Toys

I admitted a while back that Hasbro’s Pursuit of Cobra GI Joe sub line hasn’t done much for me. Truth be told, since the 25th celebration started I’ve acquired literally hundreds of GI Joes. It becomes harder and harder for me to justify each new Joe purchase. There are some things I can’t refuse, but most of what was presented with the first few lineups of POC I could pass on. Unlike a lot of people, I bought a fair amount of ROC product. So the transition to “more realistic GI Joes” with POC wasn’t new territory to me. While some are heralding it as the greatest era of Joes ever, I’m still attracted more to the fantastical 25th designs.

That said there were a few figures I really wanted, like the new Cobra Commander with the chrome mask, which I bought and Low-Light, which I have yet to see. I originally thought I wanted the new Snake Eyes, but upon seeing him the other day I realized that I don’t need another Snake Eyes. So what’s the point of all this? Well Hasbro sent along some beauty shots of the new POC wave a while back and I just now got around to checking them out. There are some great figures here and even a few I may pick up. Let’s check em’ out.

Lots of pictures and thoughts behind the cut!

COBRA:


GI JOE:



The Cobras have a few more interesting figures. While I really don’t need anymore basic Cobra Troopers or Vipers, I’ll likely pick up a small squad of each. Same could really be said for the Jungle BATs, but I appreciate that at least this is a new take on them entirely. Cobra Commander does little for me, but he might be more appealing in person. I’m pretty disappointed in the Rock Viper, as that was a figure I had as a kid and I don’t see a ton of resemblance here. The new Iron Grenadier is worth a pickup for me, but only maybe 2 to be like, shock troopers or something. I don’t really need another repaint of the Croc Master, but I may pick one up.

The Joes have slightly less interesting stuff in my view. The new Hawk does nothing for me, but those craving a super realistic Hawk may appreciate it. I never did pick up Blowtorch, so perhaps the slightly muted colors will make me grab him finally. Crazy Legs wasn’t exactly high on my list, but I like the figure. Snake Eyes is an easy pass for me, although he could be retooled into a 3 3/4 Shredder figure pretty easily. I was never a fan of the Steel Brigade, but I might actually pick up one or two.

So how about you guys? Any of these new figures exciting you? What’s your feelings on GI Joe right now? I feel like the first few waves of POC were way too different for me and I like that this wave is at least, a little bit closer to the 25th line. I love all the accessories, but for me it has to be slightly more character and design driven.


It’s time for a very special pre-Easter edition of TALES FROM THE TOY AISLE!

Right now in the department stores there is a second aisle of “toys” devoted to Easter. While some of it is just candy and eggs, many include little trinkets that are designed to go into Easter baskets. I recall getting a handful of neat toys through the years at Easter, so let’s see what’s out there for kids this year.


Our first stop is Target, which has one of the largest selections of Easter goodies. One very cool item I noticed is these POP Heroes vinyl bobble heads of DC characters. They look pretty neat, but seems as though they have no articulation. Too bad, as I’d picked one up if it had a little poseability.


They also had the DC Imaginext stuff back out, but this time in egg shaped packages. I really like these, but as I’ve said in the past (Christmas) they should try to theme these beyond just the packages. These figures are the same as the Regular and Single Card releases. Do something more than just change the packaging!

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A while back I began pondering on Twitter about why certain old cartoons hadn’t been made into viable toy lines. It seems these days that almost everything is being pined for some sort of toy and these old cartoons and characters need new life. With that in mind, here is a list of ten cartoons that need toys and here are the specific toys I’d like to see them breathed into life with. Although this list is numbered, it’s not in any particular order of importance.


#10. Chip N’ Dale Resuce Rangers
Reimagined as Revoltech

In recent years Revoltech has really gone out of their way to pick up a variety of oddball licenses. While there are a lot of other franchises I’d probably rather see as Revoltech, this one makes sense to me. Kaiyodo has built up a pretty good relationship with Disney and has made numerous Disney designed figures. While they haven’t done much on traditional Disney cartoons, I think Chip & Dale would be a great place to start. Of course I have one caveat. I want the whole team. Chip, Dale, Gadget and most importantly Monterrey Jack with Zipper! Tad Stones famous cartoon would be an incredible toy line if produced in any medium, but Revoltech would definitely make it more fun. I actually don’t even need any of the villains, just the heroes.


#9. Beetlejuice (The Cartoon)
Reimagined as Kid Robot

Beetlejuice was such a popular kids cartoon in it’s time that it’s almost amazing that it’s been forgotten. Sure, Kenner had a Beetlejuice line, but it never quite tied into the cartoon. There are a ton of fans out there for this old cartoon and it’s the perfect sort of license for designer vinyl. Let’s face it, most of these designs just don’t work as traditional action figures or toys. As fun vinyls? Those would be great. What designer actually does the deed? Who knows!? There are tons of great vinyl guys out there. I can just see Kid Robot selling the toys, much like they do with the Futurama and Simpsons mini vinyls.


#8. Aeon Flux
Reimagined as Figma

Aeon Flux’s run on Liquid Television was the stuff of legend. Later “Æon Flux” got it’s own show on MTV. Somehow that all led up to a horrible movie that we’d best all forget about. One thing is for certain though, the designs were absolutely amazing in their day and still stand the test of time as being quite unique. While Revoltech would also work well with this line, I think Max Factory’s Figmas series would serve it best. These guys specialize in doing female figures.

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“So the bartender lived? Ha! The bartender never gets killed!”

“But… as the stranger neared the door… Naw, man. The bartender got it worse than anybody.” – Desperado


Barrel Break Ix-2 N-strike Blaster Gun
By: NERF
$24.99

Greetings again! Wesitron here with another toy review for all you fanatics out there. What makes a toy great? This is a question I often have to ask myself when looking at prospective purchases. When it all comes down to it, what do I love the most? It’s a simple answer, and for many of us, it’s the reason we became collectors and do what we do. I ask myself:

Is it fun?

The toy I’m reviewing today is the Nerf Barrel Break and despite any flaws in paint or sculpt or even price, it’s a darned fun toy.

Packaging:
The packaging is absolutely what you’d expect from a Nerf gun. It’s got an illustration on the front of the box that shows you the gun in use and how cool you look holding it. It features the name of the gun and the N-Strike shield very clearly with some nice anime action lines to show you how the gun grants you temporary superpowers.


The back of the box has actual pictures of the toy and some instruction in how it operates. This is awesome because it allows parents, players, and collectors to assess the difficulty of use without having to open it. I don’t know if you’ve been down the Nerf aisles lately, but they’ve got electric guns that operate like tennis ball launchers, guns that use magazine-style systems where you refill a “clip” with bullet-like ammo called streamline darts, modular weapons with R.I.S.-like attachments, and even belt-fed fully automatic heavy machine guns. Pretty soon they’ll have the Nerf Nuclear Strike set complete with dual-key activation and the ashes of your enemies included. Go Nerf!

The one big drawback to the box is the same drawback that the Hero Factory boxes had and that’s that it has no personality when compared to the others in the series. I’m all for uniformity making purchases easier on parents, but goodness gracious!


This picture was taken at a Toys R’ Us right around the corner from your house. I’m closer than you think. As you can see, other than the product itself, all the Nerf guns have almost identical packaging. Most of the Nerf guns nowadays have very similar paintjobs. So when you’re looking at a wall of Nerf toys for a Nerf Longshot because you’re dumb and didn’t buy them when you first saw them and now Hasbro has canceled the gun and you can’t find a darned one anywhere because all the other nerds bought them already so they could hack them up and rip out the internals for their Hello Kitty custom joke blaster that shoots rainbows and Valentine’s candy because you’re uber-cool and it gives you the credibility to say mean things to kids on the NerfHaven website; you may have a hard time locating one in the sea of yellow, gray, and orange.

Sculpt:
“Now, I don’t know what he does on that floor, but he’s up in two shakes, the suitcase is wide-open, and he’s pulled God-knows-what out of it, but it’s the biggest hand cannon I’ve ever f***ing seen!” – Desperado


Cutting the ties inside the box, you get the blaster, instructions (not shown), an ammo holder attachment doo-dad, and ten whistler darts.


The ammo holder is reminiscent of classic shotgun shell holders and locks firmly into place on top of the blaster. It’s actually a pretty boring sculpt, but holds the darts very securely.


The darts are the traditional fare, with a modern twist. The heads are rounded and have notches out of the sides, so with enough power they whistle as they shoot through the air. So that’s why they call them that! Ohhhhh…


The blaster itself is a very cool looking sawed-off shotgun, with little grooves and rivets and faux screws and such. It also features an “iron sight” for aiming, a molded loop (for attaching a lanyard, bandolier kit, or your favorite Autobots insignia keychain), and a hatch pattern on the grip for a better, uh, grip.

And here’s the part I love. On the left side, molded into the blaster itself, are the instructions for operation. Say whaaaat? Check it:


So if in ten years you’re pulling this out of an old toy box or just forgot how the thing worked because you spend too much time on the Facebooks or on your cellular telephone getting tumors, you’ve got the instructions right in front of you. Brilliant!

Fun Factor:
This blaster is tons of fun. If you’ve ever seen a spaghetti western or Robert Rodriguez flick, then odds are you’ve wanted a sawed-off shotgun. It functions almost exactly like the real thing as well! It’s a very simple process and the instructions are located here:

http://www.hasbro.com/common/documents/dad2af6f1c4311ddbd0b0800200c9a66/ECE5532419B9F36910651F1636579AC0.pdf

As you can see above, it’s very simple and loading the blaster also primes it for firing. When you load two darts, you prime the blaster by breaking it, so when you close the gun, it’s ready to fire. No pumping, cocking, making chicken noises at it from across the room, nothing. It’s good to go.


The bad side is that you can never leave darts in it, because once it’s loaded it means the blaster is primed. The big rule of airsoft which I imagine also applies to Nerf is that you never leave a compression spring charged or primed, because it will loose elasticity over time and reduce your power.

The other cool part about the blaster is that the trigger is “two-stage,” meaning that even though it has only one trigger, it can fire each barrel independently depending on pressure. Pull the trigger halfway to fire the left barrel. Pull it the rest of the way to fire the right. Pulling the trigger all the way on the first pull fires both barrels at the same time and gets you a patch and a unique ID card to the John McTiernan Hall of Pain. You can hang your coat next to Dutch’s vest. He doesn’t need it where he’s going.


The blaster will shoot roughly 20 feet when fired. If you fire the trigger two-stage, the second dart doesn’t go as far, but I’m not sure if that’s a design element or just a problem with my blaster. It actually has two individual springs on the inside, so I’m guessing I’ve got a problem inside. Don’t tell my girlfriend, she’s a therapist.


Come on! Kill me, I’m heeaaaar!

It’s awesome fun to shoot and reload, and in no time you’ll be loading all ten darts with ease. The only gripe I’d have is that it’s slower to reload than many Nerf blasters on the market, so if you’re in a battle it could mean the difference between eternal glory and eternal dooooooom.

I went ahead and shot a video of me loading and firing the blaster. If you turn up your speakers, you should be able to hear the whistler darts:

Value:
This is where I’m going to hurt the gun a little. See that little sticker?


I don’t know if you’ve been in TRUs lately, but they’ve lost their friggin minds when it comes to pricing, with many exclusives jumping in price 5 bucks since the end of the holidays. The Barrel Break was one of the casualties and will run you $24.99.

It’s not that I think it’s an exorbitant price for the blaster—heck, the thing is about 18 inches long, comes with a lot of darts and a brand new rail attachment unavailable on any other blaster—but knowing that it was only 19.99 just before Christmas and that there are other blasters that use ejecting clips and faster firing for about 17.99, I have to call shenanigans.

However, if you’ve got the cash it’s a great buy and a ton of fun. If you’re going to use it in a Nerf war, either get fast or pray your enemies are slow.


And don’t forget, the N-Strike rail is universal, so you can add accessories from any other blaster to change it up. It’s not as useful here because you really NEED those extra darts, but it’s still cool.

Score Recap:
Packaging: Adults – 7, Kids – 8
Sculpt: Adults – 9, Kids – 10
Fun Factor: Adults – 9, Kids – 8
Value: Adults – 6, Kids – 6
Overall: Adults – 7.75, Kids – 8

The Nerf Barrel Break IX-2 is a really fun toy to play outside with or even just plink around the house. The darts don’t shoot hard enough to really hurt and the design and loading function is absolutely brilliant and shows that Nerf is still innovative despite its years.


I don’t think anyone would be disappointed in the blaster, but if possible I’d say wait for sale.

Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.


Hero Factory
Evo 2.0
6.5-inch scale
By: Lego
$7.99

“So what about it? You yellow? Huh?” – Travis Brickley, Best of the Best

Please allow me to preface this review with a quick hello for manners’ sake. Hello! My name’s Wesitron and I’m new here. Since this is all new to me, I will likely experiment a bit with the style of my reviews in many ways and always encourage constructive criticism. Toy fans have to stick together; so don’t forget your manners, but always speak the truth. Thanks!

Some years ago, Lego decided it wanted a piece of the action figure market and developed Bionicle as a sort of build-and-play toy that could withstand the rigors of daily use. Many of their first pieces were monstrosities, little more than repurposed Technic pieces snapped together to vaguely form organic life-forms with cool masks. As time went on, Bionicles got more complex and more poseable, introducing new pieces that really brought the little guys to life. For whatever reason, Bionicle was apparently terminated and Hero Factory was brought up in its place. The second series, one of which is being reviewed here, tosses a radical change in the mix that is driving Bionicle and Hero Factory fans absolutely bananas. Change is good, right? Right?

Packaging:
So let me start by saying I’m an opener. I don’t care too much for packaging because once the toy is out of the box, it serves no further purpose to me. Luckily, Lego solved that years ago.


As you can see, The Hero Factory box is actually more like a Tupperware container. It’s re-sealable if you want to store your toy and stackable if you have limited space. If you don’t need the packaging for your toy, you can save it for bits and bobs.


The box art is very cool, with bright colors, fiery stuff, and additional characters in the background. The fonts are blocky and tech-y, it clearly states the age range and piece number, includes some vague information about internet connectivity, and even has an “actual size” Hero Factory logo so you can determine roughly what size the toy will be out of package. Say thank you, moms and dads of the world. In fact, I only have 2 gripes about the packaging at all.

The first one is a nitpicky thing and that is that while the art is all very cool, it’s all just art. There’s no window on the box, which is fine, but without any real pictures of the toy itself, you don’t really have a great sense of what’s going on inside. Once you’ve played with a Bionicle or Hero Factory, you start to get the idea, but for moms and dads or new fans I think seeing the toy would help to sell it. It’s just a preference thing, a lot of people love the digital art, and of course I do, too, being a nerd of many trades yet master of none. But I like to be able to see the toy I’m buying.

The other gripe is the generic nature of the box.

“But Wesitron,” you say familiarly, “you done said the box is cool and has ‘splodey stuff and colors and clearly labels this and that and whatnot.”

So I did, child of Appalachia. And it’s true, when compared to other toys. But when compared to Lego’s own line:


This was taken in a Target near your home. Very near. As you can see, all the box tops are the same color, which is a new thing with this series of figures. Also, the poses are all very similar and there are no individual character bios. They all have names, and indeed all have different personalities and roles, but all that info as far as I can tell is only listed on the Lego website.

Overall I think the packaging is great. For an adult it’s got storage and excellent presentation. For kids it’s got ‘splodey stuff and colors and this and that and whatnot.

To be clear, that stuff is cool.

Build:
The packaging says 6-12, but I’m thinking younger. My nephews could have put these together when they were three.


This is what you get.


The instructions are great with clear pictures and very precise directions. They show all the necessary pieces for the part you’re working on, and then how to assemble. You start off with the under-body or skeleton of the figure.


It sort of looks like an artist’s armature, huh? As you can see, most of the construction of this figure is ball-and-socket style. You see the ball, you see the socket, you jam the ball in the socket, and voila! Instant toy. I have a similar speech prepared for my future kids when they hit puberty, only more vague.

The ball-and-socket style building really ramps up the fun factor because it means parts changes are extraordinarily easy. In the old days, you’d have to pull off the armor connected to a pin and hope the pin came with it, because sometimes those things would latch into a limb and you’re pretty much boned unless you grab something to work it loose. There are no pins here, which is why a lot of Bionicle fans are apparently upset.

From what I’ve seen, they’re not really howling angrily at the internets per se, but a big part of building is M.O.C., or “my own creations.” Basically taking the parts you have and building something you designed yourself. Without any pinholes on any of the limbs or armor, MOCers are limited to standard attachment only in the torso, the feet, and the shields. The upside of course is that with the ball and socket system the armor plates are all completely interchangeable; they’re just a lot less buildable.

Personally, I think it’s a cool change and while it does make the build very simple, it makes the customization a lot of fun and very intuitive.

Evo took me about 5-7 minutes to build. Depending on your level, you might do it much faster, but even people who are brand new to the brand and building have access to the instructions and shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes.

Sculpt:
“Obviously.” – Tommy Lee, Best of the Best

This toy looks awesome.


One of the keys to a good piece of art is motion, making the eye continue to dart around the piece and one of the ways to do that is with lines. The lines in the kit are fantastic. They are smooth and both square to point and curved in shape, if that makes any sense.


…Aaaand the back is ugly. This can be rectified by attaching the armor of the legs sideways like it is on the arms. It doesn’t affect poseability too much and will close up the gaps so that only the back is exposed. The above picture is how Evo’s build is designed by Lego.


The face and mask has a ton of personality. Evo is my second Hero Factory 2.0 figure and trumps Furno completely when it comes to looks. I love the goggle-eyed Ghostbuster looks of Furno, but look at the picture above. Do you know how B.A. you have to be to have intakes and exhaust pipes ON YOUR FACE?!?

The helmet design is shared across the heroes of this wave, with the faceplates and colors being the only differences. Unfortunately this means you can’t put on the helmet without the masky bits, but hey it’s the most important piece of giving these guys personality, so I can’t fault Lego for that.

The colors are fantastically bright and the primary reason I bought this set over any others.

“Aw shucks, Wesitron! You done gone and been one o them thar Los Angeleees Lakers fans, ain’t cha?”

Gosh, there’s a lot of hill people out today.

The reason I chose this figure over any other is because of the awesome resemblance to my old G2 Dr. Mindbender figure, when fanny packs and neon colors were hotter than slap bracelets and the world was so colorful that GI Joes could run around in day-glo purple and yellow and still be considered “camouflaged.”

Articulation:
“And now for something completely different.” – Monty Python, And Now for Something Completely Different


You remember when I said that this guy has all ball-and-socket construction? Well that includes every joint on this guy. His playability is through the roof, and his ability to stand easily also skyrockets because all you ever need do is give his body a firm press and his feet flatten to the surface. Awesome for ramming with cars or knocking over with missile launchers!


Add to that fact that he’s still incredibly light and has huge, caricature-like feet, and you’ve got a toy that can balance on one foot, crouch realistically, or strike up kung-fu action poses. The ball joints can bend deeply and if any of the armor gets in the way of the pose, you can just pull off the piece and rearrange it. I’m not joking when I say this guy has almost Revoltech-like poseability. He has ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and feet. The only thing holding him back is the lack of a torso ball.


Ignore the Genesis controllers; they’re really on planet Livinruhm Kahpet having a trade dispute.


And Evo is off! But Spinax is a dangerous adversary! Will this be the end of our hero???


I say the nay! In a daring move that could not be captured (posed) by mere human technology, our man Evo will live to fight another day! “Order something from the menu? What am I, a farmer?” he called into the night.

Sigh, I really need to vacuum.

Accessories:
All of his parts are the ones seen on him, which I think is a good thing. Because the parts attach so well, you’re only really in danger of losing a piece if you take it off and don’t reattach it somewhere else.

Since you could sort of include the armor, weapon, and even helmet in this category as well, I think I’ll just leave it as “not applicable” to this toy. He stands perfectly as he is, and too many accessories would weigh down his simplicity.

Value:
This is a big one for me, because to me value is probably the number one factor in determining whether or not I buy a toy. Die-cast Gurren Lagann is freaking awesome, but for 250 bucks I think I’m going to have to settle for the Revoltech.

Luckily, this guy shines. You get the canister, the toy, but most importantly you get the fun. You know that awesome armor? Bored? Change it up!


Now he’s Left Arm Shield Stocky Legs Man!


Or how about No Left Hand Shoulder-Feet Man?

There’s no paint on this figure. Not a drop. Everything is molded in the color it’s intended to be. The only piece any different is his thigh piece which has a tampograph of his name and some cool motocross-looking designs on it. I don’t think this hurts the value at all, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re a stickler for paint.

There is also a code inside the box that allows you to log on to Lego’s Hero Factory website and unlock games, pictures, downloads, etc. with Evo 2.0 as the main theme. You can customize your CP, build a Hero, play a side-scrolling game, post your own MOCs, and read up on the characters and their weapons. Apparently, Evo’s weapon is a double-barreled ice cannon. Who knew? Five years ago I would have said this was worthless, but seeing my nephews on the internet and how much they love interacting with their Avatar toys, I think this is an awesome addition to an already great toy.

At $7.99, this guy is running way above average for good toys in the 6-inch range. Most of his brethren on the toy shelves are getting up to 10-12 dollars for less poseability, and as much as 15-17 dollars for not-quite-as-good-but-close poseability. Consider that the last wave of Hero Factory had no elbow or knee articulation and were the same price and you’ve got yourself a heckuva deal.

Score Recap:
Packaging: Adults – 8, Kids – 7
Build: Adults – 7, Kids – 8
Sculpting: Adults – 8, Kids – 9
Articulation: Adults – 9, Kids – 9
Accessories: N/A
Value: Adults – 9, Kids 10
Overall: Adults – 8.2, Kids – 8.6


Evo 2.0 represents everything Lego’s Hero Factory hopes to achieve. It’s a fun and easy build with tons of playability and customization at a great price for adults and kids alike. If you have 2, customization and building start to become even more fun and if you ever get bored you can also log on to the Hero Factory site and play games or share pictures of your very own creations with other kids and adults.

Bottom line, if you have a kid who wants something fun to build and play with, or have a desk that’s missing that certain something that’s fun to pose but you’re not worried about your co-workers stealing because you sold your cat to make payments for it on Amazon just because you got free 2-day shipping for being a student or a mom, then you’re going to want to pick up Evo 2.0 or one of his brothers or sister (the green one’s a girl) and have some fun.

Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.