Transformers Combiner Wars: Starscream (Leader Class) by Hasbro

It’s the first Transformers Thursday in a while that I’m not talking about Protectobots, but I am still sticking with the Combiner Wars line this week. Back in July, I checked out Hasbro’s bold new take on the Seekers with their Leader Class Thundercracker, built from the Generations Jetfire mold and if you haven’t read that Feature, I suggest glancing back at it. Starscream is, as expected, a repaint of the same figure so I’m going to try to be brief and focus on the minor differences.


Not much different to say about the box. It’s the now standard Combiner Wars deco with Starscream packaged in robot mode. There is no comic book included, but you do get a nifty art card. While there are some troublesome twisty ties to remove, the package is totally collector friendly. Let’s start with his alt mode.



Yup, the mold is identical to Thundercracker and it’s basically the Jetfire mold without the booster pieces and with a brand new pair of wings. This is a very attractive jet mode and works beautifully for me as a Seeker. I’m also still impressed that the cockpit actually opens. Nice! The new deco is very pretty and looks appropriate for Starscream. The off-white plastic is a little light, but not too bad, and the striping on the wings coupled with the Decepticon insignia look outstanding. All the paint is crisp and clean and when you toss in a little blue plastic trim and the yellow tinted cockpit and I’m very pleased with how this jet came out.



Transformation is identical to Thundercracker and Jetfire and I like the engineering here a lot. It’s relatively simple, but there’s some clever stuff happening. Probably not the depth of engineering everyone is going to be expecting from a Leader Class toy, but in my old age, I’m getting to appreciate figures that can convert back and forth without too much frustration.


Obviously, the robot mode is also identical to Thundercracker, except for the new deco, which carries forward the same red, blue, and off-white as the jet mode. Again, I think the colors here are great and this robot mode makes for a fantastic updated Seeker. The only thing I’m really missing are the shoulder scoop towers, and I’m throwing it out there to all you third-parties… if you want to make a set of shoulder scoops for these guys, I’ll buy them. There are even obvious crevices where they could be made to fit. Easy money! I’m just saying!


Of course, the cockpit on the chest is faked out and Starscream actually wears the nose of the jet mode down his back. It’s the biggest departure from the traditional Seeker look, but it doesn’t bother me all that much. I still would have liked it if the front of the wings were finished like the back, but I’m sure that would have added a lot of cost to production.


The only real disappointment here is that the head sculpt isn’t new. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great looking noggin, and at least the face is painted differently, but for a Leader Class repaint, I would have thought Hasbro could at least pony up for a new head with a douchebag Starscream smirk. I would have much preferred it to the dopey crown.


Yes, the crown is the only thing really new here and I’m really tired of this running gag based off such a small scene in the original movie. It can go into the Tote of Forgotten Accessories and rattle around in there with my MP Grimlock crown.




Of course, you also get all the guns that came with Thundercracker. I like the null rays, but I still wish they pegged into the biceps rather than the forearms. You can get them into some great positions, but they sometimes impede articulation more than I would like. The smaller blue guns can still be mounted on his legs and wings, or just leave them off if you think they pollute the Seeker homage. I’m actually fine with them. Lastly, you get the same missile launcher handgun that came with Jetfire and Thundercracker, this time in black. I’m definitely giving this one to Jetfire so I can deep six his red blinged out gun. But be warned, this thing has a hair trigger and I’ve already had to wrestle the missile away from the cat a couple of times.



There are no surprises here at all. Starscream is the straight repaint we all expected and I imagine he’ll be as polarizing a figure as CW Thundercracker. As someone who doesn’t like the Masterpiece Seekers enough to pony up the coin for them, I’m content for now adding Starscream to my MP Decepticon shelf, alongside Combiner Wars Megatron and Soundwave (and soon Shockwave!). I think he’s a great looking figure and now all that’s left is to sit back and wait for Leader Class Skywarp. And man, do I think this mold is going to look amazing in the deco!

Femme Fatales “Hack/Slash:” Cassie Hack by Diamond Select

I can’t remember what got me started reading Tim Seeley’s wonderful Hack/Slash comic. Chances are I just picked up an issue at some point while browsing a comic shop and got hooked. It’s precisely that kind of book where you can open any issue to any page and instantly want to know what the hell is going on. If you like offbeat horror comedy I recommend a look and a lot of it is still available in convenient TPB or Omnibus editions. Sadly, there hasn’t been a lot of Hack/Slash merch out there, which always struck me as weird since there are all sorts of obscure indie comics with action figures or statues.


Ah, but it’s Diamond Select to the rescue via their Femme Fatales line. I’ve reviewed some of these before and it’s a weird little line of economy priced collectible statues that pulls its content from original designs to comic book properties and even something as big as Star Trek. Diamond seems intent on getting more mileage out of this line as they not only produced this Hack/Slash piece, but they just launched a wide reaching sub-line of DC statues based on the art of Bruce Timm, which I’ll start looking at next week.


Getting back on topic, the statue comes in a window box with a deco more or less in line with the last three Femme Fatales statues I bought. The windows let a lot of light in and give you a great look at the statue, which will come in handy if you happen to be buying it off the shelf and want to check the quality of the paintwork. Everything is collector friendly and while I don’t think the deco here is anything to write home about, I’ve still kept all my Femme Fatales boxes just in case I ever need to pack them away.




And here she is out of the box, all set up, and looking mighty fine. Cassie comes already attached to her base, all you have to do is attach her accessories. The bat slips into her left hand and Vlad’s mask hooks on the fingers of her right hand. This PCV sculpt is by Sam Greenwell, who has done some work for DC Collectibles and I think it really does a beautiful job capturing the character and straddling the line between simple comic style with out sacrificing detail.




Cassie’s had some variations to her look throughout her adventures, but I would consider the outfit here pretty iconic for her. She sports a see-through one-piece with skimpy black bikini top and a low-slung skirt, complete with her FaQ belt. She has long striped fingerless gloves, a pair of high top black boots and athletic socks. There are some really nice examples of sculpted detail, like the laces on the boots, the knitting in the socks, and even the stripes on her gloves are part of the sculpt. The paintwork on the outfit is excellent for a piece in this price range. There’s a little slop between her boots and socks, but other then that there’s nothing else to pick at. I dare say that I’ve seen more flubs on far more expensive statues. I will say that I would have preferred they went with her plaid skirt, but apparently DST is saving that for an exclusive release.


The portrait is beautiful and an interesting sculpt, with her sculpted hair eclipsing the right side of her face. If you look at Cassie dead on she has a determined expression, but if you get a little lower and look up at her, she look a tad more vulnerable. Either way she’s very pretty and here too the paintwork is excellent.


The accessories are both welcome additions. The bat has a wood grain texture, sculpted tape on the grip, and several nails sticking out of the tip. There’s also a gruesome crimson wash at the end. It just wouldn’t be Cassie without a weapon. I would have liked it to have “Kiss It” painted on, but they may be saving that for the exclusive too. And then you have Vlad’s mask, which was, in my mind, a necessary addition to have the big guy’s presence felt even though this is a solo piece. The rather clever base is designed to look like the head of an axe, complete with silver paint on the edge and a hole where the axe handle would pass through. As much as I love the design here, it is a tad wobbly, which is really my only complaint about this entire piece.



At approximately 9-inches tall, she fits in really well when displayed next to my Ariel Darkchylde. The statues in Diamond’s Femme Fatales line retail at around $40 and I have to say you’re getting a really nicely crafted piece for your money here. It’s true that most of this line doesn’t tend to hold their value very well. Indeed, this is the first FF piece that I paid full retail on and that’s just because I wanted to support the fact that someone was delivering on the Hack/Slash merch and I didn’t want to take any chances on missing out on Cassie. For any fan of the comic, this is a must-own piece, and I’m not just saying that because there’s nothing else out there.

Masters of the Universe Classics: King Chooblah

I’ve said it many times. I collect Masters of the Universe Classics more because they’re excellent figures than because of any bonds I have with the characters. Sure, I have nostalgia for the core characters, but when a figure like King Chooblah come along I can enjoy him just as much despite the fact that I have no idea who he is. Chooblah is the latest release in Matty’s Club 200X subscription, which draws from the MYP He-Man Reboot and further proves the point that I need to bust out those DVDs for a re-watch because apparently I remember very little of it.


Yeah, there’s a look at the packaging. Nothing new to say here, other than Choobs really fills out that bubble quite nicely because he’s an absolute beast of a figure. That’s it. I got nothing else. The bio on the back assures me that despite being a shaggy, lumbering snow beast, he’s one of the good guys and even his tagline touts him as the “Heroic King of the Kulataks,” which I presume are other shaggy, lumbering snow beasts.


I know I’ve said it before, but for a line that is winding down, I’m really impressed at how Matty has been going balls out on the new sculpts this year, with Buzzsaw Hordak being the glaring exception. While Choobs here still uses the standard MOTUC torso, and probably a couple of other parts, he’s about as far from the normally proportioned Eternian as you can get. The miraculous makeover is carried out mostly by his animal-like lower legs, his shaggy Popeye forearms, and an extra piece of plastic that’s fitted over his shoulders to give him extra bulk up there. The result is wonderfully unique looking figure that feels totally fresh and new.


Chooblah appears to be sculpted in a blueish-gray plastic and painted over with white wash. The effect gives all that painstakingly sculpted fur a lot of depth, creating a veritable feast for the eyes. There’s so much detail invested into this figure’s shaggy coat that I can’t help but be impressed. Some blue paint for his hands and feet and some gray for his claws complete the beastly details.


The head sculpt is magnificent and oozes personality. Thanks to the big shoulders, Chooblah’s head has the illusion of jutting out of the middle of his chest and giving him a hunched appearance, when in reality the head is just plugged into the neck like any other MOTUC figure. The face features more of that great sculpted fur and blue skin with some darker blue used to accent his nose. He’s got some jagged yellow fangs and beady yellow eyes framed by a set of bushy eyebrows. The portrait is topped off by tribal necklace sculpted onto his chest. Damn, this guy looks great!



Because of his rather unusual body, Chooblah’s articulation mixes things up a bit. He isn’t missing much from the usual MOTUC articulation, but rather adds a couple of points. The arms feature the usual rotating hinges in the shoulders and he has them in the wrists too. The elbows are hinged and he has swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees, and then hinged again where the ankles start. He has a swivel in the waist, an ab-crunch hinge, and his neck is ball jointed.



Chooblah comes with one accessory and that’s his gnarled green staff with a hooked top. There’s wood grain sculpted into it and the hook at the end makes it look rather like a shepherd’s staff to me. He can hold it comfortably in either of his massive claws.



The 200X Subscription has been a real treat. Each and every release has been superb and while it’s short run, and relatively small commitment, certainly favored heavily in me subbing to it, I now find myself wishing that it was running longer. That’s especially the case when I look at a figure like King Chooblah and see how much love Matty is willing to invest in the line. The sculpting and paint on this figure are beautiful and it genuinely looks like Matty spared no expense, even when bringing us a relatively niche character. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to bust out those MYP DVDs and get myself back up to speed.

Marvel Legends (Hobgoblin Wave): Anti-Venom by Hasbro

Well, it took me a couple of weeks of diversions, but I’m finally back to looking at the Hobgoblin Wave of Marvel Legends. I’m just now approaching the halfway mark and as I reach over and pull one off the stack, it just so happens to be Anti-Venom! Ah, but if you read the title, you already knew that…


Not a lot new to say about the packaging, other than it has Spider-Man at the top, signifying the theme of this wave and the character’s name at the bottom. Anti-Venom is a big boy, so he fills out the bubble quite well and there’s just barely enough room to squeeze in that puny little Hobgoblin BAF part off to the side. I’ll admit, since I still haven’t found Toxin or Carnage from the last Spider-Man wave, Anti-Venom feels a bit like a consolation prize. But, hey, a prize is still a prize.


I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is a reuse of the Toxin body, which is certainly appropriate. Anti-Venom consists of a simple white buck with the black spider emblem painted on. The body has a bit of a chalky look in some areas, but overall it’s solid and the paint is sharp and clean with just one chip on the stripe running down the right side of his abs. Some might consider the deco bland, but I have a thing for monochromatic figures and Legends has brought us more than a couple.


There’s a hunk of symbiot thorns coming out of his back, which pegs into the hole there. It’s a tad loose, and I may just go ahead and glue it into place.


The head sculpt is also a solid effort with a high gloss black paint used for the face and yellow for the eyes and inside the mouth. The seams on the jawline had me hoping for an articulated jaw, but no such luck. Yeah, I know, I was reaching.



The articulation here is everything I could ask for from a modern Legends. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have swivels at both the thighs and lower legs. The ankles are hinged and have some satisfyingly deep lateral rockers.




Anti-Venom was no doubt an easy release for Hasbro, consisting of just a new paint job and a tweaked head. There are no surprises to be had here. That doesn’t make him any less welcome, though. He’s a great looking figure and another significant name to cross off my Legends list. He also seems to be the dud of this wave as he’s readily available at deep discounts from various online retailers. Ah, but if this figure is considered a dud, Legends is doing all right by me!

Star Wars “The Force Awakens:” (Snow Mission) Rey and Stormtrooper by Hasbro

It’s time to open up some more 3 3/4″ Star Wars figures and this time I’m going with the “Snow Mission” series, which oddly enough consists of Rey and a First Order Stormtrooper. I say it’s odd because neither of these figures seem to fit their “mission” series. Rey is specified as “Starkiller Base” Rey, which we know is on an arctic planet, but she’s still wearing her Jakku robes and we already know that The First Order has specialty Snowtroopers for those arctic climates. Ah, but I’m probably trying to read way too much into a movie that I haven’t even seen yet, so let’s just press on…


No question about it, Hasbro absolutely nailed the packaging for this line. Sure, they’re not at all collector friendly, but the cards are just gorgeous and it’s such a treat to see individual character art on the cards again. For the longest time I was convinced that Hasbro had sacked their entire art design department, but it looks like they may have hired a few back for these snazzy packages. Let’s rip these open and kick things off with Rey.



Yeeeah… Well, as already mentioned, Rey is wearing the same clothes she has on during all those Jakku scenes we see in the trailers, which makes it the same outfit as her 6-inch Black counterpart. I suppose it’s possible she doesn’t change clothes, but that would mean less variant figures to sell and I think Disney and Hasbro are smarter than that. Also, she looks like she’d get really cold in that outfit while traipsing through the snow. Anywho, this is a fairly detailed sculpt for the scale, complete with all the little wrinkles and wrappings of Rey’s garb. The head sculpt isn’t good, but I’d say it’s not all that much worse than the 6-inch version. That’s not really so much a compliment for this figure but a jab at the other. The paint is serviceable for the scale, but not great. It looks fine with the naked eye, but when the camera gets in close I can see all sorts of slop.



Rey comes with her staff or gun or whatever the hell this thing is. She also comes with a pretty cool backpack with snaps on the shoulder straps. It looks great on the figure and it’s adjustable so you could put it on pretty much any figure in the series. That was a nice surprise!




I don’t have a lot to say about the he Stormtrooper, as it is more or less the exact same figure that came with the Assault Walker only minus the pauldron and with a slightly less plastic sheen to him. It’s a great looking figure and includes the same blaster, which can be tabbed into his leg for storage. I commented early about it being odd that a Snowtrooper wasn’t included in the “snow” mission assortment, but I imagine these regular troopers will be on patrol inside Starkiller Base. Either way, I’m probably in for a least couple more of these, assuming I can ever find any.


Last time, I didn’t even bother to talk about the build-a-weapon pieces, but I will this time because these two sort of interest me. Rey’s piece looks like it could make a decent jet pack if the figures had peg holes in the backs, but neither of these do. The Stormtrooper’s weapon is a giant gun, which can be used as a weapon all on its own, even if it is ridiculously huge. Combine these two with the piece that comes with Darth Vader and you can build a pretty decent looking gun turret. Alas, I have no interest in picking up the Vader so it’s not going to happen.




Obviously, these are very basic figures and still only feature that basic 5-POA style of articulation, slightly enhanced with ball jointed necks. Some fans are never going to get past that, and I can understand the hang up. Nothing about these figures is especially great or noteworthy and while I don’t hate them, the thought is constantly nagging at me that a brand new Star Wars movie deserves so much better than this. I probably would have been a lot more resentful of these if the articulated 6-inch line didn’t exist, but since it does, I suppose I can accept these for what they are, throwbacks to a long gone age. Whether I continue to collect these past the initial wave that I have remains to be seen. Next week, I’ll revisit the line with a look at the “Desert Mission” Finn and Flametrooper.

DC Comics Super-Villains: “New 52” Poison Ivy by DC Collectibles

In case you haven’t been checking in on FFZ Fridays lately, I’m doing this whole DC Comics thing, at least until I can get through my backlog of figures and statues, which at this rate will probably take a couple of months. Today I’m looking at another recent release in DC Collectibles’ Super-Villains line, that vixen of vegetation, Poison Ivy.


The packaging consists of the same old window box with the extended back and J-hook so you can swing it on a peg or stand it on the shelf. The villains series features a black box, as opposed to the usual white boxes and the swipe across the front and band on the back are both green, presumably to satiate Ivy’s thirst for chlorophyll. You do get a shot of the figure on the side panel in case you want to line up these packages on a bookshelf, which is always a plus for me, but with space limitations being what they are, I just throw these boxes out.


Call me sacrilegious, but I’ve been mostly OK with the “New 52” character designs, although that’s not the case with Poison Ivy. I find her black leotard covered with greenery to raise too many questions. Does she put on the bodysuit first and then grow the plants on top of it? Are the plants just artificial and part of the costume? And why black? How does that in any way fit the whole plant motif? It’s just a weird design and I’m not sure where the designers were going with it. Why go with this when you can go with something like this. With that having been said, this figure comes as close as possible to selling it to me and that’s thanks to some really solid sculpting and paintwork.


The figure features Ivy’s shapely bod cast in black plastic and with sculpted vines and leaves scattered about in patches. Because she’s wearing a leotard, the placement of the leaves doesn’t have to be as strategic as past versions of the character, but even still I don’t get why they left one breast uncovered. I love how all the greenery is actually part of the sculpt and the paint on the vines and some of the individual leaves is fairly neatly applied. DCC could have easily done a lot of the vines with just paint, so I applaud them going the extra mile.



DCC has delivered on some rather attractive female portraits in this line and that continues to be the case with Ivy here. She’s not only beautiful, but she’s easily recognizable from the panel art, and that’s something that’s not always easy to do when going from 2D art to a fully realized 3D figure. The paint on her eyes and lips is rather tight, as is are the black vines on her cheeks. Wait, black suit with green vines, but black vines on… nah, nevermind. The sculpted hair is equally impressive. It’s a light brown with an effective wash and bits of leaves scattered throughout.



Ivy has a fair number of articulation points. The arms have rotating hinges at the shoulders and hinges in the elbows, swivels in the biceps, but sadly no swivels in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees and ankles, and have swivels in the thighs. There’s no torso articulation, but her neck is ball jointed. But even with all these strategic points, Ivy isn’t a terribly limber figure. The range of movement in the shoulders and hips is pretty limited and the hair renders the neck joint almost useless. No matter how hard I try, I can’t really get any decent poses out of her and while I haven’t had any problems with her joints, I’m not about to risk stressing them.





While definitely not my preferred look for Poison Ivy, this is still a solidly crafted figure. The only real gripe I have here is with the articulation and again, it’s not because the points aren’t there, but rather few of them have any real range of motion, making Poison Ivy one of those figures that is best just standing on the shelf and looking nice. And of course, people who have been collecting DCC and DC Direct for a while won’t be bothered so much by limitations in the articulation. At the original $20, I’ve had this figure in my hand a couple of times and always put her back, but with so many DCC figures hitting the clearance bins these days, I took a second look and at $13, I found I couldn’t resist.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Defensor by Hasbro

Ah, Combiners… they’re the Transformers that keep on giving. Even once you’ve played with the robot and alt mode, you still have a treat waiting for you when you collect that last bot on the team and can cobble them together. Hasbro’s track record on these in the modern age has been pretty spotty. Indeed, only with the recent releases of Superion and Devastator that I’ve been able to give them a passing grade and even there you have Menasor pissing in the punch bowl. Will Defensor be another for the plus column? I’m about to find out…






And merge…





DEFENSOR!!!! Now, you’ll note I went with an even swap out between Rook and Groove to form the right leg. To be fair Rook, Streetwise, and First Aid are all rather chunky and to me make for better legs than arms, especially when counterbalanced against Blades’ more svelte form, but someone had to be the left arm, so I stuck with tradition and made it First Aid. I have the same issue with Streetwise, where I’m never happy with the position of the head and chest plate on the knee. I went with lifting it up and out of the way, but then it exposes the back of Streetwise’s head. It’s a compromise. I’m also waffling back and forth as to whether I like Blades’ rockets straight out and locked in or angled to match First Aid’s door panels.

So, let me start with the good stuff and it’s mostly all good stuff! I love Defensor’s overall look. The engineering for Hot Spot as the torso kind of blows my mind. It’s simple, but really cool, especially the way the ladder wraps under his groin and up his back. Hot Spot just makes for such a cool and unique looking torso and it’s such a far cry from the mediocrity of poor Motormaster’s torso mode. The deco works beautifully, especially in this configuration with the red and white matching on the arms and the blue and white on the legs. It all goes well with the powder blue of Hot Spot’s legs and that gorgeous red and silver paint on Hot Spot’s thighs and chest plate really make the figure pop, especially against all that black. Stability is much better than Menasor too. Oh, Defensor still has some nagging issues, like the two chest flaps do not want to stay tabbed into place for long, but at his shoulders are so much more solid than Menasor’s making him a lot more fun to play with.


The head sculpt is pure love and the silver and blue paint look great framed by the black “helmet.” The head does have a habit of popping out of the body from time to time and it feels like Hasbro could have come up with something a little better to do with those angled flaps, but there’s nothing here that ruins my fun with the figure. I should also mention that I’m opting out of picking up the Legends Groove. I honestly don’t think Defensor needs the extra chest ornament. I like him just the way he is.


Defensor’s rifle is just Hot Spot’s two guns chained together. It’s OK, but nothing special. I do, however, like the way it looks when split and stored on his back. I think the two aerials just look neat and give him a little more personality.


I really love the way Defensor turned out and that’s a huge bonus when you consider how great the individual figures are. I haven’t taken a lot of time to experiment with him “scramble city” style, but I’m sure I’ll get around to it eventually. If we’re ranking these guys by combined mode, Defensor certainly blows away the crappy Menasor on every level, but he doesn’t nudge out Superion, at least not in my book. That may have something to do with me just having much stronger nostalgic ties to Superion over Defensor, but overall I just feel Superion is a slightly more refined robot with overall better stability. All that’s left to say is that I really hope Hasbro eventually brings the Deluxe Groove Stateside. I don’t think I can afford to double dip by picking up the Takara set, but I’d still like to get that figure into the mix and see how he does.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Saurod by Mattel

It hasn’t happened often, but finally we’re getting another figure based on a character in the 1987 Masters of the Universe film. While I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of the copyright situation, Mattel seems to be currently limited to producing only the movie characters that had figures in the vintage line. And that would indeed be what Blade, Gwildor and Saurod all have in common. And since Matty’s goal this year has been to complete the Classics line with updates to all the existing vintage figures, we all knew Saurod had to be coming. And that’s fine by me because I’m all for lizard warriors in space armor.


There isn’t much new to say about the packaging. I am surprised that Matty didn’t opt to put a sticker on the bubble for the movie figures, but again they might be restricted by all that copyright nonsense and the bio is designed to wrap him up in the Classics canon. His tag line is “Evil Spark Shooting Reptile.”


I have to admit to being blown away by this figure the moment I got him out of the package. I think it was the coloring that caught my eye first. Admittedly, the coloring doesn’t seem to match the big screen character all that closely, but I’m fine with that because it looks so striking. The copper colored armor is fantastic on its own, but when coupled with the blue-green underneath it, the deco really ups the wow factor big time.  I’m a little confused as to whether all that blue-green paint is supposed to be Saurod’s skin or not because the sculpt in some areas makes it look more like chain mail and yet it more or less matches the areas that are obviously textured with a scaly skin pattern. And then you’ve got what appear to be his green undies, which also have a scaly lizard skin pattern, but matches the color of his tail underneath. Am I over thinking this? Well, either way, I love the coloring on this piece.


The armor itself is intricately detailed with panel lining on the legs, circuit-like patterns on the arms and a wonderful hammered and pitted look to the shoulder pieces. Sculpted straps secure his upper leg plates and the lobster tail armor above his tail looks amazing. A stray nick and scrape here and there makes the armor look well used and battle worn. I have no idea what that thing is hanging off the back of his helmet, though. A lizard pony tail? Hey, it’s Eternia, so why not?


Saurod’s head sculpt is mostly comprised of his impressive helmet and mask. There’s a little of his scaly skin showing around the eye holes and two cold and piercing reptile eyes peering out of his rather intricate mask. The right eye on my figure is a little out of whack, but compared to some of the googly-eyed Saurods I’ve seen out there, I’ll definitely take what I got.



Despite the distinctive armor and sculpting on display here, Saurod retains all the standard articulation found in the MOTUC buck. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed with hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels up at the top of the thighs. Saurod can swivel at the waist, has an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and his head is ball jointed. The tail is rubbery, but not really poseable. It does, however, help with balance on some of the more action orientated poses.



Saurod comes with one accessory and that’s his trusty laser pistol. It’s a simple piece with a decent sculpt. The sidearm can be stored in his functional holster or wielded in his right hand.



Whatever bad blood Matty earned for making me shell out money for that ridiculous Hordak variant last month is now forgiven, because Saurod here really is a spectacular figure. I have no particular love for or nostalgia for the character, but this figure is so damn striking that I can imagine I would probably have wanted him on my shelf even if I wasn’t collecting the MOTUC line. The coloring, the sculpt, and the personality of this guy all come together so beautifully. Now if only Matty could work out the licensing rights and get us some more movie figures, particularly that blinged out version of Skeletor, I would be a really happy camper.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket and Groot 1:6 Scale Figures by Hot Toys, Part 2

Yesterday I took a look at Hot Toys’ Rocket Raccoon and, as promised, today I’m back to look at his giant buddy Groot! We already checked out the packaging, so let’s just jump right in…


Hoo boy, is this a big and weighty figure! Even with a bit of a hunch, he stands a full head and shoulders above your average human sized Hot Toys figure. That’s doubly impressive considering that every tiny spot of this figure is covered with sculpted bark. The look and texture of Groot’s skin is beyond realistic. When I touch it I fully expect to feel wood rather than plastic. And it’s not just the wood grain on his skin, but the vines and tendrils that wrap around his arms and legs and the little sprigs that randomly crop out form various places on his body. This is a sculpt fashioned with love. I have no doubt of that!


The paintwork is also phenomenal. There are subtle shades of brown for the bark and green for the vines. I think my favorite thing about the paintwork, however, is the little hints of green around some of the bark pieces, which looks like moss growing on an overturned log. Simply stunning.



The stock portrait is Groot’s regular stoic expression, which is a dead ringer for his big screen counterpart. Again, it shows that the wizards at HT are not only good with human likenesses, but can recreate just about anything in plastic. The painted eyes definitely have that spark of life and while I don’t like to throw the word around to often, this portrait just strikes me as perfect.


The alternate portrait, which I believe is a Sideshow Exclusive, is his angry face, and boy you don’t want to get Groot angry. In this case, it’s not a complete head swap, but rather the front of the face comes off, sort of similar to the way Figuarts and Figma does it. If you’re going for an action pose on the shelf, this portrait really sells it.



Articulation consists of a lot of really chunky and powerful rotating hinges. He also has a ball joint in the upper chest. While the smooth hinges are visible in the elbows and the backs of the knees, Hot Toys went a long way to try to conceal the rest. The hips, for example are shielded by some bark plates attached by hinged arms. I love the little touches like that!




In addition to the extra portrait, Groot comes with some extra hands, of course! The figure has a pair of relaxed hands attached when he comes out of the box. The second pair are angry, grabby hands. You also get an extra right hand with translucent fingers to simulate him blooming those glowy spores. You also get an extra pair of wrists posts in case you snap one off. Good thing too, because I snapped one off. With nearly 20 Hot Toys figures on my shelves, that’s the first time I’ve ever had that happen to me.




Groot comes with the same style stand as Rocket, which also matches the ones used for Gamora and Star-Lord. In this case the rod and waist clamp makes perfect sense to handle this tall and rather heavy figure. However, you also get a very clever connecting piece, which allows you to attach Rocket’s stand to Groots and pose the little guy riding on Groot’s shoulder.



“Quit waving to the camera. Yer making us look like a bunch of idiots!”

If ever I needed a reminder that I collect Hot Toys figures as a form of art, Groot is the figure to do it. The sculpting, attention to detail, and overall craftsmanship on this piece really is awe inspiring. And while the $360 price tag here is no small thing, it’s hard for me to believe that the character could be done better justice in a more expensive statue. Indeed, the fact that Groot turned out so wonderfully allows me to push a little of the cost of this set into his column and away from Rocket. Hey, whatever I have to do to sleep at night, right? Don’t get me wrong, they’re both great figures, and I couldn’t imagine displaying one without the other, but Groot is without a doubt the star here. Hot Toys’ has been killing it with their Guardians lineup ever since Star-Lord first shipped and while I’m still a little disappointed we won’t see a Ronin or Nebula the Guardians themselves have been a welcome treat. And that just leaves the question: Where’s Drax? While the figure remains in licensing limbo, a new prototype was shown as recently as July and is currently pencilled in for a 2016 release. I feel pretty confident he’s coming, but for now nothing has been set in stone. Why would it be set in stone? Shut up, Drax, it was a metaphor.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket and Groot 1:6 Scale Figures by Hot Toys, Part 1

With some new Hot Toys figures rolling in, it’s long past time that I get around to reviewing this pair of figures from Guardians of the Galaxy. Seriously, this pair has been on my shelf for so long that I forgot I never gave them the spotlight. So, in keeping with the theme of Marvel Monday, I thought I’d put off my return to the Legends Hobgoblin Wave just one more week in favor of these beauties. These figures were available separately or together in the bundle I’m looking at today. I’m going to kick things off with a look at the package and Rocket, and tomorrow I’ll swing back and look at his arboreal buddy, Groot.


Holy hell, that’s a big box. I mean, I’ve yet to buy a Premium Format Statue, so everything is relative, but still. It’s big! It’s not quite as big as Hot Toys’ Hulk, but it’s no slouch either. It’s taller than a regular Hot Toys figure box and more than twice as wide. Surprisingly, everything comes laid out in a single tray and that includes both figures, two stands, an alternate head and hands for Groot, alternate hands and feet for Rocket, Rocket’s gun, and a pair of potted Baby Groots. The deco is designed to match the look of the Star-Lord and Gamora boxes, and that makes me happy because I actually save these packages and my OCD gets aggravated when things don’t match. The star-field and grid background still remind me of the kind of 80’s cheese you’d see on a VHS tape sleeve or PC game box. Hopefully that’s intentional. The character art of Rocket & Groot is fantastic. The only complaint I have about the packaging is that the box itself is made of pretty light cardboard stock and for a box this big, it tends to get shelf worn pretty easy.


Rocket is a rather unconventional Hot Toys figure, what with him being so small and being a rodent. He features fully sculpted fur, which was a sticking point for me until I got him in hand and realized it was the right way to go. Doubly so since I’ve seen some rather dubious pictures of their flocked Chewbacca figure. Instead, there isn’t even the tiniest space on this figure that doesn’t feature some sculpted detail and that’s impressive. Rocket’s costume consists of his little orange jumpsuit, which is cloth and beautifully tailored. I imagine it’s hard enough to tailor 1:6 scale clothes, so I’m doubly impressed with all the little stitching on this smaller raccoon space suit. It’s also reinforced with all the plates, shoulder pads, and harness seen on the big screen outfit.




The portrait features Rocket with a rather fierce look on his little face. I like it a lot as it shows some wonderful little sculpted teeth and I think it captures his personality quite well. Although considering his size, it seems like HT should have ponied up for an alternate head. It doesn’t feel absent in this two-pack, but certainly in the single boxed figure. The wire whiskers are a great touch and the glossy paint on his nose makes it look appropriately wet. Hot Toys is no stranger to producing life like eyes on humans, but it turns out they can do some mighty fine peepers on a raccoon as well, because these look great.


The articulation feels more like a conventional action figure than a usual HT product, but that’s a given considering his size. I don’t usually go into detail on articulation with my HT figures, because the points are covered up and it’s not a sticking point with me on these figures. With Rocket, it’s pretty easy to see what’s there and he’s pretty much got rotating hinges all around and an extra ball joint at the base of his neck. The tail is a straight ball joint and it does have a habit of popping off when posing, but it just pops right back on again. The figure stands surprisingly well on his tiny little feet and appropriately enough, you can use the tail to counterbalance him.



It wouldn’t be a Hot Toys figure without extra hands, would it? No exceptions for raccoons! Rocket comes with a pair of relaxed hands, a pair of adorable little fists, a pair of hands designed to work with his gun, and a pair of feet. The extra feet remind me of the “action feet” that Sideshow used to include with some of their 1:6 Scale GI JOE figures as a substitute for articulation in the middle of the foot. Options are nice, but I frankly have no need for these.



Rocket comes with his trusty rifle, which is about as tall as he is. The attention to detail that HT put into this piece is almost ridiculous and in the few short years that the flick has been out, this weapon has become as iconic to me as anything in Star Wars. I should note that I found it extremely difficult to get Rocket’s gun-gripping hand around the grip and now that I have, I doubt I will ever take it off, even if I swap hands. Ah, but y’all know me and the fact that I don’t often use a lot of the extra hands and I can’t imagine ever wanting to display Rocket without his weapon.



I might as well talk about the Potted Groots here, because I see them mostly as accessories for Rocket. The original solicitation for this set advertised a Potted Groot as the Sideshow Exclusive for this set, but it does indeed come with two. One is just the stalk with the head and the other has his arms out like he’s dancing. These are beautifully crafted little pieces and I always have one of them displayed on Rocket’s base, even though the big Groot is behind him.


Speaking of bases, Rocket comes with the same style of figure stand that we saw with Star-Lord and Gamora. The only difference is rather than the crotch-cradle stand, Rocket features a transparent rod that plugs in and an adjustable gripping claw for the waist. This style of stand may seem like overkill for the little raccoon, but Hot Toys went this route for reasons that will be clear in tomorrow’s wrap up.



I usually talk financials at the end of a Feature, but I’ll toss it in here because it pertains mostly to Rocket. As part of the $360 set, Rocket’s price seems palatable to me, because in my head, I’m figuring Groot could be a $260 figure, but the $160 HT is asking for Rocket alone seems outrageous. At that price, he should have come with a second portrait and possibly even the Hadron Enforcer to sweeten the pot. It’s not a question of quality or craftsmanship, because that’s certainly all there, but when I consider that some of my first full sized Hot Toys were around $160-170, I just can’t see where all the money went. Maybe it’s a moot point, because I can’t imagine too many people buying Rocket without Groot and like I said, in my mind the two-figure bundle seems more reasonable, at least as far as Hot Toys prices are concerned.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back to check out Groot!