So Who do ‘Ya, who do ‘Ya, Who do ‘Ya Trust?

Every once in a while someone will ask me what sites I go to to buy my stuff and what I consider to be the best online toy stores there. After finally getting an MP Roy Fokker from TISINC99 and seeing the care that went into the packing and shipping, I decided to finally make a “best and worst” list that may or may not be helpful to you looking for Transformers and other stuff.

And this is, by no means, in any kind of order.

The Good

#1. Bigbadtoystore. BBTS is a pretty cool site because the selection of figures that they have is really incredible. You want Marvel stuff? DC stuff? Transformers? Power Rangers? Power Ranger toys before they hit the US (the Japanese Sentai versions)? Odds are they have what you’re looking for. They also have really good customer service that’s really great to getting back to you right away. The only negative thing I could really say about these guys is that sometimes things will get a little overpriced ($26 for Animated Grimlock is a good example of this). Overall though these guys are great and are highly recommended. Check them out at BigBadtoystore.com

The Good: They pretty much have everything you could want from an online toystore, their shipping’s fast and reasonable and their customer service is good.

The Bad: Some stuff might get a little overpriced.

#2. Treasure Island Sports Inc. This site gets a LOT of shit. And I do mean A LOT. If you were to read some of the things that people say about them after doing a Google search you’d probably be pretty horrified and not want to shop there. TISINC’s bad reputation, as a matter of fact, was what really prompted me to write this post in the first place. See, I actually really like TISINC99. A lot. And you know what? I’ve never once had a problem with them. I got my MP Megatron from them as well as two Interactive R2D2s and the aforementioned Robotech MP Fokker. The thing that makes these guys really great is that you’ll get your shit incredibly fast. I ordered MP Megatron from them on a Saturday and got him the following Tuesday. I shit you not. I ordered my MP Fokker from them on a Monday, got him Wednesday. So yeah, I’ve never once had any problem with them. I guess they’re really good as long as they have what you’re looking for in stock. Most of the complaints people have about the site concerns the whole “they’ll charge you for items that aren’t in stock” thing. The thing is though, they will refund your money if that’s the situation. They might take a little time doing that and you might have to e-mail them or call them but you will get your refund. This situation has never happened to me but I’ve heard about it from other people and they’ve all gotten their refunds eventually. I guess there has also been some controversy over the company shipping out big orders in separate boxes at separate times so you might want to be leery of that if you have a big order from them.

But yeah, TISINC is a really great site and I highly recommend it. TISINC, like BBTS, has a huge variety of stuff so you can pretty much find whatever you’re looking for there. I, as I said at the start of this post, was really amazed by how much care went into the shipping process for my MP Roy Fokker. It really made it hard for me to agree with the negative reviews that are out there about the site. I actually think it’s one of the best places to go for Transformers, Star Wars and Robotech/Macross stuff. I don’t think there half as bad as some collectors will tell you they are. To me Toys ‘N Joys is a lot worse (but we’ll get to that in the “skip it” section of this post.

So yeah, you can find these guys at tisinc99.com.

The Good: Incredibly fast shipping, great care taken in shipping,

The Bad: Apparently they charge your card as soon as you order (whereas sites like BBTS won’t charge until your order is shipped) so that sometimes results in them charging you for stuff that they won’t be able to ship to you until it becomes available “in stock” again. (Damn, I’m not sure if that sentence was grammatically correct or not but it was hard to phrase and I’m feeling lazy, so, there you go.) Recently though they’ve been better about updating their site and letting you know what is and isn’t in stock, so, there you go.

3. Action Figure Xpress

These guys are really great if you’re looking for your more “high-end” stuff and they have a good selection of Buffy figures. Overall though they’re more about the busts and the high-end stuff than they are about the action figure selection (as this link to their “transformers action figures” demonstrates). They also were really bad about getting stuff to you if you had a PO box because they relied solely on UPS until recently.

All in all though they’re one of the best places on the ‘net for Buffy figures and are pretty recommened.

You can find them at this link.

4. Good Ole Crackbay. Ah, the loveable and often controversial eBay. Over the years I’ve really changed as a Transformers collector. I used to be the kind of guy who would pay the inflated scalper prices if I couldn’t find the figures in stores. Recently though I’ve gotten to the point where it’s like this: if I can’t find it in stores, it’s not worth buying. So why, might you ask, am I still recommending a place like eBay? It’s simple. eBay is obviously the best place to go to get the vintage G1 stuff. I mean, you can find a lot of G1 stuff at conventions but what if you’re like me and you really only go to conventions once or twice every couple of years? As long as you know your terms (terms like MISB, MIB and MOC and all that) and you’re familiar with the C1-C9 scale and you ask a lot of questions before you bid and you’re smart about the sellers feedback, you can find a lot of awesome stuff there. Most of my best Transformers stuff was purchased there. I was able to get Metroplex and Trypticon there and they were complete and in immaculate shape. I’m still amazed by how tight the joints were on Metroplex and how there was little to no paint wear on him.

People like to bash on sites like eBay as much as they can and they’ll bitch left and right about the poor quality of the figures they get from there and all that without actually realizing that it’s not eBay’s fault at all. If you’re a stupid buyer and you don’t check out the feedback and ask questions before you buy then of course you’re going to get crap. It’s not eBay’s fault that you’re a dumbass though.

I’m not totally naive about the crappier side of eBay though. eBay is awesome if you’re looking for G1 stuff (or Robotech/Macross/Marvel/PR stuff) but it’s a pretty shitty place to go to if you’re trying to sell some stuff and make a profit. I spent a couple of miserable months selling on eBay and not really making much in return. You can make a lot on eBay if you sell big “lots” of stuff but they really charge you out the ass for small sales. I’d recommend selling your stuff on forums instead (though the jackasses at Seibertron don’t allow you to do that anymore for some reason).

The Good: You can pretty much find anything there.

The Bad: You’re not going to make much money there if you’re just an average joe and not a legitmate business selling stuff there.

The Bad Sites

#1. Entertainment Earth. Yeah, I said it. Entertainment Earth, like BBTS and TISINC99, is a really great place to go if you’re looking for a big variety of stuff but their customer service sucks, they take forever to ship out your orders and there stuff is grossly overpriced because you can’t really get individual figures there that often (a great example of that can be found on their page for Power Rangers figures).

They’re also bad about letting you buy stuff that’s backordered. I mean, they do eventually get around to updating their site and letting you know that stuff is backordered but they’ll let you order whatever it is you ordered first and just not let you know what the deal is. In their defense though they don’t charge until the stuff ships so I guess they have that going for them.

A couple of years ago I ordered a Buffy standee from them and they charged the debit card and they didn’t ship for like a week. Not only that, it was like they chose the fucking slowest shipping method ever and when the item arrived I got…an Angelina Jolie Tomb Raider standee instead so I had to go through a lot of hassle and shit to return their standee and get the Buffy one. As bad as they are though, I will use them as a last resort and they’re nowhere near as bad as…

#2. Toywiz. Incredibly slow to ship and horribly overpriced. $60 for a Stargate Series 1 Daniel Jackson? I mean, the figure is rare and that’s what he goes for on eBay but the difference between a site like Toywiz and a site like BBTS is that when BBTS occasionally gets the rare guys like O’Neill and Daniel back in stock for a short time, they’ll actually sell them at the retail comic book store price: $12.99-$14.99.

Also, their markup on Medicom Vader is unforgivable. So I’m to understand I should pay $500 for a figure that’s A) inferior to the Episode III remold and

B) pretty easy to find for $140-$200 at Crackbay? Eh, no. How about I do my business somewhere else?

Mostly a skippable site but I guess they’re okay if you have the money and can’t find what you’re looking for elsewhere. I mean, they’re great compared to what I would call THE WORST toysite of all-fucking time…

#3.Toys N Joys. God what an awful site. Being punched in the dick for four hours would probably be better than dealing with them. If Satan and Hitler got together and made a toystore it would probably be better than Toys N Joys. If you type in “Toys n Joys awful” at Google you’ll find out why they suck as hard as they do. There are a LOT of results there.

So a couple of years ago I decide to get the White Dragozord from Power Rangers Dino Thunder. I’m excited to get it and I’m looking forward to it until I hear that it was rumored to not get a US release. So I decide to just get Killeroh instead (the Sentai Japanese version) from Joys because they sell Japanese import toys. Now I bought a Navy Thunder Ranger from them before that and didn’t have any problems so I figure “okay, they’re pretty good” and I order it from them. So I get an e-mail with my order confirmation and then…nothing. They charge my debit card but…nothing. No “your item has just shipped” e-mail or anything like that. So I reply to the confirmation e-mail so they can see that they did indeed send me one and…nothing. So after a series of unreturned e-mails I fill out a form with the Better Business Bureau and then I finally hear back from the bastards. And their solution? “Fax us your statement and we’ll give you a refund.” After four months of nothing that’s their response (a forced response at that). If you Google search them though you’ll find hundreds of horror stories about them. As a matter of fact, at the time of this posting, it looks like their website has finally been shut down. One can only hope that the BBB had enough complaints and just said “okay, you’re done.” For more on how much they suck just check out Steve’s blog post that details how and why they suck as much as they do.

So there you are, these are my pics for the best and worst online toystores. There are a lot of other sites I go to to buy my stuff but these ones really stand out on my “best and worst” list. I’ll be doing a followup in the future with some more “great and awful sites” so be on the lookout for that.

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It’s kind of sad when the best Batman/Superman stories are at Youtube and not your average comic store

So I was in a pretty shitty mood before I went to bed the other night and I was looking to find something to cheer me up. So I took a look at some Robotech fan vids on Youtube and somehow I came across this Batman/Superman/Marvel series this really brilliant fan made.

The idea of the series, titled “Marvel/DC: After Hours is that Spider-Man, Batman, Superman Iron Man and a couple other heroes hang out in this club and they talk about their respective movies and careers and things like that. (There’s another series by the same creator that parodies the Mac versus PC commercials with the idea being it’s “I’m a Marvel and I’m a DC”.) The series is written to be a parody but the sad thing is that even as a parody it’s still actually a lot better than the real Batman/Superman title and there are actually a lot of serious and even heartfelt moments in the storyline. I watched the end of this multi-part storyline the creator did and I was just really blown away by how fucking good it actually was. I could actually see Marvel and DC using the storyline for a crossover sometime in the future.

Basically the plot of the mini-series goes like this: the Iron Man movie is about to get released and everyone at the club is really excited about it. Superman overhears Nightwing compliment Tony on how great the preview looks and he starts to doubt himself (because Superman Returns is considered a “flop” among the fanboys. He realizes that the age of the perfect hero is over and that audiences find him irrelevant now because he’s not as relatable as the more flawed and realistic Marvel heroes. Lex Luthor starts to develop this complex as well so he sets about altering time to make sure Stan Lee never creates Marvel comics.

So Batman, Spider-Man and Superman team up to take Luthor out and stop him before he can alter the timeline. There’s a lot of funny bits of dialog here and there in the mini-series but there’s actually a couple of thoughtful and heartfelt messages in there as well.

So, for your viewing pleasure, you’re about to see the best Superman/Batman story to actually come out in the past couple of years.

DC should seriously be watching this guy and taking notes. This guy really nails Batman and Superman’s relationship and character quirks a lot better than the jackasses who write the Batman/Superman comic do.

This is part 6 and seven of the series. You don’t have to watch 1-5 to get what’s going on as the creator is good at catching his viewers up on what’s going on.

Without giving too much away I do have to say the scene with Cap and the scene with Stan Lee at the end almost brought a tear to my eye. And the argument between Batman and Superman…as I said, the creator really understood just what makes the characters tick and their dialog really rings true and seems more authentic than the scenes they share in the Batman/Superman comic.

Essentially…

…If you have to create a “how to fix it” guide right after the product you enjoy just got released, the product isn’t worth defending, isn’t it?

I’m just having a good laugh at all the idiots who had to run out and buy the new Transformers: Animated stuff the day it came out. Did they learn nothing about the horrible “quality control” issues the first wave of the movie line had?

See, this (news that the new toyline is pretty shitty after all) is crushing to me on one hand and really a major relief on the other because I’ll be able to save money this summer after all. And that’s a good thing considering I’m considering getting Medicom Bruce Lee, Sideshow Indy and the second wave of Stargate Atlantis figures.

I’m also going to the San Diego comic con and I’m going to shell out some big bucks for good seats when The Phantom of The Opera hits Seattle in September so…I’m grateful for Hasbro for sucking, for once. Thank goodness for cheap quality shit, eh?