Monday, June 29, 2015

Thoughtful Toys: Geneblock Soldiers

To continue the discussion of construction toys for the use of concept design I wanted to talk about Geneblock Soldiers. I had seen these a while back, but I did not think they looked worth $50+ each to experiment with. After some time I ran across a few sets second hand on ebay. The first set I got was still on sprues and I did an assembly video review of that figure below. The others came preassembled. Sadly one was missing a piece, but I was able to use one of the extra bits from the unassembled kit to compensate. The way they works reminds me a little of the original Construct bots system. At least in the sense of the ball joints. The thing that makes these better in a way, is there is only one connector type, and each piece usually has a multitude of ways to combine them. 
The first kit I tried out was a bright orange and green, and it made a cool robot with a huge gun. From what I gather, you can buy a set of these, and they are like trading figures where you might get two figures from a series. I noticed that figures can be in different colors, so I assume this adds to the blind box system. I have not found much info on these in english or bought a set new, so I am just guessing here. At first glance it looks like a simple model kit. The plastic is a bit heavier duty, and I assume that is so it can endure being taken apart many times. The first time assembling was a little difficult and reminded me of the hassle of building with assemble borg. When I built a larger item with the prebuilt kits I did find it easier to assemble. 

Having just one kit can make for a lot of fun. It is a good learning exercise in moving parts for poses when designing your own bot. Instead of the trick of incorrectly drawing something to gain poses, you can design your mech more realistically and create parts that function in the real world. The design themselves are neat and fun to play with.

I also picked up a transforming kit called Hover Blade. This one had more realistic military color scheme. Its robot design was pretty decent as it shared components with the design we just looked at. I like the look of this one more, and I think even with its parts it has more possible configurations.

This is a perfect example of what I am trying to express with these toys. The above robot turns into a helicopter with a simple transformation. There is very little components here that are identifiable as a helicopter. The shape of it though makes us think helicopter. A sketch of that silhouette would also identify as a helicopter. The purpose I am proposing with these and other toys are to be able to produce unique silhouettes that you can sketch from and inspire new creations. Even in their robot form, they are somewhat abstract and use imagination, yet they are no so simplified that one has to try so hard to find the form in them. 

Due to the size I wonder if these next two are part of the same set. They share parts of the same color, and are much smaller than the other kits I have shown. Their parts are still compatible with the other kits, but the bots they make are a bit different. The Fier Bear, and Beat Spike figures are made up of much smaller pieces to form the components. The others rely on parts that serve a function, then have elements added to their frame to make them more unique. 

On to the creations. I wanted to start with something simple, and change up the design with the parts included with a single figure. With the spare parts included and the versatility of the parts you can change it up a bit. I used the alternate head, and other parts to make a rocket launcher and giant claw. I was also easily able to change the leg configuration into a chicken walker style. 

I wanted to make another design using the parts included between these bots. The shoulder canisters made me immediately think extra limbs. With some simple part swapping with get a new kind of bot. 

Like many of the other builds I do, I wanted to use all the parts I could and make something much bigger. While, I did not use every part I had, I use quite a few. I bet with whats left over, I could make another smaller bot as well. This figure is about 3 times the size of the standard figure. I was able to use some of the similar methods I used on construct bots, but it was easier due to the part design. You don't have to use as many support pieces since these are much lighter. 

Bulking up the designs is a little tricker, so you will still end up with a slender bot unless you have a lot of parts, or build shorter bots to compensate. 

Check out the vBuild as well where I put together the first set I talk about and give a short impression of the kit. 

After messing with a few of these, and getting to build with them I think they are a pretty decent building toy. Their large assortment of parts, as well as the versatility of ways you can connect them, I think they are a good tool. I do think $30 each is too much for what they are, but if you can come across them cheaper, and feel this system is inspiring to you, its work picking up a few to layout some forms to give inspirations to concept design. Stay tuned for more building toy reviews, and be sure to subscribe to our youtube, as well as follow us on facebook and twitter. Until next time, keep creating. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Vbuild of Kabaya Candy Optimus Prime

We have posted a vbuild eith review of the Kabaya Optimus Prime model kit. Check out the pics, and video below. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Custom TFCon Exclusive ToyworldGrant (TW-H04G) aka Grand Maximus

This is a quick and simple custom I did for the Toyworld Grant figure. I had gotten it at TFCon 2014, and you might had seen in in some of my instagram photos. When I got the figure, snapped a pic and put him in his box. Once I saw there was another version with more paint apps I thought I might end up trading it for the other version. Well time went on, and it seems the market is somewhat flooded with these figures so I decided I will make due with this one. 
I was not sure where I was going to begin my approach. I had not seen the character in the shows, so I didn't have any attachments to make it look just like the character. I figured I would add some details based on the colors that exist to see what could improve the overall design. 

The character model for Grand Maximus.
The original toy thanks to 
The original heads bot mode thanks to
As you can see in the photo I took they improved the toy some. It isn't a straight Knock Off, but updated, and actually much smaller. So small that it does not have an additional headmaster for the headmaster, and other accessories. It does however have all the modes for transformation, but with added details and articulation. It was a well built figure, but the colors seemed sort of bland. 

You can see from the sales photo that it came with stickers, and they add a little to its look, but it is still a little over saturated in these molded colors. I figured I could repaint a lot of the figure, but I am going to see what I can do with it by just modifying the head. The head was mostly a single color, and it made the figure feel lifeless. 

I started with adding some color to the head robot itself. I painted his helmet and chest to break up the single molded color. I also added some silver to his face and yellow eyes. It was a bit tricky to paint the face because this figure was so small. More or less it was done with a single bristle brush. 

The rest of the helmet was painted with a brush as well. It had to be painted twice because once I moved the finished product into another light I found that this was not a blue as much as it was a blue green tone. It was not too hard to match the paint to the plastic once I saw it closer in the light. I then added some paint below the jaw to give it more shape and painted his face mask & horns silver. I also added a little silver to the gray vents before adding the stickers. 

I think compared to the productions photos he looks less like a stone faced statue and has a bit more character. On top of that, he is more toy and character accurate. Check out the rest of the photos of this guy. 

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Custom Painted MP10 Optimus Prime Eyes

Here is a quick little custom for MP10 I thought I would share for those wanting to try it. As you can see below, the eyes on MP10 are rather dead looking. They chose a dark blue, and it was one of the weaker design elements of the figure. The Hasbro version went with lighter eyes. 

Rather than spraying the eyes, I used these yellow paint pen. I chose yellow for the G1 toy rather than the cartoon model. 

 Here you can see how they slide out of the back of the head. You will need to open the head with the two small screws on the back, and let the paint dry before reassembly.

And its that easy. Below you can see some photos of the finished product. 

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Blinking Light Win NES mod Review

Here is an item I got from a kickstarter that was successful for me. Its called the blinking light win. You can check out their kickstarter for more info. Now that my kid is getting old enough to game, I wanted to enjoy the NES with her. I remember the old NES being finicky, but I forgot how much of a pain they could be to get running right. I got this device to make games more reliable. 

My main gaming center. Yes that is a VCR, and those are VHS tapes. How else can I teach my kid the evolution of media. 

Check out the video below for the full review, and install of the Blinking Light Win.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

WST Retro Gashapon Optimus Prime Model Kit

A neat little capsule toy I picked up over a decade ago. It has some nice sculpting in the cab, and might be a good item to pull the head and cab from to improve the WST version. Here you can see some comparisons with the PVC truck, and the WST toy. Also check out the build video at the end. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Expressalo Toy review

I found out about these guys on instagram and fell in love with them. Turns out they were part of a kickstarter that I missed out on. Luckily not long afterwards they were available on their website, so I got a couple. Checkout a couple of shots I took, and the video review below.