Sunday, July 31, 2011

#82: G.I. Joe - Combat Jet Sky Striker XP-21F

The original Sky Striker (the original was actually the Skystriker) was one of my favorite toys. I think I was four or five when I got it, and it was almost as big as I was. It's actually still at my parents' place, although all the removable parts have been long since lost to playtime. Legend has it that the molds broke, so there hasn't been a re-release of the Sky Striker since 1989. Since the recent G.I. Joe revival began, a lot of the vehicles have been slightly retooled versions of the original molds, but especially since the movie there have been more and more vehicles with completely new molds. When this new version of the Sky Striker was announced, getting one was a no brainer for me.

A few weeks ago, word was out that Sky Strikers were showing up on shelves in a few places. Naturally my Target didn't have them out yet. The DCPI number was available online, so I had them check if there were any in the back room, and there were. But they wouldn't be out on the shelves until today, July 31st. So this morning I went to Target bright and early, only to find the shelves completely devoid of any new G.I. Joe toys. Once again, I had an employee check in the back. There were three in stock, and he brought one out for me. Triumph! This is the first time I've successfully been able to get something out of the back room at Target (trying to find a Gentleman Ghost this way never worked).

The box is actually smaller than I was expecting, but the plane comes in pieces and you get to put it together. Then you have to put on the stickers. This will take you a while, I spent at least an hour putting all of them on. There are even some customizing options with the stickers. On the tail fins, you can stick with the traditional eagle, or go with images meant to represent other characters, like Snake Eyes, Duke, Shipwreck, or Flint. Instead of the red, white, and blue stripes along the edges of the wings, you can opt for yellow and black stripes (I'm not sure what the significance of that color scheme is).

Once it's all together and stickered up, the Sky Striker looks great. It looks almost exactly like the original, although the plastic is more grey, and the tail fins are inexplicably black. Also, the cockpit has been reduced in size to only fit one figure. The original cockpit featured an ejection seat with attached parachute which this updated version omits. I think this version is substantially smaller than the original, although I don't have the original handy to compare. As I mentioned, the original is at my parents' house, so I have seen it as an adult, and it is pretty huge. It's still a good size, so I don't mind.

A Sky Striker isn't going anywhere without a pilot, and Ace is included. While the Sky Striker is very faithful to its original incarnation, Ace is completely revamped. The original had a white flight suit that almost looked suitable for space exploration. I'm not too hip to what an actual fighter pilot's flight suit would look like, but this new version certainly looks like what I would expect. He includes a stand and a pistol that can holster on his ankle. Most importantly, he can sit in the cockpit properly.

I really dig this toy. Although nostalgia plays a large part of my appreciation for it, I think it stands on its own merits, and any kid that gets one a Sky Striker will grow up with fond memories of it. This is a must have for a G.I. Joe fan.

#81: Marvel Universe - Archangel

Lately, I've been visiting Target more frequently, in expectations of the toy aisle reset that's supposed to be finished today. There have been tales online of people finding things put out weeks early, but there hasn't been too much of that at mine. Fortunately, there has been some new stock put out from the Marvel Universe line. I've been looking for Archangel a long time, and when I got to the Marvel Universe section, I was surprised to see him on the very end of the peg, in front of all the other toys. Naturally, I immediately grabbed it, checking to see if there were any more out of curiosity. There weren't any others, so I'm glad I had good timing  and was able to find one.

I generally think action figures with big wings are pretty cool, and Archangel was appearing in X-Men comics back in the 90s when I read them, so this figure was a must get for me. Fortunately, it turned out pretty well. The paint on mine seems pretty good, and the articulation is the basic stuff. The wings are pretty damn cool looking, though. They even included the weird little secondary wings behind the main ones that I always wondered about. What are they there for? I don't know if more Archangel figures are being shipped out, or my Target was finally putting out stock that's been sitting in the back room. So maybe more are showing up all over the place. If you're into Marvel Universe figures, I'd say this is one worth hunting down to add to your collection.

#80: Transformers Reveal the Shield - Starscream

Naturally, one of the other legend class toys that I wanted to get was Starscream since he is one of my favorite Decepticons. The alt mode is a bit chunky on the undercarriage, something that many larger jet Transformers have a problem with as well. Like Optimus, the change from bot to alt mode is pretty similar to what you would expect, with some slight tweaks due to the decreased size.

Due to the wings, Starscream is a bit taller in bot mode than Optimus. It's pretty cool, and it's too bad that this series was so hard to find. Hopefully Hasbro re-releases them later on, so more people can get their hands on them.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

#79: Transformers Reveal the Shield - Optimus Prime

Like the last wave of Generations that included Wheeljack and Warpath, the last wave of Reveal the Shield legends class toys featured cool G1 characters and was difficult to find in stores. I happened to be browsing Entertainment Earth's site, and noticed they had the three I wanted, with only one Megatron left in stock. So I ordered them on the spot. Unfortunately, someone else must have ordered a split second before me, because Megatron is currently backordered. But I got the other two! So here's Optimus Prime, legends class style. If you're unaware, the legends class is the smallest and simplest class of Transformers toys that actually transform. In Japan, there has been a line of even smaller Transformers, but they're expensive, so I'll do without.

Optimus Prime here has his classic original alt mode, a red truck.

The conversion process is pretty similar to the original toy, and results in a pretty decent looking bot mode which is about 3 inches tall. For its size, it's pretty well articulated, and it looks cool too. It's so small, you can take it anywhere without too much hassle. I'm sure kids would love this, but due to its scarcity, I'm guessing it has mostly ended up in the hands of adult collectors.

Don't forget, there is about a day left in my contest. For all you last minute entrants, it's the last minute! So get your entries in!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

#78: TRON Legacy - Rinzler and Quorra

I rather enjoyed TRON Legacy, so I was disappointed that the toys weren't so great. But now, a lot of them are on clearance at Target (except the light cycle that I want), so for a buck fifty I decided to pick up one of these little sets. Each set comes with two figures, two bases, and two connectors. The bases have multiple holes, so you can customize how you want to position the figures. I went with this set based on the character selection. My first choice was the set with the TRON arcade game booth, but there weren't any that I could find. So I went with this one because it has Rinzler who (SPOILER!) is actually TRON. And even though Quorra has a helmet on here, I'm going to pretend it's Thirteen from House MD. Dear Diamond Select: please secure the House MD license for Minimates. I would buy the hell out of those. So this isn't the most exciting toy, but it is pretty neat looking, and for its price I'm happy with it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

#77: Transformers Dark of The Moon - Roadbuster

The final purchase from my Hasbrotoyshop order was another movie-verse Autobot, Roadbuster. Before the movie came out, there was some worry that the NASCAR bots would be redneck stereotypes. With their robo-mullets and NASCAR alt modes, it didn't seem too unreasonable a worry after the previous movie's Skids and Mudflap. Fortunately, this turned out to not be the case, and at least one of them has a Scottish accent, which is way cooler. Interestingly, the toys are officially licensed NASCAR collectibles (there's a fancy holographic sticker on the back), which is something I never expected would be in my collection.

Like most deluxe class figures these days, Roadbuster comes packaged in vehicle mode, a Chevy Impala. Being a NASCAR racer, you would expect the car to be covered in advertisements. While there is a big hood ad, and some smaller ones along the sides by the large numbers, there is still unfortunately a lot of empty space. If it bugs you enough, Reprolabels makes a sticker set that an more properly cover the car in ads, although it's a bit pricy. I'm not sure yet if I need to buy that. The mechtech weapon can plug into three spots on the car in a pretty clever way. Instead of just being holes that mar the car's looks, the pegs have a little panel that the weapon pushes in to fit in the hole. When the weapon is removed, the panels move back in place, preserving the surface. Neat! The mechtech weapon is the same chainsaw thing that Thundercracker came with.

Going from car mode to robot mode is a pretty nice process, and a welcome change from the typical car Transformer. It is certainly a nice improvement from yesterday's Bumblebee. Although the car mode isn't covered in ads, it's obvious that almost all of the paint budget went to those parts. Most of the robot parts are plain grey plastic which makes it look a bit dull. A nice wash or some touch ups would be cool, but I don't plan to get into painting my figures, so I'll live with it. I think the shoulder rocket launchers look a bit goofy sticking out like that, but they can be repositioned into different positions. They can even be deployed in vehicle mode.

Roadbuster is part of Autobot group the Wreckers, and I think I like him enough that I may want to get the other two movieverse Wreckers, Topspin and Leadfoot. Topspin is readily available already and Leadfoot is an upcoming Target exclusive (appropriately, he has a bit Target logo on his hood).

Monday, July 25, 2011

#76: Transformers Hunt For the Decepticons - Battle Blade Bumblebee

The next part of my Transformers order is Battle Blade Bumblebee. It was also on sale, for $6.99, so it was a pretty good deal. Bot mode looks pretty accurate to the onscreen version, as far as I can remember off the top of my head. Better than yesterday's Optimus, for sure. His battle mask can flip down, although it's really tight so I haven't moved it yet. The right arm gets a cannon, and the left arm gets an axe that folds into the arm and can be released with the push of a button.

Getting Bumblebee into car mode is kind of a hassle in parts. Getting the roof/hood piece in place and getting all the side pieces to hold together is difficult to get right. Not all the pieces want to work together, and sometimes they want to occupy space where another piece already is. The packaging lists the difficulty as 4 (out of 5), and it certainly is a fiddly conversion. I could see a kid breaking this one while trying to get it into car mode.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

#75: Transformers Hunt For the Decepticons - Battle Blades Optimus Prime

So a couple weeks ago, Groupon had a deal offering $30 worth of merchandise from for only $15. Now that's a bargain I can't resist. At the same time, had an offer of free shipping on Transformers orders over $25. On top of that, this Optimus was on clearance for $9.99. I've never had a movie version of Optimus, so I figured this would be a good time to get one.

I think the robot mode looks kind of oddly proportioned. The way the head sits on the body seems a little weird. But it's a pretty decent representation of the movie Optimus. Getting him between modes is a big change from the standard Optimus transformation I'm used to. It's really weird that his feet are the grille of the truck mode. It is definitely different, and that makes it interesting. Another amusing aspect of the transformation is that due to the way the legs work, you can give Optimus super long legs making him almost twice as tall. Optimus also has a removable Matrix of Leadership in his chest, a feature that I think improves any Optimus Prime toy. For accessories, there are a couple of cannons that fold into the tanks on the side of the truck mode. I don't think they can be shared with any other Transformers toy, because the hands have narrow slots instead of the standard round peg to hold them. Also, true to his name, Optimus has a blade attached to each arm. They rotate back during the change to truck mode, but while in bot mode, they are too long to rotate back without being in the way. So they're pretty much always extended in bot mode. It seems like I'm complaining a lot, but for 10 bucks, I'm not too bothered. The alt mode is pretty cool, though:

I think the best part of this toy is that the shades or whatever above the windows are articulated. They look like eyebrows, so truck Optimus can be given different expressions. Now that is play value!

Friday, July 22, 2011

#74: Transformers Generations - Warpath

Warpath isn't a character I even remembered, but when I saw the toy it looked cool enough that I really wanted to get one. Due to his placement in the final wave of Generations, he has been in high demand and consequently difficult to find. Fortunately, he was in stock at the same time as Wheeljack, so I was able to order both of them at the same time. Bot mode is the star of the show here, it's very well articulated and posable. My only complaints would be that the forearms and lower legs are a bit oversized looking. Other than that, I really like it. True to the original toy, the turret becomes Warpath's chest, with the main cannon sticking out. The cannon can be fully extended in this mode, which is pretty ridiculous looking and is probably exactly why you would want to do so.

His altmode is a tank. Like Animated Shockwave, it's an "H-tank"so the treads are separated into four sections. Some people don't like that sort of thing, but I keep my Transformers mostly in bot mode, so it doesn't bother me. One of the cannons on the side of the turret launches a missile, which is a cool feature  that Transformers unfortunately seem to be missing out on lately. If you can find Warpath, he will make a great addition to your Transformers collection. Happy hunting!

ALSO: My contest is still going on! You could win a Hot Wheels Back to the Future DeLorean, all you need to do is make a new banner for my site.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

#566 DC Universe Classics - B'Dg

Hey all.  If you haven't figured out by the numbering in the title, that this isn't Mario that's posting, well, it isn't.  It's a guest post, and I'm Novelty from Toy a Day blog.  I'm doing this crazy thing today of reviewing a three pack on three different blogs, two of which are guest blogs - this one, and another one on Killer B Hive.  The anchor to everything is on my own blog.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

#73: Transformers Generations - Wheeljack

During the transition from the Generations/ Reveal the Shield/whatever Transformers lines to the movie line, the last wave of toys inevitably got lost in the shuffle. In some areas it's been available for months, while in others it hasn't shown up at all. Since there were a couple figures from the last Generations wave that I wanted, naturally they were nowhere to be found. Fortunately, I have been fairly obsessive about checking frequently in case they showed up in stock again. After a while, Wheeljack finally showed up. Mainly I wanted him because he was a prominent G1 character. He is pretty distinctive in that he has a covered mouth like Optimus Prime, and the two flashing lights on the side of his head. I'm not sure what their purpose was other than to visually demonstrate that he was speaking, but they look cool and are very memorable. Also, he created the Dinobots! One of the recent trends of Transformers toys has been engineering vehicle modes to be changed into two slightly different robots with some modifications between molds. So this version of Wheeljack is the twin of Tracks. Basically, his legs are shorter and face the other direction.

His vehicle mode is cool, and looks very sporty. With the green, white, and red color scheme the Italian flag comes to mind. Bot mode is pretty solid too. His legs are retooled to not extend as far as Tracks, so their lack of length combined with their width make him look a bit stumpy. There are three accessories, one gun, and two guns/tools. The instructions show them in the positions pictured, but they are all attachable by the little c-clamps so they can be moved around. So the gun can be mounted over the shoulder for the proper G1 look. The other tools when mounted on the shoulders look like guns, but when held in the hands look more like giant robo wrenches. In addition to being held in the hands, they can be mounted in the backside of the legs, like holsters. Neat! I'd say Wheeljack is a solid toy, and if you're able to find one, definitely worth picking up. Maybe the final wave he's a part of will start showing up more plentifully, but you may have to go the online route to find one.

Monday, July 18, 2011

#72: DC Universe Classics - Blue Beetle

So, this is my first purchase from If you haven't heard of it, you can probably figure out what it's all about based on the name. They've had a few interesting items for sale, but so far nothing that moved me to actually order one. Then last week, they put up the DCUC version of the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle, which is the oh so rare uniquely sculpted figure in that line. According to, he is the best 6 inch figure by Mattel ever. So the price was decent, and shipping was free, so I went for it.

I haven't read any comics that feature this version of Blue Beetle, so I am mostly familiar with him from his appearances in the Batman: Brave and the Bold cartoon. From that, I do like the character, so it is good to have a figure of him.This is definitely one of Mattel's strongest efforts in the DCUC line. As mentioned before, it's a completely new sculpt, with very little chance of reuse. There's plenty of detail in the sculpt rather than the typical practice of details being made through the use of paint alone. Articulation is a step above the standard DCUC as well, featuring double hinged knees and elbows, with swivel/hinge wrists. Even the head has a better range of motion, being able to look up and down easily as well as tilting side to side. As for accessories, there is a blade attachment that is made of soft plastic so it doesn't necessarily hold on to the arm as well as you might hope. Also the wings are detachable.

So I think I will have to agree, this is Mattel's finest effort in the DCUC line. Definitely worth picking up. Even if you aren't familiar with the character, the toy is strong enough on its own merits, and the design is pretty damn cool too.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Year of Toys needs YOU! aka CONTEST TIME!

Hey all, it's time for my first ever contest here at A Year of Toys! You may have noticed that I still have the banner from April Fool's Day up in slightly edited form. I've been meaning to replace it with a new one, but so far inspiration hasn't struck. Now, that's where you come in. The contest is simple: design a new banner for A Year of Toys, and you could be the winner!

So what's at stake in this contest, you ask? Well, the winning entry will be used as the banner for A Year of Toys at least through the end of the year (maybe longer!). If the satisfaction of a job well done isn't enough for you, then how about a time machine? More specifically, how about the Hot Wheels Back to the Future Time Machine?

That's right, this hard to find Hot Wheels DeLorean can be yours!

So, now the rules:

1) Make a banner, and send it to me as an attachment at marioshoku gmail com with the subject line "A Year of Toys Banner Contest Submission."

2) Deadline is midnight July 31st (California time).

3) You must be a follower of A Year of Toys. Not a follower already? Just click the "follow" button up at the top of the blog!

4) Be creative and have fun! I am the sole judge of this contest, so the criteria are completely subjective. There is nothing in particular I'm looking for, but I'm more likely to pick a winner that creates a banner with a theme I enjoy (Bakugan themed banners probably won't win, unless they are based on a really awesome idea).

5) You must agree to allow me to post your submission in an upcoming blog post, and to be used as A Year of Toy's banner if it is chosen as the winner.

6) Only one submission per participant will be allowed. If you're feeling really inspired and come up with many banners, feel free to send them along, but be sure to specify which one is your official entry to the contest.

I look forward to seeing your submissions! Within a day or so of the contest's conclusion, I will post all of the submissions and announce the winner.

Friday, July 15, 2011

#71: Marvel Universe - Doctor Doom

So last week, I was checking out the toy area at Target, hoping there would finally be something new in the Star Wars section, when I was shocked to see the Marve Universe pegs completely full. I was even more surprised to find that there were new figures on the pegs, including Doctor Doom. Sadly, there was no Doctor Strange, so my Marvel Doctors collection is yet incomplete.

As far as I can tell, this is a re-release of the Doctor Doom figure from the Secret Wars comic pack with a slightly different color scheme. The comic pack version is a more bright green, while this one is more subdued. It's a very cool looking figure, which is helped by the body parts all being newly sculpted pieces for Doom. Even the ridges in the armor are sculpted in, which is a nice touch. There's not a lot of paintwork on the figure, and mostly it's good. The paint on the cloak's chain looks a bit sloppy, and it looked that way on all three of the figures that were available to look at. I don't know if it's just my figure, but the joints on this Doom feel a little loose. Given that the figure was originally released in the line's history, that may be normal. Marvel Universe figures have generally been improving as the line goes along. Overall though, it's definitely a cool figure and worth picking up if you find one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

#70: Transformers Dark of the Moon - Megatron

So far I have passed on movie versions of Megatron, due both to the aesthetics of the robot mode, and what I consider to be lackluster Cybertronian altmodes. But now Megatron finally has an earthly altmode, a Mack truck. And a cape! I'm not going to lie, the cape is probably the biggest selling point for me here. Something about it just really hits my sense of humor about it the right way. When I decided it was time to buy Megatron, Target was having a sale on voyager class figures for three bucks or so off the normal price. Naturally, my local Target only had Optimus, Shockwave, and that other one (a helicopter?). So I tried checking out Target's website, where Megatron was out of stock. Then I tried Amazon, and they had it in stock for slightly less than normal retail, and even better with free shipping.

Megatron in bot mode is pretty cool, it isn't too much a mishmash of pointy metal bits that I think of as the movie style. Having an earth-based altmode helps in that there are recognizable vehicle pieces on his body. The cape (and attached hood) is removable, which reveals Megatron's heavily damaged face underneath. Or if you want to move his left arm around, because it kind of restricts the arm's movement while it's in place. The Mechtech weapon is a pretty sizable cannon/claw thing that can be attached to either arm, as well as stowed on his back. Pretty cool.

Megaton's altmode is a Mack tanker truck, and it's definitely one of my favorites as a toy. The coolest thing about it is that the trailer part can actually be moved back and forth like a real truck even though it's not detachable. It's a really nice piece of engineering, and it adds a lot of fun to the toy. There is an odd detail that I thought was a mistake, but as far as I can tell from looking at other people's pictures of the toy, seems to be part of the design. The left side of the windshield sticks out from the cab a little, while the right side is level with it. I'm not sure if this reflects an oddity of the design on the real truck, or if it's a weird quirk of Megatron in the movie or what.

Overall, this is for sure one of my favorite toys of the any of the movie lines so far. I'm not sure if they're going to release a leader class version of Megatron, so for now I am calling the best version of movie Megatron.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

#69: Superman/Batman: Vengeance - Batzarro

So a little while ago, I randomly decided that I should get the Batzarro figure. He's the wavemate of that Bizarro figure I have, so I thought they would make a nice pairing. Batzarro is hardly a major character, so it's not very likely that another figure will be made of him. Basically a Bizarro version of Batman, he is the world's worst detective. The batsymbol is upside down because reversing it like Bizarro's S-shield wouldn't work. Correspondingly, the utility belt is upside down, with all the flaps open. Since Batman is stealthy, Batzarro wears chains so that he can never sneak up on anybody. And he apparently has no eyes. The articulation isn't the greatest since it's a DC Direct product from a couple years ago. But it does look cool, especially as it is based on the artwork of Ed McGuinness, who has a distinctly cartoony style that I dig. Maybe Batzarro will make a comeback in the upcoming DC reboot. Okay, probably not. But I would buy a Batzarro comic. Maybe.
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