Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Rise of the Ewok Liberation Front of Endor

First off I would like to thank Phillip Wise and the photographers at Rebelscum for their gracious permission to use photos from their archive here at TheAmazingToyland. In the vintage Kenner Star Wars line there were a total of 8 Ewok action figures made: Chief Chirpa, Logray, Wicket, Teebo, Paploo, Lumat, Warok, & Romba. Today we take another look at Ewoks, specifically the modern incarnations. 2012 is the year of the Ewok it seems. Hasbro decided to fulfill the requests of fans like me and release a total of 8 figures this year alone. Although it Hasbro hasn't been kind to Ewok fans over the years. Before revamping the accuracy of the scale of figures, Hasbro handed us six total Ewoks in the course of the first 10 years of the current Star Wars toyline. In 1998 we got Logray and Wicket, 2002 saw the release of Paploo (he however was only released in a $30 Toys R Us exclusive featuring an AT-ST and the stolen speederbike), Also in 2002 Teebo was released in seemingly limited quantities in the last wave of Power of the Jedi sub-line. At some point an unnamed Ewok was released with a glider in the Endor complete galaxies set.
A more distinct, yet un-named Ewok was released in the Saga Ultra Assortment with the attack glider. After this slow and rocky start we start seeing at least one new Ewok per year starting in 2006. The Chief Chirpa of 2006 introduced the new scale to the ewok figures, although supposedly more accurate, the newer Ewoks seem a little small even for space-midgets.
2007 brought us two Ewok repaints in the Target Ultimate Battle Pack renamed as Widdle Warrick and Ochee, which would be the first new names for Ewoks in action figure form. Graak is also a new Ewok released with Romba for the price of a single carded figure. This set a precedent that was followed for the next two years, two Ewoks for the price of one figure.
In 2008 we see two totally new figures Leektar & Nippet. I do believe Nippet was one of the plush dolls released in the vintage line and may have been the introduction of the term "wokling" meaning "baby Ewok". 2009 had arguably 5 Ewoks released, we see the return of Paploo who is accompanied by Nho'Apakk. The second got his name when it was realized that the Ewok in the photo reference for the figure didn't technically have a Lucasfilm approved name. The new name was a Tribute to a young child, Noah, who shared a love for Star Wars yet had a life threatening illness. This would be at least the second time a Star Wars character was named for a sick young Star Wars Fan, the other being R2-KT, the Imperial Astromech with the heart of gold. The next three ewoks of 2009 were inspired by the Marvel Comics and had some rather garish head-dresses, although one of these characters was a dummy to fool Imperials and not a "living" Ewok. There names for these three are Machook, Keoulkeech, & Kettch, and were available in a comic book pack that was exclusive to Walmart. I only recall seeing these at one out of the six "nearby" Walmarts but not the others.
So now Hasbro got our hopes up, but changed gears. In 2010 and 2011 only 2 Ewoks were released, and the were packaged separately now priced the same as 1 full size figure. This should have been a foreshadowing of what happens in 2012. These two were a revisiting of Wicket and Logray that had come out more than 10 years prior as well as within the vintage line. For 2012 Lumat was shown as being in a late wave of the current "The Vintage Collection". As I braced myself for paying $9.99 for a single Ewok, Hasbro announced the wave would be released as an online exclusive rather than to retail stores. This jacked the pre-order price up to $12.99 on Amazon, which has since "pre-sold out". God only knows how much that one Ewok is gonna run me. A slightly less jarring but rather equally appalling pricepoint was announced for the Toys R Us exclusive 5 pack, $39.99. I supposed that's cheaper than 5 seperate figures at $9.99 apiece, but seriously, have we reached the point where 5 figures bundled together should cost nearly $40 at retail? Anyways, we see A revisiting to Teebo in this pack, as well as a realistic incarnation of an old Ewoks Animated character, "Princess Kneesa". Then we get 3 new Ewoks for whom I must learn their names, Tippet (undoubtly named for the SFX master Phil Tippet of ILM), Flitchee, and Nanta. As a bonus however extra headdresses are included which could serve to fix the three Ewoks in the previous Walmart Comic Pack.
2012 Also has K-Mart receiving a two-pack of Ewoks Scouts who overthrew the AT-ST in Return of the Jedi. Although seemingly not identified on there package they are Widdle and Wunka (thanks to Rebelscum again.)
I guess I missed one other Ewok. It came in an Endor Battle Pack with Endor Luke, An Imperial Officer, and an attack glider. Released in 2009 and readily available at Closeout Chains. I guess this Ewok is supposed to be Warok according to our friends at Rebelscum. If that is true, I think all the original 8 Ewoks from the classic line have finally been recreated. So I think the list of characters from the original line must be down to just a couple now.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A week's LEGO Haul: Dinos, Batman, Aliens, & Police, Oh My!

It was a great week for LEGO buying. I picked up the Dino Defense HQ, with the mighty T-Rex, 2 other dinos, and 4 hero minifigures on clearance at Walmart in Aurora, Ohio. It rings strongly of Jurassic Park, a line by Kenner that I never collected. Well actually, I thought about buying the Kenner Dinosaurs when they were on clearance at KB Toys way back when. That was mostly to be opponents for my Alien & Predator figures by Kenner. Actually when I realized how cheap they had gotten which was like 2/$5 I wanted to get some but they had sold out. I asked about them at Kay Bee for months, then the finally got some more back in but at the higher $5 or $6 price point. I suppose I never made it clear that I wanted cheap Dinosaurs. Technically I think the line had done so well as a close-out that Kenner decided to make more just for Kay Bee to sell. Anyways, the LEGO Defense HQ is one of only 3 of the LEGO Dino sets I have interest in.
It's rare that I buy any LEGO that is a new or current theme. I was lucky enough to stumble on the above Batman/Catwoman set, that was not only clearanced but another 50% off at Kmart. It seems I really get into a LEGO line in it's dying days when it is at close-out or clearance. That's when I take a closer look at a given line that I may have previously ignored. So I also found the Alien Conquest Mothership at a price I had passed on months earlier, but now that the collectible minifigure series 8 has an Alien Queen, I decided I should pick some sets up at clearance if I can still find some since the line ended at the end of 2011. So we will jump over my Target find to the next Alien Conquest set I found. It's the one with the Farmer being abducted, very clever. The whole 1950's style of the spaceships in the line had me a bit put off, but at a better price, and a closer inspection of the included figures, I think I am digging on the Alien Conquest range.
So my Target find was the Police Station 7498 it was supposedly 20% off, but it is a $100 set and it was marked on sale to $62, so that's more like 38% off. I definitely like it more than the previous year's Police Station set. Although I am a big fan of two police stations I didn't pick up, set 7237 Police Station with light up figure and World City Police HQ 7035, both of which were released at different points in the last decade.

Friday, August 3, 2012

More Transformer Robot Masters Bootleg Jets

Well I just stumbled across an image I took of a neat item I bought on clearence after Easter this year. It contains 4 total knock off Transformers. The three jets are bootlegs of Jets we saw in Takara's Robot Masters line from back in the early 2000's. The weapons included in the pack are copies of RM weapons. The remolds are lacking several different moving elements like the wings on the R Blade. The red and green jets had in their true licensed form been seen in Kay Bee Toys' Machine Wars line, then Beast Wars Neo in Japan, then RID in the USA, then back to Japan to be in the Robot Masters line. I really can't do the crappyness of these hunks of plastic any justice in words. I don't know if we will ever see these multiple generation reverse-molds again. However they do blend nicely with the originals. Keep fighting the good fight.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A day on Cleveland's North Coast.

It was a super hot day yesterday. I started bright and early with a friend of mine beachcombing. Beachcombing? Well in the spirit of exploring the hobbies of my friends I have found myself on a few beaches on Lake Erie combing about for long discarded pieces of our manufactured world. Different strokes for different folks. Although I am definitely not one to spend my day in the sun on a regular basis, I find the experience to be a mix of things. For one thing I appreciate the opportunity to get out into nature. Growing up with beach access within minutes of my home as a child, we frequented the beach quite often. I don't think I appreciated it as much in my youth as I do as an adult. A second facet of beachcombing I find fun is the relative expense, quite honestly it could be considered free if you don't take into account gas money to reach the assorted beaches that make up what Clevelanders refer to as "the North Coast". It is certainly also refreshing to explore new locales that I could have at any time since I got my driver's license all those year ago. I as you can expect however didn't spend alot of my recreational time in nature. I generally spent it exploring the halls of malls and the aisles of retailers. As a collector of toys I don't think I considered how much time I spent away from nature which had been a common theme of my youth. As a child my aunt was fond of taking my siblings and I to the many "Metroparks" that dot the landscape in Cleveland. As a Hungarian boy scout I also spent a bit of my youth at camp, exploring vast wooded areas and sleeping in tents. Back to the main subject, I find beachcombing that beachcombing offers a great insight into man vs. nature. The lake has done it's best to wear away at the vast amounts of glass and plastic that has been in it's belly for years. As my friend points out however the amounts of glass and the like that wash ashore these days is nothing like what beachcombing was like when she was younger. I am sure different factors play into this, I imagine the movement away from glass to plastic in the last 3 decades has alot to do with it. Also I am sure recycling has played a part. As well as a boom in the past-time of beachcombing. Well anyways, I had quite a bit of fun.. oh I nearly forgot to mention my prize find of the day... a Captain Jack Sparrow minifigure that shows signs of having been adrift in the lake. Weird how the hobby of a friend crossed back over into one of my own hobbies.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Friends of mine are doing a start-up t-shirt project, raising funds through Kickstarter. A loving mash-up of 80's cartoon/pop culture tee-shirts with a dash of Zombie thrown in. The first four designs include Musclemen trampling a city, Zombie Venger & Dungeon Master, Zombie Shredder & the Foot Ninja Clan, and the cult favorite Visionaries. We hope to see more mash-ups in the future once Thread or Dead lifts off the ground. Good Luck to Kristi & Paul, and thanks to any of my readers who decide to back the project.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Soft launch of G.I.Joe Retaliation toyline

So Hasbro and the movie studio involved with releasing the G.I.Joe live action sequel/reboot, G.I.Joe Retaliation, decided to push back the release of the film from this month until Spring 2013. They official claim it was to enhance the movie into 3D which international audiences are supposedly eating up. To top off the disappointment of fans they have held back any future product releases until closer to the new debut date. The toys had a street date of May 28th 2012, but it looks like retailers ordered minimal amounts with fears that it would perform poorly like the toyline from Rise of Cobra. Honestly I rather liked the original toyline. Most the Joes in that line were in some version of a blue urban camo duty uniform. I thought this was appropriate for a team like G.I.Joe, who in its original incarnation was formed of different specialists each with their own outfit, without true "uniforms". I know some purists will argue with me that the first handful of Joe's appeared in some version of a "green shirt" uniform. Also others might suggest that Night Force, Tiger Force, Slaughters Marauders and others were like uniforms. I can't argue against these points. It was in the Rise of Cobra line that even Snake-eyes donned duty uniform pants in one incarnation. Nevertheless, Hasbro and retailers may have majorly misjudged the demand of figures and vehicles for Rise of Cobra (ROC), or perhaps the retail price-point was way too high. It seems the toyline did fairly well at closeout. So anyways, back to the current film, more specifically the toys. It seems of my local stores only Target had more than one case of figures on the shelves for launch, I estimated about 3 cases must have been put out. I did not actually do a toy run on May 28th to all the chain stores in my area, which is basically 2 Walmarts, 2 Targets, 1 Toys R Us, and 1 Kmart. I did manage to pick up a few items in the week leading up to the official street date. I found 2 three-packs at my Toys R Us at the $19.99 price-point, as well as the two vehicles at the $15.99 price-point. After the launch date, my local Walmart had one solid case of characters on the shelf so I bought all twelve. Then I picked up an extra Cobra Commander and Red Ninja from another Walmart not that close to home. This mostly completes what I want from the movie line for now. I am not impressed with the new HISS tank mold, the Joe plane, or the motorcycles. This partially has to do with the limited articulation of the drivers which totally goes against the founding principle of Joe figures being super articulated which had given them the edge against Star Wars toys back in the day.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Shared from: Pleasant Family Shopping: March 1, 1962 - The First Kmart Opens

Pleasant Family Shopping runs a great blog about the shopping experiences of yesteryear. Check out the recent article about the 50th anniversary of K-Mart:

Pleasant Family Shopping: March 1, 1962 - The First Kmart Opens: Today marks a key milestone in retailing history – the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first Kmart store, in Garden City, Michigan, p...

Monday, March 12, 2012

From Concept to Screen Tron Legacy Siren Gem

As I finalize my application process to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, this old Facebook update seems all the more fitting.

February 4, 2011 at 8:19am

"From concept to finalized product, this is the sort of thing I like. I can only hope some of my toy concepts see realization some day in the future." (This is not to imply I designed this costume, but I hope some of my designs someday go from the drawing board to finished design like the concept below. Kudos to the artists who made Gem possible)

(Tron Legacy is property of Disney, the image is used here for entertainment and educational purposes)

Lady Muscle

Here is the start of the transfer of my Facebook musings from before my Blog started:

The following was originally posted on my Facebook page on January 31, 2011 at 9:13am

Not all figures are for kids. Inspired by the series that spawned the MUSCLE-Man craze of the early 80's, Here is a re-envisioning as basically "MUSCLE Lady". To satisfy my cool Anime toy desire from missing Ohayocon, I nabbed this exquisite piece off HobbyLinkJapan.

Lady Robin at HobbyLinkJapan

Saturday, March 3, 2012

G.I. Joe at | G.I. JOE WAVE 10 12-PACK Product Details

One of the current two cases in rotation right now, this case contains an excellent balance of Renegades figures, 30th Anniversary reincarnations of classics, and the new Zombie Viper.

G.I. Joe at | G.I. JOE WAVE 10 12-PACK Product Details

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Kenner Aliens: the opening of Night Cougar, Queen Face Hugger, & King

I recently sold some Kenner Aliens figures with some pretty damaged packages on Ebay. Although I had listed the packages as damaged I thought I would confirm with the buyer that the packages were in poor condition before shipping them to him. When he replied that he knew, and planned to do something "very uncollector-like" and open them anyways, it got me to thinking. I wanted to know what the addition of these toys to his collection was like from his perspective. He was more than happy to oblige me and wrote the following with the included pictures. Please enjoy this guest featurette:

Kenner Aliens

"I have carefully worked to preserve my collectibles over the years, sometimes even putting an item under glass. I finally got that message, "Don't take it out of its original packaging!"

But not with Kenner ALIENS:

This is my hive. Note the complete lack of packaging! The first Alien to begin this hive is appropriately the Deluxe Queen (bottom left), purchased in 1992. I was 12. These variations of the xenomorph (based on Dark Horse Comics after Alien 3) were my introduction to the Alien franchise. I still remember the moment some kid showed me a couple after school one day. "Where are the eyes!?" I was hooked.

I finally took it upon myself to grow the hive. I was fortunate enough to win three missing xenomorphs from "The Amazing Toyland" in Ohio. The box arrived on February 27, 2012.

Opened! Note the considerate packaging.

There is some aspect of having all these different xenomorphs that is thrilling to me. With the exception of "Atax" (who is hiding within a xenomorph suit, I own none of the space marine characters (not even Ripley). It's all about the bug.

The Night Cougar Alien is freed first. I already own two Panther Aliens, which are the same toy, different paint job. I know immediately that the Night Cougar is superior, indicated by the packaging that calls his parasite "kamikaze" rather than merely "flying."

The Queen Face Hugger is next. I am wary of the Queen Face Hugger (as it seems to be pushing even the Dark Horse universe just a bit) but am immediately won over by its many abilities...

...which I need to consult the instructions to understand.


The Queen Face Hugger also comes with a mini Dark Horse comic (another added benefit from opening the package). The strength in Kenner's Aliens is the odd filtering of the source material. It is not a direct tie-in to James Cameron's Aliens but rather a tie-in to the Dark Horse Comics Aliens (which of course is a tie-in to James Cameron's Aliens). Confusing. What's awesome about Dark Horse (at least to a kid) is how they ran with the idea presented in Alien 3. Thanks to Dark Horse there's an expansive fictional science surrounding the xenomorph, including pure breeds and all these trans-breeds!

Finally. The King.

My immediate theory is that the King is actually a version of the "Rogue" featured in the comic also known simply as "Rogue." In this comic, scientist meddle with the xenomorph DNA and are able to produce a male creature, similar in size to the Queen. Their hope is that it will be peaceful and more susceptible to domestication. They all die.

Night Cougar is introduced to the Scorpion Alien.

The Queen Facehugger is placed next to the Killer Crab Alien. They have strikingly similar paint jobs.

And of course: Queen and King!

The new hive is up and running. At this point, there's only alternate paint jobs out there for me (And I'm pretty much out of room now anyhow)." -Paul L. Petzrick

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I'm not dead yet.

So it seems my blog came to practically a dead standstill in the last 6 months or so. It makes me think back to the inspiration of the blog. As a collector I had been known to post stuff new and old about toys on my Facebook for my friends, some of whom are fellow toy nerds. Then in a short window of time, maybe over the course of a week or two, I posted about five semi-related toy topics per day. Basically I had a theme for each day. That's when my friend Chris suggested a blog. I figured blabbing into the vacuum of the internet could do me good. So I started The Amazing Toyland. Although outside the first couple of weeks of blogging, I didn't really recapture this stream-of-toy-consciousness that I had going on Facebook that had inspired the blog in the first place. Bear in mind I really wasn't a fan of over-doing daily posts on FB so peaking at 5 or 6 inter-related updates a day was a bold maneuver for me. I was mostly afraid people would block me from their feed. Now however since time has passed since the inception of this blog, something is drawing traffic through here, so I am not certain what any of you came to read or hear about, but I feel compelled to get back to the roots of what originated this blog. So I am going to go back into my Facebook from the weeks leading up to the blog and translate the content over to here. Plus it certainly brings me joy to discuss nerdy topics. Which is something I really enjoyed about being at Keiper's Comics from day to day.