Monday, September 12, 2016

Snake Armor Shield by EvilMIke
Man-At-Arm's Workshop 8:37 PM 0 comments

Introduction:
Okay guysssss, sssso for review today we have the Ssssnake Armor Sssshield by EvilMike! And we promissssse not to keep thisss gag going. (Okay....one lassst time).

Background:
The 2015 MOTUC line brought a celebrated He-Man variant. No...not the Lazer Power He-Man. No...not Flying Fists He-Man. You know...the 3rd He-Man variant we got (Yeah...I'm still bitter about it).

Regardless, the Snake Armor He-Man figure was really awesome. So much so that a lot of people clamored across the boards that he could be a contender for their favorite 2015 figure-- which is kind of crazy for a variant to hold that honor.

However, the one thing that was not included with the figure was his shield. The 200x snake shield is a very unique design and, even though it didn't get a lot of screen time, fans recognize it as essential to his look. Suffice to say, it twisted a lot of people's nipples to see that this wasn't included.



Good news though friends! The one and only Evilmike has crafted a facsimile to use with our figure. But does it rise to the challenge?

Product:
This item came as a pre-painted review sample directly from Evilmike.






 When I first got my hands on this thing, I was completely floored. Overall, in my experience I've seen a lot of great things, but there was something about this that stood out.

First, the detail. One common element we see with Shapeways' items is the balance of detail and quality. For more details, read our overview of Shapeways' services here. To summarize, Shapeway's printing process: the equipment used by Shapeways can only handle so much small detail and if the artist isn't careful the detail comes out blurry.

So to say that this piece is packed full of small details, you now understand how difficult it is to pull off. The detailing goes a bit beyond what we see in the cartoon. However, I prefer it this way given how detailed the figure is.



The detailing on the crest is very strong and clear. Again, a huge accomplishment with such small details. However, my favorite part of this piece is actually on the back. Even though the back will be rarely seen in a display situation, Evilmike went the extra mile and sculpted the back!



Additionally, Evilmike has an ingenious system where the arm cuff is separate from the shield body. This system allows the shield to rotate freely while attached the arm and allows for a multitude of display possibilities. The cuff fits tightly and securely on the male MOTUC forearm.




















Finally, the paint job on this piece is simply fantastic. The silver is bright and heroic. The red and yellow accents are packed in and clear. All painted lines are sharp and with no apparent errors. As I've said repeatedly with pieces that I've received from Mike pre-painted, if you have the opportunity to get them painted inhouse-- do it.




In conclusion this is a great piece that won't let you or your Snake Armor He-Man down.


Conclusion:

Pros-
- Incredible detail
- Engineered arm cuff that rotates
- Source accurate

Cons-
- None

Customization Intensity
Average- May be tricky to saturate some of the more finer detail areas. Highly recommend Evilmike's painting service.

Product Details
Price- $18-18.50
Marketplace- Shapeways
Seller- EvilMike

Buy Here!




About The Author
Tarquinius
Life long action figure collector and weekend warrior customizer. Enjoys collecting everything from DC, MOTU and designer toys with his beautiful wife (who is a better collector). Adores everything Fisto.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

What Coolness Lurks within the Dungeon(Grate)?: An interview with Freeman's Mind Toys
Justin D 10:02 AM 0 comments

 photo bookalpha_zps384v2rky.jpg

We had the opportunity to catch up with FMMT regarding his latest project/Kickstarter. Check it out!


Unless you've been living under a rock in a Shadow Beast cave for the last month, it has been impossible to not be caught up in the meteoric rise of Freeman's Mind Toys (FMMT).

On our end, we are very well acquainted with FMMT's work. Our reviews have always shown FMMT to be someone who puts a lot of pride in their work so as to produce highly detailed, and elaborate items. 

In mid-July, FMMT broke news by saying he was launching a Kickstarter to support a new venture-- in-home produced 3D models for MOTUC. FMMT's first offering via Kickstarter would be the Dungeon Grate for Castle GS!

Over the month long campaign, FMMT received massive support, coordinated with MOTU titans Mark and Rebecca Taylor and superstar online retailed BBTS.com to help with his vision. At the end of the campaign, FMMT met his goal and then some. Now MOTUC fans everywhere can rejoice! Yet the story does not end there. 

We were able to catch up with FMMT and interview him regarding the success of his KS, his inspiration and where he is going next.



MAAW: First and, most importantly, whats your favorite MOTU character/MOTUC figure? 

FMMT: My favorite character is of course He-Man- I switch back and forth between Alcala and Timm versions as my favorite. I'll always have a place in my heart for Filmation obviously but it's not my go to depiction, with exception of voice. My favorite MOTUC figure is probably Tri-Klops- such a beautiful example of paint and sculpt all coming together into something really special, plus the warrior ring!

MAAW: What is your background? Do you have any formal experience in art design or did you learn your skill "on da streets?"

FMMT: As far as formal training, I have a Bachelor's in Fine Arts from Eastern Michigan University with a concentration in graphic design and minors in life drawing and art history (primarily 20th century art). My 3D set of skills was all self taught though.


MAAW: Why MOTU? What got you into customization?

FMMT: It's funny because after 200X I had forgotten about the property for a while but a chance encounter with Jeremy Padawer in a forum (around I think it would have been around the time they planned the Keldor convention exclusive) found me following up on a lead to do some copy editing for Wizard Entertainment or Magazine (or whatever the heck the company was calling itself at the time). I did some grunt level work on copy editing digital layouts for the online portion of Toyfare magazine. (I should clarify I wasn't employed BY Toyfare- I was just a grunt who checked copy). At the time the MOTUC ads were coming out and I was totally taken surprise by MOTU coming back and in a more "modern" scale at that and was hooked. 

After that I had a brief period of time working in the game industry again with Sony (I had worked with them on Everquest Adventures for PS2 and then again worked on Playstation Home a bit before it launched and afterwards) and I believe sometime in 2011 I saw an ad about BG Teela and it totally got me into collection it again. 

Custom work happened maybe a year later I believe. I owe a lot to Jeremy since I was so low on the totem pole that he happened to vaguely remember my name years later and it gave me some credibility- it's very sad how low level talent in publications are totally forgotten about and even more so when you're freelance.


MAAW: Moving onto the topic of the hour-- talk about your progression from your partnership with Shapeways to opening up your own shop? Why the leap? What did this involve and what were the risks (if any)?

FMMT: Shapeways came about as I was seeing talented people like Mike and Sascha doing absolutely amazing work in 3D printed accessories and found Shapeways that way- I had been teaching myself 3D modeling and production since around 2001-2002ish but had all but abandoned it until MOTUC and their work got me back into it. 

There was a pretty large adjustment period making my build boxes and way of modeling work with Shapeways production system and it caused a lot of setbacks in my work and production deadlines. I think about a year ago or so I just had finally had enough of Shapeways making all the money and me making very little profit off of it in an effort to get my work out and I went to self production. I started (and still use) FDM or FFF model printers to produce heads and some smaller pieces, but I still wasn't getting where I needed to be professionally. I was still grateful and still am grateful for all of my early supporters in both my custom and digital designs.

MAAW: Following your progression, what inspired you to start with the dungeon grate as your proof of concept? 

FMMT: On a chance discussion with Jesse Chagnon of Doom Kick fame, I realized that the dungeon grate idea wasn't going to happen from Mattel and WCV (or Backyard Legends or whatever they called themselves) had stopped producing the grate. I believed I could offer something special with my more recent integration of a more technical design concept at first coupled with organic modeling skills in the same pipeline. I decided about two months ago to just take a risk and bought a Lulzbot Taz 6 machine and came to the conclusion that the Well of Souls project would be brought back to life. 


As I saw the interest was there pre-launch, I started discussing with Rebecca Taylor (Mark Taylor's wife and the "Parents of MOTU" in most fans minds) how I could approach this project and still stay true to the original vision her and Mark had for the Grayskull prototype. A bit of a side note, Rebecca is EXTREMELY humble and has fought to see Mark and all of his accomplishments properly credited in design and pop culture history and I was lucky enough that her and Mark saw my work and were willing to give me their "blessing" so to speak as far as an endorsement goes. Mark and Rudy were heroes of mine as a little kid before ever even knowing their names and it was very important to me that I did this with their knowledge instead of directly copying the concept and giving no credit to where it was due. 

This may hurt me in the future professionally but it's a pretty well known fact that Mattel has a history of not exactly endearing themselves to their creators who put their company on the map, as well as other artists taking credit for work after long standing employees departed for new companies. People like Mark and Rebecca Taylor, Rudy Obrero, Tony Guerrero, Ted Mayer and many others created pop culture icons that made Mattel BILLIONS in the 80's and early 90's and the lack of recognition they received for years outside of the exhaustive efforts of Tomarts, The Power and the Honor Foundation and dedicated fans is a huge injustice. 

With that sidetrack out of the way, as my Kickstarter picked up more and more steam I found myself looking at the Grayskull prototype and realized we're unlikely to ever get the rest of the items unless a third party does them...I decided to be that third party. At the same time, I have been modeling playsets and vehicles on the side for a few years now and I took a few weeks before the campaign launched and finished a bunch of them up like the Land Shark, Dragon Walker, Thunder Tank etc. to show my ability to render more technical concepts of which many people were aware I had the knowledge to do. 

I was very fortunate during all this that Joel from BBTS.COM saw my Kickstarter and I was offered the chance to also sell a limited run of my grates on the store- a limited run of 30 glow in the dark color way pieces which quickly sold out for an October release and then a purchase of my regular grate for release next year.


MAAW: As the KS went on, we saw A LOT of material and ideas come out. Everything from Castle GS related pieces, to vehicles to playsets. Following the success of  your KS, how do you plan to organize your item and priorities with all of these ideas you have? Where do you think your focus will be?

FMMT: As the Kickstarter winds down now, my first priority will ALWAYS be the completion of work I have on my plate right now- I produced some seriously large scale rewards like the Grayskull bridge, stand, the Spirit of the Well and others and my focus is on fulfilling very order on time and with the best quality possible. I'm literally investing 90% of the KS funds back into the project itself while already having invested thousands on top of it of my own money and I'm just as invested in this as my customer base is. I have a private studio outside of my home, a production facility for my packaging locally,  and I was lucky enough to also use this opportunity to work with Richard Garcia and Dyl Cook, two super talented fans and professionals in the industry whom I believe don't get the proper exposure of their work. 

Both Richard and Dyl are working on packaging art I will be using for the project on both the package as well as the included print and sticker concepts. One of the most important parts of carving out a place for myself in the toy industry was allowing myself the chance to work with some of my favorite artists and creative influences whether known or unknown entirely in the game today- as an example of that, I hope to be working with a very well known mini comic artist on my next project for kickstarter coming sometime in November for a spring 2017 release- The Road Ripper in a MOTUC compatible scale.

I have to take a moment to mention none of my kits are endorsed or produced via Mattel nor are they infringing on existing TM as I've heavily reworked the art and design on them as more an homage as opposed to a direct replica of their original predecessors. It seems every brand out there has 3rd party offerings and MOTUC is sorely lacking in that and I aim to be part of an offering that changes that. Many people have also seen my Thundercats inspired pieces and there will be some announcements in the future on how those will be handled as far as production and distribution goes. 

One thing I remind people is that when you're offering consumer products at a professional level it should be a case of doing it right the first time or don't do it at all- I'm very much a small time operation and I have no desire to produce mediocre offerings. I should also mention that it's EXTREMELY likely a limited color way or two will find a way to the market sometime next year for those people who missed out on the Kickstarter.

MAAW: Finally, what do you think is the biggest surprise/take away message/or revelation you had during this KS? 

FMMT: I think the one important take away I've gathered from this experience thus far is that I have a great audience of people who dig the work I'm trying to put out there and are willing to support it as a result. Lets not mince words here, I'm an extremely outspoken individual and it's rubbed people the wrong way many, MANY times in the past and now, but I'm in a place as a professional right now that I realize perhaps a more dialed back approach is the more appropriate way to go. I'm well aware there are people out there that would LOVE to see me fail at my endeavors and for some of my past infantile behavior I can't say I'd blame them, but at the same time I hope even the most outspoken of my critics can respect the steps I'm taking to make amends as a person and professional. I won't apologize for being openly vocal and critical about work or policies individuals or companies use that I think are wrong though, you'll still get the same unfiltered opinions from me in the future except they will be dialed back and more thought out. I'm just extremely thankful to everyone who has made this endeavor a success and it's my sincere hope this is only the first in many successful projects for Freeman's Mind Toys- I want to make cool plastic product that I'd want to collect myself!

________________

So there ya have it folks, straight from the man himself! 

Personally, and having been in the 3rd party customs field for a while, I'm very excited to see this project succeed. I appreciate FMMT's vision and the grandness that he is taking on. The concept of custom packaging, a better quality 3D printed product (as compared to Shapeways) and a new service delivery model are all very alluring concepts which I endorse. We will be keeping a close eye on this stuff and will be bringing a review once we get our paws on it!

In the mean while, check out FMMT's FB and the latest video posted showing of a prototype. 
https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gif






About The Author
Tarquinius
Life long action figure collector and weekend warrior customizer. Enjoys collecting everything from DC, MOTU and designer toys with his beautiful wife (who is a better collector). Adores everything Fisto.



Monday, August 15, 2016

Commissioner Spotlight: Faker Cat by Brad Beck
Man-At-Arm's Workshop 9:28 PM 1 comments

Introduction:
For our first Commissioner Spotlight we are raising the bar pretty high. Introducing ladies and gentleman, the legendary Faker Cat by Brad Beck!

Background:
For most commissioned pieces, there isn't much of a story-- however Faker Cat is a thing of legend. In rare instances, we see commissioned pieces that are so well regarded and they take on a life of their own. Subsequently, the piece becomes a regular request for the artist. Faker Cat is one of these rare instances.

On a side note, I never really got the whole phenomenon with "Faker-izing" everything. I've seen people "Faker-ize" every known character and even a Castle Grayskull-- but yet the concept alludes me. In truth, the reason why I was drawn to Brad Beck's Faker Cat was not simply because it was a blue Battlecat but because of the artistry that was involved. Let's take a closer look!

Product:
From first date of production to the day received in the mail, the whole process took approximately 2 months. In reality, this is what I would expect and have no further criticisms.

The day I came home from work and saw this bad boy on the stoop was a very, very good day. I cracked Mr. Faker Cat from his cardboard prison and was astounded.

First and foremost, Brad did a fantastic job of protecting my investment. There was ample amounts of bubble wrap plus pieces separated into different sandwich bags to prevent paint rub. Also included was some extra paint, a custom Faker-chest sticker and even a paint brush for my convenience! The extra paint is especially nice because over time it will keep me prepared to handle any shelf falls or real battle damage it could take.

Moving onto the piece itself, there are a few points of note. Battle Cat was "Faker-ized" by inverting his base colors to Faker colors-- his green coat painted blue, his brown gear turned orange and his stripe accents turned gray. Closer examination yields a shocking result-- I never realized how many moving parts Battle Cat and, consequently, how big of a pain in the ass painting must have been.



Yet, as much as bend and move around each joint, Brad left no stone unturned. I have no idea how he did it, and I can't even begin to imagine what he had to do, but there is no sign of green underneath that blue coat at all. Further, the gray stripes are super clean and there is not so much as a smudge out of line. The orange on the saddle is super vivid and brings the whole package home.

The entire paint job was done in a way that still upholds the original detail of the figure. Also, I'm surprised by how even the paint job is. There are no paint runs, or any un-evenness in the paint job. Overall, a fantastic job. Oh! And the paws. Super cute and super appropriate. (Note: this will be the only time ever I will refer to something as cute).



Now to the creme de la creme, the head. There is clearly a trade secret here as to how Brad crafts the battle damage on Battlecat's head. What is evident is that Brad completely sculpts the damage by hand. Combined with some good color theory and painting, the battle damage simply looks incredible.






In a previous review, we looked at another custom of Brad Beck's: his Filmation Battle Helmet. In other commissions, Faker Cat does not feature a helmet and Brad turns the spare helmet into the Filmation helmet. Given I had one of these, I asked Brad to get creative and come up with something cool with Faker Cat.

The custom helmet features battle damage on the same side as the face. The synchrony between these details relays a story about a fierce battle and really brings this character to life.



Overall, I'm super happy with everything about this piece and consider this to be a trophy amongst my collection. Brad always stayed in close contact through every step of the process and even gave me multiple options on different directions we could take (e.g., different battle damage schemes on the face). Despite my status as a "critic" I truly can find no fault in this piece.




Conclusion:

Pros-
- Crisp, clean, thorough paint details and job
- Extra paint plus amenities
- Demonstrated professionalism every step of the way through
- Great sculpting

Cons-
- None

Customization Intensity
None-  All the work is done for you!

Product Details
Price- Contact Brad Beck for a quote!
Marketplace- Direct through artist
Seller- Brad Beck

Buy Here!




About The Author
Tarquinius
Life long action figure collector and weekend warrior customizer. Enjoys collecting everything from DC, MOTU and designer toys with his beautiful wife (who is a better collector). Adores everything Fisto.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Samurai's Weapon Set
Nefty 9:30 PM 0 comments

Introduction:

That style's retired! -Toyguru when answering questions regarding 200X items in classics.

Remember a few years back how 200X was treated like it was radioactive in Classics?

Have you noticed that Mattel has been a bit more relaxed about 200X recently?


Background:

Classic's Jitsu is a troubled figure. It tries to represent 2 eras of MOTU and as a hybrid figure he is flawed. Vintage Fans see too much 200X in him, while 200X Fans see too much Vintage in him.

Good ol' Vintage Jitsu. 
To be honest and in my opinion, aside from the additional kama and the belt from Ninjor, Jitsu is VERY vintage.The head is vintage (classicized) as is the hairstyle and beard. However, the Fu-Manchu from the staction is nowhere to be found. The closest thing to a 200X element on his head would be the shape, but even that is based on the vintage figure, with just the addition of extra angular features as defined by the 200X style.

vs the More Samurai like 200X redesign.



While we do not have a Classicized 200X head for Jitsu (with the Fu-Manchu and the long ponytail), Evil Mike has created his 200X sword and kama. Now we can have a slightly more 200X looking Jitsu in our collection and it is perfect for those fans who prefer the 200X designs, or need a set of cool weapons for some Asian-inspired custom characters.

Product:

Evil Mike offers different variations for this set. The current review looks at the full set which contains:

-200X Katana for Jitsu in scale for MOTUC Figures.
-200X Katana for Jitsu in scale for the Staction. (200X figures used oversized weapons)
-200X Staction Kama for Jitsu
-A Sword Rack to display both the Staction Scaled and Classics Scaled Katana.


All I need is a Snake Mountain to put these in...


Since these are items ordered via Shapeways, they come unpainted and you will have to break out the paints. The best part of this is that if you're ordering for use on a NON-Jitsu character, you CAN paint them in any color scheme that you desire. If you're using them on Jitsu, you can either go with the Staction Palette, or paint them in Vintage Orange if you feel like it!

While carrying his Samurai Weapon set, Jitsu reminisces
about his past life as a hand model.


I went with the full weapon set, because it was cheaper than buying the items separately. Also, I intend to use the Staction Sized Sword as a Zanbatō type of blade as he rides Night Stalker. The MOTUC Scaled Katana would act as Jitsu's Wakizashi and completing the daishō. (Big/Small sword combo... a Daishō is either worn by the Samurai, or put on display on a Rack.) The Kama are there mostly for completing the 200X look for him.

As you can see on the pictures of the weapons, the level of detail rivals 200X Weapons. I cannot compare them to the staction itself, because I do not own any of the stactions. Compared to Classics Items, the figures are slightly more detailed, as it happens with 200X inspired items. The detail is as sharp as we can get on a Shapeways item. There is always a little porousness on them, but that's a shapeways issue with the 3D printing process. The grip is about the same size as a MOTUC mel weapon handle. On Jitsu, whose weapons have a slightly thicker grip (the kama) the weapons may feel slightly loose. Not LOOSE as in it'll fall out of his hand, but loose enough that you can change the weapons easily and not warping the hand.

For the rack, I tried to imitate a lacquered finish and used gel super glue to give it that glossy finish and pseudo lacquered look. (results were so-so, but since the rack is a background item, I can live with it. Hint, do NOT use gel super glue to seal shapeways items. It can cover the pores, but also some of the detail. I only can see Jitsu's crest on mine because I painted it gold.) One awesome! TINY Detail that I must point out is the super cool Jitsu Crest on the rack. There was no need to add it, but Mike did it and now that tiny detail makes the rack more special. It really pulls in the set together.

As you can see on the pictures of the weapons, the level of detail rivals 200X Weapons. I cannot compare them to the staction itself, because I do not own any of the stactions. Compared to Classics Items, the figures are slightly more detailed, as it happens with 200X inspired items. The detail is as sharp as we can get on a Shapeways item. There is always a little porousness on them, but that's a shapeways issue with the 3D printing process. The grip is about the same size as a MOTUC mel weapon handle. On Jitsu, whose weapons have a slightly thicker grip (the kama) the weapons may feel slightly loose. Not LOOSE as in it'll fall out of his hand, but loose enough that you can change the weapons easily and not warping the hand.


For the rack, I tried to imitate a lacquered finish and used gel super glue to give it that glossy finish and pseudo lacquered look. (results were so-so, but since the rack is a background item, I can live with it. Hint, do NOT use gel super glue to seal shapeways items. It can cover the pores, but also some of the detail. I only can see Jitsu's crest on mine because I painted it gold.) One awesome! TINY Detail that I must point out is the super cool Jitsu Crest on the rack. There was no need to add it, but Mike did it and now that tiny detail makes the rack more special. It really pulls in the set together.


Mattel Made vs Mike's. Me? I'm choosing Mike's due to my
love of 200X 


Once you paint them (however you want), you can display them either on the figure, or in the background if you want to use the rack as a display piece. (Similar to the SOTS Sword Stand from the Filmation He-Man). The swords could also work well with Sy-Klone due to his "Techno Samurai" look, especially with the 200X Head.

Now, I must point out that it may SEEM like you cannot put in the swords on his back. I used to believe this at first until I figured out that the little loop near the handguard allows you to put the sword on his back JUST LIKE the Mattel made sword.

Groovy! Get it because of the groove holding the sword?


While the set is intended for Jitsu, you CAN use it for other characters. For example:

  • The rack for the swords is obviously for Jitsu. This is emphasized by Jitsu's crest on the rack, which was an outstanding choice for Evil Mike to use!
  • The swords you can use on Sy-Klone, as I stated before
  • The Kama can be used for Ninja Warrior. You can keep them AS IS and paint them in Silver and Black, or you can get a pair of chains, two Airsoft BBs, four Eye pins to make your own Kusarigama. To do this--attach an eye pin to the end of the Kama and another to the BB. Then, after painting and drying; you'd put your length of chain to connect the ball to the kama. Or if you prefer, connect both Kama with a chain and make an Okinawan Kusarigama. For a more detailed process on how to do this  (and ALL the Materials needed) you can search a tutorial on how to add Real Chains to Michelangelo's Nunchaku.





Conclusion:

Pros- While the set is a bit pricey, it comes with 5 items (more value for your money!) It has a LOT of Customization potential with the items and you can use the items in the set on up to three different characters.

Cons- Since it comes unpainted, you'd have to paint them yourself. Katanas do not fit properly on Jitsu's back. You can force them in, but they are a bit thicker than the Mattel Made sword. (Unless you use the loop trick I mentioned earlier.)


Customization Intensity
Low to Average-  
The variables in intensity here depend on how detailed you want to make the paintwork here. If you go for a monochromatic Vintage inspired palette, then it's Super Easy. If you go for a 200X palette, then it becomes a bit more intricate. It might become even harder if you try the added customization ideas for the Kama that I mentioned earlier.

Product Details
Price - $45 for the set
Marketplace - Shapeways
Seller - Evil Mike 


Buy Here!





About The Author
Nefty
Lifelong Masters fans, forged in Filmation, shaped by 200X. Also loves other toy properties for boys and girls. Has a love-Hate relationship with The Mighty Spector.



Letter from the Editor: We are back! And .... a lot has changed?
Man-At-Arm's Workshop 9:26 PM 0 comments

 photo bookalpha_zps384v2rky.jpg

After a brief sabbatical, we are back! And....what the hell has been going on in MOTUC?

First off, I want to express my deepest gratitude for those who choose to follow this website and read our content. MAAW took a brief sabbatical recently but during this time we've been hunting down collectibles, following MOTUC and all of the customizers closely. And I think we have some great new things for us to look at.

During our "break" though, MOTUC was shaken up with the latest news at SDCC. No need repeating what that news is exactly because it's already been discussed ad nausem on every other website/forum.

Yet among the billion perspectives, we want to offer ours. And we would be humbled if you chose to humor us and read on:

It has been our position from day one that toy collecting is a hobby that should be fun. By and large, I do my absolute best to avoid politics because I feel like ruminating about the toy industry takes away from the fun that I value above all else.

On the other hand, it's impossible to note feel upset when you pay 12 USD for a package that takes 9 days to arrive, in a box that is too large and without sufficient bubble wrap etc. And of course, when a line switches companies, that's hard to ignore as well. And I followed every step of the news closely and with much anxiety.

Yet, the whole affair hasn't provided a lot of information. The Pixel Dan interview with Brian from Super7 is the only oasis we have in, what seems to be, a desert of confusion and uncertainty.

After watching the video, I felt confident that the line was in the right hands. For the first time in 10+ years, we have the possibility of new media, the 4 Horseman are still at the helm and overall Brian expressed a level of conscientiousness about trying to maintain and even improve quality. All of this was incredibly invigorating into a line which had some dark clouds around it for a long time.

Yet of course, I have concerns-- just like everyone else in the community. Price. Execution. Quality. Delivery. Etc. Those concerns quickly invaded my mind and stayed there, for a long time. And during that time, I found myself not looking at/interacting with my MOTUC collection as often.... until I realized that I missed my hobby.

And then, I came back to my core philosophy. Enjoy the figures. Stop thinking so much. Choose to be excited than afraid. Every action we have within this hobby is a choice. And so ask I, have your choices lately made you happy?

Welcome back readers, thanks for returning and remember to have fun.





About The Author
Tarquinius
Life long action figure collector and weekend warrior customizer. Enjoys collecting everything from DC, MOTU and designer toys with his beautiful wife (who is a better collector). Adores everything Fisto.



Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mon-Stor Kit by JimPansen Creations
Man-At-Arm's Workshop 10:29 PM 1 comments

Introduction:

It's alive! It.is.ah-live! And it is ubiquitously badass. Seriously. You need to check out our first look at a JimPansen creation and it is guaranteed to not disappoint.




Background:

For the current piece, there is not a true "background" as the piece is a unique kit from the mind of JimPansen.

In an interview with the man himself, I asked him about his inspiration for the kit itself. Kevin mentioned that he was inspired by horror genre characters including zombies, Frankenstein's monster and Frank Frazetta. Kevin mentioned that in the creation of the figure itself, he didn't have a preconceived backstory or bio for the kit and prefers to inspire others to create their own.

Admittedly, I always enjoy it when artists dare to go in this direction. To create something from your own imagination is to take a bet on your creativity and to expose yourself to mass criticism. It's certainly a hard approach to take but one that I find admirable.

Product:

The version up for review today is the full painted kit with the magnetic accessory.



From the order being placed to the day it arrived on my doorstep, the process took exactly two weeks. For a custom kit that contains 4 pieces, fully painted and coming from overseas, that is pretty fantastic. Throughout the entire process Kevin was super professional and thoughtful. Hell, there was even some German candy in the box as well!

Upon first inspection, I was overwhelmed. My eyes were immediately drawn to the face (unhelmeted) as I inspected the meticulous and beautiful detail.



I always like to judge faces first because the quality is indicative of the artist's overall talent. Faces are incredibly difficult and it is immediately noticeable if the face is anatomically wonky.

The key to anatomical correctness is the proportion of the facial elements and also symmetry. However, true mastery is indicated when an artist can distort the face, leave out facial elements, defy symmetry and still make it readable as a face. That is exactly what we have here.

It's clearly a face, despite the unique elements that defy symmetry. Take a look for example of the exposed bone on the left side of the chin. Or the non-symmetrical pattern of the decaying flesh on the face. The face is very monstrous and has a certain malice to it.

And the artistry doesn't stop there. All pieces feature a pretty complex paint job with multiple layers to bring out every inch of detail-- the rust on the armor, the gradient on the tusks, the transparent purple on the mask lens and the wash on the face. All paint is super clean, crisp and saturated.

Honestly, when it comes to detail in this kit, there is just too much to name concisely-- the detail on the helmet, the skull on the armor, the cross stitching on the leather weapon holder, the detail on the hilt of the blade are some standout examples.




And throughout all of this, I haven't even got to the neatest feature yet. Embedded in the mask, there is a small circular magnet that interacts with another magnet on the face itself. This allows the mask to stay on the face and in place. The magnet is strong enough to keep the mask on the head sturdily. I can shake the figure vigorously and it stays on like a champ. Additionally, the magnet won't really catch until you have the mask right in place. Overall, the mask fits very neatly and tightly on the face.

In regard to engineering, all pieces fit well on the MOTUC body. The head actually features a fitted socket at the head. I'm not sure how JPC was able to pull that off-- either by super duper awesome engineering or by remodding a known head. Regardless it is very awesome to have a tight fit on the head socket. The armor fits well on the body although it tends to move around a lot if you move the figure around. I'd recommend a bit of blu-tac on the neck of the figure to keep the armor from shifting.

The dagger has a holster on the back of the armor which fits well. Additionally, the dagger fits well in the standard MOTUC male grip.



All-in-all, I cannot say enough good things about this set. There is a reason why this piece has been reviewed by multiple other sources-- because it is incredible. While the price tag is the highest we've seen thus far for a kit I believe that between the paint, the engineering, the detail, and the contents of the kit, I believe that it is justified.




Conclusion:

Pros-
- Engineering is tight, everything fits well on the MOTUC body
- Painting is top notch
- Action feature with magnets
- 4 components in the kit = bang for your buck

Cons-
- None

Customization Intensity
None- If you buy pre-painted, just slap it on and have fun!

Product Details
Price- $85 + S/H for full magnetic kit
Marketplace- Direct from seller
Seller- JimPansen

Contact JimPansen via the store page on Facebook for ordering details




About The Author
Tarquinius
Life long action figure collector and weekend warrior customizer. Enjoys collecting everything from DC, MOTU and designer toys with his beautiful wife (who is a better collector). Adores everything Fisto.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Mantenna Gun
Justin D 9:17 PM 0 comments

Introduction:
Calling all Filmation fans! We have another artifact from the vaults which is sure to tickle your nostalgia bone. Read on!

Background:
While it breaks my heart to say this, it is impossible to not say the obvious: nearly all MOTU characters are one dimensional and feature a single power/gimmick.

However, the vintage cartoon often gets around that by temporarily giving a character an artifact or weapon of some kind that spices things up. The review item we have today is an example of that.



Mantenna's singular power is kind of cool and even unique. He essentially uses sonic waves via his eyes to disturb and incapacitate an entire group of foes. When you think about it, that is a pretty important power for a Horde leader whose job is to control a subjugated population. Unfortunately the only thing that would be missing would be a more "lethal option."

As far as I know, no one has explored Mantenna's sonic capabilities to the point of lethality. Filmation was always too kid friendly to imply and kind of death. And in most other depictions (200x, modern comics), Mantenna was always a C character who got a brief reference and was killed off or forgotten quickly. So there is no precedent for how strong his sonic waves could get-- which still leaves us without a lethal option.

Then we turn to the object at hand today! Mantenna's Ray Gun brought to us by Freemanmindstoys (FMMT)! Featured in Princess of Power for a hot second and forever emblazoned in our hearts.


Product:
This item was provided as a review sample from FMMT and came pre-painted.

Upon first inspection, the ray gun screams Filmation aesthetic. Filmation design is defined by it's color palette, simple use of detail and 70's era fantasy/space style guide.



FMMT hit the notes perfectly. When I compare the gun to the source material, the gun looks pretty spot on. The angle from which we see Mantenna's gun is a bit awkward in the show and doesn't provide as much depth as a 3D modeller would like. So I can imagine that FMMT had to extrapolate some information from the image to help with translation. Overall, I think he did a fantastic job of taking a brief 2-D image and turning it into a 3D model.

In regard to detail, it is in keeping with the source material and therefore is Filmation-esque. The nozzle of the gun has that 50's space ray gun theme, and the body of the gun has several buttons around it-- all of which come directly from the cartoon.



And to be clear, while FMMT has created a piece with minimal detail, this does not bring into question his skills of delivering detail. Case and point, see the review on his Slither Staff. And similar to the Slither Staff, FMMT's execution on this is excellent-- smooth curves, proportional, and sturdy.

All-in-all, Filmation fans will truly enjoy this piece whereas 200x or hyper detail fans may find this a bit lackluster. This is certainly not FMMT's fault as he remained faithful to the source material. However, I think it would be neat one day to see this re-imagined in hyper detail to appeal to the "other crowd."

Finally, the piece sits snuggly and sounded into Mantenna's grip which is a bit different then the standard MOTUC hand.

So what is the verdict? I love stuff like this. Only in this type of community can we get these obscure objects that can transform a figure. As I said before, Mantenna's natural power may lack the lethal punch, but with a bit of imagination and this piece, Mantenna becomes a fearsome opponent. FMMT truly delivered on this.



Conclusion:

Pros-
- Source accurate (Filmation)
- Fits in Mantenna's hands


Cons-
- May not appeal to non-Filmation fans

Customization Intensity
Low- Simple silver paint job and done!

Product Details
Price- $6.77
Marketplace- Shapeways
Seller- Freemanmindstoys

Buy Here!




About The Author
Tarquinius
Life long action figure collector and weekend warrior customizer. Enjoys collecting everything from DC, MOTU and designer toys with his beautiful wife (who is a better collector). Adores everything Fisto.