Monday, April 28, 2014

Masters of the Universe Classics Optikk

Foreword -

Those of you that have followed my blogs know my love/hate (or hate/love) for the new Masters of the Universe Classics line. But in light of Masters of the Universe day, I've put aside my biased views and decided to join my toy brethren from the many sites across the internet in a general celebration of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

While being born in 1982, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe occupied a lot of my young life. One of the happiest photos I have of myself is opening a Skeletor and Panthor set, I couldn't be more than 4 years old. It was my first nerdgasm, look at my face in the photos and feel the intensity. I remember not caring much for the cartoon though. I liked the figures and owned (and still do) every figure made in the line, from Wonder Bread He-Man to Laser Light He-Man and beyond. My main fault with the cartoon was I wasn't much of a sword and sorcery kind of kid. I liked spacemen and mutants and robots. Sure there was Roboto and some of the good and bad guys were cybernetic or mechanical but magic didn't impress me much. Later in the 80s the New Adventures of He-Man came on the air and I was hooked. Spaceships, mutant creatures, lasers and other cool stuff kept me coming back every episode. The only bad thing was the Ne Adventures figures weren't all that compatible with the older He-Man line, the main reason I didn't buy into it until I found loose figures at yard sales or flea markets the years following the inevitable end of He-Man. My favorite figures from the 80s still consist of Sagitar, Hoove, and Slush Head. But there's one that upped the creepy factor and translated very well to the Classics line.

Optikk remains a very popular figure in my mind, both the original and the classics version. Where the 4 Horsemen (the sculptors of the line) excel is in their presentation of a classics figure's modern update. They do everything in their power to stay true to the source material and this figure doesn't disappoint. The lone eye sits cradled in the divot atop the shoulders of the robot suit Optikk uses to get around in. The body is the same basic body you've come to expect from the MOTUC line but what sets this figure apart is the soft chest cover that hides the majority of the muscular buck underneath. Keeping true to the original figure there's plenty of rivets, hoses, and layers of sculpted "scrap metal" that makes up the exterior of the exo-suit and it's all topped with a very nice copper toned paint in varying shades. The eye is removable and interchangeable with an additional eye packaged with the figure featuring a different colored iris. Also packaged with the figure is a faithful reproduction of the original laser rifle, perfect down to the sculpted cylinder (which always made me second guess the workings of a laser gun; such as are there laser bullets or is it all battery powered.). Also included is a shield which is a very nice touch. It's very radar dish shaped with a domed center, very fitting  for a guy who's little more than an eye.

Optikk was always a favorite of mine from the original New Adventures line but this figure holds significance in it's own right. If you've read some of my blogs, you'll get a theme that most toys in my collection hold a small story behind them and MOTUC Optikk is no exclusion to that. In the spring of 2010 when this figure came out I was laid up for nearly 3 months with acute liver poisoning. No explanation,  no real diagnosis, I just turned yellow and laid in bed sort of wasting away. The monthly packages from Matty Collector helped pass the time but deeper into my illness the toys just seemed like they weren't helping my mood. That sort of changed when I got Optikk. I remembered the good times I had with the original figure and while most of the figures from my Matty Collector boxed were piled up beside my bed unopened, this sucker was ripped open immediately. He was my buddy throughout my recovery, carried him in my pocket anywhere I went (much like the original one) and about a month later I was back on my feet and fully recovered. I'm not saying he was the cure or anything but Walter Peck from Ghostbusters came in the same box and he didn't get opened till that Fall. And who needs a figure of the dickless guy who tried to shut down the Ghostbusters while they are slowly dying?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tank Head by Jesse Destasio and Eric Nilla

This year I decided that with cutting a lot of junky lines out of my collection I could finally start to dive into designer toys. Whether they be original sculpted designs or cobbled together out of several different existing figures, I want to add some of these pieces of modern art to my collection. Also, with some upcoming announcements in Raging Nerdgasm's future, I figured it was time to really get oriented with the field. Some of these toys are made of resin which is a material very close to a hard plastic in nature. It's easily sanded and takes paint very well. Some are made out of rubber very reminicent of the original Kinnikuman keshi (or rubber M.U.S.C.L.E. men from Mattel). Lots of these "homebrewed" figures are visually amazing and I'm really enjoying adding some totally original pieces to my collection.

Eric Nilla has an amazing store online where he specializes in not only fully original figures but also offers some really cool reproductions of older keshi from the last 30 years. Jesse Destasio has been designing toys that may very well be on your shelf right now with his tenure in the toy industry. For the last few weeks, Eric Nilla and Jesse Destasio have been "teasing" images of Tank Head. Tank Head is what you'd expect for a custom take off on the classic Kinnikuman line; a muscle-bound man wear boots and tight wrestling trunks with a tank turret for a head. I don't usually get crazy for a toy on pictures alone but with the background of both people involved in the project, they had both my admiration and trust that this toy was going to be awesome. It didn't disappoint in the least.

Tank Head comes in a customary baggie with stapled on header. This is a normal way for figures like this to be packaged, normally the more involved a package is the more expensive the toy is and it harkens back to the bootleg toy culture that spawned this toy style. Those of you that follow Jesse Destasio on social media will automatically notice his artwork adorns the header card (I, for one, really do enjoy his watercolor art).  Tank Head stands nearly 3 inches tall which gives him an intimidating look amongst your other 1 1/2 to 2 inch tall figurines. The value is also high on this piece, for $19 shipped you're getting a really unique figure that other collectors will really take notice of. The tank turret is also removable, if you feel crafty you might feel obliged to create your own head for the body (and I'm sure to make way for variants in the future.) Check the website for current stock and also upcoming releases as his store stock is always revolving.