Friday, April 24, 2015

GanguStars Book Project Samples...Again!

I'm a creative person that likes to know all the angles of things before I get a project together that will be distributed to others. With what I am doing with the GanguStars books and print items this means finding what I feel is the best format and outlet for the final piece. I've had 8 test print sample books done by a couple different Print On Demand companies. About $90 in and I have both good and bad returns. But even the bad gives me a great outlook on things, cause I know now that some orders in particular formats and a certain company will never be made.

I remarked on the previous 4-6 books I had done before a few weeks back. Yesterday I received 2 more sample prints, 1 in 8.5x11inch magazine format and 1 in 6x10inch comic size. Both were full color and on semi-gloss coated papers. And both were from different companies, maybe. I'll elaborate on that later. Neither met my expectations, and I doubt I will use either for the intended purpose, or at least not in the design style I had chosen.

Magazine Print
Right out of the shipping sleeve, it was doomed.

It's like someone used the 5 second rule when they dropped this and just quickly picked it up and dropped in the shipping pack as if no harm was done. But that is a pretty significant bit of crushing on the spine corner. Every page is damaged with the pages towards the back even slightly torn. And the issues withe the cover didn't end there. The print and trim work were out of alignment.

Even though this was designed full bleed (meaning image/ink goes full across the page), it wasn't printed that way. Or not cut that way when the final trim was made to conform to the size format. When I opened the book I found that the print alignment problems wasn't just on the cover, but throughout the entire book.

The paper quality is passable, like just about any magazine you pick up off the rack at a super market. The ink/print quality though was terrible. I kid you not, I could have had better results from my crappy old inkjet printer. My page featuring the Gobots Turbo is pink. And grainy as sandpaper.

And the grainy image issues ran the length of the magazine's pages. The color tint being off, while very noticeable in the Turbo page, only really affected maybe half the book. It really came out in the reds. I think I could offset this while making the book, but there no way I'd know I had it right without more test prints, and that could get pricey. This magazine wasn't as cheap as an issue of People or US Magazine, hell those are cheaper than just the cost I paid for shipping this test book.

Outcome of Magazine test: Never gonna happen. I will never use this format and printer for this size of print. It's worse than the Economy Color Testbook I showed a few weeks back, and way more expensive.

Comic Print
This was the print test I was more excited about. The magazine format was a bit of a "wouldn't that be cool" type of thing, while the comic format was something I wanted because it's juts more practical. Now I didn't have the same noticeable damage showing when I took this book out of it's shipping box. Thankfully. But after a second I did notice the same poor print alignment and trim. In fact worse than the magazine print.

It's off so bad that the spine is now moved onto the cover, and the right side of the cover has been pushed past the trim line and cut off. This is absolutely unacceptable. I follow the trim and alignment requirements even past the recommend settings. If the company says leave 3/4's inch I leave a full inch. And then another 1/4 inch for safety. They had to seriously screw this up to have any important bits cut off.

If you look at the back of this one its harder to see the shift. I had made sure to have the front covers on both books full bleed image, and the backs image on white. I like both, but in terms of having things printed safely and completely, the full bleed image just doesn't look to be available to me. I just wouldn't be able to trust these printers with being able to do the job correctly, and I wouldn't be able to get a re-print or refund in some instances.

And of course, the inner pages all suffer from poor printing as well. Unlike the magazine format where the problem was more due to improperly trimming the pages, this is a set-up issue.

The pages in the comic print were supposed to be full bleed, with the black highlight panels extending the full length of the pages. You're not supposed to see white lines at the top and bottom of the pages. I had even made sure to note in the order that all inside pages were "full bleed" when the project was uploaded.

The problems with the comic format print are so noticeable, and it's such a shame because aside from what I show here, it's a great looking book. The color is fantastic and spot on, the paper quality is amazing. The semi-gloss paper just really brings out the images and even the text looks bright and crisp. But there's no way to look at any of that without your eye straying to the bad print problem areas. Or at least for me that's what happens. Ultimately, what this means is I tweak this design and nix the black highlight bars in favor of white ones. I just won't be able to have the full page bleed look either.

To compare the color quality of the two books:

Look at how much nicer the red on the Gobots Turbo comic print page is. And it's clear and clean, not grainy and fuzzy like the magazine print. Even the cover printing is a notch nicer on the comic print.

Outcome of Comic test: I will use this at some point, but will just have to design to the imperfect print process the company practices.

Now I mentioned that these books were maybe printed by 2 different companies, here's a theory I've come up with. Now the orders were placed with the main offices of each Print On Demand business, each on one side of the country. Now when the order shipping notices were sent to me, both books originated from the same city, which is in neither state of the where the companies exist. My guess is that each company outsources certain print productions to outside printers. It would make sense since you can't order a magazine print and a photobook print and have them ship together. It's because they produce the products in different places. This also explains how some of the very same crappy outcomes are featured here in both test prints.

I'm not likely gonna file a complaint with each company or anything, but maybe at least inquire to the issues at hand. These were test prints, and they have done the job of alerting me to any issues for better or in this case, much worse compared to the prints I've done before.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Imaginext Mighty Morphin Power Rangers & Ghost Pirates Unleashed!

Fisher-Price continues to move forward and bring new and creative products into their Imaginext line up. Arriving earlier in 2015, Fisher-Price released the Ghost Pirates sub-line to their Imaginext Pirates brand. Starting next month is all goes as planned, Toys R Us should see the new Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Imaginext series debut in stores across North America. Two very cool and eagerly anticipated collections of Imaginext toys.

Imaginext Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
I know there's a good deal of excitement surrounding the release of these toys in the Imaginext fan community, but it seems to be carrying over to the Power Ranger collectors community as well. Hopefully this means strong sales among kids and collectors alike. Because I'd like to see a great deal more releases in this series.

Basic Figures:Power Ranger Figure Pack Assortment
No images release of these packs released yet, but we have been told there will be at least 4 releases. We may see the Pink Ranger and Green Ranger in these packs. I wouldn't doubt seeing Alpha 5, maybe a Putty or some other the other alien villains included as well. I'd love to see a White Ranger, but that's probably more a second series release at this time, but damn if I wouldn't love to see it.

Basic Vehicles:Zords Assortment
These are the typical small vehicles that come with a figure that Imaginext puts out for most of it's lines. Here we'll get 3 of the 5 Zords each with each corresponding Ranger. The trio being released in this assortment are Blue Ranger with the Triceratops DinoZord, Yellow Ranger with the Sabertooth Tiger DinoZord and Black Ranger with the Mastodon DinoZord. These will price out at $15-$17 at retail. Interesting to note that Fisher-Price could have went with using their basic Imaginext body and just painted on details, but instead have created all new molds for the Ranger figures. And each has a unique head sculpt. Each vehicle will hold a figure and feature some type of action gimmick.

Imaginext Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Zords Assortment Blue Ranger DinoZord イマジネックスト ジュウレンジャー 戦隊

Imaginext Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Zords Assortment Yellow Ranger DinoZord イマジネックスト ジュウレンジャー 戦隊Imaginext Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Zords Assortment Black Ranger DinoZord イマジネックスト ジュウレンジャー 戦隊

Large Vehicles:Battle Assortment
These larger sets are set to cost about $25 and will feature pad activated gimmicks and each come with a figure. You can choose from the Red Ranger & Tyrannosaurus DinoZord set or Rita Repulsa & Goldar set. Very cool to see a super sized Goldar released here. Knda gives some hope we may see a super sized Apache Chef or Giganta in the DC Super Friends line.

Imaginext Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Battle Assortment Red Ranger T-Rex DinoZord イマジネックスト ジュウレンジャーImaginext Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Battle Assortment Rita Repulsa Goldar イマジネックスト ジュウレンジャー 戦隊

Over-Sized Playset: Morphin Megazord
 This is the key item for the MMPR line, a giant, action feature filled toy that will surely be the focal point of any kid's or adult's Imaginext collection. Priced at about $60, this will join the BatBot and Space Rover as one of the more expensive Imaginext toys. It does however feature a load of cool things like light up eyes, a working elevator, a jail for alien villains, shooting missiles and a couple Rangers figures. This one looks full of fun.

Over-Sized Playset Morphin Megazord イマジネックスト ジュウレンジャー 戦隊

Imaginext Ghost Pirates
They exist! I managed to grab the largest toy from this series, the Ghost Pirate Island, but sadly have not seen the other sets in stores yet. The Fisher-Price site lists these, but availability is limited. When I use the item finder I get only a few hits, and they are only for Kohls and Amazon. I know these are out there because others have found them. If you are looking for these as well, just keep an eye out for now.

Imaginext Pirate & Ghost Octopus 

Imaginext Pirate & Ghost Octopus

A cool pack that features a Ghost Pirate figure with removable gear & sword, and a Ghost Octopus for him to fight or pal around with in the murky haunted waters. This is a basic figure pack, and should cost about $7-$8. These can be found at Amazon, but at double the retail price. ($15)

Imaginext Ghost Ship 

Imaginext Ghost Ship Imaginext Ghost Ship

This basic vehicle should be found at retail  for about $15.00, or if you just can't wait and don't mind paying $35 you can get it off Amazon now. I would recommend just waiting it out and checking a nearby Kohls. But I wouldn't blame you for swiping one off Amazon, it's a cool looking toy. This toy has the awesome clear plastic Ghostly Green color pieces to itlike the other sets in the series. It also features opening skeleton claws on the front of the ship. You get a Ghost Pirate figure with removable accessories and a small Ghost Crab critter that can ride along.

Imaginext Ghost Pirate Island

Imaginext Ghost Pirate IslandImaginext Ghost Pirate Island

This is the large key item of the sub-line, the Ghost Pirate Island playset. This toy is designed as a ghostly sunken damaged pirate ship encrusted in  rock. The ship has a hidden cannon secret passage way,both activated by turning the activation disks. There's a Ghost Pirate figure included, as well as a pet Ghost Alligator to keep him company. You can order one of these off the Fisher-Price online store for $20.00 or at Kohls or Amazon for $30-$35.

Fisher-Price ジュウレンジャー mighty morphin power rangers sentai imaginext イマジネックスト 戦隊シリーズ

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Few Notes: About This Blog And My Book Projects.

If you read this blog, even just casually now and then, you'll notice there's not a heck of a lot of substance. I don't do long archeological posts, my reviews are pretty brief, and I don't go into depth on some aspects of toys like some other bloggers do. The reason for this is that the blog is supposed to be a counter-point to the site. The ying to the site's yang. The blog was designed to be a place to post fluff pieces, little bits that didn't require (or deserve) space on the formal site. The problem is, there is no formal site yet. At this time, I have to concrete ideas of when or f that site will materialize. In the meantime I have continued on with the blog, and posted in the manner that I had originally intended. There's lots of toy haul posts, release info, short notes to accompany random pictures. It's fun, and for now an easily digestible little look into what I hope to expand upon with an actual proper site. Or other projects.

Last week I got a bit more info and a look at more options for my Books Project. The local comic printing option is out for now. The print quality just isn't high enough for what I need. Think mid-90's comic printing, great for comics but not so much for toy photos. I had actually decided on an option as well as the first project to work on. And then I got contacted by Philip Reed of I had actually found a few of his books while looking around online for others doing DIY toy books. Philip sent me a few links to a couple publishers he knows. While one of them doesn't offer printing int eh page count I need for the first project, it did offer an amazing amount of other products that really set off some creative fireworks. So thanks goes out to Philip Reed for bringing that to my attention and for also promoting my efforts over on his blog.

As I said, I have finalized my decision, and I've already started to work on my first project idea. I won't be giving out nay info on what it is yet, but hope to be done and have a test print made by late May. At that time I will set up some type of pre-order and see if I can make the minimum goal to get this thing published. I have several projects in mind already if this first one works out. Or I guess if it doesn't, others to move onto.

And just because a post without any pics is boring...

 おもちゃ Ultraman tokusatsu Bandai ウルトラマン ソフビ バンダイ

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Behold...the BatBot!

I was able to slip in an online order a week ago at Toys R Us just hours before their "Buy One, Get One"sale expired. My brother told my nephew has been going around in stores and saying "Uncle Dave is gonna buy me this" when he sees the Imaginext DC Super Friends BatBot. I can kinda see where he gets this idea, since I bought several hundred dollars worth of Imaginext DC toys for him in the last 2 years. However, the BatBot is the most expensive DC item Fisher-Price has put out for their Imaginext line. At $70, it comes off as a pretty big investment for a toy (looking at it from a normal person's view). But in comes TRU to save the day. While I didn't score big in store with their BOGO sale, getting a pair of BatBots for $70 is a really good deal. Yeah, I bought one for myself.

batman BatBot dc comics Fisher-Price imaginext DC Supr Friends アメコミ イマジネックスト バットマン

You may look at this and think that $70 is a bit high, and if I wasn't a collector I would maybe agree. Maybe. I know how much a person can spend on a toy,and in many cases you may not even get much play value out of a really expensive item. That isn't the case with the BatBot. You really do get $70 worth of awesome out of this toy. It's a giant freakin' transforming talking Batman robot with lights!

batman BatBot dc comics Fisher-Price imaginext DC Supr Friends アメコミ イマジネックスト バットマンbatman BatBot dc comics Fisher-Price imaginext DC Supr Friends アメコミ イマジネックスト バットマン

You get a Batman figure of course, who else would be piloting this mech? The BatBot is also an R/C toy, with controls and operation that is scaled down for young kids. The toy has an auto transform function (take that Optimus!), and can be driven via remote in either mode. The toy features over 100 sounds and phrases. A mix of alarms and sirens to reports on what the Joker, Mr. Freeze or Poison Ivy are up to. I've been driven my wife crazy because every time I pass this toy in the living room I've been hitting the buttons to see what sounds it'll make. I really like this toy.

The rest of the week's find were pretty minimal. The Kroger grocery store put their Easter items on clearance and included were a few Fisher-price things.

Octonauts Captain Barnacles すすめ!オクトノーツ batman Joker Harley Quinn dc comics Fisher-Price imaginext DC Supr Friends アメコミ イマジネックスト バットマンOctonauts Captain Barnacles すすめ!オクトノーツ Suction Suit toy Fisher-Price

I managed to snag an extra Joker/Harley Quinn 2pk set for $3.49 and an Octonauts Captain Barnacles for $2.99. I was really happy to see the Barnacles toy sitting there as this is the new Suction Suit version. I hadn't seen this anywhere before finding them displayed at Kroger. Now if only they had the other new toys like the Dashi, Tweak and Shellington.

Kroger also had another great deal going on that I didn't partake in. They had all their clearance toys on sale for an extra 50% off. They had some TMNT and Star Wars LEGO sets for as little as $3. All their Hasbro Marvel Universe figures were down to $5. I was really tempted to grab a Deathshead figure. They had basic TMNT figures for $4.50, a lot of Barbie stuff, some Hot Wheels. If you have a Kroger near you, it's probably worthwhile to stop in and check to see if your store is having the same sale.

batman action figures dc comics Fisher-Price imaginext Octonauts すすめ!オクトノーツ アメコミ イマジネックスト バットマン

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Garage Sale Finds: Ultraman & Sentai Toy Haul From November 2004.

This is a look back at some finds from November 2004. There's 2 different Garage Sale Finds here, one of the sales was great, the other maybe just a tad mediocre. If you can call any of this mediocre at all really.

November 2004: Garage Sale #1

Bandai, power rangers, sentai, Ultraman, 戦隊シリーズ, ダグオン, ウルトラマン, おもちゃ, Daguon, Brave SeriesBandai, power rangers, sentai, Ultraman, 戦隊シリーズ, ダグオン, ウルトラマン, おもちゃ, Daguon, Brave Series

This is the better stuff. This is one of those rare time I actually found a boxed toy, in this case the Sentai Gingaman GigaBitus. A toy reminiscent of older Popy designs. I also found an Ultraman Zearth figure with electronic sounds. Then there's a junker B-Fighter figure. The real winner in the toy finds was a Brave Series Daguon GunKid toy. Loose, no parts, but it's such a cool toy I didn't care. Can't recall exactly, but it was likely around $5, so all the more reason to buy.

This stop also produced some cool books and videos. I got an old Sentai ZyuRanger tape, as well as a KakuRanger vid. There was a KakuRanger storybook, and a few awesome Ultraman storybooks and a databook. The Sentai stuff was recently sold off. I just don't collect Sentai items any more, and I needed to make space. Plus, my VCRs are getting old and stuff is starting to look pretty bad on them. The last thing from the sale was the backdrop these items are sitting on. It's an Ultraman World tarp, poster thing. I love the art from this series, so finding this to hang in my room was great.

All in all, I likely paid under $40 for all this. IIRC the videos were the most expensive things.

November 2004: Garage Sale #2

Bandai, power rangers, sentai, Ultraman, 戦隊シリーズ, ダグオン, ウルトラマン, おもちゃ, Daguon, Brave SeriesBandai, power rangers, sentai, Ultraman, 戦隊シリーズ, ダグオン, ウルトラマン, おもちゃ, Daguon, Brave Series

This sale stop provided a lot less bang for the buck. I did pick up a few more cool Ultraman books, and a kid's mag with Brave Police J-Decker, but that was the only highlights. The video tape was just some then recent Transformers episodes tape from t.v., and the other books didn't feature anything really great. There was some mega Man stuff, but that was really it. I got those books for like 10¢ each, so no real loss there. The lot finishes out with a book of Winnie the Pooh fax paper, a picture book about vehicles in Japan with sirens, a camera magazine, and a U.S. Big Bad Beetle Borgs base that was a total piece of junk. But it was a quarter, so I grabbed it for customs use.

Reminiscing about these old Garage Sale Finds really makes me sad the scene around here is so dead these days. It's not like it was 10-15 years ago. I hate change.

garage sale, Bandai, power rangers, sentai, Ultraman, 戦隊シリーズ, ダグオン, ウルトラマン, おもちゃ, Daguon, Brave Series

Saturday, April 4, 2015

April Showers Bring More Toys, and Fun! (Imaginext JoeCon Sylvanian Families & Projects)

So basically another weekend report. I should maybe just make a series of this. It's not my intention to only write blog posts on the weekends, it's just sort of been happening that way lately due to other things outside of toy collecting going on. Got a bit of new toys to talk about, some old toys, more info on the book project I am looking to get going on, then just a small note on JoeCon.

First off,a bit of an update on my Book Project. I will be heading to the local printer on Tuesday to see if they can do a comic format print for me, and get a general idea of costs. I posted links to my lost post about the testbooks around the net, but got little feedback. But what I got back in notes form folks was very good, and useful. Thanks to Bryan, Weeter, Tim, Adam and Jeff.

I also took a look at other fan created indie produced collectors books. There's a huge range in the not only the prices, but the production and sales methods. Some use indie self publishing companies to accept orders, others use Kickstarter, some can be found at Amazon, and a few do as I want and just sell themselves. Pricing can be a reasonable $20 for a small 20-60 page book, upwards to $120 for an 8x10 book around  200 pages. What I've discovered while looking is that high prices don't really make for high sales. And a lot of excitement surrounding a self published book doesn't equal generous support. Generous may not be the word, but support for some of these projects are seriously lacking. And they are good projects in most cases.

For me,  have a few points I want to follow in doing this:
  • Provide A Quality Product.
  • Keep Price As Low As Possible.
  • Try To Be As Original As I Can.
If I can follow those 3 principles, I think I can get something out there that will please anybody who buys it. But that is the real goal. I won't have difficulty creating the content. I shouldn't have trouble getting the books printed. I have access to enough places online to get word out on any print. The one big question mark is, will anybody actually buy it? This is where my choice to self publish and sell could become an issue. Using a 3rd party vendor, or doing a Kickstarter campaign would settle that issue, but it could also backfire, and I'd really just rather have full control over my own projects. It may fall onto a pre-order system being put into place and if enough orders are placed to cover costs, publish, if not, shelve the book until a later date. Not something I want to worry about until I actually have the project done.

So onto the toys, I've started April in about the same way I left March, some decent toy deals. Thanks to my friend Jeff for tipping me off to Toys R Us having a sale on Imaginext this week. A great sale really, buy 1 toy get 1 toy free!

DC comics Super Friends Toys R Us Imaginext Joker Plane Bane Van Fisher-Price アメコミ イマジネックストImaginext Space Aliens Alpha Walker Explorer Action Tech Fisher-Price アメコミ イマジネックスト

 After getting the note from Jeff I checked my nearest TRU, and they were wiped out. All they had were some Imaginext SpongeBob toys, a few Rescue City items, and a couple larger DC Super Friends items. One of the DC items was the Mr. Freeze HQ which I just bought, and the other the motorized BatBot which I would like to get, but just wasn't the right time last Sunday. On to another TRU in the next city and nothing again! Okay, not totally, they had a single pack Bane figure as well as the Freeze HQ and BatBot. But I have that Bane, and even if I wanted to grab it for my nephew there wasn't a second figure to get free in the sale. The third TRU and the last I was gong to visit for the day did come through. I was able to get the Imaginext DC Gotham City TRU exclusive Joker Plane, and as a freebie the Gotham City SWAT Van with Bane. So I saved $25, which is pretty awesome.

A trip to Walmart again, and really I have never shopped at this place as much as I have these past 2 weeks, and I picked up a few more cheap items. I got another $7 Imaginext Alpha Explorer, this one will be gifted over to my nephew. I also got the Imaginext space Alpha Walker, which is a very cool motorized walking toy. A mix of a robotic elephant and Star Wars AT-AT. This thing set me back a whole $10. Yeah, pretty cheap.

DC comics Fisher-Price Imaginext すすめ!オクトノーツ アメコミ イマジネックスト Octonauts Barnacles Peso

Meijer had a bit of a sale going this past week as well. They not only had Octonauts single figures on sale for $3.99, but being part of their shoppers club got us another $1 off coupon. They also had a coupon for Imaginext DC figures. So I picked up the K.Croc DC figure, and two Octonauts guys I hadn't gotten last year when they came out.

Tomy Sylvanian Families Epoch Calico Critters Japanese シルバニアファミリー

This past week brought on another bit of cleaning up and sorting out. This time I had to organize my other storage closet that my wife and I share. This closet holds a lot of my extra art supplies, and my Sylvanian Families/Calico Critters collection. This collection is very modest in terms of actual collectors collections go. I have a lot of the toys we had as kids, and then a bunch that I have picked up in the last 18 years. But really, in no way is this a large collection. I wish it was, but this stuff isn't cheap. I think though, that this is the one thing I collect that my wife actually gets excited about when I have to organize and tidy it up. Not gonna lie, she's actually started to pick some of these up herself.

Tomy Sylvanian Families Epoch Calico Critters Japanese シルバニアファミリーTomy Sylvanian Families Epoch Calico Critters Japanese シルバニアファミリー

 I would love to be able to better display these, but unlike plastic toys like G.I.Joe and Transformers, cleaning Sylvanians can cause a lot of damage to their flocked fur. These are not dust friendly toys. For now, these will have to stay boxed up.

G.I.joe Tiger Force convention exclusives rare G.I.ジョー JoeCon

This year's G.I.Joe Collectors Con is being held next week. When word got buzzing that this year's exclusives were going to feature Tiger Force, I thought maybe this would be the year I finally go to JoeCon. The reason I have never gone before was the company that puts it on. In the past I have been a member of the Joe Club they run, and after some nonsense pulled by organizer I call it quits. In the few years since I have really tried to not give any money to them, directly or indirectly. I faltered a bit this past year when I picked up 2 Tiger Force characters offered in their G.I.Joe subscription service. I got them off a re-seller on ebay for about $18 less then they cost from the Club. To say these figures were not popular with Joe fans would be an understatement. I was willing to completely fall off the boycott wagon if the 2015 JoeCon was going to be Tiger Force themed.

As time went on, confirmation of Tiger Force being the theme came out, and instead of things going as they should, things just went South fast. In the end, the insanely high costs, one mistake in planning the Con after another, and then not to forget the actual look of the exclusives, I just gave up the notion of going at all. I had a place to stay while in Chicago, and maybe even a dealer space to share, but I just can't stand out of control messes.

Anyhow, to any of the Joe fans going, I wish you the best of luck next week. And here's a Tiger Citrus Punch to you!

G.I.joe Tiger Force convention exclusives rare G.I.ジョー JoeCon

DC comics Fisher-Price G.I.joe G.I.ジョー GanguStars Books, GanguStars Projects Imaginext すすめ!オクトノーツ アメコミ イマジネックスト Octonauts Sylvanian Families