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REVIEW: Hot Toys’ The Winter Soldier

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I’m of the persuasion that the superior Marvel Studios produced films are those distributed by Disney. Part of it is that more of the characters I like are in those films. There are also less reboots. And I feel they do a much better job holding their segment of the Marvel Universe together cohesively.

It just so happened that my two favorite films from the Marvel Universe were both released in 2014 – Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. There were some stark contrasts between the two. Guardians had a good number of laughs in it…while The Winter Soldier felt like their first real traditional all-out “action film”.

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Like all of the Marvel superhero films, we’ve seen a large number of licensed toy products. One of those companies that consistently gives collectors high-quality 1/6th scale toys is Hot Toys. And Hot Toys released six toys based on the Captain America: The Winter Soldier. One of those, which we’re reviewing here thanks to Sideshow Collectibles, is the 1/6th scale Winter Soldier.

In the film, the Winter Soldier – formerly known as Bucky Barnes – was portrayed by actor Sebastian Stan. Now, Stan isn’t a household name with truly recognizable face, but it looks like Hot Toys has nailed the likeness. Actually, a pair of portraits are included here: one without a mask and with black around the eyes; one with the lower face mask and removable goggles.

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There are a number of accessories included as well…mostly weapons. You get three pistols (each can be holstered on his body), a submachine gun (can be holstered on his back), a machine gun, and a remote bomb launcher (those have to be in his hands). There are pouches for two daggers, a spike, and a pair of grenades. You also get nine interchangeable hands and a figure stand.

The clothing looks great, as well. He’s wearing a black, faux-leather jacket (minus one sleeve – so he can show off the bionic arm), black pants, and black boots. There are numerous straps and holsters twisting and turning around his waist and torso. I do appreciate it when you can actually display most of the included accessories with the figure. I’m not a huge fan of having to make decisions as to what accessories I pack back up in the box.

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So while there are a good deal of accessories and an alternate portrait, is it worth the $239.99 price tag? I’d say it’s on the higher side of Hot Toys’ 1/6th scale figures that don’t have something special (lights, diecast, large accessories, etc). Of course, it might just be that the high-end 1/6th scale market continues to creep up as far as pricing.

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I recently picked up the Sideshow Exclusive Marty McFly from Hot Toys. It was loaded with accessories – backpack, skateboard, Walkman, camcorder, sunglasses. The exclusive version even came with a 1/6th scale guitar. And it was priced at what I thought was a semi-reasonable $224.99. Even though I really want to like the figure, the skin tone makes young Michael J. Fox look like he’s severely ill (He has a dark tan look to him).

Why does a figure with a ton of accessories sell for $15 less than one with an average number? It definitely could be the clothing or the inclusion of an additional head. I’m sure Hot Toys has it down…or else they wouldn’t be in business as long as they have been.

The Facts



Winter Soldier
Series: Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Manufacturer: Hot Toys
Sculpted by: Kojun
Authorized Likeness: Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier
Material: Articulated plastic figure
Dimensions: 12-inches tall
Points of Articulation: Over 30 points
Outfit: Black leather-like top with embossed pattern; Pair of black pants with holster; Black belt with pouches; Pair of black boots
Accessories: Sculpted head with authorized likeness of Sebastian Stan; Interchangeable masked head; Pair of fists; Pair of relaxed hands; Pair of hands for holding weapons; Pair of open hands; Machine gun; Remote bomb launcher; Submachine gun; Spike with sheath; Two daggers; Two grenades; Three pistols; Pair of goggles; Figure stand with Winter Solider and movie logo
Pricing: $239.99

You can pick this figure up at the following:

Sideshow Collectibles: $239.99

Hot-Toys-Winter-Soldier-Grades

REVIEW: BusyBody

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In an age where your biggest home entertainment question revolves around whether or not you “cut the cord”, Eye Think Inc. has introduced a product that beckons from well before the analog era. Essentially a 3D zoetrope with a mirror at the center, the BusyBody features a mirrored turntable with ten bendable figures.

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We were sent a BusyBody to check out for this review. It’s made up of a large turntable with mirrors (ten in total) on all sides of the center pillar. In front of each mirror, there’s a small hole where the little blue bendable figures are inserted.

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You then pose each figure a little different from the previous one and spin the turntable. All you need to do is look at the mirror to see the animation you created. Check it out below.

The BusyBody clearly isn’t a collectible figure. You’re not going to set it on your shelf. But it is entertaining and you and/or the kids in your life will probably get a kick out of it. There’s also the ability to get multiple play opportunities out of the BusyBody. Just change the poses of those little blue guys a little and get an entirely new animation.

Eye Think Inc. currently has the BusyBody available to purchase for $24.95.

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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.

The figure I picked up from eBay is named Zardeth – the wizard leader of Chaos. He’s wearing a red tunic with a golden belt and a black mask/hat that covers his missing eyeball. The figure comes with a weapon, which appears to be a flail, and a little distorting looking glass.

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What I first noticed is that Zardeth features a Fu Manchu mustache in the comic – and it looks like that’s sculpted on the figure – but paint hasn’t been applied to said ‘stache. Also, it looks like someone at the factory was really lazy, because Zardeth’s eye is a single, tiny black dot. But it’s not like they were trying to skimp out, the figure has something not many 3 ¾” lines have – articulated knees.

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While I haven’t been able to find any information about it, I can only imagine that a few kids were likely injured by the evil wizard, Zardeth. His index fingers resemble daggers more than actual digits…and they damn well hurt if you get stuck with one. I’m surprised that this passed even the lax toy laws that were around back in the early 80’s. Lawn darts? Sounds like fun!

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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I was fairly impressed with whatever glue Mattel used for all of the stickers. Over 26 years old and they stuck to the plastic like they hadn’t been sitting in some dude’s garage for the past two decades. I’m pretty sure that’s where they were.

The figure line has held up pretty well. Over the last few years, transforming toys have become en vogue again. You have figures that have no real reason for being able to turn into something else – I’m talking about you, you creepy TMNT Mutations. Heck, there are even plush toys that now transform. 

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And while this specific transformable Pepsi can might not look like it could fool many people...I'm guessing that some kids probably used it to play a trick or two on their unsuspecting grandparents. These kids and their new generation...

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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One thing about the sculpting…the figures are static…err…lacking any articulation. So the line is more for display than playing with. I would try to find some way to display the figure with the packaging, since I feel that’s what makes the FizzKids so unique. Without the soda can…they’re just any other collectible. But that can is what gives the line such a great backstory.

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Things to look out for: On a few of the figures, I did notice that some of the paint rubbed off against the sides of the capsule. You can see the impact on the nose of the Vicious Dog Sparkling Water.

The Facts



FizzKids
Manufacturer: Carbonation Toys
Material: Solid plastic
Dimensions: Between 3” and 4” tall
Points of Articulation: Zero
Designs: Alien Limeade (Alien); Bone Crusher Root Beer (Boy); Cranked Cola (Cat); Rummy Cola (Rat); Vicious Dog Sparkling Water (Dog); Zombie Juice (Zombie)
Pricing: $14.99 each ($80.95 set)

You can pick them up at the following:

CarbonationToys.com: $14.99 each ($80.95 for the set of 6)

Fizz-Kids-Grades

 

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. 

The DDD version of Doc Savage has a few extras. The most noticeable is that you get an alternate likeness – the wavy-haired Golden Age likeness head. In addition to that, there’s a shirt that’s not ripped (the ripped one is standard), and you get an additional weapon – the Golden Age Art Deco Style Raygun 2.

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Speaking of those weapons, all four are die-cast metal. They’re very solid (heavy) and give the figure that high-class feel. One thing you’ll need to look out for. Since those guns do weigh more than a plastic, watch out for the wrist joints. More than once, I found that the weight of the gun was enough to give good old Doc Savage a wrist sprain…so I had to mess around with the wrist joint to ward off limp wrists. But you have a number of options on just how you want to equip the figure for display.

Price-wise, this falls in to where the high-end 1/6th scale market has gone recently. The days of the $99 high-end 1/6th scale figures are over. Most of that is because those old high-end figures look a little ugly compared to the current crop of high-end stuff. The sculpting’s better now. The paintwork is better now. Even the clothing is better now. For example, Doc Savage’s shirt actually has little buttons and buttonholes. It’s a pain in the ass to get him dressed (try using tweezers), but it makes for a more realistic end-product.

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So I guess the big question is whether or not you go with the Silver Age Version or Go Hero’s DDD Exclusive. Personally, I’m a fan of the gruff, weathered looking Doc Savage. His Golden Age look reminds me of Super-Man or a half dozen other “good guys” from that age of comic books. Like he spent too much time in front of the mirror doing his hair. The Silver Age Doc looks like he probably got into a bar fight sometime within the past week. He likely ate beef jerky for lunch. And he’s probably yelled at the neighborhood kids for playing wiffle ball in his front yard, more than once.

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The Facts



1/6th Scale Doc Savage
Manufacturer: Go Hero x Executive Replicas
Material: PVC and ABS plastic
Dimensions: 1/6th scale – 12” tall
Points of Articulation: Over 40 points
Designs: Double Danger Deluxe (DDD) Go Hero Exclusive and Silver Age Version
Outfit: Leather Belt w/ Buckle; Leather Holster w/ Buckle; Leather Boots w/ Zipper; Pair of Socks; Ripped Shirt (Weathered); Un-Ripped Shirt (Weathered) (DDD Exclusive); Jodhpurs
Accessories: Silver Age Likeness head; Golden Age Likeness head (DDD Exclusive); 4 interchangeable hands; Super Savage Machine Pistol by Jim Steranko (w/ Moveable Grip and 2 Detachable Clips); Silver Age Style Raygun; Golden Age Art Deco Style Raygun 2 (DDD Exclusive); German Lugar; Figure Stand w/ printed logo
Edition Size: DDD - 250; Silver Age – Max 250
Pricing: DDD- $249.99; Silver Age - $209.99

To pick one up for yourself, check out the following:

GoHero.com: Double Danger Deluxe - $249.99; Silver Age - $209.99

Doc-Savage-Grades

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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Roy Rogers got in on the tail end of the Snorks bandwagon. The restaurant included a number of the most popular characters. I’ve seen Allstar, Dimmy, Casey and Tooter available around eBay. And each character has various poses or activities they’re involved in. Most of the figures usually sell right around $10.00.

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The Snorks figure I picked up goes by the name of Tooter. Surprisingly enough…it’s not because he has irritable bowel syndrome. Tooter can only communicate with toots and beeps. It was a wonderful use of voice actor Frank Welker’s talents. This is a guy who’s also voiced roles such as Fred (Scooby-Doo), Jabberjaw, Megatron (Transformers), and Doctor Claw (Inspector Gadget).

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While Allstar was the main character, I always felt that Tooter was the comic relief on the show. He was clearly modeled after Harpo Marx, who usually communicated using a horn or whistling in film. He also had the wild hairstyle similar to the second oldest Marx brother.

The Tooter figurine appears ready to go hiking. I’m pretty sure that might not go so well…since he lives underwater. The lone articulation is that Tooter’s “snorkel” has a wire armature in it…allowing itself to bend. Imagine all of the phallic jokes that were made at this little guy’s expense. And just for imagining that…you will now be forced to listen to the Snorks theme song.

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 ..

The Rise Of The Beasts!

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.

And as you can see, the sculpting details really pop out with the addition of the paint. Also, the figures have been sculpted so that they can hold accessories. While there aren't accessories produced for the line or provided with the figures, I'd try out of similar scale weapons with the Rise of the Beasts guys.

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The Facts



Rise of the Beasts
Series: Rise of the Beasts
Manufacturer: Plastic Imagination
Material: PVC plastic
Dimensions: Approximately 2.5” tall
Points of Articulation: Rhino – 4 (neck, waist, arms); Scorpion – 5 (neck, waist, tail, arms)
Pricing: Painted - $7.00; Unpainted - $4.00

You can purchase them at the following:

LittleRubberGuys: Painted - $7.00; Unpainted - $4.00

Rise-of-the-Beasts-Grades

 

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.

The line features rotocast vinyl toys. And the thing about cheap rotocast toys is that they eventually start to break down. The toy was sweating this wet, oil-slime substance. And it smelled like it had been securely packed away with a decomposing cadaver for the past two decades. Luckily, I opened up the second pig and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the first. A little slick…yeah. But breathing in the vicinity of it didn’t cause immediate nausea.  

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What you end up with is a pig that’s apparently been doused in its own fecal matter. It has a nose ring, because those were nouveau in the late 80’s. And then there’s a rubbery feeling accessory – the flamethrower and goggles than strap on to Private Side O’Bacon’s back. I’m assuming he drew the short straw when they were assigning weapons.

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The packaging also touts a “Secret Code Book Included”. There aren’t any secrets or codes in there. There is a photo of the figures on one side and some crazy ramblings on the other. I imagine they slipped an LSD laced pork chop to some poor bastard and had him sit in front of a typewriter designing a backstory for the Barnyard Commandos.

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While some toy lines should be loved by multiple generations and something passed down from father to son or mother to daughter…it’s probably a good thing that Barnyard Commandos didn’t become the next Rubik’s Cube or Slinky.

I do believe that in some alternate universe there’s likely a huge war between sheep and pigs for control over America’s heartland. But then again, it’s quite possible that I’m hallucinating due to whatever toxic chemical was seeping out of that Barnyard Commando.

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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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Take, for instance, the GoBot I was able to snag off of eBay. Named Stallion, he’s an “Enemy Robot Sports Car”. Whatever marketing genius dreamt that up was just appealing to kids’ inquisitive minds and their love of a good backstory. In six moves, as shown on the back of the packaging, he’s transformed.

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Part of the problem was that, in general, GoBots were much smaller than Transformers. They were in the same scale as Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. And that’s what we didn’t get! Kids didn’t realize that these were the real robots in disguise. You could hide them right alongside your Matchbox car and only the eagle-eyed kids from “Gifted Class” would be able to tell the difference. Heck…Stallion even has rubbery tires on those wheels. That’s some high–class stuff right there.

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It’s unfortunate that GoBots petered out by 1987. Transformers had taken over the market. Though, looking back, I can see why. The Decepticons weren’t the “Enemy Robot” and they weren’t constrained by transforming into vehicles. Megatron was a toy gun. Soundwave was a fake microcassette recorder with little cassettes that turned into badass animals. Then the Dinobots came along and transformed from a robot to entirely less conspicuous extinct metal dinosaurs.

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So how does the toy hold up to today’s standards? For likely sitting in a box for the past 30 years, it’s in pretty good shape. You can transform it back and forth without worry of the plastic breaking apart. It feels like a new toy. 

Alas…it’s likely that we’ll never see these GoBots reproduced like we have with various other toy lines from the 1980’s. Hasbro acquired Tonka back in 1991 and they got the names and storylines of the GoBots characters, but the toys and likenesses are still owned by Bandai.