Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Baltan figure from Ultraman by Bandai

Baltan has always been a character I considered the quintessential Ultraman villain. Some of the first stills I ever saw in a magazine about Ultraman was him and Baltan locked in an epic battle. Over the years Baltan has showed up in several of the Ultraman TV shows, each time just slightly different than the last. Out of all the variations, this one has always been my favorite. Simple by some folks standards but I feel this version captures the most pure incarnation of the character. It captures the large metallic claws, Egyptian skirt and shrimp-looking face of this iconic character.

(to a fan like me, it doesn't get much better than this)

This arthropod from outer space is actually one of a race of alien being that came to Earth in microscopic form in the early Ultraman series. As time passes, the alien's powers grow and evolve. His abilities range from an assortment of energy beams that shoot out of claws to being able to shed its skin if too badly damaged in battle. Many people refer to them is "space ninjas" due to their ability to use illusion and stealth techniques. Anyone who's watched the show will never forget Baltan's sinister laugh.

(man, that's a creepy laugh for a space bug)

Here we have Baltan by Bandai from the 1983 release. Just like all Bandai releases, quality and accuracy of the sculpt outweighs paint applications. The figure is molded in a light blue plastic which sort of matches the character's suit in the show. Other than the claws being molded in a sparkly gray, the only other traces of color on the figure is a light dusting of metalic gold on the upper torso and head. There is an accent of orange on the eye cavities and what looks like maybe some silver paint underneath it to bring out a general “glow” about them.

The one aspect I like about my personal figure is the scribble on his back. A series of Japanese characters “branded” on his backside, more than likely a name. I think it makes it totally awesome because this really belonged to some child who probably liked this toy as much or more than I do to personalize it. It has a real history behind it that may never be unlocked, but some things are meant to be a mystery.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sharkticon warrior by Hasbro/Takara

(I think the movie starts in 3 days)

My first introduction to the Sharkticons was in the Transformers movie. The character was utilized afterwards in the cartoon series, but their performance was most memorable in the movie. Used as the personal army to the Quintessons, the Sharkticons sole purpose was to catch intruders and either bring them to so-called “justice” by their masters or render the intruders to a scrap pile of leftover parts. When their Quintesson masters delivered sentence (and it always ended poorly), the accused was dropped into a watery pit full of these living garbage disposals where their fate was ultimately to become a mere snack.

The character is one of my top 5 favorites in the Transformers legend and it's gotten very little love since the 80's. The design is really unique and hasn't been replicated in years, rows of chrome teeth and eerie neon green eyes are the main highlights on the figure. In primary mode he looks the most show accurate. The large head that starts to tapper off as you get closer to the tail, frail looking front arms offset by the larger hind legs and the tail tipped with a spiked ball makes the character look like more of a hybrid between a tadpole and a piranna. In robot mode the design is kind of lacking. The best thing I can say about it's robot mode is the head is amazingly accurate and well detailed. The real overall detraction for me is the legs. I'm not sure if they are to long but they are deffinately too close together, causing the figure to be top heavy and suffering several face plants off my shelves, risking damaging or breaking the toy.

Being a Transformer of the 80's, the construction of the Sharkticon is sturdy but if you apply too much pressure to the joints you'll run a risk of snapping the plastic components. Newer Transformer toys are equipt with pressure sensitive ball joints that purposely snap out of place when too much pressure is applied. You simply snap the limb back in and continue playing, just that simple. Many a Transformer of the 80's suffered battle wounds that had to be super glued into place, ultimately ruining the play value and eventually ending up in the garbage. But, such was the fate of many toys and thus bringing about the sometimes unholy cost of purchasing some of these toys from our childhood.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Powered Aboras from Ultraman by Bandai

Ultraman has had such a colorful array of evil monsters to battle over the years. Some of them range from the totally believable to the extremely bizarre and everywhere in between. Over the years his villains have gone through amazing overhauls where their physical appearance and abilities have been augmented with technology and magical powers. As the Ultraman saga has evolved over the last several decades, so has he and his opponents. Aboras is one of those many characters
(a shot of the original costume. Lots of reused elements)

(not only a battle of the behemoths, but in a stadium no less) 

Often being mistaken for a blue Godzilla-like creature by those not aware of it, this creature has been around since some of the most early incarnations of the saga. In the Ultraman Powered story, Aboras is one of two ancient devil beasts (or kaiju) sealed away in a magical sarcophagus' long ago in an attempt to save the world from their terror. His arch-nemesis is Banila, a red bipedal monster with almost matched skills. When both tombs were “accidentally” unearthed, both of these titans decided to battle it out until only one was left standing. In the first incarnation, Aboras won and was destroyed shortly after by Ultraman. The second time around Aboras seemed to be victorious but Banila reformed and both were destroyed by Ultraman and the WINR by using a combination of high frequency sound to stun them and a Mega Spectrum Ray to vaporize them.
(new and improved)

Aboras' reintroduction into the Ultraman saga was met with a complete upgrade. Because of budget constraints, Aboras was an altered Red King costume painted blue and a new head. The Powered version has a really cool tyrannosaurus rex look with a tadpole-like tail while keeping the more elongated arms and horn on his head. The figure captures every aspect of the redesign, especially capturing every single bumpy scale along the body. It's a really substantial toy and feels really good in your hand. He's not really oversized to any degree, just big considering the fact he's a friggin' mutant T-Rex. The figure fits in well with the rest of the series and (from what I can tell) is in scale. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What the SITH!?! Giant inflatable Darth Vader

(A QUICK SIDE NOTE- My life has been full of pursuits and there are very few haven't been met. I have a wonderful wife, great job, great friends and family that are there for me and a collection of some of the coolest toys I've ever seen. I really have to give it to my wife for being so understanding and supportive of my hobby, she's been an eyewitness to the money that exchanges hands for toys and collectibles at shows and private transactions such as this one. It's a vicious friggin' circle, a never ending story of pursuits and the following is one of those pursuits.)
(Duck Vader)

(for your Sith Sleepovers)

(the Dark Side really does have cookies)

(I challenge you to a race around the world in 80 days, this is my f'n ride.)

(it may be the Dark Side of the Force, but sometimes Vader needs a nightlight)

(Darth Vader known for crushing throats and cracking nuts?)

(what time is it? Time to switch to the Dark Side)

(Darth Vader USB hub. It would be awesome if it said "most impressive" after you download porn)

(Sith Slippers)

(Darth Vader like his coffee like his helmet, black and smooth)

(The day I saw this I wept uncontrollably for hours.)

(3 story tall Darth Vader doesn't have time to put up with your crap)

(this is a Darth Vader sculpted out of butter, your point is irrelevant)
Over the years, there have been many representations of Darth Vader available for fans to add to their collections. They range from the really cool to the incredibly lame and everywhere in between. Some of them are readily available for fans and some not so much. It seems the more epic a piece is, the harder it gets to obtain one. But, such is the life of a collector. Usually the harder to obtain pieces require a commodity we all have very little of (money or something of significant value to trade) and talent (to find someone who has it that is willing to let it go or name a price that makes the previous owner want money over bragging rights).

Back in 2005 Burger King had these really awesome inflatable Darth Vaders that sat on the roof of the restaurant, just above the sign. When you look up at this kind of thing, the first thing you think of "Jesus, that's really big.". I walked in and immediately started trying to find out what price would make the manager take down this behemoth and let me take it home before it got damaged. You know that any of these that were used stood the chance of getting stolen, damaged by the elements or vandalized/destroyed so I figured I needed to work quickly to get this in my possession. My offers were turned down without a batted eyelash, I had failed and decided it was best to move on. My desires moved elsewhere but I always remembered how flippin' awesome this was and wondered what it would be like to own it. Little did I know, a little less than 7 years later I'd have one of my own.

After some website browsing and negotiating with the owner I became the new owner of a still sealed inflatable Darth Vader. And what did I do with this awesome purchase, put it in the corner of my living room. Just sitting there, in the original box and bag for weeks. Why? I needed someone to help me inflate this beast! It's over 9 foot tall and about 6-7 foot wide and 2 foot deep with an almost 7 foot long light saber. That and someone needs to help me take pictures of this, because I could just say I own it but I needed proof to combat the trolls.

I give you, WHAT THE SITH!?!