Monday, December 30, 2013

2.5 years of Toys and Bacon... What's next?

I've been producing content more or less regularly for over two years now, and now is the time to either take this to the next level, or scale it down significantly.

Some of the content I produce has been well thought out, starting out as a plan, going through a process like any article. I do research, I take pictures, I think thoroughly about what I will write. In order to maintain the schedule, I have also churned out zero-effort content. We're talking single pictures, news updates, content where schedule has taken precedence over quality.

I look through the list of updates from the year that has gone, and I see stuff like the recipe for How to make Artichoke Pizza, the list of the Top Ten Female Action Figures of the 80s, the article on Masters of the Universe Artwork, or the thoughts on toy collecting and nostalgia
All these are from 2013, and they are all work I can be proud of.

But I just don't have time to produce stuff like this every week. For every quality update, I see too many fillers, too much fluff. I can't stand by content that doesn't really fit my standards when I know what I'm actually capable of producing.

Truth is, I'd rather produce quality content when I have the time for it, than to stick with the schedule and share updates with no substance.

So going forwards, I will not bind myself to a schedule, but rather produce and share content when I feel I have something meaningful to say. I'll continue to produce articles on toys, recipes, top ten lists, even videos, but I won't promise content two times a week.

I think this is a good change, and I'd rather see Toys and Bacon 2014 contain ten great articles than 70 mediocre ones.

All this said, 2013 haven't been bad. Feel free to single out your favorite article I made this year. Feel free to share your own favorite recipes and toys of 2013, your opinions on the year in general even. I welcome your comments as usual.

If you have any sort of comments, suggestions, or even would like to write a guest article, let me know in a comment here, on twitter or on youtube.

Happy new year, people!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Minecraft Action Figures - A review...?

I reluctantly call it a review, because I feel I know far too little about Minecraft to do them justice. I can call it like I see it, and I can try to put it into context as an action figure collector. But the thing is, with the constant and seemingly endless amount of Minecraft spinoff effects, I'm not sure these action figures are a big deal.

They would have been to me, had I played even a minute of Minecraft, because these are great toys.

Read on for a closer look, or check out the video reviews on youtube of both Steve and the Creeper.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Marvel Legends Dr. Strange

Another video. This is Dr. Strange from Toy Biz' Marvel Legends line. This particular wave of figures came packed with parts you could use to build a giant sized Galactus. I showed Galactus here a while back. He's still my favorite Marvel Legend figure, but when I started playing a bit with my old collection, I notice that I actually like these toys. Yesterday I opened Dr. Strange, and he's an excellent figure in some ways, and not so excellent in other ways.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Snake Eyes v.3

In 1982, Hasbro released the first version of Snake Eyes. A very tactical design, clearly a commando, very different from the rest of the 82 line up. 1985 gave us the iconic design which we usually picture when we talk about Snake Eyes. A truly magnificent design, and a great action figure. Landed a spot in my top 5. And then in 1989 came the version that no one cares about. In fact, do anyone care about any 1989 G.I. Joe figures?

When I thought about it, I could barely remember any 1989 Joes. I know we got an updated version of Rock n' Roll. I know we saw a repaint of the impressive Payload mold from 1987. And... I know we got a new version of Snake Eyes. On it's own right a cool enough figure, but compared to the previous two versions, and even compared to the one that followed, it's difficult to care about this one. But I will try anyway. As usual, there are far more going on than you realize. Snake Eyes has tons of sculpted details, and actually came with an impressive amount of accessories - some of which I have misplaced over the years.

Snake Eyes is all black plastic, with silver paint applications. Not too exciting, but like I said, the sculpted details are numerous and impressive. He came with a backpack with nice details, a sword that would fit in the backpack. He came with a three-piece ninja-weapon I can't identify, and a blow dart gun and a machine pistol that probably lies in the bottom of my Joe box. This is absolutely a decent amount of accessories, even for a 1989 Joe.

What I really don't like about the figure is the head sculpt. His head just looks too tiny for his body. I also can't shake the knowledge of how Snake Eyes got hold of this costume. In the comics, our silent commando is about to be tortured by three clowns called "The Payne Brothers". One has black pants, one has black shirt, the last one has a black mask. Snake Eyes of course ends up taking out the three fools and steals their clothes. Now, why didn't they have more clothes? Why did only one of them have mask? I need to re-read this comic, maybe it actually is less ridiculous than I can remember.

Like I said, 1989 wasn't a strong Joe year... Until I gave it some thought.

We got two really cool army builders in the Alley Viper and the Night Viper. Some of the Joes were cool, like Backblast, Scoop and Stalker in arctic gear. Some of my favorite vehicles in the insane looking Arctic Blast, the dealy Cobra Condor, and of course, the mighty Thunderclap.

Fan favorite figures
Thunderclap was one massive toy with great playability
But there were reasons I could barely remember anything good about this year of Joes. We got a lot of wonky characters. Take a look...

Well this doesn't look dangerous at all...
Yes, that orange Cobra trooper has bombs strapped all around his ankles, and is carrying a cannon bigger than himself. Yes that Joe has machine guns connected to his hips, and is about to fight Cobra with a lawnmower.

I haven't been buying too many of the modernized Joes of late, but I doubt they have come around to modernizing Heat Viper and Pathfinder (the two guys above, likely to kill themselves as well as everyone around them). But we have seen modern versions of Alley Viper, and something that could pass for the Night Viper. Take a look:

But I digress. Back to our ninja...

Snake Eyes v.3 was modernized in the 25th anniversary line, and suddenly the design behind the character made sense. The previously sculpted details were suddenly functional, like the knives and the socket for the night vision goggles. Suddenly it was clear that this costume was a perfect blend between the "ninja" and the "commando", maybe even more so than the previous version.
This time around, the proportions felt more right too. In fact, the 25th Snake Eyes v.2 Is probably my favorite among the modern Snake Eyes versions.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lego + The Simpsons

I've never been a die hard fan of The Simpsons. I mean, like any sane person, I've enjoyed the occasional episode when I stumble upon one, but I have never had the interest of watching entire seasons of the show. But I know there are many fans out there, enough for the upcoming Lego Simpsons sets to be insanely popular.

I can't confirm whether that Ned Flanders figure is production. The head looks weird, but we've seen similar oversized heads for instance in the Toy Story Lego series. The body looks like production to me.

Personally, I don't think this works as Lego sets. What sets could they possibly make? The inside of the power plant? The bar? The couch? At least they don't have to change skin colors for the figures. They are already Lego colored.

I will of course keep an eye out for the sets, but I'll pass on them - luckily, I'd say. Lego is sooner than later going to get hold of the building set license for something that really peaks my interest. Macross/Robotech? Starcraft?
They're probably also well underway with producing something like a Lego Galactus, or some other incredible set within the Marvel Superheroes line.

That said, I think it's interesting, and probably a wise move for Lego to do Simpsons sets.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Toys and Bacon on Youtube

I'm been planning on going video for a while. It's awkward hearing ones voice in playback, and I'm obviously more comfortable writing English than speaking it. I bet my sister and her English boyfriend would have a thing or two to say about both pronunciation and vocabulary. Never the less, here's my first video.

Basically, it's just me talking about MOTUC for 15 minutes, while showing some of my favorite figures. I rant a bit about the line, but also give praise where its deserved.

Here's the direct link if you're on a mobile that won't show youtube videos.

What I'd like from you guys is to leave comments on what you want to see. I have a big collection of toys, vintage and modern, lots of unopened stuff. Individual toy profiles? Collection videos? I'd also like to do it from an angle, have a twist to the videos. I guess by this time, it's difficult to make something really original when filming toys, but I'd rather not simply do "reviews" or "haul videos".

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Thor 2: A review, of some sort...

If you read this, chances are you plan on seeing Thor regardless of your connection to the Marvel universe or superheroes in general. That's a good thing, because with superheroes being mainstream, it's generally easier to be an enthusiast. And the latest movie from Marvel Studios, Thor: The Dark World, is as mainstream as movies get.

It wasn't always like this. There was a time, not long ago, when we were losing our shit just to get any sort of superheroes beyond Batman and Superman in theaters. Remember when X-Men came out? If you were into comics back in the late 90s, it was huge. It was monumental. It was something new. There was a time, not long ago, when the idea of several Marvel movies all being connected was just that: Ideas and fantasies among fans.

Now, we have one well made superhero movie after the other, the last one leading up to the next one. And it's so much fun. These are good times to be comic book enthusiasts.

Marvel has it figured out. They know what the fans want, and they know how to deal with the general audience. It's a perfect mix between action, romance, easily comprehensible stories and humor. Mix this with sweet special effects, solid soundtrack and generally great choices of actors, and it's not difficult to understand why these movies are a delight.

These movies stick true to the source material most of the time, and when they deviate, it's usually purposeful. But Marvel Studios has gone beyond just being true to the comics. They are loving it, they are passionate about it. Just think about this: We have seen Robert Downey Jr. dressed up in an Iron Man suit made by Stan Winston studios. We have seen Nick Fury - as played by Samuel L. Jackson, shoot a bazooka at Loki. We have seen Hulk and Thor do battle on the Helicarrier. Thanos, the Mad Titan is in a mainstream movie!

Thor: The Dark World isn't a masterpiece. But no one was expecting it to be. What it is, is extremely fun and entertaining, both for me, and for people who haven't read a single issue of Thor.

Review? Well... You can read reviews elsewhere. I'll share various thoughts though.

For the first time in 5000 years, the nine realms are aligning, being closer to each other than normal. This causes rifts in the worlds, where it's possible to portal from one realm to another.

The Dark Elves, once defeated, are back to seek vengeance over the nine realms, and plan on using the alignment to their advantage. Their leader, Malekith, seeks the essence of evil: The Aether. With it, he plans on sending the universe back into darkness. He doesn't succeed, but there's a lot of collateral damage going on before he's stopped. Both in Asgard and in London.

This time around, we get to see a lot of Asgard, which is really cool. We see tons of cool tech and magic, and it's just amazing. Their boats are shaped like viking ships, and their buildings have laser turrets. It's all very true to the idea of a mix between sci-fi and magic. We also see a lot more to Heimdall, played by Idris Elba. He's become a staple in these kinds of movies now, and I think he likes it.

Loki is locked up in the Asgardian prison early in the movie, but still plays a major role throughout. I like that, I really like Tom Hiddelston playing Loki - and I know I'm not the only one. He looks so fresh in his prison cell, all clean and in his usual outfit, but when Thor tells him to drop the spells, we see him as a wounded and broken man. Of course, Loki never ceases his tricks. I suspect he will play an important role in future Marvel movies as well.

The villains were ok, Malekith is played by Christopher Eccleston, but I'd liked to see a bit more passion from him. His lackey is almost more interesting, a regular Dark Elf that sacrifices himself to become basically the Dark Elf variant of The Hulk.

An important part of the movie is its humor, and it's at times seriously funny. The entire audience is laughing-funny. The funniest moments revolve around the misadventures of Dr. Erik Selvig, the scientist played by Stellan SkarsgÄrd, but several back and forth comments between Thor and his various allies are also great fun.

I'd actually liked a bit more romance, or rather that the romance of Thor and Jane Foster were put on serious trials. But I guess they're saving that for another time. And for those in the audience who are into that kind of stuff: sadly, that first scene of shirtless Thor is the only one in the entire movie.

When all is said and done, I got what I expected. A great superhero movie, excellent entertainment, and I got my daily dose of Marvel. How much Marvel, you say?

Well, skip the break to find out (spoilers)...


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Artichoke Pizza

I'm having a lot of fun with artichokes these days. The ones I use are canned, as I have yet to find fresh ones, but it's still something different than the ingredients I have used regularly in the past. The artichoke has that slightly sour and fresh taste, a bit like asparagus, but a bit more unique. It goes extremely well with peppered steaks or chicken, and in wok with soy sauce.

The artichoke pizza is an idea I'm loaning from the pizza restaurant in New York, aptly named Artichoke Pizza. What struck me then was the absence of tomato sauce, which I had always assumed was essential for any pizza. Instead, they used a cream-based sauce with artichokes. I loved it, and I had intentions of recreating this masterpiece.

I usually make a great pizza, and I ended up trumping Artichoke Pizza's artichoke pizza. The dough played a big part in this, but also the addition of meatballs. Because, you know, meatballs.

Either way, read on for a recipe on how to make an artichoke pizza.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Off topic: Lou Reed

Poor Lou Reed. He didn't really want to be all glam, like his buddies David Bowie and Marc Bolan. Lou wanted to be a rocker, leather jacket, no make up, just playing his music. And listening to his iconic album, Transformer, it's almost hard to imagine how this could have looked any different. 

But that was the charm with glam rock. Musically, it sounded like regular hard rock (like Kiss), pop (like Bowie), or folk inspired singer/songerwriter with a mix of electric, like Lou Reed. 

He got known through his band, The Velvet Underground, and made a few records in the late 60s, but it was as a solo artist he definitely started producing. Dozens of albums throughout the seventies and eighties. One of rock's true greats. I'm not sad, because many of his contemporaries didn't last this long. Lou had a prolific and healthy career, even though he wasn't always healthy himself. But it makes me a bit melancholic, thinking that many of my favorite artists are closing in on the last leg of their tour... 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chicken Sticks

If you want to do something slightly different...

It's exactly what it looks like, so I don't feel the need to explain in details what's going on here.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

"Toys shouldn't be sexy"

New York Comic Con this weekend, Hasbro showed off some toys on the preview night. One of their 6" Marvel lines featured a Black Cat figure. Complete, with whip, skin tight body suit and exposed cleavage.

I see many are complaining. They may articulate themselves in different ways, but their opinions can usually be summed up like this:

Toys should't be sexy.

And I find that to be a weird opinion. Why should toys not be allowed to be sexy? Sex isn't dangerous. I guess part of the problem is combining sexuality and toys intended for kids. But sexuality is a vital part of being human. No kid has ever been hurt by exposion to breasts. In fact, you could argue that boobs have saved significantly more lives that guns. Yet military toys are less controversial than "sexy" toys.

If anything, a toy like this will simply cause a kid to grow up faster, and he or she will quite possibly develop certain kinks a few years later. But we all know it's not just kids that will buy the 6" Black Cat. I suspect this will be popular among collectors.

Arguments against this toy, and similar figures revolve around the fact that the sculpt is too detailed, that she has an unnatural body.
But.. Doesn't that go for any heroic toy figure? Tell me, do the Masters of the Universe Classics figures look like regular humans? Isn't Marvel Legends Nick Fury simlpy the male version of Black Cat, when it comes to costume, and visible muscles? Of course, Black Cat also has that ass and boobs thing going on. That's her thing.

Whether or not you find this toy sexy, that's a different matter. When it comes to sexuality, people are truly unique. What works for me, might not work at all for you. There are people out there being turned on by the weirdest things, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that people are turned on by a beautiful, fit woman in a costume that shows almost everything - even if she's a comic book character. Black Cat is a character that's been deliberately drawn sexy, and seing it in 3D absolutely doesn't change that.

I think this toy looks fantastic, and perfectly captures how I remember the character. Teasing, mischievous, incredibly sexy. Yes, I have fond memories of reading Spider-Man as a kid, exclusively for Black Cat. And you know I love the female action figures. I have cut seriously back on collecting 6" superheroes, but for obvious reasons, I may pick up this toy.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Real time toy hunting

I live in the dark abyss of nowhere when it comes to toys and toy stores.

Hasbro has started producing 6 inch SW figures
Seriously, our toy stores are completely useless, compared to what I've seen in bigger cities around the world. Remember that the biggest city in Norway is really just a tiny town. It's just very provincial, and the stock of our stores reflect that.  

But today, an instant message ticks in from my good friend, Runar.

"They have 6" Black series in a store here!"

And it's on. For real. My friend goes on a toy hunt all over the city, while keeping me updated in messages. And it's fun. It's toy talk, anticipation and enthusiasm. Because finding toys in stores is so much more rewarding and satisfying than buying them online. We haven't experienced this in years.

The Black Series looks good. 
I could of course just buy these toys on ebay, or through any of the other online stores.
But the feeling of finding a toy you like, holding it in your hand, skim through the rest of the toys to see if there are more. I miss that feeling. The toy hunt.

Apparently, each store got four figures - one single case of 6" Black series. It's almost hilarious, you'd think that with our economy, the position Star Wars has in our society, and the constantly growing mass of enthusiasts, that one of the biggest toy store chains in the country were smarter than this.
At the same time, this limited stock intrigues me. Am I not a collector after all? Do I not appreciate the toy hunt?

I really do, even today, when the toy hunt is done trough another person, in real time.

Well, at least they were smart enough to price them correctly - at around the same price Hasbro sold them for in their very own store. I appreciate that.

My friend picked up a Darth Maul for himself, and a Jumpsuit Luke Skywalker for me - thanks buddy. Can't wait to get this in hand!

And I suddenly have a reason to visit local toy stores again.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The 2014 modular: Lego 10243 Parisian Restaurant

I'm excited for this. They needed a place to eat, and I really like the over all design to the building. The shape of the roof, along with the details on the upper windows are fantastic. The restaurant is smaller than the other modulars, and has an outer stair case leading to the back. This building feels fluid and natural. I also like how it has several plants and flowers, as it makes the scene more alive. The color combination of dark blue roof and snot green walls will take some time to get used to, but other than that I think the 10243 is perfect.

More pictures inside!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Top 10 Greatest Toy Lines Ever - TLDR!


10: Marvel Legends. I love the superheroes. Great articulation. 

9: M.A.S.K. The perfect blend between G.I. Joe and Transformers. 

8: Micro Machines. Solid, fun and most importantly: Tiny!

7: Masters of the Universe Classics. Great mix of all the various He-Man/She-Ra universes. 

6: Kenner's Star Wars. Started the golden age of action figures. Awesome toys, despite modest articulation.

5: Transformers G1. At its best, the greatest action figures ever. Cool concept, great comic. 

4: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Hysterically creative, solid. Awesome playsets. 

3: Dino Riders. Severely underrated. Ridiculously detailed dinosaurs.

2: Lego Collectible Minifigures. Easy to collect, detailed, colorful, cute, and an extreme variation of characters.

1: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Price and selection. Characterization, build quality, articulation. Monumental comic. Vehicles as impressive as they were numerous. 

Read the full article here

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Top 10 Greatest Toy Lines Ever!

This is a list I've been thinking of for a good while, and now is as good a time as ever. If you read my stuff, you would think this list could be named "Top ten action figure lines", but that would actually not work. Sure, it's mostly dominated by action figures, but there may be a few entries that just happens to fall in a different category.

I have collected, played with - and ultimately considered a huge selection of toys for this list. Some of the toy lines were rather difficult to leave out, and I feel like mentioning a few of them (but not all, because that would ruin eventual surprises).

 I did consider the original, 1/6 scaled G.I. Joe, for historical reasons, and the great variety of accessories. They were before my time, but I enjoy them whenever I see them today. In the opposite category, when talking about toys that predate the 80s, are the Mego dolls. I just can't see understand attraction. 

A powerful contender was the Real Ghostbusters line. Creative monsters, solid build quality, all over fun toys. There have also been many great superhero lines, like Toy Biz' X-Men, and the various DC Direct lines. I'm also impressed with many of the contemporary toys, whether they're based on movies, like the Avengers figures, or the toys from the smaller, more independent toy companies, like Four Horsemen.
Japanese toys I considered included the various Valkyries based off the Macross shows (like the Bandai VF-25 in my banner), and the range of anime robots in the mighty Soul of Chogokin line.

While the top ten may be familiar to most of you, and in many ways be "obvious" choices, they were the toys that has impressed me the most and given me the most joy.  Essentially, these are my top ten toy lines. 

Agree, disagree, want to share your own list? Leave a comment below!

Monday, September 16, 2013

MOTUC Extendar in 2014

I couldn't be happier. 2013 has been an awful year for the Masters of the Universe Classics toy line. Filled with characters that people really didn't care for, it's clear that they needed to change things a bit to hold on to the subscribers. 2014 and 2015 will be nothing but the remaining vintage toys redone, and key characters from the 200x cartoon.

I'm glad I didn't subscribe in 2013, and I'm even happier I have signed on for 2014. The year starts off brilliantly, with Two-Bad (MOTU), Glimmer (Princess of Power), Hydron (New Adventures), and Modulok. The fan convention Power Con was held this weekend, and four additional upcoming Classics were revealed: We got to see Blade (MOTU Movie), Scorpia (She-Ra cartoon), and Battle Lion (200x cartoon). All look fantastic, and it's good to see that Toyguru has stopped with releasing self customs, d-listers and extremely expensive three-packs of random, obscure prototypes.

Of course, the big reveal to me was that we're finally getting an Extendar Classics figure. Probably my all time favorite MOTU character. I remember exactly where and when I got him. Extendar was part of the 1986 wave of Masters of the Universe, and

I had of course read about him in the comics, but I never found him in my stores. During a vacation in another country, I saw him lying in a bin in a regular department store. I asked to get him, but was told this was not the time. I can't recall if I became sad, but if my mother reads this, maybe she can tell her side of the story. Either way, Christmas was right around the corner, and as you would expect, I got Extendar.

Such an impressive looking toy, with a relatively simple play feature. He's a mechanical knight that can extend his limbs, going from a bulky, robust warrior, to the majestic "Tower of Power". Extendar came with a large red shield, the same shield that was revealed to us during Power Con. There's no question who owns that shield, and this basically Matty telling us: Extendar is coming next year.

I have gone several rounds with my self, whether I would be disappointed or not, should Extendar be a 2015 release instead of next year. Keep in mind, with the current reveals (which is roughly 40% of the entire 2014 subscription), next year is looking amazing, and significantly better than 2013. But I found myself eager, almost impatient when it came to Extendar. And now I know, and this makes me just that bit more exited for next year. This of course means that Rio Blast - the last remaining original Master, will be the 2015 draw.

Extendar will definitely have similar features to Meckaneck. He will have snap on extentions, instead of the sliding features of the vintage toy. I'm ok with this, it doesn't take away from either playability of display value. Sadly, Extendar is a regular release, and not an "over-sized" figure, like the impressive Ram-Man. This means extendar will be the same size as the other, regular figures. At least when he's not extended. I would have preferred him to be just a bit bigger than a normal figure.

What I'm hoping for now is either extensions that will let Extendar be ridiculously tall, or maybe some extra accessories. Since he looks like a knight, he should have a sword, or a lance. Maybe a sword that can extend to a lance?

Extendar may not be everybody's favorite, but then again, he wasn't used to sell the 2014 subscriptions either. I'm at least sold, and I'm counting down till we get the Tower of Power, the mighty Extendar.