Toy Talk
Volume XII

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 10/28/13

The bell has struck for the twelfth time, signaling the beginning of another installment of Toy Talk! Moving left-to-right, we'll be examining a 2007 Hasbro G.I.JOE Sigma 6 Dark Ninja Master, a 2004 Hasbro/DecoPac My Little Pony Generation 3 (G3) Pinkie Pie cake topper, a 2011 Spin Master Liv Daniela (McDonalds), a 2008 Fisher-Price DC Super Friends Imaginext Batman, and a 2010 Hasbro Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Bumblebee (McDonald's). I purchased the Dark Ninja Master (ninety-six cents on 10/25/13) and Daniela (an item in a $2.44 bag of "girls" toys on 9/13/13) from the Marquette St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store, while Pinkie Pie (one of the toys in a twenty-five cents mystery grab bag of ponies on 10/12/13), Batman, and Bumblebee (both figures were in a similar twenty-five cents mystery grab bag of "boys" toys that I also picked up on 10/12/13) all came from the Ishpeming branch of the same thrift store chain.. If anyone reading this knows more information about any of these items, that I haven't already discussed below, and would like to share, or just chat about toys, feel free to e-mail me and let me know!

Unfortunately for Snake-Eyes, the bad guys always win at my house.

I've wanted this 2007 Hasbro G.I.JOE Sigma 6 Dark Ninja Master figure badly ever since I first read about it at OAFE, so, you can be sure that I snatched him up the moment I laid eyes on him. In my opinion, he's the coolest and most desirable figure out of the entire Sigma 6 toy line. Based on his physical appearance, you could be forgiven for thinking that he's a mummified anorexic Treasure Troll, but, in actuality, the Dark Ninja Master is a renegade Arashikage (Stormshadow) shinobi that was banished for betraying the clan, and, now that he's gained the power to channel the strength of dead ninja, he's out for revenge! Ignoring his mop of glorious gray hair, the Dark Ninja Master stands an impressive 9" (22.9 cm) tall, towering over most of the other figures in the line, but, if you include his wispy locks, depending on how you have it styled, you can add another 2" (5.1 cm) to that. Like the rest of the Sigma 6 figures, the Dark Ninja Master is well articulated with tight joints, many of them ratcheted for added strength. Actually, they're a bit too tight on this figure--I was afraid that I was going to snap off his hips and shoulders, due to the amount of force I had to exert to move them. He has a ball-jointed neck, pin-and-disc ball-jointed shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles, a pivoting mid-torso, and a rotating cut waist. And, because the Dark Ninja Master was one of the later Sigma 6 releases, he has the awesome spring-powered battle grip fingers in his right hand, which ensures a tight hold on any item you place there (it's a shame both hands aren't done that way). Upping his cool factor even further, the Dark Ninja Master's upper torso is molded from translucent red plastic, so, anywhere that there isn't any paint, light can shine through. It's kind of hard to photograph, but you'll see a shot of that below. Brand new, this toy came with a slew of great accessories, but, all mine has is his gigantic 10.5" (26.7 cm) long katana (insert your favorite over-compensating joke) and transforming scissor katar (a push dagger that originated in India), and I consider myself extremely fortunate to even have those, as getting any accessories at all with a thrift store figure is a rare thing indeed. In addition to those two items, a complete sample should include: a clasp for attaching the katana to his back (however, because the sword already has a peg on it, even without that particular item, you can still attach the blade to his body in that fashion, as you can see in some of my photos), a belt/sash with three removable kunai (throwing daggers), a wakizashi (smaller sword), a chain sword with three removable shuriken (throwing stars) on the links, a cleaver, a knife, nunchuku with blades in the hilts, and two oni (demon) masks (one white-and-blue, one white-and-red)--this guy had a lot of options for killing your other toys! Oh yeah, because he was one of the more expensive, deluxe Sigma 6 figures, the plastic top and bottom of his package also snapped together to create a red foot locker for storing all his gear. The purchase of this toy alone was enough to make my entire multi-store shopping trip worthwhile--it's always satisfying to find something that you've been wanting for years, and for a bargain price to boot.

I have to admit, this one had me fooled. I thought it was a "real" My Little Pony toy, possibly part of a playset of some sort, but it turned out to just be a 2.8" (7.1 cm) tall birthday cake decoration (sure, you can use it for a toy, but you know what I mean). This 2004 Hasbro/DecoPac cake topper represents Generation 3 (G3) Pinkie Pie. It's a hollow plastic piece with no articulation. The sculpt (particularly her curly locks) and paintwork are pretty good quality and she even has the correct cutie mark balloons and heart on her left hoof. I'm sure a young (or young as heart) MLP fan would have been delighted to find Pinkie Pie sitting on the top of their birthday cake. To be honest, my opinion of this figure has become less favorable since I found out what she really is, but, ignoring her food decorative roots, she's not a terrible piece by any means, and the sitting pose does set her apart from my other ponies, which are all standing or trotting.

Here's Daniela, another one of the girls from Spin Master's 2011 line of Liv dolls that were included with McDonald's Happy Meals. The sculpting on this 5.8" (14.8 cm) tall figure's clothing is rather impressive for a fast food toy; both the purple pants and the blue shirt have a micro-textured pattern on their surfaces, and her linked-disc belt, with dangling chains, is pretty ornate too (it's a shame that the belt didn't get its own paint apps though). Her shirt also has a white graphic, on the front, of two griffins holding up a heart between them, and there's a sky blue bandanna tied around her neck. Daniela has rotating cut joints at the neck, shoulders, and waist. It's rather tricky to get this figure to stand, but it's do-able with some patience. The texture of Daniela's hair is a bit coarse/frizzy and she has cut bangs, which sets her apart from her four friends (the McDonald's Daniela mini styling head, that you could also get, instead of this full figure, also had these bangs). Her locks were pulled back into a ponytail, with a rubber band, when I got her, but I think that was an addition made by her former owner(s), so I removed it. Because Daniela's tresses are black, I don't think that it was the best choice to give her an ebony cap, because the two blend together without any contrast. I think molding the hat in blue or purple plastic, to match her shirt/jeans, or some other hue, would have been a better option. And, once again, I must lament the fact that they did not make the hair/hats swappable on these mini figures, as that would have been a great tie-in play feature with Spin Master's full-sized Liv dolls. Daniela is a nice-looking toy, but I find her to be the least appealing figure out of the McDonald's Liv doll assortment, however, if you want to collect them all, like me, then she's a necessary purchase.

Now, as a brief aside, I'd like to tell you a little story about my pathetic toy hunting exploits. I almost had the Sophie Liv McDonald's figure on 10/24/13, but I was thwarted by a little girl who got her hands on it literally moments before me. I nonchalantly stalked her family around the aisles for several minutes, in the vain hope that she'd get tired of Sophie and leave her on one of the shelves, or that either her mother or father would tell her that she couldn't have the doll, but, no such luck. I couldn't think of any tactful way to ask her parents if they were actually going to purchase the toy or not, without coming across as a creepy weirdo (they were probably already wondering why I was shadowing them), so, I gave up, paid for my stuff, and went home. The store also had two more Liv Haydens (it's the same place I got my Hayden twins a while back (see Toy Talk Vol. VII)--she must have been either really common or popular in the region where I live), but, while it was tempting to turn my double helping of Haydens into quadruplets, I elected to spend my money on more G.I.JOE Sigma 6 figures instead. Speaking of which, I'm probably lucky I got those too, because that girl's slightly older brother and sister were playing with them when I came in, but they abandoned the Joes when I drew near. While I still wish that I could have taken that Sophie doll home with me, it REALLY would have been a disaster if I had missed out on the Dark Ninja Master.

Batman costume variations usually don't look that great, but this is one of the times where I think it works. That's probably because the changes, racing goggles and yellow stripes on his upper arms, are pretty minimal and the hues are consistent with Batman's typical color preferences. This 2.9" (7.3 cm) tall Fisher Price DC Super Friends 2008 Imaginext Batman was the pack-in figure included with the Batmobile, which explains his attire. The sculpt is smooth and simplistic, as expected for a "kiddy" figure, but there are some nice details, like the buckle and pouches on the front of his utility belt and the lines on the goggles' strap. He also has a fabric cape (probably a necessity, given that he needs to sit in his vehicle--a sculpted cape wouldn't work very well in that regard unless it was removable or terminated at his thighs). It's not hemmed, so the edges are a bit ratty. Bruce has three points of articulation: pin-and-disc ball-jointed shoulders and pin hips (the legs move as one unit, not individually...well, you can sort of move the legs independently, but I don't think you're supposed to--I'm afraid I might be damaging the peg in doing so). I was pleasantly surprised that the shoulders were ball joints, because I was expecting simple cuts, but the lack of any kind of neck articulation is disappointing. His hands are shaped to hold accessories, but I don't believe that this particular Batman came with any, other than the previously mentioned Batmobile (a batarang would be the obvious choice). I've been reading good things online about Imaginext figures in general for years now, so it was nice to finally get my hands on one. While I'm not blown away, they are pretty neat and I can see the appeal of amassing a collection of these little guys. I'll probably keep my eye out for more of them in the future--the DC characters are cool, but I actually find the unlicensed Imaginext figures more appealing.

Here's a 2010 Hasbro Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen Bumblebee McDonald's figure, based on his appearance in the film. The sculpt, which clocks in at 4" (10.2 cm) in height, is pretty good, although the limited paint job doesn't do as much as it could to showcase it (I bet this guy would really pop with a black paint wash). While it's not that noticeable in the photos, the yellow coloration on various parts of his body, both paint and plastic, don't match up very well (for example, his legs and car door "wings" have an orange tint to them, while the torso is paler yellow). Bumblebee has rotating cut joints at the waist and left shoulder, which, while it isn't much, is enough to give him a few interesting poses. I was surprised that his eyes are light-piped (hold the top of his head up to any source of illumination, and it will appear that his eyes are glowing blue, due to the light passing through the tinted transparent plastic). While those eyes are pretty common on "real" Transformers toys, it's also the kind of thing that you'd expect to get cut from a fast food toy to save on manufacturing costs. Given that he's secondhand, my sample is missing the blue projectile for his spring-powered arm cannon. The trigger mechanism for said action feature is actually the car doors on his back, which was a clever way to seamlessly hide it in the sculpt--kudos to the toy's designer(s) for that. It's kind of funny: there were a bunch of Transformers fast food figures in one of the small toy bins that I went through at the thrift store, and I passed on all of them, and yet, I ended up taking one home anyway, albeit indirectly (I purchased Bumblebee "blind" in a grab bag of toys). After messing around with him and shooting these photos, I've come to the conclusion that Bumblebee is better than I initially thought--he just needed some more paint detailing and improved articulation to make him something special.

Group photo of all the Bumblebee Transformers toys I currently own.
While it wasn't intentional, the way I set them up, moving left-to-right, seems to imply that he's evolving or growing up.

Bonus(?) Feature

"Battle Damaged" Elita-One

Elita-One learned the hard way what happens to an unattended motorcycle left overnight in the bad part of town.

While I was inspecting the big bag of toys that I was going to buy in the store on 10/24/13, I noticed that there was a 2007 Transformers Target-exclusive Elita-One in there, which pleased me, because, while I already have that figure, mine was missing its right hand, so, I figured, between the two of them, I'd finally have a sample with all its anatomy. Well, as you can see, fate had a cruel surprise in store for me, because the Elita-One in the bag turned out to only consist of the torso (because everything was all jammed together, I couldn't really see much of her, so I had no idea that she was that bad). While her robot mode is obviously completely inadequate, surprisingly, there are actually still enough parts left on her metallic carcass to transform her into a half-assed motorcycle. Other than utilizing her as a damaged or destroyed Autobot in a diorama type situation, I can't see a whole lot of use for poor Elita-One. I don't know which is worse: that whomever donated this to the thrift store thought that it was in sellable condition or that the store's staff went ahead and did just that. This Elita-One's rightful place is in a garbage can or the recycling bin. While there were ultimately enough "good" items in the bag to justify its purchase, there were also quite a lot of toys that were damaged and/or missing parts of their anatomy like Elita-One--that's disappointing, because the majority of the items in the last bag I bought from this particular establishment were in much better shape. Don't get me wrong, I don't expect to get nothing but flawless items when they're secondhand, but, at the same time, there comes a point where things are in such poor condition that they just shouldn't be sold.

Girlfriend, you need to get yourself to Ratchet's repair bay, ASAP!!!

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