The BEST of 3A 2011

ThreeA has had a lot of exciting releases this year with (sadly for my wallet) no signs of slowing down.

This being the tail end of 2011, I thought it’d be prudent to do a round up of my top ten toys from 3A 2011(esque).

This list only includes 3A toys that shipped and are in hand. Some of the items actually dropped in 2010 so this is all based on when we actually got them. As much as I’m anticipating getting my laundry list of preorders in, none are included here.

I’ve heavily fondled every figure mentioned below to deliver the best top ten list possible

10. Zomb 2.1

When Zomb 2 was announced, every 3A collector under the sun did a  backflip for joy. When Zomb 2 was finally shipped, almost that same amount bemoaned it’s many negative perceived differences in appearance between the promo shots shown during their sale and what we all actually got. While the sculpt was cool, the paint on their hands and face was dull and flat, the weathering on the boiler suits was weak and lacked any sort of depth. They seemed to lack the overall polish and care anyone collecting 3A for any amount of time had come to expect.

Almost immediately, Ashley Wood (3A founder, super artist of countless robots, pretty ladies and cats) swooped in bearing epic-customer service guns and said something to the affect of, “these aren’t up to par, we’re sending replacements to everyone for free on our dime.” Just like that, everyones Zomb 2.x collection doubled, like ’em or not, no questions asked.

A few month’s later,  Zomb 2.1 starts hitting doorsteps and they seem to completely live up to what everyone was hoping for to begin with. When held up next to the OG Zomb, you’re still able tell a difference in the quality, but the new kid hold’s his own just fine.

Faith, restored with a single toy.

9. SDCC Exclusive AP Ascended Popbot

I love the design of Popbot. He stands as my favorite Ashley Wood robot just slightly behind Dropcloth. He’s the lynchpin in one of Ash’s most well known universes, so getting the toy right was unmistakably important. If you don’t already know, 3A most certainly did. Popbots are fantastic.

I had to make a difficult call between giving the #9 spot to 1/6 Ascended Pop or 1/12 SDCC Ascended Pop. I have both. I love both. They both look amazing with their grungy white wash paint and side kitty. They’re both a lot of fun to pose and really stand out on display. SDCC Pop comes with TWO pistols while 1/6 comes with only one.. but somehow that makes 1/6s single canon appear more powerful or maybe more important.. so it balances out and doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to me.

In the end it came down to which version I mess with the most and that is un-mistakingly lil’ SDCC Pop. I play with him all the time because he’s perfect desk size, has all the articulation of his larger brother and comes with two guns which make for all sorts of fun configurations.

Ok, maybe the two guns do make a difference.

8. Kid Sarge

Exclusive of the newly designed MK2 Square 10 pack and the only bi-eyed Mk2, Kid Sarge is something all together different. Cigar hanging out his cute face, a plume of smoke puffing off his back and long skirt hiding his long creepy double jointed MK2 legs. Sounds good on paper it does not! The results however are a ton o’ fun.

The MK2’s in general were the surprise hit of the year I think. Most folks were thrown by the omni eye and long spindley legs, a far cry from the familiar and friendly looking squares of old with their stubby legs and a standard pair of optics. Kid Sarge mixed the old with the new and added a bit of twist to even that unholy union. Completely unique on the shelf and one of my favorite releases this year.

7. JC

I’ve spent more time posing my Tracky boss JC than any other 1/6 toy on my shelf. He’s what you get when you combine equal parts Bruce Lee, a wise man, a hobo, and someone born on the mean streets of Sydney. He has my favorite head sculpt of any 3A toy and has the best hand sculpts as well. What more do you need than a fist and a tiger claw to keep things lively? His clothes are forgiving and his articulation is top notch allowing for whatever crazy kung fu pose you can think of.

JC is the Tomorrow King of the Adventure Kartel world, which only makes sense if it makes sense to you.

Side Note: I had standard and Mauro JC for a little bit and loved their hooded robes. In the end, Tracky Boss won me over but I hope we see those robes again in some form in the future.

6. Kyuuketsuki

My anticipation for Kyuuketsuki actually began with the teaser pics of a giant orange bothead covered in Action Portable TK’s. I didn’t know what it was, or how to get it.. but I NEEDED that bothead. I wasn’t 3AA at the time so I was unable to buy the 3AA exclusive Kyu and had to “settle” with Baka. I told (lied) to myself that I’d be happy with him either way, but as soon as the first person posted a picture of Kyu and that massive bothead, I began to haggle and spread the word that I NEEDED that bothead… I mean Kyuuketsuki. It wasn’t long before I tracked him down (and at an amazingly fair price, thanks dude! You know who you are) and he was in my hands.

I’ll be honest here, if you haven’t picked up on it yet.. the bothead was the main selling point for me on Kyu. I still liken him to the sorta “Snake Eyes” of the 3A world. Once posed, he looks really badass but I find him so difficult to balance I rarely mess with him. Coupled with all the grenades draped all over him that fall off like pinecones whenever I bump, I found myself basically setting and forgetting him. But once I got him set up next to that wonderfully ginormous bothead, the pair became quite an impressive site. He makes a fine center piece to anyone’s collection.

5. GRUNTS

When I first heard about Grunts and how they were to be “meat for the machines” I pictured in my head these inexpensive, stripped down, bare bones soldiers that could be had for a song. I dreamed of lacing my shelves with a dozen of them, either meeting some terrible fate to a group of Dropcloths or have them fighting as a squad, taking on a lumbering giant robot hellbent on seeing how many of them it can fit in the cleats of his giant robot foot. Plans of customizing and maiming the few “spares” I was sure to get began to cluster into my mind.

Then the picture started popping up. Pictures of these bulky, completely kitted out super soldier looking dudes who actually looked like they could give a giant robot a run for his money. Oh, and they rung in at almost triple the price I was wanting to pay. I tossed my keyboard against the wall and poured hot coffee on my desktop in a fit of blinding rage. “La passione!” I yelled.* (*ed note: that never happened) Sure, they looked cool.. but my mind was made up and I already knew what the grunts looked like and these guys weren’t it!

Well, fast forward  six months to me opening the first of the pair I ordered (Stealth and Jungler) and I was immediatly hooked. All my doubts went right out the double pane glass, into the street  and promptly hit by the douche that always drove far too fast through my nieghborhood (It’s 30MPH! There’s CHILDREN playing! COME ON!)

The Grunts are all kinds of awesome, zero question there.

4. Wasabi/Oyaloper

I know I probably shouldn’t group these two under one, but I honestly can’t make up my mind between them. They’re both equally great figs.

If this was to name the best PRICED figure of the year, then Wasabi would be near the top of the list. The simplicity of Wasabi with his single sword and optional rocket launcher makes him easy to pick up and play with for a few moments while the coffee’s brewing. He’s also the first member of the highly anticipated “7 Bones” crew, which somehow makes him instantly awesome. On the other hand, Oyaloper is the first Oyabun/Interloper. He has a slick muted cool-grey color palette that’s synonymous with the Interloper. On top of swords and a rocket launcher, he comes with the always awesome Oya coat and a mask/scarf to change up his appearance as you please.

I almost choked on this drop. I was this close to only buying one, but man I’m so glad I didn’t and grabbed them both. They’re two of my personal favorites.

3. MK3 Bertie mode B

The MK3 Bertie’s was probably my favorite drop of all time. I felt like a kid in a very expensive candy store. For starters, there was a ton of color ways to choose from. These guys looked absolutely MASSIVE in the promo pics and they cost upward of $250 a pop. The latter being for obvious reasons, the least exciting part. I was pretty new to 3A and this was my first big bot to order directly from them. I could only get one so I had to make it count. I went with the most bonkers of the group, the MK3 Nightwatch Bertie mode B

There’s something about those huge ridiculous shoulder canons on my NW (a colorway I HIGHLY recommend btw) Bertie, perched high on the top of my shelves looking down over my desk, that makes me pause and smile every time I see them. It’s that impressive of a bot. For something that came out in 2010 to still make that kind of impression in what’s soon to be 2012 really says something.

2. EMGY GRUNT

You might wonder why I have Grunts lumped together and taking up the # 5 spot on the list and now here at # 2  I have EMGY Grunt all by his lonesome. Why should EMGY Grunt get such special treatment you say? Well that’s simple..

He’s way better.

🙂

I won’t go much into my reason’s for putting this guy near the top. I already did that and if you want to know the details you can read ’em here.

The best looking 3A figure of the year.

1. Action Portable Tomorrow Kings

When I talk about “playing” with the various toys I buy and collect, I’m most likely using the word pretty loosely. It usually translates to mean I take them out of their package, set them up with whatever accessories they came with, try posing them  for 10 or 15 minutes and then sitting them on my shelf to collect dust until I decide it’s time to reposition them again.

When I talk about playing with the APTKs, I mean it. Literally. These guy’s are the most fun I’ve had with anything in my collection hands down. When I (carefully) popped open the clam shell my first APTK came in, stood him up and gave him a simple “kung fu” pose on my desk, I had no idea that I’d be posing and reposing him again and again for the next hour. No lie.

I’m in my 30’s and you might hear me say “pew, pew, pew” and “HYAH!” to a six inch action figure at my desk on a regular basis.

I’m giving my number one spot to APTK’s as a whole. The original’s popped the cherry and brought the fun and anticipation for what’s coming. The 3AA membership Oya’s gave us tiny Oya jackets and more little dudes to hunt down and collect. Then the Unleashed Yo/Yellow Hornet 4 packs show up with their combo goofy/rad two punch that is too funny/awesome to be ignored. Finally we have the Hatchery gaurd and his tiny cleavers chopping his way to our shelves.

I collect 3A for several reason’s. The artwork these toys are based on is created by one of my favorite artist. The toy’s themselves are amazingly well done and inspire me creatively. I’m a bit of a nerd with a passion for games, movies, toys, comics and the like. But, the top reason I collect these toy’s is because, if only for a brief moment, they remind me what it’s like to be a kid again.

No toy has done that like these little guys. They’re perfect.

So there it is, Best of 3A 2011. I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you agree, disagree, etc.. Hell make up your own list and post them in the comments section.

I hope everyone has a safe and fantastic New Years! Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in 2012 with more more more!

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Best movies/tv/music of 2011

We don’t need no stink’n top 10 when we have a top 5 “Best of 2011” List. Top 5 Music, Movies and TV shows of the year, in Miller’s humble opinion.

Best of 2011 by Miller

MUSIC

 1. Raphael Saadiq – Stone Rollin’

This album is a throwback to a time that never existed. The former Tony! Toni! Tone! singer has gone from new jack swinger to 60’s sounding soul man, and to quote his former band’s biggest smash, “It Feels Good.” Stone Rollin’ is one good song after another. Saadiq makes retro sounds, but he does it in a way that is all new. Art appreciation is subjective, but this album is objectively awesome.

2. Gillian Welch – The Harrow & The Harvest

I love country music. That is just who I am and it ain’t never gonna change. Gillian Welch is one of the greatest country music singers alive today and “The Harrow & The Harvest” gives her a chance to showcase her talents. These songs sound as if they could have been written at the turn of the last century, but they make sense in the present as well.

3. Destroyer – Kaputt

So, Destroyer’s frontman, Dan Bejar (also a member of The New Pornographers), must have been REALLY into Al Stewart. “Kaputt” is an album that saunters and slithers into your eardrums and gently massages your heart and mind. I’m trying to sound like a guy who would wear a white linen shirt unbuttoned to his navel with a gold chain. “Kaputt” could truly be appreciated by a guy like that, and pretty much everyone else worth a damn.

4. The Train Wrecks – Saddle Up

The Train Wrecks are a four piece outlaw country group from Savannah, Georgia. This is a super independent album and one that probably can’t be found on the torrent sites. Somebody should really post this mofo on the torrent sites because people need to hear “Saddle Up.” I often imagine what it must have been like for Waylon Jennings’ touring bass player in the late seventies, drowning in a sea of quaaludes, whiskey, and feather haired groupies. That dude would have been all about the Train Wrecks. I’m all about the Train Wrecks. You should be all about The Train Wrecks too.

5. Iron & Wine – Kiss Each Other Clean

This was probably the album that I listened to the most this year. Sam Beam is a weird dude. He is a songwriter’s songwriter, yet he packs his lyrical and melodic genius into super palatable, easy to digest pop/soft rock container. This album is reminiscent of Prince’s favorite Joni Mitchell album, “The Hissing of Summer Lawns.” It is a one time singer of soft acoustic ballads recruiting a full band to flesh out the sound while retaining the intimacy of insightful lyrics that take a few listens to tuly appreciate.

MOVIES

1. Bridesmaids

I’m sick and tired of the sausage party that is modern comedy. Sure, the ladies got it going on in TV Land (30 Rock, Parks and Recreation) but when it comes to the big screen, moviegoers have to settle for Katherine Heigl, Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Aniston trying to do it with Gerard Butler or Josh Duhamel in this months garbage romantic comedy nonsense. I’m the kind of guy that likes to mix business with pleasure when it comes to combining two of my favorite things in this world, women and laughter. Bridesmaids is the funniest movie of the year.

2. The Tree of Life

Terence Malick stepped up to the plate and he swung for the fences. This movie is either the most pretentious strike out ever, or the best movie ever made summing up all of existence within a couple of hours. Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, and young Hunter McCracken should all three be nominated for Oscars this year for their performance in this strange movie. I couldn’t stop thinking about this movie after I left the theater and that is a rare occurrence these days.

3. Your Highness

I’m sure that if anybody reads this list (which they may or may not) they are going to see this entry and immediately disregard my opinion regarding anything and everything ever. However, I don’t give a @#$%. I love to laugh and “Your Highness” made me laugh. You know how, when you are at a wedding for someone you barely know and somebody makes the mistake of handing some drunken middle aged uncle the microphone during speech time, and you just sit back and watch the bizarre spectacle unfold. Some unfortunate studio executive got the bright idea of giving David Gordon Green, Ben Best, and Danny McBride a buttload of millions of dollars and let them run wild with it. The funniest thing about this movie is that it ever got made at all. Future cult classic.

4. Super 8

I was just about the age where one can first sit through an entire movie when “The Goonies” came out in 1985. I loved watching a movie about a group of kids running around and embarking on a wild adventure. They talked like kids talked and they walked like kids walked. Super 8 reminds me of that movie, and not just because it is set in the 80’s. J.J. Abrams’ homage to the 80’s is action packed, sweet, and funny. Kyle Chandler is great in a supporting role and all of the kids are spot on. Speilberg himself would have a hard time topping this one.

5. The Future

This is a film that some critics loved and some hated (Time Magazine called it and “Your Highness” two of the worst films of the year). I think that writer/director/star Miranda July should take that as a major compliment. Haters gonna hate. This is a heart breaking story of a quirky young couple living in America right here and now. They have jobs, but they don’t make any money. They have each other, but they aren’t sure if that is enough. They have plans to adopt a cat, but they feel like that might be too much of a commitment. In an ideal world Hamish Linklater would be a huge star and Miranda July would make one movie a year like Woody Allen. Time Magazine called her a “hipster” (basically the worst thing you could call someone these days), but really she is just a devastatingly talented iconoclast who made a really good film.

TV

1. Parks and Recreation

Watching “Parks and Recreation” makes me happy. As a great man once said (really it was Jerry Maguire, but I’m not very smart so all of my quotes come from popular films) “we live in a cynical world.” Negativity reigns supreme. Everybody is a critic and we all log on to facebook just to laugh at how fat the people we went to high school got. Leslie Knope, Ron Swanson, Tom Haverford, April Ludgate, Andy Dwyer, Ben Wyatt, Chris Traeger, Anne Perkins, Donna Meagle, and Garry “Jerry” Gergich are better than all that. They look out for each other and they make decisions that aren’t always based on selfishness and nihilism like characters in every other well made sitcom on TV right now. It must be hard to write anything that can be as smart as “Parks and Recreation” and still stay so upbeat. I hope that the writers can keep it up and I hope that the show can attract more viewers before NBC replaces it with something as bad as “Whitney.”

2. The Good Wife

Alicia Florrick’s life is complicated. Her world is inhabited by really smart people who are really good at their jobs and clients who really need their help. This show is about politics. Not the kind of politics that you see on the news, but everyday politics; family politics, workplace politics, and sexual politics. It would be very limiting to call “The Good Wife” a feminist show, but it wouldn’t be completely inaccurate. Prime time network dramas are rarely this well written and Juliana Margulies is the best actress on TV.

3. Game of Thrones

“They would never cancel ‘Game of Thrones.’ It’s a crossover hit. It’s not just for fantasy enthusiasts, they’re telling human stories in a fantasy world.”

Ben Wyatt (Adam Scott) from “Parks and Recreation”

4. Friday Night Lights

FNL did something really amazing in its 5 season run. It was a drama that was just as engaging and well crafted as any other on television (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Dexter), but without all of the darkness and negativity. Real life can be inspiring and uplifting, but really good TV shows rarely are. FNL ended its run on a high note and I feel sorry for those who haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying it. Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose!

5. Revenge

This show is pretty much just a soap opera. I’m not going to get into how it is deep and meaningful, because it isn’t. The shelf life on the quality of enjoyment for this guilty pleasure is probably going to be pretty short, so watch it while you still can, before this thing jumps the shark higher than any other show has ever jumped before. Check out Emily Thorne and the gang before the plot gets too ludicrous to endure, and believe me, it’s coming.

Miller is suppose to be studying for the bar exam but instead wasted his precious time writing this summary of 2011. We hope you enjoyed it.