Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July's Last Surprise: Cheap LEGO Set & Hasbro Body Issues.

As July comes to a close, there's been few interesting finds on my end. Stores are a mess, some in the middle of transitions for Fall and Holiday resets. Yeah, for retail it really is that time of year again. So for the next few weeks toy shelves will likely be pretty bare, or completely empty even as stores begin to ramp up their toy departments for Christmas. But that's fine, it'll give me some time to figure out what I even need at retail, and be able to set funds aside for it when found.

As for the rest of July, it's been slow. Real slow. I just haven't had the funds to pick things up. I've seen some of the new DC Super Friends Imaginext stuff, I had to pass on a great deal of clearance Imaginext items, and there was an amazing Takara Blockman lot that sold for way more than I could afford. Truth be told, it wasn't much when you pieced it out, in fact it was a great deal, but i just didn't have the cash on hand for it. So when I'm out fr groceries and I sneak by the toy aisle and see LEGO on clearance I get excited. Hell, if not just for the fact that I can afford it.

EGO City Crook pursuit cheap low cost Lego toys
 The store had about 9-10 sets on close-out. This one above was down to $1.75 from $6.99. An awesome deal. I grabbed one for my nephew and one for me. They had some of the smaller Star Wars sets, a TMNT set, and more City series sets on clearance but I was satisfied with just this one for now. Even though the mini Falcon with Han Solo sitting on top of it is pretty cute. If you buy LEGO, and there's a Kroger store near you, check it out and see if they have anything on it's way out.

Hasbro Marvel toys Ironman Iron Monger Super Hero Mashers
Speaking of things that I got two of, there's this Marvel Super Hero Mashers set I actually picked up a short time back and forgot to post about. The double of the set went to my nephew again. He has loved all the Transformers sets I've gotten for him, and I wondered if he'd like these Marvel ones too. Thankfully it was a hit. I knew he liked Iron Man, and Iron Monger paired with him here is robotic enough for him to like even not knowing the character. I don't know that I'd run right out and grab a Spidey or Cap for him, but maybe for Christmas. The Iron Man/Monger sets cost me just over $8 each, which was a great deal.

Now the thing that has been nagging at me is the fact that these toys feature many original sculpts in the line. The Iron Monger toy above was sold only in this set, and how many uses would come of it in the future? How about the Logan body? He's in his coat and jeans, not many uses that I can see outside of Logan. The Transformers figures were the same. Hasbro never even utilized the Starscream body to do Thundercracker or Skywarp for any bonus packs or store exclusives. Last week at SDCC Hasbro showed off more of it's Star Wars Mashers series. I have to say, that this line again shows very little re-color possibilities. Sure there's a Jango out of Boba Fett, but that's about all I could see in the first line-up.

Now I do have a point to make here. It's that Hasbro has for years re-used the same worn, weary bodies for Marvel Universe figures, and for G.I.Joes in certain eras. They said they had to do it to make the most out of the mold due to the costs in creating them. Now the Mashers come along, and there's very little mold re-use, and many parts to each figure, and they are larger. Never mind the fact that they are not exactly doing gangbusters sales-wise since several places have clearing them out for the last 4 months. I guess I can't even pretend to understand this, more so now that it's 3:50am and my alarm is gonna go off in 10 minutes to tell me to get up and go to work.

Of course my whole rant about Hasbro not being consistent with mold re-use if shredded when I see they've re-packaged the Playskool Heroes Star Wars line and re-sold it to Target. This is a line Target had clearanced out of existence in it's stores. Now for about what it had cost you to buy 2 figures, you get only 1. The upside is that I can now get the Biker Scout with a Speeder Bike and not have to buy the online exclusive 6 trooper pack.

Playskool Heroes Star Wars Jedi Force 2015 Darth Vader ImaginextPlayskool Heroes Star Wars Galactic Heroes 2015 Han Solo Darth Vader Imaginext

And ready to take over most of the aisle space is the superior children's action figure line...

2015 new Imaginext Power Rangers Mega Zord Batman Batcave

action figures, batman, Fisher-Price, imaginext, marvel, LEGO, アメコミ, スターウォーズ, Star Wars

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Imaginext Toy Exclusives Come Out Of Nowhere?

There's a certain charm and flashback that comes about with releases from Fisher-price's Imaginext line. There's little fanfare, and little actual news about when something is coming or where it's coming to. Fans of the line tend to try and piece together info based on sample images, names, and availability options from web retailer listings. It takes you back to being a kid and walking into a store and seeing a new item on the shelves you'd never known was coming. That part is fun, that part is what is so great about buying these. The not so great part is trying to figure out where an item is being sold or was it sold at all?

A couple months back a poster on Facebook showed off a blurry and dark photo of an Imaginext DC Super Friends toy they'd bought which featured a bonus figure included in a normal retail release. Some mention of other toys was noted but I have to say I didn't think much of it. Usually when Imaginext news breaks I know I have a 4-5 week wait til the stuff filters into stores in my area. Well, 5weeks went by, 6, 7 now I'm starting to wonder. I go back and can't find the image that was posted on FB or the text. Facebook has a tendency to swallow things into that pit of  a system it is. I started to look on Ebay a lot for the toys and nothing. A listing on Amazon pulled up a picture-less item for sale, which again didn't help. So I sat and waited some more.

This week the Imaginext groups were buzzing with news of Kmart having a 75% off clearance toys sale in which some great Imaginext deals were being found. For instance, the crazy large Imaginext Space Rover which retailed at $100-$120 last Christmas was being found for as little as $25. There was also a new Imaginext DC gift set out at Kmart that was popping up in stores. I had to go out and see, knowing I'd likely not even be able to buy any of the best deals if I stumbled upon them. Well of course I went 4 days into the sale and there was nothing left in terms of clearance at one of my Kmart stores. I did find the new gift set but passed because I found something else,that same Imaginext DC Super Friends toy with bonus figure I had seen on Facebook. In fact I found a series of bonus figure toys.

Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Batman Batwing bonus Joker アメコミ バットマン イマジネックストFisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Green Lantern jet bonus Kilowog アメコミ バットマン イマジネックスト

This was my first time seeing this Batwing with Batman & Joker set. Since I have all 3 this toy was a pass. I had seen the Green Lantern Jet with Hal & Kilowog on Ebay, and again with having these and with none being exclusive I passed. Now I had heard that there was a Bane Sled that came with Bane and a Lex Luthor, that set wasn't here at this Kmart. I have never seen a photo of this set, so I guess I need to still look out there to confirm. Now the one set they had that I did in fact buy was this:

Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends penguin Copter bonus Batman アメコミ バットマン イマジネックスト

 I had already bought the Penguin Copter when I first saw it back in February. his one, while at about the same retail price, if much, much better. I love when Fisher-Price offers this store exclusives of sorts, because getting 2 figures with a vehicle is such a good deal. In most cases you get a villain with a hero vehicle or a hero with a villain. Most cases, but there is the Green Lantern set above, and a Batmobile bonus set where you got Batman and Robin. With the Penguin here, you get Batman. The new sculpt Batman that has become the new normal Batman figure. But as far as I know, released here for the first time and exclusively to this set, in the traditional blue and grey!

Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends penguin Copter bonus Batman アメコミ バットマン イマジネックスト

The figure looks amazing. It took me a few of these new sculpt Batman figures to warm up to him, but this seals the deal for sure. I wouldn't say I like this one better than the original blue and grey Batman Imaginext figure, but he beats out almost all of the other versions easily. And he's just some random bonus figure stuck onto a Penguin Copter. It's this kind of thinking that makes me love Fisher-Price so much. They could have just thrown in a normal black or grey Batman form any of the other already issued versions, but they instead put out a unique and new version.

action figures Batman comics DC comics Fisher-Price Imaginext アメコミ バットマン イマジネックスト

Monday, July 13, 2015

Never Ever Satisfied.

You might be thinking this blog will be about toy collectors and how they are so very hard to please. With such a fickle and notoriously critical bunch when it comes to new toy releases, it wouldn't be hard to expect that given it's a major news weekend with San Diego Comic Con taking place. But there's no news here. And no complaining about any news.

This is actually a post about the pics you see on this blog. I can't say I really like them, but they suit their intended purpose I suppose. I never planned for this blog to be the central focus of my net presence, I had been working on a site for that. On the site I had planned to have much nicer pics, and leave smaller less than spectacular pics to highlight what I write about on the blog. But even with knowing my intention here, I have had trouble with sticking to the point of it.

I'm going to show a few tests pic styles I've done, there's many more than this but I figure it's a good sampling. I've never been able to sit still and just enjoy any certain look for the blog pics. I keep wanting something of a better fit. What do you think? Any thoughts can be left below or on Facebook/Twitter. Would love to hear them.

Color Fade Background

This was my first try at pics for the blog. They take more time editing than any of the other pics I have taken since. They also happen to look the best, maybe. But I knew I couldn't keep up a good pace with this type of pic taking and moved on.

White/Black Background

Pics with straight up white or black backgrounds. The reason I don't use these is that I had planned to use this style on the site. A few have snuck into various blog posts, but I'd rather leave this look to the actual site content and not on the blog.

Logo Background

This was a brilliant idea I had to cut down on time taken placing watermarks and logo on each pic. Ha ha, it's horrible! The logo is distracting, it blends too much into the photo subject. And I still need watermarks because the logo isn't even present in some pics. Stupid idea.

Gloss Red Background

I had a thought about doing a painted wood or clay backdrop that would give a sheen when lights were shown on it. I figured the light would create a bit of texture to eliminate a boring wall of color. As a test I ran out and got some dollar store gift wrap. To be honest, it's almost what I wanted here in the left hand pic. But not quite. And I fear any red toy photographed will disappear into the background. This idea isn't a bad one, just needs some work. And maybe a return to the original idea of paint on wood.

Metallic Sheen Background

This is the other roll of gift wrap I bought at the dollar store. It's a cool metallic silver. When lights hits the slightly wrinkled paper it almost looks like metal sheeting. I really like this look. It would go with any colors as well. This style is still a contender for future use as well.

Image Based Background

This was the latest test. I came up with and printed out about 5 11x14 backdrops. Of those 5, one that featured a pic I took of a stack of Japanese magazines looked the coolest. This backdrop has been used on pics featured in the last few posts. I really like it, and the colors of the toys really pop. The problem, and it's a big one, the backdrop totally messes with my camera's auto focus. Because I need ti snap pics quickly, I use auto instead of manual focus for blog pics. I also use a 15 year old digital camera. :P

Not writing this one off, not at all. I may just have to use my better camera when taking pics with this background.

GanguStars Projects, galleries, vintage toys, toys, おもちゃ

Saturday, July 11, 2015

GanguStars Book Project Update: Super Off Target

So I'm sitting here looking at about 6 weeks past where I should be with my first book project. This being the "easy" project I thought could get me into the swing of self publishing things. I'd love to be able to blame work, house chores or surprise issues like car repairs or illness, but those would just be excuses. I spent a good amount of time watching hockey, then the Woman's World Cup, and also baseball. Aside from spending time with toys, I spend a great deal of time watching sports.

But the end is near, for my book project that is. I should have the test to print next weekend. I think I've said that before of course, but seriously, this time I really think it's gonna happen. With some wok outages, and some really nice cool days here I have been able to get most of the final touches done. Completely re-doing the cover art wasted some time I could have spent elsewhere, but I really like the new look.

In about 2-3 weeks depending on how quickly I receive the test proof from the printed, I should have the theme out there, as well as order info. But maybe if you have better eyes than I do you can guess the theme from these very small pics. I've also made it harder by pixelating things. Sorry!

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Don't Buys: Toy Lines I Actively Keep Away From.

It's not easy collecting all the toys you want. It's even harder to avoid collecting all the toys you want. In the last few years I have been slowly trying to narrow my focus. I admit, I've been all over the place recently. Imaginext? Definitely! Transformers? Sure. G.I.Joe? Yes. Hot Wheels? Ok, they're super cheap right? Octonauts? Oh maybe this is getting out of hand. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? No, no, no. You can't start something so large and full of cool stuff.  And I'm only talking about things in stores right now. That's not to get into older toy lines like Starriors, vintage Transformers and Joes, Japan's Microman, CyberCop and Machine Robo lines and my love of candy toys and keshi figures. I need to focus, and I need that new drive to finish up the main lines I most want to collect.

So while I have been second guessing a lot of things I buy, and passing on other bits of toy lines I am already involved in, there's a few toy lines I am trying to just completely ignore all together. And it's not easy. And when I think that two of the following lines I have collected in some way as an adult, and all three as a kid, it reminds me of how great they are.

Kenner M.A.S.K.

1985 M.A.S.K. MASK Kenner toys Matt Tracker Split Seconds ケナー ザ・マスク

I had a great M.A.S.K. collection as a kid. Or I should say among my brothers and I we had a great shared collection. This was sold around 19889-90 when I started high school. By about 1994 I had started collecting it again, but as an actual collector interested in MIB/MOC pieces. These I sold, and before hitting the year 2000 had re-bought a few again which I ultimately sold one final time. Since 2000 I have not purchased any Kenner M.A.S.K. toys. I did buy the Hasbro G.I.Joe version of Matt Tracker, but have recently decided to put him in my sell boxes. Even that little toy has been giving me the collecting vibes as of late.

M.A.S.K. is one of my favorite toy lines and kid's cartoons. And I don't own any of the toys, or even the DVD release of the show. I do own a few Kenner retailer catalogs form the 80's and it's tough to see page after page of awesome toys that I know I should never even be looking at. And the box art, my God it's fantastic! About 8 years back I used to really search up M.A.S.K. toys online, and at the time the rices seemed high. I wouldn't dare look now. With even just the U.S. releases commanding pretty high prices, I can only imagine what the European and South American toys cost, and it's frightening.

Coleco StarCom
1987 Starcom Coleco Mattel スターコム

I sold my last StarCom toy from childhood last year. It was the last lingering item that taunted me, or at least haunted me about collecting the toy line. I love this toy line. I think the toys are amazing fun, and the figures, while simple next to what we have today, were really unique at the time. Add to this, like M.A.S.K., had design work from Shinji Aramaki. Now, it doesn't help to keep the collecting bug at bay when you go and buy the complete t.v. series of the toy line you are trying to avoid. Let me tell you, it's reaching the point that I have broken a major rule and searched the toys on Ebay. Luckily, the prices are so out of my range right now I can safely remain a non-collector.

Popy/Bandai Sentai Series (Power Rangers)

戦隊シリーズ バンダイ ポピー スーパーロボット Power Rangers

This may be the easiest of the toy lines haunting me. To a degree. I am not much of a fan of Sentai hero robots from about 1996 on. And even a good deal of the early 90's robot leave me a bit unimpressed. But at a time I had a great deal of the late 80's robots and many from the early 90's. At some point in 1999 I really felt that I had to stop. After a few trips to Japan I could see that to continue on would be really expensive. I realized that I could move the funds I would sue on Sentai toys to other areas of collecting and the money from selling my current collection could help fund another trip to Japan. So yeah I sold off most of my Popy and Bandai Sentai items. I keep a select a very few things, and put that money I made to other use.

Whenever I pull out the box holding my remaining Sentai stuff it still stings a little. Seeing some of the old cool Sentai robots in magazine I get also gets me,but I know deep down it's all been for the better. But once I win the lottery, there's gonna be a damn Sentai Shopping Spree!

1984 1986 action figures Starcom Power Rangers M.A.S.K. 戦隊シリーズ バンダイ Kenner