Star Wars Black: Obi-Wan Kenobi (A New Hope) by Hasbro

Sorry, folks. No DC Friday this week. I’ve still got a whole case of 6-inch Star Wars Black figures to go through and I need to start chipping away at them before more arrive. So today I’m opening a figure that I am pretty excited about finally getting. It’s Obi-Wan Kenobi from Episode IV: A New Hope!

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Obi-Wan got something of a pre-release back at last year’s SDCC with some snazzy packaging and exclusive extra bits. The regular retail packaging offers no surprises, it’s just the same old stuff. It’s collector friendly and the side panel features the figure’s name and number. I have only saved the boxes for a handful of these figures and alas, Obi-Wan’s box is destined for the bin. You’ll note that the figure comes packaged with his cloak on, but I’m going to start with it off.

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Sculpted robes often pose problems in terms of a figure’s overlook and articulation, but here I think Hasbro did a reasonably nice job on both counts. There’s a good amount of detail in the outfit itself including lots of folds and wrinkles. There’s also a very subtle texturing to drive home the appearance of cloth. The belt sculpted belt features the pouch on his right hip and a hook to hang his lightsaber hilt. Unfortunately, the blade doesn’t seem to want to come out of my lightsaber hilt, so that hook isn’t doing me a lot of good.

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Loose sleeves like these are particularly tricky for sculptors because they should look considerably different whether the character has his arms at his sides or raised in an action pose. Here, Hasbro went for a compromise by putting the wrists right in the middle. They look fine with the arms down, but rather unnatural with the arms up. I guess I’m OK with this, as I doubt I’ll be displaying him in an action pose. I do really like how the wrists are set fairly deep into the sleeve, as it makes the plastic garment more convincing.

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I think the portrait here is passable in general and maybe better than average for this line. It really varies wildly based on the angle, distance and lighting. And yes, that’s a left-handed compliment. I would have liked the detail to be a little sharper and the paint is the same sub-par stuff we’ve been seeing for the bulk of these releases. I’d argue that the likeness is certainly there, but is this really much better than they could do in a 3 3/4-inch figure? I don’t think so. In the case of this figure, let’s just say the closer in you get, the less it works, but I guess I’m fairly satisfied.

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As for articulation, there’s certainly a good amount of it here. By Episode IV, Obi-Wan’s days of somersaulting ridiculously all over the place were over (thank God!), so I’m not requiring a whole lot from this figure. His arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the waist and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. Below the belt, the plastic robes are slit up the sides so as not to completely hinder the leg movement.

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The softgoods cloak fits the figure very well and it looks great on him with the exception of the hood, which doesn’t fit close to the back when its down. That’s understandable, as at this scale there’s no weight to the fabric to let gravity do its job. If I futz with it enough, I can get it to look acceptable. I may look into using a small pin to keep it under control. It does, however,  look pretty great with the hood up over his head. You can also pull it further down over his head to hide his face for when he needs to scare off Tusken Raiders. The stitching is neat and I can’t imagine that I’ll be displaying the figure without this on most of the time. This is exactly the sort of thing that was sorely missing from the Jedi Knight Luke figure a few waves back.

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I’ve already mentioned the lightsaber accessory and how my blade doesn’t want to detach. Otherwise, this is a pretty great little piece and the sculpt and paintwork on the hilt are both exceptionally good. In fact, I’d say this is arguably the best looking lightsaber hilt this line has produced.

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In the end, Obi-Wan turned out to be a pretty solid figure. He represents the usual ups and downs that characterize most of these 6-inch Black Series releases. The sculpt is overall pretty good, the cloth robe is a great, albeit in this case essential, addition, and if Hasbro could just invest a little more in the paint quality on these figures, they could really raise the bar a couple of notches.

ThunderCats Classic: Mumm-Ra by Mattel

Transformers Thursday is on hiatus this week, but I hope to bring it back next week with a possible two-parter. In the meantime, allow me to turn my attention back to the ill-fated ThunderCats Classic line from Matty Collector. I’ve only got two more figures in this line left to look at and today I’m checking out Mumm-Ra. Ancient spirits of evil, transform this decayed form to Mumm-Ra, The Ever Living!!!

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Mumm-Ra’s transformation never got old for me. I loved hearing him say those lines. I loved the musical fanfare that kicked up during the sequence. And holy hell, I loved his demented “MYEEEEAAAHHHHHHHH!” that always punctuated the change. This dude was pretty terrifying for after school cartoon fare and this is the first time I’ve owned his mummy form as an action figure since the release from the newer ThunderCats 4-inch Bandai line. I’ve got nothing new to say about the packaging, other than the trapdoor design makes it totally collector friendly and absolutely gorgeous!

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And speaking of gorgeous, just check this guy out! Now, there are a few things about this figure that irk me a bit, but it’s hard to argue with his overall appearance. This lesser form of Mumm-Ra has really gotten the short and of the stick throughout the character’s action figure history. He’s been mostly an afterthought, or an overgrown accessory. The LJN original was a largely a static piece and Bandai’s new version was only a bit better. Here we get him in full on action figure form and kitted out with full articulation. Is all that articulation worth it? Well, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a moment to enjoy the wonderful sculpt and paintwork.

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Mumm-Ra comes out of the package with an open, billowing hooded cloak that lets you get a great look at his delightfully creepy mummy wrappings. Some of the bandages are sculpted as part of the buck, while others are cast in soft plastic and attached for a more realistic effect. They even attached some bandages to each of his arms, so they hang down behind him and add to his ancient and ragged look. His gnarled blue hands and feet are exposed and he does come with an extra set of hands to help hold his accessories. While I enjoy the concept of the open cloak, I’m not a big fan of the way the hood crowns up over his head. It looks odd and I’m not at all sure why they did that. Maybe the unseen wind that’s blowing the rest of the cloak is causing the hood to rise. I guess it’s not that big a deal…

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Especially when the head sculpt is so damn good it makes me want to weep for this line’s early demise. They’ve managed to capture the look of Mumm-Ra’s decayed portrait perfectly. From the prominent mouth to those large soul-less red eyes, I wouldn’t change a thing here. Except that pointed hood. Yup, it’s still bugging me.

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The articulation consists of rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees. The head is on a ball joint, there’s a swivel in the waist, and the ankles include both hinges and lateral rockers. The level of articulation here is far more than I ever expected to get in this figure and to be honest, it’s all I really need. With that having been said, there are certainly limitations. The bandages that connect between his arms obviously hinder the arms. The coiled bandages below his waist that form a sort of skirt also inhibit his hip articulation. Like I said, I’m not looking for much more here, but it wasn’t until I started shooting pictures that I realized there’s only so much you can do with this fella.

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Mumm-Ra also comes with a second cloak and changing him into it allows for a rare look at Mumm-Ra sans cover-up. Nah, I’m never going to display him without one of the cloaks, but it’s still cool to see what’s going on under there. I don’t recall us ever getting a look at him like this in the cartoon. Obviously the designers had to take some liberties and I think they did a damn fine job.

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The second cloak is closed up and more form fitting. This is really the look that is most familiar to me from the cartoon and I think the fit of the hood here looks loads better. Yes, on the downside, it severely curtails the figure’s articulation, which is why it’s really nice that they gave us two. When he’s displayed like this, the best you can really get out of him is a left elbow bend to allow him to hold his staff. And speaking of which…

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The staff is one of the two other accessories he comes with. Like its master, the staff is gnarled and twisted with some lovely attention to detail in the sculpt. It’s capped off by a wonderful, snarling demon dog head with red eyes, horns, and teeth. Mumm-Ra looks so damn iconic holding it.

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You also get the hilt to the Sword of Plundarr, which is a damn cool bonus, although each collectors’ mileage may vary on this piece.

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Despite a few very minor gripes, I really love the way this figure turned out. It’s so cool to see this level of attention, detail, and articulation lavished on a this version of the character for the first time. Owning him makes me want to go hunt down LJN’s version of Mumm-Ra’s tomb as a display piece for him. But then it feels like I’ve already thrown enough money into this doomed line. I hate to be that way. I should be able to enjoy a great figure for what it is on its own. I suppose it’s at least cool to have a Lion-O and Mumm-Ra to display on the shelf, whereas the other figures really just rub salt in the wound, knowing that it’s unlikely my ThunderCats and Evil Mutants will ever be complete. And with that bummer of an ending, when I next revisit this line, I’ll be checking out the last figure, Panthro. In the meantime, I’m still waiting for Super7 to snatch this line from The Abyss with news of a licensing deal. Maybe at Toy Fair next week? Wouldn’t that be something!

Mythic Legions: Gorthokk by The Four Horsemen

In case you were wondering, that loud sucking sound is the veritable money vacuum that is the new Mythic Legion Kickstarter going on right now. As I write this they’re closing in on the $400,000 mark against the $140k they needed to fund this thing, and they still have 12 to go! And I can say with all honesty, that I’m doing my part as my pledge grows with each new stretch goal that’s revealed. It’s only natural that all this excitement has me hankering to open some new Mythic Legions figures, and luckily the Wave 1.75 figures hit my doorstep a week or so ago.

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I’ll admit, I was really tempted to start with the mammoth Deluxe Stone Troll, but I’m going to save him for later and instead start with one of the regular figures. Here, you see Gorthokk in all his packaged glory. Despite being a Wave 1.75 “Covenant of Shadows” figure, there’s nothing new about the packaging. It’s attractive and serviceable and, as always, collector friendly. The blurb on the bubble insert tells us that Gorthokk is a Cavern Orc, sometimes called Shadow Orcs, and these are the worst of the worst of them!

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The new variety of Orc is distinguished by his gorgeous dark skin and some splattered mud (or blood?) on his chest and face. As a late release in the line, he’s comprised entirely of parts that we’ve seen before, and yet somehow manages to still look like a fresh figure. That’s the beauty of this line’s inventory of swappable parts. The boots and gauntlet are the same ones we’ve typically seen on the previous Orc releases. They’re jagged and clunky and have that rough and primitive flavor about them. The waist, hip, and groin armor are all pulled from the regular knights of the line and the bare chest and arms we’ve seen on a few different releases.

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As is often the case, the figure comes with optional shoulder armor, and these are the standard Orc pieces that match the jagged look of the gauntlets and boots. They simply peg into the holes on the back of the figure and displaying him with one, both, or none offers some nice variety. The paintwork on all the armor pieces is superb. The shoulders, gauntlets, and boots have an enchanted blue sheen to them, while the rest of the armor features a deep, rich rusted brown. The individual rivets are all neatly painted, as are some of the decorative inserts. All of it is properly weathered.

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Gorthokk comes with two heads, helmeted and un-helmeted, which was a fantastic surprise, as I purchased this figure assuming it only came with one. He comes packaged with the un-helmeted head and it looks great with the new darker deco. It’s very sinister and brimming with personality. The creases in his face give him a ton of personality and I love the upward jutting tusks and those beady yellow eyes. I can just imagine those peepers coming out of the dark at me.

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The helmeted head has a deco that matches the rusty brown and metallic blue of his armor. Once again, the paint on this piece is just exquisite, especially the weathering on the cheek plates. The comb on the top looks aggressive and it features a nasty nick from a sword or axe attack. I really wish I picked up a couple more of these, two of them with the helmet and shoulders flanking the one without would look amazing. But then I remember, oh yeah, I don’t have all the money in the world. Let’s move on to weapons!

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Up until now, we’ve been seeing repaints of the same handful of weapons, but Gorthokk breaks that tradition with a couple that are new to me. I’m sure these were released in the original Weapons Packs, which I would have loved to pick up, but I decided from the beginning to funnel all my available budget into the actual figures and take whatever accessories come my way with them. The new sword has a rough looking blade, which is like a cross between a scimitar and the Uruk-Hai blades we saw in the Lord of the Rings films. The hilt has more of an Fantasy Eastern Barbarian flavor and the sculpted wear and tear in the blade is just phenomenal.

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The hand axe is another great little sculpt with the primitive blade fastened to a curved and blackened bone. It’s a refreshingly unique looking weapon considering previous Orcs have been coming with the same conventional style of swords as some of the heroes of the line. I think this piece really suits the more savage nature of the Shadow Orc.

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You also get this standard cruciform sword, which is a great piece, but feels out of place with this guy, and will likely be doled out to one of my other figures. Maybe it’s a trophy he took off a slain enemy. And as always, you get the standard brown sword belt, actually in this case I got two of them, which can be worn on the hip or as a cross-strap on the shoulder. The scimitar is a tight fit when passing it through the loop, but it will go through with a little patience.

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Gorthokk brings my Orc forces to four, and that feels like a good number for now. They’ll be getting some reinforcements of the female Orc variety next year when The Advent of Decay figures ship. Don’t get me wrong, if these figures were swinging on the pegs down at Target or Toys R Us, I’d have a lot more Orcs than I do now, and I’m still hoping that one day Store Horsemen might have a permanent page devoted to these guys where I can pick up a few here and there as my budget allows. As a Pre-Order, Gorthokk set me back $33 and while that may seem like a premium for a 6-inch action figure these days, the quality and workmanship here make it worth every penny. I keep reminding myself that when I factor in shipping, I was paying more than that to have the average Masters of the Universe Classics figure from Matty. I still love my MOTUC collection, but comparing the two lines hardly seems fair.

Marvel Legends (Abomination Wave): “Secret War” Captain America and Iron Skull by Hasbro

Welcome to another Marvel Monday, folks, and as promised I’m tackling two figures from the Marvel Legends Abomination Wave today, and both are interesting choices on Hasbro’s part. We’ve got Cap in a one-off costume that is pulled from a Bendis comic that’s got to be about almost a decade old by now and Red Skull donning a stolen suit of Iron Man’s armor, which I believe appeared in the animated series, Avengers Assemble.

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Both figures come in packages branded “Captain America” and I’ve seen a lot of confusion and tepid reactions to these figures. While I’ll admit that I wasn’t jonesing to get a figure of Cap in this uniform and I don’t watch the Avengers Assemble cartoon, I’m actually really happy to be getting this pair. Cap is one of my favorite Marvel characters, so I welcome any and all variants of him, and as we’ll soon see Iron Skull is not only a cool idea, but he’s just plain bad ass. Let’s check out Cap first…

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Obviously, a super-special top secret mission for SHIELD deserves a super-special new outfit, and that was the case with most of the heroes appearing in this book. Cap’s outfit is pretty rad, in that it preserves his love for the red, white, and blue, while still presenting something different. The bulk of the costume is a very dark blue with a large white band around the middle of each arm, two white vertical stripes flanking both sides of his abs, and a white pin stripe running down the middle of his chest and the front of each of his legs. He’s got a large silver star emblazoned on his chest and an American flag tampo’ed on his left shoulder. The whole ensemble is tied together with some silver knee pads and a silver belt.

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In terms of fresh sculpting, we get some fabulous buccaneer boots and flared gauntlets, with red striping. I really dig these, as they add a significant touch of classic to what is otherwise a brand new look. I also like the silver stripes on the joints of his fingers.

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The head sculpt features a very distinctive hood with red and white pin stripes running from front to back and some damn cool wings painted on the side that almost look like sickles. And as long as we’re on the subject of paint, the quality of application here is pretty solid. There’s a little bleed through evident in some areas of the white, but overall it isn’t too bad. It’s also nice to see that they painted the pins in the elbows to match the white.

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The articulation here holds no surprises. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinged elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels at both the thighs and the tops of the boots, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a swivel at the waist, an ab crunch in the torso, and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. The joints all feel great and he’s tons of fun to pose.

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You get two accessories with Cap, although they are designed to go together. First, you get a pretty standard shield. It’s got both a peg and a clip, so he can wear it on his back or equip it on his wrist.

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The other accessory is an extra right hand and effect part that you can peg the shield into and give him a throwing effect. I didn’t have high hopes for this thing when I first saw pictures of it, but in hand, I’ve found it to be lots of fun. Moving on to Iron Skull…

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The idea of Red Skull getting a hold of one of Stark’s armors just tickles me in all the right ways, so I’m not going to jump on board with the haters screaming that this is just an excuse to re-use and re-sell an Iron Man body. This is the Mark 43 figure, to be specific, which was the same as the Mark 42. And damn, does it look great here. It’s been given a properly eeeevil black finish with some bitchin red panel lines. Seriously, I love this thing.

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The head sculpt here is absolutely fantastic. It retains that creepy, yet super-stylized look that I love so much. It also features some fantastic paint. It’s too bad I’ll probably almost never use it, because the figure also comes with…

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THIS! It’s the helmet with a Red Skull motif and oh my god, I love it so much! Seriously, while collectors everywhere scream, WTF, HASBRO? over this figure, I’m just loving it to pieces.

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I’m not going to go over the articulation, as I’ve already looked at this body not once, but twice. I will say that while it’s overall decent, there are some things that bug me about it, like the restricted range of motion in the ankles.

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I was pretty happy about getting these figures ever since they were first revealed and I’m just as happy to have them in hand. They’re both nice nods to very specific aspects of the Marvel extended universe and that’s exactly the kind of thing I like to get in my action figure collection. The remarkably prolific nature of Legends has made this line all about universe building for me these days, and that’s what these figures are all about.

KanColle: Battleship Nagato “Super Premium” Prize Figure by SEGA

Hooray! Anime Saturday is back again! I’m having a lazy morning, sipping some coffee and opening up a brand new Kantai Collection “Super Premium” figure from SEGA. I last visited with this line back in May of last year when I looked at the three Destroyers: Fubuki, Mutsuki, and Yuudachi. These are technically still prize figures, but they’re also closer to fully scaled figures and I found them to be remarkable, especially considering how ridiculously cheap they were. Today, I’m checking out the big mama of them all, Secretary Ship Nagato! And what lies ahead are some choppy waters filled with both delight and disappointment.

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While the Destroyers came in window boxes, Nagato comes in a fully enclosed and very colorful box with lots of pictures and very little in the way of English text. It’s a pretty damn big box too! The Destroyers were large for prize figures and Nagato is similarly scaled, measuring in at a little over 9-inches tall. Between that and her wide stance, the box had to be considerably larger. Inside, the figure comes nestled between two clear plastic trays with the stand detached. All you have to do is plug her into the base and she’s good to go. But wait… that’s it? Isn’t there something missing? Well, that’s the disappointing part, and I’ll save that for the end.

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…because everything else here is nothing but wonderful. Nagato is absolutely gorgeous and it’s hard to believe that she qualifies as a prize figure by any stretch of the imagination. The Secretary Ships, Nagato and Mutsu are my favorite two character designs from the anime and it’s awesome to see one of them get this Super Premium format treatment. The costume includes her sleek rudder boots, crimson stockings, which are held up by straps that attach to her armament belt, and secured by adorable little anchor snaps! She has a very short white skirt, and her cut-off top exposes her midriff and shoulders, and her long, finger-less gloves. I also love the simple but effective pose here.  She’s looks so damn majestic standing there with her right hand on her rigging belt and her left arm thrust out, about to issue the order to attack the cursed Abyssinal Fleet.

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The quality of plastic and paintwork on this figure are both exceptional. The colors are vibrant and the lines are so sharp, you really need to get in pretty close to see any imperfections. When you take a budget-priced prize figure and blow it up to this scale, I would expect to see plenty of opportunities for sloppy paint work, but there’s simply no evidence of that here. What’s more, the skin tones are soft and even and the plastic looks and feels great.

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The portrait is spot on, with Nagato offering up a characteristically stern and defiant expression. I really dig the way her long hair crowns the head and blows majestically in the breeze and her big beautiful eyes are perfectly printed. Naturally, the head sculpt includes her radar and antenna array.

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The simple black disc base is absolutely huge to accommodate her wide stance, but it looks kind of vacant. It also has a rectangular outline in the front. What could that be for? So, yeah… here comes the disappointing part. She’s obviously missing her 41cm Twin Gun Mount. This was one of the rare cases where the figure and armaments were sold separately. The Outfitting Kit included a second stand to display the gun mount independently, but you could also combine it with the figure and stand. I knew this going in, but the seller stated that both were included. When just the figure arrived and I challenged the seller, the response was ship it back for a refund. The truth was, I love the figure, and opted to take a hit and keep her.

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Nagato set me back $40 shipped, which admittedly would have been an amazing price for both the figure and Gun Mount. But hell, even for just the figure, the price seems right. And besides, Nagato spent 95% of the anime without her weaponry, so she’s absolutely fine displayed this way. In that regard, it feels like a crime to come away from this beautiful figure with any sense of disappointment. She’s simply amazing in every way. But in the end, I couldn’t let it stand, so I’ve got her Gun Mount coming from another seller in Japan. Naturally, when it arrives I’ll get her all kitted out and we’ll take a second look!

Arkham Knight: Catwoman by DC Collectibles

Yup, I’m still on an Arkham Knight figure kick and one day, I hope to get around to playing the game too! Honestly, even if I wasn’t starting to collect this line, I’d still probably have picked up Catwoman here, because I tend to pick up whatever Catwoman figures I can find. What can I say? I like cats and I like women. Meow!

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The packaging is the same as we saw last time with the Azrael figure. It’s an attractive and collector friendly window box with that stylish angled edge that features the figure’s name. I like the grittier box art too. The presentation here is just all around fantastic and if I weren’t so damn pressed for space, I’d keep the box. Sadly, that’s not an option.

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Free from her box, Catwoman is looking mighty fine. This isn’t a huge departure from Catwoman’s modern look in the comics, but it’s a quite a bit of a change from the Greg Capullo Catwoman I looked at a little while back. You get a much more realistic catsuit, and by that I mean it’s got all sorts of texturing and extra details. High friction areas are covered with a textured web-like honeycomb pattern while others are reinforced with just smooth padding. There’s a subtle mix of matte and gloss black to further distinguish the details. There’s also some crazy detail on the front laces of her high heeled boots. Those things must take forever to put on!

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While technically an accessory, I’ll mention her coiled whip here. It tabs into a slot on her right hip so you can display her wearing it when she’s not using it. It’s a great addition to the figure and I’ve to to say, I wish the Capullo Catwoman did something similar.

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The head sculpt is quite nice. Again, I can’t really vouch for the likeness to the in-game model since I’ve yet to play the game, but I like what we got here. The cowl has a sort of worn leather look to it and her red tinted goggles are sculpted permanently in the up position. I dig the way her hair falls over her left eye. The paint work on her green eyes and red lips is very sharp, and while Catwoman is often depicted wearing a choker, here she’s wearing a full-on kitty collar! Naturally, her front zipper is way down low to show off the kittens.

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Articulation is not something I expect in spades from DCC’s regular lines, but Catwoman here doesn’t make out too bad at all. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have rotating hinges at the hips. swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint just under the chest and another at the neck. She’s by no means super-articulated, especially for a nimble minx like Catwoman, but I’m still impressed at how much she can do for a non-Icons DCC figure. If her hips had just a little more range of motion toward the front, she’d be really something.

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As far as accessories go, I already mentioned the coiled whip. She also comes with an uncoiled whip and a total of three pairs of hands: Fists, whip-holding hands, and scratching claws. And let me tell you, the claws on this kitty are serious business. They freaking hurt like hell the first couple times I swapped hands on the figure. I think some paint rubbed off on the inside pegs, because after a few times, swapping hands wasn’t so difficult or painful.

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The action whip is a lot of fun to play with. It’s a stretchy rubber and she can hold it really well.

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I picked up this Catwoman off of Amazon when they were running some pretty great deals on the Arkham Knight figures. I think she wound up being around $13 and hell, I’ll buy figures like this at that price all day long. Indeed, I would have been perfectly happy shelling out the $20-22 she usually sells for, because she really is that good. Yeah, I’m biased because I dig Catwoman so much, but this may very well be my favorite figure of the character in my collection.

Transformers Titans Return: Darkmoon and Astrotrain by Hasbro

It feels like a while since I last did a proper Transformers Thursday, especially with my schedule change in January, but regular Thursday content is back in full swing, and while I can’t promise every Thursday will be about little plastic convertorobots, I’ll do my best to deliver where I can. Today, I’m checking out Titans Return Astrotrain, a figure that I’ve been looking forward to, because quite frankly the old Classics version just doesn’t cut it for me anymore and I recently unloaded it on Ebay to make way for this guy.

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And he’s a Voyager. I love that! Astrotrain was the Decepticons’ go to mode of interplanetary mass transportation whenever the series forgot that they could all just fly through space on their own. And while you still couldn’t fit any of the other figures in here, it just makes sense to me that he should be bigger than a Deluxe. Naturally, Astrotrain is still a Triple Changer, and I’m going to kick things off with his shuttle mode first!

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So, I really dig this mode. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for something more traditional, but I can get behind this design. This alt mode looks like a cross between a traditional NASA shuttle and a Cybertronian craft. It’s big and beefy and looks like it was made for battle rather than exploration. Part of that comes from the turret-like gun emplacements on the pylons under each wing. These really remind me of the ones on Armada’s Tidal Wave or even the ones on Energon Omega Supreme. In fact, this figure has a couple of call-backs that really bring that Omega Supreme toy to mind. The shuttle is absolutely loaded with sculpted detail, mostly in the form of panel lines. You also get sculpted windows, some flaps on the back, and what look like some kind of tiny doors on the dorsal surface. I’d like to think that these are missile bay doors. I can just picture an Itano Circus pouring out of the top and swarming toward poor Cosmos as he hauls ass to escape it.

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The coloring here is pretty simple, but so much better than the white Classics version. The top of the shuttle is a beautiful shade of traditional Decepticon purple, while the main body of the craft is gray and black. There’s precious little here in the way of paint apps, as this toy mostly lets the colored plastic do the talking, but it’s still a nice looking toy and I can’t argue with these colors. You do get a pair of crisp Decepticon emblems stamped on the wings. It’s probably worth qualifying here that while I love the coloring on this figure, the Takara version is so much better. I decided a while back that I wasn’t going to pay more for Takara paint jobs, only new molds, but here was one release where I cam close to making an exception.

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Astrotrain’s little Titan Master is called Darkmoon, which is a pretty bitchin’ name. He shares the same purple and gray plastic coloring as his big bot buddy. There’s no paint apps on him and he has the same articulation as the rest of the Titan Masters. That includes a ball jointed head, ball jointed shoulders, and hinges in the hips and knees, with the legs fused together. Astrotrain’s cockpit is at the top of the tail section and includes a purple tinted canopy, which again reminds me of the canopy on that Energon Omega Surpreme toy.

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Astrotrain comes with two guns, which can mount in various places on the shuttle, one of which is designed to fit a Titan Master in a seated position like an outrigger. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I kind of dig this gimmick, as it reminds me a bit of something I might have made with some of the old Micronauts toys. You can even plug the other gun into it to make a really obnoxious looking gunning station. On the downside, I would have really loved a pair of the other gun to plug into those sockets under the tail fins. Having two different guns goes against my love of symmetry in my Transformers armaments. OK, enough said about the shuttle, let’s check out the train mode.

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Yeah, I’m not really loving this. While the shuttle mode took its share of liberties and worked, this futuristic bullet train just isn’t doing it for me. Frankly, it looks less like a train and more like it’s a few tweaks away from either being a battleship or a submarine. Once again, I’m going to go back to Energon Omega Supreme, because this really reminds me of the combined mode of his bizarre crane-train-and-battleship monstrosity. From the canopy at the top of the tower to the battleship-style turrets, I’d be hard pressed to believe that Energon Omega wasn’t the inspiration behind this mode. The only train elements I get off of this are the “cow catchers” on the front and back and the rather unconvincing rail wheels molded into the flip down panels. The deco remains very close to what we saw in the shuttle mode, and once again there’s plenty of sculpted detail like panel lines and tiny hatches and ladders, which give a good idea of how ginormous this thing is supposed to be. In the end, I think I’m going to forget this mode exists. So let’s deep six this choo-choo and check out the robot mode!

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Now this is where it’s at! From the front, I’ve got precious little to complain about here. Yeah, I really wish they had given him the split tail fin chest shield. That tab there is just aching for it and it seems like it would have been easy to include it as just a piece that gets set aside when the figure is in his alt modes. Other then that, this guy is just fabulous. There’s something about him, and I can’t put my finger on it, that just makes him look a little above and beyond the usual Hasbro Voyagers. Maybe it’s the quality of plastic, maybe it’s the cut panel lines. Whatever it is, I’m at a loss for words. The front of the figure’s color palate dumps a lot of the purple, relegating it to the sides of the legs and fists, in favor of a largely gray and black deco.

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From the back, we can see where most of that purple went. It’s also here that I have my biggest complaint about the figure and that’s his lower legs. They look with the train fronts sticking out, like they want to be heel spurs, but aren’t. Swivel cuts here would have done a world of good, not only aesthetically, but also to help balance the figure a little better. But I suppose these are minor complaints.

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Astrotrain can make use of the turrets from his alt modes as extra armament when he’s in robot mode. I approve of this!

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Darkmoon makes for a mighty fine head. Yeah, the face sculpt is a little soft, but I still like what they did here. You have the option of deploying two pylons on the sides of his head by pressing a lever below his chest. I don’t like these, I’m not even sure why they’re there, so I’m glad they’re optional.

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Of course, Astrotrain can wield the two weapons we saw with vehicle mode as rifles. I’m sticking with just the one that isn’t designed to sit the Titan Master.

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While it may sound like I have more than a few issues with Astrotrain, the good here certainly outweighs the bad. I love the robot mode, I like the shuttle mode, and the train mode… well, two out of three ain’t bad. There’s just a lot to love about this figure and he’s definitely a step up from the Classics version, which has been a sub-standard stand in for Astrotrain for quite a while. I’m certain glad I didn’t cave in and grab one of those pricey Third Party Astrotrain efforts. While they are definite improvements on this guy, I’m perfectly happy sticking with this toy for the money.

Terminator 2 Judgement Day: Ultimate T-1000 (Motorcycle Cop) by NECA

It’s always a great day when a new one of these NECA “Ultimate” figures arrives on my doorstep. Today, I’m opening up the fourth figure in this series from Terminator 2, which also happens to be the second release of the T-1000 from that film (check out the first release here!). This time he appears in his motorcycle cop disguise with a bevy of accessories, some old and some new. I’m always thrilled to pick up another figure from this movie, because it was so groundbreaking and I think it stands as one of the best Summer Sci-Fi-Action flicks of all time. Hell, I can still remember how pumped I was coming out of the theater after seeing it for the first time!

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I’ve gushed on and on (and on!) about how much I love the packaging for this line. The figure comes in a collector friendly box with a front flap secured by velcro. Open it up to reveal a window that offers a great look at the contents. As always, the box evokes the feel of a VHS tape in its sleeve, only a lot more chunkier. NECA also does a wonderful job of matching up these packages, so they look great all lined up on the shelf together.

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And here’s why they call these “Ultimate” figures. As you can see from the tray, you get a lot of stuff. The other great thing about these figures is they really serve to enhance each other. Having either one of these T-1000’s is cool enough, but if you own both of them, you can mix and match parts to recreate whatever you want.

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But make no mistake, this isn’t some minor variant release. With the exception of the belt and maybe the pelvis, this body is an entirely new sculpt. The torso features a motorcycle jacket that is brimming with detail. Besides the usual stitching, pockets, and wrinkles, you get some meticulously detailed shoulder patches and a tiny, but beautiful, badge. I’m really blown away by how much attention NECA spent on this jacket. The trousers feature piping on the sides and he’s wearing tall boots. Finally, the familiar belt features a sculpted walkie-talkie, handcuff pouch, two magazine pouches, and a working holster for his pistol.

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The stock head features the helmet and sunglasses. This noggin looks amazing, and I particularly love the glossy paintwork on the helmet itself.

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In addition to the helmeted head, you get two more portraits. One is just a standard one with a fantastic sculpt of Robert Patrick’s “determined to kill you” mug. It’s very similar to the one that came with the last T-1000 and I’m honestly not sure if it’s the same sculpt or not. This one seems to have more of an intense stare, I’m talking crazy peepers! But that could just be the paint. Either way, the likeness is fantastic and it’s an amazing piece of work.

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The other is a nice compliment to the “zipping up” head that came with the previous release. Here the head is totally blown apart and the effect is fantastic. Some may remember that I had a tough time swapping the heads on the first T-1000 because of a super tight fit. I’m happy to say that these go on and off very easily. And if you’re keeping score at home…

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That’s a total of six Robert Patrick heads so far, assuming you own both releases. That’s a lot of Robert Patrick!!

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The articulation here is pretty standard for the line. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and the elbows, and the hands are attached with ball joints. The legs feature rotating hinges in the hips and knees, with the knee joints actually being slightly below the knee to conceal the joints in the boots. The ankles are hinged and feature lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the waist and another at the base of the neck. OK… let’s talk accessories!

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For starters, you get two guns. The first is the same service pistol, which I believe is a Beretta 92FS, that came with the original release. You also get a pair of gun-holding hands and the gun will fit in the holster on his belt. The other is the H&K sub-machine gun that the T-1000 used during the motorcycle chase.

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In addition to the relaxed hands and gun-holding hands, you also get a pair of the extended metal finger hands. These are the same ones that came with the last T-100 release, with one a little longer than the other.

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Finally, you get the sword arm, which attaches at the shoulder. I really like how they did this piece, since despite it morphing from the jacketed arm, it still works and looks just fine on the first release.

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It’s impossible for me to end any review of a NECA “Ultimate” figure without remarking on what a great value these are. If you’re lucky enough to have a TRU or an FYE in your area, you should be able to grab these for about $22-25. And when you consider the attention to detail and craftsmanship that goes into these releases, that’s one of the best deals going in the action figure aisles today. Not to mention all the extras and the premium packaging. What’s even better is that NECA isn’t done with this film yet. They’ve already teased another T-800 release, this time with the flower box and shotgun from the beginning of the film. Just keep making them, NECA, and I’ll keep buying them!

Marvel Legends (Abomination Wave): Scarlet Witch by Hasbro

Marvel Legends continues to both amaze and befuddle me. Obviously, it’s being driven by the marketing juggernaut (HA!) that is the Disney-Marvel cinematic machine. And yet when it comes to Legends figures, the comic-based and often more obscure characters have outnumbered the cinematic counterparts. Now, I’m not complaining… not really. Having figures like Shocker, Batroc, and Eel swinging on the pegs is a wonderful thing. But I’m still surprised that Hasbro has been so slow in giving us MCU versions of many main characters.

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Case in point, I’m only now getting a Legends MCU Scarlet Witch, with Hasbro passing over her premier in Age of Ultron and going straight for Civil War. And here, she’s seemingly thrown into an otherwise totally comic-based wave like an afterthought. It’s weird, but nonetheless welcome. What’s more, this figure turned out so damn amazing… it’s almost magical! All puns aside. I love this figure!

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I really love the evolution of Wanda’s costume in the movies. She starts out with the almost gypsy-like outfit in Age of Ultron (which I happily have represented in Hot Toys form) and streamlines it to something that looks similar, but a lot more polished and more suited to super hero scuffles. Hasbro really nailed it here in their 6-inch version. I really dig what they did with her corset. It’s got that vertical ribbing and some great stitching down the front. The slightly metallic red they used for it looks fantastic and the front lacing is neatly panted in black.

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The jacket, however, is the real star of this little plastic costume. I’ll be the first to admit that the whole trench coat look is getting more than a bit tired, especially in super hero films, but I think this just works splendidly. Every little detail is sculpted in from the overall texture to the stitching on the belt and the reinforced patches on the elbows and shoulders. I also really dig the way it fans out at the bottom. It creates a nice dramatic look and also helps keep it from interfering with her articulation. Even the color is just perfect. They also did a wonderful job on her finger-less gloves.

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And then you have the portrait. Would I recognize this as Elizabeth Olsen? Nah, probably not. If you tell me this is Elizabeth Olsen can I see a little of her in there? Sure, why not. Either way, I think it’s a fantastic looking sculpt. I’m tempted to say they went a little too heavy on the rouge, but then I think it adds a little warmth to the face. It’s certainly miles better than what they did to poor Daisy Ridley with the 6-inch Star Wars Black Rey figure. The sculpted hair here looks great too, although it does work against the neck articulation.

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Speaking of articulation, Wanda’s stacks up pretty well. She’s got rotating hinges in her shoulders, elbows, and wrists, but sadly no bicep swivels. Her legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivel cuts in the thighs, and double hinges in the knees. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. She’s got a ball joint just under the chest, and another in the neck. Yes, this is case where I really do miss those bicep swivels. They would have allowed for a lot more spell-slinging poses, but I’m still having a good time with what we got.

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About the only knock I have against Scarlet Witch are the crappy effect parts she came with. No, I’m usually not one for effect parts in the first place, but these just look terrible. There’s no subtlety or craft about them. They’re just giant swirls of transparent red plastic. If I didn’t know anything about her character and I saw these, I’d guess her power was shooting flames out of her hands. Here’s a case where I like the comic-style hex effects much better.

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Good thing I have about a thousand pairs of those in almost every color of the rainbow! I went with the pink ones! It’s appropriate, because I think those are the ones that came with comic-based Scarlet Witch.

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I’ll be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this wave. In fact, the only reason I picked up most of the figures in it was because they were $10 each on Amazon, and if I had waited, I would have found they went even lower. Of course, Scarlet Witch was the exception. I actually wound up forking over $25 for her, but it was worth every penny. She’s a fantastic figure and a long overdue addition to my MCU Legends shelf. And while Wanda deserved her own slot on Marvel Monday, I can’t say the same for the rest of the figures that make up this Abomination Wave. There’s nothing terrible here, but nothing terribly exciting either. So I’ll be doubling up on a lot of the rest so I can get in and get out a little faster than usual.

And just a reminder, I’m starting my new (hopefully for keeps this time) update schedule this week with new content on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. I’ll still be rotating Saturdays, but I do believe I’ll have an Anime Saturday ready for this week. 

DC Universe Signature Series: Superboy by Mattel

It’s been over three years since a DC Signature Series figure last appeared here on FFZ. This line was Matty’s noble attempt to keep DC Universe Classics going as a subscription line after it was pulled from the toy aisles for reasons that still don’t make any sense to me, but that’s an issue that I’ve tackled here before and I won’t go into it again now. Anyway, the subscription didn’t get enough support to go forward in 2014, but Matty still released a handful of figures that were already far along in production. One of those was Connor Kent and he was offered up as part of Matty’s going out of business sale at the end of last year.

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While the figures were designed to fit right in with DC Universe Classics, the presentation got a complete overhaul. And, boy, the packaging for this line was great. You get a collector friendly window box with character art on the side panel so you can identify the figure if you have the boxes all lined up on the shelf. The back panel features another piece of character art and a blurb about the character.

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Superboy features a nice balance between simple buck and unique sculpting. The upper body is just a muscled buck with the black, short sleeved T-shirt painted on and the red S-Shield stamped in the middle. It looks great, and the size really fits the younger, albeit still buffed out, character.

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From the waist down, we get sculpted jeans with a simple belt. There are plenty of rumples in the jeans, and I dig how the actual seams on the upper legs are lined up to match the sculpted seams of the jeans on the lower legs. The jeans end in cuffs, left outside of his black boots. Again, there’s nothing outrageous about the sculpt here, but everything works so well. It’s just a great, simple, and clean looking figure.

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The portrait is notably more mature than the last Superboy we got in the DC Universe Classics series. It’s also a bit more stylized than I’m used to seeing in this line. With all that having been said, I still like it and I think it works well. The head sculpts in this line were usually solid efforts, and Connor here is no different.

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The articulation here reaches back to the DCUC line and really scratches that nostalgic itch. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have that funky DCUC style hips, the knees and ankles are hinged, and there are swivels in the thighs. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso and a ball joint on the neck.

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Connor was one of those figures that fell under my radar. I remember being disappointed at not getting him when the 2014 subscription failed, but somehow I missed him when Matty initially put him up for sale. Lucky for me they had some stock left over at the end, and I was able to drop him into my cart along with the short list of MOTUC figures that I still needed, making my Signature Collection now complete. The only problem with getting a figure like this one is that now I want to hit Ebay and hunt down the elusive DCUC figures that I’m still missing.