Sunday 24 June 2012

JP Dual Model Kit Optimus part 2

The second session with this monster model kit, and it still doesn't look like I've done much.

That's page 2 of 8... Still just a lot of grey parts added so far, with hardly any coloured parts yet.  I jumped ahead to do the swords though, as they caught my eye (I was getting bored with all the grey so far).

KFC Popcorn Chicken Melts

These aren't a new concept (they've had them before), but they are simple, light (lighter than a burger), tasty snack.
Each has Popcorn Chicken (like mini nuggets), diced tomato, grated cheese, and one of two sauces - BBQ or Chilli.  I found a shred of lettuce in one, but I think it might just be contamination, not intentional. 
Actually, that's what's missing from these - a crunchy element.  Lettuce, or better yet, onion... because the "toasted" wrap isn't crunchy enough. (especially by the time you get it home and it is all soft again).

 Above are how they looked when I got them home (very thin, flat, almost looked like there wasn't anything in them). Below is what the two varieties look like cut open. Chilli on the left, BBQ on the right.  They do have look to have a decent amount of filling, but nothing near the amount in the promo pics... and no where near what $6 (each) should be giving you.

The sweeter one.  This one is the better one for the general public. There's actually not much you can say about these, as there are only 3 fillings and a sauce... with the sauce being the dominant flavour, making the rest being just texture. 3/5

This has the sauce used on the zinger burger, so has a small kick when you swallow, and the sauce hits the sensitive part of the back of the throat.  More of an acquired taste, but still a decent combination. 2/5

They are about $6.30 each, so are really poor value. They are so small that they are gone in about 10 seconds.
If they were just $2 or $3 each, I'd give them an extra point.
The promo images show them stuffed full like Tacos, but the actual product (as you could see in the photos above) looked more like ravioli, as they were only half full, and the round edge of the tortilla/flat-bread was sealed (like ravioli).

On a side note, while I was there getting these this morning (at about 11am), I saw on the menu board a "Family Burger Box", but it said that it was only available after 4pm.  I asked why. They said it was because it takes too much time to prepare, so need to do it in the evening when they have more staff.  I was the only customer there at that time, so they weren't busy, but said that they would get in trouble if they sold one before 4pm.

Saturday 23 June 2012

June Transformers part 4

A bit of a South American flavour today. I went to the Post Office today to check my mail, and 3 Argentinean Transformers were waiting for me.
But before I got home with the boxes, I went on a bit of a toy hunt first.  We have several mid-year toy sales this month, and a couple started last week, with three more starting later this week.
I didn't end up buying much because I couldn;t get BigW to price-match anything (they won't match any sale that hasn't started yet, despite another BigW in Perth apparently doing it), and Target don't have anything for sale that I couldn't get from Target (the two TFPrime Weaponizers) to use their catalogue to buy items that are elsewhere but not yet at Target (make sense?  Don't worry, it's a toyhunting process - collect up catalogues and if a store without a sale has a new wave/items, you try to get them to match the cheaper price of the store that doesn't yet have them). 
So I bought the two TFPrime Weaponizers (Optimus & Bbee), and will go back to BigW (for the Remote Control toys & Cyberverse Vehicles) when their sale starts.
I saw lots of Lego sets in stores... they certainly haven't taken a step back from the competition taking up market-share. They've been taking on the competition by sheer amount of choice.
And I get the impression that they are keeping their profit margins by limiting the amount of larger sets are available at more than one store-chain.  Each store seems to have an exclusive of their own with the larger sets (especially Star Wars), which prevents any wholesale discounts to the stores to fund "catalogue sales".
I guess Lego saw it as the only strategy to combat the growing competition... they've become the "name brand", and people are wanting to pay for that brand, rather than the sets themselves or the theme/license/franchise. Kinda like people who won't buy generic brands or shop at kmart/BiLo.

So when I got home, I unpacked all the toys - both domestic and foreign.

I started with one of the big boxes, expecting something big in it... but buried under a heap of paper was two tiny carded mini-vehicles. They aren't in mint condition, so didn't need a massive box as if it would protect them any more than one half its size.

 Carerra is the Cliffjumper mould, while Camaro is the Windcharger mould
The Sth American Minivehicles (in the first series) were:
Volks - Bumblebee
Carerra - Cliffjumper
Camaro - Windcharger
Jipe - Brawn
Pickup - Gears
Sedan - Bumblejumper

Note that they had six Mini-vehicles like the first year of Gen1, but instead of the Huffer toy, they had "Bumblejumper" (the toy that snuck its way into Bumblebee & Cliffjumper card-backs, but was never an official character toy of Transformers - assumed to be excess Japanese toy stock).
The confusing bit is that these minivehicles were released in Brazil and Argentina, but different ones in each country (but using the same names in both countries - which adds to the confusion when identifying/referring to any of them).
Brazil was the one that got all six moulds in several colours of each, while Argentina only got Volks, Camaro and Carerra.
My Jipe was obviously from the Brazil bunch, but the two I got today were from the Argentinean series.

But they are kindred spirits, so Jipe called on his friend Brawn, to help "liberate" the two new Sth American immigrants...

They were free!!!!!    And Jipe did the introductions to some others who seemed a little familiar...

Introductions done, they transform and roll out...

But their job wasn't over just yet... they drive off to liberate a fellow comrade from Sth America...

He doesn't have a fancy character name, he is only known as "Radio AM Robot". Which is a shame, because it is a pretty darn decent toy for a 1987 Transformer that has a working radio inside it.  It came in two colours, this one, and red/dark green.

Armed with a big sword too, he was able to help to cut himself out...

Compared to Blaster (I was surprised at how big and detailed it was).

It has a head and sword like Megatron, the arms have double-jointed elbows like Omega Supreme, and has legs like Soundwave (swivels at the knee before folding up the sides like Blaster). The chest compartment opens up for a 9-volt battery, while there are two knobs on its back (for volume and tuning).  I haven't tried it yet though.
And in alt-mode...

And a group shot of today's toys...

That includes the two TFPrime Weaponizers bought today, and a Robot Heroes Dispensor figurine (front-centre), which I needed for the collection because the one I take travelling is getting very worn.  The price finally came down on Dispensor to be worth buying a second one. I can now keep taking my other one around the world, without worrying about the damage it was suffering.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Grain Waves 7 Grains & Seeds

The original regular flavours of Grain Waves were very nice, and very addictive... it is a shame that they came out with two new flavours (with their new "7 Grains & Seeds" format) that are such a disappointment.

Creamy Herb & Garlic
Very herby... Can taste the garlic, but the parsley flavour is stronger (if it has parsley in it). The problem with food packaging these days is that they don't seem to be required to detail all of the ingredients.  This one has "Herbs", "Spices", and "Natural Flavours" listed... what are they, and how do you know if it is something you could be allergic to?
This one tastes like tabouli and garlic sauce. What it needs is a bit of a meat flavour and you'd have kebab flavoured chips (which would have been very nice).
Otherwise, a bit too strong without the "meat". 2/5

Chilli & Lime
Lime is the dominant flavour on this one.  It hits you from the moment you put them in your mouth and start chewing. It isn't until you start swallowing that the bite of chilli hits... and then it lingers for some time after you swallow.  It almost makes you want to eat another mouthfull to have the lime of more chips over-power the chilli.  But then, you have to run out eventually... and the chilli burn for minutes after you finish is a bit annoying.
2/5 while eating
1/5 after eating
Oh wait, I just ate the flavour/crumbs at the end... definitely 1/5

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Kabaya Protectobot Model kits and the Optimus Dual Model Kit begins

Last weekend I finally decided to start on this mammoth project.
The Dual Model Kit pair (Optimus and Bumblebee) came out in Japan for the TF3 movie, and are known to take several hours to complete.
I did the Bumblebee one at the start of the year, and it took about 3-4 hours... but it was only a third of the size/parts of the Optimus Kit. (which is why I've been putting it off)

To work my way up to doing it, I started off doing up the latest set of 9 Kabaya Model Kits... the ones that included Hotspot and the Protectobots.
This took a couple evenings in front of the TV... and I had the spare time while being off work from my appendix operation.

This was after I had done War For Cybertron Optimus & Hotspot, and was just starting Deathsaurus.

As you can see, each model kit was packed as a set of parts still on their sprues, plus a sticker sheet.  For the big sets, the instructions were printed on the inside of the box (so you have to carefully cut up the box to see it), while the small sets had them printed on a piece of paper inside the box.  And then there was the square of gum... sickly sweet, white chewing gum, that lost its flavour real fast, and isn't really necessary (but Kabaya have been putting in some sort of candy or sweet treat since the very first Transformers Model Kits).

I start off by cutting off each part and trimming the excess plastic (from where it was connected to the tree) with a hobby knife.  Each part is laid out in their number order, making it easier to find when needed.

These are snap-together kits, but I have glue on hand, just in case something doesn't fit tightly enough (that isn't needed to come apart later for the transformation).  Each kit is able to make one of two modes - robot & vehicle/alt-mode - but requires some disassembly to "transform" between the two modes.

This was when all three of the big ones were done, in their robot modes...
I did transform them to their alt-modes, but I don't think I ended up taking a photo of Optimus and Deathsaurus in their alt-modes.

They only take about 30-60 minutes each to be fully constructed and have all stickers added, depending on how distracted you (I needed the TV on to keep me company, which meant taking longer to complete).

Then I did the 6 smaller kits... the Protectobots. (they have the four classic Gen1 Protectobots plus 2 new characters to allow you to form the combined "Defensor" if you don't have the Hotspot model kit)
This was the five classic Protectobots in vehicle mode...
Streetwise, First Aid, Hotspot, Blades, Groove.

And now for some comparison photos.
Deathsaurus and WFC Optimus next to their Toy versions.
The WFC Optimus toy was released in 2010, while the Deathsaurus/Dezarus toy was released way back in 1989 (only in Japan).

And Defensor, which was originally released even earlier, in 1986... the third year of Transformers.
The toy on the left is just a Deluxe-class JP United Megatron, included to show how big the Kabaya Defensor is, for any recent fans who don't have the original Defensor.

Now that those got me in the mode for model building, I cracked open my Optimus Model kit and spread out all the parts...

Damn... that's about 200 pieces.
You can see that they are all in different coloured plastics, with some transparent plastic parts, and even rubber parts (wheels and some internal parts).  There are even some parts already painted with flame decos, but a sticker sheet was also included.

After about an hour, and only a page of the instructions, this was the end of "day one".

Since the main body frame came assembled, there's not much done yet that stands out.
Just like the Kabaya model kits, this one is also meant to be "snap-together", but I'm finding that glue is necessary on some parts that don't stay where they are supposed to be. (I also found this out from doing the Bumblebee, which is why I bought some model glue before starting this one)

Now that I'm back at work, I just don't have the spare blocks of time to sit down to do this now... so don't expect this to be completed any time soon.
This is a very long-term project.

Movie Wreckers Toys - groupshots

For an upcoming competition on the Ozformers fansite, I did up a groupshot photo of the toys for the three TF3 Movie Wreckers - Leadfoot, Topspin and Roadbuster.

Leadfoot - the Deluxe (from Japan, because it didn't get released in America), US Human Alliance (with driver & Steeljaw), SpeedStars Minivehicle, and both Legion class version (with and without the Target Logo). The only Leadfoot toy I'm missing is the Japanese Human Alliance figure, which is the same as the US one, but without any of the white logos on the car.

Topspin -Both Deluxe versions (regular and Armor), SpeedStars Minivehicle, Activator, SpeedStars Stealth Force, Legion class.

Roadbuster - Both Deluxe Versions (regular & Track Battle), Robofighter, Human Alliance (with driver), and Legion class.

Since the TF3 Movie toyline was wrapped up rather quickly, those were the only toys we got of each, which meant we didn't get a full set of the three in the same size-class, in weaponized mode.

While on the topic of groupshots, this was the result of me being too lazy to do a group shot of all my Bumblebee toys...

 (click on the pic to see it full size)
I was wondering what a group shot of all the Bumblebee toys in my collection would look like, but when I started running through a list in my head, I was well over 100, and just decided to go with a "Gen1 coloured" Starscream group shot instead.
It was just a pity that I took that photo just a few days before my JP MP-11 Starscream arrived, otherwise it would have been in it as well.

JP Kero Starscream

This was something I got at BotCon, and looks like a Knock-Off...

This was one of those items that was not high on my priority list... and probably wasn't even on my written priority list. But then again, I like getting the "worst" in my collection, just to show the spectrum of good to bad over the history of Transformers.  When I saw one at BotCon from one of the two regular Japanese dealers, and saw it was only about US$20-30, I thought to myself, why not.  It'd be a good talking point, trying to explain it when people see it.
I paid the guy and wandered off with the toy in a red box (in the pic above), only to be chased up by him because I was supposed to get the "magazine" with it (the glossy thing with all the Japanese writing on it).  It was lucky that he did, because inside was a sticker sheet to customise the toy with.

That's right, it doesn't have to stay plain green & yellow (that looks so much like a cheap Chinese KO). The sticker sheet gives you 3 sets of stickers - flame deco, anime girls deco, and plain white stickers to draw your own artwork.

I chose the flame deco, because the anime girls deco seemed a bit too weird... and I'm no good at drawing to create my own sticker art.

It certainly makes the plain green deco look a little less like a fake/Knock-Off.

Sunday 17 June 2012

Third lot of June Transformers

Yesterday I checked the postbox, and in the week since I last checked it, there were four items waiting for me. (I was expecting a couple others, but must still be on their way... maybe next weekend)
(click on any image to see the full size version)

On the left is the big black Jetwing Optimus (a limited edition item in Japan).
In front of it are Gen1 Kabaya model kits (brightly coloured bits in bags).
In the middle is the JP Zombie/Terrorcon Cliffjumper from TFPrime (done in translucent purple plastic), and in front of it is it's Micron (which you have to build).
On the right at the front are the limited edition Dark Microns (also have to build).
And at the back are three BotCon art prints from the Hartmans (the founders of BotCon, and now have the Hall of Fame fan-vote award named after them).
The Tigatron was done by Dan Khanna for BotCon 2002 (each person was randomly given one of three prints, and now I have all three), while the other two prints were for the OTFCC "not BotCon" 2004 by Makoto Ono (I didn't go to that convention, so have had to acquire the exclusive items from other people).

A comparison pic of Dark Jetwing with the regular one, showing off how much shiny bits it has...

The odd thing about this figure was how it arrived.  When I removed the Jetwing box from the shipping carton, I found four small white boxes at the bottom.  Each one was fairly heavy and packed with something granular.
My first thought was drugs... which had me worried that I ended up being an unsuspecting drug mule for someone to later track down (or the police)...  so I opened one up and am just hoping that this is just kitty litter.

But even if it is kitty litter, the question is... why?  As you can see, the four packs total 1.8kgs in weight, which equals the weight of the toy itself (in the next photo).
So, until I get an answer back from the seller (if at all), I'm left wondering why it is there.  It meant paying more for shipping, but then how does that benefit the seller?  Could they have added it, fearing battery acid leakage? If so, there isn't enough in the toy's batteries to even make it outside of the toy itself, nor would it be expected to leak into the direction of those four packs... and be able to penetrate the cardboard before running out onto the shipping carton.

Back to Transformers... Zombie Cliffjumper.
In the TFPrime Cartoon, Cliffjumper becomes a zombie, and both Hasbro and TakaraTomy have done their own toy version to "homage" that.
Hasbro's is coming out in July at the SDCC, and will be more screen-accurate with red and purple highlights. TakaraTomy on the other hand did theirs entirely in translucent purple, as if he turned into Dark Energon.
They both use the Zombie Cliffjumper head (missing a horn and damaged), and I wanted to get this one because of the different colouring/plastic. (I like the occasional translucent Transformers toy)
Below is Zombie Cliffjumper next to the First Edition version (and the Micron in between).

I started putting stickers on the Zombie Cliffjumper, but stopped at just the arms, because I'm not sure if I want to be covering up large portions of the translucent plastic with black stickers.  I'll transform it to car mode, and decide... but for now, I'm leaving him as he is.

These are the four Shadow Microns, which are all in translucent smokey black plastic (and no stickers like the regular Microns).

And the other interesting items from this batch - the Gen1 Kabaya Model Kits.
These are from Japan, and appear to be released during the late 1980s. I couldn't find much info on these either, so am just guessing (hoping) that these are legit Transformers items.
The boxes don't say much, but do have "70yen" printed on the back, so if these were only about AU$1 each, it wouldn't have been too recently (supporting the claim that these are from the 80s).
Inside each box were a bag of toy bits (in one of several random colours apparently), an instruction sheet, and a piece of candy coated chocolate.

No, I didn't eat the chocolates.  The candy shell looks really weird, and the chocolate inside was snow white. These were after all, about 25 years old.

The Models done up in vehicle mode. VERY very bright colours.

And in their robot modes (the pieces are for both modes, with a few left over in the vehicle mode (above).

As you can see, the vehicle mode was the priority design with these, as the robot modes are quite deformed on each - Sideswipe's chest is upside-down, Optimus is a block that can't hold his gun to shoot it (he just holds it midway along the barrel as if he is just carrying it), Prowl's head is barely above the chest and holds his shoulder guns in his hands, while Starscream has the wings out the back and a big groin-piece.

Still very interesting, and a nice addition/sample to my collection of JP Transformers... especially since I've been collecting the recent Kabaya Models (so have had a growing interest in previous ones - which surprised me that they had been doing Transformers model kits since the original 1980s series).

Second lot of June Transformers

Okay, the second batch of Transformers for June.

Not a huge amount, but just a couple items from a quick trip to Carindale Westfield.

On the right is a Remote Controlled Bumblebee car (a loose end, not a high priority item), in the middle is a TF3 alarm clock (I need a new one), and on the left are Capsule figurines.

The Remote Controlled car is one of four released around the second Movie (2009-2010). The first two (small Bumblebee and Optimus) were fairly widely released.  The second pair (big Bumblebee and Barricade) were not as easy to find.  Bumblebee was only ever found at David Jones here (probably elsewhere, but no one reported it), while Barricade was not released here at all.  I was lucky enough to find Barricade last year in America, but neither was fairly well released in America (that I could see).
Since this one was so hard to find online, I was forced to buy it locally, at the hefty DJs price ($60 - compared to the US price of US$30). They had a pair sitting there for over a year (it was released in 2010), so I kept waiting until they'd drop the price on it.  They never did, and I missed a 20-30% off sale they had a couple months ago... so decided to just get the darn thing and be done with it.
These are the four Movie RC vehicles...

And just next to the smaller 2009 Bumblebee (which I thought was just a size-changed mould, but is indeed a different sculpt).  The controllers are obviously a lot different... and the bigger vehicles didn't do any sound effects, making the smaller pair a lot better.

The capsules were at a BigW, which were something people were finding at chemists and Caltex.
There are twelve in the set, blind-packed into plastic capsules, with a random sticker & jelly beans.
When I saw the case of 12 at BigW, I grabbed the entire case hoping that I'd get all 12 figurines, or at the very least, most of them.
Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
Of the 12 capsules, I only got 6 different ones, and only 3 different characters of the five available.
The case...

And opened, as it appeared at the store...

An example of what was inside one capsule...

And the total 12 figurines I got from the master case...

See, not a single darn Shockwave or Sentinel Prime, which were the two I wanted most because they were the ones that were new to TF3, so were more interesting than the three characters that had been around for the last 5 years.

And while I was there at BigW I saw a cheapish looking clock, which I need (have been relying on my phone for the last couple months).

Oh, and I "found" this Kre-O shelf-strip while at Carindale as well, to add to my collection...

First of the June Transformers

Now to catch up on the items that arrived during the first two weeks of June (as there are more in the mail that will arrive in the next week or two).

The first items to arrive for June was a few outstanding items.  One of which I didn't even realise existed, but would have bought it by now if I did.

In the middle is the latest of the Japanese Masterpiece toys - Starscream, with coronation cape and crown.

On the left is the JP Dark Nitro Convoy - a limited edition recolour of a toy I already had the two regular versions (see below).

And on the right is the white version of the JP Music Label Soundwave (an actual working MP3 Player).

Dark Nitro Convoy - I stumbled across this by accident last month while looking for Masterpiece Starscream, and after doing a bit of reading up on it (no thanks to the site, which has "Americanised" all the JP characters and info, to the point that many characters including this one, is no longer listed on their site), I decided to buy it. Below is a photo of the Dark (Decepticon) version with the two previous (Autobot) Versions.

Music Label Soundwave - This was also a toy I already had two other colour versions of, but in this instance, I never intended to buy all three.  I originally bought the blue one as a "Classic" version of Soundwave, and didn't want to waste the money on two "oddly coloured" versions. Then I found a fairly cheap black version and referred to it as Soundblaster (which I think was it's unofficial name anyway). But as with all loose ends with me, I had to complete the set... and the white version was on my mental list, but never added to my written list (as it was low priority).
These are the three...

I have more photos of the MP Starscream to post up as well, but I haven't transformed it to jet mode yet, so will wait until I do that first.

May Transformers items

I can't believe I didn't post up my May items. I thought I had, and now looking over my recent postings, I can see why I was mistaken.
The late BotCon 2012 postings included in my Haul photos, the items I got in May (10 BotShots, 2 JP United toys).  And aside from the Collector Club Runamuck Toy, those were the only toys I got in May.
Then with me working on a small reorganising of the collection and overhauling/uploading recent BotCon Reports, I just totally lost track of what toys I was showing off.

So before I post up my June items, here's a quick look at the May toys.
When I returned home from BotCon on the 2nd of May, a box was waiting for me at the Post Office.  In it was:
Wave 2 single-pack BotShots (Mirage, Ratchet, Brawl, chase Bumblebee)
Wave 1 of the 3-packs (Sentinel Prime, Bumblebee, Prowl, Megatron, Nemesis Prime, Acid Storm)
and two JP United toys ((Gen2 Combat Hero) Megatron, Autobot Axalon)

Then around the middle of May I got this year's Membership figure - Runamuck.  Which is now with Runabout/Overrun, on the 2012 Club/BotCon shelf:

On the right, the white car is Runamuck, the black robot behind it is Runabout/Overrun.

I also grabbed some non-toy items that were on clearance at Kmart (still trying to get rid of all their Movie merchandise from last year)...

Some colour markers, a pencil case, a notepad & postit pad, shiny stickers, erasers, and puffy stickers.
Now I don't know if I want to use them, or store them away...