November 21, 2009

Part 2: Who are You… Do Do, Do Do…

Filed under: Toys, collecting, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 2:15 am

Part two deals with my love of the super deformed characters that are increasingly everywhere.

It’s true isn’t it? The cute super deformed characters are really everywhere you look. Multiple lines of G.I. Joe and Transformers, to say nothing of Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Marvel Heroes. But if there was one series that overwhelmed me when they were discovered, it was him.

The Doctor.

Doctor Who products tend to show up mostly in specialty shops in Canada, so you can forgive me for being completely blown away when, checking out sale G.I.Joe figures at the Nepean Comic Book Shoppe (where I grabbed Major Bludd, Tiger Force Duke and Flint as Cobra Officer), Kirilaw tapped me on the shoulder and showed me these.

Time Squad.

There is a funny thing about this line of fifteen figures, and it is evident in the first part of this sentence. Fifteen. Why on earth would a series of toys that come in sets of twos have an odd number of characters (which in fact led to the inclusion of the 10th Doctor in two sets)? Because the sets were originally released in the U.K. in three sets of five.Presumably they were repackaged for our market to resemble domestic examples. The benefit is that you have two different ways to get the Doctor, if you are not a completist. Or you have a Doctor to spare.

For now, I am not a completist, and held myself to the three sets that really interest me. So I have a Cyberman, two Daleks, a Clockwork Man, the Doctor, and a character I just haven’t met yet. Awesome - pure awesome - at $12.99 a pop.

June 12, 2009

Prime Target (or How I Came to Fear “Revenge of the Fallen”)

Filed under: Toys, Transformers, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 1:11 pm

ROTF Megatron Versus ROTF Optimus: Only Transformers could make me want to buy a Slurpee from 7-11.

ROTF Megatron Versus ROTF Optimus: Only Transformers could make me want to buy a Slurpee from 7-11.

I remain terrified about the upcoming theatrical release for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Not because I’m a purist who can’t get behind a different interpretation but because of what I fear passes for humour these days.

The first movie can be broken down into a three act play. The first act - an invasion of very scary robots - I can, and did, get behind. Very scary robots equals very freakin’ cool. The third act - good versus evil with big giant robots that smash building and ping humans - is more than satisfying. Even the goofy lines I can overlook for effects and the dialogue that works.

It’s the second act I continue to have issues with. A series of “humourous” set-ups and lines involving urinating (sorry - “lubricating”), masturbation and “my bad!” (the worst line in the world in my view!) - well, in the words of Bill Shatner and Henry Rollins, I can’t get behind that!

PVC Optimus and ROTF Prime: Prime is clearly calling Wheeljack for a special stand for his descendent.

PVC Optimus and ROTF Prime: Prime is clearly calling Wheeljack for a special stand for his descendant.

As plasticcrack.com illustrated earlier today, with a preview of a sequence featuring ROTF Wheelie, there are parts of the sequel that are aiming for the same vein. My worst fear is that they will overwhelm anything remotely satisfying about the film. And while I may be tired of hearing, in response to any expressed interest in Transformers, “so you must be excited about the new movie” (mainly because I cannot parse the sentiment expressed here into the 15 second response they are expecting), I am excited about the movie. Or I should say I WANT to be excited for this film. I want it to be great! or at least watchable. I want to WANT to see it a second time, and a fifth for good measure. I don’t want “so you must be excited about the new movie” to be replaced with “man, that movie sucked!” followed by pointed laughter. (This concern by the way ultimately makes me really happy right now that I am not a G.I.Joe fanatic given recent rumours there.)

ROTF Megatron versus G1 Megatron: Autobot Leaders have the Matrix; Decepticon Leaders get the Laserbeak.

ROTF Megatron versus PVC Megatron: Autobot Leaders have the Matrix; Decepticon Leaders get the Laserbeak.

It’s not that I want or need the acceptance of others on this. Or that I even want or need Transformers to be Citizen Kane. I just want to enjoy a movie about transforming robots that will not make me feel like an idiot for continuing to invest time and energy into this hobby.

And, being a mark for the marketers, I also don’t want to have to turn down cool marketing (dammit!) because I know I’ll regret having multiple copies of the inevitable DVD release on my shelf. (Disclaimer: I have five copies of the first movie in my collection: the FutureShop Autobot Steelbook, the two-pack edition from the evil store featuring the animated prequel with Peter Cullen (thanks Shannon!), the transforming Optimus Prime edition (copies of which were shared with other robot fans), the more recently released transforming Megatron edition, and the long-sought after, eBay-acquired U.S. Best Buy Robot Heroes edition with Optimus and Cliffjumper movie heroes, so I know my natural susceptibility to corporate manipulation).

ROTF The Fallen versus PVC Overlord: No more bright colours for you.

ROTF The Fallen versus PVC Overlord: No more bright colours for you.

Fundamentally, I like tie-ins, and, while they overwhelm my home, I like the excitement of bring home new plastic (even if the off-gassing is surely going to kill me…) Which brings me, in a round-about way, to what was suppose to be the topic of this post. On the way home from work tonight, I stopped in at the 7-11 to discover their latest promotional tie-in to “Revenge of the Fallen.” In this case, it is the availability of small 3″ plastic renditions of Optimus Prime, Megatron, the Fallen and Bumblebee that are attached to plastic Slurpee straws and can be purchased for CDN$1.99 each, as well as reusable Transformers cups of Optimus, Megatron, Ravage and Bumblebee that, with Slurpee beverage, can be brought home for $2.29.

Sharing a drink with my new Botcon friend: Dignity? What dignity?

Sharing a drink with my new Botcon friend: Dignity? What dignity?

I gotta say that I’m quite impressed with the figures. Although they lack the limited articulation and posture of the more expensive Transformers SCF / Heroes of Cybertron that were available in the early part of the decade, they look like they should be a natural extension of the line. And I was especially pleased to pick up Optimus, Megatron and the Fallen without the purchase of separate Slurpees. The only character they didn’t have - Bumblebee - will clearly require a stop at another 7-11 later tonight.

Anyway, suffice to say that I’m already being drawn in by promotions for the movie in some cases. I just hope that Revenge of the Fallen, just two short weeks away, lets me maintain my dignity. Or at least what passes for dignity in my house these days.

May 25, 2009

Kranix (06-25-09)

Filed under: 01 generation one, TF365, Toys, ideas — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 12:25 am

Transformer of the Day for May 27, 2009


-Faction: Non-Aligned
Generation One (1984-1992)
-Function: Scientist
-Motto: The Way Forward is to the Stars”
-Proposed Toy: Spy Streak (Hasbro, 2001)

Notes: Following the best of the FunPublication Exclusives, it seems right to take the lead-up into Botcon 2009 to pine for more toys. Included here are some possible suggestions and, more importantly, recent molds that could work with a little love and a lot of luck.

If for no other reason than to give Crazy Steve over at Roboplastic Apocalypse a toy stand-in for Evil King Microcranios, it’s time to bring poor Kranix back to life. The sole survivor of Unicron at the beginning of the animated Transformers, Kranix lasts just long enough to reveal the Quintessons to Kup and Hot Rod. It’s time to bring him back to our shelves and, if you squint (which frankly is really how we get the repaints we do nine-tenths of the time) you can see something of Kranix in Beast Machines’ Spy Streak.

April 21, 2009

I Was Born for Dyeing

Filed under: Toys, Transformers, custom, toy review, tricks of the custom trade — fairplaythings @ 8:01 am

The following events take place between the hours of 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on the day of April 19, 2009, and should not be repeated carelessly for fear of orange fingers and tired eyes.

Having (for the most part) succeeded in dyeing soft resin munnies for the last six months, I decided to move to the next step: dyeing hard plastic transformers. Although the end results are somewhat less than perfect, I’ve learned a lot from the experience and hope to be able to correct the errors for the next test. But I figure it’s worth talking through and noting the problems, so that the next time is perfect.

Begin with the End in Mind

The test subject in question (Victim #1) was a Beast Wars Tigatron. The goal was to convert him to resemble the 1996 catalogue prototype, an orange tiger with green joints. Dyeing, if it worked, offered a quick, brush-stroke free, and scratch resistant approach to the outcome, turning his already light yellow plastic coat to orange. Although the neon green of the original Tigatron did not quite match the more forest green of the prototype, keeping the moulded green plast “natural” follows my traditional rule of leaving close colours alone (unless they really bug you).

Really it was an ideal project for a first-time dye job. Nevertheless, like many projects, the big details are easy. The trouble is the smaller details, or the ramifications that comes from the big decisions.

Sharpen the Saw

For Tigatron, there were three such decisions that would have significant ramifications on the outcome:

1. Stripes: The question of stripes is important. Would Tigatron’s distinctive stripe pattern show through the orange or should I really get out the elbow grease and remove the patterns? Faced with hours of scrubbing, only to have to hand paint the details back on after the fact, I took the easy route and left the stripes intact.

2. Other Paint Applications: Tigatron has a fair bit of silver detailing, on his pelvis and lower knees and the eyes of his mutant head. Should this paint application be removed? I thought about this one too and decide that, instead, I would simply paint over the final results.

3. Green Joints and Parts: While Tigatron can be broken down fairly easily with the turn of a Philips screwdriver. But there are always parts that are not so easily removed. In Tigatron’s case, this includes the three straight metal pins at the shoulders and the tiger head joint. There is also instances where the original, making use of the predominant light yellow original plastic, has coloured sections to simulate the colour of the plastic, notably the arms and mutant head (both of which are glued into place) and the feet.

Be Proactive

Let’s talk paint applications first, specifically the arms. I did attempt to pry the arms away from Tigatron’s “skin”, but abandoned my efforts after stress began to appear. Given the less-than-likely prospect of success on the arms and head, I opted to simply dye the parts and colour correct later.

Now while there is a great technique I’ve absorbed to remove these that consists of literally punching the pin out of the socket using a drill, I have never tried it. However, faced with the prospect of some of the green moulded plastic subjected to orange dye, I figured it was worth my time and effort.

I’m pleased to report that I’m confident the operation would have been a complete success had I not been rushing. As it was the neck and one of the arm pins fell out perfectly. However, I managed to crack the plastic joint on the second arm. I’ve sense learned that the break cannot be easily fix with crazy glue, as the stress of turning is too much for a repair.

Put First Things First

Break aside, I have successfully dismantled Tigatron. The water is boiled and the dye is stirred. And now I’ve dropped all the light coloured pieces into the pot, holding back on the green moulded plastic and the green painted feet (since the light plastic is minimal). The boiling water does its job and I am surprised at how quick and fulsome the job turns out. Removing the pieces and letting them dry, I allow myself to get exceedingly excited for the perfect custom.

It is not to be the perfect custom but unassembled at least, it is looking the part.

Think Win-Win

The first thing I check are the previous paint applications. The decision to leave the stripes and silver intact turned out to be an excellent approach. The strength of the orange dye was enough to turn the silver to a very pretty natural gold that suited the character. There was no need then to recolour these sections. And the original stripes showed right through the new orange coat. I then turn to the arms. The green paint has turned a lovely forest green… exactly the colour depicted in the catalogue.

I then make an understandable but stupid mistake. I change my plans without proper preparation or anticipation of error.

Seeing that the painted plastic turned the perfect colour of green, I got carried away and presumed that dyeing the moulded plastic would have the same result, and spur-of-the-moment decided to dye the rest of the pieces as well.

They turned brown.

Now this is not necessarily a bad thing. The brown actually looks better than green and again, the arms and head can be colour corrected with paint. And the rash act even allowed me to do the feet. The problem was not the decision to dye the moulded plastic, but that the approach negated any advantage gained from removing the three pins. It made the sacrifice of the break irrelevant and would have another unforeseen consequence for reassembling, the inevitable next step.

Suffice to say, while it is good to be flexible to change plans, one should always be aware of the full consequences of the changes. A change is suppose to make things better and not worse.


So now the (very late at this point) moment of truth. Some assembly required. Screwdriver at the ready, I begin to reassemble the parts, a tricky job because there is always an order to things that can be problematic to remember. With the usual false starts I quickly find the resulting problems.

We already discussed the issue of the arm joint crack and the different coloured green base paints. What I’ve not mentioned yet is that the plastic has warped from the heat. In some places it is just enough to cause some trouble with reassembly or resulting in a few gaps here and there. But in three key areas it is a disaster.

The first two are the legs. The lower legs just do not recombine anymore. Instead it is a painful and forced exercise, one that requires scraping to ensure the foot can be
reinstalled and leaving a vertical gap straight down each lower leg.

The third disaster is with respect to the tiger head, where the side pieces have warped inward, making it difficult to reinstall the pin and joint.

A pin and joint that, in hindsight, I should not have removed given the decision to eventually throw everything into the dye.

In the end, the figure stands. But it is a forced effort, one that does not bold well for transformation. But there are lessons to be learned.

Seek First to Understand Then Be Understood

So where do I stand? Well, here is where I can claim victory on the exercise:

  • Successful attempt at popping a number of pins;
  • Successful colour dye of hard plastic.

Lessons learned? Areas for further research? Well, I’d have to say here:

  • My next attempt, I will not dismantle the arm and tiger head brackets, unless I intend to leave them green. Which I might.
  • Try reducing the temperature of the water to prevent warping, or try keeping the complicated pieces like the legs and the head (easy enough if the joint is left intact) together.

With TFCon coming up, I’m in good shape to pick up another guinea pig or three (perhaps with weapons this time!), or even a broken one that will allow me the chance to salvage Victim #1. That would be swell too. Anyway, an interest exercise all told. Thanks for reading.

Pictures from the Ottawa Spring Garage Sale

Filed under: Toys, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 12:39 am

So I have a successful sale at Saturday evenings Ottawa Munny show and I quickly turn around and put some of the proceeds back into collectibles and supplies at the Ottawa Spring Garage Sale (which I had neglected to remember starting on Saturday and which, despite being basically a junk sale, can be a great place to find parts, some comics, records, and the occasional surprise.) Here is a summary of events.

Let’s Get to the Good Stuff!

Four Cobras and A Joe for 15 bucks

Four Cobras and A Joe for 15 bucks

Walking in the door to the event, I always follow the same pattern. Turn hard right and quickly browse until I find a colourful table. In my experience, if I am going to find some interesting toys, it’s around this first bend and today was no disappointment.

Pretty much the first table included old toys. But it was also one of the reasons I hate this kind of sale. Thanks to eBay, everyone thinks their kinds stuff is gold, and seem surprised when you don’t agree. So while I love checking out nostalgia from my childhood like reasonably well-loved and dusty 30 year old Fisher Price accessories, I really don’t care to be told that the jet I was putting back because $10 was too much on yet another unnecessary modification whim (Cobra raptor in my head) was well worth the price because it was an original.

Lady, I can not only read but find the manufacturers date. I know the age of this item probably better than you. And I still don’t want it.

The Three Types of Yard Sale Dealers

A $2.50 bag of grey lego. And a certain kitty for a work colleague.

A $2.50 bag of grey lego. And a certain kitty for a work colleague.

Actually, in my experience at these kinds of events there are exactly three types of people. The first type are the closers. They are the ones who are cleaning out an attic or a basement and just want to be rid of the stuff. They may or may not have prices on things, but are eager to get rid of whatever might hold your interest for half a minute, and so will meet your gaze with a mark-down. The promptness of the markdown increases as the event wears on and s/he is faced with the prospect of returning the items to whence they came. They can be somewhat insistent and may chase after you if you don’t pull away fast enough, but if they have good stuff, you can get it for a song.

The second type are the chuckles. They are often somewhere between type one and type three, and are more likely to be seen at a free event or a yard sale. They’re the type that, seeing a community event or receiving an invitation from a friend, went through the basement to find a few (or many) things for sale. They really don’t care either way. If they sell the item at the price they want, they’re happy. And though they might make you a deal, they’re just as likely to turn around and figure it’s worth at least that much in their own basement gathering dust. I like the chuckles. They are usually quite reasonable people and usually good for a story about how they came to have a particular item. Frequently come with homemade cookies and kids selling their toys.

Galidor and Disney McDonald's toys for 50 cents each. They'll soon be part of the munny.

Galidor and Disney McDonald

The last group is the eBay pirates. Thanks to the power of the internet, they believe every piece of crap in their garage is unique, no matter the age, wear or condition, and they want top dollar as a result. They are more than willing to hold onto these pieces, but not before berating you, the customer, for not knowing what a grand deal you are passing up. I’ve been in situations where I’m literally beat over the head by the pirate over an item that I’ve clearly taken a pass on for whatever reason, because clearly I don’t get the value, only to walk across the street and get the same item from a chuckle with a shrug and a smile. The trouble of course is that most of the time they don’t know themselves, which causes no end of trouble when the pirate actually HAS something of interest. Nothing worse than the pirate with an interesting but worthless piece of nostalgia but who is convinced it is worth a fortune. Frequently selling badly worn common back issue comics books for $2 each.

Clearly I was in pirate bay.

A horse for the body banks, a Spittor and Tasha Yar for the sales site, a fisher-price camera for the Chloe bear, and a Policeman Pete for me!

A horse for the body banks, a Spittor and Tasha Yar for the sales site, a fisher-price camera for the Chloe bear, and a Policeman Pete for me!

If the woman in question had been reasonable in her tone, I might have considered bartering. I can be a sucker for nostalgia when I find the right things, and I really liked the jet which was in impeccable loose condition and perfect for the GIJoe shelf. They had other items too, notably an old bulldozer with real treads that I once had and used, when the plow broke, as the first Cobra tank in the days before the H.I.S.S. (and frankly should have picked up in hindsight at $5 for the rubber treads for possible frankenFormers.) But that attitude drives me crazy.

Anyway, she did have some GIJoes, many of whom were again in surprising good condition, including a H.I.S.S. driver that is in perfect condition for modification (i.e., not-so-worn-as-to-be-broken-but-worn-enough-that-guilt-does-not-set-in) for a H.I.S.S. that I hope to finally get to working on. But like a pirate, she didn’t know what she had. Looking at an original Grunt backpack, a Dial-Tone rifle, and what could either be Stalker’s rifle or the equivalent that came with the Tactical Battle Platform (Joe fans can tell by the shade of grey… seriously…), lying loose in the shoe box, I simply did what any self-respecting toy person would.

A pony for customing and the bitty bits that inevitably come from mixed bags.

A pony for customing and the bitty bits that inevitably come from mixed bags.

I put the accessories on the figures I wanted, got my price quote, paid politely and tucked everything away.

It was in the tucking though that things almost got interesting. You see, I have an original Star Wars Dewback. Loose, no saddle, decent shape and one of the few original toys of which I am interested (Stormtrooper Carrier, Death Star, At-At and Snowspeeder being the others). It would be cool to have a Stormtrooper but $3 cool, not $5 cool, particularly from a pirate. Her reaction can be expected: “well, Stormtroopers are so hard to find.”

So is three bucks lady. Mine is walking away.

Transaction for Joes complete, she deals out the money among her mom and dad for whom she is pirating, and doesn’t see me put the Stormtrooper back where I found it. Leaving, she stopped me on the way out of the area. “Did you,” she said uncertain as to what to say next and what my reaction might be, “did you… um… accidently put the Stormtrooper… in with the other figures in your bag.”

The Terriphant. Or something suitably Micro-bashed. When I find time.

The Terriphant. Or something suitably Micro-bashed. When I find time.

First badgered and now practically accused of shoplifting a thirty year old fair condition Stormtrooper. Oh, the humanity. If I had any dignity I might be offended. But I am a thirty something adult male in a Transformers jacket leaving with 25 year old GIJoe figures. Really, her discomfort and uncertainty makes her feel worse than I.

I simply and politely point to the Star Wars figure tray, indicate it was returned to its original spot, and casually go along my way. The good corner is coming.

The Good Corner

The Good Corner ™ is simply the end of the second row, which, because of my pattern, I deliberately hit quickly. Two women, one of whom is taken by Kinder eggs surprises, have a table there for each event. More closers than chuckles, they seem to have picked up a bunch of stuff somehow and are happy for a sale. And midway through day two, you can get a deal if they have something.

Can't have too many Guardians!

Can't have too many Guardians!

I have a soft spot for the Kinder lady, since the first time I stopped at her table and, upon finding a box of assorted Beast Wars bits, sold me the entire contents for $7. She was nice about it, I was happy for it (occasionally using them for parts and trades) and it was a good find (pat. pend.) As such I always feel bad leaving empty handed. It was here that Hello Kitty, Calidor and the Disney former (whom I contemplated getting as recently as the day before at $2 at ValueVillage for use as a Silverbolt munny) were had for fifty cents each. The lego and a few other little things came from here too.

And the Rest

The Ottawa Spring Garage Sale should not be confused with the Columbus, Ohio, Toy Show. That event has lots of newish toys, relatively clean

One of these days I'll open one with the actual ball inside...

One of these days I actually open one of these and find the ball they are suppose to fire...

surroundings and would seriously hurt my wallet. This is really a glorified flea market that always makes me feel dusty and question my dedication to toys and parts that I can get more readily online. But I like flea markets, in spite of myself, and a sale I can bicycle to is a winner.

At this point though, having hit the best bets for finds though, the rest of the place is hit and miss. There are usually some toy areas along the last row, and sometimes a fellow who sells all the comics he reads for a buck a pop (recent comics and willing to make a deal). But he wasn’t here, although the rest of the selection wasn’t bad. Among the overpriced and badly worn Transformers and piles of Turtles, there were horses for modifying, a Policeman Pete for my Junior Gobots collection, a classic fisher-price camera for my niece (worth it for the expression on her parents’ faces alone!). There were the things I think I can sell (Galoob Tasha Yar, a Skeletor minion) and stuff to mod (a MegaBlock magnetic elephant that reminds me of Baron Karza, and a couple Sigma Sixes). And even drill bits (18 for $5), which though I don’t need, came with super big bits that I don’t have and which can use to make bigger, more perfect holes in my upcoming projects.

Look at THAT bitty bit!

Look at THAT bitty bit!

And a belt for $5 and Kirilaw socks for $3 for a pair.

I figure I spent about $45 in total, which isn’t terrible consider the Joes were a third of the cost. My backpack is full and I’ve seen the outdoors. I have stories to tell and crap for projects that will take me into 2187.

Really, what more could I ask for out of a hour of my Sunday?

March 29, 2009

The Toy Factory of fairplaythings.com

Filed under: Toys, custom — fairplaythings @ 7:49 pm

On Friday, I totally challenged Teresa of sewingstars fame to an informal craft-off. She’s had her mojo on for some pretty awesome feltformers and I’ve been chomping at the bit to get back to munnyland. With nothing planned for the weekend, I figured it would let me bring two or three of the little buggers together to join their friends.

Alas, it was not to be. I expect total ownage from Teresa as a result.

Instead, I’ve spent pretty much the entire weekend cleaning. Seriously. The progress undertaken on the basement to turn it into an organized place for crafting, already well underway, was nagging at me and demanding my attention. The result is that, while I may not have anything to show creatively, I should be able to proceed much more effectively in future.

The new Toy Factory, as you can see, has a variety of inspirations to draw upon, not the least of which is the Transformers: Animated line. I also have a reference book case, space for a variety of future projects and various bitty bits that I hope are organized a little better so that I can find them when I need them. I’ve also been able to migrate a bunch of the Munnies to the basement so they stop cluttering the front room. And, because I have a nasty organizational itch that needs to be scratched, all my paints, dyes, tools and sprays have been put in their own place and roughly sorted. A bulletin board lets me put up salient information like receipts and custom ideas.

Because the basement is unfinished, it’s a little tricky to put up shelves because I have to drill into concrete for support. As it is not insulated, it is a cold place this time of the year. As it has minimal wiring, it also means my options for tools (glue guns, heat gun, drills, dremels) will be tricky and require long extension cords.

But it does offer advantages, such as a number of hangers in the support beams that I’ve been able to use to hold cords and other hanging things. Which brings me to the new hanging shelf upon which I display the TF:A collection, the finding of which was a stroke of luck. It has a real kitchy feel to it, is a good size and hangs, so I can mount it without going through cement.

The “door desk” provides a number of excellent and surprising features, not the least of which is the ability to spread out. In case you are wondering, the desk is made from a 82″ long front door that use to be attached to the front of this house until I replaced it about four years ago. It sits on six legs purchased from Ikea and has a towel rack at the left end. The decorative grooves allows me to literally box in sections of paint. The hole where the door handle use to be is actually perfect for holding a munny head, should I wish to have one steadied. And the mail slot could be a garbage or recycling trap, although I have boxes for both under the desk for the time being.

I’ve even made space for guests who might want to come down and hang out, as unlikely as that might be.

Having things this organized is a weight off my shoulders. Too often I spend a lot of time looking for a particular colour paint or an item buried under its weight. Now I should be able to put together what I need quickly, or simply spread out and not have to worry about overtaking the front room of the house. The effort has also given a sense of just how usable the space could be when it finally gets renovated with new floors, walls and insulation. I might not be able to get the pool table I want, but maybe I should think about the classic Death Star game instead. Way cooler.

Now all I need is a better chair.

March 18, 2009

Neo Blue Bacchus and Black Shadow

Filed under: Toys, Transformers, custom — fairplaythings @ 4:15 pm

I can’t take credit for Blue Bacchus - that’s all JoshMiller. But how about it? How about Energon Bulkhead as Blue Bacchus and the smaller version of Energon Megatron as Black Shadow?

I think that would just be too cool for skool!

(Thanks as always to www.tfu.info for being such a handy reference site for toy pics.)

March 4, 2009

Kid Terrific

Filed under: Toys, custom, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 1:47 am

Wanted to introduce a project I’ve been working on for some time, Kid Terrific!

A little back story. Being into cutesy toys, I have a fondness for the Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and Superfriends line of toys. Being a big fan of Mr. Terrific, I thought it would be really cool to make a kiddie version using the Friends line.

Originally, I envisioned him cut from the base Captain America figure that came with the 2002 Rescue Motorcycle, because that Cap had a cool motorcycle jacket that seemed particularly moulded for Terry Sloan. And unlike the standard version, Cop Cap didn’t have big gloves to worry about. He seemed so right that I bought the set on closeout at Winners around 2005 and have kept it mint in package on my work table ever since.

Being a fan of flag-bearing heroes, I had the original version of Cap too, buried in a box and similiarly MOC. But last fall I stumbled upon a loose one at Value Village and realized how good he was. The boots! The cowl! With minor alterations like a collar and filling in the stars and stripes (and ditching the wings of course!) he could work well.

Honestly, the gloves drove me nuts for awhile because they were just too big to cut back. Too late I saw a pic of Terry from Sensational Comics #1 with gloves, albeit yellow. In hindsight I’m glad I didn’t go with yellow, but if I’d seen the picture before I painted the gloves red, I totally would have followed that interpretation. And because the gloves are painted (and not flesh tone) I can leave the original skin pigment under the cowl untouched.

In any case, the gloves have grown on me. And yes, the logo is etched into his chest. Once again, one more unofficial Mr. Terrific to fill the void left by DC. Terry forsaken.

(And don’t think I’m not thinking about getting Michael in on the action… Just looking for the right figure…)

February 16, 2009

Toyfair 2009

Filed under: Toys, Transformers — fairplaythings @ 2:21 pm

I really didn’t know I had this much to say until I began to say it.

Anyway, just some of the highlights (and lowlights) from what I’ve seen out of Toyfair 2009. One of these days, maybe I’ll get to live the fanboy dream and be able to attend in person. Until that day, this is as good as it gets for me.


Being in love with Diamond Direct’s statue line, I am psyched about the upcoming Galvatron, Ultra Magnus and Jetfire. Although I would prefer a more matted finish on Ultra Magnus. (And I am still insanely curious as to whether the exclusive Galvatron, Ultra Magnus, Jetfire and Ricochet will appear at www.xl-shop.com (located in Malaysia of all places), particularly given that they were expected back in July 2008 and no longer show up on their website.)

I am so sad to hear the ongoing rumours that Season Three will be the last season of Transformers: Animated. I cannot believe how hard I’ve fallen for this line. Here’s hoping that Arcee (and here), Soundblaster and Ratbat don’t end up left on the drawing board like their predecessors in the line Titanium. It’s not as if there isn’t a precedence for showing off a particular toy that you end up cancelling.

Like others though, I welcome the new Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen as a chance to take a reprieve from Transformer-madness. I suspect I’ll buy a few of the interesting figures, but overall I have no interest in retreads of key characters like Bumblebee and Optimus Prime. The first movie was enough for that. I do wonder though if Hasbro was close enough to the filming process this time to get toys that will be movie-accurate the first time around, or will they be encouraged to again reproduce a second version for the Christmas rush.

And this is probably not the ringing endorsement that parties involved want to hear but Devastator, oh, he could have been so much worse. I dislike the absence of a unifying colour for sure, but he much better than how I feared he would come out. Like on wheels or something…

That said, there are a few figures that look interesting. Like Volt. Hey look ma! Hooks for hands! (It helps that he’s a Fast Action Battler, the singularly best part of the first movie line in my opinion.) And sucker I am, I am totally going for the Bumblebee helmet and hand cannon accessories.


I should have known that … wouldn’t end with Batman and Superman. But I’m really surprised how quickly they moved onto Green Lantern. And strangely pleased. To feed my love of super-deformed heroes (and the Green Lantern shrine), these are pick-ups. That said, is it just me or does Hal look like he has a Guy Gardner collar going on?

Speaking of Hal, he is quickly becoming a mainstay of all things DC Direct. It’s like once they do a Superman and a Batman, they move to Hal… sometimes even before Wonder Woman… So where is the movie, guys? Not that you can keep track of lanterns these days since they keep showing up in different hues

So happy that Mr. T is getting the Mattel DC Universe treatment. I can only hope that sometime soon the same will occur for Mr. Sloan and we can get our very first full-articulate Golden Age Mr. Terrific action figure. On that day, I pledge to buy TWO - one for home and one for office. There. That should be incentive enough.

And I fear that Jay will have to come home to join Hal (although not likely this Hal because of the price point and the fact I already have the very nice DC Direct figure). Could this mean an Alan Scott could be coming soon? Dare to dream!

Having declared the unlikelihood of acquiring the Tonner Hal Jordan, I should say that they really did wet my lips with Hawkgirl.

I was tempted already on the Giffen-era JLA. But I gotta say this little addition to wave two might just convince me.


That’s a pretty neat transforming base, even if it looks like a weird SUV-aircraft carrier hybrid. And while the Motor Viper figure is kind of neat, I gotta say the SUV doesn’t compare to an old fashion H.I.S.S. tank. Really, is there anything as iconic in G.I.Joe-ville as the H.I.S.S.? So clearly it can’t be in the film…

Curiously how much RoC Scarlett (can we really begin to use acronyms to distinguish the movie from the RAH line?) bears more than a passing resemblance to Sigma Six Scarlett. (Editor’s note: now that’s a figure a certain club should be pushing to have remade for its members.)

Speaking of Sigma Six, this line of movie figures seemingly takes the worst of that line (the non-recognizable figures) and adds the worst elements of the bulky, non-articulate Extreme line (really, were there redeemable elements of that line 1)

While on the subject on non-articulation, I am generally a fan of the Robot Heroes and Combat Heroes lines. However, while I’ve caught all the Transformer Movie Heroes, in addition to their animated selves, I can safely take a pass on the RoC Combat Heroes. I hate to be a buzz kill, but there is no buzz there at all. Maybe it is the absence of recognizable attire. However, I am all about this H.I.S.S. tank - I can totally see a black version with a repainted driver to match his classic look.

All that aside, the 25th Anniversary line still rocks my socks! ZAP and LAMPREY! So cool!! Even RoC thinks so, what with their stealing Scrap-Iron and everything.


A life-size Smile Time Angel? Who would have thunk it?

While I might not need a Master Chief, but, wow, I might just need a Sgt. Johnson.

That’s a pretty cool looking Deadpool figure. And who thought that after Iron Man recently got the Captain America treatment, he would then get the Punisher treatment. Does this mean Frank is armouring up for Dark Reign? Or that Marvel is becoming increasingly toy focussed now that the license for their toy properties is with Marvel? Hey, I just call it like I see it.

And Arno Stark? Total cuteness!

1. I shouldn’t be so hard on every element G.I. Joe Extreme. There was room to work with a character like Iron Klaw and I’m surprised he hasn’t been introduced into the 25th Anniversary line like Matt Tracker. But honestly, those figures represent the worst of the “lose-the-articulation-and-play-value-and-make-it-like-a-statue” look made famous by McFarlane Toys. The only interesting part of the line was Mayday, who irony of ironies, was the only figure not released.

February 9, 2009

1982: Cobra the Enemy and Steeler’s Uzi

Filed under: GIJoe, Toys, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 2:01 pm

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero was the second toy line that I really got into, after Micronauts, and it holds a singular distinction in terms of the variety of items I was able to amass during my inital four-and-a-half year collection.

For me, G.I.Joe was a toy that came with great figure poseability, great detail, mail-in redemption offers and vehicles that came with drivers. Propelling G.I.Joe was the fact that my best friends were also driven to “catch them all” (which they did, actually, much to my ongoing toy envy and probably resulting in my ongoing toy fixation) which allowed us a common activity for many afternoons after class.

For Canadians, G.I. Joe had two other interesting points of note. First, we had a number of Canadian-only exclusives (like the Consumers Distribution Cobra Tank and the Sears Cobra Combat Set that appeared in 1983). Moreover, Hasbro Canada made an effort to make the Joes feel more Canadian. This meant unique decals for the Joe vehicles with a “CANADA” and maple leaf prominently displayed, and the change of select figure birthplaces (like Steeler) to Canadian cities.

All this said, 1982 was a strange year for G.I. Joe.

For those of you familar with the first year of G.I. Joe, you will know that there were a total of 13 original Joes (nine individually packed figures and four that came with vehicles). These figures came with a variety of accessories including a laser rifle, machine guns, RPG and a mortar. Moreover, Joe forces had a motorcycle (RAM), a cannon (FLAK) and a portable mobile missile system (MMS). It also had a jump pack (JUMP), a portable laser cannon (HAL), a jeep (VAMP) and the mother of all ordinance, the motorized battle tank (MOBAT).

All this to take on an evil terrorist organization that consisted officially of two figures, a soldier and an officer.

Oh sure, you can argue they had a Sears exclusive cardboard cutout base, and the Commander was available either through this purchase or through the mail. But for the first six months of G.I. Joe’s existence, it was a lonely time for those two Cobra soldiers, always outnumbered and trying to make ends meet with whatever old Tonka bulldozer or stolen Joe vehicle they could get there hands on. I never quite understood why Hasbro didn’t throw them a bone in the form of a tank or a special jeep.

While on the subject of 1982, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask the question about how it is that Steeler got an Uzi. It’s hard to imagine these days, when figures routinely end up with more weapons than they can successfully carry, but in the early Joe years, you didn’t get always get added gear. Short-Fuze and Zap were out of luck if they ran out of rockets for their mortar and RPG, Scarlett if she ran out of arrows. Even worse, Hawk, Grand Slam and Clutch were all sitting ducks if they lost their vehicles, although Hawk could theoretically make due with his molded-on grenade and knife.

But somehow the guy in the tank, the driver that should make Cobra forces quake in terror because he can just run them over, gets an Uzi. Even with a pistol moulded onto the front of his uniform! Was this because he couldn’t duck his head into his tank and risked being sniped or simply because he was not the best driver and the powers-that-be knew he’d abandon his tank at a drop of a hat.

These are the questions that stop me every once and awhile.

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