April 22, 2011

New and old Transformers make the world go around

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 4:10 pm

Unleash the Beast!

Even when there are decent finds at a flea market or toy show or whatever you have attended, it is often hard to get past that one amazing piece that totally made the show for you. My first Botcon was like that. Even though the pre-Beast Wars set (plus add-ons!) were absolutely amazing, even though I got two full sets (with two figures each!) from the customizing class of insect drones to turn into a Rumble or Inferno, even though there were so many other amazing finds like South American transformers and other characters, what I remember about the show are the MIB Clench and Pyro that I bought from the Hartmans for $15 a pop.

A thirty dollar purchase stands out when hundreds do not.

Micromasters have the power to surprise.

Micromasters have the power to surprise.

And so it’s the same with last weekends show. Even though it was a really good day for inexpensive Transformers, it’s really hard to focus on anything other than Great Mazinga. Which is a shame because there were some other really good finds that day, and related to my primary collection (Transformers) that really need to be addressed.

There was a miscellaneous box of Transformers that I found during the day for $40 for everything there. It actually caught my eye because Julie is a Dinobot fiend and I thought she’d like the blue G2 Grimlock (that I’ve previously picked up). To facilitate her pick-up, I haggled the box cost down to $30, a price I was willing to spend, figuring that I would recoup half of that back with a fair $15 sale to Julie. Which I did.

But what I got for the other $15 surprised even me. Because I really didn’t look that closely at what was there until I got home, beyond the Grimlock and the G2 Brawl. TM Tarantulas, TM Rattrap, TM Optimus Primal, one of those bird transformers from Energon, a Rocklord, and a few other characters. For $15, they were worth a pick-up on their own. Add in a nice G2 Brawl, and it was a good find. Otherwise a find for the day, but one that pales besides Great Mazinga.

Two action masters, Boba Fett and a mountie walk into a bar...

Two action masters, Boba Fett and a mountie walk into a bar...

But what makes the story EVEN BETTER is that the seller, after accepting my price, then draws my attention ON HER OWN to six little Micromasters sitting on her table. Including Countdown. Who I love. Who I don’t have. And then she says, she’ll let them go for $15.


Later on I also grabbed a small bag of McFormers, that happened to come with the Movie Optimus Prime cake topper that comes with a store-bought cake that I’ve been trying to convince anyone who will listen they should buy me so I can get. And now I have it. For cheap. And without bad cake. Woot!

There was more that day. The Octane I picked up for a few bucks from the Microdealer. The vintage $20 Boba Fett, circa 1980. The odd Mountie that is going off to hopefully join a toy museum in Japan I discovered (and which I’ll get around to discussing one of these days). The $2 Action Masters and the $2 (!) Overdrive from the Pony dealer who lost Julie’s Ponies. The Essoformer (part of a series of mid-1980s toys to be featured in the future). A good day

And then we went to Toys ‘r Us.

Pretty pretty boxes.

Pretty pretty boxes.

TRU was having a 25% off sale. These days, as much as possible, I try and hold out for 25% sales, because I only get upset when I buy for full price and what a sale would have saved me. Yes, it can be risky because it means some figures may disappear. But overall it is working. And so it was that I brought home Highbrow, the Overlord-repaint of the Fallen, Payload, and Banzai-Tron. It also allowed me to return two previously purchase full cost figures - Strafe and Lugnut - so I could get a 25% discount on them as well. Overall, I saved $45 on the six, and would have spent saved more if they had had Grappel or Deep Dive, both of whom I still want.

The rest of the picture is filled with purchases from Sunday. A Constructicon green garbage can for the new toy room in the new house, two water bottles, a new lock, and the first two mini-MLP:FiM figures for Kirilaw. She now has five in total. We continue to search for Fluttershy who seems to be shortpacked.

The day ended with a great threeway lunch at Lone Star (texmex) and a return to TRU to delicately go through all the Lego wave 4 figure assortments so Kellie could catch them all (she got 15 of 16 in the end), and from which collection the geisha figure came into my possession.

April 21, 2011

If I’m so great, why can’t I rocket punch my friends?

Filed under: Collectible of the Day, Shogun Warriors — fairplaythings @ 12:53 am

Blame Steveover at the Roboplastic Apocalypso for ruining the surprise “the best was yet to come.” Or blame me for being overly explicit with respect to the subject of today’s post. But blame someone! Because today truly was a find…

For Ponyville.

Jack and the Ponies

Yes, one of the big reasons for attending the flea market was to pick up a couple of rare G1 My Little Ponies for Julie (aside, I wonder what the hardcore, nothing-beats-GeeOne-ers in the Trans community think of the fact that MLPs are renowned for their G1, G2, and G3 lines…) Unfortunately, the Ponies were mysteriously gone from the table, even though they had been explicitly put aside for her. The story was that the table’s owner had sold a massive lot of G1s to another collector during the Friday set-up (the dark story of all toy and antique shows is that the people who are there first, the other sellers, often get the choice bits), and they must have been a part of the sale.

Interestingly, Julie knew the buyers in question - stationed in another part of the building. When we spoke to them (I’d like to say interrogated because I was bound and determined to discover what kept my friend from her ponies), they denied getting the two specific ponies in question, that the sales woman had in fact held onto them explicitly for Julie. Had in fact told these two they were for Julie. So where did they go? Two more separate inspections of her sales table on both Saturday and Sunday turned up nothing. It’s possible they walked away at some point (as I’ve heard from at least three tables I have spoken to of thefts), or were sold by one of her helpers by mistake (also a possibility).

Spenser runs with the Ponies

Spenser runs with the Ponies

In any event, the missed opportunity did take a bit of the zip out of Julie’s step, although I believe the M.A.S.K. collection may have helped perk her back up. In the meantime, Julie found a G1 Apple Jack, which I opted to pick up for my girl Kirilaw, because it matches the G1-style Neca bobblehead (circa 2003) that I picked her up many years ago. Which led to picking up a baby MLP because it was a unicorn and cute, as well as a G3-style MLP, mainly for fun. While Kirilaw assures me she does not collect Ponies, and doesn’t want to, I try and break her resolve every chance I get.

I also grabbed her the first three Jack of Fables trades for $5 each. Unfortunately she had them all, so they are fresh paper for the local library to do as they will.

And that was that… except for one other possibly important bit…

Tranzor Z!

If Great Mazinga is so great, why is his red chest plate not big enough to balance his new friend, 4" Munny Rodimus?

Bigger than the children to whom he was marketed (and able to crush in-progress TFA Rodimus with little effort)

Yes, the microtable also had one box 23.5″ Shogun Warrior named Great Mazinga (or Tranzor Z as he was known in his cartoon). I was very excited about Great Maz! I’ve long wanted a great Shogun for my collection and have longed for one since I was a little boy forced to put all my Shogunian hopes and dreams into the form of a 3″ tall Dragon whom I inexplicably smashed with a rock in retaliation for accidentally breaking another kid’s 5″ Shogun Warrior. (What can I say? Kids have strange logic!) But there was a problem. Even though he was in terrific shape, in his unfaded bilingual box (minus his knives and rockets of course), he was priced according to his position in the toy pantheon: $120.

Now that’s a fair and honest price for the toy in the condition he was in, particularly since similar toys on ebay go for more than that and require shipping and handling charges that, combined, can as much as double the cost of the figure. But it was more that I expected to spend on a single item at the show. In fact, I had expected I’d overestimated the amount required when I took out that $200 the day before, but just being proactive in case it was a good day. And, now that it was a good day, I was without enough money for the Shogun without returning to the cash machine.

So with all the toys (Transformers train set, the various Micronauts figures, accessories, and playsets, and GIJoe figures), we returned to Kellie’s car to empty our arms and continue our sweep of the building. And to contemplate the mystery of Tranzor Z, and whether he would in fact come home. By the time I got to the car, very thankful indeed that Kellie had opted to drive Julie and I to the event and shop with us so that we were not laden down with toys and prevented from easily continuing our hunt or getting homeworld bound, I was certain I needed to own Great Mazinga. But at what cost? I decided to try and bring the price down to $100, and, armed with renewed cash, I returned to my prize (dreading a bit he may have sold in the meantime.)

He hadn’t. And with some haggling he was mine for $110.

He was the find of the day. Great Mazingaand I finished the show together. He was admired by others who love their toy plastic, and he is a toy to be proudly displayed. Ironically, I would learn on my return to the sale on Sunday, mainly on the promise that there would be a 23.5″ Dragonfor sale too (which turned out not to be the case because the legendary red robot could not be found in time), that Great Mazinga had a brother there. But there is really only space in one house for one Great Mazinga at a time (particularly when I later learned that Great Mazinga’s red chest plate was smaller, his fist non-firing, and his rocket head non-removable, compared to the might of the earlier Shogunian reiteration, Mazinga - because if you are going to have two Mazingas, they should at least be variants…)

But alas, now I am hooked again on this greatest of the giant robots line, left to see what kind of hassle and expense it will be to track down Dragon, as well as Raydeen and the never-released-in-North-America-but-similar-scale Combatra. And a decent-size sword for Great Mazinga (because the original swords are really little more than red knifes for him). But let me assure you this is the greatest toy a kid in the 1970s could ever have. So good that I am tempted to try and find one for my eldest nephew to enjoy (cringing a bit at the thought of a 35 year old toy being played with, but still). Really, you just need to watch this video to appreciate these figures.

April 20, 2011

Surely two hundred dollars should afford me a micro house in the sand…

Filed under: Collectible of the Day, micronauts — fairplaythings @ 2:53 am

Before I begin, I feel I need to confess something. Unless like many of my peers, I was not really into Star Wars toys. Oh I had some favourites that I would have loved to have had in my collection - the AT-AT, a Slave-One, a Snowspeeder, and an Imperial Tie-Fighter come to mind. But I didn’t have the collect-them-all mentality with Star Wars. I suspect it was a combination of what my friends were playing with (GIJoe) and a love of detailing (those early Joe vehicles had awesome plastic work!), but more than a little bit of it was the lack of articulation of Han, Luke, Leia, and crew. Simply put, I wanted my figures to have a waist and elbows and knees. GIJoe had this in spades, and Hasbro was smart enough to include a figure with most vehicles over the $10 price range (something, interestingly enough, it now does more and more with Star Wars vehicles now that it has the license).

But before GIJoe was, there had to be something else that held my attention, something that sealed the deal for a love of the Joes. And that thing was the Micronauts (not exactly as shown)! I loved the detail of this line, just as I loved that I could pick up a vehicle and it would come with its pilot (a big deal when you had only an allowance) and the figures had articulation. The only thing missing was friends to play Micronauts with, but I made due with the pieces I had - Repto, the Battle Cruiser (broken the first Christmas morning it was opened), and the Warp Racer and Photon Sled I purchased for myself. These Micros were loved hard and, though I still have many of their parts, they have seen better days.

Decades later, having rescued the remains of my Micronauts from my parents’ basement, I’ve set out acquiring pieces here and there. In the 1990s, a large find at the Great Glebe Garage Sale led to my possession of most of the Mobile Exploration Lab. A few years ago, at one of the many toy shows organized around Toronto, I was able to return to my nostalgia for all things innerspace, and pick up a fresh Battle Cruiser (in original package), a Giant Acroyear set, and a Hornetroid for $20 each. Along with a number of Palisades reissues acquired in the middle of the last decade, including the likes of Baron Karza and Red Falcon. So I’m always looking for a chance to add to the collection, chances that don’t come up as much as I would like owing to the vintage of this particular 35 year old toy line from a defunct toy company.

So you can imagine my reaction when, looking up from the now-manhandled Tyco Transformers train set, I looked to my left and saw boxed Micronauts…

Caution: This box rockets!

Caution: This box rockets!

And not just any Micronauts either…

Rocket Tubes!

What a beautiful find. And it is impossible for me not to get swept up by the sheer size and condition of the box. Expecting a huge price point, I inquired on the cost, and was shocked to be told the Rocket Tubes could be mine for $20. $20. That’s apparently $30 less than they retailed for almost 35 years ago (or $250 less than their after-inflation cost.)

The modern day leaning tower.

The modern day leaning tower.

Now the set has its drawbacks. It does not include instructions, making it hard for me to reassemble the piece (though I did quite well I think based solely on box art). The plastic does not hold together as well as it could (but this could be simply my unwillingness to force 35 year old plastic). And obviously the stickers are fraying badly. And although the engine works, and can actually send its empty cars forward through the inner tubes, the engine is weak and the cars do not go very far when piloted by a GIJoe stand-in.

But it’s white, it’s complete and it’s mine!

Preconstruction Microhomes

So Rocket Tubes. And right under the Rocket Tubes? Oh yes, it’s the Interplanetary Headquarters. I’m just chomping at the bits to try my hand at putting this one together, to see how the honeycomb-style panels actually work, but I’m waiting for a chance to do so as part of a more permanent arrangement of my Microverse. And the price once again? $20.

Now I should mention before I get too far ahead of myself, that you will notice these boxes are bilingual. As such, it means they are examples of Micronauts, as marketed in Canada by Grand Toy, a toy distributor of some renown. And somehow quite appropriate to add to my collection.

...and the rest!

And there was still more! The gentleman also had a Betatron for $15, the oddly-shaped, Fisher-Price looking Star Searcher for $12, and a vintage Biotron in box (missing cover flap) for $25. Now Biotron I have, having picked up the 2000 Takara reissue, but I was too far gone at this point, and so Biotron also came home.

And I was over the moon. But the best was yet to come…

April 19, 2011

The battle of the O-rings and lunch boxes from long ago

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 12:12 am

So yesterday, before I was able to pounce on the Transformers train set, I told you I already had a bag of figures in my hand. Time to tell you a bit about them. You see, the same table happened to have a ziplock bag full of both complete and broken GIJoe figures, along with some loose limbs and torsos, and a few accessories. How could I pass up a bag of figures for $15, the perfect donor figures for Frankenjoes?

What was nice about the set was that there were a few figures in the set that were quite welcome. A Barbecue in great condition and with his gun to boot!, as well as most of a Crimson Guard (only missing his crotch piece), and a Star Viper. Always nice to bring home Joes, for sale or for customizing, but particularly when there are interesting ones to add to the collection.

You’ll notice that the picture of the Joes also includes a jet model. The jet is a replica of the infamous Avro Arrow, the legendary pinnacle of Canadian aviation of the late 1950s that was scrapped under mysterious conditions. I’ve been thinking about a kitbashed Avro Arrow transformer - even have a backstory - and saw this model in Ottawa for $50. Finding it for $10 was too good to pass up. We’ll see if the kitbash can get done in time for TFCon…

That was really it for the table. A train set, some Joes, and a model set. But it was while I was reaching for the train that I saw a hint of what would be the downfall for my wallet. But more on those micro issues tomorrow.

In the meantime, let me share with you a few other finds that followed what will be chronicled tomorrow. Julie, Kellie, and I would come upon a toy dealer with old MASK toys, three of them in fact, for $20 a piece and in their original packaging. One of those finds you don’t want to let go of, even if you don’t collect the line. In the end, Julie took them all home for $50.

And then there was Captain Power. The lunchbox that is. The lunchbox that has been at previous sales. The lunchbox that, the last time I inquired on the price, the seller told me it would be $10, and I balked at the price. The lunchbox that, when I asked this time, and got “one dollar”, I immediately pulled out exact change. My lunchbox.

April 18, 2011

Bigger than the soul train, more timely than the O-train…

Filed under: Collectible of the Day, Collectible of the Day - Transformers — fairplaythings @ 12:31 pm

Seen better days

Seen better days

The day began with planning days in the making. Toy amigos Julie and Kellie arrived at 8:30 to pick me up and take us first for Bridgehead coffee and then to the show. The plan was to grab My Little Ponies and other toys for Julie (she has a fondness for Starriors and TMNT!), mini donuts for Kellie, and general interesting plastic for me. Having arrived right on time at 9:00 a.m. (for the first time ever), we turned right from the entrance and headed to a regular at the end of the second row who usually has a few transformers. Alas there was nothing to be found, always a possibility, but I noticed that Julie was nowhere to be found. Turning to Kellie to inquire what happened to her, she pointed to the table directly behind me where Julie was digging with joy through a pile of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Which happened to be right beside the original 1985 Transformers train set.

I almost leapt the table to get over there.

The trainset, one of Tyco’s many licensed train sets from back in the day, had seen better days box wise. It was tattered and damaged, but it was intact. And inside appeared to be all the parts included originally in the set. The price was $30. With a bag of figures in my hand that I will talk about tomorrow, I figured why not grab the set. I mean, after all, what is the likelihood that I’m going to find other items of significant note. Oh how little did I know…

Now, the tfwiki does a better job talking about this find than I do. All I can really say is that the set was certainly loved. The cardboard cut outs that form the electrical station and towers are all intact, albeit clearly showing signs of being folded in the same manner for a quarter century. The mat itself though is in near perfect condition which is really the important thing. And all the paperwork is intact.

The train...

The train...



In terms of the train itself, the train tracks are showing the results of wear and tear, with some of the “wooden” sections snapped off over the years. The train itself is almost completely intact, save a radar dish for the command centre car, and, most distressing of all, the side panels (wings) and one set of wheels for the caboose. Here’s hoping another caboose can be found one day to substitute into the set.

Finally, we come to the robots, which you would think would be the highlight of the piece, given that most of the train itself has been recycled across Tyco’s licensed train sets. In fact, the “transformers” are completely non-descript, generic robots that someone thought would do the job. They could pass for many a cannon fodder robot introduced throughout the comic or the cartoon over the year, but there is no sign of Optimus, Megatron, or the others.

Frankly, given Hasbro’s penchance to reuse molds in the early years, the entire force could be rounded out by seekers, mini-spy volkswagons, lamborghinis and datsons. That said, it does appear the robots are all present and accounted for.

And that’s not bad for $30.

April 17, 2011

In Ottawa, no one can here you Mego-scream

Filed under: Uncategorized — fairplaythings @ 11:01 pm
Local wildlife seems friendly enough…

In Ottawa, we have a sizeable portion of public land about two miles from Parliament Hill that we refer to as Landsdown Park, the former home to the Ottawa Senators and various Canadian Football League franchises. In significant need of renewable, it consists of a number of buildings, including the historic Aberdeen Pavillian, and is currently the home of a number of cool events like concerts (Alice Cooper and Anvil, May 16), Ontario Hockey League games, the Ottawa Exhibition, and various craft, wedding, sex, and home shows throughout the year.

It is also the home two or three times a year of a decent flea market-style event, the likes of which I’ve previously discussed. It is usually a decent place to find collectibles of the plastic variety - sometimes overpriced, sometimes really cheap, but always really interesting - and it has come to have a prominent place on my social calendar. Because while there are other flea markets around the city, this one is a non-permanent fixture (and therefore lacks the grimness and picked-overness that often accompany long-term flea market venues).

But never has it been the personal financial sinkhole and toy success that it was this weekend (a situation that is somewhat bittersweet knowing that the venue’s days for this kind of event are numbered now that it is in the thralls of of an Ottawa-based consortium determined to rule the world gleeful at shadily winning an unfair competition to develop the land for profit in a mostly-one sided contract.)

Mighty hunter can play too.

Mighty hunter can play too.

Back to the toys, the sale was something amazing. Not only was there a number of worthwhile buys from a number of the returning vendors (and some great prices in some cases), there was also one dealer in particular who came bearing a microverse of shogunian (apologies Steve) proportions. And the weekend didn’t just end there, but also spilled over into more general shopping for toys and clothes the likes of which I have never seen. It was a four figure weekend, and, man oh man, was it awesome!

It was too awesome to wrap up in a single day post.

Given that we here at fairplaythings have been neglectful of late of the Collectible of the Day, I’ve decided to turn the entire week into a discussion of just what I brought home in the preceding 36 hour period, roughly in order of the acquisitions:

  • Monday - the train that set a thousand toy dreams afire
  • Tuesday - yoJoe!
  • Wednesday - they came from inner space
  • Thursday - Tranzor Z!
  • Friday - return to Cyberville
  • Saturday - returning to the microverse

Where does that leave us for today? Well, one cannot spent the kind of coin I spent on clothing and not put it somewhere. So today is the day of furry animals and fabrics that in no way rhyme with Lester. Enjoy!

Channelling Tom Wolf

Channelling Tom Wolf

Available in a variety of wild.

Available in a variety of wild.Same shirt, different day.

Same shirt, different day.

Same shirt, different day.

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