Transformers Armada: Thrust with Inferno by Hasbro

My well of Generations and Classics figures has run dry for now, so until something new turns up, I’ll be back to digging into the Unicron Trilogy toys for my Transformers Thursdays. Today I reached into the Armada bin and pulled up… Deluxe Class Thrust! When Armada first came out I was newly returned to the toy collecting scene. Everything was fresh and exciting and I was positively drunk with a desire to get the figures as soon as possible, and for some reason I was especially obsessed with finding Cyclonus and Thrust. I would make regular trips to all the Targets, Kmarts, and Walmarts in the area and kept coming up empty. Finally, I broke down and paid a premium for them on Ebay. A few days later I was picking up cold medicine in a CVS or Walgreens and there were both figures hanging on the pegs in their pathetic little toy aisle. What were the odds of that? I still bought them and so I do still have carded examples of both figures floating around somewhere, but I couldn’t find the carded Thrust in time for today’s review, so let’s jump straight to the alt mode.

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As the name suggests, Thrust is a jet. In retrospect it’s odd that they went with a Deluxe jet so early in the line when they already had Starscream and later Skywarp and Thundercracker covered as larger toys. It’s even more odd when you consider how many repaints Hasbro got out of this mold. The mold itself has that rather toyish looking charm that characterized just about all of the Armada toys, and yet it still manages to pack a ridiculous amount of detail in the sculpt. This thing has sculpted panel lines, exposed engine parts, a VTOL fan, and even tiny rivets scattered across the body. And man, how I loved Armada’s sculpted faction emblems. The Decepticon emblem on his wing is gorgeous. If it weren’t for the giant goofy flick-fire missiles slung under the wings, this would have been a far more serious looking jet.

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Thrust’s deco is also rather schizophrenic. The gray body has a wonderful wash over it, which evokes a slight camo motif, but then the neon green missiles and mint green paint apps on the wings throw any realism out the window. Still, extra little touches like the red and silver paint hits betray a time when Hasbro was willing to throw a lot more money into the coloring of their Deluxe figures.

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Thrust’s Minicon buddy is Inferno and he’s one of my favorites. His alt mode is a missile truck and he has a very simple but effective transformation that gives him a simple four points of articulation. Still, what’s up with that face sculpt? He looks like a bird wearing a monocle. Why was Armada so obsessed with giving the Transformers crazy faces?

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Inferno can ride on Thrust’s back when they are both in vehicle mode, and this feature is easily my favorite thing about Thrust. Inferno doesn’t just get plugged on top, but he’s actually got a little compartment between the tail fins made for him to sit. He works so perfectly in there that Thrust’s jet mode looks a bit odd to me without Inferno riding along. Of course, it also helps that Inferno adds a missile launcher to Thrust’s arsenal. This kind of interplay between their vehicle modes is great, especially considering Thrust’s Minicon gimmick when he’s in robot mode is so ridiculous that I’m not even going to showcase it.

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And here we are in robot mode and man is Thrust a hot mess. Let me start out by saying I get a HUGE Beast Machines Vehicon vibe off of this guy and I don’t mean that in a good way. Yeah, Beast Machines Tankor is still one of my favorite Deluxe Transformers of all time, but he’s the exception to the rule. Most of Thrust’s design problems lie in his arms and legs. His arms have lots of tail fin kibble, which gets in the way of a lot of posing. He also doesn’t have hands, just thrusters to use as weapons. I don’t have a problem with Transformers having one gun hand. I actually kind of like it. But, c’mon guys, how does the dude get through life without at least one workable hand?

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The legs, however, are the real mess here. The missile launchers that are mounted on his knees could not be more awkwardly placed. You can take the missiles out to help a bit, but that’s a cheat and the launcher stubs still look fugly there. Also, check out the hollowed out tail that hangs down between his legs. The pegs on it are what his legs peg into in vehicle mode. Having them so close to his legs in their natural position is just terrible design. You might as well just leave them pegged in. Bah!

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The deco in robot mode also takes a hit. Besides the bland grey plastic, he shows off a lot of that ugly neon green. At least he has those two lovely sculpted and painted Decepticon insignia in his shoulders. Mmm… pretty.

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And that’s Thrust for ya. I don’t enjoy speaking ill of the Armada line, but even my ridiculous nostalgic love for Armada can’t blind me to the fact that this figure has not aged well. Then again, it was never one of my favorites back then either. That’s kind of ironic considering how much I went through to find him and that I wound up with two of them. Still, based solely on his pedigree as an Armada figure, I can’t totally hate on him. He’s got a strange charm to him and having Cyclonus and Demolisher on the shelf without him just wouldn’t seem right. The crazy thing is, I also have two of the subsequent repaints of this mold, but I’ll save them for another day.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Flutterina by Mattel

A few days ago I got the shipping notice for my subscription figures from Matty and that made me realize that I still haven’t featured one of the August figures yet. That’s nothing against Flutterina, I’m actually quite excited to get most of the “Princess of Power” figures, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks for me and she just got lost in the shuffle. To remedy the situation, I’m bumping my usual weekly Marvel feature to squeeze Flutterina in before my September figures show up.

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And there she is in the package and there’s really nothing new to say here. It’s the same old Greyskull inspired deco still looking as awesome as ever. Flutterina features the “Princess of Power” sticker on the bubble and for the life of me, I can’t remember whether she was part of Club Eternia and Etheria, but I think she came from Eternia since Madame Razz was the Etheria offering last month.

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The back of the package has her little bio, which is pretty interesting stuff. I always presumed she was born with those wings. And apparently she wound up shacking up with the “new” Man-At-Arms in Eternia. Is that the dude that replaced Duncan after he was turned into a Snake Man? Gosh, this MOTUC canon can be confusing! Anyway, you also get a shot of some other figures from the PoP side. Odd that they show original She-Ra and not the Bubble Power She-Ra that came after. Either way, the only figure I’m missing from that lot is Bow and since I’ll be getting his horse as part of one of my subs, I probably should get around to picking up that figure before he gets any pricier on the secondary market.

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Flutterina follows the usual She-Ra formula with a one-piece dress and skirt made of soft, pliable plastic and layered onto the figure. In this case her outfit is orange-brown in color and features a cool scaled pattern on the skirt and some additional decorative fixtures on her chest. She has a metallic gold choker, belt, and a matching set of arm bracers, and some nice sculpted decorations on the fronts of her boots. I think my only gripe here is that her costume should be more colorful. I seem to recall the top and skirt being different colors on the vintage figure and I think that would have helped make this Flutterina a bit more visually appealing, but overall I still like her costume well enough.

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The portrait is very much in line with what we’ve been seeing out of the PoP figures. It’s a decent sculpt and fairly attractive, but the features on the PoP ladies’ faces do all seem to have a bit of a sameness to them. I do like Flutterina’s hair a lot. It’s a striking shade of purple and it flows down behind her shoulders beautifully. Too bad it’s at odd with the wings. And speaking of wings…

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Flutterina’s wings attach to her back via hinged pegs and it’s a bit of a pain to get them on properly. I do recommend some care when removing them from the package as it looks very possible for the paint to rub when sliding them from the sleeve. The pegs are meant to pass through the parts in her hair, but I found it easiest to just pop the head off, get the wings on, and pop the head back on. The wings are made out of a slightly flexible plastic with each of the colorful decorations raised a bit, giving the patterns a 3D look. All in all the wings are a little too thick for me and the paintwork is uneven in some places and the paint lines are not as clean as I would like to see on a $30 figure. I really think these could have been done better with cloth on a frame. As it is, the wings interfere with the head articulation, rendering it practically useless unless you do a lot of futzing with the wings to get them between the strands of hair. Otherwise, if I do try to turn her head, I usually just wind up knocking out one of the wings. That’s a lot of bitching, I know, but let me qualify it by saying that when all is said and done, I think Flutterina and her majestic wings look fantastic on the shelf.

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The articulation here conforms to the line’s standards, but just in case this is your first time, I’ll run it down right quick. The arms have rotating hinges at the shoulders, hinges at the elbows, and swivels at the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees, and have hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a swivel in the waist and a ball joint in the neck, and I’ve already mentioned that the wings attach with hinged ball pegs that also allow some swivel.

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Flutterina comes with two accessories and we’ve seen both of them before. First, you get a repaint of the She-Ra shield that we’ve seen at least a couple of times already. It’s painted a sort of orange-brown to match her outfit and has a purple crystal embedded in it. Secondly, you get her sword, which is the same one that came with Battleground Teela. I’m not complaining, mind you, as this is one of my favorite swords in the line. It’s just a nice, no-nonsense, functional looking weapon, only in this case with a hot pink hilt.

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Even after a considerate amount of griping, I gotta say I love this figure. There’s definitely stuff here that could have been done better, but that doesn’t change the fact that she looks mighty nice standing on the shelf with the rest of my Great Rebellion ladies. Flutterina is also a reassuring comeback from the travesty that was Double-Mischief, a figure that holds the dubious honor of being my least favorite release in this entire line. Next up for Princess of Power is Entrapta, and she’s headed to me as we speak, along with Rio-Blast.

 

Planet of the Apes (Classic): Cornelius by NECA

It’s time to check out another figure in NECA’s first series of Classic Planet of the Apes line and I’ve decided to go with Dr. Cornelius. If you missed the my first review in this series, I’ll direct you back to that for a lot of nostalgic prattle about what this franchise meant to me when I was a kid. The first figure, Dr. Zaius was a character I loved to hate. Cornelius is the polar opposite. He’s George Taylor’s compassionate lifeline in a world that has turned into A MADHOUSE!!! AAAAA MAAAAAADHOOOOUSE!!!!!! Besides a general affection for the character, Cornelius was originally played by one of my all time favorites, the late Roddy McDowell. Until someone ponies up with a Peter Vincent figure, Cornelius will have to represent Roddy on my action figure shelves. Ok, let’s check this chimp out…

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We saw the packaging last time and I don’t have much new to say about it. You get a collector friendly window box with a deco matches the character and it has a nice vintage vibe to it. I dig the character art on the front and the painted scene on the back. The front window shows off the figure beautifully and the side of the box is even lettered with “Planet of the Apes” and the character’s name so you can store them in a bookcase. All in all, this is packaging perfection.

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And there he is, mild-mannered chimp scientist, Dr. Cornelius in all his glory. It’s crazy how iconic these ape costumes have become for me. I’d rank them right up there with the Classic Star Trek uniforms, but then that should come as no surprise since I grew up playing with both Mego Apes and Mego Star Trek side by side with each other. NECA did a beautiful job recreating his outfit. The leather tabard at the top of his shirt is nicely textured and the wrinkles in the shirt and pants are just right to make the sculpted cloth look convincing. I think if I had one gripe it would be that the shirt should come down just a bit farther, but then I could be remembering the costume wrong. Oh yeah, check out the chimp-feet-shoes. Love them!

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The portrait here is quite good, although I think it may be a smidge below the total homerun that we saw with Dr. Zaius. I think the two main issues I have is that the hair is a little too tightly coifed and the face is a little too dirty. Keep in mind, these figures are important to me so I’m being ridiculously picky. Once again, I like that this looks more like the actual character than an actor in a chimp mask and it’s all around great work.

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Remember the Sacred Scroll that came with Dr. Zaius? Well, you get the same thing with Dr. Cornelius. Here’s the one disappointing thing with this figure. While it’s nice to have two scrolls, double dipping on the accessories in the same wave of figures seems like foul play. Surely there was some sciencey stuff that could have been included with Cornelius instead.

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Cornelius features solid articulation. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles. You also get ball joints in the wrists and a ball joint in the neck. He’s a scientist… he doesn’t need to be able to bust out in crazy action poses, so what’s here is plenty good.

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Two apes in and I’m still totally digging on NECA’s Classic PotA figures. I may have nitpicked a few things here and there, but that’s just because the property is really important to me and I hold NECA to some mighty high standards. The truth is that this is an outstanding figure and one that I’m totally happy with getting. Sure, at $20 he feels a little wanting in the accessories, but even with a hit remake movie in the cinemas, these figures are directed at a niche market of collectors, so I’m fine with whatever NECA needed to charge to get these apes into my hands. Next time I swing back to this line I’ll wrap up the first series with a look at the Gorilla Soldier.

S.H. Figuarts: Sailor Mercury by Bandai Tamashii Nations

It’s been a couple of weeks since I kicked off my look at S.H. Figuarts’ Sailor Moon series with Sailor Moon herself. I’ve now got a few of these Sailor Scouts piling up on my receivings stack so let’s go ahead and check out another one of these Pretty Sailor Soldiers. I might as well stick to tradition and tackle them in the order that they appeared in the anime as I’m pretty sure that’s the order in which they’ve been released. So that means the next one up is Sailor Mercury! I went really long with Sailor Moon because it was the first figure in this series, but I’m going to try to tone it down a bit here since we know a lot of what to expect. So if you haven’t read my review of Sailor Moon, I’d recommend it before moving on to Mercury.

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In the original anime, Mercury didn’t turn up until about eight episodes in and that timing was pretty good, because as I recall her appearance gave the series the jolt I needed to keep watching it. I thought the whole dynamic of having more than one Sailor Scout made things more interesting, but I also think the episodes just got better. At the time I was first watching these, “Brainwashing School of Terror” was probably my favorite episode to date. It wasn’t just because of Mercury (oh, how I dig Mercury!), but there was just a lot of funny stuff in it and everybody just seemed to be bringing their A-game… even Luna!

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The packaging here is quite similar to what we saw with Sailor Moon. It’s a compact little window box that shows off the figure nicely and features a bright and colorful deco that is meant to reflect the character, so in this case you get a lot more blue to go with that pink and yellow. Mercury’s box is a bit thinner than Sailor Moon’s, probably because she doesn’t come with as much stuff. As before, the box is totally collector friendly and the figure comes on a clear plastic tray with the stand behind the tray and all her extra bits spread out around her.

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And here she is… Mercury may be a super genius tech geek, but she’s still as cute as a button. I expected a lot of parts sharing between her and Sailor Moon and while there’s certainly some of that going on, I’m satisfied with the new stuff, which includes little tweaks to her boots and ribbons. She also stands slightly taller than Sailor Moon, which is a lovely touch. The deco on her outfit features the same great pearlescent white plastic as Sailor Moon with some sharp looking blue.

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As with Sailor Moon, Mercury comes with three additional faces and a slew of different hands. The faces are similar to what we saw last time. You get a neutral, a serious, a shouty face (perfect for BUBBLE SPRAY!!!) and a very happy one. You get a total of five pairs of hands, each set carefully crafted for a specific pose, plus one extra left hand designed to hold her computer…

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Yes, you actually get two versions of the “supercomputer” that Luna gave to Mercury. I love that scene where Luna basically says, “here you might as well take this because Usagi would have no idea what to do with it.” Ha! I love that bit. Anyway, one of the computers is closed and one is open.

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And then there’s her visor… here’s what it looks like… on the box. Unfortunately that will have to do for this feature because I freaking lost mine. The one downside of these trays is that they have a tendency to send pieces flying when you pull them apart. It’s ironic that with nine tiny hands in there it was the significantly larger visor that has gone missing. I’m still hoping it’ll turn up, but considering I just noticed it was missing when I started shooting I have no idea where or when it fell out of the tray. It’s possibly already forever lost in the cat’s hidden treasure trove of stolen action figure parts. God, that pisses me off.

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The stand is the same clear plastic heart shaped affair that came with Sailor Moon only with a new deco to match Mercury. You get her symbol along with her name and some nice decorative scrollwork all printed in blue on the base. The support arm is hinged in three places, can swivel at the base and has hinged grabby parts to support the characte around the torso.

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With two Sailor Scouts on my shelf so far, and two more waiting to be opened, I’m really excited to keep collecting this line. Mercury is another fantastic figure, although it both pisses me off and breaks my heart to know that she’s now incomplete. If the lost visor doesn’t turn up eventually, it’ll probably bug me enough to pick up a new figure with the missing visor and when I do I’ll be sure to post an update to this feature. When next I circle back to this line, we’ll be checking out Sailor Mars!!!

Episode 2! Germ Warfare!

Originally posted on 2 Drunk Geeks and Ryan!:

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 Episode 2 

*Please note, having coding issues, click link for stream/download options*

Episode 2 of our riveting show has Figurefan struck by some kind of bug…plus someone switched Starscreamer’s beer with something non alcoholic me thinks….and Ryan, well that man is a tank so he was at 110%…but I digress…the liner notes!!

Marvel Legends Drax

Figuarts Chalice

New Storm Trooper Helmet!

Sideswipe Generations Review

Hot Toys Harlock

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By figurefanzero

Thor The Dark World: Loki Movie Masterpiece 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

My Hot Toys shelves are mostly populated by Marvel figures, but it’s a bit of an eclectic mix from the various films. I was a little late to the party when the Avengers figures were first released and while I was able to finally secure some of them, many others are only available now on the second-hand market for a lot more than I’m willing to pay. One of those figures was Loki and so I was able to take the opportunity of this Thor 2 release of the character to finally get him on my shelf. Sure, this version comes sans his “reindeer games” helmet and Chitauri Spear, but the rest of his costume is more or less the same, so this release made for a good compromise. I often do these Sixth-Scale features in two parts, but since he isn’t overburdened with accessories, I’m fairly confident that I can do Loki all due justice in just the one.

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The presentation is surprisingly different from what we’ve been seeing in the Hot Toys Marvel line. The Avengers presentation felt rather utilitarian, whereas the Dark World figures come in this rather flashy style box with a semi-foil finish and obviously based off the design of Mjolnir. It’s a bit bigger and bulkier than it need be, but I still like it a lot and I think it reflects the high price of the collectible better than The Avengers packaging. But that’s not to say it’s any more complex. On the contrary, it’s actually a lot simpler. There’s no flap to open and tray to slide out. It’s basically a shoe box. Lift up the top and there’s your figure in his tray.

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And here he is! Loki comes right out of the box and ready to go. The only thing that really requires set up is the stand, which is similar in design to the other Marvel figures only with a Dark World logo and “Marvel” boxed out in red. By now the costume should be readily familiar, as he’s worn the same basic thing in three movies with the main difference here being the lack of his iconic horned helmet. I’m sure there are subtle differences in the Dark World costume design, but I can’t readily pick them out and that makes him a versatile figure. He works fine for me as a Loki from any of the films and that was why I got him. After all, Dark World was a decent film, I enjoyed it a lot, but for me it was definitely the weakest of the Marvel movies so far, and I didn’t have a desire to own a Hot Toys figure that pays respect solely to that film.

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The tailoring of Loki’s costume is gorgeous. The garment is a complex mix of different textures and materials all layered on top of each other. You get a rich, hunter green fabric with bronze stitching, you get beautiful brown fabric with a stitched diamond pattern, you get black leather-like material and also some bronze armor pieces with sculpted rivets. All of that is layered onto a black and bronze plastic breast plate. What’s really impressive is that even with all these layers and the breast plate and shoulder armor, the entire ensemble isn’t at all bulky. Quite the contrary, it’s a beautiful fit giving Loki a trim profile and it’s a lot less restrictive than many other Hot Toys costumes. The instructions warn you not to try to take the costume off the figure and that sounds like pretty damn good advice because I wouldn’t even know where to begin if I wanted to.

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Moving on to the portrait, this obviously isn’t Hot Toys’ first crack at the Tom Hiddleston likeness. Hot Toys is a company that is constantly advancing and when they do subsequent versions of characters, there’s usually notable improvements made. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the case here. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a very solid head sculpt and a good likeness to the actor, but based on in-hand pictures (not Hot Toys own official pictures) Dark World Loki doesn’t represent a big leap forward over The Avengers Loki. It’s more of a sideways shuffle. I do like the expression, which has the hint of a smirk that suits the character so well, but then The Avengers Loki had a great expression as well.

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While the likeness is there, I think the complexion is tad off under certain lighting. The skin tone, while eerily realistic, strikes me as being a bit too dark under normal room lighting, while looking much better under bright studio lights.  There’s more darkness around the eyes too, which, on the other hand, I think tends to look better in person than under studio lighting. Maybe Hot Toys took The Dark World title a little too literal. These aren’t crippling complaints, I’m still quite pleased with the likeness, but if you already have Avengers Loki and were concerned that this release would render your figure outdated, you can rest easy because that’s not the case.

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And that brings us to accessories. First off, Loki comes with the usual array of extra hands. You get a pair of clenched manacle hands, a pair of relaxed hands, and a pair designed for when he’s holding his dagger. By now most of you know that I’m not someone who tends to swap out the hands on these figures a lot, but in this case, each of Loki’s pairs serves a very specific purpose and I like that. Apart from the hands, you really only get two accessories.

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One is his little dagger and the other is the set of manacles we see him in at the beginning of the film. It sounds like a pretty paltry inventory, but it should probably be qualified by two things. One, there’s not much else I can think of to give him. Obviously there’s The Aether, but that was exclusive to the Sideshow release, which surprisingly enough sold out rather quickly. I’ll concede that as an Infinity Stone, it would be a cool item to have, but I thought it was the lamest of all the Marvel Movie Macguffins, so it certainly wasn’t a crucial item for me.

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The second point is that Loki’s other accessory, the set of manacles, is a pretty complex accessory. It includes elaborately sculpted and painted cuffs for his wrists, ankles, and neck and the individually sculpted links for the chain that attaches it all together. The cuffs themselves are beautiful and even include teeny-tiny runes etched on the rings, presumeably to bind Loki’s power. The Avengers Loki came only with a pair of wrist manacles and from the look of them, the cuffs were not as detailed as these are.

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There are no moving parts on any of the cuffs, instead they’re applied by popping off the appropriate appendage, slipping the cuff on and reapplying the hands, feet, and head. Everything fits quite well and it looks very cool on the figure. Obviously the problem here is that no matter how cool this accessory is, not every collector is going to want to display the figure with the manacles, and if you don’t than this truly is a bare bones release with only a tiny dagger to display with.

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Originally, I wasn’t going to use the chains at all. My original plan was to give him the Chitauri Spear that came with my Bruce Banner. But then I thought that since he’s going on my Avengers shelf anyway, it would be kind of cool to have him standing in the backgroud subdued in front of the victorious team, and that’s the route I went for now.

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Overall, I’m suitably impressed with this figure, but I’m still going to wrap things up by bitching about the price. At $230 Loki feels really inflated for what is a pretty basic Hot Toys release. I don’t want to knock all the great work that went into the costume and the set of manacles, but when you compare him to other figures in this price range, the value doesn’t seem to be quite there. Sure, $220-230 seems to be the new sweet spot for Hot Toys releases these days, but they are still releasing the occasional figure at the $200 price point too (Spider-Man, Black Widow, and Bruce Banner instantly come to mind) and I would have been a lot more comfortable with the value here at that level. In the end it feels like Hot Toys was just banking on the wild popularity of the character, and the high after-market value of The Avengers Loki, rather than price him out more appropriately, they decided to goose him knowing that he’d still sell.

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And you know what? They were right… because there he is on my shelf… and I’ve got no regrets.

 

Transformers Universe 2.0: Inferno by Hasbro

I’m just about done closing the gap of older Classics/Generations figures missing from the FFZ Archive. In fact, unless I discover a hold out among my storage totes, Inferno here may very well be the last one. That means that if I don’t find a Roadbuster this weekend, next week I may be dipping back into the Unicron Trilogy toys for Transformers Thursday fodder. Hey, nothing wrong with that! Anyway, the Generations line has been mostly about Deluxe figures, and I’ve been happy about that because the Deluxe Class has always been my personal ideal size for Transformers figures. Inferno, however, like a lot of Universe 2.0 figures, bucked that trend by presenting us with a Voyager Class figure. It was a logical enough choice, since the original Inferno was notably taller than the regular Autobot cars. As usual, the box is long gone, so we’re going to jump right in and check out his alt mode.

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Yup, you guessed it… Inferno is a fire truck. I have actually looked at his cousin, Reveal the Shield Grappel, so this mold has appeared on the pages of FFZ before, despite the fact that Inferno came first. Inferno isn’t one of those traditional full-blown hook and ladder firetrucks, but rather a somewhat truncated one with a water cannon on top. I know next to nothing about firetrucks so I’m not sure if this is something real or not, but it certainly looks convincing enough and I have a feeling that by nixing a ladder on top, Inferno dodged the same kibble-arm bullet that poor Grappel suffered.

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Indeed, Inferno is one of the most realistic looking vehicles to come out of the entire Classics-Universe-Generations line. The sculpt features some insanely intricate detailwork, particularly on the sides where all the little vents, plating and fire-stopping doo-dads are recreated. The white paint and lettering and numbering on the sides also goes a long way to make this a great looking toy. And finally, you get lots of clear plastic for the windows, headlamps and roof lights, all of which gives the vehicle some major class in my eyes. Sure, if you view the vehicle from the top down you can make out a set of robot arms and hands, but otherwise, this vehicle is practically without fault. I’d dare say that Inferno looks so good, it’s almost like he belongs in a different line altogether.

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The water cannon on top can swivel, raise and lower and shoots a translucent blue missile made to look like a blast of water. So, is that really supposed to be water or an actual weapon that looks like water? Or can he switch between water and a real weapon? It would be embarrassing to try to take out a Decepticon with a blast of water, or conversely, to try to put out a fire by shooting energy weapons at it and blowing up the building. Am I overthinking this? Ok, let’s transform Inferno and check out his robot mode.

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Hot damn! Not only is Inferno’s vehicle mode great, but his robot mode is a damn fine piece of work too. In fact, when viewed from the front, I’d say he’s very near perfect. His broad chest is comprised of the front of the firetruck and there’s some really neat stuff going on with the way the panels fold up behind his shoulders and on his forearms, the front wheels fold into his hips, and how his front bumper just drops to become his pelvis. All those clear plastic pieces are on display here and once again go a long way to give him that extra special realism and classes up the figure big time. By Primus, I love this guy!

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Generations always impresses me with the head sculpts, and Inferno here is no exception. The portrait is very evocative of the original G1 character with a clean, silver painted face and some gorgeous light piping for his blue eyes.

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Yeah, Inferno has a few blemishes. The biggest for me is the way he’s a bit two-dimensional in design. Like I said before, he looks nearly perfect from the front, but get a side view and he looks a bit like he’s missing his back half. View him from behind and he looks rather hollow. His arm cannon is also a little awkwardly placed. It’s slung down under his arm, which is fine for when you actually want him using his arm as an arm, but I’d much rather it land on the outside of his arm, as it would make it easier for him to aim convincingly.

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Ah, but none of these quibbles can extinguish my love for this figure. Eh? See what I did there? Extinguish? YEAH! I’m drinking, baby!!! Inferno is a gorgeous figure and I definitely see him as one of the high points in what is already a pretty remarkable line of figures. I was certainly happy to see the mold get re-used in Reveal the Shield as Grappel (pronounced “Solar Storm Gra-pelle!”), although thanks to some annoying crane arm kibble, Inferno remains my favorite of the two. And I’m only now realizing how sad that huge Protectobot Hot Spot-shaped hole in my collection is making me, so I highly doubt this is the last time we’ll see this mold appear here on FFZ.

Robo Force: Battlestar the Guardian by Toyfinity

Does the name Toyfinity ring a bell? It should, because it’s the same company that resurrected those delightfully horrid little creatures called The Mordles, which have infected FFZ from time to time. Toyfinity has also resurrected another toy line from the 80’s called Robo Force. You remember those right? The robots with the bendy arms and suction cups on their bottoms? Well, resurrected perhaps isn’t the right word, they actually re-invented them with an amazing new series of kits inspired by the Glyos build system that allows you to build updated versions of those great 80’s designs or anything else you can think up. If you aren’t hip to the whole Glyos thang, that’s OK, because by the time I’m done talking about Battlestar the Guardian, you’ll have a good idea of what we’re dealing with.

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There’s no packaging to speak of, as Battlestar arrives in a plastic baggie just begging to be ripped open. The figure comes assembled, but let’s start from scratch with the pieces. This kit contains 41 pieces, which you see laid out above. It’s enough to build the Battlestar figure and still have some parts left over.

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The pieces are molded in black, durable plastic with a limited number of paint hits scattered around some of them. You get some glossy black, for example, on the treads, some silver panels, some red, and a crisp little emblem tampo’ed on one piece. All of the pieces interact with each other using a simple peg and socket system, which allows for a ridiculous number of combinations. The pieces connect very securely, which also means the smaller ones can be a pain (literally) to separate. It helps to have a LEGO tool nearby. Because most of the kits consist of the same basic pieces, this Battlestar kit is unique mainly because of the color scheme, but you can in fact construct any of the basic figures in the line using these pieces. In a sense, and color not withstanding, once you own one kit, you own the power to create any of the figures molds.

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Of course, you also have the power to tweak them in any way you like, or just start from scratch and build your own creations. Purchasing different kits not only gives you more pieces to work with, but it also gives you different color pieces to design your own decos. As you can imagine, much like LEGO, Robo Force can become an addicting habit.

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How did these guys came up with the idea of combining the old Robo Force franchise with this type of building system? I don’t know, but it was an absolutely brilliant idea. So much so, that I think it’s a crying shame these kits aren’t available for purchase in every Toys R Us across the country. I have to confess, I thought this was a neat idea from the very beginning, but it wasn’t until I had this kit in my hand that I truly realized how much fun it is. The night I got Battlestar, I sat down at my desk and started playing around with the figure, just to see what he was all about. Before long I was pulling him apart, and experimenting. It wasn’t until almost AN HOUR AN A HALF LATER, I realized I had become totally enraptured in this little kit and building all sorts of fun mechanical terrors.

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It took me a while to finally get in on these because the initial Robo Force drops were wildly successful and sold out with lightning speed. It’s only recently that Toyfinity has had some kits in regular stock at their store and I was able to get in on the action. Battlestar was my first, but after playing around with him for just a bit, I promptly ordered two more kits. The prices vary depending on the size of the kit and the number of paint apps, but Battlestar the Guardian was only $16.50 and he is indeed still available at the time I’m writing this. I can’t recommend this Robo Force line strongly enough, especially if you’re curious about playing around with this inventive application of the Glyos system.

Star Wars Rebels: The Phantom (#75048) by LEGO

Here it is, September and so far I’ve only looked at one LEGO set this entire year and that was back in July. It’s crazy, but the reason is simply that LEGO sets have always been my fallback purchases for when all my other areas of interest are running dry and that certainly hasn’t been the case this year. Nonetheless, with the new pre-Christmas resets underway in the stores, I’ve been venturing out to see what’s new and the answer is… NOTHING! The local Walmart has done the set, but the only product on the shelves is what’s been there all along. And so I turned once again to LEGO so as not to come home empty handed.

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Unlike the action figure aisles, the LEGO aisle had some new stuff. Not much, but some. I was really hankering for another Marvel set, but none were to be found and so I came home with this new Rebels set. I’m still not one hundred percent sold on this show. I could never really get into Clone Wars and it looks like there may be just enough annoying things about this series to keep me off of it. Still, I have a thing for Expanded Universe ships and this little guy seemed to be right up my ally. The box deco is rebranded with a look at the new animated style Stormtrooper helmet and a shot of ship itself on the front. I like this deco a lot, but then I was never a big fan of putting Darth Maul or Yoda’s face on every box like they’ve been doing. The back of the box shows that this ship can dock with the larger Ghost ship, which I will most likely also be picking up.

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While this is a middle-of-the-road set in terms of size, the box is packed. Inside you get a sticker sheet, an instruction book, and two baggies containing 234 pieces, which build the ship and two Minifigs, Ezra Bridger and C1-10P. As always let’s start with the Minifigs!

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I don’t have a lot to say about Ezra. He’s a pretty standard looking Minifig with a printed outfit and I certainly wouldn’t know he’s a Star Wars character just by looking at him. It seems like he’s going to be the “relatable” character for the kids as he’s a young thief who will seem to hook up with the Rebellion by happenstance. All the source material about him claims he’s “Force Sensitive,” so I would imagine he’s going to become a Padawan at some point in the show, but for now he’s just equipped with his blaster. Speaking of which, I’m still hoping that Rebels tones down the Jedi bullshit and focuses on ships and blasters aspect of Star Wars. Ezra also comes with what appears to be an Imperial Pilot helmet based on the design they will be using in the show.

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The second Minifig is the Astromech droid C1-10P also known as Chopper. If I abandon this show early on it’s probably going to be because of this character. He looks like he’s going to be insufferably annoying every second that he’s on screen. In terms of his Minifig, well if you have any LEGO Astromechs than you should know what to expect out of this guy. I’ll just say here that it still pisses me off that LEGO doesn’t do printed details on the back half of these Astromech figs.

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In addition to the Minifigs, the first bag of bricks builds the cockpit portion of the Ghost. There are a couple stickers to apply to the sides and the instrument panel otherwise this is a pretty straightforward build.

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The second bag builds the back half of the ship. It’s a tad more complex because you get some articulated wing flaps as well as an opening compartment on top and in the back. I would have liked to see some SNOT pieces under the wings, since they are exposed when they’re folded up, but I guess the extra bricks needed didn’t cost out.

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And there’s the The Phantom all complete. If you’re looking for a sexy ship, this set is definitely not for you. I don’t know anything about The Phantom yet, but based on its boxy design and the fact that it docks with The Ghost, I’m guessing it’s supposed to be more of a shuttlecraft than anything else. It sits one Minifig in the cockpit and there’s room in the back for the droid, but even then it’s some cramped quarters. Now, I’m not saying I don’t dig it. Not all spacecraft need to be sleek fighters, and I think there’s something cool about this sort of workhorse style ship. I’m not sure if this LEGO version accurately represents the scale of the ship in the show, but I’m guessing it may have room for more passengers. But maybe not. Let’s take a quick look at the features and I’ll point out a few improvements I would have liked to see.

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The back hatch opens up and offers a tiny bit of cargo space to store Ezra’s gun and helmet. I think a sticker for the hatch would have been nice, otherwise this is a cool little feature.

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The top lifts off to reveal the compartment for Chopper. Again, there’s not much room in there. You just drop him in and close it up again. I really would have liked to see the top hatch hinged or something. Having to dig the top piece off is a pain and some kind of proper opening hatch would have at least explained how Chopper gets in there. Again, I think this goes back to the actual ship being bigger than this LEGO version.

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The side panels of The Phantom fold out and angle downward for flight. It gives the ship a slight Imperial Shuttle look, which I’m sure is what they were going for. The fact that the wings are just rectangular plates doesn’t do much for the design, but again, I don’t think this ship is intended to be all that flashy.

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The top of the ship features a spring-firing missile, or maybe it’s a proton torpedo. You get two of them and they fire simply by pulling them back and letting them go. On the one hand, it’s a bit of an improvement over the flick-fire system, but on the downside, the missile doesn’t lock in there so it winds up spilling out when I’m swooshing the ship around the room. Yeah, I swoosh. You got a problem with that?

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This set is priced at $25, which feels about right. I think it’s the same price point as the A-Wing Fighter that I built late last year and this one is certainly bulkier and comes with more articulated parts. Taken on it’s own I like the Phantom well enough, although I’ve got to reserve some judgement until I see the ship in action in the show. I believe Hasbro is also making a 3 3/4” scale version of this thing, so I very well may pick that one up too. In the meantime, I’ll also have to grab the LEGO version of  The Ghost, so this little guy will have somewhere to dock.

Planet of the Apes (Classic): Doctor Zaius by NECA

I’m beginning to resent the fact that I have to toss the “classic” moniker on so many things from my childhood that I talk about these days. Sure, it’s nice that so many properties are being reimagined and garnering new fans, but it makes me feel horribly old. But I’m going to let that go, because it’s Monday… it’s a new week… and I finally got Wave One of NECA’s damn dirty apes. I’ve been waiting for these things to come in over at BBTS forever and we’re almost at the point where NECA seems ready to ship Wave Two. Maybe they have already… I don’t know. What I do know is that NECA’s got some great plans for this line including a Gorilla Soldier 2-pack. (YES, PLEASE!) and this is one of the few brand new action figure lines out there that I’m totally losing my shit over. Sometimes I get asked why I often call my posts “features” rather than “reviews” and it’s because sometimes you get so much nostalgic blathering mixed in that it goes beyond being just a figure review. Some people seem to like it, some people hate it. Either way, today is going to be one of those times…

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There’s the packaging. It’s a window box very much in line with what we’ve seen from some other 7-inch scale figures on the market these days. Hasbro’s Star Wars Black and Funko’s Legacy Game of Thrones both come instantly to mind. Each box is color coded to the character, so Zaius is a sort of light brown and is printed with a leather like texture. The window shows off the figure splendidly and there’s an illustration of Zaius at the lower left hand corner of the front. The back of the package has some great artwork including the Statue of Liberty on the beach… OMG… SPOILERS, DUDES! All in all, this is a nice clean presentation and it’s collector friendly… I dig it.

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So, why am I so damn excited over these figures? Because Planet of the Apes was a huge thing to me when I was growing up. They seemed to show the movies every other Sunday afternoon and I always watched. But more importantly, Mego’s old Planet of the Apes figures were handed down to me from my uncle and they were among my very first action figures. I have a strong bond with this license and when I heard NECA was doing it, I was quick to jump on board. The first wave includes Dr. Zaius, Cornelius, and a Gorilla Solider. Today I’m starting with Dr. Zaius…

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And there he is out of the package and looking damn sharp for a close-minded chimp bureaucrat. Jesus Christ, I hated this guy in the original film and I still do. That’s really a testament to not only the way the character was written, but by the smug way Maurice Evans portrayed him. When I was a kid I loved these movies because they had apes riding on horses and shooting people and it was scary as all shit. As an adult I can appreciate the wonderful analogy to that age old battle between fundamentalist dogma and science. Zaius pissed me off because he was so damn closed minded he just would not listen and even when he couldn’t help but see the truth he was willing to ignore it for the sake of the status quo. Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that the subsequent Apes sequels jumped the shark, but the original 1968 classic is just damn brilliant and I still find it frightening because every time I watch it I still can’t help but put myself in the place of George Taylor. What’s that? Oh yeah, I’ve got a figure to review…

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For starters, the sculpt here is outrageously good. I usually hold NECA to a pretty high standard, but I think they’ve outdone themselves here. Granted, the outfit isn’t the most exciting thing around, but as the equivalent of an Ape business suit, I like what they did here. The sculpted wrinkles look convincing and there’s some little bits of stitching here and there as well.

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Ah, but as good as all that is, just look at that amazing portrait! The head sculpt is sharp and stunning. The makeup in the movie was pretty impressive for its time, but this sculpt goes beyond it and feels more like a sculpt of the character and not the actor in makeup. It was an interesting way to go and I approve because it looks absolutely fantastic while capturing the regal and smug nature of this particular Ape. All the little creases in his face are present and I really dig the way the hair on his head is sculpted separately to hang down over the forehead. I dare say that Dr. Zaius has never looked this good.

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Sitting in meetings and defending the status quo doesn’t really require a lot of articulation, but NECA still provided a good amount of poseability here. Possibly even more than I had expected. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. The legs are ball jointed, as are the wrists. I’m not sure what’s under his clothes, but there’s some useful jointing in the torso as well and a generous ball joint in the neck.

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Zaius comes with two accessories. You get his cane and one of the sacred scrolls rolled up in its tube. Both are very simple accessories, but that doesn’t make them any less welcome. The cane can be held in either hand and the scroll container has some nice paintwork to make it look like it has a wooden finish.

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It’s hard for me to remember the last time I waited this long to get some current release figures into my hands. I don’t have a local source for them (although I hear tell they may be turning up at Barnes & Noble, so I may go hunting for more Gorilla Soldiers this week!) and so I was at the mercy of my e-tailer, which took a while to get them in. It was, however, totally worth the wait. It’s fun for me to think back to the Mego Zaius figure that I had some 30+ years ago and now to have this beauty in hand. It’s a work of art to me and this is one figure that I’m going to keep on display and cherish. What could be better then that? Knowing that I have two more to open. Next week, we’ll check out Cornelius!