Monday, October 15, 2012

I Want to Believe These Toys Exist

When monster season hits it's peak, so does my interest in cryptozoology. It's like clockwork, the leaves turn orange and my lust for bipedal apes hits a fever pitch.

 And when I think cryptozoology, I remember my beloved Secret Saturdays, cut down before it's time. But this article won't be about the show ( because that is an article unto itself,) but rather about 'dem toys. The Cryptid Collection, to be exact.

 Are you prepared to roam with beasts?

The fine gentlemen above, from left to right, are the Amarok Biloko and Bishopville Lizard Man. See, there are no fuax monsters in this line, every beastie is based on real world myths and urban legends. Even if the show wasn't fantastic, I'd still have bought these toys. It's like a toyline devoted to all my favorite monsters! 

Now, I'm not one to name favorites, but these three are my favorite. I just love the classic two-legged humanoid cryptids, they feel the most strange and intriguing. Especially southern swamp monsters, which Mr. lizard man just happens to be. He's also the only figure from my favorite episode of the series, Ghost in the Machine, which had every freakin' swamp monster ever in it. Any friend of the Fouke monster is a friend of mine.

I also happen to adore both werewolves and Inuit art and culture. Oh, hello there Mr. Amarok. And the Biloko is just that special mix of one part ape, one part fish, and a healthy dose of tribal superstition.

And here we have the quadrupeds, a Tapire-iauara, Rakshasa, and Komodo, who's one of two actual characters from the show. Imagine Scooby-doo, if he wasn't completely inept. Okay, Komodo dragons aren't cryptids now, but they were not too long ago and it was a pretty big deal at the time. He gets a legacy pass.

You know how I said those guys were my favorites? I lied, it's the rakshasa. Just look at all that Alex Toth style goodness! I mean sure, it's not at all accurate (even to the show), but it looks like a Hindu tiger monster. And who can deny those enormous, adorable man-eating eyes? It would have been cool to get the bigger, blood-thirstier version seen in the series, but I wouldn't trade this little guy for the world.

The Tapire is my absolute favorite type of cryptid: the kind scribbled down in the notes of explorers seeing new lands for the first time. It's pretty much a known fact that these guys were actually capybaras seen by the first Europeans down the Amazon, but he'll always exist, in my heart. I couldn't be happier that got not one but two toys of this obscure beasty.

 And here we come to the relic pterosaur aviary. We've got a Duah, Piasa Bird, and 'Zon. 'Zon would be the other main character, and it's never clarified what species she's supposed to be, but there are so many pterosaur cryptids in South America you can just pick your favorite.

The Piasa bird is... an odd choice. Not a bad figure by any means, but far from a dragon with a lions face, you know what I'm sayin'? I usually pretend he's just another relic flying beastie.

And of course, the Duah (otherwise known as Ropen) is the classic dino-cryptid. Too bad he couldn't have a glowing belly, but at least he's got plenty of graves to rob this time of year!

Awww poor Alkali Lake Monster. The lone aquatic monster in the set. He doesn't even get a fancy nature shot like the others. Take comfort in knowing that if these figures were in scale, you'd be the biggest. At least he gets a nifty swimming pose stand!

And then there's Miss Naga here, who's exploits are extremely spoiler laden. Suffice to say, she's an aquatic snake lady who steals children, like any good Naga should be.

I'd love to say this is the entire set, but I would be lying to myself. Naye, there are other critters that I shall most likely never get my greedy claws on.

Foremost is the dread Popobawa, who was yanked off the shelves shortly after the first wave was released. See, it's all fine and dandy to release toys of monsters nobody ( normal) believes in. But to residents of parts of Africa, the Popobawa is very real and very terrifying. It's funny, cases of Popobawa attacks seem to go up right around election time, when candidates make big claims of driving off the one-eyed monster. Huh, what a coincidence. Political propaganda aside, Mattel got cold feet and sent the poor misunderstood creature back from whence he came.

Then there are the two whole waves that were only released in the UK. Including the Owlman, Atmospheric Jellyfish, and  Missouri Pigman. Oh, Mattel, you get me every time.

But, even when so many creatures are out of my grasp, there are still a few I have hopes of obtaining. There is a four pack exclusive to toys r us that includes an alternate Tapire and an alpha Amarok that I hope to some day add to my Bestiary of the bizaare!

Over all this is a great line of toys, and I've loved every one I've gotten. Who can argue with a set of tiny myths and legends on your desktop? It's just disappointing that so many great cryptids will never see plastic. The Devil Ape, Bunyips, Trunko, Oh what could have been.

Special thanks to Agent Spectre of "Every boys action cartoon's fansite" fame. She helped me obtain most of these critters when I showed up late to the cryptid ball, and was a pleasure to deal with. She also sent me these nifty Saturdays buttons she made:

I never say no to nice swag.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bigfoot Goes East

Let's talk about Big Trouble in Little China. Ha ha, no. The last thing the world needs is another review talking about amazing this movie is. If you haven't seen it yet, you are actively going out of your way not to, and thus a dick.

No, I'm here to answer the one question everyone who has ever seen this movie asks: What the hell is the hairy monkey monster thing?

I mean, that doesn't have anything to do with China right? Well, you'd be surprised. See, sloppy here is what's known as a Yeren or Chinese wild man. Basically the Chinese version of sasquatch, but more closely related to orangutans than gorillas. And unlike Sasquatch, the Chinese are very serious about the Yeren, so if any amateur monster hunters take a potshot at one, they'll feel the cold hard fist of the Chinese justice system firmly in their loins. 

Hats off to John Carpenter for even knowing these guys exist, and bringing a little bit of cryptozoology to the masses.

Now this guy?

Who the hell knows, man. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Building the Dead

Target for the past few years has embraced the idea of just giving kids a pre-built Halloween bucket and calling it a night, and has devoted a chunk of it's Halloween section to what I like to call "coffin stuffers". Lego has been a mainstay of this tiny toy section, usually putting out a small three to four dollar set of whatever theme they're promoting. But this year... this year the amazing Monster Fighters theme is the flavor of the month, and it tastes like caramel apples.

LEGO FREAKIN' GHOST! I have pined after these tiny plastic departed souls since I was seven, and the Twisted Time Train was shown in Lego magazine swarming with the things. (That's probably why I have a thing for evil trains, too...huh.) 

This isn't the original mold, but dare I say it's better. Just look at that cute little expression of absolute depression. You just know he wants a hug, but he's intangible. Thus is the tragedy of Lego ghost.

 The ball and chain dangling from his foot is a nifty touch, and his entire body is cast in that oh so magical Lego glow-in-the-dark plastic. 

I am thoroughly convinced you could create perpetual daylight by building a room out of Lego ghosts.

The tiny grandfather clock is excellent as well, being completely built out of generic bricks. I'm a sucker for tiny brick built furniture and props, ever since the Catwoman and Batman set's tiny newspaper stand and mailbox. Speaking of the bat, this would make a great addition to a Wayne manor build...

Hats off to Lego, for putting together a Halloween set that perfectly captures the spirit (HO HO!) of the holiday, and resisting the temptation to make a vampire speedboat, or zombie cannon with flick-fire missiles. It's simple, yes, but it's pure. You just can't look at this guy and his stately time piece without feeling jack-o-lantern fires warming your hackles.

This tiny lost soul has taken my laptop as his haunting grounds, the perfect reminder of  what the season is all about.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Painting the Land Black and Orange

A nip is in the air, leaves are on the ground, and the harvest goblins are wringing their knuckles in anticipation. The best time of year is here once more!

I've got so many plans laid out for the soul-harvesting season: Movies, Toys, Games, Candy, Papercraft.

A running theme this year is going to be something that's weighed heavily on my mind lately: the memory of Halloween's past. Leave your zombies, clowns, and sexy nurses at the door. This month is for the archaic horrors and wonders of the world. If you miss the old world as much as I, then fear not: this page will be a gift basket crammed full of banshees and werewolves, Jack o' lanterns and Nosferatu!

So break out the Atmosfear, choke yourself on candy corn, and drown it with Count Chocula milk. It's monster season, whether the retail world cares or not!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mcdonald's Pokemon 2012

One of the first posts I tossed up here last year was about the Happy meal toy Tepig, which was actually pretty good for a freebie. When I heard the burger clowns were rolling out the red and white balls for round two, I had to get my fill of portable plastic pocket monsters.

Of the six available (two less than last year) I scored Axew, Pignite, and Servine. Not tooooo shabby, and not a Pikachu in sight (although I will admit the pika in this set was pretty cute.) Just like last year, the best part about these toys is that they put form first and gimmick second. No crippling button tumors or spring loaded scoliosis in the lot, and more actual articulation than you'd expect. There are paint issues of course, but they cost all of three dollars and come with an ample amount of meat accessories, so what can you do? Wait... six Pokemon, all different types...I see what you did there, Grimace.

Just look at that smug son of a gun. You just know he's thinking about how much money he lines his toilet with. Servine is the one percent. In a rare case of Mcdonalds caring, he comes with a leaf shaped stand so he can actually stay upright on his wee little aristocrat bootie-feet. He can move at the neck and wiggle his leafy T-rex arms. Just all around a really nice figure by any standards, the only thing the Jakks toys really have on him are a lack of obvious screw holes, but for a third of the price and a free trading card AND a mini-meal? that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. Some would say Jakks has better paint as well, but let's face it they're no little Dutch Boys either.

OOOHHH YEAHHH!!! I've attested my love for fire pigs before, and time has done nothing to dissuade me. Just look at him! He's a barbecue luchadore! The starter second evolutions are the gimmick-less figures this year, like the legendaries last year, and I suppose that's for the best. Still, I'd kind of like a light-up belly Pignite for HEAT-CRASH ACTION!!!  He can wiggle his macho man arms and that's about it. That'll do Pignite, that'll do.


Aaaaand back to everything else.

Axew has somehow become really popular, managing to shuck off the yolk of not being a starter or Pikachu, and more power to him. He gets what might be the best Mcdonalds toy gimmick ever, with a lever that swings his head back and forth. No big deal, right? Oh no, because not only does it swing his head, it's a two sided switch that controls the direction his head swings! I don't really know why this is so special, but I do know I have been smacking alot of things with Axew tusks for the past week.

And then there's the cards which are always a nice bonus. I'm sure being holographic means next to nothing by now, but it still manages to make me feel like the luckiest jerk ever owning one. And by sheer luck, I managed to get Pignite! Can't stop the fire-pigs!

So, Tepig last year, Pignite this year... maybe Emboar next year? Or sooner? Please, Ronald?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

For the Love of Bird Men

In 2011, Spinmasters foresaw the death of the Bakugon cash-cow, and set about creating a new one. What they came up with was Redakai, a lenticular card game. Apparently children think transforming marbles are the bee's knees but lenticular cards are just too damn silly, because now you can find Redakai lining the discount aisle. Normally I wouldn't pay any mind to these pretenders to the Pokemon throne, but they went and made a bird man. Fun fact: I can't say no to animal men.

First off let me say this: you do not have to give the remotest crap about Redakai to enjoy this figure. I certainly don't! When you get down to it, he's a big burly raven man with a sword, and that's never a bad thing. He's surprisingly articulate for a spinmasters toy, too, with lots of swivel hinges and ball-jointed hips. He even gets a nice sword that fits the feathery bird theme. Oh and in case you didn't notice, his wings are enormous! His wingspan is about 8-9" and they take up about 2/3 of his body mass. The only thing better than an angry crow man, is an angry crow man who can create cyclones with his enormous razor blade wings.

I just stumbled across this guy in the Target discount aisle for all of three dollars. With Battle Beasts getting not one but two reboots this year I've been all about the animal men lately, and his uncanny resemblance to the Xephos line ( R.I.P sweet prince ) won him a spot on the last life boat off of the sinking Redakai ship. Seriously, if you like what you see, just get him. He's dirt cheap and a figure this good doesn't deserve to be forgotten due to his dubious lineage. Oh, and apparently his name is Harrier. I'm totally okay with bird men with bird puns for names.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Metal Gear Guyver

Have you ever thought to yourself "Man, the first Guyver movie was terrible! If only there were more Solid Snake!" ? Well have I got a movie for you. 

That's right, David "SNAAAAAAAAAAKE!" Hayter in a tokusastsu movie. Oh my, yes. And not just any Toku film, the only good one to come out of America (suck it, Power Rangers the Movie!). The run down on Guyver is typical toku stuff: alien bio-armor, evil shape shifting monsters, terrorist organizations, the works. You should know by now whether men in rubber suits fightin' tickles your fancy. There are actually some nice story elements here and there, especially the connection between the Guyver suits and ancient humans and the symbioses there, but just like Godzilla it's all about the action.  Henshin!

 Let's talk about the most important element of Tokusatsu: the audio porn. Catchy theme tunes, swooshy kung fu noises, explosive finishing moves, it's all about the sound and Guyver 2 has it in spades. Literally every time Guyver moves a little electrical crackle goes off, which is like a gentle Asian masseuse's finger gently rubbing the happy spot in my brain. It's like catnip, I could listen to Guyver noises for hours.

The suits are surprisingly good, like really really good. The fish monster man above? He talks. Not only does he talk, he emotes. His entire face is rigged with hydraulics that move his lips, eyes, browline, everything. I've seen big budget modern movies that had worse creature effects. Considering this was a cheap follow-up to a failed first film, well freakin' done. While the other monsters and Guyver himself may not be quite as expressive, they're still better than 90 percent of Sentai and Kamen Rider monsters. Just sayin'.

Oh right, the fightin'. Yeah, there's plenty of it, and it's great. Lot's of punching, lot's of kicking, a few energy beams here and there. But what sets Guyver aside from his peers from Glorious Nippon? BLOOD. Lots and lots of it. Bug monsters getting decapitated and dismembered left and right. See, most Japanese Toku is targeted towards children. Guyver, not so much. You know the scene in Alien: Resurrection where the creepy fetus monster slaps the queen's face off? This movie tends to have alot of scenes like that: almost slapstick comical gore, and that's a compliment trust me. There's nothing more fun than a big monster man being ripped in half buy a robo-bug super-hero that crackles.

If you like Toku, David Hayter, or just men in rubber costumes flopping around in waist high water, give Guyver 2 a watch. It's definitely a gem in the campy Sci-Fi rough, and how often do you see a (good) American suit-mation movie?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Earth's Tiniest Heroes

Welcome, dear friends, to a new age of human accomplishment. We are officially living in the "Post-Avengers" age. Generations from now, this will be remembered as a golden age, an idealized better time. Revel in it, make the best of it.

Whatever, let's talk about Mini-mates!

It was about this time last year, before Thor and Captain America hit theaters, that I decided on Mini-mates for my definitive Avengers toy line.  I mean, Art Asylum has been pumping out quality product for about ten years now, I'm pretty sure they're not going anywhere in the next ten. I admit, I felt a few twangs of guilt skipping the Hasbro Cap and Thor lines, but man did it pay off 'cuz Mini-mates are actually more articulated than the Hasbro Avengers figures! Not to mention a much better value with two figures in a pack plus a ton of extras.They also save me a ton of space, I mean the entire Thor cast takes up about five inches of shelf space, and when you buy as much crap as I do, space is precious sweet goooooold. With this Iron man and Hulk two-pack from the Avengers line, my team is complete! (sort of)

Can I just say, it feels great owning a pocket-sized Robert Downey Junior? Seriously, look at that likeness. That is RDJ without a nose. And take a look at bulked up Hulk! Finally, after years of trial and error, the Hulk Mini-mate has been perfected, and he really makes this set a steal when you realize that he basically has another mini-mate wrapped around him to add mass. And none of those dreaded duck feet in site, some big grounded quaking hulk feet! Also, I'm totally going to swap those hands onto other mini-mates as "Hulk Hands"! 

DST crammed a ton of extras in this pack as well, like an awesome flight stand for Tony (thank god, I've been needing one of these for ages) a helmet with the faceplate raised for RDJ pretty face time action! and a wig piece for the sans helmet look. And even Hulk, with all that extra plastic stacked ontop of him, gets an extra calmer head. Did I mention these are about seven bucks a piece? The same price as the Hasbro figures? Yep.

They blend in perfectly with the other movie figures, so if you missed out on the previous Hulk and Iron man figures, or even if you have them, don't skip picking these two up as they are a major improvement. The new half-torso Iron Man armor and the new boot pieces look alot better than the Iron Man 2 version, and the Hulk... well he actually looks like the Hulk. And not a skinny green man with duck feet. The villains from the past lines still look great though, so just buy what you like and just mix it up! My Hulk has been punching a Frost Giant in the crotch for weeks, the possibilities are endless!

Oh man, just look at that. It's just a certain sort of sublime, seeing a group of characters come together after years of build up. Do I even need to tell you how great Avengers was? Didn't think so.
I still need a Hawkeye and Natasha, and I kinda sorta am in a raging lust for some movie Chitauri (the one time the duck feet actually work), and DST has me covered. Bring on Thor 2 and Iron Man 3, and I can't wait for Guardians of the Galaxy and Antman and anybody else Marvel wants to slap on the silverscreen. No matter how they turn out, there will always be this one great shining moment, and I'm sure there will always be great Mini-mates to fill out the cast.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Proudly Presenting a Pre-prepared Pandaren Papercraft Pattern

Knowing the track record of male centric WoW merchandise, I wasn't willing to wait for all the non-existent  female Pandaren products to come. Thus, I took up exacto and glue on a crusade for chubby panda women to litter my desk! 

They come in both panda flavors: Giant and Red, with a unique parts for both to make things interesting.They're dressed in the monk starting gear, based on this image. The pop-out bits like the cheeks and hips are completely optional for cubee purists, I just felt like they needed a little something extra to properly portray their pleasant plumpness ( Oh god the alliteration! It won't stop!)

I also took the liberty of deleting the unnecessary tabs, 'cuz glue is the only way to do it. Sorry slot-tabbers, but your small-time. SMALL-TIME! Special thanks to Cubeecraft for devising the perfect SD Papercraft pattern, and China for having the best of bears.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pandas, Pandas Everywhere.

Finally, the NDA on the new World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria, has been lifted! Information has begun pouring down like beer down a brew-master's chin!

Ooooh, so excited! I've loved Pandaren since Chen Stormstout popped up in Warcraft III, and I've been waiting for them to be playable since Burning Crusade ( Draenei, I can finally take you off notice. Use this newfound freedom wisely.) Initial impression bullet points, HO!

1. THIS IS NOT A JOKE. Blizzard said so. So when the drunken Chinese panda men roll down hills in a ball? Don't laugh, or you'll violate the ToS. Seriously, you guys.

2. Oh god the animations! So smooth, so expressive! Every thing these big roly-poly buggers do is just so full of life and energy. Whiiiich unfortunately just shows how aged the rest of the character models are. Double edged swords, ahoy! I'd love a more expressive female orc, but if Blizzard puts her under the microscope again they might realize the horrible, unforgivable mistake they made of actually making a strong muscular female character, and try to sexy them up. Blech.
3. EVERYTHING IS SO BEAUTIFUL. The environments, the textures, the half naked baboon men, everything is just pure eye-candy. Me rikey, me rikey rots, audience-san. THIS IS NOT A JOKE.

And, of course, the most important issue of all. What do female Pandaren look like. This is the what I've been agonizing over since September. Hey, your children's future is important to you, chubby panda women are important to me. God bless America. 

The good news? They are absolutely adorable, they are amply chubby as a panda woman should be, and I want to be in a swimming pool full of them right now. Now you know a little bit about me. Plushies, Blizz? Plz k thx. 

The best thing about them, and a great use of that new found animation wizardry, is that their butts jiggle as they run. This fact alone has added at least five years to my life span, and the universe is about 10 percent more at peace now. And as an unexpected bonus, Blizzard tossed in red pandas in the female customization options, with a tail modeled and textured exclusively for them. GJ, Blizz, you dun' good.

Don't waste time reading this drivel, just watch it for yourselves! Here's Simon and Lewis of the Yogscast playing through the Pandaren starting area:

And for the more Technical types, here is the always amazing Jesse, Crendor and Pride breaking down the press release:

And in a blatant attempt to feel less like I'm leeching off of much more talented people, here's a picture of my life-size National Geographic red panda plush I got from a flea market for ten bucks: 

Ni Hao, panda-sans! 


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bantor Lives!

So. I just watched the latest episode of Transformers: Prime, Operation Bumblebee Part 2.  For one reason or another, Ratchet was all hopped up on happy juice, and starts rambling about how he created the fuzors. My heart stopped, and then the most wonderful double-rainbow miracle occurred. I quote: "Just ask Bantor! He was all mandrill 'til I put a little tiger in his tank!"

O. M. G.

Not only did Jeffery freakin' Combs even say his name, but someone involved with Transformers remembers Bantor, AND there's the tiniest, most microscopic chance a version of him is running around the Prime universe. Suck it, Silverbolt! I just can't believe my baby 'Bot is all grown up and got his first nerdy reference...*single tear*

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Fae-Folk Remembrance day!

Yay! St. Patrick's, the only Holiday I never get to celebrate, because I'm not Irish and don't drink! Thus, I choose this day to remember the Fairies and Leprechauns, the Brownies and Redcaps, without whose complete dickery our lives wouldn't be nearly as miserable and hellish. I salute you, you horrible manipulative little bastards.  

Any excuse to draw a chubby, drunken Leprechaun woman. Sometimes you have to make your own fun.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Dull Safety-Scissor Edge of Technology

With all of the buzz around the PS Vita flying around, and a sudden attack of nostalgia for the Jak series, I found myself dusting off ye' olden Portable Station of Play. "I'll just play Daxter for a minute!" I said, oblivious to the craven depraved orgy of memory sticks and UMDs to come.

Thus in the spirit of being timely and topical (HA!) I present to you not only a PSP wallpaper, but the OFFICIAL  ORK KLEAVAGE PLAYSTATION PORTABLE WALLPAPER!!!

  Now you, too, can represent a website you've never heard of on a console you never use! You're welcome.(Pro-tip: If I actually meet a stranger both using a PSP and using this wallpaper, I will grant them the kingship of England) Now, I'm off to hoard 8gig memory stick pro duos before they become valuable. (HA!) I will build the ultimate outdated piece of hardware! Then they will forsake their fancy touchscreens and cameras...back in my day...grmblllgrmbl...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mandalore in Mandoli

Strap on your non-firing rocket jet packs. Fortune calls. 

Everybody loves Mandalorians. Lucas knows it, Dave Filoni knows it, and now Lego knows it, hence the Mandalorian Battle Pack. A handful of Boba Fett clones (not those clones) and enough space-kit to level a small planet for about thirteen bucks? You could do a hell of a lot worse. A Gungan battle pack for instance... hahaha, no, I'd trip an orphan cripple for a platoon of heavily armed Gungans.

The first thing you should take note of is how vastly superior the actual building kit bits are in this set over the Snowtrooper pack. Stationary blast-shielded laser cannon trumps dinky flick fire missile any day of the week. And that giant tripod mounted beast! I don't know what it is, but I'm pretty sure it could blow a hole in a rancor on the next moon over.  And AND you get a speeder that's actually canon, and pretty dang slick. This veritable glut of death dealing plasteel goes a long way towards making this feel like an actual value, and not just an excuse to sell four Boba Fetts in a box. This is pretty much the norm for the Clone Wars battle packs, and when the results are this nice I'm all for Lego stretching their wings a bit. Just because it's not "canon" doesn't mean it's bad.

Speaking of Boba Fett, these murderous soldiers-of-fortune aren't just repaints of the old Boba Fett minifig like I expected. The helmet and jet pack are separate pieces, allowing for EXCITING HEAD-TURNING ACTION! Just like the real thing! The helmet is also removable. Never remove the helmet. Just don't. You never read this. Another nice feature of the new helmet is a plug for range-finders, so you can customize your individual troops to give 'em a bit of personality. Well, theoretically since this set doesn't give you any, but the potential is there!

I've really enjoyed what The Clone Wars has done with modern Mando's. The struggle between the average citizens who wish for peace and structure, versus the Deathwatch extremists who refuse to give up the ol' massacre-for-hire gig helps these guys feel alot less like a faceless army of Boba Fett's. (Not to mention I have an unhealthy infatuation with Satine. DEM DELICIOUS PLAIN FEATURES) 

Fun fact: Deathwatch wasn't created for The Clone Wars. They've been around since the Episode II prequel comics. Mr. Filoni does his homework.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ice Road Troopers

In case the last post wasn't a blinding give-away, I'm in a Star Wars mood. I don't know if it's the smell of promise in the air with the retirement of the old king, or Darth Maul's mug plastered on every soda can imaginable (and let me just say that's some form of bizzaaro nostalgia time travel- it's like I'm nine again but the toys are way better), but I finally started reading Heir to the Empire, I'm getting caught up on The Clone Wars, and the gateway drug that is Ninjago has got me a little... block-curious.

Wal-mart post Christmas crop-rotation to the rescue! They had a ton of the Snowtrooper battle packs (and by a ton I mean at least 250. Seriously.) marked down to about five bucks. That'll do, multi-billion dollar company. That'll do.

Funny thing, I was all excited to buy an arctic pack, not just because I'm a big stupid cow for arctic variants, but because it was January. Say it with me: SNOW PICTURES! It's now February, and feels like summer. Sunova...

In this particular battle pack, you get two snowtroopers, an AT-AT pilot and Imperial commander. Oh man, dem sexy helmets. And actual blasters! Gone are the days of megaphones with red blocks stuck in the end! The AT-AT driver is a little out of place outside of his vehicle, but when your helmet looks that damn cool, you do whatever you want. Just ask Vader or Boba Fett. I can see where guys who are gonna' buy fifty billion of these to make an accurate population of the entire Original Trilogy universe would be annoyed, but I'm probably only buying this one so I care not. My compassion is a fickle thing. 

No, my main point of contention is Mr. fleshy head. Why Lego? Why did you render many years worth of product incompatible with these new flesh colored figures? You just changed. Honestly I don't care that much since I plan on getting other licensed stuff anyway, so Batman will look fine and dandy straddling an AT-ST. naye my finger of blame is pointed squarely at star wars for this one. Why do the imperial soldiers look so stupid? I mean, it's hard for anybody to look cool standing next 'troopers and Vader, but that big dumb bucket hat isn't doing him any favors. And without it he's quite bald, he doesn't even get the nifty double-sided heads Lego has been doing recently.

You also get a nifty arctic version of the classic speeder, and man is thing ten times better than the one I had as a kid. I know lego obsessives (or Afols or ufos or naacps or whatever acronym they like to be called) aren't fans of specialized elements, but c'mon. This new speeder body is just to damn perfect, and minifigures actually look good riding it. You also get some dinky little com-station and a little missile firing thing I didn't bother to build. A pattern I've noticed: Clone wars battle packs get really damn cool extras, Original trilogy tends to get a speeder and some forgettable bollocks. You'll see what I mean soon enough.

Overall, these battle packs are a great way to get some awesome minifigures and a couple nice extras. Lego has really stepped up their Star Wars product, and I've already bought way more of it than is healthy this month. Expect to see plenty of reviews. I've got a feeling my Mega-bloks Halo soldiers are going to be forced to co-exist peacefully with clone troopers and mandalorians for the foreseeable future.

Now about that Imperial comman-douche: LEGO POWERS ACTIVATE!

Ta-dah! From incompetent bald bucket-head to grizzled veteran commanding her loyal soldiers in the thick of battle! And that's why I enjoy Lego.

Also my auto-correct just tried to convince me I wanted to type "Mandingo". For shame, Microsoft.