Sunday, August 26, 2012


Growing up, my dad was in the Navy, and being stationed on a ship, he usually had to take six month cruises. They were excruciatingly long to me. He'd write, of course, and I'd write him back, but there was one letter from him that I looked forward to the most. That was the letter stating the he was on his way back. When I got that letter, it meant one thing: a trip to the toy store! It didn't matter if it was Toys R Us, Child's World, or Children's Palace, I was going to get a Transformer.

When I was eight, I got such a letter, and I already knew what I was going to get: all of the Dinobots. I asked my mom if that was ok, and she was fine with it. As soon as my Dad got off the ship, I asked him, and he was cool with it. The next day, we went to the Toys R Us in Long Beach, California which is where we were stationed at that time. It never mattered what city we lived in, I always could walk into any Toys R Us and go straight to the Transformers without deviation. I always found that awesome in my kid mind.

As soon as we got out of the car, I spotted a kid walking out with Snarl and quietly hoped that there were still some left for me. I walked to the aisle, with my brother in tow as we tried to get our parents to keep up. Sure enough, tons of Dinobots. I grabbed them all, looked at my parents and said "These!". Then my brother showed me the biggest Transformer I had ever seen: Metroplex. Flabbergasted, I put the Dinobots back and just stared at Metroplex. I sheepishly asked my parents if I could get him instead. Naturally, a $30 toy would be cheaper than five $10 toys, so they said yes. My brother wound up getting Sludge. Over the years, I've kind of regretted that decision.

After a year or so, my brother gave me all of his Transformers, including Sludge, to pay off various allowance loans I gave him. So at least I had a Sludge. In 1987, I traded Sludge to a drunk teen for Thundercracker, Highbrow, Slag, and a Lego set. I think I made out pretty good in that deal.

I've actually been wanting to get the Dinobots for a long, long time. Since I've joined eBay eleven years ago, really. I got my hands on a Grimlock, but then I started hearing about knock-offs. I'm a paranoid collector anyway, so I got really worried about buying a Dinobot. Luckily, I ran across High End TF's a few months ago and started doing research. Just to be on the safe side, I decided to buy from the one dealer on eBay that I trust the most.

I bought it on Sunday and received it on Wednesday. I must say, I didn't realize how much I loved this figure. The thing that stands out to me is just his size. He's huge, at least in dinosaur mode. His robot mode actually winds up being smaller than Grimlock, which I found odd.

I like the missile launcher more than the riflle
Still, I'm very fond of Sludge and the Dinobots in general. Sludge has waist articulation, which is great. I love posing my figures as though they're turning to shoot. It just looks more dynamic to me. That being said, I believe that Sludge will stay in his brontosaurus mode the most. I'd like to see an updated version, Masterpiece of course, where they actually go with the real dinosaur, the apatosaurus.

Dynamic, I tell ya!
I can't believe that I let something like an outbreak of knock offs deter me from my passion.  One of the positive things that came out of all of this is that I've become a more responsible collector.  It's one thing to buy a Transformer, it's another to do your due diligence to ensure that you're not getting ripped off.  Because of this, I feel like a more confident buyer.

I was hoping to purchase another figure for my next post, but it looks like that will have to wait until after Hurricane Isaac passes through. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Local Toy Hunt Part 2

Inspiration is something that I've been lacking lately.  I still love Transformers, and I still want to get them all, but ever since the Hot House event, I've been lost, I guess you could say.  There was a real danger growing here.  Years ago, when Transformers consisted of Beast Wars figures and I hadn't heard of eBay, I got back into Star Wars.  I still had partsof my collection from my childhood, AT-ST, a couple of Ewok villages, Millennium Falcon, that kind of stuff.  It was also during this time that Hasbro/Kenner had started putting out Star Wars figures again.  They were great, by the standards of the time; they were better sculpted, if much more muscular, than the originals.  I had tons of them.  The troopers were naturally my favorites.  I had at least 15 each of the Stormtroopers, Sandtroopers, Biker Scouts with Speeders, Tie Fighter pilots, et al, with a goal of 50 of each Imperial soldier.

Then came the Phantom Menace.  I got a few of those figures saw the movie, and my passion went away.  I don't think it was the movie that did it, since I saw it two or three times in the theater.  It was more of a combination of factors.  My goal of 50 of each Imperial soldier was daunting and I had trouble finding them, which led to frustration.  I was running out of space and  I wasn't impressed with the Phantom Menace toys.  All of this just led me to call up my aunt to bring my cousins over to my house.  These particular cousins are something like 18 years younger than me and into Star Wars.  When they came over, I just handed them tote after tote of Star Wars toys.  I think 5 or 6 totes in all.  Naturally, they loved it.  After realizing that I had just given away a large chunk of money to a couple of kids who were 7 and 5 at the time, I freaked out a little, but at least someone was enjoying the toys, because I surely wasn't.

All of this has been floating through my head over the last few weeks.  Had my passion for Transformers left me so quickly?  I had only made the decision to greatly expand my collection earlier this year so I don't think so.  However, the evidence seemed to be there.  I hadn't even looked online for Transformers to buy in weeks.  Maybe it was because I had bitten off more than I could chew?  The last time I thought about buying a figure, I couldn't even get anywhere close to a decision.  Talk about frustrating.

Yesterday, two things occurred that sparked something in me.  The first was reading Heroic Decepticon's post about the awesome black Diaclone that he had purchased.  Reading about that just got me excited.  It's unbelievable that after all of these years, there are still things that can be unearthed that no one knew about.  I had goosebumps looking at the pictures, reading the words.  Man.

The second thing that got me off my duff was a little show on the Travel Channel called Toy Hunter.  I knew that this show was on, but I had never caught an episode until a couple of repeats aired yesterday.  I couldn't stop watching.  One thing about this show is for certain: it's a bad representation of toy collectors and toy collecting and it must be stopped.  I had nothing against the staged set ups or any of that.  My concern was the way the toy dealer acted when he found anything, but specifically when he found Bumper and started proclaiming that it was an unreleased prototype.  Jerk.  And I realize that not everyone, or at the very least every toy dealer, would know who Bumper is.  But to just start spouting off about it being a prototype just strikes me as irresponsible.  Thanks to this guy and his scalping ways, prices for any toy are going to skyrocket.  Awesome.

So after reading Heroic's blog, and seeing this abomination of a show, I decided to jump into the car and look for some toys in my own backyard.  I wanted to try some yard sales, but didn't find any, so I decided I try the Goodwill.  I'm not sure why I thought Goodwill would have anything interesting, but I figured it was worth a shot.  There are three within a 20 minute drive of my house, so I hit all three.  After hitting all three, I found an arm for an Optimus Prime figure from one of the movies.  So, no luck there.

Next, I decided to hit the flea market.  Yeah, the toy dealer/scalper resides there, but so does my comic book store.  Really, I was hoping that he'd have something awesome, or maybe a part I needed.  What he had was nothing.  It was difficult to really look at anything because the dealer's two kids were running around playing with all of the toys.  Seriously, I tried to look in the carts of G.I. Joes that he had, but the kids were pulling out figures and vehicles and playing with them.  I don't think anything of any kind of decent condition can be had or kept this way.  I did manage to snap a few pictures of his stall.

Try to find anything in this

Seriously, try to find something.

I think I've seen these figures in my nightmares.
I was bored, and I just had a hunch that I should keep looking around the flea market.  There just had to be more.  The flea market here consists of three aisles, each one with dozens of stalls or booths on each aisle.  And since I live on the Gulf Coast, it's an outdoor flea market, with essentially an awning covering a each aisle.  To combat the humidity, there are giant fans mounted to the ceiling that blow misted water down.  Sanitary.  It's crowded, mainly by people smoking as they look at knock off handbags, stolen merchandise from Wal-Mart, or tons of University of Alabama memorabilia.  There were a ton of stalls selling old video game hardware and software.  I stopped in one that had a bunch of toys sitting on one of his tables.  This guy had a lot of 90's Star Wars figures, most of them carded.

Finding nothing Transformer related, I continued on.  I walked up and down every aisle, looked at every booth and one thing became obvious to me.  Ever since shows like American Picker became popular, everyone thinks that everything they find on the side of the road can be sold.  Every stall had a bucket of toys.  It was as though everyone cleaned out their kids old toys and decided to see what they could get for them.  Someone had an armless, headless Battle Armor Skeletor for sale in a pile of other broken toys.  There was one stall that literally consisted of buckets sitting on the ground with prices on each bucket.  Inside each bucket was just an assortment of junk.  I couldn't even bring myself to dig inside any of them for fear of getting a disease. 

Needless to say, I didn't find anything yesterday.  However, after all was said and done, my spirits were rejuvenated.  I went home, and actually bought a figure off eBay.  I can't wait until it gets here.  Now if I could just get Toy Hunter off the air...

Fall of Cybertron

I know that the Fall of Cybertron figures for Jazz, Optimus Prime and Shockwave have been out for awhile, but I haven't really searched them out. If you've read my previous posts, I've been kinda lukewarm about them. I was in a store yesterday and just stumbled across them.

One thing I noticed was the price. The Generations line was anywhere from $9.88 to $12.88 retail. These new figures were $15.47 a pop! That just seemed excessive. It's essentially only a $3 increase, but I just see myself paying that much for the whole line.

At any rate, I decided to purchase Jazz and Shockwave because Optimus didn't appeal to me at all. He just looked odd to me. I must say that the new packaging looks great to me. I love the new tech spechs. They're a call-out to the days of yore. Thank goodness I have to wear a ruby quartz visor so I didn't need to find a decoder to see the ratings.

First up is Jazz, and I must say that I'm disappointed. He just seems so simplistic. There isn't a lot to say about this guy. His robot mode just seemed kind of boring to me. His face is reminiscent of a Bayformer. For some reason I was also expecting waist articulation. Jazz just stands there. Looking at him, I just feel bored.

Moving on to his vehicle mode, things don't get much better. I snapped one of his arms off several times during transformation. Once I got him into vehicle mode, eh. It's sleek, I'll give it that. The metallic blues certainly make it stand out. That's a plus.

Size wise, he's in line with the previous War for Cybertron figures in robot mode. Once in vehicle mode, Bumblebee dwarfs him, which is odd. Once compared to the War for Cybertron figures, Jazz really starts to look bad. The War for Cybertron figures have more going for them in terms of articulation and mass. Jazz is just so light!

Next up is Shockwave. I like Shockwave's robot mode. It's sleek, although it is a little skinny. The light piping for his eye is awesome. That iconic purple just looks great, and the silver highlights aren't overdone. Really tasteful. Supposedly, his gun clips to his back, but on mine, it barely stays put. Still, great robot mode.

Shockwave's vehicle mode is sleek like his robot mode. I just wish it were bigger. Just looking at it, it really looks to me like a gun disguised as a ship. Still, I think Shockwave deserves a Voyager class figure. If Soundwave is getting one, shouldn't ol' one eye get one too?

Overall, with the huge price increase, limited articulation, and seemingly small size, I think Hasbro has made up my mind for me with this line. I'll still buy Bruticus, maybe a couple more, but I won't be out searching high and low for them. I will be searching out for Toys R Us Asian exclusives, however.