Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blue SWAT figure by Bandai 1994

I have recently gotten into a kick of buying older Japanese toys. Lots of vinyl and diecast toys, stuff from the late 70s to fairly current releases. It came when I had a certain desire to branch out into something different than what everyone else is talking about and reviewing. It also comes from a lack of being wowed by most modern release toys. Most of the best stuff hitting shelves right now is coming from companies like Marvel Select, Mezco, NECA, DC Direct, and other "specialty retailer" companies who are putting forth a lot more effort in their releases than Hasbro, Mattel, and Playmates. I've come across some really awesome pieces over the last 6 months, and some of them I found at the flea market.

I found this still boxed Blue SWAT figure on E row at the Oldsmar flea market only a month ago. You never know what you'll find stashed in old flea market booths and this particular booth was full of all kinds of treasures, shame most of them I owned already. Tucked behind Marvel Famous Covers figures on a rear shelf was this boxed figure. Originally it had an outrageous price tag of near $60 on it, after talking with the owner and seeing that the figure was missing a gun and shoulder pad he dropped the price significantly. I'm not usually much for an incomplete figure that I may never find the pieces for but at the final price he was willing to give me the figure for, I'll deal with it.

The premise of the show is a Space Mafia invades Earth while the human race is busy tearing itself apart with war and crime (some elements of pollution too because it's the 90s!). The Japanese government establishes the Blue SWAT, a military-like world police to combat the evil Space Mafia. Things go awry when an alien infects the chief of Blue SWAT, causing him to blow up headquarters and all but three Blue SWAT members perish in the explosion . Members Show, Sig, and Sara are left alone to defend Earth from the Space Mafia with their assortment of equipment and weapons.


Blue Swat was the 13th installment of the Metal Hero Series from Japan. Those not familiar with it, some of the Henshin Hero footage from the Space Sheriff series was used to make VR Troopers and Juukuo B-Fighter was used to make Beetleborgs. Watching these series in their original entirety is nothing short of amazing and sure makes what we grew up with seem very juvenile. In Japan, Blue SWAT was not well recieved by their children's demographic due to it's very sinister undertones but the adults loved it. Airing for 51 episodes and a full length movie, Blue SWAT still remains one of my favorite hidden gems of the Henshin genre.

The Blue SWAT figure I got at the market was Show. He comes packaged wearing a blue lame' sleeveless jump suit and snap on armor pieces. I wasn't really too impressed until I noticed the chestplate was heavy die-cast metal and hinged instead of being made into two pieces that snap together. He doesn't look like much in the package but fully suited up he's got a great Daft Punk look to him. All of the larger weapons have firing mechanisms and great details like flip down shoulder rests, red "laser" lights or sights. Every crate opens up to store equipment and the smaller cases have alcoves to fit the specific weapons inside. Unfortunately, one of the cases is missing a pistol but it doesn't really take away from the overall displaying of the figure. One of the best things about the figure nearly being complete is the instructions were tucked away inside. A great bonus for a 20 year old toy from the other side of the world.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Suckerman : a review 23 years in the making!


I will be the first to say that I have very few wants that go unanswered. It's the result of a lifetime having to budget myself and using my hobby to feed my hobby by selling lesser pieces for something more desirable. I often do hit walls where certain toys are just either not worth the price tag to me or just simply having eyes bigger than my wallet; sometimes you just have to let go of the desire to have a 4 foot tall Gamera in your living room. I've nearly had my hands on everything I ever wanted by having a really good working relationship with other sellers and collectors, mainly because I understand everyone needs to make money and not being afraid to put money on the table for something I really want. But there's been one piece that's eluded me for years, just because it's importance slipped further and further down my want list. I happily added him to the collection this month for $15.

Suckerman was released by Mattel in 1978 to combat the influx of space and alien themed toys brought on by the Star Wars craze. Granted Mattel was riding the wave of their imported Shogun Warriors, but was dabbling in some house brand characters to lead their sales. In this time they created unique boys toys like Grey-Gory the Vampire Bat and Krusher but they needed an alien to spearhead an outerspace line up. Aptly named Suckerman, his rubery, lanky body is covered in 26 suction cups, giving him the uncanny ability to stick to nearly any smooth surface with ease. Sadly though, Suckerman was the only character in the line. He was released in a rainbow of different colors, hardest to find in black and glow in the dark but easier to find in other colors.

(you can tell it's Mattel!)

With Mattel's history being a predominantly girl brand company they had some success in the late 60s with a little line known as Major Matt Mason, which would have been perfect for a reboot in the late 70s but Mattel opted for something fresh. It was a cool idea, the package encouraged you to throw him against the wall and watch him in action and the sculpting was really decent; you could tell they had a lot of faith in Suckerman not failing them at retail. The more I look at him, to me he screams 60s sci-fi with his scaly skin and fanged bat-like head. Suckerman's legacy at Mattel wasn't as illustrious as say He-Man but it's still a worthy footnote in toy history, he just had the rotten luck of being created in the wrong decade.

In person, Suckerman lives up to the hype I created in my head over this toy. I can imagine being much younger I would have had a ball with it. As an adult, I mostly use it to creep my wife out by sticking him to the wall in the shower or to the bedroom ceiling fan, which is equally fulfilling to my inner child. Suckerman looks great next to the toys of that era like Stretch Armstrong, Grey-Gory, Krusher, Micronauts, and assorted Mego and other 8 inch figure lines of the era. The only problem I've encounted so far is properly displaying Suckerman. He doesn't stand on his own and the suction cup gives out after a little while, so I'm stuck on how to display him.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Stuff I Consider Bullshit : Power-Con Pandhandling

Within the last week, I've seen several blogs pleading for people to support Power-Con. I'm all for conventions and celebrations of Fandom but it seems like every time He-Man is attached to something in the realm of any media, someone is begging and pleading for something. I'm also all for drumming up support for a worthy cause but it seems like this may be the end of the line for He-Man. It's had a good run over the last decade or more with the 200X revival, the Four Horsemen Studios, NECA, the Classics line, and successful years of Power-Con. That's all stuff to be proud of especially those involved at the top, but as the image says "all toy lines must end".

I love supporting Fandoms, even when they are things that aren't my interest. I give away My Little Pony figures, give away tickets to conventions to people who'd enjoy it more than I would, and I cover a wide range of toys and collectibles on my website. I liked He-Man when I was growing up, I did like Thundercats better but everyone seems to have better memories of He-Man for some reason. In the passing years the fans have been wanting a new He-Man cartoon and figure line but when it comes time to support it, they get fickle about pulling out their wallets. But it's a great struggle, Mattel pulls support from their lines due to lack of support from the fans and fans pull their support due to lack of product released by Mattel. It's a vicious cycle but in the end it boils down to best business practices in favor of Mattel. Granted, Mattel has shown their ass on a couple of instances with the He-Man lines so maybe the fans wavering support is warranted.

(remember this bullshit?)

Those in charge of Power-Con have not wowed me over the last few years. There's been a lot of in-fighting between different groups, the openly trashing of Emiliano Santalucia, the main people in charge of the website treating the Fandom like their own personal sandbox (which is fine by my account but many people haven't felt like it's fair), and the constant asking for monetary support to keep things afloat. You're not good enough to be one of us but do you have some money to spare to help us keep this place up and running is a paradox worthy of a thousand face-palms. I've enjoyed my visits but after they trashed Emiliano, things took a turn for the worse. Power-Con has had the feeling of a private party you're begrudgingly invited to.

(but to be clear, this guy is still a dumb ass)

Conventions aren't that hard to put together, the hardest part is securing and paying celebrity talent to show up. I won't go into long details but even a complete moron can run a show and break even in the end, even if that means putting your own money into the show and paying yourself back from the receipts. If you're any good at what you do with conventions you can make a decent living off of them. With the poor planning by moving the convention across the country to New York from California and not opting for having TMNT be a part of the convention (in a movie year no less) are two of the many reason I'd point my finger to if the convention fails.

(I just like this photo, all credit to the artist.)

In the end, He-Man is a fringe interest. It's a strong fringe interest but still not strong enough to carry itself like Star Wars or one of the major comic book stories out there. I don't like seeing things fail that bring people happiness and generate a buzz for anything to do with toys or anything 80s or 90s. But in the end it won't be the fan's fault if Power-Con goes broke, it'll be those who made the bad decisions in the first place.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Transformers : Age of Extinction review

Michael Bay, you have brought this upon yourself.

Transformers : AOE (Age of Extinction and get used to the abbreviation because I will be using it a lot) was a CGI dripping mess of a movie with stale actors and a few decent actors that they must have tricked into doing the movie to give it more credibility.  I'm not sure why I went into this movie expecting more than it's predecessors, Dark of the Moon was by far the best of all 3 films at the time. That movie still had it's problems like being stuffed full of so many new characters without so much as a background story (unless you read the back of the toy package or flipped through a comic book) and giving the viewers more of what we still didn't give any fucks about; Sam, his love life and more importantly his mugging parents. Transformers: AOE was a long, painful theater experience that I won't soon forget.

(I will add that I saw this movie for free and I'm very happy that I did. Paying money to see AOE would have meant theater hopping till I felt like I had been reimbursed my ticket price.)

(Yabba Dabba Doo!)

First, this is a near three hour movie and it feels like every minute of three hours. The movie just seems to go on for eternity and for no good reason than to justify the effects team's passion for exploding shit. They also dragged Kelsey Grammer and Stanley Tucci into this movie and their parts are just as memorable as John Malkovich's role in the previous movie. I mean I know they got paid for what they did but you can't tell me that their parts seemed forced, like when you have to do something you don't want to do (for example the Ghostbusters II/ Bill Murray debate). And I finally figured out why the movie is two hours and forty-six minutes, they forgot to put the Dinobots in and slapped another forty-six minutes on the film. The Dinobots barley even feel like they are in the movie and the designs alone make me say, "Those aren't Dinobots, it's Truck-a-saurus from the monster truck rally." I know it's the Michael Bay Universe / "Bay-formers" but it doesn't make it any better, it's deplorable no matter how you explain it.

(these are Dino-Bots)

(these are not)

I don't want to drone on and on, or at least any further so I'll end it with; Transformers: AOE earned 0 out of 5 stars, two thumbs down, it stinks, Redbox it if you must watch it, wait for the cable tv debut, borrow a friend's copy of the movie, catch it on Video On Demand......I think you get the picture.