Monday, 28 January 2013

AMAMOTM - January

Okay, so far two out of three of my posts this year have been rants about figure swappers.  Let's take a break from all that!  This time I want to cover something completely unique and original:

Little green army men!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Those Dirty Swappers Are At It Again!

It's only been a few weeks since I did the post for my first figure of the year (/figure swapping rant), but I've already come across another swapped figure.  And this time, it's pretty wacky.  I can't believe this one was even successfully returned, but then again I care about these things.

Here is a Geonosian Pilot (from Star Wars) swapped out with a Cobra Trooper (from G.I. Joe).

Friday, 11 January 2013

Masters Of Mayhem (Crazy Eights Part 1)

The fiercest Savage Mondo Blitzers of them all...  Crazy Eights with Lightning Launcher.  Eight all new characters who are ready for battle and can only be found in the Crazy Eights set.  These masters of mayhem fly out of the Lightning Launcher to strike hard and fast in the battle to be the baddest Blitzer.  Load 'em up and watch 'em fly!
- From the Savage Mondo Blitzers Crazy Eights box back

This is the final wide released set of the Savage Mondo Blitzers line, and there's twice as much mayhem to go around!


The Crazy Eights were originally going to be called "The Attack Pack" (according to the card backs of the regular sets), but the name changed by the time the set actually came out.  As far as I can tell, Mattel's "Attack Pack" line was still a year or two away, so I have no idea why the change happened and honestly I don't know which name I prefer more.  The Attack Pack line is also pretty awesome (and might me something I need to look into more), so they can have the name.

I never really got around to finding a place for these guys in my Savage Mondo Blitzers stories, so I'll probably start making some up on the fly here.

Jack brings a "rocky" conclusion to all Blitzer Brawls.

Jack Hammer was the very last of the regularly released Mondo Blitzers that I found, and for a while he was on my All Time Top 10 Most Wanted Figures list.  I originally got my Crazy Eights set loose on eBay, but the set was missing Jack Hammer and the Lightning Launcher.  Later on I found a complete boxed set and bought it just for this guy.  That fact alone is probably why he's one of my favorites in the series, although he's a pretty cool looking figure as well.  

I'm having a hard time coming up with a backstory for the Crazy Eights.  I can't picture all of them as heroes, but I don't see them as flat-out villains either.  Maybe they're just the champions of what ever crazy game it is that the Savage Mondo Blitzers play.  And due to the way Jack Hammer came into my collection, he'll be my champion of champions.  You can't call yourself THE Savage Mondo Blitzer until you've beaten Jack Hammer.  The nice thing about the Crazy Eights set is that the box back has some little bios under each Blitzer's name, which gives you a little extra to work with if you want to flesh them out.  I want to flesh them out!  Jack Hammer looks like he's been chiseled out of rock, but I like to think of him more as a being of living cement, who can take on the properties of both solid and liquid cement at will.  Aside from using his trusty jack hammer, he can also pound you with his rock-hard concrete fists, absorb most damage in his liquid form, and immobilize you in your tracks.  This guy's THE champion for a reason!

He's in charge and won't let anyone forget it.

I can't call a post "Masters Of Mayhem" without having a guy named General Mayhem in it!  This guy packs some serious firepower, but exactly what is it that he's in charge of?  Maybe after the other Blitzers came to Earth to use it as their battlefield, General Mayhem stepped in and convinced them to hold a tournament to see who the baddest Blitzer is (instead of just waging all-out chaos).  General Mayhem makes the rules, and everyone else plays by them.  Luckily for him he can lay down the law when he needs to, which is why he's on the Crazy Eights team of champions.

His favorite saying is "I-Beam looking for you".

Apparently construction workers make natural champions, since there's two of them on this team.  While Destruction Worker might not have all of Jack Hammer's radical powers, he can swing a wicked steel beam like nobody's business.  He might not be the brightest member of the Crazy Eights, but sometimes all you need to win is the right amount of girderstruction to give you the edge over your opponents!  Destruction Worker has climbed the Mondo Blitzers ladder all the way to the top, and now he's one of the humans to beat if you want to call yourself the baddest Blitzer of them all.

He gets what he wants because no one can refuse his rabie face.

I'm not really sure what a "rabie face" is, but I know this bad dog has one.  I'm also betting that there's more going on behind those mutant canine eyes that it seems.  What ever caused Chow Hound's head to grow to the size it is (I'm guessing it's good ol' toxic ooze, look at that green drool!) it probably increased the size of his brain as well.  I don't see him suddenly being able to talk, but he can strategize and out-think most of his opponents (who underestimate him as a mindless beast).  Chow Hound is constantly learning new tricks, and he's barking up the right tree as one of the eight Savage Mondo Blitzer champions!

Lets stick with showcasing four Blitzers at a time and break the Crazy Eights into two parts.  In the second half of the spotlight we'll cover the rest of the team and see what else sets this group apart from the others.  Here's a hint:  They have an accessory.

Interestingly, G.I. Joe has a General Mayhem as well.  But he's taller.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

First Toy Of The Year (2013)

I usually try to get my first and last figures of the year on the first and last days of the year, but this year I wasn't able to get out to the stores right away.  My first figure of the year for 2013 isn't something new or even hugely exciting, but it does send me into a bit of a rant.

At first glance nothing seems to be amiss.

My first toy of 2013 is Luke Skywa.... wait.  No it isn't!  It's an obscure (even by Star Wars' standards) Jedi named Roth-Del Masona, and despite what the package might lead to you to believe, he's from Attack of the Clones.  Not Return of the Jedi.  I typically try to avoiding getting figures from the same line for my first and last toys of the year.  2012 ended with a Star Wars figure, so usually I would avoid Star Wars for my first toy of the next year.  In this case I ignored that tradition to focus on a subject that I feel rather strongly about.

I pride myself on being the "right" kind of toy collector.  I buy my toys for me, not to resell them online with jacked up prices.  That kind of thing is a bit of a pet peeve of mine, but doing that doesn't instantly make you the "wrong" kind of collector to me.  I open all the stuff I buy, I enjoy them, I don't spend a lot of time whining about the stuff I don't like.  If there were a hard-to-find figure on the pegs and both me and a kid wanted it, I'd let the kid have it for sure.  I'll always get another chance to find the figure I'm looking for, that kid might not.  There are elements of the toy collecting world that bug me, and despite what people may say about this company or that company, most of the stuff that really gets under my skin is caused by the actions of other collectors.  Case in point: Figure swapping.

You don't have to look too closely to see that this isn't the figure that's supposed to be included.

I think by now most toy enthusiasts know what figure swapping is.  For those who don't, it's when someone (the wrong kind of toy collector) buys a figure, replaces it in the package with an older or less valuable figure, returns the swapped product back to the store, and walks away with both the new figure and their money.  They probably think that they're not hurting anyone and have therefore done nothing wrong, but it is wrong and it drives me NUTS.

The swapper has scratched out part of the name on the package and covered Luke Skywalker's face with a contest sticker.

So what's the big deal?  The store might not get the original product back, but they get something back that they can sell again and make their money.  Well, without going so far as to say they're left with someone else's garbage, these figure swappers are basically defrauding the store.  Usually the figures swapped into the packages and returned are older and worth less than the figures being swapped out.  There may be extra accessories that are taken with the original figures, leaving the returned figures with less.  The newer figures usually have more articulation, better details, etc.  The returned figures have less.  Now some poor unsuspecting kid is going to pay more, and get less.  Then what happens?  Maybe that kid gets tired of this less exciting figure more quickly and it stops them from getting another figure down the road.  Action figures are already taking a hit in the toy aisles from video games, and the less kids buying action figures means there will be less action figures getting made.  That's not a good thing for toy collectors.  This may seem like an extreme example, but it's not untrue.

Two lightsaber accessories are missing, and the inner tray is crammed into the plastic bubble.

And what about the hit we collectors take?  Aside from relying on unsuspecting buyers to get rid of them, swapped figures usually hang around on the shelves, warming pegs and preventing other new figures from going out.  The toy companies know about the problem, but all they can do is come up with new packaging that's harder to get into.  I like to keep some of the card backs my figures come with so I can look at them later on and remember how excited I was when I got them, or see the other figures that were also out at the time.  Now it often takes extra work on my part to remove a figure from the package without destroying the thing.  And don't even get me started on the plastic bands that most figures have these days to help keep them secured in the package.  These bands can dig into the figures, or warp the shape of limps and accessories.  Never mind the fact that all of these extra pieces of packaging need to be paid for and end up increasing the overall cost of the toy.  Yeah, there's inflation and market fluctuation and all that, and toys cost more than they used to.  But stealing a figure and returning a lesser figure takes its toll, and we're the ones that have to pay for it.  And that's what it is, plain and simple: Stealing.  These swappers buy one thing, return something else, and go on their way.

The bubble has clearly been opened and then resealed with tape.

You'd think the stores where this is taking place would want to be all over it, wouldn't you?  But they don't even care!  That's another part of the problem.  I've pointed out swapped figures to store staff on numerous occasions, but I often see the same swapped toys back on the shelves later on.  They would care if this was happening with other products.  If clothes or video games or movies or food were being returned with the wrong items in the packaging, it would be a big deal.  But because it's toys and they figure kids won't notice or care and they'll still make their money, it doesn't matter.  They're being presented with proof that they're being robbed and they're just fine with it.  The figure swapping thieves don't care about what they're doing, the stores being robbed don't care about what's happening, and it leaves the right kind of collectors paying more.  It sickens me.

Here's the figure that was supposed to be in the package.

So why did I buy a swapped figure?  There's a few reasons.  First, I wanted to talk about figure swapping, so I needed something to take pictures of to go with it.  Second, I didn't have this figure, and the swapper in this case must be some sort of idiot.  Granted, Roth-Del Masona is not a popular character, but this is most likely the only figure he's ever going to get.  He originally came in a two-pack with a Super Battle Droid and they were exclusive to Target.  The Battle Droid has been released numerous times, so instead of paying more for an obscure figure and a character that's been around before, I just got the figure I needed.  Meanwhile the swapper gave away the only figure in the pack worth noticing.  The figure that was swapped out isn't even a popular or well-recieved figure.  It's Luke Skywalker from a deleted scene where he constructs a new lightsaber.  I don't personally have any problems with the figure, but a lot of fans have pointed out mistakes with the it.  It can also be found everywhere, whereas Roth-Del Masona can't.  So as I say, this particular swapper is an idiot.

Roth Del-Masona originally - and only - came packaged like this.

Now that that's out of my system, Roth-Del Masona is still my first toy of the year, and he deserves the spotlight on his own merits.  I had to look him up on Wookieepedia to see just who exactly he is, and he's got a small enough backstory to leave me lots to work with.  He's one of the few survivors from the arena battle on Geonosis.  He was later tasked with protecting Chancellor Palpatine on Coruscant, and met his end at the many hands of General Grievous when Palpatine was "abducted".  I have three other figures of Palpatine's protectors, and I love obscure characters that share backstories with other obscure characters.  The figure itself is mostly a repainted Mace Windu with a new head, but it works for the character.  It's not like he needed an all-new sculpt.  He also has his trusty lightsaber, and from what I can tell, it's the same lightsaber he originally came with.  Thanks swapper!

Roth Del-Masona, standing proud and no longer tainted by the offending package.

The thing I like about obscure characters is that you can really do what ever you want with them.  Sure Masona died heroically (albeit needlessly) protecting Palpatine, but there's still a ton of backstory to be fleshed out.  I bet he had other adventures with the other Jedi he was assigned to protect Palpatine with.  That's an important job, so they must have a proven history of working well with each other, otherwise they wouldn't have been given such a task.  He did survive Geonosis when many other Jedi didn't, so I don't see him as a pawn hand picked by Darth Sidious (as Palpatine) because he knew Masona would be more likely to fail.  And since I have three of the other Jedi that Masona served with, that's all I really need to cook up some cool stories.  Because at the end of the day, that's what toy collecting is all about: Fun and creativity.  And I won't let the few sore spots like figure swappers or indifferent stores take that away from me.

Fun and Creativity: All I need!
Now what kind of story can I make up for THESE two?

Friday, 4 January 2013

Stop...Wait...Watch Out...

They're here, they're alive, and they're the nastiest group of characters you've ever met.  These wheeled psychos are the wildest group of whatevers you'll ever meet.  There's more than you'll ever know, but try to meet them all, 'cause they're the latest rage.....
 - from the Savage Mondo Blitzers card back

"These wheeled psychos are the wildest group of whatevers".  I love that!  That pretty much sums this line up.  A mixed and matched bunch of freaks that'll appeal to you whether you love weird figures, toy cars, whatever (well, weird toy cars - regular toy cars are boring).  


Here we go!  This is the last (regularly released) Savage Mondo Blitzers 4-pack to be covered!  This motley crew of crazies is one of the more interesting sets in the series, and despite their extra unusual looks, I've always seen them as good guys.


Head Alert is one of my favorite figures in the series.  He's just a giant two-armed head on a giant foot. With pistols.  And I don't know why, but I've always pictured him with a gruff "police chief" type of personality.  I mean, it doesn't make sense; what with the orange mohawk, the studded bracelet, the wicked scar...  I just can't get the whole police chief thing out of my head.  The idea popped in there, and I guess it's sticking.  In my old Mondo Blitzers stories there was one big team of good guys versus one big team of bad guys, and Head Alert was the leader of the good guys (they all reported to him like he was their chief).  I've pretty much put that idea aside, but his police chief mentality is still there.  Aside from that, I can't decide where I'd have Head Alert come from.  Is he a grotesquely mutated human?  I suppose he could be, but I think it's more fun to imagine a whole race of these head things out there somewhere.  So I guess for me, he's an alien.


Mr. Mutator Head is clearly a superhero, which helps push this whole team into good guy territory for me.  Now every superhero needs a superpower (well, except Batman... and the Punisher... okay, MOST superheroes), but what would his be?  I bet he can fly.  Lasers from the eyes?  Why not?  Maybe he's a shapeshifter.  His name is Mr. Mutator Head, maybe only his head can shapeshift.  That would be weird for Marvel or DC, but not the Savage Mondo Blitzers.  He thwarts evil, protects the innocent, and saves the day, all with nothing but his shapeshifting head and damaged (but deadly) teammates!


If there's a dud figure in this set, it's Chop Chop.  He's not overly boring per se.  I mean, he's a samurai-looking dude and those were big back in the early 90's.  Hell, samurai are still cool today.  He's got a sword, that's not bad.  He's not as weird as anyone else on his team, but this team sets the weirdness bar high.  I think it might just be that he looks so pained doing whatever it is that he's doing.  Maybe he's just getting old and swinging the ol' sword isn't as easy as it used to be.  I mean, his eyes aren't even open!  I guess he could be a blind swordsman, those are always interesting.  And he doesn't have to like what he does.  When mutants, aliens, and robots use your planet as a battleground, what do you do?  You pick up your sword and defend yourself.  And then you sit down and rest.  "Kids these days!".


And then there's Blood Hockey!  If anyone was holding the team back from pure "good guy-ness", it's this guy.  I suppose he can fight on the side of good, but he's messy about it.  Just look at that jagged, bloody hockey stick!  Maybe he's like an axe murderer on the battlefield, but when the battle is done he likes to relax with a good book and a nice cup of cocoa (with marshmallows off course, he likes the way they dissolve in his mouth).  He probably uses those little reading glasses too.  But when duty calls, it's awn!

On a side note, each 4-pack comes with these little plastic trays to display the figures while they're on the card.  I kept those, and use them to store my Mondo Blitzers.  Now you know!

Well, only one team left!  Though this next one might be a two-parter...

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Want To Know The Best Way To Avoid Wiping Out While Surfing?

Go surfing in the sewers!  You'll stick to that surfboard like glue on a booger.  Trust me.  I KNOW.

Any way, Christmas and New Years are in the bag again, so there's no excuses to keep me from pluggin' away at the Savage Mondo Blitzers spotlights.  Who will be starting off a new year of toy bloggery?  These guys:


As far as their weirdness-factor goes, these guys fall right smack-dab in the middle.  I think I've always seen them as bad guys (two of them even have "Bad" in their names), but they lack the edge to make them the main villains in my Mondo Blitzers stories.  Instead, they're thugs or henchmen, not unlike the Dudes of Disaster.  Maybe one or two of them could climb the ranks a little bit, but that's it.