Saturday, February 26, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The results are in!!!

OK, Hauke wrote to me and send me the results, I'll let him do the talk from now on. I decided to illustrate the winning comments, but since it is the end of the month and I'm kinda broke I couldn't hire any actual artists and had to do it myself. You'll (probably) forgive me.

Winner: Stephen

His entry:
Being a toy collector, I'd replace my rectum with a cash machine so that I could literally poop money on demand, to either A.) support my habit or B.) go cold turkey when no one will accept the money.

Hauke said:
This one made me laugh the most. A money pooping cyborg sounds like something that could actually fit in with some of my own work. :-)

(Bad) artist's depiction:


Second place: Fishmilkshake

His entry:
What is the forehead good for? Absolutely nothing. I'd make better use of the space and have a frickin' laser beam implanted. First order of business...bad service at retail stores.

Hauke said:
This is another answer where I immediately saw some weird character in my mind blasting away aliens with a huge ridiculous forehead laser.

I doodled:


Last comment from Hauke:
It was really hard to choose the two winners. Honorary mentions go to krakit, 3B, brobles and Bubbashelby. You guys almost made it.

So STEPHEN is the winner and he'll get an awesome Bionic Bjoern from Hauke Scheer. And what is the surprise bionic prize for the runner up?

This:


A carded Fuerza T Tekno. Only the finest Argentinean copyright infringement Masters of the Universe rip-off line.

Both the winner and the runner up must send me their info to funforfreak@gmail.com

There will be more contests in the near future, I'm cooking some great prizes for you. Thanks for entering and for all the incredible comments. I wouldn't have been able to pick a winner myself.

Until next time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

It's over!

The win a Bionic Bjoern contest is now closed. When guest judge Hauke Scheer has a veredict, I'll post the winner of this awesome of figure and the runner up who will get a surprise bionic toy.

In the mean time, here's the second Bionic Bjoern animation:



Good luck!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Ah, Toynami, I wish I could quit you...

No, seriously, after this wave, I kinda wish I could quit the Futurama line. But the problem is I really like Futurama, and the figures presented in Toy Fair were so cool that I will give them another shot. But I'm sure hoping they step up their game a bit.

Instead of looking so far ahead, let's check Futurama Wave 9. This was a wave of two characters, since one is a version of Bender (again), I was only expecting one of them.



URL, the robot police officer. First of all he looks and feels a bit cheap, the sculpt is super simple, but it matches the character. And the articulation is just plain weird, the legs turn but why would you want to turn them to the side, both his wrists turn too, but one needs to be straight to hold his laser baton and the other consist of just three fingers so it doesn't really matter how you move it, it will always look the same.

He has a swivel neck but the helmet is not removable and the right arm could have had an elbow joint, but it doesn't so it looks weird without the accessory. Also I think it's pretty lame to have a character that's part of a duo and know that we're probably never gonna get the other part. If this line has waves of two characters why not URL and Smitty.



I know URL is part of the League of Robots, but unless you're willing to give me a Hedonismbot I won't buy your character selection.

The other figure in the wave is Wooden Bender. I guess you need a Bender or a main character to improve sales. But in a line with very few waves a year and only two characters per wave we are getting way to many duplicate characters. I mean, this is the fourth Bender we have out of eighteen figures (not counting the three Build-a-Robots), that's a more than a 22% of the entire line. I think that's a bit high, considering we also got one duplicate Fry and one duplicate Leela.

Another thing that pisses me off is that I preordered this wave knowing that I was getting a Wooden Bender, but assuming there was going to be Build-a-Robot parts included. If I had known that there were no parts I would have skipped that figure entirely.



So, I get it if this is like a transition wave after finishing the main team and starting with the Robot Mafia, I really hope things will start to look up after wave 10, because I used to really like this line. But I already know that one of the figures will be Flexo, and yes, he is another character, but I'm still counting him as a Bender variant. Why? Because you made me mad, that's why.

Well, at least I can use this figure to laugh at the Police... Nah, I would never do that...



Until next time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Aesthetics vs. Backstory, my two cents - Part III (last one until the reboot)

OK, It's time for the last part of this nonsense, and like Spiderman 3, let's end with a bang. Let's talk about toys that look like crap and don't make sense.

Hey, it's just like Spiderman 3


This looks bad and doesn't make any sense.

Well, I don't have a lot of toys like that. Basically because I am with toys the same way Anton Ego (the food critic from Ratatouille) is with food. He said "I don't like food, I love it, and if I don't love it, I don't swallow". Basically the same, but without the voice of Peter O'Toole. A toy must have at least something I like, otherwise, I don't buy it.

For example, this would be such a toy, the Dora the Explorer Aquapet...


Not the best designed toy ever, right? And as Anton said, "if I don't love it I don't swa...". Hmm maybe I shouldn't use that quote with this toy...

Anyway, I searched my collection in order to find a toy that fitted that description and I found this:



That, forgive me for showing it, is a Neytiri from a McDonald's Happy Meal. And man, it's awful. It has four point of articulation, hands and legs, a horrible sculpt and horrible paint apps.



I know you really can't expect much from Happy Meal toys, but they are usually better than this. I only bought this for a Silly Toys strip I did a while ago and, quite frankly, I'm amazed I didn't throw it away right then and there.

OK, but that is all about the figure's looks, why doesn't it make sense. Well, if you pull Neytiri's tail up a little LED light inside her glows. Isn't that pretty?



I didn't really liked Avatar, I was expecting much more (in terms of telling a story) from the guy that did Terminator, Aliens and The Abyss. One of the thing I didn't like is that everything in Pandora was bioluminescent, everything had a LED light inside, even the fucking grass... The only thing that didn't glow in the whole damn planet (or moon, whatever) was the blue cat people. That's why this toy doesn't make any sense.

If you ever find a toy with these characteristics. DON'T BUY IT!

Remember you still have three days to enter the contest and win an amazingly cool Bionic Bjoern. Here.

Until next time.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Aesthetics vs. Backstory, my two cents - Part II

OK, so I made the mistake of saying on my last post that it was part I. That forces me to do a part II and probably a third part if parts I and II are successful... That much I've learned from the Spider Man movies.

Yesterday I talked about a figure that was cool looking but didn't have a story behind it. I also mentioned toys from cartoons, movies, comics, etc. That have a story outside the figures themselves. But how about those toys that doesn't exist in other form but come with a background tale anyway.

I love those toys, because they are harder to sell, first it has to look great, because it needs to catch your attention, and then it has to sell you that story he's part of. And that's not easy, but if the figure succeeds in doing so, then my hat is off (and probably my credit card too)...



This is Humphrey Mooncalf, the artist is Doktor A. If you are not familiar with Dok A's work he does (mostly) Mechtorians (from the made up Latin word meaning "Victorian Robot"). He's art is amazing, you can find it here.

Most of the Mechtorians he makes are part of a world he created. Every figure has a backstory and a part they play in Retropolis.

This is an 8" vinyl piece with two points of articulation (actually one on the neck, but the key on his back is removable and turns so I'll say two). This is the Verdegris edition, the first of several colorways to come. It's made by a company called Pobber and it is a beauty.



I love Doktor A's designs. The figure it's very well done, the paint apps and the rust effect are perfect, giving the figure a very noble look but at the same time a sense of sadness (after all, what's more sad than a rusting robot?). Humphrey is nice to handle, very light and it looks awesome on a shelf (I have to get my hands in that Mechtorian garden G.N.O.M.E. the Doktor did last year...)

But that's all about how the figure looks. Let's talk about his backstory. It says in the box:

"Humphrey Mooncalf had an annoying problem with his Travithick No. 4 Nano-clockwork brain. Repeated trips to the watch-smith eventually proved a great success. The pain held at bay by simply loosening his cranial retaining rivets. This however means that he can no longer look up. Such a shame, as he does so love the Moon."

Man, that completely explains the sadness I mentioned earlier, and it also explains this other strange feature the figure has:



The back of his skull is removable and the Nano-clockwork brain is also a separate piece. The story is great and it works both with the figure and, for me, with the colorway too.

Another thing I love about a figure that tells a story on it's own is that it can only take you half of the way. The only information is the one the gave you in a paragraph or so and you have to fill the blanks.

You know how I feel about colorways, namely, I don't like them. I rather spend my money in different pieces than in the same piece with different colors. So why did I choose to buy the Verdegris Humphrey? As I said, because, in my head, it makes sense.

Humphrey went to the Watch-smith, he told him never to look up again. But (excuse me if I get a little Biblical here) like Lot with his Wife, Charlie Sheen with a cocaine covered hooker or me with a cheap toy on sale, he couldn't help himself. And when he did finally looked up, his brain fell of and he rusted away, forgotten. That's why this colorway works so well for me.

Did we get anywhere with this? Probably not, but I just want to say that if a great looking toy has a great story behind it, there's not a lot you can add to it to make it perfect.

Except probably a cocaine covered hooker. But I digress. Tomorrow, if I can, I'll post part three.

Until next time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Aesthetics vs. Backstory, my two cents - Part I

Lately in several blogs, forums and online shows (such as Toybreak) popped the question about the preference of getting a toy with a story behind it or just getting a toy that looks cool. It is a very interesting question and I thought I'd chip in for the debate. With some toy examples.

I buy toys for three main reasons:

1) The Geek Factor. The toys are 3D representations of characters I love from comics or cartoons or movies. With these toys I mix my love for toys and my love for pop culture in one single item.

2) The Nostalgia Factor. I also buy vintage or homages to vintage toy lines (such as Masters of the Universe Classics) because they were the toys I had or wanted when I was a kid.

3) The Art Factor. As I grew older as a collector and started to get into the art toy world, I discovered that there are some amazing artists and designers that create new things that I enjoy.

As a critic (if you didn't know this, I am a film critic) is really hard for me to say that I like something just because I like it. There are some figures I find appealing based only on how they look.

For example:



This is the Barkin' Gun (Mono edition) from my friend and great designer Abell (who also was kind enough to design a new header for this blog!). The Barkin' Gun is, as you can see, a dog/gun hybrid molded in resin with no articulation.

Why do I like it? First of all it's got a rather cartoony look, the rounded shape of the "head" and the lines of the design are incredibly well done. I am attracted to most things that are done with that cartoony aesthetic (especially Jessica Rabbit, if you know what I mean).



This figure is super limited (only two exist in this colorway) and even if that's not the reason I wanted the Barkin' Gun, knowing it's that special makes it better every time I see it.

The figure is really heavy and it's design is very simple. Still, as I said before, you don't need to do something complicated as log as it is original and a Dog/Gun figure is something I would have never imagined.

Plus it came with a bunch of extra goodies, and that is awesome...



Stickers, buttons and an authenticity card (in case you are trying to sell a bootleg Dog/Gun resin figure, you can tell this is the real deal). I guess I could make up a story for this, after all, we kids of the 80s got our fair share of weird toys (and I'm counting He-man and Ninja Turtles alone), but the point is I got this not because of what I knew about it, but because of what it looks like.

And although I'm always gonna prefer toys that have a story behind them, I like this.

Why? Because of all the things I said before... And just because I like it, too.



Until next time.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some collections you are just meant to finish

Many years ago, before I started collecting toys in a more serious (and by serious I mean obsessive compulsive and almost self destructive) way, I saw in a Park sale a bunch of very tiny (2"), non-articulated PVC figurines from one of my all time favorite series. They were a little banged up but nothing terrible, they were also very cheap. And I got them.

The collection was, of course, incomplete, but at that time I wasn't that interested in spending money to have all the characters. They stood on a shelf until I moved, but when I unpacked they were left behind.

A month or so I was cleaning some things and I found that box with the figures and by my standards, half of a collection is hardly a collection at all. So I jumped on ebay and quickly found the rest.

Now, like the proverbial Pokemon, I caught them all.



This are, of course, the 2" PVC figurines from The Tick cartoon Bandai released in 1994. They are super tiny and if you look closely you'll notice that the paint is all over the place, which is sad but understandable at this scale, from that time and intended for kids. But still is no excuse for a poor paint job.

Don't get me wrong, I really like having these little guys, they are fun and cute, but more for the memories of the series they bring than for the toys themselves.



Arthur was one of the originals I got in that Park sale, the wings are a bit bent but overall he's in great condition. I used to have a Tick from another line (that was almost in scale), but this new Tick and American Maid are from the new ebay loot.



All these are from the Park sale too. I love the fact that for this line (and the 5" line too) Bandai used some really obscure characters, because, it's true that Crusading Chameleon and Sewer Urchin were regulars, but the Human Bullet only showed up a couple of times. If you can name the Human Bullet's side-kick (one of the best side-kicks names ever), you'll win a virtual hug from me.

These completes the heroes, and that's a shame, because my favorite one is Die Fledermaus, and he didn't make the cut for this line. As much as I like the inclusion of the Human Bullet, that spot should totally belong to Die Fledermaus (you may know him as BatManuel...)



The bad guys are outnumbered six to five. El Seed and Dyna-mole are from that original purchase and Chairface Chipendale is new. Again, Dyna-mole is a character that didn't have the importance of the other two in the series, if I recall correctly he was used just for background.



Last, but not least, Dean and Dinosaur Neil are the biggest figures in the line. That's not a lot in such a small line, but you work with what you have. Dinosaur Neil was the hardest one to get, since, if I understand it correctly, was never officially released in the USA. There were only two releases, one in Canada with an English/French card and one in Australia. I obviously had the Australian one since the card was only in English.

If you are a collector you know that finishing a collection (even one you didn't know you had) it's full of mixed feelings. It's cool to have them all, but there's also the void that must be replaced by another line. Don't worry, I'm sure I'll find something else to collect...

In the mean time, you still have a week to enter the "WIN A BIONIC BJOERN FIGURE" contest and you can also follow me on Twitter to know when I post something on the blog.

Until next time.

Monday, February 7, 2011

FREE TOY! (OK, now that I have your attention...)

Well, let's cut the crap, I love toys, and if you are reading this, then you probably love toys too.

If you were paying any attention to the last few posts of this blog you'll know sometimes I get stuff for free, and that is awesome. I also say that I believe in Toy Karma all the time. OK, it's time to put my posts where my mouth is.

I have a free toy for one of you. And not just any toy, my friends, I have a very limited and very awesome toy for you. Check this out:



What? A brand new Bionic Bjoern from Scheer-Imagination can be yours at the mere price of just a little brain juice. But more on that in a sec. If you don't know who Bionic Bjoern is you can check the last post or this awesome video:



Did you see that guy's head explode? Cool, right?

Anyway, Hauke Scheer, the man behind the cyborg sent me two Bjoerns, I was gonna keep 'em both, of course, but what would that make me? (Don't answer that if you want to win).

OK, so this is how you do it, it's super easy.

In the comments section of this post you should answer this simple question: "What part of your body would you replace with a machine and why?".

(Just to salvage what's left of your dignity I won't accept the answer "I would replace my dick with a Jackhammer". Mostly because I already created that character when I was 16, his name was Dick Machine, he was a war veteran, a flasher AND a superhero, I know, I'm talking to Mattel right now to kickstart the toy line).

To sum up, leave a comment answering the question "What part of your body would you replace with a machine and why?".

The best answer will be chosen by mister Hauke Scheer himself and I'll ship this awesome toy anywhere in the world. You can leave a maximum of three (3) answers.

And to make this deal even sweeter I will give a runner up (also picked by Hauke) a cyborg character toy too.

If you have a toy blog feel free (and by free I mean feel obliged) to share this with your readers.

In two weeks we'll have a winner. Make me proud!

Until next time.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The sum of his parts

If you read this blog often...

(And you should totally do, since it's been said that reading this blog improves your general health, lowers the price of gas, makes food taste better and increases your chances to get lucky with a stranger in a bar *results may vary from reader to reader*).

As I was saying, if you read this blog often you'll remember some awesome resin figures designed by the German multimedia artist Hauke Scheer. The mind of Hauke, a very scary place I'm sure, was able to create a Urinal personal hygiene robot, a hairless genetically altered werewolf from another dimension with grenades in his nipples and a Squid warrior from the depths of the ocean. And guess what, he's just warming up.

Hauke sent me his latest work a little guy I like to call (actually... He likes to call) Bionic Bjoern:



A little background on the character from Hauke himself: "In 2065 a weapons company started to create cyborg soldier clones based on the DNA of an ancient Viking berserker warrior. Called "Bionic Bjoerns" by the public these warrior soon became the military product of its time".

Man, and you thought "Hairless genetically altered werewolf from another dimension" was a complicated origin story... This little piece of information makes the figure more appealing, it gives a certain sense of, you'll excuse the word, realism.

OK, so the story is awesome, but let's talk about the figure itself.



Two things that come to mind when you first see Bionic Bjoern.

First, the figure is 7 inches and it's not articulated (most resin pieces aren't) so this may be more like a statue or a (dare I say it?) staction.

The second thing that strikes you is the incredible level of detail the sculpt had. There's not a part of this figure that doesn't have a little mechanical detail, except the flesh, but even there you have scars and probably the creepiest thing about Bjoern, a tube coming out of his belly button... The writer in me (and by that I mean the guy I pay to write clever stuff for me in order to look like an intellectual) suggests that the tube can be a genetic design, a way to keep feeding or fueling Bjoern like an unborn baby through the belly button so he doesn't need to drink or eat. That would make him a very efficient warrior. Also, it's Gross.

The figure comes in three parts: The main body, the Gatling gun arm as a separate piece you have to attach and a really heavy base that doesn't really need 'cause like of the rest of Hauke's figures, he stands perfectly on his own.



The paint apps are very good, since this run is limited to 50 pieces, I guess the QC was pretty strict. One thing to note is that some parts, especially the arm you have to attach have very thin parts that you may break. Hauke told me this and I was sweating like a pig when I put it together. Luckily, since I'm a fairly clumsy guy, the figure is sturdy, but I would recommend being careful.

This is the first "human" figure we get from Hauke and the face is an interesting point to debate. For starters I thought a cloned berserker warrior would have been more angry. But Bjoern looks calm, with an almost dead expression (even a little sad). I think that works well for the "mass produced soldier without feelings" aspect of his story.

That reminded me of the movie Soldier with Kurt Russell:



OK, OK, so the movie is pretty bad, but the concept is cool. Plus, in that movie Argentina had Moons. MOONS! And that makes it OK in my book.

The only thing I would say to Hauke is that he gave us four awesome figures from four different lines and stories. I think he can't stop his mind and is always chasing after the next project, the next idea, the next figure. I'd love to see more characters from these series before going into the next. And I'm only saying this, because I know he designed a toilet robot to go with the urinal robot and if he doesn't make that one I'm gonna go to Germany and force him to do it.

And since I don't want this post to sound like a threat (but it totally is), here's a comic starring Bjoern:



Until next time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cool presents of 2010: The last green present

As you can see, all of the presents I got from my fellow collectors/friends are super awesome. Presents usually are (except those damn socks I keep getting from my uncle every X-Mas...). But this last present is one I am especially fond of.

Why? Because it proves that a present doesn't have to be big or expensive if it comes with true feeling. And since I got it while trying to get a toy for someone else I double appreciate it, since I believe in pure Toy Karma. If you are good and generous with your toys, people will be good and generous with you. Of course there are a lot of assholes in the world, but the Internet is great for exposing said assholes. In the long run, if you pay enough attention, you can find yourself surrounded only by the best people.

But let me get to the toy already: Some time ago a friend from Brazil called Ana posted a pic of some happy meal toys she got in a place named Bob's in, you guessed it, Brazil. But this were no ordinary toys, this were DC character Cosbabies, like the ones Hot Toys make.



"But, wait a minute" I thought... I've only seen Batman Family Cosbabies, I've never seen anything like these guys, specially that bearded Aquaman with the hook hand. I thought it was so weird that I shared those pics with some Internet friends (one of them is the biggest Aquafan I know, no I don't get why either, but I respect it). He asked me to see if I could get that Aquaman cosbaby for him. So I asked my Brazilian friend Ana. She said yes.

And not only "yes", she refused to charge me anything for the toy or the shipping. And when I finally got the package it wasn't just the Aquaman I found:



("Para Voce" means "for you" in Portuguese. And yes, the card says "Freak X-Mas". Awesome!)

As I was saying, I got more than an Aquaman Cosbaby, I got another little bag from Bob's too:



And who was in it? Non other than little Johnny Stewart, tiny green lantern.



I love this little guy, I'm not crazy about Cosbabies, but he's very cute and pretty well done. Where did these cosbabies came from? Why are they a happy meal toy in Brazil? Who made the molds? Does Hot Toys know about this? I have no idea, and I don't really care. I have a baby GL and there's nothing you can do to stop me.

Thanks so much Ana, for you awesome generosity. This toy is the last of the cool presents I got last year.

And in case you are an Aquafan, a cosbaby Aquaman might be going your way.

Until next time.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cool presents of 2010: My chemical romance

This presents thing is running a bit longer than I thought but what can I say? People seem to love me for some strange reason.

Some time ago I received a box in the mail, the box was from my good friend (and former high priest of geek) Reis. First of all I have something to tell you Reis, you can't retire from the Church of Geek, the Church of Geek retires you. Anyway, he didn't quit the game, he just got another (secret) blog to show of his toys. I can't tell you the name of the blog or add a link to this post, but HEY (that's a clue, check the links, wink wink), that's not my problem.

All I wanted from Reis was some help to get the only missing piece in my Batman: The Brave and the Bold Action League collection. The super elusive Chemo deluxe set. Well, he got it like it was nothing (thanks to his "enhanced toy senses" I was told) and sent it to me. The awesome thing about Reis is that when he sends you a toy, he doesn't just send you a toy. Check what I found when I opened the box:



But maybe I'm not being clear... Let me show that again, this time in slow motion and without the box:



(What were you expecting? A video? It's a still picture, there's nothing slower than that...)

But check that out! I got all kinds of goodies, including my very first Minimate, a wind-up ET, Vintage Ram-Man, a super articulated tiny Batgirl and Boba Fett! I was in Toy Heaven. And when I saw the main course I was in... Ehm... What's better than Heaven? New Genesis? Well OK... I was in New Genesis!



I mean, look at that awesome piece of plastic! He's not as articulated as Grodd who had ball joints in the shoulders and a removable helmet, but the detail, the expression, the tiny bubbles, Oh my Highfather, the bubbles!

I just love this toy!



And he loves me back... Or wants to kill me, whatever. This finishes the BBATB Action League line, Mattel decided to change it to DC Universe Action League, I'm waiting for the first wave of those, but they already did a White Lantern Sinestro and a Black Lantern Firestorm, that I'm not so happy about. I mean, I know Blackest Night was huge like, twenty minutes ago, but c'mon. a White Sinestro before a Green or a Yellow? That's lame Matty, super lame.

But don't worry, I'll still get them, but you can be damn sure that I'll complain about it. Because that, my friends... That's what makes me a true geek!



That, and the lack of personal Hygiene...

Until next time!