The Big Three-Oh, Part 1.

This week ROBOTECH, that love-it-or-hate-it gestalt adaptation of 1982’s beloved classic SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS and two largely less beloved yet stylistically similar shows of a likewise similar vintage (1983’s GENESIS CLIMBER MOSPEADA and, my personal favorite, 1984’s SUPER DIMENSION CAVALRY SOUTHERN CROSS), officially turned thirty years old. Thirty is, the way I see it, the first nice round anniversary that’s celebrated mostly as a marketing thing. Ten feels like an accomplishment. When a series turns ten and you’ve got people excited to celebrate that anniversary it means that series has some kind of genuine staying power. Twenty is another decade and a whole fifth of a century — if we’re still talking about this show, then that staying power really isn’t ginned up. Then you celebrate twenty-five because that’s a QUARTER of a century. that REALLY feels like something, even though it’s just five more years. But five more years later? We made a big deal about this five years ago AND ten years ago. Maybe we can just cool it ’til fifty, if any of us are still in a mood to celebrate then. But no, in this particular case Harmony Gold completely failed to make a big deal during the twenty-fifth back in 2010, either rattled by the death of series visionary Carl Macek that same year or displaying the severe lack of planning ability that has characterized the current regime’s running of the franchise since around the release of their second major console video game, ROBOTECH: INVASION, so they seem rather intent on turning this into a thirtieth to remember to wash away the stench of that missed opportunity five years ago.

For their part, Toynami, ROBOTECH’s toy licensee for the past decade and a half, are likewise making up for missed opportunities with a full range of product, some of which I talked about right after the New York Toy Fair. Today we’ll be looking at what I believe to be the first product they’ve released with the cleverly designed ROBOTECH 30th Anniversary branding, a new production run of their venerable 1/100 scale VF-1 Valkyrie mold, released for the first time at mass retail under the ROBOTECH name. (While there was a convention exclusive “Stealth” redeco of the VF-1S bearing the ROBOTECH logo, previous mass retail releases have borne the Japanese SUPER DIMENSION FORTRESS MACROSS logo.) Continue reading

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Why Do I Do This To Myself: Some Things That Caught My Eye From Toy Fair 2015.

So the New York Toy Fair, the biggest annual trade show for kid-and-collector-oriented playthings in the States, was this past weekend. Naturally, all through Saturday and Sunday I had my eyes glued to several websites to see what’s coming up in the land of superhero & sci-fi action figures and plastic and die-cast robots. This was probably the worst possible time for me to be eyeballing shiny new collectibles, as I’m about to be out of a job (more on this situation later), but as someone who’s been surrounded by toys all my life, I can’t help at least looking at what’s on the horizon, even if I might not be able to grab all, or any, of this stuff right when it drops. What follows is a roundup of the things that most grabbed my attention this year — not that I’ll be able to get all of it, but I’d definitely consider a lot of this stuff.

(Pics have been *ahem* borrowed from Toy News International, TFW2005, The Toyark, and Figures.com.)

Continue reading

Ladies’ Night at Maccadam’s Old Oil House.

A few weeks ago, when I was looking at TFWiki.net‘s article on Arcee, I read a quote from the writer of 1986’s Transformers: The Movie, Ron Friedman, regarding the character that really struck me, especially in light of the last couple of Transformers cartoons and the figures we’re looking at today.

And they were absolutely resistant to Arcee. I said I had a daughter who loves this stuff. There are other girls that like it. Put in a female Autobot!

It’s a good thing Friedman stood his ground. Today, not only do we have multiple iterations of Arcee across a few different cartoons and other media (my favorite being the blue bike from Transformers: Prime, though I still have a soft spot for the Susan Blu-voiced original), but we also have Autobots like Strongarm, the new heroine from this year’s cartoon Robots In Disguise (see my review of her figure from a couple of weeks ago), and the subjects of today’s toy review: IDW comic book stars Windblade, who had her own IDW comics mini-series last year and has a brand-new ongoing title beginning this year, and Chromia, a one-off character from the original cartoon who’s graduated to a supporting role (nearly co-star status, if last year’s mini is anything to go by) in Windblade’s storyline. The latter two, along with the Generations Arcee figure we looked at in January, were some of the last new Generations figures released pre-Combiner Wars, and honestly I never wound up seeing them in the wild; I had to order them from Big Bad Toy Store. Yay for Hasbro giving us more female characters in the line, but boo on them for tossing them in a later wave that stores were obviously going to under-order on. Continue reading

What I’ve Been Watching, Winter 2015 Edition

Those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter wouldn’t know this, but I’ve actually been watching a number of anime series, both old and new, this season. I actually kind of picked the habit back up last year, when Space Dandy was making its first run on Cartoon Network’s Saturday late-night Toonami block, but thanks to some old favorite creators getting back on the horse, some shows I remember liking OK returning after absences (some of a few months, others of several years), and a decision to finally burn through some of those backlogged DVD & Blu Ray box sets I’ve bought from so many Right Stuf holiday sales, I’ve actually got quite a list going right now. Today I’ll be sharing five of those shows with you and letting you know whether or not you should be joining me in inviting these shows into my eyeballs. Continue reading

Time to crack out the Raid.

It’s been about thirty years now since Hasbro rolled the Insecticons out into stores, a group of Evil Decepticons grouped together based on the fact that they all turn into bugs. It does seem a bit of a rip-off that the Autobots got a team of rampaging dinosaurs and the Decepticons got guys who buzz around and ruin crops and such, but then again the ‘cons also had Devastator on their side, so I guess that evened things out.

While seven creepy-crawly Decepticons saw release in 1985, only three turned up in comics and on the TV: BombshellKickback, and Shrapnel. (The other four were based on toys licensed from Bandai, as opposed to Hasbro’s usual partner Takara; both Hasbro & Takara used the Transformers cartoon to promote their wares, so Bandai toys got no love there.) Today we’re taking a look at modern takes on two of those three — sorry, Kickback, but Hasbro & Takara-Tomy haven’t gotten around to giving you the proper love yet. Continue reading

Another year, another Transformers line …

It’s that time again: Hasbro has a new Transformers cartoon coming very soon, this one picking up a few years down the road from where Transformers: Prime left off. Unlike both Transformers: Animated and Transformers: Prime (and the turn of the century’s Beast Machines, for that matter), this show’s corresponding toys are actually on shelves before the show has hit the airwaves. This year’s show is called …

Transformers: Robots in Disguise.

Yes, this used to be the name of one of the two Transformers series that IDW’s been publishing for the last two years. They changed that book to simply Transformers back in November. Yes, this was also the name of the English dubbed version of Transformers: Car Robots that aired on the Fox Kids block back in 2001. Given that the primary target audience for the new show was between negative nine and negative four years old when that show was on the air, this isn’t that big a deal. Of course, unless the disguise element of Transformers is really coming into play in this show — with lots of covert activities and missions where hiding from the locals is paramount — it does seem a bit lazy. Then again, subtitles on U.S. Transformers cartoons haven’t been any good for years: Armada never quite made sense, Cybertron was about traveling to other planets that weren’t Cybertron, and Animated … well, what the hell do you think the rest of those cartoons were? Still pictures? Continue reading

Colonial Souls #1 – 4

“I learn such a great deal from you. You are wise beyond my short years, you are strong and fierce in battle.

“But sometimes you act like a big dumb bug swinging your big dumb sword.”

A couple of years before I moved up to Wisconsin, a young woman I was close to decided one night to regale me with a description of the afterlife according to one Sylvia Browne. Browne was a so-called psychic and spiritual medium, the author of oodles of books, and would crop up on Larry King and Montel Williams’s shows when there was some sort of missing persons case and offer her “expert” predictions. I don’t recall much about her version of the afterlife, except that it seemed designed specifically to be comforting to boring people, basically “here, but nicer.”  Honestly, my opinion is that if there is an afterlife, it had better be an interesting one. In a universe full of infinite possibilities, why would we — why should we — go from this mortal coil to something that’s just like here, but in a slightly better climate? Shouldn’t we have a whole different range of sensory inputs without our bodies? Shouldn’t our forms be something strange and malleable after we die, or maybe some kind of light or shadow? If it is as pablum as Browne sketched it, I can only hope that it’s a cover, the vision an exceptionally boring person with a poor idea of paradise sees because that’s the version he or she wants to see, and in reality it is something a little more prog rock, a little more strange vistas and colors we can’t even comprehend and a ruler above it all that our limited minds can’t even process. Continue reading