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How the Master System was the master 8-Bit console

It didn’t really take off in the USA – dwarfed by the mighty NES in terms of sales and number of games – but in the UK (where I grew up) and many other parts of Europe, the Sega Master System was king of the 8-bit consoles. I know for some people this may sound crazy, but the Master System sold well even after the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive over here) was released. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and look at what made the Sega Master System so awesome and what it was like growing up in a place where more kids had a Master System than an NES!

Sega Was Everywhere!

You remember the late ’80s and early ’90s where mega-retailers like Toys R Us had shelves stacked high with NES games right? Oh, and the barely visible half-a-bay set aside for the Sega stuff? Well, in my local store it was the exact opposite. Any retailer that sold video games would have way more Master System games than NES ones. Sega was everywhere and it’s popularity was high for some time. Long after interest in the Master System died in the USA, games that were released for the Sega Game Gear would also see a release on the Master System in Europe and Brazil.

More Colors Than Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory

In my opinion the Master System graphics were better than those of the NES. That may sound like a bold statement, but the Master System had a much better color palette and when this was used right many games looked flat out amazing. Don’t take my word for it – just look at Donald Duck: The Lucky Dime Caper and put it next to anything on the NES! Agree? Ok, if witches kidnapping ducks aint your thing then what about the Sonic games, Mickey Mouse or Golden Axe? I’d say these all eclipsed what was being done on the NES.

Arcade Action At Home

Ok, so that may be overselling the power of the Master System just a bit but arcade gaming was still a big deal back then and to have a home console that came anywhere close to recreating that experience was just amazing. Sega brought arcade classics such as Outrun (everyone I knew had at least one version of Outrun in their collection!), Space Harrier, Afterburner and Hang On right into your living room. Ok, they had their limits but having these games was a huge deal and something that certainly made the Master System stand out.

Just Like Its Big Brother

One interesting thing about the Sega Master System was that it had many of the games that the Sega Mega Drive was famous for. The popularity of the Master System in Europe and Brazil meant Sega deemed it worthy enough to make versions of many popular Mega Drive games. The quality of these games differed, but you would be surprised at how well some of them turned out. Streets of Rage, Shinobi, Strider, Road Rash and many more games that were iconic titles on the Mega Drive all had ports for the Sega Master System.

Sonic Was An 8-Bit King

The Sega Master System has its very own library of Sonic games. Sonic, Sonic 2, Sonic Chaos and Sonic Spinball all were released on the console. Each are fun platformers in their own right and well worth checking out. One interesting thing about the Sonic games on the Master System is that to make up for the lack of system speed the games featured more exploration. This makes them different to the Genesis games and adds more layers of fun.

Sonic Was Built In

As mentioned, the original Master System sold well in Europe but the release of the budget Master System II saw the console really take off. Due to the low asking price and cost-effective games it became a smash with families. But there was another reason that the Master System II was seen as such a great deal – it came with the original Sonic The Hedgehog game built into the console! This made what was already a great value console seem even better in the eyes of dedicated gamers and parents alike.

So while overall the Master System may not have come close to matching the NES in terms of world-wide sales it was still a big hit in some places. Many gamers in the UK and Europe regard the Master System and its games with the kind of fondness that many American’s feel for the NES. So please don’t think of the Master System as just a failed thing doomed to the dungeon of forgotten consoles just yet. There are some awesome games on there that are well worth checking out.

The Fun World Of Funko Pop!

Has there ever been a line of collectibles toys as numerous as the world of POP!? Probably, I mean definitely NOT! There was a time when I didn’t really dig these things. I found it all a bit ‘so what’ until my wife bought me a Rocko’s Modern Life Rocko and Heffer – then the flood gates opened! So, I thought I’d try and figure out why the POP! range is so, well… popular. Here are my six reasons:

1. A Who’s Who Of Pop Culture!

One of the things I really love about the guys and gals at Funko is that they’re willing to make a POP! out of almost anything. No matter who or what you are into there’ll be a POP! for you. Superheroes? well there’s a ton of them. Horror icons? Funko has that covered too. In fact it‘d be more surprising if a game, movie, comic or TV’s show didn’t have a series of POP!’s. Even obscure things like random celebrities, sports mascots and the freaking British Royal Family are represented!

2. They Can All Hang Out Together!

While the cast of POP! characters is diverse in the extreme, they all share a root DNA. This means you can mix and match your POPS! and they rarely look out of place. I have a shelf dedicated to POP! Figures, featuring characters like Pennywise, The Rock, The Alien from Toy Story, Sophia from the Golden Girls and SpongeBob to name a few – a weird collection of characters to have on the same shelf, right? Well yes, but thanks to the POP! style this ensemble looks perfectly fine.

 

3. They Are Insanely Collectable

I can’t even fathom what it must be like to own a complete Funko POP! collection. You would need to have a place the size of Wayne Manor, a Scrooge McDuck level bank account and hire Dog the Bounty Hunter to find them all. But the cool thing is you can still form a great collection even if you concentrate on just a single area of interest.

 

 

4. Funko Look Out For The Collector

Any new Pop that I buy now I like to keep in the box. This was not always the case, hence why I have a shelf full of loose figures. Anyway, one thing that Funko do which I think is really cool is the packaging. Some complain that the boxes for POP! figures are super easy to get damaged (and they are) but I do like how easy it is to open a box, take a figure out and then put it back in if you decide you want to keep it boxed.

5. They Are Not Super Expensive

Ok, so some of you read this and spat out your coffee. Hey, I understand; the cost of some exclusives and the secondary market can be brutal. However, POP!’s can also be found for $5 and under in many, many places. Heck, just the other week I found a few Mortal Kombat POP!’s brand new in my local supermarket for $4 each! So, while this can be a series that you spend money on, It does not have to be! There are many awesome figures out there that are very reasonably priced.

6. Funko Seem Like Such Cool People

There’s a really awesome documentary about Funko (I think it’s still on Netflix) that I really do encourage you guys to watch. It shows the origins of the company, but the thing it does best is to show you that the people behind this stuff are just as cool, nerdy and fanatical about collectibles as we are.

So, there you have it – a few of the reasons why I, and millions of other people, have become Funko POP! fanatics. BTW: I’m just on my way out to the local mall – no, not searching for POP! toys but to buy a new set of shelves to display my ever increasing collection. LOL!

Why Were Micronauts so Cool?

I have an interesting relationship with Micronauts. As a kid I didn’t have much of a collection. In fact, I only discovered they existed around 1984 – years after the Micronauts toy line was done and Mego (the company that produced them) had gone out of business.

The reason for my late introduction was pure chance – I saw a couple in a random discount store and begged my folks to buy them for me. They did and it sparked a fascination that’s stayed with me even as an adult collector. So, today I want to look what makes Micronauts so cool and collectible.

Baron Karza in centaur mode

Transformers Before Transformers

Ok, so that might be a bit misleading. Micronauts are done in the GI Joe, 3 and ¾ inch scale and Transformers are totally different! But what share is their Japanese heritage. Both toy lines were given a bit of a rework so that they would appeal to a more global audience and Micronauts where first. They started life in 1974 as Microman. They were produced by Takara who, of course, would go on to create Transformers.

Making Your Own Toys

A popular toy today is Mashers from Hasbro (My son loves them!). They make Marvel, Transformers and Jurassic World Mashers and the idea is that you can take an arm from, say Iron Man, and stick it on Optimus Prime! Micronauts were doing this 40 years ago and that was what I and many other kinds thought was so cool about the line and gave them a unique level of playability.

You could interconnect them with each other and have a lot of fun coming up with different combinations and as long as you had at least two Micronauts, you could do some pretty cool and innovative stuff thanks to the neat accessories like wings, battle armor, interchangeable vehicle parts and other great stuff that certain Micronauts came with.

Awesome Playsets And Accessories

Though the Micronauts were small, the world that they had to play in was huge. The vehicles and playsets looked really cool – there were a ton of them. As a kid, there were two things that really captured my attention. The first is the Stratastation playset which is like its own space station, complete with track and vehicle. This thing was awesome and something I wanted as a kid but had to wait over 30 years for!

The Stratastation was cool but there was another playset that was truly stratospheric – the Mobile Exploration Lab. This thing was/is totally awesome – part jet, part science lab and part robot all rolled into one! As an adult collector getting one of these in mint condition is one of my collecting grails!

 

Marvel created a long running comic book series which ran from 1979 all the way to 1986 and many Micronauts fans consider this to be the best incarnation of the Micronauts story. Image Comics and Devils Due Publishing would try and bring the Micronauts back to life in comic book form in the early 00’s, but it never really caught on. However, IDW relaunched the Micronauts comic book series in 2016 and just like they did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, did a great job with their take on the legend.

Cross Media Appeal

Micronauts
Marvel Comics! The Micronauts Issue 37

Time For A Comeback?

There has been talk of a live action movie and an animated series being in the works, but these stories seem to come and go. Hopefully the phenomenal success of The Transformers movie franchise along with the moderate success of G.I Joe will encourage one of the big studios to take a chance – let’s hope so.

Toy company Palisades did try to bring the Micronauts back In 2003 with the Retro Series and Hasbro tested the waters with a limited edition set released during the 2016 San Diego Comic Con. If Hasbro were to go all in and rerelease the line today I believe kids and adults would be super into it as this is one very fun toy line.

As an adult collector, I have found Micronauts a pretty fun and affordable line to collect. You can often find cool items at reasonable prices, though getting a loose one complete with all its accessories can be tough and some of the playsets, if in showroom condition, can be pricey. But hey, that’s life.

Though I came into them late I have fond memories of the Micronauts. What are you thoughts?

We also found this cool site Micronauts Gallery: Mego Museum check it out!

Sony Is Going All In With Spider-Man

No doubt you are well aware that one of the big exclusive Sony has in 2018 is Spider-Man. Developed by the guys at Insomniac, Spider-Man is a game that has many people excited.

Sony’s Spidey Past

Sony and Spider-Man actually go way back. For many gamers – myself included – the 2000 release of Spider-Man was one of the best superhero games of that generation. Made by Neversoft and put out by Activision, Spider-Man was a monster of a hit and would eventually make its way to the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Dreamcast. In my opinion, the Sega Dreamcast version is the best though most people remember the game on PlayStation.

There was a sequel to this game imaginatively called, Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro. It was a PlayStation exclusive and a bit of a coup for Sony.

It Is All About The Story

To be fair the majority of Spider-Man games released over the last decade have been decent. Web Of Shadows, Shattered Dimensions, Edge Of Time and the two Amazing Spider-Man games were a lot of fun – not perfect but fun. Insomniac is taking a slightly different approach with their Spider-Man game. They have a slightly older, more seasoned Spider-Man. This is not his first rodeo and he will not be screwing up the way Tom Holland’s Spider-Man did in Spider-Man Homecoming.

It’s an interesting take and the game appears to be as much about Peter Parker (in terms of its story) as it is Spider-Man with a unique story written from the ground up. If you are a fan of the comic books, movies, and animated shows this is great as it is something very new. So, while Insomniac Games are spending a lot of time on the gameplay, they clearly know that there is only so much you can do with webheads powers alone.

The Exclusive PS4 That Web Dreams Are Made Of!

Sony has been knocking it out of the park with their themed consoles. Already in 2018, we have had that amazing God Of War bundle, but for Spider-Man they have rolled out the red carpet…. literally! This new red PS4 is being called “Amazing Red” it features that white Spider-Man logo which he has on his suit in the game and the control is red and white as well. It’s a PS4 Pro and as well as coming with a physical version of the game you also get a DLC story chapter as well.

If you are a fan of game themed consoles this one here is sure to get your Spidy Sense tingling. Black and silver tend to be the color that Sony likes for their exclusive consoles (not counting that camo Call Of Duty one) so this one really stands out from the bunch. If I had to be a tiny bit critical I would have to say that announcing this after many people would have already thrown down 300 bucks for the God Of War PlayStation 4 console might rub some people the wrong way. In all, it looks fantastic. It looks so good that you’ll not want it sitting in an entertainment center somewhere. Uh, uh. This bad boy demands being shown off!

When I was seven years old my dad bribed me on a trip to the dentist with a Spider-Man comic book that was literally the only “kids” related thing he could find at the gas station on the way. Since then I have been a lifelong Spider-Man fan and I have honestly not been as excited for a Spider-Man game since Web Of Shadows which was released the better part of a decade ago. If only I can convince my own Mary-Jane that we need that sleek and sexy red PlayStation 4 to go with the other three that we have in the house!

Spider-Man on PlayStation 4 is released on the 7th of September and it is sure to be a huge hit for Sony.