DC Mages, Mystics & Magicians: Zatanna by DC Direct

Who’s up for a bonus Saturday feature, eh? Yesterday, I checked out DC Direct’s recent New 52 release of Zatanna and I realized that I had another Zatanna figure still hanging on my Toy Closet wall that was just begging to be opened, so I thought I’d make it a Zatanna double feature. I picked up this figure many months ago in a comic shop. They had a tote on the floor full of carded figures, and while I was super excited when I started digging, this was literally the only thing that I found that was even remotely interesting. I had hoped the whole MM&M series was in there, but no such luck. It would have been nice to have scored a Dr. Fate.

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I can’t say I’m all that fond of the packaging. It’s a HUGE bland gray card and about the only things that stand out for me is the rather nice logo they used for Zatanna’s name and the fact that the window shows off the figure so well. Still, there’s no reason for the card to be so bloody big and have so much empty space in that bubble, especially when you aren’t going to invest in some nice artwork. Despite being from 2000, the back of this package is soooo dated. Yeah, I realize it was fifteen years ago, I just don’t want to admit it. You do get a nice little blurb about Zatanna and some shots of other DC Direct figures from that time. Holy shit, check out that Starfire! She looks crazy! I may have to hunt that one down. Anyway, this is one instance where I don’t mind shredding a 15 year old sealed package to get at a figure. Ah, who am I kidding, I hardly ever feel bad about opening toys.

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Besides my general love for Zatanna, what caught my eye about this figure was her costume. This is definitely 60’s era Zatanna, which was a fun and crazy time for her, at least according to the few encounters I’ve had with her from that era. She’s still all about coat tails and fishnets, but her top hat and coat are blue instead of black, she sports a white blouse and bowtie, a yellow vest and gray skirt. I’ve got to say for an earlier DC Direct figure, the paintwork on this figure is pretty damn good. There’s not much in the way of slop or bleeding. The fishnets are real fishnets and while things get a little f’ugly when viewed from behind, I think they’re executed a hell of a lot better than Mattel’s DCUC Zatanna.

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The portrait here is passable. Again, it’s very 60’s stylized from the hair to the makeup. The paint is solid work and her top hat is sculpted as part of the head so you can’t remove it.

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The package claims this is a “fully poseable action figure” to which Zatanna would say: “TIHSLLUB!” I know, this is DC Direct and I shouldn’t expect much, but then don’t put it on the package. As is often the case most of the useful articulation is above the waist where she has rotating cuts in her shoulders, hinges in her elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs have swivels at the thighs but with the way they’re cut, they’re completely useless. Also, because of the way her legs are sculpted, it’s pretty tough to get her to stand.

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Fortunately, she does come with a figure stand, and it’s pretty spiffy. It’s a compact little black oval base with an actual name plate on the front that reads, “Zatanna Mistress of Magic.” I love this thing, it’s like a mini base from a Hot Toys stand. On the downside, I had to dig out the peg hole in her right foot to get it to go in.

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I like this figure a lot. In fact, I’m actually surprised at how much I like it. The articulation is a bummer, but it’s not unexpected considering who made her and when she was made. Still, I’m stoked to have an example of Zatanna in this costume for my shelf and all in all the sculpt and paintwork here are not bad at all. Hell, Mattel could have even learned a thing or two about how they did the fishnets. Speaking of which, while I had the gals out, I also re-shot two of my previous Zatanna Features, so feel free to check out Mattel’s DCUC version as well as another DC Direct release, this time from the Identity Crisis comic book.

Justice League Dark: Zatanna by DC Collectibles

I’m pretty bummed about how little time I make for reading comics these days. Case in point, deep within the sizeable pile of TPBs I need to get through are a couple dozen issues of Justice League Dark. I started reading this book entirely for Constantine and Zatanna and I’ve been pretty pleased with it, at least with as far as I’ve gotten, so it was a no brainer that I would go in for some of the figures when DCC released them.

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We’ve seen this packaging before. Zatanna comes in a window box with an extended J-hook back so that it’s right at home hanging on a peg or sitting on a shelf. You get that same dull, white package that one would not expect from a company that butters its bread through the graphic arts. That’s fine, because despite being collector friendly, I’m going to shred the hell out of it to get to my figure.

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I’ve been up and down on my feelings for Zatanna’s New 52 costume. I hated her look when the comic started, especially when other characters got to more or less keep their iconic appearance. Eventually they settled on the look that we got with this figure and while it will never replace the old style costumes, I’m OK with it because it hits enough familiar points. Yeah, the top hat is gone, but she’s still got the little one-piece with the coat tails, you get a little bit of fishnets and the super high over the knee boots. The whole package is roundedo ut by a nice pliable plastic cape.

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Everything about Zatanna’s outfit is executed splendidly. Maybe there’s a little bleed through under the white paint, but it’s nothing too bad. The fishnets are simply printed onto the plastic, and I’m perfectly fine with that considering some of the f’ugly attempts we’ve seen at DC characters wearing fishnet stockings in this scale before. Her hands are sculpted into pretty typical hocus-pocus kind of poses. My only real complaint here is that while her high heeled boots look great, there are no peg holes in the bottoms of her feet and she is extremely difficult to stand. Hey, DCC. You just sold me a pack of figure stands for this line. Why would you not put holes in the feet of the one figure that refuses to stand up? Sheesh!

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The portrait is excellent. DCC has been doing a bang up job with their head sculpts in this line, especially the ladies, and Zatanna is no different. She’s pretty and she matches the character art from the book quite nicely. What’s more the paint is all crisp and clean and the bare plastic they used for her flesh tone looks great.

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Articulation is one area where DCC has been constantly improving. I’ve been overall impressed with what I’ve seen lately, especially with the Suicide Squad figures. Alas, Zatanna here takes a bunch of steps back. Here’s what you get… The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and hinges in the elbows. That’s it! The lack of swivels in the shoulders is bad enough, but the lack of swivels in the wrists is unacceptable to me, especially given the way they’re sculpted. If you want them palms down, you have to turn the arm at the shoulder socket, which is awkward.

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The legs are much better with ball joints at the hips, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels at the tops of the boots. There’s no torso articulation, which was probably sacrificed for the sculpt, and the neck is ball jointed, but severly impeded by the hair sculpt. I didn’t have any problems with stock joints, which was a pleasant surprise as I’m still mourning the loss of my Starfire, who’s arm snapped right at the shoulder.

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I picked up Zatanna at a pretty deep discount and only paid $13.99 for her versus the regular twenty bucks or so. As a result, I’m willing to be a bit more forgiving. She’s a fantastic looking figure that manages to sell me even a little more on this costume, but seemingly little things like the lack of wrist swivels and no peg holes in the feet take their toll on my enjoyment of this piece. I’ll probably revisit this series next week to look at Constantine, but until then come on back tomorrow and I’ll throw out some more Zatanna loving from the likes of DC Direct and Mattel.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Streetwise by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday again, last week was Blades, and today I’m opening up my second figure from the Protectobots Team, Streetwise. I shunned this guy as a kid because there was really only room for one police car in my Autobot ranks and that was Prime’s First Lieutenant, Prowl. Prowl was the shit. He could do no wrong, and he was always by Prime’s side. Who the hell did this poser Streetwise think he was? Well, now I’m older and more laid back and I’m willing to make some room for another Autobot to help Serve and Protect. I was going to make a comment about Streetwise being able to boast being a combiner and holding that over Prowl’s head, but I guess IDW has robbed me of that.

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As we’ve seen a bunch of times already, these Combiner Wars Deluxes come packaged in their robot mode and are now being released with free comic books, which is always a good thing, except in this case I’m not too keen on the direction the series has taken, but I’ve yet to sit down and read it all the way through, so I’ll continue to reserve final judgement. The packaging continues to grow on me and in this case the character art for Streetwise is totally bitchin. Let’s kick things off with his alt mode!

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Surprise! Streetwise is a white police sports car and he is remolded from the Brake-Neck and Dead End molds. It was a good choice on Hasbro’s part and I’m happy to say they did a lot of reworking to make this car look distinctive.  You get a completely re-sculpted front end with vents on the hood and a ramming bar, as well as newly designed headlamps. The fastback includes new scoops and there’s a light bar sculpted onto the roof. Between all these changes and the new blue and white deco, Hasbro was able to create what really does feel like a brand new vehicle to me.

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As always, you can weaponize the vehicle mode by pegging his weapon into the roof or the sides. This gimmick is usually hit or miss with me and in this case as much as I love Streetwise’s weapon, it just looks silly when plugged into the car.

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While the car may look sufficiently unique, the transformation should feel readily familiar to anyone who’s had a go playing around with Dead End or Brake-Neck. All the engineering is the same and while the end result is a pretty familiar looking robot, Hasbro has tweaked things here just enough to make him work for me as a distinct and different character. Streetwise still has the chestplate that partially covers his combiner port, but this one is brand new. The other big change is in the lower legs. Everything else is borrowed directly from the Stunticon twins, but the red, white, and black color scheme certainly helps to further set him apart.

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From the back, Streetwise wears his hood as a backpack just like the other guys, but again the new sculpting gives a little variety there and again down on his lower legs. I think the ramming bar at the top looks pretty sweet.

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Obviously, Streetwise gets a brand new head sculpt too, and I really like what we got here.  The silver paint on the face is excellent, although there’s a little spot they missed in the middle of my figure’s blue visor. It’s not a big deal, as you really need to get in close to notice it. Streetwise is sporting some major lips, which seemed to be a thing at this juncture of the Sunbow cartoon. I think the robo-lips all started with the Aerialbots.

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Streetwise’s weapon is a freaking awesome triple-barreled-shotgun-looking thing. Last week I said Blade’s rifle was one of my favorites so far in this series, but I think Streetwise’s boomstick just won the day. It’s ironic to me that Hasbro is giving all the really cool firepower to the Protectobots.

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In the past, I haven’t been big on giving the combiner pieces to the robots as weapons, but in this case I kind of dig Streetwise wielding this stubby twin-mini-gun, allowing this guy to Serve and Protect with Extreme Prejudice.

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I was mighty iffy on whether or not Hasbro was going to be able to win me over with all of these remolds and repaints, but so far the Protectobots are two for two. Yeah, Blades was actually my first hands on experience with that mold, having skipped Alpha Bravo, but in this case Streetwise holds his own, even with two other versions of this toy on my shelf. I’ll admit that the Aerialbots are going to be hard to beat as a whole, but the Protectobots are making a damn strong early showing and I’m looking forward to see how they hold up as I continue to assemble this team.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Mara of Primus by Mattel

As you may remember, last month was a pretty big one for Matty Subbers. My net haul was no less than three figures and a packet of heads. I’ve already checked out Evil Seed from the 200X Subscription and today I’m taking a look at Mara of Primus who hails from the regular Club Eternia Sub, although the character comes from New Adventures. Or at least that’s what I’m told. Truth be told, I have no idea who this chick is.

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Nothing new to talk about with the packaging, other then it has the “Galactic Protectors” sticker on the bubble, so I’m going to jump right to the bio in order to edumacate myself about the character. This is the part where I remind you that I don’t need to know who these people are to enjoy their action figures. Unfortunately, there’s nothing here to suggest that she’s a Transformers-Masters crossover so the whole Primus thing is just a coincidence. Also, it turns out her bio is just a bunch of boring stuff about her made up titles and accomplishments and is surprisingly silent about the fact that she uses her hair as a goddamn flail to pummel people with. At least they didn’t name her Hair-Flailia or something like that. Oh, and that reminds me… COPYRIGHT HAIR-FLALIA, SUCKERS!!!

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With Mara out of the package, I have to say I’m digging this gal a lot. I get a kind of space-gladiator vibe off of her. Actually, the top of her outfit looks like a proper uniform a crew member might wear on a space ship in a 70’s sci-fi series, complete with high shoulders, some insignia and decorative piping. Below that things just get wild. She’s serving up an ample helping of bare midriff, a spiked bracelet on her right wrist and a purple and gold arm bracer on her left. I like the attention paid to her boots. The gold paint on the armor looks great against the purple, I really love this gold paint, and the buckles are sculpted  on the sides, which is always a great little detail.

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And then you’ve got her weaponized ponytail. Mara features a super long braid with a gold band holding it together in the middle and it ends with a spiked ball. I think I like this concept a lot more than it deserves, but I just think it’s ridiculously bad ass, especially for someone who’s an ambassador. You know, just in case diplomatic talks break down, she can club the other diplomats to death with her hair-flail. All kidding aside, the hair looks great. The braid is intricately sculpted and the plastic is soft enough so that she can hold it in her hand to wield it. Personally, I prefer to think she just whips it around with her head.

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Speaking of heads, Mara’s got a pretty good looking portrait, although there’s something about her eyes that creep me out. It’s clear they were going for something to match the animation art and let’s face it, the Space He-Man aesthetic doesn’t exactly jibe with the Filmation. I think T4H did the best they could to meld the two and what we got is fine, just a little different.

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As for articulation, Mara includes most of what I’ve come to expect from the MOTUC ladies. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees and ankles, and also have rockers in the ankles. Mara can swivel at the waist and the neck is ball jointed. The only thing that I’m really missing here is the swivels up in the hips, otherwise she’s pretty fun to play with.

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While a hair flail might be enough for some, Mara comes with two additional accessories. You get her pole arm and a shield. The shield is larger than most of what we see with this line. It’s got a gold and purple motif to match her armor and there’s some texturing in the background of the five pointed star. The pole arm features a blade on one end and a spiked ball on the other. The girl is really into those spiked balls. Oooh, I’ll bet that sentence will lead some interesting people to this page off the Googles.

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I dig pretty much everything about Mara. The colors are nice, the outfit is an interesting mix, and I can rest easy knowing that far in the future hair-flails will be a thing. Obviously, she’s not a character I was looking forward to, but that’s what I love so much about this line. The figures are great enough to hold their own and I can either consult the bios or fill in the blanks with my own crazy imagination. Plus, my Space Mutant population was really starting to overpower my Galactic Protectors, so I’m sure NA She-Ra, Hydron and Icarus will be happy to have another warrior for their ranks. Damn, I really need to track down that New Adventures He-Man.

Star Trek III: “The Search for Spock” Hand Phaser by Diamond Select

I’ve been an aficionado of Starfleet sidearms for as long as I can remember now. I’ve had them all from horribly cheesy Next Gen Playmates versions all the way up to a beautifully professionally-machined Classic Series prop that I bought at a Trek Convention back in the early 90’s in NY and later had to sell so that I could afford to eat while paying for Grad School. Today I’m checking out Diamond’s brand new Star Trek III phaser. Hopefully with this baby I’ll have Mr. Adventure eating out of my hand.

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If you own any of Diamond’s Starships, you should recognize the deco used for the box. I’m not a big fan as it mixes Classic Trek imagery with what is a Feature Film collectible. Why couldn’t we get a picture of Admiral Kirk in his tunic on the box, or at least movie enterprise. Blah! It’s nothing special and that’s probably a good thing because mine came to me smashed to hell. Luckily it was the only thing in the box that was as it was part of my Pile of Loot and there were some pricier pieces in there.

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Straightaway, let me say that this is my second favorite phaser design in all of Star Trek and second only to the “Battle Phaser” which was introduced in Star Trek V and used during the raid on Paradise City. This version takes the general design of the Classic Series sidearm, which I’m also incredibly fond of, and makes it all sleek and sexy. There aren’t a lot of details on it, apart from the blue striping down the sides, just a lot of smooths surfaces and curves. To me, this design is totally convincing as a futuristic weapon and Diamond’s version does a pretty good job of reproducing the look of the prop and even uses plugs to cover the screws on one side. There are some stray scratches on mine, which could be counted against it on a QC level, but they kind of work as weathering and don’t bother me so much.

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Virtually all the detail on this piece is found on the control panel on top of the weapon and even that is very minimalist in appearance. You get an On-Off switch, which sadly looks like exactly what it is: A switch for a toy, rather than something integrated into the fictional design of the weapon. I don’t mind them using a standard switch, but I wish it was concealed a little better. The blue triangle lights the weapon’s ready status and there are four red lights and a power settings button to cycle through the four force settings.

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Of course, just like with the Classic Series phaser, the top unit here is a detachable self-contained palm phaser that nests with the larger hand-grip housing. When removed and used on its own, the triangular button on top becomes the trigger. This piece looks really nice and feels great in the hand. My only gripe here is that the white on my power cycle button has some messed up paint. Again, I’ll likely just write it off as weathering, but clearly it’s a pretty big QC issue of the type that DST seems to continually have problems with.

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The electronics in this piece are passable, but because the speaker is located on the bottom of the palm unit, the sounds are pretty muffled when it’s docked with the grip housing and that’s pretty disappointing. The SFX include a power up beep when it’s turned on and off, and four very slightly different sounds for each of the four force settings. Honestly, I can barely tell the difference between the first three.

As for lights, the blue power light on the top trigger button remains lit when the phaser is on. The force setting lights cycle until you choose a setting, which is done by repeatedly pressing the setting button. There’s a red light in the beam emitter of the hand grip housing and an elongated series of red lights in the smaller palm phaser’s beam emitter. Lastly, if you hold down the setting button and the trigger on the housing the phaser will prep for Overload. Pressing the top trigger button will initiate the Overload Sequence. It’s all pretty basic stuff. Nothing amazing, but adequate.

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Overall, I think this thing is OK, but I wanted to like it more than I do, especially since I love the design so much. The QC issues are perhaps minor but still troublesome and I think the electronics could have been designed a little better. I can appreciate wanting to hide the speaker under the palm phaser, but why not show the same courtesy for the power button? And the emitters could have used some brighter LEDs. The LED they used for the Excelsior’s deflector dish can burn out someone’s retina and I would have loved to see something similar on this piece. All in all, it feels like a step down from DST’s Classic Series phaser that I own from quite a few years back. At $35, I’m not sorry I bought it, it’ll look great on my wall and it’s perfect for anyone looking to cosplay, but in the end I had hoped for something a little better.

Marvel Legends (Hobgoblin Wave): Daredevil by Hasbro

It finally happened. I walked into an actual brick-and-mortar store and was able to buy an entire wave of Legends figures in one fell swoop. Sure, it’s just the Hobgoblin wave and not Hulkbuster or Rhino, but I’ll take what I can get, even if it is a couple of waves old by now. I mean, this sort of thing just never happens for me because the distribution here is so terrible. And since I recently finished re-watching the spectacular Netflix Daredevil series (with my parents, who loved it!) I thought I’d start out with the devil himself.

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It’s getting harder and harder to say anything new about this packaging. It still looks great. It’s nice and efficient. It displays the figure well along with the accessories and BAF parts. That’s it. Now I’m a gonna tear the crap out of it.

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After the less than stellar results I had with Giant Man, I was a little worried about how Daredevil was going to turn out, after all, they’re both figures with red costumes and very little fresh sculpting. What if this was another example of shitty red plastic and mis-matched paint? Well, I’m happy to say that this guy turned out absolutely fantastic. The plastic feels great, the coloring is superb, and the jointing is fabulous. Again, there’s not much in the way of unique sculpting here, as Daredevil mostly gets by with his costume painted onto the buck. I can’t place the buck, but it’s got some very well defined muscle sculpting and the dark crimson with the black wash really hits the spot. Throw in the brighter red used for the gloves, boots, belt, holster, and that super crisp “DD” symbol, and you’ve got a figure that just pops beautifully.

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The portrait is a solid effort with well defined facial features. I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best we’ve seen in the line, but there’s really nothing wrong with it either. The paint is pretty clean and I do love that they painted in the eyes the lighter red.

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Besides the head sculpt, the only really fresh sculpting here is the holster for his batons. It’s sculpted from a separate piece of plastic and slides up onto his thigh. It is a tad big and ungainly, but I’m glad they included it. And hey, if I decide I don’t like it, I can just slide it off.

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The articulation here gives me everything I’ve come to expect from the Legends line. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, have hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The torso can swivel at the waist, has an ab crunch hinge and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. The balance on this figure is poetic and the joints aren’t gummy or soft. He’s just loads of fun to play with.

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Obviously, Daredevil’s accessories consist of his trusty batons. We’ve seen these before, most recently with Legends Hellcat, and these are easily my only gripe about the figure. I don’t care for them being molded in white, and the plastic used here is crazy soft and bendy. You can still connect them together via the peg and socket. I wish Hasbro had invested a little more care into the weapons. I may actually be taking Hellcat’s away from her and giving them to Matt here.

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Baton quibbles notwithstanding, I couldn’t be happier with the way this figure turned out. The colors are fantastic and I found him really hard to put down once I had him open and on my desk. In fact, he’s still standing there right next to my monitor, begging me to pick him up and turn my desk into the back alley’s of Hell’s Kitchen. The only question I have is whether or not Hasbro will do any action figure tie-ins to the Netflix Series. Seeing as how they’re willing to work the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the mix, I think it would be a real missed opportunity to not see a couple versions of Matt Murdock from the show hit the pegs.

DC Comics: Batwoman Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

What time is it? Time for more Bishoujo of course! With Koto now running Street Fighter, Tekken, Marvel, and DC lines of these wonderful statues it’s getting harder and harder for me to keep up. And in the world of Bishoujo statues if you don’t keep up, you’re likely going to be paying for it later when you’re hunting down discontinued pieces. To that end, today I’m checking out Batwoman, a character that I have very little history with but simply couldn’t resist having on my Bishoujo shelf once I saw the preview images. Besides, it’s hard to resist a red head in a tight leather bodysuit, even if she does play for the other team.

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As we’ve seen here many times before, the comic inspired statues come in white window boxes chock full of colorful artwork by Shunya Yamashita along with some pictures of the statue itself. The boxes sizes vary based on the pose of the statue inside, but in this case we get a pretty big box to incorporate this one’s bold stance. Batwoman is nestled between two clear plastic trays and everything is totally collector friendly. which is why I quite literally have a closet full of Bishoujo boxes. There’s no assembly required as Batwoman comes permanently attached to her base and all ready for display.

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The back panel of the box has a blurb about Batwoman and like I said, I don’t encounter her a lot in my funnybook reading adventures. The last time was probably in the 52 run back in 2006 and before that you’d have to go all the way back to the early 80s when I was reading a lot of comics from the 70’s and that was a different version of the character altogether. And not to upstage Ms. Kane, but Koto went and put a teaser image for the next Bishoujo and it is indeed Zatanna. I’ve been waiting for her to get the Bishoujo treatment for a long while and she is easily my most anticipated statue right now. Sorry, Kate, back to you now.

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If there’s ever been a fine example of me not having to be too into a character to enjoy a statue, this is it because this piece is drop dead gorgeous. I mean, y’all know that this line can practically do no wrong by me, but I was still taken aback by just how beautiful this statue turned out. There’s a lot of things going on here to gush about, but I’m going to go with what strikes me first and that’s the colors. Granted, there’s precious little diversity here, just a black body suit and crimson accents, but the black and the crimson go together so indescribably well. It’s like my eyes are having sex right now. But not with each other. Because that would be creepy.

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The entirety of Kate’s bodysuit features a high gloss “new car” finish with a slightly less lustrous finish used for the red boots, gauntlets, belt and bat symbol. The cape switches things up with a matte black finish for the outside and a slightly more glossy crimson finish for the interior. I used to think the black and gold of Batgirl’s costume was the snazziest thing I’ve ever seen, but Ms. Kane here trumps it easily and a lot of that is due to Koto choosing just the perfect shade of crimson and the right balance of matte and gloss for this piece. Have I said it’s gorgeous yet? It’s gorgeous! I also love how Koto just busted out the silver paint for those two tiny shoulder clasps on the cape.

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Of course, the pose is quite spectacular too. Batwoman has her legs in a wide stance with her weight tossed to her left hip, her head cocked to the left while regarding her open palm. Meanwhile she swooshes her cape around her with her right hand. Koto has done some remarkable things with capes in this line before, but holy hell is this great. It adds a lot of energy and excitement to what is otherwise predominantly a cheesecake pose. And that’s what I call great composition! It also doesn’t hurt that she’s moving it out of the way so we can get a clear look at her hinder. Mmm… Bat Hinder…

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And that brings us to the portrait and to me this one is all about the hair and the lips. Kate’s lush red hair blows behind her forming some perfect little curls and with one wave of strands passing under her chin. The angular mask with the whited out eyes looks great and her tiny lips are just perfect.

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Ah, but the fine folks at Koto also included a bonus unmasked portrait via a swappable head. The optional head features some sharp paint for the lovely emerald eyes and red lips and she’s sans wig and sporting her shorter, but still red, hair. This is killing me, because I think this head looks great on the statue, but I’m still going to have to go with the masked head most of the time and it’s a shame to relegate such a fine portrait to the box. Sometimes options are painful.

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As always, the Bishoujo line keeps me guessing when it comes to the base designs. You literally never know what you’re going to get. In this case we get a simple oval base painted metallic crimson and with “Batwoman” etched into it. I can only remember one other time where Koto included the character name on the base of one of their character statues and that was Powergirl. Either way, I like it a lot.

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Batwoman is another superb addition to this line and I’m actually surprised by how she’s shot straight up to the top of my favorites list. Maybe not the tippy top, but she’s definitely up there among the winners circle and with 26 of these on my shelf, that’s no small feat. I was able to grab her for around $55, which is a little under retail and right in that sweet spot where I think I’m getting an incredible value. With several new Bishoujo pieces out there right now for me to pick up, I was considering setting Ms. Kane as a low priority, but now that I have her in hand I’m certainly glad I didn’t.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Blades by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday on a Friday, folks, because I spent a little too much time at The Pub yesterday to work on any content. Fortunately, I’m doing my drinking at home today so we’re all good and I’m even going to bump my planned Feature for today to tomorrow so I don’t miss anything. Today I’m embarking on my look at The Protectobots. I was originally going to hold off and get these all in Takara’s Giftset when it comes out later this year, but then I saw a couple of them at the store and I lost my Saving Throw for Willpower. I’m kicking things off with Blades because unlike a lot of Transformers collectors, this is my first time with this mold on account of me skipping Alpha Bravo.

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Hasbro is winning me over with this packaging, not so much because of the design, but because they’ve started packing comic books in with the Deluxes again. YAY! I will confess I haven’t had time to read this one and the Combiner Wars stuff hasn’t been my favorite chapter in the ongoing Transformers story, but hey… Free Comic!!! On the downside, the blurb on the back suggests that Blades is some kind of bloodthirsty animal and engages in “chopper kung fu.” Oh, no… Hasbro. No no no no no no no no. Nope. Please, don’t ever say that again. It’s stupid.  Blades comes packaged in his robot form, but we’re going to start off with his alt mode.

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Yes, it is indeed a helicopter and a pretty solid one at that. I have what could be possibly called a helicopter fetish in that I have a lot of books about them, I was raised on episodes of Airwolf, and I even did a whole week dedicated to Transformers helicopters here on FFZ, many years ago. So, I don’t want anyone to think that I’m anti-helicopter because I didn’t pick up Alpha Bravo. I just didn’t want a helicopter in with my Aerialbots. I was more than happy, however, to pick up the mold as Blades and I like this chopper a lot. The red and white deco is really attractive and is held dutifully in check by the grey parts. Blades also has a really cool “Autobot Coastal Patrol” emblem on his tail stabilizers and he’s got RESCUE written all over him, which helps calm the panicking disaster victims who see a helicopter coming at them loaded with missiles. “Attention Puny Humans. I come to help! These are Helping Missiles.”

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I dig that the hand/foot part can be used as a stand and it even sort of works as extra guns if you don’t mind a lot of junk hanging off the bottom. And just in case a six-pack of missiles isn’t enough armament for your “rescue” chopper, you can even attach Blades’ weapon to either side. All in all, I really like what we got here, but then generally speaking Transformers choppers have good alt modes and things start to go wrong when you transform them. Remember Blazemaster from a few years back? Holy shit! Let’s hope Blades fares better.

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And yes, he absolutely does. If clean looking robots are  your thing, then Blades may be one of the best helicopter Transformers we’ve seen in a while. In fact, looking at him from the front, he’s nicely proportioned and relatively devoid of any horrific chopper kibble. Pictures of him show the chopper tail bent to the side behind his back, which actually bothered me, because I like symmetry in my robot designs, so I was happy to see that you can leave it pointing straight back, because that’s what I prefer to do.

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The back side is another story. Here’s where all that pesky chopper kibble is hiding, but it still isn’t too bad. In fact, my only complaint would be the rotors. They really needed to clip somewhere. As it is, I can tuck them on the insides of his tail fins, but they don’t stay put and they do tend to shift around a lot. It’s the only really disappointing thing to me about this otherwise solid robot mode.

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Of course, Blades still has the ubiquitous combiner port chest, which is something I’m sort of getting used to. He also has a nice Autobot symbol stamped on the right of his chest. The head sculpt is great, although Blades looks a little angry for a rescue chopper. The blue paint on the face looks good as does the darker shade used for his eyes.

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I absolutely love how the missiles from his chopper mode wind up on his arms in robot mode. I get the idea that this guy does his protecting by murdering the shit out of anyone trying to hurt people. It’s sort of a preventive measures kind of deal. Maybe not in character, but I’m all about bad-ass Autobots so I can get behind it. His hips are a tad too narrow for my liking, but that’s a minor quibble and with ball joints in the shoulders and hips, rotating hinges in the elbows, and hinges in the knees, he’s got some fun and useful articulation.

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What’s that? You want your Protectobot to have more killing power? Well, fear not because Blades also sports a seriously cool looking gun. It’s the same one we saw stuck onto his chopper mode and I totally dig this piece. It’s got a wicked looking muzzle suppressor and sculpted ammo on the sides. Why does a laser gun need ammo? I don’t know, but the concept worked well enough for me in the Fall/War of Cyberton games.

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So, yeah, this is a surprisingly good mold and one that I’m happily now able to embrace because it isn’t being forced on me as an Aerialbot. I’m actually impressed that Hasbro’s designers were able to keep the same aesthetic as the other combiner limbs and make it work with a helicopter alt mode. This is simple, but clever engineering and just all around solid design in both robot and alt mode, and that’s pretty much been the case for all the Combiner Wars Deluxe Class figures. I’m off to a great start with the Protectobots and next week I’ll keep the ball rolling with a look at Streetwise!

Battlestar Galactica: Lt. Starbuck and Captain Apollo by Bif Bang Pow!

Megos! Collectors these days seem to either love them or hate them, but as someone who grew up playing with these dolly-like figures back in the 70’s, I can’t help but have a soft spot for them. From World’s Greatest Super Heroes to Star Trek and Planet of the Apes, Mego was where it was at before Kenner turned the action figure industry (such as it was) on its collective ear with the 3 3/4″ scale. As a result, it makes me happy to see that some toy companies have been keeping this style alive with Faux-Megos, because like it or not, they are an extremely important piece of action figure history. I don’t buy a lot of these, but rather only seek out the ones that really fit the flavor of the 70’s and scratch my nostalgia itch. It’s hard to think of any that fit that bill better than Classic Battelstar Galactica. I’ve got a bunch of these, but today I thought I’d start with the two Colonial Viper Pilots, Lt. Starbuck and Captain Apollo.

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In typical Mego fashion, the figures come on simple cards and bubbles with the bubbles orientated to the right. The cards are made from quality, heavy stock and feature a starfield with an illustrated Cylon head, no matter which character is in the package. There’s a little personalization with the character name on the card, but even that is placed with a sticker.

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The coffin-style bubbles are pretty big, and they need to be to hold an 8-inch scale figure plus accessories. The figures themselves come secured to some inner plastic tray pieces with twisty-ties. These do a fairly good job of keeping the figure in place, although my Apollo came with his blaster rattling around in the bubble, so results may vary. I dig the presentation on these so much, I’ve kept them carded for the year or so that I’ve had them, but having just got a box of Mego-Style figure stands, I was anxious to get them out and display them.

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The back of the card is fantastic. You get head shots of the six figures available (several more would be added later), a nice piece of vintage art with a Colonial Viper blasting away and those great lines spoken at the end of each episode, which are impossible for me to read without hearing them in Lorne Greene’s voice. I don’t think I could properly express how much I still love this show. It felt like a proper mix of Star Wars and Star Trek and it’s still one of my go-to series whenever I’m looking for something quick to watch while I’m eating dinner or just killing time. If you haven’t seen it, go watch the two-parter “The Living Legend” with Lloyd Bridges as Commander of the Pegasus, or another excellent two-parter, “Guns of Ice Planet Zero” which plays out like The Dirty Dozen in space. Brilliant stuff!

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And here they are, out of the package, Starbuck and Apollo. The figures I’m looking at today are virtually identical from the neck down, because they’re each wearing their Colonial uniforms. The only difference there is that Apollo’s holster is correctly positioned on his left hip, whereas Starbucks is on his right. In keeping with the Mego Style, the uniforms are proper soft goods, which is where these figures get a lot of their charm.

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The uniforms consist of khaki pants and matching sleeveless t-shirts, the flight jacket, a belt with holster and leg strap, and boots. I think BBP did a great job with the tailoring on these. Other than clipping some stray threads and adjusting the belts, I didn’t have to futz with them too much with the clothes out of the package. The pants and belt do bunch up a bit at the waist, but they still look good, especially for this scale.

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The flight jackets are made out of a textured material that mimics the jackets on the show pretty well. They feature shoulder patches and plastic buttons running down the fronts. They ride a little higher than I would like, but even with that being said, I think they turned out great.There isn’t a lot of detail on the boots, but what they lack in show accuracy they make up for copying the style of those classic plastic Mego boots that almost every figure had.

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The head sculpts are pretty darn good considering the style BBF was going for here. I’ve got no problems at all seeing the great Dirk Benedict and Robert Richard Hatch (Sorry, Apollo!) in those likenesses, but keep in mind realism wasn’t what they were after here rather than copying a toy style from 40 years ago. I’m also happy to see that the heads aren’t soft and squishy and yes, these noggins have that slightly over-sized charm not uncommon for the time.

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Each figure comes with a Colonial Blaster, which can be held in either hand as well as tucked into the holsters. The sculpt and paint apps for these are definitely above par for what we used to get with these types of figures in the old days.

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Probably the most impressive piece here are the flight helmets. These are sculpted plastic and feature some great paintwork and fit onto the figures very well. Just the fact that these were included makes me believe that BBF went all out on these guys, as they could have easily left them out and the figures would have still felt complete. The only other thing that could possibly be missing from these are the poncho’s they sometimes wore.

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I’m totally in love with these figures! BBF did a wonderful job striding that fine line between retro homage and quality. These are definitely better than what we would have had back in the day and yet they’re close enough to ooze retro charm. It’s worth noting that Battlestar did indeed have action figures back in the day, they were made by Mattel and clocked in at around 4-inches. I had a bunch of those and they were cool, but I would have killed to have figures like these to go with my Star Trek Megos. I would have been in crossover heaven!

Masters of the Universe Classics: Evil Seed (MYP Version) by Mattel

August was a busy, busy month for Matty Collector subbers, especially if you’re like me and have both the Club Eternia and 200x Subs. There’s no way I can pack all the goodness in before the end of the month, but if I get started now, I can make it before September’s goodies arrive. I’m kicking things off today with the MYP version of Evil Seed, a villain who is well loved from the original Filmation cartoon, despite being a one-off character. I remember that episode a little, but for the life of me, I can’t remember him in the MYP cartoon. I really do need to pull out those DVDs and watch it again, not only to jog my memory, but because it really is an awesome re-imagining of a cartoon that never really appealed to me.

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Not much to say about the packaging, other than it looks great as always. I will take this time to say how much I love that even with Matty’s exorbitant shipping costs, they won’t even throw a lick of packing material into the box. They just toss in four figures and let them rattle around in there. How these arrived without getting all beat to hell is beyond me. But enough about shipping bitching, let’s check out Evil Seed…

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And here is the Evil Master of Plants himself and I’ve got to say I really dig this look as well as the splendid way it translates to action figure form. Evil Seed is a figure with a very tight color pallet. You get an entirely green body with some brown trim on the vines and a smidgen of red for the face, and man does it work well. There’s a ton of what looks to be new sculpting on this guy and between the barbs and the vines, he makes for a very dynamic and exciting looking figure, despite the limited and muted colors.

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I think my favorite thing about this guy is the way they did all the vines. In some places, like his chest piece and high collar it serves as decorative trim. It’s just close enough to being symmetrical, but deviates slightly to give it a more natural feel. The bendy vines on his legs start at his hips and loop around his knees so that they’re loose but don’t inhibit his leg movement. Those barbs on his shoulders and knees are a damn fine touch too!

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The head sculpt is fantastic, particularly the way it’s framed by that high collar. If I was made of vegetation and could grow my own clothes, I’d definitely do something that looks like that! The mouth, which looks like it’s just a stretched membrane of vegetation is damn creepy and the way the top of his head is sprouting those brown stalks is killer. The heavy brow ridge and red eyes tie the whole visage together beautifully. While the original Evil Seed may win out in terms of kitsch and nostalgia, this guy is just pure bad ass and I love it.

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Despite all the new sculpting, Evil Seed retains all the usual MOTUC articulation. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees and ankles and have swivels near the hips. The torso can swivel at the waist, has an ab crunch hinge, and the neck is ball jointed. I would have loved some lateral rockers in this guy’s ankles.

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Evil Seed comes with two accessories. First off, you get a bendy piece of snake-like vine with what looks like a little bitey head on the end of it. It’s molded into a bit of a coil so it can wrap around Evil Seed’s arms, or he can hold it as a sort of staff. It’s a fun and certainly unique accessory, which features some nice paint and sculpting all on its own.

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Next up you get what I believe was called the Scepter of Power. This piece is another one of those Filmation accessories that Matty has been trying to bundle with figures every now and again. I have absolutely no memory of this in any episode and I’m not about to go hunt it down and subject myself to watching that. I only do that for figures, not accessories.  It may have nothing to do with Evil Seed, and I may have no memory of it, but I’m not going to complain about an extra accessory. I’ll probably end up giving it to King Randor.

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Evil Seed was one of the figures that tipped me in favor of doing the 200x Sub, although in all honesty I could probably say that about almost any one of them. Last month’s Callix was a tough act to follow, but Evil Seed manages to keep this Sub’s stride going along just fine. He’s a great update to a great villain and T4H did a beautiful job with him. I’ll concede it’s a little odd that Matty went with this version before delivering on the Filmation style, but since we’re still getting that other version next year, fans don’t have anything to get all uppity about. Frankly, I’m glad Matty is giving us both and I may just regard this one as a different character altogether. And now, I think it’s time to pour myself a Jameson and bust out my MYP He-Man DVDs. With a bunch more of these figures coming, a re-fresher is definitely in order.