Marvel Legends (Caliban Wave): Blink by Hasbro

I’m here to try to get Marvel Mondays back on track and this makes two in a row, which is a nice start. I actually began writing this review weeks ago and the original intro is no longer relevant, so let’s just scrap it. Blink is a recent addition to my Marvel Legends pile of shame, and I didn’t feel like digging through the pile for the sake of randomness, so let’s just jump right in and check her out!

It’s an interesting time to be an X-Men fan. The movie rights are now solidified with the MCU. Marvel is shaking up the X-Men comics and it sounds like they’re handing the reigns to Jonathan Hickman. And the X-Men are rapidly catching up to Spider-Man as the new darlings of the Marvel Legends line. There have been more than a few great waves of Marvel’s Mutants hitting the pegs, offering up some great Triple-A classic characters, as well as some of the lower tier ones, like Blink here. I guess it didn’t hurt that Blink appeared in live action X-Men spin-off series, The Gifted, but I can’t say as I watched it.

And here she is out of the box and looking like she just rode cross-country on a Bison. Yeah, before even getting into the figure, I have to mention that Blink came off the tray with her legs warped all to hell. I knew this would be the case before I even opened her. It’s easy to tell by the way she’s packaged, and oh boy is this a pet peeve of mine. Why would you knowingly damage a figure by posing it a certain way in the box? I’m sure I will have some luck straightening out those gams, but I’m not going to do Hasbro the favor of fixing the figure before reviewing it. This shit is just adding more misery to my life. But setting aside her bow-legged-ness, Blink feels a lot like the recent release of Mystique. I don’t think the body is a total reuse, but it’s close enough and when you couple that with the sculpted belt and sash, and the similarities in painted costume, it’s hard to shake that flavor of sameness. I’m not complaining, the figure is definitely faithful to the character design and I appreciate the extra touches like the sculpting on the tops of her buccaneer boots and the studded choker that matches her belt. Plus, the sash on the belt is pretty convincing as the lower extension of her painted dress. Although I do find the way it’s pinched almost the same on the front and back to be a little odd looking. The coloring here is also fine. I like the mauve they used for her skin and the green for the dress, sleeves, and boots. The studs on the belt and choker are also neatly painted.

And I certainly have no complaints regarding the head sculpt. She’s definitely a Mutant hottie, with well defined features, her ears have points, and I love the way they sculpted her hair, giving the portrait a great sense of dimension and character.The markings on her face are sharp, and the thick eye-liner around her squinting yellow eyes looks great. Bravo on the portrait, Hasbro!

Blink comes with three effect parts, all showcasing her teleport capabilities. First up is this portal effect. It’s cast in semi-translucent hot pink plastic and it’s pretty fun to play around with. By now y’all should know that I’m never too enamored with effect parts, especially not the ones that Hasbro tends to churn out, but this one is easy to incorporate onto the shelf for display and I think it truly adds something to the figure.

Next up, you get two teleport spikes, for lack of a better word. She flings these at people and objects to teleport them. There isn’t a lot more to say about them, other than she can hold them in each of her hands.

As I’ve said many times over, Marvel Legends has been great for universe building, and that means getting characters like Blink right alongside heavier hitters like Beast, Jubilee, and Gambit. Maybe she wasn’t all that high up on my list, but she was definitely on it, and I’m happy to be able to cross her off of it. And from sculpt to paint, they did a fine job with her. No, I’m not happy about the warped legs, andI should be able to fix that with a little hot water or a blow dryer, but come on, Hasbro. You’ve been in this game long enough that you shouldn’t be making mistakes like that.

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Kitties!

Sorry, folks. I did have more content planned for this week. I was soooo close to completing a review for yesterday but, if you follow me on Twitter than you already know that I got caught up in adopting some kitties!

I went to the shelter on Thursday to turn in an application and meet with the cats. There were so many great kitties that needed homes, and I probably spent an hour and a half going into the Cat Pods and petting and playing with them. I narrowed it down to a handful and told the people at the shelter that I would be back on Friday to choose. I was aiming for a chill cat around 4 or 5 years old. But in the end, I came away with a two-year-old bonded brother and sister. Meet Jade and Lilly!

When I met these kitties I didn’t even know they were siblings, but Lilly was rubbing on my leg and Jade was rolling over in his bed soliciting belly rubs. When I found out that they were a bonded pair, I realized that I had to adopt them. Once I got them home, I knew I made the right choice. They explored a bit, ate their dinners, and then proceeded to stretch out on the floor and go to sleep like they had lived here their whole lives. I fell asleep on the sofa and when I woke up, they were both sleeping on top of me.

Yeah, they really do love each other. I can’t believe how sweet, gentle, and well-mannered they are, moreover how quickly I fell in love with them. Soooo… thank you for allowing me this indulgence. New content is coming. I have a Marvel Monday almost ready to go for next week and I’ve got another two reviews in the pipe for later in the week. Thanks for your patience!

Marvel Legends (Spider-Man Homecoming): Spider-Man and MJ by Hasbro

As promised, I’m back today, after a long and painful hiatus, serving up a new Marvel Monday review. I’m going to skip a lengthy preamble about coming back, and just jump right in. Hopefully I won’t be too rusty… So, I haven’t purchased many new toys in my absence, but I have plenty on the stack to get through, and my Marvel Legends backlog is as big as ever. I thought I’d bump today’s set to the top of the list, since I just saw Spider-Man: Far From Home last week and I’m still riding that Web-Head High. Wow, what a fun movie that was!

I want to say this set was a Target Exclusive, but there’s nothing on the package that calls it out, so don’t quote me on that. I just know that it showed up on my doorstep from Target, and up until that point I had completely forgotten that I pre-ordered it. And yes, it’s based on Homecoming, despite the fact that it shipped closer to the new movie than the former one. Included in the box is a variant of Spider-Man as well as a figure that I never thought we’d get… it’s the MCU version of MJ! The figures come in a standard two-pack Legends window box with some stills from the movie on the side panels and a great look at the goodies from the front. All in all, the package makes for an attractive display piece, but since available space continues to be at a premium around here, I’m gonna shred this box all to hell. Let’s start with Spider-Man!

So, this is Spidey in his original Stark-made Homecoming suit, while wearing both a hoodie and his school blazer over it. I expected this figure to borrow heavily from the last Homecoming Spidey, but there’s actually quite a bit of new work here. The legs appear to be the same sculpts, but these are painted much better than what I got on the previous figure. The blue and red looks a bit more vibrant, but the most notable difference is how much clearer the panel lining is on the blue parts. It can barely be seen on the original version, but here it’s just so much more prominent. The torso looks similar to the other figure, but it’s actually new as it doesn’t include the lateral shoulder crunches. The hit to articulation is a bummer, but it makes sense that these had to be omitted to accommodate the jacket and blazer.

The jacket and blazer are each cast from separate pieces of soft plastic and layered onto each other, which looks great. If you peel aside the blazer, you can see that the jacket under it is really just a frame made up of the exposed zipper edges and the hood. I’m guessing they went this route so it wouldn’t look too puffy and I think it was a good decision. The bright yellow blazer pops against the blue and red of the costume, includes some sculpted stitch lines, pockets, and even has the crest of the Midtown School of Science & Technology printed on it. As always the sleeves are sculpted as part of the arms, and apart from the absent shoulder crunches, the articulation is identical to the previous Spider-Man figure.

Alas, my big gripe with this figure is the head, which isn’t nearly as well done as the predecessor. The big issue here is that the white paint used for the eyes is badly misaligned. Also, I think the shading around the eyes looks weird. I’m not sure if this was supposed to convey shadow or if it’s just a sloppy job printing the web lines, but I don’t care for how it came out at all. Luckily the heads are swappable, but that doesn’t help when I plan on displaying both figures together.

Spidey comes with two sets of hands. You get the regular fists and the usual thwippy hands. Nothing new here, but I’m glad to see they packed in some options. All in all, this isn’t a bad figure, I just wish the head was painted better. I don’t know if I would call it essential, but I think him wearing the blazer is pretty iconic to this film, so I’m certainly happy to have it. Moving on to MJ…

So yeah, this was the figure I thought we’d never get. At least not from the first film, where her identity wasn’t even revealed until the end. Although thanks to casting leaks, most of us had gotten wind of it by the time the film premiered. MJ’s wardrobe didn’t really stand out for me, but I recall she sported something of a grunge look for most of the film, and this figure definitely reflects that. You get a black top, gray and black jacket, gray pants and black boots. It’s not the flashy stuff I’m used to comic book MJ wearing, but it reflects the new character pretty well. A number of the parts here look familiar, but it also looks like Hasbro invested in some new tooling. The jacket features the usual soft plastic vest with the sleeves sculpted on the arms and it looks fine. If this isn’t what I would call a stand-out figure, it’s more because of the design of the wardrobe than it is any failing on Hasbro’s part. In short, it’s perfectly fine.

What’s better than perfectly fine are the two head-sculpts. Hasbro did a beautiful job capturing Zendaya’s likeness, and I’d even go so far as to say this is some of their best work. The first head features her hair down and a rather perturbed expression. Lets not forget that MJ spent most of her time in the film looking skeptical or just plain scowling. Either way, I think they did a wonderful job with this one. If I had to throw out a gripe it would be that the hinge in the neck stands out quite a bit. But I’m really looking for nits to pick.

The alternate head features MJ’s hair tied back with a number of strands falling down the right side of her face and covering her cheek. This head also features a smiling expression, which is a nice contrast to the glowering alternative. Both sculpts capture her likeness perfectly, but I’m probably going to be partial to displaying my figure with the second head.

Like Spider-Man, MJ comes with two sets of hands. One pair feature splayed fingers, the other pair features a right fist and a left accessory holding hand. Nope, she doesn’t come with any accessories to hold, but I’m sure I could dig something out for her. As for the articulation, this is pretty standard stuff for the female Legends figures. The legs have ball joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and hinges and rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The torso features a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

As I mentioned earlier, I was interested in this set enough that I pre-ordered it. That’s something I don’t often do with Legends figures these days, because there are just so many of them coming out in any given month. And as it turns out I like these figures a lot, even if the Spider-Man head has room for improvement. I’m not sure I would call this a must-have, although with MJ playing a much bigger part in Far From Home, I wonder if she’ll get another figure in the near future. If not, I suppose she’s the real draw of this set. I dig the school blazer Spidey well enough, but I wouldn’t consider it essential. And that’s a wrap for my first review back. I do hope to be back again before the end of the week with something else, but it will all depend on how much time I get to spend at home in the next few days!

Almost there…

With about a month and a half since my last review, this has been the longest hiatus that this stupid toy blog has seen in all it’s 8+ years. And believe me, my absence has not been fueled by any lack of interest or failings of motivation. Writing about toys has always been therapeutic for me. It’s gotten me through some bad times, but this year has been the darkest time in my life and while fiddling with this blog would have helped, the fact is I literally have not been home long enough in the past couple months to churn anything out of any meaning or quality.

I am still down from my father passing away in April. My mother’s mental condition has gone off the cliff to the point where she cannot be left alone for more than an hour or so. My cat and best friend of 11 years passed away earlier this month, and I don’t have a lot keeping me going. If you follow me on Twitter, this is old news, but I thought I’d throw it out here for those that don’t. Nearly all my waking hours have been spent either at work or at my Mom’s house, watching over her, playing my Nintendo Switch, and engaging in some crazy retail therapy of the comic book variety. I’ve sworn off buying any new toys until I start going through the massive pile in my closet.

So when is that all going to happen? Well, I honestly had hoped that I would have been back in action by today, which is the whole reason I’m stopping by. I’m not there yet, but I feel as if I’m almost there. I’m making a commitment to myself to have a Marvel Monday up for next week, and then I’ll see where I go from here. If you’ve been checking back, I’m grateful for your patience, and hope maybe you’ve found some entertainment in the archives. If you’ve wandered off, I hope you’ll one day come back. And for all of you who sent out sympathies and words of encouragement, be it through emails here or DMs on Twitter, I can’t tell you how much it has all meant to me.

Hope to see you next Monday.

It’s only now some four weeks later that I can even bear to go through my pictures and post one of you in memory and tribute, and still even now I find myself tearing up. Baron, I have missed you every day since your passing and I feel as if I always will. You and I fell in together strictly by chance and while it’s true I saved your life by adopting you, you saved mine many times since, when your companionship was the only thing that kept me going. And while I will be looking to adopt another cat in the near future, it’s only to fill the hole left in my heart. Rest easy, knowing that yours was a friendship I could never, nor would ever seek, to replace. Rest in Peace, my friend.  

Marvel Legends (Sauron Wave): Sauron Build-A-Figure by Hasbro

Not much content last week, but if you knew what an achievement it was for me to find the time just to do this belated Marvel Monday on Wednesday, you’d forgive me. And who knows, maybe I can squeeze in a second review in this weekend, but I don’t want to make any crazy promises. Last time I opened Omega Red, the last figure in the Sauron Wave, and that means it’s time to cobble another Build-A-Figure together. I’ve been looking forward to completing Sauron for a while now, so let’s check him out…

When it comes to fun and crazy characters, Sauron ranks pretty high up there for me. Then again I’m usually biased toward anything related to The Savage Land. And appropriately enough, Sauron is a little different than your average BAF. He still requires the usual six pieces, four of which consist of the arms and legs, but the head is already attached to the torso and that sixth piece is his tail. And technically, the arms each consist of two pieces, as part of the wings are on detachable hinges to allow them to collapse. Hasbro could have easily milked this BAF for two more figures and packaged those wings separately. But despite the little change-up, this Build-A-Figure is still pretty easy to put together. And the results are indeed one of the most unique and interesting BAFs that we’ve had in a while.

Oh yeah, I’m in love! You know all those figures we get with just a bit of new sculpting and mostly painted costumes? Well, those are what allow for figures like this one. Sauron features a ton of new sculpting and unique parts, and is as much a love letter to collectors as we’re likely to see. The body is covered with sculpted scales, bumps, and all around great texturing. They even did a nice job sculpting the sinews and muscles in the arms and legs. There’s hardly any area on this figure that doesn’t feature some kind of detail. Even the primitive belt and pouches look great. And while the arms and legs mostly feature a chalky green skin tone, the chest is spruced up with some yellow highlights. The tail is cast in a soft plastic, so there’s some room for bending there, and it also helps to form a support as Sauron’s wings can make him a little back heavy with some poses. And hey… how about them wings?

Each wing is made of three pieces, which are designed to collapse inward and spread outward, based on Sauron’s arm movements. These work really well, and are a huge improvement over wings we’ve seen on some past Marvel figures, especially in the smaller 4-inch scale. I’m looking at you, Vulture and Falcon! And like the body, these wing pieces are positively covered with textured detail. The membranes show filaments crossing and crisscrossing each other, and there are even little places here and there where the membrane has worn through. The coloring is also fantastic, with the same green used for the body near the skeletal frame, and the membrane itself transitioning to yellow.

The portrait is also superb. You get more of the same scaly and bumpy skin texture, a pair of beady red eyes, and some nice color gradation as the skin tone goes from green in the back to a sort of yellow-ochre toward the tip of the beak. But the real show here comes when you open the articulated jaws and have a look inside that mouth. The individually sculpted and painted teeth frame a lumpy red tongue, which has a little curl at the end. Even among the admittedly small sampling of Pterodactyl Men action figures, Sauron here is oozing personality.

Normally the rundown of articulation on these Marvel Legends bores me to tears. It’s always serviceable, but almost always the same. Here we get some differences thanks to the unique nature of the character. The legs remain pretty much true to form, with double hinges in the knees, hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, and swivels up near the hips where the legs connect. The torso features a ball joint just above the waist and under the abs. The head mounts on a neck stalk with a ball joint and the stalk being able to slide forward and back in a slot. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and wrists, with swivels in the biceps as usual, but only single hinges in the elbows. Finally, the larger wing pieces are pegged in so they can swivel.

No doubt about it, Sauron is one of the most unique BAFs we’ve had in a while, and definitely a prime example of a figure that could never have been executed as a pack-in, thereby making great use of the Build-A-Figure format. Hasbro went all out on this guy, and I have to imagine that even collectors who aren’t familiar with the character, will have to concede that this is one absolutely gorgeous figure.

Marvel Legends (Sauron Wave): Omega Red by Hasbro

Hey, look! I showed up this week! I hope you weren’t waiting long. I’ve decided that if I can only manage one review a week this month (but I am aiming for better!), I’m going to keep the Marvel Legends love going, because that’s the one line where I’m backlogged the most. Although, with everything else piling up these past few weeks, everything is backlogged. So, no random grab this week, instead I’m going straight for the last figure I have to open in the Sauron Wave… Omega Red!

This bastard last graced FFZ back in 2014 when I reviewed the excellent 4-inch Marvel Universe version. It was a great figure, but even back in 2014 it seemed like Universe was getting steamrolled by Legends Now, that line is mostly just a memory that I keep in a box deep down in the bottom of the Toy Closet. Meanwhile, 6-inch Legends has become the dominant scale for true universe building. What a crazy, wonderful time it is to collect Marvel figures! Well, let’s open this asshole up and see if this bigger version is just as good.

Just as good? I’d say even better. Not to rag on the little guy, but I was in love with this figure the moment I got him out of the box. Or probably even before. To be fair, a lot of that comes from the character design, which I’ve always adored. This is every bit of that crazy, colorful, and bigger than life 90’s X-Men crack that I wish I could just inject right into my veins. And oh boy does it work beautifully as an action figure! OK, let’s give Hasbro the credit for executing it so brilliantly. Arkady is built on an appropriately beefy buck, which is a huge improvement over Red’s last Legends appearance. The bulk of the figure is cast in a snappy red plastic, with chalky white on the arms. New sculpting includes the massive knee and shoulder pads, harness, and the gauntlets which house his Carbonadium tendrils. I’ll circle back to those in just a bit. All in all, the costume here is just a nice mix of simple buck enhanced with add-on parts. I particularly dig the texturing in the shoulder armor and chest straps, as well as the painted bands on the canisters. The lick of silver paint on the gauntlets and kneepads looks great, as do the Omega symbols on the backs of his hands.

Hasbro continues to churn out some amazing portraits in Legends, and I tend to think the villains are among the best of the best. And here, Omega Red looks every bit the glorious monster that he is. He sports a frightfully wicked visage with his unsettling grimace and his face twisted into a snarl of rage. His blonde hair cascades down each side of his head and is partly kept in check with his red headband embossed with the Omega symbol. The rest of his coif is divided between spilling down his back and pluming out in a curiously placed ponytail. Arkady has always struck me as one of the more terrifying X-Men villains and this portrait lives up to my fears and expectations.

Omega Red’s tendrils allow for three display options. You can remove them entirely for a completely retracted look. You can put in the short ones, or you can go full-on Carbonadium mayhem with the really long ones. Both sets simply plug into the holes in the gauntlets, and you can use either one for either arm for extra display options.  Obviously, the longer tendrils are the most fun. They are cast in an extremely bendy plastic, which makes it easy to wrap them around other figures so Red can leach their energy.

And articulation adds to the fun too, because Omega Red features all those great points of poseability that I’ve come to expect in my Legends action figures. The legs have ball joints in the hips, double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. You get a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the chest, and the neck is both ball jointed and hinged.

The only reason I can’t come away saying Omega Red is the hands-down best figure in this wave is because Bishop was in here too. And between the two of them, they make up for Hasbro’s rather dubious idea of cramming two novelty Deadpool variants into one assortment. If I were really pressed to pick a favorite, I would probably have to give the nod to Bishop, but there’s no shame in that for Omega Red, because it is really close, and both of them are absolutely fantastic figures. Now, normally I like to do a double feature when I get to the end of a wave and knock off the Build-A-Figure too, but it was a struggle for time just to get this one done, so right now I’m going to pencil the Sauron BAF in for next week. Because, if I get time to squeeze in another review this week, it’ll be something non-Marvel. Otherwise, I’ll see you back here next Monday. Fingers crossed.

Marvel Legends (Sauron Wave) Deadpools by Hasbro

Real life continues to be a nightmare of a challenge for me and it definitely didn’t leave any time to write content for FFZ. This week I’ll be back to a light schedule, beyond that we’ll see how things go. Hopefully in a month or so, I can come back in full force. Obviously, I missed Marvel Monday, but with so many Legends left to open, I decided to just bump it to today. And since I technically missed two Marvel Mondays, let’s do two figures today. Time to check out some Deadpools!

One novelty Deadpool variant is fun, but packing two of them into one wave is a little much. And that’s coming from an unabashed Deadpool fan. I can only imagine how salty the non-fans are for having to buy these figures to complete their Sauron BAF. And surprisingly, neither of these saw the huge price drop at online retailers that I anticipated. On the flipside, these have been clogging the pegs in my local toy aisles for a while now. I guess we’ll start with Underpants Pool.

No-Pants-Pool lives up to his name as he’s fully-suited topside, but lacking a pair of trousers down yonder. I have to hand it to Hasbro, they really committed to this idea with a lot of new sculpting. It’s hard to believe we’ll see these legs turn up anywhere else, and as a couple of one-off parts, that makes it even more impressive. The arms and torso, we’ve seen before, but they are enhanced by the white boxer shorts with adorable pink hearts. We’ve seen the belt before, and that’s fine, as it’s a good sculpt and has the ‘Pool Logo painted onto the buckle. I have one gripe with the belt, but I’ll swing back to that in a bit. His nasty bare legs represent a medley of exposed muscles and sores. He’s got one nasty, sagging grey sock on his right foot and a pair of pink slippers on his tootsies.

One of the highlights of this figure is the new head, which has the mask drawn up over the nose to expose his shit-eating grin. Even if you don’t have a lot of use for this figure, it’s a nice consolation to get that head for one of the other ‘Pools in your collection. As always, the sculpt here is excellent, including wrinkles and stitch lines on the mask and a lot of detail in the skin and teeth. Very nice!

No-Pants-Pool comes with a pair of guns, a pistol and rifle, and these are the same sci-fi designs that we saw issued to Domino and Silver Sable. I like these a lot, and I’m happy to get them in black plastic. On the downside, the pistol isn’t compatible with the holster on the belt, so I would have rather just had a standard automatic pistol with this figure. Oh well, no big deal.

The articulation here is standard stuff. The legs feature ball jointed hips, double hinges in the knees, swivels up under the shorts, and both hinges rockers in the ankles. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinges in the elbows. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. Let’s move on to X-Pool.

Like any person, Deadpool craves inclusion, hence this self-made “X-MEN” costume. It sports the yellow spandex of the real X-Men outfits with some black with red trim. I dig the concept of this figure a lot more than the previous figure, but since this one is more or less a kit-bashed repaint, it isn’t nearly as impressive to me and I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it.

We’ve seen this buck before. If I’m not mistaken it’s mostly a reuse of the 90’s Deadpool right down to them shoulder crunches. The belt, sword rig, and swords are also recycled, this time from the recent X-Force Deadpool. There are extra bands on his wrists to make his hands look more like gauntlets, as well as similar rings around his legs to simulate the tops of his boots. All four of these pieces are held on by friction, so they are sometimes apt to slide around when playing with the figure.

X-Pool also comes with a rifle, and this too is recycled. We’ve even seen it included with Deadpool before. It’s a weird sci-fi design cast in soft rubbery black plastic, and definitely not one of my favorite weapons in the Legends arsenal.

Finally, you also get the head of Madcap, Deadpool’s sometime rival. It’s an amazing sculpt and includes a removable wide-brimmed purple hat. The inclusion makes for a great pose in the package, and I suppose you could always pop it on this figure as, what? Madcap impersonating Deadpool again? I don’t know. Hasbro seems to have adopted a weird pension for including heads with figures instead of releasing them with the actual figure.

When it comes down to it, I dig these figures, and I didn’t mind having to buy them to complete Sauron. I’m sure there are plenty of collectors out there who will feel otherwise, but I guess them’s the breaks when you’re collecting BAF parts. X-Pool definitely feels like the cheap cash-grab of the wave, but he’s still cool. As for No-Pants-Pool, well, it still amazes me how much work Hasbro put into him. I’m kind of hoping that Hasbro is all ‘Pooled out for a while, although I still have to pick up that one with the scooter and Dogpool. Oh yeah, today’s reviews also puts me only one figure away from completing Sauron, so if I get a chance to do any reviews next week, I’ll likely throw randomness to the wind and open up Omega Red so I can finish it up.

Just Dropping In…

There is nothing I wanted more than to drop in today with a Marvel Monday review, but life keeps getting in the way and there was simply no time this past week for me to prepare any content. It sucks, especially since this is my best source of therapy and I’m really missing it. It doesn’t help that my backlog of Marvel Legends is going from out of hand to just plain ridiculous.

And it’s not just Marvel Legends. I have NECA figures, Transformers, Hasbro’s new Overwatch Ultimates, Prize Figures and some Sixth Scale stuff all piling up just waiting to be opened and explored. My Toy Closet is back to the point where I can’t even walk into it anymore. And my den is surrounded by stacks of comics waiting to be matriculated into long boxes. I’d say it’s been all work and no play, but I did manage to eek out the time to see Avengers: Endgame, which was like a tiny miracle in itself. And I say that not just because the movie was great, but because I actually found the means and occasion to see it.

Anywho, my goal is to try to get a couple of reviews up this week, one of which will be the Marvel Legends review that would have gone up today if I had had the time to finish it. And by finish it, I mean actually open a figure, write the review, photograph it, do the editing and post it. I’ll try to get one up on Wednesday and another on Friday, but with my life the way it is, I can’t make any promises.

Transformers Siege: Soundwave by Hasbro

I probably should be looking at something other than a Transformer this week, since I’m getting way behind on NECA and Star Wars stuff, but I got caught up purchasing all the Transformers: Siege releases last week and because I’m digging this line so much, I was really jonesing to open another. Soundwave remains one of my favorite characters, and is always a good choice, so let’s go with him.

The Decepticons are really owning the Voyager Class in this line, with Megatron, Soundwave, and Starscream up against lonely Optimus Prime. Then again, the Autobots are all but monopolizing the Deluxes, and I guess that works for me. I almost always judge a new Transformers line by how well they do the Decepticon High Command. They did a nice job with Megatron, so needless to say, I am hoping for good things out of Soundwave. Let’s start with his alt mode. For several lines now (Titans Return being the exception), Soundwave has had this weird thing going on, where Hasbro tries to salvage his tape-cassette gimmick while not having him actually turn into a tape deck. I kind of get that. Deploying mini Decepticon warriors is a huge part of what makes him so unique and before the whole retro-80’s craze, a lot of kids probably couldn’t identify with a cassette player as a toy. And so this time around, Hasbro gave Soundwave the alt mode of a Cybertronian space cruiser.

And as far as bullshit, made-up alt modes go, I honestly don’t think this one is all that bad. And yes, I realize I’m in the minority here, because I’ve seen plenty of shade thrown at this toy for this very reason. Truth be told, I kind of dig this chunky design. It kind of reminds me of some of the old Wing Commander designs, and that ain’t a bad thing. It also actually takes some engineering to get between robot mode and this alt mode. Indeed, the only thing about this mode that I don’t like is the giant tape door on the back.

The coloring and finish are both great. You get a pretty typical Soundwave-y deco with a lot of deep blue and gray. The weathering is nicely done and I think it contributes well to making this look like a well-used spaceship. Additional paint hits like the red trim on the weapon pods and the silver, yellow, and red panels add to the visual appeal. And that’s really all I have to say about this thing. I’m surprised at how much I dig it, but I’m really here for the robot mode, so let’s jump right into that.

In his bot mode, Soundwave emits waves of pure G1 goodness. I absolutely adore this figure. I mean, nothing is ever going to live up to the Masterpiece version, but for a retail release, this is just so damn good. All the tape deck features are here, for no reason at all, like the buttons on his pelvis and the giant tape door in his chest. He even has his battery shoulder cannon. Does any of this make sense? Nope. Do I care. Also, nope. But besides being very traditional looking, Soundwave is also distinctively Siege. Hasbro has taken the basic G1 Soundwave design and dipped it into the hyper-detailed look of Siege, with a crazy number of panel lines and other little details pressed into the sculpt, coupled with the weathered paintwork and the scratches all over the tape door. He looks fantastic.

Soundwave looks pretty damn good from the back as well. His legs are filled out, and with the exception of the backpack, there’s nothing terribly out of place here. And while that backpack isn’t really a traditional Soundwave feature, I think it looks great. Plus, if you fold open the backpack you can see that Hasbro still sculpted in a reference to the belt clip that was on the original toy. Pretty cool! There’s some kibble under the forearms, but it’s not too obtrusive, and you can even fold them out as retractable blasters.

The rest of the deco matches what we saw in the spaceship mode, so there aren’t really any surprises there. Nice touches include the colored panels just below his knees, and the thin red stripes around his wrists. The pelvic buttons are painted silver, and his tape door features a gold border. I’ve already mentioned the abrasions painted onto the tape door, and while I wasn’t sure how I would feel about those when I got the figure in hand, I can’t deny they’re well done, as is the weathering on the lower legs. Granted, if you’re looking for clean bots, these figures aren’t for you, but I have really grown to love the battle-worn flavor of this line.

I have no complaints about the head sculpt. The detail here is really nice, especially the recessed vents on the lower half of his “helmet.” It’s all very sharp for a head this small. Some people are apt to complain about the choice to go with the toy accurate yellow visor. Me? I prefer the yellow visor, but it wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker if they had gone with red. Either way, just look at that glorious light-piping. The visor catches the light easily and really brings the portrait to life.

Not only does Soundwave’s tape door spring open at the push of a button, but they also sculpted a finger on his right hand especially to push the button. Wonderful! He doesn’t come with any tapes, but Hasbro has since released Laserbeak and Ravage as Micromasters, which are compatible. I was hoping to squeeze them into today’s review, but I went a little long, so I’ll hopefully be able to circle back to them next week if time permits.

He does, however come with two weapons. Well, three if you count the removable shoulder cannon. The first handgun is his other battery rifle, which is a pitch-perfect match for the original G1 weapon. The beam emitter even retracts into the battery portion, and as we saw, it’s used for the spaceship mode.

The other weapon is a simple folding gun. It can be used to turn both of Soundwave’s battery weapons into one long gun. Otherwise, it’s nothing special and doesn’t really feel like it belongs to him, so I’ll likely be giving it away to another lucky bot.

I passed on the Titan Returns Leader Class Soundwave, because it was just way too similar to Blaster, so this is the first regular retail release of Soundwave in a while that I can say I really love. I get it, some people are not going to like this alt mode, but I was surprised at how little it bothered me. And once I get those Micromaster tapes opened up next week, Soundwave will really feel complete!

Marvel Legends (M’Baku Wave): Erik Killmonger by Hasbro

Just when I thought I had dipped into all the waves of Marvel Legends that were out there, this week my random draw from the Box of Shame™ pulled out a figure from the M’Baku Wave. And yup, this is my first foray into this assortment. I kind of forgot all about it. And as is often the case these days, I’m a little pressed for time today, so let’s just jump right in and check out this new(ish) version of Killmonger!

Of course, we already got a Killmonger in the original Black Panther themed wave. That version was wearing his Panther suit, while this one portrays him in his mercenary-style outfit. And considering that Erik here ranks up there as one of my favorite MCU villains, I’m all for getting another figure of the character. And hey… an actual portrait based on Michael B. Jordan’s likeness! The Panther suited version of Killmonger didn’t have an unmasked head, but we did get one in the two-pack, when he was bundled with Agent Ross. I haven’t picked that one up, and now that I have this portrait, I’m not sure I will. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s check out the figure!

I really liked this look for the character in the film. It was certainly more interesting than an “evil” version of the Black Panther suit. And as a general fan of military figures, this one also scratches that itch nicely. For starters, the outfit is brimming with detail! Hasbro doesn’t usually skimp on the sculpting when they’re doing the MCU figures, and this figure keeps that trend rolling along nicely. I especially dig his armored vest. It features some great panel lining and edging, as well as all the individual sculpted straps intended to keep it in place. The great detail in the vest is contrasted by the arms, which are simple blue sleeves, the baggy trousers feature an ammo strap on his left leg, just above the knee, and even the detail in the combat boots is impressive.

There’s more impressive detail to be found on the tactical belt, which is also removable. You get more pouches with magazines in them and a permanently sheathed combat knife. What I find a bit puzzling, and disappointing, is the decision to sculpt the sidearm as part of the holster. Hasbro’s 6-inch figures are no strangers to having functional holsters, so what happened here? It’s even more of a poser when you consider that he comes with the gun that I believe is supposed to be in the holster.

The coloring here is also quite well done. Indeed, it’s surprising just how colorful this figure turned out. The camo pattern on the pants looks great, and the blue sleeves and little touches like the emerald green on the shoulders makes what could have been a drab-looking figure turn out to be anything but. The straps for the vest are painted tan, and they even picked out the grenades on the belt with some green and the belt buckle with some silver. But most of all, I dig the subtle metallic wash on the front and back of the vest. Great stuff!

And because the character portrait is such a big draw for me here, I’m happy to report they did a wonderful job on the likeness. Not only is the face sculpt a solid piece of work, but I really dig how they did his hair. It adds some nice depth to the portrait. The half-tone style printing method still appears to be in use here, and I’d say this is one of the best examples of it. It even holds up pretty well when I get in real close.

And yes, the unmasked head fits nicely on the previous Killmonger release!

Killmonger also comes with the horned mask that he took from the British Museum’s West African Exhibit and this is a nicely done piece as well. It’s designed to fit over the face and it pretty much just stays on with friction. It tends to come off when I’m playing around with the figure, but it will usually stay put when I’m displaying him.

In addition to the mask, Killmonger comes with two weapons. The pistol is most likely supposed to be the Springfield 1911. It’s a decent little pistol cast in black plastic and it can be held comfortably in either of the figure’s hands. Again, why they didn’t just give him a functional holster to hold it in, rather than sculpting one in the holster as well? Who knows.

And last but not least, Erik comes with the BCM Recce 14 KMR-A with scope and grenade launcher. I don’t know if it’s all the goofy coloring and crazy sci-fi designs we’ve been getting with the comic figures lately, but I find myself really appreciating this beauty. It’s a wonderfully detailed sculpt, and like the pistol, he can hold it well in either hand.

Well, I’ve gushed a lot about this figure, but now comes the time for some gripes, and surprisingly they all seem to revolve around the articulation. All the points conform to the usual Legends model, so I won’t tick them off here. Instead, let’s talk about a few issues I had. Some of the hinge joints on this figure are really soft, particularly in the elbows, and mushy hinges are one of my pet peeves. But the wrists are even more problematic. At first, I thought the hinges were stuck, but instead they seem to have a weird ratcheting effect, where it takes a lot of force to move them and when they do move, there’s no subtlety there at all. As a result, the hands often look oddly positioned. Not to mention, the amount of force it takes for me to work those hinges puts stress on those tiny wrist pegs. I’ve never come across this phenomena in a Legends figure before and hopefully I never will again.

Killmonger has some issues, but even so, I think he still turned out pretty great. The coloring and attention to detail are both excellent, the weapons are awesome, and the mask is a mighty nice bonus. And unless it turns up super cheap, I really didn’t have any intention of buying the Killmonger two-pack, so naturally I was happy to get this unmasked head. Never in a million years did I think Hasbro was going to take a second pass at Black Panther with another wave of Legends figures, but if Killmonger here is any indication, I’m certainly glad they did.