Planet of the Apes (Classic): Dr. Zira by NECA

I know, I know… I promised when next I visited with NECA’s line of damn, dirty apes, I’d be looking at the Gorilla Soldier 2-pack. I’ll get to them soon enough, but today I wanted to take a detour because I just got Dr. Zira in and since I’m still undecided on whether or not I’m picking up Dr. Zaius 2.0, Zira may finish off Series 2 for me. But first, let’s talk movies! The thing about acting under a lot of ape makeup is that you can change actors without it becoming too jarring to the continuity. As a result Cornelius was played by the late, great Roddy McDowell for the first and third films, he was played by David Watson in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Likewise, Dr. Zaius was portrayed by two actors in the first two films. Dr. Zira, on the other hand, was portrayed by Kim Hunter for not one, not two, but the first three films, right up until she was shot dead at the end of Escape From The Planet of the Apes. SPOILERS!!! Ah, Escape… it would be such a charming film if it didn’t teach young, impressionable chimpanzees that it’s alright to drink alcohol while pregnant. Anyway, now that I’ve marinated you in meaningless ape film lore, let’s check out the figure.

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Hey, we’ve seen this package before! Yeah, it’s the same style of window box we saw with General Ursus and all the Series 1 figures. The boxes are sort of color coded to fit the character and there’s a some character art on the front. You also get the character’s name printed on the side of the box, which is a big plus in my book. The window allows you to see the figure and each of the accessories and everything is collector friendly, which is more than I can say for NECA’s old sealed clamshells. Sure, the incredible hit of plastic smell when you cut into those was pretty rad, but I’m still glad they abandoned them.

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Woah… softgoods! I wasn’t expecting that! Truth be told, NECA is not a stranger to using mixed media in their figures. They did it most recently in their Bioshock Infinite line with Elizabeth and the two Motorized Patriots. In this case, Zira has a cloth skirt under her plastic one, which looks good and offers a little less restriction on the figure’s articulation. Indeed, for what is essentially a robed figure, Zira features a couple of neat ways NECA avoided restricting her articulation. The plastic sleeves have strategically placed cuts right by the elbows that allow her to bend her elbows without any problems. Couple that with the rotating hinges in her shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees and you get a figure that has a pretty good range of motion. No, she’s never going to be an action star, but there’s far more poseability here than I would have expected from the character. That having been said, this is still a figure of a chimpanzee psychologist from films in the 60’s and 70’s, so your excitement may vary.

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I got a little ahead of myself talking articulation, but that’s not to say the sculpt isn’t good. I like the tribal embossing in her chest piece and the way her shoes are sculpted to fit her ape feet is really cool. Her robes are basically just smooth without a lot of texturing or sculpted wrinkles, but they still look quite screen accurate. At first, I thought Zira’s head looked over-sized, but I think it’s in line with the screen makeup used in the film. When I display her next to the other Apes it looks just fine. The detail here is every bit as good as what we’ve been seeing so far. Zira has a slightly surprised or perplexed expression which would be good for expressing the first time she heard Bright Eyes speak. The eyes are especially well done. There’s almost a spark of life in there. My only complaint would be a little mold flashing in her hair, which in all fairness should be easy to shave off.

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Zira comes with some of the most off-beat accessories I’ve ever seen with an action figure. For starters, you get the paper airplane that George Tayler made in order to convince Zira and Cornelius of his intelligence. Yes, this accessory is actually a tiny piece of paper folded into a tiny paper airplane. Insane!

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Next, and perhaps the least interesting, is the board that Tayler scrawled his name on, again to prove his intelligence.

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Finally, you get a little cardboard portrait of Zira and Cornelius. The thing I love so much about this little piece is that NECA actually recreated the picture with the action figures, rather than just pull a still from the movie. I don’t know why, but this just makes me smile.

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Zira is admittedly going to be the least exciting figure in this line for a lot of collectors, but that doesn’t make her any less welcome to me. She was a crucial character in the first three films and my Cornelius figure would never have been complete without a Zira to go with him. Another reason I was particularly pleased to finally get Zira was because she was surprisingly tough to find at the MSRP. I didn’t go for a case assortment because I didn’t particularly want to spring or a second Zaius figure. General Ursus was easy to get at the regular $20, but Zira was sold out at all my regular haunts and selling for upward of $30-35 where available. Crazy! I was finally able to track her down for $18.99 at Gamestop.com of all places. And after tossing in a $10 set of NECA figure stands, which I needed anyway, I was able to get free shipping to boot. It pays to hunt around, folks!

By figurefanzero

Marvel Legends (Allfather Wave): Captain Marvel by Hasbro

As promised on the last Marvel Monday, I’m back to check out the other half of the “Maidens of Might” slot in the Legends Allfather Wave. Of course, it is none other than Carol Danvers, aka. Captain Marvel. I’ve read the first two collected TPBs of her book last year and really loved what they were doing with it. Alas, Volume 3 was never forthcoming so it seemed like a lot of wasted potential. I also wish she’d taken more of a front seat in the Avengers: Infinity arc. But then Carol’s always been a favorite of mine even before she took on the mantle of Captain. To date she’s still the only Bowen Statue I own, I picked up the Target Exclusive 3-pack mainly to get her last Legends figure, and I have all three versions of her in the Universe 3 3/4″ Scale. Needless to say, I was super excited for this figure’s release.

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I’m not going to dwell on the packaging because it’s virtually identical to what we saw last time. Again, the Captain Marvel name only appears on the back of the package, with the “Maidens of Might” moniker appearing on the front. Despite Carol being of fairly slight stature, that tray is packed to capacity with BAF parts, the extra masked Captain Marvel head, and an effect part. The BAF parts consist of the variant head, cape, and weapon needed should you desire to build King Thor instead of Odin. A variant Build-A-Figure? Could be you’ve gone too far this time, Hasbro, but I love it!

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As one might expect, Captain Marvel’s costume is comprised almost entirely of paint work. In fact, other than the heads, the only piece of unique sculpting on this figure is her sash, which hangs loose on her hips. From the neck down, this figure is just a basic sculpted female buck, which works fine so long as the paint is nice and clean. Thankfully, that is most definitely the case with my figure. The bulk of the costume is a very dark navy blue with the boots and gloves painted red and yellow dots painted down the sides of them. Her yellow starburst and stripes are crisply printed and the red on the shoulders and upper chest is vibrant. The vertical yellow stripe bisecting her torso is a little off kilter, but nothing so bad that it takes away from what is an otherwise great paint job. The coloring here is just so shiny and vibrant it looks terrific.

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Carol comes with her unmasked portrait on the figure and it is a fantastic piece of work. She’s pretty and bares a confident expression, which really personifies the character well. They did an especially nice job with her short hair as it’s sculpted to sweep upward in the back. The spikey look could have been a trainwreck if it wasn’t done right, but it looks fantastic, even from the back where she’s got a Sonic the Hedgehog thing going on.

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The masked head is equally impressive. I’ll admit that it took me a little while to get used to Carol’s mohawk look, as it struck me more of a Shi’ar style than Kree. It’s probably just because I’m associating it with Gladiator. Nonetheless, it’s grown on me a lot in the comics and Hasbro did a fine job recreating it here. She has the same pursed lips as her unmasked head, completely white eyes, and the sculpting in her mohawk hair is fantastic. I especially like the profile of this head. The contours around the mouth and lips are just perfect.

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Captain Marvel does a little bit better than Scarlet Witch in articulation, thanks to the swivels in her biceps, which Wanda lacked. Otherwise, we get the same points. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, have swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. You also get a ball joint just under the chest and another in the neck. The joints are firm and she is loads of fun to pose.

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The effect part consists of a big glob of translucent purple plastic that fits over her fist to suggest an energy blast, or that Carol has been raiding the jar of grape jelly. I said it last time, I’m not usually a big fan of Hasbro’s effect parts, but this one looks OK. Two would have been nice, but considering how much else is packed into this box, I’m not going to complain about it.

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Maybe I’m just super biased here because I’ve been anxiously awaiting the chance to get the modern version of Captain Marvel on my shelf, but either way I gotta say this is one fantastic figure. Carol’s current costume looks fantastic and Hasbro hit all the right points bringing her to their 6-inch scale line. Everything from the coloring on the costume to the two excellent portraits elevates this one to my favorite figure in this Wave thus far, and I’ll tell you even with three figures left to open, Carol is going to be a tough one to beat! She looks particularly good displayed beside the Marvel NOW! version of Captain America. Call me crazy, but I might actually track down a second one of these just so I can display her with both heads and get that second effect part too.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Dragstrip by Hasbro

It’s that day of the week again where I tear open another one of these Hasbro Change-A-Bots and see what he’s all about. Last week I started down the dark path of Stunticons by checking out Motormaster and I came away almost instantly (and surprisingly) impressed. Will that be the case with the first one of the Stunticon Deluxes? Well, here’s a spoiler: No. No, it won’t. The truth is, it took a couple of days of playing around with Dragstrip to really start warming up to him. But I’m getting ahead of myself and protocols must be maintained. So, allow me to do the thing where I write about the figure for an average length of two Word Document pages and then snap some photos. Kay?

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I don’t know, but I think the Combiner Wars packaging is growing on me. It still doesn’t really speak to me as a Transformers branded package, but this one does feature some pretty bitchin’ character art. I mean, holy shit, Dragstrip looks like he should be on the cover of a Meat Loaf album riding a guitar into the bowels of hell and laughing the whole time. The bubble also gives you a really great look at the figure you’re getting, which in this case might not be a good thing because looking at this bot in the package did absolutely nothing for me. I ordered this guy online, so that’s my excuse. Dragstrip comes with a weapon, some combiner parts, a character art card and some balled up instructions. Let’s start with his alt mode.

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As any GeeWun fan worth his salt should have guessed, Dragstrip is a Formula-1 racer with a yellow and mauve deco. The homage is a decent one and the biggest thing that separates him from his 80’s namesake is one less pair of wheels, but I’m OK with that. The thing that strikes me first about this car mode is just how damn big it is. It seems like Deluxes have been shrinking for so long and now all of the sudden… BAM, we get a growth spurt like this! The car mode here is more in scale with the Masterpiece cars than recent Deluxes. In fact, Dragstrip is almost as long as the Classics Seeker mold in jet form. Nice!

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Along with being big, Dragstrip’s alt mode hits all the right points. It’s a good looking car, albeit not exactly packed with detail. There’s some nice silver paint on the wheels as well as the front wheel connecting bars, and again near the back wheels. The driver’s compartment is painted black and you get a crisp Decepticon insignia stamped right in front of that compartment. The car locks together perfectly and rolls really well. It’s a perfectly fine alt mode, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it, and yet I still feel a little underwhelmed. I can’t really explain it.

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Transformation is about as simple as you can expect for a Deluxe Class figure. Pull the arms out from the sides and flip the fists out, pull the legs down from the back of the car and split them, rotate the legs at the waist and twist the top of the car and fold it back. It takes no time at all. Some may criticize a toy of this size and price having such a simple Transformation, but I would have loved playing with this as a kid for the quick and easy conversion, so I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing.

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I am so conflicted about this robot mode. On the plus side, Dragstrip is a big and satisfyingly chunky figure for a Deluxe. The proportions are decent, he stands well, and he’s pretty solid and poseable. Also, with the wheels on his shoulders and legs and the front of the car neatly pegged to his back, the car kibble is all well placed. On the other hand, he ain’t the prettiest thing to look at and I’m mostly blaming the torso for this because it looks so unfinished. Dragstrip has four exposed screws in the most visible area of the figure and that connection port making up his chest just isn’t doing it for me. Some more paint apps might have helped, because he just looks unfinished to me.

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The portrait is another sticking point. I’m not sure what they were going for with this head sculpt, but it doesn’t strike me as a head that belongs in the Generations line. It’s not really bad, but maybe a little too stylized. I was hoping for something more akin to the Sunbow look, and maybe that’s my fault for coming in with the wrong expectations.

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Nonetheless, the more I play with Dragstrip, the more I find myself liking him. As I said earlier, he’s a solid figure and lots of fun to play with. You get ball joints in the shoulders and hips, hinges in the elbows and knees, a ball jointed neck and a swivel just below the waist. What’s more all the joints are nice and tight and nothing pops out of this guy when I’m transforming him.

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Dragstrip comes with a purple weapon that can be used as either a sword or a rifle with a bayonet. It’s a cool design and I like having the options with it. His combiner part, on the other hand, isn’t of much use when it isn’t being a combiner part. I’ve seen people stick it on the figure, but I find it’s best left in a tote until called upon for combined mode. Speaking of which, I’m not bothering to look at Dragstrip’s limb modes until I’ve got a full team and I can do a proper Feature on Menasor.

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I rarely find myself this torn on a Transformer, or really any figure, but Dragstrip is one of those rare instances. I can’t point to anything about him as being particularly bad, and yet the figure as a whole doesn’t seem to come together for me as much as it should. In the end, it would be safe to say I like Dragstrip, I just don’t love him. But considering I had really low expectations of this figure when I opened him, he deserves some credit for bringing me around at least part of the way.

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And now for a little administrative crap. I’m in the process of transferring all my stuff to a new PC, which is partly why today’s Feature went up so late. I was going to wait until the weekend, but I’d rather spend it enjoying the new computer rather than beating my head against it. So, there will be no new Feature on Friday, I’ll take the usual weekend off and I’ll be ready to get back in action on Monday.

Star Wars Rebels: Sabine Wren and Stormtrooper (Mission Pack) and Ezra Bridger (Single-Carded) by Hasbro

The first season of Star Wars Rebels has been behind us for a little while now. It had its up and its downs, but it did manage to keep me watching and the final episodes had me in awe of what was easily some of the best Star Wars in this sort of media since The Original Trilogy. Seriously, I did not expect to like this show and I very nearly bailed on it a couple of times, but damn if it didn’t totally convert me with its charm and excitement, and really what higher praise can I give it? Hasbro, on the other hand, deserves only my scorn as they have totally dropped the ball with the distribution of the 3 3/4” figure line. I’ve yet to see a single figure on any peg anywhere and since they’re mostly only available online for scalper prices, I have to assume that distribution on these figures is pretty poor all over the place. A little while ago, I was able to pick up the Zeb and Stormtrooper Mission Pack at retail price, and I was able to get Ezra Bridger single-carded at regular retail, but I paid about five bucks over retail for the Mission Pack we’re looking at today. And yeah, I might as well check out Ezra today too, because these really are very simple figures. Let’s just go ahead and start with Ezra…

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The packaging consists of a generous bubble mounted on a diecut card featuring a pretty banged up Stormtrooper helmet. The cardback is generic, but Hasbro makes use of a printed insert to denote the name of the character along with a little portrait in the lower corner. I like the presentation here, but I don’t love it. It’s a whole lot better than some of the stuff we’ve seen in the past and it’s definitely a lot more pleasing than some of the other Hasbro packaging on the shelves and pegs right now.

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Out of the packet and Ezra presents as quite a solid representation of his on-screen counterpart. The character designs in the show aren’t my favorite, but they work for me a lot better than what we saw in Clone Wars and I’m to the point now where I’ve gotten used to them. Ezra features an orange jumpsuit with a sculpted vest and some sculpted armor on his lower right leg. It’s kind of a hodge-podge outfit, but seeing as how he’s an orphan on the run I guess it makes sense. The outfit certainly “fits” what we’ve seen in the Star Wars Universe as far as I’m concerned. The portrait is absolutely spot on perfect. I don’t think they could have done a better job with the likeness. The plastic quality feels good and the paint is surprisingly clean for such a small figure.

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All the Rebels figures so far feature a retro-style five-points of articulation and that includes the three I’m looking at today. A lot of people hate this trend, but I’m almost ashamed to say that I’m kind of into it. I realize it’s just a ploy to cut costs, but I can’t deny a certain nostalgic feel to it, especially when it comes to the Rebels figures. There’s just something about it that really fits the style.

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Ezra comes up pretty light in accessories department, and that’s disappointing. You do get his stolen Imperial helmet, which fits over Ezra’s head, but that’s it. Nothing else. No blaster, no lightsaber. Nada! Considering how small Ezra is compared to the other figures the lack of at least a gun is inexcusable to me. Ah well, I guess I’ll raid my totes and get him an E-11 Blaster.

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Next up is the Sabine and Stormtrooper Mission Pack. The package deco is the same as the single-carded only with an insert featuring more pronounced character portraits. We already saw this packaging when I featured Zeb a little while back, so I’m just going to move on.

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The Stormtrooper is the same figure that came with Zeb, but don’t think I’m dismissing him. I really love this mold as it manages to walk a fine line between the stylized look of the show and some fairly mainstream Stormies. The white plastic is nice and shiny and the paint is fairly sharp. Overall, I’d say it looks a lot better than the 3 3/4″ Stormtrooper that I got from the Black line. I love the idea of bundling the main characters with army builders like this and would love to see it catch on. I would have been perfectly fine if every one of the Ghost crew came with a Stormy. The usual 5-points of articulation applies and he comes with a pretty standard E-11 blaster, which he can hold in either hand.

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And that brings us to Sabine. I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about this figure. On the one hand she looks great. Like Ezra, she’s a great representation of the onscreen character right down to the stylized contours of her Mandalorian helmet. The paint is pretty good and I like the way the sculpt has her ever so slightly leaning on one hip. I also really dig the fact that she comes with both her blasters and functional holsters too! Yeah, holsters aren’t usually a big deal anymore, not even in this scale, but for these retro-style figures it feels like going above and beyond.

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Of course, the downside of this figure is the fact that the helmet isn’t removable and that plain sucks. Maybe they felt they couldn’t do it and keep the helmet normal sized. To be fair, Ezra’s helmet is rather large. Still, it’s going to be a crime if we don’t eventually get a figure of Sabine without her helmet on, since that’s the way we see her most often in the show.

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So, slowly but surely I’m putting together this collection. I dig these figures a lot, but what I’m going through to find them at a fair price is ridiculous. It’s a shame I can’t just march into the local Big Box and grab these off the pegs for eight or nine bucks, because I would be all over them. Anyway, I now have a pair of Stormies and three of the Ghost’s crew. Kanan and The Inquisitor are both sitting in my POL over at BBTS and I’m just waiting to find a decent price on Agent Kallus and the AT-DP Driver. When Hera finally gets released, I’ll probably bite the bullet and pay through the nose, but Chopper can go f’ck right off. No way I’m paying the $25-30 that thing is selling for.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Huntara by Mattel

I gotta admit, Matty Collector really upped their game this month and got me my March figures only three days after Sale Day. That’s about a week better than they usually do. Unfortunately, this month amounted to an odd pair. There was Oo-Larr, who I believe was the Subscription Exclusive, and I say that because I don’t remember ordering a figure of a nearly totally naked dude, and Huntara, who I recall hails from the She-Ra cartoon. Guess which one I’m opening first? Yeah, I know it’s in the title, but I’ll bet you could have guessed even if it weren’t.

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There’s the packaging. Not much new to say here, other than they forgot to slap a “Princess of Power” sticker on the bubble. Bastards! Huntara’s tag line is “Courageous Silaxian Warrior.” Like I said, I vaguely remember her from an episode of the cartoon, but not terribly well. What’s that? It’s long overdue that I subject myself to more Filmation torture and familiarize myself with the character by watching the episode? FIIIIINE! Be right back…

Aaaaand back! Ugh, I forgot how terrible Scorpia’s Barney Rubble voice was. I could saddle up to her at a bar and think. Mmmm, not bad. Yeah, she’s got scorpion parts, but still pretty hawt. Then as soon as she opens her mouth, I’m gone. And I wonder if Catra buries her own poop… Anyway, Hordak summons Huntara from the planet Silax to do away with She-Ra because none of the freaks on his payroll can get the job done. And speaking of bad voices, holy shit, Huntara sounds like she smokes thirty packs of Etherian Pall Malls a day. Seriously, I kept expecting her to say, “Inspector Gadget will return after these messages.” Anyway, this is one of those cases where she’s really a good person tricked into believing that She-Ra is evil so she’ll try to kill her. I’m positive Skeletor pulled this crap at least a couple of dozen times. Once Hordak convinces Huntara that She-Ra was responsible for the Etherian equivalent of the My Lai Massacre, it’s GAME ON! Of course after a lame fight (and a surprising number of up-skirt shots) Huntara learns she’s been tricked and teams up with She-Ra to give The Horde their comeuppance before flying her Colonial Viper back to Silax. Satisfied? Now let’s open at the damn figure…

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If you like your chicks with pale purple skin and mohawked, than Huntara is the girl for you! I really dig the character design here because it feels totally at odds with the wholesome look of so many of the Princess of Power figures. With her exposed midriff and itty-bitty skirt, she shows a lot more skin than most of the gals from Etheria. There isn’t a lot of sculpted detail in her outfit, but what’s here is pretty good. I like the segmented armor on her shoulders and skirt, complete with tiny rivets. What little there is of her outfit is a vibrant blue with black and gold. I like the coloring a lot, but the paint on my figure is bit rough. She’s got some gold slop from her bracer on the skin on her left arm and some more blue slop on her back. It’s not god-awful, but when I’m dropping $30+ on a figure with shipping I like my paintwork clean.

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It’s the portrait here that really scores a lot of personality points. Her white mohawk and ponytail combo is quite distinctive as are the tattoos on the sides of her shaven head. Huntara was from another planet, so I like the fact that her style is so alien to Etheria, even if it is pretty typical for the 80’s punk circle. The face sculpt is pretty, but has that same flat look to her that so many of the MOTUC ladies seem to share. She does have this weird thing going on where it looks like her eyes are uneven at some angles, when they’re really not.

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Huntara’s articulation is typical for the female bucks in the line. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed in the hips, hinged at the elbows and ankles, and have swivels up near the hips. Huntara can swivel at the waist and has a ball jointed neck, but no ab-crunch. It’s worth noting that her joints feel a little more gummy than most of my MOTUC figures, but nothing too bad. She’s actually a lot of fun to play with.

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As far as accessories go, Huntara comes with her two Not-Lightsabers. I think they were called Stun-Swords in the cartoon. These can clip onto her back and she can comfortably hold them in her hands. It’s a bit of a shame that the blades aren’t removable like with most of Hasbro’s lightsabers. She also comes with an axe, which is actually intended for Oo-Lar, so I’m not even going to cover it here. I’ll talk about it more when I get to that figure.

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I really dig this figure, despite some of the minor QC flaws. Huntara sports a very distinctive design and she really stands out on my Princess of Power shelf. While it’s hard for me to imagine myself not collecting this line, if I weren’t, I would still probably like to have this figure as a stand alone for my collection. There’s just something simple and cool about her that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe I’m getting a little bad ass Jedi feel off of her, but either way she was a mighty nice pick up for this month.

Marvel Legends (Allfather Wave): Scarlet Witch by Hasbro

It’s Marvel, It’s Monday, it’s Marvel Monday! I know, I’m taking my sweet-ass time working my way through the Allfather Wave of Legends, but I’ve got a lot of stuff sitting here and waiting to be featured so I’m trying to spread the love around as best I can. Today’s figure of choice is Scarlet Witch, only because I’ve been watching the trailer for Age of Ultron a lot and I’m getting really interested in seeing how she’s going to make out in the movie-verse. Also, this is one of those sad examples where the previous Legends release (from Toybiz) was an atrocity cast in plastic. I can remember digging mine out of a tote a few years back and being so horrified over how bad the paint was that I literally tossed her into the garbage. Some of them Toybiz Legends just don’t hold up so well.

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Here’s the packaging. It’s more or less the same as we’ve seen before, although this time instead of The Avengers logo at the top, it just says Marvel. It’s also worth noting that Scarlet Witch’s name only appears on the back of the box in rather subdued print. This is one of those variant swap-out instances where the slot, called Maidens of Might, is shared between Wanda Maximoff and Carol Danvers. I used to hate these, but now that Hasbro is releasing case assortments with both variants included, as opposed to running changes, I got no beef with them anymore. I picked up this wave in one shot and got everything I wanted. It does, however, still blow my mind that they’re selling a figure without the character’s name on the front of the box. Craziness!

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Wanda comes donning her iconic (and totally sexy) red outfit, which gets by mostly with paint apps and a little bit of new sculpting. I don’t recall seeing the high-heeled boots before and there’s some original sculpting defining the edges to her top. The oogity-boogity hands, however, are the same pair we saw used for Judith Chambers from the 2013 SDCC Exclusive Thunderbolts set. They worked well there and they certainly suit Scarlet Witch perfectly. The red paint is quite vibrant and accompanied by purple paint for her stockings and the flesh tones. The paint lines are pretty sharp and there isn’t much in the way of slop or bleeding. The cape is sculpted to fall just short of her feet, but with a slightly wide stance it can be used to assist in standing, since those tiny heels don’t offer a lot of stability. And if you prefer to go sans cape, you can remove it just by popping the head.

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Ms. Maximoff isn’t stunningly gorgeous, but she’s pretty and I think Hasbro did a fairly solid job with the portrait. It definitely looks a lot better from some angles. The full lips are particularly well defined and the paintwork on the face, right down to her green eyes, is neatly applied. Her tiara looks good enough to be a separate piece and I really dig what they did with her hair, both in terms of the sculpting and the paint highlights.

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We’ve seen this female buck more than a few times, so the articulation should be pretty familiar by now, but I’ll run through it anyway. The arms feature a rotating hinge trifecta from her shoulders to elbows to wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and double hinged at the knees. There are swivels in the thighs and rotating hinges in the ankles. Wanda has a ball joint in her torso just below the chest and another in her neck.

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Scarlet Witch comes with two magic effect parts. Many of you probably know I’ve never been a fan of Hasbro’s effect parts, but I really dig these. They’re basically like hoolahoops for her wrists. They clip on and present a nice mystical effect with translucent pinkish-purple plastic. Word is that these parts will be recycled for the Doctor Strange Legends figure and I couldn’t be more pleased to hear it.

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This wit-chay woman is the third figure that I’ve opened in this wave of Legends and so far it has not disappointed. Scarlet Witch is a solid figure through and through, and with a lot of movie-goers about to get introduced to the character for the first time, it’s great to see her making an appearance in the toy aisles in her iconic comic book look. I’ll also say once again how happy I am that Hasbro is confining the whole variant thing to a single case so that these figures don’t become fodder for the scalpers. Or at least not as badly as what could have been. And speaking of variants, on the next Marvel Monday, I’ll go ahead and check out the other Maiden of Might… Captain Marvel!

 

Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-Lord 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

I make it no secret that I am an unabashed Marvel Movie-verse whore. But don’t hate me for it because it could have easily gone the other way if it weren’t for the irrepressible charm of these films. They’re fun movies that capture everything there is about the joy of comic books for me and I have a great time watching them over and over again. In fact, the Marvel flicks are really some of the only Blu-Ray’s that I bother to buy and own anymore. Guardians of the Galaxy, however, goes even one step further. It sits up there shoulder to shoulder with my favorite classic movies of the 80’s. Yup, even those timeless films that have 30-some years of nostalgia fueling my love for them. It’s delightfully goofy and crazy and sometimes corny, but more than anything else it has heart and soul. Was there ever any doubt that I was going all in on Hot Toys’ GotG line? Despite what my checking account might have hoped: No, there really wasn’t. Peter Quill is the first figure in this line to be released, and while Rocket and Groot have already been delayed, Star-Lord is one of the few Hot Toys figures in a while that seems to have shown up right on time.

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The box design is totally out there and very unlike anything I’ve seen in my rather modest few years as a Hot Toys collector. You get a colorful action shot of Star-Lord on the front with an 80’s style grid on the bottom and some really cheesy looking effects. It feels more like the box art for a late 80’s PC Game than an expensive collectible figure. I’d like to presume that Hot Toys went this route to intentionally bank on the film’s goofball nature, but I’m not really sure. It certainly looks quite jarring next to the classy and reserved presentation of their other Marvel figures, but I can’t say I hate it. Hot Toys also seems to have cut back on the box itself. Instead of the old shoe-box style with illustrated insert, this is just a sleeve around a window box. Some may take issue, but I just keep the boxes for accessory storage, so I’m not terribly upset by it. Oh yeah, the box also has the “Sideshow Exclusive” foil sticker on the front and in this case that amounts to an extra accessory.

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Once I had carefully cut away some of the plastic wrap, Star-Lord came out of the box and was ready for action. His jacket and gun belt are already on and he’s sporting his unmasked head. I’m used to having to fuss with my newly opened Hot Toys figures, but in this case it’s impressive how everything looks so good right out of the box. The t-shirt fits well and the pants have some really nicely stitched detail work, but it’s the coat (RAVENGER GARB!) that is truly the star of this A-Hole’s outfit. There are so many little brass buttons and hooks and embossed patterns littered over the leather-like surface that it only takes one look to know that Hot Toys put some love into this coat, but a lot more intensive study to truly appreciate it. The coat even has a working zipper should you like to go that route. It’s nice to have options, but I dig the look of the open coat so much, I doubt I’ll ever bother with zipping it. And quite frankly, I have bad luck with 1:1 scale zippers, I don’t want to turn myself loose on a 1:6 scale zipper on a $230 collectible figure. The armor pieces are present on his left arm and shoulder, and the bottom of the coat is frayed and tattered and even shows places where Quill has made crude repairs. Speaking of repairs, I should note that while handling the figure one of the dozens of buttons on my figure’s jacket popped off. By some miracle I managed to find the tiny thing and glue it back on, easy-peasy, but it’s certainly something to look out for. Hot Toys actually included extra buttons with Winter Soldier’s tunic, but that isn’t the case here, so be mindful of your buttons! Some could fall off and never be missed, but others could be pretty conspicuous.

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The belt is removable and features two open-style holsters, which velcro onto the pants. The guns fit the holsters really well and don’t fall out like that one gun on my Winter Soldier figure. Have I mentioned before how much I love these open-style snap on holsters? Yeah, I’m sure I have. The jacket flaps are billowy enough so that the relatively bulky guns can both be holstered under the coat without looking too obvious, although I’m not sure it would be easy to zip up the jacket with the guns attached. And yes, he also has his thruster jets attached to his boots and the controls for them attached to his pants.

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Before getting to the rest of the accessories, let’s talk portrait. I’m really perplexed by the number of people who are on the fence over the likeness here. I will confess the head sculpt looks loads better in person. Most pictures I take give him a bit of a pinhead thing going on, which I attribute mostly to the hair sculpt, but either way it is not at all the case with the figure in hand. The paintwork on the skin and facial hair is exceptional and the eyes look as lifelike as always. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is one of Hot Toys’ best likenesses, but I do think it’s pretty spot on. I was prepared to use the masked head as a display default if I was unhappy with the likeness, but I honestly think I may go with the Chris Pratt head most of the time. I really do dig it that much.

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And that’s saying a lot, because the masked head is extremely cool, despite being an absolute bitch to get on. It feels like the ball joint is just a tad too big for the socket and if there’s one thing I love, it’s having to apply a lot of force to my delicate and expensive collectibles. It was the same story with Winter Soldier’s alternate head. Anyway, the back panel on the helmet lifts off and there’s an On/Off switch to activate the lights in the eyes and damn this thing looks great with the eyes lit up. The sculpt is gorgeous and there’s some great weathering from the paintwork. Either way, this is definitely a figure that I’ll be swapping the head on quite a bit.

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Moving on to the accessories… Star-Lord does not come with a huge helping of hands like most Hot Toys releases and that’s fine by me, because as many of you know, I’m not big on swapping out hands. In this case you get a pair of fists (which come on the figure in the box), a pair of gun holding hands, and an extra hand designed to hold The Orb or the Walkman. You also get an extra set of posts in case you snap one.

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Star-Lord’s man purse is a nice piece of work. The shoulder strap goes over the figure’s head and under the left arm. The instructions recommend popping the head to do this, but I didn’t find it necessary. Once slung on the right shoulder, you just snap the second strap around the figure’s right side. The strap running under the figure’s left arm has a tendency to twist, but otherwise the satchel looks great on him. You can even unzip it and put The Orb inside. Right now, I have mine just slung on his left shoulder and I think it looks pretty great.

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Next up, Star-Lord comes with his pair of distinctive pistols. These are plastic, static pieces with a great amount of detail, both in paint and sculpt. The checker pattern on the grips is recreated beautifully, as are the little copper pieces and the blueish burns around the barrels, presumeably from being fired. There are also all sorts of little scrapes and weathering to make them look well worn. The guns fit the appropriate hands comfortably and the trigger fingers can be tucked into the trigger guards.

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Of course, you couldn’t do a movie Star-Lord figure and not include his Walkman. In this case, however, that’s sort of what happened. Yes, you get an 80’s style portable cassette player, but no, it’s obviously been altered so as not to look exactly like a Sony Walkman. I’m guessing there were copyright issues? Maybe? The player itself looks pretty close, but the headphones are totally off. I can kind of appreciate this since as a kid I always wanted a legit Sony Walkman, but always had to settle for knock-offs. Anyway, the biggest discrepencies here are the fact that you don’t get the orange foam ear pieces and the wire only runs to one side. Still, it looks great on him and the cassette inside does actually read “Awesome Mix Vol. 1.” All in all, it’s close enough and a fun accessory, but if a third-party were to cook up a more accurate version, I might be tempted to go for it.

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Two accessories I doubt I’ll get much use out of are the set of wrist manacles and the light orb. The manacles feel like a cheap toss-in accessory. There’s not a whole lot of detail there and the cuffs are almost large enough to put on without taking the fists off. The light orb is such a forgettable little trinket that when I was done shooting I realized that I didn’t even bother with it at all. Sorry! I think I would have rather had a rubber alien rat for him to sing into than either of these pieces. But, hey, it’s hard to gripe over extra accessories.

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Finally, the Sideshow Exclusive includes the Infinity Stone Orb. Sideshow did a similar thing with Dark World Loki, by including the Aether (another Infinity Stone) as the exclusive for that figure. It seems like a low blow in this case, since The Orb was so central to the film. I’m not one to bother much with exclusives, but in this case it was enough to make sure I went with Sideshow to get it. I wouldn’t miss The Aether from Dark World, but somehow I couldn’t imagine Star-Lord without The Orb. Hell, even the Hasbro Legends figure came with it. Still, in the end, it’s just a sculpted little silver ball.

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Of course, every Hot Toys figure comes with a stand and in this case, they have cast off the standard oval black stand that we’ve been seeing with most of the Marvel figures for something a little more movie specific. The larger seven-sided base is surfaced to look like the deck plating of a spaceship with an angled nameplate in front with Star-Lord’s name and the title of the flick. One of those bendy flight style stands would have been cool, but I like this one a lot. It feels a little more premium than what we’re used to getting and I like that all the figures from this film are going to have matching stands.

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Holy hell, this is a great figure! Star-Lord may be my favorite Hot Toys figure on my shelf right now, or at the very least tied with RoboCop as my favorite. Sure, it helps that I absolutely adore this move and I thought Chris Pratt did an excellent job in the role, but that’s not to steal any of Hot Toys thunder because they certainly did an excellent job on the figure. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve watched the movie so many times, but I already feel like everything about Peter Quill’s look (his mask, his jacket, his satchel, his pistols) is already iconic and all of that is recreated wonderfully with this release. I still stand behind the likeness, but for those who don’t the masked head is an absolutely bitchin’ alternative. As for price, Star-Lord set me back $230. It’s a lot of money for a figure, but Hot Toys has made no bones about the fact that their prices are going up and up and up with no end in sight. On the other hand, when I compare it to the $220 I spent on Dark World Loki, Star-Lord feels like a bargain. Yeah, that’s a warped way of looking at it, but it helps me sleep at night. As I already mentioned, Rocket and Groot have been pushed back until the Summer, but as of now Gamora is still on schedule to ship next month. Here’s hoping she makes it on time.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Motormaster by Hasbro

So far, I’ve only dipped my toe into the Combiner Wars line by picking up the Legends figures. I passed on the Hasbro Aerialbots in favor of the Takara versions, which should be coming my way later on in the Summer. The Stunticons, on the other hand… well, given my affinity for Decepticon cars, I just couldn’t resist these guys and even then it was after a lot of waffling because I wasn’t entirely pleased with what I was seeing in the official Hasbro photographs. Anyway, I decided to dive right in with Motormaster himself, so let’s check him out…

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Hasbro really loves their black packaging! Motormaster comes in a mostly black window box which feels very un-Transformers-y to me despite the fact that it’s branded right along the right side of the front of the box. The artwork is kind of cool, though, and can’t say I’m totally hating on the deco. It does, however, have an awful lot of Autobot symbols on it for a Decepticon. Just saying! The back shows the other Stunticon figures and roughly how they combine together to form Menasor. Motormaster is packaged in his robot mode, but as you might have guessed already, I’m starting things off with his alt mode.

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Motormaster is a very modern looking truck cab and not a bad one at that. I am getting flashbacks to Age of Extinction Galvatron, but then I rather liked his alt mode too. It’s not a particularly attractive vehicle, as there’s a lot of seaming on the sides and the sculpted detail is kind of soft, but I don’t need my Motormaster’s alt mode to be pretty, just so long as he’s a giant evil truck and this fits the bill. Everything locks together quite well, he rolls beautifully, and you can store his gun on his trailer hitch.

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In cab mode, the paint (or lack there of) on this figure is disappointing, albeit Motormaster is helped by the fact that the gray base plastic matches his primary color. It doesn’t look nearly as bad as if, oh I don’t know, let’s say someone were to use this mold for Optimus Prime and leave unpainted gray plastic corners where red should be. That having been said, I’m still not a fan of the bare gray plastic, especially when I get a look at the little area of metallic gray paint on the back of the sides and get a sad glimmer of how good this truck could have looked. Also, the lack of purple paint on some of the windows really is inexcusable. On the flip side, there’s some nice silver paint on the grill along with a lovingly tampo a tiny Decepticon logo as a hood ornament. Also, the purple stripes on the sides help to give him a gloriously traditional Decepticon deco. All in all, I’d say the good outweighs the bad here, but I’m still going to take a hard look at Takara’s version to see if it will warrant some double-dipping.

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Motormaster’s transformation isn’t ground-breaking. The legs form the back hitch area, the arms fold into the cab sides, the head flips out of the top. We’ve seen something like it countless times before with good old Optimus, albeit now with some tweaks. Let’s just say it’s a case of the same dance, different tune and it works just fine.

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It’s in robot mode where I really begin to fall in love with this figure, possibly even more than he deserves. He’s a big and beefy bot and the oddly enough the proportions here don’t bother me, whereas they most definitely do on the Optimus version of the mold. With the exception of some extra packed kibble on his forearms, Motormaster sports a pretty clean robot mode and while he’s definitely a broad design, the backpack helps to give him a little depth and even things out. There’s a lot more sculpted detail to be seen in the robot mode than the cab mode, and I do like how they kept the overall shape of the torso in line with the look of the Sunbow character model.

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The portrait is pretty much money. In my mind, you can’t have Motormaster without having that box around his head. The countours on the face might be a little too organic for my liking, but I’m not going to quibble about it when the reast of his noggin looks so good.

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Motormaster’s coloring works much better for me in robot mode. The bare gray plastic is enhanced by some high gloss black and purple on the chest as well as a crisp Decepticon insignia. You get some more purple accents scattered about the figure and more black plastic, giving him a nice, traditional Decepticon look.

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The articulation here is quite serviceable. The arms rotate and are hinged at the shoulders. The elbows are double hinged for transformation, but because of the sculpt, you can really only make use of one of those hinges for forward movement of the forearm. He legs are have universal movement at the hips and hinges at the knees. Motormaster can swivel at the waist and his neck is ball jointed. The hips feature nice ratchet joints to support the figure.

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Motormaster comes with two weapons, a sword and a gun, both are complex sculpts and painted silver. They can also combine to form a larger sword, which is intended for Bruticus, but Motormaster actually looks fine wielding it himself.

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I picked up Motormaster for $25, which I guess is about what Voyagers are going for these days. He’s a remarkably, and somewhat surprisingly, solid figure that’s only held back by Hasbro’s unending desire to cheap out when it comes to paint. I’ve always loved the idea of Motormaster as a character and it’s nice to see Hasbro finally give him his due again, especially when the figure turned out this good. You’ll notice I didn’t cover his torso mode, but I’m not going to bother with that until I’ve got a team of Stunticons to do it right. Not sure how long that will take, but I do know that next week on Transformers Thursday, I’ll be checking out Dragstrip!

Tekken: Asuka Kazama Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

A couple weeks back I featured Jaycee from Koto’s Tekken Bishoujo line and lamented the fact that I had to start grabbing the discontinued Tekken ladies up before they get too pricey on the secondary market. Asuka was one of the ones that I really wanted when she was released but I had so many other things vying for my dollars I had to put her off and she was rapidly beginning to climb out of the price range ($100+) that I am comfortable paying for these gals. I try not to resort to Ebay for my Bishoujos, especially if they’re not new, but this was a case where I had to take an opportunity and nab her when I could. Luckily she was still boxed and in excellent condition.

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And speaking of boxes, there’s Asuka’s packaging. It’s very similar to what we saw with Jaycee and Christie Monteiro before her. The box is mostly black as opposed to the white Koto uses for the comic based characters. You get some great shots of the statue as well as the beautiful artwork that inspired it. While Asuka originally hails from Tekken 5, this particular piece is based on her appearance in TekkenTag Tournament 2 and features the game’s logo on the box. The back of the box shows a teaser for the next statue, which happens to be Jaycee, the one I looked at last time. As I said, this statue came to me second hand and despite being a little shelfworn, the box is in pretty good shape. Asuka requires no assembly, nor does she come with any extra bits or bobs. You just take her out of the box, unwrap the plastic, and she’s ready for display.

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I absolutely love the simplicity of this piece and the fact that it in no way sacrifices any of the sexy flash that I’ve come to expect from my Bishoujo statues. Asuka’s brash, arrogant, and playful style is wonderfully conveyed as she throws her hip to the side, winks and offers up a salute. Even if you knew nothing about Ms. Kazama, this pose would tell you everything about her personality. I often go back and forth over whether I prefer my Bishoujo poses to be “action shots”or just shameless mugging for the camera, but this one certainly champions the later.

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The previous Tekken statues that I featured here on FFZ showcased some pretty crazy and complex outfits, but Asuka’s couldn’t be further from that trend. Her one-piece (for lack of a better term) is zipped down to the belt and cast off behind her to reveal just her sporty bikini top, which ironically also has its own zipper, which is also zipped down to the bottom. This is a good news, bad news scenario, folks. If you’re an ass-man, Asuka ain’t gonna do much for you because of that damn jacket. If cleavage is your game, however, Asuka certainly came to play. Proportionally speaking, Asuka probably has more covering her arms and legs than anywhere else. She sports a set of boots with shin pads and fingerless gloves with elbow pads.

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The coloring offers up some blue, gray, white, a little teal and black. I find it to be a pleasing pallet, although while there’s a nice bit of gloss to Ms. Kazama top, you don’t get that same contrast of high gloss latex and soft skin tones that characterize so many of Koto’s Bishoujo line. The skin tone’s here, on the other hand, are executed particularly well. The use of shading on her midriff, neck, and cleavage all looks fantastic.

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The portrait here follows suit with being rather simple and yet so good. Koto usually likes to go crazy with long windblown hair, and Asuka’s rather short coif robbed them of the opportunity here. That’s OK, though, I dig the short haircut and they still managed to get in that tapered transparent look that they love so much. With one eye closed and the other shrouded by hair, you don’t get the same clarity of peepers on this statue as most, but I’m still in love with this portrait.

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As is par for the course, Asuka comes on a clear disk stand, which can be opened and customized with different art transparencies or just left blank. As I bought this statue second hand, mine only came with one transparency, but I doubt there was anything that I would have chosen to display her with over this wonderful piece of art. It’s nice to know that if I ever get tired of looking at the boobs on the statue, I can look at the ones on the base art. Who loves ya, kids? Kotobukiya does! [I actually didn’t notice until after I shot the pictures that the previous owner of the statue put all three transparencies into the base. If you look closely, you can see the signature overlay and the title overlay under the character art overlay. 10 Points to me for getting all three included, but minus 100 points for being too stupid to notice! -FFZ]

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I’m always thrilled to add a new Bishoujo statue to my collection, but this was a special case because not owning Asuka was beginning to worry me, and that brings me to the subject of cost. This is usually the part of the feature where I say what a great value the Bishoujo statues are, and in fairness, when Asuka first hit the shelves at an MSRP of around $60, she was indeed a great value. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find her selling new for under $100, although in fairness she is close to three years old now. I grabbed mine from a good home on Ebay for about $85 shipped, and I still manage to feel like I got a pretty solid deal, especially considering I spend about that same amount for DC Collectible’s cold cast porcelain Cover Girls, and I’d readily debate that Koto’s pieces are nearly always superior. Either way, I can’t put a price on peace of mind, and knowing that Asuka is finally on my shelf does indeed give me plenty of that.

LEGO Pirates: Soldiers Outpost (#70410) by LEGO

I love pirates and some of my favorite toy expressions of that love have been from LEGO and Playmobil. You don’t need licenses or stories or specific characters, you just need ships and pirates and soldiers and forts and booty for them to fight over. ARRRRR! When I first saw that LEGO was doing a new generic line of Pirates sets I was extremely excited and vowed that this would be the series that would finally got me to pony up all the monies for a pirate ship. But I’m still going to work my way up to it. I haven’t gone all in on a LEGO series since Pharaoh’s Quest, but I’m going all in on this one, baby! Today I’m starting things off with one of the mid-range sets… Soldiers Outpost!

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The box is yellow and sports a ripped flag with the series logo and a cutlass underneath it that really says all there is to say about what’s to come. It’s generic LEGO through and through and I love it! But check out that front panel art. What the hell is supposed to be happening here? A lone straggler pirate on a ragtag makeshift raft is being harassed by asshole soldiers taking pot shots of him while a giant squid is nipping at his heels. That dude is having a seriously bad day. Doubly so when you assume he’s probably just survived a shipwreck. They maybe should have called this set “Soldiers Target Practice.” Anyway, between the front and back panels you get a great look at all you get to build with the 164 pieces inside. The contents include two numbered bags of bricks and an instruction manual and I was pleased to see no stickers! This is the first LEGO set I can remember in a long time without any stickers! When you’re all done with the build you get a pirate raft, a soldier outpost, a squid and three Minifigs. You guessed it… let’s start with the Minifigs!

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The Minifigs include two soldiers and a pirate, plus the squid. The pirate is your typical scurvy sea dog with a printed striped shirt, black pants and a red dew rag tied around his head. The printed face is pretty spectacular as he’s go an eye patch and a particularly surly look. This is basically a Minifig of Tom Savini playing a pirate as a Lego Minifig and that’s just plain awesome. He also comes with a pair of cutlasses, although I suppose you can give one to the soldiers. The squid is a single black sculpted piece with a couple of studs for eyes. Not much more to be said about him.

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The soldiers are built off of the same bodies, both with identically printed uniform shirts and white pants. You get four sets of epaulets, two white and two gold. The Officer features a printed face with a goatee and a sculpted hairpiece, whereas the Soldier has a simple printed face, a tall hat, and a backpack. You also get two blunderbuss style pistols and a rifle.

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The pirates raft is a fun little build and it really does look like it’s crafted from the remnants of a LEGO ship right down to the barrels that are sticking out of the sides. I like to think that each of these bricks are actually used for building the LEGO Pirate Ship in this series, in which case this makeshift raft would be all the cooler. It really toes the line between being impressive and pathetic. He has a single oar, a bottle of booze, a barrel with a fish in it, and a mast with a crow’s nest and a ragged sail. Oh yeah, he also has a little catapult mounted on it. I guess it would be a pretty swanky little raft if it weren’t for the fact that he’s going up against a fortified outpost armed with a cannon and while being attacked by a squid.

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The rest of the set consists of the Soldiers Outpost, which is also fun to build and looks great. I particularly like the exposed brick areas showing through the chipped painted walls. It’s got plenty of room for the two Soldiers and includes a chest full of gems, a crab ‘s den (complete with crab!) scuttling underneath, a lantern, a flag, and a pivoting cannon on top with a spring-loaded firing mechanism.

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At $20 this set feels like a solid deal, at least as far as LEGO economics go. It didn’t take me very long to build, but it was fun and refreshingly not terribly repetitive. The Minifigs are solid and both the raft and the outpost have a lot of charm to their designs. I’m actually kicking myself for not picking up one of the other smaller sets too, because I probably would have tore into it right away. Either way, I can see a lot more of these Pirates sets in my near future. This is going to be a fun series to collect and a fun world to build!