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REVIEW: Minecraft Hangers Series 3

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J!NX has released Series 3 of their Minecraft Hangers line of blind bag collectibles. This series consists of 10 different characters, including a Horse, Witch, Diamond Alex. Iron Golem, Villager, Rabbit, Spider, Snow Golem, Slime, and a Crafting Table. In addition to the main designs of those 10 characters, there are 3 rare chase variants (Villager, Rabbit and Spider).

Each blind bag includes one of those designs with a plastic hanger attached to its head (or top). We were sent about 6 blind bags thanks to J!NX and pulled three Witches, two Rabbits, and a Snow Golem. Let’s just say I won’t be playing the lottery anytime soon.

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Out of all of the designs, I was hoping for the Snow Golem. I have a little collection dedicated to toys with pumpkin/jack-o-lantern heads. And I attribute it to being a fan of Return To Oz as a kid...and also being a little freaked out by the film.

And speaking of kids, my 4 and 6 year olds couldn’t get enough of these. They’re already fans of Minecraft, and build some of the most insanely complicated creations I’ve ever seen. So they had to snap these Minecraft Hangers onto their book bags. (Though my older son was hoping for an Iron Golem figure - hello stocking stuffers).

And I’m guessing that’s what most kids (and collectors) are doing with them. They’re somewhat limited articulation-wise, but they’re great for decorating bags or hanging from places. And at only $5.99 for a blind bag, they’re obviously a lot more affordable than other blind bag/box lines available out there.

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The Facts



Minecraft Hangers
Series: Series 3
Manufacturer: J!nx
Material: PVC Plastic
Dimensions: Approximately 3 inches tall
Points of Articulation: Varies
Designs: Horse, Witch, Diamond Alex. Iron Golem, Villager, Rabbit, Spider, Snow Golem, Slime, Crafting Table
Pricing: $5.99 each

You can pick one up at the following:

J!NX.com: $5.99 each
Amazon.com: $5.99 each

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REVIEW: Mad Lids

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Mad Lids are a new series of collectible NFL Mini Caps from Party Animal Toys. Each blind bag features two mini NFL team caps with the NFL team, New Era and NFL logo printed on them. The hats measure about 2 inches from brim to back. The blind bag also comes with a pair of display stands, each one with a sticker that you affix to the front of it.

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Party Animal provided us with a few blind bags to take a look at. As you can see, I pulled the Giants, Dolphins, Jets, Broncos, 49ers, and Texans. The printing on each hat is nice and clear. And the displays bases can actually snap together to make a pretty nice displayable option.

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Do you remember collecting those vending machine football helmets back in the 1980’s? I still probably have a few out in my garage somewhere. Or how about those MLB batting helmets? These Mad Lids remind me a lot of those. There’s sort of a retro feel to the series. And they’re about the same scale.

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Plus, I like that they’re some of the most collector friendly items I’ve reviewed in a while. No need to find display shelves or use any type of sticky tack to get a good look…it’s all included in the blind bag.

The Facts



Mad Lids
Manufacturer: Party Animal Inc.
Authorized Likeness: NFL and New Era hats
Material: Plastic
Dimensions: 2 inches
Points of Articulation: Zero
Designs: 32 NFL Team Caps, Plus 4 Rare: Glow in the Dark; NFL Line Judge; Camouflage; Metallic Gold
Pricing: 4-pack - $15.96

You can currently pick one up at the following:

LilTeammatesShop.com: $15.96 - 4 pack
Amazon.com: $19.93 - 5 pack

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REVIEW: Aran Blocks

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Aran Blocks is a patent pending building blocks system that can create useful weight bearing structures including small furniture pieces. They like to say it’s like LEGO and Ikea fell in love and had a baby. Currently, the folks behind Aran Blocks have taken to Kickstarter to raise funds to help them mass produce the line. They’ve sent us a pre-release set to check out for this review.

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The Aran Blocks come in two unique shapes. There’s the basic building block (with all of its weird squares and cutouts on it) and the cover. The block is hollow in the center, which allows you to discreetly fish cords through them. The covers let you put a flat surface on the top of whatever you choose to design.

I was given the number of blocks that allowed me to create a laptop stand. The assembly was fairly simple. But since the sides on the blocks vary, you’ll want to line them up with the same design on the same side. Also, it seems like you’ll need to rotate the covering blocks to get a firm fit. I had a few that appeared to be loose, but turned them around and found they fit snug in that new position.

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To create the laptop stand I did, you’re looking at the 48 blocks and 40 covers. On Kickstarter, the sets range in price from $40 (50 block/50 cover Early Bird) to $330 (500 block/500 cover). I’m assuming with that many, you could probably build a decent sized table for the kids. But is it cost effective when compared to other options? I like some of the smaller options, such as a monitor stand or a desk organizer, that use less blocks and are therefore a little more cost effective.

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But to get Aran Blocks produced, you’re going to have to back them on Kickstarter. This project will only be funded if at least $18,000 is pledged by Wednesday, November 30th 2016 at 3:27 AM EDT. Remember...this is not a pre-order. There are many instances of crowd funded projects that have been funded never making good on their promised goods. So, (as I always say)back with caution.

REVIEW: Special FX Master

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Cellphones have pretty much replaced cameras and video cameras. You can still pick up a point and shoot or a video camera (maybe from Crazy Eddie?), but with the advances in technology, smartphones have essentially become picture and video editing studios.

Special FX Master is attempting to take that one step further. They’ve created a Kickstarter project to attain funding to produce what would basically allow you to record smartphone videos with special effects. This prop-based special effects kit features a standalone app that lets you choose from which prop you’re using (there are five of them, which we’ll go over). Then, it allows you to pick what special effect you want that prop to be replaced by.

For instance, you can wear the headband prop. That prop features a plastic piece with what appears to be a code on it, so the app knows what it’s looking at. You then select what special effect you want (each prop currently has 10 special effects). I chose a vomiting alien head, which freaked my kids out. They, then, refused to do any more videos, which is why the videos shown here are from Special FX Master. I must say, they are representative of what I shot using my cellphone.

So the five props you would receive are the Action Poster, Action Wrist Prop, Head Gear Prop, Action Blaster Prop, and the Action Case Prop. Currently, the Kickstarter project has a $25.00 Early Bird funding level that would get you the entire kit. Once those 400 spots are filled, the Special FX Master Kit will be available at the $40.00 funding level.

I’ve spent well over $25.00 on DLC for several smartphone app based videogames (that I no longer play). I’m looking at my children and you, Pokemon Go. I thought $40.00 was a pretty good price for the SFX Master kit, but $25.00 is a no-brainer in my opinion.

Since we do live in this new world of posting photos and videos to Facebook and other social media platforms, I see this as a way of stepping up your game. You think your kid riding a bike is so great? Mine just blew a hole in the wall with his wrist mounted laser gun.

Special FX Master did provide me with a pre-production prop kit and access to a test version of their app to test out for this review. The Kickstarter funding for this project ends on Saturday, November 5th 2016 at 12:12PM EDT. And as with all Kickstarter projects, I like to warn that you should read Kickstarter’s terms – backers are pledging money to creators to bring their project to life.

REVIEW: August 2016 Loot Crate – Anti-Hero

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The August 2016 Loot Crate took on an interesting theme – the Anti-Hero. No. Not the Ant Hero – the Antihero. The antihero is a protagonist who often lacks the morals of your everyday heroic character. They’re usually dark, sometimes dishonest, but often have some sort of redeeming quality (oftentimes not apparent until the end of the film/novel/etc).

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This month’s Loot Crate assembles a group of items based on characters that most likely would be classified as an antihero. First, there’s the box that everything comes shipped in. It can be re-assembled into Harley Quinn’s (the Suicide Squad version) mallet.

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As with every Loot Crate, there’s a t-shirt included. This month, you received the Sterling Archer Dangerzone President 2016 grey tee. Archer fans should rejoice. And he’s likely a viable write-in candidate for those of you who are still undecided.

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The second apparel item is a bright pair of yellow socks. Based on The Bride’s outfir from Kill Bill Vol. 1, these socks are spattered with blood. Try explaining to your kids why you’re wearing fake blood spattered socks. It’s fun.

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Of course, there’s a Loot Pin. The August 2016 Loot Pin is from World of Warcraft. Oh yeah, and there’s some World of Warcraft DLC included with the Crate.

If you were looking for a piggy bank replacement, one of the major items in the Crate is a Hellboy Right Hand of Doom Ceramic Bank from Zak! It’s funny. I looked at the Zak! website and they seem to specialize in trendy dinnerware…with some licensed cups, plates, etc. from mostly kids licenses. But how could one complain about a Hellboy bank?

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Finally, the major item from the Anti-Hero Loot Crate is the Harley Quinn Q Fig statue from Quantum Mechanix. This is the more traditional version of Harley Quinn (maybe more villain than antihero). She’s in her black and red jester outfit. But the rear of the box advertises a Suicide Squad version of the character. The statue also features hyena (Bud or Lou?) dressed in a jester hat and a speech bubble. You can remove the clear “Hi Puddin! Miss Me?” vinyl sticker and write on the bubble with a dry erase marker.

REVIEW: NFL TeenyMates Set – Quarterback Collection

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If you go to professional sporting events, it’s quite possible that you’ve come across the TeenyMates blind bag series. It seems like whenever I go to a hockey game, my kids will beg me to pick one up. From Party Animal, the TeenyMates are 1-inch tall plastic figures that are available in all of the four major US sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL) While not player-specific, they do have figures that represent all of the teams.

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One of Party Animal’s newest releases is the NFL TeenyMates Gift Set - Quarterback Collection (which they have provided us for this review). The set features all 32 NFL TeenyMates Quarterback figures as well as a 35-piece Football Field Puzzle (5-inch x 7-inch). Each figure has a team specific helmet with a jersey of that team’s color. The helmet doesn’t feature a facemask, so you can see each figure’s face (which is eerily the same).

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The 32 QBs come packaged in a window-front box that is perfect if you don’t want to find room on a shelf for 32 1-inch tall figures. There’s also that 35-piece puzzle. It’s a TeenyMates football field, showing off illustrated versions of all of those quarterbacks. My kids decided to make use of it as an actual football field and ran out a couple of teams worth of QBs.

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The TeenyMates figures have a retro look to them. If you remember those vintage sports bobbleheads, they definitely have a similar look and feel (minus the whole bobbling head thing). Plus, they’re made of plastic and are small even to fit half a dozen easily into your pocket.

Price-wise, the Quarterback Collection Gift Set has an MSRP of $49.99. I’ve found them as low as $39.55 on Amazon, however, that price always fluctuates. That’s anywhere between $1.23 and $1.56 a figure. It’s tough to beat that price…even if these guys only measure 1-inch in height (I guess I could have said they’re teeny).

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The Facts



NFL TeenyMates Quarterback Set
Series: TeenyMates
Manufacturer: Party Animal
Material: Plastic
Dimensions: 1-inch tall
Points of Articulation: Zero
Accessories: 35-Piece Football Field Puzzle
Pricing: $49.99

You can pick one up at the following:

LilTeammatesShop: $49.99
Amazon.com: $39.55

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REVIEW: Witcher 3 – Geralt of Rivia Vinyl

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a role-playing video game that was released in May of 2015. The player (in third person view) plays as Geralt of Rivia – a monster hunter (or witcher). The game ended up being extremely popular, selling over 6 million copies in six weeks, and won several Game of the Year awards for 2015.

With all of that said…I’ve never played The Witcher 3. Or either of the first two Witcher games. It’s not that I don’t “get” role-playing games…it’s just that I lack the attention span. Heck…I can barely focus on Pokemon Go. But the cover artwork of Witcher 3 has always intrigued me.

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J!NX asked if I wanted to check out their new Geralt of Rivia vinyl figure, based on a stylized version of the main character from Witcher 3. And since the character is what I always thought was interesting – “hey, look, a scary bearded dude with some swords!” – I said sure.

The 6-inch tall rotocast vinyl Geralt toy features six points of articulation (one at the neck, one at his rockin’ ponytail, and two on each arm). It includes a pair of swords, with each one able to fit in Geralt’s right hand. Attached to the figure’s back are a pair of scabbards and a crossbow. The crossbow is not removable.

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The figure’s portrait is a stylized version of the Geralt of Rivia character you’ll see in the Witcher 3 videogame. He has prominent grey eyebrows, with a scar running down one side of his face. There’s that stylin’ blond ponytail. And there’s some solid paintwork on his yellow, cat-like eyes.

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Overall, if you’re a gamer and a fan of the Witcher videogame series, you’ll likely want to pick up the Geralt vinyl figure. It might not feature the ultra-realistic look of a 1/6th scale collectible, but stylized versions of our favorite characters always have a place in our collections as well.

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The Facts



Witcher 3 - Geralt of Rivia Vinyl
Manufacturer: J!NX
Material: Rotocast Vinyl
Dimensions: 6 inches tall
Points of Articulation: 6 (neck, ponytail, shoulders, elbows)
Accessories: Silver Sword and Metal Sword
Pricing: $29.99

You can pick one up at the following:

Jinx.com: $29.99

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REVIEW: Capture the Flag Redux

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Capture the flag. The game brings back childhood memories of humid summer nights playing with the other neighborhood kids who didn’t have a care in the world. The game would always consist of two teams and some items – the flags – that the teams had to retrieve and return to their home base. There was also freezing and unfreezing of opposing players…and probably some other rules that I no longer remember.

After raising enough funds via Kickstarter, creator Judd King released Capture the Flag Redux. The game is a good example of one of those successful Kickstarter projects that’s now widely available online and at retail.

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The Capture the Flag Redux kit runs about $60 and includes everything you need to play the game…except for friends. You’ll need to provide your own friends. There are two teams (green and blue) and items correspond to the team colors. The kit includes a pair of battery-operated orbs (those are what you capture), 16 LED lit bracelets (8 of each color), 8 jail markers (4 of each color to designate a jail area), and 7 territory lights (so you don’t accidently run onto that grumpy old neighbor’s front lawn). The kit also includes instructions as well as a deck of 12 game variation cards that give the traditional capture the flag game a twist.

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My first thought, when opening up the Capture the Flag Redux box, was there must be $60 worth of batteries in here. Everything has batteries in it. All of the markers, the bracelets and the orbs are all battery powered. It’s also high quality…especially for a game you’re going to throw out in your uncut backyard next to the lawn darts.

Now, I haven’t actually played the game with a group of people. I watched this video of kids playing the game…so I’m pretty sure I have a feel for how it would look. I have a 4 and a 6 year old and they’ve not completely grasped that games have rules that need to be followed. Plus, the light-up bracelets are made of hard plastic and are a little too big for my kids’ wrists. I’m sure that we could jerry-rig something, since the bracelets are really to show who’s on what team and probably keep folks visible.

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Since the game is made to be played with larger groups of people, I can see this being popular with big families or neighborhood get-togethers. Scouting troops and the like would probably get a lot of use out of the game. Basically, anywhere that there's a large number of people who want to have fun.

It’s too often that you see things rebranded or rebooted that folks have no use for, no interest in, or still liked the original anyway. I don’t think that’s the case with Capture the Flag Redux. I think they’ve made a classic game better…and that’s difficult to accomplish.

You can pick one up at the following:

Capturetheflagredux.com: $60.00
Amazon.com: $63.90

REVIEW: June 2016 Loot Crate – Dystopian

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I might be a little behind in my June 2016 Loot Crate review, but it’s likely due to the fact that last month’s theme was all things Dystopian. It was chocked full of pop culture goodness from a number of cult classic films some might describe as dystopian. RoboCop, The Matrix, and Terminator 2 represented the film side, while Bioshock and Fallout showed up for video games.

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As with every Loot Crate, you get a t-shirt. This time around, the shirt was my favorite item. It’s likely due to Loot Crate going with a RoboCop themed tee (from Grey Matter Art). I’m talking original, Peter Weller RoboCop too. None of this remake stuff.

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As for The Matrix, the included item is a 300-piece exclusive puzzle that measures 11 inches by 14 inches (from Cardinal Games). I haven’t put the thing together yet. But, looking at the image of the puzzle on the box, I’m guessing it’s going to be fairly difficult. Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus are all small and everything in the puzzle seems to be a shade of black or white.

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The Terminator 2 piece is an exclusive Terminator 2 Metal Print from Loot Crate Lab. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the film, the sturdy metal print features the face of the T-800 (with red eyes) alongside the T2 logo. Much better than a poster print.

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The toy included in the June Loot Crate is a Fallout 4 Power Armor Dorbz vinyl figure, produced by Funko. While I’ve reported on this line extensively, this is actually the first time I’ve gotten my hands on one. It might have made a bigger impression if I actually played Fallout (sorry), but it reminded me of a number of other vinyl lines out there. Funko did do some killer sculpting work on the head of the figure, which is specific to this character.

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There’s a blank key from the 2013 video game Bioshock Infinite (an exclusive from A Crowded Coop). I think you could bring this to a key copying place and get your house key cutd onto this. There would be no doubt as to which key opens the front door in that case.

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As with all Loot Crates, there’s a mini magazine that tells you all about the stuff in this month’s crate. Plus, there’s your monthly Loot Pin. This month’s pin is a giant bomb – inspired by Fallout 4 – apparently symbolizing the end of humanity and the beginning of some dystopian future.

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You can pick up a monthly Loot Crate for $13.95 plus shipping and handling. It includes 4 to 6 themed pop culture related exclusive items (worth $50+) in every crate. Order one here.