Star Wars Black: Darth Vader (3 ¾” Scale) by Hasbro

If you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to work one Star Wars feature into each week when possible. I’m doing this not only because getting a box of my old vintage Kenner figures has rekindled my love for the stuff, but also because I have a heck of a lot of Star Wars figures sitting in a pile in the corner waiting to be opened. The 3 ¾” Black line has been hit and miss with me, but mostly miss. Nonetheless, it’s figures like Vizam that give me renewed hope. Today I’m opening Darth Vader because I really need another Vader figure… yeah, like I need a barbed kidney stone lodged in my urethra. Even after my great Star Wars toys purge from a few years back I still have tons of Vaders. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop me from picking up this one last Christmas when Amazon was practically giving them away with a qualifying order.

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There’s the packaging and man do I love it. No, wait… love isn’t the right word. Oh yeah, now I remember… I friggin hate it because it looks like garbage. Normally we can rely on the clear view of the figure to help elevate the presentation, but here we have black Vader against a black card. It doesn’t help. I should probably note here that this is Vader from The Empire Strikes Back, specifically inspired by the “We’d be honored if you would join us” dinner party scene. But before you get the cold sweats and flashbacks to the scene specific figures of the Attack of the Clones days, fear not. The specificity of this figure mostly relates to the accessories. I hate to admit it, but even though I own a hundred Vaders in this scale, it’s been so long since I got a new one, I’m rather excited to check this one out.

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And here he is out of the package. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen this figure before and I’m pretty sure I own it already. He’s got a few strange quirks about him, but I still dig him a whole lot. For starters, the use of soft goods here is excellent. The cape feels really good and falls about the figure as well as a 3 ¾” scale garment with almost no weight to it can be expected to. But it’s the addition of the second layer of cloth underneath that really makes this guy stand out for me, particularly the way it’s fitted under the shoulder cowl and belted. The cape comes attached via a hole that passes through the neck post, but I found it to fit better if you pass the post between the cape and the neck chain. The helmet looks pretty good to me, but I’m not one of those people who could point out all the differences from one movie to the next. It does have a very nice “new car” shine to it and that makes me happy.

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The figure does have a couple of minor setbacks. First, the middle of his cowl seems to be pushed in. It looks like a bantha kicked him right in the plate there. I’m not sure if that’s a problem with just mine or with all of these figures, but it’s hard to ignore it. It doesn’t look as bad when viewed from an angle, but I can’t not see it when viewing the figure dead on. The other issue is the head, which tends to pop off rather easily. I tend to have to push down a bit when turning it to keep Vader’s noggin from separating. I think it has to do with the cape material being between the head and body.

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The articulation here is Ok, but not great. The shoulders and elbows are ball jointed and there’s are swivels in the wrist and again in the neck. Vader can also swivel at the waist. Alas, Hasbro is really sticking to the T-crotch design and it feels rather backward when compared to the rest of the figure’s articulation. I’d blame it on this guy being a repack, but the T-crotch has also been plaguing the Vintage Collection too. Beyond that you also get ball joints in the knees and ankles. Vader isn’t exactly an action star, so he’ll still be able to do most of what I want him to, but I would have enjoyed the ability to get him into a wider stance.

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Vader comes with three accessories: His lightsaber, a swap-out hand with effects part, and Han’s blaster. The lightsaber is pretty self-explanatory. It looks good, but it is one solid piece, so you can’t detach the blade for a deactivated hilt and even if you could there’s no place on his belt to peg it into.

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The other two accessories are meant to recreate the dinner scene at Cloud City where Vader deflected Han’s laser blasts and then force-yanked his gun away from him. I give points to Hasbro for trying something here, but in all honesty I don’t think it works. Effect parts are often hard enough to pull off in larger scales and here it just doesn’t look anything like what it’s supposed to. As for the blaster… I recently realized that the Han that came with my Legacy Falcon doesn’t have his anymore, so I was able to hand it off to him.

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There was a time when I thought I would rather stub a cigar out on my genitalia than buy another Darth Vader figure. And it’s very probably that this exact figure is already somewhere in one of my storage totes. Now, with all that having been said, I do like this figure quite a bit. It’s not perfect, and I’ll concede that’s kind of disappointing. How many decades has Hasbro been making Vader figures in this scale now? You’d think they could finally produce one that hits all the right points. An update to the T-crotch really would have been a welcome improvement and it takes a lot of effort to futz with his cape to make it look just right. Otherwise I’ve had some fun playing around with him, and now I think I’m going to stand him up on the shelf in front of my Imperial Shuttle because I have no idea where the Vader went that came with that ship. He was definitely worth picking up on the cheap.

Marvel Universe Infinite: Ant-Man by Hasbro

I love Hank Pym. He’s one of those wonderfully flawed and ultimately very “human” characters that are oftentimes scarce in mainstream comic books. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to love him, but I think that’s what makes him such an interesting character. Anyway, the sad truth is that up until now I had absolutely no representation of his Ant-Man persona in my collection. But now, thanks to the new Marvel Infinite Series, I finally have me an Ant-Man figure. And thanks to the wonders of Pym Particles, he’s a figure that can fit in with my Universe, Legends, and hell even my Hot Toys Marvel figures.

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There’s the packaging and I’m still not a fan. There’s no craft of presentation here. All this does is protect the figure and allow you to get a good look at what you’re buying. As far as I’m concerned Hasbro might as well dropped it into a Ziploc bag and wrote Ant-Man on it. Blah!

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Ant-Man makes use of the same slender buck that Hasbro used for their previous Hank Pym figure, Yellowjacket. This is also one of those figures that rely almost entirely on paint apps for the costume details. In this case, you get his red costume with blue and black deco and there’s an effective use shading to give the outfit a little more depth. Yes, from the neck down Ant-Man is an extremely simple figure, but in the case of this character it certainly works. Articulation consists of ball joints in the neck, chest, shoulders, hips, and ankles. The arms feature hinged elbows and swivels in the biceps. The legs have double hinged knees and swivels in the thighs.

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The head sculpt is where it’s all at. I’ve always the design of Ant-Man’s helmet and Hasbro did a nice job reproducing it here for the 3 ¾” scale. The front part of the mask is actually sculpted separately and permanently attached to the helmet. Having it separate from the face gives the portrait a lot of depth and credibility and I’m surprised to see something like that done in this scale. Even the deep set eyes are clearly defined and look great. Critics may take note of the lack of antennae. I don’t think that was an oversight, but rather just a concession that it would have been impractical to do them, make them look right and have them not break off.

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Ant-Man comes with one accessory… himself! Yes, it’s a tiny little PCV version of himself, which features some remarkably good sculpting and paintwork for such a teeny little piece. I thought this was going to be the same pack-in that was included with the Marvel Universe Yellowjacket figure, but it’s actually brand new. It’s also something that I lost almost immediately after opening him up. It must have dropped onto the floor during the photo shoot and in my house anything that small that drops onto the floor instantly becomes the posession of the cat. Poor tiny Ant-Man no doubt currently resides in the kitty’s personal cave of trophies that is also sometimes known as “under the sofa.” Perhaps the little guy will find some ants under there to help him escape.

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Ant-Man is one of those characters that was mighty high on my list for the Marvel Universe line and it’s good to see him finally getting the spotlight in the Infinite Series, especially when his film seems to be languishing in developmental purgatory. Speaking of which, it’s kind of odd to me that Hasbro went with Pym over Scott Lang, since it is the latter that will be taking on the mantle of Ant-Man in the movie, but I’m glad they did because finding out that Hank Pym wasn’t going to be the focus of the Ant-Man film really knocked it down a couple notches for me. Either way, as simple as this figure is, Hasbro did a fine job on him and it’s great to have him in my collection. Next time I revisit the Infinite Series we’ll check out Wasp!

Masters of the Universe Classics: Double Mischief by Mattel

Another Matty Sale Day has come and gone and you know what that means? Subscription figures are landing at my door! Yes, this month it’s figures (plural) because in addition to the Club Eternia release, the Club Etheria Mini Sub kicked off this month and that’s the one that I’m going to look at first. This is the second of these Mini Subs that I subscribed to, the first being the Club Filmation. I can honestly say that I didn’t think there was a bad figure in that entire series. Will that be the case with Club Etheria? Well, let’s take a look at Double Mischief and find out.

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While she may hail from a new Club Subscription, Double Mischief features the same great packaging we’ve been seeing all along. The only difference worth noting is a snazzy 30th Anniversary She-Ra logo printed on the back of the cardboard mailer box. You’ll have to take my word for it, though, as I tossed it before I was able to shoot any pictures. The front of the bubble has the Princess of Power sticker on the front. The back of the card has the usual bio and pictures of other figures in the line. Looks like I’m only missing Bow and Snout Spout. The bio proclaims that Double Mischief’s real name is Rebekkah Kettle. Wait… what? Ok, well for the rest of the feature I’m calling her Becky, because I don’t want to keep typing Double Mischief.

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Holy shit, this figure is crazy! I realize that’s usually a compliment for MOTUC figures, but in this case I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way. Becky’s gimmick is that she’s basically a female Man-E-Faces and while I happen to dig the Man-E figure a lot, in this case I’m getting more of a weird and off-putting vibe. I guess I’ll start with her portrait, because that’s where it’s all going on. She has the same bucket-head kind of helmet with a rotating set of faces. In this case, Becky only has two faces, one good and one bad. The idea is that she’s a member of the Great Rebellion posing as a Horde member. She’s a double agent, get it? So why does it work for me with Man-E-Faces and not with this chick?

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It’s tough to put my finger on exactly why. I think a big part of it is that Man-E was more of a freakish monster and Rebecca is just a regular lady with a monument sized bucket on her head. And girlfriend, that hair ain’t helping any neither. <insert double-snap here> The hair is not only a ridiculous fountain of plastic spurting out of her top, but the paint on it is terrible making it look dirty and just plain nasty. It looks less like hair and more like what you get when you push play-doh through one of those toy pasta maker machines.

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You switch faces simply but turning the knob on the top of her helmet and the main difference between the two is in the eyebrows. One face has a set of eeeevil eyebrows. And god help you if you stop halfway through changing the faces because you’ll be confronted with a featureless lump of flesh that will haunt your dreams forever.

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It’s a shame because I think the rest of the figure looks mostly good. I like the green dress and the high collar and those silver Go-Go boots look like they’re right out of a classic Star Trek episode. I had high hopes for the translucent green cape, but in person it looks kind of dingy and not so great. From the neck down, Becky has the same articulation as most of the other females in the line. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows and have swivels in the biceps and wrists. Her legs have universal movement at the hips, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels at the upper thighs. She also has lateral rockers in the ankles. Naturally, there’s no neck articulation because this chick doesn’t really have a neck. If you want her to look in either direction you can work the knob on the top of her head. She’s not someone you want with you in battle because she’s got zero peripheral vision.

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Becky comes with only one accessory and that’s her Horde crossbow. It’s designed so that it can convert to a less evil looking crossbow for when she’s with her Rebellion chums. You convert it simply by twisting the front. It’s because of the crossbow that I’ll probably keep her displayed with my Horde figures.

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Unfortunately Club Etheria isn’t off to a great start as far as I’m concerned. I find it odd that Matty put Double Mischief out there as their first offering and one that would land on people’s doorsteps smack dab in the middle of Subbing Season for 2015. I thought she was a dubious offering from the beginning and there are much stronger figures and characters that they could have used as their inaugural release. There are precious few figures in the Masters Classics collection that I don’t enjoy on some level, but I think Becky here is going to be counted as one of those few. Fortunately the rest of this Club’s offering should be a lot better.

Transformers Generations: Legends Class Megatron by Hasbro

Wow, it’s Thursday again. The week just flew by and it’s time for more Transformers goodness. We’re in the fourth week of my infatuation with the Generations Legends line and so far everything about these little toys has been nothing but kittens and rainbows. Well, sadly that trend is going to end today with Megatron because I’m just not digging this guy as much as the others. Let’s take a look…

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Here’s the packaging. Well, the deco is still awesome, but I can’t say the same for the character art. Oh, the artwork is just fine, but when you get down to it, I just don’t like this design for Megatron. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Megsy comes packaged in his robot mode with his Targetmaster, Chop Shop beside him in his bug mode. There isn’t much new to say here, so let’s start out with Megatron in his vehicle mode.

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Megatron is a tank, and honestly if he isn’t going to be a gun, this is my preferred Megatron alt mode. If you can’t be a gun, be a tank! Interestingly enough, Hasbro actually used the Legends Class assortment a few years back to get us a new G1-style gun mode Megatron, but I was ignoring the Legends line at the time so I never picked him up. Anyway, I don’t have a lot of quibbles with this Megatron’s alt mode. Sure, you can see his hands on each side of the cannon, but even though they’re right there, I don’t think it looks too bad. It’s a rather f’ugly mode, but it still works well enough for what it is. Overall, there’s some nice detail in the sculpt, particularly in the tiny faux treads, and I appreciate the fact that the turret can rotate. I’m not a fan of the plastic they used for the two parts on the back of the turret, which becomes Megatron’s shoulders. It looks cheap. I think it’s the weakest of the Legends alt modes I’ve looked at so far, but for a toy this size, I’m willing to give it a pass.

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Transforming Megatron is pretty simple and apart from maybe the way the lower legs pack in there’s nothing terribly clever here. The result is a fairly decent representation of a version of Megatron that I just don’t happen to enjoy all that much. Honestly, I think a big part of my problem with this design is the coloring. It’s that black chest and head with the yellow hazard striping effect. The Megatron I know wouldn’t walk around looking like that. That’s not to say that the quality of the paintwork here isn’t excellent. The yellow hits are crisp and the little touches of red around his midsection and elbows are welcome. I still maintain that there’s better and more complex paint on these little guys than a lot of the Deluxes I’ve seen in the past few years. Either way, with a more G1-style deco I could probably be more accepting of this figure.

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Megs features decent articulation for this size class. You get ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, and hips, and hinges in the knees. Some of his transforming parts don’t lock in as well as I would like, but he’s still a fun figure to play with.  The tank cannon works OK as his arm blaster. It’s a little thin to drive the homage home, but at least it’s there. It’s also ball jointed, so you can shift it between the outside of his arm or have it like he’s holding it like a gun.

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And then there’s Chop Shop! I was unusually excited to see this guy because the old Deluxe Insecticons don’t tend to get any love these days. I never owned any of the originals as a kid, but I was certainly curious about them, mainly because they didn’t look anything like the rest of the official Insecticons, who were official in my eyes because they were actually in the cartoon. I like Chop Shop’s beetle mode a lot and while his robot mode just consists of standing him up, I still think it’s pretty cool. Again, the sculpt and paint on these teeny little figures is impressive to me.

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I guess it’s a misnomer to call Chop Shop a Targetmaster, since his weapon mode isn’t a gun, but rather a giant pincer claw. It’s also not really an independent mode at all. You’re just sticking his beetle mode on Megs’ arm and you can work the claw by opening and closing the back half of the beetle. Personally, I think it works better as a shield. Man, that would suck being the Transformer that turns into a shield for another Transformer! I was kind of hoping I could stick Chop Shop onto Megs’ back because positioning the pincers behind his head would give him a cool Armada Megatron look. Sadly, the socket on Megatron’s back is too big for the peg. It seems like either a wasted opportunity or a tease. You can also stick Chop Shop on top of Megsy’s tank mode, but it just looks like exactly what it is, a giant beetle riding on top of a tank.

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So, Megatron is not one of my favorites in this line, but that doesn’t make him a terrible figure. Most of what’s here works just fine and my real issue with him is just my personal disinterest in the design. I’m certainly not sorry I added him to my collection. At $10 a pop, these little figures aren’t exactly a high risk gamble. Next Thursday, the Legends Class train will roll on with a look at a very highly anticipated figure… Swerve!

DC Universe Classics: Captain Marvel by Mattel

What’s this? DC Universe Classics??? Yup! I’m a little short on time today so I wanted to do something I could run through pretty quickly. My vehicle is about ready to die on me and so I’ve got to go out and engage in the horror of horrors known as car shopping. I’m not happy about it because in addition to tying up my day, it’s going to force me to spend a lot of money that could have gone to toys.  Anyway, I’ve been filling some holes in my DCUC collection latel and so it seemed like an opportune time to give the old line a little spotlight again. It’s hard to believe that we’re coming on two years since I completed Wave 20, the last wave in the line. The DC Signature Collection helped to soften the blow and put the line on life support and now even that’s gone. But the list of figures that I still need is substantial and last week I was able to check another one off as I finally added Captain Marvel to the collection.

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And there he is! I picked him up loose as part of some trades with a fellow collector, so there’s no packaged shot. That’s a shame because with all the bland and shitty packaging on the pegs these days, it’d be nice to see a little DCUC to brighten the day. I also got him without the C&C Kalibak part, but that’s OK, because I plan on picking up that figure complete on Ebay one of these days. Captain Marvel hails from the early reaches of the line, all the way back to Wave 6 and yes, if I remember correctly he was indeed packaged under the name “Shazam!” because of copyright issues. Poor guy. He’s never going to live that down, is he?

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In a line that garnered a fair share of criticism for recycling a handful of figure bucks with painted costumes, Captain Marvel actually stands out a bit thanks to his unique cape. But if you look more closely you can actually make out the sculpted flap of his tunic and where it buttons just under his right shoulder. It’s a little thing, but totally unnecessary and I think it’s cool that Mattel bothered to put it in there at all. Apart from that you get the sculpting on his segmented arm bracers and the cuffed tops of his boots. The sculpted cape is worn off his right shoulder and while the neck cord is a little chunky, I think it overall looks pretty good right down to the sculpted finials. Alas, the factory got a little sloppy with the glue on this one as there are a few gloppy parts around his neck.

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The pure cheese of the head sculpt suits the character quite well, although the squinting makes me think that I can repurpose this head if I ever want to customize a David Puddy figure from Seinfeld. You can stand Captain Marvel right next to Mary Batson and get creepy smiles beamed at you in stereo. The rest of the figure gets by mostly with red plastic and some yellow paint. The lightning bolt on his chest is nice and crisp, although there’s a little slop on the gold trim of his cape. I’ve also got a little of the red plastic bleeding through the yellow paint on the sides of his boots, but that’s no big deal to me. It’s a simple enough deco, but it’s so bright and colorful that I absolutely love it.

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Articulation consists of what we’ve been seeing in this line more or less since the beginning. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have hinges in the hips that allow for universal movement, hinges in knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab-crunch hinge in the torso and a ball joint in the neck. Nothing surprising, but it still works well.

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And that’s it… told ya today would be a quickie! It feels good to finally fill that gap on my shelf between Mary Batson and Freddy Freeman. This figure has been high on my want list for a long time now, and I can’t for the life of me noodle out why it took so long to pick him up. He tends to be fairly reasonably priced on the second hand market, at least when he’s loose, and even the trade that landed him in my collection didn’t require me to give up much of anything important. Either way, he brings me another step closer to a complete DCUC collection, but there are still quite a few steps on that journey left. The next time I stop back to look at DCUC, it’ll be for another figure I’ve been desparate to get… Orion!

Marvel Universe Infinite: Death’s Head by Hasbro

While he may bask in relative obscurity, the character we’re looking at today wears a veritable aura of greatness about him. Well, he does as far as I’m concerned! Through the pages of Marvel comics, he has hob-nobbed with The Transformers and Doctor Who alike. He is a conduit for tying together two of my favorite franchises of all time and for that I can’t help but revere him. I also can’t help but sit here in slack jawed amazement as I stare at this figure on my desk. He is Death’s Head! Hasbro made a Death’s Head figure! Holy shit!!! I have no packaging to show you, because this fella came to me loose from the proprietor of the spectacularly awesome toy review site, Starscreamersrants. Go check it out. Seriously… go now. I’ll wait.

<Let’s see what’s in the paper today. Well, look at that. A big ass hole opened up in Siberia. That can’t be good. Can’t be long until demons start spilling out of that. I bet right now they’ve got Spetsnaz teams headed down there to dynamite that thing closed before the para-dimensional invasion begins… >

HUH? Oh, you’re back. Ok. So, Starscreamer was content enough to scoop me on the review before bartering the figure into my greedy hands and sparing me having to risk getting my throat cut by going down to 17th Street and buying the figure from my dealer. Anyway, the packaging is the same horridly boring and uninspired dreck that we saw last week for the Cyclops review and we’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the future so I need not dwell on it.

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And there he is in all his glory. Hot damn, it’s Death’s Head! Even if I had no idea who this character is, I’d still fall in love with his wild and colorful design, which is beautifully portrayed in this figure. I mean, I just look at this guy and my imagination runs wild.

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The body is built straight off of the Marvel Universe Colossus figure and I think that was a great choice. The only notable resculpting done to the buck is the addition of the new and bulkier boots and new hands. The silver paintwork on the arms and legs is also kept, albeit made a smidge more vibrant. The biggest changes come in the addition of the shoulder and cape piece, which is removable, and the new belt and skirt ensemble. Hasbro put some beautiful work into these new pieces. I love the pitted and pock-marked armor on the shoulders and the battle scrapes and scars on the boots and skirt pieces. Very nice!

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Of course Death’s Head sports a new sculpt for his… Death’s head! This guy’s portrait has more personality than anyone I can think of. He’s basically a metal skull, horned demon, with the jowls and under bite of a bulldog. It’s readily apparent that sweet, sweet love was poured into this head sculpt and it is most certainly appreciated. And as great as the overall sculpt is, this figure is also enhanced by some beautiful coloring. In addition to the aforementioned silver paint, you get some really beautiful metallic blue mixed up with the yellow, red and even some gold on his belt. This is what a comic book figure is supposed to look like. It’s like watching colors having sex. Seriously, I’m looking at him now and my eyeballs are aroused.

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As he’s built entirely on the Colossus buck, Death’s Head features the same articulation as his predecessor. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and ankles, double-hinged knees, and swivels in the thighs. There’s a ball joint in the torso and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

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Death’s Head comes with a few accessories to aid him on his bounty hunting. You get a classical spiked mace and a short handled axe. Both pieces are cast in metallic silver and the axe has some great weathering in the sculpt to show that Death’s Head gets a lot of mileage out of his weapons. You also get a small bronze colored target shield that can clip onto either of his wrists. The shield can also be clipped onto his back and there are slots on the shield to hold both his weapons.

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Normally I would say that Death’s Head’s obscurity as a character, at least in the US, is going to restrict the appeal of this figure to only a small number of collectors out there. On the other hand, his quirky character designed coupled with the wonderful job Hasbro did on the figure have me reconsidering that. It’s hard for me to imagine that many Marvel Universe collectors are going to see this beauty on the pegs and dismiss him just because they aren’t familiar with who he is. I know I’d pick up this figure even if I had no history with the character at all. Possibly the only sad thing here is that even with two scales of Doctor Who figures out there, Death’s Head isn’t compatible with either of them. That’s OK, though. I think he fits in OK with the Classics and Generation line of Transformers, and that’s probably where I’m going to display him.

Star Wars Black: Vizam (3 ¾” Scale) by Hasbro

I love Skiff Guards. If you haven’t read my chronicles of love for these delightful alien desert pirates then I will direct you to HERE and HERE and even HERE. These characters got some great attention in the Vintage Collection line and it’s nice to see that they’re still getting some love in the Star Wars Black series. Today we’re looking at Vizam who I presume is the guy firing the gun from Jabba’s Sail Barge and I’m pretty sure this is the first time he’s being released as a figure. While I have a number of figures in the 3 ¾” scale Black series, most of them I picked up on the cheap. Vizam here is the first one that I actually sought out to purchase simply because I cannot resist the Skiff Guards.

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There’s the packaging. Last Friday I said my piece about the abysmal art design on Hasbro’s current packages and I don’t want to dwell on it any more. I suppose the bland, black cardbacks are more appropriate for Star Wars than they are Marvel. Even the copy about the character on the back is so bland and sterile that it feels like Hasbro just doesn’t care about presentation anymore. They might as well just print, “this is some dude from Star Wars. Buy it.” Either way, the package here is nothing more than a purely utilitarian vehicle to get the figure to the collector. The only real redeeming feature here is that the unobscured bubble does indeed give you a great look at the figure you’re buying.

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Vizam is a Nikto, which I always used to think was a name and not a race mainly because the more familiar Skiff Guard figure that appeared first in the Kenner line was called Nikto and still was right up to his Vintage Collection release from a year or so ago. As a result, Vizam uses a repaint of the same head used on Vintage Collection Nikto. It’s a great head sculpt and the fresh paint makes it work as a different character, so I’ve got no gripes about the recycled noggin. The headgear is brand new and it’s still removable too!

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The rest of the figure represents the usual ragtag style of outfit that is all the fashion amongst the Skiff Guards these days. I kind of get the feeling that on their day off, these dudes walk around the Sarlacc Pit to scavenge for clothes that the beast has coughed up. Vizam has a little bit more color than most of his cohorts thanks to his blue sleeves, which contrast rather sharply with his brown tunic and his quilted tan chest armor. There are some nicely detailed pouches on his belt and he has a functional holster for his little holdout blaster. Both the sculpt and paintwork are excellent here. Sure, the hinges in the shoulders and knees aren’t painted, but other than that the figure looks so good that I’m inclined to believe Vizam started life as a Vintage Collection release before getting bumped to be repackaged into the Black Series.

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Articulation here is right in line with what we got on the Vintage Collection guards. There are ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. There is a swivel in the waist and again at the wrists. The only real disappointment here is the antiquated T-crotch, which prevents any kind of wide stances.

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In addition to his pistol and headgear, Vizam comes with the cannon that he mounted to the rail of Jabba’s Sail Barge to take pot shots at our heroes. It’s a really nice sculpt, but it’s cast in some very unfortunately soft plastic. Also, the mounting arm connects to the gun with a ball joint that wants to pop out every time you work the articulation. The arm does have a clip, which is compatible with the railings on the Vintage/POTF2 Skiff vehicle, which is an incredible nice touch.

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It’s a little big, but then the Skiff is a tad undersized for the figures anyway. I still think it works well enough.

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And so, the 3 ¾” Black Series continues to be all over the map in terms of quality. I’ve been disappointed by more than my share of these figures, but just when I’m about to quit on the line altogether I get a figure like Padme Amidala or Vizam here, which gives me renewed hope and makes me hang on a little longer. Granted, I’m totally biased in favor of this guy because I do love me my Skiff Guards so damn much, but I still think Vizam is a fantastic all around figure and a great addition to my the crew of my Tattooine Skiff.

Marvel Universe Infinite: Cyclops (Astonishing X-Men) by Hasbro

I do still have some unfinished business with the now defunct Marvel Universe line, but in the interest of being topical I’m going to press on and start looking at some of the Marvel Infinite Series. Yes, it’s the same thing only rebranded. It’s so much the same thing that a significant portion of the Infinite lineup has been repackaged figures or in today’s case figures from MU that were cancelled altogether. This Astonishing X-Men version of Cyclops was from a planned three-pack. It’s possibly worth noting that this is my first figure of Scott Summers since the one included in the Secret Wars Comic Pack a long time ago.

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There’s the brand new packaging and it, along with the Star Wars Black and Age of Extinction packages, provides further evidence to me that Hasbro has sacked its entire art design department. I mean, really Hasbro, what the hell is up with this? It’s so bland and boring. You’re supposed to be marketing comic book figures for chrissake. Look at the old packaging. It was colorful and exciting and it had great character art. Hell, I still have some of those carded figures hanging on my wall because they look so good. This is so sterile and… blah! Had I not known better I would guess that this package was designed for repacking older Marvel Universe figures and selling them at The Dollar General for five bucks a pop. On the plus side, I don’t have to feel bad about opening the figures any more. So, let’s shred this crappy card to bits and get Cyclops out of his dingy digs.

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I can’t say the Astonishing X-Men version is my favorite incarnation of Scott’s costume. Nostalgia dictates that I will probably always be a fan of the 90’s look. Nonetheless, I’m always going to applaud Hasbro for trying to get the look from the current books out on the shelves and pegs. Something in me has to believe that there are still kids out there reading the comics and wanting to go to the store and buy the corresponding figures so they can make adventures of their own. Anyway, aside from the head, there’s really no original sculpting on this figure. Cyclops represents the fairly easy “paint a costume on a standard buck” variety of release.

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Cyclops is cast in dark blue plastic with gold paint apps for the arm bracers, lower legs and piping of his costume. He also has the “X” emblem painted on the left of his chest, which I really don’t recall him having in the comics. The paintwork here is all pretty clean with just one break in the gold piping on my figure.

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The head sculpt is pretty good, but nothing extraordinary. The lower part of the face assumes a rather stern expression and his visor is quite well defined. Cyclops also features a left hand that is sculpted so that it interacts with his visor to help create some good action poses. There is something odd going on with the paint on his face. It looks like he had an explosive sneeze. It’s not noticeable under normal circumstances, but it’s sure turns up when you get in close with a camera lens.

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As far as articulation goes, Cyclops makes use of the most articulated buck we’ve seen in the Marvel Universe line. You get ball joints in the neck, shoulders, and hips. The arms have hinges in the elbows and swivels in both the elbows and wrists. The legs have double hinged knees and swivels in both the thighs and lower legs. The ankles feature both hinges and some generous lateral rockers. The torso swivels at the waist, has a ball joint just below the chest and there’s an extra hinge in the neck. It’s worth noting that the waist swivel on my figure was totally stuck and I had to boil the figure in order to reclaim the joint.

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If it hasn’t come across in this feature, I’ll just come out and say it now: Cyclops was the one release in the Infinite line so far that I was the least interested in. In fact, I intentionally picked him to go first so I could spend some time talking about the rebranded packaging because I just don’t have a lot else to say about this figure. There’s nothing wrong with him and if anything he has reassured me that despite the crappy new packaging and the needless name change, once you get the figure loose, this is still the same old Marvel Universe that I’ve collected and loved since the beginning. If you were jonesing for Scott Summers in this costume then you’ll probably be glad to have him.

Transformers Generations: Legends Class Starscream by Hasbro

In case you hadn’t noticed, Transformers Thursday has a Legends Class thang going on right now. I consider it a soothing balm to counteract the irritating diaper rash of that Bayformer marathon that I did. I’m also using these guys as a cleansing enema to wash out all the memory of Age of Extinction that remains like the red meat rotting away in my colon. Hey, this intro has gone to a scary and disgusting place, let’s check out Starscream and Waspinator!

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Packaging! Seen it already! Starscream comes carded in his robot mode and Waspinator in his little buggy mode. Love the character art. This is how to design packaging, Hasbro! Notice it doesn’t look like that minimalist crap you’ve got on the shelves now! Let’s start with Starscream’s alt mode

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I’m not sure if Hasbro was going for a specific model of jet here. It kind of looks like a cross between his original F-15 Eagle and more recent F-22 Raptor modes. Either way, it works for me. The sculpt isn’t overly encumbered with detail, but it gets by particularly thanks to the snappy red and white deco and the Decepticon insignia printed on his wings. The hole in his back is kind of ugly, but it’s obviously there so that Waspinator can ride on his back either in bug or blaster mode. I dig the way Starscream’s null ray cannons mount under his wings and he actually has a folding landing gear under his nose. Nice!

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Transforming Starscream is very quick and easy but it still manages to pull off some impressive things. For starters, the wings position nicely on his back so that the Decepticon emblems are facing out and it’s pretty cool how his arm cannons don’t have to be detached for the transformation. I also like how nothing on his robot mode is faked out.

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Overall, I think the robot mode here is fantastic. Yes, the shoulder intakes are rather underdeveloped and he’s a tad chunky in the middle, but I’m really nitpicking on what is an otherwise great looking figure. The tiny head sculpts in this line have been surprisingly detailed and Starscream’s may be the best I’ve seen yet. How did they pack that much personality and detail into such a teeny tiny noggin? The articulation is a tad more limited than the other Legends I’ve looked at, but he’s still got plenty of playability. You get ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, and hips, and hinges in the knees. Not bad for such a little guy. He can also wield his arm cannons as guns.

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Starscream’s Targetmaster buddy is Waspinator and he is hands down my favorite of these little guys so far. The bug mode is excellent and Hasbro crammed a ridiculous amount of detail into this tiny sculpt. I particularly love the cybernetic elements on the wings. I think his robot mode is a little better than what I’ve seen with Roller and Blazemaster, mainly because the wasp head actually folds down to form his chest and his arms are quite well defined. And again, look at that tiny head… that’s certainly a good likeness to the Beast Wars character packed into something smaller than the head of a nail.

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Waspinator’s blaster mode is OK. It’s basically a wasp with his back morphed into a gun barrel. It’s probably on par with Blazemaster’s gun mode but it’s quite large for the Legends Class figures. Starscream can wield it OK, but I think it works better if you give it to a Deluxe or Voyager Class figure.

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Hot damn, I’m still loving this Legends line! Everything about these guys feels like they’re made with extra love. Starscream is an excellent little figure and I’m certainly going to go all in when Hasbro finally gets the Thundercracker and Skywarp repaints onto the pegs. I’m so glad I came to these little figures so late in the game because right now they’re giving me a port in the storm while the shelves are full of AoE toys that I don’t want to get involved in. Next Thursday… Megatron!

Mordles: Seas of Uzalek and Geist Editions by Toyfinity

I’m a little pressed for time today, so I wanted to feature something very cool and simple and my two new batches of Mordles fit that bill just perfectly. If you’re a regular reader here you may remember Mordles, as I’ve covered previous editions of them HERE and HERE. For those of you who are just joining us, these little plastic critters hail from a fun but largely forgotten 80’s toyline called Rocks & Bugs & Things. The fine folks over at Toyfinity obtained the license and have brought these nasty little beasties back to life. In the original line, these creatures were nothing but nibbles for the larger toy creatures of R&B&T but I like to think that these new Mordles have evolved past that and have gone on the offensive. After years of oppression, they are finally having their day! As a kid, I used to peddle my bike down to the corner Woolworth’s with allowance burning a hole in my pocket and these are exactly the kind of simple but collectible toys that I would have blown that money on. Toyfinity has been releasing various different colored waves of Mordles and I’ve slowly been working on getting my hands on as many as I can. Let’s take a look at these new styles!

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The “Seas of Uzalek” Mordles are grey with black accents and this may be my favorite colored set so far. I like them because they look like stones and they could probably camouflage themselves among rocks pretty easily in order to leap out at their prey. The plastic is a really deep and satisfying shade of battleship grey and it looks outstanding with the glossy paint apps. It’s a sinister deco that really takes these little guys in a new direction. The ten Mordles in this pack are the same wonderful designs that Toyfinity has been turning out since the beginning. Why mess with perfection. I seriously think that at this point any new Mordle design that got dumped into these packs would get immediately devoured by the others. Each one is these fellas is brimming with personality and when assembled together they make up quite the Menagerie.

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And yes, my favorite is still this guy…

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He’s the Grumpy Cat of the Mordles Universe and I love him.

Of course, if there’s one thing the toys of the 80’s taught us all it’s the simple truism: “Glow-In-The-Dark plastic makes everything better.” It didn’t matter whether it was an action figure, an accessory or a Wacky Wall Walker. Any toy that glowed was way cooler than any one that didn’t. That’s the philosophy embraced by this next set of Mordles, “The Geist!”

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Cast in the true miracle of science that is GITD plastic and kissed with electric neon green paint apps, this new breed of Mordle horrors now peer at me through the blackness of the room while I’m trying to sleep. Through the din of the room I can make out the sickly green glow. Again, they’re the same molds as previous packs, but somehow these appear less angry and more sardonic and disaproving. Despite the fact that I placed them on the stand near my TV, they have somehow reassembled themselves on the shelf across the room and now conspire with the kindred spirit of Scareglow and plot my destruction.

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They huddle about the feet of Scareglow like he is their surrogate father. It would be interesting to see another pack of GITD Mordles with purple paint apps, as they would match Scareglow perfectly.

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And I’m still not done! I must have pleased the Mordle Gods because included in my shipment were these two strays: One cast in clear plastic with green apps (only on the eyes) and one in translucent blue with green apps. I have dubbed the former one “Hologram Mordle” and the latter one “Force Ghost Mordle.” If GITD plastic is science’s principal gift to the world of toys, than certainly translucent plastic would be the penultimate gift. Either way, this pair is awesome!

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If you fancy a set of Mordles head on over to Toyfinity and grab some, goddammit. These little guys are only $10 a pack and for a bit more you can get a Manglor egg to keep them in. And man, these things look great when displayed in multiple packs. I’m already eyeing my next two sets and I’m rather tempted to try my luck with a random pack as well. I’ve yet to bag me one of the elusive Giant Mordles, but I hope to remedy that in the future. Truth is they’ve been selling out too fast for me to get in on them! These little guys always put a smile on my face and the best thing about them is that they can comfortably infest almost any of my toy displays from Doctor Who to Star Trek to Masters of the Universe to AD&D. The Mordles are content to make themselves right at home wherever they damn well please.