Transformers Generations: Armada Starscream (IDW Comic Pack) by Hasbro

Hopefully next week I’ll get back to looking at some Bayformers on Transformers Thursdays, but today we’re checking out another IDW Comic Pack that I picked up a couple of weeks back. Everyone should know by now how much I loved Armada, and thanks to IDW using the Armada Starscream design in their comic, Hasbro delivered a Deluxe Class homage to that comic character and, in a roundabout way, the Armada toy as well.

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Yup, the Comic Pack may indeed be the highest evolution of action figure packaging. Starscream comes in his robot mode and in front of a reprint copy of the IDW comic spotlighting the character in his new body. Cool! The Armada Seekers were a big deal to me because it was the first time we had a proper set of Decepticon Seekers in a really long while. They may not have been the best toys, but I loved the design and I thought they looked great standing on the shelf together. Pity mine are gone now, but maybe someday I’ll pony up and replace them. Let’s start with Starscream’s jet mode.

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Armada Starscream is a sleek Cybertronian jet and a pretty good approximation of the original toy. Hell, he even features Minicon ports on his back and sides to drive that homage home. I think this design works really well as a Cybertronian Seeker, and as soon as I saw it replaced the old Tetrajet design in my mind. In addition to the stylish finned nosecone, Starscream carries on his back two large engines that double as missile launchers. The launchers are of the flick-fire variety, where you can jam on the back and they will shoot. The use of clear yellow plastic is new, but I think it complements the deco fairly well. Speaking of the deco, it seems to me that this version is a little heavier on the red and lighter on the grey than the original Armada toy. Then again, we are dealing with a treatment of the IDW character design and not the Armada toy. You also get three sets of folding landing gear.

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Transforming Starscream is extremely simple and quite reminiscent of the Armada figure. The end result is rather hollow, particularly when viewed from the back, but the robot mode works well as a scaled down version of the original. The proportions are cleaned up a bit with longer arms and while the articulation here isn’t exactly superb, it’s leaps and bounds better than the Armada toy. This is a figure that looks badass just standing on the shelf. And that headsculpt? Yeah, that’s pure Starscream!

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The biggest change to the design is actually a huge improvement to the original toy that allows the shoulder launchers to be angled in the upward position. With the launchers pointed up, you get a nice nod back to the shoulder intakes of the G1 Seeker design. You can still flip the launchers forward so they rest on the shoulders, but doing so makes them stick out the back pretty far. I love this new feature and really wish it had been incorporated on the Armada Seeker toys.

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Starscream comes with a pair of translucent yellow swords that fold up and store under his wings. The original Armada toy allowed you to remove part of his wing and turn it into a sword, so these swords are a pretty cool update to that idea. He looks great holding them, but because of the limited articulation, particularly the lack of swivels in the biceps or wrists, there’s only so much you can do with them vis-à-vis posing.

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In the end, I dig this figure a lot. He’s got some opportunities, mostly in the articulation department, but he’s a fun toy and he looks great on the shelf, even if I don’t really have a display where he fits in. It’s a shame that he’s doomed to be an oddball figure in my collection, particularly because of how unlikely it will be that Hasbro will deliver on Thundercracker and Skywarp repaints. Yes, I realize that such releases would make no sense against the IDW source material, but as an Armada fan, I’d really like to have a set of all three Seekers based off this mold.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Blade by Mattel

It’s that time again, kids! My monthly box from Matty Collector hit my doorstep earlier this week. Considering the sale was on the 15th and I got my sub figure on the 20th, I’d say that’s record time. It almost justifies the crazy shipping prices that Matty charges. Anyway, this month’s figure is Blade… yes, the bald eye-patch guy from the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie. I have absolutely no idea what the general nerd reception is for that movie these days. I kind of liked it back then, but I wasn’t a hardcore MOTU fan so it probably didn’t offend me as much as some. It’s probably been 20 years since I’ve seen it, and no… I am under no obligation to watch it for this review. I tell ya what, if Matty gets around to doing one more movie figure, I’ll watch it for that review. There, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Now, let’s look at the figure.

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Blade may be from the movie, but you wouldn’t know it from the packaging. There’s no sticker or anything declaring his Hollywood origins. You just get an awesome card and bubble with that glorious Greyskull-inspired green brick deco. The insert dubs Blade as the “Evil Master of Swords” and the bio on the back even gives a nod to the 1987 movie plot. I love the idea of folding all of this stuff into one uniform line of action figures and even if it does mean I have to watch the movie again, I really do hope we get more figures from the film. I’ll also confess that I never knew there was a Blade figure in the original MOTU toyline. Nope, I only just learned that today while poking around the Interwebs to remind me a little bit about the character in the film.

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There he is, and might I say, “Damn, this guy is bitchin!” He’s like some kind of techno-sky-pirate-warlord from one of those late-night Cinemax Post-Apocalypse movies. And I mean that in every way as a compliment. I don’t even know where to begin with this guy. I guess I’ll start with the armor. Blade is wearing a soft, rubbery vest and skirt that’s sculpted and painted to look like chainmail and the effect works brilliantly. If I wasn’t already in the know, I’d have to get in pretty close to see that all those chain links are faked out, especially with the way it falls down between his legs. It’s brilliant! The chain coat is beautifully adorned with a silver medallion in the center. The huge slabs of shoulder armor may be a tad much, but… hell, why not? In for a penny, in for a pound. If you’re going for a high intimidation factor, and I do believe this guy is, you might as well go all out and turn your shoulders into razor tipped walls. The whole ensemble is nicely rounded out with rings of sculpted daggers around each of his thighs and a dart gun mounted on his left bracer. Christ, this is one outstanding battle ensemble!

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The portrait is pretty sweet too. Blade’s bald head sports a nasty scar that disappears under his patched eye and he’s wearing a fierce scowl. His ears are covered with bladed back-swept wings and he’s even got a pair of spikes protruding out from his chin. What the hell are those for? Does he chin butt people? Sure, it’s crazy… crazy awesome! The hell with Eternia, Blade would be right at home in the Badlands, manning a custom gun turret on top of a battle wagon made out of a converted ’76 Ford Torino. Don’t tell me you can’t picture that!

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Blade comes with his trusty swords, each of which fit into loops on his belt for convenient carrying. He has one straight broadsword and one slightly curved cutlass-style weapon. Much has been made by the fan community about the paint operations being nixed from these swords. The cutlass is completely unpainted and the broadsword just has red paint on the crossguard. I get it, they would have looked better painted, but considering how much spectacular work was done on the figure itself, I can live with the unpainted weapons. Besides, they may still turn up all painted up in a weapons pack somewhere down the road. Of course, having to buy the painted swords separately will just give the fans something else to complain about.

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You also get a laser whip. I did not at all remember Blade having this in the movie until a friend set me straight and showed me some pics of He-Man getting the shit whipped out of him by Blade. It’s a cool accessory, but it doesn’t quite live up to the weapon in the film. Plus, I get a bit of a Gummi-Worm vibe from it. I don’t think I’ll display it with the character. His name is Blade not Whip, I want him to have his swords at the ready, not a licorice candy whip.

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Blade is yet another reason why I’m so very happy I subbed Club Eternia this year. Mattel went absolutely apeshit on this guy with all the new sculpting and paintwork and they turned out a truly amazing figure. Even if I wasn’t collecting this line, I think I’d want to have this guy on my shelf just because he’s dripping with 80’s sci-fi badassery. You’re not going to the display shelves yet, Mr. Blade. No, you’re going to hang out on my desk for a while so I can play with you on my downtime. Keep it up, Matty. You’re making 2014 a great year!

Feral Rex (Reformatted Series): R-04 Leo Dux (Squadron Commander) by Mastermind Creations

I’ve got two complete third-party combiners under my belt (TFC’s Uranos and Fansproject’s M3) and I love them both. So, it really means something for me to say that Mastermind Creations has been turning out the absolute best contenders in this field with their Feralcons. Bovis and Fortis are absolutely superb and now it’s time to check out their commander, Leo Dux (aka Not-Razorclaw). I split up the last two Feralcons into two features each, but I’m going to get to all of Leo in one shot, so let’s dig right in.

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The packaging is the same style we’ve seen with the previous two releases. Pay no attention to the R-04 number, because MMC has mixed up the order on these figures and Leo is indeed only the third release in the series. The figure comes in a pretty standard box with an opening front flap and a window that shows off the figure in robot form. I’m on record as not being terribly impressed with the presentation here. It’s not bad, it’s certainly collector friendly, but I don’t think the renders they use for character art do the actual figure any justice at all. In the end, I think it just comes down to my personal taste. Considering that being underwhelmed by the box art is the worst thing I’ll have to say in this entire feature, that’s a pretty good thing.

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In addition to the figure, you get Leo’s gigantic twin swords and some extra parts used for a few different things. Of course, also included are the ubiquitous profile card and a combination instruction booklet and comic book all in color. And lastly there’s a baggie of button batteries to be installed in Feral Rex’s head for a light up visor. I’m going to go ahead and start with Leo Dux’s alt mode.

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Yes, he’s a giant robot lion and a mighty awesome one at that. The aesthetic here is right in line with the beast modes of Bovis and Fortis creating a definite continuity of style. The color palette is mostly black with some yellow and red and is mostly achieved through colored plastic with some gold paint to add some zing. ZING! While he may not quite rival the chunky brute force of Bovis and Fortis’ beast modes, Leo Dux is still a beefy and powerful looking cyber-beastie. The transformation doesn’t hold many surprises and I love the fact that he doesn’t look like a robot standing on all fours and imitating a lion, like a certain other third-party homage to Razorclaw. Sorry, TFC, I calls it likes I sees it. Leo is nicely proportioned and thanks to the articulation in his legs you can get some cool poses out of him, which include everything from sitting to pouncing and running. But mostly I just like to stand him majestically. And speaking of majestic that best describes this guy’s superb lion head. He’s an angry looking kitty with intimidating red eyes and an articulated mouth that shows plenty of teeth. The mane is comprised of a series of orange blades with some snazzy gold paint on the front.

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The extra parts that came in the box are combined to complete the lion mode. Two pieces join together to fill in the lion’s breast cavity. The other parts combine to form his tail. If I had to choose something to nitpick here, I guess it would be the tail. It looks fine, but with only two points of articulation it’s very angular and stiff. Then again, maybe that’s what a robotic lion’s tail is supposed to look like.

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Leo Dux’s lion mode is rocking two laser cannons on his back, which peek out just over his mane. These can also be deployed in an elevated position to give him a better range of firepower. Lastly, you can peg his massive swords into the sockets on his rear legs to give him some side blades. I didn’t think I would dig this as much as I do. It doesn’t make much sense, but it sure does look badass. I mean, he’s a freaking lion with giant blades coming out of him. YEAH! I also appreciate the fact that, like Bovis and Fortis, you can display Leo in lion mode without any leftover parts.

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Transforming Leo Dux into his robot mode is quite straightforward and it feels just a bit easier than transforming Fortis and Bovis. In fact, the most fiddly thing about it for me was getting his lion mane packed up just right. As with his fellow Feralcons the plastic is incredibly high quality so there are no scary or precarious manipulations. When all is said and done, you’re left with an absolutely stunning figure. I literally love every little thing about this guy, from the way his lion head sits on his chest to the way the guns rise up from behind his back. And look at that head sculpt. It’s pure love. That is if love was a cold-blooded Decepticon. Leo is also a satisfyingly large figure, standing a good head and shoulders above Bovis and Fortis, and that’s not even counting his guns, which can also be angled forward into a firing position.

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Leo’s colors even out a lot more in robot mode than in his beast mode where black dominated. Here he uses a pleasing mix of mostly yellow, red, and black plastics to give him his striking deco. The shades match perfectly with Bovis and Fortis and he brings some nice matte gold paint to the table to make him distinctive. Because of all the colorful plastic, there isn’t an overabundance of paint operations, but what’s here is clean and tastefully done.

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As with Bovis and Fortis, Leo Dux makes use of all the parts in whatever mode he’s in. The tail and chest pieces all combine together to form a mace. I’ll admit, this is not the most exciting weapon, but there’s nothing wrong with it either and I give MMC points for trying. The two swords can be wielded in each hand or they can be combined together to form one big ass sword. Lastly, the back cannon can be removed and used as arm cannons if you so desire. And seeing as how Leo doesn’t come with any handguns, the option to mount the cannons on his arms is a very welcome feature.

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While I now have enough parts to build the legs and torso of Feral Rex, I’m going to keep with tradition and save that until I have a complete set. Besides, this feature has gone long enough today, so I’m going to wrap things up. Suffice it to say, I’ve been blown away by MMC’s Feralcons from Day One and here we are three figures in and this set seems to keep getting better. The quality, the engineering, and the fun of these figures all delight me to no end. I’ll go one further than that: Right now Leo, Bovis and Fortis are without a doubt three of my favorite figures in my Transformers collection and that’s saying a lot. I’m even more excited about the last two, Talon and Tigris, just because they’ll each represent unique molds and add a greater dynamic to the team.

Marvel Universe: Cloak and Dagger by Hasbro

Surely everyone has heard by now that the Marvel Universe 3 ¾” line is dead, but in reality it’s just being rebranded as the Marvel Infinite line. While the MU line and I have had our ups and downs, I’ve been a loyal collector from the early waves and even though it’s just a name change I’m still sorry to see it go. I haven’t looked at anything from this line since back in November of last year, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been buying them. I actually have a sizeable stack of unopened MU figures that I’d like to get through before I start covering the Infinite figures. So, let me try to get back on track with that today with a look at Cloak and Dagger.

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I was first introduced to this pair when I was about 15 when I bought the four-issue miniseries from 1983 in a used bookshop downtown. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but considering my age at the time, I’m thinking I picked it up for three reasons: Dagger’s tight white unitard on the cover and boobs. I never thought this pair would ever make it to Marvel Universe but I’m certainly glad they did. The last time I owned these characters in figure form it was that unfortunate boxed set from Toybiz. Here they come single carded on the usual MU packaging. The excellent character art features both characters and the insert identifies them only as “Marvel’s Knights.” Uh-oh. You know what that means! Yes, Hasbro offered this duo as two variants in one slot and it’s a terrible f’cking idea. Who is going to want just Cloak or Dagger? Why do you do this shit to your customers, Hasbro? Fortunately, I was able to snag a pair online for only eleven bucks a figure. Let’s start with Cloak.

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Cloak was a really easy figure to make. He features a totally black buck with a newly sculpted head and cape. The cape is what you would probably expect. It’s sculpted to billow out and it fits right over the neck post. There’s some decent texturing, a grey clasp at the neck, and the back has dark blue striping, which represents some of the only paintwork on the figure. The sculpt of the cape doesn’t interfere too much with articulation, although the fact that it falls just short of the ground make Cloak a bit back heavy.

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The head sculpt includes the hood all as one piece and it creates a nice illusion that it’s part of the cape. The head sculpt is excellent, with a suitably stern, almost blank expression. The face is painted brown and the eyes are white, which makes a nice effect of the eyes shining through from the hood.

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The buck isn’t the most articulated of the modern 3 ¾” bodies, but it is close. You get ball joints in the neck, shoulders, hips, and ankles. There are single hinges in the elbows and doubles in the knees. You get swivels in the biceps and wrists, and a ball joint in the torso. The key thing missing here are the thigh swivels, which appear on what I consider to be the ultimate buck that Hasbro uses in this scale. It’s no biggie, although I do kind of miss the rockers in the ankles.

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Moving on to Dagger, here we have another pretty easy figure for Hasbro to produce, as she makes use of the standard modern female buck with a new head popped on. The pearlescent white they used for her bodysuit looks fantastic and the dagger shaped cut out down her front is decently executed. My figure had some black spots on her white paint, which had me worried until I got the figure open and was able to scratch them off with my thumb nail. Not to take away from Dagger, but I can’t help but think with a little fresh paint and some tiny roller skates and Hasbro could easily turn this figure into a mighty nice Dazzler.

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The head sculpt is good, but maybe a tad too intense. The paint is nice and clean and the hair looks fantastic, even if it does inhibit the neck articulation a bit. I think my biggest gripe here is the plastic used on the face is really waxy and can be a little distracting.

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In terms of articulation, Dagger brings her A-game. You get ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, torso, hips, and ankles. Her elbows are hinged and her knees are double-hinged. You get swivels in the wrists, thighs and calves. The neck is both ball jointed and hinged, and you get rockers in the ankles. Nice! The hinges are a little soft on my figure, but that often comes with the territory on the skinny chicks.

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Yes, Cloak and Dagger were easy figures for Hasbro, but that doesn’t make me appreciate them any less. This pair is a very welcome addition to my menagerie of Marvel Universe figures and I’m very happy I was able to score both at a reasonable price. In fact, the only criticism I have is that the way they were released seems to have been designed to torture and agitate fans and collectors. Hasbro simply should not have gone the variant route and it only serves to remind me of the fact that I’m still missing one of the Legends Wrecking Crew for the very same reason. WHERE’S MY BULLDOZER, HASBRO??? I know Hasbro doesn’t do Universe two-packs, but they do those three-packs, so they could have tossed in a Spectacular Spider-Man and made this an easy boxed set.

Marvel Comics: Miss Marvel (70’s Version) Statue by Bowen Designs

It’s only been the past couple years that I’ve really started to appreciate and collect statues. The overwhelming majority of the pieces that I own are from Kotobukiya, but I’ve been meaning to branch out and pick up something from Bowen Designs for a while now. I’ve had a number of these statues on my radar for a little while, but Miss Marvel now has the honor of being my first purchase. It may seem like an odd first choice, but I’m really into her current book, Captain Marvel, and the retro sex-appeal of her Bronze Age costume has always been one of my favorite looks for her.

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The statue comes in a nice big box to accommodate what is essentially a 1:6 scale statue on a raised base. The deco here features a sort of marbled deco with a collage of Marvel character names and sillouettes. It also points out that this piece was digitally sculpted by Jason Smith and that it measures about 12.5 inches tall. There are nice big photos of the statue itself, and while the box warns that the actual statue appearance may vary, I think the final release matches up to the box photos quite well.

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Inside the box you get a thick styrofoam coffin. The lovely Ms. Danvers requires some rudimentary assembly. She plugs into the base via a peg on the bottom of her right foot and the peg fits quite comfortably and holds the statue securely. I’m also pleased to see that both feet make good contact on the base. The scarf gets placed on her shoulders and is secured via two generous tabs, and finally the head goes on, secured by a strong magnet.

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The composition of this piece goes for a sense of simple heroic majesty. Ms. Marvel has her feet placed at a somewhat wide stance and leaning her weight on her right leg so as to jut out her hip ever so slightly. Her hands rest on her hips and she gazes off to her left as her scarf billows off to her right. I love the pose, as it really captures the spirit of the character: Heroic… noble… and certainly sexy.

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Yes, the sculpt captures her shapely form perfectly. Carol’s certainly got all the right curves in all the right places and a particularly stellar tush. I love the way this outfit shows off her legs and the exposed belly button is a nice touch too. I think they did a nice job with the way the hands rest on the hips with the fingers slightly splayed. All of the edges of her costume are sculpted in, as are the little wrinkles at the backs of her high heeled boots and in her gloves and elbows.

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The portrait is also excellent. The expression is quite neutral and there’s a sense of natural beauty to her face. The lips are ever so slightly pursed her mask is part of the sculpt. In keeping with the Bronze Age look, I really dig the short hair, although it’s admittedly a fuller style than she wears in the Marvel NOW Universe. Maybe the sculpted hair is a little chunky, but that seems often to be the case with these statues, and it certainly doesn’t look bad.

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From what I can tell, Bowen has had some issues with paintwork. It’s one of the things that has made me squeamish about buying these online. Nonetheless, I have to say that I’m quite satisfied with the paint on this piece. The skin tone is smooth and even and I like the wash used on her legs to highlight some of the muscles around her knees. The high gloss red and blue used for her outfit looks great and the lines are mostly clean and fairly sharp with just a few instances of overstep here and there. There certainly aren’t any outstanding flubs that detract from the statue.

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The base is a raised disc with The Avengers emblem sculpted into the face of it. I’ve seen this base used on other statues and I absolutely adore this particular design. I just think it looks great and it’s the perfect mix of utility and style. The bottom of the base has the limitation information. Mine is #733 out of 750 pieces.

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After shopping around for this statue an awful lot, I was finally able to get a decent deal and in the end she set me back $165 shipped and I’m very happy with the price. The quality of the piece is fantastic from the sculpt to the paintwork and she looks damn fine standing on my shelf beside my Kotobukiya Iron Man. Of course, it helps that my favorite version of the costume happens to be the easiest and least expensive version of Ms Marvel to get, although I’m not ruling out throwing the money at Bowen’s Warbird statue at some point in the future before it gets any higher.

Transformers Generations: Scoop (IDW Comic Pack) by Hasbro

I love the idea of Targetmasters. Who wouldn’t want a couple of friends that turn into guns? But I was already getting out of Transformers when this new breed of Transformers was arriving on the scene. I did, however, somehow manage to get Scoop and his two little buddies. I think he was my only one, but it’s possible I had Targetmaster Blurr as well. I don’t know if it was because I finally had an Autobot construction vehicle or because of the whole Targetmaster gimmick, but I really dug that G1 Scoop figure a lot and thanks to the character’s appearance in the IDW comic, this unlikely figure has gotten a long overdue update in the Generations line.

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Yes, as unlikely as it is to see an update to Scoop, it’s even more incredible that he comes with a comic book spotlighting the character. But that’s what I always liked about the IDW comics, they draw their character roster from a deep well of Transformers lore. We’ve seen this packaging many times before, so I don’t have anything new to say about it, except it’s still among my favorite of all the Transformers packages. You get the figure in robot form with his two Targetmasters, Tracer and Holepunch, beside him and a bonus reprint comic book in the background. How can you go wrong? You can’t! Let’s start with Scoop in his alt mode.

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Obviously, that alt mode is an orange payloader vehicle and in that sense it definitely pays respect to the original G1 toy. It’s a fairly simple sculpt with some articulation in the front scoop and it holds together and rolls along great. There are some notable details, like the molded ladders on the sides of the driver’s cabin, but that’s about it. There’s also not a lot of paintwork to speak of. You get a lot of orange plastic and black wheels. I’ve been known to jump all over Hasbro for how much they’ve scaled back on paint operations on recent toys, but in the case of Scoop’s alt mode, I don’t think it hurts the toy any. Construction vehicles aren’t meant to be flashy, and besides, Hasbro saved most of the color for Scoop’s robot mode, which I think was a rather good choice.

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There are three sets of peg holes on Scoop’s alt mode that can fit the Targetmaster guns. The two above his rear wheels don’t work so well because the guns bump up against the fenders. The ports between the two wheels work Ok, but I prefer to stick them onto the two top holes.

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Transforming Scoop doesn’t feel all that much different from the original toy. It’s extremely simple when going to robot mode. It was only when going back into vehicle mode that I had to ponder what exactly to do with the arms. Either way, the end result is a very clean and wonderfully proportioned robot. Scoop wears his scoop on his back and two of his wheels fall proudly on his shoulders. Some blue paint apps nicely recreate the chest stickers from the original toy and he’s got a crisp Autobot insignia stamped on his chest.

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Scoop sports some simple but effective articulation, which compliments his clean robot mode. With ball joints and hinges in the shoulders, ball joints in the hips, and hinges in the elbows and knees, Scoop feels very action figure-y, making him a lot of fun to play with and pose. If I have one complaint about Scoop it would be that he feels very hollow. The legs are hollowed out, the arms are hollowed out, and he’s rather light even for a Deluxe. But, maybe that’s more of an observation than a complaint, because it really doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the figure at all.

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The Targetmasters, Tracer and Holepunch, are simple, but oh so awesome. They represent some fantastic sculpting and paintwork for such little figures. These guys are a lot more stylized than the Nightstick figure that Hasbro released with Classics Cyclonus and I really dig that. Their articulation and transformation is simple, but that’s to be expected, and in the end you get a nice pair of little figures and a decent pair of guns. You can even combine the two into one ridiculous and unwieldy weapon just like you could with the original G1 figures.

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With distribution on these IDW comic packs being so poor in my area and online prices getting crazy, I all but gave up on getting many more of these. Nonetheless, a little persistence netted me Scoop for just a couple of bucks over regular retail and I’m mighty glad to have found him. He may not have been high on everyone’s list of Transformers that needed an update, but it’s hard to argue with results like this. He’s a fairly simple figure, but he’s easily among the best modern redesigns of a classic figure that Hasbro has done. He’s a great looking figure and super fun to play with… and hey, two Targetmasters! What’s not to like?

Masters of the Universe Classics: Fang Man by Mattel

You can tell I’m running behind because today’s feature was part of Matty Collector’s Early Access from LAST month. In fact, I’m writing this a couple days after getting the shipping notice for this month’s figure. What can I say? I didn’t have the same sense of urgency to get to Fang Man as I did Hydron because Fang Man was a second chance at an older figure rather than a new release. The truth is I haven’t even opened the shipping box until today. That doesn’t mean I’m not really excited to finally get him. I was kicking myself for missing out on him the first time around, and since then I’ve come mighty close to paying too much for him a couple of times from The Ebays. Good thing I held out!

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Hey, it’s the MOTUC packaging. We’ve seen it dozens of times, so I really don’t have anything new to say. What’s that? I have to go watch the episode he was in? No, I only had to do that with the Filmation Sub figures. He’s still a Filmation character so the rule still applies? Crap! Fine… give me about 25 minutes… And… I’m back. Ok, so the episode was “The Time Corridor.” Skeletor goes back in time to plant the Wheel of Infinity on the foundation where Castle Greyskull will be built. I’m a little shaky on the science here, but The Sorceress says it’ll spin really fast and get so big that it will destroy the Castle in the future. Anyway, he takes Fang Man and Tri-Klops back with him, but Fang Man is only in the whole thing for about a minute. He makes a failed charge against He-Man while riding a dragon and he’s never seen from again. I like that the bio on the back of the card suggests that Skeletor just left him in the past. What a prick! Ok, onto the figure!

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There’s a reason I came close to buying this figure at a premium, he’s fantastic. I get a bit of a Don Bluth Dragon’s Lair vibe off of the character design, particularly the outfit. The tunic is layered onto the figure and it looks great. The sculpted spikes underneath the back are a nice touch a the black belt with silver fixtures cinches it at his waist. The way the head protrudes out of the top, front of the torso gives Fang Man a very distinctive hunched over posture. The coloring on this figure is excellent. The pale blue skin contrasts nicely with the maroon tunic and orange collar and bracers. The clasps on his boots are even painted and the metallic silver on the belt is a beautiful final touch.

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The portrait here is also superb. The yellow eyes, spikes, and the snout all look amazing. The tongue that hangs out of the mouth is even articulated so you can swing it left and right. The jaw isn’t articulated, but adding a jaw hinge would have probably messed with what is an otherwise perfect head sculpt, so I’m glad they didn’t try.

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Fang Man features all the usual MOTUC articulation. I’m not going to run through it here because I’ve done it dozens of times and we should all know what to expect by now. He does, however feature two points of articulation in the head. The neck is attached to the body by a ball joint right at the orange collar. It’ll rotate 360-degrees and can look up and down a bit. There’s a second ball joint right behind the ears. Because the head is attached to the front of the torso, Fang Man can’t really turn his head left or right, only cock it like a dog. Also, while I’m sure there’s a ab crunch hinge buried in there, the tunic prevents it from being very useful. None of these are complaints, mind you, just characteristics of the figure design.

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Fang Man comes with a few accessories. First off, you get the Wheel of Infinity, which is a simple little medallion that he can clutch in his hands. It’s nothing amazing, but still a nice nod to the episode. Next up, he has what I think is supposed to be a taser or energy weapon of some kind. And lastly you get what is one of my favorite swords in the line so far. I like it because it’s a very simple and serviceable design and it has a tiny dragon head sculpted into the crossguard. The hilt is also painted a different color from the rest of the blade.

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No doubt about it, Fang Man is one of my favorites in this line. Granted, that’s a long list, but I can’t help but dig the great character design and beautiful colors of this figure. He’s unique enough to set him apart from The Snake Men, but I could see him possibly cozying up to Draego-Man on my shelf. It’s a shame he didn’t get a little more play in the cartoon, but I love that Matty gave him a figure anyway. Just about every one of the Filmation figures has been a hit for me, and I really hope that Matty gets more of them out to us collectors. Line up another Filmation Sub, Matty, and I’ll be happy to jump on board again.

Doctor Who: Zygon (3 ¾” Scale) by Character Options

Guess what, folks? I’ve got 5-inch Doctor Who figures to look at! Yes, some of the newly released Dalek-Doctor two-packs have been landing on my doorstep and I’m very excited about it. But we won’t be looking at those today because I still have one more 3 ¾” figure to look at before slamming a lid on this most recent wave. It’s the Zygon because there were motherf’cking Zygons in the 50th Anniversary Special! Sure, they were almost totally superfluous to much of the plot but it was still good to see Zygons in NuWho and now we have figures!

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I’ve said my piece about the packaging. It’s totally serviceable for a 3 ¾” figure line but certainly nothing special. It just begs to be ripped open and thrown away. The Zygon comes carded beside his grey “DWARTIS” figure stand. Yes, grey! Why did you change these to grey, Character Options? What was wrong with blue?

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The Zygons in the 50th didn’t change much from their last appearance way back in 1975 and that’s fine with me. I always thought they were one of the best looking monsters from the Classic series and despite having been absent from the small screen for almost 40 years, they still tend to get lumped in with the recurring aliens. They must have really good agents. And that’s one of the cool things about these figures is that they can easily pass for classic Zygons. If only we had some classic Doctors in this scale to display with them.

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The sculpting here is quite good for the scale in general and exceptionally good for this line in particular. Well, to be fair, most of the aliens in this scale have been decent and the Zygon figure continues that trend. The head sculpt is very evocative of the way they looked in the 50th and the skin is appropriately laced with all sorts of ridges and suckers. Since the Zygon is technically nekkid, the paint is uniform over the whole figure. Nonetheless CO really nailed the grubby orange color of the Zygon’s skin.

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Articulation here is pretty close to what we got with the Ice Warriors and Cybermen in this scale. You get ball joints in the shoulders and hips, there are hinges in the elbows and knees, and there are swivels in the wrists. The ankles do have hinges, but they don’t really offer any movment. There’s no torso articulation and because the Zygon’s head is basically just a continuation of his torso, there’s no neck articulation either. Nonetheless, what’s here is pretty good and any limitations are more likely due to the design of the creature than shortcuts in the figure.

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The Zygon is definitely my favorite figure in this wave and that’s saying something because he was up against a couple of those excellent Dalek variants. Some of my love for this figure has to do with the fact that I’ve always liked the look of this particular alien menace, but also because CO did a genuinely fine job with him and he looks great on the shelf alongside the rest of the 3 ¾” menagerie of aliens. I picked up three of these guys and who knows if I’ll stop there. Yes, as Tom Baker would say, “Who Knows?”

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And… that’ll wrap up my look at this wave for now. It’s likely I’ll eventually double back and pick up the tweed jacket 11th Doctor just because there’s plenty of him around and these figures are pretty cheap. But for now, I can finally start digging into some of the new 5-inch Who figures that are on my receivings pile. I think I’ll start with a couple of the Dalek and Doctor two-packs and then maybe we’ll circle back to that Claws of Axos set that’s been sitting around here for what seems like forever.

Marvel Legends Infinite: Baron Zemo by Hasbro

I’ve seen Winter Soldier twice now, and I really hope to get in one more time. And as the Captain America marketing juggernaut continues to roll over the land and thanks to Hasbro’s current wave of Captain America Legends, the comic books aren’t being left out. I already reviewed the excellent Marvel NOW! version of Cap and that got me good and excited to take a look at one of his arch enemies from the comics. Today we’re checking out Baron Zemo!

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But you won’t find his name on the front of the package! Zemo shares his slot in the wave with the elusive AIM Soldier. It’s amazing to me that Hasbro can not only slip a comic character onto the pegs under the guise of a movie line, but not even put the character’s name on the package. On the other hand, it warms my nerd heart to think that there are enough people walking through the toy aisle that will recognize Baron Zemo when they see him. The day I am in the action figure aisle and I see a little kid point up and say, “Mommy, I want Baron Zemo!” I will weep tears of joy. Will that ever happen? I don’t know, but I can dream. Anyway, Zemo comes on the tray with his weapons mounted beside him and the rather large arm for the Mandroid BAF. And yes, the new Infinite packaging is totally collector friendly.

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Hot damn… I love this figure! It’s a more modern treatment than the Universe version that we got last year and that’s fine by me. He still retains the iconic purple hood and pupil-less eyes that make him so sinister. Hasbro did a fine job sculpting the contours of his face under that mask. It really gives him a lot of character. I do, however, miss the regal fur trim that the older Zemo had as part of his outfit. Instead you get a shoulder harness holding two (sculpted and non-removable) automatic pistols. If you’re going to trade in your regal fur trim always do it for extra guns! At first I thought it was a little out of character, actually I still do, but it’s growing on me.

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Zemo makes nice use of a standard buck with some extra bits to make him unique. In addition to the gun harness, you get a belt and sash and sculpted yellow boots and gauntlets. If I were to complain about anything it might just be that the figure is a little too dark. I slightly darker purple for the body would have worked a little better for me. But that’s just me trying to find something to complain about because Zemo is otherwise awesome.

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Articulation is very similar to what we saw with the NOW! Cap. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, double-hinged at the elbows, have swivels in the biceps, and hinges and swivels in the wrists. The legs feature ball joints in the hips, double-hinged knees, swivels in the thighs and tops of the boots, and hinges in the ankles. Zemo has an ab-crunch hinge in the torso and the head is hinged and ball jointed. The joints are a tad softer than the NOW! Cap, but it’s nothing so bad that it spoils the figure for me.

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Zemo comes with both a pistol and a sword. The pistol is a nicely detailed piece and even includes a pattern on the grips that’s evocative of Zemo’s old fur trim. I know, I miss the fur trim and I’m obsessing over it. That’s the last time I’ll mention it. He can hold the gun in either hand, but the right is specifically sculpted with a trigger finger. You also get his broadsword, which is delightfully chunky and melodramatic. It also fits into a loop on his belt and I totally dig that!

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While my goal is still to find the AIM Soldier, Zemo makes for a mighty fine consolation prize. This is not my favorite version of the character’s costume, but I still dig it quite a bit and he is undoubtedly a great figure. I already have one team of Thunderbolts in the Legends scale and now I’m hoping that Hasbro might find their way to delivering another roster with Zemo as the first step. Probably not, but I can still hope. Either way it’s just great to see Hasbro sneaking these comic based figures out among the movie marketing. It sure beats getting a dozen different versions of Cap with goofy weapons and made up specialized climate gear. Next week I’ll come back to this wave and check out Red Skull!

The Avengers: The Hulk ArtFX+ Statue by Kotobukiya

Yes, it’s time to give more money and attention to the wizards at Kotobukiya. Having done some amazing work with DC’s Justice League, they are now branching out their ArtFX+ line to include Marvel’s Avengers and for the first release they’re bringing in the big guns: It’s The Hulk and this statue is… dare I say it? Incredible!

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The Hulk comes in a box that absolutely dwarfs the packaging used on most other statues in this line. Standing at a little over 12-inchs tall and nearly as wide, this is one epic box. Of course, The Hulk is a big boy, so this piece still conforms to the usual 1:10 scale of the ArtFX+ line. The box features some shots of the statue and a nice piece of artwork on the back featuring all The Avengers. It’s a nice teaser of the forthcoming releases. No offense to the artsy boxes Koto used for the Justice League, but this is the kind of box I like to get my statues in. It’s attractive, it’s collector friendly, and it’s durable for long term storage. The front of the box declares that this piece is a “pre-painted model kit” and while the Justice League statues didn’t require any assembly, it’s not uncommon for other ArtFX+ statues to require you to plug some pieces together.

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Inside the box, The Hulk comes in three pieces all sandwiched between two clear trays. It’s not unlike the Iron Man ArtFX statue that I looked at last week. All you need to do is attach the two halves of the figure at the waist, pop on the head and you’re good to go. You also get two of the standard black metal square bases, because The Hulk is way too big for just one.

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So, before I start gushing all over this piece, let me deal with the drawbacks. Because there are some seams that didn’t show up in any of the pre-production photos. Yes, The Hulk is a kit so seams are to be expected, but the arms come already attached, so the fact that they are running across his biceps is unfortunate. On most pieces, these wouldn’t be a problem, but since Hulk is mostly skin, the seams do stand out. I just have to keep reminding myself that as far as statues go, this one is a fairly low end piece.

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And apart from those seams, it is indeed easy to forget that this is merely a $60 statue because the rest of it looks like something far better. I adored the metallic snap and relative simplicity of the Justice League statues, but there’s so much more opportunity to shine in a piece like this one. Koto went wild reproducing The Hulk’s muscles, veins and tendons, which all conspire to give this statue a feeling of pure power and rage. Even the composition, with one foot in front of the other and a fist winding up to smash, is just totally out of sight. This Hulk feels like a much higher end piece that has been shrunken down to the 1:10 scale range. And even in this scale, The Hulk stands at about ten inches tall! The portrait is every bit as stunning as the rest of the statue. The powerful furled brow, the broad nose, and the exposed teeth is indeed anger personified. This likeness is pure iconic Hulk through and through.

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As wonderful as the sculpting is, it wouldn’t succeed without the proper coloring and this statue has the paintwork to make it work. The green skin tone looks perfect to me and with just enough wash to bring out the detail in the muscles. For a statue that is mostly green skin, there’s a ton of depth and variety to the coloring. The same goes for Hulk’s iconic purple shredded pants. Simply exceptional!

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The bases work the same as previous ArtFX+ statues. They are simple black metal squares and they work with the magnets in the Hulk’s feet. You can slide them around to decide how you want your statue to sit on the shelf.

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I’ll confess, I thought it a bit odd for Koto to lead with The Hulk, I would have bet on Captain America or Iron Man. But when you’re sitting on a piece this impressive, it doesn’t hurt to get it out at the front of the line. And everything about this piece is indeed just so goddamn impressive. What’s really great about this statue is that it totally succeeds as a stand-alone display piece. And that means he won’t look out of place waiting for the other statues to be released. Indeed, even if I had no interest in collecting a full Avengers line, I’d still happily grab this guy up and at the $60 price point, he feels like a bargain.