Today we’re going to try something a little different. “Notes on Novelties” will be my broader look at a toy line as a whole, where I’ve amassed a small collection of something you may or may not know about and discuss my thoughts and hopefully open up a discussion within the awesome Infinite Hollywood community.
Today we feature a line I just happened to notice in TRU a couple weeks ago called Wild Grinders. Based on ideas from Rob Dyrdek (of Rob & Big fame) and designs by Tracy Tubera, the Wild Grinders mixes Tech Deck playability with urban vinyl style to create some really fun and interesting little toys.
Well, who could say it better than Lil Rob himself?
I’m not one hundred percent certain what this property is, to be honest. It doesn’t appear to be a syndicated cartoon, but some of the toys come with DVDs and I’ve watched a couple flash videos on the YouTubes featuring the characters in animated settings. I’m guessing it’s sort of a toy-only deal that Dyrdek might be trying to get syndicated, but so far hasn’t quite gotten off the ground.
This is the only bit of animation I’ve seen with any length:
“Golden Grinders” Part 1:
“Golden Grinders” Part 2:
Lil Rob is kind of annoying with his overly animated arms and there’s no real character development or much dialogue between characters, but it does have a few funny moments and the animation is solid, even if it’s simple Flash. The premise is as good as any other show kids are watching right now, some better writing and there might be something worth tuning in for here. Going a little more melodramatic with Emo Crys would be a lot of fun, for example. At this point he might be a little too dry for kids to understand.
Even though he only said a few words, I really like the camera guy, Goggles. His voice is perfect and it offers up some nice diversity, even if Lil Rob monopolizes the dialogue.
So far there are a lot of different types of toys released by Mattel including basic figures with boards, deluxe figures with better articulation and accessories, action set figures with playset pieces, playset solo pieces, solo boards, gold edition figures with DVDs, talking figures, etc. On the shelves right now, I’m hard pressed to find anything but the basic figures and a few deluxes and playsets, but your mileage will vary. Somebody at Mattel threw a truckload of money at this license and there’s a lot of variety.
Let’s get on to the good stuff, shall we? We’ll start with the basic figures.
The boxes are really fantastic. Each one is unique to the character and has a clear view of all the contents. The backs contain character-specific bios and a look at the other characters available.
The figure themselves are really, really cool. The articulation is dependent on type you get. The basic figures feature only a ball and socket head, swivel hinged shoulders, and swivel feet.
Not much for posing, but as a display piece they get the job done nicely. If you were getting one or two for the under 9 crowd, this’d be the route to go. The good thing about the basic figures is that they include the same removable hats as their deluxe counterparts. Goggles is a bit of an anomaly in that he also includes additional accessories—specifically, his backpack and camera. Also, they feature unique paintjobs, headsculpts, and boards to differentiate from the deluxe versions. You’re not just buying the same figure with a little added articulation.
The paint is only okay on Rob, with a general lack of precision that really makes it feel like a toy. Since there are so few points of articulation, most of the toy is cast in a particular plastic and then details are added in. The tampos are really well done, but I would like to have seen the painted flesh of the hands match the face a little better in Rob’s case. Goggles fares much better in this area.
The decks are unique to each figure in design and paint job and feature really sharp designs with very attractive gloss finishes. Plus, the decks are magnetic! Hold a figure’s feet over the board and watch it snap right up to him. The magnets aren’t so strong that they make removing the board difficult, but just strong enough to have your toys pull off sweet tricks or interact with the playsets without fear of wiping out.
All the Wild Grinders have a fantastic style to them set to represent the different worlds of skateboarding. While simple, they bring to mind the world of urban vinyl, with cool clothes and graffitist style. They perhaps lack some of the attitude associated with urban vinyl, but being a kids line it’s totally understandable.
The basic figures are really just that: basic. They remind me of the toys of my youth like Madballs or Crash Test Dummies. There’s one in there for everyone and they’re all pretty unique. But with such limited articulation they don’t quite have the oomph to really hold my attention for long. Goggles especially for some reason reminds of classic Ninja Turtles, with his cartoon proportions and oversized accessories, like somebody owes Irma a DNA test.
I have to say, I’ve never really gotten into the skateboard culture that exists today. I liked Tony Hawk on PS1 in my time, but when I was a kid, you used a skateboard to get around as an alternative to a bike. So my questions for Part 1 are:
1.) What are your views on the world of skateboarding as it is today? Harmless fun? Annoying punk kids who won’t get out of the road? Overhyped? And 2.) Do you think properties like Tech Deck and Wild Grinders are on the right path to capturing that mentality or do we need to see more pro involvement like the Tech Deck Pro figures? Is there money to be made in the action figure market for skateboarders?
Thanks for dropping by, and remember if you really want to get into the heart of the line, tune in next time when we go over the Deluxe figures.
Until then, this is Wesitron saying: It’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.