Category Archives: Travel

Road Trip – 5310 miles and an uncountable number of toy stops

I went on a 3 1/2 week road trip across America. We started here in California, went the northern route across Montana and North Dakota. We ended up in Wisconsin to see some friends before turning back and going across Nebraska and Iowa to see some friends in Colorado. From there it was a hard push home back to California. In all is was 5310 miles towing a travel trailer. There were lots of breaks along the way, mostly at Walmarts. Most of them were bust, but when I hit it big, It was really worth the stop.

In Star Wars, I was able to find the much desired Ashoka Tano. Along with her, I found the new Luke, Jango, and Kanan Jarrus.

In Colorado, there were clearance Halo 5 figures I didn’t yet have at Target. Looks like Target is clearing out most of their toy departments here at summer.

Marvel Legends proved to be very good. I first only found Iron Man for the Giant Man series. Then I hit it big time and found the rest of the wave. I also found Agent Venom at a Walgreens. I went in looking for the new figure, Namor, but came away with a super figure. It was also on sale, listed as Ant-Man, so that was an extra bonus.

In Transformers, I found the first wave of Legends figures in the Titan’s Return. Later I found the First wave of the Deluxe figures. They are so sweet looking. I also found a couple of Robots in Disguise figures. Quillfire was the first figure I found on the trip, early on just a few days in.

In Power Rangers, I found some great stuff, including Titano Charge Megazord, and the Archelon Zord. I found the missing charger I needed to complete the numbered part of the charges, and I found yellow ranger from Super Megaforce.

Then there were the randoms. Planes – Tractor Buck, TMNT – Dire Beaver, a couple of Hot Wheels, and two packs of MiniMates that were exclusive to Walgreens.

It was a great 3 1/2 weeks of travel. And getting to stop often to stretch the legs and look for good stuff in random states made some of the boring driving better.  I left in the middle of reviewing the Marvel Legends Absorbing Man series, and had more in Transformers I was ready to look at.   Not to mention some of the Japanese figures I have gotten my hands on right before I left.   There is a lot of stuff I was ready to tackle, and now the pile is huge.   Glad I have a few more weeks before school starts up again, and my life is sucked up with teaching.

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Iron Man Mark 43 (Thanos Wave, Marvel Legends)

I was almost able to pass on the Thanos Wave.  Then Tony went and made a new suit of armor in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Well, then I went and found it in the store.  It had to be bought at that point.   So here he is in all of his red and gold glory.

This guy has all of the articulation we have come to love from the Marvel Legends line by Hasbro.  He has the double joints in the elbows and knees that actually give him a bit too much movement, but that is up to the owner’s discretion as to how folded up they want their Iron Man.  This version has a lot more red then what we saw with with Mark 42 during Iron Man 3. And thankfully the gold is actually gold and not some sand color.    He has just a bit of silver on parts of the body to make the suit a bit more interesting.

I always find one of the trickiest parts of working with a new Marvel Legends figure is the painted joint.  Some of them are really hard to get loose, and I really don’t want to break off an arm.   I had him out of the box for a couple of days before heading out into the sun for some photographs.  I was all set to bash on the ankles that didn’t appear to have more than a back and forth movement.   A little time in the sun, and the joint loosened up and freed up the side to side movement.

The only complaint I have about the figure is the head’s movement up.  He can look down with his head touching his chest, but he cannot look up as he would do when he is flying.  We have had others that could do it.

Overall, he is a nice figure.  I don’t think I can get behind the Build a Figure idea when the figures are running $20 a piece now.  I would really need to have that figure in order to continue shelling out that kind of cash for five or six figures.  In the Thanos Wave, both Spider-Woman and Hellcat come with the same parts for Thanos.  At least they could have gone the Allfather route and given us some alternate BAF parts.  Happy Thanos and Angry Thanos.  Something different.  But it comes down to…”Do I need Thanos?”  We have definitely moved away from the days of the Sentinel Series.   Remember that one way back in 2005 when the boxes weighed 5 pounds because of such massive parts?   I do have to say the second wave coming out later this year is a lot more tempting with the Build a Figure being Hulkbuster Armor.  That one I could get behind.  Of course, there are a bunch of no-name characters to get with it.  Why wouldn’t we get Hulkbuster with this wave? You know, a BAF of someone who was actually in the movie for more than 7 seconds.

Well, another great armor for my Hall of Armor.  There have been a lot in this scale, and I am sure we will see more to come.


Disneyland – Iron Man Tech

 

Life size replicas as well as movie props.   It was worth the wait in line to go in and see all of the great armors.  My wife and I were already headed down for the weekend to kick-off my Spring Break.  It was the end of our annual passes for Disneyland, and we wanted to go one more time.  Then the news of Iron Man Tech coming to Disneyland to promote Iron Man 3, and I knew that it was fate.

They had the new Mark 42 on display, as well as the first 7 armors.  It was so cool to see them side by side in a comparison.   Here they are:

Mark I:

Mark II:

Mark III:

Mark IV:

Mark V:

Mark VI:

Mark VII:

All seven of these armors are displayed like the Hall of Armor in Tony’s work area.   Lights all around, and in the middle is displayed the Mark 42 armor:

The gold color of the other armors is a lot more subdued, taking on much more of a tan color.  There is also the addition of more silver in certain areas of the body.

In addition to the 8 armors around, there is an area where you can stand on a platform, and an artificial Iron Man armor is built over your body on the screen.  Then it runs tests on the screen with you presumably inside the suit you are looking at.    The line grew quickly, it took a while to be built up inside the suit, and it was not all that impressive.  So I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the props that were hanging behind the glass along the first part of the line.

The Mark I prop was outstanding.  To see all of the weld lines and the dents in the armor really shows how Tony would have pieced this together out in the desert.

The Mark 42 parts are really well detailed.  Looks like the end of the battle for these parts.

There are many, many more pictures to share.  Just click on any picture above to be taken to my Flickr site and peruse the rest of the pictures.  Lots more detail shots of the armors.


Disney’s California Adventure, Cars Land

As a fan of Cars, I have been waiting for years and years for this land to be ready.  I remember back to when the parking lot was closed back there, so they could start creating the land.  Seeing the metal frames going up, and finally getting covered in the rock formations, before finally being so artfully painted to match the beauty of the Southwest.   Then came the building of the town of Radiator Springs.  Now it is all done, in every detail you would want to see, and it did not disappoint.  I could not stop smiling the entire time I was in that land.  Amazing.

You might think, “There are characters walking around in the rest of Disneyland, they cannot do it in Cars land.  Ah, but they can.  They bring out Lightning and Mater to sit in the driveway of the Cozy Cone Motel for photo shoots with the kids.  They actually drive down the street.   I also got a glimpse of DJ, who apparently comes out and brings the music for impromptu dance parties.

The colors and details are the best.  Disney outdid anything they have ever come up with before.   California Adventure underwent an estimated $1.1 billion makeover, and boy did it payoff.

The daytime is amazing, but it is at night when the buildings of Radiator Springs comes alive.   Neon everywhere, and it flashes and moves just like the movie.

There were no details left unfinished.   From making the town accurate, to making sure everything looked just as old as it needed to.

All of the rides in Cars Land are great.  The big draw is the Radiator Springs Racers.  Strap in and hold on while you get a ride through Cars land, and then a race lap to finish off your run.

The Fastpasses sold out by 9:30, and the line was 150 minutes long, but for the people who just had to wait in line all that time were treated to great signs and details, like Stanley’s original spring.  It looks just like it did in Time Travel Mater.

When you finally get up to the front, you get treated to a seat on one of the cars.  So cute and ready for fun.

If you get in the car, and you do not feel as giddy as I did, then you do not belong on the Racers.  It was SO exciting.

When you start your adventure, you get to go through some great areas with some of the best animatronics that Disney has ever created.

Let’s not forget about the other rides that are there too.  The Racers have taken the spotlight, but the other two rides are really fun as well.   Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree features a square dance in a wagon pulled by a baby Tractor.

Fear not if you are stuck in line here.  You will want to take some time to look around.  The fences around the line are lined with great mementos of Mater’s Tall Tales, from Mater The Greater all the way to badges from his flight into space.

And then there is Luigi’s Flying Tires:

There are some people who were complaining that they don’t work all that well.  My wife and I went on it, and we were able to really get going.  All you have to do is lean, and hold it.  The cushion of air makes for a fun atmosphere.  I felt like an air-hockey puck.  It was a lot of fun.

All in all, I could not think of a way to make Cars Land any better.   The lines are long, but that is to be expected when it just opened.   With time, I am sure the lines will get better.  Don’t forget the rest of California Adventure has been greatly improved as well.  The Little Mermaid has great animatronics as well as the best music, the main street has been redone and looks beautiful.   They even have a very fun (and loud) night club vibe going on at the Mad T Party.  Dance the night away with a mixed drink containing a glowing ice cube.

California Adventure changed from a place I wanted to go to ride a few rides, to a place I like to hang out.   I cannot wait to go back again later in they year.  🙂


My Life in the Water (Ponyo)

Last night I received my first Netflix DVD. It was Ponyo. What a most interesting and fun movie. It was so entertaining, and the art was outstanding.

If you have not seen it, it is the story of a boy who finds a “goldfish” that he names Ponyo. We come to find she is magic, and she wants to become a real girl since she loves the boy.

It is a standard fairy tale type movie, but the art is far superior to most of the animated art we get in the US. It is no wonder why Disney backed the movie for a US release.

There are so many levels of animation at times. We see the kids at the surface of the water, looking down on them, we get layers of fish and the ground below.

Definitely a five star movie. This would be a good movie to show to people who don’t think they like Anime. I bet this will change their mind. 😉

What do you think?


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