3A’s TK Master 5 video preview

I “borrowed” this from Ashley Wood’s personal instagram account. Just a great little video showing the upcoming Tomorrow King releases set for the end of June on Bambaland.

This release is significant, not only because it’s another release of 3A’s popular Tomorrow King figures, but also because this marks the release of the final character to complete the 7 Bones set, a collection literally years in the making.

Sale goes live June 30th, 9am HK time and I wouldn’t be shocked if there was a surprise or two during this drop (cough, cough, Deathmask) so stay on your toes if you’re into that sort of thing.

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Master 5,s #ashleywoodart #threea #tomorrowkings

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Top 10 Toys of 2012

It’s that time again people! The end of 2012 brings with it the dawn of 2013, which gives us good cause to levy the hammer and proclaim our picks for the top 10 toys of the year! It was a little tricky compiling this list. For one, I’m slightly touched by a fever.. one in which cowbell has no power and only various heavy doses of sudafed seems to keep somewhat tamped down. For another, I realized going over my shelf that each toy in the list has it’s own set of qualities that seem to outshine some yet are overshadowed by others. While one toy may be incredibly fun to play with, another may look impossibly realistic thanks to an astounding sculpt and/or paint job. What merits equate “Toy of the Year”?

As with any review, 99% of it is opinion. In this case, the opinion happens to be mine. I hope you’ll find some common air here and there but even if you don’t,  I’d love to hear from you and get your thoughts. Let us know what your top 5, 10, or heck, 100 toy list is this year!

To qualify, the toys need to have been shipped/delivered within 2012, though not necessarily released (sold). 

Without further ado, the top 10!

10. 3A x Bandai Zaku Gundam Inspirational Model

I’ll say it now to get it out of the way, I’m a big fan of what Ashley Wood has done so far with 3A’s Gundam license.

The purest may disagree with me. Ashley Wood’s Gundam Zaku creation polarized fans of both 3A and Gundam when it was released earlier this year.  Many fans called foul after seeing that Wood unceremoniously got rid of the mono eye that’s been so inherent to the Zaku character. Others saw it as simply a hybrid of sorts, between 3A/Ash’s own gas mask-sporting Noms and Bandai’s iconic evil robot. While I could understand the disappointment some fans may have felt seeing the design stray so far off track from what was expected, I was more than blown away by just how dynamic the figure came out. As a friend of mine said, “Zaku looks like more of a giant space marine than a Gundam robot.”  So it’s called Zaku, but it doesn’t really look like Zaku? Strangely, I have zero problem with that. I truly hope it’s not the last we see from the partnership.

You can read our full review of Zaku here.

9. Play Arts Kai Metal Gear Solid: Solid Snake

As the only non-3A toy on the list this year, Ol’ Snake is the odd man out. Still, the joy of seeing Square Enix Play Arts Kai releasing such a great quality version of one of my favorite characters in video game history soundly earns him the spot. I can’t WAIT for more classic Metal Gear Solid figures to roll out from this line.

Read our review of Solid Snake here.

8. 3A Action Portable (AP) Zombs

We never did get around to writing a review for these little buggers, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t get around to playing with them to our heart’s content. The action portable Zomb infestation was easily one of the most exciting events for 3A fans this year.  With several blind boxed (carded) options to be hunted down, the BST action reached a fever pitch. Ultimately, the excitement died dramatically once they actually started to land on doorsteps. Fairly heavy saturation of certain variants caused their perceived trade/sell value to plummet and many can still be had for a song. Which is awesome, because these brain chompers are awesome!

So ready your vocal chords! The enjoyment of these little guys definitely continues and if you’ve yet to grab any yourself, they shouldn’t be too difficult to track down.

7. 3A HK ReVenture Old Guard Tomorrow King

I hesitated putting this guy on the list since they were relatively difficult to get a hold of. You either had to be one of the lucky souls to actually attend 3A’s ReVenture event in Hong Kong or be lucky at the draw to snag the few “left overs” dripped to Bambaland a few weeks afterwards.

The reason he’s here is because he is a classic Tomorrow King, through and through, the design of which is so near perfect, it’s difficult to explain what makes it so. Somehow, Ashley Wood and 3A have hit the nail squarely on the head with TKs, and fans claw at their screens and jazzercise in unison each time a new one  comes along.

While the red shirt variant wasn’t on the top of my list among the four available, I still count my lucky stars to have scored him. He’s earned a spot both front and center on my shelf, as well as right here in the top ten.

Read our Old Guard TK review here.

6. 3A WWRp/WWR Caesars

Yeah, I combined Caesars in both scales for my number six spot. The massive and mighty 1/6 WWR Caesar is astonishing to see on display. Since I went with an EMGY colorway, mine is set up with my other EMGY figures and he looks amazing. From the paint details to the articulation, everything is spot on. That being said, I don’t ever remove him from display or even try to repose him. He’s a little too cumbersome and tucked back behind other things to easily manipulate. Instead, he sits there to be admired in all his glory from a safe distance.

On the other hand, the 1/12th WWRp Caesars are the perfect size to pose and play with. While we still haven’t gotten an official review together for them, I’ll go ahead and spill the beans that these guys may be 3A’s perfect 1/12th robot toy. I can’t compare apples to apples as I chose the JEA and RIP colorways for my WWRp opposed to EMGY in WWR, but I can say that I’ve interacted with them a lot more. They look and feel more like toys and so I end up treating them as such.

So at one scale, 3A’s Caesars are astonishingly BA to look at, on another, incredibly fun to play with. In my eyes, it’s a tie. A win – win, whichever way you go.

Read our full WWR EMGY Caesar review here.

5. 3A Jungle Vet

We’re only at the halfway point of this top ten list, yet we also happen to be at the toy that I had the most fun with this year, Jungle Vet. Of the many “sold blind” new Adventure Kartel figures, he was among the most anticipated. I admit, I assumed he wouldn’t warrant such bated breath. Boy was I wrong.

Despite his kit-bashed appearance, the combination of articulated fingers and mono-eye contributed to making Jungle Vet one of the most fun and often posed toys in my collection. The photoshoot for our review lasted all day, and it was one of the few times that it didn’t feel that way.

You may be tempted to shoe-horn in here a member of the Finger Gang or even King Thumb himself as they share many of the same traits as Jungle Vet, but I think JV’s Ankou head with it’s rotating eyeball give him the edge. That and he was first!

JV is a goofy, and most importantly, FUN addition to anyone’s collection.

Read our full review of JV here.

4. 3A Real Steel Ambush

If you had asked me 6 months ago if I’d have a toy based on the Dreamwork’s Real Steel movie in my collection, much less in my top ten of 2012 list, I’d have given you a sideways glance that’d cleave you in twain. The movie was.. well, it was what it was. Big CG robots, punching each other time and time again to the tune of a thin script and a fairly silly plot. The idea of making kids toys based off the line is a no-brainer. On the other hand, the thought of making a high-quality, expensive, designer toy based on the franchise sounded nuts.

3A didn’t see it that way. They played to their strengths and showed the industry how it’s done. They took a mediocre, second rate, movie character and turned into one of the coolest, most surprising and detailed toys in my collection. If you have him in yours, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, good luck finding one for a reasonable price as they’re pretty scarce. The good news is, it looks like Atom is right around the corner. I wouldn’t miss out if I were you.

Read our full review of Ambush here.

3. 3A Queenie of 7 Bones

The 7 Bones collection from Ashley Wood’s Popbot line is one of the most readily collected amongst 3A fans. To the majority of Popbot aficionados,  it’s hard to go wrong with Tomorrow Kings. They’re basically samurai crossed with jedi in hip, urban gear. So, generally epic. They are assassins and warriors for your showcase that are as fun to play with and pose as they are awesome to have on display. Tomorrow Queens on the other hand, have always been relegated to simply standing there due to their vastly more limited articulation/clothing combination. To many, they come off as glorified if not overly sexualized barbies with bigger boobs and slightly more fire power. Many love them, but the love isn’t nearly as widespread. I’ve had a few in my collection over the years, but they’re always the first to go when some collection thinning is in order.

That all changed with Queenie. Unlike much of what we see out of 3A, from clothing to sculpt, Queenie is/was completely new. As the leader of 7 Bones, Ash thankfully saw it fit to give her a new, more articulated body as well as a bit more dancing room in her pajamas.  She’s also the only 3A figure to carry a bo staff and sport an eyepatch (other than Bleak’s dog, Custard). She’s still curvy and almost awkwardly big boobed, but she comes across as a no-nonsense tough girl who can handle herself on the battlefield.

Queenie feels like an individual and all her own. Among the  multiple variants of Zombs, Tomorrow Kings, Grunts, Dropcloths, Caesars and Popbots, that’s an incredibly refreshing thing.

I’m crossing my fingers that 3A has more unique characters like her in store for us in 2013.

Read our full review of Queenie here.

2. New Noms 4th and 27th

When I saw the new Noms at SDCC this year, I was ecstatic in the confident knowledge that I had broken down just weeks prior and pre-purchased both. Behind the shiny clear glass, they looked amazing. The new Noms consist of Nom 4th, a fit redesign of the orignal Nom De Plume and Nom 27th, a dark all new take on the classic design, under the guise of “disciple”.

In that glass case on the showroom floor, Nom 4th was the show stopper. Once the boys finally landed on my porch and I got them free of their packs, Nom 27th took the lead by a nose with his cool hooded shirt and substantially more menacing appearance. I bounce back and forth between which I prefer, thus the shared ranking on the list.

Ashley Wood claims these are the Noms he wished he could have made from the beginning, had money been no object. A generous host of gas mask hoses, actual laced boots, sheathed dual guns and baton as well as some truly lovely stitching support that claim. I still love the classic Nom designs with Jung De Plume being a prize in my own collection, but the new Noms certainly have the character and style befitting the Nom name.

If you missed out on 4th and 27th, don’t loose hope completely.  If you’re interested in grabbing a 3AA 2013 membership, come January, you’ll have a chance to grab Blanc Hunter as part of the deal!

1. Blind Cowboy and Ghost Horse Super Set

I knew what my number one was going to be long before I sat down to make this list. There isn’t anything else like it out there. This duo stands out in a room, regardless if they’re stuffed in a crowded display case or set up all Lonestar on top of a bookshelf.

Alone, BC himself is actually one of the more.. muted figures to come from 3A this year. He’s not perfect. His hat is a little on the puffy side and his white shirt lacks the fit that you probably wish it had thanks to a weird velcro strip. He’s also light on a few accessories that could have taken him to the next level. It’s not that he comes bare-arsed or anything. He’s got a gaggle of hand canons strapped around his waist, a cool red poncho draped over him and a dirty bandage covering his scarred visage. He’s got character, it just doesn’t come screaming out at you when he’s by his lonesome.

Paired with his trusty and very dead steed, Ghost Horse, they become a different thing altogether.

Few pieces can match the presence of this set. Toy enthusiast and annoyed wives alike have marveled at it on various occasions.

BC & GH summarize what makes collecting high end designer art toys so satisfying.  It’s a near perfect balance of something to play with and something to admire. You have  the action figure element, with guns and boots and bandages, and then you have the artistically and impeccably executed Ghost Horse sculpt that could make you question what exactly defines something as a “toy.”

If you want to read more about our opinion of this set, you can check out one of the thickest and most picture stuffed reviews out of the RtR chamber to date right here.

As an initially planned one-off, those who missed the set looked left to drink their own tears for the foreseeable future. Luckily for you, 3A decided to release a second run in 2013 dubbed the Dead Equine Super Set , essentially a monotone version of the same set.

That means that those of you chomping at the bit to add the Blind Cowboy Super Set, our official pick for 2012 Toy of the Year, to your collection have a very good shot at making that happen.

That also means that 2013 already has a Toy of the Year nominee!

Some Honorable Mentions:

3A Light and Shadow Oya Set – I’d have tossed this set in the top ten in a second but I feel that since they were gifted/awarded, never available for sale and are incredibly rare, they’re not really a release at all. They’re still awesome though!

3A’s Metal Gear Solid REX – He’s still set to ship out soon. A tiny handful of people somehow ended up getting their orders around the same time we got our review sample, but the official shipment hasn’t gone out and isn’t scheduled to do so until February of 2013. Keep your chin up REX, there’s always next year!

Thanks so much for a great year guys! We really appreciate you guys swinging by and checking out the stuff we’re doing. We have a few new things planned for 2013 that are sure to up the ante around here and we’re excited to show you!
See you in 2013 with more in depth, photo-filled toy reviews!

Happy New Year!

– Knives

Check us out on Facebook and Twitter to stay in the loop-de-loop!

*Review* 3A Shadow and Light Tomorrow King Oya Two Pack

INTRO

I just spent a good 15 minutes perusing the internet for a quote that said something poignant about overcoming an obstacle or taking up a difficult challenge head on. “No guts, no glory”, that sort of thing. I was searching for something to set the tone and portray a sense of how I felt about winning the Shadow and Light set. A one liner, a “zinger”, a single phrase that could fulfill the entire needs of a proper article introduction. Instead, everything I came across had been tirelessly plastered as off-the-cuff Facebook status updates or otherwise publicized to death, thus sucking all the marrow of meaning from the words contained within. After reading dozens of these once-were-so-inspiring/my-how-cynical-I-must-be-to-feel-otherwise quotes, I decided to scrap the idea and instead go a more traditional route by giving a possibly over wrought rundown of the events leading to me winning this coveted set.

When Ashley Wood/3A announced the animation contest for the Shadow and Light set I almost didn’t enter it. The thing about 3D.. anything, is that it takes a lot of time to do. Exspecially if you’re doing it all from the ground up. I’ve been working as a character artist and animator for years, but my free time to devote to such an undertaking like this wasn’t (still isn’t) at all what I felt it needed to be. Given the one month deadline, my first thought was that I wouldn’t have the time to devote to it in order to pull off something I’d be really happy with..

My saving grace was that the day following the announcement, I had an idea that seemed a lot like a genuinely good and unique one. Something that I felt would go the opposite direction of the competition and hopefully set my work apart from the rest of the crowd. It was simple, cute and most importantly, something I knew I could get together in the given time-frame.

I’ve never been one to ignore inspiration.

I kissed and hugged my supportive wife goodbye, knowing well that in order to get everything together I wouldn’t be seeing her much over the remainder of the month. Every ounce of free time available to me was dedicated to the project. I set to work on modeling, texturing, rigging, animating, rendering, picking music, creating sound and the final post effects for the project. From the day the concept hit, right up to the last (original) day of the contest, I raced/worked.

Ash decided on the last day of the contest to extend it another 2 weeks. While a good thing for some, it definitely took a bit of the wind out of my sails. I was tired and felt all the momentum I’d experienced up to that point completely lapse. I’d pushed myself and put in some seriously long hours to complete the piece in the given time. Now with this extension in play, I simply had no more time or frankly, energy to put into it. I’d put off actual paying work, time with family and personal hygiene (joking!) for far too long. As a steady stream of some very strong animation submissions started to come in, I knew competition was going to be stiff. The best I could do at that point was to cross not only my fingers, but also all my toes and simply wait it out.

Well, you know the end of this story.

I won…

along with 4 others. A surprising, but awesome gesture by Ash to spread the Shadow and Light love, if only by a little.

If you’re curious, you can click the image above to check out my animation.

I spoke to Ash at SDCC about the set and he not only shared how excited he was about how awesome the set turned out, but also how humbling it was for him that anyone would take their time to contribute artwork/animation based off his creations. He was really proud of that and rightly so.

Skip ahead several long months later and my set has finally arrived.

Before I jump to the review I want to give full marks to all that took the time to enter the race and heartfelt fist bumps to those who also won a set. A big thank you to 3A! Thank you Mr Wood! I love these guys and feel honored to be included amongst the winners circle!

PACKAGING

I’m the proud owner of a one of a kind Shadow and Light TK set.

“But wait! There were other winners!”, I hear you exclaim!

It’s one of a kind because it has my name written neatly across the box in black sharpie. I have no idea who at the hatchery did the honors. I’m also unaware if it bothered the other recipients to have their set “defaced” by such cruel permanent markings. But me, I’m for it. It makes it feel personal.

One small difference between this set and previous 3A toys is that it was not shrink-wrapped. Just boxed, labeled and sent. Score one for the environment..

As you can see, the box sports some cropped photography of the pair on one side and a cool stencil style 3A logo (plus me given name) on the other.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Two TKs. One black, one white. The dynamic duo come with two of their own color coordinated long swords.

Natch.

THE BREAKDOWN

I don’t feel I can really “review” this set in the truest sense of the word simply because one does not “review” or “judge” a reward/gift. If Grandma gave me brown socks for Christmas this year.. again, I’d smile, kiss her on the cheek and thank her. They’d most-like be thrown in the bin with the rest of the collection, never to be worn or seen again, but Memaw would be none the wiser.

That’s how it should be.

Of course you could argue that it’s not like I didn’t do anything for these guys. I did put in a ton of hours and toiled over the particulars. I’d certainly paid in time for the set many times over. But I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as a gift.

Simply put, it’s not polite to gripe about the gifts you receive. Not to say I have any gripes. Just if I did.. in this case, I wouldn’t tell you.

My reaction of the set right away was a sort of quiet “stun”. I’m not sure if it was the months of anticipation bubbling forth or what, but when I opened them up, I just starred at them for several minutes before even touching or removing them from their plastic packaging. I’ve never been very interested in the negro or blanco color schemes 3A puts out, however sitting in front of me as a set I can comfortably say they look amazing.

Light and Shadow are basically the same character top to the bottom as 3A’s 7bones member, Kyoku. The only real difference being the obvious color, or lack thereof. Shade, to be precise.

The head sculpt all 3 figures share are actually from last year’s Slicer Tomorrow Kings, Baka and Kyuuketsuki. Scar and all. It may not be my favorite TK head sculpt, but it’s dynamic and fun to pose.

One thing that really stands out to me is how squeaky clean the TK’s themselves are. Not a speck of dirt on their “skin”. Their clothes on the other hand, have a light dusting of weathering throughout. At SDCC this year, Ashley Wood told me that the set would have been done earlier, but he felt that the clothing needed a “touch of weathering to feel finished”. I’m sure some would argue that they’d look better sparkling clean top to bottom but for me, I really like the contrast.

It’s like they take showers, but can’t wash their clothes. Poor guys.

The Oya jackets are the usual high quality, impressively sewn articles. They look fantastic on and offer a wide array of dramatic pose possibilities. While I love the jackets, I’m considering setting these guys up jacketless as I have so many Oyas already littering my shelf.

We’ll see. I’ll let balance/aesthetics ultimately decide.

I really like that the teeshirt decals work best when you place the pair next to each other to form 3A’s logo. It’s a simple thing, but well thought out and melds these two together.

As I posed them for the various shots, I came to realize that despite their simple color scheme, these figures have plenty of character.

My take on them comes from a clichéd or otherwise well worn part of my imagination which seemed to dictate every pose I put them in.

Shadow is quiet and brooding. When he strikes it’s exact and efficient, not showy. He stays in the background and tries to go unnoticed. Light on the other hand seems as though he’d be much more animated, quick to act and stylistic in his motions. He stands in the front, brash and ready to lunge into action.

They are Yin/Yang and completely inseparable. Like their names, you can’t have one without the other.

THE FINAL WORD

That’s about all I have to say about this lovely set. A more in depth review of the particulars of this type (TK Oyabun) of figure will come in the form of my upcoming Kyoku review, but for now understand that I have some new favorites in my collection.

I will say that shooting the pair together had it’s own challenges thanks to my camera’s apeture trying to favor one figure or the other. I had many shots that I felt were going to turn out awesome that, once loaded on the computer were completely blurry and unusable. Regardless, I hope you’ve enjoyed the few I’ve put together here. Eventually, I’ll post even more on our Flickr and Facebook pages.

I’d want to encourage anyone who’s even remotely interested to get involved in the next contest 3A comes along with. I had a ton of fun in creating my animated short, despite it’s challenges. If you’re passionate about different things like drawing, design, photography, animation, toys, etc.. and they somehow correlate and come together in the form of a world wide contest, why wouldn’t you?

I’ve heard some who claim that these type of contests are a grand waste of time, or a matter of all us collectors jumping through hoops simply so 3A can gain some sort of free marketing. A bit of “dance monkey, dance”, “lick dog, lick” or whatever animal to mind controlled robot comparison is in fashion now. My thing is, if you enjoy doing it, it makes you happy and there’s an opportunity to get rewarded for your efforts, why should it matter to anyone else?

You know what? Screw those guys and their negativity. They certainly don’t have a Shadow and Light set..

nor should they.

PROS:

  • An amazingly lovely set that’s a true treasure in my collection

CONS:

  • None

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Wednesday’s Wallpaper of the Week

Today’s wallpaper is brought to you once again by Print. Back in January, he brought us this fantastic image of Oyaloper. It’s fitting that he’d return with another awesome image wrapped in Popbot lore.. this time of Queenie, the leader of 7Bones.

It’s a good time to be a Popbot fan.

click on your desired screen resolution to download!

Queenie by Print 1024×768

Queenie by Print 1280×800

Queenie by Print 1920×1200

Let us know how we’re doing! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and stay updated!

If you’d like to contribute to Wednesday’s Wallpaper of the Week and have your name go down in history, drop us a line at radtoyreview@gmail.com with your idea and/or image sample.

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