review: SSM Vending Brick Ops (Various)

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Source: SSM Vending

Have we attained “Peak Brick” yet? The thought occurred to me as I passed by the coin-operated capsule machines at my local supermarket and noticed these toys priced at a paltry USD$.50. With interest in the hobby skyrocketing, we live at a time when new brands (foreign and domestic) enter the global building block market each year to meet the seemingly inexhaustible demand for new product. Sets from other regions that once would have been considered rare or exotic are virtually at one’s fingertips as long as one has Internet access. There’s practically a theme or product line that caters to nearly every demographic of the toy buying public. Now that a building block fan can get a quick construction fix from a vending machine for only two quarters, is the hobby doomed to enter into a state of decline? Out of curiosity both journalistic and morbid, I broke a twenty to purchase two plastic capsules and learn the answer. Continue reading

review: Mega Bloks Kubros Terminator: Genisys T-800 Guardian (25)

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Collectible vinyl toys have gained greater visibility in recent years, Funko Pop! being one of the most pervasive brands. One may argue that the apparent popularity of Funko Pop! is mostly due to the rise of “-Box” monthly subscription services which seem to have access to an inexhaustible supply of them. Personally, I don’t see the appeal to these toys. They don’t seem all that fun, and I never hear about anybody actually playing with them. They only serve as signifiers to others that the owner is aware of some facet of pop culture. Of the two major building block brands, Mega Bloks was the first to attempt to horn in on this trend with their Kubros line. The greatest advantage that Kubros has over any collectible vinyl toy is that the component parts can be used to build something else if the builder doesn’t enjoy it or grows tired of it. Continue reading

review: Mega Bloks SpongeBob SquarePants Bike Racer (CNF66)

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We return to the briny depths of the ocean with a look at yet another SpongeBob Squarepants Mega Bloks set, and this set features the title character. As I mentioned in my previous review, I am wholly ignorant of SpongeBob lore; so I have no idea if this set is inspired by any part of the official canon. It was on sale, though, and the set’s core build looked interesting enough. What do you say we get to reviewin’, mateys? Batten down the hatches! Dive! Dive! Continue reading

review: Mega Bloks SpongeBob SquarePants – Patrick Racer (CNF30)

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Using a cardboard canister to package your product is sort of a novel concept, but doesn’t it severely limit the retailers’ display options?

Continuing the nautical theme of the previous review, we take a look at this set from Mega Bloks based on the long-running SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon. I have the double disadvantage for this review of having grown up in a household that viewed cable television as an extravagance and of being just on the outside of the program’s age demographic when it debuted. To be honest, I probably would not have bought this set if I didn’t have this blog (and if it hadn’t been discounted to clearance prices).

It’s funny how licensed intellectual properties tend to migrate back and forth between Lego and Mega Bloks. For instance, Lego had initially acquired the rights to produce sets based on SpongeBob SquarePants. After several years, Lego had apparently decided they had done all they could with the license and chose not to renew their agreement with Nickelodeon. That naturally allowed Mega Bloks to jump aboard, and here we are. Let’s get into it. Continue reading

review: Enlighten Legendary Pirates – The Shark Warship (1302)

 

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Note: The packaging was damaged during shipment.

After years of being content to produce slightly modified copies of out-of-production Lego sets, Chinese building block brand Enlighten recently stepped forward to roll out its first original theme, Legendary Pirates. Unlike Lego’s more historically-based pirate themes. Enlighten’s Legendary Pirates takes place in a fantasy world of monsters and magic, closer to the Pirates of the Caribbean film series than say, Treasure Island. “The Shark Warship” set is representative of the fanciful nature of the rest of the theme. Continue reading