Stikfas: Mechana MillionairePlayboy.com's Toy of the Year
by Mr. Stinkhead
Stikfas have been impressing a lot of people lately. Their original Alpha Male soldier figure, with limitless customizing possibilities thrilled both the customizers and collectors around the world. Here is a completely poseable, blank action figure. Break the pieces off their "tree" and pop the joints together and you have a great action figure. Being completely blank, this led to amazing custom jobs, everything from Jango Fett to Spider-Man was possible with this modular body. You could kit bash from other sets, mix and match pieces, and paint them any way you wanted. This is all well and good, but then the folks at Mister Ban Y. J. started expanding, and came out with fire fighters, samurai and dragons. We finally got our hands on the Mechana robot, loosely based on anime style giant-robots, and we realized we were looking at something ground breaking. This review will not only explain why this is a great, nay incredible toy, but why we are crowning the Stikfas Mechana the MillionairePlayboy.com Toy of the Year.
Why It's a Good Toy: Concept
First off the underlying theme is simple, elegant, and to the point. It's a super-poseable "giant robot." That's all you need. Be it die-cast, miniature, a licensed property, etc., a super-poseable giant robot is a good concept to start with.
Tickle Me Elmo was a super popular toy because it was a good concept at its core. It helps that it was based on an existing and highly loved property (Sesame Street's Elmo), and was promoted on a highly popular daytime talk show. Regardless, you can't deny that "ticklish teddy bear" is a good idea to start with. Size, availability, pricing, quality and execution [Ed note:meaning how they "pulled-it-off", not how fun it was to go over a Tickle Me Elmo with a riding mower] can either improve or kill a good concept, so let's break down the Mechana.
Why It's a Great Toy: Execution
I kind of like assembling toys. I do not like model kits with the glue and the stickers you have to get wet. I love putting together playmobil castles... so the assembly on this figure was closer to what I consider fun. You'll have plenty of fun playing with this puppy, so the assembly process is not the bulk of the experience. I had a teeny bit of difficulty putting together those fingers, but now that I have it done, it was completely worth it. The modular construction employs a series of balls for the arms and allows for fully articulated fingers. The industrial-revolution-meets-anime design gives it an equal balance between form and function. It looks good, and it plays good, essentially. You can leave him on your desk in some great poses, but coming up with and putting him in those poses is half the fun. With the peg-and-socket design, you can get his arms and fingers into just about any pose you can dream up. The only thing I couldn't do was the crossed arms attitude look. That and he only has three fingers and a thumb, so he can't give the shocker.
He isn't specifically Iron Giant or Big O, so you can customize him and let your imagination run free. He came with a sweet set of decals that give you all kinds of options, everything from internal gears, to a turkey roasting in the oven. I'm a weird kind of purist and loved the blank look he has, so no stickers, and I won't be painting him, but it is very easy to make this figure distinctively your own.
Why It's Worth the Money
Another great thing about the Mechana is that it's under $10, and worth every dime. If this toy were $19, it would still be a good concept, but nowhere near as worthy a toy. Kind of like how a bad movie becomes a decent movie once it hits the $6 bin at Wal-Mart. Ace Ventura II anyone? Most online retailers and comic book stores carry this puppy, and he was only marginally hard to track down. I paid $8 and consider it one of the best purchases of the year. A lot of good action figures cost this much, and a lot of crappy action figures cost more. This price keeps it a toy and safely away from the collectible market. You can pick one up on impulse, and not be burned.
I have a secret for you, the most successful movies and video games these days pay some sort of homage to some great predecessor. Sometimes it's blatant, sometimes it's super subtle, but you'll find the most successful (and well made) things pay some sort of homage. Technically this set is a pair, because he comes with a little brown teddy bear figure. This alludes to the anime theme of something small and vulnerable controlling something large and invincible. The bear has shoulder, head, and hip joints, allowing for some decent poses, but I've found myself "playing" with just the robot.
I've already mentioned the little bear, but the figure also comes with some sweet and creative accessories. There's a classic serial-era laser gun, a working claw, and a variety of stuff to plug in the guy all over the place. I went for the Art Deco feel and put the fin on his head and pipes on his back. He also comes with an antennae, a satellite dish, a buzz saw, and a few other odds and ends. I would be happy with just the standard figure, but really rounding off the package helped propel this toy to the top of my favorites list. Note to future contenders, boobs and explosions help too.
Why It's the Best Toy of the Year
So we've gushed about a lot of toys this past year, but this one goes a bit above and beyond. First off, there isn't a single thing I'd change about this toy at all. The price is good, the sculpt (design) is good, the accessories are great, it doesn't need any paint... there is not one thing I would change. I love how the size is big enough to allow for articulated fingers, but at around 4" tall, small enough to stay in the action figure league.
Here's the low down: give this set to someone on the brink, someone who's lost faith in the hobby and ready to quit. We've all been there, looking at our collections, our conquests, wondering why?... if you've read this far in the article, you've braved the storm and came back at some point in your life. Good for you. Now you know someone who used to, or only kind of collects. Give them this set. The sheer possibilities from such an articulated figure should be enough to have him buy a one way ticket to the Android Dungeon. You will not find anyone that can let this toy alone. Are they a displayer? They'll be happy. Are they a fidgeter? They'll be happy. Are they someone who's been burned one too many times? This toy is the aloe of the collector psyche. Find the stones... bring back to us.... bring back to us. (Sorry, got Indiana Jones for Christmas). MillionairePlayboy.com awards Stikfas' Mechana the Toy of the Year based on it's overall value, execution, and the ability to bring a fellow collector back into the fold.