GI JOE 25th Anniversary Dreadnoks by Hasbro

This Friday I’m putting the Sigma 6 line on hold to check out some 25th Anniversary stuff, which still happens to be my all time favorite line of modern JOEs. Completing my team of the original three Dreadnoks, however, was a real pain in my ass. The first two, Torch and Ripper, came in a Comic 2-Pack that was easy enough to score, but Buzzer came single carded and I could not find him anywhere. Even on the secondary market he was going for more than I wanted to spend on a lone JOE figure. Eventually, I bit the bullet, paid what I had to and added him to my collection. He’s hung in my Toy Closet ever since waiting for a time for me to open him up and take a look at all three. Well, grab your grape soda and chocy donuts, because that time is now!

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Buzzer comes on a gorgeous card with foil lettering and that always amazing character art. I’m rarely tempted to collect a line MoC, but if I had the extra money and the wallspace to hang them, this 25th Anni. line would be the one I would do it for. I almost hate to open this guy up, but dammit, my Dreadnoks need to be together! Not to be outdone, Torch and Ripper came as a pair in a Comic Pack, and sadly I don’t have an in-package shot to show you. Suffice it to say the presentation was flawless, complete with a reprint of GI JOE #30 as the backdrop. Let’s go ahead and start with Buzzer because I’ve been waiting a year or so to take the time and open him…

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Easily the most conservative looking of these three bastards, Buzzer dons a button down khaki shirt, blue pants and combat boots. His more mainstream look supports his backstory, although for some reason he thought it necessary to reinforce that one shoulder with a piece of plate armor and slap an elbow guard on his right arm.  The detail on Buzzer’s outfit is fantastic. You get some grenades sculpted onto his shoulder strap and belt and skulls sculpted onto his boots. But it’s the tiny silver skull and crossbones belt buckle on this guy that really impresses me.

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The portrait includes Buzzer’s silver sunglasses and his ponytail with some really nice sculpting on his hair and a little bit of paint for his tiny beard.
You’d have to be batshit crazy to go into a warzone with a gasoline tank strapped to your back, but Buzzer doesn’t care and he needs extra fuel for his only weapon, a custom chainsaw.

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This chainsaw remains one of my favorite GI JOE accessories of all time. It’s so lovingly crafted with so much detail and the flame deco on it is just icing on the cake. With a grip on the back and a side grab bar, Buzzer can wield it quite convincingly, which sadly wasn’t always the case with these 25th Anni. figures and their accessories.

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Moving on to Ripper, here we’re getting to what looks like an extra in a Mad Max movie. He sports a cut-off camo shirt with a sculpted combat knife on his shoulder strap and a pair of grenades clipped to his shirt. His right arm is bared to show a beautifully sharp tampo tattoo. Like Buzzer’s belt buckle, Ripper has a little skull hanging from a chain on his belt, which is such an awesome little detail. The sculpt below the waist is the same we saw with Buzzer, but with black boots and the skulls picked out with some silver paint.

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Ripper’s stocky meathead includes a full beard and a full head of hair styled into a mohawk. He has a pair of red punk glasses and a grimace that says he wants to murder you and possibly eat one or two of your internal organs.

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Ripper comes with an elaborate backpack and “jaws of life” rig, which I presume is for prying open vault doors or the cockpits of JOE vehicles, rather than saving lives. In theory, it’s a nice piece of kit, complete with a hose running from the hand unit to the backpack and you can store the hand unit on the backpack. It’s still not a favorite of mine, just because it’s so specialized and that hose is so unwieldy. The hose is so long that it’s obtrusive and it pops out all the time when I pose him.

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Fortunately, Ripper also comes with one of my favorite JOE accessories: That iconic Dreadnok rifle with curved bayonet. Man, I love this thing! I’ve always been a bit unsure about who this was intended for. It comes right in the middle of the tray and it looks like it’s positioned to favor Torch rather than Buzzer.

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And that brings us to Torch, who he is easily my favorite sculpt of the three figures. We’ve left Mad Max territory and gone to full on contemporary biker thug. Torch’s biker jacket is possibly one of the best executed outfits I can remember Hasbro ever doing in this scale. It’s sculpted separately and attached to the figure’s bare chested body and it looks amazing. The chains on the shoulders and the buckles on the front straps are neatly painted in silver and the back of the jacket is tampo’d with his gang emblem and “Melbourne Maulers.” It’s almost a shame to put his backpack on him and cover up that beautiful piece of work.

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The head sculpt here is pretty great too, with copious sideburns leading into his mustache, dark glasses, and a red bandanna. Torch even has a tiny tattoo tampo’d on his left forearm. Hasbro put so much love and detail into these guys!

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As his name suggests, Torch’s weapon of choice is a blowtorch, with a tank on his back. Jeez, don’t stand next to Torch or Buzzer when the bullets start flying! Unfortunately, a few things conspire to make Torch’s torch not so great. The plastic hose that connect the torch to the backpack is rather restrictive and his right hand isn’t sculpted to grip the handle very well. Getting him to hold this thing can be a chore. Fortunately, I have a spare one of those Dreadnok rifles to give him. There’s also a holster on his leg where you can clip the torch when it isn’t use.

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Articulation on all three of these figures is identical. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and ankles. The wrists swivel and the knees have double hinges. There are ball joints in the torsos and in the necks. While it all sounds good on paper, the 25th Anniversary figures have become notorious for some poor articulation designs. It’s virtually impossible to get these figures to hold rifles across their chests with both hands and the forearms are pegged in to allow the swivel and they frequently pop out. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances that mar some otherwise great sculpts.

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With the Dreadnoks always being a favorite of mine, it’s great to finally have this trio together and on my JOE shelf. Considering how much I love the 25th Anni. line, it’s no small compliment when I say that I think these three are among the best this line has to offer. They capture everything I loved about the original characters, give them some highly detailed gear and made them lots of fun to play with. It’s a pity I’ll never pony up for that 25th Zaranna figure, but at some point I’ll still have to double back and pick up that Dreadnok 7-pack that Hasbro did a while back.

Transformers Commemorative Series Insecticons by Hasbro

My Unite Warriors Superion should be shipping any day now. Hopefully it will be here in time for next week’s Transformers Thursday. In the meantime, here’s a set that’s been sitting on my shelf for a long while and one that seemed appropriate to look at now. Not only are the Insecticons getting a whole lot of love from the Third Parties these days (got my Fans Toys versions on pre-order!), but the original figures recently got re-re-released as part of Takara’s Platinum Edition line.

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In case you’re unfamiliar, the Commemorative Series was a line of G1 reissues exclusive to Toys R Us back in the day. The releases came in some snazzy G1 inspired boxes, usually with velcro-secured front flaps. This was some fantastic presentation! Walking into Toys R Us and seeing these things stacked high on the shelves was like a dream come true. Many of the Autobot cars got re-releases as well as the Seeker Jets and even a very Takara-esque Powermaster Optimus Prime, which is still one of my all-time favorite old-timey Transformers toys. Needless to say being able to walk into a store and snag all three Insecticons in one neat box made me a happy camper. There’s not a whole helluva lot to say about these guys, but I’ll still take some time to bask in their retro awesomeness. Let’s start with their insect modes…

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Kickback was probably my favorite as a kid and still is. He’s a really cool looking cyber-grasshopper. I’ll just go ahead and point out here how amazing the decos on these toys were. The black and purple go so great together, but when you toss in the chrome parts and the translucent yellow these things had a way of turning heads. It’s rare that I can remember being attracted to a toy as a kid just because of its colors, but here’s a case where it was probably a big part of it and today they’re still as gorgeous as ever. My favorite thing about Kickback was always his wings and his creepy, almost featureless, insect head.

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I think Bombshell probably fell in at number two. He’s got a nice compact alt mode and I was a big fan of that needle-like protuberance coming off his head. One problem with these reissues is that the stickers don’t stick so well. Every time I take these out of the box I need to press some of them back on. Eventually, I’ll get tired of doing it and just glue them down proper like.

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And that brings us to their leader, Shrapnel. Just because I say his insect mode comes up third, doesn’t mean I don’t like them. It’s like saying that French Vanilla is my third favorite ice cream. I actually love Shrapnel’s chromed out pincers and the fact that they have laser guns on the ends. I think the only thing that mars this insect mode for me is he kind of looks looks more like a bug riding along on wheels than the others do.

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I’m not going to rank these guys when it comes to their robot modes, because I don’t think I could choose a favorite. They all look so good. Each figure is pretty close to its animated counterpart and with at least five basic points of articulation, these are some of the more playable of the G1 Transformers toys. Their transformations are also so simple that they were super fun to play with because I could take them from bug to robot and back in no time. Kickback has the cleanest of all robot modes and the way his insect legs join together to form his robot arms is pretty sophisticated stuff for a G1 toy. I also really dig the drum magazine on his rifle. It kind of looks like a futuristic Tommy Gun.

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Bombshell is a little more bug kibbly, but still a great looking figure. I knew some kids who transformed him with his cerebro shell launcher flat against his back, but they were wrong. I liked the distinctive look it gave him and the fact that it could be ready to fire at any time. Bombshell’s head sculpt is also super distinctive. That mouth plate always reminds me of the lower part of a knight’s helmet. His double-pronged rifle is also really distinctive looking and of the three it’s the only one that actually fits into the hand via a peg.

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Shrapnel’s big appeal for me will always be the head reveal. I love how the pincers split open to show his face. It’s brilliant. I also really dig the laser guns he’s got mounted under his wrists. The original Shrapnel that I had as a kid got so loose that it was almost impossible to keep his legs extended while he stood, but thankfully I don’t have that problem with this reissue. At least not yet.

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Even after nearly all of my Commemorative Series figures have gone the way of Ebay, this one remains and forever will. It’s impossible for me to put my finger on exactly why I love the Insecticons so much, but it’s an affection that was bred from both the cartoon and the original toys and one that I’ve never managed to shake. Being able to get a brand new minty set of these back in the day meant a hell of a lot to me and I think these figures hold up incredibly well even after all these years. The original price on this set was just under forty bucks, which didn’t seem too unreasonable at the time. Sure, they’re small and simple figures but I expect Hasbro to goose the price on these collector reissues and at about thirteen bucks a figure I was happy. Five years or so later I would expect some inflation, but when I saw the $90 price tag on the Platinum Edition I was rather taken aback. The scary thing is, if that were the first reissue and I didn’t already have a set, I might have ponied up for it. One thing’s for sure, getting these guys out and playing around with them again has me super pumped for the Fans Toys versions, the first of which should be shipping pretty soon!

Star Trek The Next Generation: Lt. Worf by Diamond Select

Thus far the DST editions of Warp Speed Wednesday have been focusing on Deep Space Nine, so today I thought I’d mix it up with a little Next Generation action with pre-Ds9 Worf. It never fails to amaze me that a spin-off of such a classic series could have produced such iconic characters in its own right, and yet Next Gen certainly did that. Even to someone like me, who grew up watching Classic Trek before Next Gen was a thing, Worf has become as iconic to the Trek franchise as someone like Spock. And what could have easily been a throwaway gimmick, putting a Klingon in Starfleet, turned into something special. I credit a lot of that to Michael Dorn and his genuine love and enthusiasm for portraying the character. The dude is even trying to get a new series about Worf off the ground and I say more power to him.

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The sculpt on this figure is one of their best. Sure, it’s the standard Next Gen uniform from the later Seasons, but that’s my favorite style, when they did away with the jumpsuits and adopted the tunic. Worf’s uniform includes his Klingon baldric, which is a separate piece made from soft plastic. It’s a great sculpt and it not only makes sense to be a separate piece, as Diamond likes to reuse these bodies, but it just works better that way too.

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The portrait is also one of the best I’ve looked at so far. It probably helps that Worf’s Klingon features give the sculptors more to work with, but they really nailed Michael Dorn in the makeup, ponytail and all. The wash really brings out the detail on his forehead ridges. The paint on his beard is a little off, but nothing too bad.

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The articulation here is the same we’ve been seeing all along. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs feature a t-crotch at the hips and hinges in the knees and ankles. As usual the lack of lateral movement in the hips or any swivels in the legs makes for a rather static figure. It’s a little more frustrating here because Worf is a man of action and I want to put him in all sorts of kick ass poses. Instead, this is more of a Worf to stand at the Tactical Station and get shot down by Picard every time he suggests they take reasonable precautions to protect the ship. 

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Worf’s accessories were advertised on the package as “Starfleet Gear” and included a hand phaser, a phaser rifle and a tricorder. He also came with two extra hands clenched into fists. I get it, Worf likes to hit things, but I remember him usually hitting people with that open hand palm attack, which must have been one of the first things they taught at the Academy . Eh, I don’t want to be too picky. Fists are fine.

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The hand phaser is the same accessory I’ve alread featured with past figures. It’s a simple enough accessory and possibly a little undersized. This is also one of those cases where it’s tough to get him to hold it right. I’d much rather had a phaser-holding hand than a fist. Why can’t Diamond ever seem to get this right? I can kind of make it work, but clearly the right hand is made for his other weapon.

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Yes, the phaser rifle! It’s the older, boxy style from Next Gen’s pre-movie days, which I like better than the sexy newer model. Actually, to clarify, I like the way the old one shoots with an actual phaser beam, before they turned it into a pulse “pew pew” kind of weapon that didn’t feel much like Star Trek to me. This one even has the range finder flipped up.

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I’m more than a tad disappointed that Worf didn’t come with any Klingon gear, but it’s easy to just borrow that stuff from Jadzia Dax. After all, a Klingon Warrior needs his bat’leth.

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Next to maybe Odo, Worf here is easily my favorite DST figure I looked at since starting this whole Warp Speed Wednesday thing. Sure, more articulation would have gone a long way, but damn if this isn’t a great figure on every other level. Diamond must really love Worf because the character also got a couple different versions out during this line’s run so don’t be surprised when he turns up here again in the future. It’s also interesting to note that DST has recently given Worf another go at the figure treatment, although the new one is one of those weird action figure-statue kind of things that has even more limited articulation and swappable parts to achieve different poses. But I have no plans on adding that one to my collection anytime soon.

World of Nintendo: Diddy Kong and Deluxe Donkey Kong by Jakks Pacific

It’s been a couple of weeks since I chronicled my delight in discovering Jakks’ World of Nintendo 4-inch line of figures. I loved Mario and Luigi so much that I quickly snatched up a bunch more. Today we’re looking at Diddy Kong, another of the standard carded figures as well as my first of the Deluxe boxed 6-inch figures, Donkey Kong! I’m excited to have at these toys, so let’s start with the packaging…

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Diddy comes in the same carded bubble as we saw with the Mario Brothers. He even still comes with the mystery accessory. The only real difference is the color of the card is now yellow instead of red. Donkey Kong, on the other hand, comes in an awesome window box to contain his larger stature. Yes, DK is a 6-inch figure, but he’s still designed to be in scale with the 4-inch line and I absolutely love that! While Diddy’s package isn’t collector friendly, DK’s can survive the opening process pretty well if you’re careful getting him off the tray. Let’s start with Diddy.

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Diddy is just a smidge shorter than Mario and the back of his card actually calls him a 3 3/4″ figure, which is really confusing and makes me think that Jakk’s doesn’t get the whole scale thing. Yes, I’m sure that’s his height, but he’s still part of the 4-inch line. Why you gotta be confusing people with that shit, Jakk’s? Anyway, Diddy’s sculpt is packed with personality. While I know he’s been in a lot of games, the only ones of his that I’ve put in a lot of time with are the Donkey Kong Country games on the SNES and Donkey Kong 64. And when I say a lot of time, I mean an obscene amount of time. Especially DK 64. Man, I used to zone out in front of that game for hours and hours after work. Just thinking about it makes me want to dig it out again. Diddy’s got sculpted brown fur and an adorable monkey face. He also comes sporting his red shirt with the yellow stars and a red ball cap with the Nintendo logo printed across it. The paint on my figure is pretty solid with just a little bit of slop around the eyes.

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Diddy comes sort of pre-posed in a bent over monkey-like fashion, but he still sports a good deal of workable articulation. The back of the package claims he has fourteen points, so let’s count them off. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs are the same with rotating hinges at the hips, hinged knees, and swivels in the ankles. The head looks like it might be ball jointed, but all I can get out of it is a side to side rotation and lastly his tail can swivel at the base. And that does indeed make fourteen points!

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Diddy’s mystery accessory comes in a banana box. What could it be? Yup, it’s bananas! The bunch of bananas is just a molded piece of yellow plastic and doesn’t feature the nicer paint apps found on the Power Up Mushrooms that came with Mario and Luigi. The figure really isn’t designed to interact with it or hold it either, but it’s still a welcome accessory.

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Moving on to Donkey Kong and holy crap, I love this guy! DK is a whole lot bigger than the figures I’ve looked at so far and that’s what makes him a Deluxe. His scale works well when compared to Diddy or Mario and I think it’s really cool that they made him a bigger figure, rather than just do him in 4-inch style like the others. Mr. Kong comes sporting his now trademark red “DK” necktie. By the time this design came out, Donkey Kong had already become a major video game icon. I can’t think of another company that could take a character like that, slap a red necktie on him, make him a mascot, and manage to sell it, but Nintendo can do it and nobody even blinks. The rest of the figure is mostly comprised of sculpted brown fur and a set of big hands and feet.

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Oddly, I’ve seen some negative fan reaction Donkey Kong’s portrait, particularly his ridiculous toothy grimace but I just don’t get it the hate. Sure, it’s goofy, but we’re talking about a gorilla wearing a necktie, we passed goofy about six exits back. No, I really like the head sculpt on this guy. His stare is downright creepy and when coupled with the wide grin he reminds me of those cymbal-clanging monkey toys of days gone by. The ones that caused endless nightmares for so many innocent children. I also like the swirl of hair on the top of his head. It looks like that final swirl of ice cream you get out of a soft serve machine.

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While Donkey Kong is a bigger figure, he actually doesn’t feel a whole lot heavier than the smaller figures and I suspect he’s mostly hollow. He also sports less articulation with only ten points. His arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, have hinged elbows, and the wrists are hinged and also swivel. HIs legs are ball jointed at the hips, and his ankles can swivel, but there’s no knee articulation. Donkey Kong features a hinge in the torso and his neck can rotate. I can still have plenty of fun with him, but the lack of articulation in the knees is a bit of a bummer.

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Some people may be disappointed by Donkey Kong. He’s a larger Deluxe figure, but features less articulation and also no mystery accessory. On the other hand, he was only $14.99, which feels like a pretty great deal. I’m sure Jakks had to cut some costs to make the larger figure work out and I’m fine with that. Truth be told I’m just as delighted with this line of figures this time around as I was when I got Mario and Luigi and I still find myself hoping that Jakks can keep this line going for a long, long time. Meanwhile, I’ve already got my next two figures on deck and waiting to be opened, so I’ll try to swing back next week to check out Wario and Yoshi!

Masters of the Universe Classics: Sssqueeze by Mattel

Another month, another mad attempt to get in the month’s Matty figures before the new one is upon us. It’s doubly hard now that I’ve cordoned off more than half the week to dedicated franchises, so that’s something I may have to rethink. Anywho… this month’s Club Eternia figure is one that I think a lot of fans have been waiting for… Sssqueeze. Yeah, there was also a Quarterly figure this month as well, but I’ll have to get to him next week.

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What is a normal sized bubble for most other Classics figures is tight quarters for Sssqueeze as his arms are all coiled up by his sides. Aww, it kind of looks like he’s giving himself a hug. Otherwise, the packaging is business as usual with the lovely Greyskull inspired deco and a bio on the back.

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With Sssqueeze out of the package, the first thing I’m going to say is how much I love the coloring on this figure. The green and purple and orange all look amazing together, but I think it’s the beautiful bright green that really shines out in particular. Plus, the under sides of his arms are painted yellow and look like the belly of a snake. You also get some matte grey for his boots and leg armor with some silver gloss paint on the fixtures.

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But just because I’m starting out with the coloring doesn’t mean the sculpt here isn’t something special. The scale patterns sculpted into the arms is impressive, as is the musculature in Sssqueeze’s six-pack of abs. I like the barbed fixtures on the front of the leg armor and the sculpted Snakemen logo on his chest armor is nice work.

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And the portrait is pretty stellar too. I love how T4H have managed to give each of the Snakemen their own personality. In this case, Sssqueeze is looking particularly vicious with the extra long jaw and rows of serrated teeth. It’s a thing of beauty.

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Articulation is the usual fare for MOTUC figures with the obvious exception of the arms. Instead of swivel cut biceps and hinged elbows you get two long pieces of gloriously bendy plastic, presumeably with a wire in there to help them hold their shape. They are capped off with large hands that can easily double as fists and have swivels the wrist bracers. The rest includes the usual rotating hinged shoulders, ball jointed hips, hinged knees and ankles, swivel at the waist, ab-crunch hinge, and ball jointed neck.

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Lastly, Sssqueeze comes with a Snake Staff. It’s actually not the same repackaged one we’ve been seeing over and over again. The curled tail makes it look more like a seahorse to me, but then the angular head gives me a Norse vibe, like it belongs on the prow of a Viking ship. Pretty cool.

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If there were a running theme to my Snake Men features it would be called “How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Snake Men.” I never cared much for these guys, but Classics has given me a new found appreciation of them with each and every release. Ssssqueeze is certainly one of the goofiest, but I mean that in the most complimentary way possible and I totally dig him. This is one of those figures where Matty was able to work the gimmick into the figure without compromising the aesthetics of the line. Those big arms make him tons of fun to play with and his bright and beautiful colors really make him pop on the shelf.

GI JOE SIgma 6: Tunnel Rat by Hasbro

I’m pressing on with this whole GI JOE thing on Fridays this Summer as I work my way through a box of Sigma 6 figures sprinkled with some 25th and 50th Anniversary stuff I never got around to looking at. I had so much fun playing with Snake Eyes last Friday that I decided to knock out another S6 figure and today it’s Tunnel Rat. There’s no packaged shot, so let’s get right to the figure…

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And here he is! Tunnel Rat is certainly no newcomer to the JOE team, but this S6 version of the character is a pretty big departure to what I’m used to. And that’s OK, because this line is all about new directions. Can I tell you right now how freaking terrified I am at the very concept of Tunnel Rat’s job. I’m not talking so much about the explosive ordinance disposal, although that’s pretty scary on its own. No, I mean the going through enemy tunnels shit. If you want some great nightmare fuel get yourself a copy of The Tunnels of Cu Chi. Holy shit! What? Oh yeah, back to the figure.

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TR features the standard buck that this line uses for the slighter built characters. It’s the same we saw for Snake Eyes only with orange highlights and a new pair of sculpted boots. The lean body works well as he has has to snake his way through some tight spots. He also has an equipment harness, which is a combination of elastic and plastic and buckles around his chest and waist. There are peg holes galore on both the body and the harness so you can stick accessories all over him.

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Since it’s the same body as Snake Eyes you also get the cool flip up arm computer. I love this thing!

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I like the head sculpt a lot. The features are particularly well defined, especially the nose and mouth and ears. The paint for the eyes and eyebrows is super crisp. He has a skull cap and a pair of goggles with an elastic strap, which can be worn up on his forehead, down around his neck, or over his eyes. Naturally, you also get the standard issue metal dog tag on chain for around his neck.

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Tunnel Rat features the same articulation as Snake Eyes, which means a ton of rotating hinges. You get them in his shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. He can swivel at the waist and you get ball joints in the torso and neck. As usual, the joints are strong and satisfying and the figure is wonderfully durable.

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GEAR!!! I love gear and weapons and accessories! Sigma 6 is a line that delivers and Tunnel Rat is no exception. The biggest showpiece in his collection is his sled-backpack. This thing clips onto his harness and while it’s fairly large and bulky it isn’t unreasonable as a backpack. I dig how the two snake lights angle up on his shoulders making them useful in both modes.

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When you take it off of him and extend out the lower wheels it becomes a sled similar to the creepers that mechanics use. He can use this to inch his way through tunnels or perhaps under explosive devices. Pretty neat.

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Next up, he has this totally bitchin butterfly knife that really works. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of these included with an action figure before. It’s such a cool piece and I could imagine him using it to pry plates off of bomb casings, cut wires, or just fight with when he runs out of ammo.

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Grenades! Tunnel Rat comes with two grenades with pegs that allow them to be held on various parts of his body. These include some neon green paint that highlights most of his gear.

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And then we get to his guns. For starters, he has an automatic weapon with a peg so he can wear it on his hip or on his back. The tiny magazine is even removable. The gun works really well with the figure’s articulation. You can get all sorts of great poses out of him with it.

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And lastly, there’s his assault rifle. Again, some of the detail on this piece is picked out with neon green paint, which I think looks rather cool. Maybe it’s designed so he can find it in the dark. It includes a strap so you can sling it on his shoulder or across his back. Surpringly, the magazine does not come out. Weird that they would make that a feature on the tiny gun and not the larger weapon.

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So yeah… Tunnel Rat is all sorts of awesome. The sheer playability of his articulation combined with all that neat gear make him so much fun to pick up and so hard to put down. Even for a figure that shares almost an entire buck, he feels so unique and he’s loaded with personality. After a couple years of not having him, it’s damn good to welcome him back to the collection.

Warbotron Combined!

Few things have riled my OCD like Warbotron naming their initial combiner Warbotron. In the name of sanity I couldn’t call today’s Feature “Warbotron by Warbotron.” And it gets even more annoying now that the company is on to other combiners. I’m starting off with a petty rant like this because I have precious little else to rant about when looking at this amazing Third-Party homage to Bruticus. Yes, there were a few initial bumps along the way, but once I got over the hump I beheld this amazing behemoth on my desk and I did gaze upon it in awe…

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Hell yeah, that’s Bruticus all right and man, do I love this thing! Much about the combined mode speaks for itself. At about 18-inches tall, he’s a heavy beast of a figure and he’s really nicely proportioned. I know there was some question about the colors being too bright on the individual bots, but I think the deco looks great as the gestalt. Even from the back he looks pretty clean.

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So, let’s talk a bit about putting him together. The only real hurdle I had was in getting Fierce Attack into the torso mode and that’s just because I couldn’t get the left shoulder assembly to lock in straight. I played around with it for like ten minutes before it suddenly just seemed to right itself. Maybe coincidently (or maybe not) that happens to be the shoulder on the robot mode that’s really tight, but hey alls well that ends well. I like that there are little arms in the back that swing out and lock the shoulder assemblies into place. Boy, Hasbro’s Combiner Wars Menasor could have used that very thing. Sure, you could argue that using Fierce Attack’s trailer to make the upper legs and pelvis is parts forming blasphemy, but I don’t care. I’m fine with some degree of it in combiners and at least it serves a purpose as part of the truck. Apart from getting the shoulder right, getting to the torso was easy-peasy as is most of the rest of the combiner modes.

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Sly Strike and Heavy Noisy are definitely the easiest, especially if you’re going from their alt modes. You’re basically just parting the backs to get the feet pegged in and then folding down the fronts to get the combiner sockets up and ready. Plugging them combiner pegs in below the knees is a bit tricky. They have tabs that lock them into place, and I had to push them with a screwdriver to get them inserted and locked. The same method (and a fair amount of force) was needed to get them out. Fortunately, these are sturdy toys and I wasn’t too worried about breaking anything. The feet form a stable foundation for this beast to stand on and the ankle joints are strong and allow for lateral rockers as well as swivels. Sly holds his perfectly, but every now and then Heavy Noisy tried to drop his. The heavy ratchet joints in the ankles are just stronger than the connection where the ankle post pegs into the legs, so it’s a good idea to hold the figure by the ankle when adjusting the feet. I’ve had Heavy Noisey’s cupola drop off once while posing him and Sly’s side panels sometimes pop out (as evidenced in the above photo), but even these are uncommon occurrences and easily fixed with some adjustments after posing.

warbrute3Air Burst and Whirlwind’s arm modes, on the other hand, are a little less sure of themselves. They’re basically made up from a half-transformed stage between robot and alt mode. In reality these are very similar to the configuration used on Hasbro’s current crop of combiner arms, complete with the twin bars joining bicep to forearm. The robots arms on either figure don’t really peg in anywhere and that’s a little annoying, but that didn’t seem to be a problem when I was playing with him at all. The hands hold in place very well and the combiner ports on the arms are not as difficult to work with as the legs. The only other quibble I have is that I didn’t have anywhere to go with Air Burst’s thruster packs in the arm mode. I should also point out that I have not yet done the torso swap for Air Burst, which means that the hips (or in this case Warbotron’s right elbow) doesn’t ratchet like Whirlwind does. That’s why in the pictures where he’s holding the gun, my Warbotron is a lefty. Otherwise posing the arms feels great and those locking bars behind the shoulders keep everything tight and together.

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The head sculpt is awesome. It’s very G1 Bruticus and it’s made by flipping a helmet and mask right over Fierce Attack’s head. You still get a full range of ball joint movement in the neck. The horn can also be positioned either straight up or angled forward. I also love the fact that they provided a familiar shaped plate on the chest just in case you wanted to put some kind of… oh, I don’t know… maybe a faction sticker there?

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I’ve already hit on some of the particular points of articulation in the arms and legs, but the overall poseability here is great. The crotch plate is hinged to allow for unimpeded forward movement at the hips. With heavy ratchets in the hips, ankles, and knees, Warby’s legs can take his substantial weight in a variety of action poses without too much fear of toppling over and never sliding into the splits in wide stances. In fact, the only time I had issues getting him to stand up was because Heavy Noisy dropped his ankle connection a couple of times. Once I started posing the ankles with a firm grip on the bottom of the leg that wasn’t an issue anymore.

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Naturally, Warbotron can wield that massive gun that came with Fierce Attack and he holds it beautifully. There are pegs on the inside of his hand to secure it and each of his multi-hinged digits can wrap around the grip tightly. Again, if you want him to hold it aloft in his right hand, you’ll have to invest the time in the torso swap for Air Burst. From what I’ve seen it’s not a big deal, but I didn’t want to hold up this Feature until I had time to do it, and fair is fair, I like to give my impressions of a figure as he ships and not after tinkering on the buyer’s end. Nonetheless, even as big and heavy as the gun is, the ratcheting elbows allow him to hold it directly out in a firing position. Not too shabby.

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For me a combiner team is as much about the team of individual robots as it is the combiner, particularly since I display most of these teams as their individual robots. That having been said, Warbotron lives up to the all the hype and excitement that got me to start down this expensive path slightly over a year ago. He’s well thought out (Air Burst’s torso not withstanding!), wonderfully proportioned, and generally fun to play with. He scales very well with the Generations Deluxes and if you want to cheat on scale a little, it’s fun to have him interact with the Legends. Of course, that leads us to the inevitable question: With MMC’s Feral Rex reigning supreme as my favorite Third-Party combiner, does Warbotron get to knock him off his throne? Gosh, that’s a tough one. It’s really, really close. I have more nostalgia for Bruticus than I do Predaking but both are such impressive looking figures I don’t know that I could definitively pick one over the other. I guess if I had to make a decision I would give the nod to Predaking, but that would be mostly because the Feral Cons were such a well-rounded package whereas Warbotron had a few hiccups along the way. In the end, let’s just say it’s really, really close and that both are likely to remain the best versions of these gestalts available (official or otherwise) for a long while.

Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Dr. Julian Bashir and Lt. Commander Jadzia Dax by Diamond Select

Yes, Warp Speed Wednesday is a thing now, and it will continue to be until I run out of Star Trek stuff to look at. Actually, that would probably take forever, so I’ll just keep it going until I get burned out on the subject for a while. Let’s say another month or so. Last time I looked at the DST figures I gassed on a lot about my love for DS9 and today we’re checking out a pair of figures based on two more of the show’s great characters: Bashir and Dax. My Bashir figure has a lot less interesting stuff, so let’s do him first…

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Bashir’s character was loads of fun. He started out as a great Doctor and a green Starfleet Officer and his character developed quite a bit over the series. He went from seemingly shallow womanizer, who’s favorite pasttime was chasing Dax, to working for secret Starfleet organizations after we got that huge reveal that he was an illegal genetic augment! In the largely vanilla universe of Trek, this was some serious shit! And in terms of screen friendships, I think the Bashir and O’Brien relationship is a tough one to beat. ItLike most of DST’s DS9 figures, Bashir comes in his late series, TNG movie-era uniform. While I liked the more classic look, this one works too. It’s an easy outfit to reproduce as it doesn’t invovlve a whole lot of paint or detail. Apart from the usual creases and wrinkles, most of the sculpting comes in the shoulders, which featues the gray quilted look with the department color coded blue collar peaking out. Of course, you also get the rank pips on the collar and the insignia communicator.

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The likeness here is a pretty damn good one to Alexander Siddig. I haven’t seen him in a lot since Star Trek, but it was cool to see him in Game of Thrones this past season. The paint, on the other hand, is a little odd. It’s like they did a wash on his face to bring out the contours of the sculpt, but really all it does is make him look dirty. Paint rubbing was also a big problem with these figures and as a result mine looks like he’s observing Ash Wednesday.

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The articulation here is passable. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivel cuts in the biceps, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the wrists. Below the waist, things take a turn for the worst. He has a simple and restrictive t-crotch and hinges in the knees and ankles. Bashir can swivel at the waist and his neck is ball jointed. Like a lot of these figures, he’s got that weird thing going on with his legs where you have to bend them a little to get him to stand right.

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With only four out of the original six accessories, my Bashir is incomplete. He does have two Starfleet PADDs, one large and one small. These are pretty standard pieces with stickers for the screens. He can hold them pretty well and while they aren’t terribly exciting, they are staples for any Starfleet Officer.

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Slightly more fun is his raktajino mug and the coon skin cap that he wears when he goes into the Holosuite with Miles to play their Alamo program. I believe the missing accessories are a phaser and hypo. Moving on to Dax…

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Dax was an interesting character because she didn’t fit the usual “I’m an outsider trying to be more/less human” Trek trope. She was indeed one of the more bizarre aliens we saw in the series, thanks to her conjoined nature, but her irreverent, fun-seeking personality made for a rather a-typical Starfleet Science Officer and I found that to be a nice departure for the series. It made for an even more interesting dynamic when she started to get involved with Worf. Once again, we get her in the late series Starfleet uniform. Dax always looked mighty fine in that uniform and the figure reflects that. Of course, apart from her curves, this is the same uniform we saw with Bashir and her articulation is identical. Dax does have a wider-cut and slightly less restrictive t-crotch and her ball jointed head is a lot looser. It’s also nice that they used the taller female buck so she looks pretty good standing next to the much shorter Kira.

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As with Bashir, the likeness here is quite good. I might have preferred a more neutral expression as she looks a little two damn happy. I suppose the smile suits the character’s outgoing personality, but it looks rather out of place when you’re posing her with her weapons. The paint apps on the face are especially good, especially evidenced by her Trill spots.

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Dax comes with six accessories, half are Starfleet and half are Klingon. On the Starfleet side she has a standard hand phaser, a phaser rifle, and a rather large PADD. Unfortunately, Dax’s hands are rather relaxed and not in any way suited to hold her weapons. I can get her to do some things with the rifle, but the hand phaser isn’t much use.

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The Klingon accessories include a bottle of blood wine, a Bat’leth, and a dagger. She can hold the dagger and the bottle OK, and I can make a few things work with the sword, but this isn’t a figure made to be put into action poses and so while the accessories themselves are good, there’s only so much you can do with them.

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When I looked at Kira and Odo, I made the comment that these figures feel dated in some respects, and that still applies here. The articulation sounds good on paper, but they still come off as stiff. Despite their limitations, however, I still dig these figure a lot. The paint and quality of sculpts are competent enough and the likenesses are certainly there. If only Diamond had endowed these figures with some lateral movement in the hips and some thigh swivels, I think they would have been heaps better. Maybe someone somewhere will pick up this license again, but for now I’m just happy to have the characters I love represented on my shelf.

Ame-Comi Heroine-Series: Supergirl (v.2) by DC Direct

A couple of weeks ago I picked up my first Ame-Comi statue and I was pretty impressed, so when the opportunity to get a second one for really cheap availed itself I jumped right on board. Supergirl was an especially nice pick up because the Bishoujo Supergirl statue has become a bit too pricey for me to go back for and so the character has no representation on my “over sexualized anime statue shelf.” We can’t have that! This time I’ll spare you the long winded Bishoujo vs. Ame-Comi diatribe and get right to the goods. Let’s start with the packaging.

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Here’s the packaging and it’s all kinds of beat up. The seller was looking to unload it cheap because the box took a hit to the top corner and messed up the plastic. The statue was unharmed and while I would probably not have picked up a Bishoujo with a box in this shape, I’m still testing the waters of this line, so I was more than willing to make the compromise in order to save a little cash. Anyway, the package is the same style of window box that we saw with Mera. It’s got some nice shots of the statue and an extended back with a J-hook so it can hang on a peg or sit on a shelf. Let’s bust her open.

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The composition is pretty creative in that it has Supergirl admiring herself in a detached sideview mirror of a car. I’d like to think that she found it following in the wake of the  holocaust, but if we’re dealing with that universe, I suppose it’s just as likely she tore it off some poor citizen’s car to check her make up with.

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Her pose is pure cheesecake. She’s got her hip tossed to the right with her hand resting on it and the other holding up the mirror. Her costume features a pleated skirt, which goes slightly transparent as you get to the bottom of it. You also get the iconic S-shield and a pretty cool yellow collar with what looks like Kryptonian writing on it. The top of the outfit has cut outs on the sides and some yellow piping along with a short cape that blows off to the left. The ensemble is finished off with a pair of red boots with more yellow piping. The designer actually put a lot more detail and love into the costume then I’m used to seeing and I applaud them for that.

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And, because this is an anime-style statue, you get a heaping dose of cleavage in the front and a panty shot from behind, because… fan service!

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It’s only in the portrait where this statue stumbles for me. What’s frustrating is that I can’t quite put my finger on why. It’s like someone described what anime style was to the artist and he did his best to reproduce it and the result is a sort of western-eastern hybrid. I don’t hate it, but something just looks off about it. Ironically, I get a similar feel off of the recent She-Hulk Bishoujo statue, which, even with twenty-something pieces in my collection, is the first comic-inspired statue in that line that I am passing on. The hair is a little chunky, but it has a decent wind-blown look to it. The yellow paint, however, is laid on a bit thick and the paint for the eyes could have been a lot neater.

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The mirror is well done with a reflective adhesive on it so you can actually see her reflection in it. Unfortunately, she isn’t actually looking directly at it. There’s actually some articulation to be had here via cuts in the shoulders. They offer a little variety, but nothing too crazy.

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The base is a simple, black plastic oval with the “Ame-Comi Heroine-Series” logo printed on it in blue. The figure attaches to the base using pegs. It’s a snug and serviceable fit, but I had no problems getting her attached.

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Supergirl is a decent statue, but I didn’t fall head over heels for her like I did the Mera statue. I like what they did here and honestly from the neck down it’s a total winner. Had the portrait had that more traditional anime look to it, I could have bumped this piece from good to great, but as it is, I’m sure I can find a spot for her at the back of one of my shelves. Hey, at just under thirty bucks shipped, I can’t complain.

Firefly (Legacy Collection): Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Washburne by Funko

Ah, Firefly, what is there to say about it other than it was killed before it’s time. I actually didn’t get to see it until after Fox had already shit-canned it and indeed I’d never even heard about it until a year or so after it was cancelled and I picked up the DVDs because I was bored and the premise sounded interesting. It was love at first sight and if nothing else, I think it was cool that we got a pretty damn fine feature length film out of the deal too. That’s one thing more then most failed TV series get… what’s another thing? Action figures! This actually wasn’t the first stab somebody took at making figures out of this franchise. Even before these and Funko’s ReAction line, Diamond Select did a single wave of some super shitty figures based off of the Serenity movie. There were two versions of Mal, two versions of Jayne, and a Reaver and they were pretty awful. Let’s hope Funko fared better here.

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One thing Funko has down pat by now is their 6-inch figure packages. You get a couple of simple window boxes similar to what we’ve seen from Hasbro’s Black Series and even NECA’s Planet of the Apes line. These have a great deco, which is heavily inspired by the series artwork and you get character names and portraits on the spine. [Jayne: “‘pine? Is ‘pine OK?”] Quiet, you! Your figure will get its turn eventually! Anyway, I like everything about the presentation here, maybe even enough to actually keep the packages, as they are collector friendly and they do look shiny all lined up on the shelf. The backdrop behind the tray is even illustrated with a nice big sky. And before you ask, No! I’m keeping it! You can’t have it. You can’t take the sky from me!!! Today I’m starting with just two figures in the series. These are actually #1 and #5, but I thought it appropriate to feature The Heroes of Serenity Valley together. Let’s start with the Captain…

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Captain Mal comes in his trademark space-western garb, complete with khaki trousers, high boots, button down shirt, suspenders and his infamous brown coat (please, don’t call it a jacket!). The paint wash on the coat and the shirt is rather heavy handed and the decision to go with a gloss paint for the shirt is a strange one, but overall, I like the work on the outfit. That is not to say, I don’t have a few other gripes.

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The coat uses the usual plastic vest with sculpted sleeves and i normally don’t have any issues, but in this case, the coat tends to ride up a bit making it pretty obvious that the sleeves are not part of the coat. It also tends to give Mal a bit of a hunched look. Still, a dealbreaker this is not and overall I think the figure looks fine. The gunbelt features a working holster and I really dig the way the right flap of the coat is sculpted to fall back behind the holster. Nice!

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The likeness is not at all a bad one. I think it holds up really well under scrutiny, but looks best when viewed from a bit of a distance. It’s definitely Nathon Fillion and a far sight better than the likenesses we’ve been getting in Hasbro’s 6-inch Black line. It’s pretty clear that Gentle Giant is still at the helm.

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The articulation here hits all the right points for a 6-inch retail figure. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have swivels in the thighs. The ankles feature both hinges and rockers and there are ball joints in the torso and neck. You’ll note I didn’t mention the wrists, because these are just bizarre. The hands are hinged and placed on these tiny posts, which connect to ball joints inside the sleeve. They look very frail and neither wrist wanted to move at first. I threw caution to the wind and was able to get them started so now they do indeed have swivels and hinges, but man, that was a tense moment. I should also note that while I have no other issues with frozen joints, Funko is still using the clear plastic for the joints that have caused them and DC Collectibles so much trouble.

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Mal comes with two guns. you get his trusty pistol and a Winchester-style shotgun. He can hold the pistol in either hand quite well. I wasn’t really able to get him into a convincing firing position with the rifle, aside from doing a little trick with the perspective, but he can still hold it in some decent poses. Moving on to Zoe…

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Zoe sports similar khaki pants (minus side striping) and high boots as her Captain. She’s also got the brown vest and green shirt that I remember her wearing for most if not all of the episodes. Little details include the wide bracelet on her right wrist and the thin strip necklace and choker sculpted on. The gunbelt is a separate piece and includes sculpted and painted cartridges and a rather unique fast-draw holster for her shotgun.

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As with Mal, I think the likeness to Gina Torres is there. It’s a good portrait with clean paint. The hair is a bit at odds with the neck articulation, but it’s pliable enough and has parts at the shoulders to make it work a little better. The paint is clean, although her right eye is ever so slightly higher than where it was supposed to land. Still, in terms of googly eyed figures, I’ve seen a lot worse than this.

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The articulation is quite close to Mal. I’m not sure if Zoe features ankle rockers, but if she does, I can’t get them to work and I’m not going to force the issue. Her wrists aren’t on the same super thin posts, os that’s a plus. Most of the other joints are fine right out of the package, but I have some trouble getting her right elbow to swivel and again, not going to force it.

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Also like Mal, Zoe comes with two guns. You get her trademark shotgun and a pistol. The shotgun fits nicely into the loop on the belt holster. Her pistol doesn’t really have anywhere to go when she isn’t holding it, but maybe I’ll lend it to her husband when I get his figure.

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I’ve wanted a set of Firefly figures in my collection ever since I saw the show and now it’s finally happening! All in all, these turned out to be very nice figures with just a few bumps along the way. I’d say my biggest criticism is that the little quibbles I have are things that Funko should have probably worked out by now. With a couple waves of Game of Thrones, a wave of Magic the Gathering, and at least one other 6-inch Legacy line out there, it feels like they should be beyond some of these rookie mistakes. That having been said, I’m happy to report no QC issues this time around, so I guess there is some improvement. I didn’t buy these as a complete Wave, but I’m still going to try to get back to the line at some point next week and check out some more figures. This is definitely a line I want to support because I really want to see a second Wave.