Marvel Legends Infinite: Agent Venom by Hasbro

So, I had originally planned on looking at DC Collectibles Starfire today, but my figure turned out to be all kinds of broken, so I’m working on getting a replacement. I also just made up a new rule. If a DC figure fumbles too badly to be reviewed then Marvel gets to take the ball. I suppose the reverse would be the case. Fair is fair. Anyway, today’s figure, Agent Venom, comes from that curious new breed of Walgreens Exclusives. Nope, that’s not a typo. I didn’t mean to say Walmart. As odd as it seems, Walgreens is indeed asserting their presence in the action figure game by signing exclusive deals with companies like Hasbro, Funko, and even Character Options to make them the only source for certain characters from Marvel, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. I actually had some luck getting one of the Doctor Who exclusives, but my hunt for Agent Venom proved fruitless. Luckily, thanks to this awesome dude, I was able to get me an agent Venom without having to carve out a piece of my kidney for him on Ebay. Although, his price on the secondary market does seem to be calming down.

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I’ve got no packaging to show you, as I just asked that he be mailed to me loose or in a tray or whatever way possible. Suffice it to say, Agent Venom comes in a package very similar to what we’ve been seeing in Hasbro’s Marvel Legends Infinite line. Since there is no packaging to speak of, I’ll take the opportunity here to say that this was a character I desperately wanted in the Legends line. Flash Thompson is a fantastic and compelling character to me on every level. I loved that he didn’t get left out of the Superior Spider-Man run. Some of the interchanges between him and Doc Ock were priceless. And Agent Venom’s involvement in the affairs of Spider-Island was easily my favorite thing about that whole story arc. Well, him and J. Jonah, of course. It was cruel blow to find out that Flash was going to be a hard to find exclusive, and I’m really thrilled to have him in hand.

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Cast entirely in black plastic, Agent Venom is an imposing looking figure. The sculpt here is fantastic and I’m particularly fond of the armor pieces that look like a cross between sports equipment, riot gear, and crustacean parts. You get a mix of what looks like fabricated straps with that cool bumpy texture that looks and feels a bit like natural shell. Most of the torso bulk comes from a soft rubbery vest that’s laid on over the figure’s buck, which thankfully has the shoulder pads attached. This means that they can flop up and down to avoid hindering the shoulder articulation. It works so much better than putting them on a hinge as I don’t have to worry about them popping off like the ones on the Space Armor Iron Man figure included in the recent Guardians wave. The paintwork on the figure consists almost entirely of his white markings. I know some have complained about rough paint on this figure, but I’m actually pleased with mine. I think the paint itself could have been laid on a little thicker, as the black tends to bleed through in some areas, but apart from that the lines are pretty crisp and there’s no slop to speak of.

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In addition to all that great armor, Agent Venom sports a well stocked equipment belt, which is all sculpted in one piece. The belt features enough pouches to make both Rob Liefeld and Deadpool jealous. He’s also got a canteen, smoke grenades, regular grenades, and a combat knife. Oh yeah, he’s also got a sculpted hip holster with a permanently attached automatic. And the silver paint on that gun is the only other paint on the figure apart from those white markings. Wait, what? The gun doesn’t come out of the holster? Boo. Agent Venom needs weapons!

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Well, ask and you shall receive. Flash actually comes with four guns. You get a pair of gray automatic pistols, a gray sub-machine gun, and a black pistol with a laser scope (oh, look! One more paint hit!) mounted under the barrel. Nice! And like a lot of other people who get this figure, I’ll be giving those matching pistols to my Winter Soldier Black Widow who also suffered from Guns-sculped-into-the-holster Syndrome.

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In addition to an embarrasment of guns, Agent Venom also comes with a single piece of four tendrils that plugs into his back. The ends of the tendrils are sculpted into little “hands” to hold his guns, although this feature works with somewhat mixed results. It’s still a very cool option.

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The articulation on this figure is great. There are no mushy joints and all the right points are there. His arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the gloves. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, although they are those somewhat frustrating ones that require you to reposition the joint to make it work in different positions. The legs have double hinged knees, swivels at the top of the thighs, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. Agent Venom can swivel at the waist, and despite wearing the vest he can still hinge forward and backward a bit in the torso. He also has a hinge and a generous ball joint in the neck. He’s well balanced and loads of fun to play with!

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Man, do I love this figure and I am absolutely thrilled to add him to my Legends shelf. Whether or not Walgreens having exclusive figures pans out to be a benefit or headache to collectors remains to be seen. On the plus side, I’ve got at least three Walgreens within a 20 minute radius of my home, whereas the nearest Toys R Us is about an hour away. On the downside, distribution seems to have been a little spotty so far, but I suppose we need to give it time. In the case of Agent Venom, however, we have a figure that was cancelled from a previous wave and then still left out when that wave found it’s way to TRU’s shelves. As a result, I would have been happy to get this figure in my hands no matter who wound up offering it. Hey, Walgreens, how about that red Legends Deadpool? Maybe you can work your mojo with Hasbro and get your hooks into that one too!

 

Masters of the Universe Classics: Rio Blast by Mattel

Hey, hey… I got me my September Matty figures in the mails and it looks like I’ll be able to squeeze just one of them in before we roll over to October. I decided to go with Rio Blast over Entrapta because I’m a big fan of Westerns and so I always thought Rio Blast was neat. Plus, this gunslinger is probably the closest thing we’ll ever see to an updated Bravestarr figure. Needless to say I’ve been excited to get this guy in hand, but also a little worried. A number of collectors seemed none to happy with how Mattel treated his gimmicks, and while I’ve been avoiding details on the matter, I’m very curious to see how this guy turned out.

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There’s the MOTUC packaging I know and love. Thanks to his large weapon rig, Rio fills out the bubble quite nicely, although right off the bat I think I’m going to have issues with the front flap protruding so far off of his chest. Hmm… Either way, my favorite thing about the MOTU Universe has always been it’s “anything goes” mentality. The mix of swords and sorcery and technology is cool enough, but why stop there? Let’s toss in ninjas and samurai and everything else. You can just pick and choose your level of zaniness. You want to have an Old West gunslinger team up with a dude with a robotic elephant head to defeat a giant skunk? You got it, friend! Let your freak flag fly!

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On the back of the card we get the usual bio, which includes He-Man’s empty promises to help Rio Blast fight his own battles back home after Skeletor’s been dealt with. Good look cashing that check, Rio, Skeletor always escapes and your work on Eternia is never going to be finished. You also get photos of other figures in the line and teased with Matty’s “Collect Them All” tag line, even though that smug prick Matty knows they aren’t available anymore. Let’s see how I’m doing… I’m only missing Roboto and Mekaneck from that lot. Not too bad.

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Rio is a figure that’s all about transformation, which in this case means he comes with a ton of stuff to attach to him, so let’s just start out with a look at the base figure. I’m actually surprised how well the cowboy design works on the buffed out MOTUC buck, but it does indeed work just fine for me. It should also be noted that Rio is just loaded with brand new sculpting and nowhere is that more evident than in that vest. The vest is designed so the front flap can drop down and we’ll get to that later, but the fact that it is hinged piece makes it stick out like an eyesore. It’s sculpted so that one corner is supposed to always be peeling down, but the other corner doesn’t close up properly either. Here is where Mattel should have gone with a separate snap on piece instead of a hinged one. I realize it would have required an extra piece, but I think it would have made all the difference in the world.

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With that major bugaboo out of the picture, the rest of the figure looks great. I dig how his leg armor looks like Old West style chaps and, unlike the chest flap, the fact that these pieces fold down is pretty well concealed. I also love the details on his belt. He’s got bullets running around the front and sides and he even has a coiled whip and a coin purse sculpted onto the back. The addition of cables and sculpted circuitry behind his chest flap accentuate the point that he’s not just a gunslinger, he’s some kind of crazy future cybernetic gunslinger.

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The portrait is awesome. Rio has a shaggy mop of hair that comes close to hiding his face and an epic handlebar mustache to match. He definitely looks like he stepped right out of the screen from an Old West classic. The only thing he’s missing is a wide brimmed hat to complete the ensemble.

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Rio’s sizeable backpack attaches to his back via three pegs and the flexible hoses that come off the bottom attach into the sockets in his gauntlets. You can then plug his guns into the other sockets to give it the look of one complete weapon system. And if those two guns aren’t enough his backpack slides up and over his shoulders to give him a pair of massive shoulder cannons and a targeting visor. I love the way the backpack works, but some paint apps or a sticker for the visor would have been welcome.

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The vintage Rio Blast’s gimmick was flip out guns, but Matty opted to have the Classics Rio’s guns clip on and that’s cool with me. You just flip down the chest flap and the knee guards and attach the three red guns. When fully loaded up, Rio Blast is a formidable arsenal with a total of eight guns ready to blast away at the bastards of Eternia.

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There’s no doubt that Mattel made a poor design choice when it comes to Rio’s vest. It’s almost enough to ruin the figure for me, but not quite. In the end my love for his wacky design and the fact that I’ll probably display him with all his guns blazing allows me to overlook (mostly) this figure’s biggest cosmetic flaw. The truth is I’m still a little impressed that we’re getting figures with this much new sculpting what with the Autumn of this line approaching. The tail end of lines can often deteriorate into quick cash grab repaints as opposed to figures with so much brand new tooling. That probably goes double for a line like Masters Classics. Next week, I’ll try to get to Entrapta so I can have a clean slate for when the October figures arrive.

 

Street Fighter: Cammy Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

In their never ending (and hugely successful) campaign to separate me from all my monies, Kotobukiya has expanded their line of Bishoujo statues to include the Street Fighter franchise. Their first release was Chun-Li and she was absolutely fantastic. I think their second choice was an obvious one. It had to be Cammy. Now as much as I love Chun-Li, Cammy and me, we got a much stronger bond. You see, I don’t only know her from Street Fighter but also from the ludicrous amount of time I’ve put into playing as her in Cannon Spike on the Dreamcast. Dear god, I love that game so much that just by mentioning it I’m required to summon all my willpower not to go play it right now. Ok, hang on… I’ll be right back.

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What? No, I wasn’t playing Cannon Spike! I went to take pictures of the package. And there it is! It seems as if Koto has been reserving their white boxes for the comic book ladies and going with these black boxes for their peripheral lines like Street Fighter and Tekken. I kind of prefer the white because it makes all that gorgeous artwork stand out more and I think it accentuates the statue inside a little better, but that’s all just a matter of personal taste. Aside from the coloring of the box, everything else here should be instantly familiar to any Bishoujo collector. You get a generous window on the front and smaller ones on the top and side panels. The box is decked out all around with the gorgeous character art of Shunya Yamashita and the back shows a shot of the actual statue. The coming soon shot on the back is none other than Juri. I gotta be honest, I’m surprised that their third outing for the line isn’t Sakura, but I’m down with Juri too, especially since we’ve already had a look at the statue.

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And there she is… absolutely gorgeous. Let’s kick things off with composition. Cammy assumes a wide stance and is turned at the torso to eye the opponent behind her. She’s got one hand balled in a fist and drawn close to her cheek and the other arm stretched out to zero in on her foe. For once, Koto didn’t have a free flowing mane of hair to work with, but they went all out on Cammy’s long and snaking braids, which swirl beautifully around her person, and she’s even got a couple sprigs of hair arching down off of her forehead. One of the things I love the most about this statue is the way the composition works on several display angles. In fact, I’m not even sure, what the intended “centered” position of the statue is, because I can find two positions, or “sweet spots” where she looks perfect.

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The first of these“sweet spots” features a prominent view of Cammy’s caboose. That thong has always been one of her most captivating features and that fact has certainly translated to this statue. When viewed from directly behind, Cammy has one arm reaching straight out and her right eye peeking out at the beholder. The second angle that I really like turns the statue about a quarter clockwise and brings her face forward and places her derriere in profile. Here, her attention is focused to her left which makes for a great place to put Chun-Li.

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With her green leotard and combat boots Cammy is a much simpler design than Chun-Li, but there’s still plenty of great detail where it’s needed. I love that the tops of her boot laces are sculpted in separate pieces of soft plastic and you can see her socks peaking up above her boots. The paintwork is immaculate, right down to the camo patterns on her legs. She’s even got little panel lines and rivets on her wrist bracers. The creases on leotard and her beret look great as does the carefully sculpted braiding in her long hair. The muscle tone in her arms, shoulders, and thighs is all beautifully defined as is the underlying bone structure in her pelvis.

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As for the portrait, with only two Street Fighter statues so far, I still think that this sub-line features some of Koto’s finest head sculpts in the entire Bishoujo line. It might be just because the Street Fighter gals fit the bishoujo style without having to be compromised as much as the Marvel and DC ladies, but whatever the case their work here has been phenomenal. With all that having been said, I think Cammy here possibly has my favorite head sculpt out of all the Bishoujo’s in my collection. I know that’s saying a lot, but there’s just something about her eyes and the sly smile on her lips that does it for me.

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As always, the paintwork here is superb. Most of the Bishoujo pieces in my collection showcase the contrast between the matte of the ladies’ skin and a glossy latex costume, but Cammy here is almost entirely matte. She does have a bright red metallic sheen on her arm bracers, but that’s it. The rest of the statue relies on a nice deep hunter green for her leotard as well as the camo paint on her legs, a matching red for both her beret and socks, and pleasing yellow for her hair. The paint lines are all crisp and there’s no slop anywhere to be found.

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And then there’s the stand. Cammy comes on what is basically a clear oval base that looks like it’s laid onto the circular style base that Chun-Li featured. Once again, the bottom of the disc comes off and you can insert one of two printed clear overlays into the base and button it back up, or leave them out entirely if you prefer. Your choices of graphics are either a plain Street Fighter logo or a piece of character art, and as with Chun-Li, I’m going with the logo. I’m still not a big fan of this system, as the bottom and insert tends to fall out when I pick up the statues. I do, however appreciate that it allows you to position the logo to accommodate the angle you choose to display the statue. Then again, I know who Cammy is and where she came from, so I don’t really need the base to tell me.

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While many statues on the market these days are creeping forever upward in price, Koto has managed to keep their Bishoujo line fairly centered. Cammy set me back a mere $55 and for the quality and workmanship on display here, I think that’s a pretty damn great price, especially when other companies are offering cold cast pieces at about the same scale with weaker paint and sculpts for almost double the price. I know I say this in just about every Koto review that I write, but I still think these pieces are some of the best values in statues on the market today and that’s a big reason as to why I keep coming back and having to expand my shelves. Naturally I’ve already got Juri pre-ordered, but it’s going to be a long wait, so maybe I’ll have to hold myself over by picking up some more of the Tekken ladies.

Red Hood and the Outlaws: Red Hood by DC Collectibles

The last time I looked at a figure based on Jason Todd it was from the DC Signature Collection by Mattel and I was none too pleased. It was a pretty uninspired figure based on what I always thought to be a terrible character design. This time, I’m checking out DCC’s new figure based on Red Hood’s ongoing New 52 book, Red Hood and the Outlaws, a comic that has managed to keep me entertained in the TPB format. As with their Suicide Squad series, DCC is paying respects to the Red Hood book by releasing a three figure sub-series. Unlike Suicide Squad, we actually get the whole team here: Red Hood, Arsenal, and Starfire. I’m pretty excited to finally get these in hand, so let’s kick off this trio with Red Hood himself.

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DCC seems to have settled on these mostly white window boxes for their action figure packaging. It’s got an extended card back so it can sit on the shelves or hang on the pegs and it’s very, very bland and boring. On the plus side, it does have a big window that lets the figure speak for itself and the box is collector friendly. Although if you’re as strapped for space as I am, I don’t know why you would want to save these generic packages. Once I had my in-package shot, the box went in the bin!

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Oh, yeah! This is why I love the figures that DCC is turning out these days. Granted, I dig Red Hood’s current look quite a bit, so straightaway that gives this figure a great advantage over the last Jason Todd I looked at. His current costume is a bit of a hodge-podge of his glory days as a hero sidekick and his latest role as an Outlaw. You get his tactical vest with a beautifully chiseled sculpt and a crimson bat to pay homage to his old mentor and ally. Over that he wears a brown leather jacket because… he’s a rebel and an outlaw! I love the way they did his jacket. It’s the usual vest with sculpted sleeves on the arms that all the figure companies are doing these days, but this guy pulls off the illusion quite well. I also dig the way the jacket bellows up around the waist.

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Red Hood’s belt features two functional holsters with loose retaining straps and his gauntlets are bristling with some ferocious looking blades. The crisp paintwork and attention to detail in the sculpt is really first rate for a figure in this price range. The outfit may have the composition of an adolescent’s fever dream, but I still think it looks totally bad ass. Hey, don’t knock the ensemble.. these groovy duds got him the sex with Starfire. Oh wait, pretty much anyone can have sex with Starfire. ZING!

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The portrait doesn’t disappoint either. The features sculpted into the mask may be a bit more pronounced, but then it really depends on what panel art you’re comparing it to. Sometimes it looks spot on, sometimes the art makes the mask look a little softer. Either way, I like what we got. He looks like a crimson version of Destro and it works so much better for me than the old “pill head” look. Todd is sporting a stern expression, pupiless eyes, and some panel lines, because… hey, it’s the New 52 and everything has to have panel lines, and I’m Ok with that.

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Articulation is fairly serviceable, but not outrageous. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and have hinges in the knees and ankles. The neck is also ball jointed. There appears to be a swivel in the waist, but mine is stuck tight and I’m not about to force it. As a matter of fact, all the joints on this figure are rather stiff, so he’s definitely going to need a workout in order to limber up. I’ll also note here that each of the blades on his arms are hinged at the base. That was something I did not expect!

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On the downside, this figure is very, very fragile and I could tell that from the moment I opened the box and spent about five minutes easing him out of his tray. For starters, the holsters are glued onto the thin rubbery strips of belt, rather than directly onto his thighs. I like the way that looks better, but it raises the possibility of them pulling off. Either way, I put extra care into removing and replacing the guns, so I don’t have another incident like I did with my Game of Thrones figures’ scabbards. Also very fragile are the arm blades. Those hinges are really cool, but damn, I’m almost afraid to even put this guy into a drawer with my other DC Collectibles figures. I’m scared that the next time I open it, he’ll be surrounded by a pile of knives. Maybe I shouldn’t have thrown away that box!

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Red Hood comes with two accessories, and as you may have guessed… they’re guns! You get a pair of metallic silver automatic pistols with painted grips. The guns look great and he can hold them in both hands. He even has trigger fingers! What he doesn’t have, unfortunately is a stand. Coincidentally, DC Collectibles will be selling packs of figure stands later this year for anyone stupid enough to reward this practice and buy stands separately. I bought two packs.

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I don’t know what made DC Collectibles step up their game, but since their re-branding from DC Direct, they’ve been turning out some quality figures, and Red Hood here is another great example of that. Yes, he’s got some fragility concerns, but those are clearly sacrifices that were made to deliver a better looking figure and I approve. Besides, nothing has broken off of mine yet, so it just goes to show you that a little care is all that’s needed. But if that fails… you may want to have the Gorilla Grodd Glue handy. Red Hood set me back an Andy Jackson and he was well worth it. Next time we revisit The Outlaws, we’ll take a look at everyone’s favorite ex-slave alien princess, Starfire!

Transformers Armada: Sideways with Rook and Crosswise by Hasbro

I honestly thought I’d have some more Generations Deluxes for today’s Transformers Thursday, but I’m waiting to ship my Pile of Loot, so it might be another week or so. In the meantime, I dug my salty mitts into the Armada bin again and this time I pulled out Sideways. And then I had to go back in after his two Minicons. Sideways is a convaluted figure, so let’s jump right in and get started with a look at his alt mode….

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Sidways is a purple and yellow sports cycle. Ah, it’s all coming back to me now… “back on Cybertron they called my Sideways. I guess I’m a bit of a drifter.” No, Sideways, you’re a bit of a douchebag! I don’t remember a lot about muscling my way through the Armada cartoon, but I do remember hating this guy with a white hot passion. Him and that damn butt-rock guitar riff that they trotted out every time he was on screen. Was he an Autobot? Was he a Decepticon? Who cares? In the end he was dick. Of course, I got the toy before I ever saw his character in the series, so I just figured his faction swap gimmick was something like Punch and Counterpunch. And I kept believing that even after I was shown different in the cartoon.

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Sideways’ motorcycle mode is a bit chunky, but designing transforming motorcycles can be tricky. I think the only figure that ever got it really right was Cy-kill and he was a f’cking Go-Bot! Ok, G1 Wreckgar wasn’t that bad either. My point is, if you try to make the alt mode too perfect, you’re going to come away with a monstrosity like Lugnutz from the Cybertron line. You can go see for yourself, but don’t worry… I’ll get to him eventually. Anyway, I do like Sideways’ alt mode well enough. The paint and deco are awesome and if you combine his Minicons, Rook and Crosswise, they can ride him. Ok, I might as well talk about his Minicons, because that’s where things get all sorts of crazy.

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So, there they are, Rook and Crosswise, and they are an odd pair in the world of Minicons. Don’t ask me which one is which, because I don’t know. And for godsakes, don’t tell me, because I don’t care. What do they turn into? Well each one on their own does serve a special function… they’re basically like headmasters, but before we get to that they can combine into one robot rider for Sideways.

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There’s his combined mode. All in all, not too shabby for what it is. Thanks to a generous helping of ball joints, the combined mode is actually kind of fun to play around with. Hasbro has done at least one Minicon combiner since, but the fact that this guy is just two robots makes him more impressive to me. Some paint hits on that head sculpt wouldn’t have gone amiss.

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He also sits on the bike rathe well, thanks to the assistance of a tab that comes out of his butticular region. He also has little notches in his hands so he can sort of grip the handle bars. All in all, this is some pretty good engineering for a 10 year old line of Transformers and I’d like to see Hasbro try something similar again. Ok, let’s lay these two crazy little bots aside for a moment and look at Sideways in his robot mode.

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Call me crazy, but I dig it. I always have. I get a major later-G1 toy vibe off of this guy. His transformation is quite simple, but all the more clever for it. The way the front of the bike becomes his chest works really well and I love the way his translucent neon exhaust pipes become arm mounted missiles. Cool! I also love the way his wheels fold up and pack on his back. I’m a big fan of symmetry in my Transformers and such a characteristic is sadly lacking from a lot of transforming motorcycles. The only thing that throws off Sideways’ symmetry are the wheels peaking up over his shoulders, and I can live with that. Did I mention how much I dig the paint and deco on this guy? I think I did, but it’s worth repeating because it serves him just as well in robot mode.

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And then there’s that head. It’s a cylindrical bucket reminiscent of a knights helmet with the handlebars becoming antlers. Did somebody say Ni? His Minicons should have transformed into shrubbery. They don’t. But they do transform into two different heads for Sideways and when you plug each one in it reveals a different faction symbol in his chest.

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As far as gimmicks, go this one isn’t terrible. Like I said earlier, it’s a very cool nod back to the Headmasters and the way they would reveal the figure’s stats in the chest. I’m pretty sure, my figure is messed up, though, because I would think the black (and more sinister looking) head is supposed to reveal the Decepticon emblem and the white head the Autobot emblem. Mine is the other way around. And if you aren’t a fan of the handlebar antlers on the stock head, I’ve got bad new for you: The faction heads have antlers made out of the Minicons legs. Although, if the bother you, you can fold them back a bit.

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In a lot of ways, this is a fun figure and I feel bad about not embracing the Headmaster gimmick here, just because Hasbro should get points for trying it. It’s a neat feature, I kind of like it, but I never display this guy with the faction heads. I just prefer to go with the stock figure and stand his combined Minicons in front of him. Unless he’s displayed in alt mode and in that case I always have the two combined and riding him. Of course, Hasbro repainted this mold and used it again in the Energon line for Rapid Run, but I’ll save that for another day. Maybe next week I’ll have some new Generations figures to look at. If not, it’ll be another nostalgic trip to the Armada tote.

 

Planet of the Apes (Classic): Gorilla Soldier by NECA

So far, NECA’s first series of Classic Apes figures has been great and I saved the one that I was anticipating the most for last. Today I’m checking out the Gorilla Soldier. While I grew up watching the PotA movies, it wasn’t until I was a lot older that I finally realized that there was a hierarchy to the apes. The Orangutans seemed to be the main bureaucrats, the chimps were the scientists and naturally the gorillas were the military. These guys terrified me plenty when I was a kid, and yet I always bemoaned the fact that I only had a single one of the Mego gorillas. Yup, even way back when I had a longing for army building! Ah, but I’ve spent a lot of time waxing nostalgic while talking about these figures, so let’s jump right in.

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There’s the packaging. We’ve seen it twice before so I don’t have a lot new to add. It’s an attractive and collector friendly window box and it’s color coded to the character. You get some character specific art on the front corner of the box. The back has the same art we’ve been seeing all along, but Gorilla Soldier has his own special little blurb just like the other characters.

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Just look at this magnificent bastard! He’s gorgeous!!! I can’t argue with that sculpt. This fellow comes clad in his standard issue ape fatigues, which consist of a black padded vest, black gauntlets, tall boots, and dark purple pants and sleeves. The vest and gauntlets are sculpted with a cool quilted leather look to them and the rest of the outfit has convincing folds and wrinkles. The whole ensemble is capped off with a brown baldric slung over his left shoudler with sculpted pouches, presumably holding ammo. I would suggest he could have been a bit taller and bulkier, as I don’t recall Dr. Zaius being nearly as tall in comparison to the soldiers, but either way the sculpt is excellent.

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And that applies to the head sculpt as well. Unlike the previous figures, this guy is aiming or a more generic portrait, which freed NECA up to do a little more of their own thing. The two previous head sculpts in this series were quite good, but this one is particularly exceptional. The myriad of creases in the face and the copious amount of hair are all sculpted with sharp detail and a slight wash helps give it some added depth. He’s also got a great set of penetrating eyes.

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So, one of the little issues I have with this guy comes with the articulation. It’s basically identical to what we saw with Zaius and Cornelius. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, and ball joints in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and have rotating hinges in the knees and ankles. The head is ball jointed, although the sculpted mane of hair does limit that joint quite a bit. He can also swivel at the waist. What’s here is good, and was certainly enough for a bureaucrat and a scientist, but I would have liked a little bit more for the soldier, who is begging for some more extreme action poses.

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The Gorilla Soldier comes with two accessories. First, you get a little billy club for beating inferior humans into submission. The club is designed so it can hang on a hook at the bottom of his baldric, which is a very good thing, because neither of his hands were sculpted to hold it very well. It may seem like an oversight, but my guess is NECA decided to favor hands for the rifle, and short of giving us a swappable hand, they probably made the right decision… oh wait… NECA did include a club holding hand. It wasn’t until I was putting the figure away in the box that I noticed the spot in the tray where the extra hand fits. But where’s the hand? WHERE THE HELL IS THE HAND? So, based on how hard it was to get the figure and gun out of the tray, I’m guessing it went flying somewhere and I never even noticed. Maybe it will turn up. Maybe not. It seems as if I’m having really hard luck with losing extra pieces lately.

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The rifle is a pretty good likeness of the weird ape guns that were used in the movie. It’s not very detailed, but then neither were the props seen on screen. It does have a strap so you can sling it over his shoulder or across his back. Nice! But he can also hold it in both hands, which does make for some nice poses.

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A few potential improvements aside, the Gorilla Soldier is still a grat figure and I still intend to go out hunting in some brick-and-mortar stores to find one or two more. From the first reveals I thought NECA and the Classic Apes would a perfect match and this first series hasn’t dissuaded me. This trio of figures has stroked my nostalgia and plugged a hole in my collection that I didn’t even realize existed. Series Two should be coming along soon, with Zira, General Ursus, and a second version of Dr. Zaius. There’s also a Gorilla Soldier 2-pack with some new sculpting and new accessories. We also know that NECA has the likeness rights to the late Charleton Heston as they have revealed a Mego-style figure of George Taylor. Surely, they’re going to give us one for the 7-inch line too, right? RIGHT??? I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

Doctor Who: “Genesis of the Daleks” Dalek (3 3/4” Scale) by Character Options

When it comes to toy hunting, hitting the pavement has long been a thing of the past for me. I will still sometimes go out of my way to buy groceries at Walmart or Target just to take a pass through the toy aisles, but these days, 99% of my toys come from online retailers. That’s not my choice, but that’s the way things have evolved due to the horrible distribution among the big chains. That having been said, I have been doing some little toy runs these last few weeks and to the strangest place one could imagine… Walgreens! For whatever reason the drugstore chain has decided to edge their way into the action figure market by offering a number of exclusive figures in lines that range from Marvel Legends to Game of Thrones to Star Wars. And they even have exclusive US distribution rights for an entire line of figures based on Doctor Who. Yup, Doctor Who action figures in an American drugstore. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around that one!

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In case you’re confused, what we’re dealing with here is just a rebranded continuation of CO’s 3 3/4” line. Wave 3, to be precise. These appear to be identical to the wave that is being widely distributed in the UK, only with an Underground Toys label slapped on the back of the card. I didn’t have a problem with the old packaging, but I kind of like this style too. It’s bright and colorful and it has an almost kitchy 70’s vibe to it that suits the show I love so much. This wave consists of The 10th Doctor, The 12th Doctor, Amy Pond, an Asylum Dalek, and this Classic Dalek taken from the 1975 story “Genesis of the Daleks.” Why toss in the one Classic figure? I have no idea. Maybe it’s a tie in to the older Daleks that had cameos in “Asylum of the Daleks” or maybe CO just wanted to capitalize on the crazy popularity of Daleks by including them in this new scale. Let’s bust this little hate-monger out of his package and check him out.

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Yup, that’s a Classic Dalek alright! And one of my all time favorites, too! The gun-metal-blue and black Daleks that amok during The 4th Doctor’s reign always looked so cold, utilitarian, and extra sinister to me. While a good portion of this 3 3/4” line has been mediocre at best, CO did manage to get the Daleks in this scale right from the start. They’ve done three variations of the NuWho Daleks and every one of them has felt like a shrunk down version of the excellent 5-inch scale figures. Well, the same can mostly be said of this little guy here. The sculpt is completely new and while it lacks a lot of the fancy panel lining and such from the current Dalek design, this little figure is faithful to their appearance back in 1975.

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The biggest thing that sets this guy apart from his 5-inch cousin is the ear lights. Instead of using clear plastic like they did for the 5-inch figure (and even the 3 3/4” NuWho Daleks) the ear lights here appear to be part of the dome and just painted over white. The ears are also the only part on this Dalek where the paint isn’t quite all it could be. It’s not terrible, but there is a bit of slop and rubbing. The rest of the paintwork is quite good and they even got some silver spray on the mesh in between his shoulder slats. Cool!

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If you own any of Character Options’ Daleks than you should know what to expect when it comes to articulation. This little guy rolls along on three wheels under his skirt. The back two wheels are fixed and the front one spins 360-degrees. Both the gun arm and the plunger arm are each mounted on ball joints, the eye stalk can raise and lower, and the dome will rotate 360-degrees. It’s basically all the articulation you can hope for in a Dalek.

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And that opens up the debate on whether or not all Classic Who is now fair game for this smaller scale. It’s true that this line doesn’t really impress me, but the idea of having Doctor Who figures that are more compatible with many of my other playsets and figures makes me a little more forgiving than I should be. It also leads me to be perfectly honest and admit that if CO were to start releasing the Classic Doctors in this scale I’d be all in, but that probably goes without saying. Right now, it could just be that CO recognizes the repaint potential of getting a Classic Dalek mold into the mix. Either way, I’m very happy to have this little guy in my collection.

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I found this Dalek just lying on the shelf of a Walgreens that I was visiting while on the hunt for Marvel Legend’s Agent Venom. There didn’t appear to be a peg for the Doctor Who figures and there weren’t any other to be found. Nonetheless, I scooped him up. The price was $9.99, which is about what these figures have been selling for through my regular Doctor Who retailer. Right now he’s just a lone curiosity among my Who figures in this scale, but I’ll be on the hunt for the rest so if luck is with me, it’s very possible a few more of these Daleks will follow me home.

Marvel Universe Infinite: Wonder Man by Hasbro

The last time I visited with the Infinite Series, I took a look at Grim Reaper so it seems only fair that this time I check out Eric’s brother, Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man and as luck would have it, he just so happens to be part of the new wave of figures. I’m sure I mentioned last time how much I love Eric and Simon’s backstory. When it comes to origin stories, I tend to find the tragic ones a lot more interesting and that’s a big part of what draws me to Wonder Man, a character born out of desperation, manipulation and bad choices.

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Here’s the packaging and since I’m tired of talking about how much it sucks, I’ll take this opportunity to put the figure into some context. Wonder Man’s first 3 3/4” Hasbro outing came back in the Marvel Universe line. This version of the character is his powered up and unstable form, which was also quite beautifully showcased in a story arc on Avenger’s Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. I’ll also note here that I’ll probably be skipping the rest of this wave as the rest of the assortment are repacks of the Marvel Universe Guardians of the Galaxy set from a year or so back. If you don’t have those figures, I highly recommend getting them, but chances are you may still be able to do better on price by tracking down and buying the boxed set. I still think packing that Rocket and Groot together as one $10 carded figure is kind of cheap on Hasbro’s part, but whatevs.

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Getting back to Wonder Man, this figure appears to use the same mold from the Marvel Universe version only this time he’s cast in translucent purple and blue plastics to simulate his ionic energy form. The only paint apps here are his eyes and the W-ish stripe that runs across his chest, back, and shoulders. I know some people go absolutely apeshit over translucent plastic figures and toys. I’m not one of them, but I have to admit that the effect here works well and the figure looks quite striking. I am, unfortunately missing the original Wonder Man release from my Marvel Universe collection, so I can’t give you a side-by-side comparison.

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Translucent plastic sometimes has it’s downsides, but there’s none of that here. The sculpted detail in the head is pretty damn sharp and I can make out all the details from the original mold. The joints are also sturdy and the figure is highly poseable. How poseable? Let’s run down those points… The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows, and have swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and ankles, and double-hinged at the knees. Simon has a ball joint in the torso and another at the neck. It’s basically most of what you expect to find in a modern MU buck, minus some swivels in the legs.

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And that’s pretty much all there is to say about this guy. I’m not usually one to go for these kinds of… ah… repaints? But in this case I really like what Hasbro did here. The translucent effect looks fantastic on the figure and it suits the character quite well. I’m also very pleased I was able to get him at a decent price without having to buy the entire wave with three figures I already own. And I’ll give a shout out to Nerd Rage Toys for that! It’s a retailer that is quickly becoming my go-to source for Hasbro 3 3/4″ figures. I also think it was smart to get a version of Wonder Man on the pegs soon after Grim Reaper and without doing a straight repack too! I don’t know that this is an essential figure, but I’m mighty glad to have it in my collection.

Lego City: 4×4 and Diving Boat (#60012) by LEGO

Sup, Toyhounds… It’s a bonus Saturday feature today because I’ve had this LEGO set kicking around since last Christmas and I thought it was time I built it. I’m so backlogged on stuff to feature I decided to just throw it up this weekend or else I’d never get around to it. It’s been a while, but I seem to recall going over to Walmart one Saturday with the express purpose of picking up one of the larger Coast Guard sets, only as usual they let me down. In fact, this little guy was the only Coast Guard set they had on the shelves. I decided it was better than nothing and brought it home with me. And here we are, nearly a year later and I finally built it. Let’s take a look…

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The set comes in an elongated box with the familiar blue deco from the LEGO city line. Something about this Coast Guard sub-series struck a chord in me. I think it’s because it just reminded me of Playmobil. Either way, this is sadly the only one I’ve picked up so far, but maybe I’ll try to hunt some of the others before they get too pricey on the secondary market.

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Inside the box you get an instruction booklet, a sticker sheet, a boat, and two baggies containing 127 bricks. When all is said and done you build two Minifigs, the truck, the trailer, and the boat. Yeah, the boat is mostly already assembled, but does require some extra pieces. I’m not all that keen on getting big pieces like this in these sets, but I guess that’s the only way to get something like that into a set in this price range. Let’s start with the Minifigs…

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You get truck driver guy and diver guy. These are nice, basic figs, but I don’t have a lot to say about them. They each have only one face, but they do have printing on the backs of their shirts. The truck driver has a ball cap and a life preserver. The diver has a life ball cap and some diving equipment. I like that the license plate number is the same as the set number.

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The equipment consists of a helmet with goggles and a snorkel, a set of flippers, and oxygen tanks for his back. Pretty cool.

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The truck represents the bulk of the build here and while it is the usual super-deformed style and fits only one figure inside, I still dig it quite a bit. It’s got big, beefy off-road tires and is raised quite a bit off of them. There’s clips on the side to hold a walkie-talkie and a megaphone and the back has a little equipment pallet that holds all the diving gear. The boat trailer attaches to the hitch via a ball joint and the boat itself locks on top with just a couple of studs.

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The boat requires you to build the motor and the light bar and the steering console, but other than that there’s nothing else to it apart from slapping on the stickers. Once again, the registry numbers on the sides of the boat is the same as the set number.

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So, this isn’t the most exciting set out there. It was an insanely quick build and I think to get the full value of this set you really need to have some of the bigger Coast Guard sets to go with it. I like it well enough and at about $20 it seems like a pretty good value. Maybe if I felt safe enough to go to the pond out back I could get some cool pictures of them launching the boats, but the alligators that congregate on the shore tend to disuade me from venturing too near.

Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse: Yui Takamura Pilot Suit Statue by Kotobukiya

Back when I did my feature on S.H. Figuarts Sailor Moon, I recounted how I originally got into anime back around the mid 90’s. I can’t say as I have that same passion (or obsession) for anime these days, but lately I have been spending a lot more time chilling out with a drink in front of Crunchyroll and one of the series I quite enjoyed was Muv Luv Alternative Total Eclipse. I found a lot of the characters endearing, the BETA are creepy as all hell, and the mech fights are just plain fun. I knew that Kotobukiya did statues for this series because I’ve spent some time admiring the pictures of them over at Tyjos’s Space (man, that dude has some great stuff!), but I decided that I was only going to go in if I bought (all three) as a set, and my monies always seemed to be going somewhere else. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when Entertainment Earth had a sale that put these ladies at almost half off, and I just couldn’t hold out anymore. Today I’m kicking off the Muv Luv Love with a look at Yui.

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Dang, this is a big box, but then at 1:7 scale, Yui is a little larger than even the tallest of my Koto Bishoujos and a lot larger than the 1:10 scale ArtFx+ pieces. Size notwithstanding, if you own any of Koto’s PCV statues, then the packaging here should be fairly familiar to you. You get a big window on the front giving you a peek at the statue between her clear plastic trays with a cut-out in the top tray to give you a better look at the face. There are additional windows on the sides and top panel to let more light in. Surprisingly, there’s no art from the show, instead the box is decked out completely with photos of the actual statue. I don’t think it’s as artsy as the Bishoujo packages, but it is collector friendly and it certainly gets the job done.

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Ah, is there anything better than the fresh smell of a PCV statue coming out of the box? I think not. Once out of the box, Yui requires a little bit of assembly. First, you have to plug the figure into the base via her right foot. She attaches very easily and her left hand serves as a guide as it comes to rest right on the crumbling concrete wall and is also secured by a tab. Next, you slide her katana sword into her hand. Again, it goes in nice and easy. Lastly you get a few extra pieces of individually wrapped concrete debris that you can place on the base wherever you want. For now, I’m opting to leave them out.

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And there we have Yui Takamura, descendent from a noble line of Samurai, member of the Imperial Guard, and looking mighty hot in her pilot suit. The composition of the statue places Yui taking a moment out of action to mug for the camera. She’s leaning on a piece of destroyed concrete wall with her left hand and her right foot is slightly up. Her right hip is thrown out and she holds her trusty sword at her side. I like it a lot!

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As is emphasized in the show, the rubbery pilot suits are skin tight and basically vacuum sealed onto the wearer’s body, which leaves very little to the imagination. What I really like about it is that the suit design contrasts all the copious curves of Yui’s body with some more angular pieces, particularly in the boots, hips, and shoulders. It’s a design that accentuates the idea of pilot and machine working together. As Yui herself would point out, “The horse and the rider are one!” Plus, Yui’s got a really nice ass.

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The deco here reflects the rather distinctive coloring of Yui’s pilot suit, which includes the black, purple, and yellow that matches her Type 00 mech. There’s a nice variation in paint finish on the figure, with the black parts having the most brilliant sheen and consequently creating a spectacular effect on her chest area. All of the paint lines are incorporated into the sculpt, which gives the suit a nice, complex look and helps to keep the paint lines clean.

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The portrait is excellent, although I’ll confess I find Yui’s face to be overpowered by the incredible job Koto did on her wild mane of hair. The windblown look is nothing new for Koto, they often do it to death, but Yui’s hair is just majestically blown out everywhere and it looks incredible from every angle. The lower part of her face is framed by the chin piece and the paintwork on her large eyes is impeccable.

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Yui’s katana is cast in fairly soft plastic, but it’s rigid enough to keep the blade from warping. There’s detailed sculpting on the grip’s wrapping and decorations on the tsuba. The hamon line on the blade is also painted.

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The base is a realistic slice of a crumbling urban setting. The cross section of the broken concrete looks particularly good as do the craters and fissures running throughout the wall. While the base itself is rather shallow and hollow, the wall pieces have a lot of weight, adding a decent amount of heft to the piece.

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Even with dozens of their pieces in my collection, Kotobukiya still manages to impress me with every new statue I buy, and that remains to be the case with Yui here. This is a gorgeous statue with all the wonderful design, sculpting, and paintwork that I have come to expect from these craftsmen. It’s true that I was hesitant to invest in a new line of statues, but now that I’ve got her on my shelf I’ve got no regrets. She’s a great piece for fans of the show or just anyone who wants to grace their shelves with a hot chick in a mech pilot suit. Next week, I’ll keep the Muv Luv love going with a look at the first of The Scarlet Twins… Cryska.