Showing posts with label musings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label musings. Show all posts

Monday, 2 December 2013

On the Raid

The Man with the Hat and the Whip
I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at the weekend, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the first time I'd really watched it as an examination of style, rather than for the pure spectacle, and there's so much movement in Spielberg's directing that doesn't seem to exist in blockbuster films now. I know a lot of pretentious film students who mock 'the Spielberg style', but there is absolutely no denying that he can make an enthralling, entertaining action film, amongst his many other strengths. All that said though, I think we could do without an Indy five. It's clear that somewhere between Lucas and Spielberg, KOTCS went pretty wrong...

This is the first shot I've posted up here of an Indiana Jones figure that hasn't been knocked around and had his accessories broken. The pleasure of complete toys!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Blogging and Photoshop

TF: Prime Deluxe Bumblebee
Since starting this blog I've been evolving the way I use my collection - from initially wanting to document each figure as I purchased it (on my way to building a Jabba's Palace display), to then wanting to focus on diorama building; however I've since found that the one constant has been actually photographing the toys, and creating images that attempt to show these characters at their best. The shot of Bumblebee above is my most recent, and I'd like to share some of the techniques I used to create it...

Firstly, the kit - I shoot on a Canon 600D DSLR, usually using the 18-55mm 'kit' lens, but sometimes a 50mm (although this generally only works for larger objects). This is my equipment for my day job as a filmmaker though, and something that I've worked up to. My initial forays into toy photography were on a Canon Powershot, and photographers such as R2witco take a lot of their stuff on camera phones. Basically, as long as you've got a macro function (often displayed as a flower on the camera settings) and can find a way to set the focus where you need it, then your camera is suitable for the job.

One of Many
This shot was an unused take from the session which yielded the final image. Here it shows more clearly the background, which is the old fireplace in my study. Whilst barely recognisable as anything, the important thing for an action figure shot is that it doesn't look like a house. Nothing kills the 'reality' of a Dinobot shot more than Grimlock being out scaled by a potted plant. What the above shot also shows is the lighting setup I was employing - basically, one torch. There was a little bit of light from the window (it was dusk), but that torch was my primary light source. I wouldn't encourage shining the light directly onto your subject like that, but I knew I would be cropping the image anyway (more on that later).

I'm often lazy with lighting, either taking the figures outside or shooting around the office window (nothing beats indirect sunlight as a light source), but taking the time to create a proper lighting setup often works wonders - see my PAK Batman shots here. I think it's to do with cast shadows, which helps to integrate the figure into the environment and in turn create a sense of reality. It's something I'm going to work on, especially as winter descends and daylight becomes scarce.

And Another...
What I consider the most important point of action figure photography is to GET LOADS OF SHOTS. Whenever you have a setup, go trigger happy - I'm gonna presume that you're shooting on digital so the cost of film isn't an issue. I find that it takes me a little while to get 'warmed up' to a subject, and really get an idea of what works. Mess around with your angles, the pose of your figure(s) and experiment with what you want to focus on - and even after you think you've got the shot that you're after, get a couple more. You may surprise yourself. The other thing to remember is that cropping is your friend - you might be gutted that the stand for your figure is just visible in the frame, but with a crop and a re-composition it could still be the perfect photo.

The 'One'.
When I had the shot of 'Bee that I was after, the fun part started. Firstly I opened the image in Photoshop ( is a superb free alternative if you don't have access to this), and then I did a quick Google search and found this rather superb guide to creating eye FX on the TFW2005 forums. Thank you, Process - if that is your real name...

After the eyes were completed I imported the image into Picmonkey, my editing suite of choice. Here I cropped the image to a 1920x1080 resolution (my usual canvas size), and then played around with the exposure, saturation and sharpness settings to get a base image I was happy with. Using these tools really does require trial and error, as well as a degree of personal preference, but it's at this stage that the image really starts to come alive. I should also note that you can use the colour settings on Picmonkey to fix the white balance, which is always useful - simply use the neutral picker and select the part of the image that should be as close to pure white or black as possible, and it will shift the colour tones accordingly. Again this takes practise, but when you get the hang of it it's a valuable tool. 

The Glow!
When I was happy with the core picture I used some of Picmonkey's various filters to complete the image, as seen at the top of this post. Once more this comes down to experimentation and personal preference as to how you want your image to look, but there are some pretty cool filter options on there. Really editing is all about how you want the image to look, and finding ways of making it happen. I've been doing this for a few years now and I still haven't found one particular style that I've made my own (look at Ed Speir IV's work for examples of instantly recognisable photos), but I'm definitely developing my skills, and I think that a style will come with that eventually.

There it is then, a few of the tips that I've picked up when it comes to action figure photography. I hope you find them useful... Now go and take some shots!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Man Down

A Show of (X) Force
I don't keep up with Marvel Comics anymore, except for the odd issue of Superior Spider-Man, but despite that I've still got a soft spot for the X-Men, no matter how silly/muddied the storylines keep getting. I'm of the Jim Lee era so these costumes on Deadpool and Wolverine from his first solo movie are the ones for me, pure 90's superhero gold. These guys being great only deepens my regret though - I've never forgiven myself for not picking up Maverick on clearance when I had the chance...

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Purge: Part Three of the Exciting Trilogy!

OK! It's the final post on this weeks batch of figures for sale. As of typing this everything but the Action Fleet Landspeeder has a bid on it, so barring a mass buyer pull out these figures are already as good as gone. Without any further ado then, let's give these guys a decent appropriate send off!

No Good Words.
You know the thing about this Yoda toy, from the Vintage Collection? It's a very good action figure, a good likeness of the Prequel character it's based on, and aside from the pea-green hair, fairly flawless. The problem though, is that it's based on Prequel Yoda. The lightsaber wielding, fight happy, non-sensical little CG-goon that killed ESB's mystery and went on to whore himself out to Vodafone. He really is nothing like the wise little Jedi Master so many of us were enthralled with for nearly two decades. Anyway, something struck me when watching ROTS the other day - AOTC is awful, obviously, and Yoda's Sonic the Hedgehog impression goes some way to furthering that impression. Now, imagine if we never saw Yoda as anything more than the vulnerable muppet he truly is through Episodes I and II, actually living by the mantra that 'wars not make one great' - how much more of an impact would the Order 66 Kashyyyk scene in ROTS have had then?

That right there is the meaning of restraint, George.

Bad Dad.
On the subject of ROTS, here's Anakin Skywalker from the 2005 toy line. He comes with a blue lightsaber wielding right hand, an interchangeable open right hand, and Count Dooku's red lightsaber for some left-handed decapitating action. He also has the 'squeeze my legs and I slash' action feature as practised by incontinents and Obi-Wan Kenobi toys everywhere. It's a decent likeness that has served me well enough for the last few years, but the new Saga Legends Anakin has now rendered this completely obsolete.

Redeemed Dad!
Speaking of obsolete, here's the Vintage Collection Darth Vader that's also up for grabs, and currently subject of a fierce bidding war. I have 2007's Anniversary Collection Vader, with a one-piece removable helmet that can actually stay on, and also without that ridiculous silver chain around this guy's neck. Sith bling. He can also hold his lightsaber in his (correct) right hand. Whilst the two part helmet of the VC figure looks neat, it's absolutely rubbish even as a display piece because it falls off so frequently and doesn't even fit together properly when it's on. How people can swoon over this and have an unbridled hatred for the recent Mission Series Vader, I have no idea. Well, actually I do. It's called idiocy.

Keeping up with all of them.
I'm selling this group of Indiana Jones figures as one lot, because I now have one quality Raiders-style Indy and a playset section to display him on, and don't really feel the need for anything else to display my fondness for Dr. Jones. I was considering keeping at least one of the KOTCS Indys, but decided against it for reasons I will outline below...


You know a 3.75" figure that I've always wanted?

Rick O'Connell from the Mummy films. Sure, the sequels sucked fairly massively, but for one exciting film we had a genuine 90's take on the Indiana Jones archetype, and it was awesome. Maybe the fact that I'm willing to give the Scorpion King a pass as a decent film betrays my status as a fan, but whatever. That's why we write these blogs, isn't it?

Anyway, I'd planned to use one of the jacketless Indianas from the lot above, along with parts from the Prince Dastan I highlighted on Wednesday to build an O'Connell figure, but I just kept the figures in a box for months without doing anything with them. I've repainted a figure before, but never properly customised one, and I realised when I saw these figures sitting in their box that I never really had any intention to. I struggle to build dioramas, something I profess to enjoy, and the fact that I wouldn't know where to start with a custom is about all I need to put me off.

I guess the short of it is that if a company ever made a 3.75" (or 6", I'm not fussy) Mummy line, with Rick being joined by Evy, Beni, and John Hana, then I'd give them my money. But do it myself?


Thanks for enduring my ramblings reading!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Purge: Round Two

Welcome to the second of three posts on the first lot of figures I'm shifting on Ebay this week. It's been mainly Star Wars figures I'm selling so far, is that going to change today? I sincerely doubt it... On to the toys!

Big Millennium Falcon
Mace Windu here is from 2007's Anniversary Collection, and looks pretty neat. The Sith lightning on his lightsaber is a nice touch that's really well realised, but I have zero interest in this figure. I have massive respect for Samuel L Jackson, but I also think that Mace Windu is one of the biggest wastes of space in the Star Wars universe, with terrible dialogue and not much to do but sit around and be a bit of an arse to Anakin. And I never liked the purple lightsaber either. Easy sell!

If only Qui-Gon were here...
On the opposite end of my preference spectrum is Episode I's esteemed elder Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn. Liam Neeson is the best actor in the whole of the PT for me, lending Jinn the nobility and authority the role required, and he's captured here in the plastic for 2012's Movie Heroes line. I picked this up for cheap but as I established before, I have no interest in collecting anything from TPM or AOTC. Also the light-up lightsaber feature actually momentarily blinded me when I looked at it wrong, it's that bright - two good reasons that he's got to go.

With Action Feature!
Qui-Gon's apprentice is next up. This Obi-Wan Kenobi figure is from 2005's ROTS line, and as such is imbued with a 'slash attack' action feature - basically, you squeeze his legs, and his torso jerks left and right, waving the lightsaber around. It's actually a pretty neat feature. I've gotten some alright shots with this figure before, but he's since been replaced by a far superior Kenobi (review and pics to follow).

I am wondering... Why are we here?
This may surprise longer term readers to see these two gone for auction, but I can explain - I picked these up in a POTF2 lot earlier this year, duplicating two of my collection's stalwarts. I love these figures and would recommend them to anyone, but I only need the one set myself.

The Flop Film Cast (John Carter not present)
Today's final lot is a small selection of figures from the Prince of Persia and Golden Compass movie tie-in toy lines. I've highlighted the Lyra figure before, but Prince Dastan (who came as a pack in with a fantastic gate backdrop) and Setam (bought on clearance from Toys 'R' Us) have both been largely anonymous on the blog. I did toy with the idea of picking up discount lines a while back, but ultimately had no real interest and found I was just buying junk. Not saying these figures are junk, but they're no longer items that I want in my collection, and hopefully putting them together as a lot means I can sell them all a little bit quicker.

I had planned to tackle sculpt versus articulation today, but that's a debate which is just getting bigger and bigger to attempt to do justice to in one or two paragraphs, so it'll be the subject of a future post of its own. In the meantime I'll be back on Friday with the last of this week's Ebay listings as well as some ideas on custom figure recipes that I never quite gave myself the time to try...

Until then, thanks for reading!

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Purge: The First to Go...

I have my first few listings up on Ebay for the Purge, the catch-all term I'm using to describe the stripping down and streamlining of my collection. Every item is at a 99p start and with reasonable postage, so I'm really not trying to rip anyone off; I'll just be happy to clear out some space (both physically and mentally) and make some pennies whilst I do it.

First up is the Anniversary Collection Evolutions Jango Fett figure, which I obtained in the AOTC Bluray multipack...

The Ultimate Army Builder.
I've highlighted this figure before here, but now it's time to say goodbye. Despite coming from Episode II, an instalment better forgotten, Jango is actually a fairly decent character as a gun slingin', 'simple man' of a bounty hunter.  The thing is, this toy looks awful. I mean, it's in good condition, but look how squeezed that helmet is on the head, and how off-colour the purple jumpsuit looks. I don't watch AOTC with regularity at all, but I remember it well enough to know that Jango looked a lot more blue under the armour than he does here. Regardless of the many points of articulation this version has, the 2013 Saga Legends edition just looks far, far superior.

The Ultimate Penknife
R2-D2 here was a present that came from the previous incarnation of Saga Legends, although research tells me it was originally available in 2005 as part of the Revenge of the Sith line. It's a decent figure, good sculpt and size, but it's one of four R2s I have - the OTC Dagobah R2 is also electronic and is part of a set, the Saga Collection R2 is my standard go to Astromech and the POTF2 version I'm keeping for the sake of sentimentality. This isn't a bad figure at all, but it's a case of being the odd droid out.

Hero Lot
Luke & Han from TAC are both figures that I acquired in job lots, and I don't really have any need for either. I've photographed this Luke figure once, but generally use the Legacy Collection version as my default whiny farmboy. I would use the Han if I had a Millennium Falcon, but I very much doubt I'll own one of them any time soon...

Hot Wheels? No Wheels!
There's actually a bit of an embarrassing story behind how I ended up owning this Galoob Action Fleet Landspeeder, because when I bought it I thought I was getting a rather cheap Hasbro/Kenner POTF2 version. As soon as it arrived I realised my error, but it was my fault for not asking any questions of the seller and leaping on the purchase at the last minute, however vague the listing was. I still managed to work it into a few shots though and, needless to say, I've been crystal clear when listing it this time around.

Dark Knight in Bright Light!
It's not all Star Wars. This Batman figure from Mattel's DKR line was bought for a reduced and insanely low price, and it's served its purpose for one shot. However I've since acquired the Play Arts Kai Dark Knight Trilogy Bats, and since I'm not picking up any other 3.75" DC heroes, I've hit the end of the road with this one. As a kid I would've loved this Batman, as opposed to all the day-glo versions we got from the movie lines and animated series, but it's now surplus to requirement.


And so the Purge has begun. Do I have any second thoughts? Well, Jango Fett is the first figure that really raises any questions for me, because not only is it the only figure I've looked at today that I don't own another version of, but it's also something that I'm in two minds about whether to even replace. I'd like the 5POA Mission Series Jango, and also the Class II Slave 1 ship for him to pilot (toys being toys again!) but as I inferred above, Episode II doesn't hold any huge appeal for me. As collecting is becoming affordable and interesting again with both Saga Legends and next year's Rebels, I think it's important to set parameters - and the first of those is to stick to my stated Star Wars focus of collecting Episode III and onwards only. It felt good remembering this when I came within a whisker of picking up the Geonosis Mission Series pack today.

I'll be back on Wednesday and Friday highlighting and justifying the rest of the stuff I'm selling, whilst also thinking out loud about the 5POA vs SA debate, and why I'll never be a customiser...

As always, thanks for reading!

Friday, 30 August 2013

Star Wars: The Black Series - Top 5 Wants

The Black Series is finally hitting over here, and it is good. I had planned to stick to the OT with this line, but I think Hasbro really knocked Darth Maul out of the park - review to follow shortly - and with Wave 2 looking solid as a rock there's now no telling where my collection might end.

In light of that, and inspired by The Fwoosh's Five Characters (That We Won't Get!) article, I thought I'd put together a top five of my own, for the unannounced (but hopefully likely) figures that I'm really looking forward to in this line. I double-checked my original post on the topic over at Rebelscum (find me under TJapes) and saw that three of my six choices have since been revealed; in light of that, let's see who else I'm hoping for before Episode VII commands the limelight...

5. General Grievous

With ROTS Obi-Wan coming in Wave 3, there's no Separatist I'd rather see than the good Jedi-hunting General. As long as he's made to the correct size (and if Hasbro have to change the box size to accommodate him, I'm OK with that), with all the multi-limb twirling articulation possible, a soft-goods cape to the same standard as the 3.75" Blu-Ray figure and multiple stolen lightsabers, then the big H will be on to a winner. Throw in a burning heart alternate chest piece for ultimate screen accuracy and you'd have my favourite Prequel figure ever.

4. Yoda

And with that, we leave the Prequels entirely alone*. This is how Yoda needs to be done - no pristine robes, no lightsaber, no debate over which shade of green - Stuart Freeborn nailed it first time around, and this is the only Yoda I want to see. Pack in Luke's lamp and flight cases for Dagobah scene setting and the release is perfect. And then we can forget Yoda was ever in any of the Prequels.

N.B. I would have put Dagobah Training Luke on this list, but with the Bespin Luke and R2 already coming, Yoda here is all we'd need for some swamp planet action...

3. Endor Luke Skywalker

Given the amount of accessories we're seeing with the Black Series figures so far, there's the possibility that we might see an 'ultimate' ROTJ Luke, with new lightsaber, three right hands (flesh, damaged and gloved), a vest robe, helmet, poncho, gun belt and final duel tunic flap. This would be fantastic, but whatever happens I want to see Luke in his Endor get up. This is one of my favourite of Luke's looks from the trilogy, and as I've touched on before I live in an ideal part of the world for taking Endor-esque woodland shots. There's also the small matter of the Speeder Bike and Scout Trooper having already been announced to sweeten the deal further. Bring him on!

2. Princess Leia in Boushh Disguise

To me this is Leia's coolest costume in the trilogy, and I'm not even a huge bounty hunter fan. It's so detailed and worn that I can't help but think it'd look fantastic at this scale, and for the limited screen time there are enough accessories to merit the price - the staff, thermal detonator (possibly with a swappable hand to hold it better), and either a removable helmet or alternative head for pre and post-reveal posing. With the Han in Carbonite possibly seeing a wider scale re-release (which I'm really hoping), this is all we'd need to get crafting our 6" scaled Jabba's Palace alcoves...

1. Darth Vader

Unless something very strange happens with the Black Series, this figure is a no-brainer. Regardless, I cannot wait to see it! I'd like to see two different heads, one with a removable, three piece helmet and the other with a fixed, iconic Vader look that doesn't fall off all over the place (also, it should go without saying, but Sebastian Shaw likeness, please). A removable hand with wires sticking out of the wrist joint for some father/son revenge action and a wire laced, heavy material soft goods cloak would also be ideal. Stick him on a shelf with next year's Bespin Luke, and watch the sparks fly!

*Not entirely...

Bonus Wish!

I'm not stopping there, however! With the Speeder Bike, Jabba the Hutt and either a Tauntaun or Wampa coming down the line in the not-too-distant future, there is one more creature I'd like to suggest...

What can I say? I'm a fan of the Battle of Utapau...

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 12 August 2013


Life on Home One
Sorry for the lack of updates; between an extremely poorly relative, client work and another film entering pre-production the last 10 days have absolutely flown by, and I've had no time to post anything. Even this is a fly-by blogging - I just wanted to show off a shot I took of Admiral Ackbar last night...

On a collecting note, I've finally spotted the Mission Series two-packs in the wild (at Forbidden Planet Sheffield), and they look good, particularly the Utapau Clone Trooper set. I also saw the ROTS Obi-Wan Kenobi in hand as well, and it looks much better than any pictures I've seen of it online. As I already have an Anakin on pre-order (scheduled to arrive with the good Black Series Luke X-Wing and Sandtrooper), that may be a final 3.75" temptation.

On that note, I've also started to reach some conclusions about my collection, and the direction I'm taking it. The Purge is coming... As soon as I get a free day to sit down and actually do it! For now though, I'm all about dealing with what's immediately in front of me; and that's a house in mid-sort, and a film that needs a production office. None of these things are mutually exclusive, but at the moment collecting is fairly low on that hierarchy. Hopefully though it won't be too long before I'm back with more regular updates, and maybe even a Black Series review... 

Until then, thanks for reading!

Monday, 22 July 2013

The Coming Storm

General Kenobi, Commander Bly
The Clone Wars are taking their toll on the Jedi. Their numbers are dwindling against the Separatist armies, and the pall of the dark side of the Force clouds everything. Even so they fight on, securing victory after victory, and the tide of the war is slowly turning. Yet as General Kenobi leads his battalion to secure yet another stronghold, he would never foresee the betrayal that awaits him...

The Clone Wars are almost over. The Great Purge is coming.


OK, moody scene-setting aside, the purge really is coming to the Mos Espa Collection; and given how sprawling my collection is becoming, that's only a good thing. SDCC this year was a watershed moment for fans of Hasbro's Star Wars line, I think. Fan outrage over the direction of the 'classic' figure line is not a new thing (or fan outrage about anything, for that matter), but I'm getting the impression that the SA 3 3/4" approach is winding its way down now, and that's going to affect a lot of people's collections. The new Saga Legends looks like the template for a continued line, and it's a move I fully applaud - these are toys with great character likenesses that are also sturdy and can stand up to rigorous adventures. These are the kind of toys that I wanted as a kid, and I'm glad that they're there for kids today; whether they're entirely something I would want as an adult today I'll come to in a minute. The fact that I'm not the target demographic aside though, these figures are also seeing release at a reasonable price point, which has been the most off-putting aspect of new Star Wars figures for a few years now. If reducing the articulation allows the line to survive until the new trilogy, then Hasbro should absolutely go for it, and fie on any collector who can't understand that.

I don't get it either.
So, where does that leave collectors? It's been theorised in a few places that the new 3 3/4" Black Series line is a way for Hasbro to release existing (but unreleased) sculpts and simple kit bashes as a way of clearing the line out completely ahead of 2015's sequel trilogy push, and that makes a lot of sense to me. The upcoming figures, both rumoured and confirmed, are ones that have been mooted (and some even shown) for release in previous lines and others are fairly simple updates to older releases. I'm basing this on nothing but speculation, but if, after years of missteps, you have your toy line for children finally in working order, why would you continue to sell a misfiring line to a smaller audience, that's more expensive to produce and harder to sell? Furthermore, why do this when there's very few characters in this line left to make? It's been eight years since ROTS hit cinemas, and there really isn't much left to do in this scale (and I'm a bigger fan than most, but I have yet to see one decent argument for why a Toryn Farr action figure is required at all, by anybody, as a mass-market release. Online collector exclusive is a different matter).

The future's black...
And so, we come to the 6" Black Series, and the future of Star Wars action figures. Following the lead of the re-branded Marvel Legends line, the Black Series introduces a new scale to Star Wars action figures, with superior sculpting, more articulation than you can shake a well-spoken stick at and a long future of first-release main characters to come. I think those doubting this line's ability to last should look at the success (and there is no other word for it) of the SDCC/Celebration exclusive Boba Fett with Han Solo in Carbonite, which sold out in a day despite the inflated price and is now trading for as much as £200 on Ebay. People, not just collectors but real-life people want these toys, and the buzz around them is the highest it's been for a Star Wars line since at least the Episode I merchandising launch. With this weekend's wave two reveals at SDCC, I can now say that I am beyond doubt amongst the converted.

Captain of the Millennium Falcon, woot!
What struck me about the Saga Legends line when I reviewed the Super Battle Droid last week was that they're good toys, and I fully support the line and its reasons for existing, but they're not figures that I personally want to spend money on because I've been there before. I will pick up select figures based on aesthetics or whimsy, but for my tastes, and for the level of quality that's on offer, I intend to migrate fully to the 6" Black Series with an Episode III-VI focus, because frankly these toys really sate my desire for high quality, affordable Star Wars action figures. To do this I'll need to create space and funds, and that means selling off a chunk of my 3 3/4" collection. This in turn means deciding what each figure means to me, which I think is going to be a revelatory process and one that I'm looking forward to starting. It's also a process that I'm going to cover here on the blog (as well as continuing reviews, Vintage Wednesdays and LoEB contributions), because I think it'll be interesting to look at how much of figure collecting is about the purchasing, rather than the enjoyment of owning that figure. Hopefully that'll be something many of us can relate to, so it'd be great if anybody can relate similar experiences over the course of 'the purge'.

And every now and then I may remember that I occasionally cover Transformers too.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Garden War!

Free Comic Book Day 2013 was good to me, as I picked up three IDW Transformers issues amongst many others - an Alex Milne sketchbook, a re-print of Buster Witwicky and the Car Wash of Doom, and best of all, Re-Generation #81. The latter comic is a brilliant read, as it picks up from the end of the old Marvel series, with characters and a status quo that I know and remember fondly. Subsequently, I found myself in a Transformers mood...

G1 Transformers are mainly where it's at for me. I have some fond memories of Beast Wars, and love the design of Lio-Convoy (amongst others) - I certainly never subscribed to the 'Trukk not Munky' mindset - but the G1 cartoon and movie are what I think of when someone says 'Robots in Disguise'. However great the toys were for the mid-80's though, they don't stand up to today's standards, and that's where the Universe/Generations line does such a great job.

Cyclonus is a faithful interpretation of the G1 character design, the likes of which we didn't get with any Autobot or Decepticon back in the day, down to the colour scheme and the fantastic light-piping that make the eyes burn red. This version is from a Reveal the Shield two-pack that came with Rodimus Prime and a Matrix of Leadership - unfortunately I bought this second hand, so my only Hot Rod is an actual G1 version - but Cyclonus here did come with his firearm, the amazingly updated Targetmaster Nightstick. The amount of articulation, unthinkable in the 80's, coupled with the character likeness and playability (the transformation is sublimly intuitive) make Cyclonus a shining example of how Transformers should be done...

Autobot Jazz
On to the Autobot side of the battle then. I've already blogged before about Jazz and the heartbreak associated with that particular guy at G1; since then though I'm pleased to announce that my Reveal the Shield version has remained in one piece (but excuse me for a moment whilst I knock on some wood!).

What I loved about the old Marvel UK comics, besides the fact it was weekly installments of the Cybertronian War, was that it was my first exposure to a seperate continuity, and to the idea that the stories I could tell with these characters didn't need to be rail-roaded within the confines of the cartoon universe. That seemed like a decent preparation for pop-culture today, with re-boots and Ultimate Comics and live-action movie versus first-generation animated movie factions becoming increasingly normal; and I love it. Sure, we get some stinkers like Revenge of the Fallen, but then we also get the Dark Knight Trilogy. It evens out!

Bringing it back around, I'm glad that a comic like Re-Generation exists, and I'll keep reading. It's Transformers as I remember them, and I'm very happy that it's being continued - Bludgeon, Skorponok and Megatron as the Decepticon heavy-hitters suits me just fine.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

LoEB: Spacemen

OK! This is my first time partaking in a League of Extraordinary Bloggers assignment, and I'm looking forward to getting involved. This week's theme is Spacemen, and that made me immediately think of only one thing:
You would have thought that the majority of my space-faring childhood toy adventures would be Star Wars, but I was too young to properly enjoy the vintage line. Lego Space, on the other hand - I was exactly on time for that!

My Lego collection started off as hand-me-downs from my brother and sister, but grew exponentially every birthday and Christmas. When I was much younger Castle was my favourite theme, but by the start of the 90's I was getting into Space in a big way. The image above is from an ideas book catalogue, one of two my brother owned which kickstarted my love of the space sets. Look how richly detailed that station is! 

Intergalactic Engineers
Lego Space really came of age for me with M-Tron, however. The unified look of the line was great, and the magnets provided a fun play feature. The vehicles felt very rugged and real-world, with chunky tyres and actual storage space, and the catalogue displays that showcased them... Wow. I'm pretty sure this is where my diorama love came from.

Neon Nineties
M-Tron ran its course, and I was sad to see it absent from the upcoming Lego catalogue ('93/'94, can't recall which). However, this was pretty quickly dispelled by the new arrivals... Ice Planet 2002!

With the chainsaws, the new visors, the fluorescent orange parts, and minifigures with new facial designs, Ice Planet quickly took over as a favourite. Furthermore, it marked a point where several of my friends were also collecting Lego, and we would often take models into school for play - so Luke, Ben and Tom, this one's for you!

End of the Line
Exploriens and Spyrius were the last of the Lego Space lines I followed at all, as I was starting to get too old for toys by that point (hah!). Still, whilst I didn't really get into the line, Spyrius had some very cool features - I'm pretty sure it was the first Lego line to feature giant robot mechs at all, and the spy android with the clear helmet was a very cool minifigure. On that note, this line also provided my favourite-ever Lego minifig, which continued to pilot my favourite MOC spaceship long after I stopped playing with the stuff:

The Spyrius Astronaut!

So, that's Spacemen for me. Here's what some fellow Leaguers blogged on the subject:

Rich at Fortune and Glory (Days) picked another subject very close to my heart, E.T., and showcases some cool memorabilia.

Hobgoblin at Monster Cafe spotlights MPC Spacemen!

And Michael at Memories of Toymorrow sings the praises of Kiss' own 'Space Ace' Ace Frehley!

That's it for my first League of Extraordinary Bloggers contribution. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


After a couple of weeks of letting my QC standards slip I've been making a conscious effort to step back from the editing software a little, and to try and get a decent picture first time around. Nothing's exemplified this better than these recent Grimlock shots, and I'm really happy with how this set's turned out.

Well, I say "step back from the editing software", but I've still made minor modifications to the image; however, I've kept the emphasis on minor and only slightly tweaked the brightness, shadows and contrast, and not used any photo-apps. I think my reliance on apps and preset treatments led me to believe every image requires loads of post-production, and after some bad photos I remembered that that's not that case.

Akin to my post on copying promo images, the above shot is a Transformers Animated take on the below G1 image; Grimlock getting chompy on Thrust. I always preferred the Seekers over the Coneheads, subsequently the jet getting chowed down on above is none over than Starscream.

G1 nom.
And a wide shot to round it off. I've been properly enjoying playing with this toy and the character, and it's showing in the final product. It seems like my interest in Transformers is really fuelling my creativity; and you gotta go where the river flows, I guess...

So there we have it; how to get your toy photography mojo back with Transformers Animated Grimlock. Thanks for reading!

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