aboutwhy redux?generation oneg2-beast erarid-moviesclassics-animatedafajapanese

Monday, February 28, 2011

Japanese Exclusive Dinocassettes Part 1: Graphy and Noise

Since many people don't have the Dinocassettes I thought I would post some high quality pics and just give some quick background information on these interesting little Transformers.
For anyone who does not know, these little guys are very hard to come by and can be some of the most expensive Transformers that were commercially produced. They were released only in Japan near the end of the Transformers: Headmasters series and have yet to be re-issued by Hasbro/Takara or some third party (unlike the Headmaster exclusive heads). I got lucky and came across these guys in mid 2008 on eBay and was fortunate enough to win the auctions. However for Graphy (Pteranodon) and Noise (Allosaur?) they were sold loose with just their weapons. I picked up their boxes later that year (also on eBay). The idea behind these guys was really cool, but the execution leaves something to be desired. They have okay dinosaur modes, but when you combine them into the robot Decibel they turn into kind of a mess. I really like them just due to their dinosaur forms and the fact they are tapes. In America we got some dinocassettes as well, Overkill and Slugfest, so it is fun to have them all together. Well enough talk, here are the pictures!
Graphy - Pteranodon mode

Graphy - cassette mode
Noise - Allosaur mode
Noise - cassette mode
Both cassettes that form Decibel.
The combination - Decibel!

Not looking so good from the side.

Even worse from the back.

With the American release cassette combiners.

Dinocassette boxes.
Check back tomorrow for Dial and Zaur!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mail Call: February 27th, 2011

Another day of some good things coming in the mail, more updates to my paperwork collection bringing me to about 80% complete.

Iguanus Tech Spec
Sinnertwin Tech Spec
Quickmix Tech Spec
Action Master Blaster Tech Spec
Action Master Inferno Tech Spec
Broadside Instructions
Powermaster Optimus Instructions
Punch/Counterpunch Instructions
Nightbeat Instructions
Axer Instructions
Groundshaker Instruction
Countdown Instructions
As of today I only need 40 more instruction booklets and 66 tech specs to have a complete set. Unfortunately they are all '87 and later so they are the hardest ones to find. I'll be sending off my first batch of items to AFA on Monday and I'll send the second batch in a few weeks once funds even out some more. But due to the nature of AFA it will probably be about a month before I get anything back.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mail Call: February 26th, 2011

Just a quick note today showcasing my goodies that came in the mail yesterday. Nothing really big, just some additions to fill in the holes of my paperwork collection.

Snapdragon Tech Spec
Squeezeplay Tech Spec
Splashdown Tech Spec
Ironworks Tech Spec & Instructions
Flattop Cardback
Roughstuff Cardback
Overload Cardback
Erector Cardback
Battle Squad Cardback
These cardbacks were a steal at only .99 each on eBay! In other news I've posted my tutorial to submitting Transformers to AFA, click here if interested!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Car Robots

No, this isn't about the Japanese Transformers line released in 2000, this is about getting back to basics. The last two items from my recent purchase are not futuristic jets or special figures that have three modes. They are at the core of what started Transformers: realistic vehicles that turned into robots.

I've always been really fascinated with Ratchet. I enjoyed him in the '80s cartoon, but I never thought he got enough characterization. Where Ratchet really shines in my mind is in the Marvel Comic series, especially in the later issues. His dichotomy with Megatron throughout the run was just very interesting and it gave him such dimension. Unfortunately his toy really doesn't look much like his comic or cartoon counterpart. So when I purchased him in my youth (or I should say when my parents purchased him) I was disappointed he really didn't even have a head. But he did transform relatively quickly so when I was playing while the show was on I was able to keep up with the action! For me, purchasing this Ratchet was more about 'owning' the character rather than the actual toy.
"Where'd they getcha?"
 Tracks was another one of those Transformers that was juuust out of my reach. I've always really liked Corvettes; I used to go to lots of Corvette shows with my father as a child so of course Tracks appealed to me. Unfortunately he just wasn't in the stores long enough for me to get to him. There were always other characters that I wanted ahead of him: Ratchet, Sunstreaker, Wheeljack, Starscream, etc. He was on my want list, but then the '86 movie came along and a bunch of new characters came out. So of course I had to have a Hot Rod and a Gnaw and poor Tracks just kept getting knocked down the totem pole. I finally acquired a loose version around 1997 at a local flea market. He was missing all accessories and one leg was broken, but I finally had him. Over the next ten years I repaired and refurbished him so now he looks brand new. So this Tracks is a gift to my younger corvette-loving self.
"You've got a mind like a steel trap!"
Both of these guys are in great condition and I am hoping for some good marks back from AFA. I'll post more updates when I get them back.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pennies and the Jets (lots and lots of Pennies!)

Ah, Cyclonus. This toy probably holds more sentimental value for me than almost any other. I have a distinct, clear memory of my mother purchasing Cyclonus for me at the local KB Toys way back in '86. I can remember walking into that tricked out toy store (they had a lot of 'play with me' toys out for kids) going directly to the action figure isle and picking up Cyclonus. There was no question, he was the one I wanted. I had just seen the 1986 Movie in theaters and I knew I wanted one of the 'new' characters. Hot Rod would have been my first choice but I actually got him before I saw the movie. So my next choice was the awesome, inverted-wing purple jet: Cyclonus.
"The Autobots have been terminated!"

Yes, the box flap is curved (not due to water damage, I think just due to air moisture) which is unfortunate, but a minty Cyclonus can be very expensive and I just don't want to drop that much coin on one figure. So this Cyclonus will do for me, I will attempt to flatten out the flap as much as possible before sending this one off to AFA, but I'm not expecting high marks. That's okay, he is still going to look great on my shelf.

I acquired my original Dirge when I was very young, it was one of the first Transformers I owned. I remember I mistakenly thought he was Thundercracker because he was blue (gimme a break, I was four years old). He would be the only jet from the second series I owned in my childhood. A friend of mine had Thrust and I never even saw a Ramjet until high school. To this day I still have my original Dirge, completely beat up but repaired as best possible. I'm glad I was able to get him and he was the cheapest one of the lot! I guess Dirge isn't too popular these days. 
"Death comes to he who crosses me."

Three Times the Fun!

I wanted to start out with Springer because he was the one really guilty purchase in this lot. I never had him as kid, but boy did I want him. The stereotypical “Han Solo” character of the 1986 Movie he always seemed so cool to me as a child, and so out of reach. I never saw him on the shelves. I was able to get a Hot Rod, Cyclonus, Gnaw and Galvatron; but Springer eluded me (as did Kup but that is another story). So I finally purchased a Springer that looks like it came right off the shelf twenty four years ago. Of course it cost ten times more than it did back then, but I am happy with it. This is one of the best ones in the lot and I am sure will grade well as it only has a few imperfections.
"I've got better things to do tonight than die!"
 As a child I loved trains. I also loved space. So it is no surprise that when I saw Astrotrain in the stores of my youth I was entranced. A train that turns into a space shuttle that turns into a robot!?! No way. I still have my original Astrotrain; he's been slightly repaired (legs tightened) and reprolabeled but he is mine from childhood. I believe he came from Sears department store. But getting him sealed in his box brings me back to those days looking through all the choices and seeing such an awesome concept – triple changer. I don't distinctly remember but I am sure I tore the box to shreds trying to get him out and play with him the first time around. I never even put his stickers on him (hence the reprolabels). This one stays sealed forever; my own little window into an awesome childhood.
"These fools worship Transformers!"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Mother Lode!!!

Today was a glorious day. I received something in the mail I have never received before: six (that's 6!) Mint In Sealed Box Generation One Transformers. Holy freaking crap I am a state of pure euphoria.
This is what heaven must be like.
Normally I wouldn't have splurged like this, but a perfect storm of opportunities happened. About ten days ago the well known seller (here) put up a collection of almost seventy mint G1 items on eBay. Obviously TFLand bought a collection and was selling it piecemeal. I took a quick look at what was up for sale and decided I wanted Smokescreen and Skywarp (as you'll notice I ended up getting neither) since they were two of the first Transformers I ever owned. My plan was to purchase these two only and have them AFA graded. I will go into my opinions on AFA in another post. So once I had decided I wanted these two I got the idea in my head that I would buy a whole bunch of these, have them graded and then sell them for a small profit each. When I say small profit I mean I set a ROI of 10%, no more. I don't like gouging people and I personally think the price of AFA's on eBay are too high from most sellers. So in order to make enough profit to cover the costs of Smokescreen and Skywarp (at least what I expected the costs to be) I figured I would need to buy and resell somewhere between twenty and thirty of the auctions. Believe it or not I was actually prepared to do this until I took a closer look at all of the auctions. After some close examination I realized many of them would not get a high enough grade in order to warrant a profit. This unfortunately included Smokescreen as he had a small hole in the bottom of the box (looked like a bug or something had dug its way through the box) so I quickly abandoned that plan and gave up the possibility of owning Smokescreen as well. I also decided I didn't really like the idea of trying to profit off the AFA game as I feel the market is overinflated anyway.

Then I went to plan B. I thought to myself that since many of these items weren't in the AFA 'pristine' condition, I may be able to get some of them cheap to add to my personal collection. I would get them graded anyway, not for the grade but just for the peace of mind of having them sealed in a plastic prison so something like what happened to the Smokescreen wouldn't happen again. I don't like missing good opportunities and this seemed like the perfect one to add to my AFA collection without incurring the enormous cost normally with it. I set up a cost-basis analysis and created a high and low price based on prior sales. I then set a midpoint for myself and decided that based on past information I could reasonably expect to win somewhere between twenty and forty percent of the items I was looking at with the pricing structure I set up. I also made sure of a limit on each item in an attempt to keep emotions out of it. Eventually I narrowed the list down to twelve items total. So two days before the auctions ended I bid my low price on the ones without any bids just to set an initial claim. All of the auctions ended within around twenty to thirty seconds of each other so I knew it would be difficult to place last second bids.

So when the fateful evening came I watched them as best I could and put in final bids as close to the ending of the auction as I could in an attempt to avoid a bidding war. Amazingly the prices stayed lower than I expected and I won fifty percent of the auctions I was watching! Unfortunately one of the ones I did not win was Skywarp, his price (along with the others) jumped higher than my analysis said I should spend so I didn't go after them. In the end I came out really well considering my initial expectations!

Over the next three days I am going to go over these guys a little more in depth along with some stories about why I chose them so keep an eye out. I'll also be documenting the AFA process for anyone who is interested.(Update, I have documented the process here)

See also:
The Chance of a Lifetime

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

McFly! I thought I told you never to come in here!

Over the past two days I have had the immense pleasure of playing the new Back to the Future downloadable game on PS3. As a huge BTTF fan I must say that this is the game all fans of the franchise have been waiting for!
 It isn't easy to mess with the BTTF formula. The three movies are very well rounded and any additional sequels or rewrites tend to create problems (see the Animated series or the BTTF ride). However this game has been able to continue the story of Marty and Doc without feeling contrived or expected. At least that is how it looks right now, but I've only been able to play through the first of five parts. One of the main gems for this game are the voices. Almost every character is spot-on despite Christopher Lloyd being the only original actor to reprise his role. I don't want to give away any spoilers, but let's just say if I didn't know for sure there were other people playing these roles I would have a hard time telling that it isn't them.
 Fortunately this game was produced in conjunction with Bob Gale, one of the producers on the original films and the primary reason BTTF survives today. A few months ago Mr. Gale generously offered up much of his BTTF memorabilia for a charity auction. It has been his dedication to the franchise that has kept BTTF from being corrupted, remade or fooled with over the past twenty-five years. He knows BTTF and he knows what makes a good story. And this game has a good story. There are so many little nuances and inside jokes in this game that dedicated fans will get a lot out of it. That isn't to say that the casual gamer wouldn't enjoy it either, but it is definitely a game for the fans.
 If you like BTTF you need to play this game. Like, right now.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Holy Decoys Batman!

I never really thought much about Decoys. For those of you that don't know, Decoys were packaged with smaller Transformer figures as sort of a bonus throughout 1986 and 1987. Mostly they came with combiner limbs and throttlebots. Decoys are basically just what their name implies: small rubber decoy robots of other Transformer characters. The odd thing was by the time the Decoys were released, most of the characters they imitated were long gone from the toy shelves. All of the Decoys were for toys that were released in 1984 and 1985. I had a few as a child, but never really paid much attention to them. They ended up being battle damage.
Apparently I like to draw my battle damage.
 Even in my quest of a complete G1 collection I still didn't give them much thought. I just never really considered them all that important or part of a G1 collection. Fortunately many people agree and they are usually readily available for somewhere between $4-$8 each. So when I finally got down to the last few remaining figures in my G1 collection, I was looking for ways to round it out. That means Decoys. I finally started to recognize these tiny figures for what they were: an essential part to any complete G1 collection.
Random Internet Picture.
 As it turns out, obtaining all of these things is a lot harder than it looks. First off, there aren't just 52 different ones out there. There are 63. Originally Hasbro had planned to manufacture all the Decoys in one color: red. However sometime after the initial run they changed their minds and started to manufacture the Decepticons in purple. Thus there is a red set of Decepticons and a purple set. One red Decepticon decoy is hard to come by, not to mention the whole set. I was fortunate in that I found a partial set of red Decepticons, but I still don't have all of them.
Over halfway there.
 Secondly, most of the sellers on eBay have overinflated the prices of these things. I see many listed for over eight dollars when that really isn't the going price. So most of my purchases have to come from online message boards or in person exchanges. In fact I haven't even started on the regular release Decoys yet due to this fact. I am hoping I can find another large set at a good price to start me out. Then again, I could always just go for this auction.
Just a little too expensive ($500!)

Ape Shall Never Kill Ape

My five year wedding anniversary was just a little over a week ago. As a present, my wife bought me the ultimate Planet of the Apes Collection on blu-ray!
 First let me say that I love Planet of the Apes, especially the first one. When I saw it in my youth I was captured by its allegories to the human conditions of race and religion. It is just one of those movies that makes you think a little harder about the world around you and that is something I really enjoy. Second let me say this is a freaking awesome blu-ray set! Not only does it come with all five movies with tons of extra features, it includes an in-depth behind the scenes hardcover book. It is the ultimate gift for an Apes fan. I never had the fortune of owning any of the POTA movies before, I would just watch the movies when they came on TV. And now I finally get to share them with my wife who has never seen them. Of course she bought this knowing full well she would be subjected to a lot of Ape. She's a good sport.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Generation One Pretender Monsters

For some reason, I've been wanting to get these guys back out so I figured they would be good for a blog entry. There is also a good story to go with them, but first a little history. The G1 Pretender Monsters were released in 1989 near the end of the US run of Transformers. They also happened to be the last combiner group in Generation One. Each monster shell held a small almost micromaster sized robot that had two modes of its own, as was the gimmick for all pretenders. As an added bonus, all the figures combined into one larger robot, Monstructor. Unfortunately due to scale issues, the actual Monstructor toy was not much larger than the average sized transformer at the time despite being portrayed as a huge robot.

Here is where my story comes in. I never knew about these figures when they were first released. I was around eight years old at the time. Micromasters were beginning to dominate the Transformers franchise and I was loosing interest. Somewhere around 1997 after my interest had been rekindled once by G2 and once again by Beast Wars, I found these guys at a flea market in my hometown. Back then this stuff was going cheap. I was able to walk away with all of these guys 100% complete (tech specs, instructions and all) for $30 total. Today they routinely sell for over $300. The kicker is I almost didn't pick them up. Back then I didn't know a whole lot about the tail end of G1 (I was thrilled to find out about Piranacon although that is another story) but I had remembered seeing them in issue #67 of the Marvel comic run. It was this tiny reference that pushed me to buy them. Oddly enough issue #67 is the only issue in which they appear in the entire US comic and I only owned three issues at the time: #67, #76 & #78. When I got them home and discovered they combined as well, I was just floored. Talk about a good investment.
Unfortunately I am too afraid to transform them anymore due to Gold Plastic Syndrome, so I leave them in combined form on my shelf. But they were fun toys while they lasted.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

2010 Universal Dominator Unicron

I figured I'd start things off with a bang. It doesn't get much bigger than Unicron. If you happen to be following this blog and do not know who Unicron is; then you need a serious Transformer education. Unicron was first introduced in the 1986 animated feature: Transformers: The Movie. Originally conceived as the ultimate Transformer (a robot that transforms into a planet!) his role was eventually redefined in the Transformers US Marvel comic run as an anti-god to the creator of all Transformers: Primus. Unfortunately for all children of the 80's who loved Transformers Unicron was not available in toy form. A few prototypes were made, however none made it to the production phase. Fast forward to 2003; Transformers was undergoing a rebirth in the series Transformers: Armada. The big villian of the series was none other than Unicron! And fortunately for us, toy engineering had advanced to the point where an actual toy of this character could be made!

When this toy was originally released, everyone in the entire Transformers fandom went crazy. It was the figure everyone had to have. Sure the colors weren't exactly right and some of the details were off, but it was freaking Unicron! I found mine in Myrtle Beach, SC on vacation with my (then) girlfriend. I was so excited to get it home and open it, but had to drive six hours home before I could touch it (I found it while we were on the way out of town). This toy was subsequently re-released two more times in America, once under the Transformers: Energon banner as a black repaint, and once again under the Universe line in 2008. 

Then came 2010. Takara-Tomy, the company in Japan that is responsible for the Transformers brand, released a brand new version of this toy. It had a remolded head and a brand new colorscheme to match the one from the original 1986 movie. All of a sudden my 2003 Unicron was obsolete. I was on the fence for a long time about buying this toy. I knew I wanted it, but I didn't want two Unicrons in my collection. But I decided I had better go ahead and buy him before the price began to skyrocket, as I know it will do eventually. So I finally bit the bullet last month and he finally arrived the other day. This is how it looks on my shelf now:
 So finally a G1 accurate Unicron is mine. I prefer to keep him in planet form as I feel he looks more menacing. Who wouldn't want this guy?!?!