January 19, 2010

Munny my world!

Filed under: collecting, custom — fairplaythings @ 12:41 pm

What a day. And it’s only 12:30 p.m.

First the bad news. Leaving the house this morning, I realized that a snap had come loose on my brand new boots. I now have to take them back and get them replaced. Which I hate because they are otherwise fine and will be landfilled. But they are not even a week old.

After that? All good news. Came into work this morning to Castle Greyskull. Seriously! Work colleague is giving away his He-Man stuff. Gave most of the vehicles to another colleague who’s fiancée is big into MotU. But he has Greyskull, so it’s mine! For free! And though I’ve not look into the bag yet, it looks in good shape, with lots of parts! I’ll post a pic tonight!

The beauty of being the toy guy. You get such neat stuff. Over the years, I’ve picked up Sky Lynx, Mirage, broken Prowls and Sideswipes, and mint Soundwaves and Buzzsaws this way, to say nothing of giftos from exotic locale.

Before noon, they finally installed my “shower” sliding door to my cubicle, which gives me a bit more privacy. Awesome!

But the best news? I’m teaching again and this time it’s art courses.

Mel of spins and needles fame facebooked me yesterday to see if I was interested in participating in a program run by the National Gallery of Canada. The NGC runs a art program for teens with workshops at the end of each month. She did a silk-screening course last week for them and heard they were planning a Munny workshop and suggested me, so I sent an email off with my credentials and links to the site and CustomCon and Botcon, and they hired me for the end of February, with the possibility of further future engagements. I am so jazzed right now! I love teaching and I love toys and this is the best of both worlds!

Could it get better? Yes it can! The organizers are making arrangements to get the Munnies directly from kidrobot. Surprised that I bought at retail, they are going to try and set me up so that I can order directly from the company, something I’ve sporatically tried to do in the past without success. Also there is an honorarium involved.

Waiting for further details, but already scratch building lesson plans in my head. This is going to rock!

January 10, 2010

Hole in the Sky / Burden Hardest to Bear

Filed under: collecting — Tags: — fairplaythings @ 4:11 am

As a result of my work on the TFwiki, I also can report that I now have a list of all the Panini Stickers I need to complete my 25 year old sticker book (and yes, before you ask, it will be a great day when and if I ever fill this book):

  • Mural: 1, 6, 7, 10
  • The Beginning: 12, 13, 15, 23, 25, 26, 29, 32, 33, 36, 41
  • Optimus Prime: 43, 47, 49
  • S.O.S. Dinobot: 52, 54, 55, 63, 65, 66, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 75, 76, 78, 81
  • Megatron: 83, 84, 86, 87, 89
  • War Of The Dinobots: 92, 93, 96, 97, 98, 101, 107, 108, 110, 111, 116, 119,
  • Slag: 122, 123, 126, 129
  • Snarl: 130, 131, 134, 135, 136, 137
  • Fire In The Sky: 139, 141, 142, 143, 145, 146, 147, 149, 150, 151, 153, 154, 155, 156, 158, 162, 164, 165, 167, 169
  • Thrust: 170, 172, 173, 174, 176
  • The Heavy Metal War: 179, 182, 183, 189, 193, 195, 198, 199, 201, 202, 205, 206, 208
  • Inferno: 209, 210, 211, 213, 215, 216
  • Fire On The Mountain: 220, 223, 228, 232, 236, 240, 245
  • Swoop: 250, 252, 253, 254, 256.

While I am at it, I should attempt something similar with my Transformer Action Cards. Since the character cards came on FOUR different colour backgrounds, I’ll list at the bottom what I actually have:

  • Autobot Character Cards: 1, 4, 7, 13, 15, 19, 23, 31, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40

    All the colours of the rainbow.

  • Cartoon Cards Pt. 1: 43, 48, 50, 65, 67, 77, 81,82, 83, 86, 87, 88, 93
  • Decepticon Character Cards: 97, 98, 102, 103, 122
  • Cartoon Cards Pt. 2: 125, 128, 130, 131, 132, 143, 144, 147, 151, 152, 153, 154, 157, 160, 164, 168, 169, 171, 173, 175, 177, 182, 183, 185, 189, 192
  • Replacement Cards needed: 63, 159, 170

Autobot Character Cards in Collection:

  • Jazz (DO); Bluestreak (DO); Ratchet (BL); Tracks (LO); Trailbreaker (LO); Smokescreen (LO); Skids (LO)
  • Sunstreaker (DO); Sideswipe (LO, BL); Mirage (DO); Red Alert (BL); Wheeljack (LO); Prowl (DO); Grappler (DO, BL); Perceptor (LO)
  • Topspin (DO); Twin Twist (DO); Huffer (LO, BL); Brawn (BL); Cliffjumper (LO); Gears (LO); Cosmos (DO, BL); Windcharger (LO)
  • Bumblebee (DO, BL)); Powerglide (LO); Seaspray (DO, PP); Warpath (BL); Beachcomber (DO); Slag (DO, PP); Snarl (BL)
  • Sludge (BL); Omega Supreme (OR)

Hey kids! We have colours too!

Decepticon Character Cards in Collection:

  • Dirge (PP, DO)
  • Thrust (BL), Skywarp (BL), Ramjet (LO), Soundwave (PP, DO), Buzzsaw (BL), Rumble (BL), Ravage (PP, DO), Laserbeak (BL)
  • Frenzy (PP, DO), Astrotrain (PP, DO), Blitzwing (BL, LO), Shrapnel (PP, DO), Kickback (PP, LO), Bombshell (PP), Devastator (BL, DO), Mixmaster (PP, DO), Scavenger (BL, DO)
  • Long Haul (PP, LO), Bonecrusher (BL, DO), Hook (PP, DO), Scrapper (BL)
*Legend: Dark Orange (DO); Light Orange (LO); Blue (BL); Purple (PP)

Collector Stickers in Collection:

  • Red Alert, Smokescreen, Inferno, Slag, Grimlock, Swoop
  • Tracks, Prowl, Optimus Prime, Twin Twist
  • Frenzy, Soundwave, Laserbeak, Rumble, Megatron

Flicker Stickers in Collection

  • Bumblebee, Prowl, Optimus Prime
  • Megatron, Soundwave, Laserbeak
  • Beachcomber, Swoop, Omega Supreme
  • Galvatron, Mixmaster, Kickback

Dare to Trade?

I’m also missing (and probably have no hope of catching them) the following cards from the IDW freebiesat Botcon 2006: 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 13, 14, 15 and 16. I do have doubles of 4 (Blitzwing), 7 (Megatron), 9 (Bumblebee), 10 (Jazz), 11 (Ironhide) and 12 (Skywarp) to trade…

January 1, 2010

2010 and the Absence of New Ideas

Filed under: Collectible of the Week, TF365, collecting — fairplaythings @ 7:33 pm

I had really hoped to spend today gloating.

And really, I totally should be. I should be talking about the total success of a little idea that dawned on me back on January 2, 2009 to run a new Transformer entry each day for the 365 days that was 2009. And with a few hiccups, I did too, until December 1. Who knew that a new, faster, shinier computer would completely knock apart my efforts due to incompatible software (and the inability to get my ten year old toaster to read a memory stick.)

Nevertheless, I do want to claim a partial victory on making it through 334 days and pledge to round out the 2009 year soon, as well as a review of the effort including metrics (yes, I am just that bureaucratic…) Maybe I’ll even find the time to put something more permanent together based on my efforts over the past year.

There are no new ideas.

Changing the subject, I noticed something this week that is the title of this piece, mainly the absence of new ideas. I don’t mean to say there are no new ideas but rather that the ideas are not as “new” as we think them.

At the end of the day do any of us truly have original ideas or are we simply mislabelling just mashing preconceived thoughts and contexts from around us and calling them new.

Case in point, I was reading Dark Horse’s Dr. Horrible one-shot yesterday and, in the editorial section, my eyes fell on a new tag line for the company: “You Love Comics. We Love Comics Too.” And my mind wandered back to my original fairplaythings.com business cards, the ones I’d put together back in fall 2008 and had been using until Teresa put together the specs for my new cards (with the new logo), which can be seen in the attached picture.

The old tag line? “You like toys? We like toys too.”

But there are new configurations.

Despite December’s challenges, the TF of the Day was a very satisfying accomplishment, a way to show that I could have something ready on a (mostly) regular basis for readers. So I thought I’d learn from it to undertake a new exercise for 2010.

GIJoe of the Day…

Just kidding. While I’d love to do a project like that, given the nature of the Joeworld, it would take a lot more planning. So I’ll shelve it for the time being and announce the real thing for 2010. It ties into a pledge I am making this year to take the collection, scattered throughout the house in boxes and half displays, and do something meaningful with the best parts of it, while cataloging the rest, and putting some pieces up for sale. And to use this website, which I hope to reconfigure and refresh, as it was intended - as a place to show off my custom works and celebrate toys of the past (and present), as well as provide an avenue to sell and trade doubles and items procurred just for this reason.

What better way to encourage the organization of the collection than to showcase a part of it. In that vein, I am unveiling this weekend the Collectible of the Week. The Collectible of the Week is something or somethings in my collection of which I think is particularly rare, unique or just cool that I want to show off and to hear discussed. It won’t always be toys and it won’t always be Transformers, but it will (try to) appear every Friday and hopefully be something fresh. And it will be weekly, instead of daily, so that I don’t underwhelm the collectible (to say nothing of my other posts) by knocking it out of its spot with a new collectible each day. And, admittedly, to aid me staying on track this year.

The first one will be up this weekend. Do come back and check it out. For it is the year 2010. Happy new year!

November 23, 2009

Robot Heroes

Filed under: Toys, Transformers, collecting — fairplaythings @ 6:14 pm

While it is entirely possible that Hasbro will get around to releasing the unreleased wave of Transformers Universe Robot Heroes (BM Optimus Primal and Jetstorm, RiD Optimus and RiD Megatron, Prowl and Laserbeak, and Victory Sabre and Deathsaurus), I am getting itchy. Particularly when they appear on eBay.

On the one hand, how can I not have them in my collection? And yet, do I want to pay the sky high prices for the prototypes of what may actually be eventual releases? I mean I was willing to pay in the $25 range for the Tigatron / Inferno and Predaking / Stepper two packs that have so far only appeared in Europe. But $25 is not the $132.50 paid for Laserbeak / Prowl. But what if they don’t get bid up? Can I really afford not to be involved in the process in case the final price was one that I was totally willing to pay?

With these mixed feelings, I have been doing a bit of defensive bidding when the two packs come up. Early this morning (4:00 a.m. to be exact), the auction for all four sets loose came to a close. I didn’t stay up until 4:00 a.m. to see them through but I put in some defensive bids (although admittedly they were high defensive bids).

The results? Well Prowl and Laserbeak were gone gone gone well before I started my bidding, already at $65 four hours before the auctions closed. So I put in $45-$50 bids on the other three. For some reason, $46.79 was enough to secure the winning bid on Star Sabre and Deathsaurus (so they are coming home soon), but I was narrowly outbid on the Primal and Jetstorm set ($46.61) and Optimus and Megatron set ($47.78). The only thing I can think of is that since the other two sets went to the same person, and the Star Sabre and Deathsaurus set was the middle auction of a string of three auctions in a one minute period, my competitor just could get his computer to turn back to this set in time to outbid me. Lucky me!

Yes, it’s more than I had hoped to get them for, but I have them and there is satisfaction in victory. There will be disappointment if I find them as peg warmers in TRU in 2010. But then I hope they do make it too, because they are such a fantastic wave.

November 22, 2009

Part 3: A S.N.A.K.E. on the BarBie

Filed under: GIJoe, collecting, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 1:07 am

Part three is about my first foray (should that be Moray?) into the world of the Rise of Cobra toys.

I have come to love the 25th anniversary line of G.I. Joe toys as I believe I’ve expressed on more than one ocassion. Modern technology + classic figures = win. In fact, under construction is a comparison offering of how to round our the first six years of Joes as if it were 1982 through 1987… But while I miss the classic body types of old, you can’t go wrong with the chance to bring home an original ‘83 style Snake Eyes or never-before-released-on-card H.I.S.S. Driver, Mint on Mint Card!

Now that G.I. Joe has gone the way of everything movie, Hasbro has taken some liberties with the Rise of Cobra line to use it as a backdoor to some of the figures or characters it didn’t get to put out as part of the anniversary line, primarily through exclusives. Charboil is one of these cases. Unlike some other current or pending releases (like Heavy Metal… er… Rampage), Charboil does not exactly mirror his 1980s counterpart as much as pay small homage to him. But I’m a sucker for a blowtorch and so, on sale this week at Zeller when I picked him up on Friday (November 13th), I brought him.

He came home much easier mind you given the appearance of a certain piece of recoloured armour on the right. The S.N.A.K.E. armour has been white (and probably yellow by now in a lot of collections), rarely blue, and red overseas (except when it was aging grey) but it’s never been black. Before now. As far as I can tell, this is the original, and joining a series of toys to come including a Crimson coloured Mobile Missile System and a repainted Firebat.

Given that I am in the middle of playing through the Rise of Cobra game with Kirilaw (which gets great nostalgia points but is a game that someone should have put better functionality into the save points and camera mobility), it’s Joe-tastic here right now.Now can we get us a Terrordome? Pretty please?

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.

October 22, 2009

Revenge is best served sideways

Filed under: Transformers, collecting, comment — fairplaythings @ 1:20 am

Last night, I went out on what I thought was a vague mission to see what the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen blue-ray steel book looked like. Pretty box really, but not pretty enough to make me want to own a Blue Ray DVD when (a) I don’t yet own a Blue Ray player and (b) I clearly didn’t care for the movie in the first place. I standing by my “no more than one copy” rule, and only then because there is the cool transforming Bumbleshell edition out there at Target in the United States.

That said, if anyone wants me to try and grab them a steel book edition, I’m happy to do so at cost + shipping. The package is $28, plus tax, plus shipping. Just leave me a note if you are interested.

Nemesis Crashing

Anyway, a stop into Toys ‘ R Us revealed the three pack “Gathering at the Nemesis” set featuring the voyager Megatron from the first movie, the Fallen and a vaguely G1 paint application Soundwave. And despite my feelings on the new movie, I might have been swayed enough to pick up the set at $74.99, except that I’d previously grabbed  the Fallen, the one figure in the set I was really keen on. Up until last night, the Fallen (for all the problems he introduced into the “plot” of the second movie) was the only on-screen Movie 2 figure in my collection aside from the deluxe Sideswipe procured as first editions at Botcon 2009, and bought well before I knew just how awful the film would turn out.

With respect to the other voyager figure on offer, I have the U.S. Best Buy tru-colour Voyager Megatron from the first film. So even though this Megatron is pretty close to screen accurate (at least much more so than the first release), I can’t really generate interest to put him on my shelf, particularly given that I turned down the Battle in the Box style gold version of the same Megatron versus Jazz two pack during my last Target order.

And Soundwave still looks terrible and undersized. Maybe if there is a leader class Soundwave, I’ll reconsider him. But not at that size.

Hole in the Sky

The toy line of course is causing me all kinds of mixed feelings, and I can’t really decide if I want to cut it out of my collection like a cancer or allow myself to pick and choose as much as I am inclined to do. Of course, given all the goodness that are the upcoming figures like Brakedown, Dirge and Bludgeon, among others, there is bound to be some TF2-labelled toys in the collection. And it’s true that I am resisting the likes of Deluxe Ravage and Devastator, to say nothing of Deluxe Mudflap and Skids, as well as those figures whom I already have in abundance in the same scale from the last film like Bumblebee and Prime.

But there is not a clear line, in which I can say I won’t buy anything, a situation made worse knowing that a portion of the profits go into Michael Bay’s pocket (although I don’t know if that agreement includes non-screen transformers.)

I am having big issues with the Legends scale figures, since I love this scale and have done as much as possible to gobble up the previous reiterations of this line. It feels like a big sucking black hole to leave out the TF2 figures and yet I cannot justify them at their regular price.

Unfortunately, I cannot resist the Fact Action Battlers. I expect to grab them all including the abominations that are Skids and Mudflap. That said, at $15.99, I’m going to try to pick them up on discount, although the Grindor repaint of Blackout almost came home last regardless of price.

The absence of TF2 Robot Heroes from my collection is a little easier to justify, not because I don’t love them because I absolutely do, but because the movie ones lack the fun that made their G1, BW, BM and even Movie 1 versions must haves in the collection. The hole bothers me, of course, but somehow not as much. The only set where I am waffling is the Battle of the Fallen set, and then only because the Fallen is so big and the Prime/Jetfire hybrid is well-done.

Gravity bots are definitely a no. I like the hot wheels-inspired RPMs but they are a lot of money. And they aren’t really transformers. Likewise the Robot Replicas, which despite my love of Action Masters, I avoided for the first film and will avoid for its sequel.

Compromise Bloody Compromise

As for the main line (so far), here is my list of yes, no and maybe (i.e., only if on sale), and what I have to date.

Basic: Brakedown, Dune Runner
Deluxe: Autobot Gears, Brawn, Breakaway, Dirge, Lockdown, Sideways, Smokescreen, Swerve, Thrust
Human Alliance: Barricade, Sideswipe
Voyager: Bludgeon, Long Haul (but basically because he looks so good in classic Construction green), Mindwipe
Leader: Starscream
Exclusives: The Fury of Fearswoop

Basic: Ejector, Scalpel
Deluxe: Skids, Wheelie, Blazemaster, Bumblebee, Cannon Bumblebee, Deep Desert Brawl, Interrogator Barricade, Mudflap, Ravage, Soundwave, Stalker Scorponok, Strike Mission Sideswipe, Tuner Mudflap
Voyager: Deep Desert Ratchet, Defender Optimus Prime, Demolisher, Ironhide, Megatron, Mixmaster, Optimus Prime, Stratosphere
Exclusives: “Burning” The Fallen, Gathering at the Nemesis
Leader: Devastator, Shadow Command Megatron

Basic: Dead End, Knock Out, Nightbeat, Ransack, Reverb, Rollbar, Scattershot, Sonar, Wideload<
Deluxe: Arcee, Armorhide, Ratchet, Skids+Mudflap, Chromia, Rampage
Human Alliance: Bumblebee, Skids
Voyager: Grindor, Starscream, Recon Ironhide
Exclusives: Superion, Super Tuner Throwdown (Blowpipe vs. Sideways)
Leader: Jetfire, Megatron, Optimus Prime

Basic: Depthchage, Dirt Boss
Deluxe: Dead End, Jolt, Sideswipe
Voyager: The Fallen,
Exclusives: Ramjet, Skywarp, Whirl + Bludgeon two pack, Straightaway Shootout

You notice two things on this list - Starscream and the Mudflap and Skids two-pack. On Starscream, even though the figure is just a repaint, the repainted symbols are really nice. But I think my solution will be to get the upcoming Leader scale version of the character which gives me a different scale but all the bells and whistles that are appealing about this look. Although I am a sucker for seekers.”

As for Mudflaps and Skids, despite my loathing of these characters, the ice cream truck idea was pretty neat. So I’m torn there. Maybe it’s a sales package only.

My wavering on toys seems to have taken me away from the conclusion of the trip last night, which, again, was to simply see the steel box of the Fallen in its native environment, the sale’s shelf at FutureShop. We then went next door to BestBuy where I remembered the real reason for the trip, which was to see the new Shout! Production of the original cartoon in all its 16 disc glory.

And lo, there it was, on sale at $99 and giving me hope that the GIJoe companion set would be similarly featured for the release of the Rise of Cobra.

The plan was to simply buy one for my nephew for Christmas and tuck it away until the holidays. Because I own all the Rhino Generation One DVDs (which I can’t really part with because they are signed by the likes of Michael Bell), a problem I don’t have with the Rhino incomplete GIJoe collection. And yet, the draw of special features and the oh-so-matrixy box and the price was too much and I surrendered.

Upon getting to the cash, I was surprised when the cashier paused me to run and get a special add-on. Yes, the Revenge of the Fallen promotional t-shirt came with each package, so I got a free shirt I’ll likely never wear. But still, it’s something, right?

So then we went home and I popped in the special features during my Halloween costume work, and it was all worth it. I can’t wait to see the scripts when I have time to load the DVDs into a computer.

September 27, 2009

Ottawa Fall Garage Sale

Filed under: collecting — fairplaythings @ 3:27 am

Well, you know me. Sucker for a chance to hit a garage sale, particularly after the last one turned out to be so good. So when the Landsdown Park electronic sign listed it as an upcoming event, I was sure to add the Ottawa Flea Market to my list of must-see events for September.

Boy, was that a waste of time.

With the newly acquired car, I was certain that the day would be carefree. No worrying about where I’d pack my great finds, no time delays because of bike transit. Or so I though. Funny thing though - and this is an indication of how unfamiliar I am with the whole car thing - pedal power may wear you out but you can also bypass the bottlenecked traffic of the Glebe, in a way you cannot in a car. And then there is parking. It costs! Five bucks for the privilege! So the convenience of having space has saved me no time and cost me money.

Inside the main event, I went straight to the good table. And they did not disappoint me, with a special find that is going to end up under someone’s Christmas tree for sure. But they were the only real bright light at the show. Other than a white barbered MLP for a quarter and a set of Sigma Six figures (Duke and Destro for $10), my adventure came back pretty much empty handed. There were only little bits of toys here and there and most of them were only interesting because of the mislabeling. A 12″ Street Fighter Blanka? He’s $10 and listed as Snake-Eyes because someone has dressed him in the 1991 12″ Snake-Eyes clothes. Thirty year old Fisher-Price toys listed as “collectables” for $15 a pop. That sort of thing.

There were only two real points that stood out for me. The first was early on when I spotted a small 1984 Ravage toot bag. Yes, I passed on it even though it was only $5. Why? Well, I really couldn’t figure out what I would do with a Ravage toot bag, but I was also completely turned off that, when I asked, my question was met with “and I think this is the original…” as if there was a reissue.

The second was quite sad. Toward the end of the misadventure, I come upon two tables with nothing but GIJoe vehicle carcasses. Wonderful!, I think. Something to get excited about. Repaint city! That is until I get close enough to see the price tags:

  • HISS - $25;
  • Wolverine (no treads, missiles or cord) - $20;
  • Night Raven (no small jet, one rear wing, no missiles) - $60;
  • HQ main front gun - $15;
  • Skystriker (no rear wings, missiles cockpit) - $40…

And it went on like this. The fellow at the table tried to tell me that he and his son spent time putting parts together. But it’s hard to believe they had any idea what they were doing when they were charging these kind of prices for accessory-less husks. I picked up the Night Raven, for example, and noticed they hadn’t gotten the drop-down cockpit inserted corrected. Later, the proprietor would ask me if I knew what a certain green sled was, to which I responded that it sit itself in the middle of the H.A.V.O.C. vehicle, and the doors opened up to reveal the secret vehicle.

Until that point, one could get a H.A.V.O.C. with one door and no accessories for $20, but needed to spend another $15 for the sled. If I thought the guy who tried to get $20 out of me for a series of vehicle accessories was being too serious, I take it all back now.

All in all, a bit of a bust, particularly given that I would later snag six assorted MLPs (for customing, of course - I don’t really have a problem..) for $7 at Value Village by St. Laurent. But I have learned one thing though. Sometimes you just have to bring a camera. Somethings must be seen to truly be appreciated.

September 22, 2009

Take your Munny to the Slaughter

Filed under: GIJoe, collecting, custom, munny, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 2:04 am

I’m still pretty exhausted from the past weekend’s activities but I really need to get them down for posterity. And to show you pics of course. So I am holding off sleep to give you the important news. Which I’ll make properly rambly in any event, but still, it’s worth holding out on sleep to note properly.

This past weekend, you see, I took the opportunity to go down to Toronto for the 6th Annual Canadian Action Figure Expo. Seemingly hosted by a lot of the usual TFCon suspects, it seemed like a good reason to get out of the city for a break. Now I’d never been to the Expo before, but experienced a bit of what I thought it would be like with the newly-added second day of TFCon, where the show was expanded to include other toy lines.

I collect other toy lines. Such is my cross to bear.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to see what I could gather up. Of course, I attended this event like I do any other event - with a mental checklist only. Which doesn’t help when it comes to getting parts but isn’t bad in terms of eye-candy (which of course has implications for the pocket book, but no surprise there). Admittedly, there was another draw too. I must confess that an appearance by Sergeant Slaughter, former WWF wrestling champion, current WWE ambassador and past pitchman for G.I.Joe, was the icing on the cake. As a kid, I use to watch WWF and Grand Pre wrestling with my grandfather, so I got to know all the superstars of the day. So I have a healthy dose of nostalgia there too. And I actually own the original mail-away Sergeant Slaughter figure (although could I find it for the show?… not on your life…)

So I chance to blend my love of toys (or as my grandfather use to call them, “dolls”), with our past shared interest in lazy Saturday afternoon watching wrestling was too rich to pass up.

I’ll get into more about the Expo (what I call the good, the bad and the dumb) in the coming days. But let’s talk about Sarge. He was basically running a Q&A session from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. and then signing autographs afterward. The Q&A was quite good. He’s a really affable fellow and quite interesting with his various stories from his wrestling days and his days as a Joe. And of course, it’s always appropriate to have the last question prompted by Cobra Commander. Later, I waited in what was a very efficient autograph line to dutifully get my item autographed (in my case, the Warthog, the big amphibious vehicle which he piloted in the late 1980s in the toy line) and then back in line for a picture with the Sarge.

While I think having a picture of little me and big him together would have looked cool too, how could I turn down his generous offer of his signature move, the Cobra Clutch?

But then, I had a surprise for him.

At heart, I am a big fan boy. By big, I mean massive. So I am going to Toronto for a toy show and the big push over-the-top in terms of rationale is to meet Sarge. Of course, I have to bring something with me as a gift. The adult in me cringes even admitting this, and yet I cannot help but think it was appropriate to undertake such a last minute project as an adult in appreciation for bridging my toy world with my grandfather’s wrestling world. Something appropriate….

And that’s when I decided to create the Sargeant Slaughter munny.

That I have to wait until the night before I leave to have this realization, while trying to find something for the autograph line meant that the effort did not leave a lot to error. I wasn’t bringing a close to final piece. As with Botcon 2009, I was once again embarking on a project that I would kick myself for not finishing but which might end up impossible to do in the time frame allowed. So I am still a little surprised how (relatively speaking) easily it all came together.

Before I left Ottawa, I grabbed a pre-dyed black 4″ munny and quickly spray painting the flesh parts, I wrapped up the required paint colours, necessary line art for the original mail-in edition (which is also very much his pro-wrestling attire) and accessories, and took it all with me to work on into the wee hours of Saturday morning in my hotel room. Time meant I couldn’t do a fancy box, but having the idea worked out at home meant I could whip up more than just a figure. I was able to use a standard 4″ munny cowbow hat, with the edges removed and replaced with an epoxy brim, for Sarge’s ubiquitous stetson. His staff was an altered pinwheel handle. And rather than paint on the trademark glass, I used the 4″ versions to complete the look. The rest was standard line art and paint applications, except for the whistle which is added with epoxy.

Given the advantage of a dyed body and the spray-painted fleshtone, Sarge Munny came together reasonably easy (with the exception of the hat, which took more effort because I lacked wax paper and a solid plan for working it out in advance) and I’m very happy with the overall effect. In the end, I went with a cartoony look for his face because, well, I’m better at that look than I am at hyper-realism. And I put the GIJoe logo on his back, as opposed to his leg, for space advantages.

So after he released me (you don’t escape the Cobra clutch; the Sarge lets you go…) I mentioned I had something for him and brought out the munny. I really wish I’d had more forethought to tell him the story about papa and I watching wrestling together or even explaining about the popularity of vinyl toys. But I did get out enough to say it was to thank him for coming and could I get a picture.

He was gracious to oblige.

Part of the reasoning to get this post up and printed was in case Sarge checked the site. I did put one of my remaining first-run cards in the box. And I didn’t want to take the chance that he might skip by without seeing a more detailed history. But in the end, even if the munny ends up in one of his boxes of souvenirs that I’m sure he’s picked up at events over the past quarter century, it made all the effort worth it. Thanks Sarge!

Yo Joe!

September 18, 2009

Catalogue shopping

Filed under: 13 movie, collecting, nostalgia — fairplaythings @ 2:07 am

This is the story of why I still sometimes find the love for eBay.

One of the collections I hoard and covet are company toy catalogues that are released by companies like Mattel, Hasbro and ToyBiz, to entice merchants to buy their stuff to stock their shelves. The pictures are usually phenomenal and you get a real sense of the marketing push behind each and every product line. Even better, you get to see a lot of prototypes and unreleased toys that just didn’t make it out to the shelves for one reason or another. Along with Star Wars Droids and the unreleased Super Powers Darkseid Tower of Darkness, there have been a number of Transformers that fall into this category, including the original planned releases of what became Scorponok and Polar Claw from the Beast Wars years and a number of Generation 2 planned repaints like Soundwave, Jazz, Sergeant Hound and General Optimus (which frankly could have worked if Hound had been the dozer and in the greens reserved for Prime), and Megatron ATB. Another is the aborted Wonder Woman and the Star Riders which Mattel pitched in 1992.

Anyway, I’ve been picking up catalogs for decades now, starting when I worked as a box boy at the local variety store back home, and rescued the toy catalogs each spring. Ten years ago this summer, I found a great collection of mid-1990s Hasbro catalogs through eBay, which started me down this particular hoarding path anew. And in the years since, I’ve picked them up here and there when the shipping and the pricing is good. So while I haven’t gone overboard and bought some of the truly expensive and rarer ones (1970s Megos and Star Wars-era Kenner), I have a really solid collection.

In fact, right now, Perulator is holding an order for seven Mattel catalogs from 1990 to 1996, a few of which I have but the offer of which I could not pass up because of the  bulk saving on postage and overall price.

If eBay is good for one thing, it is letting you know when items meeting a basic description come up for sale. But I have my reminders sent to my hotmail account and I don’t check it frequently, so I frequently find neat offers after the fact. So you can imagine my surprise very early Wednesday morning when I learned that someone had offers for Hasbro catalogs from 1996 to 2001 starting at a penny a piece. Wow! A lot of times you get exorbitant starting bids or “buy it now” on eBay and catalogs are no exception. But sometimes you get lucky and this was lucky. So I clicked the links and raced over.

Only to find the auctions closed. As Max Short might say, “I missed it by this much”. 30 minutes in my case.

For me, the biggest hassle with eBay is shipping. A lot of people can’t be bothered to ship to Canada. Others try and use shipping and handling practices to cover the expense of PayPal and eBay. So the five dollar 1996 Mattel catalog I bought as a one-off ends up costing $20 after the shipping. So finding almost a dozen catalogs, a number of which I need (because I am not above buying doubles to fill out the collection and use in future trades) in one spot is an amazing thing. And missing the chance to bid is very disappointing. But it gets worse because, among the half dozen catalogs that I need from this collection, are a number of pre-toyfair catalogues, slimmer volumes that are released in advance of the annual toy show in New York. Pre-toyfair catalogues are harder to find. While they frequently pitch a smaller assortment of the upcoming years toys, they are also a way of testing the waters to see if there is interest from merchants in a particular product line. If there is insufficient pick-up, the line will die a quick death before the main offering is underway at Toyfair. Jem, Battle Beasts, and Air Raiders have all had offerings made in the pre-Toyfair catalogue that were dropped as a result of this situation. So pretty cool stuff.

What to do, what to do.

Taking matters into my own hands, I email the seller and offer him $10 per catalogue (total $110). Yes, I might be able to get them for less individually but it will take time and any savings will be negated by shipping costs. And I’d totally pay $10 at a toy show for similar items, so why not try my luck at swaying him with a big price tag at the front end. It worked. The seller was disappointed by the inaction on the catalogues and pulled the auction, but agreed to put up a special “buy-it-now” for me to take advantage of the collection. Fearful of eBay’s wrath and/or to protect himself through eBay’s policies, he wanted to do it officially through the website as oppose to informally. So after much nervousness that some delay at my end would allow another collector to swoop in and take the collection for themselves, I was able to find the auction this morning and seal the deal. The result? I have an uninterrupted Hasbro collection that spans from 1987 to 2001, including eight pre-Toyfair catalogues. Add to my run on Mattel catalogs from 1988 to 1996, and Kenner run from 1986 to 1992 (minus 1988), the collection is pretty impressive.

And I have plans. Terrible, terrible plans. :)

Now to round out some of those other titles. ToyBiz? LJN? I’m looking at you.

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