Tomopop Original

#lovewins photo
#lovewins

Say it with your toys: #lovewins


Make some toy rainbows
Jun 29
// Kristina Pino
We at Tomopop are so very happy with the recent ruling on same-sex marriage (that it's a constitutional right) that we're celebrating the way we know best: with toys! There've been book rainbows and cookies and all kinds of colorful goodness spreading around the internet, so here are our own contributions to the lovefest.
Nakama Toys photo
Nakama Toys

Tomopop About Town: Nakama Toys retail store


A legit figure store in Chicago!
May 27
// Tianxiao Ma
I think one of the best things to inspire passion for a hobby is having a good brick and mortar retail store around. They're valuable for showing off the hobby and product, and you can get some good info from experienced coll...

Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's ARTFX J Cardcaptor Sakura

May 20 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: ARTFX J Sakura KinomotoFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: ¥11,000Available at: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | AmiAmi | CD Japan | Plamoya | Big in Japan  As I say in pretty much every one of my reviews, I'm a big fan of 'less is more' when it comes to box design. Sakura's box isn't exactly spartan but it's pleasingly straightforward. I particularly like the big 'wraparound' window which carries all the way round to the side of the box.  It makes the entire thing look modern and airy and gives you a great all round view of the figure. The left hand side of the box includes the original CLAMP illustration which this figure is based on. There's been some controversy over this decision to use the manga design over the far more recognized anime design, which I'll address momentarily when we get to the figure itself. I will say the box feels a little big - though Sakura isn't a small figure, I'm pretty sure smarter packaging could have at least cut the ends off of what's a pretty large package. Once out of the box, Sakura is a very nicely sized and weighted figure. She's a 1/7-scale sculpt but feels a little more like a 1/8 occasionally, probably because of the character's small stature. Regardless, it's a size which feels hefty and solid. Sakura is attached to her cloud base and can't be separated, not that you'd want to anyway considering the pose prohibits any other form of display. One thing I will point out is that the base is a hollow shell, rather than solid plastic. There's no real issue with stability but it's disappointingly cheap-feeling for what's meant to be a high end product. Sculpt quality is excellent all around, with Kotobukiya's decision to go with a massively ruffled look vindicated by the amount of life and movement they can bring to that gigantic skirt. It may be a touch over-the-top for some readers, but it definitely embraces the extravagant shoujo styling of the source material. Plastic and paint feel textured and high quality to the touch, and overall the entire product (bar the aforementioned base) feels well worth your money. Sakura's main accessory is a pair of plus-sized wings which give a huge boost in presence and impact to her overall presentation. I'd go as far to say Kotobukiya should have made these wings a permanent part of the sculpt, since I can't imagine anyone owning this figure without wanting to use them. Still, if you're tight on space, I suppose it's nice to have the option. As you can see from this picture, the bigger wings aren't actually replacement parts but instead add-ons. They plug into the top of the existing wings on the sculpt, which split at the top to allow room for pegs. This arguably doesn't look quite as good as an all-in-one sculpted piece would, but it's also less fiddly and more durable. The other, absolutely essential accessory included is a miniature version of Sakura's ever-present companion Kero-chan. He's very well detailed for his size, with a smart red bow-tie (unfortunately damaged on my example as you can see in the picture) and miniature translucent wings. He has a tiny peg on his right leg which slots neatly into a hole between the frills of Sakura's dress, thus matching the pose of the original art and making him appear to seamlessly 'fly' alongside Sakura. Let's talk a bit about that face. I've seen a lot of complaints about the hair colour and also the fact that she seems a little too 'chubby' in the cheeks, or round faced in general. I think these people are totally mad. I love this entire head sculpt to bits and I think the decision to go with the manga art style is totally justified considering the much more interesting look. Kotobukiya have done a great job with the hair, fading from a lovely brown-orange to nearly translucent at the tips. It's an important splash of colour in a figure that might otherwise be overwhelmed by pink and white, as are Sakura's trademark vivid green eyes. Though it's difficult to tell without a strong backlight, both the crystal at the base of Sakura's staff and the 'eyes' in its head are made of translucent red plastic. Note the subtle creases in the sock fabric at the knee joint, a lovely little touch. Detail sculpting is beyond reproach, with fantastic small scale work like the bow on these shoes. You can just about see where the peg attaches the shoe and base here. If there's a weakness here, then it's the same one I mentioned in the Eren review - ultra fine paint detail. You can see in the upper right hand corner of this shot that the piping on the dress band is slightly sloppy. Even if we leave aside the damaged bow tie on Kero there are a few minor examples of paint splash or slop on the figure. Though Kotobukiya are getting closer every time, I still wouldn't put them quite on the pedestal with Alter and GSC as far as razor sharpness goes. Overall though I'm scrabbling for things to criticise. It's another superb figure from Kotobukiya and without a doubt the definitive Sakura figure at this point in time. After so many years of dreaming, fans of Cardcaptor Sakura finally have a full size, top quality figure to call their own, and I'd say any collector who loves the show owes themselves this one. Now we just have to wait for Syaoran...  
ARTFX Sakura photo
Nice to see you, good to meet you
When I reviewed FuRyu's trading figure version of Sakura Kinomoto last summer, I was positive, but also still a little disappointed that we weren't getting a full-fat, big money version of the character to stand alongside the...


Tomopop Original: Creating my own 'Create a Cobra'

May 15 // Soul Tsukino
The figure that I've seen go for the highest prices consistently is one that really doesn't have a name. It was only available, by mail order, for one year in 1993, near the end of the original run of G.I. Joe. It was the "Create a Cobra" figure. (image via) This figure was the Cobra answer to the Steel Brigade figure. You filled out a small form where you gave your character a name, a primary specialty, a secondary specialty, and a few other bits of info about their personality. After a few weeks you got the figure along with a sheet of paper that was a bio with all the info you had filled out for an official dossier. Since the figure was a mail-in available for only a short time, its not a figure that readily comes available on the second hand market like eBay. And boy howdy does its price reflect that. I also think this is the most stupid-looking figure I have ever seen. It's a Crimson Guard Immortal head put onto a TARGAT body, slathered in bubblegum pink, baby blue, and black. This figure seriously looks like it would be a cake topper for a baby shower in 1984. And he is supposed to be THE BAD GUY. In looking at this monstrosity, I literally said to myself that if I tracked down the parts for this, I could make my own figure for a fraction of the price and it would look better than the real thing. So I did. I tracked down a cheap TARGAT figure. I picked the better looking 1989 version. There was a repaint done in 1992, but its color scheme wouldn't look any better for this project than the pink and blue mess that inspired me to write this. For the head I went with the original 1991 Crimson Guard Immortal figure since the later Blue and Silver version is both harder to find and doesn't really match with the body. So let's get this started! First, here is what you'll need. The figure, the head, a small Phillips head screwdriver (Usually found in small screwdriver sets), and a new rubber O-ring. The TARGAT figure itself is not in premium condition, the O-ring is old and stretched out, the knee joints are loose, and the paint on the helmet is worn. Honestly though, it won't matter. If I wanted to I could have bought replacement legs with tighter joints, but I'm fine with it as-is since the TARGAT head doesn't matter and we are replacing the O-ring anyway. First we take the screw driver to the "backscrew," or the small screw that holds the front and back of the chest together. The screw here is rusty, but still in good enough shape not to require a drill to remove.   Once the screw is out, pull apart the chest and break down your figure to its parts. Yup, that's what a Joe figure looks like when it's taken apart. Pull out the old O-ring from its hook and toss it. Take your new O-ring and place it in the small metal hook holding the legs together. Slide the O-ring with the legs attached through the bottom of the waist piece. You probably need to use the screw driver to help feed it through and get it together (This can be a real moment of cussing rage sometimes).   Next, hook the O-ring around the cylinder on the back piece of the figure and pull back a little so that it holds together by itself. Since I am using an O-ring that is slightly smaller than the factory ones, the figure at this point will fly apart easier if not set right. Now comes the "fun" part! Take the chest piece and connect it too the back piece, but not all the way in. Ya need to leave space to get in the arms and head. Remember what I said about the figure wanting to fly apart? This is the point where that can really show itself. Wedge your way into the arm holes with each arm. It takes a little hand dexterity and a few silent prayers to get both arms set without having the whole thing come apart. Once both arms are in place, you can push the chest and back piece together a little more to keep things in place, but again, not completely closed. AND I'LL FORM THE HE- oh wait, wrong 80's show. The heads of G.I. Joe figures from the '80s an '90s are always tricky since some head pieces do not fit with certain body pieces. In this case, since the "Create a Cobra" figure used recycled molds, it's not a problem. The head fits and doesn't wobble around on the body. Now we are ready to finish this bad boy out. Close the front and back chest pieces together and place the screw back in its place. Use the screw driver to make sure the backscrew is actually in the hole that connects the pieces together. Tighten it up (Righty tighty). And we are done! Now, the red paint on his helmet isn't a perfect match to the ones on his gloves and boots, and if you want to get hardcore customizer on it, you can certainly get some paint from the hobby store and go wild. Me, I take 'em as is. Give your new agent of evil a weapon and there ya go! BUT WAIT! Part of the deal with the Create a Cobra figure was having his own bio with name, specialties, and all that cool stuff. But, once again, I found something that is cooler than the goofy sheet of paper that came with the old figures. I just went to Joecustoms.com Filecard Creator. It's quick, easy, and makes more official looking file cards you can download than that grey piece of paper Hasbro would slap together and send you.  The best part of this is, your Create a Cobra doesn't actually have to be a Cobra! Evil sunovagun isn't he? And the cost for this simple little project? $14.23, and you can probably do even better with that since I paid a little more for the headpiece than what individual parts tend to go for in most cases. Sure beats paying 400 bucks for something that looks like it should have been packed with a set of baseball cards.
G.I.Joe photo
Customizing on a budget
Many of you know about those items that are just a smidge outside our regular budgets. Those special items that are cherished by collectors and the people offering to sell said items know how much they are worth. For me, as a...

Incredible Crash Dummies photo
Incredible Crash Dummies

Tomopop Original: The tale of a Crash Dummy


A true story that is full of Bull
May 14
// Soul Tsukino
I would reason to guess all of us writing here on Tomopop, as well as all of you reading, had that one special toy as a kid. That one special part of their collection that they cherished and held a special place in their hear...

Tomopop Review: Super Action Noriaki Kakyoin Second

Apr 18 // Rio McCarthy
Figure Name: Super Action Figure Noriaki Kakyoin SecondFigure Maker: Medicos EntertainmentRetail Price: ¥4,200Available at: HLJ Starting off with the packaging, it looks very similar to the rest of the Super Action Statue boxes for the JoJo's Bizarre Adventure figures. There's a nice-sized window on the front of the box, and pictures of both the figure, and the individual pieces included inside the box on both the sides and back. Taking the plastic casing out of the box you get to see a full view of all of the pieces that are included. There are several switchable hands, as well as an alternate head. Hidden underneath the plastic you'll find the stand (not to be confused with Hierophant Green), the "Bang" sound effect plate, and the instructions, showing where all of the moveable pieces are. Fresh out of the package, heeeeeere's Kaykoin! As you can see, he can actually stand up on his own pretty well, so that's always a nice thing to see. However, what's not so nice is that you can quickly see a few paint specks and slight scratches that were on the figure upon arrival. Here's to hoping these won't be as noticeable on a shelf as they are outside. This colorway of Kakyoin definitely has more defined features, especially when looking at the eyes. His bright red eyes are made to stand out even more with the dark outlines surrounding the whole eye itself. It stands as a stark contrast to his white hair, which is normally pink. With the earrings being so thick in places it's hard to tell, but they're supposed to be cherries, which are his favorite food. Out of all the color changes for this particular figure my favorite has to be the bright green shoes. They have a classy shine to them, and they absolutely pop! Everything looks pretty well sculpted from the back. You can obviously see the hole in which the stand plugs in should you wish to use it. There is a decent ability for movement and poseability with this figure, however I did run into trouble a few times. One of the most annoying things was the bend in the elbow falling off while trying to pose him. It's there to make it look more natural with the jacket, however since it literally just sits there with kind of a slit in the elbow that pushes on, it falls off pretty easily. Oddly enough it was only on this side though, the other was fine. It's definitely possible to do a lot of poses from the series, which is good considering posing is the mainstay in JJBA. Who else is posing while reading this review? Oh, just me? Well then. Back to those paint troubles, it's a bit hard to see clearly in the photo, but right on the side of those beautiful bright green shoes is a nice black splotch from his pants. Not exactly the most attractive thing considering how sweet the shoes are. Now what do we have here? It's New Kakyoin! Yes, if you change to the alternate head you'll now have "New" Kakyoin which is after he got the scars on his eyes. Funny enough, this is currently what you'll see in the anime series that's running at this time. Mija wasn't very intrigued with Kakyoin's newly found confidence, and wasn't about to listen to what he had to say. All in all it's a pretty good figure, I just had a few with my specific copy. If you have any of the other Super Action Statue figures you'll know what you're getting, just Kakyoin in his second colorway this time. 8This color may not be the easiest to find current, but the original color version will be restocked in May, should you be interested in that figure instead. [ A huge thank you to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample! ]
Review JJBA Kakyoin photo
Anyone have cherries for this handsome man?
One of my (many) favorite things about JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is the fact that the creator, Araki Hirohiko, allows for multiple color schemes for different characters. This is the second color scheme for Noriaki Kakyoin, and features much more subdued colors. Let's take a look at this cherry lovin' lad shall we? Hit the jump to see how Kakyoin's figure turned out! 

Tomopop Review: Eye Think, Inc.'s BusyBody

Apr 14 // Rio McCarthy
Toy Name: BusyBody The Quick-Pose AnimatorToy Manufacturer: Eye Think, Inc.Price: US$24.95Where to Buy: Eye Think, Inc. Starting out with the box, as we usually do for our reviews, you'll see that it comes in a very clean and simple to read box. The red and blue color scheme does well at getting your attention and makes things easy to see at a fast glance. It also doesn't lie to you - Bend, Spin, Animate! - that literally is all you have to do to get this to work. On the sides of the box it gives you some ideas for different animations you can try out, if you didn't already have one in mind. What they show are some relatively simple motions, so it's worth giving one of them a shot for your first try at posing them. Here is everything that is included when you purchase a BusyBody of your own. You'll get 10 of the blue figures to pose, a set of instructions, and the turntable to put the figures on. It's as simple as it looks. The first animation I tried was the simple running animation. It sounds obvious, but it's a good one to get your feet wet with. They were pretty easy to pose, I only had minor problems because I was shooting the photos, and playing with it, outside while it was still cold out, so they were a bit less malleable due to the temperature. As you can see, however, I did get everyone posed, and the video up at the beginning of the review was how it looked when I was all finished. Perfect? No, but it was my first shot at this, so just wait until I bust out a video of me making them do the Thriller dance, or something like that. The top of the turntable has the Eye Think, Inc. logo, as well as reminding you that what you're playing with is the BusyBody Quick-Pose Animator. There is also a neat little fact about the top of this... ...You can actually pop the top off and all of the figures fit inside for easy transport! I'm not sure why, but this excited me a great deal, probably because I have a habit of dropping stuff while I'm trying to transport it from one location to another. Now that they're all housed inside, I don't have to worry about losing one of my little blue dudes on the way back downstairs. As you can see, I've had quite a bit of fun with the BusyBody. I would definitely recommend it if you're looking for something to fidget with at your desk, or if you'd like to see how some simple animations might look if you're working on something related. It'd also be a great toy for kids to learn how animation works, especially if they've never really seen much about traditional animation. There are a number of uses for the BusyBody, so pose to your heart's content! [ A huge thank you to EyeThink, Inc. for sending us this review sample! ]
Review BusyBody photo
A fun animation tool at the tip of your fingers
Today I bring to you something that's sure to keep me sidetracked at my desk when I get bored, or just need a break from everyday work. Eye Think, Inc.'s BusyBody is the tool to do just that. I've previously written about this tool to cure boredom, but now I have it in my hands, so we'll put that to the test. Join me after the jump to find out what I thought about this little gadget!

Tomopop Review: Transformers Combiner Wars Powerglide

Apr 11 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Legends PowerglideFigure Maker: HasbroRetail Price: US$9.99Available at: Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store | TFSource | Hasbro Toy Shop Packaging is pretty good and does a nice job catching the eye despite being so dark and gritty. It's also fairly small, especially when compared to the Legends figures from the previous wave and earlier. The figures used to come with small robot partners that could turn into weapons and armor, but for some unknown reason Hasbro dropped them without dropping the price. I'm sure it was to save money, but it left most of these guys weaponless. Here's a closer look at the card art. It's nice art, it comes from the Transformers Legends mobile game, but the card... not so much. If you look closely you'll see the edges are frayed, that's because it's not card stock like a trading card, but rather a thin piece of cardboard. Pretty cheap and doesn't exactly makeup for the loss of the partner figure. The back of the card is basically just advertising the series.Would have been an ideal place to put a bio, even it were multilingual.  Let's take a closer look at the figure. The first thing that really stands out for me is the color. Hasbro for a while seemed to struggle with red plastic, often coming out more pink than anything (you'll see what I mean later). Powerglide here is colored perfectly! This is probably the best likeness we'll ever get since a Masterpiece will probably never happen. For the most part this figure is spot on.  Hasbro just keeps getting better and better with their face sculpts! Only his eyes are visible, yet he appears to be very expressive. I've mentioned this before, but I really hate light piped eyes. Thankfully Powerglide is sporting painted eyes and they look great! Not a lot of kibble hanging off which is always a welcome sight. He also has great proportions with good shoulder alignment. When figures have arms that don't connect to the body directly they occasionally aren't aligned properly, but that's not an issue here.  From the back; Sure, you can see the cockpit, but this isn't a case of the jet parts hanging off his back, this is his back.. I like his broad shoulders, he looks like he's ready for a fight. With the flap hanging off the bottom this reminds me of those images of old martial arts masters from behind. Articulation isn't bad at all. Most of his joints are ball jointed which is the ideal jointing method I think. His shoulders even feature reinforced balls with a pin to keep them from breaking. I do wish he had slightly better arm articulation, but more on that in a bit.  There was something in the sculpting that really caught my eye. Typically to save on plastic they'll make parts hollow as an easy way to cut costs. Usually the hollow parts are pretty bland with only enough sculpting inside to keep them structurally sound, but they're mainly just empty space. This is one of the rare times I've seen actual detailed sculpting inside the part. You can see what looks like a hydraulic for the thigh in there. Someone really put a lot of love into this figure.  Transform! Once again Powerglide retains his A-10 Thunderbolt II mode though some liberties have been taken to the design. Not quite as cartoon accurate as his bot mode, but still a great looking flight mode. The one issue I have with the transformation itself is that the legs don't stick together very well and tend to come apart a little too easily. The hands are quite a bit more visible than I would like, too; it's hard to see them as anything but. I guess if there's a benefit it's this: They do give you a place to stick additional weapons, in this case it's Legends Swerve's Micromaster partner Flanker (in blue) and Legends Cosmos' Micromaster partner Payload (in white) in their weapon modes. Can you see why I wish Powerglide and the other later Legends figures included partners or at least weapons? He doesn't look all that bad from the underside. Where a lot of figures at this size just look like a robot with vehicle parts hanging off it, but the bot bits hide pretty nicely in the transformation. Couldn't help but notice his feet transform the same way the feet on the old G1 Seeker jets (Starscream and the like) did. Kinda funny because the Legends Starscream figure doesn't have feet like that himself.  And finally, here he is in gun mode. As a member of the Aerialbots he acts as Superion's second gun (or only gun since they can be combined). He's pretty effective in this form, equipped with three barrels and a pair of missile pods, maybe even more depending on how you look at him. The front landing gear doubles as a 5mm handle and is stiff enough to support him. Overall he's a deadly looking weapon is enough removed from his flight and bot modes to be convincing. That's basically it for Powerglide so let's compare him to some his past selves. Unfortunately I don't currently own an original G1 Powerglide figure, that's been lost to the ages.  This little guy came with Kabaya's Fortress Maximus DX gum toy and is one of the smallest Transformers I own. He does Transform, but you have to pull the arms out and put them back in to do it.  This here is Cyberverse Commander Powerglide from the Dark of the Moon movie line. For four years or so this was the stand in G1 Powerglide for many people. It may only loosely resemble the guy, but he's quite the transforming marvel. He's a little smaller than Legends Powerglide, but has a lot more articulation and probably twice as many moving parts to his transformation. He's also armed to the teeth (or mouth plate) with missiles. He may not be accurate, but he's one heck of a cool figure.  Finally we'll add in the pair of Transformers Universe Ultra class Powerglide figures. The guy on the left was sold at regular retail and while an OK figure people hated him in those colors. A Powerglide that isn't red isn't Powerglide. Hasbro listened and Walmart stores got the exclusive repaint on the right. Well, he isn't quite red, more of a pink, but it was a step in the right direction. Incidentally this figure ended up being more accurate than the Takara Tomy version which was very red. Too bad these two have funky leg ratchets that either keep them too close together or too far apart which makes him look very rigid standing and hard to pose. The figure would later be repainted based on the even smaller Micromaster Stormcloud.  All have the same basic A-10 form. And while the movie figure might be the most slavishly realistic one, Legends Powerglide is the funnest.  Let's end this by looking at scale. He's roughly the same size as his fellow Legends figures, but there's been a noticeable increase in quality when compared to the Bumblebee figure from 2013 with some pretty thin yellow plastic. Behind him we've got a fairly average size Generations Voyager class figure in Springer, a taller Deluxe Reveal the Shield Jazz, and smaller Deluxe Generations Rattrap. In front are some of the Micromaster partners as seen earlier in bot mode. It's been a while since Hasbro has given us a proper Basic/Scout class size line and this is pretty much what we're getting from Legends. It would have been nice if they had dropped the price when they stopped including Micromaster partners, especially when they're still using molds that used to include partners. Still, as long as they keep remaking G1 Mini Vehicles in this way I'll keep buying them. 
Combiner Wars Powerglide photo
And away we go!
When Hasbro first announced the Combiner Wars theme for 2015 the possibilities seemed endless. And when fans began coming up with different ways to incorporate Legends figures into the combinations the doors were blown wide o...

Tomopop Interview: Furry Feline Creatives

Mar 26 // Rio McCarthy
Rio: Woo! How does it feel to be moving along in the big time? I’m so excited for all the new things coming for Furry Feline Creative! Could you take a moment to bring our readers up to date on the new endeavors you and Cheri have been working on?  FFC: Big time? What big time? We are the same people as day one. We constantly challenge ourselves to do the best we can regardless of circumstances. We are currently bringing both brands, "Purridge and Friends" and "I Heart Poop Culture", side by side for the world to see. With Purridge and Friends, we have appointed Membrain to manage the global licensing for the brand. Rio: Is it just as exciting as you hoped? You made some huge changes to your life for these things to take place, so I’m happy to see everything going so well! FFC: It is exciting, but at the same time nerve-racking. But we believe that if you have a passion for something, dream big and work towards it regardless of circumstances. We started Furry Feline Creatives at zero not knowing anyone in the industry or having the support, not even a career background. This is our humble beginning.  So seeing it grow and know that it makes a difference in the lives of others makes it worthwhile. Rio: There are so many great new things, I’m not even sure where to start! Let’s jump straight into the clothes, because why not, right? Can we gush about how amazing those dresses look? I can’t wait to get my paws on one! (Or two, and the leggings, of which I did both! Be sure to check out the gallery to see up close pictures of what I bought!) FFC: Thanks Rio!  Furry Feline Creatives is a studio and lifestyle brand and we are on the quest to make everything on anything.  We are very excited to work on these dresses as we would only make things that we ourselves would want, and things that matter most to people.  So expect to see a lot of new things and designs. Rio: Of course Cheri isn't stopping her wonderful handmade plush of love! I bought my boyfriend the Ultra Mega Ringo plush for Christmas, so now both he and I own a Furry Feline plush of our own. She recently released the Baby version plushies (which are so adorable it hurts!), but what else has she got up her sleeve for the upcoming events? FFC: Cheri is a mix media artist, we are always making things regardless of medium.  We will reveal new things as the events come close. Rio: Furry Feline is all about family, so if there were one place you could visit now that you’ll be more available to travel, where would you like to see you and your furry friends travel to? FFC: Well, we have some Furry Feline Family all over the world so there couldn't be just one place. As we always say, "No one gets left behind."  So expect to see us soon. Rio: Any other exciting things you’d like to share before I let you get back to work? FFC: Keep tuned into Furry Feline Creatives as we continue to share our work.  We tend to do exciting things because you guys deserve the best, so we will stop at nothing to do just that. A huge thanks once again to Alvin for taking the time to chat with me, and for being just plain awesome! I can't wait to catch you two next time I get to make an event and see what you have in store for us! If you happen to be attending Wondercon, be sure to stop by and say hello to them.
Interview Furry Feline photo
The Furry Feline Family just keeps growing!
Furry Feline Creatives is a couple of wonderful people with some of the biggest hearts I've ever seen. We've written about Alvin and Cheri Ong many times in the history of Tomopop, but I wanted to catch up with Alvin and see ...

Ice to meet you: Introducing the new batch of editors

Mar 13 // Scarecroodle
Oansun I’m Oansun. Kentucky based, and University of Kentucky educated (you could say). Specifically in English, with unintentional minors in theatre and history. Boy, do I enjoy a smattering of different entertainment endeavors: music, movies, wrestling, anime/manga, writing, comics, theatre. Though of them all, toy collecting is probably the oldest interest. I’m one of those people that started becoming a collector, essentially, from childhood. Just looking at the back of my first Masters of the Universe packages, I can remember a strong desire to get everything pictured. Chores were the easiest way to score a new King Randor, or even something as goofy as Food Fighters (I have all of these weirdos, and vehicles). I would mow lawns to make enough money to get ToyBiz Marvel figures or Lego sets (along with CDs of a bygone era) and stare at the aisles, for what seemed like hours, making decisions. Lines have changed over the years (Figuarts, Monsterarts, WWE, Diamond Select, Minimates, Matty Collector lines), but what remains is that simple desire to collect what was on the back of a package. I’ve been on a podcast (Planned Banter) for just under five years, discussing everything from collector interests to favorite Bond films to vacation stories. I also continue to write goofy parody songs (and lots of transitional music) for this show, just trying to make people laugh (or gag on their lunch…no particular order). I also have a dog, his name is Zorak. He’s in my icon with a shark hat, so you know he’s fun (that Old Kentucky Shark). I am extremely excited about my opportunity to write, share and discuss as much as I can here at Tomopop; so let’s all be pals. Rachel Chambers I'm a twenty something artist and minimalist living in the Pacific Northwest. Despite my minimalistic tendencies, I have a rotating toy collection that includes old standbys and fun new favorites. The collecting bug bit me when I was given a Unicornasaurus as a Christmas gift and I haven't looked back since. Since that fateful day, I have displayed everything from Pullip Dolls and Nendoroids to vintage Polly Pockets and handmade plushies. I tend to lean towards gaming collectibles and will never give up my Dragon Quest VIII figure set. You can check out what I'm up to on Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr where I share pictures of toys, cats, and photos of my adventures. I'm always up for a chat about Playstation RPGs or epic thrift store finds, so hit me up if you're in my corner of the internet. Happy collecting! Soul Tsukino I'm a published author and writer based out of central Maine. When not writing about toys I'm working on another fiction book (You can see my work HERE) or my weekly article, Damn Write!, at RT Gomer Productions. Outside of writing, I love pop culture nostalgia, anime, conventions, pro and sumo wrestling, and create wrestler features in pro wrestling video games. Being a child of the 1980s, my collecting and toy interests grew out of the shows I watched as a kid. I first was a huge Masters of the Universe fan, having a large collection of those figures. As MOTU was waning, I shifted my attention to G.I. Joe: Real American Hero figures and never looked back. Not content for Joes to sit on a shelf collecting dust, I usually buy figures for construction of customized FrankenJoes. Lynette Cantos My name is Lynnette and I'm a writer, editor and all-around geek. I'm a passionate collector, despite a humble yet growing and valuable collections of anime figures and Disney Vinylmations—my strongest hobby points. I think bootlegs are hideous and will gladly fork over money for authentic and limited-edition toys with pride; However, sales are always encouraged on my behalf (hey, two figures are better for the price of one).I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and now I currently reside in South Florida with my husband and cat. In my spare time, I enjoy drinking coffee or tea—depends on my mood—while working on new projects, binge-watching TV shows and planning my next trips to either Japan or Disney World. Well, those are our four new editors and, as you can see, none of them are squirrels in a trenchcoat (in fact, they're not even chipmunks in a trenchcoat!). You'll notice that the new editors are a varied bunch, whether it be their interests or their tendency to describe themselves (the first bio drafts were very short for some people while others had a full page; however, they were alike in the fact that they ALL forgot to include some ice puns. Geez!).  Since joining the team (back around January?), they've collectively written around a hundred stories so you may have noticed the names. However, now you can attach some details to the names and pictures.  Finally, and most importantly, did you spot Loo Kee in this episode?
Tomopop original photo
Don't give them the cold shoulder
If you're anything like me, you may have suddenly noticed an influx of Tomopop editors. It's like, who are these people? Where did they come from? Who do they work for? (Oh, right, us.) Having learned our lesson from previous...

Tomopop Review: Mecha Workshop's Armarauders Bellerophon

Mar 01 // Scarecroodle
Figure Name: Armarauders BellerophonFigure Maker: Mecha WorkshopRetail Price:  Roughly ¥28,800Available at: HobbyLink Japan | AmiAmi | Big Bad Toy Store [[Quick editor's note: This review is based on a prototype that I had to return after shooting. Due to various timing issues, I wasn't able to write the review during that period so I wasn't able to go back and take additional photos of things that didn't come out quite as nicely as I had hoped (as well as not having access to some of the photos in my other camera which I wound up misplacing). Additionally, I realize that I may have missed showcasing a few of the features... especially because I had almost forgotten about the docking stand entirely.]] The Bellerophon stands roughly 23-cm tall (about 9-inches), has a lot of die-cast parts, and is billed as featuring more than 70 points of articulation. While I didn't personally count each point, I saw enough that I'd take Mecha Workshop's word for it since the figure is articulated right down to the fingers (that's right, no need for interchangeable hands). More on the articulation later. The basic design, without most of the add-ons, is seen here. The prototype I used for this review came with the shields (?) attached to the calf, but I later realized that they're removable as well. The pilot is tiny. He comes with a translucent flight stand (which I didn't notice until I was packing things back up) as well as a backpack unit. You can apparently pop the figure's head off to remove the backpack (which looks like a combination of a jetpack and weapons system). Apparently it can disassemble to form weapons for the pilot. The pilot features articulation at the head, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. I can't remember if he also had wrist articulation, but he definitely lacks ankle joints. The figure is fully sculpted, fully painted, and designed to fit into a fully detailed cockpit inside the Bellerophon. The cockpit can be opened by pulling out the chest piece (which took more effort than I thought it would the first time, but was easy once I had the process down), as shown in the first image, then opening it up as seen in the second. I suppose that this mechanic may seem like a relatively minor touch, but this makes the mech seem more fully functional and vastly increases the number of display options. Speaking of display options, here's the Bellerophon with all of its accessories attached (minus the Pegasus drone, which I'll discuss later). All of the add-ons are in some way articulate, having a moveable joint where they snap onto the figure and, in some cases, additional joints on the piece itself. The shoulder-shields featured some longer joints so they could be moved quite a bit. The shoulder cannons feature a lot of mobility as well. The shoulder pads (as seen in the earlier photos) are open to reveal additional firepower. That's in addition to what look like nipple-pistols. Two jetpack pieces snap onto the back. These are surprisingly awesome since they feature articulation at the nozzles, allowing for cooler flight mode displays. In addition to the parts, some kind of an energy chakram attaches to the figure's forearm (or technically chakri). The blades are detachable and possibly a little dangerous due to the sharp tips. The whole unit can spin which presumably makes this into either some kind of an energy shield or an energy buzzsaw. Unlike the other accessories, the rifles don't snap onto Bellerophon's body. Instead, they can be held in his hands thanks to those FULLY ARTICULATE FINGERS. Bellerophon comes with two rifles so if you wanted him to go full Robo-Rambo, you totally could. By now you've probably heard me talk about these amazing fingers a dozen or so times and really want to know more. Each finger is attached to the hand with a ball-joint, giving them a wide range of motion. Then there are ANOTHER two joints on each finger. These pin-joints mean that Bellerophon can hold weapons, slap another robot, punch an alien in its face, flash music or gang signs, taunt other robots with the middle finger, and more. The thumb features a larger joint on the side to help make some of the hand poses look more realistic (and was especially useful when trying to make a fist). There's also an alternate, transparent piece. Given that I've never read the accompanying comic, I'm not sure what it's for but it still looks cool. Finally we have the adjustable docking station. This is just "Part A" of the docking station. Part B is described as "a mobile docking stand with rubber wheels that docks the Pegasus Drone which will merge up with the Bellerophon, much like a flight pack." And, of course, the whole thing can also be displayed with the packaging (which, again, wasn't included with the prototype) to form a larger diorama. The station is adjustable... but I was never able to get the pillars back down again. I was told that you're supposed to push the small button in to lock it into place (it automatically locked for me) and you're supposed to use your nails to pull out the button to unlock it again. The only problem is that my nails are usually really short. (There's also an additional piece that can snap in there to hold the Bellerophon in place which I wound up not using. If you to leave the Bellerophon in the display over a long period of time, you should probably use the piece to make sure that the Bellerophon doesn't fall over.) The "wings" of the upper platform can separate and swing apart. The little extension between the two pieces retracts back into the right wing (or stage left wing). Overall, it makes for an incredible display piece. Imagine how cool it would be to have a bunch of these platforms right next to each other... All things considered, the Bellerophon seems pretty cool. Given that this is a prototype, there were some issues with loose joints, etc, which should be corrected in the final product. The copy I received also apparently had some things glued on which should detach. Otherwise, it's a solidly designed figure with tons of accessories and a multitude of display options. You may have noticed that I didn't go into the overall articulation as much as some of my other reviews. That's because I decided to just cover it in an accompanying video. If you have five or six minutes to listen to my completely unscripted ramblings, be sure to check it out: There's a lot to say about this release... in fact, too much to say. As such, expect a follow-up story in the next few days that covers some of the additional items that weren't included with the prototype such as the Pegasus Drone. [Big thanks to Mecha Workshop for lending us this prototype]
Armarauders photo
One mean machine
A few years back, collectors caught their first glimpse of Mecha Workshop's Armarauders line. While the giant fighting robots were awesome, I was even more excited to see that the line used tiny articulate pilots who could fi...

Tomopop Review: Threezero's RWBY Ruby Rose

Feb 13 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: RWBY's Ruby RoseFigure Maker: ThreezeroRetail Price: US$167.99 / ¥20,500Available at: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | Play Asia | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth | Big Bad Toy Store Let me just cut to the chase and say this is a great looking figure! The attention to detail in Ruby's outfit is pretty great. They took some liberties with the design, but I think they make her more interesting. The number one change is replacing the red frills on her collar, cuffs, skirt, and boots with a red flower patterned lace. It's something unique you'll only find on this figure and I really like the way it turned out.  Let's start from the top and work our way down through the rest of the figure. Looking at the head the face sculpt is nice and well captured, but it's also a very neutral sculpt. Unfortunately you only get the one face which isn't necessarily the best for action poses. Maybe one of these would have been nice. However, on the flip side we might be a bit spoiled since swappable expressions aren't exactly common in a lot of figures like this. However, I do wish she had a some color in her cheeks. The hair is sculpted perfectly. They managed to get every hair right, which as figure fans we all know can be a challenge. She even has her red highlights, though just a touch on the brown side, but still look great.  Her outfit is impressive. It doesn't feel like doll clothes, it's very thick and durable feeling - more like human clothes. The corset is like a faux leather material with red ties that really pop against the black. It looks like layers, but her outfit is all one piece.  Her belt is perfect. To her right side you have her rose emblem, and to her left a row of bullets. While some features of this figure draw from elements of the RWBY "Red" Trailer I think it was smart to use the rose emblem from the series instead of the cross from the trailer on her belt. One neat little thing is a magnet that hangs off the back of the belt, but we'll talk about that later.  The skirt is big and puffy just like like on the show and looks great with all of the frills coming out from underneath. It looks great, but there's also an unavoidable problem related to it. The figure doesn't have a particularly long torso so the skirt portion pushes up on her belt which in turn covers her corset. It can take some tugging to get her skirt to cooperate and the belt where it belongs. It can be done, just be aware that you'll probably have to spend some time on this.  The leggings are faintly see through under direct light, but barely noticeable. They do have a tendency to get caught in the knee joints which wrinkles them up a bit, but give them a little pull and you're good to go. The boots are actually really cool. The frill is part of a sort of sock, though the figure doesn't really have 'feet', the foot just plugs into the boot. If you find the frills don't look right you can just remove the boot, pull on the sock and replace the boot - much better than making the frills part of the boot.  She comes with two different capes, both featuring a wire running across their bottom to give them some poseability. The first is a long cape first seen in the RWBY "Red" Trailer with a built in scarf that can be wrapped around the neck or hung from the side. There's a hook on the right inside by the neck that I can't figure out a use for. The short cape, more of a cloak I guess, was first seen in the RWBY "Yellow" Trailer finale and swaps out the scarf for a pair of crosses. Both also have some of the best cloth hoods I've used on a figure. They're stiff, heavy, and hold their position with ease like putting on a hat! They also hold on to the figure surprisingly well without any sort of fastener. Very well done Threezero! Hand options are good, but basic. Open, grasping, and closed are your options for each side. It's not a bad variety really, but something fun like a peace sign or thumb up would have been a nice touch to give the figure a little character.  Now let's take a look at her weapon because it's pretty neat and really big! First is the entirely closed mode which is identical in every way to the animation version. It's fairly lightweight for its size, but still feels solid. Remember the magnet on Ruby's belt? There's a metal plate hidden inside the weapon that lets it hang from her belt. It's surprisingly well secured and if you angle it just right you can hide it under her capes.  In RWBY her weapon can unfold into three positions. You can change it from the closed position to the rifle mode by popping the end off and and replacing it with a gun butt.  The hands don't have the greatest grip. It's not the hands' fault, they have a good grip to them being a bit flexible, but the actual handle grips are a little small and hard to grasp. If they were just a millimeter or two thicker. Also would have been nice to have hands that were shaped for a pistol grip to get her finger over the trigger. But if you do it right she can hold it securely which is what's important.  Then there's the scythe mode! As you can see it's huge! Obviously there's no way in the real world to make a weapon unfold like it does in RWBY, so this is a separate piece from the other two forms. For storage the spear portion can be popped off and the large blade can be folded down. It looks incredible, but it's far more weight than her poor arm joints can support. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of ways you can pose her with the scythe, you just aren't going to get a giant swing out of it.  Don't forget, the scythe also retains it's rifle function so you've got these removable ammo clips. One is undecorated, while the one she's holding here has a special symbol on it. These also come directly from the RWBY "Red" Trailer. Great attention to the details, someone at Threezero is really paying attention.  So let's do a quick recap, head to toe. The hair is great, the face is good, but could use more character and a little color. The outfit is really cool and feels great. The boots are neat and really well made. The capes are among the best of any figure you'll find, you can do so much with them. Her weapon(s) is just wicked and lots of fun to play around with. The entire package is pretty great! And the price? I think between the two capes and the size of the scythe the price is more than reasonable.  This is definitely a figure worth owning and I'm looking forward to her other team members, Weiss, Blake, and Yang being released, hopefully soon! [Big thanks to Threezero for the early sample!]
RWBY Ruby Rose photo
Red like roses (and just as sharp)
With the popularity of anime it's no surprise that the west would produce some imitators. There have been many failures, but some, like Totally Spies! (yeah, they still make new episodes), manage to find their legs. Othe...

Tomopop Double Review: Nendoroid Link

Feb 03 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: Nendoroid Link The Wind Waker ver.Figure Maker: Good Smile CompanyRetail Price: ¥4,000Available at: Hobby Search | AmiAmi | Plamoya | Entertainment Earth  Martin: So Rio, after we had such an uneven experience with our last Link review, why did you decide you wanted to revisit the character once again? Rio: Nice to team up with you again, Martin! Well, even though the last Link figure we reviewed was rather... poopy... I couldn't leave my love for Link behind. Plus, as a bonus? - It's Toon Link, so it's much more simple. They couldn't screw that up, right? Martin: I will say that as a Toon Link lover from day one (yes, I am being a Nintendo hipster) that it's pretty great that the design has retroactively become a classic. Plus, he looks almost exactly like a Nendoroid to begin with, so that can't hurt. Rio: I will fully admit that with my younger mind when Wind Waker came out, I wasn't too happy about Toon Link originally. Granted, I also had a major crush on Adult Link, so... you can see why I wasn't thrilled we got a kid! Of course, I got over it and loved the art style after I got off my fangirl mode. Martin: I think some of that art style does bleed through to this Nendoroid. Though it's tough to make Link look explicitly cartoonish because that's pretty much how all Nendoroids look anyway, the big bold flat colours work really well here and do give a strong impression of just leaping out of the screen. Rio: Yeah, I'm definitely glad for the simple style, as it translates well and it doesn't go overbearing one way or the other with its style. Martin: I'll agree wholeheartedly with one exception - I think without the advantage of constant emotion the eyes can occasionally look a little big and dead, depending on viewing angle. Rio: Yeah, that does become a problem with certain poses. On occasion I feel like the Pokemon Banette is staring at me with soulless eyes, which can get kind of weird considering the cute package the stare is coming from. Martin: Big praise for the rest of the sculpt though. It's pretty plain and simple but with that nice crisp edge only GSC seem able to achieve on figures of this scale. Rio: Yes, the sculpt definitely looks nice, and does well for the figure with keeping it clean. Shall we move onto the accessories? Martin: I think so. Given that Nendoroids are pretty much static figures the accessories are a pretty big part of making them unique from each other. How do you think GSC did on that count? Rio: I felt there weren't very many accessories, in comparison to how many items Link uses, but maybe one day we'll see an accessory kit of some sort. What items they did include I felt were pretty well detailed and cute for the size of the figure. I will say this is one action motion accessory that I actually really like. Usually I find myself somewhat underwhelmed. Martin: Yeah, it definitely fits the more cartoonish style of the figure. I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much was included, considering I feel GSC's products have been getting a little bare-bones as of late. Is there anything you wish had been included instead of or in addition to what we got? Rio: I think the only thing I would have loved to see specifically and didn't, was just a bomb accessory. I thought it'd be cute to have one he could hold as if he was going to throw it. I think I'm pretty happy with him quite honestly. It's definitely an upgrade from the last Link we reviewed in my book. Martin: I'd have liked to see a Master Sword and maybe one of the more Wind Waker unique items, the Deku Leaf perhaps. Rio: Oh! The Deku Leaf would have been adorable! Martin: The problem with any Zelda-related figure is there are always going to be WAY more potential accessories than can possibly be included! Rio: Haha isn't that the truth? Link and his many gadgets need to have 5 or so accessory packs just to keep up with the little guy! Martin: I'm sort of surprised that hasn't happened actually. Just look at Bandai and their S.H. Figuarts Mario. Rio: Yeah, I really wish it would have. The items in a Zelda-related pack would have been more interesting and fun for me. Martin: I will say of the accessories provided though I absolutely love the Wind Waker and the extra arms. it would have been near impossible to put those standard arms into a composing pose, so the little extra touch is much appreciated. Rio: Totally, it helped immensely. I also love the heart container, because when you put it behind him so you can't see the stand so much, it's really cute how you can recreate him getting one like in the game. Martin: Honestly, I found the heart container one of the most frustrating accessories. The reason why it's in front of him in the pictures is because I found it almost impossible to get it to stand up behind him. The stand was just too flimsy and loose, though I'll admit this may be sample-to-sample variation. Rio: It was definitely frustrating. I had issues with it too, but once I get it where I want it, it's not moving. Martin: Perhaps it's just a case by case thing. What did you think of the face selection? Rio: I love the side-eyed grumpy face - that thing makes me laugh so hard every time. I do wish we had an actual "cat-faced" Link, but we got a pretty good selection otherwise in my book. Wind Waker was so expressive it's hard to knock it down to just a few. Martin: My big complaint here is the absence of wide eyed shocked Link. This harks back to a recurring complain I have with Nendoroids, which is the perennial inclusion of the 'neutral' face. Is anyone really going to use bland straight-ahead Link here? I think not. Rio: Yeah, definitely not. I agree, the shocked face would have been hilarious and great for so many photoshoots! Martin: Having said that, four faces is pretty generous so I'm not too aggrieved. Also, here's a plug for you GSC - I would totally buy a scale King of Red Lions to go with this figure. Make it! Rio: I was JUST thinking this the other day actually, especially with the figma horses and all that coming about. Martin: Let's start wrapping this up then. I always find Nendoroids a little tough to review because they're pretty same-y, but in this case GSC's usual fit and finish is a boon, as is the range's unique style. Rio: Agreed! I've not been super in love with many of the newer Nendoroids, but I'm really pleased with Link. I love having his cute little self sit by me while I work. Martin: He's earned my desktop spot too, so I think we're of one mind here. Any final words before we call this one? Rio: Just one: HYYYAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! Let us know what you think about the review format in the comments! We'll be back soon with the biggest, baddest Double Review yet!
Nendo Link photo
Maestro please
Last time our reviews editor Rio McCarthy and I teamed up we talked about our collective joy and frustration over Real Action Heroes Link. It seems only appropriate then that we reunite in textual form to look at another vari...

Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's ARTFX J Eren Yaeger

Jan 13 // Martin Siggers
Figure Name: ARTFX J Eren YaegerFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail Price: ¥11,000Available at: Hobbylink Japan  Eren's box is certainly going for the 'grimy, gritty, military' aesthetic, plastered as it is in camouflage pattern. Problem is, it just contributes to the overall messy look. I've made my liking for clean, simple box designs apparent in past review but I think even someone who prefers a lot of stuff on their packaging would agree this is not the way to do it. There's two names (both spelt wrong, since the official romanization is 'Yaeger'), a bunch of logos and just general sloppy look to the whole thing. Not a great start. Fortunately, this base gives off a much better impression. It's a hefty chunk of solid plastic with a beautiful glossed finish and some excellent paintwork. It's always hard to reproduce wood, and it's probably fair to say this looks more like an artist's impression of a tree than an actual tree, but it's still a fine effort. Too often people forget how important a decent base or stand is to the overall look of a figure, so it's nice to see some effort put in. Speaking of that overall look though...wow. This is one of those toys that really leaps out at you immediately (no pun intended). I've long praised figures that go for dynamic, in-the-moment poses and this is definitely one of them. You can feel the action and the motion come out at you. The entire thing feels like a freeze frame more than a static scene. From behind the arrangement is equally striking and it's pretty clear Kotobukiya didn't frontload all their care onto the display side of the figure, since the reverse is still beautifully sharp and detailed. This also gives us a good look at how the figure is able to appear to 'fly'. It's because Eren is only connected to the base by one peg and that's on his gear rather than on himself. I was initially a little nervous about this method but it's a strong, solid peg that plugs in deep and has the dual bonus of being tough and not being very obtrusive. I will say that while Eren balances quite well if left untouched, this is definitely one figure you don't want in the range of glancing blows. One light bump will send the whole construction tumbling, so take care. There's also a second display option for Eren, which is to have him on show without the cape. This is achieved simply by popping his head off and lifting the entire part out through the nect joint. There are pros and cons to either look - he looks more streamlined without the cape, but personally I appreciate the drama it adds. Note as well the fine detail touch of the trad on the soles of the boots. I've always found that detailed shoe bottoms are the sign that someone took real care with a figure, as silly as that may sound. Butt shot time! However, unlike most review butt shots, this one actually has a purpose, namely to show off the exquisite care that's been put into reproducing the show's trademark 3D Maneuver Gear. All of these pulleys and rigs would be hidden under the cape were it attached, but that hasn't stopped Kotobukiya from achieving an impressive level of micro-detailing.  From the side, as well, the gear is a masterpiece in miniature, showing off sharp, crisp paint lines, excellent metallic textures and fine sculpting. Kotobukiya haven't gotten piping down to as fine an art as, say, Alter yet - check out the slight spill on the leg strap - but overall fit and finish is highly commendable. The plastic tubes which run from the gear to the sword handles are in fact solid pieces of flexible plastic which come in a separate package and simply plug in peg style to the belt. The other end attaches to the handle of the sword, as you can see here. The swords are again the beneficiary of an excellent detailing job - check out the patterned grip on the sword, which is an actual textured sculpt rather than just a paint-on. The sword blades come separately and plug into the handles, and are alarmingly thin and bendy. This helps in one sense since it means they're less likely to snap, but you have to take great care or else you'll end up with permanently kinked blades. Incidentally, the sword handles aren't removable, as the hilts and the hands are permanently molded together. Eren's face is simple, but excellent, conveying rage and intensity without looking too insane or over the top. A little bit of texturing to the hair helps it avoid the dreaded plastic-bowl-cut syndrome. As anyone who's read one of my previous reviews knows, I love flashy cloth sculpts, so it's no surprise I much prefer Eren with his cape on. There's some good detailing here too with the bunching cloth around the neck area and the breezier flapping as it comes out. There's also a telling indication of the strong and weak points of Kotobukiya's work here. The cape's logo is actually embossed rather than simply being paint or transfer, which a lovely, expensive feeling touch. But it's also rather sloppily painted, with the blue and white quite clearly not reaching down to the base of the raised segments. It's a great touch but also one that's not quite all the way there yet. Gratuitous crotch shot! It's worth it for the chance to see the great work Koto have done with the cloth around the stomach and groin area, which pulls and wrinkles very naturally. Notice again though some slight sloppiness in the paint, particularly around the straps and buckles. You have to look hard but it's not quite 100% there. More great texture work on the boots. I'm especially impressed that the little trailing lace at the top is actually independently moulded and not just sunken into the surface of the main boot. It's very fragile and easy to catch on things though so beware. Overall though, I am very very impressed. Kotobukiya still can't quite go toe-to-toe with GSC or Alter on pure fine detail work, but they're getting closer and closer every time and the strength of the fabulous sculpt alone is enough to carry this figure over any minor quibbles and into highly desirable territory. In a sea of lookalikes, Kotobukiya have succeeded in making this the one you should care about, and for all intents and purposes it's the essential Attack On Titan figure. [Colossal thanks to Hobbylink Japan for supplying Eren for this review.]
ARTFX J Eren photo
Titanic Effort
It's difficult to argue against Attack on Titan being the biggest breakout hit in anime in years. The manga is selling millions of copies, the TV show has been a sensation both in and outside of Japan, cosplay of the characte...

Tomopop Review: Sentinel's Metamor Force Dino Getter 1

Jan 12 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Metamor Force Dino Getter 1Figure Maker: SentinelRetail Price: ¥14,800Available at: HobbyLink Japan Starting with the box this is some really great package art. Artist NINNIN (XELFLEX) captures the figure perfectly which might really be more of a testament to how good the figure looks. Often the artists have to add a lot of embellishments to their art, but here it's basically a drawing of the figure. Off to a good start. The back of the box is a bit boring, just a gallery of photos, no story or attempt to hype the figure.  As I said, the art is basically a drawing of the figure and the figure looks fantastic! While not based on any specific previous version of Getter 1 this one shares enough cues with Shin Getter Robo that it might have been it's inspiration. This is by far the most detailed of the Getter 1 designs as the typical Go Nagai designs are very smooth and rounded thanks in part to their '70s origins. This figure has lots of jagged, sharp and angular parts, some of which, like the wing tips, can do some damage if you don't handle them right.  It's hard to visualize in photos, but this figure isn't just satisfying to look at, it's also satisfying to hold. Why? Diecast, that's why! It's scattered throught the figure, mainly in the body and legs. That big orange pelvis of his is a particularly nice chunk. One of the things you look for in expensive robot figures is diecast and this one has a good amount of it. However, at nearly seven inches tall he's surprisingly light.  By now you've certainly noticed the giant wings on its back. They look like they would make him fall over constantly, but they're extremely light weight, yet rigid, so they're sturdy and not likely to break with ease. That's good because you're going to be using those wings to support him in a lot of poses. They also sit very low on his back which helps adjust his center of gravity. There are joints at the base, but its more like a stress point than a place to fold them back. He has a one foot wide wing span so they can get a little in the way, thankfully they're easily removed, but he doesn't look as nice without them.  Let's pull it in a little. Love the head sculpt! It's different from the other Getter 1s, but instantly recognizable. Have you noticed yet how clean the paint is? There isn't even an hint of over spray or smudging on this entire figure. It's really amazing, I've never seen paint this flawless before.  The clawed dino feet are really neat, especially since they aren't part of his dinosaur mode. I should also point out that unlike most Getter Robos that use bright white in their color schemes, Dino Getter 1 uses bone white with some highlighting to really drive the dino theme.  Aricticulation is pretty good. There's some ankle articulation, the knee's are pretty good, hips aren't bad, but a little limited by their designs. Shoulders have the best range which is surprising because of those huge shoulder pads. Unfortunately the elbow articulation is very limited considering it's double jointed. Yeah, it has two joints and still can't do better than 90 degrees. Very sad. Surprisingly he does have a limited range of twisting and bending in his body and it's not even related to his transformation so that's a nice little bonus. Let's take a look at the weapons. The primary weapons, as with most versions of Getter 1, are these massive Getter Tomahawks. Not really sure how a Native American melee weapon got into the Japanese vernacular (along side the Zaku Heat Hawks) but it continues to amuse me. Despite their massive size they're relatively light like the wings so the arm joints handle them well. The pointy tips are pretty sharp again and you could probably cut something soft with the blade edge. Definitely not for kids! His second weapon is the enormous scythe formed from his wing edges which should now explain whey they're so pointy. The handle is the only part that can't be incorporated in the figure which I guess isn't so bad. You get two of them, one from each wing bringing his total number of oversized weapons to two pairs. Time for Pterodactyl mode! Pterodactyl mode is pretty creative and mostly successful. The dino head pops out of the chest and joins with a piece from the back hiding the bot head. The arms don't do a whole lot, but the hands can fold up and reveal little dino claws. The most elaborate transformation comes from the legs. The hips fold up close to the body and the lower legs split in half and join with the wings to make little rocket pod type things. The Getter Tomahawks can collapse in on themselves and combine together to make something similar to tail wings on the back. Unfortunately the dino mode can't stand on its own so for anything other than flying you'll need to find a stand to keep him somewhat upright. It's a bit strange for him to have such a non-menacing dino mode when Getter 1 is usually seen as the dominant Getter mode. A T-rex would certainly seem like the best choice, but they probably didn't want to make him too much like the Transformer Grimlock. Instead they made Getter 2 a T-rex that looks a lot like Beast Wars Megatron. Oops. As prehistoric flying transforming dinosaur robots go he's definitely one of the best. He has an imposing bot mode and a convincing enough dino mode. He's got huge weapons, decent articulation, and a satisfactory amount of diecast. Now, I know the price is kinda high, but consider this: for the material, its size, what it comes with, and what it can do this is a pretty standard price for high-end robot collectibles that are far from kids' toys. He's no Studio Half Eye, but few things are. If you've got the money and a thing for transforming dinosaur robots then give this one a shot. Now, how about a crossover? I know I'd like to see this fight. [Extra large thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample!]
Dino Getter 1 photo
Getter Robo gets teeth
There have been a lot of Getter Robos, but never one quite like this. What was originally a group of three aircraft that could be reconfigured into three different robot modes (Getter 1, 2, and 3) has now been reimagined as a...

Tomopop Review: MegaHouse's Natsume Yuujinchou Petit Chara Land

Jan 10 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Natsume Yuujinchou Petit Chara LandFigure Maker: MegaHouseRetail Price: ¥4,200Available at: HobbyLink Japan Starting things off let's take a look at the box. Actually, these being trading figures meant to be sold individually this is a display carton that most people in Japan normally wouldn't buy. I really like the art on the front that was made for the set. On the sides are some really nicely arranged photos of some of the figures taken outside. A lot of these trading figure cartons are either plain with just text or printed in single color scale so as these things go this is one of the better ones I've seen. The individual boxes share the same art as the display carton, but the sides only have stock photos of the figures. The more creative shots seen on the sides of the carton can be found under the flaps hidden inside the top and bottom of the box. Not sure why they did this, seems like these photos would do a lot more good selling the figures if they were used on the outside instead of the stock photos. OK, enough critiquing the boxes, let's take a look at the figures! Of the five figures and one secret (though probably not especially rare) figures only one doesn't represent a season; more on that figure a little later. This is the first figure I opened so it's as good of place as any to start. Here we have Natsume and Nyanko Sensei representing winter with Nyanko as a snowman. And... On no! What's wrong with his face!? Seems what little paint there is on his face got quite the smear on it, and it's in too delicate of a place to remove it. So much for being a lucky cat, I'm not feeling lucky at all. Not the best way to start. Smudge aside I like the looks of the figures. They certainly live up to the word petit, they're very small, roughly two inches tall. Price to size ratio isn't exactly optimal, about ¥700 each at retail, for the size I'd rather they were closer to ¥500, but they're nice for what they are and the current exchange rate helps a lot. Sculpting is nice and I like the themes so I can live with it. Spring is up next with Nyanko Sensei and Natsume all ready for some cherry blossom viewing. This figure is more elaborate than the winter figure featuring Natsume in a dark blue and green haori holding a cherry tree branch while Nyanko has his beloved sake bottle. Two things I really love about this figure is going the extra length to make the bottle clear and that they painted on all of Nyanko's paw pads. Very nicely done. For the Summer figure it's a little hard to see Natsume, but check out Nyanko Sensei. This is such a cute figure for him, complete with grilled squid in his mouth. Here's a better shot from different angle. Natsume is wearing a summer kimono complete with a little blue fan tucked in his back and geta on his feet. It's a great figure, I love the way Natsume is holding Nyanko up. Autumn is my favorite figure of all. Yeah, it's a little simple, but it's very Natsume Yuujinchou with the way Nyanko Sensei is sitting on Natsume's head. The expression on Nyanko's face is just perfect with the fallen leaf on his head. I also like that of the seasonal figures this is the only one that isn't standing in place. Natsume is holding a bundle of wheat in his right hand to represent the fall harvest, but I'm more interested in what's on his left hand. Check out the dragonfly! Keep in mind that little thing is smaller than a pencil eraser head and they still got some great detail in it. Yeah, definitely my favorite figure in the series. The fifth figure in the set is a little more unusual. It's hard to tell, but it's actually Nyanko Sensei transformed into Natsume. It's based on episode six of Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, the Other Side of the Glass. In the episode Natsume is trapped inside a glass jar and Nyanko changes into him to take his place while he searches for the one that stuck Natsume in there. You can see the jar behind, but unfortunately it seems they couldn't find a way to stick a tiny Natsume in there so it's left empty. It almost feels like half of a concept and if you weren't familiar with the figure's story it would just seem like Natsume is doing a strange pose. For me this is the least successful of the series and from what I can gather it's the least popular among fans. And here's the secret figure, a redeco of the spring figure. Now sporting a more cherry blossom appropriate pink, it's a nice alternative, but not quite as nicely executed as the blue and green of the original. I wish they would have changed up the pattern or something to really set it apart. Meanwhile Nyanko Sensei is looking kinda cherry in the face himself.  And that's our six. They're a an exceptionally cute series of figures based on the Natsume Yuujinchou duo and look great displayed. The paint is OK, but could be much better. If you're a fan then they're worth having, but you might want to buy them second hand to assure you get the best looking figures. Still, the cheapest and most efficient way to get them is in a case. Were I to do it again I'd probably still go with the case.  [Huge thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review samples!]
Natsume Yuujinchou photo
Insert Scarface "little friend" joke here
Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume's Book of Friends) will probably always rank as one of my favorite top anime series of all time. For four seasons I laughed and cried with this series like few others. I was pretty sad when the fin...

Tomopop Review: ArtFX+ Arkham City Batman

Jan 05 // Kristina Pino
Figure Name: ArtFX+ Arkham City BatmanFigure Maker: KotobukiyaRetail: ¥5,500Sponsored by: HobbyLink Japan This statue came in a standard windowed box, well-packaged and all that, and in the style of the boxes from the Arkham games. I didn't take pictures of it, but I did use the background/insert that came with the figure for the backdrop of my own photographs. I was really worried about finding a good spot to photograph ol' Bats because of my temporary lack of lighting equipment and not particularly Bat-like surroundings, and I'm rather pleased with the result I got here. Alright, let's get this started. Batman is perched over some stone steps with one of his hands holding a Batarang and the other in a fist. As far as posing goes, this is way better than just straight up standing. He looks animated here, strong, and poised to strike. They didn't go for too much of an action pose, which I appreciate considering you spend a lot of time being stealthy in these games. With his cape posed as though fluttering behind him rather than swaying with his movement to the side, it looks like he's just been waiting for the right moment, which feels just right to me, too. We've got some seams showing at his shoulders on the cape, but it's hidden rather well by the cowl there and lined up to his shoulders for minimum impact. You can see them perfectly well in the photo, but you'd have to really be looking for it, and the figure would have to be less than 2 feet away from you for you to notice it on the shelf. For whatever reason, I usually leave the head shots for the end of my reviews, but I'm putting it up here next because I really like how his face and head sculpting came out and wanted to highlight that right away. The cowl and face have fantastic work done, giving Batman one of his usual serious, yet calm and calculating expressions. Really great detailing, here. Another great bit of detail is at his utility belt, which looks a bit dinged up from all the action he's been getting. The belt isn't a separate piece wrapped around his Bat Spanx, so it doesn't jiggle around or anything. Ok, let's take a step back for a wider look, here. I'm really loving the way the body sculpt and suit came out, just in general. Honestly, I don't have any complaints about this statue; I'm gonna put that out there right now. I have nothing to complain about, because this looks so great, and the suit is even shaded so the muscles stand out more where they bulge. The legs look nice and beefy, like I can just reach out and squish them. Now, here's a look at his weapon hand. The hand is kinda poseable - it swivels around because there's actually an alternate, so it's on a peg. If you want to have him holding the Batarang, you can, but you can also have him holding his grapnel gun. Both look cool, but I've got him shelved with the standard Batarang in-hand because that's just my preference. If you're a Bat fan, especially if you're a fan of the Arkham games, you can't go wrong with this statue. Kotobukiya has delivered a great, high-quality product, and if you can find it, it's totally worth your dough. Check out the gallery for more images which didn't make it into the body of my review, and share your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for sponsoring this review.
Batman photo
Perched up on your shelf: he is the night
Kotobukiya released this 1/10-scale Batman based on his appearance in the very fun Batman: Arkham City game back in late August, so this is by no means a brand-spankin'-new figure. But it's new to me and I want to share my review.

Tomopop Original: It's ALIVE! A look at FrankenJoes

Dec 30 // Soul Tsukino
I've heard them called the "Real American Hero" sculpts; 3 3/4 inch sculpts, you know the ones. They had the back screws and rubber O-rings holding them together. They had loads more articulation than just about anything else at the time, didn't break the bank, and they were small enough you could have an entire army of them in a small box. And with a small enough screwdriver (or drill if need be), O-rings, and a little time, they could be fixed if anything was broken. You could also get really creative. Call them custom figures or FrankenJoes, these are when you start putting different pieces together and coming up with new characters of your own design. Some people take it to a whole different level with actually sculpting and painting their work to make things match, but since I like to actually use my figures, I've not been big on the repainting route, the paint usually doesn't last long with me. However, search on Google and you will find some crazy amazing customs out there. But for those of us who want to be creative, but don't want to have their figures sit on a self, there can be a big difference between a decent looking FrankenJoe, and one that just looks like crap. Take for instance this fellow. I named him Impact. This is actually the first custom Joe I made once I figured out to take apart and repair these figures. But this is the third version of the character. Why? I learned that not all parts fit together very well. Originally he used the chest of a character called Road Pig. Pig is one of the few figures made that were JACKED full of muscles (They also used this body mold for several of the Street Fighter Joes), but when taken apart the head of these figures are specially designed for the muscular body, and most of the regular figure heads don't fit. I did not realize this when I made him using a regular Snake-eyes head. One errant head move later and the original figure had a giant gaping hole in the chest. Lesson number One learned. So I found a still muscular frame, albeit smaller, but more importantly it fit with the parts that I had to work with. This is also a problem when you consider that older release Joes had a different canister shape assembly for the head joints, while later figures had a ball shaped assembly. Unless you are an expert in crafting plastic, they are not interchangeable. So don't try to force pieces together if they don't fit, things will break that way. I've discovered that the better looking custom figures are the ones with the least amount of modification. Here are some customs I made when I bought a junk parts lot on eBay a few years ago:   The first figure is largely a Voltar figure, but I replaced both arms with a different matching set, the head, and the waist piece. Next to him is another figure that started out as a spare Lifeline figure. The head was swapped out, as were the waist and legs from an older worn figure I had. Even if parts are a bit worn, the color scheme of Red and Blue work well together creating a well done figure without a lot of effort. Finally we have another couple of figures that was made of left over parts. Here it's not so much the color but the clothes that match well making the figures work. Sometimes just a headswap can radically change a figure, and sometimes you can really get away with being creative. But of course, with the good comes the bad. As you can see the parts don't really match up very well. I was trying to go a for a "man in the iron mask" look for this figure, and it just didn't happen,. Also the head that I used sits horribly in the chest so it just wobbles up and down. But for me, most of the fun is the process of getting the parts together and making a new character than the figure itself. It's a creative process and if you are into these figures as much as I am, it's a great way to not only recycle parts from broken figures, but a chance to be creative as well. I'd love to hear from anyone who customs their G.I. Joe figures, or any of their figures for that matter! Can you do better than my merry lot? Prove it and show what you've created!
FrankenJoes photo
Bringing new life to old parts.
I love G.I. Joe figures. I have since I was 7 years old. I got into them largely when Masters of the Universe ended. I watched the cartoon almost everyday and grew up on these figures, so I never developed much of a fandom fo...

Tomopop Review: Good Smile Company's Sorceress

Dec 06 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: SorceressFigure Maker: Good Smile CompanyRetail Price: ¥8,381Available at: HobbyLink Japan  The sorceress is a pretty reasonably priced 1/8-scale figure. I think it fits in nicely with my Rage of Bahamut figures - their aesthetics are a little bit different but they all feature cute girls with whimsical designs. Assembly was a snap as there are only a few pieces to work with. However I'm not high on the metal pin being used to secure the bat... thing... do the sorceress' sleeve. It never felt like a secure fit. If her proportions look off to you, it's because of the art style from the game. The characters designs remind me a bit of what you'd see in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, somewhere between normal and super-deformed. Although this sorceress is busty, the design is much more conservative than that of Dragon's Crown's sorceress. Her robe is pretty funky, but I like the red-orange accents and the use of translucent pieces. The base is also transparent. I actually can't remember the last time I saw a figure with a transparent base... I might have gone a bit overboard with the Christmas lights. But her staff has a translucent jewel in it which lets you play some cool tricks with lights. Unfortunately her robes get in the way of a good butt shot. I think they also hide the fact that the sorceress has a pencil-thin waist. Again, the original character designs have those quasi-chibi proportions. However with the clothing and this pose, you don't notice it as much on the sorceress. Good Smile Company hasn't done anything super fancy with the finish; most parts have a semi-glossy sheen. The quality is certainly there. Overall I'm drawn toward how colorful and cute the sorceress is (though I can't really get a fix on what her expression's supposed to be). I wouldn't hold out hope for many more Dragon Nest figures, but the sorceress at least is a winner. [ Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample! ]
GSC Sorceress photo
Quite enchanting
Good Smile Company generally sticks to the popular properties (or pushes their own) when they make figures, but sometimes random partnerships happen and you get something way out of left field. This is probably why you're loo...

Tomopop Review: Max Factory's Mea Kurosaki

Dec 05 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Mea KurosakiFigure Maker: Max FactoryRetail Price: ¥10,000Available at: HobbyLink Japan  Mea doesn't have an elaborate base, accessory parts, or interchangeable pieces. I've come to appreciate figures that are simple in execution but still look great. For those who move or rotate their figure displays a lot, you'll be happy to know that unpacking and assembling Mea is easy as can be. There's absolutely nothing to do other than to attach her base. Mea is an example of Max Factory's signature style, one which they pull off better than any other manufacturer. She's sexy without being straight up lewd. There are plenty of ecchi figures out there, but I feel like Max Factory is able to make ones that fall just short of that line. There are so many examples: their Dark Elf, Cerberus, and Momo as well. They're all beautiful women with not much clothing, but they're more tasteful than similar products from other manufacturers. That's not to say this figure is in any way lacking sex appeal. Because dear lord look at that panty tug. Max Factory did a great job with the body sculpt. They maybe could have done a better job with the delicate details of the lingerie, but it's not really much to complain about. One of the notable features is the hair braid wrapping around Mea's leg. I know I spent a whole paragraph saying Max Factory's figures aren't overtly sexualized, but Mea is definitely more sexualized than their typical stuff. There are a bunch of small details that I love about this figure: the boob squeeze, the little panty tug, the braid wrapping around her leg, her coy expression. They all come together to make a great figure with an emphasis on just the character. Check out the gallery for more photos. You'd better do it, because this set was super annoying to shoot! Seriously, so many equipment malfunctions and failed ideas went into this... [ Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for the review sample! ]
Max Factory Mea Kurosaki photo
More To Love-Ru girls, please
Mea hails from To Love-Ru Darkness, and as you can probably tell, the manga has its fair share of ecchi elements. Before Mea, Max Factory has also made a 1/6-scale Momo Velia Deviluke from the same property. The two share a t...

What Toys Are Up To: Penguins in Berlin

Dec 02 // Martin Siggers
For those of you who haven't read my previous posts, the concept of these trips is very simple. I love shooting toys in new and unfamiliar surroundings, but I'm too much of a wuss to bring anime girls or action figures with me. The three penguins supplied with figma Princess of the Crystal however are perfect - small, distinctive and easy to carry about with no loose parts. So with that in mind, let's go off on our tour of Berlin, a city that stood at the centre of 20th century European history. One of Berlin's few remaining historical landmarks is the Siegessäule, or Victory Column. Sixty-seven meters tall, it commemorates a series of victorious wars waged by what was then Prussia in the mid to late 19th Century. Originally standing in the Königsplatz directly outside the German Parliament building, it was later moved several hundred meters to its present location, the large traffic intersection known as the Großer Stern (literally 'Great Star') The column is hollow and for a few euros you're able to go inside and climb to the top, where you can take in the gorgeous view. It may seem slightly odd to see what's apparently a massive wood in the middle of an industrial city, but this is the Tiergarten, a gigantic park that lies at the heart of the city's political and historic district. At 210 hectares, it's practically a forest. Visiting in autumn ensured the park was dappled in a fantastic variety of reds, browns, greens and yellows. The stylish blue of the penguins looks rather out of place in such a location. Also located nearby is the Reichstag, the mighty palace where the German parliament meets. Though it looks gothic and old, like most historical buildings in Berlin it's actually a bit of a facade, since the original was bombed into a shell during the last days of World War II. Large parts of the building were only restored following German reunification in the early 90s. The gorgeous all glass dome seen on top is a creation of famed architect Normam Foster and is open to the public. Though the Reichstag building may be newer than it looks, some parts of old Berlin really are old, such as the magnificent cathedral here. It was however significantly damaged during the war and took decades to be restored to its current condition. Somewhat unbelievably the most severe damage the church took was not from Allied bombing but from the Soviets, who blew up the northern wing in 1975 because they disliked its imperialist connections. Elsewhere, the ruins have been preserved as a memory of the hardship the city suffered. Here, the bombed-out remains of the original Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Chruch sit between the modern church and belfry of the same name. While much of its own history may have been lost to the ravages of the war, Berlin still loves looking back, and museums are a particular attraction. In fact, there's an entire district of the city dubbed "Museum Island" which plays host two five world-acclaimed museums - the Altes (Old) Museum, the Neues (New) Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Bode Museum and the Pergamon Museum. The last is particularly unusual, as its main attraction is a number of detailed full-scale recreations of real life historical locations and artifacts, including the namesake Pergamon Alter and (alert, Fate/Stay Night fans!) the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Here, the Penguins are lounging about outside the Alte Nationalgalerie, which houses a huge collection of art ranging from Neo-Classical to Modernist, The statue outside the museum is of Prussian King Frederick William IV. But really they should just replace it with a statue of Penguin #1 By far and away the most famous historical landmark in Berlin is the Brandenburg Gate, which has become an icon of the city and in fact thee whole of Germany. Patterned after a Roman triumphal arch, it was built between 1788 and 1791 by the Prussian Emperor Frederic William II. Of course, it's nearly impossible to say anything about the history of Berlin without mentioning its defining landmark of the last century or so - the Berlin Wall. I'm sure plenty of you are familiar with the structure, but those of you who aren't, a brief history lesson. After Germany was defeated in World War II, the country was split into four segments, each under the control of one of the major Allied Powers - Great Britain, France, the United States and the USSR. Britain, France and the USA quickly joined their segments and formed the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany) while the Soviets countered with the establishment of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (German Democratic Republic). This meant that for over forty years Germany as we know it today was in fact two entirely separate countries, each on either side of the Iron Curtain and each allied with a different power bloc. The West sided with NATO while the Soviet dominated East signed the Warsaw Pact. Berlin lay deep inside the Soviet-controleld sector of the country, but by agreement was also split into four corresponding zones. Once again the three western allies combined their segments leading to a direct division of the city. Many who lived in East Berlin took this opportunity to cross over into West Berlin and from there on to the Federal Republic by the permitted rail and plane links. The Soviets were desperate to stop this exodus of people, and attempted to blockade the western half in mid 1948 to force the Western Allies to abandon the city. Thanks to a huge airlift program the plan failed and the blockade was lifted almost 12 months later. Anyway, the net result of all of this was that by 1961, the Soviet government decided to take the most direct route possible to prevent escapees and simply built a bloody big wall between the two halves of the city. The wall stood for 28 years, becoming a symbol of the brutal divide between the western and eastern halves of Europe. Lined with barbed wire, spotlights and watchtowers, as many as 200 people were estimated to have been killed attempting to cross the 'death strip' that lay between the inner and outer walls. Though the war was gradually torn down following a public uprising in 1989 and the subsequent re-unification of Germany in 1990, large chunks of it still remain, as you can see behind the penguins above. The segment is in original concrete grey but other parts of the wall have been daubed in graffiti or even turned into outdoors art exhibits.   I actually arrived in Berlin during the week leading up the 25th anniversary of the wall's fall. There was widespread commemoration of the occasion, with special displays, planned exhibitions and a massive concert party to be held at the Brandenburg Gate, which since the end of the Cold War has become a symbol of a reunited Germany. Even 25 years have not fully healed the scars of division though. One of the places that best represents this lingering gap is the forum of Alexanderplatz, once under Soviet control. Though much has been done to renovate the area, it still has an undeniably grim, socialist sheen about it. Glass fronted skyscrapers and department stores sit uncomfortably alongside slab-sided Communist constructions. Looking the opposite way is a stark reminder of the way this world used to be. In the foreground the Communist built world clock turns slowly, reminding visitors of the time in long since irrelevant Soviet cities. In the background meanwhile towers one of the jewels of West Berlin, the TV Tower, which was when built the tallest building in Europe and a reminder of the West's superior financial and technological prowess. The observatyion deck of the tower provides a sweeping view across the city and seems an appropriate place to end our journey. Berlin's an odd, interesting city, one in which the old and the new seems constantly at war. It's less glamorous, less artful than the cities I've traveled to with the penguins before, but there's a sense of deep history in the very stones you walk on. It's a city torn by past conflict but with a bright future ahead of it. For that and many other reasons, I highly recommend a visit.
Penguins in Berlin photo
Ich bin ein Berliner
They've been to the city of water, and the land of chocolate and beer, so where would my intrepid penguins and I end up next on our tour around Europe? Well, what better place could there be than the heart of the continent, Germany? Or more specifically, its capital Berlin. Let's see what our intrepid adventurers could find this time round.

Tomopop Review: DST's Marvel Select Amazing Spidey 2 Spider-Man

Nov 22 // Scarecroodle
Figure Name: Marvel Select Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spider-Man with baseFigure Maker: Diamond Select ToysRetail Price: US$24.99Available at: Diamond Select Toys DST's Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spidey comes in the usual Marvel Select packaging. As we've seen in the past, these movie (and tv) figures seem to forgo the usual heavily decorated inner box in favor of something basic (most likely due to licensing issues or the like). In this case, it's a generic lightning-looking design. The back of the card features a large character illustration alongside a brief bio. This space is usually dedicated to some product images of the figure and other offerings in the line. The other selections is naturally absent because Spidey was the only ASM2 character to receive a figure (which again goes back to an issue with DST getting reference materials in time. Granted, the company *could* have done an Emma Stone Gwen Stacy but there probably wasn't enough fan demand). While I like the visual, it's just weird to not see any product images at all. I own maybe thirty figures from DST's "Select" lines (in addition to seeing box shots) and can't recall one other instance of this happening. Before we go any further, I should mention that there are at *least* three configurations for this particular figure. I had known about the comic/specialty shop-exclusive "Fireman" Spidey and the Disney/Marvel.com exclusive unmasked variant. However, until this arrived on my doorstep, I don't believe that I was even aware this one existed. As near as I can tell, it might just be a direct offering from Diamond Select Toys. What's so different, you ask? Both of the previously announced versions went very heavy on the accessories and lacked a base. This one takes the opposite approach by virtue of featuring only one alternate hand, two web accessories, and a wall diorama piece (which can be mounted on your wall). If that wall looks familiar, you might remember that it was the Marvel Select ASM1 Spidey's accessory that seemed to come with every version of that figure. It's not a bad accessory, but I imagine a lot of fans probably already have one from whichever version of the MS ASM1 Spidey they picked up. It's something of a baffling decision as well when you consider how many alternate parts the comic/specialty and Disney releases featured. The actual figure looks great, however. The sculpting is great, the paint apps feature crisp colors, and the jointing is generally unobtrusive. The paint on my copy features a few scrapes that, for the most part, are more visible in photographs due to the greater amount of lighting. Now for the all-important question: How does the "sequel" stand up to the previous version? For the most part, the Marvel Select ASM2 Spider-Man holds its own against the Marvel Select ASM1 Spider-Man (note: this is the Disney Store variant which uses a metallic paint). Despite both being movie Spider-Man figures, the two are surprisingly hard to compare. The baseline aesthetic is great on both figures but the ASM2 Spidey sports some very different jointing. The difference is most notable in the torso area. The ASM1 Spidey has a torso that seemingly gets slimmer as it gets up to the chest to accommodate the joint. The ASM2 instead sculpted the joint underneath the full ribcage which gives the torso a more consistent (although less athletic) look. The second notable change comes in the arms which have been greatly simplified. Where the previous model had 5 joints per arm (shoulder, bicep, pinned elbow, forearm, and pinned wrist) the new only features three joints (shoulder, elbow, wrist). I can understand dropping the forearm in favor of a more versatile wrist joint, but I was initially a little surprised that the bicep joint went as well. To compensate for the lack of a bicep joint, the ASM2 Spidey features a more versatile elbow joint. I'm less fond of the fact that the ASM2 Spidey is missing an extra joint at the calf since that added point of rotation helps when balancing with the foot pivot/ankle rockers. On the whole, both are good figures. However, the overall look of the ASM2 Spidey might be a bit nicer. Interestingly, the ASM2 Spidey looks larger (or beefier?) than his ASM1 counterpart despite being of very similar height. It may come down to the difference in torso or the ASM2 Spidey's larger head. The ASM2 Spidey poses fairly well. The hip joints might be a bit thinner than the previous model and thus allow for better movement. The open-hands are great for allowing things like hand-stands in addition to wall-crawling and spidey-sense-tingling poses. Assuming you buy the specialty store or Marvel/Disney exclusive, you'll also have an array of additional hands including web-shooter hands with webbing add-ons. Those additions seriously increase the display value of the figure. All versions of the MS ASM2 Spidey seem to come with the new "modular weblines" accessories. One of the webbing accessories has a piece that can peg into Spidey's fist for web-swinging poses. A connector on the other side can hook into the other webbing piece. While I'm honestly not sure how this is intended to work, you can snap the pieces together for a variety of effects. I was going to say that it's perfect for Rhino wrangling, but that didn't quite work out. Oh well, I guess comic book Spidey had his issues trying to web down Rhino as well. All things considered, Diamond Select Toys' Marvel Select Amazing Spider-Man 2 Spidey is probably the nicest version of the character in the affordable figure bracket. The overall design is good, the paint generally looks great, and he has most of the poseability you could want. The biggest drawback is that this particular configuration doesn't include all of the alternate parts that you'll find with the other variants. The diorama piece, while nice, certainly seems a little redundant given that many fans will own the Marvel Select ASM1 Spidey which also included the piece. Be sure to check out the rest of the Rhino fight in the gallery, among other photos.
ASM2 Spider-Man photo
Is the sequel an improvement?
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was the somewhat lukewarm follow-up to Sony's Spider-Man reboot. The film notably improved on Spider-Man's costume, giving movie-goers something closer to what they were used to, while jumping all ove...

Tomopop Review: Hashtag Collectibles' Grumpy Cat puppet

Nov 19 // Natalie Kipper
Toy name: Grumpy Cat puppetToy maker: Hashtag CollectiblesRetail price: US$35Available at: Hashtag Collectibles Meet the Grumpy Cat puppet. It says, "Hello", or it would if I was playing with it and not typing up this review. Uh, let's move on, shall we? The tag hangs on the puppet's right ear. The simple design, with just a Grumpy Cat's face and the toy's name on a matte black background helped to focus on the toy itself, and not be distracting should you choose to leave the tag on.  The puppet measures 10 inches tall, 6 inches wide, and 6 inches deep. Its tail adds on about 5 inches to the back. Speaking of the tail, it is lightly stuffed and has a nice curve to the middle of it, almost giving it a "C"-shape. The body is moderately stuffed but not so much that it is difficult to use as a puppet. Here we see were the puppeteer's hand goes when playing with their Grumpy Cat. The lining feels slightly webbed and airy. I was pleased to note that it did not feel scratchy or sweaty, even after having my hand in there for over five minutes of continuous play. I was surprised to discover that the softest part of the Grumpy cat puppet is the blue portion of its eyes. The whole toy is pleasingly soft and snuggly, don't get me wrong, but this tiny area takes it to a whole new level: silky yet fuzzy with just a hint of woolen texture to it. A pure delight. The only issue I had with my Grumpy Cat puppet was what appeared to be a manufacturing flaw in its mouth. One corner opens wider than the other which, unfortunately, makes the toy harder to manipulate in puppet form. I can't imagine that this problem is present in all of the puppets, but it may be something to look for. I could still get the puppet to make the signature scowl rather well. I also made it say phrases like, "I love rainy days", and "Cake makes me happy." It is the little things in life, you know. Despite the one manufacturing flaw in the mouth, I would still recommend Hashtag Collectibles' Grumpy Cat puppet. Mine may not have made the best puppet, but I think it is definitely the cutest piece of Grumpy Cat merchandise made and that, to me, is worth just as much. Plus, she still makes a darn good cuddle buddy. [A big thank-you to Hashtag Collectibles for supplying me with this sample!]
Review: Grumpy Cat puppet photo
The time I made Grumpy Cat say "Yes"
The internet sure does love cats and I can totally understand the sentiment. Lil Bub, Colonel Meow, and of course, Grumpy Cat (also known as Tardar Sauce) never cease to entertain. Being a fan of said kitties as well as a plu...

Tomopop Review: Alter's Asuka Langley Shikinami Jersey ver.

Nov 05 // Tianxiao Ma
Figure Name: Asuka Langley Shikinami Jersey ver.Figure Maker: AlterRetail Price: ¥10,800Available at: AmiAmi | ToysLogic | Big Bad Toy Store I think part of the reason I wanted to do this review is because we rarely ever do Alter reviews. Seriously, when was the last time we reviewed an Alter figure? Anyway, I was interested to see if they had been maintaining their usual production quality. The box is all plastic with cool translucent blue panels. With these types of boxes you can leave the figure on display without tanking its resale value. Win-win! Personally I like to, you know, unbox my figures. Unwrapping everything was painless. Alter used to tie up the packaging with plastic twist ties, which made things secure but a pain to open. Not so with this Asuka. Assembly was a snap too; all you need to do is attach the base and you're ready to go. Alter certainly hasn't let their quality control slip. I didn't spot any flaws in terms of the painting or sculpt. However they have lost a bit of that cool factor; their recent figures have been plain with only a few exceptions. With Asuka's butt being so prominent, let's give it the attention it deserves. There are two optional parts for this figure. This photo shows the alternate arm, which has Asuka's left hand tucked into her pocket. If you want the full effect of Asuka's facial expression, an alternate head is included without the hat. Both pieces were easy to swap, as Alter's manufacturing made the fit of the pieces just right. Non-Evangelion fans probably won't lose too much sleep from skipping this figure, but Asuka fans certainly won't regret picking this one up. Apart from the build quality and that sweet box, I'd say my favorite feature is her pissed off expression. For once a figure maker used a character-appropriate expression! There are a bunch more shots in the gallery, so take a look and let me know what you think!
Alter Asuka photo
"Even after all this time, you're still just a troublesome brat!"
Alter has made a couple of Asuka figures before, with the last one released almost four years ago. If that one was too happy and/or immodest for you (those test plugsuits can be quite revealing), this release may be more to y...

Toys of Yesterday: Monster in My Pocket

Oct 31 // Scarecroodle
In the beginning, there were 48. The Monster in My Pocket franchise franchise launched around 1991 with its first series of 48 mono-colored soft rubber monster figurines and an accompanying trading card set. The figures were *intended* to also be game pieces (following in the tradition of things like Battle Beasts) and subsequently each figure featured a point value on its back. When two monsters "fought", the one with the higher point value won. Although a stupid gimmick, it helped break the figures up and establish some as being more important than others. The initial release made use of only four colors: yellow, purple, red, and green. Although the figures appeared in multiple colors, the rarer value versions either appeared in fewer colors, or the color swaps were rarer. The very common figures (5-point and 10-point, like Spring-heeled Jack) could frequently be seen in any of the thee colors. The initial package configurations mainly consisted of 4-packs that featured visible 5 & 10-point monsters along with more expensive 12-packs which featured one visible 25-point monster while the rest were random. Thus, somewhat ironically, it was easier to get the 25-point monster you wanted than either a 15 or 25-pointer. The 25-pointers, the big dogs in the yard, were the Great Beast, Behemoth, the Hydra, the Werewolf, the Griffin, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I'm still not sure why the Werewolf deserved the honor but, at the time, I didn't question it. Werewolves were cool. I believe I owned two copies of the Werewolf and managed to misplace both. In fact, these are surprisingly easy to lose. I even misplaced two figures while shooting these photos! Speaking of losing figures, what I can find of my original collection doesn't even fill a small container (I probably owned roundabouts of 150 or 200 from the early series). Given that these were my original figures, I've kept them separate from the figurines that I've picked up since then. After all, these figures were a part of my childhood while those other figures were a part of someone else's. The first series featured a different mix of monster types. This included classic movie monsters such the ghost, the mummy, a zombie, Frankenstein's Monster (just called "The Monster" in the guide), a vampire, and a vampiress. As a kid, these were probably the monsters you knew very well. However, it also featured famous mythological monsters like the griffin, Medusa, the hydra, cyclops, and the ogre. These were monsters you had probably heard of or seen on tv, in movies, etc. Going a bit deeper, there were also mythological monsters (and characters) you probably hadn't heard of as a kid, like Coatlique, the Wendigo, the many-headed Jotun troll (who appears in that Epcot viking ride), the Cockatrice, the Catoblepas, and Karnak. More controversially you had things like Kali, an actively worshipped Hindu goddess (who, by her inclusion, is viewed as a monster). She was one of the characters who would be renamed when the series relaunched in the early 2000s. I will say that I liked this figure as a kid. It was a cool design. Also, in case you were wondering if it got more offensive, they did Ganesha in series 2. Naturally two of my favorite things were associated with the lore: the monster checklist (seen right) which came in almost every figure configuration and the cards (seen left). Back when 7-11 was giving away (or selling?) promo packs with a limited number of cards, you better believe I was always trying to get my parents to go to 7-11. The cards were also just sold 11 to a pack. Each one features some neat character artwork on the front (pictured next to some of the figures) and a bio on the back. The style of the cardback varied based on the monsters' point values. Amusingly enough, the coolest design was given to the 20-point monsters instead of the 25-pointers. The cards don't necessarily explain the rationales behind the point values. Personally, the series may have marked the first time that I had even heard of a few of these monsters (possibly including the witch Baba Yaga or the fearsome Manticore). It helped to foster a love of mythology. (Side-note: While Manticores are usually depicted with the head of a man (with multiple rows of teeth), a lion's body, and a scorpion tail, this version opts for a pincher tail. While I don't understand the change, it does look cooler.) Some of my favorite figures from that first series were Cerberus, the Cyclops, the Ogre, Medusa, (I don't know why I have a second Cyclops there but hey, he was really cool), the Jotun Troll, and the Gremlin. Naturally that number also included the Werewolf and Roc, neither of which I have a copy of any more. Series 1 probably represented the line's highest point in some ways. There were a lot of promotional items (including variant colors of these monsters for people who might want a pink Wendigo; with the alternate colored versions from promos and other markets it can be hard to know a bootleg) and tie-ins, including a battle card game which I never learned how to play. Matchbox naturally wanted to capitalize on the existing success so they took things in a weird (and very annoying) direction. Series 2 expanded the line with another 24 monsters (basically they were just trying to crank *something* out). Besides the selection being weaker, Matchbox must have thought that they needed to one-up the previous offerings (maybe because they were giving half the selection?). But how would they go about that? First, the line used obnoxious neon colors. Figures were available in neon green, neon pink (because boys, the primary consumer of this product, just love hot pink), neon blue, and neon orange. But wait, there's more! To show that these figures were "cooler" than the previous set, the point values instead ranged from 10 to 30. How could they possibly top that? Meet the "Super Scary" line, a series of 24 multi-colored monsters... who went all the way up to 100 points. Oh, and did I mention that some glow in the dark? Looking back now, the series reeks of desparation. The actual sculpting, in many cases, was nowhere near as nice as either series 1 or 2. The figures were also a bit larger than the originals (because bigger is better?!). Even as a kid, I didn't like these that much. The series consisted almost entirely of things you'd never heard of yet they were stronger the more famous creatures, often outrageously so. The point system effectively backfired. I lost interest in the line and, reportedly, so did America. The line was mostly sold in Europe and Latin America after that. There was a relaunch in the 2000s which updated many of the designs (and replaced some of the politically incorrect names), but it was produced by a different company and basically limited to the UK and other regions outside the U.S.. It apparently didn't last long and, because of the scarce supply, the figures tend to sell for quite a bit more than the original series. Oh, and that tv show? It never made it past the special. Monster in My Pocket was a really neat line and it's a shame that its success (in the U.S.) was so brief. The figurines themselves still hold up remarkably well (the first series or two, anyway) thanks to an attention to detail. They're also reasonably inexpensive if you want to pick some up. If you want to learn more, be sure to check out the wiki.
Monster in My Pocket photo
Is that a monster in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
Before there were Pocket Monsters (Pokemon), there was Monster in My Pocket. This surprisingly basic toy series would go on to have its own video game, tv show*, comics, trading cards, a board game, and a TON of pointless pro...

Tomopop Review: Transformers Generations Rattrap

Oct 22 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Transformers Generations RattrapFigure Maker: HasbroRetail Price: US$14.99Available at: Hasbro Toy Shop, Big Bad Toy Store, TFSource, Robotkingdom, Target, Amazon I'm a big fan of this style of packaging. It's big, bright, and uses every inch to its advantage. The bubble is spacious and gives you a good look at what's inside making it much easier to pick out the best looking figure on the pegs. As with the others you'll find a full size IDW comic in the back, in this case a copy of  (deep breath) the Transformers: Robots in Disguise issue 24, Dark Cybertron chapter five: Finest Hour. The comic has an exclusive cover featuring Rattrap and no advertising, which is nice, but as I understand it this copy has the pages woefully out of order. It's also a bit strange that he doesn't come with a comic that he actually appears in, but it can't be helped. Rattrap and his wave-mates Tankor and Crosscut come with chapters five, six, and seven, but Rattrap's last appearance was chapter four and wouldn't return until chapter eight. The previous four figures came with the first four chapters. Tankor and Crosscut do appear in their respective comics.  Enough about the packaging, let's talk about the figure. This is the Rattrap figure that Beast Wars fans have always wanted. The original was good for its time, but lacked real screen accuracy as most of the original BW figures did. It wasn't until season two when things moved into Transmetals and Fuzors that the figures looked much more like they did on TV. So with modern technology we're now able to get a figure that does the original animation CG justice.  Part of what makes him look so good is that he's essentially a shellformer with much of the rat bits folded up and stuck to him like a backpack. But at the same time his legs make the rat legs and the rat chest makes the robot body so really the only thing the shell covers in rat mode is the bot head, arms and part of the legs. That's not quite the same as the shell concealing a whole bot, but there is a lot of kibble. On the bright side that kibble is also character accurate, rat arms sticking out from his back and all. That backpack is kinda heavy, but thankfully his tail is just long enough to prop him up so that's helpful.  His gun is pretty neat. It has a nice look to it with all kinds of great detail sculpted into it. It also has the bonus feature of being able to split into two smaller guns. I'm a sucker for figures coming with weapons that can be reconfigured like this. Unfortunately they chose to gang mold it with the lightpipe for his eyes which means clear weapons. I can understand wanting to make them stand out from the rest of his body, but they're hard to accept like this. Pretty much any other color plastic on the figure would have looked better.  The gun isn't his only weapon. Open the door on his left arm and you'll find this, a demolition charge as seen in the episode A Better Mousetrap. It's a neat and welcome bonus, too bad it too is molded in transparent plastic. It would be nice if a third party would remold these parts in better colors.  I have a couple issues with the head sculpt. First off Rattrap's head is supposed to glow like a jack o'lantern with red light coming from both his eyes and mouth. His eyes have a very thin layer of red paint sloppily spread over his eyes so they lack any real intensity. The red light coming from his mouth wasn't painted in at all. The other problem with his mouth is that they didn't sculpt in his trademark rat teeth. I'm not sure how they could make such a glaring mistake like that.  The sculpting wasn't the only annoying issue, choice of material became a problem as well. See that fleshy looking piece above the elbow? It's the same plastic used to make the rat feet. Why? Because it's just a little bit softer than the rest of the plastic so that the toes can bend a little rather than snap off. What this means is when you try to spin his arm that piece of plastic would rather catch and twist instead of properly spinning. If you aren't being careful you could easily break the joint by twisting it in half. That's also about as far as the elbow will bend which is much less range than most figures get.  Taking a step back in time let's compare Rattrap to two of his previous incarnations. Or is that future incarnations? In the middle is Deluxe class Transmetals Rattrap (1998) and on the right is Machine Wars Mega class (the predecessor to Voyager class) Rattrap (2001). TM Rattrap holds up pretty well next to the newest one. Well, aside from the rampant issue of all the chrome flaking off. Even back in the day the MW figure wasn't very good so the new figure definitely wins there. I'm just glad Hasbro gave him guns instead of relying on a tail whip again.  Beast mode! Rat mode is pretty nicely executed. It's not perfectly accurate to the animated model, it lacks some character, but the colors are good. Far and away better than the original figure's rat mode. They didn't do much to cover his belly up, but most Transformers fans should be used to that. He does have an articulated mouth; the extra effort is always appreciated. Speaking of extra effort: bendy tail! Yeah, this is a really cool feature. You can use it to help him stand in robot mode, bend it up and out of the way, or make him a little more expressive. As mentioned before I'm glad they didn't give him a tail whip for a weapon, this is way better.  This might qualify as a hidden feature, though pictures of this appeared long before the figure was released. It doesn't appear on the back of the package or in the directions, but this is an official thing the figure is made to do. When you look at the underside it's probably a little more obvious why they chose not to promote it. Good opportunity to point out the gun storage underneath.  If you just tilt the rat head forward you'll see the bot mode head, but inside the rat head is a dome you can fish out to hide the bot head. Proof that this was always meant to be. Probably wont use it much, but at least it's there.  Bringing back the other two. The new figure and the TM version are pretty similar in size so viewing one as an upgrade of the other isn't that hard. Like this they would actually display pretty well together. MW Rattrap is way bigger than the others, about the size of a real rat (probably intentional) so you wouldn't want him with the other. Actually, you probably wouldn't want him with any of your BW or MW figures. That might go for any MW figures for that matter. Hey, Hasbro, how about systematically remaking all of the MW characters over again? Let's recap: great robot mode; lots of hidden gimmicks; nice weapons (though color would be nice); robot head is off model a bit; rat mode is good; joints have some issues. If you can get the joints to work properly and overlook some of the smaller issues it's actually very nice figure. It's certainly the best Rattrap figure we've ever had and ever will have. If you're any kind of fan of Beast Wars then you'll definitely want this figure. Even with some of its shortcomings it's one of the best Deluxe figures in quite some time. This is especially true when compared to recent inferior remakes of Cheetor and Dinobot from the Universe line as seen above. However, when grouped with the recently released Voyager Rhinox and the 2006 remold of the original 1996 Ultra class Optimus Primal and they all look prime!
TF Generations Rattrap photo
Worth catching or better left in the wilds?
One day Hasbro came along and announced a new Rattrap figure for Transformers Generations to everyone's surprise. I mean, yeah, we wanted one, badly, but Hasbro isn't exactly known for always making the figures fans want and ...

Scarecroodle's massive EXPLOSION of AWESOME recap

Oct 08 // Scarecroodle
The first (and perhaps most) explosively awesome item is Bandai's Tamashii Effect Explosion, which comes in both a fiery "Red Ver." as well as a boring "Gray Ver." which looks like all smoke and no fire. The set comes with three explosion parts which can be combined into one larger explosion. If nothing else, you might have a total blast. These sets can be pre-ordered for around US$23 each. [ Pre-order Red ver. at Entertainment Earth | HobbyLink Japan ] [ Pre-order Gray ver. at Entertainment Earth | HobbyLink Japan ] In other very exciting news, Bluefin has released images of its currently available for pre-order S.H. MonsterArts Gamera (1996). Gamera has long been among my favorite Kaiju but, up until this point, I had to satisfy myself with Kaiyodo's Revoltech version which, quite frankly, just wasn't enough. Given that it's based on the 1996 version (Gamera: Guardian of the Universe or Gamera 2: Attack of the Legion?), Gamera will lack his "rocket shell" display options (which I'm *pretty* sure he didn't have in Guardian of the Universe but it's been forever). However, he'll have the usual breath attack and features an opening chest to reveal his core. The only downside is that he's US$81, so I'll have to see what my budget looks like by that point. [ Pre-order at HobbyLink Japan | Entertainment Earth ] For the Bishoujo crowd, Kotobukiya released a teaser image for its upcoming She-Hulk last week. After realizing that we were a few days late on it, I figured we could maybe just float things until Kotobukiya revealed the whole thing... but apparently they're holding off until NYCC. So for everybody who can't wait until, well, tomorrow, here's a teaser. I will say that it's certainly one very fine arm. Pre-orders also recently opened for Bandai's S.H. Figuarts Master Asia and the Master Gundam. Apparently Master Asia was shown some years ago but never released so he's been a long time coming. Given that G Gundam ranks among my favorites (and is somewhat ostracized among purists), I'm always happy to see it receive more merchandise... even if Master Asia was one of my least favorite characters. Master Asia can be pre-ordered for US$39 while the Master Gundam will run you US$44. [ Pre-order Master Asia | Master Gundam at Entertainment Earth ] And finally we have the Kaiju cutie, Sunrise's Ultra Monster Girl Gomora-chan. She's an anthropomorphic version of Gomora (not to be confused with Gamera! ...although now I kinda want to see Gamera receive the same treatment) from the Ultraman franchise. Weird? Yes. Very weird? Still yes. However, the figure kind of looks like a cosplayer in half of a monster suit
Top toys photo
More awesome than most minds can take
Sometimes there's more awesome than there is time and humble Tomopop editors can't get around to everything. As such, an explosively awesome recap is needed. Click the jump to see explosions, Gamera, more explosions, Bishoujo She-Hulk, explosions, a monster anthropomorphized into a young girl, and, oh yeah, explosions. Plus Gamera!

Tomopop Review: Brick Label Masterbrick MB-01 Metalhide

Sep 26 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: Masterbrick MB-01 MetalhideFigure Maker: Brick LabelRetail Price: US$119.90Available at: BrickLabel.net I'll just go ahead and say it: Brick Label's MB-01 Metalhide really is the 'Masterpiece', or as they put it, the Masterbrick, of transforming brick robots. LEGO has done countless robots over the years, but none of them really transformed to my knowledge. Mega Bloks has done a lot of transforming robots, but they've all had relatively simple changes. Over in Japan Takara Tomy did an OK job on an Optimus Prime in their DiaBlock line, but it had extremely simple features and transformation. They've also just released some Transformers in their Nanoblock line, but those don't transform either. Then there's Hasbro. By all rights Hasbro should be making some of the best transforming brick toys around, but they continue to come up short. They started in 2003 with their short lived Built to Rule line featuring characters from Transformers: Armada. BTR wasn't the greatest thing, but they showed promise being able to transform. The 2011 Kre-O line should have been a huge step up, but instead was a step back thanks to being non-transformable. Hasbro did announce some new Transforming Kre-O figures back at San Diego Comic Con, but they've gone back to being extremely simple. So now it takes a third party to step up and show the big guys how it's done. This is a fully articulated, fully transforming, and pretty darn huge figure. I wont bore anyone with lots of details on the assembly. The instructions are very well detailed, full colored, and show the parts from different angles as you go so you know you're building the pieces right the first time. You're dealing with a lot of parts, so be sure to give yourself a lot of room to work. He's made using 100% genuine LEGO bricks so you're getting quality parts here. There's a lot of things to be impressed about with this figure when its completed, its size being among them. Standing at about 10 inches tall this is a lot of bot! You'll also notice that he's very streamlined with very little kibble. This is a true transforming figure so he has a lot of small pieces that bend and fold out of the way. His 'backpack', which is barely anything, is a set of armatures that extend his wheels to the front a back of his van mode and doesn't contain much in the way of visible vehicle parts. It's a very creative solution to the alternative of having wheels hanging off his arms and legs. Articulation is as good as any Transformer. He has a lot of flexibility; not all Transformers can do splits like this. His feet also have some articulation for added balance and there's a swivel below the knee. The knees are more or less double jointed so the range there is good. There is a little forward restriction in the hips, but there's more than enough to get by. There's also a ball jointed abdomen so there's plenty of range there. The backpack doesn't connect directly to his upper torso so it isn't very restrictive. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, and have a swivel in the body so they can pivot in and out some. He also has articulated fingers. They're simple, but he doesn't really need to grasp anything so they serve their purpose. His head is neat. Sure, it doesn't look like Ironhide, but this is Metalhide, a homage to the G1 character so it gets a lot of leeway there. It's very creative, getting its shape from folding pieces together like a box rather than stacking them as you'd expect. It gives the head some neat angles that you couldn't normally get otherwise. For weapons he has to guns that fold out from his wrists. On his right side is a red and yellow heat ray, and on the left is a blue and black ice ray. It's a nice call back to G1 when Transformers, including Ironhide, would replace their hands with weapons as needed. The ability to fold keeps them out of the way when you don't need them while also ensuring that you don't lose them. He towers over most figures from other Transformers lines. Even next to the original Masterpiece Optimus Prime he almost looks like he's in proper scale. Obviously he doesn't fit in aesthetically with other Transformers lines, but it gives you an idea of just where it lands on the robot scale. At 10 inches tall he stands about the same height as the most recent Masterpiece Optimus Prime. As mentioned before he has a surprisingly complex transformation. Getting him into his van mode requires unfolding multiple parts on his back, arms, body, and legs. Everything tucks together nicely and thanks to tiny connecting pieces that line up perfectly you get a a pretty sturdy vehicle. As an added bonus: Rubber tires! Love rubber tires. You can also flip the weapons up from the back over the top to be used in vehicle mode! He's pretty compact in this mode and suddenly is closer to scale with the smaller scale Masterpiece line. Of course he's still pretty massive compared to the original. All in all it's miles above Hasbro's Kre-O Ironhide. The last point I want to make is the price. I know, US$119.90 is a lot of money, but consider a few things. First off, LEGO bricks aren't cheap, not even remotely. Just walk into the brick aisle of any store and check out the prices on the little LEGO boxes. Now think about the prices that third party Transformers typically go for. A five inch third party Transformer will often go for around this price. Then consider the engineering. Sure, the parts already exist, but it can't be easier to sort through hundreds (thousands?) of LEGO parts to find the right one than it is to build the parts yourself. I think the price is pretty much what you would pay for a similar set sold at mass retail.  So to recap: Easy to build, massive bot mode, no kibble, great articulation, complex transformation, good looking van mode, and rubber tires. This is a total package for fans that love LEGO, and were greatly disappointed by Hasbro's poor attempts at Transformers block toys. Metalhide is Brick Label's first release, but far from their last. Soon they should be showing off their second figure, Windstorm, a tribute to Powermaster Dreadwind! [ A big thanks to Brick Label for sending over the review sample! ]
Brick Label Metalhide photo
At last, brick bots done right
The great thing about LEGO bricks is that they can be used to build as simple or complex as you want. They're a lot like clay in that sense. Sure, anyone can make a simple LEGO box, or clay flower pot, but in the hands of som...

Tomopop Review: Good Smile Company's Nendoroid Tomoko Kuroki

Sep 10 // Vanessa Cubillo
Figure Name: Nendoroid Tomoko KurokiFigure Maker: Good Smile CompanyRetail Price: ¥3,619Available at: Plamoya | Amazon This was actually my very first Nendoroid figure, so everything about it was new to me. Let's start with the box. I love this! It's clean, simple, and shows me exactly what I'm getting with this figure. I also love the use of lime green and pink on the box to go with the white background.  When you open the box, the figure and all the accessories are packaged together in one plastic tray. So Tomoko comes with two alternate faces, an extra hair style, five additional arms, three additional hands, five accessories, and a stand.  The Tomoko figure comes dressed in her pale yellow school uniform. The hair piece on her shows her bangs covering half her face, and her face is her normal looking face. Of course, this is only normal for her! Any other character and I would call this a tired face, but Tomoko always looks like she's lacking sleep. As I mentioned before, this is my first Nendoroid figure, so I got to discover all the features the figure has to offer. She's fully articulated at the neck, arms, waist, and legs. The head is very heavy so she can't stand on her own, but the stand is great.  I have never been a fan of Tamashii Nation's stands. They try to offer innovative poses with their flexible stand, but I find it flimsy and complicated. However, the Nendoroid stands pull this off. It's made from thick plastic that is sturdy enough to support the weight of the figure, and flexible enough to pose your figure easily.  So of course Tomoko has another hairstyle. This one is more sloppy and wild with ends sticking up in various places. For some reason, mine came with a giant purple dot on the right corner. Tomoko also has two alternate faces and the clear favorite is her freakout face.  This face is probably all too familiar for anyone who has ever suffered social anxiety. Of course this expression is usually mentally expressed and not physically. With her accessories, you can make Tomoko freak out about a lot of things. She can tear up a paper with two alternate hands in place. Where did that paper come from? Maybe from her backpack she also comes with that you can place on her back. Since she comes with five extra arms, and three extra hands, you can get her to hold all her accessories just as you like. So one very interesting accessory Tomoko comes with is a personal massager, but when I originally opened it, I thought it was a microphone. Never in my life would I have thought an anime figure would come with a vibrator! I actually liked it better when I thought it was a microphone. Come on, Tomoko trying to sing karaoke would be gold! That's the beauty of imagination, I can do whatever I want with my figures. Well, if you want to use the personal massager as intended, that's where Tomoko's last interchangeable face comes in. I don't like to be vulgar, so let's call this her aroused face. Although her blushing looks like she's been slashed across the face to me. Another accessory she comes with is a pair of ripped panties...so I probably should have caught on to the massager sooner.  Her last item is a risqué video game clearly for the PS3, but you know it's the PM3. I have to say, Good Smile Company makes great accessories for their Nendoroid figures. Tomoko truly is a unique character,  and each accessory is a reflection of that. I have never met a character as weird and unique as Tomoko from WataMote, and I think this figure does a great job at capturing that. Also, since this is my first Nendoroid figure, I'm more than impressed with the quality and look of the figures in this line. I want more!  [Thank you so much to Hobby Link Japan for providing us with this review sample!]
Review photo
Tomoko is finally popular!
One day I came across this odd manga called No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guy’s Fault I’m Not Popular. Not only was the title something that reminded me of early Panic at the Disco song titles, the m...

DO WANT: August 2014

Sep 05 // Scarecroodle
Your friendly neighborhood Scarecroodle wants... Hasbro's new Spider-Man 2099! Coming out of SDCC, there were three... well, four reveals that absolutely topped my list. Without spoiling too much (because I also have a Highlight Reel on the way), one was from Mattel, one from Diamond Select Toys, and one (set) from NECA. However, the one from Hasbro, an upcoming Spider-Man Legends Spider-Man 2099, was easily my biggest want for the simple reason that no company -- not Hasbro, not Toybiz, etc -- had (until this point) produced a truly outstanding Spider-Man 2099 action figure. (I'll discuss some of the misfires in my Highlight Reel!) Hasbro's Spidey 2099 looks to feature the proper amount of articulation (since it's a Legends 2.0 body buck), he has a *plastic* web cape, his arm-spikes (which he has!) are placed correctly, he has two open hands, and he seems to have sculpted detail on the mask. Sure, the figure has massively jumped over a pretty low bar (considering previous offerings), but it's a great, modern figure depicting one of my all-time favorite superheroes. Tian wants... Amakuni's 1/6-scale Asuka! My want is Amakuni's 1/6-scale Asuka. Decent looking Evangelion scale figures have become a rarity nowadays, especially ones featuring designs from Evangelion 3.0. Well, I guess this figure won't be all that common either because of the exclusivity. But it's still attainable, and 1/6 is my favorite scale, so I'm making it my DO WANT of August. Rio wants...  GSC's Kill la Kill Satsuki in Senketsu! Um.. spoilers? ^^; Well, hopefully you've already watched the series if you didn't want those, but anyhoo - I'm SO EXCITED! I'm very much a Ryuko and Senketsu person, but there was definitely something about Satsuki's look in Senketsu that I loved. I'm so glad that GSC will be picking up this design for her, and can't wait to have it in my collection hopefully. Keep those fingers crossed! Scarecroodle's note: I haven't caught the series (and probably won't because there's too much to watch these days), but that's one killer design. There's a full image in the gallery. Martin (and also Chris) wants... Bandai's Soul of Chogokin GaoGaiGar! Soul of Chogokin are basically exactly as big and awesome as Transformers always were in my head, and therefore I find them almost impossible to resist. Pair that with one of my all time favourite super robot designs and there's pretty much nothing that could stop me from wanting this. Bandai have pulled their usual black magic to make that improbable transformation work, even the individual toys look incredible and the entire assembly is a thing of true beauty. Yes, the price is insane, but come on, you only live once right? Scarecroodle's note: He's certainly awesome, but that ¥30,000 list price would give me nightmares. Chris wants... AmiAmi' Cecilia Alcott! I'm with Martin, but I'm still hoping on a second run of pre-orders which would make my purchase of GaoGaiGar an inevitability rather than a DO WANT! However, since this is the month of Wonder Festival, I'm going with an item that doesn't even have a release date yet, the AmiAmi Cecilia Alcott!  My love of their Shinonono Houki should be pretty well known by now and their second one is an even more dynamic rendition of the best <IS> girl! How can I NOT want this?? They set the bar with Houki and I expect them to raise it again with Celia! Scarecroodle's note: When it comes to <IS> girls, my favorite has (and always will) be Charlotte. Jeremy wants... Takara-Tomy's Transformers Masterpiece Star Saber! For many Transformers fans the original Star Saber figure is a major Holy Grail item. It was never given a major release outside of Japan, never reissued beyond its initial release, and is an Autobot leader to boot. Even damaged and yellowed figures with loose joints and sticker wear can fetch US$300. You just know that the Masterpiece remake is going to get a lot of attention when it's released next year. But I don't want it because the original is rare and hard to find, I want it because it's just so awesome. You get the little Brain of Courage figure that can combine to make Saber which then can combine to make Star Saber so you're getting three robots in one. Then you've got the size, over a foot of super cool giant robot. Then there's the massive amount of articulation throughout the figure, all the way down to Star Saber's fingers and toes! The figure is going to be the centerpiece of the MP line and a hard act to follow next year.  And if you're wondering, even when I own this the G1 fan in me still wants the old G1 Star Saber brick to be reissued. What can I say, I love the classics! Scarecroodle's note: Star Saber is one of those characters who doesn't appear in my hazy memories of G1, but I've liked the basic character design since stumbling on it a few years ago and was instantly wowed by the Masterpiece. The fact that its price isn't as ridiculous as I had anticipated is something of a stumbling block, since I was considering picking up the Masterpiece Ultra-Magnus but now might have to decide between him or Star Saber for a I-feel-guilty-for-spending-this-much Transformers purchase. Natalie wants... Square-Enix's Fat Chocobo plush! With a peaceful gaze and chubs for days, my DO WANT can only be Square-Enix's Fat Chocobo plush. I cannot tell you how much I want this bad boy. It is a thing of fluffy beauty. I mean, I know how big it is from the item specifications and, clearly, the photos show me what it looks like but I think I won't be able to completely grasp its full glory until I physically have it in my hands. And I will. Oh yes. I will. Scarecroodle's note: Is "Fat Chocobo" still P.C.? Shouldn't Square-Enix call it the "Big-Boned Chocobo" or "Big-Threaded Chocobo plush"? While I'm not a plushie fan, I can see the appeal of this one. You can see the full image in the gallery. That's it for August. Be sure to watch for the Tomopop editors' SDCC/WonFes Highlight Reels. Mine goes live next week and a few of the other editors have promised to do one as well.
Do Want! photo
SDCC and WonFes may be over, but it remains in our hearts... and hopefully some of it will appear on our shelves
With the somewhat unexpected departure of Pedro last month (who we all thank for his years of service and wish him nothing but the best), Tomopop has fallen a little behind in the features department over the last couple of w...


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