Episode 2! Germ Warfare!

Originally posted on 2 Drunk Geeks and Ryan!:

 drax (10)

 Episode 2 

*Please note, having coding issues, click link for stream/download options*

Episode 2 of our riveting show has Figurefan struck by some kind of bug…plus someone switched Starscreamer’s beer with something non alcoholic me thinks….and Ryan, well that man is a tank so he was at 110%…but I digress…the liner notes!!

Marvel Legends Drax

Figuarts Chalice

New Storm Trooper Helmet!

Sideswipe Generations Review

Hot Toys Harlock

View original

By figurefanzero

Thor The Dark World: Loki Movie Masterpiece 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

My Hot Toys shelves are mostly populated by Marvel figures, but it’s a bit of an eclectic mix from the various films. I was a little late to the party when the Avengers figures were first released and while I was able to finally secure some of them, many others are only available now on the second-hand market for a lot more than I’m willing to pay. One of those figures was Loki and so I was able to take the opportunity of this Thor 2 release of the character to finally get him on my shelf. Sure, this version comes sans his “reindeer games” helmet and Chitauri Spear, but the rest of his costume is more or less the same, so this release made for a good compromise. I often do these Sixth-Scale features in two parts, but since he isn’t overburdened with accessories, I’m fairly confident that I can do Loki all due justice in just the one.

htdwloki9

htdwloki8

The presentation is surprisingly different from what we’ve been seeing in the Hot Toys Marvel line. The Avengers presentation felt rather utilitarian, whereas the Dark World figures come in this rather flashy style box with a semi-foil finish and obviously based off the design of Mjolnir. It’s a bit bigger and bulkier than it need be, but I still like it a lot and I think it reflects the high price of the collectible better than The Avengers packaging. But that’s not to say it’s any more complex. On the contrary, it’s actually a lot simpler. There’s no flap to open and tray to slide out. It’s basically a shoe box. Lift up the top and there’s your figure in his tray.

htdwloki12

htdwloki13

And here he is! Loki comes right out of the box and ready to go. The only thing that really requires set up is the stand, which is similar in design to the other Marvel figures only with a Dark World logo and “Marvel” boxed out in red. By now the costume should be readily familiar, as he’s worn the same basic thing in three movies with the main difference here being the lack of his iconic horned helmet. I’m sure there are subtle differences in the Dark World costume design, but I can’t readily pick them out and that makes him a versatile figure. He works fine for me as a Loki from any of the films and that was why I got him. After all, Dark World was a decent film, I enjoyed it a lot, but for me it was definitely the weakest of the Marvel movies so far, and I didn’t have a desire to own a Hot Toys figure that pays respect solely to that film.

htdwloki14

htdwloki15

The tailoring of Loki’s costume is gorgeous. The garment is a complex mix of different textures and materials all layered on top of each other. You get a rich, hunter green fabric with bronze stitching, you get beautiful brown fabric with a stitched diamond pattern, you get black leather-like material and also some bronze armor pieces with sculpted rivets. All of that is layered onto a black and bronze plastic breast plate. What’s really impressive is that even with all these layers and the breast plate and shoulder armor, the entire ensemble isn’t at all bulky. Quite the contrary, it’s a beautiful fit giving Loki a trim profile and it’s a lot less restrictive than many other Hot Toys costumes. The instructions warn you not to try to take the costume off the figure and that sounds like pretty damn good advice because I wouldn’t even know where to begin if I wanted to.

htdwloki10

Moving on to the portrait, this obviously isn’t Hot Toys’ first crack at the Tom Hiddleston likeness. Hot Toys is a company that is constantly advancing and when they do subsequent versions of characters, there’s usually notable improvements made. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case here. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a very solid head sculpt and a good likeness to the actor, but based on in-hand pictures (not Hot Toys own official pictures) Dark World Loki doesn’t represent a big leap forward over The Avengers Loki. It’s more of a sideways shuffle. I do like the expression, which has the hint of a smirk that suits the character so well, but then The Avengers Loki had a great expression as well.

htdwloki11

While the likeness is there, I think the complexion is tad off under certain lighting. The skin tone, while eerily realistic, strikes me as being a bit too dark under normal room lighting, while looking much better under bright studio lights.  There’s more darkness around the eyes too, which, on the other hand, I think tends to look better in person than under studio lighting. Maybe Hot Toys took The Dark World title a little too literal. These aren’t crippling complaints, I’m still quite pleased with the likeness, but if you already have Avengers Loki and were concerned that this release would render your figure outdated, you can rest easy because that’s not the case.

htdwloki17

And that brings us to accessories. First off, Loki comes with the usual array of extra hands. You get a pair of clenched manacle hands, a pair of relaxed hands, and a pair designed for when he’s holding his dagger. By now most of you know that I’m not someone who tends to swap out the hands on these figures a lot, but in this case, each of Loki’s pairs serves a very specific purpose and I like that. Apart from the hands, you really only get two accessories.

htdwloki18

 

htdwloki21

htdwloki19

htdwloki20

One is his little dagger and the other is the set of manacles we see him in at the beginning of the film. It sounds like a pretty paltry inventory, but it should probably be qualified by two things. One, there’s not much else I can think of to give him. Obviously there’s The Aether, but that was exclusive to the Sideshow release, which surprisingly enough sold out rather quickly. I’ll concede that as an Infinity Stone, it would be a cool item to have, but I thought it was the lamest of all the Marvel Movie Macguffins, so it certainly wasn’t a crucial item for me.

htdwloki2

htdwloki6

The second point is that Loki’s other accessory, the set of manacles, is a pretty complex accessory. It includes elaborately sculpted and painted cuffs for his wrists, ankles, and neck and the individually sculpted links for the chain that attaches it all together. The cuffs themselves are beautiful and even include teeny-tiny runes etched on the rings, presumeably to bind Loki’s power. The Avengers Loki came only with a pair of wrist manacles and from the look of them, the cuffs were not as detailed as these are.

htdwloki7

htdwloki4

htdwloki3

There are no moving parts on any of the cuffs, instead they’re applied by popping off the appropriate appendage, slipping the cuff on and reapplying the hands, feet, and head. Everything fits quite well and it looks very cool on the figure. Obviously the problem here is that no matter how cool this accessory is, not every collector is going to want to display the figure with the manacles, and if you don’t than this truly is a bare bones release with only a tiny dagger to display with.

htdwloki5

Originally, I wasn’t going to use the chains at all. My original plan was to give him the Chitauri Spear that came with my Bruce Banner. But then I thought that since he’s going on my Avengers shelf anyway, it would be kind of cool to have him standing in the backgroud subdued in front of the victorious team, and that’s the route I went for now.

htdwloki22

Overall, I’m suitably impressed with this figure, but I’m still going to wrap things up by bitching about the price. At $230 Loki feels really inflated for what is a pretty basic Hot Toys release. I don’t want to knock all the great work that went into the costume and the set of manacles, but when you compare him to other figures in this price range, the value doesn’t seem to be quite there. Sure, $220-230 seems to be the new sweet spot for Hot Toys releases these days, but they are still releasing the occasional figure at the $200 price point too (Spider-Man, Black Widow, and Bruce Banner instantly come to mind) and I would have been a lot more comfortable with the value here at that level. In the end it feels like Hot Toys was just banking on the wild popularity of the character, and the high after-market value of The Avengers Loki, rather than price him out more appropriately, they decided to goose him knowing that he’d still sell.

htdwloki23

htdwloki24

htdwloki1

And you know what? They were right… because there he is on my shelf… and I’ve got no regrets.

 

Transformers Universe 2.0: Inferno by Hasbro

I’m just about done closing the gap of older Classics/Generations figures missing from the FFZ Archive. In fact, unless I discover a hold out among my storage totes, Inferno here may very well be the last one. That means that if I don’t find a Roadbuster this weekend, next week I may be dipping back into the Unicron Trilogy toys for Transformers Thursday fodder. Hey, nothing wrong with that! Anyway, the Generations line has been mostly about Deluxe figures, and I’ve been happy about that because the Deluxe Class has always been my personal ideal size for Transformers figures. Inferno, however, like a lot of Universe 2.0 figures, bucked that trend by presenting us with a Voyager Class figure. It was a logical enough choice, since the original Inferno was notably taller than the regular Autobot cars. As usual, the box is long gone, so we’re going to jump right in and check out his alt mode.

tfginferno1

tfginferno2

Yup, you guessed it… Inferno is a fire truck. I have actually looked at his cousin, Reveal the Shield Grappel, so this mold has appeared on the pages of FFZ before, despite the fact that Inferno came first. Inferno isn’t one of those traditional full-blown hook and ladder firetrucks, but rather a somewhat truncated one with a water cannon on top. I know next to nothing about firetrucks so I’m not sure if this is something real or not, but it certainly looks convincing enough and I have a feeling that by nixing a ladder on top, Inferno dodged the same kibble-arm bullet that poor Grappel suffered.

tfginferno5

Indeed, Inferno is one of the most realistic looking vehicles to come out of the entire Classics-Universe-Generations line. The sculpt features some insanely intricate detailwork, particularly on the sides where all the little vents, plating and fire-stopping doo-dads are recreated. The white paint and lettering and numbering on the sides also goes a long way to make this a great looking toy. And finally, you get lots of clear plastic for the windows, headlamps and roof lights, all of which gives the vehicle some major class in my eyes. Sure, if you view the vehicle from the top down you can make out a set of robot arms and hands, but otherwise, this vehicle is practically without fault. I’d dare say that Inferno looks so good, it’s almost like he belongs in a different line altogether.

tfginferno3

tfginferno4

The water cannon on top can swivel, raise and lower and shoots a translucent blue missile made to look like a blast of water. So, is that really supposed to be water or an actual weapon that looks like water? Or can he switch between water and a real weapon? It would be embarrassing to try to take out a Decepticon with a blast of water, or conversely, to try to put out a fire by shooting energy weapons at it and blowing up the building. Am I overthinking this? Ok, let’s transform Inferno and check out his robot mode.

tfginferno8

Hot damn! Not only is Inferno’s vehicle mode great, but his robot mode is a damn fine piece of work too. In fact, when viewed from the front, I’d say he’s very near perfect. His broad chest is comprised of the front of the firetruck and there’s some really neat stuff going on with the way the panels fold up behind his shoulders and on his forearms, the front wheels fold into his hips, and how his front bumper just drops to become his pelvis. All those clear plastic pieces are on display here and once again go a long way to give him that extra special realism and classes up the figure big time. By Primus, I love this guy!

tfginferno10

Generations always impresses me with the head sculpts, and Inferno here is no exception. The portrait is very evocative of the original G1 character with a clean, silver painted face and some gorgeous light piping for his blue eyes.

tfginferno9

tfginferno11

tfginferno12

Yeah, Inferno has a few blemishes. The biggest for me is the way he’s a bit two-dimensional in design. Like I said before, he looks nearly perfect from the front, but get a side view and he looks a bit like he’s missing his back half. View him from behind and he looks rather hollow. His arm cannon is also a little awkwardly placed. It’s slung down under his arm, which is fine for when you actually want him using his arm as an arm, but I’d much rather it land on the outside of his arm, as it would make it easier for him to aim convincingly.

tfginferno7

tfginferno13

tfginferno14

Ah, but none of these quibbles can extinguish my love for this figure. Eh? See what I did there? Extinguish? YEAH! I’m drinking, baby!!! Inferno is a gorgeous figure and I definitely see him as one of the high points in what is already a pretty remarkable line of figures. I was certainly happy to see the mold get re-used in Reveal the Shield as Grappel (pronounced “Solar Storm Gra-pelle!”), although thanks to some annoying crane arm kibble, Inferno remains my favorite of the two. And I’m only now realizing how sad that huge Protectobot Hot Spot-shaped hole in my collection is making me, so I highly doubt this is the last time we’ll see this mold appear here on FFZ.

Robo Force: Battlestar the Guardian by Toyfinity

Does the name Toyfinity ring a bell? It should, because it’s the same company that resurrected those delightfully horrid little creatures called The Mordles, which have infected FFZ from time to time. Toyfinity has also resurrected another toy line from the 80’s called Robo Force. You remember those right? The robots with the bendy arms and suction cups on their bottoms? Well, resurrected perhaps isn’t the right word, they actually re-invented them with an amazing new series of kits inspired by the Glyos build system that allows you to build updated versions of those great 80’s designs or anything else you can think up. If you aren’t hip to the whole Glyos thang, that’s OK, because by the time I’m done talking about Battlestar the Guardian, you’ll have a good idea of what we’re dealing with.

rfbstar10

There’s no packaging to speak of, as Battlestar arrives in a plastic baggie just begging to be ripped open. The figure comes assembled, but let’s start from scratch with the pieces. This kit contains 41 pieces, which you see laid out above. It’s enough to build the Battlestar figure and still have some parts left over.

rfbstar8

rfbstar9

The pieces are molded in black, durable plastic with a limited number of paint hits scattered around some of them. You get some glossy black, for example, on the treads, some silver panels, some red, and a crisp little emblem tampo’ed on one piece. All of the pieces interact with each other using a simple peg and socket system, which allows for a ridiculous number of combinations. The pieces connect very securely, which also means the smaller ones can be a pain (literally) to separate. It helps to have a LEGO tool nearby. Because most of the kits consist of the same basic pieces, this Battlestar kit is unique mainly because of the color scheme, but you can in fact construct any of the basic figures in the line using these pieces. In a sense, and color not withstanding, once you own one kit, you own the power to create any of the figures molds.

rfbstar1

rfbstar6

rfbstar7

Of course, you also have the power to tweak them in any way you like, or just start from scratch and build your own creations. Purchasing different kits not only gives you more pieces to work with, but it also gives you different color pieces to design your own decos. As you can imagine, much like LEGO, Robo Force can become an addicting habit.

rfbstar3

rfbstar4

rfbstar5

How did these guys came up with the idea of combining the old Robo Force franchise with this type of building system? I don’t know, but it was an absolutely brilliant idea. So much so, that I think it’s a crying shame these kits aren’t available for purchase in every Toys R Us across the country. I have to confess, I thought this was a neat idea from the very beginning, but it wasn’t until I had this kit in my hand that I truly realized how much fun it is. The night I got Battlestar, I sat down at my desk and started playing around with the figure, just to see what he was all about. Before long I was pulling him apart, and experimenting. It wasn’t until almost AN HOUR AN A HALF LATER, I realized I had become totally enraptured in this little kit and building all sorts of fun mechanical terrors.

rfbstar2

It took me a while to finally get in on these because the initial Robo Force drops were wildly successful and sold out with lightning speed. It’s only recently that Toyfinity has had some kits in regular stock at their store and I was able to get in on the action. Battlestar was my first, but after playing around with him for just a bit, I promptly ordered two more kits. The prices vary depending on the size of the kit and the number of paint apps, but Battlestar the Guardian was only $16.50 and he is indeed still available at the time I’m writing this. I can’t recommend this Robo Force line strongly enough, especially if you’re curious about playing around with this inventive application of the Glyos system.

Star Wars Rebels: The Phantom (#75048) by LEGO

Here it is, September and so far I’ve only looked at one LEGO set this entire year and that was back in July. It’s crazy, but the reason is simply that LEGO sets have always been my fallback purchases for when all my other areas of interest are running dry and that certainly hasn’t been the case this year. Nonetheless, with the new pre-Christmas resets underway in the stores, I’ve been venturing out to see what’s new and the answer is… NOTHING! The local Walmart has done the set, but the only product on the shelves is what’s been there all along. And so I turned once again to LEGO so as not to come home empty handed.

swrphant19

Unlike the action figure aisles, the LEGO aisle had some new stuff. Not much, but some. I was really hankering for another Marvel set, but none were to be found and so I came home with this new Rebels set. I’m still not one hundred percent sold on this show. I could never really get into Clone Wars and it looks like there may be just enough annoying things about this series to keep me off of it. Still, I have a thing for Expanded Universe ships and this little guy seemed to be right up my ally. The box deco is rebranded with a look at the new animated style Stormtrooper helmet and a shot of ship itself on the front. I like this deco a lot, but then I was never a big fan of putting Darth Maul or Yoda’s face on every box like they’ve been doing. The back of the box shows that this ship can dock with the larger Ghost ship, which I will most likely also be picking up.

swrphant20

While this is a middle-of-the-road set in terms of size, the box is packed. Inside you get a sticker sheet, an instruction book, and two baggies containing 234 pieces, which build the ship and two Minifigs, Ezra Bridger and C1-10P. As always let’s start with the Minifigs!

swrphant3

swrphant4

I don’t have a lot to say about Ezra. He’s a pretty standard looking Minifig with a printed outfit and I certainly wouldn’t know he’s a Star Wars character just by looking at him. It seems like he’s going to be the “relatable” character for the kids as he’s a young thief who will seem to hook up with the Rebellion by happenstance. All the source material about him claims he’s “Force Sensitive,” so I would imagine he’s going to become a Padawan at some point in the show, but for now he’s just equipped with his blaster. Speaking of which, I’m still hoping that Rebels tones down the Jedi bullshit and focuses on ships and blasters aspect of Star Wars. Ezra also comes with what appears to be an Imperial Pilot helmet based on the design they will be using in the show.

swrphant5

The second Minifig is the Astromech droid C1-10P also known as Chopper. If I abandon this show early on it’s probably going to be because of this character. He looks like he’s going to be insufferably annoying every second that he’s on screen. In terms of his Minifig, well if you have any LEGO Astromechs than you should know what to expect out of this guy. I’ll just say here that it still pisses me off that LEGO doesn’t do printed details on the back half of these Astromech figs.

swrphant6

swrphan7

In addition to the Minifigs, the first bag of bricks builds the cockpit portion of the Ghost. There are a couple stickers to apply to the sides and the instrument panel otherwise this is a pretty straightforward build.

swrphant7

swrphant8

The second bag builds the back half of the ship. It’s a tad more complex because you get some articulated wing flaps as well as an opening compartment on top and in the back. I would have liked to see some SNOT pieces under the wings, since they are exposed when they’re folded up, but I guess the extra bricks needed didn’t cost out.

swrphant15

swrphant16

And there’s the The Phantom all complete. If you’re looking for a sexy ship, this set is definitely not for you. I don’t know anything about The Phantom yet, but based on its boxy design and the fact that it docks with The Ghost, I’m guessing it’s supposed to be more of a shuttlecraft than anything else. It sits one Minifig in the cockpit and there’s room in the back for the droid, but even then it’s some cramped quarters. Now, I’m not saying I don’t dig it. Not all spacecraft need to be sleek fighters, and I think there’s something cool about this sort of workhorse style ship. I’m not sure if this LEGO version accurately represents the scale of the ship in the show, but I’m guessing it may have room for more passengers. But maybe not. Let’s take a quick look at the features and I’ll point out a few improvements I would have liked to see.

swrphant12

swrphant10

swrphant11

The back hatch opens up and offers a tiny bit of cargo space to store Ezra’s gun and helmet. I think a sticker for the hatch would have been nice, otherwise this is a cool little feature.

swrphant13

swrphant14

The top lifts off to reveal the compartment for Chopper. Again, there’s not much room in there. You just drop him in and close it up again. I really would have liked to see the top hatch hinged or something. Having to dig the top piece off is a pain and some kind of proper opening hatch would have at least explained how Chopper gets in there. Again, I think this goes back to the actual ship being bigger than this LEGO version.

swrphant18

The side panels of The Phantom fold out and angle downward for flight. It gives the ship a slight Imperial Shuttle look, which I’m sure is what they were going for. The fact that the wings are just rectangular plates doesn’t do much for the design, but again, I don’t think this ship is intended to be all that flashy.

swrphant17

The top of the ship features a spring-firing missile, or maybe it’s a proton torpedo. You get two of them and they fire simply by pulling them back and letting them go. On the one hand, it’s a bit of an improvement over the flick-fire system, but on the downside, the missile doesn’t lock in there so it winds up spilling out when I’m swooshing the ship around the room. Yeah, I swoosh. You got a problem with that?

swrphant9

This set is priced at $25, which feels about right. I think it’s the same price point as the A-Wing Fighter that I built late last year and this one is certainly bulkier and comes with more articulated parts. Taken on it’s own I like the Phantom well enough, although I’ve got to reserve some judgement until I see the ship in action in the show. I believe Hasbro is also making a 3 3/4” scale version of this thing, so I very well may pick that one up too. In the meantime, I’ll also have to grab the LEGO version of  The Ghost, so this little guy will have somewhere to dock.

Planet of the Apes (Classic): Doctor Zaius by NECA

I’m beginning to resent the fact that I have to toss the “classic” moniker on so many things from my childhood that I talk about these days. Sure, it’s nice that so many properties are being reimagined and garnering new fans, but it makes me feel horribly old. But I’m going to let that go, because it’s Monday… it’s a new week… and I finally got Wave One of NECA’s damn dirty apes. I’ve been waiting for these things to come in over at BBTS forever and we’re almost at the point where NECA seems ready to ship Wave Two. Maybe they have already… I don’t know. What I do know is that NECA’s got some great plans for this line including a Gorilla Soldier 2-pack. (YES, PLEASE!) and this is one of the few brand new action figure lines out there that I’m totally losing my shit over. Sometimes I get asked why I often call my posts “features” rather than “reviews” and it’s because sometimes you get so much nostalgic blathering mixed in that it goes beyond being just a figure review. Some people seem to like it, some people hate it. Either way, today is going to be one of those times…

potazaius1

There’s the packaging. It’s a window box very much in line with what we’ve seen from some other 7-inch scale figures on the market these days. Hasbro’s Star Wars Black and Funko’s Legacy Game of Thrones both come instantly to mind. Each box is color coded to the character, so Zaius is a sort of light brown and is printed with a leather like texture. The window shows off the figure splendidly and there’s an illustration of Zaius at the lower left hand corner of the front. The back of the package has some great artwork including the Statue of Liberty on the beach… OMG… SPOILERS, DUDES! All in all, this is a nice clean presentation and it’s collector friendly… I dig it.

potazaius2

So, why am I so damn excited over these figures? Because Planet of the Apes was a huge thing to me when I was growing up. They seemed to show the movies every other Sunday afternoon and I always watched. But more importantly, Mego’s old Planet of the Apes figures were handed down to me from my uncle and they were among my very first action figures. I have a strong bond with this license and when I heard NECA was doing it, I was quick to jump on board. The first wave includes Dr. Zaius, Cornelius, and a Gorilla Solider. Today I’m starting with Dr. Zaius…

potazaius3

potazaius4

And there he is out of the package and looking damn sharp for a close-minded chimp bureaucrat. Jesus Christ, I hated this guy in the original film and I still do. That’s really a testament to not only the way the character was written, but by the smug way Maurice Evans portrayed him. When I was a kid I loved these movies because they had apes riding on horses and shooting people and it was scary as all shit. As an adult I can appreciate the wonderful analogy to that age old battle between fundamentalist dogma and science. Zaius pissed me off because he was so damn closed minded he just would not listen and even when he couldn’t help but see the truth he was willing to ignore it for the sake of the status quo. Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that the subsequent Apes sequels jumped the shark, but the original 1968 classic is just damn brilliant and I still find it frightening because every time I watch it I still can’t help but put myself in the place of George Taylor. What’s that? Oh yeah, I’ve got a figure to review…

potazaius7

For starters, the sculpt here is outrageously good. I usually hold NECA to a pretty high standard, but I think they’ve outdone themselves here. Granted, the outfit isn’t the most exciting thing around, but as the equivalent of an Ape business suit, I like what they did here. The sculpted wrinkles look convincing and there’s some little bits of stitching here and there as well.

potazaius5

potazaius6

Ah, but as good as all that is, just look at that amazing portrait! The head sculpt is sharp and stunning. The makeup in the movie was pretty impressive for its time, but this sculpt goes beyond it and feels more like a sculpt of the character and not the actor in makeup. It was an interesting way to go and I approve because it looks absolutely fantastic while capturing the regal and smug nature of this particular Ape. All the little creases in his face are present and I really dig the way the hair on his head is sculpted separately to hang down over the forehead. I dare say that Dr. Zaius has never looked this good.

potazaius8

Sitting in meetings and defending the status quo doesn’t really require a lot of articulation, but NECA still provided a good amount of poseability here. Possibly even more than I had expected. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. The legs are ball jointed, as are the wrists. I’m not sure what’s under his clothes, but there’s some useful jointing in the torso as well and a generous ball joint in the neck.

potazaius9

potazaius10

potazaius11

Zaius comes with two accessories. You get his cane and one of the sacred scrolls rolled up in its tube. Both are very simple accessories, but that doesn’t make them any less welcome. The cane can be held in either hand and the scroll container has some nice paintwork to make it look like it has a wooden finish.

potazaius12

potazaius13

It’s hard for me to remember the last time I waited this long to get some current release figures into my hands. I don’t have a local source for them (although I hear tell they may be turning up at Barnes & Noble, so I may go hunting for more Gorilla Soldiers this week!) and so I was at the mercy of my e-tailer, which took a while to get them in. It was, however, totally worth the wait. It’s fun for me to think back to the Mego Zaius figure that I had some 30+ years ago and now to have this beauty in hand. It’s a work of art to me and this is one figure that I’m going to keep on display and cherish. What could be better then that? Knowing that I have two more to open. Next week, we’ll check out Cornelius!

Star Wars Black: Bastila Shan (3 3/4” Scale) by Hasbro

A little while ago Hasbro released Knights of the Old Republic character Bastila Shan in their Vintage Collection. This made yours truly very sad because this figure was very poorly distributed and it was only available for exorbitant scalper prices. The evil scalpers didn’t care one jot nor piffle that I loved KotR with all my heart and desperately wanted some figures because the only way I can express my love for something is to buy little plastic versions of it. The same was pretty much true for all the Knights figures Hasbro released and so I was forced to go without. Fast forward to now and Hasbro has managed to scratch out a few of the bastard points they earned from me by re-releasing Bastila as part of that most dubious of endeavors… the Star Wars Black 3 3/4” line. A line where just about any good figure appearing in it has been repacked or bumped from another line. And that brings us to today’s feature!

swbastila1

As mentioned, the original release of Bastila came on a snazzy looking, albeit completely nonsensical and ret-conned, vintage-style card. This re-release comes on the crappy and thoughtless Star Wars Black card. Don’t worry, I’m not even going to complain about the packaging this time. Hasbro could have dropped her into a used sardine tin and I still would have happily purchased this figure. Now, the last thing I want to do is piss all over this gesture of good will, but it would have been even better had Hasbro released the rest of those expensive and hard to get Knights figures in this line. Even if they dropped one into each wave it would have been a great way to get characters like Revan, Malak and HK-47 into the hands of desparate collectors like me. Oh well…

swbastila6

swbastila7

And there she is! It’s funny how instantly iconic Bastila’s costume has become for me, but then I did spent well over 100 hours on just the first KotoR alone, so at one point all these character designs must have been burned into my retinas. And rightly so, because Bastila is a great character, and certainly among my favorites in the Expanded Universe that I guess doesn’t exist anymore? Huh. Now I’m kind of depressed. Anyway, Hasbro did a wonderful job sculpting the Old Republic equivalent of her Jedi garb. I like this rather sleek and less bulky look, not only because Bastila was easy on the eyes, but because it seems like it would be easier to fight with as opposed to draping yourself in layers of window treatments. I like the scrollwork sculpted into the brown leather portions of the outfit and there’s some particularly nice detail work on the pouches of her belt. The strips of skirt are made of soft plastic and they don’t inhibit the leg articulation too badly.

swbastila8

swbastila5

The portrait here is decent enough. It’s not that amazing a likeness of the in-game model, but considering Hasbro’s track record on the 3 3/4” ladies, I’ll take what I can get. The paint looks fine under normal viewing, but as is often the case with figures in this scale it breaks down a bit the closer you get. Yeah, the skin tone is a little bit waxy, but in the pictures that’s mostly enhanced by my studio lights. I do really like the one wisp of hair that’s drawn across her forehead just below her hairline. It’s a characteristic that was in the game model and a nice bit of attention to detail to include it on the figure.

swbastila12

Despite the mold being more than a few years old, the articulation here is decent for modern Hasbro standards. You get ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. There are swivels in the wrists and in the waist. Unfortunately, the hips use the tired old T-crotch, which Hasbro just will not give up on.

swbastila11

swbastila10

Bastila comes with both a lit and unlit version of her double-bladed lightsaber. The unlit hilt is pegged so that it can attach to her belt, which is always a welcome feature. The lit one features yellow blades and she can hold it pretty well in her left hand while her right hand is sculpted to be doing some kind of Force hocus-pocus Battle Meditation mumbo-jumbo.

swbastila9

swbastila3

swbastila2

I absolutely love this figure and I’m thrilled to finally be able to get it at a decent price. In fact, I was able to pick her up from the Interwebs for only $10, which is about a fifth of what she was going for in some of the scalper channels. Hasbro has been putting the bro back in Hasbro lately by using current lines to re-release hard to get figures. They did it in the Infinite Series with Omega Red and I hope they keep it up. The only thing that makes me sad about owning this figure is that it reminds me I’m missing all the other Knights of the Old Republic figures. And that Hasbro never made a 3 3/4” scale Ebon Hawk, but that’s a rant for another day.

Transformers Universe 2.0: Sunstreaker by Hasbro

Ah, it’s Thursday again and time to sit around the campfire and talk about little plastic robots that turn into other little plastic things. As promised last week I’ve gone to my Transformers laden shelves and snatched down the other half of the Lambor Brothers… Sunstreaker! I mentioned last time that the Universe 2.0 Sideswipe-Sunstreaker duo was the first time I can remember Hasbro deliberately engineering a mold to serve different transformations for different characters. It’s a practice that they’ve had a lot of success with since, one of my favorites being the Tracks and Wheeljack shared mold that still blows my mind. I’ve got no in-package shot, so let’s go right to the alt mode!!

tfusuns2

tfusuns3

And there he is in all his canary yellow Lamborghini goodness! As a kid, I loved Sunstreaker. He had a totally unique robot mode and there was just something so cool about him that my other Autobots always wanted him to go on missions with him. I think I also might have considered him to be Bumblebee’s older brother just because they were both yellow and that’s how such things work in robot biology when you’re 10 years old. Where was I?

tfusuns1

Oh yeah, this bitchin Lamborghini mode! Sunstreaker’s sculpt is identical to his brother Sideswipe, so we’re only dealing with a recolor here. Also, like Sideswipe, ‘Streaker gets by with very little paintwork and mostly colored plastic. Anyone who’s read my Transformers features before probably knows that the yellow plastic Hasbro uses is often hit or miss with me. In this case, however, it’s a total hit. This is no shitty cheap looking swirly yellow plastic. It’s vibrant and looks amazing. Just compare this guy to the recent IDW Generations Bumblebee or better yet TF: Prime Deluxe Bumblebee and you’ll see what I mean. Once again, I dig that there aren’t a lot of seams running all over the car. Apart from the doors you just have one seam running down the back and bisecting the rear. You still have those great clear plastic headlights, the windows retain the same black paint used for Sideswipe, but unlike his brother, Sunstreaker proudly displays his Autobot emblem in auto mode, right on the top of the roof. Right on, Sunstreaker! Be proud of your Autobot heritage!

tfusuns5

tfusuns4

Sunstreaker also sports a personalized license plate, in this case it reads“WE R 84.” It’s cool, but I think an abbreviation of Sunstreaker would have matched Sideswipe better. Honestly, the only real complaint I have with the coloring here is that the intakes on the engine piece are left bare grey plastic and don’t look as sharp as the painted ones on Sideswipe. Even so, these two cars look great together!

tfusuns6

tfusuns7

Transforming Sunstreaker is virtutally identical to Sideswipe. The main difference is that you’ll be reversing the torso and arms. In my Sideswipe feature, I probably commented on how much I love the engineering here, but let me say it again anyway. Everything packs in to the auto mode so beautifully and converting the figure in either direction is engaging and fun. The result is the same design as Sideswipe from the waist down, but a new look for the torso and obviously a brand new head sculpt.

tfusuns8

Once again, Hasbro did a beautiful job with the updated portrait, but that was par for the course on the Classics and Universe 2.0 lines. These along with Generations have had some of my favorite head sculpts of all time. The face is beautifully sculpted and neatly painted and Sunstreaker features rather distinctive “ears” similar to the ones on the original G1 toy. I also like the way they spring out during his head reveal.

tfusuns9

tfusuns10

The deco here is basically Sideswipe with a pallet shift. You get the yellow in place of red and grey plastic in place of white, with much of the black staying the same. Sunstreaker features the same translucent blue plastic inlays on his thighs, which look great, but I can’t help but think it would have been neat to see those cast in yellow instead. As with his engine intakes, the only gripe I have here is that Sideswipe’s pistol is left in bare grey plastic, which isn’t as attractive as his brother’s snazzy black and white weapon. Considering how vain he is about his appearance, I would expect Sunstreaker to have more bling on his gun.

tfusuns11

tfusuns13

tfusuns14

tfusuns12

Sunstreaker is an amazing figure all on his own, but both he and Sideswipe are all the more impressive when displayed as a pair. Yes, there’s a lot more similarities between the two this time around than could be found in their G1 toys, but I still can’t help but admire what Hasbro was able to achieve here with what is essentially the same mold. This pair definitely rank in among my favorite of all the Classics/Universe 2.0 figures. To me they achieve everything that this line set out to accomplish.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Madame Razz by Mattel

It’s Club Etheria time and today I’m looking at a figure that a lot of collectors were really happy to get into their hands. Me? Eh, not so much. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly happy to add her to my shelf, afterall she is a pretty iconic character in the She-Ra series, but I can’t say as I’ve been pining for her release. For those of you who don’t know Madame Razz, she’s basically the Orko of Etheria. That is if Orko was a crazy homeless bag lady. Like Orko, Razz was an absent minded spellcaster who was inexplicably trusted with the secret of our heroine’s secret identity. In other words, she was one of the many comic relief characters for the much lighter toned She-Ra series. She’s also one of those characters I never really expected to ever make it to figure form… and here she is! Oh, Deary-My!!!

mrazz1

Razz comes in the usually awesome Greyskull inspired green stone package with the “Princess of Power” sticker on the bubble. There’s also an expositional explosion on the bubble insert proclaiming that her trusty friend Broom is included. Despite being a slightly smaller figure than most of the line, Razz and Broom still fill up the bubble quite nicely. The back of the card includes a bio, which didn’t really tell me anything new about the character, other than her first name is Regina. The cardback did, however, serve to remind me that I’m still missing a few Princess of Power figures.

mrazz3

mrazz4

And there she is out of the package looking just as sexy as She-Ra and her girlfriends. WAIT… WHAT AM I SAYING???  No, Madame Razz bears the unfortunate burden of being one of the few females on Etheria that isn’t smoking hot. Hell, Scorpia’s got two lobster claws and a scorpion tail and I’d still do her. But not poor Razz. She looks like a cross between Orko and what you picture in your mind when you hear me say “crazy old Aunt Matilda.” DON’T LIE TO ME… I KNOW WHAT YOU SAW!!! She’s also pretty chunky for all those people complaining that She-Ra only fosters women with unrealistic body types. So what’s so damn cool about this figure?

mrazz7

In a line of figures that more or less conforms to regular human (albeit human steroid junkie) proportions, Razz is totally unique. Sure, there are chicks flying around with butterfly wings and scorpion tails, but they still more or less look like regular people. Not Madame Razz… she’s a total cartoon character and she’s not ashamed of it. Considering all that I think Matty did an exceptional job with what is a very unconventional figure and one which obviously required all new tooling. The result is a figure that captures all the nuances and weird proportions of the original character artwork remarkably well. From the haphazard patches on her clothes to the ridiculous upturned boots, Razz looks like she just walked out of the cartoon.

mrazz6

The head sculpt is also excellent. Frankly, I didn’t think that this portrait would translate all that well to a three-dimensional sculpt, but I’ll be damned if Matty didn’t make it happen. I like the way the hair flows down from inside the hat and it even sprouts out the back of the top of the hat. Even the droopy tip with the flower is spot on perfect.

mrazz9

As Madame Razz is an off-the-wall design, her articulation varies a bit from what we’re used to getting in the MOTUC line. But that’s not to say she isn’t well articulated. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders and elbows and there are swivels in the wrists. She has both rotating and lateral hinges in the hips, and both her knees and ankles are ball jointed. She can swivel at the waist and she has a generous ball joint in the neck. Despite the wonky proportions and tiny feet, Razz still stands fairly well. Sure, sometimes you have to work at it, but I honestly didn’t think it would be this easy to keep her upright without a figure stand.

mrazz8

As already mentioned, Razz comes with one accessory and that’s Broom. Rather than be content with delivering just a static PCV piece, Broom actually features ball joints in his shoulders. Ok, two points of articulation may not be all that much to celebrate over, but frankly I’m pleased that he wound up with any poseability at all. Broom can be a little tougher to stand than Razz, but he does have peg holes if you want to support him with a stand.

mrazz10

mrazz11

razzgp1

razzgp2

mrazz2

Whenever I watched She-Ra, I generally hated every moment that Madame Razz was on screen and so it may seem rather odd that I’m happy to own her figure. Then again I was never all that fond of either the He-Man or She-Ra cartoons, so that was never what was fueling this collection for me anyhow. And yet all I can say is that my Princess of Power collection would hardly seem complete without her. I think she’s a fun figure and she certainly adds a bucketload of diversity to the ladies of The Great Rebellion! And if you buy a thousand of her, you can recreate that scene in Fantasia with Broom!

Doctor Who: “The Impossible Set” by Character Options

For a line that’s been canceled, Character Options’ 5-inch Doctor Who figures keep limping along thanks to a handful of special releases like the one I’m looking at today. CO seems to be empathizing enough with the fans to be releasing some of the staple characters for our 5-inch scale collections and in this case, they are delivering on filling that one big hole… Oswin “Clara” Oswald. Sure there are still a lot of 11th Doctor Era figures we’d like to see in this scale (Series 7 Cyberman, please!), but since the line went the 3 3/4” route during the 11th Doctor’s tenure, it seemed like Clara was that one character missing from an otherwise clean break. And that brings me to this “Impossible Set” which gives us The 11th Doctor from the story, “The Snowmen” and Oswin Oswald from Jenna Coleman’s first appearance in “Asylum of the Daleks”

dwiset1

Character Options put together a really nice bit of presentation for this set, making me think it might have been originally intended as a special SDCC release. It’s a double sided window box with a hexagonal cross-section. You get The Doctor on one side and Oswin on the other. Each side of the package is decked out to represent each respective story. The Doctor’s side has some Victorian shutters and one of the Great Intelligence’s evil snowmen. Toss in some nice shiny foil and damn it looks great!

dwiset2

The flipside, however, is even better as it’s made up to look like the head of a Dalek with the eyestalk forming the portal to view the figure through. The presentation here is obviously a spoiler as it was eventually revealed that Oswin had been converted into a Dalek a long time ago and her appearance throughout the episode was just a projection of herself within her own insane Dalek mind. So cool! Anyway, the box here is very creative and it may just get me to save the packaging on this set because it is so unique and striking. Let’s start things off by looking at The Doctor!

dwiset4

dwiset5

And here we have the 11th Doctor in all his sulky, brooding Victorian garb. It’s a fun figure, particularly since this was a one off look for him. There is some nice detail work on his vest, particularly the pocket watch and chain, which looks fabulous. Unfortunately, the rest of the figure doesn’t showcase some of CO’s best work. The coat and top hat both look a bit off to me. It’s like they’re made out of putty. I’d say it’s the soft plastic used for the coat, but the finish looks the same on the sleeves. I’m not sure what material that coat was supposed to be made out of, but it doesn’t look natural on the figure.

dwiset6

If the coat looks like it’s made out of putty, the hat looks like it’s made out of chocolate. I’m also a bit bummed that it’s not removable, but I can’t say as I didn’t expect it to be one piece with the head. The portrait here is passable, but it’s certainly not up to par with the previous Matt Smith likenesses in this scale. The paint on the face is a lot simpler and more cartoony looking too.

dwiset7

One nice surprise is that The Doctor actually features rotating hinges in the shoulders, a feature that has been hit and miss in the line. On the downside, most of the joints on my figure were stuck and while I didn’t have to bust out the blow dryer, I did have to do quite a bit of finessing. And even after the fact, some of the joints feel rather loose and wobbly, particularly those bicep swivels.

dwiset10

dwiset9

The Doctor comes with his trusty Sonic Screwdriver, which may sound like a given, but there have been more than a few sets where CO declined to toss one in.

dwiset11

dwiset12

And that brings us to what is for most the real star of this set… Oswin Oswald, or if you prefer, “Souffle Girl.” Now, I’m sure there are collectors out there who would have preferred a proper Clara. This version never actually met The Doctor until she was turned into a Dalek and it does seem odd that CO didn’t go all out for “The Snowmen” but I’m glad they went this route if for no reason other than that red dress kicked all sorts of ass. Plus, now that they got the portrait sculpted, I highly doubt this is the last we’ll see of Clara in the 5-inch scale. So, let’s go ahead and start with that portrait.

dwiset14

It’s garnered some criticisms early on, and I’ll concede it isn’t up there with some of CO’s finest work. It is, however, one of those sculpts that looks passable until you get up too close and then it starts to fall apart. The neck seems way too chunky and the sculpted hair defeats the neck articulation. Also, like The Doctor, the paintwork on the face here is rather simple and cartoony. Let’s be fair, Jenna Coleman is a shockingly attractive young lady and I think getting it perfect in this scale was never going to happen. We’ve certainly seen better, but at this point I’ll take what I can get.

dwiset16

The dress is soft plastic and layered onto the figure, which allows for a surpisingly functional waist swivel. I also like the work they did on her tool belt. All the little bits and bobs are nicely sculpted and painted and the belt itself just hangs loose around her waist. The paint and detail on Oswin’s sneakers are also well done.

dwiset13

Like The Doctor, Clara features the coveted rotating hinges in the shoulders. She is missing swivels in the waist, but the rest of the articulation is what we’re used to seeing in this line. She even has a surprisingly good amount of hip articulation, thanks to the rubbery material used for the dress.

dwiset18

Of course, they don’t call her “Souffle Girl” for nothing and Oswin does indeed come with her very own burnt souffle. Where does she get the eggs??? If this isn’t the first time an action figure came with a souffle as an accessory, I’d like to know what that first figure was. Maybe The Swedish Chef from Palisade’s Muppets line?

dwiset19

dwiset3

dwiset17

dwiset21

I nabbed The Impossible Set for $35 from my regular Who Merchandise Provider and tossed in some DVDs I was missing to help offset the shipping. It’s a damn good price for two niche figures, particularly considering that any 5-inch figures from this point on are special releases and I would have expected an accompanying price hike. I should be more disappointed that the overall production quality on these figures isn’t quite up to par, but the truth is that I’m just so happy that they were released I’m willing to be more forgiving. As a collector, that’s not a great position to be in, but it’s the truth nonetheless. I’m also happy to say that Character Options has another 5-inch scale set due to turn up soon. It’s based off the episode “Time of the Doctor” and it will give us our first look at the 12th Doctor in this scale!