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RETRO REVIEW: The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior

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It was way back in 1982, while Toto was singing about Rosanna Arquette and Olivia Newton-John was coaxing you to get Physical, that Remco released one of their best remembered lines – The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior. The toy line was released a little before the 11-issue Marvel comic book series of the same name. That series included a few Marvel crossovers, including Nightcrawler.

With a background story that sounds eerily familiar to L. Ron Hubbard’s creation myth, it’s not a surprise that the world of Crystallium (that’s really the name of where the story takes place) and the battle between the Order and Chaos didn’t catch on with youngsters.

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I’m not sure why the line wasn’t more popular. Well…it might have something to do with going up against some new toy lines like Masters of the Universe, G.I. Joe, Return of the Jedi, etc. Plus, as you can see from the 1983 Sears Christmas Catalog, it’s not like the retailers were giving them much help. When your ad is basically space filler next to The Other World and Castle Zendo, it’s only a matter of time before you’re in the bargain bin at the local McCrory’s (I hope at least one person gets this reference).

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The series of figures featured the good – the Order – and the bad – the Chaos. The leaders were a pair of twin brothers – Crystar and Moltar. Crystar, the good one, appears to be made of crystal, while Moltar, the bad brother, looks like molten lava.

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RETRO REVIEW: Computer Warriors

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The 1980’s were the heyday of transforming toys. Once the Transformers and Go-Bots hit it big, it felt like a dozen other transformable toy lines showed up on the shelves of your favorite toyshop.

Back in 1989, Mattel produced the Computer Warriors toy line. The series consisted of eight different transformable sets, from a small (plastic) soccer ball to a calculator to the splendid Pespi can shown above.

The storyline behind it goes something like: there was an accident with a secret government computer that created a wave of evil Virus troops that were able to hide in everyday objects. To combat the evil, the computer then generated the heroes – the Computer Warriors. And that’s how you get little guys covered in what appear to be circuits living inside of a can of cola.

The Pepsi can includes a little figure named Gridd. He’s a “Heroic Mechanic Specialist”. Well, a heroic mechanic and an electrical engineer. “Cloned from a quantum mechanics program, he understands everything there is to know about the mechanics of any object.” Wait a second! This is just the reverse plot of the original Tron movie. The programs are invading the real world.

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Gridd comes with a “hyper hoverjet” that features guns and bombs. The wings fold up so that it can be concealed in his Earthly home – that can of Pepsi. The sides on the plastic can come down when you press on the top tab. This lets you gander at the inner working of a can of “Pepsi. A Generation Ahead”. (That was the 1989 slogan…they went back to “The Choice of a New Generation the next year)

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REVIEW: Carbonation Toys’ FizzKids

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It all started when a 53’ trailer carrying 1,800 cases of canned soda pop was headed south on Bubble Blvd. and the driver lost control, crashing into Plush and Lush Toy Company.

But what has the town talking is what happened to the toys. Residents report that — miraculously — the formerly soft, cuddly stuffed animals appear to have transformed.

According to Carbonation Toys, this is the creation story for their FizzKids line. The FizzKids is a series of six solid vinyl figures. Each one is contained within its own aluminum can style packaging. 

The can is about the size of your favorite carbonated beverage. It features a little pop cap on the top as well as nutritional facts on the cardboard tube can. Inside of the can exterior, there’s a clear plastic capsule where the figure resides. It’s one of the more unique packaging designs that I’ve seen over the past 10 years of reviewing toys.

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There are six different figures in the FizzKids Series 1. Each figure/character has it’s own corresponding carbonated beverage flavor. There’s Alien Limeade (Alien), Bone Crusher Root Beer (Boy), Cranked Cola (Cat), Rummy Cola (Rat), Vicious Dog Sparkling Water (Dog), and Zombie Juice (Zombie).

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I like the variety that Carbonation Toys has chosen for this series: Cat, Dog, Rat, Zombie, Human, and Alien. (The standouts – in my opinion – are the Cat and the creepy little kid) But I also like that the sculpts are so varied. Maybe it’s that I’m so used to seeing platform toys in this scale.

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REVIEW: Doc Savage – Double Danger Deluxe Version

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‘The Man of Bronze’ - Doc Savage was created by publisher Henry W. Ralston and editor John L. Nanovic at Street and Smith Publications, with additional works by Lester Dent. Doc’s popularity transcended the pulps moving into radio, comic books, and a feature film. Doc has been interpreted by some of the greatest artists. This beloved adventurer is considered to be the model for the ‘super hero’ with his strength, intelligence, speed, physique, and wealth – he even has a ‘Fortress of Solitude’. The name Doc Savage is synonymous with courage, danger, and adventure - remaining a heroic pop-culture icon to this day.

The Doc Savage 1/6th scale collectible figure comes from Go Hero and Executive Replicas. This is one of several collaborations that the two companies have worked on in the past or are working on into the future. The Doc Savage figure is available in two different versions: the Silver Age version and the Go Hero Exclusive Double Danger Deluxe version. For this review, I’ll be looking at the Double Danger Deluxe (DDD).

Not knowing much about Doc Savage, I had to do some research. I wasn’t surprised to find out that one of the professions of this fictional character was that of a doctor. But I was a little surprised that he wasn’t at all related to ‘The Macho Man’... Fans of the character will be delighted to know that this is the first time the good Doc has been made available as a 1/6th scale figure. 

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RETRO REVIEW: Roy Rogers gives you the Snorks

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Apparently, back in 1988, the Roy Rogers restaurant chain was looking to compete with McDonalds by trying to outdo their Happy Meal toy lineup. Since picky little kids really drove parents fast food choices, it was often up to what chain had the best toy that specific week.

But in 1988, Roy Rogers decided to give away figurines based on the Hanna-Barbera cartoon - Snorks. The 3-inch tall Snorks figurines that Roy Rogers gave away were actually produced by Schleich. And Schlech is a German toy company that’s still around today (and still releasing new Smurfs toys).

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Growing up in Pennsylvania, I was able to partake in the Roy Rogers’ menu once or twice as a child. And since these toys are really all that’s memorable about the restaurant – I guess the fact that it was named after an old western film star made it unique – that might have something to do with why the chain never made it past the mid-Atlantic.

The Snorks cartoon series originally ran from 1984 to 1989. While there were hopes that it would rival The Smurfs in popularity, it never achieved that type of success. The two cartoons had a number of the same voice artists, editors, and producers. This likely led folks to think what I thought as a kid – “the Snorks are the underwater Smurfs”.

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REVIEW: Rise of the Beasts

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From a time before time, the villains of myth and the heroes of legend have returned to continue a savage battle that will determine the future of humanity.

With barbaric kingdoms, led by power hungry animals in the form of men preparing to conquer the earth, mankind must place it's hope in the lion Thufur Asa'Yid, The Sword of Krix!

As ancient armies equipped with advanced science and technology erupt from underneath the earth all over the world who can stop ..

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The Rise of the Beasts is a new line of 1980’s inspired mini figures in the same vein as Battle Beasts. And like several other contemporary lines that have been influenced by Battle Beasts, these feature Onell Design’s Glyos joints. That means you can switch out all of the parts and pieces with other toy lines that similarly feature the Glyos joints.

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To date, there have been two characters released – the African Rhinoceros and the Emperor Scorpion. Depending on the paint and color scheme, the character has a different name. And in addition to painted versions of these two guys, there are also a few unpainted ones that nearly cut the price in half.

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Speaking of price, they sell for $7.00 per painted figure and $4.00 per unpainted. I’d probably go the painted route as the added personality you get from one of the painted figures far outweighs the $3.00 extra you’ll need to pony up.

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RETRO REVIEW: Barnyard Commandos

It’s possible that you remember a little line from 1989 called Barnyard Commandos. It was something straight out of Animal Farm…if George Orwell had dreamt up strapping heavy artillery to the backs of talking pigs and sheep.

The R.A.M.S. (Rebel Army of Military Sheep) and the P.O.R.K.S. (Platoon of Rebel Killer Swine) were rival groups of farm animals that somehow got into radioactive materials left over from an abandoned military experiment. Was it a big government conspiracy that they were trying to trick little kids into thinking that radioactive waste creates wonderful monsters rather than causing cancer and/or a painful death?

Playmates, which also released those other mutants – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, produced the toy line. In all, there were 16 characters produced – 8 P.O.R.K.S. and 8 R.A.M.S. There was also a 13-episode run of cartoons that’s likely still available at your local Blockbuster Video in VHS form.

I went on eBay and picked up a trio of Barnyard Commandos – all from the P.O.R.K.S. lineup. When I received them, I noticed the first one had a bubble that was slightly opened on the bottom. I opened the thing up and could have sworn that a live pig had been trapped in there for the past 26 years.

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RETRO REVIEW: GoBots

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For our first Throwback Thursday retro review, I’m going to take you all the way back to 1985. It’s the year where two of the top three songs were performed by Wham!, WrestleMania debuted, and Back to the Future debuted. It’s also the year where you’d be able to fire up your console television and watch Challenge of the GoBots.

Youngsters nowadays likely look at GoBots and think they were some cheap corner store rip-off of Transformers. Not so! Both GoBots and Transformers started in Japan in the 80’s - GoBots by Bandai and Transformers by Takara. They both came over to the US in 1984 - GoBots from Tonka and Transformers from Hasbro.

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Most kids fell into either the pro-Transformer or pro-GoBot group. It was basically the two political party system for male children in the 1980’s. And while I had a handful of GoBots, Transformers were my preferred robots in disguise. GoBots always felt like the red-headed stepchild. And it wasn’t an unusual occurrence to see young GoBot children standing alone against the wall during recess.

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Both lines featured robots that transformed into vehicles and back again. The majority of Transformers were fairly intricate figures. There was a lot of twisting and turning and you might have even had to read – eek – instructions! The GoBots felt a little held back by their simplicity. Their robot form looked entirely too vehicle-y with a little head and a big body.

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REVIEW: reddit’s Snoo

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Even if you’re not a frequent user, most people have likely visited reddit.com. Likely you’ve checked out one of the celebrity AMAs (Ask Me Anything). And if you’ve seen the site, you’re probably familiar with reddit’s logo – a little black and white alien.

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At some point in time, that little reddit alien was actually given a name – Snoo. Of course, someone would hear the name and say “Hey! What’s Snoo?” And then they’d get caught up in an Abbott ad Costello routine for ten or so minutes.

Actually, the creators of reddit intended to name the site Snoo for that very exact reason…but someone already had that URL…they didn’t have the money to purchase the domain name…and the rest is history.

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With reddit celebrating their 10th anniversary, they’ve revealed Snoovatars for reddit gold folks (basically a customizable Snoo avatar). More importantly for collectors, they’ve released a few toys based on the character. The first toy, a collaboration with Pretty In Plastic, is the official vinyl Snoo in both OG and DIY colorways.

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Each 3-inch tall rotocast vinyl Snoo features a single point of articulation at the neck. The difference between the two versions is that one has a painted mouth, antenna, and eyes…and the other is blank white waiting for your (un)artistic touch.

Both vinyl figures retail at $8.99 each. Snce the box states Series 1, I wouldn’t be surprised if there might be a Series 2 out at some point. Possibly wishful thinking, but with the amount of customized and special event Snoo artwork out there…I think they could pluck enough designs to maybe fill out a blind box series.

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REVIEW: MBW – WWII – Willy’s Jeep

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Modern Brick Warfare produces custom designed LEGO accessories as well as custom printing on LEGO figures and kits that use all new original LEGO blocks to create Modern Brick Warfare designed vehicles. They recently sent us one of those kits – the World War II inspired Willy’s Jeep – to check out.

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This specific kit features over 110 brand new LEGO pieces as well as instructions on how to put it all together. There are programs out there that let you digitally design a LEGO model, making it perfect to design an object such as this Jeep.

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In addition to the original LEGO pieces, there are some customs from Modern Brick Warfare. You get a .50 CAL Machine Gun with 2 ammo cans for it, a custom World War 2 American Soldier minifigure armed with a 1911 colt pistol and a M1 Garand rifle, and a custom built gas can. Other LEGO accessories include a backpack, shovel, and pickaxe.

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Having a 3 and 4 year old, I’ve had to put together a lot of LEGO sets. And I might have picked up the Ecto-1 and the Back to the Future DeLorean sets for myself. But it seems as soon as I put one together, my kids turn into destructive kaiju whose only goal is to violently destroy the fruits of my labor. Luckily, I was able to keep Willy’s Jeep away from them for long enough to take photos.

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