*Review* 3AA 2014 Membership Pack – Lasstranaut

INTRO

It’s been a long, long wait.. but the 3AA 2014 membership pack has FINALLY arrived.

Each year, 3A opens its gates for 24 hours to allow all those interested in a membership an opportunity to jump on the 3AA bandwagon. The $170 membership gives you 15% off all purchases at bambaland for the year, an exclusive membership figure, as well as other goodies such as tee shirts, art prints, a lanyard, membership card and even a messenger bag.

In 2014, 3A has cobbled together what is likely the most ambitious 3AA package yet, thanks in no small part to the exclusive figure featuring an all new, seamless female body. The result of which it took a full 10 months from initial order date to get into members’ hands.

Now that it’s here, I’m going to try and answer the question, “Is it worth the wait?”

*Check out our unboxing video

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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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Wednesday’s Wallpaper of the Week

Happy 4th of July, America and welcome everyone from all over! Once again we tapped into the incomparable photography skill of Expathos. You might recall that he contributed the very FIRST Rad Toy Review Wallpaper of the Week back in January so we think it’s a real privilege to have him send us some more of his shots to post. Yes, I said shotS… plural. 🙂

Being that it’s America’s b’day we decided to run with the closest red, white and blue image we currently have at our disposal. Though I’m sure it wasn’t Ex’s initial intent, we thought his shot of hatchery kitty would do the trick perfectly.

We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Once again, thanks for reading and partaking in our shenanigans week after week. Also, another massive thanks to Expathos for lending us his talents.

click on your desired screen resolution to download!

Kitty by Expathos 1024×768

Kitty by Expathos 1280×800

Kitty by Expathos 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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*REVIEW* 3A Queenie of 7 Bones

INTRO

Up until about eight months ago or so, I wasn’t into PopBot. I really didn’t know anything about it, and of all the 3A toy lines, it was the last wall of my personal resistance. Last year, I decided to get PopBot: Big Beautiful Book from IDW as well as a cool sketch in it from Wood himself. When I got that puppy home I dove head first into the hardcover beast. The world of Ashley Wood’s Popbot is a convoluted, confusing mind screw coupled with gorgeous paintings and sketches. My hope was that I’d develop some sort of appreciation and attachment to its characters. I told myself that if I’d take the time to read and re-read the massive catacomb-like storyline,  I’d glean a bit of real understanding and background of the dramatically illustrated world.

Nope. No idea. None what-so-evah. There’s something in there about a talking cat that sings and sleeps with robot hookers, some robots who want him dead, a blind cowboy that shoots his teeth, Sherlock Holmes waxes wise, Lady Sham is chatting it up with the devil in the wastelands, more robots, a few salt and pepper shake’s worth of Tomorrow Kings, Andy Warhol has his own talk show where he keeps interviewing some rapper dude who keeps killing him… I don’t know. The saga continues, I guess?

The Popbot world is as big, varied and fascinating as it is confusing, silly and unorthodox.  The only thing I took away from reading the Popbot collection other than an even further appreciation for Ash’s skilled brush is that I now have the general knowledge that those characters and their vague stories exist.

But that’s the odd thing. Now that I have that, it somehow manages to be enough to make my ears perk up and my F5’n finger twitchy anytime 3A announces a new Popbot figure. I’m hooked on PopBot. 3A has to be lacing them with something.

Which brings me to 7 Bones, another expansion of the PopBot world. The 3A wiki says, “Seven Bones, stylized “7bones,” is a group of rogue Tomorrow Kings in the Popbot Universe who are the personal guard of Punk King.” 3A has been slowly releasing them over the course of the past year. So far we’ve seen Wasabi, Kyoku and Queenie. Wasabi has been setting the vibe on our shelves since 2011. Kyoku was next in line sales-wise, but due to a production delay, Queenie was actually shipped out first.

So now that all that intro huffa-puff is out of the way, on to talking about Queenie. Read on to learn more about one of the most exciting figures to come out from 3A this year!

PACKAGING

As you can see, Queenie gets the packaging treatment she deserves with a nice painting of her looking stoic on the front. On the back things get traditionally 3A graphic design-y. It’s a nice contrast, shelf worthy for sure.

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Queenie has a tiny array of stuff to fiddle with. Equipped with a staff (a first for any 3A toy!) and a couple of interchangeable hands, she was triple clam shelled together and took a little work to get out. A few spare pegs are included as well.

Also I’m happy to report she comes with a fantastic poster of the cover art with a mini comic on the back. I’m unhappy to report that it appears a blind monkey packed my poster. Instead of neatly folded as they’ve always been in the past, mine came loosely bent together and crinkled. There’s even a few small wear holes where the folds come together. Bummer.

THE BREAKDOWN

The second I got Queenie out of her plastic prison I was sold on her character. As the leader of 7 Bones, she looks appropriately tough in that unrealistic, super slim tough chick way. Her eye patch gives her an air of mystery, while the subtle smirk on her face gives her a sense of confidence. Other than possibly her belt/packs, all her attire is completely new, never used before on any previous 3A figure. The pants in particular set her apart from any other of 3A’s offerings as they’re almost a faux linen material.

Her staff fits into her hands as perfectly as it should. I want to mention that the staff was straight as an arrow. No warping or bends from bad packaging. Huzzah! The second you get her set up with it, you’ll probably lose track of time for a few, putting her in your favorite Donatello pose. I don’t know about you, but it’s been a while since I’ve had a figure with a bo staff.

Queenie is also the recipient of yet another new female body. Ever since 3A updated the tried and true Tomorrow Queen bodies of old, they’ve been messing around with the formula, trying to get the best balance of asthetics and articulation. The older Tomorrow Queens were kind of a pain to pose. Not only did they wear skin tight latex, but their long legs made them wobbly and the opposite of sure-footed. They had a mid thigh joint you could twist around, a very limited knee joint and an ankle joint with a round twisting ankle peg to allow for rotation in most directions. With a good deal of futzing, you could pull of something dynamic, but it wasn’t a very organic process.

3A updated that body when they released Lolli last Christmas. All new leg joints, much better knees, a new torso and thinner arms. You can check our review of her here. They came so close to getting it right, but dropped the ball by changing out the round ankle joint for a square peg. You basically have a figure with much more generous articulation in the legs that should promise you better and more dynamic poses.. but it’s hacked off at the knee by the inability to move the ankle around to get a solid flat footing.

So now we have Queenie. 3A kept the double jointed knees of Lolli and brought back the ball ankle joint. Ah.. that wasn’t so hard, now was it?

Queenie is the first female figure that’s just about as fun to play with as any of your TKs or Adventure Kartel gang. Yes, the ankles are still pretty finicky. You have to press the shoe together to grip the ankle peg so you can twist it to the desired angle. But it’s not difficult at all to get her into some really fun stances. With the bo staff in both her hands, it’s incredibly easy to shift her from one cool pose to the next.

The other hands she comes with are more neutral/relaxed variations. I like that they’re slightly different from one another and not symmetrical copies. They’re useless for holding the staff, but they do add some nice variety when you feel like changing things up.

Speaking of not symmetrical, I might as well broach the subject here. One of the main “complaints” of the new 3A female body is the supposed wonky-ness of its.. breasts. Boob-gate, we’ll call it. Well, Queenie is not lacking in the chestal region by any means, and yes, you can tell they’re not lined up perfectly. I’m of two schools of thought here: My first is the fact that in real life, women’s breasts are unsymmetrical. Now, whether or not Ash and 3A designed them this way on purpose to reflect that is simply a matter of personal opinion, but even for a stylized character, Queenie is more realistic and less barbie doll this way. My second feeling on it is.. this is a toy and I’m simply not going to spend more time talking about a toy’s boobs.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, check out that thing dangling between her legs!

Made you look! When the teaser pics of Queenie popped up, I thought the cylindrical thing strapped to her belt was a jar of rice wine or something, like an old drunken monkey kung fu legend of old might carry.  Turns out, it’s a giant EMP bomb. I suppose this makes sense due to all the robots the gang has to take on. Still, a rice wine jug with some XXX would have been cool.

As a member of 7 Bones, it’s only natural that I’d want to put her up with Wasabi. The two look great together, though the blues aren’t exactly spot on. It makes me even more excited about the idea of having all seven positioned together. Which at this rate should be sometime in 2014.. ugh.

So what do we have so far? The new articulation is a marked improvement over any previous female figures. The new head/hand sculpts, accessories and clothing make you comfy in the knowledge that you’re legitimately getting a brand NEW character and not a bunch of reused bits and pieces. There’s a lot to like about Queenie.

There’s also a few things that aren’t so fabulous. I already mentioned boob-gate, but only because there’s been some discussion amongst the ranks about them.  However, they don’t bother me. My first real complaint is the equally discussed misaligned/sized eyepatch strap. If it’s a design choice as some argue, it’s a very odd one that simply doesn’t work. If it’s something 3A somehow missed before finalizing her sculpt, I can only ask the question, “How?”. It’s just a bizarre detail that doesn’t kill the cool factor of the character, but those more OCD than me may have a hard time looking at her from some angles thanks to it.

The other complaint comes back to the articulation in the legs. While they’re vastly improved and easier than ever to play with, once again 3A’s knack for adding while subtracting has somewhat shot themselves in the foot. (So many leg/feet analogies I hardly know what to do with myself!)

When they upgraded the female figure for Lolli, giving her double jointed knees and a more forgiving hip joint, they took away her mid thigh joint and stuck her with a square peg at her ankle. It was an upgrade that was nullified by the downgrades. With Queenie they brought back the round ankle peg, but still left out the mid thigh joint. I feel like this was a bad move, especially for a figure that should be as articulated as possible. Some may argue asthetics, but Queenie’s legs are covered up by pants! I’d start trying to push her into a pose and get about 80% there only to realize that’s as far as it’s going to go. It’s still a jump forward of course, but don’t be surprised when you find yourself thinking, “If only I could twist her leg this way just a tiniest bit, she’d be perfect”.

My last issue falls on the shoulders of 3A QC. Early pics of Queenie revealed some terrible peeling and bubbling of the paint on her chest and stomach. From what I’ve read, it’s pretty rare, like shark bites or plane crashes. My Queenie doesn’t suffer from the same disaster those images portrayed, but she has a few odd paint bumps on her chest that are obviously not meant to go there. My instinct is to scrape them off, but I’m sure that would just start a chain reaction of peeling and heartbreak. I’m waiting to hear back from CS to see what my options are. Issues are bound to pop up from time to time and in my history with 3A, I’ve had next to none, but that doesn’t make the bumps go away.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So yes, Queenie is cool. Despite her unique design, I wasn’t incredibly excited about her arrival after being fairly disappointed with Lolli. Seeing how untouched and neutrally posed I generally keep her on the shelf, the thought of having yet another figure that’s a struggle to balance upright didn’t exactly thrill me. I’m happy to report that she was well worth the wait and in fact exceeded my expectations.

She looks great and is loaded with character. The amount of unique poses you should be able to squeeze out of her should make her a stand out addition to your collection. She balances well, she moves for the most part how you’d expect her to, even her neutral hands add appreciated variety to the package.

Queenie is a positive step forward for 3A. I hope they continue to tweak the female body, refine the articulation some more and do something about the uncertainty of the paint app on their rubber torso. Right now, she’s as good as it gets.

Pros:

  • An all new unique character that will stand out from the rest of your collection
  • New female body with enhanced articulation; a big step forward
  • Tons of character squeezed into her tiny frame

Cons:

  • Wish they’d bring back the thigh swivel joint as her articulation still feels inhibited
  • Her eyepatch band, purposeful or not, is mismatched and just looks off
  • Boob-gate? Nah, but some paint issues.

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