Sunday, 31 January 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: 50 Years of Action Man Part 1 (1964 - 1980)

In 1964, Hal Belton, an executive at Palitoy got his hands on a US made G.I. Joe figure which he gave to his grandson. When he found it was well received by the boy, he took it Miles Fletcher, the head of Palitoy (owned by General Mills). Samples were collected from Hasbro and they were doled out to staff of Palitoy to give to their children and the response was fantastic. However, staff were told to not use the word "doll" when marketing the figure as at the time, boys weren't supposed to play with dolls.

However at Toy Fair 1966, Action Man was unveiled to the public and was well received. He went into direct competition with another toy from Pedigree called Tommy Gun. Due to higher production costs and a better body sculpt, Tommy started gaining ground in sales, however, by 1968, Pedigree had dropped the Tommy Gunn line all together.

Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, Action Man kept a very military flair and emulated not only British soldiers from the modern era and WW2, but also international and the British Commonwealth as well, with Mounties being represented with a horse and bull mastiff included in the set. However, by the mid 70s attitudes towards things had changed and Action Man took different routes.

Much like Adventure Team in the G.I. Joe toys, Action Man took on a more athletic persona during the mid late 70s, Action Man gained not only a series if football (soccer) outfits, but also karate during this time, to cash on the Martial Arts craze started by Bruce Lee. To cash in Star Wars, Action Man ventured into space and battled alien robots. 

However, it wasn't all sunshine and smiles, in a twist of irony, Action Man was killed off at the end of the 70s by Star Wars, made by the same company. Action Man didn't survive past the 1980s and wouldn't make a return until the 1990s. 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Ressha Sentai ToQGer Renketsu Bazooka.

For my 1st review for Nerdversity,  I will be reviewing the Renketsu Bazooka from the 2014-2015 Super Sentai season "Ressha Sentai ToQGer". The Renketsu Bazooka is a combination of 5 individual weapons used by the main 5 ToQGer.  The weapons are as follows

1st off the tracks is the Rail Slasher,  used mainly by Right/ToQ-1Go [but others can use it if they are using the Red Ressha.  Same goes for the other weapons in the set]. Done in black for the handle and the underside, red for the hilt and the rubber tip, grey going up the middle of the blade and trigger with silver for the rubber going down the sides. The Rail Slasher is the main part of this toy set as it holds all of the electronics, Dimensions from handle to tip its around 15.5 inches,  width is around 3.5 inches  give or take.

The 2nd weapon in the set is the Platform Trigger,  the primary weapon of Tokatti/ToQ-2Go. It is cast in blue and black plastic with silver accents  for the cross,  silver rubber for the bottom of the handle and grey for the trigger and the barrels of the gun.  The trigger does work,  but is used mainly for the bazooka combo.  Dimension wise [give or take a few inches or so], From back to barrel 4.75 inches,  across [including the button to release the Rail Slasher] 3 inches and the hight from handle to top about 6 inches.  Before I forget,  once the Rail Slasher is connected to the Platform Trigger,  and the piece where the ressha is is at the back [near the handle], the main sound for the bazooka plays,  after you press the trigger and the explosion ends,  you can keep pressing the trigger to get standard blaster sounds.

For the 3rd weapon,  we will be looking at the criminally tiny Signal Hammer of Mio/ToQ-3Go.  There is not much to talk about with this weapon apart from how small it is. molded in black,  with yellow paint for the hammer head, blue and red for the lights and silver for the rubber parts. The only use this has,  is to clip on top of the Home Trigger when used for the bazooka.  You are looking at a weapon that is only about 3.75 - 4 inches leangh wise,  2 inches in width and just over 1 inch in thickness.  Even for a kids toy,  this is a joke of a weapon in my eyes

Now onto the weapon of Hikari/ToQ-4Go,  The Tunnel Axe, which is done in green and black plastic with silver/grey rubber for the axe blades.  Like the Signal Hammer,  this does not have any features that it can use on its own.  The Axe closes up though when it is used for the bazooka.  For a toy at this size,  the handle could have been made,  a little big longer in my own opinion,  but this is a kids toy,  so I should not complain to much about it.  Dimension wise.  from the widest part of the axe blade to the other side you are looking at just under 9.25 inches and from Handle to the top is under 8 inches

Last but not least we have the weapon of Kagura/ToQ-5Go, the Bridge Claw.  Not much to talk about this weapon.  No special actions or anything like that.  Like the Signal Hammer,  it is mainly done in black plastic with silver for the rubber blades and pink for the accent lines.  Size wise,  you are looking at roughly 4.75 inches across from blade tip to the back where the blade ends, hight wise around 3 inches and width just under 3.75 inches.  The handle is just small enough for a small child to get their hands in.

Now for the ressha that you get with the Renketsu Bazooka. The Energy Ressha is what they use for the final attacks with the bazooka which is powered by the "Imagination" of the ToQGer who places the ressha onto the weapon and fires it.  The Energy Ressha is cast in grey plastic with silver for the top and black plastic for the bottom [the black lines you see on the silver part is done by myself] with tinted plastic for the middle between the silver plastic and below the black for the wheels,  the energy effect is done in what I would say is gold, the windscreen on the front is painted in a dark green paint.  Size wise leangh is around 3.5 inches,  hight is about 1.25 inches and width is 1 inch,  Like a lot of ressha that you get with DX toys [with exception of Red Resha that you get with the ToQ-Changer,  The Build Ressha that you get with TO-6Go's henshin device and the Hyper Ressha that you get with the cannon]  they all have ports on the back that you can use with the DX ToQ-Oh,  DX Build-Dai-Oh and DX Diesel-Oh.

Now for the final part of this review,
The Renketsu Bazooka is not a small toy when combined,  for a toy that is aimed at kids,  I would say it fits pretty good. The Platform Trigger acts as the trigger for the bazooka,  while the Signal Hammer sits on top doing nothing, The Bridge Claw just fills in a gap between the Home Trigger and the Rail Slasher,  speaking of which,  the Rail Slashehr becomes sort of a railway track for the Energy Ressha to travel along,  last but not least,  the Tunnel Axe becomes the barrel of the bazooka that what ever the ToQGer imagines fires out from. 

  From end to end it is roughly between 17.5 - 18 inches,  4 inches in width and around 9 inches in hight

Below is a video of the 1st fight from ToQGer and the 1st time the Renketsu Bazooka

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Amazing Spider-Man (Vol 2), Issue 36

Writer: J. Michael Straczynski 
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colours: Dan Kemp
Letters: Richard Starkings & Wes Abbott
Editors: Axel Alonso & John Miesgaes

Released: December 2001

Stand Tall is one of the most powerful and poignant stories in Spider-Man's history. Written as a tribute to the civilians who were killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the emergency services who worked tirelessly to save them. 

The issue opens with Spider-man staring at the flaming rubble of Ground Zero, looking absolutely horrifed, to the point where he can't speak. Mentally, he's numb, he cannot comprehend what's going on, why someone would do this kind of thing. He also cannot forgive the guilty parties for doing this either. As he web swings into the chaos, he's blamed for the incident, questioned as to why he let this sort of thing happen. He can't answer and enters the dust cloud to help with the rescue, 

Outside, Captain America, Thing, Thor and Daredevil are helping with the clean up and rescue as well, They are joined by the supervillains. Doctor Doom, Kingpin, Magneto, Juggernaut and Doctor Octopus. Even though they are usually villains, not today, they are allies. Even they realise that this is inhumane compared to what they do. They aid in the rescue, with even Doctor Doom shedding a tear. 

Spider-Man reflects on who the real superheroes were that day. The ordinary people who tried to help the others escape. The ones who sheltered others from the dust cloud. The civilians who tried to rescue Flight 93. He also reflects on the emergency services, the ones who faced certain death, but did their jobs. 

As he takes a small breather, he finds a small boy sitting on some rubble. Spider-Man tries to move the child to safety, but the child tells him that is father will come back for him later and to stay there. It's revealed that his father was a firefighter and is seen being carried out of the wreckage on a stretcher and is dead. The boy runs over to his father on the stretcher and mourns. Spider-Man states that "The death of innocents results in the death of innocence".

As Spider-Man goes to get water, a wounded woman takes him by the hand and asks why he didn't stop it and why it happened. He can't answer. He speaks to Captain America. Cap understands the pain again, having lived through Pearl Harbour, D-Day and the Holocaust. Spider-Man wonders how they can tell their children now of how evil the world was. Maybe that behind every face, there'll be a thought that will give them nightmares? Maybe they should apologise. Apologise for not making the world perfect and as safe as they'd like. That we should tell the world we're sorry, shoulder the burden with everyone else and tell everyone that they love them. 

Spider-Man looks over and sees heroes and villains standing shoulder to shoulder with civilians and emergency services. He realises they're at war now. That the US didn't see these deaths coming and those responsible will never see theirs coming either. However, he realises that we create our own destiny and we are responsible for the future we leave for our children. Terrorists may try and weaken the human spirit with repeated attacks and causing mass casualties, however, noone will stop you shedding tears, no plane or maniac can stop that. The grief of one is shared by many and as such, they are stronger than any terrorist with a bomb. 

It ends with Spider-Man telling everyone to unite and stand tall. 

Quote1 Only madmen could contain the thought, execute the act, fly the planes. The sane world will always be vulnerable to madmen, because we cannot go where they go to conceive of such things. We could not see it coming. We could not be here before it happened. We could not stop it. But we are here now. You cannot see us for the dust, but we are here. You cannot hear us for the cries, but we are here. Quote2

Monday, 25 January 2016

Nerdversity Discussion - Could Cosplay be killed off in 2016?

In a recent article by Serpentor's Lair, it's been revealed that under the Trans Pacific Partnership, brand name clothing companies in the United States have put together a statement which is currently going through the Supreme Court. IF it passes, it would mean that brand name clothing companies have the right to claim copyright on their designs and anyone who makes fakes of these designs would be subject to copyright infringement and met with lawsuits and shut down.

Right now, this does NOT affect fantasy costumes yet and will only affect cosplays which use real brand name clothing in them like Glee, Indiana Jones, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Lollipop Chainsaw and Suicide Squad, just to name a few examples. What this means in real terms is that cosplay companies which make these infringing articles of clothing will be shut down by the clothing companies and then they'll make these proper items available officially through their stores. 

However, the TPP has bigger implications on more than just copyright infringement on clothing. Under rules set by the TPP lawmakers, they would be cracking down on Intellectual Property infringement and in this case, Fan works. Yes, that's right, people in the US can be sued by Japanese Lawyers for simply making fan art or cosplaying as Goku and this can be WITHOUT the main rights holder not having any issues with it. Discussions are still being held by the member states and signatories on the TPP. 

Will this be the end of Cosplay and fan works in America and the Pacific? only time will tell to be honest, but I can guarantee, whichever way the TPP goes and whichever way the Supreme court goes with this decision, it WILL change the face of Cosplay and Fan works all across the globe. 

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Star Wars The Force Awakens Poe Dameron (pilot) figure

In this review, we'll be taking a look at the 4 inch Poe Dameron (pilot) figure, based on the scenes at Starkiller Base. The card has the Kylo Ren logo on the top and a large picture of Oscar Isaac as the titular character, Poe Dameron holding his helmet and staring off into space. The figure itself is on display with his build-a-weapon gimmick

The back of the card is very plain. It shows the other figures needed to complete the Build-A-Weapon gimmick and a brief picture showing how the backpack fits on the figure. There is a write up of Poe on the back and it reads 
"An ace pilot, Poe Dameron is a leader in the Resistance's fight against the evil First Order. He soars into battle behind the controls of a modern X-Wing Fighter."

Taking the figure out the box, we have Poe in his bright orange flight suit seen at the end of the movie, during the assault on Starkiller Base. The helmet is NOT removable. There's a white flak vest with the Alliance logo on the breast and a hose going into his pocket. There's a removable holster on his leg with a blaster pistol. There's a lot of detail in the suit with wrinkles across the suit, molded on pouches, pockets and harnesses 

His main accessory is a silver blaster pistol that sits in the holster on his thigh. There's not much detailing on the blaster at all.

His build a weapon gimmick is a jetpack with a blaster cannon attached to the back. I'm still not sure why Hasbro decided these build-a-weapon gimmicks were necessary to the action figures. You need the Resistance Trooper and the First Order TIE Pilot to make a three piece blaster cannon.

Overall, not a bad figure. Personally, I don';t think it'd get much play value as it's a pilot and it needs an X-Wing to be complete. Also, there's only those scenes at the end of the movie where he's in the uniform and it's attached to flying. It could also be used in a pinch with the First Order TIE Fighter to emulate Finn and Poe's escape I suppose.

Nerdversity Reviews: Star Wars The Force Awakens Finn (Jakku) figure

I know what you're thinking, no, we aren't reviewing the same figures again. In this review, we're going to be taking a look at the 4 inch scale Finn (Jakku) figure from the The Force Awakens Toy line.

The front of the card shows Kylo Ren in the top corner with the logo. Underneath that, we have a picture of John Boyega's character, Finn running with a blaster rifle in his hand. The bubble portion is open and shows the figure completely and his backpack weapon

The back of the card show the three figures needed to complete the Tank Build-A-Weapon and those are: First Order Flametrooper and Constable Zuvio. It also shows a graphic of what the backpack looks like attached to Finn. The flavour text is the same as on the 6 inch budget version and reads:
"A trained warrior desparate to escape his past, Finn is plunged into adventure as his conscience drives him down a heroic, but dangerous path."

Taking the figure out of the card, he's wearing the outfit he wore for most of the movie. He's wearing the black t-shirt and trousers with white shoes and Poe's Resistance jacket over the top. The figure looks great. The Jacket and Trousers show wrinkles and folds in them, making them look worn and not just skin tight spandex like on a superhero. The likeness to Boyega is actually pretty well done for a budget figure and not a part of the Black Series.

His main accessory is the blaster rifle he got from Han. It's not painted and is in the flat silver colour. it does have detailing on it, such as a hand grip, magazine on the side and a trigger. It's not bad and in the hands of a skilled painter, it could get more movie accurate detailing.

His other accessory is this new gimmick of a combining weapon, with each of the three figures in a wave completing a super weapon. Finn's is a tank/backpack combination that folds the arms over to form blaster cannons.

As part of the main series toys, he's not a bad figure at all. He sports the same 5 points of articulation that is now common with the main series. If you're after a Finn figure that encompasses the movie as a whole, rather than a specific scene, this is the one for you. The likeness is great, he comes with a blaster rifle accessory and would look great in any collection. 

Friday, 22 January 2016

Nerdversity Discussion: Female Characters in Toys

The big debate going round at the moment is the lack of Rey figures in the Star Wars toy line. Well, this debate has been going on since toys first became a big thing. It's not about misogyny, it;s not about feminism at all.  

We have to remember that these toys are NOT being made specifically for collectors at all. We need to stop blurring those lines, there are lines made for collectors, but those 4 inch Star Wars figures with the Kenner articulation and weapons? well, they're made for the general public, not collectors, infact in terms of sales data, us collectors make up 2-5% of the overall sales. The fact of the matter is that in terms of the general audience, female characters don't sell well with children. No matter what we may say or think, but that little kid browsing the Marvel toys would much rather have an Iron Man helmet and action figure or Cap Shield than Widow's gauntlets and figure to match. I'm not saying that this is true of all children, but the shopping majority will pick an Iron Man over a Black Widow and to be perfectly honest, Hasbro are only following the majority shopping trends,

Female characters don't sit well with boys and it's been said before that most female characters in the 70s and 80s cartoon worlds such as GI Joe, were almost cut completely because sales of Scarlett and Baroness figures slumped over the male figures. Yes, shopping trends are changing and so are the executives on the other end, but so far the collectors and the trend changers are so minor, it's not really worth paying attention to them from a business standpoint. 

Could Star Wars see the turning point of the trends?

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Ressha Sentai ToQGer ToQ Changer

Ressha Sentai ToQGer aired in February of 2014 and is the 38th entry into the Super Sentai franchise. In this review, we take a look at the ToQ Changer, the "morpher" of the series.

The front of the box shows ToQ1 posing with the toy brace and the red ressha inserted into it. It's bright, colourful and fits the theme of trains and trainyards.

The back of the box shows the Changer and has a run down of all it's features, taken from the show. It includes putting all the resshas into their train form and combining into ToQ-Oh, as well as showing the other Resshas in the morpher to activate the different morphing sounds. Pushing the buttons activates the "Summon Ressha" sound effect and pushing the middle button activates the "Line Change" mode, allowing the Rangers to swap colours and weapons.

The top panels on the box show the ToQGer logo on the Red Ressha with the logo of the series. The Ressha is going past some signal lights. The other panel shows all 5 rangers on a hazard stripe background with the shorthand ToQGer logo.

The sides of the box show the same shorthand TOQ logo and the morpher in the bottom. It featured ToQ1 in variety of poses. 

Taking the morpher out the box and doing the minor assembly, here it is completed. The assembly is popping the gate pieces in to their respective holes on the signal boxes and then attaching the straps. Operation is simple. Insert 2 AAA batteries into the opposite side of the morpher, the other signal box is the battery compartment. Flick the red on switch down to turn it on. The gold button is to activate the morphing sound effects, inserting a ressha will make the morpher call out the name of the ressha inserted. The middle button is to activate "Line Change" mode, allowing the user to swap out one ressha with another one to change colours and the final button is the "summon ressha" feature

Wearing it on the wrist doesn't feel too bad. It is a little weighty with the batteries, electronics and a Ressha inside, but the good thing is, is that it fits on an adult hand as much as a child's hand, a tighter fit, but fits nonetheless

As ToQGer is being skipped by Saban in favour of Ninninger (Ninja Steel), I was able to score the morpher for about £20 on eBay direct from Japan. No import fees and it took about 2 weeks to get here via Registered Mail. Not a bad morpher in the long run. The train theme might be enough to put people off, but then again, your mileage may vary. You can find most ToQGer items cheap on the secondary market and this was no exception. 

Nerdversity Reviews: Marvel's Iron Man 3 Prelude

Writer: Cristos Gage
Penciller: Steve Kurth
Inker: Drew Geraci
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Sana Amanat

Released in January 2013, this 2 part story sets up the scene between Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3. Tony has stripped the Hammer tech weapons off of the War Machine suit and has given it to Rhodey to wear. As Stark is pre-occupied with the construction of Stark Tower, he needs Rhodey to be Iron Man. Rhodey battles the Ten Rings across the Middle East and returns to Bagram Airfield where he studies one of the flags he picked up in North Sudan. Rhodey tracks the Ten Rings to Hong Kong where they have hostages. After defeating the Ten Rings terrorists and rescuing the hostages, Rhodey gets a call from Stark, who needs him in New York in 5 minutes, sadly, Rhodey's half a world away and couldn't make it. Rhodey is ambushed by Hammer made nuclear tanks, he realises he can't destroy them as they'd set off a Nuke in the middle of Hong Kong, he can only contain them. One of the tanks shoots him down with a sidewinder missile. He comes crashing down and one of the tanks is about to run him over.

Rhodey wakes up and begins his new attack. As the Ten Rings are attacking him from all sides, he needs to find a way to take them down without cracking the shielding on the tank. He requests back up from the US Air Force, however, they're busy dealing with a situation in New York. He takes out the terrorists with a Miniaturized Stark Sonic Cannon. Just when Rhodey has the advantage in the fight, the Ten Rings start the timer on the nuclear tank. Rhodey is forced to take it and dump it in the ocean. After scanning the wreckage of the tank, he finds there was Black Market Stark Tech in it as well as Hammer. Upon returning to New York, he finds he's too late for the battle and finds a Chitauri Leviathan buried in a building. He joins the Avengers for the Shwarma. Back in Malibu, Star reveals his plan to build an Iron Legion, as he's realised that Iron Man and War Machine are not enough. The issue ends with the Mandarin noting that they may have lost a battle and they don't have the War Machine armour, but they have scanned it and they know it's weaknesses, so they have enough information to wipe Iron Man off the face of the earth. 

Iron Man 3 Prelude has been released as single issues, a graphic novel and even online via the Marvel App.