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Journal Archives from September 2011
Midway's Surface to Air Missile Interceptor (S.A.M.I.)

If ever there was a great example of why I see arcade machines as beautiful works of art, this Midway game from 1970, S.A.M.I., is surely a perfect example. I ran across this one while doing a semi-local search for machines of the arcade variety and it stopped me dead in my tracks with art that is so bold, so perfectly of it's time, that it demands to be appreciated.

Let's end the week on this, shall we? And remember a time when a game, like a TV, was a piece of furniture, not a mere suggestion of technology that allows you to consume ever-less-permanent constructs of an ever-accelerating society. Time to go dust off a pinball machine - have a good weekend.

And any long time readers of the Preserve probably recognize how I enjoy the context of this photo - the piece of art in the cluttered garage - a true still life for our times.

Posted by charlie on September 30th 2011, 09:14 PM
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G.I. Joe - 30 for 30 - Police K-9 Unit

Do you recognize this figure? The 12" Police K-9 Unit from the currently-in-stores G.I. Joe 30 for 30 collection? Of course you do - because no one is buying them! In fairness, this one seems to sell the best out of the set of 12" figures that are currently available, at least in my neck of the woods. I suspect it's because of the cool looking K-9, regardless of dismal articulation.

I remember that ages ago we asked Hasbro in the Joe Q&A what the future looked like for 12" figures, and were assured that there would be none. Well - it's great that they surprised us with this line, and we were so delighted to see them at Toy Fair. Better still, they have actual soft goods on the figures, which has, in the past, been a severely lacking feature which makes these seem higher quality and worth the $19.99 price.

Problem is? I think they would have done better to celebrate the 30th anniversary of G.I. Joe with some named characters. I suspect that a Roadblock or (of course) Snake Eyes in this scale with an actual cloth outfit would fly off the shelves. I sort of understand their plan with these figures (well, not really) but think they missed out by not using their own characters. Hopefully enough of them sell that we ever see a wave 2, but it's likely that this will just fizzle out, and soon we'll be slapped full force with the sure-to-be-massive line in support of the upcoming live action movie in 2012!

Posted by charlie on September 29th 2011, 05:29 PM
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eBay Watch - Bill & Ted - Abe Lincoln Prototype

Prototypes from lines that we like here at the Preserve are always exciting things, so I can't resist highlighting a currently active eBay auction for a prototype Lincoln from the small yet mighty Bill & Ted line! Click the image to be taken to the auction, and get bidding if you're a proto collector! You can fire the opening salvo in the war for Abe, or buy it now for a fair number of pounds!

Posted by charlie on September 28th 2011, 05:49 PM
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Transformers: Reveal the Shield - Strafe

Thanks to the Transformers-fan buyers at TJ Maxx, not only did we all get a shot at securing the final two waves of Voyager class figures from the pre-DOTM round of releases, but they were ordered in sufficient quantity to be restocked several times! I thought for sure I'd missed out on Strafe, but months later a whole case, or maybe two, popped up on shelves and still is mostly there today. Of course, this has tanked the aftermarket for these figures, which is just as well! Everyone should have a chance to get Solar Storm Grapple, and Strafe here is also a great looking figure. Click the image for the gallery of this item, along with the bio of this easily-startled Autobot!

Posted by charlie on September 27th 2011, 02:56 PM
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Masters of the Universe Classics - Hurricane Hordak

In the classic line, this re-issue of Hordak was a late-wave piece from 1986 - it is one that I do not remember very well, and more than likely never added to the original collection. I think I had begun to drift away from the line and had gotten more focused on the robot side of the toy world than the humanoid one, and MOTU suffered as a result. Of course, I have no doubt that when my Dad saw Eternia in Toys R Us, that it blew him away as much as it still does to me, and that's precisely why I got it that magical Christmas day, regardless of my current state of MOTU interest.

As usual, the Horsemen have done a splendid job of updating this figure and his various Thunderball weapons - and check out that vac-metal chest plate! Click the image for the gallery and bio.

Posted by charlie on September 26th 2011, 02:33 AM
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Ghostbusters Plush Claw Machine Winston Success!

Big American Party! Yes, we all knew I'd go back, and it was frustrating when I did so (frantically, at 7:30am the next morning...) because the easy grabs of Egon and Mr. Stay Puft and even the Slimers had already vanished. What remained were some dismal chances at buried Ray's or a tantalizingly impossible Egon and Winston stuffed in a far distant corner.

I seem to recall, from years past, that the truly unfair claw machines would allow you to just move in each direction once, and then the claw would drop. I guess I should be thankful that this one had a 20 second timer, and I could fiddle with the alignment as much as I wanted, though given the limp claw it didn't much matter! The only way I was successful in scoring Winston was that the back corner was really high up with stuff, and the end of the claw caught under his arm (a convenient snag-point, it turns out) while I was aiming for Egon, and dragged him most of the way back to the chute! Having a good feeling about things from there on out, I had the presence of mind to turn on the ol' video phone, which we can now all enjoy for posterity!

Posted by charlie on September 23rd 2011, 06:14 AM
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Masters of the Universe Classics - Leech

As has been happening a lot for the past year or so, I've been behind on the Masters of the Universe Classics line by Mattel. It is due to this shortcoming that, when I returned home today to see the jolly brown box from the Digital River fulfillment center, I became determined to get one of the splendid contents posted to the Preserve tonight.

And, so I have!

Here is Leech, a great update of the classic character, who now looks like a serious scary foe instead of like Birdo from Mario 2. I think all that really needs to be said, by way of review is:

"Evil Master of Power Suction"

Mattel also threw in a wacky $5 coupon for the DC Universe Classics line which was unceremoniously lying on the bottom of the box - easy to miss with the packing paper. Not to be alarmist or anything, but I suspect that confirms suspicions that sales are down. Of course, maybe they're just being nice to their customers...
HAHAHAHAHAHhahahaha oooo...

Posted by charlie on September 22nd 2011, 02:52 AM
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Toys R Us - Times Square - September 18th, 2011 Walkthrough

It was a little challenging to do with all of the people, given that I'm used to doing my various store filming and photography with 2, maaaybe 3 people in the way. That and I always suffer from an immediate onset of euphoria and light headedness when I visit the Toys R Us store right in the middle of Times Square. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot to record a short video of walking off the street, right in to the store, past the camera guy, past Captain America (!) and up to the Transformers and T-Rex. So - if you're interested, here it is!

Did I 100% fail to notice the Thundercats display while I was filming, thereby missing the perfect finale to my shot, and getting my very first look at these figures on tape? Yep, sure did. At least they were there, and at least I got to look them over and be impressed. The more 'rare' pieces were long gone (COUGHcheetaraCOUGH) but it was fun anyway.

I was also surprised to find a later-wave Captain America figure (Desert Ambush) as well as what has to be wave 3 (?) of Thor figures, with numbers in the high teens somehow. Overall, it was the typically magical experience - I may be in the city a few more times over the next month, so will see about further refining my video efforts!

Posted by charlie on September 21st 2011, 04:57 PM
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Claw Machine Busters

When I was younger, I was probably what one would call a mallrat. I didn't drive, didn't have a car, and the Willow Grove Mall outside Philadelphia was close enough for my friend Ryan and I to walk there from his house. Having a White Castle on the way didn't hurt either - oh the joy and folly of youth. As Kevin Smith admonished in what I still feel is his finest work, I wasn't there to shop, I wasn't there to work, I was just there. I've never had much of a shopping agenda, either then or now, but I do know my primary agenda: to hang out in the arcade - Challenges.

I've mentioned Challenges before, as it played such a huge part in my youth and was one of the few out-of-the-house places I actually was comfortable and enjoyed. It was a busy place, as arcades were in the late 80s / early 90s, until it suffered the fate of so many fine establishments and became a 'family fun center' with the ticket dispensers, brighter lights, and a generally cleaner feel. Disaster, I tell you! Before that ignominious end descended upon the place, however, the owners did manage to do right by us gamers, and kept a constant parade of the best new hardware marching in the door on a weekly basis.

Now, everyone knows that claw machines are somewhat of a chump's game. The prizes really are worthless, the controls are janky, and the claws are so limp that it's something of an astonishing surprise when you get anything in the chute. Only once did I get hooked on the Clean Sweep machine at Challenges (have to love the chase-pattern lightbulbs) and managed to coax big and little matching red dolphins out of the machine. How much time and how much money it took, and why I did so, are all mysteries best left to the ages.

While I still idly glance at claw machines all the years since my time at Challenges, and am glad that at least one vestige of a proper arcade still somehow fits in with the location plans of the dwindling operators who score Walmart, Service Area or BJs contracts, I have never been tempted to drop a single quarter in these many years. Never, that is, until last night.

I suppose it's a testimony to the distinctive character design of Slimer that he caught my eye as I was fleeing the store after my toyrun. I stopped long enough to ponder 'wow, a rip off Slimer - I think Aykroyd's gonna sue somebody'. But imagine the whiplash double-take I did when I saw the tan flight suit and perfect blue-shaded eye glasses. And then a glasses-less face with a big smirk. And then the cool chillin' eyes and mustache of Mr. Hudson himself! Yes, in fact all four of 'the boys in gray' are there, slugging it out with the far lesser offerings to be had in the machine. They are sitting on top. They are taunting me so badly. I knew that I couldn't start - that $0.25 (well, $0.50 now it seems) would definitely be the top of a very slippery slope. But I can't say I'm not tempted, and likely, to lose my resolve during the next toyrun.

So - nice work, claw machine operator. You have tapped directly into my cortext, and found the thing that would be most pleasing to me, and then put it in my path. I'm sure you will get my money, and hopefully your success will serve as an example to others. Heck, maybe you'll reinvest some of your forthcoming thousands and get Walmart to allow a pinball machine on your route! We can dream, can't we?

Posted by charlie on September 20th 2011, 07:16 AM
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Matty Collector Tries and Tries

I've finally returned from the wild lands of Manhattan - whereas usually I'm there to cover a toy related industry event, this stretch was devoted entirely to music and fantastic food. Now it's time to settle back into the routine, and see what's been going on with the various excellent things we like to discuss here at the Preserve.

The first thing that comes to mind is the news that has reopened some of their 2012 subscriptions (Ghostbusters being notably absent) and have even added a new subscription for the '30th anniversary' He-Man figures. This appears to be directly related to fan demands that an option exists to sign up for each and every figure to be released during the year, without the need to combat the Digital River site for the 'extra' figures. While I suspect there are those on the Internet who always find something about which to complain, this seems a fair, reasonable, and most excellent thing that Mattel has done! Go check out their new, new new, newnewnew subscription page and sign up for anything you may have missed (ahem, except for Club Ecto I guess) by October 3rd, at which point they close...again...really this time.

Posted by charlie on September 19th 2011, 06:32 AM
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Big 4 Show in NYC - Megadeth plays 'Trust'

By virtue of still being on the road, and not having much toy stuff to discuss, here is another sort of lousy but fun video from the Big 4 show a few days ago. This is the first song that Megadeth played in their set, 'Trust' - which long time fans will certainly recognize immediately. Sadly much of my footage is entirely unusable due to my enthusiastic caterwauling of all the lyrics in the background, but hopefully this is mostly devoid of such effects.

Posted by charlie on September 16th 2011, 06:41 PM
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Big 4 Show in NYC

The lack of a proper post on the Preserve yesterday can be hopefully explained by my attendance of the 'Big 4' show in NYC. This gig brought together Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer for an 8 hour extravaganza of music, in the new Yankee stadium. I shot a few videos of the proceedings, though most of my Megadeth ones are totally unusable by virtue of my off-key 'enthusiastic' singing that can be clearly heard - oops! Well, here is the first song of the night, played by Anthrax who had to go on right at 4pm before the stands filled or the sun even thought about going down.

I had such high hopes that there would be some public, on stage reunion with Dave Mustaine and Metallica. There may well have been such a thing at one of the other shows on this sort of 'tour' around the world, which I should research, but it certainly didn't happen last night. The most mention came when James of Metallica grudgingly said "our friends Megadeth are here...that's still weird to say" - thanks James, real big of you after 25 years. Even the big 'jam' at the end saw only Anthrax and part of Slayer join Metallica on stage - my dreams of seeing the Mustaine issue reach some closure were not to be.

Hopefully when you visit the Preserve, if you don't see a new post you should at least glance at the Twitter feed over on the top right - I'm not so good at it, but am trying to generate content via the new social mechanisms which are rapidly what the Internet is becoming. I'll be in NYC up until Sunday, so will do my best to keep things rolling here at the Preserve, but the best bet is to watch Twitter for some random thoughts and pics from around the city.

Posted by charlie on September 15th 2011, 08:49 AM
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A helpful reminder, in this increasingly busy time of year, that the sale for the month is rocketing fast towards those who did not throw in for the 2011 subscription plan. This Thursday, at noon - Digital River be-willing - you can pick up a newly fangled Hurricane Hordak as well as Leech. The modern day ranks continue to grow, and grow well! Those who missed Chief Carnivus are in luck with a re-issue, and some JLU 3-Packs round out the offering. Good luck!

Posted by charlie on September 13th 2011, 08:49 AM
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Preserve Person of the Week - Mr. Alan Spencer

Periodically I like to feature someone that we're particularly fond of around here at the Preserve, and today that someone is Mr. Alan Spencer. While this name may not immediately ring a bell for you, I will hold out hope that you may be familiar with a little show from 1986 called Sledge Hammer! Mr. Spencer created the character and the show, and was responsible for writing much of the deceptively insightful and thoughtful content that we all found so appealing.

For the most part, I've had trouble finding a foothold with all of these 'social media' tools that are now somewhat old hat around the Internet. However, I am finding a good value to Twitter, if for no other reason that it seems to facilitate communication with people you never thought you would be talking to. Case in point was a nice reply which I received from Mr. Spencer this past weekend, on what was actually a very serious topic!

@thegamepreserve: @MrAlanSpencer On this, the 10th anniversary of 9/11, what would Sledge think of the world today?
@MrAlanSpencer: @thegamepreserve Sledge would take early retirement, since with all our mayhem & destruction we’d blow ourselves up without his assistance.

I find this exciting for two reasons:
- As a fan of the show, it's like getting a small bit of 25-year-later character development. Or, at the least, my own new bit of still-sharp Hammer related social-commentary from the man himself.
- I feel like the creator of a character I enjoyed as a kid can in some small way know that people all these years later still like his work.

The more I read about Mr. Spencer the more I find that I like him, and as any creator wishes he is just glad that Sledge still resonates with people and is enjoyed - so say the DVD sales! Lastly, he posted this picture on the 10th anniversary of September 11th, last Sunday, which I hope sums up how many of us feel.

Posted by charlie on September 12th 2011, 05:28 PM
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Captain Power - Full Series on DVD December 13th 2011!!

What a great way to end the week! Just posted to the "Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future" Facebook page is the final definitive announcement that the full series will be released on DVD, complete with a ton of extras, this December 13th! Please have a look at the new video for more info, and have a great weekend!

Posted by charlie on September 9th 2011, 01:51 PM
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Hasbro's Plans for New York Comic Con
Press Release - Just in from the big H is a press release about their plans for the upcoming New York Comic Con. They initially said that they wouldn't have any exclusive toys on deck for this event (though careful reading of the release may say otherwise!), but they'll be showing off a lot of their new stuff, and even holding a few panel discussions with their more notable brands. Click through for the details!  Read More
Posted by charlie on September 8th 2011, 02:25 PM
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Star Wars - Blu-Ray Changes

You may have heard that Uncle Lucas got into the Gargleblasters again, and has made further changes to the original SW trilogy. I found a clip of the new version of the final Vader / Emperor scene that I believe to be most illuminating - I think you're likely to enjoy it as well.

Hopefully you didn't read ahead to here and spoil yourself, but I sure was a fan of Beavis and Butt-Head back in the day. Reading more about it now makes me in awe of the creativity and hard work that a 20-something Mike Judge put forth to make that program happen. Interestingly, that piece of classic American television is about to have a rebirth this fall, as Judge is bringing new episodes of the ageless, brainless duo back to the TV. I found that the video above did a great job of capturing the subtle intelligence that the show always brilliantly conveyed through the surface-stupidity of the guys. Especially amazing is how the pathos of Vader's revelation is conveyed 100% more effectively via re-purposed sound bites of Butt-Head than through Lucas's fascinating new decision of "Nooooooo!". Well, thanks Internet for a great video, and let's all look forward to the new B&B episodes. Maybe Judge can do it right, where so many other recent revivals have utterly failed!

Posted by charlie on September 7th 2011, 02:53 AM
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G.I. Joe - 30 for 30 - Sgt. Stalker

The Joe troops are few and far between in this first mostly-evil basic figure wave in the new 30th Anniversary line by Hasbro. So, I'll take this opportunity to start off Monday with one of the good guys! Here's Stalker, in all his 2011 glory - click the image for the detailed gallery.

If he thought it was tough growing up in Detroit when he was a kid, just imagine if he were growing up there now! As we've come to expect with this line, Stalker comes with a handful of weapons - adding some guns and blades to the arsenal. The knife sheath is a nice touch, though compared to the Hazard-Viper, I will admit that his gear is a little more pedestrian than it could have perhaps been.

Posted by charlie on September 6th 2011, 07:34 AM
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G.I. Joe Q&A #4 (2011)

GI Joe logo

Hot off the presses! Our replies from Hasbro for the latest G.I. Joe Q&A have just arrived, so read and enjoy. All three of our questions were answered - thanks! Check them out below:

G.I. Joe Q&A #4 (2011)

Preserve: To novices like us, it would seem that sculpting fine details on a figure that is meant to be 3 3/4" would be more challenging than a figure meant to be 12". I'm sure there are aspects to larger figure development, however, which are just as difficult - can the team share with us some of the challenges of creating a large size figure such as the new Paratrooper, which has just landed on store shelves?
Hasbro: Larger figures certainly have their range of challenges! The biggest problem? When a figure is larger, the details have to be more uniform, more crisp, otherwise the imperfections will be noticeable, and will make the figure look "off" or "cheap". Since G.I. JOE is a premium brand, extra care is put towards the sculpting of realistic parts and accessories. Design figures at 12" is often a balancing act of searching for great quality and still maintaining a great price, and knowing when to make concessions to hit the goal.

Preserve: It was confirmed several years ago that most of the RAH molds have been destroyed, however, it was NOT confirmed that the new Sculpt molds (SpyTroops, Valor vs Venom, GI Joe vs Cobra) were among them. Although figures may be out of the question at this time, are the VEHICLES that Joe fans liked (Night Ops Humvee, Night attack chopper, Rolling Operations Command Center to name a few) an option to be re-released, seeing the success of the ROC Rhino?
Hasbro: It's true, a great many of the vehicles released within the range of the VVV, Spy Troops, and 25th anniversary line are still available for use. However, there are no plans to release the vehicles you have mentioned at this time.

Preserve: What were the factors in the design process to totally revamp the design of the original Iron Grenadier into "City Strike" Iron Grenadier?
Hasbro: Iron Grenadier was contemporized to fit within the vernacular of modern video games and the culture which surrounds them. Originally, he was dubbed "Heavy Viper" but the design team loved the look of the classic IG helmet atop the armored suit and felt it was an appropriate match. In this modern era, the armies of the "Iron Grenadiers" could be seen more like "guns for hire", high-tech, unstoppable contractor-muscle Cobra calls in to handle the tough jobs, for a price. Sure, they carry the Cobra Sigil, but they are an independent resource governed and operated by Destro. "City Strike" Destro shares the same armor as these warriors.

Thanks to the team at Hasbro for their fantastic answers!

Posted by charlie on September 2nd 2011, 07:25 AM
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G.I. Joe - 30 for 30 - Iron Grenadier

The first wave of G.I. Joe 30 for 30 figures is a little Cobra heavy, so let's continue on with the red-tinged cards and have a look at the Iron Grenadier!

Destro's hand picked thugs - these guys specialize in causing trouble around the world, which is always good business for an arms dealer. In reading the bio's for this figure and the Hazard-Viper, I was surprised to see that they are still making reference back to the live-action movie. At least, I think they are - it's all sort of fuzzy to me. Maybe I shouldn't have started a new checklist gallery for this line - but it just seemed the proper way! I'll stick to my guns, and we can all pretend that comments about Compound Z and whatnot are a secret code for the surprise 30th anniversary party that everyone is throwing for Roadblock.

Posted by charlie on September 1st 2011, 12:12 PM
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