It took me three tries to get this title right. Bill Watterson and my dog-eared copy of AOTDMKMSG are ashamed of me.
So let's dispense with the chit chat. This is a review of Rumble Monster's Snow Damnedron and Pharaos.
Rumble Monsters is another one of a myriad of small Japanese companies that produce high-end vinyl figures. Many of their works are collaborations with other artists/groups, such as Erostika, Rockin' Jelly Bean, and the smorkin' Frank Kozik. Most recently, they decided to do a seasonal series. Like the good addict that I am, I snapped up the Christmas releases immediately.
Beats the hell out of me where RM picked up these designs. For the most part, RM has two basic sculpts (well, three, if you count the headcrab baby Pharaos; four, if you count the Pharaos and Pharaon separately), and they couldn't be more different. The Damnedron (actually pronounced Damn-dron) is a gloppy Hedorah-esque creature; Pharaos/Pharaon is a bulky Stygian kaiju-thing.
Some people have commented on the similarity of the vinyl color to another sticky white substance. Yep, coconut syrup for sho'.
One of the weird QC issues showed up with the Pharaos. Notice all the little bubbly things embedded in the vinyl? Apparently, those are not supposed to be there. When I first opened this guy up, I was all, "Oh damn! That's genius- they used the bubbles to make it look like SNOW!" And then I found out that some people had received the Pharaos with no bubbles or lots of bubbles in random places on the figure's body. Intentional or not, it makes it look less... fluid-like, which is probably a good thing.
These have proven to be some of the most widely available RMs to date. I didn't have any problem getting my mitts on either. The most I would pay at this point is about $80 a piece.
Weird fact: Rockin' Jelly Bean did the artwork for Velvet Revolver's new video, Dirty Little Thing. Watch closely and play "Spot the Pharaos."
Inspired by a post at the skullbrain forums, I thought I'd share my typical weekend. Well, typical toy-buying weekend, anyway. Usually I either sit in front of the computer all weekend, or go into the office.
Of course, for this sort of entertainment, there's only one place to go in Honolulu for a fix: Kaimuki. Kaimuki has the best toy and comic shops on the island, in my opinion, all within walking distance of one another.
First stop on my list is Gecko Books. Gecko books is, hands down, the best comic shop on the island, possibly, in the state. They have all the new releases of comics and magazines, and a good selection of figures as well. They were also late in opening this morning.
Across Waialae Avenue is the infamous Toys N Joys store, which sadly, is THE place to go in Honolulu for anime games, CDs and toys. They also have a healthy selection of Airsoft pellet guns and faux-katanas for the armchair warrior in us all. I call TNJ infamous because it's well-known in Hawaii for having all of the latest goodies (at healthy markup a lot of the time) and well-known on the Internet for having sketchy online orders. I'm serious. Type in "Toys N Joys" on any Transformers forum and see what you find. I speak not from experience, but only from what I've heard.
Anyhow, overpriced though some of its new stuff may be, TNJ recently remodeled their Kaimuki store into a monster anime outlet. This is exciting to me only because it means that they periodically go into their back rooms and dredge up dead stock, often at ridiculously outdated prices. On this particular day, I find old Dinozone figures from Bandai's late-90s CGI-animated series. Normally, I would pass these by... buuuut, now they're marked down to $10 each! Wheeee! I picked up a ShadowTyranno, one of the "Deatheater" villain characters (yes, you heard that right, J.K. Rowling).
He makes a nice companion piece to my EXOHEAD Marc.
So after spending a half-hour grubbing through the boxes in TNJ, I figure Geckos must be open by now. I head back across the street and, sure enough, it is. I say hi to the owner- very cool guy, who will always help you find the issue that you're looking for- and go through the back shelves. Nothing that I'm looking for today, so I head back out.
Up Waialae from Geckos is Collector Maniacs. This store exists somewhere between Gecko Books and TNJ- they sell some anime stuff and some comic stuff. Good place to get single DC Direct figures, if you don't feel like buying the whole set. Otherwise, I often skip this one.
If you go back to the cross street that intersects Waialae, and head up the hill, you'll eventually reach a little shopping plaza. Here you'll find a little urban vinyl store and the awesome Mechahawaii.
The urban vinyl store doesn't open until 12 p.m. on weekends, so straight to Mechahawaii it is. This is probably the best Japanese toy shop in Honolulu. Sean, the owner, has killer hookups in Japan, so he always has the latest releases in trading figures, model kits, and toys. This is one of the few places that you can buy trading figures straight out of the case- just like in Japan! The owner's also a really nice guy and has a wide breadth of Japanese toy-expertise, which makes him great to 'talk shop' with. If you're looking for anything that he doesn't carry, chances are that he can special order it.
Today was a particularly bad day at Mechahawaii- and by bad, I mean good for him, bad for my wallet. The new S.O.G. Gundam gashapon had arrived, along with Koto's Blue Knight 2 trading figures and various other mecha trading figure sets that I've been jonesing for. To make it worse, he also opens up a bunch of the blind boxes, so you can actually go through his display case and buy the figures that you're looking for. I take a slow look through all of the new inventory, as some random girl gushes about Bleach and Naruto to Sean. I'm not sure what it is, but something inside me withers and dies every time I hear those people talk. Yes, those people. Anyway, crazy anime-girl finally leaves and I can purchase my S.O.G. figures. Have a quick chat with Sean about Henshin Cyborg stuff, and then it's time to go.
Every time I think that I have prices figured out on eBay, something always throws me for a loop.
Meet R-Jettan, BH-05 in Bandai's Machine Robo Battle Hackers line. I won this foot-tall beast from some d00d in the Hollywood area of California for about $10. Shipping, I think, almost cost as much as the figure itself.
Who is it?:
I have no idea who R-Jettan is, other than that he was a character in the MR-BH line important enough to warrant a huge figure. Battle Hackers, I believe, was the last animated series in the MR universe in its initial run (ending in the late 80s).
R-Jettan is a quadra-changer- is that a word?- with robot, jet, gerwalk (!!), and guntank modes. As all mecha-fans know, awesomeness is directly proportional to the number of legitimate transformations. The "giant hand" mode on Devil Gigatron was a little creepy, though.
R-Jettan also comes with a shitload of accessories. I don't think I even got them all in the box- but I don't really care, because it was $10. I haven't figured out what the white thing with the wire is. My guess is that it fires the BBs and disks and stuff from the various guns. My box did not have said BBs included. Boooo.
Robot mode kicks ass. It's giant, pink, and the little black part over its eye can flip down for sniper scope action (complementing the giant sniper rifle in his left hand). Only complaint is that the hands hold the guns a little loosely, which can be problematic when posing him.
Jet mode doesn't look so impressive with the tail-fins missing. Kind of reminds me of the Legioss/Alpha Veritechs of Mospeada and Robotech. The cockpit of the jet pops open (not shown) and it looks like it can fit a little person in there.
Fortunately, Gerwalking the jet makes the missing pieces much less noticeable. I particularly like the Gerwalk transformation on this thing, because it looks good and is far less of a pain to execute than for the Macross jets. R-Jettan's shoulder cannon has to be attached to the white thing-with-the-wire, in order for the whole ensemble to clip on to the wings.
Finally, the tank mode is a nice surprise. Usually multi-changers have that one odd mode that really doesn't fit in and involves some kind of half-assed transformation. I guess this tank really isn't that odd, if you look at it in the context of SDC Orguss, which had a tank mode for the main mecha as well.
Despite transforming into four different things, R-Jettan really doesn't have a weak mode. All of his modes utilize a distinct transformation and accessory set, which is pretty remarkable for a brick.
Articulation is brickish. The arms swivel at the upper-arm portion.
Transformation is simple enough- the hardest part is getting the accessories to fit on to the figure. The coolest feature shows itself when you transform R-Jettan into tank mode: the legs split apart to form a long set of tank treads.
R-Jettan is a lot higher-quality than some of the earlier MR offerings. Good, hard ABS plastic on a die-cast frame with ratcheting joints. Paintwork is also quite clean, as would be expected.
Price & Availability:
I have no idea what the true price of this figure should be. The highest price that I've seen for an MIB specimen is USD $350.
Due to its large size, and presumably low distribution during a series that was failing in popularity, this figure is extremely rare in any condition. This is only the second example that I have found for sale. To illustrate just how rare it is, one of the admins of a prominent Transformer board told me that he was still searching for one.
This figure is awesome because: it has a Gerwalk mode and a sniper rifle. These are a few of my faaaavorite things....
There is a custom in Japan known as fukubukuro, or lucky bags, in which merchants fill bags with a blind assortment of merchandise and sell them to customers at an overall discount on the first day of the new year. If you are at all familiar with Japan's obsession with the blind assortment phenomenon, this should not surprise you. Gargamel, supplier of all things expensive and vinyl (well, maybe not all...) has picked up on this and offers each year an assortment of lucky bags (at various price points) stuffed with exclusive colorways of its most popular figures. Reportedly, they sell out from its Thrash-Out store in minutes on New Year's Day.
Fortunately for those us on this side of the Pacific rim, stores such as Super 7 and Max Toy Co. have gone to the trouble to acquire a limited number of lucky bags, which are then sold to the scrabbling junkies online and in-store.
This year, Gargamel took us back to the early 90s with a crazy neon assortment that would be at home with slap bracelets and t-shirt ties. Aye carumba, man! Although I didn't have the scratch to pick up the holy $1,500 fuku-bag, I did manage to scavenge a couple of choice pieces.
Zombie-Guts Bako (Lucky Bag 2007)
Not an official name anyway. I just call it that because of its greenish hue and visible- and realistically colored- innards.
The Bakobaso is one of Gargamel's newer entries in its Zokki Kaiju series of figures. It unfortunately has not garnered the popularity of Gargamel's original Zokki release, the Zagoran, which is based on an obscure kaiju known as Zagora (who looks suspiciously like a cycloptic Godzilla...). I'm not sure if the Bako has similarly distinguished lineage, but I have also passed over it in the past, mostly because the painted eyes and open mouth give it sort of a simpleton look.
I definitely like this Bako better as an unpainted figure. The blank eyes give it an edgier, monstrous look, and the lack of paint allows you to appreciate the fine detail in the sculpt more fully. Lack of paint also improves the "guts" feature of this figure, as the torso is sculpted completely from translucent vinyl and there is no paintwork to obscure the view of the innards- or their glow-in-the-dark qualities. Yes, it has GID guts. The effect of this figure is much like a Visible Man scientific model, and I quite like it.
Another plus for the Bako is that Gargamel uses a high quality sort of vinyl that is very heavy and glossy. It's hard to explain without actually handling the figures, but no other company's product that I've handled feels quite the same. Unfortunately, my figure did have a few bubbles in the vinyl that migrated toward the back of the clear torso.
As for availability and pricing, this Bako was just released at the turn of the year in both a painted and unpainted version. I paid roughly $90 at retail for this figure; expect to pay anywhere from $90 to $120 if buying one in the near future. The Guts Bako is still fairly easy to find at various auctions and retail webstores at the time of this article.
Guts-Bako rocks! He's like a big (9 inches tall!) Garga-zombie who roams the land in search of brains. Skullbrains!
Unpainted Mini-Tetran (Lucky Bag 2007)
As a bonus, Gargamel included in some of its bags a preview of the things to come this year. Unpainted versions of the new minis- the Tetran and Belagon- were released along with the other Lucky Bag offerings.
As always, being relatively ignorant of kaiju lore, I don't know where the 'original' Tetran hails from.
I can't say the sculpt for the Tetran immediately appeals to me, but it does grow on you over time. Again, I think the lack of paint was a point in its favor, as I don't care much for the first painted colorway that is planned for this figure.
The unpainted Tetran should run you about as much as the other new mini releases from Gargamel. One question that has not been answered, however, is which of the Lucky Bags contained the unpainted, unreleased minis. Although presumably all items could be conceivably found in either Lucky Bag A, B or Special (the big one), I've only seen the Tetran and Belagon turn up in the $1,500 bag as of this date.
Tetran's cool, but he definitely needs to be buddied up with the unpainted Belagon. They remind me of the comedic henchlings of some Japanese cartoon villain.
HYPE: RealxHead has teamed up with HK toy shop, oldbalance, to bring you the oldbalance Chaosman as one of the first new figures of the year. A rumor that the figure was limited to a run of 10 was quickly put to rest, but that didn't stop the price from skyrocketing- or the allegations from flying...
HOT!: Bwana Spoons, the technicolor toymaker, has buddied up with Japanese vinyl icon, Gargamel, to create an original figure to be released at the end of the month. Killer the whalegator has only been shown in bits and pieces, and I'm dying to see the whole thing. Bwana's collaborative pieces with Gargamel sculpts have been nothing but incredible up until now- between the Stroyers and the Bwanabakos- and this one looks to be, well, Killer (huh huh huh). Come on Bwana, make us a clear blue with white spray! Or maybe a Hawaii spray. Hmmm... the possibilities.
HUH?: One of my fave stores, Bigbadtoystore.com, has recently announced a heretofore unknown Japan-exclusive box set of Beast Wars figures. All that we know is that it will only be up for order at a "trade show," and will contain Optimus Primal, Megatron, Waspinator, Cheetor, Blackarachnia, Dinobot... and Archadis and Cohrada?? Only catch is that preorders HAVE to be in by this Thursday, so that they can order the proper number of sets- and no one knows what they look like yet. Oh, and it's 225 leaves of green. Did I mention that the figures are reportedly all new molds?
Just playing around with my new photo setup. This is so much better than taking pictures in the hot sun with the blinds open.
Trying out some directional lighting with my EXOHEAD Bolan- this is my favorite pic of the night. These guys are so awesome.
Shooting the new Tetran mini from Gargamel's 2007 Lucky Bags was a challenge in that the camera would typically pick up on the contrast between the neon green-yellow and black and oversaturate the image.
All it took to get this together was:
1 x 10" large work lamp from (Home Depot) 2 x 5" small work lamps (Home Depot) 6 x rubber-tipped clips (Home Depot) 1 x length of black felt (Ben Franklin Crafts) 1 x length of white cotton (Ben Franklin Crafts) 1 x table/platform (already had) 2 x Modular wire storage cubes (Fisher Hawaii) (to hold up the dropcloths)
So I like coming up with eccentric and obscure titles for my review. It's like a nice salad before a meal at a restaurant. So I've been told, anyway. Most of my meals involve screaming into a small black speakerbox from my driver's side window. Anyway, I've been thinking that this might not be a great idea from the perspective of people who are not intimately familiar with both the mecha and kaiju/vinyl genres. You know who you are. Still spelling Cronic with an 'h' and Methuss with one 's'? For shame.
Without further ado, this review is for Bandai's Mobile Suit in Action ("MSiA") figure of the GuAIZ from Gundam Seed.
Who/What Is This?:
The GuAIZ was sort-of the crossover grunt mech for ZAFT's side in between the Gundam SEED and Destiny series. Those who have seen the series might recall that ZAFT (the SEED equivalent of the Zeon empire from the Universal Century timeline- whole 'nother story there...) essentially progressed through the GINN, followed by the GuAIZ (which was modified into the GuAIZ-R), and finally finished with the Zaku Warrior in Destiny. This, of course, ignores the millions and billions of official and fan-based variants of each different grunt suit. The GuAIZ was also piloted by the ZAFT ace and blatant Char/Zechs ripoff, Rau Le Creuset.
This figure of the GuAIZ- the only one existing to my knowledge- then came out at an odd time, which was well into the release of SEED Destiny. Odd only because the GuAIZ had only been featured in SEED; why release it well into the broadcast of its sequel series? Bandai seemingly was struggling to time the release of its figures, due to the dueling demands of the recently-ended SEED series, the ongoing Destiny series, and the remakes of the Gundam Z movies all being released at around the same time. As such, the GuAIZ was a somewhat forgettable release: a grunt suit released in June 2005 (well after the end of the only series in which it was featured) amid a slew of SEED Destiny and Zeta MSiA.
GuAIZ is sold in a standard-size MSiA box. Includes catalog and data file card.
SEED simply came out with so many different designs and color variants that you could spend a pile of money in trying to collect them all. Consequently, this was the only ZAFT grunt suit that I picked up; I think it is honestly the best in show, despite its lackluster and poorly-timed release.
The basic design of the GuAIZ is a modification of the ugly, clunkiness of the GINN (yes, I don't like the GINN, wanna fight?). The torso was slimmed down to more athletic proportions; the "shell" boosters were reduced and made to supplement its backpack boosters; and the head was shrunken down from its formerly monstrous size. Still, the designers managed to retain the Roman-armor appearance of the GINN. Accessories were also improved; the smallish handweapon of the GINN was changed into a long beam rifle, which it can wield one-handed in the way only anime-mecha can. The best upgrade, in my opinion, is the dual beam-blade shield, which is highly reminiscent of the infamous Tauros from Armored Core (the sword used by Stinger/Vixen in his AC Nexus: Revolution appearance). Overall, this figure is both faithful to the anime design and looks great as a figure from all angles.
Gripes are few. Mainly, the little extensional arrestor claws are a PAIN IN THE ASS to keep in place. They essentially attach to the tank- beneath the backpack, which must be removed to equip the arrestors- by little ball-and-socket connections. The PVC is so bendy, and the ball joint is so thin, that I feel like I run the risk of breaking the arrestors every time I swap them out. Making it worse is the fact that they included both the extended and holstered versions of said arrestors, making it almost inevitable that you will move them around at some point. These must have fallen out around 5-10 times as I was repositioning the GuAIZ on the stand.
Materials are the standard PVC of Bandai's MSiA releases. As those familiar with the line might note, the PVC is now slightly stiffer than previous releases.
The color scheme of the GuAIZ is another thing that initially drew me to the figure. The olive, grey, and orange really look good together, and suggest a Zaku-ish coloring, without totally selling out to the nostalgia-soaked designs of Destiny.
Paint on my figure was clean, save for a big orange blob on the right side of the chest (not visible in photos). I wish they had kept up panel-lining in the MSiAs, rather than splitting the Extended and regular lines. Can't have it all, I guess. At any rate, the dark colors used in this figure hide the lack of detailing very well.
Articulation is fairly standard for this sort of figure, and is commensurate with other similar figures of the time. Elbows are double-jointed; the legs are somewhat limited by the skirt-armor, however.
I think I bought this for about $15 USD prior to shipping at the time of release; it shouldn't run you more than $20 at any rate.
Why I Like It:
Great design. I wish they had kept this model going in the series, instead of switching over to the Skittles Zakus in Destiny. The beam-bladed shield is simply the icing on a very cool cake.
As a side comment, you may wonder why I used black and white backgrounds in this shoot. I've been trying out various photo environments; (1) white with extended exposure, or (2) black with reduced exposure time. The main drawback of black is that the spotlights really highlight every single bit of dust on the figure. Which do you think looks better?
Kingranpas is a character from one of the lesser-known companies of the Japanese vinyl world, Amapro. Amapro, for reference, is the company responsible for the Christmas Narutons and sexual-harassment Wanigon. Their products are quite varied and range from the very stylized kaiju (like Denguu) to the 'realistic' kaiju.
Kingranpas, the website notes, is not King Ranpas, but Kin (gold) Glampas. He comes in both walky and sea-and-air versions. This is the legless sea-and-air version.
Forgive my ignorance of any origin- I'm certain this guy is from some obscure kaiju novel or other. I just bought it because it was cool.
Kingranpas really pops as a sculpt, simply because it's so different from the other kaiju out there. While a lot of the more popular figures- Cronic, SB, RxH, to name a few- rely on smooth lines, this guy is so angular, it almost looks as if he were hewn from stone or made of folded paper. The rough texture of the vinyl is also unique here, again giving it that feel of papercraft.
For anyone familiar with pre-dinosaurian creatures, Kingranpas really reminds me of the giant shrimp, Anomalocaris, no?
Kingranpas is made of a harder, light-weight vinyl. Again, it's fairly textured, which gives it an interesting look and feel.
The paintwork is not the cleanest that I've seen. There's some slop, and a blob of yellow (??) paint made its way on to his back-plates.
Kingranpas is on the low end of expensive designer vinyl- it should only run you about $25 as of this post. He's not very difficult to find- both KT and Mandarake have specimens available.
There is, however, a glowie version of Kingranpas that I have yet to see for sale.
Why I Like It:
The semi-sloppy paintwork aside, I think Kingranpas makes a neat addition to my collection because of his differences from some of the more popularized sculpts. The imprecise painting is actually fitting, because the character as a whole reminds me of something from a children's book. Maybe something from a Roald Dahl story or a Maurice Sendak storybook.
This past Saturday (and possibly again this Friday), the co-founder (and creator) of the tokidoki brand and character series, Simone Legno, made an appearance at Ala Moana Center's LeSportsac retail store. The tokidoki line, loved by girls 15-35 and widely reviled by their boyfriends, includes not only the (overpriced) handbags by LeSportsac, but a line of clothing and little figures. Simone has also collaborated with other artists and designers to bring the tokidoki look to the Gosho Ningen line and TREXi's Devilrobots.
I entertained the dog, as I waited for a certain someone to get ready to go. He seemed more interested in finding a sunny spot to lie down in.
Simone's appearance was to take place beginning at approximately 1 p.m., so we arrived at around 12:30. The line, as you can see, was already in its formative stage; Hawaii being Hawaii, the bulk of the attendees would not arrive until nearly 1 p.m. Most of the people in line were local girls in their late teens or early 20s and their boyfriends, who no doubt were coerced into attending by their feminine wiles. There were a few guys who seemed perfectly happy to be there by themselves. They also carried tokidoki bags.
A murmur ran through the crowd as Mr. tokidoki himself arrived on the scene. He was accompanied by a couple of other people whom I could not identify. Free stickers and fans were passed around. Good times ensued.
Despite being only about 30 feet from the entrance of the store, it took us over an hour to 'meet' Simone. The reason for this being that some people insisted on having him sign multiple items, which would in no way later be sold on eBay. One lady behind us brought a stroller full of tokidoki bags. The couple in front of us brought a folder full of color-printed images from the tokidoki website, which would be signed by Simone. Apparently that would qualify as signed artwork in their minds.
A giant Qee, to be signed by Simone, was the subject of a lucky draw, er, raffle. Why people pay $80 for a giant lego figure is beyond me. I'll only pay that much for giant rubbery dinosaur-monsters, thanks.
Behind Simone's table was the spring line of LeSportsac tokidoki bags, which featured a pirate theme (yarrr!). The lady directing the line made me stop trying to take pictures of them, although there were like 3 other people on the other side of her photographing them. Do what you can with what you have, I suppose. Still, if you look in the corner of one of the pics, you can see the bags... kind of. Screw her! Ha!
We just had Simone sign one of the TREXi figures, which he informed us was not designed by him. Whatever that means. You put your name on it, buddy.
Simone is a genuinely nice guy, and even did us the favor of drawing a little cactus girl on the back of one of the flyers, without us asking. I gotta feel for the guy looking at the hungry line of 100+ fans behind us, all of whom no doubt would want something similar. The crowning moment of the day was getting a group photo with him, with all of us throwing up the shaka sign.
No, it's not what happens when the holly falls into your stash and you accidentally smoke it.
This was the second-to-last figure in Kaiju-Taro's sleepless week of Christmas exclusives, and is made by the artist/company, Cronic. K-T even went the extra mile to put out this green colorway of the figure as a super-secret release; as you might expect, it sold out instantly.
These babies are a collaborative effort of EXOHEAD and Skull Toys, and were released last November. After hearing the reports of the small production run, I thought I was SOL. But never fear, supplier extraordinaire hooked me up with a pair of these at a great price!
I love the packaging so much that I display them in the box!
SUNDAY WITH THE BOYS
A cool fellow Skullbrainer sold me the set of Takara's Walder Alien team recently. I really just wanted Dokuro King to go with my Skull-Rexes, but I couldn't say no to the trio at the price I was given. Thanks man! (you know who you are!) DOGUMA THE STRIKEBACK!
Hot from the tables of the World Hobby Festival in December, K-T sent me this oh-so-cool new release from Dream Rocket's Akakage Kaiju line. Doguma Gyakushu ver. (literally means Counterattack ver.) is made with a chewy center of GID vinyl, wrapped in a hard candy shell of clear pink vinyl. And it couldn't be sweeter.
Oh, and it glows like you wouldn't believe. Pics when I get a black light.
TOY PR0N If you were wondering what the grids were in my last photo, this is the answer. It's my attempt at amateur photography. I tried to use the cheapest equipment and things from around the house. I just need the dropsheet to clip to the wire frame in the back.
Thank you, Fisher Hawaii, for being the last company on the island to carry those little modular wire cubes.
Stalker was a member of the Decepticon team known as the Predators, who were the rivals of the Autobots Turbomasters and among the final Transformers of G1. Both teams were made up of figures exclusive to Europe and Japan.
Since Stalker was never featured in any comic or series to my knowledge (including the Japanese G2 manga), he didn't have much of an established personality. He also was done in a color scheme matching fellow Predator, Skyquake- personally, I like to think of them as sort of a continuation of Giga and Mega, who formed Overlord in the Japanese Masterforce series due to the similar alt-modes. Later repaints of this figure in Machine Wars and Universe would christen the mold, Soundwave.
Stalker was purchased loose, but complete. Packaging was in a window-box, a la classic G1, but with new wave colors and cheaper cardboard inserts.
As with many of the other late-era European Transformers, Stalker had a really solid design, albeit a strange gimmick and wonky colors. It's unfortunate that American G1 ended with the Actionmasters, with these figures delayed stateside until their inferior repaints in the mid-90s. Stalker's alt-mode is a futuristic missile-tank thing, much like that of Doubledealer. I'm not exactly sure if it's a mobile weapons platform or a reconnaissance vehicle, due to the radar dish on the back. Nevertheless, giant missile on tank = cool. Even if the tread shields are hawt pink.
Now, since we're looking at the tank mode, I'll talk about that gimmick I mentioned earlier. If you have one of the other, smaller Predator jets, you can mount them on Stalker's giant missile. Now, if you plug them into the missile, there is a viewfinder in the back of the missile that allows you to see some Autobot or other in the target sights. Given the horrid gimmicks that a lot of the other late-G1/G2 Transformers were saddled with- the hypercolor water-shooting Transformers come readily to mind- this isn't too bad and is relatively unobtrusive. Why an fighter jet would mount on a giant missile, however, is another question. The alt-mode might have been good, but the robot mode is great. It's all blocky and awesome in that un-poseable way that only G1 Transformers can be. The plastic is also the shiny, durable ABS plastic that most of the old time Transformers were made from; a nice change from some of the thinner, cheapey plastic that's used in some of the modern Transformers. The massive shoulder-mounted missile is AWESOME. The face also has the classic Euro G1 styling, that is black head, bronze facepiece, and green visor. Now that I think about it, he does kind of look like Soundwave. Probably not intentional, I'd guess. Oh, and there's light-piping for his eyes, not that that's unusual for the Transformers of that era.
The one low point of this toy is the little bronze gun. This is the same gun that is included with any of the Predators; it's spring-loaded so that it can launch the little green missiles. The gun is also made of that plastic that suffers from gold plastic syndrome, and it just snapped like a twig when I fired the missile for the second time.
Before we move on, an interesting fact is that the copyright stamp on his leg has both Hasbro AND Takara listed. There are also rumors that some of the European Transformers were released in Japan on a limited basis with a region-specific sticker. I've never seen one of these, but I would love to find it in-box.
The European Transformers are largely eschewed by many collectors due to their highly fluorescent color scheme. I think it should be kept in mind that these are probably people who think that black pants should be matched with black sneakers, and on most days, a good black shirt. I can appreciate the freak-tastic colors; gives them a bit more character than the alternately drab and horrifyingly bright American G2 releases.
I don't think articulation was invented until G2 Laser Prime. Sorry.
Transformation isn't incredibly obvious at first (without instructions), but it won't give you an aneurysm.
The trick really isn't finding an affordable Stalker- he and Rotorstorm and Skyquake are very common on eBay for non-domestic releases. The real challenge is finding one that's complete.
Opened and in-box, I've seen this guy go for about $45-50 from a UK seller (mid-2006).
WHY I LIKE IT:
Stalker is just a really solid toy from the golden age of the Transformers. There's virtually no articulation, and some people take issue with the colors, but he looks really impressive with all of his accessories equipped. I would recommend this version over any of his later repaints, simply for the full armaments.
1. The HYPE (see below) apparently became the gripe when kawsone.com decided to crash on sale day. From what I've heard, some people were even ganked mid-order. Yikes. I'd like to pretend that I've never heard this story before, but I guess there are few online stores equipped to deal with a mad collector bum rush.
2. Picked up some Gargamel lucky bag swag today from the supplier extraordinaire. Also have a KT shipment coming in sometime soon... Check back later for pics and reviews. Lots of very cool stuff.
3. Tomorrow I get to pay a visit to Simone Legno (creator of the tokidoki line), who's making an appearance in Ala Moana Center. The question is, will there be an insane line or no line at all? I'm betting on the former.
4. If you're in need of a good mecha game to pick up, check out Exteel at exteel.com. From what I hear, open beta is right around the bend. It's a good mix of Korean FPS and Armored Core (of Playstation fame). I'm a staff sergeant! My account is going to get wiped! Yay!
HYPE: KAWS' 3rd Dissected Companion (who appears to have been eating some of that Polonium) will drop from kawsone.com on 1/4/07. Retail is $180, flip-tail is anywhere from $300 to 400, apparently. I think it's cool, but I'm not sure if I could display a dissected skull-and-crossbones Mickey Mouse parody in my office without getting some strange looks.
HOT!: RealXHead, the current hotness in Japanese neo-kaiju vinyl recently released a set of 4 "slime green" figures. I picked up the Fighter Chaos sculpt. I love this figure- it's just that perfect shade of neon green. It reminds me of Surge binges in high school. Mmmm.
HUH?: I think the Strategy of Gundam (more commonly called S.O.G. on the HK news boards) gashapon sets are the sleeper hit of 2006-07 for mini figures. Each figure only sells for JPY 200 (less than 2 USD), but it's insanely detailed and often comes with multiple accessories. The best part about S.O.G. is that they're going through the various eras of Universal Century history. We just saw the 08th MS Team set in S.O.G. 2; S.O.G. 4 (pictured above) will feature the full lineup of of Gundam 0080. Each set is also accompanied by an Ex line, which features the larger figures of the line. The Ex for this set will include the Hygog, a couple of Kampfer variations, Chobham armor for the Alex, as well as the first figures of the GM Striker and the Zaku Sniper! Collect them all- order your cases today from Hobbylink Japan (but beware- it's really a random assortment, and one case might not net you the whole set).
[Some of the images in this post are not my own; if I have used your image and you wish me to remove it, just e-mail me or leave a comment below. Thanks.]
I'm not really sure what the hell Gmos is. I remember reading that he is actually an original kaiju created by the artist at Dream Rocket, based on drawings done in his childhood. That might just be a 12 hour day at work talking, though.
Gmos is part of Dream Rocket's Monster File collection, whose members include Gazura and Gilmos (both of whom were graced with Super 7 exclusive colorways). Gmos himself was featured as both a Super 7 (crazy green, pink and yellow) and Max Toy Co. (lemony lemon GID) exclusive in various colorways.
The sculpt of Gmos really appeals to me, as I'm a fan of all the sea creature / insectoid kaiju. His proportions are also quite nice- spikey, chunky, and carapaced (is that a word?) in all the right ways.
The artist also conveys the child-drawing quality of Gmos' origin very well. The slightly open beak almost makes him look as though he's smiling innocently- sort of a toddler-kaiju. I love the top set of T-Rexian arms that are too small to do anything but maybe scratch his chin.
I think the combination of GID vinyl and the blue, green, yellow and pink spray is what really makes this figure shine. GID just really works well with the softer pastels. Whereas GID with solid, bold colors almost looks like overkill, it creates a very nice fading effect when used with these lighter colors- the break between GID and paint is less visible. The GID also creates a gummy, almost translucent effect when it shows through on the tips of the spines. Overall, the effect sort of reminds one of a soft-shelled insect, newly emerged from its chysalis.
Gmos is made of a lighter-weight, stiffer vinyl. He's not squishy like many of the neo-kaiju figures from Japan.
Dream Rocket figures are pleasantly affordable. Gmos (and most of their other general production figures) shouldn't run you more than about 40 or 50 USD.
Gmos is a great sculpt, and this is my favorite colorway of the bunch. I used to have a little glowie dinosaur toy that was just these colors when I was a kid.
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