Monday, 29 February 2016

Eight Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: LFCC Spring 2016 Edition*

My feet ache

I’ve just got back from another comic convention and that means showing off the stuff I bought! (though only I would show off Casper trading cards). This one was London Film & Comic Con Spring held this weekend (27-28 February 2016) at Olympia, well, a back room at Olympia. A much smaller affair than the summer and winter cons and taking place after a Super Con so successful it made the news and with it being Sunday the place was not packed; while there’s always a slightly depressing air to conventions with a smaller attendance, the same feeling of going to someone’s party when only two other people turned up, it was undoubtedly a more leisurely experience, especially for people who just use comic cons as  the shopping spree I do. You could see the tables better, get to them easier and actually spend time digging through those greatest of comic con treasure troves – the boxes under the stalls – and the dealers, all a little depressed and desperate for both sales and company were friendlier, chattier and more willing to knock money off due to the twofold of a) not wanting to take the crap home and b) knowing they probably wouldn’t get a better offer; I got such a good deal on one stall it amounted to me getting two free Rock Lords, let me repeat that, two free Rock Lords - Rock Lords, free, plural. Also the smaller size and lower volume of nerds made it a lot easier to go back to stalls (which still covered two floors though two much smaller floors) and a lot more conducive to repeat browsing, we walked ‘round the whole dealer section twice, just cos – and also because three of the girls in my group (and Dale) were in awesome cosplay and they wanted to strut their stuff.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Wham Bars & Kinder Eggs Get Turtlepower*

So Kinder Eggs and Wham have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tie-in sweeties for less than £1.50 apiece, that’s a good reason to write over 1,500 words, right?

The truth is though I’m pretty excited by these, Kinder Eggs and Wham! Bars aren’t exactly Cadbury’s Dairy Milk or Mars Bars but they’re pretty big names in the sweets world here in the UK and the fact that they’ve deemed the Turtles big enough again to be worthy of a product tie-in  says a lot for the Nicktoon and the current TMNT era we’re in. I suppose both of them were around for the first Turtlemania back when and for its first resurgence in the early 2000s so they would have seen how big the Turtles could be/have been so could easily view the TMNT as a safer bet than other franchises but it’s still fucking awesome when your favourite thing is considered big enough to be on a Kinder Egg.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Quick Crappy Review: Movie Revo Series No. 003 Stitch Experiment 626*

Are you turning Japanese? I really think so. (There is no way that song isn't racist).

I have a… confusing relationship with Disney, I absolutely love their theme parks but have absolutely no love for Walt himself, I like a number of characters and soundtracks while actively disliking the movies they come from and I don’t like Mary Poppins. That confusing element however is completely absent in today’s subject – I like Lilo & Stitch, I like Stitch, Kaiyodo made the best Stitch figure ever, I bought it. I may have ruined the ending of this review.

So we have here Movie Revo Series No. 003: Stitch Experiment 626, the third figure in Kaiyodo’s Figure Complex: Movie Revo series, sculpted by Ooshima Yuuki and why do the Japanese feel the need to give things so many bloody names? Have you ever tried to make sense of Microman for instance? No figure needs a line, a sub-line, a sub-sub-line, a grouping, a designation, a number and a name for fuckssake. In case you need telling Stitch is one of the two titular characters in the Disney film and subsequent franchise Lilo & Stich and is a childlike alien experiment designed to destroy who ends up friends with a little Hawaiian girl Lilo and lives with her and her (incredibly sexy) big sister Nani. He is EXTREMELY popular in Japan, so it’s kind of a surprise it took this long to get this figure. which was released February 2016. 

I Googled the sculptor and he seems to have quite a history with Kaiyodo doing mostly sexy women and chibis for anime and manga properties I’ve never heard of, regardless he sculpts himself a fantastic Stitch – the Japanese sculptors seem to have some kind of special super-power where they can translate cartoon characters into physical form with a skill and accuracy no other country’s inhabitants can reach, yes, not even Hot Toys. Yuuki keeps the racial stereotype going, and he (or the design team, if Kaiyodo have one, I assume they do) share his/their countrymen’s skills at integrating articulation points because aside from that waist swivel even the most obvious of joints – the strange ‘wedge’ of a joint to give the head extra forward and backwards range and the ball joint on his ‘fins’ disappear, I think it’s psychosomatic but it is undoubtedly true.

Also typical of a Japan-born action figure is just how customisable Stitch is, he comes with a metric fuck-ton of swappable parts to make both of his forms. As such I’m really kind of reviewing two figures: out of the box he comes in his ‘dog’ form with only one set of arms and a ‘happy’ face and is so adorable I want to squeeze him to death. But really for a company that prides itself on the articulation of its figures he’s not that articulated – he has swivels at his wrists, thighs and waist, ball joints at his shoulders, ears and neck (with an additional joint at the neck I can’t think of a description for) and a hinged jaw and in this form has no elbow or ankle articulation at all and frankly for a figure that costs roughly 15-30 dollars more than a standard collector’s figure I expect it to be able to move its feet, in fact the lack of articulation did leave me feeling a little ripped off as really, we couldn’t have given him ball joints at his wrists and ankles? The upside of course is that the brilliant sculpt isn’t ruined EXCEPT IT IS at the waist because like any character with this design (Sonic, Tails, Espio…) the second you turn his waist his stomach colour doesn’t match and his body becomes an odd shape, but that I suppose is unavoidable and I’m not holding it against the figure but I am using as a stick to beat the design team with as ‘it ruins the look’ can’t be used to justify the lack of articulation in other places. 

Of course the figure isn’t a rip off though because it comes with half another figure packed in. All the swappable parts shown in that above pile are used to give Stitch his ‘alien form’, his true form, with antennae and extra arms and a fin down his back, as well as give him an angry face to match his monstrous appearance (or just because Stitch gets pissed off a lot and destroys things, no matter what the form). Mostly swapping these parts was a breeze, the arms and fin pop in easily and once you figure out that the antennae’s pegs slope you can get them in the right holes swiftly (though remember to hold them around the ball joint, not above, or else it’ll be akin to pushing marshmallows into a bumhole). The face piece though I found to be unnecessarily difficult to swap, this is because the peg for it is on a ball joint of its own, I can’t for a second imagine why this you would do this but I’m sure the design team had a really good one (“shit, it’s a Revoltech toy and we haven’t got enough ball joints?” perhaps) but of course it makes pushing anything onto it needlessly difficult, I sort of lined it up and then left my thumb steadying the ball joint until the head was popped on enough, y’know, that method that usually means you hit your thumb when you’re hammering in a nail? That. I won’t be swapping his facial expressions too often thanks. This of course adds a bunch more articulation, most…annoyingly is his lower arms have an elbow joint that’s just… that makes no sense! Well ok I’m sure the lower ones have a joint to allow for better articulation when combined with the other arms but why not just give them both the joint? Use the same tool and save some money even? The wrist articulation remains swivels though to make the other hands compatible with the ‘top’ arms. The fin and both the antennae are also on tiny ball joints and you’ll be surprised just how much extra emotion you can get out of the figure just by tweaking the position of those dinglyboppers, combined with his ball jointed ears you can make some utterly loveable Stitches. I’m going to be keeping Stitch in his alien form but with a happy face, not just because I prefer that look but because it allows me keep track of all his parts easier.

Ridiculously Stitch also comes with accessories – a pair of sunglasses and an Ice Cream, no it’s not an ice cream it’s one of those ice things, like a slush puppy you eat? It’s one of those and it’s proof of just how much extra goes into the Japanese stuff a lot of the time, we have a transparent piece on top of another solid piece to make up the ice and give it the death a real one might, that’s unnecessary but so appreciated. Odd thing though, the cone attaches to the hand via a plug rather than just being something it holds, and the out-of-the-box hands used in dog form don’t have holes, so if you want him in dog form holding an ice-cream (which is the mostly likely scenario in-universe) you’ll have to swap a hand. I shan’t be using the sunglasses, just because they make Stitch look remarkably like Dame Edna Everage and now I can’t unsee it.

So in conclusion the figure looks brilliant and is undoubtedly the best Stitch figure that exists and probably ever will, but is not the most logical of things and really could have done with extra articulation for the price and to match with the lofty status that these sort of figures always seem aspire to have (or I guess have foist upon them by snobby Adult Collectors) but the sheer amount of swappable parts make up for it terms of value for money and in my case, customer satisfaction, I’ll always take less articulation over being able to turn my cute thing in a destructive monster of doom (it still should have had it though).

Former Best Stitch Action Figure readies his revenge

Friday, 19 February 2016

Dragon Flyz Year 2 - Mysteries Revealed!*

Mystery solved! Well, mostly.
My previous post may have clued you into me being a bit of a fan of the 1990s toyline Dragon Flyz from Galoob. Just in case you didn’t get the hint, I really fucking like Dragon Flyz. But information on the line beyond its first year of product is scarce, again I refer you to my previous post where I sorted out everything we already knew because I got sick of sites of all the misinformation flying ‘round online. To recap, we know the first year’s releases fine: 5 Figure and Launcher packs; 6 single carded figures without launchers; 3 Figure, Launcher and Gremwing packs; an Avon exclusive mail-away Golden Ray Z’Neth and the big ticket item Riptor - a huge dragon, but for the later sets of releases things become a little vague: we knew that new Figure and Launcher packs were released. as was a new big ticket item in the form of Vulcan (Doomfyre) - a three headed dragon only released in Europe, plus sub-lines F.I.S.T. Force, Battle Blazers and finally Blazin’ Battle Screamers but who or what was in each line remained a mystery, as did a figure seemingly of cartoon character Nocturna found on the blog She’s Fantastic – until now

Monday, 15 February 2016

AFB Best in Show: Toy Fair 2016*

It’s February and that means Toyfair

New York Toyfair is officially over and all the sites having their coverage up, most of the usual suspects had their displays out – Mattel, Diamond Select, Hasbro, Funko, NECA, Figuarts, Kotobukiya, Square-Enix, DC Collectibles, Four Horsemen, McFarlane Toys and Mezco were all waving their willies at retailers and internet people. To keep that horrible metaphor going it’s been a generally five-to-six-inch schlong year really, with only Funko, Four Horsemen and NECA windmilling anything that would make Wil Smith feel inadequate and I can’t afford to start buying Mythic Legions. Regardless I love NYTF, I love looking at all the new shiny things I can and can’t buy, I like seeing things I like in 3D form, I like the excitement of the surprises and satisfaction of the final and prototype versions of things we already knew were on the way and I like that it allows me to pretty much budget one of my main (and most expensive) hobbies for the next 10 months. This is just going to be AFB’s ‘best in show’ for the event this year, if you want proper coverage you should go on over to Toyark, Toy News International and PixelDan’s Youtube channel , the reason I’m doing this is because I guarantee it will be nothing like anyone else’s list of best things at Toyfair this year. 

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Thive Thorpe Park Things!

I’ve been ill, I’ve only had a cold but as we all know men + colds = near death experiences, and even if this stereotype wasn’t pitifully true in my case (it so is), it coincided with (and was caused by I think) a bout of depression. So the thing to counteract feeling utterly shit both physically and emotionally is obviously reading about old theme parks…what? Specifically I’ve been reading about Thorpe Park since I wrote the latest ‘Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On’ which included Miss Hippo. Thorpe Park is a British Theme Park built on the site of an old gravel pit (that was itself on the site of an old country estate) and opened up in 1979, today it’s one of our signature parks boasting great rides like Tidal Wave, Stealth, SAW – The Ride, Nemesis: Inferno and The Swarm, the latter being one of if not THE best themed roller coaster in the country (though some of Alton Tower’s offerings are close, Thirteen for instance). I’ve been going since 1992, here’s a bunch of things I never knew or forgot:

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Eight Examples of Crap I Waste My Money On: January 2016 Edition!

It’s been just over a month since Christmas and I’ve managed to buy enough crap to facilitate another one of these, I shouldn’t be allowed money.

Honestly though most of this comes from me chipping away at what was left of the money I was gifted at Christmas, using the odd tenner on things as I came across them.So are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin:

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Quick Crappy Review: Masters of the Universe Classics Prahvus & He-Ro II*

You’ll notice that it’s not December, or even January, and I’m doing Quick Crappy Reviews for figures from December, that’s because Digital River sent these items via a tortoise on a world tour.

Buuuut they’re finally bloody here! December’s Masters of the Universe Classics releases took forever to come to some of us dirty Limeys and I was one of that some of us. But that’s all over and all four (yes four) figures that rounded up the Masters of the Universe Classics line proper are now unboxed and posing around my house waiting for me to get off my arse and sort out my shelves to give them a place to pose permanently, Prahvus for instance is standing guard over the CBGBs mug I keep my stray pencils and biros in.

So yes these were the two regular figures for the two Masters of the Universe Classics subscriptions that were offered in 2015 for the month of December, the final two regular figures in the line as it’s now been broken up into two smaller sub-lines/subscriptions: Masters of the Universe Classics: Collector’s Choice and Masters of the Universe Classics 2.0. He-Ro II is the regular figure for the Club Eternia subscription and Prahvus is the regular figure for the Club 200X subscription that has been focusing exclusively on never-before-made characters from the early 2000s Masters of the Universe cartoon, the anime one you probably didn’t like.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Quick Crappy Review: Masters of the Universe Collector's Choice: Lord Masque*

I have a whole bunch of Masters of the Universe Classics figures to quick crappily review because Digital River don’t know their arsehole from their elbow so lets go!

Getting Lord Masque has been an almost unrelenting pain in the arse. When the final two years of Masters to the Universe Classics had their pre-planned release schedule rejigged so that so that all of the remaining figures that were released in the vintage Masters of the Universe line (including variants) and all of the remaining original characters who got a figure in the vintage Princess of Power line would defiantly get released Masque was one of the figures who lost out; but he lost out via a fan vote for who would fill one of the remaining slots where he was up against Huntara from the She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoon, this would have been fine were this fan vote not held at a convention where only attendees could vote, subscribers who make up the majority of the buyers for the line, and would be receiving the figure no matter what, got absolutely no say in things. Lord Masque is revealed to be the initial figure in the new Collector’s Choice subscription1 which at least stops fans going on about him online BUT he’s the wrong colours and fans noticed (he was BRIGHT blue in places, odd) so the New Team™ at Mattycollector delayed him to later in his month (January) to fix the colours BUT decided to still take orders for him at the usual time of the month (between the 10th and 15th) probably because Digital River, the company who handles the Mattycollector website and online store, couldn’t handle a change to the soup in their vending machines let alone to a sale date on a site they run. BUT THEN because of a security feature (allegedly) a whole bunch of credit cards – including my card – failed to authorise Mattycollector and pay them leaving subscribers without subscriptions. Matty/Digital River did get on top of things pretty swiftly and intelligently though, realising this was a widespread thing they set up a function to re-allow affected customers to add a subscription to their cart on, check out and thus reinstate it and sent out an e-mail with a link to this function BUT OF COURSE the link didn’t work for a whole chunk of recipients – including me of course - so we had to reply and get another one sent to us. AND because subscribers aren’t charged for their figures until a few days before they go on sale for everybody (and if failing to sell out, are usually made ‘no longer available’ after a short time) those dealing with this issue (including me) were farting about during this time so I (and I’m sure others did too) bought an extra Lord Masque at a non-discounted price (subscribers save a few dollars) to ensure I got myself a Masque, so now I have two – or I would have if they’d both shipped at the same time. Remember I said Lord Masque had been delayed to later in the month? Well some actually weren’t, some buyers started getting ‘order dispatched’ emails almost straight away BUT IT WAS OK when one online fan emailed them to ask why some people were getting shipping notices they told him that they were categorically NOT shipping any Masques and subscribers would be serviced first when they were, this member received this reply after another member had already started a Lord Masque arrival thread and posted pictures of their swanky new Lord Masque figure they had in their house that they’d bought on the all access sale day.  Still they were sort of true to their word with me as my Subscription Lord Masque (which I technically ‘ordered’ a few days after the day of sale via the e-mail link shopping cart reinstating method) has arrived first - about a day after my December figures arrived, which means he wasn’t delayed at all, in fact he got here a little earlier than some non-delayed figures! How fucking complicated can the receiving of one character be? I just want a sodding shadow man Matty! Still all of this won’t matter soon enough, in five years’ time went someone is trying to buy all the old MOTU Classics line on eBay he’ll just be a mid-to-low priced cartoon figure, which is exactly why I spent all that time talking about what a prick he was to get because a) noteworthy backstories improve figure for me and b) I had to actually go through all that fucking about and I don’t want people to forget about it!

So with that all done, Lord Masque is the January Figure for Masters of the Universe Classics: Collectors’ Choice from Mattycollector, the collectors wing of Mattel. He was part of the Collector’s Choice subscription and available to non-subscribers though is officially considered a delayed figure. Collectors’ Choice’s focus is the slightly more obscure but fan demanded characters wanted by long time buyers of the line and the more hardcore He-Man fans, well except Crita, who’s an A-List character from The New Adventure of He-Man and just never got released in Masters of the Universe Classics.  But WHO THE FUCK IS LORD MASQUE? He’s a one-shot wonder from the old He-Man & The Masters of the Universe cartoon from FILMation, he was the main villain in the episode ‘The House of Shokoti Part 1’ where he was kind of a servant-come-herald for the titular villain (who didn’t actually appear in that episode) and tried to keep He-Man and Ram-Man away from the House of Darkness as it rose form the Sands of Time (everything has a dramatic name on Eternia). He was fairly cool and fairly mysterious, not being ‘alive’ as much as an evil shadow held solid by his Demon Mask (see?) that Orko nicked – yeah he got beat by Orko (and by accident), a bit embarrassing there Masquey – but really he’s only remotely important because of his connection to Shokoti (who already had a figure) and I’m convinced only as desired as he became because fans were told they couldn’t have him because of a vote they weren’t allowed to take part in (and I guess, he would have been a more logical release than Huntara, given his mistress was already out).