All posts by John Sorensen

About John Sorensen

Bat-Fan Extraordinaire. Able to leap over plot-holes in a single bound, Likes: punching crime in the face. Dislikes: villainous fiends!

POKEMON 1998… THE JOURNEY BEGINS

The year was 1998 and I was gripped with Pokemon fever.

I had started watching the anime on weekday TV, bought a lovely new Gameboy Color just to play Pokemon Red, and started collecting the mini-figures by TOMY.

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My mate Luke and I used to walk into the city two to three times a week to visit the comic book shop, and while in the city visit video game arcades, video game stores or browse toys/collectibles in various shops back in my old hometown of Christchurch, New Zealand.

I bought more of those Pokemon minis than I can even remember back then and today I still have all of them loose in a box, waiting to be displayed twenty years later.

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When I moved to Australia around the tail end of 1999, I remember my younger brother becoming another Pokefiend. He completed his Gameboy Color game, then we accidentally found out we could play the other games as ROMS on PC and he got into those.

My younger brother, sister and myself went to the first movie release of  Pokemon the Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back. My brother’s favorite Pokemon was Squirtle and I still remember the sparkle in his eye and cheer on his face when Squirtle appeared in the opening Pikachu short that preceded the film.

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I followed the show a while longer while still living with my family and eventually moved to West Australia – where I no longer had access to any television for a couple years, and basically no money. When I did have a dollar or two I picked up some comics here and there, but mostly I just read nothing but library books for that period of time.

From then till now, my Pokemon journey seemingly ended – or at least took a detour. I was aware over the years of all the various other game releases, but never got around to buying any of them. And I never finished Pokemon Red. I did play it some more, as it was the only game device I had not dependent on a Television. My game time got up to 80 hours, I caught and trained loads of Pokemon, then put it aside and forgot about it.

I picked up Pokemon Silver and Crystal for my growing GBC collection, but never actually got around to playing them. I also picked up both Pokemon Stadium’s for N64, but hardly played them at all, finding the whole transfer pak process via the GB carts clever – but fiddly and annoying. And both N64 Stadium games were barely games to start with.

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Then in 2018 I started selling off my older game consoles. Off went my pristine but well played Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, Gamecube, games and more. Off went my purple Gameboy Color with ragged original box, and two Gameboy Advance SP’s and my entire GB/GBC/GBA collection. I kept my Sega Mega Drive and games (being my fav console ever) and everything else from PS2 forward.

Only in 2019 did I buy Pokemon Blue – this time on the 3DS Virtual Console store. And I’ve fallen in love with the game all over again, but this time I will finish generation one before moving on and playing all the other main entries in the series. I also picked up a cheap Pokemon Sun to see what it was like, and it is gorgeous.

Seeing the recent battle figures in my local chain stores – that I had ignored for months on my Transformers and TMNT figure hunts – I gave them a chance and was pleasantly surprised at both the quality and selection available at sensible prices. Lapras and Gengar are the two standout figures for me.

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If I look back at what rekindled my passion for Pokemon – it was the release of the Detective Pikachu movie which my Mrs and myself really enjoyed at the cinema, and again at home. The Detective Pikachu movie got so many things right and had me out the following week looking at current Pokemon toys. It’s a fun all ages movie that I highly recommend for fans old and new.

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Along with that Detective Pikachu movie I watched a heap of Retrospective Pokemon videos about the game series on Youtube, which really helped cement my decision to get back into Pokemon, and of course now I’ve started watching the show from the very start along with the twenty or so movie specials – and despite being a show being made for kids and an interruption to my non stop weekend marathons of Super Seventies Robot Anime – it stands up pretty well with fun gags, colorful characters and enjoyable stories.

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Recently I finished setting up this animation themed display, and Pokemon were definitely a part of it, with a focus on the early Pokemon from the first series of the show and in particular the Pokemon of Misty, Ash, Brock and Team Rocket. Meowth is still in one of the loose boxes, I have not forgotten him. It’s kind of fun that Frieza and James happen to be in the same colors.

toon display ash misty pikachu team rocket pokemon

With the fever at full pitch I’ve pre-ordered (doh!) some nice Pokefigures by Bandai from HLJ.com in the Pokemon Scale Collection and checked out what is on the way from the mainstream TOMY releases at chain stores for the battle collection that include fan favorites like Snorlax, Charizard, Mewtwo and Gyarados.

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Despite being so many years on from the first Pokemon game, anime and toys – I’m genuinely excited and feel like my Pokemon journey is only just beginning. As an overall franchise, who could have even predicted it would be still be around so many years later going from strength to strength with video games, the collectible card game, cartoons and loads of cool mini PVC figures and boundless Pokemon plush to keep things rolling along.

COMING UP NEXT ON YE OLDE BLOG: Dinobots

 

 

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SPECIAL TEAMS PART #6 Terrorcons / Abominus

BLOT RIPPERSNAPPER HD1

Getting back to my Special Teams / Combiner series let’s take a look at the fabulous and terrifying Terrorcons. First up is Rippersnapper and Blot. I had the G1 Blot as a kid and never liked it in any mode, he was rather awful – but this one I quite like.

Next is the Terrorcon leader Hun-Grr. His dragon mode is a bit weak due to the kibble/exposed parts required for the combined mode. But otherwise he’s a solid effort.

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Soaring high in the skies above and ready to slice or rip your head off is Cutthroat. His name is more of a mercenary meaning, but look at that multi-colored robo-bird of prey. He looks better at certain angles.

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Like side on to fully show off all his style class and maniacal attitude. The purple is a real nice shade and the subtle off green goes well together.

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Blot is a weirdo. Some made up troll like monster thing with a leg backpack. But his claw arms are cool and I love the colors. Classic Con Purple.

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Rippersnapper has perhaps the best alt mode of the bunch. Everything just pops. Including his annoying leg that don’t clip together. Those light blue claws on deeper blue, the silver teeth and red eyes. The vertically mounted guns go down a treat and while he is not as posable as the others he makes up for it in cool factor.

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Sinnertwin sings in his freakish colors. The double dragon heads are nicely detailed but a little too thin and hollow -as is the neck for my tastes. The rest of him is pretty solid and he makes for a pretty decent mythological beasty and a decent combiner limb.

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You can see how thin and gappy that neck is below. Another one that poses better at certain angles.

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A quick group shot for the alt modes. They don’t go well on the riser at all with their shapes and colors.  Black or clear risers (or glass) suits them better.

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And we’re on to Hun-Grr in his robot mode.

I love this guy. He has such an unusual color scheme and look to him that really grabs your attention. There are flaws, but overall everything works for me in robot mode. Love that bubblegum watermelon head and Hulkamania shades. He should look derpy as fuck, but he walks a fine line between living fashion disaster and très chic.

Sure you *might*  laugh at Hun-Grr… but he’d rip you to shreds seconds later, so do you really want to risk it? Spider-Man likes to laugh. Don’t be like Spider-Man.

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Blot and Cutthroat. Man do they look cool in their robot modes. Cutthroat shares some parts/tooling and fooling with Dinobot Swoop. But I don’t know which one is the retool as often toys are designed a year or two before we ever see them due to those secretive fuckers at Hasbro.

blot cutthroat combo

Sinnertwin and Rippersnapper. I think these two have the best robot modes of the group. The faces really go a long way to make them sing. Especially the mouth parts of the face.

It was raining and extremely dark indoors when I took these photos, so I chucked some books in the background (that were on the floor pile) just to get the camera to actually focus at all if you are wondering WTF! at the backgrounds.

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The Mugshots of Terror, sure to be wanted on several planets in the galaxy I’d say.

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NOTE: I’ve used a picture from Figure Fan Zero – an excellent toy blog you should be reading https://figurefanzero.com/ as my Abominus head was damaged right out of the box. His ears are all fucked up due to how it was packed. Thanks curey derpo fucken ears of dementedness. I may be able to heat them up and bend them back into place, but probably not. Exact same fucking problem with my CW Silverbolt.

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A group shot of Bot modes, and man the colors are so damn cool. So off kilter and just eye-bleedy awesome. I love them like a Hamster loves a Wheel of perpetual motion.

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I usually chuck in some pictures of the cartoon models, but they are just not available anywhere for these guys. They pop up rarely in Transformers Season 3, and a fair amount in the JG1 Headmasters anime, but you almost never get a clear good look at them as they are always in motion or halfway transforming into Abominus.

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So I’ve chucked in a bit of the ever fantastic Dan Khanna art above so we can see how their classic comic/toon look compares to the toys, fairly nicely overall, but as usual Abominus is missing a fair bit of stuff in combined mode compared to the animation model. He more closely resembles the G1 toy and his colors too in his Power of the Primes form.

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I finally combined my Terrorcons into Abominus just for this post, as I had not got around to doing so, despite finishing the set about six months ago. I’m impressed with his good looks, and he is perhaps the most solid/stable combiner yet in the mainline CW/ POTP toys.

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Abominus is just bursting with colors and contrast – that pinkish chest is brilliant and he has nice faction logos and other details that highlight and make him a real looker. I’m a little pissed about the bent / warped ears though. I may try heating them up and propping them in position, but I have a feeling it won’t take.

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Most combiners look like garbage from behind, but Abominus is passable and his design and torso work really well. I love all his tail and claws and sharp angly bits, he walks the right balance between gestalt robot and alt mode kibble.

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There are more than a few fan combos for how to have the limbs, I’ve tried him out with Sinnertwin and Cutt-throat as legs for now. Some combos look good with the eagle dude as an arm.

Being mythical beasts, they fit the proportions better than the old square boxy robots as limbs. I may pick up some PE feet for him, but the standard ones are less than terrible – an improvement over the CW feet anyhow. I won’t get getting any of the larger 3P kits as he looks pretty good as is, and frankly the quality of some of those kits is shit and not worth the price. On sale maybe, but at AUD $100 (plus shipping) for some bloody chest and thigh filler and other assorted bits? Fuck Right Off.

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IMAGE CREDITS

 

*Terrorcons group picture art by Dan Khanna https://www.deviantart.com/dan-the-artguy

*Abominus toy close up head photo by Figure Fan Zero blog https://figurefanzero.com/2018/10/13/transformers-power-of-the-primes-abominus-combined/

*Custom repainted Abominus screean cap from JoeyBoy pommers Chompilo lacson Marquez on Youtube (it’s looks brilliant, def prefer the toon over toy head deco).

 

CLASSIC SEGA ERA SONIC, KNUCKLES AND TAILS MINI-FIGURINES

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Another day, another mid year sale toy bargain.

After finding the nice cheap Genesis era Knuckles and Tails Totaku mini figurines last week – I hunted around for a Sonic the Hedgehog in the same line. But alas, they are sold out pretty much country wide. They are EB/Gamestop store exclusives so not available elsewhere.

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Fortunately I found this OTHER Sonic minifigure in my local shops from a different toy line called GNF TOYZ.

Yeah never heard of it. Stupid stupid name.

The Knuckles and Tails are from the Totaku line -which is all licensed video game characters in over priced toy minifigure form. Half of them look great, other half look crap (Spyro).

The toon style ones look the best so far in this line – the more realistic figures like Lara, Ryu or Kratos not so much. At full price they can get fucked, but on sale and the price is just right for this sort of thing.

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I’ve put Knuckles and Tails with my Amiibos and they mix pretty well.

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Spinning right ’round like a record baby, it’s a swell looking Sonic stylin’ and profilin’.

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I’m pretty impressed with this little fella. The colors and style are just right. I have no idea what else this company has made, will have to look up their other stuff at some point.

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That finger wag and a little swagger – I love the classic 16-bit era Sonic. The later post Dreamcast era Anime Sonic with long legs (aka modern Sonic) rubs me the wrong way.

Sonic’s classic look is a combination of two other timeless greats: Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse. Changing his proportions makes him creepy and ruins the timeless cartoon design of the original Sonic in my opinion. This style was dominant for over a decade in the games, Archie Comics and licensed cartoons. Until the modern Anime style Sonic took over from the Dreamcast and Sonic X era. I don’t mind that cartoon, he actually looks pretty cool in Sonic X – but I really can’t stand the long legged look in the games.

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On the shelf, despite being larger then Knuckles and Tails – Sonic still looks the part and is not too much of a giant.

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I never get tired of Sonic. Despite his mis-use in various games and media – the essential character has survived and is still as iconic and recognizable as ever.

I grew up a SEGA kid playing lots of arcade games and SEGA home consoles from the Master System right up to the Dreamcast and everything in between.

Nintendo just wasn’t much of a thing in New Zealand / Australia when I was growing up. So Alex Kidd, Golden Axe, Sonic, Streets of Rage, Shinobi and Wonder Boy were some of my earliest gaming memories. It was not until many years later I got to play some of the various early Nintendo classics like Mario and Zelda.

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2 FAST 2 CUTE

This ones done, got some more Transformers articles coming soon – quite a few odd toy posts and several more in the Transformers 86 Movie Series.