Vampires, Robots, & Gals
by Adam Pawlus,
Mighty Robots, Mighty Vehicles
Convention season is just around the corner, summer movie season is here, and new toys are showing up all over the place. (Hopefully you're checking the clearance aisles of Target for ultra-cheap Naruto stuff from Mattel.) There's a lot more on the way, so let's start with a look at some of the new releases that you're sure to enjoy!
American Anime Toy News Bites
Castlevania fans rejoice: NECA is releasing action figures on the 20+ year old game series! So far they have revealed prototypes of Simon Belmont, Dracula, and what appears to be a Succubus' ass.
[ MORE: Toy News International | NECA on MySpace ]
Super Mario fans might be interested in the 50 cm Mario statue which has been released in Japan and to some importers recently. Sure it costs a few hundred bucks, but it's kinda big! Well, sort of big. Not very big. But it's cool.
[ MORE: NCS ]
Captain Jack Sparrow hasn't yet made the transition to anime, but some Super Deformed Pirates of the Caribbean figures are coming to Asia courtesy of Hot Toys, a company that makes some pretty neat stuff. Five figures are on deck so far, including two versions of Captain Jack and fangirl favorite Will Turner.
[ MORE: NCS ]
If you're a fan of the Transformers Movie, there's a lot of leaked product continuing to hit stores as American retailers (and Canadian ones) ignore street dates. Why might you care? There are loads of photo galleries showing off the product early. Also, all the older stuff is getting the clearance heave-ho at Target stores-- meaning 50% to 75% off several fine items. Consult your price scanners and bring your change purse, as there are good deals to be had.
[ MORE: TFKenkon [Megatron] | TheAllSpark [Barricade] ]
Anime News Network: Super Robots Are Awesome
This set has an interesting history. Originally, these toys were sold in Japan around 1992 as a box set called Sixwing. In 2003, it was reissued but instead of a gift box for kids, it was released as a set of trading figures that were Destrons (Decepticons) and "evil" in color--purples, greens, blacks, and so forth. A "chase" version was released called Sixwing Berserker, an all-white Autobot. There have also been many bootleg toys based on this mold which can still be found at Wal-Marts, Kmarts, Big Lotseses, and other such stores.
In late 2005, fans got word Hasbro was going to bring this toy to the USA for the very first time, as a Kay-Bee toys exclusive-- it never really showed up. The toys were produced, but trickled out in weird places like Rite-Aid drug stores and, eventually, Big Lots!, where is where I found my set and with a little luck, you can find a set there as well. Each individually packaged Transformers toy has "kibble" for making the big combiner robot. Each is numbered from 1 to 6, so you should be able to piece together a set at the store.
Small, easy to store, easy to transform, fits in your pocket. Micro things are fun because you can hide them from significant others if you need to downplay your toy habits.
Each of the six pieces is about $4.00, meaning the set is $24.00-- the Japanese "Decepticon" version is cheaper at times, and more interesting to look at. A pack of "Mini-Cons" is about $7, the figures are about the same size, and you get three of them-- so there's really not much value here.
Obviously, the set starts off as six small vehicles which can transform into six small robots. All of the vehicles are pretty basic-- there's not much in the way of firing rockets or spring-loaded action features like we're used to today. Still, the little guys are fairly solid.
There's no landing gear, but some of them do have wheels or moving wings. It's not a lot, but it's something. In the front row, the figures are: Fireflight, Silverbolt, Skydive. In the back row, they are: Storm Jet, Air Raid, and Ro-Tor. Sure, the names aren't great (or memorable), but at least the toys are somewhat fun to mess with.SIX SMALL AUTOBOTS...
When transformed, each figure has a few moving parts-- like arms that move a little, or a unified "unileg" which allows limited movement. Many of the robots have a tiny hole in the bottom of their feet, which is used when making Superion or for placing the figure in the "jet mode" of the spare parts. (More on that below.) A lot of the figures are named similarly to the original Superion, a team of robots from 1986 which featured five members. (There was no Ro-Tor or Storm Jet in the original, but there was a Slingshot, and they were all colored very similarly to this set.)
From left to right: Skydive, Fireflight, Storm Jet, Silverbolt, Air Raid, Ro-Tor....COMBINE AND FORM SUPERION
When combined with their accessories, the robots can be combined to make a fairly large warrior robot which holds together fairly well, all things considered. Obviously, if you thrash it around, it's going to fall to pieces-- but that was typical of combiner teams in the day, except perhaps for some of the better items like Voltron.
For the most part, each robot is unique and serves a purpose when creating a larger whole. Two robots each become an arm, two each become a leg, one becomes the mid-section, and another becomes, well, the butt. This one is pretty unnecessary, if you look at the back of the combined whole, it just sort of hangs there awkwardly. I'm sure this robot is teased often. "Hey Superion, there's a crumpled-up helicopter on your ass." Such is the wonder of the 1980s toy design aesthetic, the same template which was also used to create several other combiner teams.
From left to right: Constructicons (Devastator), Protectabots (Defensor), Aerialbots (Superion), Railbots (Rail Racer). All of these others were also based on older, once very-hard-to-find toy sets which were later reissued as trading figures which eventually were modified and sold in the USA as Kay-Bee exclusives. As you can see, they (mostly) all use the same basic elements to form many pieces, although they all have unique heads and hands.ACCESSORIES
Each figure comes with parts to combine to make the big robot. So one figure has a foot, another has another foot, and so on and so forth. Unless you plan on building the larger robot (or the jet below), the parts are actually pretty worthless. Also, you can't combine the toys to make a big robot without them-- so be sure not to lose these pieces!
All of the parts can combine and form a jet, which can be piloted by one of the tiny robots. Neat!PACKAGING
The packaging is fairly disposable-- there's no fancy artwork or anything, the main reason to keep it is as a reference of how the robots should look when properly transformed. (Except for the ones that they transformed wrong on the package. This happens more than you might think.) Otherwise, it's great fodder for your recycling bin or "found object" art projects.
MORE ABOUT TRANSFORMERS
I assume you all know about Transformers, so let me get more specific. Transformers Universe was a sort of catch-all brand for a few years which was essentially where old toys were brought back to the stores in new colors with, usually, new names. It also included a number of store exclusive products. Micromasters were Hasbro's attempt to compete against the once hugely popular MicroMachines and were some of the last original "Generation One" toys released in the USA. The toys featured in this column were never released in the USA in any form until 2006.
IS IT WORTH IT?
If you like small Transformers, sure-- but you can get a lot more for your money with other toys and statues. These are fun, but it's more fun as a unique nostalgia piece which combines a rare Japanese toy, Sixwing, with a semi-popular Transformers character's color scheme. Because I like tiny robots, I had to get this-- it's a good toy to keep on your desk and a great way to buy a reissue of an old, once very expensive Japanese toy on the cheap. (That is, if $24 is cheap.) It's also interesting that these Micromasters reissues exist-- it shows just how much of the value of a "collectible" toy can be crushed because of a reissue, and is yet another reason why I tell people to buy the stuff you like, not the stuff you think might make you rich.
WHAT ELSE MIGHT YOU LIKE?
Obviously, more Micromasters are right up your alley-- there are small playsets, more combiner teams, packs of small vehicles, and more. Also, the World's Smallest Transformers may be exciting-- these are tiny versions of the original toys which were sold as tranding figures a few years back, although beware-- there are a lot of bootlegs in this series.
The best part of these tiny toys is that an entire collection of them can fit into a shoebox-- if space is a concern, you really can't do much better than these.
Unreasonable Demands: We Want...
Hey, that seems pretty reasonable-- hopefully a licensee will unload a whirlwind of products when the next big game launches. There's definitely a fanbase, but remember-- there really wasn't much Final Fantasy merchandise until FFVII came out aside from soundtracks and some minor swag. And even hugely popular franchises like Zelda, Metroid, and Mario are really lacking in merchandise. Especially Metroid. But hey, NECA is doing Castlevania now, so apparently people out there are listening to fan demands-- we all just need to be really loud and really patient. But seriously, if you aren't already writting letters to Konami, you should be. These companies aren't psychic and while internet feedback is important, people still take actual letters a little more seriously than email for some reason.
What's your unreasonable demand? Email me (adam at 16bit.com), and I'll post my favorite one(s) each time right here!
That's all for today...
So apparently two of you want to talk models, as in the stuff you paint, and only two of you. As such, don't expect it to be covered much here-- I'd be happy to turn the camera on you guys if you're interested, but well, if you aren't, there's not much I can do to help you here.
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