THE ACTION IS ALIVE 2020 Fanzine

A Transformers Action Master Fanzine that Benefits Charity

THE ACTION IS ALIVE 2020 Fanzine

If that title doesn’t entice you, I don’t know what to tell you.

Every year (almost), Toy-Fu and TMUK produce a themed Transformers fanzine for TF Nation, a UK Transformers convention. In years past, I’ve written about Micromasters and Rock Lords.

This year I got to write about Action Masters!

There are a ton of talented people behind this full color fanzine (including the creator of JaAm himself, my friend Matt) and you can get pre-order a digital PDF copy here.

If you live in the UK, you can also order a physical copy and some awesome pins and postcards.

Toy-Fu and TMUK Transformers Action Master Fanzine Order page 

Full details below.

Continue reading “A Transformers Action Master Fanzine that Benefits Charity”

1994 GI Joe Shadow Ninjas Bushido

1994 GI Joe Shadow Ninjas Bushido Review

1994 GI Joe Shadow Ninjas Bushido

Motto: “Like a pointed, crystal icicle, I can also be found in the Williams Sonoma holiday catalog for the unbelievable price of $399.99. ”

BUSHIDO was born in Queens, where he decided to become a samurai, like his father before him. Unfortunately, his father wasn’t actually a samurai, and a samurai isn’t really a thing you can still be. Just ask BUDO. Met his “blood brother” BANZAI at a bar in the Bronx, where they used a pocket knife to complete the unhygienic ritual that bonds them to this day. Using his parents’ money, he “studied abroad” in Iceland, where he learned everything he knows about being a Snow Ninja– which is “basically being a samurai, just ask anyone.” Watched SNAKE EYES and STORM SHADOW slap-box in the commissary once, so is one of GI Joe’s foremost martial arts experts. Wears high-top sneakers. 

Equipment:

  • Family Heirloom Samurai Hat (also from Williams Sonoma catalog) 
  • High Top Sneakers (no, seriously, this is on his actual file card)
  • Gun

Continue reading “1994 GI Joe Shadow Ninjas Bushido Review”

2000 Transformers Beast Machines McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, robot modes

2000 Transformers Beast Machines McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys

2000 Transformers Beast Machines McDonald’s Happy Meal  toys, bagged

I originally intended this to be a short post. But, as it turns out, I took more photos than I have for any post on this silly blog. So we’ll see if I can keep the text short, too. 

For more than one reason, the set of 2000 Transformers Beast Machines McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys is my favorite batch of fast food premiums ever. I think there’s a strong argument to be made about it being legitimately the best batch of Happy Meal toys ever created. Look, I love Changeables and McNugget Buddies as much as the next Dinosaur Dracula, but this set had it all. 

If you’re a Transformers fan, these should be on your radar. 

Continue reading “2000 Transformers Beast Machines McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys”

Bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker

Let’s Take a Quick Look at this Bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker

Bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker

Bootlegs are AN ILLEGAL CRIME, but I’ve always been drawn to them. Transformers bootlegs are often presented in strange colors. They’re often over (or under)-sized, and the plastic sometimes turns to ash the moment you remove them from their shoddy blister cards. But that’s their charm, right? 

They’re a lot like one of those direct-to-video B sci-fi mockbusters (Transmorphers, Atlantic Rim, etc.)– you never know exactly what kind of treasures and/or horrors are contained within. 

Some bootlegs, though, are straightforward. They’re exact copies of the original toy and boast similar quality, construction, coloring, and size. Sometimes they’re almost indistinguishable. They’re a perfect clone, more of a Boba Fett than a Bizarro Superman. 

The ethics around these get kind of dicey. This is the case with the bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker we’re looking at today. You can lambast me in the comments and give me flashbacks to my Instagram DMs, but I won’t be too bothered– I’ve spent enough money on Hasbro and Takara products by now that I’m sure I’ve put every middle manager in both company’s kids through college. 

I picked this bootleg Sunstreaker up from AliExpress for several reasons:

  1. I’ve never owned a G1 Sunstreaker, and it hasn’t recently been reissued
  2. Many Sunstreakers on the secondary market are broken, missing pieces, or prohibitively expensive
  3. I’ve always been curious about the early Diaclone robots who became Transformers 
  4. I wanted to know if these bootlegs were good quality 
  5. It seemed like a fun thing to share with my readers 

So, let’s take a look at this Doppelganger Sunstreaker. Ending 2019 by looking at a morally-dubious copy of a beloved Autobot car robot seems like a fitting way to say goodbye to this Hell Decade. 

Continue reading “Let’s Take a Quick Look at this Bootleg Transformers G1 Sunstreaker”

Funskool GI Joe Halibna Exclusive Psyche-Out

Funskool GI Joe Halibna Exclusive Psyche-Out (2004) – Dragon Fortress Reviews

Funskool GI Joe Halibna Exclusive Psyche-Out

PSYCHE-OUT got his degree in psychology from Berkeley, where he listened to the Grateful Dead while plotting real estate development schemes. He went on to do “groundbreaking research” in the field of paranoia inducement with ultra low frequency radio wave transmissions and whatever leftover LSD his rich white roommate couldn’t sell to people at Hot Tuna concerts. Since joining the GI Joe team and the Sonic Fighters, he has fronted numerous classified Psy-Ops and disinformation campaigns against Cobra and those hippies who just won’t leave their rent-controlled apartments. He sees you, Woody and Janice. Time to make room for an artisanal mayo shop. 

“What can you say about a guy whose doctoral thesis was entitled, ‘The Use of T-Shirt Slogans In Enemy Troop Demoralization?’ Probably, ‘This guy paid someone else to do his school work and that was the best they came up with.’ His job involves complicated thinking and multiple layers of deception: making the boys at the local precinct think he’s interested in serving this disenfranchised and the community as a whole, all the while torturing people with slowed-down recordings on Jefferson Airplane concerts– all in the name of “science” and “national security!”

Assigned Armaments: E.C.M. (Electronic Cocaine Measurers), ULF (Ultimately Lasers are Futile) cerebro distortion laser.

Weapons Qualification: One-Eyed Marksman

Continue reading “Funskool GI Joe Halibna Exclusive Psyche-Out (2004) – Dragon Fortress Reviews”

GI Joe Weapons Trees

GI Joe Weapons Trees Were Good, Actually

GI Joe Weapons Trees

Thank you for attending my TED Talk.

In 1993 and 1994, many GI Joe figures came with “weapons trees,” which were multiple, reused weapons from earlier figures attached to a plastic sprue. They were all molded in one color, and very often made no sense for the character they were packed with. This often meant your brand new figure would be brandishing Rock Viper’s oversized sniper rifle in dark purple or neon green– hardly the “realistic” weaponry GI Joe fans of the 1980s (and early 90s!) expected to come with their military action figures. 

But I’m here to tell you that these weapons trees were just as much of a blessing as they were a curse. Even if you’re currently balling up your fists and loading up photos of 1985 Snake Eyes to remind yourself of the “Good Ol’ Days” right now because the very thought that weapons trees might be somehow positive makes your brain vomit a little bit, just bear with me. 

Because, once upon a time, I hated them, too. That’s right– as an unabashed fan of 1990s GI Joe, even I wasn’t always on board with weapons trees. As I became an adult and began collecting ARAH-style Joes again, though, I realized how much I actually used those weapons as a kid, and how valuable they really were to me. 

Continue reading “GI Joe Weapons Trees Were Good, Actually”

1993 Gi Joe Wet-Suit battle corps

1993 GI Joe Wet-Suit (Battle Corps) – Dragon Fortress Reviews

1993 Gi Joe Wet-Suit battle corps

Motto: “Well, with all due respect, nobody told me that was a BBC documentary crew submarine, SIR!”

WET-SUIT has been characterized as being “two Ikea shelving units worth of mean on the hoof” and “twice as frustrating to deal with.” He is definitely not big on social graces, and was recently 86’d from the Oasis. He is not the type who goes over very well as the Chaplain Assistants’ Social Tea, as he only drinks tall cans of Twisted Tea (always shotgunned, always two at a time) and Monster Energy Java. Despite being an elite underwater operator, no one has ever seen him drink a single glass of H2O. Even so, he is exactly the dude you want behind you when you run into a gaggle of Cobra EELS in a shallow mine field or in a kiddie pool filled with Green Jello. Amazing how much damage he can do with a Ka-Bar knife and a Breitbart comments account. Wet-Suit is the head-honcho in charge of piloting the GI Joe Barracuda, which is an unnecessary title he just made up because he needs to feel like he retains some control over his life.

Equipment:

  1. Totally-real, totally-not-a-movie prop undersea spear rifle
  2. Air-tight, underwater helmet with 360° unscrambled Cinemax
  3. High-impact, delayed detonation torpedo (hunter orange for safety reasons)
  4. Low drag, nautical jet sled with heads-up display and neck pillow
  5. Pulse-powered, battlefield wrist viewer with scrambled Showtime
  6. Portable beeper/female body inspector
  • Official V8 Survival Juice Drink
  • Select-a-charge war crime devices
  • Snug fit, deep water flippers (always worn with socks)

Continue reading “1993 GI Joe Wet-Suit (Battle Corps) – Dragon Fortress Reviews”

1991 Cobra night vulture

1991: The Year Cobra Broke (a Tribute) – Cobra Convergence 3

Within the last week, I finished collecting the 1991 Cobra roster. I almost have the GI Joe side complete, too– I just need that pesky Cloudburst!

While not every figure I have is complete or perfect, 1991 is the only GI Joe year I’ve set out to complete so far. That’s because it’s easily my favorite GI Joe lineup. As a kid, I had a few figures from 1988 and 1989, and even one from 1987. I had a good amount of the 1990 roster, and those figures were excellent, but it was a year full of all new characters. As a kid, I wanted the characters from the Sunbow cartoon and the animated movie.

1991 fulfilled that desire. It gave us Cobra Commander, Hawk, Snake Eyes, Zap, Grunt, Falcon, Rock n Roll, Major Bludd, Flint, Low-Light, Dusty, Mercer, and Sci-Fi. It also gave us fantastic new characters like Heavy Duty, Cesspool, Interrogator, Big Ben, Red Star, and Ozone. The accessories were still good and still specifically made for each character.

To me, it’s the best Joe year of all time. I was only 6 or 7 when I got most of the 91 figures I had as a kid, but it was my first real chance to have versions of the characters I knew. And the accessories were a bit less confusing to a kid than the complicated setups from 1990.

But, in this quick feature, I want to talk about the 1991 Cobra roster. I’m more into the Joe side than the Cobra side, but this month it special– it’s Cobra Convergence 3!

YouTube toy reviewer Hooded Cobra Commander 788 spearheads Cobra Convergence every year, and this time he’s asked bloggers, photographers, and other creators to contribute.

So, this is my humble entry. Let’s take a look at why 1991 was just as much of a banner year for Cobra as it was for GI Joe.

Continue reading “1991: The Year Cobra Broke (a Tribute) – Cobra Convergence 3”

millennials react to ecto cooler

We Put Vodka in Our Expired Ecto Cooler – Dragon Fortress Features

So, as it turns out I’m not dead. Which is good, because often dead people become ghosts. And if I were a ghost, I most certainly would have been busted due to this blog post. This is a convoluted way of saying I roped three of my friends into drinking expired Ecto Cooler with me, even though there’s not even a dang ghost on the can anymore.

No ghosts to bust here, neither human nor aluminum. If bustin’ can’t make us feel good, then what possibly can? Hopefully the answer lies in expired Hi-C Ecto Cooler.

In the spring and summer of 2016, Hi-C rereleased Ecto Cooler into the wild. It was impossible to find in Boise, so I had to live vicariously through social media and Dinosaur Dracula posts. Ecto Cooler was a big part of my childhood, though, so I was pretty bummed out about the whole thing.

ecto cooler 2016

I drank a LOT of Ecto Cooler as a kid. Those juice boxes were my favorite. They bring back memories of X-Men pogs, staying in on sunny summer days and watching reruns of Welcome Back Kotter (I think there’s a Smiths song about that), and reading Star Trek novels I barely understood.

The thing is, I’m not a Ghostbusters superfan. I ADORED The Real Ghostbusters as a very young kid, and spent a lot of time watching the cartoons and playing with the toys.

My mom even bought me the cereal, and said she’d order me whatever prize was on the back if I ate the whole box. I didn’t like cereal, though, so I’m not sure what I was thinking. The first bowl she poured me, I hid under the kitchen sink and said I finished. She was very proud of me until she found it that night because the milk began to stink. I did not get that prize.

Sure, I like the films. My dad showed me Ghostbusters 2 at a tender young age and it scared the piss out of me. Especially those minks, man. I liked the first film when I eventually saw it around age 10 or so. Still, the cartoon holds the most nostalgia for me. I do appreciate the movies, and the franchise as a whole, but I’m more of an Ecto Cooler fan than I am a Ghostbusters fan.

As it turns out, Ecto Cooler was a rebranded Citrus Cooler that was first released in 1987. I don’t imagine I ever had it until 1991 or 1992, so I always thought it was a 1990s thing. As it turns out, Ecto Cooler is one thing Gen X and Millennials can both agree on.

So, I was very excited when my friend Beer Baron sent me two cans of the 2016 Ecto Cooler in the mail. I’d never had Ecto Cooler in a can before. What a novelty!

Continue reading “We Put Vodka in Our Expired Ecto Cooler – Dragon Fortress Features”