Star Wars Rebels: AT-DP and Driver (Target Exclusive) by Hasbro

Hasbro sure hasn’t made collecting their 3 3/4-inch Rebels line easy or fun, but then if you visit here often you’ve already heard me bitch about that fact on multiple occasions. And while I’ve managed to collect all the good guys in the line, I’m still hunting a few Imperials. The AT-DP Driver was one of those and thanks to this Target Exclusive “value pack,” I was finally able to get him bundled with the AT-DP vehicle. Ironically, I didn’t actually find this at Target, but rather from Amazon and at a damn good price, too!

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The goods come in a mostly enclosed box. I dig the style here. It’s not as attractive as some of The Force Awakens packages, but it looks decent and the artwork is very evocative of the first episode of the show. What’s crazy is how tiny the actual name of the vehicle and figure are all the way down in the right hand corner. The box has a “Target Exclusive” sticker on the front as well as a little window to the left showing off the figure. I passed on this vehicle a bunch of times, mainly because it was crazy expensive on the secondary market. So it was kind of nice to get it and another of the elusive figures for a cool twenty bucks. TWENTY BUCKS! At one time the figure alone was going for close to that.

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There’s a little bit of assembly required here. You just have to attach the legs, feet, and the chin gun. Once there on, there on, so there’s no going back into the box. There’s also a very small sticker sheet with all of five tiny stickers. First impressions of this thing are better than I expected, but to be honest my expectations were really low. The plastic feels a bit on the cheap side, but it certainly is scaled beautifully. I mean, this thing is super tall and it looks massive next to the figures.

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The sculpted detail isn’t too bad either. Considering that it’s based off of a rather simplified and stylized design, I’d say there’s enough panel lines and whatnot on here to let it hang with the live action toys. Paint apps are limited to a few different shades of gray and a little bit of orange black. There’s very little articulation on this thing. The legs only move at the point they connect to the body. The driver’s compartment rotates left and right and the chin gun raises and lowers. Not sure what the point of even giving the legs any articulation was since the vehicle can’t hold a pose unless the legs are straight up and down. On the other hand, I will say that this will stand fine on its own, which is more than I could say for my Vintage Collection AT-ST, which was loaded with leg articulation and would collapse into a pile if I looked at it funny.

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The head sort of has room for two figures. The main hatch opens up and there’s a smaller circular hatch that opens as well. If you ever owned any of the AT-ST toys, you know what I’m talking about. There’s a driver’s seat and a second “seat” behind it, which is really just able to have a figure stand on it, while the top half sticks out the hatch.

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The chin gun holds the toy’s only action figure and that’s the firing missile. As far as action features go, it’s not bad because it doesn’t mess with the look of the toy. Naturally, I’ll be displaying it with the missile removed. Moving on to the Driver…

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The Rebels figures are all 5-POA, retro style and given the stylized sculpts, I’m OK with that. This figure, in particular, though just feels like it came right out of a Kenner casepack era 1981. That’s sort of a compliment… or at least in this case, it was intended as one. It’s a good sculpt, not much paint, but what’s there is solid. He comes with a standard E-11 Blaster. I really dig this guy a lot.

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Overall, I’m really happy with this set and not only because it got me one step closer to completing my Rebels figures. Granted, I’m pretty sure the AT-DP originally retailed for $29.99 by itself and that’s crazy talk. But twenty bucks for the figure and vehicle? Now you’re talking, Hasbro! If I had the display space, I’d easily pick up a second one of these and I may still do that, because I’m quite mad. It seems as if Hasbro has done bundles for three out of the four vehicles released for Rebels, as I was able to pick up the the Inquisitor’s Advanced TIE Protoype as well and at the same great price. So unless I happen upon a friggin General Kallus, when I next revisit the Rebels line we’ll take a look at the TIE.

Tekken: Anna Williams Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

Koto continues to challenge my finances and shelf space with their never ending flood of Bishoujo Statues. I’m now pursuing these on four fronts: Marvel, DC, Street Fighter, and Tekken, and I’m falling a few statues behind. There are actually a couple Tekken statues I’m missing, but given the high prices on the secondary market, may end up writing those off. Anyway, Today I’m pressing on with my fifth statue in the Tekken series: The younger of the two Williams sisters, Anna.

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The packaging is right in line with what we’ve been seeing. Koto uses a black box to distinguish the Street Fighter and Tekken lines from the Marvel and DC ones. While Anna has appeared in just about every Tekken release to date (excluding Tekken 4), the package is branded, as usual, with the Tekken Tag Tournament 2 logo. You get windows on the front, top and right side panels allowing a pretty good look at the statue. Instead of a future release, the back of the box simply offers a look at Nina Williams, no doubt trying to capitalize on the odd rivalry between the two sisters. A rivalry that usually ends up with Nina taking a surprise polaroid of Anna coming out of the shower, Nina pulling off Anna’s bikini top in front of a bunch of dudes, or Nina stealing Anna’s shoes and then pretending she doesn’t know anything about it. What’s that? Oh yeah, we’re talking about a fighting game franchise.

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Anna dons a stunning red dress with a gold liner and a rather large bow on the small of her back. She’s either caught in mid twirl or standing in a wind tunnel because there’s a convenient breeze blowing her dress up to the side and accentuating the high slit and showing off a generous amount of thigh. If that’s not enough to get your blood pumping, there’s also an ample amount of cleavage on display through a boob window that would make Power Girl jealous. The dress features a nice glossy sheen both to the red outside and the gold liner and is contrasted by the matte red of her detached sleeves. Damn, Anna, your caboose is PUNISHING that dress!

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I really dig the pose here. With her right hand behind her head, she’s beckoning with the left, possibly inviting her next sparring partner to come at her. The placement of the legs, one straight out and one bent back is perfect to accenutate her long legs, heels, and stockings.

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Speaking of stockings, Koto really seems to be all about the fishnet stockings lately. They first employed it with their Zatanna statue and again with the new Black Canary. Anna’s stockings are quite spectacular, fashioned from super thin stread in a honeycomb pattern and running from her thighs all the way down into her shoes. It’s actually pretty neat the way they run under the plastic ankle straps. The seams on the backs of her legs are a little thicker than one might expect, but they’re still rather tidy and don’t get in my way of enjoying the statue. The whole ensemble is “held up” by sculpted garter straps.

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The portrait here is just lovely. Anna sports a perfect little smile and the wind blows her short hair up to the side. The paint on the eyes and lips is immaculate, but then again it always is on these pieces.

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The base is the typical circular clear disk that we’ve been seeing all along on the Tekken statues. You get three different inserts to decorate it with. The options are colorful character art, a signature insert, or a 20th Anniversary logo, which is a new option. Lately, I’ve been going with the character art.

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I picked up Anna for around fifty bucks, which is a great deal for a Bishoujo these days. Even with about 30 of these statues in my collection, Koto never fails to impress and every time I open one of these is a treat. And yes, she looks fantastic on display next to her sister. Thankfully, I’m going to get a little breathing room now (at least as far as Tekken goes), as the next statue isn’t due to ship until the later half of the year. I should also note that it’s Lucky Chloe from the upcoming Tekken 7 release, and I haven’t decided yet whether she’s a pass for me. I may just take that money and invest it toward tracking down Emily de Rochefort. In the meantime, I have a couple of new DC Bishoujo’s on their way to me now and Street Fighter’s Sakura just landed on my doorstep a couple of days ago… then Poison is shipping soon… Lady Deadpool is almost out… They’re doing Tali from Mass Effect… Oh yeah, Sniper Wolf from Metal Gear Solid… Jeepers!

Marvel Legends: “Age of Ultron” Black Widow (AoU 4-pack, Part 2) by Hasbro!

Last Monday I checked out Thor from the Age of Ultron Marvel Legends 4-pack and today I’m moving on to Black Widow. While Hasbro has been under attack lately for a perceived slight on female action figures, truth be told the Legends line has been producing its fair share of femme fatales. Yes, you can argue that even after being in a slew of MCU movies, this is only the second such release of Natasha in the current Legends line, but then again this is also the first time we’re getting Legends MCU versions of the boys in this box too. What’s my point? I dunno. Let’s look at the figure.,,

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Widow’s costume didn’t change too much from Avengers 1 to Avengers 2, but the AoU version is still my least favorite. I don’t hate it, but at the same time I’m just not a big fan of the added light effects for her widow’s sting. That all having been said, I was expecting a straight repaint from this figure and was surprised to see that wasn’t the case. Instead, she’s a kitbash between Winter Soldier Widow and the Maria Hill that came in the Agents of Shield 3-pack. As a result, the two Black Widow figures look very similar upon a cursory glance, but under scrutiny, there’s a fair amount of difference. The biggest changes are in that taught little tummy era. The WS version had her Widow emblem sculpted into the middle of the zipper and there was texturing on the suit itself. Here the suit is smooth and the widow emblem is gone and it’s all just zipper.

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The belt is the other easily notable change. Previously, the belt was part of the buck. Now it’s a separate piece, attached to the holsters, and just sort of floats with the articulation. Also, the widow emblem resurfaces here on the belt buckle. Everything else is more or less the same. The flat circles are still on the shoulders where the SHIELD patches were on the previous figure, but now they’re just left blank. Also, the finger-less gloves from the WS version are now full gloves. And yes, the biggest bummer about the figure hasn’t been fixed, her Glocks are still sculpted into the holsters and are not removable. BOO!

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The head sculpts on the two Widows are very close. Keep in mind, WS Widow came with two portraits, one from the first Avengers and one from Winter Soldier, and I’m comparing with the Avengers head because the hair is the same shorter style. And while the two heads are fairly close, the head on the AOU version is still notably better. The eyes are sharper, the contours of the face are a little better, and the lips a little fuller. She also lost the odd spray-on tan that the previous figure had. It’s actually quite a nice likeness for this scale and price point.

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Articulation here is identical to the previous Widow, but it’s been a while, so let’s run it through. The legs feature ball joint in the hips, double hinges in the knees and ankles with both hinges and rockers. There are swivels in the thighs, but the holsters impede that movement a bit. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. Yes, the wrists are still pegged in, so if you want to swap the hands out with the previous Natasha… go for it! Lastly, you get ball joints in the torso and the neck. Of course, it helps to have a figure stand handy, as those tiny feet don’t support her that well in action poses. Normally my clear NECA stands work fairly well for Legends, but in this case the pegs were too loose, and I had to dig out some of my Legends hexagon stands.

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Widow comes with her pair of taser batons. I really don’t like these, either in execution or concept. As accessproes. they’re just crappy little pieces of plastic painted blue at the ends. They’re very bendy and they don’t look like anything. Also, since she comes with gun hands (and remember, no guns!) she can’t even hold them well. It doesn’t matter. The widow sting shouldn’t require batons and these babies are going to the Tote of Forgotten Accessories.

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I was not expecting a lot out of this figure and she actually surprised me. Sure, it’s just a kitbash with some new paint effects, but the figure works surprisingly well and getting an improved head sculpt was a nice treat. And while I’m still not a big fan of the added light effects to the costume, I’ll admit the paint used for them looks rather striking on the figure. I can now retire the Avengers head on my older Widow and pop the Winter Soldier head back on it. So far this set is a solid two for two… next Monday, I’ll move on to Bruce Banner!

DC Icons: (#02) Deadman by DC Collectibles

It’s DC Friday again and today I’m opening up another figure from DC Collectibles’ Icons line: Deadman is a character that I’ve really come to know and love thanks to some directed comic book reading over the last few years. A lot of the interest was sparked from picking up the DC Universe Classics figure and featuring it here way back in 2011. That was a great figure and it remains one of my favorites in the line to this day. How will DC Collectibles new version stack up? Let’s find out…

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The figure comes in a window box similar to the first two Icons figures that I looked at, however, keep in mind that you do get a little variety in that each box’s deco matches the character. One thing I am enjoying about this line is that it’s running the gamut of DC lore and not just sticking to the New 52. This version of Deadman, for example, hails from Brightest Day. Not that the New 52 version is all that drastically different looking.

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Deadman features his classic maroon costume with super high collar and a low-plunging v-neck on the front that partially exposes his chest. There isn’t a great deal of sculpting required for his outfit. The boots and gauntlets are painted in glossy red and there’s some nice texturing in the torso. The trademark “D” on his chest is part of the sculpt and neatly painted in white. Otherwise, the costume is pretty straight forward.

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The portrait here is really nicely done. The features in the face are well defined and the expression sways between grim and serene. I hesitate to champion it too much, only because the head sculpt Mattel did on their DCUC version many years back is still so impressive to this day. In terms of what the character means to me, I think this one best suits him, but from a purely technical standpoint, that DCUC noggin is still the one to beat. I will say, however, that the white paint here fits better than the ashen gray paint on Mattel’s figure. The gray paint used for the lips and the black spray around the eyes looks very good too.

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The articulation in this line has been consistent so far. Deadman’s arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed in the hips, double hinged and double hinged in the knees. The ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There’s an ab-crunch hinge and a ball joint in the torso and the neck is also ball jointed. I still wish these figures featured swivel cuts in the thighs, but that’s really my only complaint about the articulation.

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Accessories! Deadman comes with clenched fists attached, but an extra pair of grabby hands. The extra hands were totally unnecessary, which makes it all the more cool that DCC included them. You also get a really creative translucent rubber mask that can be placed over other Icons figures to simulate his possession power. It actually looks unspeakably creepy when placed on another figure. Honestly, I mostly like this thing because of the originality behind it, rather than how well it works in practice.

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I think it took a lot of balls for DC Collectibles to not only include Deadman as the second figure in this new line, but a version of him from before the New 52 reboot as well. Normal logic would have seen this initial wave stacked with Justice League A-listers, and yet here we are three figures in and two of them have been Mister Miracle and Deadman. I love it, mainly because it’s showing me that DCC is planning some deep universe building with this line and anyone from any era potentially could be fair game. This figure isn’t terribly flashy, but he looks fantastic and the articulation makes for lots of fun.

Transformers Cybertron: Crosswise and Smokescreen by Hasbro

I am officially declaring February “Unicron Trilogy Month” because I don’t forsee myself picking up any new Transformers for a little while and I really need to start clearing out some of these totes of change-o-bots that I’m not keen on keeping anymore. I decided I might as well feature these figures on Transformers Thursdays before I banish them to Ebay or just dump them wherever. Those of you who have been hanging around FFZ’s Transformers Thursdays for a while have been through this phase before. So grab a couple of shots of Energon or whatever helps you cope. Today we’re winding our chronometers back about ten years to 2005 and 2006 to check out Cybertron Crosswise and Smokescreen. I’ve got no packaged shots to show you, so let’s just jump right in with Crosswise’s auto mode.

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I’ve gone on record saying how much I liked Cybertron for it’s alt modes. What little I’ve seen of the show suggested that it wasn’t rooted entirely on Earth so we got a lot of cool futuristic cars and Hasbro didn’t have to worry about paying license fees to real car companies. Win-Win! Crosswise is a pretty bitchin’ black sportscar with a rounded snub-nosed front, a cool looking front intake and a spoiler that looks conspicuously like it could double as a gun. There’s even a flame-shamed missile that will plug into it. My only other observation here is that I think he would have worked better as a Decepticon. He just looks evil.

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Because evil is the new black. Or something like that. The nearly all black deco here is as simple as it gets, with a little gray and gold, a little red and white, and some translucent green windows. To me, this is an example of fewer paint apps as a style choice and not because Hasbro’s being cheap. There’s also a sharp Autobot emblem tampo’d on the hood. Nope, not bad at all!

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As a Cybertron figure, Crosswise features a CyberKey activated gimmick. Plug the key into his rear bumper and it deploys two hidden rocket packs. As far as CyberKey gimmicks go, this is about as good as it gets. Now that I’ve gushed a lot, let’s take a look at the robot mode…

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Oh, boy. Unfortunately, Crosswise’s robot mode looks really half baked. On the one hand, he features that familiar old Autobot configuration that uses the front of the car as the upper chest. It’s the purest and most noble of all Autobot designs, dating all the way back to the Datsuns of 1984. It’s also this figure’s best attribute. Once you look past that, you’ve got to deal with a couple of sticks protruding awkwardly up from behind his shoulders, big door kibble jutting awkwardly off his shoulders, and the end all and be all of my Transformers pet-peeves… the dreaded permanent roof shield. Yikes! Roof sheilds were one of the worst things from Robots in Disguise back in 2000 and it’s here to haunt me again.

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I do dig the headsculpt here quite a bit. The extra gold paint on the “helmet” looks great and the translucent green visor over the eyes is nice too. The Cybertron line certainly knew how to produce some lovely robo-noggins.

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For armaments, Crosswise can wield his spoiler as a handgun and his CyberKey gimmick still works in his robot mode, only now you are literally sticking the Key right up his butt. This deploys the rocket packs from his shoulders, which is easily my favorite thing about this figure. That having been said, I was never all that fond of this mold back in the day, so naturally when Hasbro repainted it a year later, I bought it again. Wait, what? WHY DID I DO THAT? Oh yeah, because I was a completest idiot. Seriously. I can remember finding this figure on the pegs. Did I think, “Hey, there’s a repaint of that figure I didn’t like all that much from last year?” No, I screamed, “SWEET! I found a new Transformer!” And I bought him.

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Smokescreen is a straight repaint of Crosswise, with no tweaks to the mold at all. The auto mode looks pretty cool with the traditional Smokescreen deco right down to the 38’s on the doors. You still get the spoiler-gun and the CyberKey gimmick is still available.

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When I said no tweaks to the mold, I really meant it. Hasbro didn’t even give this guy a new head. The more dynamic color scheme makes for a nice change, but even the best of new paint jobs inspired by GeeWun fan-wankery isn’t enough to save this mold.

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Crosswise and Smokescreen were pretty iffy to me back in 2005-2006 and the ten years that follows has not been any kinder to them. Yeah, there are certainly worse Transformers out there, probably several from these years too, but these guys really feel like they could have been saved by a few minor tweaks. Yes, you can mis-transform those sticks so they point down instead of up, but they’re still terrible kibble. A little more thought from the design team and I could have met these guys halfway. As they are, though, I’m not going to be sad to see them go.

Figma “Sword Art Online” Asuna by Max Factory

It seems like forever since I last dipped into my stack of Figmas or Figuarts, so I’m remedying that today by opening a figure that is long past due. Even way back in August of last year, when I featured Figma Kirito, I had poor Asuna waiting to be opened and I guess she just got buried by other receivings, and further buried by a lot of unfinished business with Figuarts Sailor Moon. I’ll get to it eventually!!! In this case, however, it’s kind of ironic that it took me so long to opener her, because when I missed out on the original release, I came pretty close to paying an awful lot of money for this figure. Luckily, I procrastinated and like Kirito she got a re-release at a far more reasonable price.

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I always love the Figma presentation. It’s a window box that shows the figure and accessories quite nicely. It’s compact, relatively understated and just feels so simple and elegant. The fact that it’s collector friendly is a must, because there are so many accessories and extras to keep track of. You also get shots of the character on the side panels, which is great for easy reference because I keep my Figma boxes lined up on a bookcase shelf. Obviously most of the copy on the box is in Japanese, but you do get a little bit of English. SAO is pretty far up there on my list of favorite anime series, so even though it took me a while to get to her, finally getting this figure on my shelf is a pretty big deal for me.

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I loved Asuna in SAO’s first arc, not so much later when they turned her into a damsel in distress and all she had to do was sit in a cage and get terrorized for most of the series. Original Asuna was refreshingly strong and skilled and her Knights of Blood costume is my favorite design in the series even though I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly why. I guess there’s something about that immaculate white outfit with the striking red and orange trim, and the smattering of cruciform emblems that just looks so damn good. The ensemble is rounded off with some really nice silver paint on her chest and belt. I can’t think of anyone besides Max Factory who could have recreated this outfit so brilliantly in a figure in this scale. The contrast of colors and the various layers make for an absolutely gorgeous figure.

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Asuna comes with a total of three portraits, although the amount of variety here is a little deceptive. The figure is boxed with a happy face and the other two are her angry and determined fighting faces. They’re very similar only one has the eyes looking off to the side and the other has a little flushed color in her cheeks. As always, changing these faces is as easy as removing the front hair piece and doing a quick pop and swap. She has four bendy strands of hair that fall down, two in front of her shoulders and two behind.

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The rest of her hair cascades down her back on a ball joint and herein lies my one and only nitpick about the figure. The hair has to be angled pretty far back to make room for the stand’s back peg. That’s fine for action poses, but for simple standing poses, it’s not always what I’m going for. Now, in fairness, they did include an adapter piece to help, but it’s still limiting in what it will do. Yes, it’s possible to get Asuna to stand without being attached to the arm and base, but it’s not easy. Between her skirt and all that hair, she tends to be a little back-heavy. But if that’s the worst thing I can come up with, this figure is still doing pretty fine by me.

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Of course, being a Figma Asuna comes with a bunch of extra hands. The figure is boxed with a pair of relaxed hands, but you also get a pair of splayed hands, fists, regular sword holding hands, and a pair of angled sword holding hands for thrusting. The hands swap out really easily, but I had to be extra careful not to lose the tiny cuffs that just float between the arm and hand. Once you take the hands off, there’s nothing holding them on.

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And speaking of swords, Asuna comes with two. You get Lambent Light in its red scabbard and what I assume is Wind Fleuret, although the hilt doesn’t exactly match what I remember seeing in the anime. Then again, it’s been a while. As with Kirito, these blades are extremely fragile, probably more so in this case, but they look great and fit into the scabbards well enough so that they aren’t difficult to remove. The scabbards peg into a keyhole on the side of her skirt. It’s really hard to decide which of the blades I like more on the figure. Chances are I’ll go with Lambent Light just because the scabbard adds a little extra pop to the color scheme.

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Lastly, you get an effect part, which is much better than the cumbersome ones that came with Kirito. Yeah, I’m not generally a huge fan of effect parts, but I could actually see myself swapping this one out on display every now and again, whereas Kirito’s just stay in the box.

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The articulation here is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Figmas and is obviously excellent. The joints are all solid and have a great range of motion. The skirt does impede her lower half a little more in some cases, but there are few poses that I tried to do that I couldn’t achieve. And with the extra hands and expressions, the sky really is the limit. New Figmas reside on my desk for a while so that I can keep picking them up and playing with them and Asuna will be no different.

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As I mentioned earlier, I came damn close to paying over $100 for Asuna, but thankfully Max Factory re-issued her and I was able to get her for half that, and I’m pretty sure she’s still readily available at a good price. I can’t say enough how much I adore this figure and having her on the shelf just makes me want to see Figma roll out some more SAO loving. While I’m not as big a fan of the Gun Gale arc, a re-issue of Sinon would be most welcome and I’m still on the fence over whether or not to pick up that version of Kirito. The Alfheim version of Asuna will likely be my next target, and I should would enjoy it if they released a Leafa.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Lord Masque by Mattel

A week or so ago I featured what I thought would be my last new carded figure from the Masters Classics line. Then I realized that while I didn’t sub Eternia 2.0, I did sub a Collector’s Choice series that I completely forgot even existed. Good thing, I didn’t buy Lord Masque off the site, because he’s the first figure in this Sub that I didn’t even remember buying into and at prices like these, I sure didn’t need two of him. Yeah, I know I also said in that feature that I’d look at the first version of Classics He-Ro next. Don’t worry, I’ll get to him soon.

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Oh, look! It’s this packaging again! From the front it looks identical to what we’ve been seeing all along, but if you flip it around, you’ll see no more bio cards. They were never a big part of the line for me, so I’m not bummed about it. You’ll also notice that while Masque is holding the sword and shield he comes packaged with, they aren’t meant for him. But more on that later…

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Yay, I own all of these figures! The “Evil Servant of Shokoti,” Lord Masque hails from a Filmation cartoon two-parter called “The House of Shokoti” where he paired up with Trap Jaw to bring back his evil mistress, or something like that. Shokoti was released a little while back in the Filmation Mini-Sub and now the two characters are finally together.

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Masque is a pretty cool looking guy. From the neck down he’s fairly standard Masters Classic design. We’ve seen those scalloped greaves before, but they suit the character well. The pearlescent white used for the gauntlets, belt, and chest piece add a nice splash of brightness to an otherwise dreary deco. There’s some nice texturing included in the cross straps on the chest and the thigh straps that make them convincing as leather pieces.

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The cape hangs around the figure’s neck, but is worn off the shoulders and cascades down almost to the ground. It’s pretty stiff, but there’s enough play at the neck to pull it back so it doesn’t inhibit action poses all that badly. It’s also separate from the hood.

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The portrait is easily the most distinctive thing about Masque, as his name suggests! The design is also a great example of how the Filmation series cribbed quite a lot of designs that had a Star Wars flavor. It’s a relatively simple sculpt, but it’s quite faithful to the Filmation art and it looks great on a Classics figure. Because the hood is sculpted separately from the cape, you can still get a decent amount of articulation out of that ball joint in the neck.

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As hinted at earlier, the accessories are intended for New Adventures He-Man, a figure I don’t own. Until I inevitbaly hunt him down, I’ll likely let Masque keep these. The sword features a silver futuristic guard and a translucent green energy blade and hilt. I think it suits him fairly well. The shield has the same silver and translucent deco to make them a matched set. I suppose the “HM” logo on the shield can kind of work as just an “M” for Masque, although I don’t think I’ll end up displaying him with the shield, just the sword. I can’t fault Matty for not giving Masque anything of his own. All he did in the episode was just turn into black smoke or shape shift into a disguise. That having been said, a spare mask with a notch to stick He-Man’s sword into it would have been cool.

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Back when I was confused and thought that this was a figure in the Eternia 2.0 line, I was a little bummed that I wasn’t going to get him. He may have been a mostly forgettable one-off character in the series, but he makes for a great addition to my shelves, and I’m glad things turned out in my favor. One of the cooler things about Eternian lore to me was that in addition to Skeletor’s band of evil kooks, you also had all of these other free agents running around trying to be bosses of their own. Yeah, Masque might have been a toady for Shokoti, but when they first revealed him, I was pretty sure they might be grooming him to be competition for Skeletor. If I had a figure of him as a kid, I’m sure that’s how I would have played with him.

Marvel Legends: “Age of Ultron” Thor (AoU 4-Pack, Part 1) by Hasbro

I’m officially between waves of Marvel Legends, so before embarking on another one, I thought I’d spend some time running through this boxed set of four figures that Hasbro released based on the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie. I’m pretty sure this set was an Exclusive, but I’m not sure who had it. I never saw it in the wild, but I spent a lot of time hovering over the BUY-IT button on Amazon at the original price of eighty bucks. Fortunately, I hesitated and in this case it paid off, because shortly after the holdays, I snagged it for half that. Ten bucks a pop for Legends figures that I need to complete my teams? I’ll do that all day long!

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The figures come in a nice, long window box with a deco very similar to what we saw with the Agents of Shield 3-pack. The set includes the Age of Ultron versions of Thor, Black Widow, Bruce Banner, and Hawkeye. Considering that we already got single boxed versions of AoU Captain America, Hulk, and Iron Man, this set neatly ties up most of the loose ends by rounding out the core team. Yeah, we’re still missing Scarlet Witch, Vision, and Quicksilver, but I’m pretty sure we can forget about them ever happening. I’m going to cover one figure each Marvel Monday throughout February and I guess we’ll just run left to right, so let’s start with Thor.

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Ahhh, it’s damn nice to see this guy’s Cinematic Universe version finally getting a proper Legends release. Previously, the only 6-inch scale movie version of The God of Thunder that I own was the Walmart Exclusive figure based off his original movie and featured here way back in the beginning of 2012. It was a passable figure at the time, but times have changed, and he was also a little too small to really work with the Legends figures. This new version is an improvement on just about every level. Yeah, truth be told, I prefer the design of the armor that Thor wore in his first movie and in The Avengers, but I still dig this look plenty.

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Here you get the darker and bare-armed look that was first introduced in his second film and carried over into Age of Ultron. The sculpt of the outfit is beautifully executed here and it’s layered on in some places to give the armor a lot of credibility. Details include the tiny sculpted rivits and panel lines to the cross-thatch pattern of the exposed chainmail on his thighs. The contours of the boots are beautifully done and the silver, pale gold, black, and a little blue make for a striking deco, especially when framed against the vibrant red cape. The plastic cape is textured and looks great. The one thing I do like better about this costume is the prounounced set of discs that secure his cape to his shoulders. On the downside, the cape is rigid and unforgiving and since it’s plugged into his back, you can’t really pull it away from the figure. This means that the cape puts a major dampener on a lot of potentially great action poses.

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The portrait is leaps and bounds better than Hasbro’s previous effort. Depending on the angle, I’d say it runs from a passable likeness to a pretty good one. The short beard is particularly well done. The hair looks great, but like the cape, it’s at odds with the articulation. Getting the head to turn side to side works fine, but there’s no upward movement, which nixes a lot of options for decent flying poses.

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So, speaking of articulation, Thor’s got plenty of great points. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, double hinges in the elbows, and rotating hinges again in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the torso that offers a beautiful range of motion, and you get the ball joint in the neck, which thanks to the hair, might as well have just been a swivel. It’s a shame that the cape and hair work against what is some pretty decent engineering, but that’s sadly the case here.

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Thor features a nice version of Mjolnir, with sculpted wrap on the handle and a lanyard. Hasbro has done quite a few of these in the 6-inch scale and they’ve all been pretty good. This one is no different. He can hold it just fine in either hand.

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I’ve got to say, this first figure alone goes a long way to justifying me buying this set. Even if it’s all down hill from here (and from a cursory glance I have no reason to believe it will be), I’ll have something to show for my forty bucks. The hitherto absense of movie Thor in the Legends line made no sense to me. In fact, not having all of the movie characters in Legends makes no sense to me. Hasbro makes 6-inch Marvel figures. Disney makes Marvel movies that rake in tons of cash. Why would you not want to capitalize more on that? Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to see comic inspired characters like Batroc the Leaper and Hellcat on the pegs, but waiting this long to get Thor and still not having a MCU Scarlet Witch, Vision, or Quicksilver? That’s just madness. Ah well, next Monday, we’ll keep this train rolling with a look at Age of Ultron Black Widow!

DC Icons: (#01) Batman by DC Collectibles

Last Friday I kicked off my look at DC Collectibles’ DC Icons series with Mister Miracle and I was notably impressed. Today, I’m pulling another figure off the stack and it’s Batman! Yeah, I went after Mister Miracle first because of my love for the character, but let’s face it… when you’re taking a new line of DC figures out for spin, Batman really is the best place to start!

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We saw the packaging last time, so I won’t dwell on it. It’s attractive and shows off the figure and the accessories well. My figure’s box is a little miffed up, but that’s OK. Just let me at the goods inside!

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Out of the box and Batman is looking damn fine. Being only a casual fan of Bats, I’m not sure which one they were going for here, but I dig the somewhat classic look of the outfit. There are no panel lines, so it sure ain’t from The New 52. Yeah, he’s a lot more understated than the snazzy metallic finish of my-man Scott Free, but I love the look of this guy. You get a traditional gray body suit with blue undies on the outside and high gloss blue boots and gauntlets. There’s a black bat emblem tampo’ed on his chest and a chunky yellow utility belt.

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The cape is a fairly light and pliable plastic that doesn’t throw off the balance of the figure at all. It also ends just above the ground and isn’t too cumbersome for most action shots. At the same time, it does sometimes feel restrictive in it’s inability to spread out behind him when he’s doing his intimidating Batman stuff. I do like the way it’s sculpted to plunge behind his neck and the scalloped edges look great.

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The portrait features a classic blue cowl and a face sculpt that is solid enough, but nothing exceptional. It’s a little bit soft, but still OK. I dig the detail in his furled brow.

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Articulation is a big deal with this line, which is a new departure for many of DC Collectibles’ figures. Let’s run down those points… The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinges in the elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, hinges in the ankles, along with lateral rockers, and swivels buried under the boots. The torso features both a ball joint and an ab crunch and the neck is ball jointed. Batman is a beautifully balanced figure and loads of fun to play with.

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Accessories! Batman comes with two pairs of hands (fists and holding hands), in addition to a grappel with a hand permanently attached to it. He also comes with a pair of very cool little batarangs.

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Yes, if I had to describe this figure with one word it would be FUN FUN FUN! OK, that’s one word three times, but I’m making a point. Maybe there’s nothing flashy or revolutionary about DC Icons Batman, but his lovely mix of articulation and accessories make him a hard figure to put down. He’s only the second notch on my DC Icons belt, but I can still feel my love for this line growing. At this point, the only complaint I can muster is that I really wish these figures came with action stands. I’ve been cheating with a Figma stand by putting the peg under the cape, but I’m really going to have to invest in a Tamashii Stage to unlock their true potential.

Transformers: Masterpiece Tracks (MP-25) by Takara

I’ve been pretty quiet on the Transformers Masterpiece front, but that’s more Takara’s fault than mine. There were only a handful of releases over the past year and a lot of them were Diaclone homages, which I would have been all over if it weren’t for the fact that I collect so many other things and I’m not made of money. Case in point, the last MP Transformer I looked at was MP-22 Ultra Magnus and that was almost exactly a year ago today. So, let’s break this long hiatus and take a look at MP-25… Tracks!

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We’ve certainly seen this packaging before. Tracks comes in an enclosed box that matches the other MP Autobot cars. A lot of the copy is in Japanese, but there’s a little English to be had. There are plenty of pictures of the toy in its various modes and the front boasts that it is an official licensed Chevrolet product. These boxes aren’t terribly flashy, but they are collector friendly and they sure look great all lined up in a bookcase. Inside, you get a folded color instruction sheet, a profile card, and a bunch of neat extras. Tracks wasn’t a member of the Autobot “Class of 84” and I never actually owned his figure as a kid, but I enjoyed him a lot on the cartoon and the only reason it took me this long to pick him up was because he hasn’t been very well received. Let’s start with the alt mode…

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Faithful to his G1 roots, Tracks is a Chevy Corvette Stingray. I’ll be honest, I’m a Ford guy… Mustangs in particular, but if I ever loved a Chevy it was this lovely Corvette design. Tracks’ vehicle mode lives up to all my expectations, but then I never doubted it would. Apart from a seam here and there, the MP line hasn’t had any issues with it’s auto modes. He sports a gorgeous metallic blue paint job, which is absolutely flawless! We’ve come a long way from the paint QC issues on the original figures. The colorful tampo on the hood looks amazing and you even get a flip-panel on the roof, like we saw with Bumblebee, which allows you to display him with or without the extra Autobot symbol in his vehicle mode. I prefer it without. There is a fair amount of kibble showing through underneath, but that’s understandable because he’s got a lot going on under there. Also, it surprisingly doesn’t interfere with his ground clearance at all, allowing him to roll smoothly.  The only glaring issue I have with this alt mode are the mirrors. Takara includes two sets of rear view mirrors on sprues. Yeah, we’ve seen this before, but in this case, they don’t want to stay in very well. I actually wind up taking them out when transforming him to avoid losing them. I’m tempted to glue them in, but squirting glue onto Tracks’ paint fills me with dread and I’m sure he wouldn’t appreciate it either.

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Tracks features an opening hood, which reveals a detailed engine. It’s a really nice and unexpected feature. I’m pretty sure the Stingray had a reverse hood, but I’m not going to make a big issue about it here. Oh yeah, he also has a second alt mode…

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MP Tracks retains the alternate flight mode that was featured on the original toy and in the cartoon. I’m a huge fan of this, mainly because I’ve always had a weird obsession with the idea of flying cars. It’s not a huge difference from his regular car mode. He adds a couple of side pylons with intakes, his back wheels turn upward, sort of like VTOLS, wings fold out from the back and you can clip a gun onto the front of his bumper. Converting him into this mode is a bit more involved then I would like, but it’s hard to argue with the results…

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Especially when Takara gave us such an awesome display stand! This snazzy black stand features a double hinged arm that plugs into the bottom of the vehicle and a silver Autobot emblem on the base. I love that they included something like this. It really feels above and beyond and it turns what could have been just a flippant little secondary alt mode into something that I very well may use as a permanent display option. OK, enough with the alt modes, let’s get this dude transformed…

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So, transforming Tracks proved to be a real bitch the first time. He feels a lot more complex than any of the other Autobot cars and some of the movements are a little scary. The tab that holds the halves of the hood together is really tight and pulling that apart makes me nervous every time. Pulling the shoulders away from the body to extend them outward is another step that makes me cringe. There are a ton of moving parts here and sometimes I have to apply a little more force than I’m comfortable with. I also worry about paint scraping. A lot of those beautiful blue plates slide against each other and I don’t want the finish to be ruined. With all that having been said, I thought putting him back into auto mode would be a nightmare, but it went more smoothly than I expected.

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With all that having been said, I generally dig Tracks’ robot mode, but it isn’t the slam dunk that I felt we got with the Datsuns or Lambor. There’s no doubt about it, this is Tracks and he makes for a damn good idealized version of the original toy design. I think the proportions are overall OK, but there are little things here and there that feel less polished. I’m not a big fan of the construction of the ankles. There’s a little too much gap there when viewed from dead on. There’s a lot of hollow space visible behind his head, which is why most of the official pictures of this guy are taken from a low angle looking up. That’s definitely his best angle. Lastly, he looks pretty rough from the back. I don’t mind the rear of the Corvette as a backpack, it actually pegs in quite nicely, but below that he looks rather unfinished.

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The portrait is quite nice, featuring Tracks’ trademark red face and white helmet. Again, great paint here without a flaw to be seen. I also really dig the flip out Autobot symbol on his chest.

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In addition to his handgun, Tracks comes with a couple of friends. You get Rauol, Tracks’ human friend. You know, the one he met because he was trying to carjack him. He’s just a static figure on a stand with some very rudimentary paint and an eerie blank face, but a welcome little addition all the same. You also get a tiny little Blaster in his boom box mode. Definitely some cool bonuses.

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In no way do I think Tracks is a bad figure, but he does feel a little different from the figures that came before him and not as polishes as some of the better figures in the MP line. A lot of that is no doubt because of a change up in the lead designer, but some of it could also be because of Tracks’ more challenging design. Either way, he’s still going to have a proud place on my Masterpiece shelf and I certainly don’t regret picking him up. For whatever little issues he may have, Takara clearly went above and beyond with the extras on this guy and all that conspires to make him feel like a worthwhile purchase. In fact, to be honest, I’m seriously thinking of picking up the repainted and tweaked mold as Road Rage.