Bandai America unleashes an innovative new toy line based on the hit Cartoon Network series, Ben 10!
Bandai America is no stranger to action toys and figures. From the long-lasting phenomenon of the Power Rangers range, to the highly successful Teen Titans line, Bandai America has been steadily setting a high standard in the action toys market and has been making quite a name for themselves as innovative toymakers. Bandai continues this tradition with the impressive new Ben 10 line, based on the popular series currently airing on the Cartoon Network. The line features an interesting blend of action features and transformations, as well as some good old-fashioned role-play items, making Ben 10 one of the most innovative, and well rounded toy lines in stores today. The main draw of the show is the 10 creatures that Ben Tennyson can change into with the use of his Omnitrix wrist watch he found in a downed meteorite. Naturally, the toy line focuses on changing, or meta-morphing, so the majority of the toys can "meta-morph" into other toys, such as squirt guns, binoculars, and flashlights, etc. This is the single most interesting aspect of the line to me, for it allows for both playing with an action figure as well as interacting with it as a role playing toy. The line also features a range of basic four inch action figures, a six inch line that has character specific action-features, an eight inch transforming (Ahem, Meta-morphing) line, and some interesting Transforming Alien Rocks... Down the road the line with increase to include space ships, as well as larger playsets, but for now I'll focus on the action figures, rocks, and the nifty role-play watch.
Ben 10 4" Alien Figure Collection: Heatblast
2006 MSRP: $4.99
The 4" Ben 10 line features basic versions of each of the 10 creatures Ben can change into. They have decent articulation, and have no special action features. Each figure comes packaged with a lenticlular card and a disk featuring eight animation cells of Ben transforming into an alien. The card is kind of cool. It's an image of Ben that morphs into the specific creature, and has a little stat box on the back. The animation cell disc can be used in either the Omnitrix viewer or the "Rust Bucket" RV playset.
Like the show, the Ben 10 line kind of takes over where the Teen Titans left off. The design of the figures match the look of the show quite well. Heatblast is easily the coolest of Ben's alien forms. I mean, he's fire based, and neat looking. What more could you ask for? His figure features nine points of articulation. While I think that's a little light in the articulation department, there's still enough to allow for a decent range of movement. He can still be placed in some dramatic poses. He just would have benefited from some ball-jointed shoulders, or kung-fu grip. Of course, these are minor gripes. Heatblast is a decent figure, that is sturdily built. He could easily fit in a child's pocket without a risk of any parts breaking.
The paint application is very clean on this figure. He is molded in a deep almost burgundy red with yellow accents. The character is fire based, and captures the look of a cartoon molten man. The only trick I think they missed on him, is that the yellow or flame parts of his body could have easily been molded or painted in glow in the dark material. If his head, arms, feet, and cracks all glowed in the dark, it would look pretty cool. Still, overall he is a solid figure. And at a price point of under five dollars, this is a fun little toy. The complete set of 10 should look great on anybody's shelf.
Ben 10 6" DNA Alien Heroes Collection: Fourarms
2006 MSRP: $8.99
The 6" line is the deluxe assortment for the Ben 10 range. It features larger figures with character specific action features. These can range from light up parts, to spring loaded or button activated attacks.
Fourarms is Ben's brute force alien form. He features, what else, but four big arms to pummel his foes. The action feature for this figure is his arms themselves. He has two buttons on his back that activate either the left or right side set of arms. When pressed, there is a gear and lever system that causes each arm to swing in tandem. Thus, this figure has a four armed, spring loaded, punch. The feature works well enough, but personally, I would have rather seen him have more articulation so he could be posed better. Each figure in the six inch range features a squishy DNA core, that can "pulsate". This is accomplished by yet another button in the center of his back that, when pressed, makes his innards ooze in and out of the core housed in his clear chest. All in all, it is a nifty feature that I'm sure kids will get a kick out of. I only wish that he didn't have to have such large buttons on his back for the action features.
Fourarms is a neat figure. His action features are well thought out and equally well executed. They do come at a price though. While technically, he features 10 points of articulation, four of them are not very posable due to the complicated gear system in his four shoulders. The hips are just angle joints that only allow for him to stand in one position, and the rest of the legs are solid pieces. This is definitely a figure that showcases its action features over posability. The only useful joints are the mid-bicep swivels on each arm. Still, it is a well crafted figure, whose action features are quite clever. I liked the added touch of the pulsating DNA core, plus being able to see the complicated gears inside him is cool too. Overall, the paint application is very clean as well. Fourarms really captures the look of the cartoon well. He's big, and menacing, and could pound you to jelly with his four arms.
Ben 10 8" Metamorfigures Collection: Greymatter
2006 MSRP: $12.99
This is the cream of the crop of the Ben 10 line as far as I'm concerned. The Metamorfigure line is easily the niftiest set of toys in a great long while. These toys feature a creature from the show that can be transformed into an actual working role-play toy. Sure, transforming toys are not a new idea by any stretch, but rarely has it been implemented in quite a useful and interesting way.
Metamorphing Greymatter is a great toy. He changes from a well articulated representation of the tiny saboteur from the show, but he metamorphs into a pair of working binoculars. Why he does this? I'm not totally sure, but it is a really neat feature nonetheless. Greymatter features 18 points of articulation. This allows for a great variety of positions he can be posed in. In fact, it is because of this great articulation that allows him to be transformed into his binocular mode. Basically, you open up his eyes, pull back the lenses on the back of his head, split him right down the middle, and fold up his arms and legs, and viola! You have yourself a mini set of binoculars that kind of look like an alien pretzel. The figure holds this form by having small pegs and tabs in strategic places on his body hook into place when transformed. Hence, the figure holds his new shape discretely with no trouble at all. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical at first, but it really is an interesting figure. I'm sure kids will have great fun with this toy in both of its forms. And who knows? Maybe they'll even take it outside to play with it and explore! They are binoculars for Pete's sake.
Ben 10 The Omnitrix F/X
2006 MSRP: $14.99
Role playing toys have kind of taken a back seat in recent times. Sure, you still see things like Spider-Man web-sprayers, and Star Wars lightsabers, but really the role playing toy market has been very low key of late. With child safety concerns and liability issues running rampant, I think that there has been a heavy emphasis on children staying indoors and playing by themselves these days, rather than playing outside. We have become very sheltered. Not that being cautious is a bad thing, but kids still need to be able to explore and play. That is why I am liking this line so much. It has such a well rounded style of play for kids that encourages kids to do just that, go out and play with these toys. They are not meant to sit on a shelf or in a box. They are meant to be handled and played with. Such is the essence of a toy. Bandai knows this and has crafted a great variety of toys for kids to enjoy.
The Omnitrix F/X is a fun little toy. It is simply a wrist watch that lights up and makes noises. I kind of like the simplicity of it. It does not cram too many other features into it and get cluttered. Instead, it just lights up and makes the sounds kids hear in the show. I like it because its sole purpose is to jump start the child's imagination. Instead of showing them an image of the creature doing things that the child would want to do, like in say, a videogame, it lets them imagine themselves becoming the creature and fighting crime. This is what has been missing from children's play today. An emphasis on imagination.
The Omnitrix F/X features a spring loaded, button activated center dial, which pops up and lights up when pressed. It matches the look and function of the show splendidly. When you turn the dial, a different little image of each creature can be seen in the window, and when you press the dial down it activates the sound effect of Ben changing into a creature. Everything works really well on the toy. After activating a creature, its lights keep flashing for a few minutes, simulating the amount of time Ben has until each creature runs out of juice. When the time runs out, it makes a powering down sound effect and turns red. It's actually rather sophisticated in its electronics for such a simple toy. I was also quite impressed with the fact that I was able to fit my adult male wrist into the strap comfortably. I like this one a lot! Though, I don't think I'll be wearing it out much.
Ben 10 Transforming Alien Rocks: Greymatter and Stinkfly
2006 MSRP: $4.99
Here is another example of the wide range of variety this toy line has to offer. The Transforming Alien Rocks, is really old school fun. Basically, they've encased little plastic molded figurines into balls of colored alka-seltzer. You take the balls drop them in water, and watch them fizz. At first, I thought this was the silliest idea ever. I mean, how can this be fun? It reminds me of when they used to encase little figures in bath soap that took forever to wear them down and get at the toy. Anyways, at first I didn't think I'd be impressed by this, but after dropping one in, it all became clear. Well, actually a little murky and yellow, but it did make sense. The fizzing actually looks pretty cool, and it makes the ball move around the bottom of the glass. The unexpectedly cool part, is when the ball dissolves about half way, and starts floating up. It suddenly looks alive and it's kind of exciting to watch. The little figurine is buoyant, so when the outer material dissolves away, it starts to float to the top. With the fizzing going on, it ends up bobbing up and down in the glass and moving around erratically. Pretty cool stuff in the end. After all is said and done, you have a cute little deformed version of one of Ben's forms. I recommend playing with these in a tall clear glass to get the best results.
I cannot express enough how impressed I am with the Ben 10 line. It incorporates some of the best ideas and innovations into an incredibly diverse toy line. The show is fun and interesting, and its toy line is equally so. I look forward to seeing where this line goes in the years to come. It deserves to be well received and popular amongst the young ones and collectors alike.
Trev likes these toys a heap! Look for the complete line of Ben 10 toys in stores now!
Absolutely OAD Approved!