Monthly Archives: April 2010


Mighty Beanz
#26 Snotty Bean
1 Inch Scale
By: Spinmaster
2009
$5.99 (For a 6 Pack)

When I was a kid, the local gas station sold Mexican Jumping Beans. I want to say they cost like $3 and I thought they were the coolest things in the world. They were beans and they moved around and stuff. I later found out that it was actually little bugs inside the bean that made it move about, but hey all of life’s mysteries aren’t solved when you’re seven years old.

Anyway, one day I went into the gas station and there where my precious Mexican Jumpin Beans were… Was now filled with PLASTIC jumping beans. I didn’t get it. How could these fake jumping beans compare to real ones? Wasn’t the whole allure of the Mexican Jumping Beans that they were “alive”? Needless to say I bought the plastic ones to try them out but they were just little plastic beans with magnets in them. Lame. No one would ever buy these and true enough, a few weeks later my local gas station carried beans no more. Be it of the Latino or Rubbermaid variety.

Fast forward to the year 2003 and Spinmaster figured out how to sell those plastic Mexican Jumping beans… By painting wacky faces on them. I briefly worked in retail around the time that Mighty Beanz were at their height and I can assure you, these things were selling like hotcakes. Now, years later I take a look at them and see if I can figure out what the craze is all about.

Packaging:
I received this bean as a freebie for buying some stuff off of ToysRUs.com with one of their promotions. Normally Beanz come in a 6 pack or assorted other varieties. Although you can find these single packs up by the registers as well, next to the candy and baseball cards.


The little plastic bag package is attractive enough and it really hammers home the idea that the included “Collector Guide” is the main sell. You may not need just a single bean, but how are you going to know if you have the whole set without the collector guide?!


The back shows off a couple of other beans and gives all the legal information. It’s not very exciting, though I don’t suspect it should be.

Sculpt:
There are two sculpts of beans. The larger, more common beans and a smaller “half size” bean. All of these beans are marked as “ultra rare” beans. This is another one of these toys marketed under the idea that you’re trying to collect them all and get the rare ones. An ingenuous ploy by toy companies to get you to buy multiples of crap that’s mostly crap to begin with.


The beans don’t really have much of a “sculpt”, they just are little round bean shaped dudes. The real catch is the printed tampos on them. That’s actually pretty cool. Snotty Bean here looks like a leftover Garbage Pail Kid. She’s all covered in snot and disgusting. Spinmaster also for a while made licensed Mighty Beanz, so you could get the TMNT or Marvel heroes on a bean as well.


I find this one to be particularly nasty, but that’s just me. I was never big into gross out toys, but I did collect Garbage Pail Kids for a while. Maybe it’s an age thing. It’s a decent little piece of artwork and I love that it can stand up on it’s own, despite it’s strange shape. I wish I’d got the “wrestler bean” though, because he looks like Hulk Hogan.

Articulation:
Uh, it doesn’t have any articulation. Inside is a magnet, so when you flick it or roll it, it reacts in all those nifty ways that magnets do. If you collect a bunch of beans you can put them next to each other and have them “fight” or breakdance and such. Basically it’s you know, magnets reacting to one another.

Accessories:
So one of the big selling points of this thing is the “collector’s guide”… On TRU’s website they made it sound pretty awesome and it’s right there on the package as being very important. But it turns out that it’s just a little foldout thing.


It’s like something you’d get that would normally be instructions or something. I feel hosed.


It actually does include instructions for a variety of “games” you can play. They include the following ideas:

Bomber Beanz: Basically throwing beans at each other. Compelling, but this is listed as just a level 1 game. Obviously for novices.

Bean Bowling: This is for more advanced players. Since the beans can stand on their own, you can roll them at a stack of them like bowling pins.

Bean Bounce: This is tiddlywinks. Lame.

Bean Royal Rumble: Put all your beans on a sheet of paper and shake it until they all fall out but one. Really? This is a level 3 game?

Trampoline Beanz: Throw a bean into the air with a piece of paper. Seriously, the games seem to get dumber as the level of difficulty goes up.


But hey at least there’s that nifty checklist. It shows you all 100 regular Mighty Beanz. It might be helpful if they were numbered, you know, like on the actual bean! Plus this doesn’t even tell you about the special edition beans that were previously available. Not much of a collector’s guide if you ask me. Tomarts of Mighty Beanz this is not.

Value:
I don’t know if a group of these is worth $6. That makes them like a dollar a piece. They aren’t much fun. Although my cat LOVES them. Except… It’s just big enough for a cat to swallow, so I don’t recommend letting your kitties play with them. It also says for kids 5+ but I think maybe you should be even older… These things are just asking to be eaten or stuck up someone’s nose.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 4
Sculpting – 2
Articulation – N/A
Accessories – Collector Guide
Value – 2
Overall – 3 out of 10


I realize I’m too old to see the magic of Mighty Beanz. Still, even as a kid I probably would have passed these off as lame. I didn’t care for my plastic Mexican Jumping Beans and I don’t care for these. If you had a bunch I guess they could be fun, but no sir, I don’t like it. Then again, I collected Pogs when I was a kid… So what the hell do I know? Who am I kidding, if I was kid I’d probably love these things. COLLECT THEM ALL!

I also still think McFarlane’s Odd Pods should have some cool Beanz-esque tampo designs. Also, does anyone want to buy my old Pogs? I had a slammer made of metal with a big 3-D eye on it. It’s like Avatar, but a pog! Really, no one? Okay then!

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Robin Hood & His Merry Men
Will Scarlet
8 Inch Scale
By: CTVT (Mego?)
2004
$5.00

Last year when I started reviewing Mego figures, I did it on a whim because I thought it would be neat to look at some old style toys. Little did I know that by the end of 2009, Mego-style figures would no longer be retro but TOYS OF THE FUTURE! At least that’s how it seems with everything from LOST to Venture Brothers to DC Superheroes and Ghostbusters getting the “Mego” treatment…

Robin finds a finely dressed young man shooting deer in Sherwood, and offers to let him join the band; they quarrel and fight. Robin asks who he is; he says he is Young Gamwell, who killed his father’s steward and fled his father’s estate to seek out his uncle, Robin Hood. Robin makes him welcome and renames him Scarlett.

To me, Christian Slater will always be the immortal Will Scarlet… Hey, I like that movie. Anyway, this figure is a Classic TV Toys reproduction of the original Mego figure. For various reasons these repros didn’t light the world on fire back in 2004, but now that the style is what all the cool kids are talking about these days, I suspect we’ll see even more of these guys pop up. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s Mego was smart in offering figures of public domain characters like Robin Hood and Frankenstein, because they didn’t have to pay for licensing rights.

Packaging:
Early Mego figures came in window boxes. They were probably one of the first real collector toys to do so. Of course back then, nobody knew they would be “collectibles” in the future. I assume people just figured we’d be too busy with our flying cars and interstellar space ships to care about retro toys from the 1970’s. Turns out, they were wrong.


The box art is a pretty good reproduction of the original art, or at least I assume so. I didn’t really examine them a ton. Even so it’s a nice little box with pretty cool artwork on it that screams 1970’s.


The side of the box shows off the other figures in the series. Interestingly, Robin Hood didn’t get any villains. You’d think a toy of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham would be a more natural selection than Friar Tuck. Then again, who am I to question a toy company that urban legend has it passed on Star Wars in favor of Buck Rogers? That’s Mego I’m referencing of course, CTVT would have loved to get some Lucas love.


There’s also a great picture of the toy on the back. This is retro artwork, so there are a handful of differences between the actual figure and this picture. Either way it looks pretty cool. These boxes used to sit on registers in cases until kids were opening them too often and the blister card was invented.

Sculpt:
Hardcore Megoheads can tell you all the minor differences between the vintage Will and the repro Will. Since there is a Whole Website dedicated to that sort of thing, I’ll just say that generally speaking this is a pretty good reproduction. If anything the details overall have been softened somewhat.


Even if the details have been softened on this replica, the end result is still pretty full of depth. This is one of the more charming head sculpts for a Mego. I suppose that Mego knew that too, because they reused this guy’s head several times for other popular characters.


He’s got a bit of a grin and a smugness about him, but while his cockiness and confidence shine through it works very well for the character. Again maybe Christian Slater’s performance in the 1990’s Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie have clouded my judgement, but I imagine Will Scarlet as a bit of a smug fellow.


Of all the Mego replica bodies out there, CTVT’s is arguably the worst… Well, actually Mattel’s is hands down the worst, but for a different reason. The CTVT body isn’t bad it’s just made out of really brittle plastic which makes it prone to breakage and such. I haven’t stripped this guy down but I don’t see any problems with him at all.


That doesn’t really mean anything… You sort of gamble when you get these bodies. Sometimes they fall apart, sometimes they don’t. At least they LOOK good, which is definitely better than what Mattel’s offering. The hands have some excess plastic and such on them and generally look pretty cheap, though.

Articulation:
Mego-style figures have always been surprisingly poseable. They are sometimes referred to as the “father” of the modern action figure. That might be a bit of a stretch, but even by today’s standards they have a fair amount of points.


They start out with a simple cut neck, but they have a simulated ball joint shoulder. I say simulated, because it is a ball, but is constructed with a rubber band holding it in place. That means you won’t get a full ball joint movement without it snapping back down.


Hinge elbows, swivel hinge wrists, swivel waits, simulated ball joint hips, hinge knees and swivel hinge ankles complete the articulation. Again the entire inside is held together via a rubber band, but these bands are notoriously strong.


As well, you can restring a figure if the band was to get too loose or snap. Pretty cool. You can pose this guy quite a bit, but since he uses real clothing, that will restrict movements. Something you don’t run into with most modern figures without soft goods.

Accessories:
This vintage reproduction comes with replicas of all the original stuff that Mr. Scarlet had on tap. Some Megos came with absolutely nothing, but others like this guy were loaded down.


“Take that imitation Sheriff of Nottingham!”

He has a cool little dagger which fits into the top of his boot. Make sure to take note of that, I almost lost this knife right off.


He has his bow and quiver of arrows. Both are decent little sculpts, but nothing to write home about.


Scarlet rounds out his arsenal with a detachable belt with a holster for his sword. The sword is a nice piece but it got a little warped by being in the holster. I suspect setting it between two heavy books would straighten it out.

Value:
These Megos originally retailed for a couple of bucks in the 1970’s. I’m not sure what these replica went for in 2004, but I’m guessing about $10 or so. Now they can be found for about $5 which makes them a pretty decent value. Sadly, that’s a markdown price and all of the stuff coming from EMCE and Mattel are closer to $20. I love this throwback stuff and it has a certain charm to it, but it’s not worth premium pricing, in my view.


Score Recap:
Packaging – 7
Sculpting – 8
Articulation – 7
Accessories – Sword, Bow, Quiver, Knife, Belt
Value – 9
Overall – 8 out of 10


I’m giving ol’ Will Scarlet a pretty high rating. Why? Well he’s a gosh darn fun toy at the $5 price point. If this guy was $20 like most of the recent Mego-like figures his rating would be closer to a 6. So there’s a big gap here because of price.

If you’re interested in looking at some reviews of other Mego-esque figures, here’s some I’ve done:
Space 1999: Sandra Benes
Space 1999: David Kano
Commander X
POTA: Ape Soldier

Today we’re looking at something quite different. I’ve dabbled a tad into designer vinyl before, but mostly just mainstream stuff like Mighty Muggs. However, as a frequent visitor to BattleGrip.com, I’ve become more intrigued by legit designer vinyl. So that’s what we’re looking at, a little foray into the madness that is limited run, expensive and downright strange vinyl.


Vortigern’s Machine
Mr. Waverly
12 Inch Scale
By: Amos Toys
$60.00

Over in the UK there is a designer named James Jarvis and he’s become quite famous for his works. His most memorable character is likely King Ken, but his book Vortigern’s Machine and the Great Sage of Wisdom has garnered some attention and allowed him to make vinyl figures of the characters.

Mr. Waverley is a leading character in Vortigern’s Machine and the Great Sage of Wisdom, a graphic novel by James Jarvis and Russell Waterman of Amos Toys. Waverly is the famed explorer from the story and comes packaged with a no-nonsense machete and stylish pith helmet.

I haven’t read the story, but from what I can tell it’s about a group of everyday kids who roam the mean streets of a fictional town and are dramatically sucked into a psychedelic vortex of fantasy adventure. It’s filled with bizarre humor, social commentaries and quirky characters. Mr. Waverly is a core character in that world and his unique design of a classic British explorer is what drew me to the toy. So what’s this guy all about? Continue reading


Growing up in the 1980’s I consider myself a member of one of the greatest generations of all time. Let’s face it, we got all the best toys, all the best cartoons, ketchup as a vegetable and of course we were the last generation to really have all the bad influences of the generations before us. The 1980’s were the last vestiges of a time without political correctness, common sense and general human decency. The 1980’s also marked another milestone, the last era of the Candy Cigarettes… Sort of.

Maybe we didn’t have the Marlboro Man doing commercials on the TV, but we had Spuds McKenzie and Joe Camel telling us it was cool to smoke and drink. And remember kids if you smoke and drink enough and save your boxtops you can mail away for a Camel drink koozie or a Spuds McKenzie plush doll. Was that a good thing? I dunno, I always thought poor Joe Camel got a bad wrap.


One thing was for certain though, candy cigarettes were a leftover idea from years gone by the wayside, yet in the 1980’s they were one of the most common candies at your local gas station. I remember vividly going to the local Convenience Store (That was actually the name of this gas station) and getting candy smokes, Boston Baked Beans and Alexander the Grapes. Oh and Lemonheads, can’t forget those!


Of those though, the candy cigarettes were obviously the ones that seem out of place. What purpose do candy cigarettes serve? I don’t know if it was direct advertisement to smoke, but it certainly made you want to. When I played plots as a kid, having a couple of packs of candy smokes could make all the difference. If I was playing as a tough or edgy character, he smoked. Because all tough guys smoke. I had years of television, movies and comic books to tell me that much!

I was surprised to find that candy cigarettes still exist! Incredibly they remain largely unchanged from their vintage counterparts. Sure, they no longer say cigarettes, opting instead for just “candy sticks” or “candy” but it’s pretty clear these are still the same as they always were.


Heck they still got the knockoff cigarette brands like Lucky Lights and Target, two takes on the old Lucky Strike brand. Amazingly the sticks still have a “lit” end with a faint red dot. Gee, what is that supposed to be?


Despite the fact that the idea of candy cigarettes is absolutely absurd and probably a bad influence on kids, I’m pretty content that these guys still exist. In case you’re curious, yes they still taste like a combination of Pepto Bismol and Chalk and I love them for it. I’ve eaten a whole box while writing this “review” of these guys. They’re grotesque, yummy and promoting lung cancer!


According to the ingredients they’re just sugar, corn starch, tapioca, gelatin and “artificial flavors” but they taste like sweet memories to me. They also apparently have no nutritional value whatsoever, but I think that’s just keeping them authentic. So smoke em’ if you got em’, or at least eat em’ if you got em’!