Friday, August 31, 2012

August 2012 Recap


Below is a recap of all the post we've covered in August 2012. If you missed any, or simply want to see them again, click on each "title" to be taken directly to that post. As always, thanks for reading.

Stargate
Halo 3: Series 4-6
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Goonies
Dragon's Lair 3D
Ren and Stimpy
Happy Days
Laverne and Shirley

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Laverne and Shirley (Mego)



"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!" That's how every episode of Laverne and Shirley began.

Since we talked about Happy Days last time, we thought it would be fun/appropriate to look at a series of toys spun off from the show.

Laverne and Shirley stared Penny Marhsall and Cindy Williams, and ran for 178 episodes over eight seasons. During its run the show saw some drastic changes that were large enough to make or break the series. Some were accepted by fans, others were not so easy to forgive.

For the first five seasons the show was set in Milwaukee, however during this time there would be major revamps done to the series which then depicted the duo enlisted in the army, a drastic change from the girls original careers at Shotz Brewery as factory line workers. When season six started, the duo moved from Milwaukee to Burbank, California, now as truck washers for Shotz Brewery due to the automated bottling machine which replaced them in the factory.

The series began its official demise when Cindy Williams stormed off the set never to return during season seven. She claimed that the producers of the show were using her pregnancy as an excuse to slowly push her out of the series. Despite the sudden loss of the second half of the act, the series continued on for one more season, still using the name Laverne and Shirley - Though William's name was removed from the credits.

The series also included the fan favorite characters Lenny and Squiggy portrayed by Michael McKean and David Lander. The two had actually created and been portraying the characters since their college days. When the opportunity arose, they were seamlessly incorporated into the series. Long after the series finale, McKean and Lander continue to make appearances as the characters.

What's interesting to note about Mego's Laverne and Shirley line is that despite it being a spin off, it was produced as a toy several years before any based on Happy Days were. Also uncommon to the way it was produced, the "dolls" were released as two packs as opposed to individually boxed ones.

The two sets released were Laverne and Shirley, and Lenny and Squiggy. Despite the many more characters introduced in the show, production ceased shortly after these two sets.

A nice added touch to the boxes was the hand drawn caricature art which incorporated the left side. This is a very uncommon addition to packaging in the current age of Photoshop, and is very much so missed by collectors as it adds so much more “life” to the product.

The secondary market has not been as kind to the Laverne and Shirley dolls as other prior Mego dolls. A mint in box two pack, while rare, can easily be obtained for as little as $60.00 – Which is pretty much the same price you’re going to pay for brand new dolls released today. It’s possibly that this is because fans of Laverne and Shirley either don’t know about the dolls, or simply don’t care about them. Original supply could have also been greater than initial demand.

Join us next time when we take a look at one final spin-off series from Happy Day - Mork and Mindy!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Happy Days (Mego)



Sunday, Monday, Happy Days
Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days
Thursday, Friday, Happy Days
Saturday, What a day
Groovin' all week with you

These days are all
Happy and Free. (Those Happy Days)
These days are all
Share them with me (oh baby)
Goodbye grey sky, hello blue
There's nothing can hold me when I hold you
Feels so right, it can't be wrong
Rockin' and rollin' all week long

These days are all
Share them with me (Those Happy Days)
These days are all Happy and Free
These Happy Days are yours and mine Happy Days

Happy Days itself is a spin-off from Love, American Style, and as a series that ran from 1974 to 1984 went on to spawn five more spin-offs of its own (not including animated spin-offs); Laverne and Shirley, Blansky's Beauties, Mork and Mindy, Out of the Blue, and Joanie Loves Chachi. Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy would go on to become more popular than Happy Days itself, but would not last as long.

The series included the likes of Henry Winkler, Ron Howard, Pat Morita, Tom Bosley, Scott Baio, and other common household names of the 70's and 80's, and ran for eleven seasons totaling 250 episodes. Several guest stars also made appearances in the show, including such high brow names as Tom Hanks, Lorne Greene and Cheryl Ladd. While the show was still in production, it also went into syndicated reruns. The reruns were entitled "Happy Days Again" to ensure viewers knew which shows were being re-aired, and which ones were new.

The most notable changes in the series occurred during seasons four, five, and eight. During the fourth and fifth season, new characters such as Chachi (Scott Baio) were introduced, and Pat Morita's character Arnold left the show. Ron Howard did not return for the eighth season (and beyond), and Ted McGinley (Revenge of the Nerds, Married...With Children) who portrayed the charcter Roger Phillips joined the cast. Despite all these changes, the series survived due to the popularity of the one mainstay character - Fonzie (Henry Winkler).


Even looking at Mego's 1978 line of the figures, it was clear that Fonzie was who people tuned in to see, and children wanted to be. The character was given his own unique card back, and unlike the other characters, wore his own unique (yet traditional for his character) clothing.

In fact, the character was so popular that a second figure - a boxed version - was put into production to keep up with supply and demand.

Despite the many sets that Mego could have produced on the series - Arnold's, Richie's Home, etc., they continued to focus on their main selling point, Fonzie.

Fonzie Garage, Fonzie Motorcycle, and Fonzie's Jalopy were the only three accessories produced to accompany the toys. For those who bought the garage, the jalopy was included. True to the standards at the time for Mego, the Garage consisted of mostly cardboard pieces making it difficult to find mint condition ones today.

Despite Happy Day's long run on television these were the only toys produced for the series at the time. It wouldn't be until 1998 that Premiere Toys would produce a small line based on the figure’s, sparking nostalgic collector's to seek out those long forgotten Mego renditions.

Join us next time when we take a look at Laverne and Shirley!

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ren and Stimpy (Palisades)



When Ren and Stimpy first hit air waves on Nickelodeon in 1991, it quickly came under attack from parental displeasure. Yes, it appears that even in 1991 parent's found it easier to blame specific shows for sending poor messages to their children rather than taking charge, and simply not allowing their children to watch it.

To be fair, for its time the show pushed many levels of grotesque to the furthest level possible, which is why kids loved it. However, it was never the intentions of series creator John K. to produce an educational show. Despite being severely censored and edited for television, the series quickly became a favorite of many kids, and today remains iconic to those now adults who now own the unedited episodes on DVD.

The original series ran for five seasons which encompassed fifty-three episodes. Each twenty-two minute episode contained anywhere from one to two cartoon shorts, as well as shorter animated comedic ads for products such as Powdered Toast, Log, and Dog Water. In the earlier days of the show, John K himself voiced Ren, while Billy West (Cureently voicing Fry on Futurama) voiced Stimpy. By the end of the series, West was voicing both characters, as well as the majority of the other characters portrayed.

In 2003 (to 2004) the series was re-launched under the title Ren and Stimpy - Adult Party Cartoon. It was aired only in the evening on Spike TV, and was rated TV-MA. The series took several new turns that didn't sit well with fans of the characters and original show. The main being the very obvious homosexual relationship tone the series set between the two characters. The show was so horribly written that Billy West declined to reprise the character Stimpy, saying it would damage his career.

Nine episodes were originally ordered by Spike TV, though due to consistent set backs and delays in episode completion the station pulled the plug after only three episodes aired. Today only seven of those nine episodes have been completed, and are available on the DVD Ren and Stimpy - The Lost Episodes.

With the new show, the series was given an opportunity to have a new toy line.

While the 2004 line of Ren and Stimpy figures isn't the first time the duo have been immortalized in plastic, it's arguable that it is a far superior line to 1993 Mattel line. It's true the Mattel line had double the figures, but the quality in the sculpts and overall design from the Palisade line seem geared more towards adult fans of the series as opposed to the Mattel line which seemed to be geared more towards kids (at the time).

Unfortunately there were only four figures produced (and three variants). This is due mostly in part to the inner workings of Palisade Toys, or rather the lack there of, which forced the company to shut its doors permanently shortly after the first series was produced.

Something unique about this particular line is that the variants aren't all that good when compared to the originals. For example, rather than getting a regular Stimpy figure, the variant had a tongue sticking out of the figures mouth, and a spotted, sickly one at that. Another example of this is the Shaven Yak figure which the variant sports a lathered face. These variants just seem to detract from the figures as opposed to adding to them, which unfortunately turned many collectors off.

A nice addition to each figure was the inclusion of a "Log" accessory. For those who are familiar with the television series, the Log from Blamo jingle and commercial played a very predominant role in the show.

A two pack of Ren and Stimpy dressed in their fireman gear, sporting Dalmatian paint (as seen in the episode "Fire Dogs") was produced and sold exclusively at Wizard World in 2004.

Following the Fire Dogs set was the exclusive Ren, which became known to collectors as the "Distressed Face" Ren. This particular tin was only sold via Palisade Toys collector's club in 2004.

Yule Log, and Radioactive Log were released exclusively via Wizard World. Yule Log was released in 2004, while Radioactive Log was released in 2005, making it the very last item produced for the series.

Join us next time when we take a look at Happy Days!

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Dragon's Lair 3D (AnJon Toys)



Unfortunately for Dragon's Lair, the only thing that the majority of people seem to remember is that it was an agonizingly difficult video game series. They don't remember the amazing thirteen episode cartoon series which ran following the game's release from Ruby Spears on ABC, and even fewer people know about the small toy line that was produced by AnJon in 2002.

The story of Dragon's Lair began in 1983 with the arcade game of the same title. Utilizing the newest technology of Laserdisc, the game was able to push the envelope further than it had ever gone in the world of gaming. However the use of Laserdisc technology brought along with it limitations of its own, and a whole new level of problems. The game was animated by ex-Disney artist Don Bluth who had found a successful solo career the prior year with his film The Secret of NIMH.

Since its release it has seen two sequels, and several other games have been created using the same style of game play. The game is also only one of three games currently on permanent display at the Smithsonian in Washington DC (Pong and Pacman are the other two). Dragon's Lair was also the first game in arcade history to cost players more than a quarter to play.


In 2002 the newly formed AnJon Toys acquired the rights to produce a series of toys based on the game/show. It would become their one and only product ever produced.

Despite its spot on sculpting, and impressive design, the series failed to find the company any foothold in the market. No exposure, a product that has a very small following of fans, and inability to market the product correctly left the company running in the red, forcing them to close their doors shortly after the series was produced. A second series was announced, but never got the opportunity to be produced.

Today, with the expception of these four figures, there is no sign that AnJon toys ever existed. A search of the web will yield very little information - None of which pertains to the sudden departure of the company.

The Dragon's Lair figures were a great product, but not one that many people were necessarily looking for. It's not to say that this line couldn't have found popularity in the long run, but it probably wasn't the smartest investment to base a start-up company on.

Join us next time when we take a look at Palisade's Ren and Stimpy!

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Goonies (Mezco)



Since its release in 1985, three of its stars; Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, and Corey Feldman have gone on to see major success in Hollywood. Of course, writers Steven Spielberg and director Richard Donner have managed to make fair careers as well since then (sarcasm, got to love it).

The film is a timeless classic, with a strong following. Even today rumblings of a sequel tickle out of various movie related sites, and the cast has made themselves available for several group photos, only adding to fan anticipation of a new film. Of course, to date there has been no said sequel, nor has there been any official announcement that we should expect one.


Much like the tease of a sequel, Mezco loves to tease fans and collector's alike by producing small series that have so much potential to soar, and then suddenly cease production and move on. Their 2007 line based on The Goonies fit this bill perfectly.

Five figures were produced in 2007 exciting fans of the film, and nostalgic collectors across the world - Mainly the USA. A major gripe about the series was that the sculpting was really hit or miss. While some of the figures were spot on renditions of the young characters, others were way off. While no official explanation as to why this was the case, it's possible that the licenses required to make accurate sculpts of the actors was too costly. Another issue that collectors had was that some of the heads seemed too big when compared to the body size of the figure.

Unlike a lot of toy lines, there are no known variants for the line. The five figures you see are all you get. Despite fan request, and the ability for Mezco to finish the series with the other characters from the film, the line has ceased with no official word that it has been canceled or not. While it's possible that a second series could be produced, we don't bet that one will - which is a real shame.

Join us next time when we take a look at Dragon's Lair 3D!

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Mattel)



It must be very difficult as a child to wake up one day and be a household name across the world. We can only imagine what went through the minds of stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson when they realized that they were going to be the faces of a generation for eight of the most highly anticipated films of the new millennium - Though we speculate that there were some major adjustments to lifestyles - Some good, some bad. One day you're a kid browsing your local toy store, the next you can't step foot out of your house without being surrounded by cameras, and screaming fans looking for autographs. That's not the way we would have wanted our childhoods to play out - But, the pay was probably nice.

By the time Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets hit theaters in 2002, the forth book The Goblet of Fire had been on book stands for two years, and the fifth book, Order of the Phoenix was a little over a year away from release. Potter-Mania was in full swing, and for as many fans out there promoting the series, there were a fair amount of groups protesting it, claiming the books (and films) promoted witchcraft, and other anti-religious themes.

BASIC FIGURES

Mattel was quick to cash in on Potter fans with a new series of figures based on the second film. There were eleven basic figures produced for the line, and unlike the figures based on the first film, there were no variants.


Dobby, Lockhart, Harry (Spell Caster), Harry (Chamber of Secrets)
Harry (Quidditch), Hermione, Malfoy (Quidditch), Flitwick


Out of the eleven figures, one was produced on its own unique card - Tom Riddle. It is unknown why this figure's packaging is so different from the others.


Snape, Ron, Tom Riddle


There were three larger deluxe figures released, and like the Tom Riddle figure listed above, one was produced on its own unique card - Norbert.


Aragog, Centaur, Norbert


Three interactive playsets were produced to coincide with the figures. The Slime Chamber was designed to interact with its own sub series of figures (see below).


Basilisk Attack Playset, Slime Chamber, Web of Aragog


As mentioned above, the Slime Chamber was produced to interact with its own sub series of figures. These figures came packaged much like the basic figures, but also included a cauldron, and a vat of colored sticky slime. The various colors of slime included red, blue, yellow, green, and orange.

The idea of the goop was to pour it down the top of the Slime Chamber playset, and let it run all over your figures, or be poured into the included cauldrons to represent the various potions seen in the film.


Fred, George, Harry, Hermione
Malfoy, Ron


The series of toys based on The Chamber of Secrets was produced between 2001 and 2002. Shortly after it was concluded, Mattel began work on the next film's toys - The Prisoner of Azkaban. Unlike this post which followed directly after the first film's toys posted last week, we won't be taking a look at the third film's toys just yet.

Join us next time when we take a look at The Goonies!

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Series 1 (Playmates Toys)



As we've said in the past, we really don't make it a habit to review the most current toys on the market. However, the opportunity for this exclusive look was just too good to pass on. With Turtle-Mania slowly but surly rising fast with the all new Nickelodeon animated series just on the horizon, we felt it a great opportunity to bring you a full look at the all new series one toys, as well as a look at some of the exclusives that have already come and gone in the convention scene.

The new animated series is set to launch on September 29, 2012 on Nickelodeon. With it comes the voice talents of Sean Astin (Raphael), Jason Biggs (Leonardo), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), Rob Paulsen (Donatello) and Mae Whitman (April). Like any good Turtle series, the show will follow the four brothers and their mentor Splinter as they battle the mysterious Foot Clan lead by the evil Shredder. While not much is known about the series at this time, one key change has some fans raising an eyebrow. April O'Neil, the once mature reporter for the local news station is now a younger, high school student. It will be interesting to see how this reiteration of the character is worked into each story. Will she play the ever vulnerable and weak woman she's become known for from the 80's cartoons, or will this be a strong, smarter April, capable of handling her own? Unfortunately we have to wait for the series to see just how everything will play out.

Another major gripe of TMNT fans is the inclusion of a third toe on each turtle. While the general public may think this is no big deal, to fans this is unthinkable. We don't know if fans will ever be able to let this particular change go.

With the new series comes a fantastic new line of action figures, vehicles, and playsets. While the series was initially slated to be released in early August, several stores were reported as breaking street date as soon as the first week of July.

Nine figures encompass the first line, and as you can see, Playmates has covered a lot of ground right out of the starting gate. All four turtles, their master Splinter, April O'Neil, The Shredder, Kraang and Foot Soldier are all here. Its certainly a very strong launch, but leaves some fans wondering how the series will maintain any momentum with the basic "main" cast already on store shelves.

Though we suppose we should correct that last paragraph. While the new toys have hit stores, they are already incredibly difficult to track down. Most shelves have bare minimum product left in terms of the action figures, and the majority of those are a variety of the turtle figures. The rest of the characters are already scarce, and secondary markets have exploded with second hand dealers.

Each figure stands anywhere from 4.5 to 5 inches. Playmates added a nice touch to the series by varying the heights of each turtle from each other, as well as providing varying heights to the remaining figures. This helps to add a great deal of spectrum to the series, something that many toy lines have yet to bother with.

Each figure comes packed with a fair amount of accessories, all carded on a nice cardboard backer.

While the figures look very pleasing to the eye, some are not without fault. One of the biggest complaints to come from the series is the lack of articulation in The Shredder who has no knee joints. Another complaint is in regards to the Kraang figure which is stuck in a somewhat running position due to the way he was molded with no leg joints at all.

A design flaw is also very apparent with Michelangelo's weapons. The chains for his weapons, which are not chains at all, but rather a single strip of molded plastic suffer from poor design. When the weapons are inserted into his belt for storage, white stress marks show immediately. What this means is that with continued play and insertion into his belt, these weapons will eventually snap in half. We are writing to Playmates Toys to see if they will address this issue, and if so, how. We will let you know what they say, if anything at all.

***UPDATE***

Playmates Toys has returned our e-mail regarding the Michelangelo figure. While they acknowledge the problem of the stress marks on the weapons, they assure everyone that they will not break. They even provided photographs of a pair of chucks from their test figure that has the same signs of wear to the plastic.

While we thank them for their response, we're not too inclined to believe that over time these stress marks on the chains won't cause an eventual break to the weapon. In the meantime, some collectors have suggested using a hair dryer on the weapons as it apparently does away with the white marks, returning it back to the original orange color. We have not tried this tactic ourselves, and those who do, should do so at their own risk.


However, all and all the series is looking really good. As we said above, the majority of the figures are already becoming scarce in most retail stores. This is due in part to the case assortment which contains twenty-four figures in the following quantity;

Leonardo (X4)
Michelangelo (X4)
Donatello (X4)
Raphael (X4)
Splinter (X2)
April O'Neil (X1)
The Shredder (X2)
Kraang (X2 or X1 - Depending on the assortment number)
Foot Soldier (X2 or X1 - Depending on the assortment number)

As you can see, April O'Neil is definitely short packed, and depending on the case that arrives at your local store, Kraang or the Foot Soldier are as well. We've personally noticed that stores in our local area have been getting more of assortment two, which contains two Kraang figures, and one Foot Soldier.

San Diego Comic Con (2012) brought Turtle fans joy and excitement, and then proceeded to bring a fair amount of sadness and dismay.

The Nickelodeon booth sold a limited amount of Night Shadow Leonardo figures during the entire show. However, the ability to purchase the figure became increasingly difficult to obtain from day to day for several reasons.

The biggest problem was the Nickelodeon employee’s inability to run a tight and neat "ship" on several levels. Lines of fifty people could take the staff as long as two hours to get through. This was caused by the booth only having one register, and several employees who were apparently on hand with the explicit job duty of sending text messages and/or playing on their phones in general. All their stock was also confined to a small room inside the booth which had a door that would require staff to crawl through. However, the final insult to fans was that the booth was only selling a set amount of figures each day, and refused to sell any number beyond that. While this ensured that each day of the show, attendees who didn't attend on a prior day had an equal chance of obtaining one out of the six hundred produced, it didn’t sit well with fans who had a first come, first serve mentality.

A self-inflicted problem with this exclusive was some of the fan’s mentality towards it. While the figure was limited to one per customer, several attendees were using their guests to purchase multiple copies, thus invoking the greed before need policy. This meant that some fans who wanted the figure were turned away simply because prior fans weren’t content with just having one like they were supposed to which meant stock for the day was selling out faster than it should have. Of course on top of all of that, you have to factor in the people who bought it simply with hopes of reselling it on the secondary market.

Those who were lucky enough to obtain the figure were treated to even further disappointment. All points of articulation were removed from the figure making it nothing more than a 4.5 inch statue. This has caused several fans to deem the exclusive not worth the $29.99 price tag. As word spread, several took to secondary market outlets to offload their exclusive. Unfortunately due to the increasing word of mouth about the poor quality, these have become more and more difficult to sell, and several sellers are having to drop prices to little to nothing more over the price they paid for it just to make a sale.

However, despite the major disappointment surrounding this figure, there are some points that make it worth its while to a small percentage of collectors. For starters, the paint job is amazing. If you're the type of collector who is going to open your toy and display it on the shelf, this piece is not short on eye candy. Second, a select few of the boxes were signed on the inside flap by Jason Biggs, the voice of Leonardo in the upcoming animated series.

Do these two positives justify the $29.99 price tag? We think so.

For those of you who couldn't make it to San Diego Comic Con, and are interested in this particular exclusive, Playmates Toys has it for sale on their site for the same price that it sold for at the show. You can check that out "HERE". Remember, quantities are very limited.

As a final note regarding this figure, we would just like to remind everyone that we are not affiliated with any toy companies, and while we are showing you where you can find it, we're not outright advertising or endorsing it.

***UPDATE***

The Night Shadow Leonardo is sold out.

Sadly these next four exclusives are figures that most of you should do yourself a favor, and just forget that they exist. These nicely packed figures of each Turtle were given out to an incredibly select few people at the 2012 Toy Fair show in February who were lucky enough to obtain a reserved seat at Playmates unveiling of the line.

Each figure came packed in a small felt lined black box, similar, but not exact to the Night Shadow Leonardo. While we don't have specifics on just how many of each figure were produced, we would wager that it wasn't many.

The sculpts are the exact same as those utilized for the basic figure assortment. The difference is that the weapons have been painted, and greater detail has been put into each turtle to bring out skin tones and blemishes. They're nice figures, but for us, we can't justify the $300.00+ price tag that people have been collecting on secondary markets for them.

Like we said, do yourself a favor, and forget that they exist.


Playmates is showing the world of action figures that they have no fear of producing vehicles for the line with their impressive launch of five right off the bat. A class of small, medium and large vehicles, all with multiple price points, helps to round off this first wave of toys nicely.

As we know little to nothing about the actual animated series, we don't know just how well these vehicles will fit in with the actual show (if at all), but that aside, for the most part, they're still pretty amazing.

Each one has multiple levels of play, from firing projectiles, to what appears to be the series focal point, "360 degree action". This 360 degree action refers to the way that the figures can be implemented into the toy to perform a full 360 degree action.

For example, in the case of the Dragon Chopper, the included Foot Soldier can be flipped from the driver’s seat to the front of the bike with the push of a button. On the Shellraiser, a Turtle figure (or most others from the line) can be attached to a bar mechanism on the side of the van to perform a 360 degree kick to enemies.

All and all, there are a lot of things for kids (and adults) to play with here.

Each vehicle comes fully assembled in the box, with the exception of the larger Shellraiser, and the medium sized vehicles each include an exclusive packed in figure.

The Shellraiser is the largest vehicle released so far, while the Dragon Chopper with Dragon Fang Foot Soldier, and Ninja Stealth Bike with Stealth Ninja Raph are the medium sized. The final two are the small Rippin' Rider and Sewer Spinnin' Skate Board with Stunt Ramp.

Out of the vehicles, the Shellraiser is the most disappointing. For being the largest vehicle released, and also the most expensive, we expected something top notch. Unfortunately, we can't even qualify it as good. While the vehicle has several compartments that can be opened up to put figures inside, said inside is nothing more than a hollowed out shell (no pun intended). There are no seats, not even a stearing wheel or dashboard. It's nothing more than a glorified carrying case for a few of your figures. Sure it looks impressive on the outside, but a thirty-five dollar vehicle which becomes nothing more than a display piece is a real let down.

The only other vehicle we were disappointed with was the Spinnin' Skate Board with Stunt Ramp which is nothing more than an oversized, bulky and clumsy attempt at a cheaper priced add on to the line. It's unattractive to the eye, and unappealing to "play" with. Attempting to cram your Turtle's feet inside the straps risks not only damaging your figure, but breaking the straps themselves. All and all it appears to be a poorly thought out, and poorly executed toy.

The grand daddy of the entire first series is the Toys R' Us exclusive Secret Sewer Lair Playset. This monstrous playset stands over forty inches tall when constructed and boasts over twenty interactive features. This bad boy is to the Turtle line what the USS Flagg was to G.I. Joe. It’s the centerpiece to any proud collector/child, and the envy of all his/her friends.

While we've seen anywhere from three to six of these in stock at Toys R' Us at any given time, we're sure that this will be a hot item for the holiday season this year, and they'll disappear fast at that point.

Construction wise, this playset took us about an hour and a half to construct. The instructions aren't very specific, and some of the stickers aren't even listed as to where they go. Speaking of stickers, a lot of them don't fit in the areas that the insturctions say to put them. Most toys have indentations that are cut in the plastic to insert the stickers in. Not so much with the Secret Sewer Lair. Some obvious indentations are there, but some are not. That minor inconvenience aside, this playset is pretty awesome to look at, and a whole lot of fun to set your various figures around.

***UPDATE***

The Secret Sewer Lair Playset is no longer a Toys R' Us exclusive item.

Price wise, none of these items will break your bank (unless you're reduced to secondary markets). The figures sell for $8.99 each, while the vehicles vary in price from size to size. The large vehicles sell for $29.99 to $34.99 (depending on your retailer), medium for $21.99, and small for $10.99. The most expensive piece is of course the playset which costs $119.99. If found at retail, the entire set could be obtained for around $300.00. This of course wouldn't include any of the exclusives figures.

Overall we're very pleased and excited with what we've seen from this line so far, and can't wait for the already announced next three figures - Metal Head, Dogpound, and Fishface, which are slated for a fall 2012 release. We've very curious to see what figures release with the new ones, and if it is a compilation of series one figures, we wonder if the card backs will be updated to show the three new characters, which will add some form of collectability to the prior released figures for those who already have them.

It’s true that no Turtle line has ever been quite as popular as the original 80’s/90’s line. In fact, most of them since have been absolutely terrible. We really have high hopes for this new series, and hope that it will stick around for a long time to come. Turtles are timeless, and have been a generation bridging icon since their first iteration. We wish this line nothing but the greatest of success.

***UPDATE***

Reader, Matt, wrote with an excellent question regarding the stickers at the top of the packaging, and wanting to know which was produced first.  The short answer to that question is that the ones with the stickers were produced first.  However, this led us to this particular update regarding production run changes.

For you variant hunters out there, to date there are two different production runs for seven of the first series figures - Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, Splinter, Shredder and Foot Soldier.  You'll need a keen eye to spot this as the change is subtle, and to a portion of the packaging that not many people pay attention to - the bottom.

Note that the first production run has three safety warning labels on the bottom of the package.  A "C" and "E", and the standard UK red circle "NO" 0-3 logo.  To the right of all this is a written warning which takes up two lines.  On the second production run an additional safety logo was added, and the written warning text has been squashed down in length, and now takes up five lines of text.

Not only does this production run pertain to the seven figures listed above, but you can also find versions of all the vehicles and the massive Secret Sewer Playset from series one with this change.  In short, if you're a variant hunter, you need to essentially buy the entire first series of toys again to get all the changed packages.

We hope that you've enjoyed this look at the all new Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below, and don't forget to join us next time when we take a look at Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Mattel)



On June 30, 1997 the world of literature was changed as we know it. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone took the media by storm bringing new young readers to the magical world of books (no pun intended), and at the same time assuring adults that it was okay to read novels targeted towards a younger audience. Harry Potter has since finished its literature (and movie) journey, and with it brought several iterations of action figures (and other toys).


BASIC FIGURES


While the books were the start of the Harry Potter rocket to the stars, the film is actually what the figures were based on. Each one was a decent resemblance to its actor counterpart, and came packed with a fair amount of accessories from the film.

Eleven "basic" figures were produced, with an additional four variants. The figures were;

Griphook
Harry
Harry (without Gryffindor patch) (Variant)
Harry (with Cloak of Invisibility)
Harry (Quidditch Clothes)
Dumbledore
Hermione
Lord Voldemort
Lord Voldemort (with Garlic Strand)
Malfoy (with Remembrall)
Malfoy
Malfoy (without Slytherin Patch) (Variant)
Quirrell
Snape
Ron

QUIDDITCH TEAM


A small subseries of figures based on the Griffendor Quidditch team was produced during the series. There were only three figures produced despite there being seven team members, and one of the three was a second version of Harry, which was previously released with the basic figures.

The three figures produced were Fred, George, and Harry. So now that we think about it, technically there was really only one new figure seeing how Fred and George are twins.

DELUXE FIGURES


Rounding off the figures in the series were four deluxe figures based on the larger characters in the film/book. The figures were;

Fluffy, Hagrid, Knight, and Troll.

The Powercaster Electronic Spell Casting Playset was the only playset produced for the series. It boasted that with it your figures could cast up to six spells, and included to packages of Casting Stones which were also incorporated into their own game.


**********BONUS**********


CLASSIC SCENES

During the figures based off the first film, Mattel released a small series of Classic Scene figures based on the novel. With the exception of Hagrid's Gift, each set contained two figures.


The Chamber of Keys, Hagrid's Gift, The Mirror of Irised


Shortly after the Classic Scenes line was produced, Mattel began work on a series of figures based on the second film/book, The Chamber of Secrets.

Join us tomorrow for a special Friday post, then on Monday when we take a look at Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Halo 3: Series 4 - 6 (McFarlane Toys)



It's been a long time since our original post documenting the first three series of Halo 3 toys. Back when we wrote that, the series was relatively new. Series three had just come out, and series four had already been announced. Halo fans were chomping at the bit to get their hands on each new figure, despite the various repaints and exclusives.

To be a fan of Halo figures, it is essential that one have the following;

1) A seemingly endless influx of cash
2) A lot of gas for their vehicle
3) A love for the secondary market

Let's talk about number one on that list. McFarlane Toys are expensive fresh from the factory. Each figure can set you back anywhere from fifteen to twenty dollars. These prices quickly skyrocket on secondary markets for certain figures (see number 3 below).

As far as number two is concerned, they're also incredibly difficult to find in one specific location, and that's not even including all those exclusives. To walk into just one store and find an entire assortment of figures from any given wave is next to impossible due to the limited amount of any one particular figure packed in cases. Supply often times fails to meet demand.

That's where number three comes in. Unfortunately a fair amount of collectors have had to turn to secondary markets to fulfill their action figure collecting needs. Sure it could be argued that on occasion the amount of money saved in gas from searching for said figures equals out to the price of a secondary market value, but who can be sure? Then you throw in all those difficult to obtain exclusives, which may or may not have a store location in your area, and throwing the fuel factor back into the mix may not be plausible to venture out for.

While these three factors are common these days for practically any line of action figures, it seems more so a counterpart to McFarlane toys. So what makes it worth it? We feel the toys speak for themselves on that regard. Great sculpts of characters, incredibly detailed accessories, and amazing packaging make it easy to fall into an OCD habit of tracking down figures.

Unlike the prior series which included a set for campaign characters and multiplayer characters, the forth series simplified by making a series known as "Equipment Edition" figures. We haven't honestly figured out what makes these characters such an edition as they don't appear to come with any more accessories than the prior figures. In fact, some come with considerably less. Regardless, fans were so eager to collect them that pegs were soon empty from store to store.

The Equipment Edition line consisted of nine figures, four of which were exclusive to specific stores.

The Griftball Spartan which was produced for and sold strictly at San Diego Comic Con was a nod at the fans who followed the Red Vs. Blue series.

One deluxe figure and three deluxe sets were also incorporated into series 4 (the deluxe sets were released towards the tail end of the series). Worth mentioning is that the deluxe sets (not including the single packed deluxe figure) were also the first toys released under the new title for the series - Halo: The Halo 3 Collection.

The armor pack sets are among fan favorites for their interchangeable armor, and vast assortment of weapons. Each pack had the ability to transform your figure into four different Spartan types.

By the end of the line, the series was titled simply as "Halo", and continued as such throughout the remaining line (series eight).


Series five launched with two of the most popular packs to date - Sgt. Avery Johnson, and the Halo Wars Weapon Pack. Not only is Johnson a fan favorite character, but in a series that for the majority consisted of various repaints, the figure was a welcome addition - something new.

The weapons pack gave collectors the opportunity to bolster their arms, and offered an incredible variety of detailed weapons. Some would argue that in the world of Halo the guns themselves are so unique that they stand out as their own "characters" in the story.

Series five, which was also considered to be part of the Equipment Edition, consisted of twelve characters - five of which were store exclusives at various locations.

Series six pushed the Equipment Edition aside, and instead went with the all new series, the Medal Edition. Each figure came packed with a unique medal, and an impressive variety of weapons.

With the release of the new game, Halo 3: ODST, fans were eager to get their hands on the newly introduced Rookie figure. Despite the popularity of the figure, it seemed to be manufactured in abundance, and became one of the more common figures to see on pegs long after series six was replaced with series 7 despite the amount of sales.

Out of the twelve figures produced for series six, half were store exclusives at various stores.

To round off series six, McFarlane Toys produced a vehicle - three times over. While it can be said that this was technically not the first vehicles for the series (series one had three - Brute Chopper, Ghost and Warthog), unlike the prior vehicles these were designed to interact with the figures. The prior released vehicles were scaled down, and there was no possible way to interact your figures with them.

The sixth series Mongoose came packed with one of three different Spartan figures depending on which version you bought. McFarlane Toys was well up to its patented tricks of repainted rinse and repeat toys.

Though despite it all, Halo fans love the series, and continue to support it today. Halo toys have become one of if not THE top seller for the company, and we so no reason why they will stop producing them any time soon.

Join us next time when we take a look at Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Stargate (Hasbro)



Stargate is a cult classic film that has not only gone on to spawn several television series spin offs, but is currently fighting it out with two other well known Sci Fi "Star" titled films for number one among fans. Much like Wars and Trek fans, Gate fans make sure they are seen at the convention scene, and actor Richard Dean Anderson, the star of the television show Stargate SG-1 (which ended in 2007) makes several appearances a year to support the series as a whole.

However, today we're talking about the film itself. The one that started it all back in 1994. Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich (who both went on to create the film Independence Day) created what would become the film as we know it today. The film starred two leads, both with their own story ark.

James Spader as Dr. Daniel Jackson, is a professor who has been shunned in the scientific community for his theories that the pyramids were much older than initially thought to be. This ties in to what the Stargate actually is, and where it leads to, backing up his theories. An interesting side note to Spader was that he didn't like the script for the film, but accepted the role anyway for the money.

Kurt Russell plays Colonel Jack O'Neil. The character of Colonel Jack O'Neil is an important role to the film as he is a character tormented by his son's accidental death. As a result, he has become suicidal, and when approached with a mission that he may never come back from, his character quickly accepts this as the solution to the problem.

As it is with most movies, a toy line was sure to follow. Hasbro made sure of that in 1994 when they produced a small, but semi-successful line based on the film.

Right off the bat, the most noteworthy aspect to the series is the unique card. Not only is each one detailed with character specific artwork, but the packaging itself is not your typical rectangle card. The circular bottom, and almost triangular top make these figures stick out on any store shelf - Which probably helped significantly with the lines success.

The series definitely had room to grow had it been more successful. Only a handful of the "main" characters were produced, and the enemies, with the exception of Ra, are all pretty standard characters.

The sculpts also leave little to desire in terms of character recognition, and in fact if un-carded, would be pretty difficult to determine who was who to the average viewer, or even what line they were from. The perfect example of this is Spader's character Daniel who looks absolutely nothing like him. Spader himself is a rather skinny guy, while the figure is buffed out, and doesn't resemble the clothing he wore in the film.

To round off the series were two vehicles and a creature. Only one of the vehicles was actually seen in the film - the Winged Glider. The other vehicle, the All-Terrain Cruiser appears to be just a standard military vehicle that was thrown in to give the "good guys" something to use. The Mastadge creature was seen briefly in the film, but we don't recall it having any sleds attached to the back.

The series came and went as quickly as the film did in the theaters, and much like the film has a strong following. Today there are more than enough pieces available on secondary markets to satisfy everyone looking for them, and as a result prices remain relatively low.

Join us next time when we take a look at McFarlane's Halo 3: Series 4-6!

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Market prices fluctuate daily, and the prices as listed herein are not intended to be a set point, but rather a benchmark of where prices were noted at during the time period in which the article in question was written/posted. The value of any item shown here is always subject to change based on supply and demand, as well as seller/buyer preference. We are not affiliated with any buyers/sellers, and have no influence on prices set by secondary market dealers or individual sellers.