Sunday, December 18, 2016

1/18th Scale Aliens

I'm long overdue for a special shout-out to some Twitter/Facebook friends. When word got out that I had open heart surgery this past summer, it spread into the Twitter-verse and FlagPoints Dave took it upon himself to rally the troops and collect a very nice $$ gift through PayPal. I was genuinely touched by their thoughtfulness.

**EDIT** - A very heartfelt gift... "Ba-dum tish!" Thanks, I'll be here all week!

After some consideration, I used part of the gift and decided to buy a couple figures that would fulfill a lifelong dream.
Aliens! Specifically 1/18th scaled aliens. Of course, when I use the word aliens, I specifically mean the xenomorphs from the Alien films. I have been a huge fan of those creatures since the first Alien movie back in 1979. I remember getting the 18" tall Alien for Christmas that year. I wish I still had it!

Once the small GI Joes came out in 1982, it didn't take long before I started wishing for a small scale Alien figure. I remember trying to make a custom alien out of an extra Nemesis Enforcer figure. It was horrible. 

Fast forward to maybe early 2015 and there were signs from a company called Hiya Toys that an Aliens line was moving into production. I knew, one day, I needed to get a couple of these critters.
I've only bought the two alien figures right now. I do want more and I'll eventually add to my meager collection. Been a little busy this year, you know, all that heart surgery nonsense... 
So... How are they? Holy crap, they are awesome! Just what I've wanted for 30+ years!
Both aliens that I purchased are essentially the same. Same body mold, same hands, same tubes on the back, and the same heads. These two are just different colors, with one notable change.
The Alien Lurker has a clear dome over the top of its head, very similar to the original creature from the first film. The sculpting is incredible! 
There's some amazing attention to detail with these figures. Each figure also has an impressive amount of articulation. One specific drawback, the arms are very thin a,d the elbow joints suffer for it. It's important to remember that these aren't really toys; they are designed primarily for adult collectors. I don't think they'd hold up to rough play. 
Each xenomorph comes with a few different accessories. Each comes with an egg, opened up to deliver its spawn.
There's also a facehugger ready to pounce on an unsuspecting victim.
Each alien also comes with three extra sets of hands. They seem so fragile, I haven't tried swapping out any yet.
The Alien Soldier is representative of the "bugs" from the Aliens movie from 1986. Brownish in color, they don't have the dome on the top of the head. No big deal, they're still damn cool!
Such incredible detailing! I really want more of these! Not tons, but maybe a couple more of each. Plus, there's still the Boiler and Spitter Xenomorphs. And then there's the Marines that are a part of the collection.

Plus this... $249.99... wow... Still want it... 
Here's a quick comparison shot with my first Marauder MTF figure. He's toast...

Thanks again to my Twitter/Facebook friends - you guys rock!
Dave, TZ, Rob, Page, Dan U, Chad L, Carson, Justin M, YT, & Rock 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sinister Allies/Zombie Patrol Review

Time for a look at the two troop builder two packs from Hasbro. Just a reminder, I've passed on the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow two pack. Great figures, but I really don't need them. If I happen to be out at a Toys R Us and spot the set, I'll probably grab it, but it isn't a high priority.
First up is the Zombie Viper two pack. These guys are basically just the same figure from a few years ago with just some minor paint app differences. The picture above is an original zombie on the left and the new zombie on the right. The easiest difference to spot is the right knee; the new version has a paint app that makes the zombie look like his knee is exposed.
This is a great two pack; great for the guys who missed out on the zombies when they were first released. I was lucky and was able to score quite a few before the prices jumped on the secondary market. I've got six of the originals and have now added four of the new zombies. Still awesome.
Next up is the Sinister Allies two pack with the Iron Grenadier and the Cobra Viper. Personally, I would have liked a two pack of the Viper.
The Iron Grenadier was a great figure when they first appeared as Destro's soldiers. I remember buying quite a few, but they're all gone now. I was initially excited by the prospect of a new modern version of the Iron Grenadiers but I' a little disappointed by the result. The body just doesn't work well enough for me to do some serious troop building. 
The Cobra Viper? Hasbro did a hell of a job. The initial 25th anniversary figure was pretty crappy, but the Pursuit of Cobra/30th Anniversary figure turned out great. I kinda went a little nuts about them and wound up with about sixteen of them. I got lucky and even snagged two of the blue gauntlet versions.
There's really no difference between the 30th and this year's version. Just one significant difference. Instead of a chrome faceplate, Hasbro chose to go with a clean silver paint job. This new paint job actually works quite well. I think I'll wind up switching out the lower arms with these two new Vipers with the blue gauntlet Vipers. I suppose that when I make that switch, they'll be my Viper officers.

Well, that's about it for Hasbro's GI Joe offerings for me for this year. I'm glad that GI Joe is still alive. Somewhat... 

Hopefully, Hasbro has some decent plans for the future of GI Joe. I don't know if it will involve their huge crossover event with Rom, MASK, the Micronauts, and the Visionaries, but it should be interesting. I hope it resonates with kids.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Mission Accepted/Heavy Conflict Review

Let's take a look at a couple of the new GI Joe two-packs. There's a total of five two-packs in this year's GI Joe release.
First up is the Mission Accepted two pack with Duke and Tombstone. A new character from Hasbro! Awesome! Black characters on the side of Cobra have been few and far between over the history of the Real American Heroes cast of characters. I'm pleased that Hasbro went this direction; it's been long overdue.
Duke turned out... okay... I'm not totally impressed. I've already modified him just a bit. I added a pistol belt and switched out the vest with the more muted colors of the Steel Brigade vest. Plus the SB vest has a few more features detailed with paint. I was really hoping that the Renegades Duke head sculpt would fit on this new figure, but it just drops down too much on the neck post. He turns looking like he has no neck. Decent enough figure, but he won't become my default Duke.
Next up is Tombstone, the new Cobra field commander. I think the idea of this guy is that he is basically Duke's counterpart on the side of Cobra. Decent build by Hasbro. The head sculpt turned out nicely, but a few paint apps around his damaged eye would have been a nice touch. I believe this is a straight reuse of the PoC Firefly figure. I wasn't too crazy about that body back when it first showed up and I'm not too crazy about it now. 
Next up is the Heavy Conflict two pack with Heavy Duty and Stiletto. Stiletto is a new character based on a character from one of the Kindle Worlds fan fiction stories. I need to dig into the Kindle Worlds stories and find out the back story on Stiletto.
Heavy Duty turned out great. Hasbro used the Retaliation Roadblock/Rock body with great results. Heavy Duty becomes the big dude that he seemed to have been implied. The original Heavy Duty just seemed like muscular average sized dude, but he seemed to grow in size and stature as the line progressed. I think he was part of the Sigma Six line and became a pretty big dude. His character in Rise of Cobra was a big dude as well. 
Personally, this Heavy Duty is the best of this year's collection of GI Joe figures.
Next up is Stiletto, a brand new character to the GI Joe universe. Apparently a Cobra defector who now works as Mercer's bodyguard. Why does Mercer need a bodyguard, especially since he was a lowly Cobra Viper. Perhaps Mercer gathered quite a bit more information about Cobra during his career and now they have a serious need to eliminate him. I guess he might need a bodyguard then.
Hasbro did a decent job with Stiletto. They used the Helix torso and legs along with arms from an older Lady Jaye figure? Maybe, I don't know. The head sculpt turned out... okay... There's a few issues. The head seems to be a bit squished and she could have used some paint apps on her scar.

Not a bad few figures, but not a whole lot of excitement. Next up, I'll look at the troop builder two packs.

GI Joe Special Forces/Cobra Legion Review

It's time to try to get this silly ass blog rolling again. Life's been a bit crazy, you know. All the open heart surgery and moving across town. Settling into a new job and new house. I've been a little busy.

Let's get rolling with quick reviews of the new GI Joe figures from Hasbro. First off will be the three packs, GI Joe Special Forces and Cobra Legions.
Let's start with the GI Joe team. The set includes Outback, Falcon, and Shooter. Shooter? Who's that? C'mon, you already know by now, but i'll explain a little bit in a few minutes. 
All of the GI Joe troops in this set are outfitted in black gear. Night ops, I suppose. Outback turned out pretty good, but he seems to have gotten taller and gained some weight. I'm not sure of the parts used for Outback; it looks like RET Roadblock's torso and upper arms with Gung Ho lower arms. I'm not sure of the legs. I always imagined that Outback was of smaller stature; average height, wiry and strong. I think he'll work out fine as my new default Outback. 
Falcon has always been one of my favorite characters, but this version just doesn't quite work for me. Hasbro is using the same body and head from the BBTS Slaughter's Marauders set and the Club's recent version from FSS 3.0 or 4.0. I don't recall which right now. The totally black uniform is just a little too bland. There needed to be some bits of paint apps to break it up.
Jodie "Shooter" Craig was supposed to be the 14th original GI Joe team member. The name appeared way back in the first issue of the Marvel comics run of GI Joe with the face obscured. Larry Hama rebooted the character in an issue of GI Joe: Declassified which covered the building of that first team of GI Joe. She was apparently killed at the end of that first mission from GI Joe #1 and seems to have reappeared in recent comics. I've been out of the new comics for quite a few years.

So what about the figure? I'm glad Hasbro made the character, but I'm not thrilled with the final result. She's okay, but just doesn't "pop". The uniform is bland and the body is just too dated. Maybe the RET Lady Jaye with blacks and dark gray highlights would have worked out better.

The winner for this set is Outback.
Next up, I'll take a look at the Cobra Legion set. Nothing but troop builders! Time to load up, right? Maybe, maybe not.
First up is the SAW Viper. I don't know where the body parts come from, but Hasbro did a decent job. The arms are a bit bulky and it's difficult for him to get a solid two-handed grip on a weapon. This is a decent enough build and I wouldn't mind another one or two.
Next up is the Cobra BAT. There's been no change to this figure from its first release during the 25th Anniversary line up. Of all of the modern figures since the 25th Anniversary line, this is one of the most solid. While most of the 25th Anniversary figures don't hold up to modern figures, the BAT works just fine. I've got loads of them. Probably two dozen of the 25th version, a couple Resolute BATs, three Jungle BATs, and two Arctic BATs. Would I like a few more of these guys? Sure. Will I get some more? I don't know.
Finally, there's the new female Cobra Officer. Very cool concept, but a little weak on the execution. The baggy pants legs work out alright, but the upper torso is the same as Shooter's and it's just too dated. The head sculpt is decent, but the helmet doesn't fit too well on the head. I suppose I'd like a couple more to try out some different female head sculpts.

The winner for this set is the BAT. The other two just don't quite come together enough to have that "wow" factor. Would I like a couple more of these sets? Yeah, but I'm not going to push too hard to get more. There's no Toys R Us around for 20+ miles and I'm not interested enough to hit them up online on BBTS or TRU.

Next up will be reviews of some of the two packs. I initially picked up the Duke/Tombstone, Heavy Duty/Stiletto, and Zombie Viper two packs. I'm passing on the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow set. Very cool, but I don't really need them. I did succumb to online temptation and ordered two of the Iron Grenadier/Viper two packs.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Recap: FSS 4.0

Just some quick random thoughts about FSS 4.0 now that it's done and all of the figures have been released. Of the three FSS series that I have been a part of, I can't say that this group has been my favorite bunch. Quick thoughts of each figure to follow.
  1. Interrogator - great figure, weak choice of head under the helmet.
  2. Night Creeper/Ice Ninja - sold
  3. Nunchuk - great figure, I changed out his web gear 
  4. Inferno BAT - pass - sold
  5. Tiger Force Outback - great head sculpt, body is a bit too small compared to head sculpt?
  6. Barricade - those arms... I really liked original figure. This guy? Not so much
  7. Tiger Force Sneak Peek - very nicely done! Great figure
  8. Billy, CoCo's son - great head sculpt, a bit too large on body choice. I added new web gear
  9. Law & Order - traditional colors, I like Renegades version better. Sold
  10. Jammer - large head syndrome, decent figure
  11. Pathfinder - a bit odd parts selection, bits don't quite mesh together
  12. Bullhorn - great figure but that 90's headband had to go!
  13. Carla "Doc" Greer - great mystery figure
Of the three FSS series that I've been involved with, I'm going to have to go with FSS 3.0 as my favorite group. Time will tell for FSS 5.0.

How about you? Which group has been your favorite?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

GI Joe Club FSS 5.0 Reveals

All the shenanigans seem to have settled down about the reveals for the Club's FSS 5.0 set of figures. I've been it a bit of a funk lately, at least in relation to toys and stuff. Surgery, new job, moving... it's all piled up to make for an interesting summer. The toys and this silly blog got put to the side for a while.

I've signed up for FSS 5.0 and have previously been a part of FSS 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0. I figured that I might as well throw out my two cents about the troops for FSS 5.0. Nothing better than sharing your opinion on the internet, right?

I loaded the pictures as to how I had saved them, not in the sequence that they were released. So, what the hell? Let's get going.
First up is Ambush. I wasn't really a huge fan of the original figure and I think that the Club did a decent enough job in capturing the essence of the character. As has been pointed out elsewhere, his neck seems extra long with that head propped up on that collar. Maybe it's just a pre-production issue and hopefully it will be resolved. In general, I'm in favor of this figure.
Next up is the Viper based on version 4 from 1994. I really didn't like the original figure much. I'm sure I bought a few, but nowhere near the amount of regular Vipers that I would have bought back in '86. Now we have another troop builder from the Club. I can't really fault the Club, primarily because the Cobra figures were largely the troops, with the individual personalities being a smaller amount. I think the figure looks well made, but I just don't know yet if I'm going to keep him. The design doesn't really fit into the design of the current modern Vipers or Cobra soldiers. Right now, I'm thinking he's going to head to the secondary market. I'm thinking I should be able to turn him for a decent profit.
Next up is Charbroil, another figure that wasn't terribly exciting in his original form. I think the Club did a decent job with him. I like this design over the Hasbro Blowtorch design. Charbroil is a keeper.
Next up is Darklon. The Club used the character in one of the recent Convention sets and he looked pretty good. I don't recall the build and I'm too lazy to go look it up right now. I think the Club did a great job; I think the parts choices work. I've always liked the character and will be pleased to add him to my collection.
No, this isn't Gung Ho. This is his Action Force counterpart, Gaucho. The original Gaucho was just a repaint of the original Gung Ho, so... yeah... Easy figure for the Club. He's way too much like Gung Ho for him to fit into my GI Joe world. I don't know what I'm going to do with this figure. Keep or sell? Time will tell. 
Next up is General Flagg. I like the design from the Club. Not sure how well that hat is fitting on his head, but the build looks pretty decent. I'm looking forward to adding him to my team.
Raptor? The Club decided to tackle Raptor? They certainly did and they did a damn fine job. I've seen customs in which the jungle viper "wings" were used for Raptor customs and I'm pleased that the Club went the same direction. The "wings" work great for Raptor and I'm excited about adding this goofball to my Cobra lineup.
I have always liked the character of Scoop. A combat journalist always sounded like a cool part of the team. Those odd combat jobs, like the journalist or the combat engineer (Tollbooth) always appealed to me. I think the Club captured his look well enough, but I'm disappointed that the head sculpt has a non removeable helmet.
Sneak Peek in his more accurate colors is up next. I liked the FSS 4.0 Tiger Force version and this guy looks just fine as well. Lazy on the part of the Club? Yeah, maybe, but it makes sense. I'm not sure why Tiger Force came out before this regular version, but either way, this figure works. I'm pleased to add him to my team.
Next up is Steel Raven, from the Club's comic story. Loosely based on a SKAR character from GI Joe: Extreme. Wow! The Club dipped into the mutant cousin/line of GI Joe? Not bad! There's been some criticism about Steel Raven looking like a female Major Bludd. Yeah, maybe. Whatever. I think she looks pretty good and well designed. 
Next up is Xamot, from the "Shattered Glass" storyline from the Club's Adventure Team comic. Whatever the backstory, we have one of the twins in a business suit. I'm quite pleased with this choice. Does the Club have plans for Tomax? Maybe in the future? 
Next up is the biggest source of nerd rage of FSS 5.0 - Salvo. This is the first concept from the Club and the Joe fan community exploded in a fury of outrage! Personally, I didn't care too much at the time. I've always imagined that the Club has to use what Hasbro allows them to use. Apparently the fan base interpreted the somewhat bulky original figure with the idea that Salvo had to be a big dude. Nerd outrage ensued... But the fan base did a good thing. They politely went to the Club's forums and reacted in a positive fashion, which resulted in...
This new version of Salvo. The Club offered up a design using the Retaliation Roadblock torso which gives Salvo much more bulk to him, much more in line with the muscular original figure. I've got to admit, the fan base did a good thing and I'm really hoping that the Club can create this version of Salvo.

Finally, there will be the mystery 13th figure. The Club has revealed that the figure will be a female figure and a "highly requested GI Joe team member." So what does that mean? Sounds interesting, I'm looking forward to seeing who it will be.

I was pretty much sold on FSS 5.0 from just the original line up and the release of the preproduction designs further completed my buy in of the line up. Right now (only considering the 12 named figures), it looks like there are ten solid keepers, with the Viper being a probable sale and Gaucho being on the fence as to what his final fate will be in the end.

My only real complaint with the Club and the FSS figures is the lack of communication. I don't want to know all of their business, but keep the fans updated on production and expected shipping delivery times. Just give us something once in awhile. Please.

One last question - Will the last figures from FSS 5.0 be released before the 2017 Convention? I certainly hope so.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


having the qualities of surrealism; bizarre.
"a surreal mix of fact and fantasy"
synonyms: unreal, bizarre, unusual, weird, strange, freakish, unearthly, uncanny, dreamlike, phantasmagorical

Life has been a bit "surreal" these days and this silly blog has suffered because of it. I suppose I can't really be blamed. After all, I did have my chest cut open around nine weeks ago. Damn, nine weeks? That's just weird. I had a quadruple bypass just a little over nine weeks ago.

That's some crazy stuff. No prior symptoms and I have heart surgery. WTF? Here's a quick run down. I think I wrote about this previously, but personally, I need to just hash it out again.

July 5th, I go to my cardiologist and he recommends a cardiac cath. July 11th, cardiac cath, no damage to heart, but significant blockages. July 13th, quadruple bypass. After that? Just recovery, lot's of recovery.

I'm finally back to work. This is actually my fourth week back. I'm better, much better, but there's still a bit to go. Cardiac rehab is in the near future. I'm actually looking forward to it. I want my strength back, but one step at a time.

My faithful reader(s) have probably noticed that the blog pretty much sucks right now. I just haven't been into it right now. The toys are mostly packed up with no room to unpack them. Inspiration is at a bit of a low point right now. I'm not stressing, it will return one day.

Another aspect of the feeling of "surreal" is our move during July/August. We found a house in a new neighborhood in Canton, GA around two weeks prior to surgery, sold our house in McDonough the next weekend, which was just nearly prior to the surgery.

We moved from McDonough to Canton in early August, only a little over four weeks after surgery. We're well established in our new home, but something still feels a bit off. It doesn't quite feel like "home" yet. I don't know why. The house is fantastic, but it's just not quite homey yet. I'm sure it will come.

And then there's the new job. I was at my previous school for eleven years with quite a unique culture. My new school is quite different, and yet, regardless of race, adults can still screw up their kids pretty well.

Life is good, health is better and better every day, but life still seems a bit off. Surreal, I suppose. No regrets at all, it's just an odd feeling. But it gets better every day.

I need to get this nonsense blog rolling again. I've got some 4" Aliens to review as well as initial thoughts on the reveals from the Club's FSS 5.0 lineup.

Bear with me, loyal readers, I'll be back soon. It's been a crazy summer.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

FSS 4.0 - Sneak Peek, Outback, and...

Sometimes it's all about the timing.

Everyone who signed up for the FSS 4.0 figures has been patiently waiting and wondering when the last three figures would drop. Once thew shipping schedule got really rolling, they should have come out during the annual convention. Realistically? No, I didn't expect them, but it would have been cool for the folks at home to get them while the convention was rolling. <evil laugh>

It seemed like it took forever! There was finally an email that stated that they would be shipping around July 22nd. Then there was another email that stated that they would ship during the last week of July.

Well, damn... That worked out pretty well for me! With my little side diversion of my quadruple bypass surgery, the arrival of the figures late in July was just what the doctor ordered. Well, maybe not the doctor, but it was a nice bit of fun during the early stages of my recovery. Shoot, I even walked up to the mail box all by myself to grab them.

Okay, you may ask... "Tom, how long are you going to milk this open heart surgery thing?" I've got a seven inch scar along the center of my chest; I'm running with this for a long time! I've frikkin' earned it!

Anyway, let's get to the figures. Fred and Justin will probably do much longer and more in depth reviews, I'm just going to touch on quick highlights and thoughts. As of this date, I'm beating both of them to online reviews! I'll take my victories where I can get them!

First up is Tiger Force Sneak Peek. Interesting build by the Club and very effective as well. Like most of the Cub figures, there's a great deal of reuse of parts. There's really nothing new from the figure itself. Airborne head and helmet, Snake Eyes torso, Shock Trooper arms and legs, Scrap Iron vest. But it all works well together. Sneak Peek is a good, solid build. I like the color pallet of the Tiger Force theme. Right now, this is the only modern update of Sneak Peek out there. He's slated for another release during FSS 5.0, supposedly in his more traditional colors and maybe with a different vest.
The only new piece with Sneak Peek is his periscope. Brand new item from the Club and it works well. Nicely sculpted, Sneak Peek gets his iconic piece of equipment. The other stuff is okay, nothing too impressive. The M-16 is a bit dated and the radio and binoculars are nice pieces.

Overall, Sneak Peek is a strong figure and one of the better figures from FSS 4.0.
Next up we have Tiger Force Outback. The color palette is actually based on the European version of Tiger Force Outback, complete with a head full of white hair and beard. The head sculpt is brand new, at least since the Zombie Initiative convention set. An excellent head sculpt by the way. Pretty standard body reuse, I think it's made up of 25th anniversary bits with the newer swivel/pivot wrists. The tiger face on his shirt is nicely done, very crisp and clean.
The gear is decent enough. Nice backpack, but the machine gun and the knife are a bit lacking. The knife is a bit too big to me. I'm sure it's fine for hacking through the jungles, but it just seems too large. The machine gun looks great, but the handle is a bit too big for his hands. Accessories are the least issue to me. If the figure is well done, I can forgive the less than stellar gear.

Another strong figure from the Club to wrap up FSS 4.0!
Next up, we have Tiger Force Jinx! Oh wait a minute... Nope. I was really expecting a Tiger Force Jinx as the 13th "mystery" figure. The early clue from the Club was that the figure would be a female character with a new head sculpt.
I really didn't care too much about spoilers, so I saw who #13 was online before I got the shipment. Much to everyone's surprise, we got a modern update of a Club original figure, Carla "Doc" Greer. The Club released her as part of a convention set several years ago, way back when they were still using the o-ring bodies.
I think she's a mix of a Lady Jaye torso with maybe RoC Cover Girl arms and legs? Whatever. The parts work well together along with a brand new head sculpt. Not having the original Carla Greer figure, I'm quite pleased that the Club has included some more diversity into the GI Joe team. Some may think that Hasbro has been less ethnically diverse than they should have been back in the 80's-90's series. Tough call, but I don't buy it. Based on the file cards, the GI Joe team was quite ethnically diverse. Whatever. Race/gender/ethnicity just needs to stop being such a big damn deal in the 1/1 world. We are who we are.

Overall, Doc is another strong figure from the Club.
The Club wrapped up FSS 4.0 on a very strong note with three very well done figures. Stay tuned for a quick look back at all of the figures from FSS 4.0!