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Journal Archives from July 2011
Celestial Buddies - Sun

I was so delighted to have received my first Celestial Buddy in the mail earlier this week, and I was glad to see that the small company marketing was being handled well with a bright and catchy sticker right on the box. My postman was even made somewhat more jolly by it - and that's always a good thing! Getting the word out about a small business is a monumental task - sure these days there are all the 'social' channels, but that also means that there is just that much more information to wade through. Any easy, inexpensive idea like this is a must for an upstart company, and it worked on me. Granted I was already a customer, but at least one other person saw it, and probably plenty more.

There are a handful of characters in the launch wave of this new line (Sun, Earth, Mars, Moon), and I started with the big guy - Sun! He was very excited to be released from his cardboard confinement, and was streamlined by his plastic shipping necessity.

When I first learned about these Plush Planetary Pals at Toy Fair, I admit that the Sun figure was the one that really grabbed me. The quality and detail of the material which constitutes his solar flares and energetic emanations is very high, and the entrepreneur behind the line assured me that it was no small task to find a manufacturer that could make the vision a reality. I did my best to fix the plush for his big photoshoot, but a comb would probably have helped. I think he still looks great! Also a nice touch is the name on the bottom of the right foot. The stitching there is very solid as well, and ads a nice touch of quality (and pedagogy reinforcement!) to the figure.

They are still a small company, just getting rolling, but I think these cute little guys really sell themselves well. Each one also comes with an informative card, lodging it firmly in the realm of 'awesome educational toy' that should be a no-brainer of a gift for the clever kid on your list, as we just now start to dip our toe into the holiday season. Be sure to visit their website where you can pick up the first few characters, and if we give them enough support we will eventually have the whole Solar System! (and beyond!)

Posted by charlie on July 29th 2011, 07:15 AM
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Tosh.0 and the Leprechaun Investigation

If the internet is known for one thing, that thing is humorous videos. It was brilliant of the Youtube guys to tap into that obvious (in hindsight) wellspring of killer-app, and we all have our favorites over the years. One of my very favorites, and perhaps yours as well, is the Leprechaun video...a real classic of the genre, if you will. If you haven't seen it, or want to see it again, well here you go.

Now, many of you may be familiar with Daniel Tosh and his web video sendup comedy programme Tosh.0 on Comedy Central. Using his new found celebrity and the budget that appears to come with it, he's done some truly amazing meta-work in bringing 'Internet Celebrities' back from the realm of digital flash-in-the-pan to starring roles on his show. Well, this week it was the turn of the Leprechaun video, and several of the guys who were associated with it. Behold the good work that Tosh is doing via the 'extended' interview with Flute Man!

I think my very favorite part of the video is the look of genuine shock and astonishment when the guy whips THE 'leprechaun flute' out of his coat pocket. You can see the edited piece that actually aired, complete with the original 'sketch artist' here. While both the notion of overnight Internet Celebrity, and the meta enjoyment coming from unearthing them and parading them around may be a fleeing side-effect of the current phase of development of the Internet, it sure is fun while it lasts.

Posted by charlie on July 28th 2011, 07:28 PM
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imaginext DIno-Riders

Waay back at Toy Fair in February, we saw a new sub-line that was scheduled to be part of the imaginext brand by Mattel. This line featured dinosaurs, which is always an awesome thing by itself. What was better still, however, was that the dinosaurs came with high powered weapons and armor, as well as 'riders' who would ostensibly use the dinos in their combat operations! Yet another 80s moment was had at the show, and now after 6 months of waiting it looks like everyone else may have it too.

These great new sets - some of them at least - have finally turned up at my local target and even have their own endcap in the toy section! You'll note a few cool additions to their wonderful Batman line as well, hanging out with the dinos. I'll see what I can do about adding some legitimate coverage for these sets to the Preserve, because they were definitely one of the favorite things that I saw at the big toy show.

Posted by charlie on July 27th 2011, 05:00 PM
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Captain Power - Update

A new video has appeared on the Captain Power Facebook page, and while I figure everyone has a Facebook account I don't really like linking to it to share a video, so I've determined how to get around that necessity! Here's the latest promo vid - watch and enjoy!

Posted by charlie on July 26th 2011, 06:36 AM
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Transformers - Dark of the Moon - Target Exclusive Space Case

While Transformers: Dark of the Moon has been in theaters for only a few weeks, it is almost set to cross the $1 Billion earning mark, and that's before it's even been released in Japan. I think that means they are going to make another baker's dozen of the things, so it should be a rocking 20 years! Well, new toys keep trickling out to stores as you would rightly imagine, and Target has unleashed a new checklane endcap of their 4 new exclusive deluxe figures. While of course we have Bumblebee and Jazz (not so exciting), we also have Arcee with a crazy new 'sidecar' that acts as a stand for the strangely designed figure. But the real capstone of the set is Space Case - and of course he ends up being astonishingly short packed! Of the massive display I found one morning, which looked untouched, there were only 2 Space Case figure. Maybe it's the case of the sneaky stock boy! Well, click through to see more about this fantastic, crazy figure!

Posted by charlie on July 25th 2011, 05:09 PM
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Picture of the Week - Tim Dunigan and Jessica Steen

I've seen a lot of cool pictures this week.

I mean, it is San Diego Comic Con - happening even as I type this. The various awesome folk from Blair Butler, Jimmy Palmiotti, Adam Pawlus and anyone you can imagine have all descended on that fair local, which is miraculously spared from the heat wave that most of the rest of the country is currently suffering. The assembled hoards of toy and comic and entertainment bloggers are wearing their camera and keyboard fingers to painful little nubs, generating content for the rest of us lame-o couch jockeys, sitting at home, hanging on their every word. Well - of all the amazing things that I've seen this week, I think I've found my favorite - and it has little to do with SDCC at all.

That is Tim Dunigan and Jessica Steen - you may better know them as Captain Jonathan Power and Corporal Jennifer 'Pilot' Chase. The show is one of the very favorite things around the Preserve, hearkening from 1987 and much like Babylon 5 it is the brainchild of one J. Michael Straczynski; recent news has been that they are revitalizing the brand for 2012 (so sayeth facebook). There's a DVD coming of the old show, and some vague, as yet unspecified revival as well. That image is, I believe, from the recording of the DVD commentary track for a few episodes that Dunigan and Steen provided for this new release, which is of course a mandatory purchase for anyone who ever enjoyed the show.

I'm just made very happy by it, and felt that, in this wash of 'new media' pouring out of San Diego this week, I could think of no better way for us all to sail into the weekend. Gotta get me one of those.
Posted by charlie on July 22nd 2011, 06:38 PM
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Press Release - Lego Super Heroes
Press Release - News on the 'toy business wire' two days ago was that Lego had secured character and story rights with both Marvel and DC, quite an achievement to be sure! This opens the door for an amazing array of products and designs, and they have sent a pair of press releases our way to describe the new deals and a little of what we can expect to see in early 2012. Click through to read all about it, and to see a teaser video from them as well!  Read More
Posted by charlie on July 21st 2011, 07:06 AM
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Matty Collector News for 2012

Ok, it seems that I can't resist. The gravitational pull of all this new information is simply too strong to escape entirely! This is a good one, though, since it's both a 'sneak peek' of sorts, and a really abundant, numerous amount of data as well. Seems that Mattel has posted not one, not two, but FOUR subscription plans for 2012. You simply must check them out!

There you will land on the Voltron subscription page, and will learn that all 5 lions (which form into a 23" Voltron figure!), as well as all 5 pilots, AS WELL AS BONUS SVEN, are all part of the (reasonably priced!) 2012 subscription. Links are there for the Masters of the Universe Classics plan, as well as an astonishing 2nd year for Ghostbusters, and a first year for DC Universe.

There's a lot there to be surprised about - including the recent alteration of the just-posted figure schedule for MOTUC leading some to speculate that they tipped their hand early. We're sure to have more announced and confirmed at the Mattel panel at SDCC later this week, but for now check out their site with all of these great options. Then - subscribe on 7/22/2011!

Posted by charlie on July 20th 2011, 07:14 AM
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San Diego Comic Con - Celestial Buddies!

Well, it's that time of year again. The massive, industry defining, pop-culture mega blitz of the San Diego Comic Con is this week, and starts in a very short amount of time. There have, of course, been a blizzard of press releases coming in the door but I've kind of not bothered with them this year. I mean - covering this event has really started to feel like the most redundant thing one can do all year, and I'm sure that if you aren't sick of reading about the exclusives and the events yet, that you will be soon. Better, I feel, that I stick the the theme of the Preserve of not trying to cover everything, but just cover things I think will be particularly interesting, and do so in small bite sized chunks.

As such, I'm delighted to share with you my first show-related news of the season, and it is from a company that we met at Toy Fair back in February - Celestial Buddies! In particular:

We have just received our first bulk order and filled our first wholesale orders. Sun, Moon, Mars and Earth are now available on our website: Additionally, the four characters will be traveling to San Diego Comic Con and will be displayed at the Gannmemorial Booth.

So if you are going to make it to the show this year, be sure to stop by and see the Buddies. They really are delightful, educational, and are worthy of the success that I just know is coming their way!

Posted by charlie on July 19th 2011, 06:13 AM
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Transformers - Movie 2007 - Walmart Exclusive Divebomb

Continuing where we left off with the now 4 year old figures from the first live action movie, we have another Walmart Exclusive - Divebomb! This figure started out being sort of hard to find, and then was clogging pegs as unexpected refresher shipments of these exclusive figures suddenly started to hit and rehit Walmart stores around the country.

What really makes this figure shine, though, is the unapologetic, eye searing, gorgeous paint job which immediately conjures up memories of gasish and beautiful G2 Transformers of yesteryear. Click through the image to learn more about Divebomb, and see how cool it was, even in 2007!

Posted by charlie on July 18th 2011, 02:08 AM
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Transformers - Movie 2007 - Walmart Exclusive Jolt

In a rare show of reasonability, and of decent salesmanship, I set up a Transformers display at my local comic shop (as you may remember from a different post). What differs this year from others is that the figures are for sale, and I've actually been able to move a few. This has encouraged me to snap a few additional pics as things go out the door - for posterity sake and to be sure they are adequately Preserved.

Here, then, we have the Walmart Exclusive figure of Jolt, from the line of toys to accompany the very first live action Transformers movie. Oh - what a long time ago that seems to be. Before Devestator's balls. Before Robot Heaven. Before whatever happens in movie #3 that I haven't seen yet. It was a simpiler time, to be sure and one that, with the benefit of hindsight, we are now able to look back upon kindly. So click through the image below, and learn more about this 4 year old exclusive figure!

"No NO no nO no NO!!.." - Shia the Beef

Posted by charlie on July 15th 2011, 10:05 PM
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Gaming - Leaving the House Again?

I've been reading the recent articles by Richard Gottlieb over at Global Toy News where he has been talking about pinball machines and how they may in some ways be seen as an allegory to the toy industry. He also clarified a long-standing question I had silently been asking myself, and he is in fact no relation to the Gottlieb pinball empire (of yore).

He discusses the sensory experience that one receives from a pinball machine, and how that total sensory immersion is so important to the experience. I've often had this same discussion, as I champion pinball as something that the home console gaming revolution was never quite able to vanquish - though sadly as went arcades in general, so went pinball as well, save for the odd bowling alley and laundromat here and there. The point is a great one, though, and speaks to things that the toy industry can remember to make a plaything really special, but also - as he says - to learn from the past but apply those lessons to the present and where we want to go. It is only with foresight that any industry, especially those which, in times of economic hardship, are for entertainment like arcades and toys, can grow and succeed.

My follow-on theory as pertains to the gaming industry, and I realize that it is an overly optimistic one, is that perhaps it is time for the resurgence of the arcade as a physical space. What with the explosive growth of 'social' experience tools online, which strive to bring people together, and the myriad apps that 'connect' you to others with similar interests, doesn't it logically follow that maybe people are tired of sitting in their dim living rooms playing xbox games, and are perhaps ready once again to have a shared experience with like minded people in a fun space? An interesting possibility, and something to watch over the months ahead.

Posted by charlie on July 14th 2011, 10:04 PM
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Transformers - Hunt for the Decepticons - Night Ops Ratchet

It took a second pass by this figure, and the second chance to pick it up afforded to me by the strange and wonderful buying habits of TJ Maxx of late, but Night Ops Ratchet turns out to be a good looking Bot. This voyager class figure hailed from the release wave of the Hunt for the Decepticons line, and is another example of Hasbro needing to sneak a prefix onto the name to properly trademark it. Interestingly, it seems from the bio that they initially were going to go the standard, boring route of 'Autobot Ratchet', but ended up with at least the moderately more catchy and interesting 'Night Ops Ratchet'.

Well, a rose by any other name...right? So, click through the image to see a few more angles of this figure, and to read the bio and stats!

Posted by charlie on July 13th 2011, 10:31 PM
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Space Invaders Invaded by Transformers Producers

I've done my share of complaining about the new Transformers movies, while always tempering it with a level headed admission that more money in the Hasbro coffers simply can't be seen as a bad thing for the collector world. Step back for a second, then, and consider that the Preserve had as it's founding principle a dual love - that of both toys AND games. I've had the good fortune in my lifetime to own and operate an arcade, have a collection of nearly all of the main US consoles produced from the Odyssey 2 through Playstation 3, and have a sizable collection of partially working arcade and pinball machines. So you could say I have more than a passing interest in the gaming industry, and the proud history thereof - abysmal lack of Preserve coverage not withstanding.

Therefore, it was with no small degree of shock that I read this short article, outlining how the Producers of the Transformers movies have acquired the rights to Space Invaders.
Let that sink in.

I figure that, much how the Transformers movies were basically army promo videos with nausea-inducing close-up, manic, jumbled CGI effects, apparently only grudgingly staring these irritating robots who can talk and change shape now and then, so shall any movie based on one of the most classic of video game titles bear little to no resemblance to the source material. Still, if one thinks about it too much it does become moderately upsetting, but as with most things I find it best to avoid that particular exercise.

Suffice to say, I felt you should all know about it, and I suppose it will be interesting to see if this story ends up developing into anything. Let's all just hope that it does not star The Beef. We've had enough of him for now, thanks. I suspect what will happen, and the best we can hope for, is that it will be a fairly generic, action packed alien invasion movie, with the title "Space Invaders" and maybe a winking-nod to the old THUP-THUP-THUP sound of the invaders' descent, performed by Academy Award winner Trent Reznor.

Posted by charlie on July 12th 2011, 06:57 PM
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Transformers - Reveal the Shield Bumblebee

Want another copy of Bumblebee? This time with a jet ski like some sort of Eastbound and Down character? Well,of course you do! This figure from wave 6 of the deluxe releases from the Hunt for the Decepticons / Reveal the Shield line was moderately hard to find at retail, but is now cropping up at TJ Maxx around the country, including at mine! Click the image to see some more high-res pics of this figure, and check out yet another bio of this clever little bot.

Posted by charlie on July 11th 2011, 02:20 AM
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Final NASA Shuttle Launch - Ever - 11:26 a.m. EDT July 8, 2011

This morning, weather permitting, will see the final launch of the NASA shuttle program. For most of us who grew up with Star Wars and Transformers, the Shuttle WAS space. It was the physical manifestation, the actual real life achievement by mankind of the fictional and fantastic stories we all enjoyed watching and reading. I, like most other nerds, was well familiar with the moon landings and the Apollo missions but what counted during my lifetime were the brave men and women who rode that big white space truck to the stars, over and over again.

I never did make it to a launch, which is a shame, but do hope to catch this one on NASA TV today, as should you. Let's all remember how the Shuttle was a part of our nerdy, space loving lives since launch #1 on April 12, 1981, and wish a safe launch and return for Atlantis, mission STS-135.

Posted by charlie on July 8th 2011, 06:28 AM
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Transformers - Reveal the Shield - Deep Dive

Partnered along with Grappel in the recent mysterious release of last-wave figures to hit the national discount stores, Deep Dive is also to be found for the astute toy hunter. While my notes place him in a solitary one-figure wave 5, the true final wave, it's clear that he's shipping with the wave 4 set, and here he is in the Preserve! Click the image for more details on this cool looking repaint.

Posted by charlie on July 7th 2011, 11:09 AM
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Transformers - Dark of the Moon - Hatchet

I admit that I haven't been buying very many of the Transformers - Dark of the Moon figures, having grown weary of the Bay-style bots. However, thanks to the huge amount of money that the movies have brought into Hasbro - and the latest one is on track to be the biggest win yet - they have been given the flexibility to kindly make Transformers figures that appeal directly to us adult collectors who are more set in our ways. I figure I'll simply bide my time and wait for the cool stuff they are no doubt working on even now.

That being said, my local KMart somehow turned up the third wave of Commander figures from the new movie line before any sign of them has appeared elsewhere in town, and elsewhere in most of the country. What I discovered in this wave is Hatchet, and I admit that it's my favorite figure I've yet seen from this line. In general I'm a big fan of the "Scout", now called "Commander" class of figure, as I feel it has just the right level of detail, ease of transformation (for my old brain), price and play factor.

I think this figure is still pretty tough to track down, especially since the pegs appear to be clogging a bit. Not sure if that's a subtle indication that kids aren't gobbling up the movie with enough gusto, which usually translates into product sales, but with clogging comes the dreaded inability to find later waves of product. At least you know Hatchet exists now, and that he's cool, and that you should keep an eye out!

Posted by charlie on July 6th 2011, 07:50 AM
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Transformers - Reveal the Shield - Solar Storm Grappel

It became clear that my local TJ Maxx wasn't going to come through with the rare, wave ending Voyager figures from the Reveal the Shield line, but some research on line proved that Marshall's was the place to be! As such, on a recent out-of-state drive I had the good fortune to pass by such an establishment, and was more than happy to pillage their nearly-complete selection of said voyager figures!

In particular, I was excited to find "Solar Storm Grappel" (note the spelling) - a good looking figure with a sad bio that I was delighted to add to the Preserve. The figure has a special history with me as well, as Grapple was the only G1 figure that I didn't originally get in my youthful collecting days with my Dad. My reasoning then, however flawed, was that he was a repaint of Inferno, and I instructed my Dad to skip him over. By the time I came to my senses, that wave was off of store shelves and in the misty past it wasn't so easy to track down any retail product that has ever been conceived and sold. As such, it was many years later (and not a very concerted effort on my part, more of an itch in the back of my brain) when I was first learning about the Internet and spending time on the Transformers 'message boards' (ca. 1993 - a year much closer to the actual production of G1 Grapple than it is to today...yikes) when I had my next chance.

A mega-collector blew out his collection one week, and I picked up several great figures, like a boxed 1984 Prime, a spare boxed Prowl and Cyclonus, and yes a beautiful boxed Grapple. Prices at the time seemed a tad steep, though in retrospect they were rock bottom, given some of the market changes that have taken place. Solar Storm Grappel here represents a much shorter hunt, but I'm glad to have been able to add him to the Preserve through good old fashioned store-hopping, and not an aftermarket device. In some ways, it's closure to a decades long oversight, and how often do we ever get those?

Posted by charlie on July 5th 2011, 08:20 AM
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Happy 4th of July, USA Readers

My holiday bbq dinner is, I like to think, very American.

Happy 4th of July, all of you in the USA.

Posted by charlie on July 4th 2011, 05:00 PM
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Transformers - Dark of the Moon - the Topless Robot Review

I figured that we could wrap up the week with a pointer to the Dark of the Moon "FAQ" over at today. The write-up that Rob did for Revenge of the Fallen is pretty well known as a great rundown of the insanity in that film, and he has again produced a document that should make it very clear what you're getting into before you buy that ticket. This nice three day holiday weekend may give me a chance to see the film, which I have grudgingly decided I should do having finally found an Optimus Prime Cine-Mask at KMart. After all, even the critics that don't like the movie at all seem to agree that the 3D is pretty great, and obviously worth seeing in the theater. I suppose that if one were to wait to see it at home, and subsequently miss out on that part, then there is one less redeeming quality to the production. So read Rob's review, I guess go check out the movie, and have a happy 4th!

Oh and if any of you are upset about the spoiler in my header image, I have to point out that you certainly can't tell the BayBots apart, so who knows who gets killed!!

Posted by charlie on July 1st 2011, 03:32 PM
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