Friday, October 14, 2016

Monster in My Pocket: Series 4 (Super Scary)

Super Scary pamphlet showing all 24 monsters
In 1992, Matchbox released the 4th series of Monster in My Pocket, the "Super Scary" set. To most kids who collected MIMP back in the day, it would have seemed like the third series, since the actual Series 3 just had a partial, limited, low-key release in the U.S. as Big Boy kids meal premiums and in Canada as cereal premiums.

The Super Scaries seemed to come out of nowhere. Unlike Series 2, which I had known about as a kid but never actually was able to find in my area, the first time I became aware of Series 4 is when I saw it in Toys R Us. Being such a huge MIMP fan I had to have them, but I immediately noticed they looked different from previous series.

These monsters were a bit larger, had painted details and some of them glowed in the dark. Obviously Matchbox were trying new tricks in an attempt to keep MIMP marketable and make the line more exciting to kids. Unfortunately it didn't seem to work and the franchise sort of fizzled out after this, at least in the U.S. (in the U.K, where MIMP was always more popular, it continued for a few more offshoot series like Wrestlers, Aliens and Super Creepies).

Series 4 is made up of 24 monsters, numbers 97 through 120 of the line. They range from 50 to 100 points. The series was sold in 6-packs (where only a couple monsters were visible) and 12-packs (where all the monsters were visible). Each pack contained a pamphlet providing details on each monster, as with Series 1 and 2. The pamphlet starts off with the text:

Here they are - the wildest, scariest, most outrageous collection of real monsters ever assembled! And every single one of them is worth at least 50 points, with 6 rare glow-in-the-dark 100 pt. value monsters included, more than even the highest value monsters in either series 1 or 2. You know why? Because every one of these monsters is a big, bad, super scary dude. Put these guys in your pocket - and scare the pants off your friends!

For its general release, most of the monsters came in 2 different color schemes, with the base rubber colors being neon green, neon yellow, neon red and neon purple, plus glow yellow and glow green for the 100-point monsters. Each figure had different colored painted details depending on its base rubber color.

I always thought the Super Scary set contained some really cool sculpts, like the 100-pointers, Jenny Greenteeth and Creature From the Closet, to name a few, but I've found the random painted details to look kind of odd--even as a kid. Matchbox was trying to make them look cooler, but to me it sort of had the opposite effect.

It wasn't until much later, as an adult, that I discovered some Super Scaries were actually made in unpainted versions. Ten of them, to be exact: Thunderdell, Yama, Astaroth, Lamia, Creature From the Closet, Jenny Greenteeth, Drude, Alu, Fachen, and Wurdulac. As far as I know, these versions were only available as premiums in the U.K. Here's the whole mono gang:

And here's a comparison shot of some of the basic painted versions with their mono counterparts. Which ones do you prefer?

Overall, Series 4 was a fun addition to the MIMP line, but to me it doesn't match the greatness of Series 1-3. It's too bad all 24 figures weren't made in monochromatic colors, and in a size that matched the first few series. If that had been the case, I think they'd be considered much more essential among MIMP collectors.

What do you think? Are you a fan of the Super Scaries?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Mono Minis of the Day: 9/23/16 to 10/8/16

Here are the latest batches of Mono Minis of the Day--as posted daily on the Little Weirdos Instagram, Twitter and Flickr. The lineup in the photo is as follows, from left to right, top to bottom:

1. Tarantula from Neclos Fortress
2. Evil-Lyn from Masters of the Universe MUSCLE
3. Musclemania bootleg figure
4. Magical King Granzort capsule machine bootleg
5. Ghoul from Monster in My Pocket
6. King Joe from Ultraman 'Great Monster the 30' set
7. Space Warrior from Warriors of the Galaxy playset
8. Gigantor from Cosmix (Kinnikuman/MUSCLE bootleg)
9. Overlord from Blackstar mini figures
10. Dinosaur from dinosaur counters set
11. Zombie dog from Big Bucket of Zombies
12. Spy Goggles mutant from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
13. Caveman from Tim Mee Cavemen set
14. Monster from Holy War Bakuryu keshi
15. Boxer from Top Toupie Pull Spin Battle
16. Mord from Mini Boglins

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Gorelords: new MUSCLE-style monster minis from Violence Toy

Gorelords is a new line of factory-produced mini figures from indie toy makers Violence Toy--a company that until now seems to have focused on larger, pricier vinyl figures.

These things totally crept up on me. Until some very recent images posted on the Violence Toy Instagram account, there was no sign of their impending arrival. No Kickstarter campaign, no long buildup of production progress reports (at least that I'm aware). They just sort of dropped onto the scene all ready to invade our toy collections, and I'm sure glad they did because they're glorious hunks of plastic.

According to to Violence Toy, Gorelords should be going up for online sale via their online shop sometime over the next few days (I read $12 per pack somewhere, though I'm not sure if that's final). Violence Toy kindly reached out to me on Instagram to ask if I'd be interested in checking some out a bit early, and once I saw the message it took me about half a second to respond with a huge "YES!".

Before we get into a closeup look at all of these little weirdos, let's go over a few basics.
  • MATERIAL: Gorelords are made of a firm yet somewhat flexible plastic similar to that of MUSCLE. If you're familiar with other recent factory-produced indie mini figure lines like OMFG and Mystical Warriors of the Ring, you'll have a good idea of how they feel. 
  • SIZE: Most of the figures are around 2 inches tall, just a tiny bit bigger than MUSCLEs. With a few of them you can't even notice any size difference when compared to MUSCLE. They are very compatible with Monster in My Pocket as well.
Comparison with MUSCLE and MIMP
  • COLORS: Gorelords come in 9 different monochromatic colors that match up with the classic MUSCLE colors: Flesh/pink, light blue, dark blue, purple, magenta, neon orange, red, salmon, and neon green. Over the 4 packages I received, I got at least one of every color except for red and salmon.  
  • PACKAGING/ASSORTMENTS: The figures come in sets of 3 in carded blister packs, with 4 different assortments for a total of 12 different sculpts. They are being made available in flesh-only or multicolor packs, which contain all 9 colors. The package artwork is excellent and adds a lot to the overall presentation, featuring full-color detailed art on the front and black-and-white drawings of all the characters on the back--very reminiscent of packaging for obscure '80s mini figure lines like Weird Ball Wrestlers and Musclemania. The package describes Gorelords as "Mutant Death Match Fighters" and declares that "The only way out is death!," which are cool touches because they provides just enough background for us to put our imaginations at work to think of storylines for these monsters.

Now that we've got those details covered, let's take a closer look at all of the Gorelords!



All these guys are awesome. Time-Gore and Maggotgagger give me a definite Weird Ball vibe, which is a great thing. The Suffer has a totally creepy psycho thing going on, and looks like he could do some major damage in whatever apocalyptic mutant war is at hand.



This is probably my favorite of the four sets. I mean, we've got a 2-headed satyr-cyclops, a highly-weaponized killer robot, and a manic cyborg werewolf. A pack of mini figures does not get any better than that, folks.



This is overall the least monstrous pack, with Doc Marauder and Arthur appearing human or at least humanoid. The former is very reminiscent of an '80s Musclemania figure by Select--I'd be shocked if that line wasn't the inspiration for the sculpt. But then we've got Gumongous, who is nowhere near human! This huge, 4-armed brute has a killer sculpt and is one of the definite highlights of the line.



If you can't beat a mini figure pack consisting of a cyborg werewolf, 2-headed satyr-cyclops and murderous robot, a pack consisting of a cyclops cop, cyborg troll and a monster pile of mucus comes pretty damn close.

And that's all of 'em! Are the Gorelords not fantastic? Thank you, Violence Toy, for bringing them into our lives (and toy collections). May you sell a ton and make many more of these little weirdo warmongers.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Mono Minis of the Day: 9/7/16 to 9/22/16

Here are the latest batches of Mono Minis of the Day--as posted daily on the Little Weirdos Instagram, Twitter and Flickr. The lineup in the photo is as follows, from left to right, top to bottom:

1. Popy mini Kinnikuman keshi
2. Troll from Oritet cave trolls set
3. Mer-Man from Panrico Masters of the Universe premiums
4. Astronaut from Galaxy Laser Team
5. Mummy from Big Bucket of Monsters
6. Gladiator from Tehnolog Gladiators set
7. Monster from Halloween Coffin Surprise (aka Cromy Club MIMP)
8. Ecto-Plazm Ghost from The Real Ghostbusters
9. '80s guitar girl from CUTIE
10. Dinosaur from Dino Brites
11. Wildkin from World of Warcraft board game
12. Diener dinosaur eraser
13. #112 from MUSCLE
14. Monster from Matutano Monstruos
15. Bog from Mini Boglins
16. Kaiju from Canfull of Monsters

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mono Minis of the Day: 8/22/16 to 9/6/16

Here are the latest batches of Mono Minis of the Day--as posted daily on the Little Weirdos Instagram, Twitter and Flickr. The lineup in the photo is as follows, from left to right, top to bottom:

1. Yet Eddie from Garbage Pail Kids Minikins
2. Tehnolog skeleton soldier
3. Lightning Ghost from The Real Ghostbusters
4. Minotaur from Top Toupie Pull Spin Battle
5. He-Man from Masters of the Universe MUSCLE
6. Brachiosaurus from Jurassic Park candy/toy eggs
7. Alien from Space War figure set
8. Panzer World Galient bootleg stamper
9. Toysmith Super Hero figure
10. Dismembered Dennis from SLUG Zombies
11. Bronto from Dinosaucers
12. Herne the Hunter from Monster in My Pocket
13. Knight from HG Toys Sword & Sorcery playset
14. Dreama from Neclos Fortress
15. Kung Fu Man capsule machine figure
16. Messenger Stick from Mini Boglins

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Masters of the Universe MUSCLE: Series 2

About a year after debuting the first series of Masters of the Universe MUSCLE ("MOTUSCLE") figures, Super7 unleashed Series 2 earlier this summer at San Diego Comic Con. The second set consists of 12 new sculpts, joining the 12 from Series 1 for a total of 24 different figures so far. The new batch includes some essential characters that were absent from the first series as well as a couple surprises. The lineup is:

- Stratos                            - Fisto
- Evil-Lyn                           - Battle Cat
- Orko                               - Stinkor
- Sorceress                       - Spikor
- Kobra Khan                     - Castle Grayskull
- He-Man (new sculpt)        - Skeletor (new sculpt)

At the time of writing this, Series 2 has been released only in exclusive colors, including yellow and green from SDCC and lavender from Nerd Block (Series 1 has also been released in all 3 of these colors). A non-exclusive release in the standard MUSCLE flesh/pink color is expected as well, but so far no release date has been given. 

The yellow and green SDCC sets came in long, flat boxes along with the 12 figures from Series 1, as a nod to the classic Kinnikuman MUSCLE 28-packs from the '80s. A very cool and nostalgic presentation!

Sculpt-wise, it's obvious the Series 2 figures were designed by a different person than whoever sculpted Series 1. Overall, the style of the designs is much more cartoonish than Series 1, with larger heads, hands, etc. This is especially noticeable when you compare Series 2 He-Man and Skeletor with Series 1 He-Man and Skeletor, which have much more realistic detail. It results in a bit of an inconsistent feel when you look at the two series side-by-side, but overall it's not that big of a deal with the majority of the sculpts. Both series are very well done, even if stylistically different. You've got to love a Grayskull mini, and the fact that He-Man 2 was sculpted to be able to ride Battle Cat!

A mix of Series 1 & Series 2 MOTUSCLE
I'm really happy with the characters chosen for Series 2. We got some major characters that were missing from the first series, like Stratos and Evil-Lyn, and other significant yet more unique-looking figures like Orko, Battle Cat and Castle Grayskull. I was pleasantly surprised to also see some characters I didn't think would make it until later series (assuming there will be), like Sorceress and Kobra Khan. Some might be disappointed to see alternate versions of He-Man and Skeletor already, but I can understand why it's important to keep including the main good guy and main bad guy in different sets -- plus, Kinnikuman-based MUSCLEs did feature multiple versions of Kinnikuman and his nemesis Buffaloman.

Series 2 debuted at the same time Super7 re-released Series 1 in multi-color 12-pack cans, which contain figures in blue, magenta, neon green, neon orange, and glow-in-the-dark white. Like the 24-pack boxes, the cans are also based on the old MUSCLE 10-pack cans for the '80s, and are awesome. I'm not sure whether the Series 2 figures will also be released this way.

I can't think of much that could be cooler than MOTU-themed MUSCLE figures, and I really hope Super7 milks this line for all it's worth and releases many more series. There are certainly enough characters in the MOTU universe to sustain MOTUSCLE for quite a while.

What about you? Have you picked up any of these new MUSCLE toys? What other denizens of Eternia would you like to see show up in future series?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Dino Toys with Candy Eggs (Topps, 1988)

In the late 1980s, Topps released monochromatic mini figures in blind bags with along with packs of cheap, chalky candy. Nope, I'm not talking about Garbage Pail Kids Cheap Toys. I'm talking about the very obscure and seldom discussed Dino Toys with Candy Eggs!

Each pack came with a figure, checklist & candy eggs
These prehistoric plastic goodies came out in 1988, to be exact -- the same year Topps released the classic Dinosaurs Attack! trading card set. I guess they were on a dino kick that year.

Even though the Dino Toys are not nearly as popular as Topps' GPK toys that used the same "blind bag with candy" concept, they are really awesome in that old school, cheap toy sort of way. In fact, they're some of my favorite dinosaur mono minis.

Packs were sold individually and came 24 to a box, which you'd most likely find on the counter in candy, toy and hobby shops. The box features colorful artwork of a T-Rex chompin' on some candy eggs while a pterosaur tries to get in on the action. Each individual pack inside had the same artwork as the box and contained one random dino figure, a checklist showing all of the different dinosaurs available, and a pack of the eggs. From the looks of the candy, I'd imagine it tastes something like how Topps' Garbage Can-dy did, but I must admit I'm not brave enough to sample gobs of colored sugar that are coming up on 30 years old.

Now for the most important part -- the toys! There are 12 different dinosaur sculpts that could be collected. The figures range from about 1 to 2 inches tall and are made of a hard plastic reminiscent of retro plastic dinosaurs from the 1960s.

Each dinosaur came in three different colors: brown, gray and mint green. The green is by far my favorite, and the brown looks good too -- it's a nice chocolate brown that makes the details pop. The gray is a bit dull, but it does look nice when put together with the other two colors.

Here's a photo of the entire set with the checklist:

And here are some closer individual shots:

Brontosaurus, Anklyosaurus, Dimetrodon
Tyrannosaurus, Trachodon, Pterandodon
Plesiosaurus, Iguanodon, Stegosaurus
Allosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Triceratops

It's hard to pick favorites, but the Plesiosaurus is probably my top choice. I also love the sculpts that have a lot of really cool bumpy texture like the Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Anklyosaurus, and Dimetrodon. Topps did a great job of capturing the fun vibe of retro dinosaur toys from the likes of Marx, Tim Mee and MPC while adding a bit more fierceness to the sculpts.

I don't think these Topps Dinos have ever got their due among mini figure and dinosaur collectors (possibly because most don't know about them). I got only one of them when I was a kid (the green Trachodon) and don't even remember getting it, but looking at them brings such a feeling of nostalgia for the days when this kind of thing was common and could be had for under a buck.

What about you? Do you remember Topps Dino Toys with Candy Eggs from back in the day? What do you think of them?