*Review* 3A Real Steel Midas

INTRO

Are you ready for round two? Coming out swinging from ThreeA is their latest but definitely not last fighting robot from Dreamwork’s 2011 movie, Real Steel. While Midas won’t be their last bot in the ring, hopefully that will be my last use of boxing metaphors for this review.

I make no promises.

Last year, ThreeA’s Ambush turned out to be a pretty big surprise for me. If you check out the review we did of him, not only was he one of the most detailed toys I’d seen from ThreeA yet, he was a ton of fun to pose and photograph. I enjoyed reviewing him far more than I imagined I would. So much so, that I put him as one of my top toy picks of 2012!

When the postman delivered Midas and I finally got the opportunity to unbox him, I experienced a fairly odd realization. Midas arrived to me with even more of a disadvantage hanging over his head than Ambush had. With our Ambush review, I went into it with only the knowledge that I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie. Thusly, I expected little from the toy. Ambush got the upper hand on me, in no small part, due to the element of surprise. I was sucker punched by his coolness! (Ok, here’s a dollar for the overused metaphor jar) From the second I opened the box I couldn’t get over that guy. I forgot almost completely he had anything to do with a robot fueled b/kids movie (one that 10 year old me would have LOVED, mind you) and was simply enarmored by the incredible work ThreeA had done in making that robot real. I expected nothing and Ambush delivered far more than that.  Midas on the other hand, well..

I see you ThreeA and I know what you’re capable of!

Wow me.

image copyright Dreamworks Animation

PACKAGING

Midas comes in the exact sort of packaging that Ambush did. You can expect the same kind of minimalistic design elements with Midas’s insignia hung front and off-center. A nice, large, magnet-fastening lid covers the heavily packed bot inside. Once again, Midas’s stats are laid out for you to brush up on if you like. His aren’t as embarrassingly sad as Ambush’s were. In fact, his background reads more like that of a violent felon. His impressive mohawk is mentioned twice.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

A fighting robot doesn’t need a whole lot to make it in the world today. Just like Ambush, Midas comes practically accessory free. Some may find that a bit boring, but you can’t blame ThreeA for it. Fault Dreamworks for not designing him an awesome robo-comb of some-such.

Hmmm.. a deluxe flowbee maybe?

As the version I received from ThreeA is their official bamba version, it did come with a cool little remote control accessory.  Like I said in the Ambush review, it’s well done and cool to look at, but with no one to hold it.. it’s mostly just display clutter for me. Back into the box you go, less ye be lost!

Update – 2/07/13: There have been a few comments from folks saying that their Midas did not come with batteries. There’s a chance that ThreeA included them with mine to make it easier for me to get this review together. If so, big apologies for the misinformation. 

Update 2 – 2/08/2013: Confirmed that batteries do NOT come with Midas. It was included with my sample to assist in the review. Sorry for getting hopes up if I did. At least the batteries are cheap! 🙂

One thing of note: Midas actually comes with his eye-light batteries preinstalled! Huzzah! I am seriously happy 3A decided to include them this time around. I say this particularly because some battery sizes can be very difficult to find in certain remote regions. “Someone” could spend the larger part of their weekend trying to hunt them down by driving back and forth all over an island in the middle of the ocean looking for them. Just like this “someone” did when he had the opportunity to review 3A’s MGS REX.

I was stoked to find I would be avoiding that hassle this time around.

THE BREAKDOWN

At first blush, Midas is everything you’d expect him to be. Big, gold, dinged a bit and sporting a ridiculously bright red mohawk.

He’s painted up bright and gold (though it reads more orange/brown in most light) with some red accents. He’s tatted out with all manner of tribal tattoos head to toe, which begs the timeless question of.. on a scale of Ed Hardy to Affliction, just how douchy is Midas? 🙂

Ol’ Midas has been busy too! He has all manner of dings, dents and scratches running all over him. That was one of the things I really liked about Ambush as well,the asymmetry in the weathering and damage. An unfortunate notched mishap on his right arm does not mean the same for his other. It definitely adds to the realism of the character.

I’m not really much for gold, but Midas’s paint is actually really quite good. I wouldn’t say it’s as believable as Ambush’s or that it was as carefully applied like that on MGS REX, but it’s still definitely good. Since Midas is predominately painted gold (or “gold leaf “as the background statistics on his box specifically state) his rusted/damaged areas are pretty much just silver to represent the metal underneath. There are some variations in there, some layers, but they don’t read as clearly since the hues of the marks are so close to that of his top coat. It does the job and  looks fine, just not quite as well as Ambush’s scratches and marks.

Ambush gets a leg up, I think, largely because his color scheme lends itself better to reality. He may be bright blue, but with the rust and silver metal showing through, you feel like you may have seen an old pickup truck that looks like him somewhere.

One thing that bothered me about Ambush was that it was difficult to get him to maintain any extreme poses. Some areas, like his arms were fairly easy to sort out and pose however you like. But his overall bulkiness, coupled with is small feet and limited hip range make him difficult to balance in any pose much more creative than his two feet planted side-by-side.

This is where Midas knocks Ambush on his butt.

Where Ambush has shell-like armored bits that need to slide over and around one another just so you can twist and turn him, Midas is basically made up of easy to use, undeterred, ball-joints. Very little gets in the way of moving him around.

His arms have several joints running the length of them which let you easily get Midas into any type of boxing stance you can think of. Midas’s hands are also articulated so you can unclench them if you feel like giving him a break after the big fight. Thumbs are posable too.

Remember to keep your elbows in, knees bent, chin tucked and always watch your opponent’s eyes.

Below is a link to a quick video where I show some of the impressive articulation Midas has at his disposal.

Note: We’re working on bringing more video content to you. We want to get things to a point where it’s as regular around here as all these beautimus photos. We’re still working on getting the quality up, tweaking the video codecs and trying to establish some semblance of quality. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our shiny new RTR video intro! ~ knives 

Now just because Midas is easy to move around doesn’t mean he lacks in detail or intricacy. Like Ambush before him, he has a bunch of joints decorated with functioning pistons. Small flexible wires are attached at his elbows, legs and hips. They look cool and seem to be firmly in place, but I am a tad worried they’ll become brittle over time, especially at his elbows. It’s the one element that stands out as “fragile” to me on Midas.

Just check out those lats! Dude’s totally crushing his morning hot yoga sessions. The photo above (hopefully) illustrates a cool element of Midas’s design. His… I’ll just call them shoulder blades, slide in and out as you move his shoulders around. Details like this make Midas fun to play around with.

Midas also has the coolest Iron Man-esque boots ever. I really love the way they came out. To go with an appropriately snug, yet very forgiving ankle joint, the feet themselves are hinged as well allowing for him to go up on his toes a little, just in case you want to send Midas off to ballet school.

So what else.. what else? OH yeah. This guy can practically do drunken monkey kung fu. Midas is SO well balanced. It won’t take you two minutes to get him standing, Karate Kid style on your kitchen counter. I didn’t get a great shot of the ability, but hopefully enough to get the point across.

Unlike our buddy Ambush, Midas is nimble, lightweight and (at least on the one I got) all his joints give/take exactly how much I need them to. His feet have just enough play to where you can adjust them to support an impressive amount of offset weight. This single feature kicks Ambush’s hiney soundly into next week.

Poor guy.

The light up eyes look pretty sweet and thanks to ThreeA supplying the batteries, you can enjoy it from day one.

The eye’s are super cool but I was a little bummed when I read the inside flap of Midas’s statistics and saw that the official movie character featured a “fiber optic mohawk”. A fiber optic mohawk?!! That would have been so awesome to see! While that info was pulled from the movie and was never an advertised feature of the toy, it would have been pretty great if ThreeA managed to pull it off .

Instead, ThreeA used stiff, paintbrush-like bristles, which stand up like something you’d see on a Roman soldier’s helmet. I’m sure there’s some complex engineering mathematics going on behind it that I could never fully understand as being the driving reason they went with the brush hairs instead. I accept that. And don’t get me wrong, it looks sharp as it is. But how cool would it have been to switch on those lights and have his whole mohawk glow a vibrant bright red hue?

Ahhh, C’est la vie.

I actually didn’t know at first that there were already batteries installed so I went through the trouble of hunting down a tinee-tiny screwdriver to see what I could see. Seriously, I’m lucky I have a few of these laying around from my PC building days… what would the average person use to access the batteries? Maybe toy companies should keep in mind the kind of tools the larger majority of consumers keep around their pads before they go slapping screws the size of butterfly teeth on their toys. Tiny screws are fine for holding bits together that you’re not meant to mess with, but for a panel that you may want quick access to, a more common screw size would be appreciated.

THE FINAL WORD

I don’t think I like Midas quite as much as I did Ambush. That being said, I think Midas is, without question, a much better toy than Ambush turned out to be. So what’s the deal?

Midas beats down Ambush round after round (Cha-ching! Another dollar for the metaphor jar!). He’s far more posable and stable. His joints move easier and hold in place as they should. He doesn’t feel near as fragile as Ambush did as he’s made up of mostly solid pieces. On top of all that, he comes ready with the batteries you’ll need to run the lights in his eyes.

In short, his glowing eyes look dope, his paint looks dope, his mohawk looks dope, his boots look dope, his various moving robo-parts look dope, his posable thumb looks dope. I just want to be crystal, this bot is dope!

Honestly, the only things I have to whine about with Midas are mostly aesthetic, meaning, my own personal taste.  I mentioned before I’m not into gold and Midas is well.. gold. He’s also covered in terrible tribal tattoos like some weird future robot from the 90’s. He turned out to be completely true to Dreamworks Animation’s original design.

Well, completely true-ish. The character’s mohawk is officially made from fiber optics, not paint brush hairs, but this is the toy and not the movie.. grumble.. grumble.. grumble.

Despite how much better of a toy Midas is than Ambush, I still believe I like Ambush a little more. Mostly it’s his rusty blue pickup truck paint I dig. I just love his paint app and how nice and contrasty his colors are. Plus all those finicky “steel shell” bits that encompass his body, while cumbersome to grip when positioning him, give his form some layers and depth, which I really like as well.

It’s simple really, both are cool. It’ll come down to what you personally prefer.

Quick side note: I never did figure out what the little black plastic flaps on his shoulders are for…

ThreeA has once again done a great job that further cements themselves as masters of their craft. With Midas, The Real Steel/3A union continues it’s impressive journey.  They’re two for two, will you be ready for round 3? (*cling! I’m steady filling the jar)

PROS:

  • Top notch looking bot with great detail and sculpted damage
  • Fantastic articulation and balance
  • Very solid paint application and weathering details
  • As close a replica to the on-screen version as you’ll ever see
  • Batteries included! (update – 2/7/13 :possibly.. possibly not) (update 2 -2/8/13: confirmed they are not included)

CONS:

  • Some of the body wires hinder movement which means they are more prone to break over time
  • It’s a shame the mohawk hairs aren’t made of actual fiber optics or a similar material.. that would have been something to see!
  • Might be a good idea to use more common sized screws on battery access panels
  • I’m starting to think I need to watch Real Steel again…


A big thanks to ThreeA for getting Midas out to us! Lily ^ thanks you too. ~ knives

For more info on our review policies, please check our “About/Contact” section.

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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

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