Toying Around (Part One)

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So I was perusing my toy shelf as of late and I realized that it’s practically bursting at the seams because of the relatively recent additions I’ve made to it. I even meant to put an article up about this last year but didn’t happen so I decided to use 2014 as a good springboard to do so. The last few years really made a difference between this and my last reported toy musings so I thought I’d share with you readers out there. This will be a bit of an undertaking so I’ve decided to break it down into three parts, with me expounding on the top shelf first and work my way down to the bottom in the coming parts. So with that lets get the show on the road…

The photo below represents my stash before I really decided to up my purchases. As you can see here they are predominately MGS toys from Play Arts Kai (PAK). The open box at the first level is from InFlames Toys and is a variant of Big Boss from MGS PW. More on that later. The two figures flanking the box are a couple of TRUETYPE 1/6 scale toys that I bought for a project I’ve yet to have time for. The little LEGO figs I purchased at a local Urban Outfitters.

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This next photo really shows how my small collection has grown over time. Like I said, it’s practically bursting at the seams! Well, that’s mostly because I have no other space to put them, aside from the display case you see here. Since my toys are arranged in a mixed bag of sorts I’ll go into detail level by level starting at the top, from left to right.
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PAK MGS PW Big Boss (Jungle Fatigue)

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I actually ordered Jungle Fatigue AND Sneaking Suit Snake from Amazon when I decided to go for my purchase. The funny thing is when I got them in the mail they sent me TWO Jungle Fatigue Snakes on accident. I was sore for a little bit but thought at least I can keep one sealed. I just wished it could have been two Sneaking Suit Snakes instead but the deed was done. The detail to the toy itself is pretty sharp. The head sculpt looks as much as Big Boss’s in PW the game. From the way he stands to the accessories he comes with, I was in utter joy. It was exciting to finally have a figure that comes from a gaming franchise that I hold close to my heart. He’s got a great amount of articulation for a good number of poses. One thing I did have an issue with was one of his knee joints. I wasn’t sure if it was the paint, plastic material, or a combination of the two but it seriously was a Bitch to get his right leg to bend past the standing position. It was so damm difficult that I had to pull a MacGyver and squeeze a butter knife between the thigh wall that connects to the center knee joint. I was in desperation mode so I really don’t recommend doing what I did unless absolutely necessary. I thought to myself, “is this what to be expected of PAK?” Then again nothing is perfect. The butter knife did the trick. Jungle Fatigue Snake was in full articulation mode. I posed him in different stances in line with his trademark back against the wall and crouched positions. Ultimately I settled him in a single knee, holding his M1911 fun with his PW stun knife at the ready.

PAK MGS PW Kaz Miller

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Well, you can’t have PW Big Boss without his right hand man, Kaz. Actually he’s been around since Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (MSX), assisting in missions via codec as Master Miller and again reprising his role in MGS 1 (PSX). But it wasn’t until MGS Peace Walker where Miller took a more pivotal role in the series. Those who have yet to play PW really should take a look at it as, not only is it a part of the MGS canon, but without understanding the events in 1974 (the year those events took place), Ground Zeroes might feel slightly confusing. GZ takes place in 1975, only one year after PW. Not only does Kaz aid Snake via codec, but he also helps manage Mother Base, a pseudo Outer Heaven. He also has a big influence in the benevolent behavior Snake bestows on certain characters in the game. Plus he and Big Boss respect one another as comrades. So with all the backstory and level of prior history it’s really great that Kaz Miller finally get his own figure. He comes with his own M1911, second head sculpt of a masked comrade for those days when you feel like being totally incognito. A huge plus are his removable Aviators. This means even Snake can wear them!

PAK MGS PW Big Boss (Sneaking Suit)

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When I finally got the chance I sprung for Sneaking Suit Snake. The reason I wanted this so bad is because all Snake’s sneaking suits have been different and his PW getup is great looking. Every MGS game has had Snake (Solid and Naked) dawn a new version of this suit since MGS 1. I’m also not entirely sure if Big Boss will have a “new” sneaking suit in MGS V GZ because he still retains his PW iteration and the Phantom Pain trailers have him wearing camo fatigues. Time will tell. Snake is already such a basses that his gear amps it up even more. The neat accessories Sneaking Suit Snake comes with are his trusty tranq gun fitted with optional suppressor, and for the first time in any MGS game as well as his toy, he comes with a neat looking riot shield. I personally haven’t had Snake use his riot shield in game and toy wise just to retain that typical MGS feel of just Snake and his procured tranq or socom. Which is why I placed him in the pic with his back against the wall, suppressed gun at the ready.

PAK MGS PW Big Boss (Battle Dress)

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It might be hard to see, being obscured by my Transformers Bot Shots and Nickelodeon TMNT but I also decided to pick up a PW Big Boss Battle Dress toy at a popular toy shop in the city. PW is the first game in MGS history where Snake dresses up in full on battle armor. Remember, MGS is all about stealth and AVOIDING conflict, not running head in into it. the great thing about MGS is that it gives its players tons of choices. From weapon and item loadout to choice of camo, and even more so in PW, adding choice of how to play from Shooter style mechanics to Action style. So with PW you have the choice of Jungle Fatigue offering moderate amount of sounded footsteps to avoid enemy detection, Sneaking Suit for the least amount of sounded footsteps and sleed, and Battle Dress which affords the player the most protection but at the cost of speed and silence. Obviously the heavier you are the slower you move and vice versa. So I decided to keep my toy in his box because he looks pretty cool in the packaging, plus I wanted to keep it protected. Though it’s easy to see that this figure is bulkier and slightly taller than the other two Snakes due to his attire. I highly recommend getting this bad boy if you haven’t yet.

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Moving on to a different franchise altogether on this top shelf we see one of my Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures. To back track for a moment, TMNT was a cartoon, toy line, and movie franchise that I grew to love as a kid in the 90’s. I watched the toons after school everyday,  bought all 4 turtles figures, and watched the first movie in the theater as well as buy the VHS and even collected a ton of stickers. Hell, I even drew them all over the place. Years passed, I got older, and other interests took root, but I still had a fondness for the good guys in green. I don’t have my old toys anymore which is why I made it a mission to find the most recent of iterations of these heroes in a half shell. I’ve known about another brand called NECA who has their own line of TMNT toys which are highly exceptional, though pricy. I decided to settle for the Nickelodeon fare as these represent the new CGI TMNT toon that started airing in 2012. It’s actually a really good series so far. The figures are great looking and detailed. The best thing about them is that all 4 turtles have their own signature look. I’m not just talking about their custom red, blue, orange, and purple headgear, but they all have different molds and head sculpts. So it’s not like their bodies were recycled and repainted.

Nickelodeon TMNT Donnatello

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I never really paid much attention to the TMNT toys that were produced after the first generation in the early 90’s until I ran into an article in 2012 talking about Nick’s new show. After watching a couple episodes I was hooked and thought that with a new toon must come their toy line. Lo and behold I was correct. Each turtle was about $10 so I decided to snag all four at a decent $40 from Amazon. Donnatello here, the tallest and brightest of all the turtles, actually looks the part. He’s got a pensive look on his face as if calculating how to best take down his opponent. The great things about all these turtles of this current variant is that they seem to harken back to the original toys I grew up with. Whited out eyes, different skin tone, even their bracketed weapons all remind me of TMNT of yesteryear. Save for the awesome NECA toys, previous iterations preceding these Nicks looked too cartoonish and had black dots painted in for their eyes. They just looked too awkward compared to these nice looking figures.

Nickelodeon TMNT Raphael

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The next TMNT toy on the top shelf is Raphael. The more rebellious of the four, he has a mean streak and adolescent careless attitude that shows on his mold. Cool looking details like the crack on his upper left front shell area showcase his potentially brash behaviour that more likely than not, get him in sticky situations. Basically, my boy Raph is a hothead so his red attire is very appropriate. And he is my favorite out of the four. He listens to his gut and acts on instinct. Essentially, he is the complete opposite of brother Donnatello. Running the risk of putting his foot in his mouth, he is very lucky to even have his brothers and Master Splinter in the first place. TMNT though, wouldn’t be who they are without Raphael.

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I don’t know about you guys but Transformers was among the best toons the 80’s had to offer. It became so popular that it spawned so many versions of toons and corresponding toys. It even had it’s own movie in 1986 which I saw as a kid. It had such a huge impact on me that I cried when Optimus Prime ceased to function. I had his toy rig back then too, among other toys which I regretfully lost when moving from neighborhood to neighborhood in those days. Alas all I could do was to forget about it and find a way to track certain toys down in my adulthood. As always, online bargain hunting seemed to be the the best move, as 30 years makes a difference in how collectable and rare such toys can be. I did get lucky however, and I’ll go into detail in Part 3 of my report. For now I’ll keep things on the latest of finds. Speaking of which, over the summer I discovered these mini figures called Transformers Bot Shots. Manufactured by Hasbro, these toys are smaller than Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars. Their transformation mechanic lies not in us manually transforming them, as with a typical Transformer toy, but in actually ramming them into objects, or into other Bot Shots mini figs. The point is to battle an Autobot with a Decepticon and see who transforms first. The one who stays in car form loses. Another influential part of said battles are the chest plate on each mini fig. The rules are as follows:

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It’s basically Rock Paper Scissor but it’s a cool idea. Also, each move can have an Attack Strength number for example, of say 400. So if both bots do transform and end up with the same “suit” the higher number can be the tie breaker. Consequently, if both bots have the same Attack Strength both bots are at a Draw and just have to battle again. I personally haven’t played this yet, tho I’ve opened one mini fig already, because I don’t know anyone else who collects Bot Shots, let alone toys for that matter, other than Big Cheese that is.

Transformers Bot Shots Barricade

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The first Bot Shot on my top shelf is the Decepticon, Barricade. He’s been around in toy form since 1990 as a Formula 1 Racecar, but thks is the first time I’ve ever owned him in any form. He was also featured in publications as well as other TF toy lines and video games, and was even featured in the first live action Transformers movie as a Saleen S281E police car (a variant of the Ford Mustang), which is the current form he takes in the Bot Shots series. It’s also quite ironic that Barricade disguises himself as a cop car, hiding among human officers in plain sight, as a Decepticon would. He looks extremely menacing in the movie but kind of adorable in his deformed state, no?

Transformers Bot Shots Bumblebee

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Perhaps the most recognizable Autobot aside from Optimus Prime, Bumblebee has been around since 1984, the year Transformers aired and changed the life of every kid around the world. Considered a soldier/scout class, Bee would go out on missions to survey the areas, making note of any and all Decepticon activities, if any. He’d then report back to Optimus Prime about his findings and help formulate a plan to take any enemies down. He took the form of a yellow Volkswagen Beetle, not quite the epitome of strong presence, though his heroic actions spoke otherwise. He was also featured in the 2007 live action movie as mentioned above. Bee instead, took the form, first of a beat up 1977 Camaro, though the Volkswagen did make a short cameo. Then changing into the 2005 Camaro concept car, which he settled with through the later movie sequels. Bee also sports his new look for this Bot Shots line. There are other varied looks he and the other Bot Shots mini figs have. For example, there is a version of Bee with a battle mask on, which I’d like to get. There are also “hologram”, or transparent versions of them which apparently have higher Attack Strengths than their usual counterparts. I’m personally not too keen in those as I like my figures with their original color schemes. But you ladies and gents may favor them better. Check them out sometime.

And there you have it, folks. This concludes Part One of Toying Around. Stay tuned for the next round where I go into level two of my three part toy section. I’ll go into more Bot Shots, my next two TMNT figures, as well as MGS 1 and some issues I actually had with Cyborg Ninja aka Mr. Dangles. I hope you enjoyed. Get your asses back here for the next installment. Till then…

Stay classy.

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