Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Transformers 3rd Party: DX9 - Splinter

It's becoming ever so hard to keep up with all of the 3rd party items, let alone the companies making said items. Not that long ago it seems that yet another new company has thrown their name into the ring, that being DX9. Now I've heard they are the same or an off shoot of Unique Toys. I have no way of proving or disproving this, but from the quality of the item I have in hand; I can say these guys aren't messing around.

I've actually been sitting on this release for a few months now. Not surprising if you personally know me! However this was something I was very interested in and wanted to share for some time now. When DX9 first appeared on the 3rd party scene, they were showing off their Masterpiece scaled Gobots homage to Cy-Kill, Salmoore. While that release was tempting enough, I fought off the temptation. Little did I know however that this mold would be tweaked and released as Splinter, or Wreck-Gar to those of you not in the loop.

The Junkions, specifically Wreck-Gar were never high on my list of Transformers characters, or toys for that matter. I can remember when they were first introduced in Transformers the Movie back in 1986. I just thought they would be throw away characters...then Weird Al's "Dare to be Stupid" song cranked up. Oh yeah!


I only bring up Weird Al because now every time I see Wreck-Gar I associate him w/ Weird Al. Plus Al Yankovic supplied the voice of Wreck-Gar in Transformers Animated.

OK, back on topic. When I saw that DX9 had a Masterpiece scaled Wreck-Gar I knew I had to check it out. What surprises me is this release is a couple of months old now and yet I've seen very little coverage of it on Facebook, YouTube or even on fan sites I visit such as TFW2005.com or Seibertron.com. Well I aim to change that today with my very own post.

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We've got to start things off by looking at the beautiful and colorful packaging. I hate it when companies skimp out on the packaging. Thankfully DX9 has given us a very vivid box. The comic style artwork with all the shades of red and orange, set against the blue sky background really works here. If this style was used for any other character outside Wreck-Gar I'm not sure I would say the same.

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Bottom of the box

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The back of the box features a full image of the figure, however it's a very dark image - almost as if it were a teaser image the company would use online to show off an upcoming product. There is also a bio and a cross sell in the bottom corner showcasing Splinter's mold mate, Salmoore and a black silhouette of their next release; now known to be Invisible, a homage to Mirage.

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At least his bio holds true to his original G1 self. Well except for many that he hails from a thorny planet!

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The instruction sheet is very large and the layout reminds me of what ToyWorld does. However the images are bigger, clearer and easier to decipher the step to get the figure from one form to another. The included bio card uses the front box art on a thick plastic card. I love it. Speaking of the card, I still need to get it scanned in for my side project, the Transformers Bio Card Database.

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Inside the box you'll find a form fitting black plastic tray with a clear plastic lid. Tucked inside is of course Splinter, two exhaust pipes / guns and two wheels with detachable spiked armor.

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Right out of the packaging I could tell I was holding a very nice figure. It's got some heft to it, but it's not a brick. You can just look at all of the sculpted detail, the articulated joints, the die-cast engine (yes, I said die-cast) and you can know this figure is a love letter to the fans.

I took more pictures for this review than I normally would, so I hope I can let some of the pictures do the talking.

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While some liberties have been taken in the overall character design, there is still no doubt who this is. I particularly love the head sculpt and I think they nailed Wreck-Gar's likeness. However the head sits on a ball jointed neck that is just a tad too tall and makes it look like the head is floating. I would have also liked for there to be some light piping for the eyes, but these are minor details I can easily overlook considering how nice the rest of the figure is.

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Modern Transformer toys should be poseable and Splinter does not disappoint. With the inclusion of the die-cast you may think the figure is a little top or back heavy. While there is a noticeable difference in the figure's weight when compared to say an official Takara Tomy Masterpiece figure, it doesn't effect the stability of the figure. As you can see from the now standard karate kick pose, Splinter can easily stand on his own...even on one foot.

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Splinter's weapons also double as the exhaust system while in motorcycle form. I like it when the weapons are integrated or stored in alt mode. Now as part of the motorcycle the piece doesn't really look like a weapon, however with a simple transformation you now have a nice looking rifle. Flip down the hand peg from underneath, extend the body as well as the barrel of the gun. Thee shiny die-cast guns are now ready for Splinter to wield.

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We all know Wreck-Gar learned to speak English by watching television, so here I imagine him saying something with a Clint Eastwood dialect.

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The wheels are detachable so you have a number of ways you can customize the look of the toy. I believe this was done for a few reasons. 1) This mold was originally a homage to the Gobots Renegade leader, Cy-Kill, who wore his motorcycle wheels on his shoulders. 2) It helps with the transformation having the large wheels out of the way.

The spiked armor bits fit over the wheels and they can be positioned with the spikes facing forward (as pictured) or up and down. These armor bits don't fully cover the wheels. The spikes are incredibly sharp so use caution when handling them.

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The original G1 toy's motorcycle form always looked odd to me what with Wreck-Gar's feet just kind of hanging off the sides. Splinter's alt mode however remedies that original design and pulls off a very nice looking modern bike. I'm not a motorcycle expert, but this thing looks like a Harley Davidson to me. Note the trademark flames still remain on the sides of the gas tank.

I'm sure the question a lot of people may be asking or wondering is how does Splinter scale with other Transformers. Well I wanted to include a few pictures with his G1 self, but sadly my G1 Splinter is incomplete so I left him out. However I grabbed several different figures for the comparison shots.

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Splinter is a good bit larger than most of the current Generations deluxes so right off the bat I don't think he scales that well with the modern TFs. However I'll let you be the final judge.

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Splinter scales better with Masterpiece figures in my opinion, yet in alt mode he still appears to be a tad bigger than what I prefer. However don't give up hope yet! The robot comparison pictures are up next!

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Splinter and one of Unique Toys' Sharkies

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Now this is much better!

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He even looks great aside Cubex's Huff

All in all I think this is a very solid figure and it gives me hope for future DX9 releases. I believe my cost was right around $70 before shipping and I believe that was a reasonable price, especially when compared to other similar sized figures. Good strong plastic, lots of sculpted detail, rubber tires, die-cast metal all add to the quality build of this figure. I've currently got him on display with my Masterpiece Autobots and I love the way he blends in. Hands down one the best 3rd party figures I've purchased in 2014.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

G.I. Joe: 30th Anniversary - Sci-Fi

The 30th anniversary of G.I. Joe continued to bring some excellent updated figures to the market. Sadly these would be some of the last good Joe toys to appear on retail shelves. I was partial to many of the figures in the series as they were updates of some of my favorite characters, such as Sci-Fi.

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Sci-Fi was one of those old toys that bordered on "crossing the line" so to speak between the realism of military and science fiction. This laser trooper wore a bright neon green suit for crying out loud, but many fans and collectors still embraced the toy and the character.

The 30th anniversary version is an excellent update, keeping true to the look of the original figure. There were a few changes however and most of them are for the better in my opinion. First off the green has been muted a bit. No more day glow neon green. He also comes with a secondary head sculpt. As you can see from the above pic, I've opted for the full face shield head as opposed to the original.

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The original head is more of a helmet now. You never really knew what Sci-Fi looked like beyond his exposed lower face, but now you do. This is one change that I can take or leave. I prefer the new head myself. The helmet looks a little bulky when its on the figure. I wish Hasbro would have just sculpted the face/helmet together like on the original A Real American Hero toy. This head reminds me of Wet Suit for some reason.

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As with most of the 25th / Pursuit of Cobra / 30th / Renegades figures, the attention to detail is fantastic. From the wrinkles in the clothing to the addition of elbow and knee pads, Sci-Fi looks fantastic. Even his bland silver back pack got a nice upgrade. It even has a few small paint apps! Thankfully the black plastic tubing is long enough to attach his gun to his backpack and it not hinder the pose ability of the figure.

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I feel as if I'm being a little biased here since I loved the original Sci-Fi figure, but all that aside I believe Hasbro has done a remarkable job with the modern upgrade of this character. He was one of the last figures I bought from retail and still one of the few Joe figures left in my collection to date. Highly recommended figure.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

M.A.S.K.: Slingshot w/ Ace Riker

M.A.S.K. has always been one of those nostalgic toy lines I would love to collect, but it seems like every time I buy a toy from the series I find myself liking the memories of the toys, more than the toys themselves. While there are a few exceptions, this held true when I picked up Slingshot sometime last year.

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Slingshot is a very dated looking recreational vehicle. I can't help but imagine what kid's impressions where when they saw this sitting on store shelves in 1986. After all, in the same 2nd series of M.A.S.K. you could have chosen the Raven, the slick black Corvette or even Outlaw, V.E.N.O.M.'s tanker truck headquarters. I'm sure though some kid out there was beside themselves when they realized they could own a transforming RV!

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All joking aside the Slingshot does have a realistic looking form, complete with "Crusin" license plate on the front and back. The head lights and tail lights are stickers (as are the license plates), but the windows and the deco on the side are painted on the toy. Even after nearly 30 years, the chrome on this toy still looks pretty good. How comes this chrome looks so good, yet the chrome used on the Transmetal Beast Wars toys looks like crap now? What gives?!

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Slingshot's transformation is very simple - just fold down the two halves of the RV and you've got yourself a surveillance unit complete with a Sonic Jet.

This form is strictly powered by imagination. Yes there are some stickers alongside the edges that give it a computer lab feel and of course you've for the launching Sonic Jet, but there really isn't much going on in this form.

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The RV's front grill does fold out to reveal a dual pair of laser guns, but outside of the launching the jet what more is there to do here? I should also mention that there is a seat in the launching mechanism for the jet. Here Ace or any other figure can operate the attached guns.

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The Sonic Jet is the real draw I would guess for most kids back in the day. When "launched" from the surveillance unit, the wings pop forward giving it flight. Underneath the jet is a Laser Tracer bomb that can be dropped with your finger and some imagination.

I've always thought this jet reminded me a bit of the old Cobra Firebat that launched out of the middle of the Terror Drome play set. More of a reconnaissance type craft than a fighter, Ace Riker can spy on V.E.N.O.M. unnoticed and report back to Matt Trakker.

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Speaking of Ace, the included figure is one of the better looking figures in my opinion. I like the leather bomber jacket and orange shirt underneath. Ace seems to look a little older than some of the other characters and I like that. To me he gives off a tough guy vibe - reminds me a lot of Colt Seavers, the Fall Guy.

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Ace wears the Ricochet mask. However I can't remember what it's exact power set is. I'm guessing it shoots some kind of ricocheting objects? 

I like the look of the mask. The exposed eyes, the silver breathing apparatus and how the mask cradles his shoulders and upper torso. I mush prefer these style of masks over the shorter masks that just cover the figure's head.

Slingshot is a fairly common M.A.S.K. toy and can be had in most cases for under $30 complete. The small Tracer bomb is the most commonly missing part. All of the M.A.S.K. toys are fun in their own right and while I do remember having fun playing with my friend's Slingshot in the mid-80's, for me it just doesn't have the same lasting power as some of the other vehicles.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

My $10 NEC Turbo Express and the Tale of How it Happened

It's rare that I find good deals locally. I see them all the time on various groups on Facebook or in different forums online. How do these people have such fortunate luck to run across such deals on action figures, comics and video games? Are people lying? Or are people really that lucky sometimes?

Well finally after a very long dry spell, my luck finally resurfaced. This time in the form of a NEC Turbo Express portable video game system.  Here's a quick run down of how it came to be...


Again, a huge thanks to Retro Reboot for the Turbo Express and to Gil Perales for recapping the system. I look very forward to putting in some gaming time with this bad boy this holiday season. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Transformers Oddity: Armada Bubble Twist

About this time, 11 years ago, small tubes of bubble gum started appearing on shelves at Toys 'R Us stores in the United States. Produced by Cap Toys, Bubble Twist contained a stick of gum inside a tube, similar to the Push Pop candy brand. When pressed from below, the gum would push up through a grid in a twisting manner, hence the name Bubble Twist. Inside specially marked containers, the bottom of the tube contained a small PVC figure of various Transformers Armada characters.

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Similar to the old decoys from the Generation One days, these rigid PVC figures came cast in a variety of color. Ironically enough I got the two G1 colors - red and purple. These static figures stand at about 2 inches tall. Character selection included Hot Shot, Megatron, Optimus Prime (Super Mode) and Starscream. They came in the following colors: black, blue, gray, purple and red.

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I don't know why I like these, but I do. I guess it's partly because they remind me of the G1 decoys, or maybe it's just because it's one of those Transformers oddities. Every since I bought the two I own, I've never seen or heard anything about them since.

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Just a tad smaller than the old Legends size

Friday, October 31, 2014

Month of Horror continues with Dawn of the Dead (1978)



I'm wrapping up the nearly month long horror movie feature with my top horror flick of all time, George A. Romero's 1978 masterpiece Dawn of the Dead. I can't say enough great things about this movie. From the characters to the special effects to the movie's setting. Everything about this movie is just freakin' awesome.



As the zombie epidemic continues to spread across the country and television executive and her boyfriend take a news copter and try to flee Pittsburgh. Around the same time they meet up with 2 SWAT team members (one of which is actor Ken Foree!) and the 4 set off to find somewhere safe. During their escape they start to run low on fuel and need to land. They notice a large mall just outside the city limits and decide to land on the roof as there should be plenty of needed supplies inside. What they find is the mall has been overrun by zombies. As the movie unfolds we get to see this newly formed team try to survive not only the zombies, but living together as well. They eventually make a makeshift shelter in the mall while trying to figure out their next move.

Dawn of the Dead is actually the 2nd movie in Romero's zombie trilogy and easily the best in my opinion. Some may argue that the pace of the movie is too slow or that the characters are stupid. I tend to disagree. One of the things that makes this movie unique if you will is the setting. Taking place inside the Monroeville Mall located just outside of Pittsburg, PA offers up a different vibe when compared to other horror movies. One of the things I found charming about the mall is that it's a real mall - not just a cobbled movie set. Check out this site for an interesting "now and then" look at the mall.

I will give the 2004 remake honorable mention as director Zack Synder did a great job with the re-envisioning of this classic tale. I still prefer the original, but you can't go wrong with the modern film either as it has a new take on the now classic "mall formula".

If I had started this horror movie feature at the beginning of the month I would've showcased a few more films. I guess I'll have to save them for next year. Of those movies honorable mention goes to:

Dawn of the Dead (2004), Diary of the Dead, Feast, Grindhouse, Jeeper's Creepers, Pulse, REC, The Ring, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Vacancy

Month of Horror continues with Halloween (2007)



I never was a big fan of John Carpenter's Halloween franchise. I've seen most of the movies, but the Michael Myers character just never appealed to me in the way other horror villains have. When I heard Rob Zombie was releasing his own version of Halloween I didn't know what to expect, but I eventually saw it anyway. Wow. What an intense ride.


So there was this big debate over John Carpenter versus Rob Zombie and which version of the movie and or Michael Myers is more terrifying.  Who cares.  I read that John told Rob to make the movie "his own" and that's what Rob did.  Both are great movies and you can't go wrong with either.  I just found Rob's version of the movie a little more, well, violent.


In the original you don't get to see Michael's family much so you really don't know why he turns out as he does.  In Rob's version you get a more in depth look at Michael in his early years and his dysfunctional family.  For me this helped set up the movie a little bit more.  I get the whole argument of we the movie viewer isn't supposed to feel compassion for the killer (who felt sorry for Freddy Kruger?) and not knowing what sets off someone and turns them into a killer is far more scary.  I get all that.  Valid points.  Remakes aren't for everyone, but if you can be subjective enough and separate the two movies and take them for what they are I think you'll see that both movies stand on their own as fantastic additions to the slasher genre.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Month of Horror continues with You're Next



Long before the WWE's Erick Rowan wore the now iconic plastic sheep mask, the mask first made it's debut in You're Next.

The Davison family assembled for a family reunion weekend. Mom and Dad were happy to have all of their family reunited, but who invited the axe wielding maniacs?


You're Next is another entry into the home invasion genre of horror. I knew little to nothing about this film when it was released in 2011, but the trailer alone got me into the theater. I was one the edge of my seat through out the entire movie. Its a well written and slick movie. There are so many turns and twists to the story that I can't say much more without giving everything away. It's not an overly gory film, but it's got just enough horror type violence that will satisfy most fans. Some reviewers love the film for all the same reasons I do, while others criticized some of the story elements. Watch the movie for yourself before casting your vote of yeah or nay.