the toys. And it needs a freshening up with paint to get away from the pre-existing Senators colours.

So in amongst everything, I’ve been working to get to a point where, six plus months later, shelves can appear and host toys. It’s taken a lot. Working around the toy boxes (because where else can they really be stored) I’ve had to remove decorative wall moulding, crack fill, prime once, let dry, prime again, let dry, paint once and dry and again, and then two coat the ceiling. It’s a lot. But as of Sunday night the last coat of paint went on the main part of the ceiling. So while there is still work to do, particularly at the foot of the stairs, half the basement is ready.

The weekend push has been inspired by the toys themselves, as Botcon left me salivating for past exclusives that have, until now for the most part, come home to live in a box. So case fresh toys are being freed and put out adding to the urgency of the shelving.

Early this morning, the first five shelves were installed. Not without controversy though as I fear I should have put four brackets up instead of three, which may, given the positioning of those brackets either necessitate TWO brackets to correct (one at each far end) or a take down and redo. Neither is a top notch option but neither end of the world either. But toys are found and toys are freed while I decide what course of action.

So, exciting. But coming back to the origin point of this post, you can’t undertake work without making choices. And by choosing the basement I’ve put aside (or forgotten) other projects. Small things like catalog scans for a new Visionaries wiki. And bigger things like an entry for this year’s Munnyworld contest (now open and for which the design I need to do has literally haunted me, begging to be done, since summer 2008). To say nothing of a possible costume for ComicCon in Ottawa next weekend.

In the end it is good ithat, after six consecutive botcon’s, I sat this one out. I’d have never gotten my entry ready and that would really haunt me.

So anyway, I’m back to the joy of lists. I need to refresh mine and post it somewhere where it will serve as constant reminder. Because there is so much to do. With more things coming. Like using the toy unpacking for another attempt at a toy of the day exercise. Which is really how grown men “play” with their toys.

April 6, 2012

Emergency Tigatron

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 12:14 am

In an interesting turn of events, Ms. Cheung and I are swapping custom toys. I’m working up a Munny-ized version of Transformers: Prime Ratchet, and she’s working up a Plush Tigatron for me. So I’m using the website to provide her with the best source material I can.

And here are some more screen grabs here!

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