Sunday, December 31, 2017

Fantasy Creatures & Robots mini figure tubes (SCS Direct)


Remember the Big Bucket of Monsters and Big Bucket of Zombies figure tubes released by SCS Direct a couple years ago? It took a while, but the company has finally put out a couple of new figure tubes -- this time Fantasy Creatures and Robots!

First, a few basic details:
  • At the timing of writing, both sets are available on Amazon (here and here) for $14.99 each
  • The fantasy tube includes 90 figures, with 10 different sculpts that come in light gray and dark gray
  • The robot rube includes 52 figures, with 14 different sculpts that come in brown and light gray
  • The figures are around 2 inches tall on average
  • The plastic used is a bit softer than what was used for the previous monster and zombies sets. They're still pretty firm, but there's a bit more give to these new figures
  • The figures are packaged in clear tubes that measure about 16 inches tall, featuring the moniker "Wicked Duals" and different artwork for each set. The fantasy set says "dual colors for fantastic adventures" and the robot set says "dual colors for deadly catastrophic battles." Gotta love some deadly catastrophic robot battles!
Now let's take a closer look at each of the sets.

FANTASY CREATURES


This set consists of a dragon, a unicorn, a skeleton warrior, a wizard, a dwarf, a centaur, a female elf warrior, a fairy/pixie, and what appear to be two different versions of either an ogre, troll, or orc -- one-headed and two-headed.

Overall, it's a nice selection of characters, and the sculpts are good. My favorite is the two-headed brute, because of the quality of the sculpt itself and the fact that I don't believe we've gotten a two-headed ogre in similar fantasy sets before (someone correct me if I'm wrong). Also, I appreciate that the skeleton warrior's sculpt was differentiated from the several other skeleton warrior minis that have been released in recent years.

Here's a comparison shot showing the SCS wizard alongside wizards from classic '80s fantasy sets:


On the negative side, I was disappointed that SCS went with bland light and dark gray colors again. They might be good for people who paint their minis, but I'd imagine most monochromatic mini figure collectors would find these colors pretty boring (like I do).

Because of the softer plastic used, several of the figures in my tube came bent and misshapen (particularly the skeletons, because of their thin limbs). Also, some of the figures are made up of more than one piece, which resulted in some quality control issues. For example, one of my fairies is completely missing her arms from a factory error, since they are separate pieces attached to her body.

ROBOTS


I'm really impressed with the Robots. A lot of creativity went into these sculpts. Instead of just going with the usual humanoid robots, there's a bunch of pretty bizarre ones here. There's a few that look to be inspired by Japanese/anime bots, but the rest seem to take inspiration from old sci-fi B movies and artwork, which is awesome. I also like the size variation used with this set -- it makes for more interesting robot battles! I should also mention that only 12 sculpts are actually robots -- 2 are more like scene building pieces.

Instead of light gray and dark gray, this set comes in light gray and brown. On paper, brown may not seem like the most interesting color either, but it's a nice chocolate brown shade that works really well with these sculpts. The light gray works a little better here than it does with the fantasy creatures, but it's still on the dull side. Plus, several of my gray robots came with spots of discoloration -- I'm not sure if this happened from them being in contact with the brown figures, or some other factor.


Unfortunately, the Robots also have the same other quality control issues as the Fantasy Creatures -- occasional unattached pieces and misshapen figures. Most of the figures are fine, but it was a bit of a bummer to see any of them at all have these faults.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Despite their imperfections, I'm really glad to have both of these sets. The Robots in particular have some really unique designs to add to any mini figure collection. And each set gives you a whole bucket full of figures for $15, which makes any issues easier to overlook.

Now we just need an aliens set!

What about you? Do you plan to pick up the Fantasy Creatures and Robots sets?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Matutano Dinossauros: Kaiju-like dino minis from Spain!

Photo credit: http://nanossainfancia.blogspot.com
These wacky dinosaur minis were a mystery to me for years. I would regularly see them turn up in lots of Monster in My Pocket or other minis, usually from Europe, but I wasn't able to tie them to a specific toy line. Eventually I learned that they were given away with products from Matutano, a snack food company in Spain and Portugal that has offered many toy premiums over the years (including some of my favorites, Matutano Monstruos). Further research revealed the specific name of the set to be "Dinossauros," released in the early 1990s -- probably 1993, from what I was able to find from some Spanish-language Googling).

Here's some Dinossauros basics:
  • There are 15 different sculpts in the set. Each different dinosaur is assigned a specific number (1-15), which is included on its back in a circle -- similar to how Monster in My Pocket point values look
  • Based on the image I found to the right, it appears each Dinossauro came with a card featuring artwork of the dino, its name and number, and a description. They are based on actual prehistoric creatures -- like the ichthyosaurus (ictiossauro)
  • The figures are made from a soft plastic/rubber, just a bit softer than a MIMP
A few Dinossauros showing their numbers
  • Each sculpt comes in multiple colors. I've seen yellow, red, green, blue, orange, pink, purple, gray, and brown -- I'm not sure if there are any others
  • The figures are about 1.5 inches tall -- some a bit taller, some a bit shorter
Probably my favorite thing about these figures is that they make no attempt to be historically accurate depictions of the dinosaurs they're supposed to be. Instead, they look more like an amalgam of dinosaurs and kaiju, which is awesome. Not really good for teaching kids about dinosaurs, but good for setting the figures apart from the many other sets of dinosaur minis that have been released over the years.

Here are some individual shots of all 15 Dinossauros. They are shown in the order of their assigned numbers (top row: 1-5, middle row: 6-10, bottom row: 11-15).


I'm not quite sure what my favorite is, but numbers 1 and 2 are definitely up there. Gotta love that bipedal triceratops!

Finally, here's a comparison shot of a Dinossauro with the MIMP T-Rex and a Topps Dino Toy.


Matutano Dinossauros are not necessarily of the highest quality--many figures have some noticeable flashing and some of them won't stand up no matter how hard you try to make them--but what they lack in that area they definitely make up for in charm. I like 'em so much I hunted down the full set!

What do you think about these little weirdos? Have you come across any in your collecting?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Sammy Steel: The Lost Brother of Mighty Max

The following is a guest post by Mike MacDee of MikesToyBox.net



In the early '90s Polly Pocket started an amazing toy trend: playsets the size of drink coasters, with figures tiny enough to inhabit them. It was invented by a clever and loving man who built a dollhouse for his daughter out of a discarded makeup compact so she could take it anywhere. This begat what I believe to be the most brilliantly designed toy of all time: Mighty Max, the short-lived “Polly Pocket for boys,” which really kicked off the “mini playset” trend of the '90s. Suddenly every licensed toy line was doing it: Power Rangers, Tarzan, Star Wars, Pokemon, Micro Machines, even Goosebumps.

These days, Max is reliving his adventures via night terrors in an asylum somewhere in Massachusetts, blissfully unaware that he has a brother who went on similar adventures: a boy named Sammy Steel.

Okay, all pretensions aside, Sammy Steel vs The Micro Mob was a dollar store knock-off of a popular toy: Warlord to Max’s He-Man. But the fact that this toy existed was amazing to my little child mind, being such a young fan of odd knock-off toys already.

But Sammy Steel wasn’t just a handful of inferior dollar store knock-offs: like Max, it ran for three different series, and each one featured a comic strip on the back of its card. It tried so hard to emulate the source that it’s hard not to admire it a little bit. Every year when I went to the dollar store toy aisle and found another new lineup of Sammy Steels it blew my mind. Stranger still, I discovered official UK variants many years later.


Nowadays the toys are unicorn rare, and really not worth anything, nor are they in demand. But that just makes collecting them all the more fun. I get a rush of excitement whenever I find a new Sammy Steel listing, and I’ve hoarded an impressive collection of the things. I’m pretty sure my site, MikesToyBox, is the only source of info on these forgotten toys anymore.

One major stylistic difference between Max and Sammy is that Sammy never abandoned the cute design motif of Max Series 1, opting for Hanna-Barbara while Max took the Lovecraft and Hammer Horror route. They also lacked the ingenious designs of Mighty Max: the playsets weren’t configured for everything to fit in exactly the right place so the compact could close without trouble. You basically pack Sammy away by jangling the figures around inside until the lid finally closed.

Sammy Steel Series 1 was four sets: Vicious Volcano, Face Mountain, Dome of Doom, and Sinister Saucer. These are the most easily found on eBay and elsewhere, particularly Face Mountain. Sinister Saucer is the best because of its inorganic environment where everything seems to serve a purpose, while the other three were mostly set in the wilderness. The compacts were shaped like mountains or cute flying saucers.




Things get more interesting with Series 2. Club Dread is a water park overrun by terrorists, robots, and giant octopodes. Hurtin’ Safari is set around a Minecraft-like jungle tree fort. Prehistoric Peril takes Sammy to Forbidden Valley to fight Gwangi and other Harryhausen delights. The series climaxes with Star Trap, an adorable moon base that would better suit Polly Pocket than Mighty Max, if she ever went to space. The compacts for these are wonderful, because two are “disguised” as Walkman cassette players, and the other two as Game Boys. I wish they were all the latter, because the screens of the Game Boy compacts are made to resemble LCD games depicting the action inside - an unbearably cool touch. They went nuts with the accessories, too: look at all the stuff you got! Look at that dinosaur with the saddle-crane!





Things end weak as a baby fart with Series 3, which only featured three toys instead of the usual four: Submarine Sandwich, the laughable Tomb of Terror, and Chasing the Mob’s Missile. These playsets came with built-in sound effects, at the expense of figures, detail, and anything else more interesting. A depressing end for a fun little knockoff toy that shelled out more effort than most dollar store ripoffs…in the beginning, anyway.



I occasionally find other Max/Polly knockoffs I never heard of, and it’s always a treat for some nerdy reason. I continue browsing the Mighty Max listings in the hope of finding Sammy Steel stuff. Maybe someday I’ll find someone selling a carded lot, or a piece I’m missing. Or maybe I’ll start collecting Polly Pocket knockoffs next. I still need to buy a house for Max to retire in.

For more Sammy Steel information and photos of additional playsets, packaging and more, visit MikesToyBox.net!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mono Minis of the Day: 10/29/17 to 11/29/17


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. Monster from Halloween Coffin Surprise
2. Cat from Target Halloween pencil toppers
3. Bat from Target Halloween erasers
4. Apollo from Neclos Fortress
5. Monster from Merry Monsters
6. Dinosaur keshi
7. Destoroyah from Godzilla keshi
8. Gundam SD keshi
9. Medusa from Age of Mythology
10. Man-e-Faces from Panrico Masters of the Universe premiums
11. Ninja from Toysmith Ninjas
12. Pebbles Flintstone pencil topper
13. Adventure Island keshi
14. Alien from Alien MUSCLE
15. Brontosaurus from Matutano dinosaurs
16. Monster from Monstruos Mutantes
17. Ninja/warrior bootleg figure
18. MUSCLE/Kinnikuman bootleg figure
19. Ultraman SD figure
20. Robot from Ninjas vs. Robots
21. Zoids bootleg capsule figure 
22. #187 from MUSCLE
23. Parachute robot capsule figure
24. Mega Man from Mega Man MUSCLE
25. Centaur from Neclos Fortress
26. Kung fu man capsule figure
27. Four-Eyed Ghost from The Real Ghostbusters
28. Monster from Merry Monsters
29. Spoilet from Mini Boglins
30. Ultraman kaiju magnetic keshi
31. Rubber dragon pencil topper
32. Omega Virus board game figure

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Mono Minis of the Day: 9/27/17 to 10/28/17



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. Horanken from Neclos Fortress
2. Yarn from Mini Boglins 
3. Kaiju from Ultraman keshi
4. Bison from Tehnolog Zveronics
5. Dinosaur from Target Dino Figures jar
6. #106 from MUSCLE
7. Outer Space Men knockoff mini
8. Lakitu from Super Mario Bros. keshi     
9. Space Ace figure
10. Monster finger puppet
11. Fantasy animal warrior pencil topper
12. Runnin' Ralph from Weird Ball Collectums
13. Red King from Ultraman kaiju bootleg set  
14. Dromei from Neclos Fortress      
15. Warriors of the Galaxy playset figure
16. Invincible Army Men figure
17. Dunk from Mini Boglins
18. X-2 from The Worst MUSCLE
19. Ultraman kaiju keshi
20. Vampiress from Juguete Halloween (Peru Monster in My Pocket)
21. Ecto-Plazm nose ghost from The Real Ghostbusters  
22. Probe robot from Omega Virus board game
23. Luttor from Cosmix
24. Allosaurus from Topps Dino Toys
25. Zora from Legend of Zelda keshi
26. Moldy Moxie from SLUG Zombies
27. Rick from Kirby Dreamland keshi
28. Ghost from Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures micro figures
29. Yu-Gi-Oh figure
30. Semi Colin from Garbage Pail Kids Minikins
31. Kaiju from Ultraman keshi
32. #165 from MUSCLE

Friday, October 27, 2017

Mono Minis of the Day: 9/11/17 to 9/26/17


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. Kuulvo from Meteorite Aliens
2. Goblin from Neclos Fortress
3. Kinnikuman from Popy mini kinkeshi
4. Kaiju from Canfull of Monsters
5. Psycops from Gorelords
6. Trap Jaw from Masters of the Universe MUSCLE
7. Scout Dink from Mini Boglins  
8. Mercuror from Cosmix
9. Gavadon from Ultraman "Great Monster the 30" set
10. Merry Monsters capsule figure
11. Kane in Spacesuit from Alien MUSCLE
12. Pelikan ghost figure
13. Werewolf from Juguete Halloween (Peru Monster in My Pocket)
14. King Guts from SLUG Zombies
15. Wrestler from Musclemania bootlegs
16. Army ant from Kombattini / Termitors (foreign Army Ants)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Thundercats mini figures from Mexico (LJN miniatures bootlegs)

I have a weakness for bootleg toys, especially when they're from the '80s and fantasy-related. So when the opportunity came up to grab these Thundercats bootleg mini figures, I had to pounce on it like a musclebound cat-humanoid taking on evildoers.

These apparently originated in Mexico. They are monochromatic copies of the official LJN Thundercats Miniatures released by LJN in 1986. I don't own any of the originals, but below are some pics I yoinked from eBay as a reference.

I'm admittedly not a Thundercats expert, but I think the characters I have as bootlegs are Lion-O, Cheetara, Tygra, Tuska, Jackalman and Ratar-O.


These figures are a little over 2 inches tall. The bootlegs are made of a flexible rubber, and as you'd expect for cheapo bootlegs, have imperfections. But they're awesome, and they even come with weapons they can hold! Well, that some of them can hold. If you spend 10 minutes positioning them just right so they don't fall out...


It looks like there were around 15 different minis in the official LJN line. I'm not sure if every single one of them was bootlegged for this Mexico set, but you can see several others as part of the fantastic collection of fantasy minis over at the Fantasy Toy Soldiers blog.

And here's a shot of the backs of these figures, just for posterity.


And that's pretty much all I know about these things! If anyone else owns any, I'd love to see photos or find out any additional information you can share about them.