Sunday, 8 July 2012

Kabaya kits Vs Actual Transformers toys

Quite a few Kabaya Model kits have been done over the years... right from the early years of Transformers (about 1986 were the first ones), to the present day.

These are the most recent ones, plus a few "vintage" ones from almost 30 years ago now.

(I was going to use Gen1 toys for comparison, but since Jetfire was clearly the Henkei/Classics mould, I ended up just comparing to the relevant mould that the Kabaya kit was based on)

Wave 1 of the current series.
Convoy/Optimus from 1984/1985, (Henkei) Optimus from about 2006, Star Saber from 1989 (only in Japan).

Wave 2.
 Ultra Magnus from 1986, (Henkei) Prowl from about 2008, (Henkei) Jetfire/Skyfire from about 2006.

Wave 3.
 God Ginrai/Powermaster Optimus from 1988, (Henkei) Starscream from about 2006, God Bomber from 1988 (only in Japan).

Wave 4.
 Hotrod/Rodimus from 1986, Victory Leo from 1989 (only in Japan), (Henkei) Inferno from about 2008.

Wave 5.
War For Cybertron Optimus from 2010, Deathsaurus/Dezarus is from 1989 (only in Japan).

 Defensor is from 1986.
(The toy on the left is just a Deluxe-class JP United Megatron, included to show how big the Kabaya Defensor is)
Below is what the Kabaya Protoctobots look like in vehicle mode. (I didn't get to take a pic of the actual Protectobots in vehicle mode)

Streetwise, First Aid, Hotspot, Blades, Groove.

Wave 6 is being released soon, which is Fortress Maximus with Powerglide, Windcharger and Cerebros.

And to go back a little in time, four of the Kabaya models from around 1986.
(they apparently came in assorted, bright, colours)
Convoy/Optimus, Starscream, Sideswipe, Prowl.  All from the first year, 1984.

Natural Chips review

Natural Chips are new, by Snackbrands Australia (the only real competition to the powerful American Smiths Chips/Lays/Doritos company).
They are crinkle-cut potato chip range, which is strange, as Snackbrands already produce Samboy... so it's almost like they are competing against themselves because these don't differentiate themselves from what they are already producing. It's almost like Snackbrands just can't be bothered competing against the American giant, and either copy (CC's colours and flavours are similar to Doritos) or are just repetitive of what they already do (these could have just been branded as Samboy chips to bulk out that brand like Smiths Chips have done).

The "Natural Chips" come in four flavours, and they are a lot of salt flavours - Salt, Salt & Pepper, Salt & Vinegar, Honey Soy Chicken (soy sauce is salty)... it is a pretty boring assortment to launch a new line with.

Honey Soy Chicken.
The best of the four, but still isn't spectacular.  This probably should have been called "sweet soy", because it is sweet, not salty (like soy sauce).  It doesn't taste like honey, or chicken either. Most of it was sweet, until I got to the smaller fragments and crumbs, which was where it really tasted like salty soy sauce.  3/5

Sea Salt.
A very subtle saltiness, which is good, as it isn't too strong like other plain/original/salted chips. 2.5/5

Salt & Vinegar.
Also a subtle flavour, making it easier to eat more before you get sick of the flavour. The chips are said to be "all natural", but has in the ingredients "Natural Flavour".  What is "Natural Flavour"? If it is something found in nature, then tell us what it is, as companies should do (so that we know what we are eating).  If it is a brand name for a flavouring ingredient (like MSG), then we need to know what is the ingredients in "Natural Flavouring".  I don't trust foods that have secretive ingredients, especially if it could be something you could be allergic to. 2.5/5

Salt & Pepper
Exclusive to Coles. This is a surprising flavour.  It just tastes like normal salted chips while you are chewing them, but then when you swallow, the pepper kicks in.  Not a big kick, but enough to give these chips a second dimension of flavour. 2.5/5

Saturday, 7 July 2012

July Transformers - Playskool bots

Checked the post office yesterday, and the Playskool Transformers I had been waiting on for a few weeks, was finally there.
These ones are from 2002-2004, following on from the "1-2-3 Transformers", which were a set of four "kiddie" figures that turned into rescue vehicles with human names and were electronic (five if you include the one-off Rescue Roy).
This follow-up series had about 4 waves, with changing series name for each.
Series 1 (2002) - "Playskool Big Adventures Transformers" (toys had an Autobot Symbol on them)
Series 2 (2003) - "Transformers Go-Bots" (Autobot symbol)
Series 3 (2003/04) - "Go-Bots" (no Autobot Symbol)
Series 4 (2005) - "Transformers Go-Bots" (no Autobot Symbol)

I'm only interested in the first two series, as they are clearly part of Transformers, and will mean less to try to collect (only the first series was released here in Australia, making it harder to collect others).

So the figures I've now added to my want list:

- - Series 1 (2002) (5 figures - have all 5)
Cheetor (cheetah)
Gorillabot (gorilla)
Mototron (sportscar)
Speedbot (sportscar)
Aerobot (jet)
- - Series 2 (2003) (12 figures  - so far have 6, noted in red)
Aero-Bot II (sportscar)
Beast-Bot II (panther)
Buzzer-Bot (wasp)
Dino-Bot (Velociraptor)
Fire-Bot (fire chief car)
Prowl-Bot (police cruiser)
Reptron (Velociraptor)
Strong-Bot (bulldozer)
Mirage-Bot (Formula 1 racer) w/ Kid-Bot & Doggie
Speed-Bot II (Formula 1 racer) w/ Kid-Bot & Gas-Bot

Aero-Bot (jet)
Silverbolt (jet)

A dealer had the 11 figures listed on ebay, all sealed in packaging, so I asked if he'd do a discount.
He did, and when I got them, they were a lot bigger than I had expected, so kinda felt bad for asking for a discount (they ended up costing me about $30 each, but are Voyager size and bigger).

This is the lot still in packaging (series 1 at the top in blue, series 2 at the bottom)...

As I took each out of packaging, I transformed them and put them on the shelf for a group photo in their alt modes. Series 1 on the left, Series 2 on the right.
And in robot mode, with a couple familiar figures (Gen1 Optimus, TFPrime DLX Ratchet, TFPrime VOY Megatron) to show the size of these ones.
In the front are four of the recent Capsule figurines sent to me by fellow fan Sharky. I was at the post office to post to him a Kabaya Model kit for them, and the figurines were there waiting for me.
Unfortunately, I dropped a couple on the floor while putting them on the shelf, and one of the Sentinel Primes broke an arm. I glued it back on, but I was surprised that it broke so easily.
It means I have 2 left to collect - a second Shockwave and a second Megatron. If I wanted to complete the set.

Some interesting things about the Playskool Transformers....
- Cheetor and Gorillabot, Buzzer-bot and Dino-bot appear to be inspired by Beast Wars (Cheetor by name and appearance, Optimus by appearance, Waspinator kinda, and Dinobot by name).
- Mototron (black car in series one) is the only one noted as being a "bad guy" and "nasty character to steer clear of". Everyone else I got is noted as being good guys. Mototron still has an Autobot symbol on him though. TFwiki claims that only Preditron is evil, but Mototron's bio is definitely opposite of the "good guy" theme of the others.
- Mototron and Speedbot have colours that remind me of European Aquaspeeders/Stormtroopers.
- The larger two figures (Aerobot and Mirage-Bot) have sound features, which are different in each mode.
- Reptron has a lot more orange on the toy than on the packaging pictures.
- It should be noted that there is no "Beast-Bot" toy before "Beast-Bot II". The Gorillabot is said to be the same character, who changed his form to a panther (and changed his name I guess), as the colours are the same.
- Each are very simplistic to transform, which is the point for the age-group they are designed for... but some are quite innovative in the way they achieve that transformation. Simple, but creative.

This was one series I had no examples of in my collection, and after recently acquiring some Argentinian Transformers, I think I now have something from every Transformers series ever released.
Now I just gotta find a shelf for these ones... as I don't have any spare shelves right now. I only just added a set of shelves, and they are full already.
And with some of the HK Generations series and the FOC Generations on their way to me right now, I might have to get some more shelves.
I got no where to put them though.
The hassles of toy collecting.... :p

Eating Challenge FAIL

Remember the eating challenge I was preparing for last month (here), at Outback Jacks... well, I went ahead and tried it today, but failed.
It was a kilo steak and a kilo of veges & wedges, which had to be eaten in less than 30 minutes.
And during the month of July, the fastest time at each location would compete for footy final tickets.

So I got to the Browns Plains restaurant a little before 1pm, and while waiting for my friend to arrive I asked about the challenge, and saw on the wall a list of "best times" already for this month... and the fastest so far was 19m 30s.
What the...
They must have been shoveling it in, or had a really tender piece of meat that melted in the mouth (easier to swallow).
I also saw at the meat counter, the steaks ready for cooking. (the ones on the left are the kilo steaks)

As soon as my friend arrived, we ordered. Only I was doing the challenge, but was told that it could take 50 minutes to prepare. It only took about 25-30 minutes though.

(click on the image to see it full size)

And with my hand in frame for scale, to show how large this was.

The lady serving us told us that the fastest time ever for the challenge was about 12 minutes, but a scrawny little Asian boy.
12 minutes?
For all of that?
How the heck...

Well, no time to worry about that.
They rang a bell and started a stop watch, and I was off.
Not sure if I should have been eating the wedges first, but they were so yummy and crunchy.
After about 5 minutes, most of the potato was gone.

After about 10 minutes only the meat was left...

...but maybe I should have started with it first.
The meat was very tough and chewy, and not very pink (I asked for medium rare), so it took a lot longer than I had expected. It was taking me about half a minute of chewing with each bite, which was way too long. I've had more tender meat from woolies & coles, so was very surprised (and disappointed) that their meat was so tough to cut and chew.
In the end I had to start cutting the meat into tiny pieces so that they could be swallowed with just a couple chews... but cutting was now taking too long, and the half chewed chunks of meat was starting to make me nauseous.
This was about 20 minutes, which missed out on the current record (meaning I had failed to get the best time). At least I wasn't feeling full yet, so there was still a chance. I just had to finish within another 10 minutes.

Then the 30 minutes came around... and I was still struggling to chew through the rest of the meat. The last part of the meat was really sinewy, so it was taking longer with each bite.

 I didn't bother rushing as much now, so at about 35-40 minutes I was finally at the last bite...

 And done...

As bad as the meat was, I was really disappointed in myself for just failing. I had the stomach capacity (from having a few big meals this week), and I didn't tire with the chewing (was chewing gum all week until two days ago to build up the jaw muscles)... so if I had steak that was tender, and not over-cooked (it was well past medium), I'm pretty sure I'd have been under the time limit. Just not sure about getting a record though.

After I was done though, I had a craving for something sweet, so had a slice of their mudcake.  It was dryer than mudcake should be, but was served hot with a chocolate sauce, which was nice.

I might try it again, but not sure if I'll do it before this month's promotion is over.
I just want to prove to myself that I could do it, because now I know I can if the meat wasn't tough.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

June Transformers part 6 part 2

Okay, an odd title, but I left out a couple items in the last part.
The game I mentioned (with the damaged sticker sheet), and the latest issue of the Collector Club magazine (which are getting so boring now, no one seems to care about its contents... most just join the club now for the annual toy).

I think I can salvage most of the stickers, because those controllers look pretty boring without any detailing.
As for the magazine... it can't be salvaged. :p

Home-made Giant Pretzels

Giant Pretzels, for those outside of America, are a bread-type of snack that are served hot... and are a lot larger than those small ones you get in the packs in the chips section of the grocery store (people often have them around Christmas time here).
Ever since I had one during a trip to America about 10 years ago, it has been one of the things I "have" to do with each return trip. Unfortunately, it can be about 12 months between each of those trips (to the annual BotCon Transformers convention).
Last year I was looking at how I could make them myself, but after finding a couple of recipes, I was put off by how complicated the cooking process is (which explains why they are so expensive, and hard to find outside of America). It's a 3-stage process, starting with standard bread-making, followed by partial cooking in a bicarb-soda bath (like making bagels), then baking them in the oven.

When when I came back from this year's trip, with only a couple eaten over there, I had a craving that I couldn't put off until next year.
I found a recipe the other day online and grabbed the ingredients yesterday.
Trying out a batch yesterday, I was able to make a few that tasted just about right, so I did another batch today and took some photos to show how difficult these tasty snacks are to make.

Starting off with the ingredients (I won't detail the exact amounts of each, so that the recipe source remains anonymous, and I don't have people saying that it was the "wrong" pretzel recipe - because I found several that were completely different).

Since this was a bread-style snack, it requires yeast, and the process to make actual bread.
Into a bowl - the yeast, salt, sugar, half of the flour, and butter...
(I was a bit messy with measuring out the flour, but as long as the bench is clean to start with, the flour would be used up when kneading the dough shortly anyway)

Then adding in the warm water, I had to mix it up to be smooth like pancake batter.

Then the rest of the flour was added bit by bit until the dough was no longer sticking to the bowl.
Normally, you'd use a mixmaster to do this, but I don't have one, so had to do it by hand in a bowl and with a spoon.
Oh wait, I do have a Mixmaster...
(okay, that was a Transformers joke...)

The resulting dough for kneading.

Once kneaded, the dough went back into the bowl and sat in a bath of warm water (to keep the yeast alive and "eating" the sugars in the dough), and covered with a towel to stop it from drying out.

After half an hour...

Next up was the rolling and shaping of the dough into pretzel shapes, and sticks.
For the classic pretzel shape, start out with a long length...

Then a U shape.

Twist the top end twice so that the left end stays on the left side, and the right end stays on the right side.

Then fold that knotted half down into the middle, pressing the ends down (I think I had the dough too dry, because the ends would keep coming off.

The second stage was partial cooking in a bicarb-soda solution, for about a minute on each side...

When that was done, they were drained and placed on a greased sheet (it was supposed to be a baking tray, which might be why they stuck a little).
They were then brushed with butter or oil, and topped with whatever you wanted.  I went with the classic coarse salt, as well as some with cinnamon-sugar, and others with cheese and bacon.

After 10 minutes in a really hot oven (the recipe said 245 Celsius, but my oven could only go as high as 230... which seemed way too hot, and since they weren't cooking properly, I think it was).
(the cinnamon ones look burnt, but it is just the cinnamon - next time I'll sprinkle it on after I cook the sticks.

This is how another classic one and a cheese & bacon one turned out...

And a couple cheese ones, one with bacon...

There are still a few things I need to improve on.  Less time boiling them, as this batch had a stronger taste of Bicarb than the ones yesterday (which I only dipped them in the solution). And the cooking time or temperature needs a bit more work, as the ones that looked cooked were still doughy underneath... but the ones that were cooked right through were a bit over-cooked on top.

I still have more ingredients left to do another batch, so I might give it another go next weekend, as it takes over an hour to do, and creates a lot of mess to clean up afterwards.
But the cravings have been satisfied... for now.

June Transformers part 6

On the last day of June, I checked my post box and found 3 more packages for me.
One was an Activator Ironhide from TF3 movie line (a loose end because it was not released here... at this time at least). It completes my TF3 Activators collection.
The second box had in it a TF1 Movie robot-battling game, which is just two hand controllers that have a robot plugged into each, and you move the controller to move the figure in a fighting motion.  I forgot to take a photo of it, so will do that later.
The third box had in it the Tokyo Toy Show exclusive Transformers - Crystal TFPrime First Edition Optimus, United Dark Optimus Prime, Shining B2 Micron... plus the first wave of Capsule Microns (Optimus, Bumblebee, black Cobra, pink Cobra, black Gecko, pink Gecko).

I forgot to include the Shining B2 Micron in that pic, so took a few pics of the build (the regular Microns come as a model kit...

Just like the Shadow Microns, this one only came with a single allegiance sticker.
This photo shows it finished, with the Capsule Microns.

The Dark Optimus Prime (which oddly enough, has Decepticon Symbols on it, but is noted as being an Autobot)... with the previous 3 versions of that mould (Crystal, Henkei, Hasbro Classics).

And the Crystal TFPrime Optimus, next to the regular First Edition version.

I had to do a bit of surgery on my Dark United Optimus.
One of the arms wasn't folding properly into the side of the cab in truck mode, and I couldn't work out why, as it didn't look like there should have been anything in the way.  When I took a closer look at both arms (at the shoulder joint), I realised that the part that connects the arm to the chest was a millimeter out... but wondered how that was possible, since it was a fixed part with a solid pin.
I guessed that maybe the part wasn't symmetrical, and had been placed the wrong way around during construction. If that were true, it might be unfixable due to being attached to the arm with a pin.
I had to see if it could be removed from the chest, which might allow me to swivel it on the arm joint and then replace it into the chest the right way around.
It wasn't easy, but I managed to find 3 screws underneath the chest (requiring rotating the leg section into different positions to get to the screws), and it popped off the chest/arms/head section nicely.
In the photo below, the arrows point to the height of the looped parts that were different. Number 1 was the one that was too low, while Number 2 was where it was supposed to be. That mere 1 millimeter difference made it impossible to transform into truck mode without it being a deformed mess. Removing that looped bit (and the arm it was attached to) and turning it around left me with both sides being like number 2, which gave the clearance necessary in truck mode.
(click on the image for full size)
Putting it back together was a bit of a challenge as well, because there were two little posts that had to line up inside the chest (you can see them on each side of the bottom screw-hole), and they move around because they are part of the hinged head.

With the new Capsule Microns, with mini-me versions of Optimus and Bumblebee, I did up a couple new "size-charts" of those two characters.
Micron - Legion - Remote Controlled - Deluxe RID - Deluxe First Edition - Weaponizer
Micron - Commander - Remote Controlled - Deluxe First Edition - Voyager RID - Voyager First Edition - Weaponizer

Fun fact... thanks to my friend Julian.  The Black Jetwing Optimus that I got a couple weeks ago has the remoulded "Buster Optimus" face (with no faceplate), instead of the regular face of the original Jetwing Optimus.  I didn't even realise it until he pointed it out, and I was quite happy about that, because I always hated not buying the Buster Optimus for the different face (I just couldn't justify the expense just for a small mould change).

June Transformers part 5

Not a bad month for me so far, with five lots of Transformers toys... but most of them were imported though (due to slow restocking at retailers here, and our over-inflated prices of foreign toys in Australia).

This lot was thanks to the BigW sale, which started three days ago, but I was able to get the sale prices four days before that... only after a lot of haggling at two different stores (they were supposed to match their sale prices because they were already available online, but never had it as a condition in the fine-print that online sales were excluded).  So I was able to save $16 from two of the items, which convinced me to buy the Cyberverse Vehicle sets (at $3 more than Kmart... but was willing to pay the difference after saving $16).

In the middle are the Remote Controlled toys (Optimus is from Wave 2, which is 4 months earlier than it was supposed to be), flanked by the two Cyberverse Vehicle sets.

The Vehicle sets are more basic than expected, after having the TF3 Ark playset being a fully transformable spaceship/base... these only had a couple moving parts that move by sliding a lever.
The Remote Controlled vehicles were also a disappointment, as they only move forward.  The only way to change direction is to transform into robot mode, because it spins in a circle as it stands up.  Problem with that though, is that you are then stuck with the direction it ends up in when fully transformed.  The remote-controlled transformation is indeed a new, nifty gimmick for Transformers, but they sacrificed the ability to control/change the direction of the toy.

Out of packaging, this is what the four figures looked like...

And Legion Wheeljack next to Deluxe Wheeljack...

And with some Gen1 Legion/EZ toys, to see how it looks as a Gen1 Wheeljack...
If it had a spoiler at the back and more accurate Gen1 colouring, it could probably do as suitable Gen1 release. The robot mode would need a smaller "window" paint app though.  The three at the back were there because they are a different size scale to the cars.

Some more photos of the items I got in the last two lots.

I finally got a 9-volt battery into the Argentinian Radio-bot I got last week. This is the chest open for the battery.

It didn't look like it was working, and I was about to remove the battery when turning it on its side, something must have moved internally.... as it started broadcasting a radio station.  It was in a foreign language, so had me laughing at the thought that it was channeling an Argentinian radio station. (it wasn't though, as I was able to get another local "English" station as well).
The best thing though is the surprise to see that it also has a light in it's head, to make the eyes glow...

...aaaand the "name" AM on the back of the head.

I also took some photos of the TFPrime Weaponizers... Bumblebee & Optimus (not like they need any introductions).

Pretty ordinary in vehicle mode from the front... but from the back, Optimus is an avoidable mess.

You can see the arms sitting there, and a big empty mess in the back of the cab and back of the legs. If they had a foldable panel at the back of the legs that could also fold open to cover the back of the cab, it would improve the truck mode, and not make a difference to the robot mode (because those extra panels are at the back of the legs.

So here was a nice line up of the TFPrime Optimus and Bumblebee toys (taken before I had the Remote Controlled toys).
(click on it for full size)

And one last one of the JP Terrorcon Cliffjumper next to the Hasbro Cliffjumper. (I had the robot modes shown in the previous post)