Category Archives: Toy Talk

Weekly Armada #1

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

After a hiatus from blogging (and everything else enjoyable in life) because of school related activities, Matt and I finally had a chance to get back to Armada this past weekend. After throwing his wife Sierra a surprise birthday party, we broke out Armada for a quick round. We haven’t played since the last blog post, but we quickly got back into the swing of things.

To make the round a bit more dynamic, we chose to only use 150 points worth of ships, which left me with a Nebulon Frigate, a Blockade Runner, and 4 X-Wing squadrons. Matt played as the Imperials, so I faced a Victory Class Star Destroyer and a crap ton of TIE fighters, Bombers, and Interceptors.

I was also able to use several asteroids as cover as I moved my ships up in a single force. After several turns I was able to maneuver the Blockade Runner around the map, running at speed 4. That allowed me to slip directly past his Destroyer unscathed. We eventually agreed that Matt would forfeit if I took out all of his fighters (despite going over 6 rounds).

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

I was eventually able to engage the Victory Star Destroyer from behind (oh baby), but only after destroying all of the TIEs he had left. That meant for the first time in our campaign I was able to win, but only by his forfeiture. He also ran directly into some debris in front of him during this turn, so he must be taking after me somehow when I play…I was lucky enough to not lose a single ship during this game though, which was really nice.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

Overall we both can’t wait for the wave 2 ships to be released, as I have them on pre-order. I also ended up ordering another core set, so both sides will have more ships to chose from when we play. Hopefully we can play a bit more often because we both seem to really enjoy this game.

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Friday Night Armada

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

As a kid, I had always really liked the idea of huge battles. Big warships pulling up along side each other, cannons firing, and smaller engagements in the mix of it all. The idea of massive battles has always fascinated me. The idea of strategy, flanking maneuvers, and strong arming a victory, it all was, and continues to be something I find pretty awesome.

Recently I got Star Wars Armada, a tabletop game that allows two players to do the above, just on a smaller (and much safer) scale. Originally, I had wanted this game just for the miniatures. It’s really the first time that anyone has made nice scaled miniatures of these ships, so I wanted them for the displayability. The only thing holding me back was the fact I had bought WOTC’s StarShip Battles line like 10 years ago, and didn’t want to purchase the same ships twice, even though these Armada ship are much nicer.

I hadn’t really considering playing the game, until my friend Matt showed interest in it as well. Neither of us have ever played a tabletop game, so we were both curious about how fun it would be. After receiving the game in the mail (thanks to my mom), we busted it out at my apartment and played our first round together. I think it took about 3 hours and 45 minutes total, as we started to learn how to play, and discover just how careful we had to be with ship and fighter movements. I played as the Empire, and Matt was the rebels.

armada1
A2Z Photography

That next Friday we played again, but changed venues and sides. The match went surprisingly fast, no less than an hour. Of course, I knew as soon as I started that I wouldn’t last long. I had started a maneuver (manure) that had taken any advantage I had away, starting my ships too close together, miscalculating distance,etc. Trapped, my three Rebel ships collided with other ships, debris, or were flat out destroyed before I could even make a dent in the enemy Star Destroyers. My fighters turned tail, but were cornered and destroyed before they could make any sort of counter attack.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

Overall, Matt and I are super excited about the game, and hope to continue to play it every Friday night. One element I really need to work on is my strategy, as I tend to over think my ship movements. I’m pretty sure Matt is golden, because he won both of our practice rounds. One thing that we do plan to start is keeping a record of ship loses, and to begin a psuedo-campaign, to give the game some sort of story. Instead of just playing these small skirmishes, we’d have some sort of overall goal to look forward to: galaxy wide war.

Star Wars Farce Friday

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

I had been looking forward to this event for a long time, even despite all the hiccups along the way. I may criticize Hasbro a lot, but there’s something awesome about going to a midnight madness event. One aspect is that I have always done these events with my family, and they also feel super fulfilling. I’ve always been able to find everything I want, without any difficulty what-so-ever. This Midnight Madness definitely leaned in the other direction.

The evening before MM, my friend Matt and I’s game plan went south. After re-grouping and Jack in the Box tacos, we ended up going to Glen Carbon, IL Walmart. They had the 18 ft train and the aisle ready to go at almost exactly midnight. The staff there was absolutely awesome. I showed the girl guarding the aisle my phone at 12:01, and was allowed to go in. I grabbed Rey’s Speeder and was ready to go because that’s all they had from my “buy list”. There was a lot of stuff stocked, just not enough Hasbro items. My friend and his wife Sierra ended up picking up about $40 worth of stuff, and the only other person there was a bald guy who was super rude, who absolutely wouldn’t talk to us. “How are you doing tonight man, excited?” was met with total silence, as were all other communications.

We then jetted over to Woodriver, IL Walmart, but the staff there was a bunch of “good ol’ boys”, and they didn’t have anything out. When I asked the guy about the time line for getting stuff on the shelves, he told me it could take a while. It was already like 1:00 by that point, so we left and I took my friend’s home. We decided to hit up Target that next day because of the coupons, $10 off a $50 purchase, or $25 of $100. I mean, it’s was probably a better deal anyway, and their displays would be freaking awesome.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

When I got home I stayed up for another 3 hours or so reading reports and stuff from the forums, and chatting with other local collectors. After seeing a lot of Toysrus stores not receiving hardly anything, or hearing about kids crying because Target didn’t have what they wanted, I ended up ordering the bulk of my stuff from Amazon. They were offering the same coupons at Target, so I definitely wanted to make sure I got the stuff I wanted: a desert speeder, and some Snowspeeders for my photonovel. I wanted three; however Amazon had a limit of two per customer. I also had to add Rey’s Speeder to the order because there wasn’t anything else I wanted, and couldn’t make up the $100 coupon minimum, so I have to return one of them to Walmart sometime.

My friend and I then met up again at around 9:30 Friday morning, and went to Edwardsville, IL Target. They pretty much had everything but the 2-packs, Falcon, and big TIE. We talked to a guy named Austin for about an hour, which also gave me time to think about buying the Poe’s X-Wing or not. I went back and forth a hundred times, but decided to pass on it because of how poor the reviews were.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

I was able to purchase my third Snowspeeder for the photonovel while we were there, so I was pretty much done. Matt bought 5 Funkos Pop!’s for $2.68 a piece, which made us wonder if that was a pricing error in the system, or just a great deal. He also got the 12 inch Kylo Ren, which had a great head sculpt, but looked as if it was wearing goucho pants.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

Overall, I’m happy that I got everything I wanted (that made it to retail); however the lack of product was really apparent as I read others’ reports. Some people took their kids to the event, and even being one of the first 10 people in line didn’t ensure they were able to buy any figures. Likewise, Walmarts didn’t receive any ships bigger than class 1 deluxe, so they missed out on a portion of their buying publics. At the same time, I have to mention that reviews of some items, like the X-Wing were so bad they influenced me not to purchase them, so maybe not stocking them was a good move afterall. I really did want one; however I just can’t justify something that doesn’t scale well with past items, has flimsy rubber parts, or see through plastic in area that shouldn’t be see through. I also didn’t buy one figure because of the lack of articulation. Walmart did announce they’d continue the Black Series articulated line as a store exclusive, but the first three figures are repacks, so that’s great.

Journey to Force Friday (Spoilers Apply)

T Bone’s Star Wars Universe
T Bone’s Star Wars Universe

As expected, there have been several product leaks over the past week or so for The Force Awakens, Disney and Hasbro’s top-secret love child. Also as expected, nothing has been officially revealed, and save for these leaks, we’d have no idea what was coming out at Midnight Madness on the 4th. As reports started coming in of items hitting eBay and then subsequently Twitter, I was super excited to check out what was being offered this year. Of course I was really pulling for a super (or decently) articulated product line; however there have been no reports of anything outside of a 5 (or 6) POA basic line.

I am excited to say many of the sculpts look top-notch this time around. Phasma, Kylo, and several other figures look like they’ve been sculpted wonderfully. They’re full of detail, and have decent neutral stances. On the other hand, some other figures look like they are straight out the vintage era / a McDonald’s kids meal, like the Constable guy.

Rebelscum
Rebelscum

The packaging is definitely my favorite part of these figures so far because the card backs are really nice. I think the images are really crisp, and the design is definitely appealing. I think the character names should be a lot more noticeable, but that’s really none of my concern. For non-collectors I could definitely see it being an issue, or parents during the holidays. I can just see them now, looking for “the one guy that can only move his arms and legs”.

JackKnight - Ebay
JackKnight80 – Ebay

One issue I do have is that they all come with a build-a-weapon, which sounded really cool on paper (okay, my computer screen) a few weeks ago. After seeing them all, I wonder what in-universe corporation in Star Wars makes all these heavy power tools and industrial lawn mowers.

It is good to see a deluxe line, as well as mini-rigs return, but these designs just do not interest me. The deluxe line is a basic (5POA) figure with an added armor piece, which might be good for a few custom figures, but just does not interest me enough off-hand to warrant picking one up. The mini-rigs are nice; especially the speeder, which includes (so far) the only figure with articulated legs. I do wonder how much of these designs were changed for the toys. I see the handle bars on the speeder are oriented “up” so the figure can hold them. I wonder if that’s a liberty taken for the toy, or an actual design? The same goes for the walker; do the troopers actually stand, or is this a design specifically made for the 5POA figures?

blacksmiths_collectibles - Ebay
blacksmiths_collectibles – Ebay

Overall and so far, I haven’t seen one item leak that I’ll be buying. I actually can’t even decide if I still want to even go to Midnight Madness because I simply don’t collect what is being offered. Had these first 12 figures been articulated I would have dropped around $200 on them at the $13 price point, but as it stands I will be saving my money for other endeavors. I know it is pretty early in the game, and more products will probably leak in the coming weeks; however I honestly doubt there will be an articulated line of figures concurrent with these 5 POA figures.

Moreover, I have seen a pretty decent amount of backlash from collectors on forums saying Hasbro “Hasblows”, they should rename the event “Farce Friday”, and that they can keep their 5 POS figures. Needless to say, I’m pretty sure once a company spends 4 years stuck in the mud, then they finally get on the road with a set of figures like the Black Series wave 8, only to back off into the ditch with a trailer full of kid’s meal figures, you lose a lot of support in the process.

Disappointment at SDCC

Gab - Twitter
Gab – Twitter

It’s been a while since my last blog entry about Hasbro because I was really pulling for a super positive post. I wanted to open up this new entry talking about how Hasbro had saved up all their new products for San Diego Comic Con. I wanted to talk about how stoked I was because of all the new figures and vehicles. And I would definitely mention how it brought back memories of going to midnight madness as a kid with my grandpa. Instead, we didn’t see anything new. Which is getting pretty typical.

I do want to mention I’m not solely blaming Hasbro for not showing any new 3.75 product at SDCC. I have no doubt the decision was made by Disney, Lucasfilm, Hasbro, and probably some bum who hates toys and America. As expected, no other license holders were allowed to reveal any TFA products either. Unfortunately (and as expected) product leaks have already started, beginning with a pair Lego sets. I think we will see more and more stuff leaked as time passes, and I also don’t think this should come as a surprise to anyone.

GrooveBricks
http://www.GrooveBricks.com

It just sucks for the fans because we waited with anticipation at Star Wars Celebration, and we didn’t see anything. Then we waited for SDCC, and again we didn’t see anything. And now I’ve heard we should wait and see what D23 has to show us, because we might see something there. Meanwhile, stores are planning Midnight Madness events, Toyrus held a raffle for a $1000 shopping spree and a trip to NYC, yet we have no idea what is coming out in just a few weeks. Personally, I just want to know how much money I should budget.

The only items featured at SDCC were 6 inch figures, as well as a gigantic TFA TIE Fighter. Personally, I think this is a really cool vehicle, and it’s nice to see the 6 inch line get something so big, but unfortunately this item just isn’t for me. I’m still a 3.75 scale collector, and no matter how big and cool the toys are for the bigger scale, I’m not going to crossover and begin collecting it, either as an alternative or a replacement for the line I have bought for over 20 years. Plus it took the 3.75 scale line years to get gigantic vehicles, so it feels like a bit too much too soon. These kids collecting the 6 inch line should feel seasoned before they get something so nice; they should have to earn something this good! (Joking, I’m joking…)

JoyStickReport
JoyStickReport

Not much else came out of SDCC. It does seem the price for the 5 POA mission series 2-packs may have gone up to $14.99, which is unfortunate, as I thought it was supposed to be the child friendly budget line (apparently the cost of 1995 technology went up). Hasbro did clarify in a Q&A that they don’t control what retail prices are; however HasbroToyShop recently raised their prices online and the $14.99 mission series price was posted in their display case.

One other franchise I’ve always been a fan of is Jurassic Park. Since the last film hit theaters I’ve joined a few forums, where a lot of fans have been talking about the toys. There were a few initial waves of Jurassic World dinosaurs that made it to stores, with the last waves trickling in now. Fans were of course hoping to see at least one more wave for the DVD/Bluray release, as well as human action figures. Unfortunately, there weren’t any new releases shown at SDCC, and apparently a Hasbro representative told one fan that new stock wouldn’t be shipping to stores anytime soon.

On a quick side note, apparently the T-Rex Lock Down playset is also scaled down horribly. I thought Hasbro had a made a really good move, releasing the old Jurassic Park compound perimeter fence with a re-tooled “World” gate, but I was totally wrong. The fence is around 5 inches tall now, as compared to the large-scale 11 inch fence they made back in the 90’s and re-released for Jurassic Park 3. The large T-Rex is also riddled with screws on one side, which absolutely ruins an excellent sculpt/toy, which is pretty disappointing. I hadn’t seen it at stores yet, but I probably won’t be picking it up now.

Cyprian - JPToys.com
Cyprian – JPToys.com

Overall, not seeing anything new at Star Wars Celebration was let down, but not seeing any new 3.75 product at SDCC was cruel. I realize Disney and the production crew probably want to keep things underwraps for as long as possible, but at this point we will probably begin to see more product leaks online. I think it would have been better to have just featured everything at a high-profile event that see items pop up on Ebay or leak out slowly, but we are probably past that. I guess I’ll just hold out and see what’s available when I walk into the store September 4th…

Hasbro Has an I-Rex

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

It’s been a few days since my girlfriend and I saw Jurassic World, and I’m honestly still coming off that high. We saw it Thursday before the release, and it brought back a ton of good memories. From making my own story lines up to playing with playsets my grandpa had made me, I just can’t quit thinking about the old franchise I loved as a kid (and apparently still do)! Even on the way home I stopped at Target and Best Buy and got some scanbands and park maps to use as props.

Well today we ended up going to Walmart to get another media shelf, so we can disperse our DVDs/Blurays a bit more, and while we were there I mentioned I wanted that big I-Rex toy really bad. My girlfriend essentially told me to go get it, but I was still kind of unsure of myself. After some prompting I did end up buying it, but as soon as I committed I was super excited. On the way home I felt like a kid again! For some reason I’ve recently felt SW has been more of a chore when it comes to buying stuff, so this was a breath of fresh air

Unfortunately, as soon as we got home we realized the big I-Rex cannot stand on its own AT ALL. And not because it’s front heavy or anything either, they’ve made the leg joins so loose that it just topples over because there is nothing to stop them from doing so. I told my girlfriend I was going to return it, but before I did I Googled reviews on it and checked Amazon. Apparently almost all them have super loose hip joins, and none of them stand. I’m going to take it apart and add some glue to the joints or something, because it does look good for $30; however it just doesn’t stand up.

I was super excited about this toy, and even the line overall, despite no 3 3/4 scale figures. However, it’s a bit disheartening to see that something else that Hasbro has offered has a basic level flaw to it. Although the paint applications look absolutely amazing, and the relative scale of the I-Rex looks pretty good, that doesn’t really make up for the fact it can’t even stand up.

How’s Hasbro Doing?

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

It’s been a few months since my last blog post about Hasbro, and I think it’s about time we take another look at how things are going for Star Wars collectors. There’s a few topics that we can touch on, like product availability, the always looming price hikes, and the eventual Force Awakens line; however with all this in mind, I still make my weekly visits to Walmart and Target in hopes of finding something.

I’m not for sure if it’s more or less a tradition, but I still think I’ll be able to walk into stores and see a ton of figures on the pegs and vehicles on the shelves. Recently, I thought this dream might actually happen. The port strike in California had finally ended, and it appeared products may finally make it out to retailers. For about two weeks I actually even saw a few things pop up. My local Walmart started stocking several pegs of 5 POA figures, and then to my surprise, my smaller hometown Walmart received like four cases of 6 inch figures.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

However, once these items sold out the stores never did restock. It was almost like people wanted to buy the items or something. At the same time, Walmart has went through their usual reset, which knocked the Black Series out of their programming. This of course caused a bit of stir, as I have heard many collectors say Hasbro is seemingly trying to push the super articulated line out the door, and purposely refocus collectors on both their cheaper and larger scale lines. I cannot say this is the absolute case, however I definitely believe stores can see the Mission Series figures as being a better buy, and more attractive to potential customers.

Unfortunately, even though many locations have clearanced out Black Series figures, it appears almost all retailers (both brick and mortar locations, as well as online) have raised their prices for any future releases. Even HasbroToyShop has listed new figures at a $12.99 price point, so the belief that this price increase was only at certain retailers seems to be invalid. Instead collectors, parents, and children face a higher price point for a comparatively unsatisfying product.

A2Z Photography
A2Z Photography

I think one blatant issue coming up (or a current issue if you buy products on Ebay from China) is scale. The Leia in Boushh disguise figure is quite bigger than its Slave Leia counterpart, Hoth Han Solo looms over the first Han released, and a few of the upcoming Clone Trooper figures, which should be around the same size, are totally off in proportion to one another. In JTA’s Celebration Anaheim Q&A it appears fans are to blame because of their constant complaints in wanting more plastic per dollar. However other issues fans show concern for, such as availability, price, availability, and availability are misunderstood. Recently I read one article that quoted a Hasbro representative as being totally unaware of the distribution issues at hand. He said he would look into the problem, but all he would need to do is visit any retailer anywhere. Oddly enough, apparently a several fans complained that Leia needed more meat on her bones, Hoth Han Solo should be taller than regular Has Solo, and it would be cool for clones to be all different sizes, so that’s something.

Photo by Halomite

I think I would be amiss without mentioning how excited collectors are for a few items. One Cantina character has finally made it into production, Mosep Bineed, which is a figure I have wanted for a while. I’ll definitely be picking up a few copies of that guy for my dioramas and customizing. At the same time we’re also seeing a really nice Jawa 2-pack, and an amazing Jabba the Hutt battlepack make it to stores. The later caused quite a bit of excitement on the forums I frequent, so I think it was definitely a good choice for Hasbro to release. Of course the lack of availability still looms over some of these releases, however knowing they are coming up seems to be good enough for many collectors. I think I’ll give it another month or two before I start panic about finding Mosep or not. I also hope the trend of getting a few desired repacks continues with the line, and we will see the Emperor’s Royal Guard, Ponda Baba, and the Rebel Fleet Trooper show up sometime soon.

Overall, it seems Hasbro has still not won over the collecting crowd, and with little to no products available on shelves, I cannot see too many parents or kids having the option to support the line to their fullest extent. I think from a business perspective, and especially a public relations perspective, Hasbro has consistently dropped the ball for the past few years; however I honestly believe they have the opportunity to turn the line around with The Force Awakens. Although representatives have not been able to discuss the line so far, with the leaked Toysrus product list, the building anticipation of promises to deliver for kids and collectors alike, and a potential reveal at San Diego Comic Con, I can only hope Hasbro will knock it out of the park…And keep the super articulated line, make awesome vehicles, and produce dioramas, but is that really too much to ask?