Mar 26 //
Chris Pranger Figure Name: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider New #2Figure Maker: BandaiRetail/List Price: ¥2,240 (about US$26.87)Available at: HobbyLink Japan
Kamen Rider #2, labeled here as Masked Rider #2, has a box that's simple but works perfectly for collectors and figure fans alike. I currently have him sitting in the box on my bookshelf, ready to start some conversations about why I have a grasshopper man in my living room.
Here we have the back of the box, pointing out the apparent manliness of this figure's poseability. What interest me the most is that image in the upper right of Kamen Rider doing some powerful kick attack, but more on that later.
And here's the side, clearly pointing out the name "Masked Rider 2." I could have sworn the wonky U.S. version was named Masked Rider, but I could be wrong. Regardless, the grayscale color scheme with a splash of orange is classy, and while it's not a huge detail and I'll be taking the figure out of it as soon as possible, I like the box enough that I don't want it destroyed but rather displayed with pride.
Now the figure himself! Look at all those hands! Five total pairs of hands, an alternate scarf, and the kick attack blast thing. It's almost overwhelming but the cool thing is, the different hand positions mean I can set up pretty much any action, another positive for me.
Sitting indoors on a table just didn't seem to suit Kamen Rider, so I took him into the in-laws' backyard. As you can see, posing the figure is incredibly simple and adding his various hands in just equals fun camp.
While we're at it, why not put a figure that looks like a grasshopper in a plant? What's most striking to me about it is that while a lot of the charm is in the original character costume design, the transition to the medium of action figure feels incredibly natural, almost as if the character was planned around a toy line first and a TV show second.
The costume itself wraps around perfectly, hardly looking out of place at any seems. Here we can see the back with a wing pattern that feels like the only "off" section of the figure. Again, coming from someone who hasn't seen the show, the wings look strange to me, but as far as appearance complaints, it hardly registers. The detail on the belt more than makes up for any hesitation elsewhere.
In profile, Kamen Rider's helmet stands out even more as something that works so perfectly as an action figure. In fact, everything is working as an action figure thus far, and the costume design, planned to be streamlined and without a lot of needless frills, looks fantastic.
I could seriously just have a whole series of pictures where Kamen Rider is posed in all manner of ways using his different hands. The amount of articulation is strong and allows for a lot of different poses, though there is a downside to the constant changing of hands.
My wife grabbed my camera and snapped this shot of me trying to force one of his hands onto the little peg with much difficulty. If I were to complain about one major thing, it'd be this. Pulling the hands off is simple enough, but trying to pop them back on is insanely difficult as the peg keeps moving, making it more difficult than is really enjoyable. Plus, I was constantly worried I'd end up snapping the peg right off and breaking the hands. It's for this exact reason that I didn't bother changing his scarf out as I was far too sure that I'd bust the scarf peg in an instant.
Here I am again playing around with his posing abilities. I discovered that bending his legs too far in a squatting position with cause the legs to fall right off. I did this a number of times, though they go back on simple enough. I'd rather have a figure that falls apart and goes right back together than one that's tough to break but impossible to fix.
I like imagining Kamen Rider as a happy, quirky character. I have no idea if that's true, but I did learn that the best and easiest shots came from posing him and then placing him somewhere that didn't require his legs and feet to make him stand up. He can stand well in the poses I showed earlier, but the feet are proportionately sized to the model, which makes him look accurate but reduces his stability quite a lot.
At last, the powerful kick attack! Putting the attachment on was simple enough, consisting of essentially mashing his foot into the piece until it stayed, but then came the strange feeling of, "When can I use this?" There is no way that the figure can stay in the air by itself and doesn't come with a little stand or anything to suspend him in a pose. He can't even do a standing kick as the boot flare makes him far too top heavy to stay standing.
When not in motion, the energy looks more like he's splashing in a really deep puddle or something. Being a dope, I thought that was kind of cool. Epic puddle stomp attack!
Heck, these are action figures! If he can't stand up while kicking, then he might as well perform some sort of energy burst from an arm cannon. And it just goes to show, the figure can make just about any action look cool.
And to prove that, here's the silliest pose I could manage without him falling over. Look at the fun there! You can almost see the joy on his masked face! Finally getting to play with an S.H. Figuarts toy firsthand has only confirmed to me that they're amazing action figures. If you like articulation and the whole "action" part of action figures, Kamen Rider New #2 is a smart investment.
Any Kamen Rider fans out there that must have this immediately? Can anyone explain to me (briefly) what Kamen Rider actually is? Is there anyone out there who doesn't know a thing about the show but wants to start collecting the entire line anyway, like I do?
[Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample!]
HoyyLink Japan-The woman on the screen looks up finally, a tear rolling down her cheek from large, light-brown eyes hidden behind glasses. She has dark-brown hair coming down past her shoulders. She’s wearing a standard Legion-issued uniform with Kevlar armor.
Woman: I don’t expect any of this to make much sense to you, but please believe me. Chris…(sniffs back a tear). I’m sorry I’m not around to explain this personally, but circumstances have forced me to do it this way. I’m…I’m your mother.
Chris: (His eyes go big as he instantly scoots as close to the TV as he can manage). Mom…?
Chris’ Mother: Listen closely Chris. There’s a lot I need to say and I don’t have a lot of time to say it. I don’t know how much your grandma told you about me, because I don’t think she really knew much. I kept a lot secret from her. For start, I haven’t been going by our last name for years. I’m sure you go by Chris Collins, right? You won’t find my name in any documents anywhere, because I’ve been going by Sharon Duke, but your last name is Morgenstern, from your father, James, my husband.
Sharon: For the last several years, I’ve been in command of an organization I established as counter-terrorist group to resist any threats the world falls under. I’ve named my organization Legion, after the Biblical demon. “For we are many.” It seemed only right to combat Octavious’ new regime.
Chris: My mom founded the Legion?
Sharon: I did my best to do everything I could to better the world, and eventually I got the chance to do that on a grander scale than I could imagine, but I think it’s about to come at a price. Decimus, if you’re watching this, I put you in command of Legion. I hope the idea of continuing the fight against your cousin isn’t something you can’t handle alone.
Chris: Decimus? Who’s Decimus?
Sharon: Chris…(another tear rolls down her cheek). I’m sorry, I’m not usually so emotional. Hmm, you try for years to fight the stigma of being a woman and here you go weeping like an idiot… (Shakes her head). I was offered the chance to fight alongside some of the greatest individuals ever to exist on this earth, one of which was your father. We did our best to save this world, and it seems we did as best as we could have been expected since the world’s still here. It just looks a little different. We stopped the Eclipse Star from accomplishing its purpose, but that wasn’t enough. Most of the others are dead, or they will be soon. I’m going back to protect your father, but before I do I want to leave you with something…to remember me by… (She turns away, tears streaming down her cheeks).
Chris: Ah mom…don’t cry… (He’s tearing up, too).
Sharon: (Regains her composure, serious and stern). Chris, you’re the son of a good commander and a wonderful man. If you’re anything like your father, you’ve made yourself a handful of close friends, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve accumulated a handful of guilt. Whatever happens from now on, it’s up to you to keep them safe. Even if the world goes to hell, even if everything else is lost, keep them safe. Never, ever give up. That’s an order. I know that it isn’t going to be easy and I know you aren’t going to want to, but you have to. (Starts to break again). You have to. (Shakes her head). No…I can’t help you any more than this. If you ever meet a man named Syrus, for God’s sake be careful. He’s extremely dangerous, but you couldn’t possibly begin to understand his motives. Just stay away from him if you can.
Chris: (Quietly). Too late…
Sharon: Chris…I love you. (Kisses the tips of her fingers and presses them against the screen). I always will. Your father does, too. We wish we could help you through whatever it is you’re about to face, and we’re sorry we can’t. Just hang in there. (Sniffs). Good…goodbye. (Fumbles to turn the camera off).
If I were to say that I'm a devoted fan of Kamen Rider, I'd be lying through my teeth. I don't know a single thing about who this guy is and why he's awesome, but I do know at least that much: That he is awesome. I love the S...
As with all great things, everything gets better with action figures and then better still when said action figures are given amazing articulation. We've already got a pretty amazing X, and an equally amazing Zero, but when i...
I got a pretty fun surprise no more than a day ago when I hopped on my Twitter and found someone mentioning that some new Ninja Turtles action figures were on the way. At first I assumed this either meant some new customs or ...
Jan 25 //
1996 was a different world. Much different from the one we see today, and far different from the rosy vision we have of the world in 1987 when the original Ninja Turtles figures stormed the nation with their greatness. I was a silly child, hardly 10-years-old, and all I knew was that I missed seeing the Ninja Turtles on top and in charge. Enter Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation to utterly ruin any hopes I had at the time.
The show was, to put it lightly, horsesh*t. Instead of another animated continuation, Next Mutation was a live action mish-mash of the animated cartoon and the movie trilogy, with the Shredder still being alive but the Turtles living in the abandoned subway station. The acting was bad, the action was terrible, and everything felt pitiful, though that may be due to the show's owners: Saban. Yup, the same company making Power Rangers was now making live action Ninja Turtles, and yes, there was one horrendous crossover that hurts my teeth to think about.
But enough of the sorrow! There's plenty of good that came from Next Mutation, and I'm not talking about the fifth Turtle. Yes, we'll get to her (her?!) in a moment, but when we're talking about the gang, it's best to start with the leader of the bunch and take a look at Leonardo.
The new toy line did something that hadn't previously been done before and made Leo larger than the other Turtles, actually making him bulky and more commanding. I loved this little touch and it made me feel that, despite missing the mark with the show, the action figures had a lot of promise. He came with a handful of odd weaponry, worst off being his duel katana which had been turned into one huge sword that could split into two. Strange, but who's arguing with a Leonardo suffering from Roid Rage?
Raph got back to his comic roots and became a rebel with a bad attitude once again, another step in the right direction. His huge misstep was again in his weapons, which were still sai but now they were stupidly large and could connect, making one giant unwieldy thing that looked too dumb to exist. I liked the sculpt though as Raph was hunched a bit, making him slightly shorter than the others, plus his right arm was wickedly bent making for a serious right hook when playing rough. Even as a kid I looked for signature moves like that, and Raph didn't disappoint.
Venus de Milo, the fifth Turtle that no one asked for, was turned into a figure that no one wanted. She even looks silly, with a generally weak sculpt and a face that seems much too playful to be taken seriously as a master of Shinobi. I had to buy her though, otherwise the collection would feel incomplete. Without going any further, you could probably guess which figure was always left on the rack.
In the show, Venus was just painful to watch since her entire function was to be "The Girl" next to the obvious boy's club that the Turtles usually were (April was nowhere to be seen by the way). This was one of those clear attempts to pull in female viewers, but it just watered down the whole show and made it creepy seeing Mike and Don lusting after her as the only female Turtle they've ever seen.
Speaking of the Turtle in orange, my favorite through and through, Michelangelo got one of the best updates next to Leo. Mike's sculpt is fantastic, giving him a wicked grin and hands in a position no other figures were typically in: palms facing straight up. It was like he was lifting weights or something, but I didn't mind. I was addicted to this Mike figure, and next to the Mutating Michelangelo from the original figure line, this figure is probably my second most played with toy ever.
The reason behind this has to do with my next great love, Dragon Ball Z. The anime had finally struck a cord with me after I witnessed Goku transform into a Super Saiyan, so as soon as I could I buy a Super Saiyan Goku figure, it was time to give the Turtles a new plot line that involved an upgrade to their own super form. Hence, the Next Mutation toys functioned most frequently as the Super Mutant transformations, with Mike and Goku fighting any and every figure that dared to challenge them.
One of the odd things about these toys was the material they were made out of. While the body was hard plastic, the arms and legs were a rubbery, bendy material that could pop off without any trouble. This meant that, effectively, you could mix-and-match limbs between Turtles, which I did on occasions.
This also meant that if need be, such as after getting hit by a stray Ultimate Energy Attack, they could have arms and legs totally blown off. Mike suffered at least one defeat like this, though it should be noted that I refrained from summoning the Eternal Dragon more than perhaps once in the entirety of my plotlines, despite having like 70 or 80 Dragon Balls.
Finally, Donatello gets a new mold, though the Don I own isn't from the standard figure line but rather a line where every Turtle has a skateboard that changes into a luge board (it was definitely the height of the 90's). The boards themselves were just fine, but it was odd that the figures in this line were made with hard plastic again, so Don couldn't have his arms or legs removed, though he was capable of twisting his wrist, something the other figures could not do. His new bo staff was, unfortunately, pathetic and never used in plotlines, though why would he need it when he could just fire energy blasts now?
The Dragon Lord, a new archenemy for the Turtles, got his very own derpy figure as seen here. He has a reversible cape that came with a cardboard wall of sorts, apparently meant to be like a camouflaged background or something moronic that no kid would ever have found interesting. More interesting though was his gun, an insane monstrosity that could only have come from the minds at Saban. He sadly suffers from Shoulder Pad Syndrome, a terrible condition where the mobility of a toy's arms are restricted due to some molded fixture of their sculpt, such as shoulder pads as seen here.
One birthday yielded me a version of Raphael on his signature bike from the show, fully-loaded with a missile launcher in the back and blades that you could pull out to attack nearby cars. I decided these were wings and would allow him to glide if it came to that. I also decided that since I didn't want to waste a perfectly good figure, this would not be Raph but rather a new, robot Turtle named Sam. He was a good guy, for the most part, but he was also pretty cool and ultra powerful. He rode around with one of the Biker Mice From Mars, but I couldn't for the life of me tell you which one.
Speaking of cool, the Turtle Humvee, the answer to the Party Wagon, was a sight to behold. While the Turtle Van had a flip-out seat on the door, it was somewhat lacking. The Turtle Hummer, however, has spring-loaded battering side clubs, a pizza-launching front mount, room for four Turtles, a command center, a rack for skateboards, a ramp, a roof-mounted ball cannon, and even a winch because why not. Simply, and this is blasphemy, the Turtle Humvee beats the Party Wagon hands down.
Here's a shot of Venus up on the roof, showing off the cannon up there. You can also see the skateboard, ramp, and battering clubs more clearly. This was one decked-out vehicle, one without a lot of nonsense. It had so many functions that I hardly knew how to go about my play sessions. Strange that a show so bad would get the main vehicle so very right in the toy line though.
If you're looking to score the Hummer, I don't know if you'll find one still in the box, let alone with a complete accessory pack. The Turtles themselves are at least half readily available online in the usual shopping markets, but don't expect to pay anything less than US$39.99 for one still in the box. Your best bet is absolutely garage sales and flea markets, though these toys didn't seem to sell very well or for very long, so my hypothesis is that anyone who did buy these (and I include myself there) doesn't want to give them up as they are downright awesome.
I'll leave you then with a hefty competition. The original Playmates line had much more variety, but when it comes to the basic figures in head-to-head competition, I actually prefer the Next Mutation figures a little bit. Tough decision!
But hey, if you have any of these figures, leave a comment and let me know. I'm really curious to see who else thought these were cool, or who else thought these were lame. Whatevs, both good. And with that, enjoy the video and party on!
I stick to my word, and so since it is the last Wednesday of January, it is time for another Toys of Yesterday. When we last saw each other, I was talking about Street Sharks and how they were, surprisingly, beyond awesome ac...
I like Mario as much as the next silly Nintendo diehard, particularly anything related to Super Mario 3D Land as it rawked my world pretty hard this past year. Thankfully we're starting to get a glut of merchandise from 3D La...
Just as promised, Jin is continuing his journey through the Mega Man universe with a new custom. You may have seen his Mega Man custom from about a week ago (which ended up selling at just over US$350 by the way), but the tim...
Dec 31 //
Chris Pranger 5. Samurai Pizza Cats
So many mornings were spent as a kid desperately trying to get up in time to actually catch a full episode of Samurai Pizza Cats, though 6 am is nearly impossible at any age. Why were the networks so cruel as to stuff this one in a slot I'd never get to enjoy? Even so, I'm not the only one who loves this Tatsunoko property that was surprisingly dubbed fairly well in English, at least compared to other things. And hey, it even takes a good-natured shot at my boys the TMNT, so I can find the fun there. But do we have a bunch of customs? Nuh-uh. I'm not even entirely sure they had official figures widely available in the US, though Japan and Europe had some model kits similar to Gundams. Someone is going to have to change this as I don't think I can live in a world where we don't have figures of cats in robotic samurai outfits.
Back in the heyday of Warner Bros 90 cartoons, Animaniacs and Pinky & The Brain were all sorts of popular, but a slightly less-remembered show, Freakazoid!, was where a lot of experimental potential was getting sunk. Taking a cue from The Tick, Freakazoid! utterly lampoons the super hero genre by inventing absolutely ridiculous characters and situations. The title character, Freakazoid, is the purest kind of off-the-wall madness, creating episodes where he stops a villain by imitating Jerry Lewis or just simply telling him he's fed up with his antics and to leave everyone alone. However, there is some shining hope here as Figure Realm customizer warrack made a pretty darn convincing Freakazid earlier this year. Let's keep that streak going into next year, yes?
3. Darkwing Duck
I don't know a single person who doesn't know of and love Darkwing Duck, the somewhat spin-off of Ducktales staring Drake Mallard, a super hero duck in a snazzy outfit with a gas gun and the best sidekick ever, Launchpad McQuack. To be fair, Darkwing Duck did have a toy line, but compared to what we could have seen, it didn't go far enough. Just imagine what a Revoltech Darkwing Duck figure would look like. Worse still, we never got a Gizmoduck figure! Blathering blatherskite, that's unacceptable! But fear not, as yet another Figure Realm custom toy maker, this time G Brand (he did that set of Ninja Turtles I loved) has a custom Gizmoduck from 2009 that is pure win.
2. Bucky O'Hare
Bucky O'Hare was sadly not long for this world, only managing to get 13 episodes, a pair of video games on the NES and arcade respectively, and a toy line that didn't make it past the first wave despite being rather good and already having the second wave prototyped and ready to color for shipping. The problem was, from what I'm understanding, Bucky was a product of the "Hey Ninja Turtles was an anthropomorphic team of heroes based on a comic series so let's do that again" craze. The actual graphic novel is...silly at best, but the show holds up as pure early 90's camp. Yet despite having one of the funnest theme songs and best licensed NES games of the time, we don't have a flood of custom figures. Figure Realm user asher-B has one of the very few Bucky O'Hare customs, going all the way back to 2008, but the result is more "What if Frank Miller designed Bucky O'Hare?" Again, it's a great start, so let's see some more. Let's see another Bucky! Let's see a Deadeye Duck, please! Let's see Jenny the cat witch! Lots of great options here, so don't waste it!
1. Swat Kats
Freaking yes. If you weren't watching Swat Kats, I really don't know what to tell you. I wish I could have included the Season 1 intro instead of Season 2, but embedding is disabled by all the videos I found (go watch it here for some of the best guitar licks since Power Rangers). I mean hot damn, if that intro doesn't get you pumped as $#%&, you may be on life support. Cats, flying a fighter jet, and the cat in charge of the weapons system is voiced by the same voice actor who played Donatello in the 1987 cartoon? (That'd be Barry Gordon by the way.) Swat Kats actually did have a toy line that consisted of...four figures. And it didn't even include the Turbokat vehicle! Unforgivable! Figure Realm customizer gigantopithecus tried his best in 2010 to give us T-Bone, Razor, and the Turbokat, and succeeded with mixed results. We have got to get the word out and find a wide variety of custom toy designers ready to pick up the slack and give us some real figures. C'mon, you know they'd be great!
Bonus: The Mother *&$%#@! Cheetahmen! (NSFW)
Do I look like I'm kidding? Take a look at an official commercial. Yes, Action 52 and the never-released stand-alone sequel Cheetahmen II do not represent the finest is either presentation or nostalgia, but the Cheetahmen were actually designed to have an action figure line that never happened. Not fair! Some things, such as Street Sharks, ended up being great precisely because of the toy line! We can't deny ourselves of something potentially Earth-shatteringly fantastic! These are karate cheetahs! Karate cheetahs! Frick, someone get on this and get me some custom Cheetahmen right freaking now!
There, I'm done. I think I got that out of my system, and conveniently right before the year was up. So there you have it, a desperate plea to custom figure makers out there to fulfill my entitlement fantasies. You make these and I guarantee coverage! But this can't just be about me. Nope, I want to know what everyone else wants to see, or if my choices are profoundly stupid (hint: they're not). Tomofolk, what custom action figures do you want to see in 2012? Let's get the suggestions going!
P.S. If anyone can provide better videos than the ones above, please do leave them as comments and I will gladly make the swap. That is all! Happy end of 2011!
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Dec 13 //
Chris Pranger Jonathon Tubbs wants Videl:
Wow. It's been ages since I've watched the show. This is going to take me a while to think ab... Videl! Short hair version! NOW! The tough gal was an early anime crush of mine thus is why she must be made. ...plus I thought the Gohan x Videl thing was cute. NOW MAKE IT! While they're at it, let's get a Great Saiyawoman version of her, too!
...and if they are being made? ...well, splendid then!
Natalie Kipper wants Rebjorn from Dragon Quest:
While I might not be the biggest Dragon Ball enthusiast, I definitely appreciate Toriyama-san's work in the Dragon Quest series, especially involving the series' monsters. I would love to see a S. H. Figuarts of the monster Rebjorn, hopefully based on his Dragon Quest Monsters Joker 2 appearance. He could come with a bonfire accessory and have the option to switch to his knocked-unconscious face.
Rio McCarthy wants Yamcha, Zarbon, and Bulma (in this outfit):
Oh gosh.. Chris.. You opened up a wormhole that can never be closed!! Since two of my favorite characters have already been put into the S. H. Figuarts series (Vegeta and Trunks) that takes out two choices, but there are a truckload I wish I could have still! I'll bend the rules a little, because well, what are you gonna do, beat me up? SEE YOU AT THE TOURNAMENT!! Anywho! My THREE figures I want, that I could narrow it down to, would be Dragon Ball era Yamcha, Bulma in a specific outfit, and Zarbon.
Let me explain a little.. I'd love a Yamcha the Desert Bandit figure, complete with a little Puar to go with him. There's just something about that original design of Yamcha's that I loved most. The Bulma figure is tricky for me, because there's one outfit of hers that has always been my favorite. It's this random one where she has one leg that's shorts and one that's pants, and it's a bit of a motocross outfit. Yeah, if they gave her that outfit I'd actually buy a Bulma figure. Last, but not least, is Zarbon! Yes, random as hell baddies for the win! Of course it has to be the attractive Zarbon I had a crush on as a kid, not the creepy one after he's transformed. Unless.. they made the transformation his accessories!
Brian Szabelski wants Mr. Popo, the Ginyu Force, Nappa, and Kid Goku:
... Okay fine. More than just that. Let's do the entire Ginyu Force, too, so I can recreate their pose. Oh, and good ol' God dammit Nappa, in either regular or ghost version.
A Kid Goku Nendo would be really nice, too, Good Smile Company and Bandai, hmm? *nudge* HMM? *harder nudge* HMMM?!?!?! *stiff elbow shot to ribs*
Chris Seto wants General Tao and agrees about Jackie Chun and Mr. Satan:
It's been ages since I watched DBZ and I am pretty well served already with SSJ2 Gohan and a likely Perfect Cell incoming. SSJ2 Gohan vs Perfect Cell is probably my favourite fight within the entire series!But if we go a little further back, I do have a soft spot for (non cyborg) General Tao with his pose when he's riding on an oversized projectile and Jacky Cheung!!Oh and we NEED a Mr Satan!!! It must be done!!!
Andres Cerrato wants everything, apparently:
Okay, I'm going to kind of hate myself for giving Bandai this idea, but it's nothing really new. I want the Namek Saga set for Figuarts/Figuarts Zero. For starters, I'm tired of puny Dragon Balls that can fit in my hand. I like my Dragon Balls big, bulky and to require to the use of both arms to carry. That said, package a Dragon Ball with each figure so we buy them all. Here's how the lineup goes:SH Figuarts Bulma, Krillin and Gohan (original Namek attires, armor versions come later), Dodoria, Zarbon, Vegeta (must include optional right hand with middle finger and arm to hold Dragon Ball), and Final Form (not 100%) Frieza. Each comes with a Dragon Ball. Bulma comes with the Dragon Radar, Krillin gets the Destructo Disk effect part, Gohan comes packed with a Figuarts Zero Dende. Figuarts Zero will get the Ginyu Force in their respective poses, Frieza first form with hoverchair, Great Elder Guru, and to top it off, Porunga, with the base having slots to place the Dragon Balls, in which they can light up. Tell me you wouldn't collect them all to do this. Mind you, this is just the Namek Saga... As far as what else I'd like to see, I'd like for Nappa to finally get an SH Figuarts. I know people will ask for Mr. Popo for the obvious reason, but how can you have Popo without Kami? I'd personally just be satisfied with a Figuarts Zero of those two. Roshi is one that has to be made, complete with magazines and that turtle. Other releases that could be done, Yamcha with Puar, Tien with Chaotzu, and Broly with all hair variations. I honestly have way too many ideas, especially if I take in Figuarts Zero. I would make Pranger go into being a bottom bitch with the full catalog I have in my mind.
And that sounds like a conclusion if ever there was one! Side note for those curious: My Top 10 was shortened from a Top 15. The five characters that got the axe? Mr. Popo, Nappa (sans armor), Bulma in the exact outfit Rio described, Kid Buu, and Spike the Devil Man. Behinds the scenes mayhem to articles!
So yes, I'm done, we're done, everyone's done on this end, but are you done? We got some great responses the first time, so let's hear some more! Don't stop until everything's been made into a Figuarts of some sort! See you in the Other World!
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Dec 07 //
Chris Pranger 10. Grand Kai
You know what make the best figures? Obscure characters that have absolutely no relevance to the plot whatsoever. Hold on, follow my logic here! Very little good ever came out of DBZ's filler story arcs, but Grand Kai, a god figure from Other World who looks like George Carlin with a bigger beard, was a great addition. He was whimsical, ran to his own beat, and above all didn't fight despite being essentially the god of warriors. Give me a figure with his outfit up there, boombox included, and I'm set. This is exactly how I always pictured God by the way. Or Denzel Washington. Alt pallet swap!
9. Mecha Frieza
Like, what if Frieza ... was a robot, yo? Well then you'd have Mecha Frieza. I absolutely loved how the show built up the return of the best villain the series had seen so far as the next world-shattering conflict, then had Future Trunks show up and cause so many lady boners by beating the ever-loving hell out of him. Regardless, Frieza's cool, but a half cyborg/half whatever-the-hell-Frieza is? Forget about it! Increase Frieza's killing power and that's a winner! Plus, you need the perfect set now that Future Trunks is coming to the U.S., so Mecha Frieza is a perfect fit. Now if they could make a version with completely break-away limbs ...
8. Pirate Robot
Oh yes, I watched Dragon Ball. I'm not just some action junky without class. Nah man, I'm an action junky who has gots ta get his robot on! The Pirate Robot only showed up for a few episodes in the original series, but this thing was built to look awesome, even in a series where the non-Big Bads (and sometimes those as well) where designed to look a bit corny. The Pirate Robot has a sword and a machine gun on his freaking arm that also shoots fire. And you don't want a high quality figure of that? Perhaps you don't like toys then.
Those of you who hate Krillin, get out. Get the @#$% out right now. Krillin is my best friend and a solid champ. He was even in the running during this last official poll, but dang it, I'm not content with him getting stuck in 5th place. Krillin gave the series the Destructo Disk, was able to fire off a make-shift Spirit Bomb when there was no other choice, and is directly responsible for the Super Saiyan. Also, how many characters on the show successfully impregnated an android? Huh? Yeah, manly! And if we wanted to take things one step further in the "amazing" direction, put him in his "Smooth Criminal" white suit from the Garlic Jr. Saga sans jacket. That means button-up shirt with the rolled up sleeves. Hot! C'mon, who's with me here? Rio, you know what I'm talkin' 'bout!
6. Master Roshi
Roshi is a balla. He trained Goku, Krillin, Yamcha, Tien, and probably me, too. Despite being an old man, he's managed to kick not just some of the butts, or most of the butts, but all of the butts. Dude invented the Kamehamaha. Head back to Dragon Ball and check him out from the 21st and 22nd Tenkaichi Budokai (as Jackie Chun) and tell me he doesn't deserve to be turned into a thug-ass action figure. You see that beard? You see those shades? Dude could knock yo mamma out. Get him an action figure already!
5. Nouva Shenron
Didn't think I'd go as far as Dragon Ball GT, did you? Hang on, I'll be first in line to tell you why GT is awful, but I gotta give credit where it's due: wings. Nouva Shenron has wings and above all else he has a body that's shaped perfectly for a slick figure design. I could care less what he did in the series, what's far more important is how big a role he could play in my own personal living room storylines (spoiler, he'd play a huge role). Toys gotta be toys first and foremost, and Nouva Shenron in all his golden shiny glory is just what we deserve. None of this Omega Shenron crap. None of this Super Saiyan 4 nonsense. Shiny gold dragon with wings!
4. Mr. Satan
Gunmetalgray was first to point this out and I was quick to agree, but Mr. Satan, A.K.A. Hercule from the original edited dubs, needs to be turned into a good figure right the hell now. Mr. Satan is one of the absolutely greatest characters on the show and not because he was a skilled fighter or anything. Toriyama originally conceived the show as satire, something that was very much lost among the pew-pew energy fights, but Mr. Satan went a long way to remind us just how downright hysterical the humor could be. And don't forget, though he couldn't fight worth a damn he did accomplish something no other DBZ character ever did: He asked the Big Bad to please stop killing everyone and being evil and had the Big Bad say, "Okay." Also he fights children. Hercule, please be my dad.
3. Future Gohan
Nah, I'm not talking about Mystic Gohan. Yes, he's cool and everything, but when I dream I tend to dream big, so I'm thinking of Future Gohan, the one from Future Trunks' alternate timeline where everyone's dead. Future Gohan isn't a teenager. He's a man, pure and simple. His body is large, his neck is thick, and his stare is grizzled. This isn't your happy-go-lucky "Gee I hope I can help dad out" little Gohan we all know. This Gohan watched every one of the Z fighters get murdered, but before that he saw he dad die, not from a major threat to the world, but from a heart virus. No magic wishes there kid, deal with it. Give me a Figuarts of Future Gohan with one arm and I'm set. Oh, did I forget to mention that he still fought with one freaking arm? I change my answer, Future Gohan, please be my dad.
You cannot list off important and awesome characters without giving Tien his propers. Tien showed up in Dragon Ball and may just be responsible for my favorite fight of the entire timeline where he and Goku fight it out for World Champion. He has more moves than pretty much anyone else, all of which make for great alternative hands. You've got your dodonpa, your Neo Tri-Beam (super underrated but ultimate attack), the solar flare (greatest success rate of any technique in the show!), plus he can grow another pair of arms and was the character that introduced flight to the series. And how do they treat him later on? By pretty much forgetting that he's around. Tien should have come back again and again to challenge not just Goku but everyone to a fight. Instead he just faded away and showed up to stall for time here and there until Goku wasn't dead anymore. Don't let the same fate befall a Tien action figure!
Freaking this guy right here! Pikkon is too cool for words, and he isn't even from the manga. Pikkon comes exclusively from the best filler arc of the series where he fights Goku in the Other World Tournament. And he would have won if there were no rules, what with his Thunder Flash Attack and Hyper Tornado and ability to cover himself in flames just to look cooler. Right before the tournament he and Goku went to Hell to stop Cell, Frieza, King Cold, and the Ginyu Force from causing any trouble, and as Cell moved in to fight, Pikkon took him out with a flaming kick. One freaking kick! And Cell had just killed Goku not long before this. Nope, Cell's not good enough, he got beasted by Pikkon in one move. Oh, and how many DBZ characters have had their themes sampled in rap music? Uh, Pikkon has. (Okay, so has Cell.)
So there, that's who I'd pick if I were handed the keys to the toy line. But I'm really more interested in hearing your suggestions. Honest! How else am I gonna get my DBZ fix? What am I supposed to do while I'm waiting for the Dragon Ball episode of the Tomocast? Exactly, make a list just like this one. So which characters should get converted into a figure? And hey, while we're at it, which ones shouldn't? I'd say we can safely leave Goku and Vegeta off the list for a while, huh?
Alright, that's enough from me. Go at it!
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Nov 30 //
Chris Pranger Stone Protectors are everything that was wrong with the '90s. Deep in the jungle of team-based hero groups during one fateful year (1993), the owners of the Troll dolls property decided that what Troll dolls needed was an edgier and above all more '90s take on the classic big-haired, wide-grinned, magic-stoned Trolls. The result was to naturally throw everything they could against the wall and see what would stick, culminating in some of the most unoriginal, sloppy products money and shame could buy.
The plot of the animated series and toy line (yes, toy lines had plots back then) revolves around a rock band of five teenagers who aren't very successful at all. After a particularly heinous set, they stumble upon five magic stones that embed themselves in their chests, turning them from ordinary losers into grotesque rockers with apparently magic talent and severe cases of Ugly Face. Each of the five had a different colored stone and a different skill, such as rock climber, samurai, soldier, wrestler, and "accelerator," which just meant "he was the obligatory character with roller skates and sun glasses." I swear, I'm not making any of this up. Here's the theme song to the animated show:
There are simply no words for that, so let's just move onto the horror reserved for the toys themselves, right? I was thankful not to own the entire set, only having access to three of the five Stone Protectors and none of the villains or vehicles (because toy lines in the 90s were required by law to have vehicles of some sort).
Here's the first figure I was drawn to, Maxwell the Accelerator. Notice those radical inline skates! Be amazed by the tubular shades! Stand in stunned silence at the gnarly hair! But hey, at least he's safe and wears knee and elbow pads because kids, remember that safety always comes first! These figures all adhere to the Ninja Turtle design right down to every single bit of articulation as the legs move on a pivot joint at the hip, the arms move up and down and can twist at the elbow, and their heads move side to side. These are Ninja Turtle action figures with more hair and less detail. Sad.
Here we have Angus the Soldier. You can tell he's a solider because he has camo pants and grenades strapped to his chest. This is probably the face that comes off the worst since he doesn't look either friendly or intimidating, but rather like he doesn't even know where he is. I'm not even saying he looks mentally challenged; I'm saying he looks like he has about as much brain power as one of the trolls from Lord of the Rings. You know, like the one that attacked the group in the Mines of Moria? Yeah, that sort of brain power. And this is the guy who's skilled with firearms and explosives. Yikes.
Now here's my actual favorite, even more than the accelerator over there. This is Chester and he's the wrestling expert, as you can tell by the leotard and the He-Man stature. You can really see the gem mashed into his chest here, though what pictures can't capture (the video does) is the ability of the stones to flash when the right arms are twisted down. Each toy had a flint strike that the arm activated, creating a spark and a perfect gimmick to conclude the ridiculousness of these generic toys.
So who would be dumb enough to make these? Why the Ace Novelty Toy Company of course! They wanted to create a line of figures spun off from the hugely popular Troll dolls, but for some incredibly odd reason they wanted to distance themselves from the tall-haired fad as much as possible. Why? No clue, but I have a feeling that Stone Protectors were originally more like Stoned Protectors if you get my drift ...
They were high. They had to be high. What I'm saying is that the creators were high on weed and made these while high.
Again, I can't stress the Ninja Turtle vibe enough. They're built exactly like toys from the Mirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line, but with those sparking stones added for no good reason. However, no one seems to be capable of matching the Turtles when it comes to sculpt detail and just Not Looking Stupidness. More baffling is that each stone is differently colored and the cartoon shows Maxwell with the red stone and Chester with the orange one, swapped here for the action figures. They can't even keep continuity straight between the toy line and the cartoon created to advertise the toy line!
If you're actually looking to pick these up, again, garage sales will be your best bet, but you can probably find them online for very cheap. I already found some auctions on Chester and Maxwell each going loose for US$3. Again, I have no clue why you'd want these though, so you're on your own there as I want no part of that.
And with that this month's Toys of Yesterday is complete! Well, except for the video, but that's after this paragraph. See the amazing craptasticness in action! Witness the unwitting failures of the 90's! Gasp at my ability to hold these without my flesh being seared from the toxic burning these toys exude! But oh, what's this? I have another toy line from the '90s that also tried to ride on the TMNT gravy train? Yes I certainly do, but you'll have to wait until December for that. Until then, I'll see you on Memory Lane.
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Oct 26 //
Journey with me back to the early 1990s, will you? I'm roughly 5 years old and I cannot get enough action figures. My grandma, being the enlightened one that I reference frequently, knew that the only way to satiate this need of mine was to have a constant selection of new action figures found at thrift stores and garage sales. One such day yielded six figures from the Dick Tracy figure line by Playmates made during 1990.
Playmates had been in business since 1966 and by the time the Dick Tracy movie came to fruition, they'd been producing the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for just over two years. Perhaps it's not really a surprise, then, that the Dick Tracy figures seem to have a similar design!
The toys coincided with the movie, featuring likenesses similar to the characters seen on-screen. Or at least, that's what I assume, as I haven't seen the movie in question. Still, even as a kid I had a basic grasp of who Dick Tracy was and what he did. I knew he was a detective who found gangsters in the 1920s or '30s, had a yellow hat and coat, and ... did I mention the yellow hat and coat? Man, was that a cool look.
There's one missing from this line-up, though: The Blank, the film's antagonist. According to Topless Robot, "The story goes that the Blank was initially held back from the first toy release because it had a removable mask, and would therefore give away the plot twist. However, when the toyline didn't become the hit Playmates was hoping for, they canceled their plans to release the Blank at mass retail in the United States." The story goes on to say that The Blank's figure was released only as a Canadian Sears exclusive in 1990, with only 3,000 figures rumored to be made.
The figures themselves seemed very strange though. Despite going for a somewhat attempt at physical likenesses to the actors, the body proportions were just plain goofy. The entire line looks squashed so that each character could be mistaken for a dwarf when standing next to other toy lines (lucky for Dick Tracy, the Marvel Legends line didn't exist yet).
Here's a character by the name of Al "Big Boy" Caprice. The appearance is pretty standard for this line where the villains have faces contorted into grotesque expressions of "I am a bad guy!" However, they are at the very least vibrantly colored, which is a major plus for a kid. I wasn't looking for realism in my action figures as much as accessories and bright paint jobs. I got at least for the second part of my wish.
This is Rodent, probably my favorite of the villains purely based on the purple suit and bowler. I have him holding one of the two tommy guns that came with the second-hand group. There were a lot more accessories when bought brand new, such as handguns and clubs, but I didn't own any of them. Most figures had a standard holster belt that either want around their waist or their shoulder or something like that, though when looking at some images of the fully-loaded toys, the belts looked really out of place. I don't mind them being lost in the transition.
The Brow, as shown above, continues the trend of mangled faces. Thankfully for me, the character Flattop wasn't included in the group, a real blessing as some of these figures just get uglier and uglier. It's not even really a good kind of ugly either. It's just plain ugly. The models lack a lot of the personality that other Playmates toy lines, such as Ninja Turtles, had in spades. All of these figures are just guys in vibrantly colored suits. One figure called The Tramp was pulled from the line after people complained about a homeless person being portrayed as a criminal, so we can confirm that parents though about things too much back in the early 90's as well.
They also don't stand all too great either as their legs are somewhat constricted. It fits the mood of some, like Mumbles up there, but doesn't help for standing the toys up during play. Half the time they'd just fall over, and the other half I'd be forced to make them stand like goobers since they had no choice to be bow-legged. Still, they had enough articulation to make me happy as they moved at the leg joints, the shoulders, the neck, and the wrists. It could have been a whole lot worse.
Finally we come to Shoulders, a guy I always though was a toy maker due to the handcuffs under his jacket appearing to my younger mind to be the turncrank on a wind-up toy of some sort. Sure it was weird, but it added a bit more personality to the toys than what they were actually designed with, and that's a shame. A good action figure should be cool no matter your grasp of the source material. These were banking almost entirely off the hope that kids would know what they were buying.
Naturally, I can't go a full article without bringing Ninja Turtles into the mix, but it makes quite a bit of sense seeing as how both lines were made by Playmates and have roughly the same scale. The 5" size works for the Turtles, but not so much for Dick Tracy. If you'd like to find an in-package Dick Tracy, they really aren't that expensive. Here's one for US$5. If you don't mind loose figures, here are 11 for US$53.95. I'd suggest checking thrift stores and yard sales, just as my grandma did, but the choice is up for you.
So then, did anyone else have any of these figures? Or did they want to have some of these figures and never did? Go ahead and leave a message and let me know. Otherwise, enjoy the video and come back next month for a toy property I'm also certain no one else has ever heard about.
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