Monthly Archives: July 2013

I have a dream...
This week’s topic in the League of Extraordinary Bloggers is all about your personal dreams. No, not that creepy recurring nightmare where the clown with a huge erection chases you to the tune of Yakety Sax, but rather dreams that you wish could come true. Goals and aspirations in the form of a dream.

We all have them. Some are ambitious, some are farfetched, and some might even be attainable. What’s your dream?

There are lots of things that I want. Truth be told, I could go on for days about my own personal problems. But I think I’d rather write about something topical instead. So what’s my dream?

I have a dream, that one day Masters of the Universe Classics won’t be tied to some arcane subscription model that becomes so divisive for the toy collecting community. You see, just a few weeks ago at SDCC, Mattel rolled out their latest batch of Masters of the Universe Classic announcements. Some of them, like Two-Bad, are awesome. But as always, to get these figures, you have to subscribe to their Club Eternia program filled with other stuff I don’t want and other random figures that I may or may not like. It’s the Russian Roulette of toys.

Two Bad
For years this has been a bane of collectors everywhere, but in recent years it’s really gotten bad. In the old days, the subscription existed purely to prevent hardcore collectors from missing key figures due to quick sellouts and an almost unbearable MattyCollector website. Somewhere along the way the subscription essentially became mandatory, forcing you to buy every figure that came down the pike, whether you liked it or not. This all led to last year, where MOTUC seem poised to have a breaking point. If you didn’t subscribe, the line was going to end.

I promised myself I was out last year, but then at the last minute, they swore that Ram Man would never get made if the sub didn’t go through. Like a putz, I fell for it. With it last year came a wave of nauseating fan cannibalism, as those who were against the sub or wanted change, were drowned out by the pathetic pleas and disdain of grown men who wanted their toys and felt you were standing in their way. Unfortunately, only a week after SDCC this year… It’s happening again. Continue reading

Arnold
The last time I did one of these Classic Comic Ads, it was for our old pal Big Jim from Mattel. Now we’re taking a look at a muscle man of another sort entirely… It’s former Governor and Terminator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger! This was very early in his career as he appeared in many vintage comic books hocking some of Joe Weider’s workout secrets.

Apparently in only 30 days you can be quite buff and eventually, Arnold size! At least that’s what the advertisement seems to indicate. You’ll also have women falling all over themselves to get at your muscular body. Only real “manly” and “virile” men can do that. These vintage ads seem really predatory (no pun intended) to me. Clearly most of the people reading the comics wouldn’t look anything like this, so Weider and the advertisers prey upon the insecurity of nerds by telling them to put down the funny books and start pumping up.

I’ll never have a body like Arnold’s, but at least I can buy the NECA Predator Dutch figure. Take that 30 year old ad meant to emasculate me!

DSCN8421

Spark Dolls Ultra Monster 500 Series
#7 King Joe
5.5 Inch Scale
By: Bandai
$5-$20

As part of the new Ultraman Ginga TV series, Bandai is rolling out a whole host of classic characters in new 5 inch form. Along with classic heroes, comes vintage villains such as the nefarious robot monster, King Joe. This giant robot has been popular since his first appearance in Ultra Seven and has returned in various forms through the years. He seemed like the perfect foil for my Ultra Seven in this scale.

DSCN8465
King Joe has been recreated in dozens of action figures and vinyls through the years. The Japanese seem to have an obsession with this character and he’s become an enduring part of the Ultraman franchise. This week’s topic in the League of Extraordinary Bloggers is about Robots, so King Joe is the perfect fit. As is always the case, with King Joe figures, he’s very interesting to look at from a visual standpoint. But does he have anything else to offer? Continue reading

ultra6

DX Ultraman
Ultraman (Hayata)
14 Inch Scale
By: Banpresto
Price Varies

Many years ago, in the early 1990s, I would get an awesome catalog in the mail every so often. It was filled with page after page of the coolest toys and collectibles that were being made at that time. Far beyond the stuff you could get at Toys R Us or KB, there were Japanese and European imports and specialty products. Everything from rare collectibles to model kits, stuff from older-skewing science fiction and horror… It blew my mind as a child.

I loved Godzilla and the other monsters I would discover during TV monster weeks, probably on Monstervision. Suff like Godzilla vs Mothra and War of the Gargantuas. The only toys of Toho-type monsters I owned were knockoffs and imitations, up until Trendmasters started making them in the US. So every time the catalog arrived, several times a year, I would pour over each page and save the issue for months. I wish I had managed to save just one over the years, or at least could remember the name of the store that put it out. Even if they have gone out of business, I would love to look through the pages again.

ultra4
One of the coolest items in there consistently was a large scale vinyl Ultraman figure, about 12” tall. I had only seen a limited amount of Ultraman on TV, probably one of the later sequel series. But I knew who he was, and loved the idea of a giant superhero who fought Godzilla-like monsters. Unfortunately for me, my parents did not think it necessary to order something out of a catalog when there were perfectly good toys available in stores. I never owned one, or even saw one in person. Eventually we moved and I no longer received that catalog in the mail.

About twenty years later, I dug into a Walmart $5 DVD bin whilst killing time and came across Ultraman: The Complete Series. I bought it, watched it, and my childhood desire to own that Ultraman figure was reborn. Not knowing where to start looking for an obscure old toy, I took to eBay and started sifting through Ultramen, eventually settling on the subject of this review.

Despite all of that… This is not the figure from that catalog. This figure is stamped under its foot with the year 1999, long after I had admired the one on those pages of paper. However, it is very close to what I remember, whether those memories are real or muddled by time I cannot say for sure. The pose or size might be a bit different, but the idea is the same. It might even be from the same company, which in the case of at least this figure is Japanese toymaker Banpresto. Standing at 14”, this is actually the tallest figure I own. So after all this time, is this really the figure of a lifetime? Let’s take a look. Continue reading

Ultraseven

Spark Dolls Ultra Hero 500 Series
#2 Ultra Seven
5.5 Inch Scale
By: Bandai
$5-$20

One of the things I picked up at this year’s G-Fest was a few of the new Bandai Ultraman Spark Dolls. This is the newest series of Ultraman figures, based on the Ultraman Ginga TV series. What’s interesting about Ultraman Ginga, is that he’s able to transform into previous Ultraman characters (both hero and monsters) using these “spark dolls”. Yes, in the actual show they use these action figures. The whole thing is pretty surreal, but since these are the newest Ultraman figures on the market, I thought I’d take a look at a few.

UltraShoot
Ultra Seven is one of the most popular Ultra characters and was the second Ultraman to appear in a television series. Ultra Seven (also referred to as Ultraseven) remains a fan favorite decades after his first appearance. He’ll be appearing in the Ultraman Ginga show along with many other Ultraman characters. This small vinyl figure could be a great way to get into the world of Ultraman vinyl toys, if you’re on a budget. Let’s take a closer look at Seven, SEVEN, SEVEN! Continue reading