Monday, July 25, 2011

REVIEW: Topps' Blinku Micro Monsters

Produced by Topps | Released July 2011

Have you ever walked on the street and felt that you were not alone? Or have you ever noticed something move on the ground, you could not really see exactly, but something was there?

Take a closer look next time - you have probably seen the Blinku - Micro Monsters. They are not big, but they are there!

For ages these crazy, weird guys have been living in the streets - even on your street; battling, playing and just having fun.

The Blinku are special. They have their own personality... and I mean personalities, because Blinku can change faces, one second cute, the next ANGRY, one second funny, the next SCARY.

So mind your step, watch our for Blinku - Micro Monsters... They are here to play with you!

Packaging Shots

Blinku Micro Monsters
Let's address this immediately: the Blinku Micro Monsters are Topps' attempt to muscle-in on the territory of Gogo's Crazy Bones. There's no two ways about it. Blinku not only come in blind-bagged triple packs, feature designer/urban vinyl toy-style designs in multiple colourways, are packed with collectible stickers and have their own numbers and names. The pack even includes a Blinku Games sheet, which features half a dozen games remarkably similar to those suggested by the Gogo's Crazy Bones website.

The only real difference - character designs aside - is that the Blinku have a special ''blinking'' feature, thanks to the lenticular print eye transfer. One Blinku may appear happy but re-angle him and his eyes become angry or surprised or - in the case of today's Review subject, Frost - don sunglasses.

So yeah, not Gogo's Crazy Bones at all.

The basic figure designs aren't particularly exciting. Where the Gogo's Crazy Bones toys will feature a mix of the expected and the unusual, there are no surprises here. There's a robot. There's a mummy. There's a... thing with a hat on. I really hate to sound negative but part of the charm of blind-bagged toys is the surprise element, so when a line appears featuring 42 near-identical sculpts, it's hard to get excited about it.

To make matters worse, the finish on each figure is beyond lousy. There are very hard mold-lines on each and - as you can see in the above image - my Frost figure has a tab sticking out from the left-hand side of his head. This is not a feature or part of the sculpt - it's the remnants of where the figure was cast.

Strangely, my Who figure (pictured above) features a stamp on his base that reads ''Toonz 24.'' From what I can gather, Toonz is the name under which these toys are released outside of the US. I guess ''Blinku'' sounded better, as it not only describes what they do but also makes them sound vaguely Japanese, presumably to tap into the Pokemon and designer vinyl craze.

What paint there is is poorly applied. My Frost's mouth-guard/respirator is painted an uneven black that's chipped and damaged. Granted, these toys have been in a bag together for sometime, yet I've never seen such damage to any of my Gogo's Crazy Bones. Similarly, his head crest is painted with the weakest of paint applications, a half-mixed yellow that's carelessly sprayed over the top and then spattered over the body. Who fares no better, with his hat being half-painted and the planet symbol on his chest being nothing more than a blue blob. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

The blinking effect is achieved through the use of lenticular print stickers. Like the paintwork and sculpting, they're poorly executed, with the blinking effect being not only fairly ineffective but also having the stickers poorly applied to the sculpt and appearing off-centre and mis-aligned.

Every pack features three Blinku with their own sticker, plus a collector's guide showing all the figures in the line.

I have to admit I do like the approach here: each sticker is packed with the corresponding figure (unlike Gogo's Crazy Bones, where the assortment is random) and each sticker back includes both the number ID of and a background/back story for each character. Whilst the illustrations on each sticker are fine (even if the resemblance to the figure is passing at best) and the background blurb is a nice addition, the actual execution is terrible. The stickers appear to have been cut from a larger sheet by somebody with an aversion to right-angles. Add this to the already sloppy production level on the figures and you're left feeling as if you've bought a cheap Gogo's Crazy Bones knock-off...

Oh, wait..

Final Thoughts
Blinku aren't a patch on half the vending machine toys out there (which are not only cheaper but better-designed and produced) and when it comes to comparing them to Gogo's Crazy Bones - which they so desperately want to be - they're not even playing the same sport, let alone in the same league.

Don't waste your money.

Production QualityD
Final ScoreD-

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