Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Great Lakes Mall celebrates 50 years by remodeling

My hometown mall, Great Lakes Mall, here in Mentor, OH is getting a much needed face-lift. With plans for the renovation announced earlier this year in the local paper, it's nice to see the renovation work has begun. The photo from their facebook page today made me do a double take. It looked ominously like the gutted dead malls I've seen on the internet. Luckily this is just the North end with the old tile ripped up, and the columns ripped away from the support girders, making preparations for the "new look". Part of the redesign calls for a minimalist approach as far as the columns go, so they will now be steel girders instead of well, whatever they were before. The article in the paper stated they were hoping to source the new floor tiles from within Ohio. The previous tiles from the last renovation 15-20 years ago (?) were said to be imported from Italy. Well, kudos to Simon for giving "the mall" some much-needed loving.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Decepticon Jets, Past and Future:

More flashback TF stuff from 2001

Decepticon Jets, Past and Future:
   Today I am addressing the issue of the future of the Decepticon Jets. As discussed on previous subpages I am more than a little concerned that in Robots in Diguise (RID) the enemy is still Predacons and not Decepticons. Well it does little good to just complain about a situation without a solution to the problem. This page focuses on a solution to the lack of decepticons in RID. Before we can get to the future of the Decepticons we have to look at the past.
     In Generation 1 (G1) the Decepticons had 6 main seeker jets in their armada during the first two years. These jets were Starscream, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Dirge, Thrust, and Ramjet. With these early jets you got a toy design that isn't likely to be seen again, plenty of die-cast metal for the fuselage of the jets. (I heard that just recently Starscream and Skywarp were reissued in Japan, hopefully they included the original die cast parts). In recent years, with the exception of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, It seems that toy companies have shyed away from using die cast metal in toys. Some of the reasons for this are pretty obvious: Cost to produce, Cost to ship heavier toys, and possible lawsuits that might arise from making toys that kids could hurt each other with if used as projectiles or bludgens.
      So if it's next to impossbile for Hasbro to go as far back as to rerelease the original die cast metal seeker jets where are Decepticon jets going to come from? Let's look back to Generation2 (G2) and Machine Wars. Between these two toy lines there are at least 5 different cost effective plastic jet molds. In 1995 G2 released 3 jet molds that were used to create 6 total jets, three for the Autobots and three for the Decepticons. Machine Wars used two different molds to create four decepticon jets. It had never been uncommon for Hasbro to reuse a mold to make multiple toys. Ex: Dinobot and Grimlock from Beast Wars, Ratchet and Ironhide from G1, REV and Crosswise from RID. (Editor's note, correction: REV is the same mold as G2 Sideswipe, G2 Optimus Prime & G2 Firecracker; Crosswise is the same mold as G2 Highbeam, & G2 Bumblebee. 8/29/01)
       So here we have 5 jet molds used in the last 6 years to produce Transformers toys. The jet designs include F-117A Stealth Fighter, F-15, X-30, YF-22, and YF-23. Working from the idea  that Hasbro uses the same mold at least twice per toy line we are looking at the possibility of 10 jets. This leaves room to make all 6 original G1 jets but in new body designs. I think Hasbro could easily repaint these molds to reflect the color schemes of the G1 jets. This is the future I hope to see for the enemy of RID's Autobots. Easy to produce Decepticon jets using recent molds but painted to resemble the original 6 G1 seeker jets. The four remaining jets could be any of a number of G1 Decepticons, offhand I'd like to see them called Laserbeak, Buzzsaw, Blitzwing, and Ratbat.  Then Soundwave could be made as an aircraft carrier instead of a tape deck.
       We can look forward to seeing at least the two Machine Wars jet molds in the upcoming releases from the Robots in Disguise line. They are scheduled to be released in two packs with Autobot molds from Machine Wars (Hoist & Mirage MW). These two Autobots were named Wrecker Hook and Indy Heat in the Japanese Car Robots 2000 toy line. I am sure to be putting up another subpage about these four toys when they get released in the US this Fall.
        Well that about wraps it up for today's post about Decepticon Jets Past and Future. Again I'd like to say that anyone who has Machine Wars Jets or Decepticon Cyberjets from G2 up for trade please contact me via email. I would like to beat Hasbro to the punch and have a Decepticon armada to face off against my RID Autobots. Thanks for reading.
        Editor's Update 8/29/01: The two Machine Wars jets that are due out shortly may in fact  be pre-existing Transformers. It seems that during Beast Wars Neo in Japan (a revamp of the US Beast Wars line) the maximals fought the decepticons. (Well in Japan the heroes have always been called Cybertrons while the villians are Destrons; I use maximals here to indicate animal heroes, and decepticons to refer to vehicle enemies) Several pre-exisitng molds were used to round out the decepticon forces, amongst which were the two Machine Wars jet molds. From these two molds Dirge and Thrust were made for the Beast Wars Neo cartoon. It is very likely that these paintjobs and possibly the same names will be used for the RID2001 release. Look for further update shortly. 

         END OF LINE

Another page from my geocities TF:RID site

More ramblings from 2001:

Robots in Disguise. An Evolution in Transformers: 
   Here we are in the year 2001, and Transformers has undergone yet another evolution. First released in the early eighties as Transformers More than meets the Eye, we saw the heroic Autobots whose transformed modes were mostly cars fighting the evil Decepticons whose armada was built from jets. This is Transformers as it is in my heart, the story of two warring factions from the far off planet of Cybertron, cars vs. jets.
     Shortly after the end of this line, allowing only a few years for the original line to cool off, was Transformers Generation 2 released in the early 1990's. I must say that I for one was not impressed. After playing with GIJoe  action figures for the remaining years of the 1980's I suppose I was spoiled by the articulation that action figures presented. So I didn't buy anything from Generation 2 even though I was an avid toy collector and Transformers still held a place in my heart.
      In 1995 Transfomers underwent their third evolution: Beast Wars. Now I was torn. I purchased the early two-pack of Optimus Primal (bat) vs. Megatron (crocodile). I have tons of praise for the articulation presented in these toys. For goodness sake both of them could sit Indian style. I fell in love with the ball and socket joints that were present at the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. This is the sort of articulation I am dying to see incorporated into any action figure line. Unfotunately the line was a battle between animals that transformed into robots. Featuring the heroic Maximals against the evil Predacons.
       My main beef with this match up is the fact that all the animals were out of scale with each other. You basically had something like a gorilla or shark be sized up against  a frog or dragonfly. I'm sure it makes sense somewhere in the universe but that place doesn't include my mind. With the exception of a few off scale Decepticons like Megatron or Soundwave that turned into items that were scaled with the real world, most of the rest of the original Transformers were in a decent scale with each other. The reason for this stems from the pre-Transformers origin of  the toy molds. The items like Megatron and Soundwave that were scaled to real world came from a Japanese toy line known as Microman. The cars and jets were scaled to fit pilots about the size of Micro Machine Action Fleet and they came from a Japanese toy line known as Diaclone.
      If you're lucky enough you might own a Diaclone pilot that can drive Optimus Prime or pilot Starscream (a few Diaclone vehicles that weren't turned into transformers popped up in the States in the 1980's to compete directly with the popularity of Transformers, Robotech, and Voltron.) I happened to own one of these toys and I thought it was cool that the pilots fit into the Transformers. The roots of Transformers only recently came into light for me. Basically from my understanding the cars and jets were on one side opposed by giant mechanical monsters on the other, namely the Dinobots and  Insecticons. It you ever bothered to wonder what those hatches were for on your Dinobots and Insecticons the answer is they are cockpits for Diaclone pilots.
       During the course of the Beast Wars I saw glimmers of hope that Hasbro may return to the original roots of Transformers. The introduction of Transmetals was of keen interest to me because at least now the animal forms had a more robotic feel to them like the Original Dinobots and Insecticons. Unfortunately the toys continued to be grossly out of scale with each others.
       2000, Beast Machines posed the final path towards the days gone by. Here we see  the heroic Maximals return to Cybertron to face off against Vehicons. The Vehicons were close to Decepticons. I was very happy to see them get introduced into the toy line but slightly disappointed that they weren't called Decepticons. In this same year I found out about a Toy line in Japan known as Car Robots 2000. This line featured the Heroic Autobots facing off against the evil Predacons. (well actually in Japan it was the Cybertrons versus the Destrons) I managed to get my hands on the Build King set for Christmas of 2000. My girlfriend at the time had visited her family in Japan and was kind enough to get me this set. 
        Early in 2001 I heard great news from the New York Toy Fair: Hasbro was importing the Car Robots line to the US for late Summer/early Fall release. So here we stand on the threshold of the Classic days of Transformers. With only 1 season of the cartoon existing it's possible that rather than the Autobots waging battle against the Predacons we may soon see Autobots versus Decepticons. Actually later this year we will see some Decepticons: the Combaticons that form Bruticus, Black Battle Convoy, and two Machine Wars jets.
        Personally I am avoiding the Predacon threepack, and Sky Byte. I hope to aquire the Decepticon cyberjets from Generation 2, and the other Machine Wars jets so that I will have the RID Autobots pitting battle against the Decepticons.
Editor's note 8/29/01: I have aquired the Machine wars jets except Megaplex and I have aquired all three G2 cyberjets. My thanks to Joel for such a great deal. Anyone with a Megaplex at a decent price feel free to email me at sandmanloganfive@yahoo.com . I am also still looking for the following G2 Go-Bots: Firecracker, Highbeam, Megatron, Optimus Prime, & Doubleclutch.

       Well thats enough babbling for now. I hope to refine this site with some toy reviews and more of my opinions of where the line is heading, but for now this is it.

       Thanks for reading. Catch ya on the flipside. SandmanLoganfive signing off.

        END OF LINE

Reliving my old geocities website

The following is copied from my old geocities Transformers Fansite created starting in July 2001:

Robots in Disguise
Hello and welcome to my first website. I hope to offer here an array of photos involving the new Transformers Robots in Disguise toy line. The photos will include toys in package, toys displayed, and Japanese versions of the toys. Site is updated on a totally irregular basis please check back for more info. 

Here reborn for 2001 is the Mighty Optimus Prime! In Japan he was released under the name Fire Convoy. The original Optimus Prime was named Convoy in Japan, this new name reflects the fact that he transforms into a Fire Truck. Optimus also has another mode that pays tribute to his earlier incarnation, I hope to have a photo of that up soon. 

The new 2001 Autobot line up is seen here: XBrawn (AKA Wildride) the silver SUV, Prowl (AKA Mach Alert) the police Lambourghni , Side Burn (AKA Speedbreaker) the blue Dodge Viper. The spychangers previously Go-bots in Generation 2 from 1995: Hot Shot & R.E.V., Ironhide & Mirage, W.A.R.S. & Crosswise. All nine of these autobots were seen in the Car Robots 2000 line. The six spychangers were in both the CR2000 line and Gen2 1995 line

This is a little action setup featuring the new Robots in Disguise Ultra Magnus. Ultra Magnus' robot form leaves something to be desired but his car carrier form is outstanding. Operating Magnus' main gun port are the spychangers Mirage and Ironhide. Dueling at the back end of the trailer are RID Prowl and Machine Wars Megatron. I used a little creative spirit here by outfitting Prowl with a saber from a Gundam toy. Also I have Prowl transformed into his "Samurai Style" with the doors acting as hip armor and the shoulder guards turned forward to sleek out his overall look. BTW I'm trying to aquire the Deception Machine Wars jet Megaplex, Firecracker, Highbeam, Megatron, Optimus Prime,  and Doubleclutch Go-Bots from Gen2 1995. Anyone who has these for trade please email me at: sandmanloganfive@yahoo.com.  

Megatron is shown here in his first US release package. I hope that a newer package version will come out shortly with only English on it. (Editors note, only the five U.S. exclusives came with english only packaging 7/31/02) Megatron was known as Gigatron in the Japanese Car Robots 2000 toy line. In Japan he was the leader of the Destrons, here in the US he continues to lead the Predacons as he did in Beast Wars. 
This Page is Maintained by SandmanLoganfive Email me at: sandmanloganfive@yahoo.com "Learn to expect the unexpected and you will adapt better to your surroundings whatever those may be."

"What your eyes cannot detect is simply hidden in the shadows"

"Would you believe that just because you cannot see it is there that it no longer exists?"
Disclaimer: This site is a fan tribute site. It is designed to inform and entertain the Public at large. It is not intended to infringe on the copyrights of Hasbro nor Takara.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Then & Now, Round 6: Rancor Keeper '84 vs. Malakili '97 vs. Malakili '09

Well I haven't been keeping up on this feature like I would like to, so tonight it's back at Round 6. I never had the original Rancor Keeper, although I had the Rancor beast in my youth and I was a fan of it. The 1997 incarnation, dubbed "Malakili" was one I ended up with a few of. To help clear some figures off the pegs Hasbro rep's put $2 off coupons on figures that were left on the shelf. I was out at Walmart in Eastlake in '97 or '98 and the Malakili was marked down to $1. I took 2 of him up to the register and used the $2 off coupon, lo and behold the total after the coupon was $.12! Twelve cents for two figures, you can't beat that.

The 2009 edition  of Malakili was in a better scale to modern figures and not as bulky as the Power of the Force (2) figures from the late '90s. I bought him with the other 7 Return of the Jedi figures that were released in that 2009 wave. That way I was able to build two droids from the build-a-droid promotion. Each figure came with a part to build an astromech droid like R2-D2. The build-a-droid promotion is now over sadly enough, it was good while it lasted. Now I need to track down the Target exclusive Rancor Beast from a few years back. (photos from this article are courtesy of the photo archive at Rebelscum.com)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Transformers Generation 2 spychangers never cease to amaze me.

Well technically the molds in question were not called spychangers until the 2001 toy line: Robots in Disguise (RID). In Generation 2 they were called "go-bots" in reference to their ability to "go" fast on Hot Wheels scaled tracks. I was poking around the Transformers Wiki today looking up info on the Cyberjets, when I stumbled upon a variation I had not yet memorized in my extensive knowledge of the spychangers. Since Firecracker's body was translucent red, and Blowout's was translucent smoke, some of the body parts of wave 1 Gearhead, and Motormouth, namely the underbody, were also translucent red and smoke. In wave two when Optimus Prime and Megatron replaced Firecracker and Blowout the underbody on Gearhead and Motormouth changed to solid red and silver.

This was due to the cross-pollenation of molds. To increase the color variety amongst these bots different elements came from different plastic injection mold-trees. The shared trees between the above mentioned cars became cast in different colors as Firecracker and Optimus are the same vehicle, to differentiate them Optimus was a solid red as opposed to Firecracker's translucent red, and Megatron was silver, as opposed to Blowout's translucent smoke. So when the wave 2 bots were cast, a color change occured on both Gearhead and Motormouth who shared elements on the other cars' plastic mold trees.

Although today's topic is very nerdy, I think it's pretty nifty.

Wonka's Bottle Caps, the 80's never tasted better!

So my buddy, TK, and I went over to Walmart in Eastlake, because it was late at night and we had nothing to do. They had a decent selection of the new Transformers 3 toys, though I passed on them. While we were in the electronics section I mentioned how I hadn't seen the latest entry in the Predator franchise, Predators. At $9 it was still a pass up item, as it didn't seem to have the greatest number of  features. I will check it out at "The Exchange" sometime in the next few weeks. The Exchange is our local buy, sell, and trade store. Sometimes they have very reasonable prices, that's where I got my copy of Pokemon Sapphire for $15 the other month.

Anyways I saw a dump bin of theater box size candies including: "Wonka's Bottle Caps". I haven't had these since I was a kid. I happily bought myself a box and it is practically gone already, although I have been sharing them. If you have never had these before, I assure you they are part of the flavorscape that was the candy aisle in the 80's. A true retro experience.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Once a LEGO maniac, always a LEGO maniac!

So I've been a member of the website Bricklink since 2005. It's a great site for finding all your LEGO needs from old sets to individual bricks and old instructions, to new sets. I'd be lying to say I don't have "too many" LEGOs for one man, but what can I say I have a passion for the brick. Feel free to browse my selection on Bricklink: Logan's New Bricks. I must however tip my hat to the official Shop at Home LEGO site which sets and maintains MSRP and a wide selection of the best modern sets. (BTW this isn't an entirely shameless plug, just mostly)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rise of the Machines! Autobots, Transform & Roll Out

Here's a nice piece by McFarlane from Terminator Rise of the Machines, The Endoskeleton T-X Terminatrix fighting the wounded Terminatior. The T-X was cool in the movie not only for being a hot chick, but for being a combination of endoskeleton and liquid metal. This boxed set also came out of storage today with that Alien and Predator stuff, which is up for auction with the G2 Transformers: My auctions for the week. Below we have Wrecker Hook and Indy Heat from the Transformers Car Robots 2000 line (Not For Sale). I managed to snag these years back, and was lucky enough to have duplicates b/c I ended up in a bind a couple of years ago and had to sell the majority of my Transformers Robots in Disguise 2001 toys. Now I'm getting psyched about Dark Side of the Moon.

Below is a survivor from my TF:RID collection, the Autobot three pack (NFS) comprised of some nifty repaints of some very clever molds previously used in the ill fated Beast Machines toy-line. I also dig both the US and Japanese package designs. Maybe after I get my art degree I can make stuff as awesome as this.

Screw Storage Wars, my storage locker rules!

So I stopped by my storage to basically give my friend a rough idea of how much stuff I have to consign in his hobby shop. Meanwhile I nabbed 2 boxes with some cool stuff.  I found a shitton of carded Generation 2 Transformers go-bots/spychangers I had bought back in 2001-02 when I was collecting TF Robots in Disguise. They are from the 90’s and in good condition. I will be parting with them on EBay shortly so I can invest into some new toys. I also found some McFarlane Toys Alien Vs. Predator, and Alien & Predator figures from  movie maniacs series 6. I will be selling these as well although I kinda hate to part with them, I’ll probably buy the newer NECA Aliens & Predator figures and still have some scratch maybe for some LEGOs or Joes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Kevin Wansley former art director for Wild Planet Interview regarding Battle Crawlers

 I recently had the oppurtunity to talk to Kevin Wansley, who was the art director for Wild Planet Entertainment, about the Battle Crawlers toy line. Here's what he had to say in regards to a few questions asked:

Hi Paul,
Thanks for your interest in my Battle Crawlers packaging.
I worked as an Art Director for Wild Planet Entertainment from 1999-2009,
and Battle Crawlers was one of the brands I art Directed and designed.
I will try to answer you questions as completely as possible.
Q: Was this a package proposal for the toy line, or was the product released in this design? (image above)
A: The BC(Maxxo)image on my site was the 3rd iteration of the BC packaging. It was specifically
designed for the international markets/clients of Wild Planet and was not released in the domestically. 
The blister package showing the disassembled product was a departure from the domestic closed box packaging.

Q: Was this package design made before or after the product was released on the market?
A: This particular package design was released after the product was released to market. As I mentioned
the original packaging was closed box. There were 2 versions of the domestic closed box packaging that were released.
Version one had photos of the assembled product on the front with sparks coming out of the wheels and a glow around the product.
The next year I redesigned the package with the product looking real and battling in a post apocalyptic wasteland.

Q: Do you have more pictures of this piece?
A: Im attaching pictures of version one and version two packaging plus an exclusive "Duel-Pack" that was designed for TRU.  

Q: Does this piece still physically exist?
A: The Battle Crawlers brand was first released by Wild Planet around 2004 and was on shelf domestically until 2006-2007
    *The original product was called Battle Bugs by Bandai and only available in Japan. In 2004 Wild Planet licensed the brand and
     produced it as Battle Crawlers.

I hope this answers your questions. If you visit my website: zanamandesign.com you can see some of the other toy packaging that I
Art Directed/Designed for Wild Planet Entertainment.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Mighty Insecticons Reborn

A few small start-up companies have been making some professional grade add-on accessories for actual Transformers, mostly from the "TF:Classics" line, over the past few years. Recently one of these companies, Fansproject, created two additional limbs for the modern Bruticus combiner. These limbs are basically in and of themselves new "Transformers". I was excited to see a small company go the extra mile to improve an existing transformers design.

Well now Fansproject is stepping out on their own with three new offerings this calendar year that are basically "Transformers" or "Perfect Transformation Robots". I haven't been this excited about insect Transformers since the Deluxe Insecticons from Generation 1. Just as Generation 1 was an amalgam of toys from different toylines from Japan, I think now is as good a time as any for some upstart companies to offer their own transforming robots in toylines inspired by, but separate from, Hasbro's Transformers.

The three newest offerings are inspired directly by the first three Insecticons in Generation One. The first to be released will be "ThunderShred", a modern redo of the classic Shrapnel. He is currently available for pre-order at www.bigbadtoystore.com for $47.99, which although seemingly 4 times the price a mass market toy would cost, it isn't too far off from a convention exclusive offering price. I feel the price is fair given the company is nowhere as big as the big boys like Hasbro. Although if this company continues to be successful, I hope the prices will become more fair with larger production runs.

I can't do this toy justice in words, so here is a bit from his pre-order text: "Thundershred – A wounded outer space warrior, was converted and recovered. Also learned Ninja jutsu and able to control over the power of “air” in godai. Having the ability to transform into a stag beetle. Carrying 4 sickles which can compose into a manji shaken, and a set of gauntlets attach with 4 blades (* they can be stored on the back of shoulders). Multiplex combinations to switch different forms of weaponry. High quality and superior posability as always."

I can't wait to get my hands on this bad boy, if everything stays on schedule he might be here sometime in June. Being the cheap bast@rd I am, I think it's no small compliment that I am willing to shell out $$$ for this guy. Any serious Robotic Insect, Transformer, or Giant Robot fan should give serious thought into ordering this guy, and his kin when they get released. Check out more images at www.fansproject.com