Saturday, May 27, 2017

Boy in a Dragon Suit

Enlighten brand has continued to amaze brick collectors with its ingenuity and quality parts. This brand produces sets of sturdy quality and stunning prints that compares highly with the quality of the mainstream originals.

Although I haven't completed all the series, I try to have a piece if I chance upon them in the local market. So when I saw this light green 8-piece set, I can't help but buy it. This third set from the series has improved greatly by having scenery parts instead of the usual card-and-baseplate ensemble, which barely produce a beautiful brick scene.

The biggest eye catcher from the lot is the dragon-costumed man pulling a rickshaw, which makes a good addition to costumed minifigure collection or any Asian-inspired vignettes and scenes.

Next Stop: Shanghai

Product
Brand/Model: Enlighten Series 3/A
Condition: Bought with individual box, sealed in a clear plastic bag, with a build instruction leaflet

Character
Name: Dragon Suit Guy
Chinese: 青龙人 (literally, Green Dragon Man)
Paraphernalia: rickshaw


Unbox the Dragon!

The dragon suit guy minifigure consists of 14 pieces – 1 head, 1 leg connector, 2 legs, 1 torso, 2 arms, 3 hands, 1 dragon head piece, 2 horns, 1 spiny tail, and no baseplate. The rickshaw has 26 parts, which includes 2 wheels.


rickshaw deconstructed

The minifigure is nowhere near the green color chart. It is in fact sky blue. Everything is blue except for the head (consistent with the yellow original) and horns (which are white). The legs have fish scale printing, while the torso has a leather belly effect (like that of a crocodile!) with a feathery effect in the chest (perhaps an extension of the beard). The dragon head piece has two big orange-white-red printed eyes with white brows and white teeth.

Keep out! I breathe fire!

Enlighten has placed commendable effort with the design of the dragon head. The attachable white horns are simple but blend well with the ancient look. The dragon's muzzle has little teeth ridges and a beard; the head has embossed fur effect in the cheeks, spikes along the back of the head, and two little ears.

The yellow head features a matching print - fish scales! The expression is scornful, but how bushy the brows are! Sorry folks, no alternate face printing.

I am Dragon Boy.

The spiny tail is also a detail not to be ignored. Look at how it ends in a leaf-like pattern.

Beyond these walls await my destiny
The rickshaw is an added bonus to the beauty of the minifigure. The ensemble features a red and black color scheme and look at how the green cover complements the Asian look.

Pimp my ride

This piece is definitely a must have for all collectors. You can't miss this, really.

Until then! ;)

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Let's Move Out - Transformers Ironhide

My love affair with collecting bricks of any kind (well I started off with knockoffs) began two years ago. I figured I didn't have crafty stuff to do, aside from photography and cooking. As my collection grow, I realize this hobby is the product of my frustration in pursuing my passion for film making.

I came across bricks of various brands, sizes, colors, and compatibility. I stumbled upon Kre-o while checking out bricks from the original maker in the toy section of Mall of Asia. Apparently, at the time, several minifigures are placed on 50-75% discount. I thought Hasbro or the mall is phasing out these Transformers items, so I hoarded (and yes, these products are no longer on the shelves, to date!)

While I'm at it, I thought it will be nice to show off one minifigure from my ancient haul.

 The Kreo Combiners - Volcanicon in another blog post was acquired earlier in 2017. I haven't released three-fifths of the blog series yet.

First up - Ironhide!

Boom!
Ironhide is one of the all-time friend of Optimus Prime, although not as popular as his sidekick Bumblebee. He takes the form of a red van or pickup, or in the case of the movies, a black GMC Topkick. A weapon specialist and a loyal warrior, his weapons range from machine guns to missile launcher. Apparently, he has more weapons than a third-world country.

In Revenge of the Fallen, he died while taking a surprise blow from Sentinel's rust gun.

Product
Brand/Model: Kre-o Transformers Custom Kreon Collection 1
Condition: Bought with box in clear plastic bags and sorted packaging

Character
Name: Ironhide
Affiliation: Autobot
Transforming to: red van - usually Ford pickup, GMC Topkick, or Nissan Vanette
Weapons: water gun, shockwave rifle, gatling missile launcher

A red van in a box
The packaging for Ironhide brick pieces is pretty neat and attractive for a compulsive collector-buyer. While flaunting the transparent and shiny pieces like helmets, torso, and machine gun, the instruction booklet and other pieces are hidden away behind the cartoon figure of Ironhide.

Reds and grays
Ironhide minifigure consists of 38 pieces -
1 4x6 gray base plate
1 2x4 black brick with Kre-o logo
1 gray head with a perpetual teeth-baring print
2 helmets - one is a red transparent and the other, a silver chrome
2 torsos - one in transparent white with orange printings and one in solid red with the bumper and window printings
2 sets of arms - one standard in red and silver to match the color scheme, and one in solid gray with length that stretches down to the leg
2 pairs of legs - one in solid red with gray and silver printings, and one in transparent red with no printing
2 small black wheels attachable to the side of the legs
1 red wing-like brick worn at the back (car doors for illusion)
1 red grid, where you hang the weapons (like in the movies!)
5 gray and 2 black clips, which hold the weapon holder and the weapons
1 long chrome-finished machine gun with attachable red nozzle and gray magazine
3-piece axe
1 black pistol (longer than the usual minifigure gun)
1 y-shape weapon which holds the claw-like gray weapon that can open and close

Such a long list! But I bet these are rare pieces for battle scenes.

Can't be a weapon specialist without the cool stuff
I find the pieces from this set intensely interesting! The claws look like one of those which grab a stuffed toy from a local game arcade. It opens and closes with not too much force. I specifically admire the chrome gun, which matches the silver helmet. Items can be clipped to this gun to extend its length or plainly, to accessorize it. The long arms are also a beauty. I can attach the red nozzle instead of the hand to make it look more animatronic. Why can't we have such an arm for Iron Man!

The set boasts of 16+ combinations as the pieces are interchangeable. I dare say that if you let your imagination loose, the combinations are unlimited. The verdict - this Ironhide, apart from being compatible with knockoff bricks (except for the leg and arm joints, of course!), is a must-have due to its molds that cannot be found in other non-Kre-o sets. One drawback is that it does not transform like the other Kre-o minifigures.

Autobot vs Decepticon
(see that long arm using the claw? amazing!)
P.S. To the kids reading this blog - the weapons are only cool for playing with your minifigures and doing action photography; they aren't cool in real life.

Until the next blog. :)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Brick Essentials

One of the most important element in sorting and protecting every brick collector's toys - storage!

There are several plastic boxes, mostly clear, sold in the market. They vary in sizes and features, but what I love most are the section cases from a Japanese franchise of general merchandise, known locally for its cheap fixed retail price.

Cleaning lady readies the rooms of minifigures and parts
Each partition comes with a detachable plate to suit whatever size you need for sections. The middle section is one long storage which you can customized by placing crafted section plates, even by using cardboards.

Each case has 12 small sections, which fit one assembled minifigure or 3 disassembled minifigure.

This is a must have! ;)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ok! Doc Ock!

Doctor Octopus or Doc Ock is one of the prominent villains of Spider-man. Famed for his four mechanical tentacles that he control by will, Doc Ock fused with this contraption when a radiation leak from the lab caused explosion. This accident caused him to be insane, committing his life to criminal activities.

As you guessed, turning this character to a minifigure is quite exciting. Doc Ock minifigure will never be complete without the mechanical tentacles. I had fun playing around with these brick arms, as they are versatile, and quite creative, if you just let your imagination free.

Spiders and Octopus
Product
Brand/Model: Pogo 325
Condition: Bought without box in a clear plastic bag

Character
Name: Otto Octavius
AKA: Doctor Octopus
Comics: Marvel
Affiliation: Sinister Six
Superpowers: Technopathy, Danger Sense
Paraphernalia: Tentacle contraption

Doctor Octopus minifigure consists of 57 pieces – 1 head, 1 leg connector, 2 legs, 1 torso, 2 arms, 4 hands, 46 pieces for tentacles, with no baseplate.

Octo-bits
The suit is based on the classic look of Doctor Octopus with yellow and green color schemes. Unfortunately, while the legs are not dual-injected, the printing of the yellow boots are not done well. The print has a rubbery, rough texture and the finish is a bit shiny.
Old suit
The printing on the back torso is quite interesting as other Doc Ock minifigures. It has four pins where the mechanical arms are supposedly attached.
Attach tentacles here
The head has an alternate printing - one side has the angry face and the other has the evil-laugh face. What is cool about it is the metal-colored sunglasses and the characteristic thick brows. 
Cool shades!
The completed minifigure  and its mechanical arms are copies of the original brick set - Spider-Man: Doc Ock's Tentacle Trap, where the mecha build of Doctor Octopus has a detachable arms, that can be rebuilt to a smaller version fit to the minifigure.

The hands are yellow, which complete the color scheme. The hair piece is a must have. The round, straight-line hair simulates the classic Doctor Octopus, giving him the mad scientist look.
Ugh! The hair!
Once you attach the mechanical arms, you'd be compelled to pull out all your Spider-man stuff to shoot a scene or two. While it takes time to set them to behave, as you try to balance the position, you'd be thinking that the arms are quite useful for other moc stuff - i.e. studio lights.
Those tentacles look like studio lighting

Like a dead spider!
Until then!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Cat in a Purple Suit


Catwoman is, perhaps, the second-most celebrated female DC character, with Wonder Woman in the lead. Her hero-villain personality makes her a solid character - a thief and a crime fighter, a sinner and a saint.

Born in a tragedy-filled family, she ended up in a juvenile facility. Going back to the streets of Gotham, she became a prostitute and a petty thief. Inspired by Batman, she wandered the streets in costume, after learning how to fight in a ninja academy. In a different world, like Halle Berry's movies, she was revived by the ancient cats with traces back in Egypt, giving her the power of feline empathy.

On occasions, she is presented to have a love-hate affair with Batman, becoming the blur of truth and lie, good and evil, in Batman's life.

Fast and the Feline
Blazing in her purple glory
(Motorcycle from Shengyuan 201C)

Product

Brand/Model: Pogo 106
Condition: Bought without box in a clear plastic bag

Character
Name: Selina Kyle
AKA: Catwoman
Comics: DC
Affiliation: Injustice League, Bat-family, Birds of Prey
Superpowers and abilities: feline empathy, stealth, martial arts, acrobatics
Paraphernalia: motorcycle, claws, whip

Cat in pieces
Now, the cat is out of the bag!

Catwoman minifigure consists of 12 pieces – 1 mask, 1 head, 1 leg connector, 2 legs, 1 torso, 2 arms, 2 hands, 1 whip, and 1 belt. No baseplate.

Purple jumpsuit
Back torso
The level of details in the torso printings are great. The silver and black outlines create an expensive look to the costume, which is an upgraded and modernized version of the tight purple or black plastic-looking ala The Matrix costume we often see in comics and movies. The curved lines are similar to other female minifigures, which make it distinguishable from the male form. The cat head in the zipper detail is a fun addition.

The selling point of this minifigure lies in the much-coveted piece - an added attraction similar to the new batman minifigures - the utility belt. Although unable to latch any other brick piece or weapon, it saves afol's and mocers time and effort to produce the piece to create an enhanced effect of superheroes or military minifigures. I am quite confused though as to which goes to the front - the one with ridges or the one that has a sort of a buckle.

An arm for an arm
The side printings in the arm are as beautiful as the torso's. They follow the same silver-black on monochromatic purple scheme. I think side printings are a thing with minifigures these days.

Alien eyes (leering face)
Alien eyes (tight-lipped)
The head has an alternate face. Both sides have printings of large, green swirling, almond eyes, which create an effect of eerie glow of the goggles (the eyewear a trademark of the 21st century Catwoman). It is not obvious (and I don't have a close up shot), but there is another unique detail in the printing - a mole in the left cheek. I thought at first that it might be a scratch but the alternate face has it as well. The only deal breaker is the quality of the printing. It looks like one of those rubber prints in t-shirts, which come off easily.

The round mask is a beauty. To match the green eyes, the same shape forms in the holes. Of course the trademark cat ears are also molded in this headpiece. The eyes have silver outlines to match the color scheme.

Watch me whip

The purple Catwoman minifigure comes with a whip, similar to her other minifigure versions. I have not seen the latest brick flick but it seems that this version of Catwoman came from The Lego Batman Movie.

Overall, I am satisfied with this buy. Collectors who enjoy mix and match building will have this handy, probably for its cool jacket, belt, and mask.

Until the next blog! ;)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Super-sized Superman

Being used to minifigures, which measure at 1.5 inches, this knockoff Superman figure at 3.5 inches feels like a giant toy. I'm pretty sure it is not a bigfig (big figure). Bigfig usually takes on a bulky character to incorporate unusual shape. See picture below for visual comparison.
Super-sized Superman vs Normal Superman
Product
Brand/Model: DIY 2014-43 H
Condition: Bought with box

Character
Name: Clark Kent
AKA: Superman
Comics: DC
Affiliation: Justice League

The super-sized minifigure (pardon the negation of words) is packed in a colorful box with an instruction leaflet and character card. It comes with a crumpled thin, red cape and a 4x3 black baseplate with studs that can fit in a normal minifigure head.
Nice packaging
This superman version is from the movie, Man of Steel. The design is copied from the original lego minifigure.

The belt and insignia should have been golden but this knockoff painted them too yellow. The back of the torso has the same printing as the front, which is a relief.

The face has an alternate printing - one is serious and one is gritting his teeth. It lacks the red eyes face that appear in other knockoff minifigures and the original ones.

The cape is so paper-thin that I have to retrieve it from under the cabinet when the fan threw it off. It is also crumpled from being cramped in the packaging instead of having a separate packing.
The Krypton Son
The only piece I'm more interested in reviewing is the pair of blue legs. The back of the legs are designed wide open as opposed to the closed ones with gaping holes in the minifigures. Surprisingly, this mechanism works well when connecting with the large-stud baseplate.
Dead legs don't walk
This super-sized knockoff brick minifigure is not too bad to be in anyone's collection, especially for those doing brick scene photography or filming and for those doing customization.

The DIY lot has other DC and Marvel characters as well as Star Wars.
Battle at the Fortress of Solitude
Until then.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

With its worldwide release nearing, Disney's classic animated film made into live action, Beauty and the Beast, is expected to draw audiences in all classes around the globe.

Listening to Ariana Grande and John Legend's version of the classic song of the same title, popularized by Celine Dion and Peabo Bryson, over and over, gave me a little of the thrill feels.

When I went to purchase knockoff hauls of new Batman minifigures from SGL Toys in Greenhills, I got my hands on the light blue, nerdy-looking and at the same time badass, Mr Freeze minifigure. Inspired by his clear glass, dome-shaped headpiece, I built a Beauty and the Beast iconic piece.

Ta-da! The rose in the glass jar.

Tale as old as time
Using an intentionally blurred sunset backdrop and official movie logo, I gathered some knockoff pieces from different brands and sets to build the brick scene.

(1) The white arch pieces and clock face are from Wange - Spasskaya Tower of Russia
(2) The beige base of the glass jar and brown cylinder are from Harley Quinn minifigure mallet
(3) The jar's stem is from the hilt of the sword from one of the Shengyuan Ninjago minigures
(4) The flower stem is a gold thorn from Kreo Liftoff minifigure
(5) The red rose is from one of the accessories from Friends minifigure of Shengyuan
(6) The glass is, as mentioned, from the latest minifigure of Mr Freeze

Until then, fellow bricksters!