Friday, May 27, 2016

Minor Clean-Up VS. Major Changes.

Just some little tweaks and clean-up to the blog today. I should have had a complete overhaul in place, but I really can't figure out where to go with it yet. The most significant change today will be to sites who use my blog in their new sections, and to those who follow the blog via feeds.

More change will come. When I figure out what I want to do.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Machine Robo Returns! A New Battle Robo In My Collection!

For some time now I have been hoping Bandai would develop a sub-series of the ongoing Soul Of Chogokin line featuring new highly detailed collector oriented Machine Robo toys. In the 10 years I have thought about the possibilities nothing has ever come of it except a toy of Rom Stol and the BaiKunFu armor. That toy and character in particular has never did anything for me. So I have to say it was quite a surprise to see a new set of intricate yet fairly faithful looking representations of the Machine Robo anime renditions being promoted at a toy show a year ago. This month the first three toys were released.

There seems to be a lot of confusion and mis-understanding surrounding the new series being produced by Action Toys. In order to keep this review to a minimum I'm going to sidestep the issues of copyright/licensing hows and whys and correlations to the American Gobots line.
Action Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese RobotsAction Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese Robots
Battle Robo is the fourth toy in the series inspired by the characters from the 1986  Machine Robo: Revenge of Cronos anime series. Revenge of Cronos was a series using the Machine Robo toy designs developed by Popy/Plex and Bandai and produced in part with Ashi Production. Ashi Pro. have since changed their name to Production Reed. It's with Reed that Action Toys have worked out a deal to sell toys, so these will all resemble their Cronos based likenesses over any other Machine Robo associated looks.
Action Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese RobotsAction Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese Robots
Action Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese RobotsAction Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese Robots
It's hard for me to say anything negative about this figure. That's not to say there isn't a few minor tweaks that could be made, but overall it's a very solid piece. It does feature die-cast metal bits, like the original Popy Battle Robo it's all in the upper torso. The transformation is completely original and quite a bit more intricate than the original toy. That's easy to say of course since the Popy Battle Robo may be the easiest Machine Robo to ever change from robot to alternate mode. Everything in this new Battle Robo design fits together tightly. And I mean that, be careful with joints that are frozen. The knees on my figure needed a little finessing to get moving.
Action Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese Robots
A good deal of the talk about this new line of toys was that it would closely resemble the anime series design models over all else. I'd say it's pretty close to that. In the case of the Bike Robo toy it's extremely close, here with the Battle Robo it's a little more loosely based on the model. You can see the toy has 4 treads where the anime model has the traditional two. The cannons differ, but I suppose they did in the anime at times as well. The toy also features a bit of added detail and highlights to bring it more to life in 3D form as opposed to just trying to replicate a 2D design.
Action Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese RobotsAction Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese Robots
I've mentioned the original 1982 Popy toy a few times already and here is the comparison. I'm using the actual Revenge of Cronos release for the shots here, I figured it was only fitting. The Action Toys Battle Robo is almost double the size of the Popy/Bandai toy. I guess when looking at the two together, the original toy is quite a better match to the Revenge of Cronos design model. It would be a lie to say these don't match up pretty well in design aesthetics, aside from a 34 year gap in toy engineering. Even being created outside the Plex system that worked on all the previous Machine Robo releases, I feel this new Battle Robo and really all the Action Toys Machine Robo figures shown so far are very deserving of the Machine Robo name.
Action Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese RobotsAction Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese Robots
 If you wanted a more comparable sized original looking Battle Robo to display next to the Action Toys one, there is a vintage knock-off that would work. It's not the easiest thing to find, or good quality at all, but it is out there.
As for the last part of the new Battle Robo toy, and my least favorite bit of the package, the display platform. I don't think this is a necessary inclusion to this toy. That's obliviously just my opinion because there's a large number of positive and hopeful notes about these display stands from other folks. The nice thing about them is that they are modular, and you can pick and choose how to build them. You can also use as much or as little of the bits for your stand design. I guess you could even combine multiple stands to build a larger set-up.
Action Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese RobotsAction Toys Machine Robo Battle Robo Gobots Tank バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai anime Japanese Robots
I feel this is an addition that would be better suited to the Eagle Robo and upcoming Jet Robo. Anything that requires a flying look would work. My lack of interest in the display stand set aside, I really like the Battle Robo figure. It's very "Transformersy", but with the design team who it is, then that makes perfect sense. With this first purchase from the Action Toys offerings being so good I will definitely go ahead and pick up the Bike Robo when it becomes available. If things continue to proceed with the same quality and consistent designs I will see about buying more.

anime Japanese Robots Machine Robo Gobots バンダイ ポピー マシンロボ Popy Bandai

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sound Blasted: One More Time Just For The Hell Of It. (Transformers)

I will always be a Soundwave fan. There's too much in the toy that's cool to ever turn me away from it. But I don't own one these days. And until this week I didn't have his resurrected form in my collection either. I sold my last Soundblaster off 15 years ago. At the time I was thinning out my Transformers collection and re-issues were coming fast and furious. Because I like the toys and don't care about the value I figured I would give up the original G1 toy in favor of a re-issue later on. I seriously didn't believe it would take this long to get one.
Takara Transformers トランスフォーマー Soundblaster Soundwave タカラ 1984 80's Japanese Robots Microman
Soundblaster re-issues are not rare, they're not hard to get at all. I'm just not willing and at times unable to pay very much for things. So when I managed to pick up a Takara "book box" Soundblaster at auction for under $10 I was pretty happy. Add on fees, shipping in Japan and to the States and the cost came out to about $37. The box was beat to hell, but was still sealed with the contents totally mint.
Takara Transformers トランスフォーマー Soundblaster Soundwave タカラ 1984 80's Japanese Robots Microman
The box was in such bad shape that I have already thrown in out. There was a second where I thought to maybe see if anybody wanted it, but I figured with the damage it wouldn't be worth the cost of shipping. It's a shame because the file pages inside these boxes are amazing. This re-issue of Soundblaster isn't exactly the one I wanted, but cost ultimately made it the one I'd get. The set comes with Buzzsaw and Ravage. If I see the one with the newer cassettes, Wingthing and Enemy  I may spring for it if it's under $50.
Takara Transformers トランスフォーマー Soundblaster Soundwave タカラ 1984 80's Japanese Robots Microman
More than just a simple repaint to get new product out, Soundblaster had a cool intro into the Transformers Headmasters series. Soundwave had his final death match with Broadcast/Blaster and falling to his death, his cassette minions took to working a new revitalized body for him to be re-born in. A huge contrast to Blaster's useless cassettes who sat around dejected and crying about his death. But even without a story, the toy would stand on it's own as an awesome piece. It does as Soundwave, and of course as CassetteMan the original Microman toy. Speaking of Microman, I need to grab a few of them out of storage and throw them into the mix for a few photos as well.

1984 80's action figures Japanese Robots Microman Takara Transformers トランスフォーマー タカラ

Saturday, May 14, 2016

It's Like Buying At 2011 Prices. Mystery Item In The Mail!

Here's the short version of the events that led to me getting a box in the mail this week that contained a toy that I was pretty much in the dark on. It started back in 2011 with an auction that I can find no e-mail verification that I won. Going forward a few weeks into 2012 and I've just moved into a new apartment and within another 2 weeks my computer dies. I tried to bring it back but it was done. I lost some passwords and log-ins to sites that I (irresponsibly) didn't record on paper. One account was a e-mail used for a bidding service, the other was a log-in to that same bidding service. Because I was in a new home, and a few things popped up I wanted I just set up a new account. I knew I had 2 books paid for and waiting to be shipped to me in my old account but figured I could get all the nonsense sorted later. My need to bid on new things clouded my judgement.

Later in 2012 I did finally get access to my e-mail account but never went back to the bidding service site. I basically wrote off the 2 books. The bidding service never sent another e-mail saying I had the books waiting, or that they were going to destroy them after a period of time as their rules outlined. And I absolutely have no e-mails from them stating I was the winner of any more auctions. I have since checked a couple times and I need to say it again, I was never contacted about any items I needed to pay for.

Now in the past few months I have been taking time to clean up areas of my house. My work and toy area being the main problem spot. The space around my computer desk and adjacent to it littered with notes about toys, project ideas and various this and that. I started to sort one particular bag of random bits of info including passwords and log-ins and sure enough there's an old note with the bidding service info I had lost. Seems I wasn't as irresponsible as I had thought, but not really organized either. With no real hope that the 2 books I had forsaken could still be in storage at the bidding service I logged in just to make sure. The account was still active at least, and the books were still listed as being in storage. And I had a third item marked as unpaid. A third item! From when? And what? I needed to find out more, even though I was going to look like an asshole for not logging in for 4 years.

After sending in a note explaining things I got a message back that the 2 books were in fact still there and that they would send an invoice for the third item. The problem s that the auction was so old I could pull up any info on it and the bidding description was extremely short and vague. I have to admit, I felt a little unsure at this point. I wrote back asking what the item was but they said they didn't know. Was this a set-up? Were they just attempting to recover money for an old item? I thought I could maybe get a better idea of the situation if I asked for a photo of the item to help me remember. They said no, that they only photograph items in insurance claim situations and that until the item was paid for they wouldn't open the original mailing box anyhow. Now at this point I'm texting a friend and going over this, and I'm feeling very uneasy about the whole thing. Ultimately I just said fuck it and paid the invoice they sent. It wasn't that much and if there was a chance I could still get the books in storage that was worth it. After the payment cleared and I waited out Golden Week the box was shipped.
Even for an EMS package this thing arrived super fast. All along I was wondering what would come, what if it was just the books? What is it was actually some other persons order they mistakenly attributed to my old account? They never actually confirmed what I had with them, I could be getting almost anything. I have to admit I was shockingly pleased with what was inside. Not only was it a toy, and a toy from a line I am still collecting, but a really awesome toy from that line.
And of course the books I had in storage for what was now 4 years and a few months were also in the box. Now before I finish here I need to make clear that I do not remember winning this toy. I probably bid, because I bid on these toys a lot. I had a huge archive of all past auctions for this toy lien and will no doubt be looking this auction up. but if I had won an auction for this toy, I would not have neglected it or let it go, there's just no way I'm going to blow off a chance of adding a Japanese exclusive Blockman toy to my collection. That just wouldn't happen.
1984 1985 Japanese Robots robotech Robolinks Takara 合体戦士ブロックマン ミクロマン タカラTakara Microman 1974 robots Popy manga comics Japanese Shogun Godaikin
Sure it's a double, I already have this set, but at about a $100 plus shipping it was a great price. A loose used set just sold for more than that on YJA 3 weeks back. And I'm super excited to have the books finally. Some decent info in there and a few ads that I don't already have in my advertising archive. I guess I'm still in a state of disbelief that these things were still sitting over in Japan after so many years, but I'm glad it's all wrapped up and taken care of now.
Takara Microman 1974 robots Popy manga comics Japanese Shogun Godaikin

1984 1985 Japanese Robots robotech Robolinks Takara 合体戦士ブロックマン ミクロマン タカラ

Thursday, May 5, 2016

50,000 Hits & Looking To Improve! Better Photos On The Way?!?

If you follow GanguStars at either Facebook or Twitter than you may have seen that last we the blog hit the 50,000 page view mark. Something an online project of mine has not done in 15 years. Some of you may be less than impressed with that number since larger toy sites can see 30,000 views in a month. That doesn't bother me, I am super proud that so many people are taking a second to check this page out and spend their valuable time here. So thank you all!
With that, I should say I am still in "home improvement" mode here. I mentioned back in March that I had picked up a new video camera and received some studio lighting. These past few days I have been testing them out. Prior to this I added one more piece to the mix, a stand/backdrop holder for photo shoots. I absolutely could have just bought one off Amazon for $30-$45 shipped. But I only paid $8.50 for the materials here and with just 35 minutes time had a stand that is more customizable and fitting to the photo shoots I take. This is going to see a lot of use in the near future.
Imaginext blind bag princess She-Ra figures toys

With all things in place, a backdrop stand, new lights, using my DSLR I finally got to doing some test shooting. I hate to say it, but results were very mediocre. I know I need to replace my 2006 DSLR with a newer one. The focus sensor on my current camera has been very spotty, and honestly, the camera has also been difficult to use in close-up shots. But I think the real culprit in these past two days have been the new lights, or actually light singular. These new lights are so big when set up that I only had enough space to set one of them up. I really need to start selling stuff in order to make space for projects like this. I don't want to dwell on the space issue, because the real problem is that the photo bulbs the lights came with are florescents! The benefit to these are of course lower usage costs, and a much cooler work environment. The downside is that all my photo have a blue tint to them that I can't seem to get rid of and only minimize when using all the settings my camera has available. However, thanks to computers I can fix this, to a degree.
Star Wars Boba Fett LEGO clock figure giant ESB Empire
It took hours to clean up all the photos I had taken. I did get them to a point where I was somewhat satisfied. It's going to take much fiddling with the settings to get them exactly where I want them. As you can see in the photo above, the original pictures are very blue hued. Every photo I took came out like this, the video tests I shot as well. I changed and adjusted the white balance to get to this point, because it was much worse in previous pics. I also adjusted the color balance, but this was the best I was able to to do straight out of the camera. Photo editing tools did the rest.
Imaginext DC Super Friends Mr Freeze robot Toys R Us comics Batman toysImaginext DC Super Friends Batgirl super heroine comics Batman toys
I'm sure this process will become easier once I get a general idea of the perfect settings, but right now it's super time consuming. And while the final pics look good on their own, if you look at the Imaginext Batgirl pics you can see my photo still looks a little blue/green compared to the promo stock photo from Fisher-Price. This has had me wondering if just replacing the bulbs is the simple fix? Or just shoot using my old system of lighting set-ups. The Joker pic below was taken 2 days ago and looks good to me, but the Microman pic I took a year and a half ago looks great!
Imaginext DC Super Friends Joker comics Batman toysaction figures GanguStars Projects imaginext dc comics Microman

action figures GanguStars Projects imaginext dc comics Microman