Masters of the Universe Classics: Slush Head by Mattel

As promised, I’ve got lots of MOTUC figures to look at on my receivings pile and I just got shipping notice for the December figures. There’s no end in sight!!! I’ve been on a New Adventures kick lately, so rather than buck that trend, today we’re checking out the last of the Space Mutants that I have waiting to be opened. It’s Slush Head, which was coincidentally a term that my brother and I used to use when one of us drank our Slushee too fast and got a migraine. “Ha Ha! You have Slush Head!” Yeah. Anyway, this guy is joining he fellow evil Space Mutants, Optikk, Karatti and Flogg on my quickly expanding New Adventures shelf!

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There he is filling out his package rather admirably. The bubble has the “Space Mutants” sticker on it and tag line is “Scaly Goon Squad Thug.” The bio on the back labels him as a swamp creature from Denebria’s dreaded Quagmire Swamp and points out that that head dome of his is indeed full of stinking swamp water. Fun! As with most of the Space Mutants, I know nothing about this character, but he looked like a rather fun fellow, so I picked him up during Matty’s Cyber Monday Sale. Let’s rip him open and see what he’s all about!

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I have to confess, I love the idea of a reverse diving suit. That is to say, a suit that is full of water so that an aquatic creature can walk around on dry land. You don’t see it too often, and maybe that’s why I still find it bizarre and original. Slush Head is wearing just such an apparatus that allows him to keep breathing in that stanky swamp water while hob-nobbing with us air breathers. His suit consists of a vest with a metallic back pack and the clear dome. There’s even a removable plug on the back of the dome if you want to actually fill it with some kind of liquid. The side of the package even encourages you to do this because it’s fun. Well, you convinced me! I live in Florida, so it shouldn’t be hard to find some authentic swamp water. The suit is rounded out by a pair of lower leggings with fins and what appear to be propulsion jets.

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I really dig the parts of Slush Head’s skin that are exposed. He’s got a reptilian texture to his torso and shoulders and the rest of his skin is just smooth and green. He has ridges on his thighs and forearms and webbed feet and claws. Off hand, I think I recognize Merman’s feet, but apart from that I’m not going to try to place the rest of the parts that Mattel used to make this guy. Maybe I see some Whiplash in there? Suffice it to say, whatever they cobbled together to make Slush Head works on every conceivable level. I also really dig the coloring on this figure. The green skin tone is rather muted, especially when compared to the day-glo color of Karatti’s skin. It mixes with the blue and silver quite nicely.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his disgusting head, which is basically a dome of flesh within a dome. Slush Head’s got a pair of bulging eyes and a permanent snarl that makes him look half crazy with rage. He kind of reminds me of Acturus from the Doctor Who story “The Curse of Peladon.” No, he really does. That wasn’t just an excuse to throw in a hipster Doctor Who reference. As far as noggins go, this one oozes personality and probably a few other nasty things. I should also note that the head is permanently encased in the clear dome. You can take off Slush Head’s suit, but if you do the head goes with it and therefore head movement is excluded from the regular points of MOTUC articulation, which Slush Head otherwise conforms to.

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Slush Head also sports a pair of mechanical claws that plug into the sides of his backpack, because this guy wasn’t crazy looking enough without metal tentacles coming out of him. One of the claws is articulated, the other is not, but both are suitable for grabbing other MOTUC figures. I haven’t decided if I’m going to display this guy with the mechanical limbs or not. They do take up a lot of space and I’m tempted to just imagine that they can be fully retracted and display him without them.

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You still want more? OK, Slush Head also comes with a weapon that doubles as both a battleax and a trident gun. Yeah, I know… we just saw a gun-ax combo with Karatti, but I’m not complaining because this one is even cooler. Seriously, I love the design on this weapon. It’s crazy original and suits the character really well.

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And so there you have it. Another day, another Space Mutant. I really have taken a liking to these guys. Their designs are all just so batshit crazy and Slush Head here really is the looney icing on that crazy cake. I think it’s great that Skeletor left Eternia, went into space, and found even weirder henchmen to do his bidding and I’m really starting to come to grips with the fact that I need to get a New Adventures He-Man to fight all these space bastards. Ugh! Anyway, there’s plenty more MOTUC figures for next week, although I’ll be taking a break from the New Adventures stuff to look at some more conventional characters.

Transformers: Masterpiece Bumble (MP-21) by Takara

It’s Transformers Thursday again, and I’m happy to say I have a new entry in Takara’s Masterpiece Series to look at. This time around it’s none other than Bumblebee! I’ve been pretty apprehensive about getting this figure in hand. The Internets have been packed with pictures of the figure leading up to its final release and there are several things about this figure that made me uneasy. Was I going to be OK with the small size? Was it still going to feel like an MP figure or just an expensive Deluxe? And was I going to feel right about having to pay for an Exosuit Spike figure that I didn’t want at all? Well, now that this set is in hand, I can put most of those concerns to rest because Bumblebee is indeed an excellent figure on a number of levels. Let’s check him out!

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The box should be readily familiar to anyone who has been collecting the line. It’s entirely enclosed and totally collector friendly. You get pictures of Bumblebee on the front in both robot and vehicle modes with his buddy Spike beside him. The box proudly displays the Volkswagen emblem on the front and includes a hologram sticker on the bottom panel proclaiming that it is indeed a fully licensed product. If you’ve followed the tug-of-war between Takara and Volkswagen over use of the license, then you know what a huge victory this is! The back of the box shows some additional photos of the toy along with it interacting with MP-10 Optimus Prime. You’ll also note that the box bears his Takara name, Bumble, but we’ll be calling him Bumblebee for the purpose of this review. As usual, we’ll start off with Bumblebee’s vehicle mode.

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I never thought I’d see this day! It’s Bumblebee as a VW Beetle and it feels so good to see him like this again! The little guy has been everything from a generic compact sports car to a Chevy Camero, and none of that ever seemed quite right. The car mode is indeed tiny, about on par with a modern Deluxe Class figure, but as far as licensed alt modes go, I’m extremely happy with the way he came out. Before he’s ready to roll, you do have to remove one of his side view mirrors from a sprue and peg it into the driver side. You also get a choice as to whether you want to display him with or without the spare tire on the back. I like the spare tire, so that’s the way I’m going! Oh yeah, Bumblebee’s pistol also stores neatly under his car mode.

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Bumblebee’s Beetle mode does feature some seaming as a result of the transformation, but nothing too bad. The car stays together quite well and as long as you have him transformed correctly, there aren’t any big gaps or plates that are difficult to align. I’m also very pleased with the paint job. I’ve seen chips and dings on a lot of the pictures of this guy online, but I was happy to see that the paint on mine is pretty much flawless. There are some minor shade variations between the paint on some of the plates, but it’s nothing that’s bad enough to upset me. The windows are tinted just enough so that it isn’t too obvious that there are robot shenanigans going on in there, although you can make out some robot kibble peeking out behind the rear wheels. Otherwise, the detail is so good here that this little guy reminds me of a Corgi VW Beetle I had as a kid, minus the diecast of course!

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Also, despite his small size, Bumblebee’s car mode feels right at home with the other Masterpiece cars. I snapped some pictures of him with Smokescreen for comparison. They look just fine together. So how’s that robot mode?

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Not too shabby at all! Of all the Masterpiece figures we’ve had so far, Bumblebee certainly had the most room for improvement over the original toy, so it was hard to imagine what to expect here. Transforming the figure is quite easy and I find him to be far less fiddly than some of the other MP cars. It does sort of feel like a complex Deluxe toy, although the engineering and clearances on him feels better than what I’m used to getting off the pegs. The way the wheels are all concealed in robot mode is quite inspired as is the way everything packs away so neatly on his back. A couple of minor complaints may be worth mentioning, but I’ll confess they are rather nitpicky. I do wish there was a way they could have avoided the hollow forearms. Also, some yellow paint on the black areas on the inside of his feet wouldn’t have gone amiss. But yeah, I’m really reaching.

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The portrait is classic Bumblebee through and through. He does come with two swappable face plates, but the differences are so minor to me that I doubt I will ever go through the effort of changing them. I understand that there is also an exclusive addition out there with a battle mask reproducing the look of the G1 toy’s face. That’s neat, but again not something I would ever bother to use.

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Besides looking great, Bumblebee is an amazingly fun little figure to play with thanks to some excellent articulation and some very solid and tight jointing. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and hinges in the elbows. The legs have rotating hinges at the hips with swivels, hinges in the knees, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The waist has a swivel and the neck is ball jointed. Toss his little blaster pistol in his hand and this little guy is all ready for action!

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And that brings us to Spike in his Exosuit. I’ll go on record now by saying I really had no interest in this figure. I was never a fan of this Exosuit design and I wasn’t happy with Takara tossing it in to increase the value of this set. That having been said, I’m stuck with it, so we may as well check it out. Unlike Bumblebee, Spike comes packaged in his non-transformed mode, so let’s start there. The figure is a pretty good approximation of the design seen in the cartoon and since it’s designed more like a mech suit, it makes him a lot bigger and better scaled to interact with his Autobot chums. I tend to associate this suit more with Daniel than I do Spike, but whatever.

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The suit is articulated enough to consider it an actual action figure. You get hinges in the shoulders and ball joints in the elbows. The legs have ball joints in the hips and hinges in the knees. The ball joints on the elbows tend to pop out pretty easily on mine, but they go right back in. The only real disappointing thing here is the lack of paint apps on Spike’s face.

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As in the cartoon, this suit transforms into a weird one-person car thing. It looks like it would be really uncomfortable and awkward to pilot this thing. I’ll concede, however, being impressed that the engineering works. I doubt the cartoon design was ever meant to produce a real, working toy so the fact that Takara was able to make this is kind of neat. On the other hand, it still kind of looks like something a fan cobbled together with a 3D printer. I highly doubt this figure will make it to my display shelf. He’ll likely spend his time hanging out in the box. In terms of mandatory extras, this could have been worse, but I still would have preferred it had been left out and Bumblbee sold at a reduced price.

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All in all, I think this turned out to be a really solid package. Yes, I have a few minor quibbles with Bumblebee, but I’m still left more impressed than not. In fact, I’m happy enough with the figure that even at the $70 price point, I don’t mind paying the extra for a Spike figure that will likely almost never see the light of day outside of the box. It’s hard to imagine another G1 Transformer that will be as difficult to bring into the MP world as Bumblee, but now that Takara has done it, I’m anxious to see some more of the Mini-bots get an upgrade like this. And yeah, I’ll be all over the inevitable Cliffjumper repaint-slash-remold as soon as it comes our way. Well done, Takara! Now bring on Ultra Magnus!

DC Universe Signature Collection: Ice by Mattel

I’m sure many of you recall the DC Signature Collection. It was Matty’s well-intentioned effort to keep the DC Universe Classics line going by turning it into an online subscription. It lasted for two years before it withered and died due to lack of interest during the run up to its third year. Several figures were shown off for that third year and all of those were eventually produced and made available on Matty Collector to allow those of us who still kept the faith, an opportunity to complete our collections as much as they ever could be. Well, a bunch of those figures went up for sale during Matty’s Cyber Monday event and I finally relented and bought Ice to go with my Fire and complete the buxom elemental duo. And so, here we are, at a little more than a year after the line’s demise, revisiting it this one last time.

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I do kind of miss these compact little collector friendly window boxes. These are a far sight better than the bland packaging DC Collectibles is using these days. The Signature Collection character art was almost universally great and that’s certainly the case here with Ice. Man, this is some great stuff! I love the playful ice heart she’s tracing and the portrait is really good. So, good in fact that when I got the actual figure out it felt like a bait and switch. So let’s get her out of the box, jump right in and take a look at that head sculpt…

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Yeah, I don’t know what happened here. The head sculpts for this line were almost always good, but poor Ice got screwed. She’s got a broad and rather manly face looks more like a dude than the attractive Ice from the comic panels that I know and love. Just compare the figure to the box art and you can see an insurmountable artistic chasm between the two. But if the poor sculpt wasn’t bad enough, there are also some creases from the casting process on her face, which make it look like she’s been scarred up in a bad car accident. How unfortunate. The hair sculpt is a bit chunky, but overall not bad.

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The rest of the figure fares a little better with a pretty good recreation of her costume. The top, the long gloves, and the shaggy leggings are part of the body sculpt and both are done fairly well. The rest of the figure utilizes a standard DCUC style female buck with blue paint added to the white plastic for the coloring of the costume. The paint lines are fairly clean, although the pegs for the knee joints aren’t painted blue to match the costume and that’s a bummer.

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Articulation consists of standard stuff for a DCUC style female. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, sivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have universal hinges in the hips, swivels in the lower thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. She can swivel at the waist and has an ab crunch hinge just below her chest. The neck is ball jointed.

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Ice comes with one accessory and it’s an effect parts of an ice blast that fits over her right hand. It’s just a clear, crystalline piece of plastic that works fairly well for hat it is.

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And really, that’s all I have to say about Ice. She went up for sale during Matty’s Cyber Monday festivities, but she wasn’t actually on special or anything. That means that I paid about $25 for her and that was way too much for such a mediocre figure. Everything about Ice feels like Mattel knew the writing was on the wall for this line and just wanted to push her out the door. The sculpt for the portrait started out as a fail and the poor casting process dragged it down even further by disfiguring it with creases in the plastic. I guess I’m at least content to own the figure and complete the Fire and Ice duo, but it’s sad to see the once great DC Universe Classics line be reduced to this kind of disappointment in the end. It was truly a great line of figures, one of the best, and it deserved a better send off than this.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: Amy and Grace 1/8 Scale Statue by MegaHouse

If you haven’t seen Gargantia on the Verduous Planet, I highly recommend giving it a watch, especially since it’s easily accessible on Crunchyroll. At only 13 episodes it’s relatively short and yet oh, so good. It’s sort of hails from the giant mech genre only with a rather unique spin. You don’t get to see a lot of traditional mech on alien combat, but then watching a super advanced battle suit take out a fleet of relatively primitive pirates was pure bliss. The series also does a splendid job with character motivations and portraying the interaction of two different cultures. Alas, despite being a year old and having a great cast of characters, the anime hasn’t spawned a lot of figures or statues, and what has come out has been almost entirely centered around the energetic inter-fleet delivery girl, Amy. Amy’s great and all, but I’d like to have seen Ledo, Bellows, or Pinion immortalized in plastic as well. An articulated Machine Caliber would have been nice too. But I like Amy a lot, so at least that’s something.

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The last time I purchased a MegaHouse product it was a Nami statue from One Piece and it turned out to be a bootleg, so Amy here will still hold the honor of being the first official MegaHouse piece in my collection. The statue comes in a colorful box with a large window on the front panel and smaller ones on the side and top panels. There are lots of pictures of the statue, but not much in the way of artwork from the anime. The statue itself comes between two clear plastic trays and it includes several pieces to round out the display.

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I should take this opportunity to point out that I pre-ordered Amy without a lot of information about the statue. In fact, apart from a teaser of the portrait, I didn’t even see any photos, so when the final composition of this piece was revealed it was a little surprising to me. Nonetheless, there aren’t a lot of other options to put Amy in my collection, so I let the pre-order ride and decided to judge the final results when I had it in hand. The obvious way to go would have been to have her running with her satchel on her arm, or possibly clutching the grab bar of her kite. Instead, we get her reclining with her messenger bag to her side and resting her tootsies, with one foot in the air, no doubt after putting in a long day of deliveries. It almost looks like she’s meant to be kicking up water with her right foot. It’s was a decidedly odd way to go, maybe even borderline fetishistic, although I suppose it’s not without its charms and in the end I think it still manages to capture the essence of the character.

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Unconventional pose or not, both the detail and coloring on this piece are absolutely fantastic. They did an amazing job with her outfit, particularly with the rumpling of her skirt and top and her little half-jacket is crafted in soft plastic and is removable. Even the skirt is crafted as a separate piece and laid onto the figure, albeit it isn’t removable. The belts and buckles are very neatly painted as are the aboriginal patterns decorating her clothing. The soft nature of the paintwork on the outfit along with the lightly tanned skin tones gives the statue a warm and pleasing look that replicates the tropical nature of the anime artwork quite well.

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I’ve seen mixed reactions to the portrait, but I don’t have any issues with it at all. Amy’s sporting a playful expression that certainly fits the whimsical nature of the pose. The paintwork on the eyes is flawless and I’m very happy with all the little detail work that went into her hair, particularly the two small braids.

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Amy comes with a clear, square plastic base with the series logo etched on the front in white. There’s a small contoured bump on the base, which is designed to fit in a… um, strategic place and allow her to recline. It can be a bit tricky getting it right and it’s not a secure connection, so if you bump the shelf she’s displayed on, the figure is likely to slide or reposition itself.

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As for the extra parts, you get Amy’s satchel, her sandals, and her little buddy, Grace. There are no instructions on how to place these pieces, so you’re left to your own imagination or else you can consult the bevy of official product photos that are now available online. The official look has the satchel looped around her right elbow and resting beside her with Grace poised on top of it or scampering onto Amy’s lap. Her right sandal can be dangled on the extended fingers of her right hand and the other one can be placed on the base. They really went all out with the detail on these extra pieces. The messenger bag is a very vibrant shade of blue and has the straps and buckles as well as the large ornamental feather on the clasp. Grace is also just adorable and looks great when sitting on the satchel.

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At about 1/8 Scale, Amy fits in quite nicely with my ever expanding collection of Kotobukiya ladies, although tipping the scales at just over $100, that same sense of fantastic value that I get with Koto isn’t there. I know, MegaHouse stuff tends to run more and I can’t deny the workmanship that went into this piece, so I can’t say I have any regrets. Yes, I would have preferred a more conventional pose, but when I admire this piece on my shelf, it’s hard to argue with the end result. It’s probably unlikely that we’ll be seeing a lot more merchandising from Gargantia coming down the pipes, but Amy did get the Figma treatment, and I can definitely see myself picking up that figure in the not too distant future.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Karatti by Mattel

It’s been something of a tradition around here at FFZ to do a Matty Collector Cyber Monday Week and just blow out reviews of all the MOTUC figures I picked up during the sale. I’m not doing that this year, because I’ve still got lots of other incoming goodies to look at, but I think it’s safe to say you’ll still be seeing more Masters figures than usual for at least the rest of the month and possibly into January too. Today I’m checking out another of the New Adventures themed figures and it is indeed the Space Mutant, Karatti. I passed on this guy when he was first offered, but given my new found appreciation for the Space Mutants, I grabbed him and a bunch of others when they went up for sale on Cyber Monday. I’m not entirely sure why I’m into these guys all of the sudden. Maybe it’s because they’re running out of villains from Snake Mountain and I wanted a new sub-line of evil freaks to collect. Yeah, that could be it. Anyway, let’s press on ahead and check out this ugly sum’bitch!

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There’s the Classics Greyskull-themed packaging complete with a “Space Mutants” sticker on the bubble. Karatti fills out the bubble inside quite nicely and the insert in the proclaims him to be the “Bone Bashing Mutant!” His biography on the back tells us he’s both stupid and a coward, so I’m not sure why Skeletor keeps him on the payroll. I guess it’s because he sports a pretty mean karate chop.

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Karatti design borrows a bit from Trap Jaw (and by extension, Optikk) and that’s probably why I get a strong “space pirate” vibe off of him. His gold cybernetic armor mixed with his day-glo green skin, orange dreadlocks, and purple accents look like the product of a poisoned fever dream brought on by eating a box of crayons. And I mean that in a good way. The aesthetics at work here are just so batshit crazy I don’t think there’s anywhere else they would work than in the world of Masters.

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The torso armor fits onto the buck so well that it really looks like it’s just part of the body sculpt. That’s not something this line has always been able to achieve, but I was generally surprised that the whole torso rig could be easily removed. The little details in the armor are also quite impressive. The chest and shoulder pieces have some scrapes and gashes and general battle scarring. There are two craters under his left arm where it looks like a Galactic Protector got in a few lucky shots. There’s also a reinforcing band bolted over a crack in the left shoulder armor as a quick fix. I love when you get sculpted weathering in battle armor like this, it just gives the figure so much more character.

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Karatti’s portrait is pure neon colored nightmare fuel. The lower half of his face is a cybernetic set of jaws. I’m not sure if it’s just armor or if he got the lower half of his face blown off like Trap Jaw did, but looks damn creepy along with those soulless black pits he has instead of eyes. Seriously, this guy is staring right through me from the desk right now and it’s creeping me the hell out.

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There are no surprises to be found in Karatti’s articulation, as you get the standard MOTUC level of poseability. But, in case this is your first time to the dance, I’ll break it down. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees and ankles, and have swivels at the hips and lower legs. Karatti can swivel at the waist and has a ball jointed neck. There is an ab crunch hinge, but the armor restricts it quite a bit.

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While he’s famous for his ability to shatter bones with his karate skills, Karatti still comes with a pair of weapons, both of which are cast in simple black plastic. First, you get a simple sword with an enclosed hand guard. It’s a cool, functional little design, which would have been greatly improved by a little silver paint for the blade. The other weapon is a clever battleax and gun combo. I dig this weapon a lot, but it also could have used some paint hits. I’ll also grumble about how much I would have liked to see somewhere to hang his weapons. It feels like there should be some clips on his back or a hook on his belt.

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And so, here’s another example of a Masters character I know nothing about, but I just dig his crazy design so much that I’m thrilled to add the figure to my collection. I love the green plastic they used for his flesh and all the little distressed detail on the armor goes above and beyond. Screw his bio, because I’ve already dubbed him a space pirate and he and Trap Jaw will go on adventures together, raping and pillaging, and if Optikk is really good they may let him come along too. MOTUC may be winding down, but for me it continues to be a toy line that keeps on giving and I can’t seem to shake the joy and excitement I get out of it, even when it comes to opening up lower tier nobodies like Karatti here.

Doctor Who: The 11th Doctor and Amy Pond (3 3/4” Scale) by Character Options

There’s just one more dose of Doctor Who coming on Christmas before we enter the long, dark wait for Series 9, so I thought I’d help tide myself over by opening some Doctor Who figures today. Sadly, these are not the proper 5-inch scale but the new(er)(ish) 3 3/4” line, which have generally been not so good, unless you happen to be a Dalek or a Cyberman, or maybe a Zygon. These have been turning up at Walgreens, of all places, here in the States, but so far I’ve only found a single, lonely Dalek at any Walgreens so the two I’m looking at today came from an online retailer. I really have no idea what to expect from this line anymore, so let’s take a look at The Doctor and Amy Pond…

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Wave 3 introduced this new packaging, which we’ve seen before and I still rather like it quite a bit. It’s not as conventional as the old style, but it’s quirky and colorful and I think it has a funky design that matches the show’s kitchy nature. It’s not collector friendly, not even if you have a sonic screwdriver, so you just gotta tear them open.

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Kicking things off with The Doctor, this is how he appeared in Series 6 when he started donning his long green coat. Honestly, when I ordered the figure, I thought I was getting the Series 5 tweed jacket version, but I must have messed up when ordering. As a result, it’s sadly just a repaint of the Series 7 version I already have. I can’t say as I’m enough of a fan of these figures to be a completist and so I really didn’t need a second figure with a recolored jacket in my collection, and yet here he is. I’ll have to try again to get the one I was looking for.

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Everything about this figure screams mediocre, and I think that’s even with me being a bit generous. The sculpt is passable considering the scale. These are considered 3 3/4” but they actually feel a little under-sized for that scale. I can recognize who it’s supposed to be and I think the portrait here is slightly better than my Series 7 version, but that probably has more to do with the paint than anything else. There are a few additional paint apps on the jacket to try to make it look different from the previous release, but it really just looks cheap. Everything about this guy feels like a quick and dirty re-paint cash-grab.

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The articulation is pretty middle of the road. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs feature a T-crotch at the hips, hinged knees, and swivels at the boots. There’s no articulation in the torso, but the head can rotate. The Doctor does come with his tiny sonic screwdriver and a red “DWARTIS” style figure stand. I liked these stands when they were blue, but then they went to grey, and now they’re red. The coloring makes no sense and even the use of the now defunct logo as a stand feels like a mismatch.

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Moving on to Amy, and things only get worse. The sculpt is fairly solid for a figure of this size. I’m not saying it’s great, but like The Doctor, it’s a passable likeness and certainly far better than the Clara Oswin sculpt that they’ve churned out at least two times in this scale. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there. My Amy’s left arm is dangling from the swivel cut in the bicep and the hinge in the elbow below it is painted shut. I’m not even going to bother trying to free it because I’ll probably wind up pulling the arm off. As a result the only useful articulation here are the rotating hinges in the shoulders, the hinges in the knees, and the rotating head. There appear to be swivels at the boots, but they aren’t budging. Amy comes with the same red figure stand as The Doctor. I have plenty of good Amy Pond figures in the 5-inch scale, which begs the question, “Why did I even buy this?”

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I’ve been teetering on this line for a while now, but I think this pair may have been the final straw. I want to support Doctor Who toys, I really do, but it’s really hard when they suck this badly. After giving us so many years of great 5-inch scale figures, Character Options really needs to rethink this strategy with the smaller figures, either by making them a whole lot better or just giving up and letting someone else take a crack at the license. This Doctor figure is at best a mediocre repaint and the Amy figure is just plain garbage with really poor QC. If it weren’t for the fact that these only set me back ten bucks a piece, I probably would have been a log angrier. Anyway, I have one more of these figures to open, The 10th Doctor, and if that one doesn’t really wow me then I’m probably going to call quits on this line. Stay tuned for that one some time next week.

Transformers Classics: Mirage by Hasbro

It seems like forever since my last Transformers Thursday and that’s because holidays and other real life nonsense got in the way the last couple of weeks. Today I’m trying to get things back on track and I decided to dig deep into the glorious TOTE OF C.H.U.G. to see what I could draw forth. After a couple of tries getting figures I already covered, I finally wound up with Classics Mirage. Excellent! The packaging was thrown away sometime back in 2006, so let’s get started with his alt mode!

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I have a special fondness in my heart for the original Hasbro toy. For some reason I could never get him in the stores, but my friend had him and I worked out a trade for some odds and ends from my own toys. I think he got my Clash of the Titans Perseus and Pegasus out of the deal. I loved Mirage in the cartoon and I thought the vintage toy was fantastic, so I was willing to do whatever needed to be done to get him. Keeping true to his G1 origins, Classics Mirage is a blue and white Formula-1 racer and a pretty good one at that. He’s sleeker than the original car mode with better contours and he’s just all around less stocky. He also has a fully enclosed translucent blue canopy.

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While the sculpt is certainly detailed enough, it’s all the paint and tampos that make this car really shine in my eyes. Mirage is sporting his familiar racing number “26” on the front and sides as well as other markings like, “F.P. Racing” and the lovely “Whitwicky Sparkplugs” on the spoiler. The blue and white deco looks great and there’s a little silver paint thrown in on the front axle and suspension. And you also get that rub sign with the retro goodness baked right in.

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Mirage has one of the more unique transformations of the Classics line and it results in what is easily the most creative re-imagining of a G1 character in Classics. Some may take issue with the fact that the front of the car is removed and re-purposed as a gun, but I’d hardly call it parts-forming. I’ll be honest, I hated this figure when I first got it all those years ago and I regarded it as the black sheep of my Classics collection. But, I chalk that up to being younger and foolish. Sure, I do wish the designers could have bulked out the torso a little bit more, but either way when I pick up this figure today I find myself having a whole lot of affection for it. Maybe a hinge and swivel to move those wheels from behind his head and relocate them to bulk out his torso would have been cool, but as it stands, I’ve certainly grown to love him.

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Classics Mirage is lanky and possibly a wee bit creepy in his proportions and I think that’s kind of neat. He served the Autobots in the capacity of spy, so it seems appropriate that he should be slight of build and super agile looking. I can still understand my reluctance to embrace this guy. He’s a far cry from the boxy G1 Transformers we all know and love, and Classics was, after all, meant to be a love letter to the fans of those days. Had the engineering focused more on tweaking what the original toy offered, I think we could have gotten something more familiar, but then we would have also lost this really distinctive looking robot. The head sculpt, as tiny as it is, is pretty fantastic. They definitely nailed Mirage’s G1 look and even though the head sits in the middle of the torso it still features a nice degree of articulation.

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Speaking of articulation… what’s also cool about Mirage is that despite his weird proportions, he’s wonderfully solid action figure and tons of fun to play with. The arms feature ball jointed shoulders and double hinged elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and the feet are ball jointed. He has a ball joint in his neck and he can even swivel at that tiny waist of his.

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Mirage’s gun is possibly a bit of a reach. It’s pretty obvious that it’s the front of the car and there’s nothing about it that harkens back to the original toy’s gun, which is a shame, but it still works fine to me. Honestly, I find the absence of his shoulder rocket a lot more conspicuous than the new gun design.

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I have no memory of how this figure was received back in the day, but I can remember being tempted to unload mine on Ebay a few times and I’m sure glad I didn’t as he’s become one of my favorite figures in the Classics line. He’s certainly aged better than the Classics Datsun mold. This guy has been repainted by both Hasbro and Takara more than a few times, and it still bugs me that I don’t own the Dragstrip version because I think it works really well as that character. In the meantime, playing around with Classics Mirage made me realize how badly I want a Masterpiece version of this guy, but I reckon Hound is still number one on my MP want list.

Masters of the Universe Classics: New Adventures She-Ra by Mattel

I’ve got a ton of these He-Mans figures to look at over the next month, so you’ll be seeing a little more MOTUC around here in the weeks ahead. November was a big month just for sub figures alone, but then I picked up some more on Early Access and a bunch more as part of the Cyber Monday sale. I’ve already looked at November’s Club Eternia figure, Tung Lasher, so today we’ll check out the Club Etheria figure, New Adventures She-Ra. While I hold only a passing familiarity with the New Adventures version of He-Man, I’ve enjoyed collecting some of the Classics versions of the Space Mutants. In fact, I’ve got a bunch of the ones I’m missing coming in next week. I still don’t have the Classics NA version of He-Man, but thanks to the Club Etheria Sub, I sure do have his sister, She-Ra.

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There’s the packaging and I don’t have anything new to say about it, other than it has a “Galactic Protectors” sticker on the bubble. So instead of rambling on about packaging we’ve seen so many times before, let me take this time to point out that the revelation of NA She-Ra seemed to piss off a lot of collectors. As far as I know she’s a totally original figure as I don’t recall She-Ra ever appearing in the New Adventures series, but if you’re a more hardcore Masters fan and care to brand me an ignorant bastard, then by all means, have at me! I guess the point of contention here was that the Club Etheria Sub has a limited number of slots and they didn’t want one of those taken up by a figure no one seemed to be asking for. That really shouldn’t be an issue since Club Eternia is getting its share of Princess of Power figures as well and besides which, I think it was a cool idea to give us a NA re-imagining of She-Ra. It’s also worth pointing out that I’m a really casual fan of the Masters fiction and for me this line is all about the figures themselves, so when Matty embarks on flights of fancy like this one, it just doesn’t bother me. Let’s get her open and check her out.

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So, yeah, if you’re one of the haters and looking to hear a sympathetic voice, you won’t find it here, because I freaking love this figure. She-Ra comes sporting New Adventures styled SPAAAAACE armor and it looks totally bitchin on her. The sculpted ornamentation looks fantastic and while I’m not a big fan of asymmetrical designs, even the giant lopsided silver flower on her chest sort of works for me. The ensemble is rounded out by a sporty blue and white cape, along with some silver boots and arm bracers and a pair of blue pants. Oh yeah, you also get a brown gun belt with a functional holster and y’all know how much I love those functional holsters! While I enjoy the white, blue, and silver coloring on this figure, I will say that the silver paintwork could have been a little sharper. There’s some slop here and there. It’s not terrible, but it is notable and as these figures continue to creep up in price, I will continue to keep calling out little flubs that I would have happily given a pass on less expensive retail figures.

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The portrait consists of a permanently sculpted helmet that’s giving me a very strong Thor vibe if Thor were a woman. Oh wait… Thor is a woman now! Yeah, an alternate helmet-less head would have been cool, but you can always do some head popping and swapping with another She-Ra if you really want to. At least I’m assuming you can. I haven’t tried it myself yet. I will say I appreciate that the green visor is removable, although I will most likely display the figure with the visor on because it contributes nicely to the spacey aesthetic.

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She-Ra features all the usual articulation we’ve come to expect from the female characters 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 at the hips and have hinged knees and ankles. She can rotate at the waist and the neck is ball jointed.

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She-Ra comes with an energy sword and shield and both are pretty cool. The sword is your typical light saber style with a silver hilt and a green translucent blade. The shield is an eagle motif also cast in green translucent plastic. There’s a sculpted loop on the back of She-Ra’s cape that allows you to store the sword back there, although I would presume the blade is switched off when not in use so it doesn’t make much sense. Ah, I’m over thinking it and having someplace to store the sword is a nice feature for when she wants to switch to target practice…

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…because she also comes with a nice little pistol for blowing away Space Mutant fools. At first I thought it was just going to be a repack of the pistol that came with Battleground Teela, but it is indeed different. I get a warm and fuzzy Buck Rogers-slash-John Carter vibe off the gun and pistol and I love it!

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If you’re one of those collectors upset over this figure’s release, I can’t offer you much in the way of sympathy. The truth is I think the Masters Classics line has shone brightly when going off the rails and giving us original designs like this one or even the recent Light Hope. And while Club Etheria does indeed have a limited number of slots, don’t forget that Princess of Power figures will be releasing in the Eternia Sub as well, as evidenced by this month’s Mermista release. I think NA She-Ra is a great looking figure and lots of fun. She also finally gives me a hero to team up with Icarius and Hydron to fight my Space Mutants because I don’t have the Classics New Adventures He-Man. I guess I need to remedy that soon.

DC Comics: ArtFX+ Batgirl Statue by Kotobukiya

If you haven’t heard, Batgirl is getting a costume makeover and so I’m starting to snap up whatever statues and figures I can that are based on her previous New 52 design because, well, I really dig it. In fact, it’s probably my favorite New 52 costume. A couple of weeks back we looked at DC Collectibles’ Batgirl figure and now it’s time to look at Kotobukiya’s effort with their ArtFX+ treatment of Babs Gordon. Yeah, I said I was going to stop collecting these once I finished the core Justice League team, but these little 1/10 Scale statues are such a great value for the money I can’t resist them and my ArtFX+ Catwoman was looking rather lonely on the shelf anyway because the Justice League was shunning her.

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As with the other DC ArtFX+ statues, Batgirl comes in this clear box that practically doubles as a display case. The left side panel has some translucent artwork and the back panel is frosted over, but otherwise it gives you an unprecidented opportunity to inspect the statue while still new in the box. I really like this packaging design in theory, but it’s not terribly practical. The sides are prone to scratching and the corners are easily crushed and chipped. I usually save my statue boxes, but these just aren’t worth taking up the space because frankly I don’t think they’ll survive storage for any length of time. Unlike some of Koto’s ArtFx+ statues, there’s no assembly required here, you just get her out of the box and stand her on her base.

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At 1/10 Scale, Batgirl stands at about seven inches, which is a really comfortable size that allows for just the right amount of detail without taking up a ridiculous amount of space. Koto has kept the DC statues in this range in museum-style poses, which works for me as long as they continue to remain consistent. Batgirl is standing with one hand on her hip and the other on her belt and shifting her weight to one side. It’s a nice, heroic stance and maybe just a wee bit coy. The cape is mostly form fitting, bellowing out a little at the bottom, but her hair is windswept to the side so you do get a little bit of energy conveyed in the composition.

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The portrait here is quite good. It still sports a bit of the anime vibe that we’ve been seeing in this line since the beginning. That style made the other characters look appropriately younger, but I think here Batgirl looks older than she should be. Still, that’s the only thing I can gripe about, so all in all not bad.

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This line has been pretty great about showcasing the New 52 costumes. Yeah, I get it, not everyone likes them, but I don’t have a big problem with them and I’ve already mentioned that I love this look for Batgirl. The suit features all the sculpted panel lines and scalloped armor, as well as the segmented belt and those adorable little bat cutouts at the tops of her boots. Every detail in the outfit is part of the sculpt, even the bat symbol on her chest, which is something that DC stipulated way back in the first printings of the comics. The bat clasp on her cape is present, but not painted, which is technically not accurate to the art, but I do prefer it. If you glance back at my review of the DCC Batgirl figure, you’ll see I’m not a big fan of having that bit painted.

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The DC statues in this line have all featured metallic paint finishes and Batgirl here is no different. The high gloss black for the body suit looks great and it contrasts beautifully with the matte black used for the cowl and cape, with the interior of the cape painted metallic purple. The boots, gauntlets, belt, and insignia are all painted with a beautiful metallic gold. Some may argue that it should be yellow, but in fairness different companies have portrayed it both ways in the past. These were yellow on the DC Collectibles figure, but gold on Mattel’s DC Unlimited figure. Normally, I think I prefer the yellow, but I think the gold works best here given the metallic finish of the piece. The overall paint quality here is almost perfect. My statue had a white spot on the back of her head, which might have been a chip. Either way, it was easy to fix with a black modeling marker.

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As always, you get a simple, black square stand, which is made of metal to work with the magnets on the bottom of Batgirl’s feet. It’s nice to get the support, but in this case Batgirl can also stand quite well on her own without the magnetic assistance.

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As much as I’m looking forward to Batgirl’s chic new redesign, I’ll still be sad to see this costume get retired. I now have three different examples of it in my collection, and I’ll likely go for the Cover Girls of the DC Universe statue before moving on. As for the DC ArtFx+ line, I’d like to say I’m done with it now, but truth be told when I come across these in the $35 range, they’re just too hard to resist. They’re gorgeous little statues with great craftsmanship for the cost. In fact, I’m still eying up the Supergirl and Nightwing, and the upcoming Green Arrow will be a definite “must have” for my shelf.

Star Wars Black: Imperial Sandtrooper (Black Paldron) by Hasbro

Alrighty Toyhounds, last week was a rough one for me, but I’m back in the saddle and ready to start churning out the daily content again. Today’s agenda? Some unfinished business… namely the final figure in the most recent wave of Hasbro’s Star Wars 6-inch Black line. Yup, it’s a second version of the Sandtrooper we got way back in the first wave. Sure, some may balk at the fact that this is just a repack of that first Sandtrooper with the paldron painted black, but I’m pretty OK with variants of troop builders, especially when you consider that the next upcoming wave features a straight repack of that terrible Prequel Obi-Wan figure. Anyway, this is a good figure for me to ease myself back into the swing of things because I’ve already looked at the original HERE, and I’m just going to do some comparisons, rather than a full write-up.

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But first… there he is in the package. We’ve now seen the slightly tweaked packaging for a full wave now so it isn’t really new anymore. The tray inside is packed with extras. I remember seeing the original Wave 1 Sandtrooper and thinking how great it was that Hasbro was going to be accessorizing the hell out of these 6-inch figures. Yeah, that hasn’t really been the case since. Anyway, there are some clear rubber bands to deal with, otherwise the Sandtrooper is fairly easy to get out and the box is collector friendly.

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This new release features the exact same sculpt as the previous Sandtrooper, and it should once again be noted that there are a few differences between this mold and the regular flavor Stormtrooper. It’s a fantastic sculpt and while the articulation does run at odds with the armor in a few places, it’s still a fun figure to play around with. The weathering is different between the two figures, which certainly makes it look more credible when displaying the figures side by side. Orange Paldron Trooper has a lot more of it, although my Black Paldron Trooper has a black dot on his helmet.

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The backpacks are identical in both sculpt and paint. You get the same ammo pouch that slings over the left shoulder and the backpack pegs right into the back of the figure. Damn, those things look heavy.

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Weapons include the standard E-11 Blaster. Sadly there’s still no holster for it like there is with the regular Stormtroopers. I won’t complain too much about that because it might be that the Sandtroopers didn’t have them? I’m sure someone can enlighten me on that one.

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Next, you get the same bipod rifle that came with the original Sandtrooper. I like the paint job on this a lot. It has a nice weathered metal look to it.

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Lastly, you get the chunkier rifle with the shoulder strap. Yeah, I’m using official Star Wars weapon nomenclature there! This is probably my favorite of the weapons as it slings onto the shoulder quite well and it just looks more intimidating than the leaner rifle.

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And so, this variant Sandtrooper holds no surprises. He was a great figure the first time around and he’s still just as good here. I tend to prefer the orange paldron version, just because that’s the one prominently in view in “A New Hope” when they stop Luke and Obi-Wan at the checkpoint, but I wouldn’t be picky about getting another black paldron figure if I come across him in the wild. I have three regular 6-inch Stormtroopers and that seems like a good number to shoot for.

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The next wave of Star Wars Black consists of a Clone Commander, Yoda, a Tie Fighter Pilot, and a repack of that awful Prequel Obi-Wan figure. I’d be perfectly fine getting the three new figures, but I’ve decided that there’s no way in hell I’m going to reward Hasbro’s practice of forcing collectors to buy a double of a terrible figure for the convenience of getting the rest of the wave without having to hunt for it. So, I’ll likely wind up paying a premium for the Tie Fighter Pilot, maybe picking up Yoda when he goes on clearance, and the Clone Commander can go to hell.