So, here's something just for fun - every day, we'll post some new cool toy thing for each letter of the alphabet. This is a really fun hobby, and we're going to give you 26 reminders of why that is. It doesn't need to be the best example for each letter, just an example. We weren't trying to start an argument about whether "this" F choice was better than "that" F choice: the only goal is to make sure that the F choice we chose was something cool about toys. And all 25 other letters, too. So without further ado, let's get started!
...Heinrad. This Japanese-only Transformer is a real oddball.
He turns into a real animal most people have never heard of, and many of those who have heard of it think it's mythological. In honor of that, the toy can take both "natural" and "pretend" beast modes. Though he's at least somewhat a shellformer, and other parts of his transformation are remarkably straightforward, he still makes for a good-looking robot. Add to that the fact that he's also a working alarm clock, and you've got yourself a winner. Plus, he's the only Transformer with testicles.
...Kobra Khan. He wasn't one of the cool henchmen, like Trap-Jaw or Evil Lyn. He was a Snakeman, and let's face it: they were dull.
He had a head shaped like a concussed goldfish in order to allow it to squirt water mist. Now that we're old and cynical we look down on such ham-fisted action features, but let's take a moment to think back to happier, simpler times, when we didn't demand a sculpt that'd make Michelangelo weep, and a dozen different paint apps to get the shading on the scales just so, and enough articulation to put a yoga master to shame. Once upon a time, all it took to make us happy was filling up Kobra Khan's misshapen barrel torso with water and pushing down on his stupid-looking head to squirt "venomous" mist over our enemies. It was fun. And toys should be fun.
...light-piping. It's a simple action feature: just mold a bit of your figure's head in translucent plastic, and when light passes behind (or above) him, his eyes will light up. Yes, it's possible to do this poorly (mold the entire head from clear plastic and then leave gaps in the paint; block the back so light can't get in sufficiently; choose a bad color for the translucent bits), but there's just something fun about covering and uncovering the back of the piece to make the character "blink." It definitely beats battery-powered eyes that mean the head is all but immobile. It's absolutely a low-tech solution, but it does what it's supposed to, and sometimes that's enough.
...women. Superman? Wonder Woman. He-Man? She-Ra.
Luke Skywalker? Princess Leia. For every male action figure slumming it on the shelves of Toys Я Us or suchlike, there's a woman who'd fill their boots just as well, and look a whole lot better doing it, too. So why aren't we up to here in little plastic heroines? Why did it take the better part of a decade to get an Arcee? Why are the girls in a series often short-packed? Or absent altogether? Why is there no such thing as a sportswoman figure? I'll tell you why: because toy manufacturers are in league with Martians, and they don't want anyone realising that Earth can be saved by kick-ass women. They want us all to believe that women are just Barbies, only useful for wearing dresses and mucking about with hairstyles, so that when our GI Joes and Batmen get wiped out by precision Martian bombardments on D-Day, we'll all just lose hope and surrender. So don't let them get away with it. Demand more female action figures. Because the war is coming.
...Xevoz. There was just something infectuous about this Stikfas spin-off line. It's rare enough to see a big-name company taking a gamble on an original property these days, but the fact that Hasbro actually managed to get these into stores like Wal*Mart and TЯU is just stunning. You have to think that even some minimal advertising would have done wonders for these awesome toys: the first series was over-ordered, with some samples hanging on pegs until the line actually ended, but pretty much everyone who played with Xevoz fell in love with them and supported the line all the way through. If more people had known about them, the line might still be alive today.
...Yuffie. Yuffie? What the hell kind of name is Yuffie? Isn't that what furries do when they get horny? Maybe, but it's also one of the characters from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children - you know, the one that's all about emo guys fighting each other, and dragons, and stuff? But that's not important, because Yuffie is just another in the long line of girls from anime and manga to be made into an action figure. Sure, there are those creepy "erotic" PVC statues if you're into that sort of thing, but plenty of anime has women who are capable fighters, and those make for some cool toys.
So that's the alphabet. We hope you enjoyed it, and maybe learned something new you didn't know before. We'll probably do this again sometime, just with a different focus. If you have a suggestion for an Alphabet theme you'd like to see, let us know.