Star Wars “The Empire Strikes Back” 40th Anniversary Boba Fett Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

It surprises even me that I’ve been able to go this long without adding a Hot Toys Boba Fett to my collection. Sure, I do have a Sideshow Fett, but that’s a review for another time. Truth be told, I try to be very selective about which Original Trilogy characters I pick up as Hot Toys, because otherwise it can be a damned slippery (and expensive) slope to fall down. Up until now I’ve been able to resist the parade of pricey Bobas that have been released, but then this fellow came out of left field and I found him to be totally irresistible. So what’s different about him? Well for one he’s got a bright, beautiful, and totally inaccurate Kenner-inspired deco. And secondly, the packaging is absolutely killer! And hell, it’s goddamn Boba Fett!!! Even with his mug plastered on every kind of conceivable merchandising over the decades, even with countless action figure releases, I’ve never once had a case of The Fett Fatigue. It seemed only right that he should be honored in my collection by Hot Toys. At least until I get up enough of the crazies to get a Life Size one!

And here’s that delectable packaging, and boy is that rare for Hot Toys these days. Every now and then they produce some nice packaging for a Deluxe, like they did for Doctor Strange or for Jyn Erso, but for the most part the figures ship in glorified flimsy window boxes with even flimsier sleeves over them. The artwork is usually nice, but that’s about it. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even justify keeping most of the boxes any longer. Fett here does come in a window box, but it’s made of sturdier stuff and is designed to be reminiscent of the kind of packaging Kenner used for their old 12-inch figures. Of course, this spectacular presentation is in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. The artwork of Fett on the front looks like it was ripped right off the old Kenner box and everything else falls in line too. It’s got the starfield, the silver borders, everything that used to get me excited when I tore off the wrapping paper on Christmas morning and saw it peeking out. Not only am I keeping this box, but it’s very likely that I will display the figure in it.

Boba doesn’t require too much set up to get him ready for display. You do have to attach his jetpack, which is a little challenging, as it hooks onto the tiny clips on his back. MAGNETS, HOT TOYS! You’ve used them before, why not now? You also have to insert his little tools into his leg pouches, but that’s really it. I am assuming this figure is a straight repaint of Hot Toys’ previous Boba from The Empire Strikes Back, but I don’t have that figure to compare, so I’ll just have to stick with that assumption. And so despite being a mere recolored variant, he’s an entirely new figure to me! And boy does he look great! The brighter intensified colors really invoke that old vintage Kenner magic and it looks quite stunning on a figure this realistically detailed. The jumpsuit has all the usual immaculate tailoring that I’ve come to expect from Hot Toys, and I’m particularly in love with how the chest armor is actually made up of separate pieces of plastic and independently attached to the vest. It may seem like a small touch, but it makes these pieces shift realistically in a way that I’ve yet to really see on a Fett figure before. The weathering on the armor has taken a step back in exchange for this color scheme. You still get some pock marks and dents, but even these are painted in a brighter silver to make the figure pop. Interestingly, they went for a more subdued paint job for the body of the jetpack, instead of the deco on Kenner’s old 12-inch figure, but I do like how the silver thrusters and the bright red rocket makes it pop.

Some beautiful touches include the tattered cape that cascades off the back of his left shoulder, the Wookie braids coiled on his right shoulder, the leather pouches on his belt, a hard-shell pistol holster positioned just behind his right hip, and I already mentioned the little tools that fit into the pockets on his lower legs. There’s also some wonderful detail on his gauntlets. If I’m nitpicking, my only real gripe would be that his arms seem a little too thin and it feels like they could have wrapped them to fill out the sleeves a little better, but even that is only something I tend to notice when I’m posing him in certain ways. Beefing out the arms a little bit would also make the bracers more snug. The right gauntlet has a piece of tubing tha ttucks up into the sleeve of his jumpsuit, and the left one has the flamethrower, rocket, and other bits and bobs.

By now Hot Toys must know their way around Fett’s helmet backwards and forwards, so it doesn’t surprise me that it looks this good. The vintage coloring gives the helmet a gray finish with no weathering on the red paint around the high gloss visor. Despite the giant dent in the dome, and some traces of light weathering on the cheeks, the deco gives the helmet something approaching a new look, that we seldom get to see. Although the stripes on the left side of the dome are still painted in a faded manner. The range finder is articulated, and the post is made of firm plastic so it won’t bend or warp. It will, however, no doubt break pretty easily so a modicum of care is needed when positioning it.

The jumpsuit isn’t terribly restrictive, making Fett a little more fun to play around with than a lot of other Hot Toys. The arms have a great range of motion, although those elbow joints feel a little loose. The codpiece does inhibit his hip movement a bit, but not terribly so, allowing for some action poses. And speaking of action, Boba isn’t exactly laden down with accessories, but he does come with everything he should, and that includes a number of sets of hands. The hands are very easy to work with, although there are some very fragile bits on those gauntlets, so again care is recommended when changing these out. You get relaxed hands, fists, a right gun hand, and a left hand designed for cradling his carbine. And speaking of which, he comes with both his pistol and his iconic carbine.

The pistol is very simple with a maroon grip, trigger guard, and frame, and the rest painted silver. Most of the fine detail is seen in the muzzle. He can hold it pretty well, but it’s clear that the gun hand was intended more for the carbine than this little guy, so it isn’t a perfect fit. Still, I never associate this pistol with The Fett, but it’s cool that he has a little bit of insurance in case he needs it.

Ah, now this is a lot more like it! The EE-3 carbine is a little work of art, with loads of detail. It’s got glyphs laid into the stock, a scope suspended above the barrel with two brackets, and a carry strap. I love how convincing this weapon is, which isn’t surprising as it’s infamously based off of an old Webley & Scott flare gun. It’s not fancy or flashy, it’s just a great utilitarian design. Just the kind of trusty tool that a bounty hunter would carry. The finish has some light weathering on it, presumably because Fett takes good care of his weapons! It takes a little effort to get his gun hand wrapped around it, but once it’s on it’s a perfect fit.

Our last stop on these Hot Toys review is inevitably the stand, and Boba comes with a pretty standard one. The gray base is meant to look like the deck of a spaceship and he has a nameplate on the front. Because it’s not like people aren’t going to know who he is, right? I’m guessing this base is recycled from the regular release. It would have been cool to get something special for this Vintage Color release, but it looks fine and it certainly does the job of holding him up.

Hot Toys figures aren’t usually impulse buys for me, but when I saw this guy go up for pre-order, there was nothing that was going to stop me from slamming on that button. I do try to go a little easier when it comes to Star Wars Hot Toys, because with so many iconic characters, things can get out of hand pretty quickly. But with that having been said, it seemed like sacrilege to have a Hot Toys collection without a character as iconic as Boba Fett represented. And this release allowed me to add him to the collection in a truly special manner. In many ways, these colors actually feel more accurate to me, because I’ve had them engraved in my brain from such a young age. I’m not sure that this figure is for everybody, but I think he’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something nostalgic and special!

Marvel Legends: Nimrod, Psylocke, and Fantomex by Hasbro

After detouring for a couple of Marvel Mondays, this week I’m back to looking at Marvel Legends. And yeah, I Know I said I was going to start digging into the Sugar Man Wave, but before I get into that, I thought I’d tear into this new three-figure set that hit my doorstep from Amazon last week. And I hope you aren’t all X-Men’ed out because… IT’S MORE X-MEN!!!

This rather large boxed set comes to us as an Amazon Exclusive, and these days I find those are the best kinds of exclusives. Not only was I able to pre-order it without a headache, but did you forget to pre-order? Well, no worries, it’s still up on the site, at least is at the time I’m writing this. The presentation is pretty snappy, with a silver box and a crisp and clean gold X-logo to brand it up. I wouldn’t mind returning these figures to the box for display, and I probably will for a while. That is until the Toy Closet gets too cluttered and I have to start taking extreme measures by culling boxes again. I’ll also throw out there that this is a damn heavy box, as it contains a lot of plastic! Let’s have a look at the figures, and I’ll start with Fantomex first!

We last saw Fantomex waaaaay back in Wave 2 of Modern Legends as part of the Anim Zola Wave. Holy hell, that was eight years and what seems like about a million figures ago! I actually expected a repack, which goes to show you how much I wanted Nimrod, but upon closer inspection I was pleased to see that this is an updated figure. Did we really need a second attempt at Fantomex after all this time? Are there not other characters without figures patiently waiting for their turn? Yeah, but I will say that I’ve always loved Fantomex’s costume. He just looks so bad-ass. But, honestly this one perplexes me a bit. It would have made more sense to just repack him, but let’s dig out the original and do a quick comparison!

At first glance they look quite similar, but a closer inspection shows that they are entirely different figures. I think the older figure still holds up quite well, but this new release has a better build and is slightly better proportioned. Hell, just getting rid of those prehistoric ball joints in the hips is a big improvement. I thought the jackets were the same, but it looks like the older one is sculpted to look like it’s blowing to the right a bit, while the newer one hangs down straight. Otherwise, the two plastic garments are nearly identical. The gunbelt is new, and that makes sense, since the guns are also new. The new figure has a smaller belt buckle, and thigh straps to hold the holsters in place. The older figure has sculpted straps just above the knees, whereas the new one does not. On the downside, the tops of the boots on the new figure are separate pieces and held on by friction. And when I say “held on” I’m being generous, because they are constantly sliding down to his ankles. The old figure had these sculpted on and it was much better. Finally, the gauntlets on the newer figure are flared much more dramatically at the elbows. I think this looks better, but it does interfere with the elbow hinges a bit. Both figures have balance issues, but I think the new one is slightly better. All in all, I’d say the new version is the better figure, but there are still some compromises going on here.

The head sculpt is definitely an improvement over the old one. The noggin is a little bigger to better fit the body, and the sculpting and paint are both tremendous improvements. The eyes on the new figure are look absolutely fantastic. The black striping is a little different, and this new head shows a little less of the facial features under the mask. I really love what they did here.

As I already mentioned, new Fantomex gets new guns, and these are pretty great little sculpts. They’re a little bigger and beefier than the old guns, and they look a little less sci-fi and a little more credible as real world automatics. They’re cast all in gray plastic, with no paint operations, but they have lots of great detail to make them stand out. Also a huge improvement is how well the new figure can hold his guns. The old figure could barely hold his and he couldn’t hold them straight at all. So, chalk that up as another win for new Fantomex!

This figure also comes with some really cool effect parts for his guns. You get a pair of blast effects and a pair of smoke effects, which simply peg into the ends of the muzzles. These are tiny, and hopefully I can keep from losing them, because they are probably some of my favorite effect parts I’ve seen in the Legends line so far.  All in all, this is an excellent update to what was already a pretty good figure. And while I’m not sure I really needed to pay out for a second release of the character, I’m not terribly put out by it either. And that brings us to Psylocke!

Psylocke is another double dip, but at least she’s a variant as she comes in her Uncanny X-Force costume. Sure, we just got her a couple of years back as part of the Apocalypse Wave, and I’m ashamed that I can’t post a link to that review, because I haven’t opened her yet and that entire wave is part of my backlog. I’ll get to that wave eventually! Either way, it’s nice to have this version to go with Fantomex. Plus the Apocalypse Wave Psylocke tends to go for a good chunk of change these days, so for some this may be Consolation Prize Psylocke! Like the previous release, this figure relies almost exclusively on paint to detail her costume, but it works just fine. The sash is actually a newly sculpted piece, now white and with an X-Force logo in the center.

The head sculpt looks new to me, but it’s close enough to the original that it may just be from variances in the molding process and paint. It’s also worth pointing out that the skintone on the new figure is a bit paler than the last one, but that may also be due to coloring variation as opposed to being intentional. Either way, the new figure looks great. The paint applied for her eyes and lips is nice and sharp, and I dig the purple they used for her hair.

X-Force Psylocke comes with the same effect parts as the previous release, although the coloring on these new ones is overall a lot nicer. She also comes with a swappable right fist, which works a little better with the blast part, but isn’t really necessary, as it will work well enough with the accessory holding hand too. All of these look great, but I’m extremely partial to the Katana. She just looks fantastic wielding it. It may seem like I’m running through this figure rather quickly, despite not having reviewed the original yet, but it’ll happen. Plus, I still have the main attraction from this three-pack to cover, so let’s have a look at Nimrod!

I gotta say, I absolutely love the design of the character. He’s got a sort of Bruce Timm stylized look to him that is so bizarre and unique when presented among the regular looking characters. It’s like because he hails from the future, he actually looks out of context in the present. Same goes for how smooth and nearly featureless his body is, making him look sterile and super advanced. It’s just brilliant and it’s even better when presented as this giant slab of an action figure! The entire body is comprised of some lovely pearlescent white plastic that gives him a cool sheen, disturbed only by the pink pin-striping and the translucent pink triangle embedded in his chest and showing off just a hint of some finely sculpted circuitry. From behind, Nimrod shows off some red paint accents and his translucent pink wings, which peg into his back, making him look all the more impressive.

Nimrod’s head is barely a head, but more like a bump coming out of his torso with a face in it. The silver face is framed with some red paint, and otherwise just sports white eyes, a black slit for a mouth, and some black grills in his cheeks. Elegant, simple, and just a tad creepy.

And if you want to go for something a little more classic looking, Nimrod comes with a swappable head with a red face. At first glance it looked fairly similar to the standard head, but it is actually a completely new sculpt, and I think I’m actually partial to it. It has a little more personality and adds a bit more color to the figure.

In terms of articulation, he does indeed feel like a Build-A-FIgure, in that he has all the right points, but being a chunky boi, some of these points don’t offer  quite as much range of motion. The exception would be in the shoulders’ rotating hinges and the fact that the shoulder armor is happily quite flexible. As a result, I was surprised at the amount of movement I could get out of the arms. There are swivels in the biceps, and the elbows are only single-hinged, but you can get a full 90-degree flex out of them. The hands are on hinged pegs. I believe that’s a ball joint in the torso, but mine only wants to swivel, and it snaps back each time I swivel it. I’m not sure what’s going on in there, but I’m not going to risk forcing it, just in case something is stuck. The legs appear to have rotating hinges in the hips, but there’s really very little range in them. The knees are double-hinged, and thus quite good and the ankles have a little bit of movement in a hinge, but not much.

In addition to the extra head, Nimrod comes with two sets of hands, fists and open, and two blast effect parts that plug into the open hands and look pretty sweet.

Marvel Legends never ceases to surprise and amaze me. I mean, it’s been clear that Hasbro has pulled out all the stops with this line a long time ago, but still… getting a set like this is just so magical and I think it really demonstrates what a strong following this line has. It’s an $80 set, which is probably why it wound up as an online exclusive, I’m not sure the Walmarts and Targets would want to take up this much real estate on a planogram for a set this expensive, and populated by characters that your average normie isn’t going to recognize. But while the set may seem pricey, it costs out fairly well at $20 each for Psylocke and Fantomex, that leaves $40 for Nimrod. OK, so Hasbro’s repacks of Build-A-Figures usually run out at the $30 price point, but since this is an entirely new figure, that’s probably where the extra ten bucks comes into play. Either way, it’s a fantastic set and three solid additions to my ever growing Legends collection.

Sinful Suzi Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen/TBLeague

TBLeague and I have a great relationship. They keep making Sixth-Scale figures based on sexy independent comic characters and I keep buying them! They released quite a bit of characters licensed from the likes of Brian Pulido’s Chaos! (now Coffin) Comics as well as Zenescope, and now they’re turning their attention to the work of Joseph Michael Linsner. He’s probably best known for Dawn, and Yes! TBLeague has released a figure of her as well, but today we’re having a look at Sinful Suzi, who first appeared seven years ago in Image Comics’ Sin Boldly!

TBLeague continues to offer some of the better packaging I’ve seen in the Sixth-Scale market. While even the big boys like Hot Toys tend to cheap out with flimsy window boxes these days, TBL is giving us sturdy shoebox-style packaging with tri-fold covers that secure with magnets and inside the figure is nestled in a foam cutout with the head packaged off of the figure. The front panel of the box has some colorful artwork by Linsner and the side and back panels have pictures of the actual figure. In this case you also get a separate parcel of Styrofoam, bundled inside the shipping box, with the diorama base. TBL usually does this with Deluxe versions of their figures, but I think this was the only version of Suzi available. The figure comes with the body wrapped in plastic, and I had to take her boots and sleeves off to carefully slice it all away and remove it. I do recommend leaving the wrap around her ankle joints, as it fills in the joint and makes it look more natural under the boot.

Obviously, Suzi is built on Phicen’s incredible super-flexible seamless body, consisting of a stainless steel skeleton wrapped in a fleshy rubber coating. The only visible jointing on the body is at the wrists, ankles, and neck, and all but the last are concealed by the outfit. Suzi’s body features a chalky white complexion, very similar to the one they used for Lady Death. Even with well over a dozen of these figures on my shelf, I still marvel at how well these bodies work, and I’ve yet to have one tear or break down on me. Fingers crossed!

Sinful Suzi’s outfit is pretty standard seductress leather demon attire. She’s got thigh high boots, which feature sculpting on the toes to resemble hooves, and I think that’s a great little touch. These are also painted with a bit of electric blue coloring. Her arms have sleeves that run up to her biceps, which have hand extensions. I think these are supposed to hook through one of her fingers on her relaxed hands, but the hole is so small it doesn’t work so well. The rest of her outfit is supposed to be a leather one-piece, and here’s where things disappoint. The top of the outfit is made of cloth, rather than the whole thing made of the faux-leather, although it hooks onto a leather piece that goes around her neck. It looks OK, I guess, but the disparity in material kind of stands out to me. it just feels like corners were cut.

The head sculpt, on the other hand? Well, no corners were cut here, as it looks simply (or is that sinfully?) fabulous! The paintwork on her eyes and lips is exceptionally well done. The eyes are almost cat like with narrow pupils, and she has some hot orange coloring between the tops of her eyes and her immaculate eyebrows. The lips are a deep crimson with a glossy wet finish. The features are soft and beautiful, and they gave her a fairly neutral expression, which is fine as it works for a myriad of poses. I wouldn’t have minded something with a smirk. It’s a shame that TBLeague never offers multiple portraits with their figures, although that would really jack up the price, I’m sure. Suzi’s demon horns are sculpted as part of the head and they look pretty natural jutting up from above her forehead. The electric blue hair really makes the whole portrait pop, although it can be a bit of a pill to get under control. I haven’t broken out the gel yet, but I may eventually as there are quite a few misbehaving strands. I do love how it’s parted to partially cover one horn and fully expose the other.

The seamless body boasts something like 28 points of articulation, and thanks to her skimpy and completely non-restrictive outfit, Suzi is a lot of fun to pose. As always, these figures articulate in remarkably realistic ways and I’m always impressed by some of the more subtle movements available, particularly in the torso, shoulders, and neck. The skin is pretty resilient, and while it’s always a good idea to show a modicum of care to prevent tearing, truth be told, both the skin and skeleton can handle some pretty wide ranges of motion. I think the biggest no-no is posing the arms straight up, as it will really stress the skin under the arm, but beyond that, she’s just all sorts of fun! I should also note that her balance is amazing. I will often edit out stands in some of my dramatic poses, but I didn’t have to do that once for this review. Impressive, considering she’s wearing high heels!

Suzi comes up pretty light in the accessories department, but she does come with three sets of hands, and her trademark trident. Honestly, I can’t really think of anything else they could have included with her, so I can’t really complain. Well, one nitpick is that her accessory holding hands are a bit loose with her trident. I’m sure TBLeague just used remolds of existing hands, hence the problem. Truth be told, she can still hold the trident fairly well, but it will slip every now and again. The trident itself isn’t all that exciting. It’s just a thin piece of plastic, but she would certainly be incomplete without it!

And then there’s the base, and it is a very cool piece! This diorama style base features a suburban hellscape with the red brick steps to a front porch and a sculpted doormat that says Sinful Suzi Welcome to HELL! Awesome! There are a couple tiny horns protruding from the back corners and there’s a peg where you can attach a demon skull onto the bottom step. In the past, these diorama bases often came with no way to secure the figure to it, making them awesome showpieces, but a pretty risky way to display your $150 figures. Sadly, as a result, most of my bases are packed away in storage. For the last couple releases I’ve purchased, TBL has been remedying that by adding a support stand that screws into the base, and I couldn’t be happier. In this case, the support is on a bendable rod with a ratcheting clip to gently grab the figure and it works great!

And since the skull is removable, it makes for a cool extra accessory. The sculpting and paint on this piece are both excellent. IT’s got little fangs and demon horns, and it looks like someone bashed in the back of his head when he was alive.

Oh yeah, if you turn the base around you’ve got this nasty bastard peering out at you from behind a sewer grate. This is such a wonderfully ridiculous extra bit of detail on a part of the base that you are probably never going to see. I really appreciate that kind of work!

All in all, I think Suzi turned out pretty well, even if I do wish her outfit had been made out of all of the same material. There’s nothing terribly crazy or new here when it comes to TBLeague’s releases, and I’ll bet this was a pretty quick-and-easy figure for them to produce. But that being said, she looks great and she’s tons of fun to play around with. The bundled base also goes a long way to drive up the figure’s value, as it was included without adding anything to the price point (about $159) of TBL’s regular releases. As a character, she’s probably a deep cut, even for a lot of comic fans, but given Suzi’s pinup qualities, I’m not sure you really need to be familiar with the comics to appreciate this figure. And she sure looks right at home on the shelf and hanging out with the likes of Purgatori, Vampirella, and Lady Death.

Golden Axe: Ax Battler and Red Dragon Mount by Storm Collectibles

To know me is to know that I was a SEGA kid. I reveled in my Master System when I was a teenager and the first purchase I made with my very first credit card when I was in college was a Genesis console. I drifted away from SEGA for a little while after that, but I was welcomed back home with my nearly fanatical love of the Dreamcast, which just celebrated it’s 21st birthday here in the US last week. 9.9.99 FOREVER!!! And yes, my love for SEGA still burns brightly today. So when a company like Storm Collectibles comes out of nowhere with an action figure set based on Golden Axe, you can be damn sure I’m going to be there to support them.

I don’t know how many of you toyhounds cross over into retro video gaming, so let me take a moment for some background. Golden Axe was a Sword-and-Sorcery themed beat-em-up, which I first played on the SEGA Genesis. Actually, it was the third cartridge that I bought for the console. And boy did I drop a lot of time into this game. Hell, I still play it fairly regularly on one of my many Genesis Collections. It’s pretty great to have it portable on Nintendo’s Switch too! Storm Collectibles is a company that has made its mark developing highly articulated, 6-inch scale action figures based on various video game properties, but most notably Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. I passed on the figures from both of those franchises, because I’ve been burned so many times by other companies which have started lines but don’t see them through, and I didn’t want to start over again. And so it took the most unlikely of franchises, Golden Axe, to finally give me an opportunity to see what their figures are all about. So let’s check out the Barbarian, Ax Battler, and his Red Dragon mount!

The packaging is… well, fairly subpar. The figure set comes in a window box, which is pretty flimsy. Mine was actually torn in two places, and it came from a retailer that prides themselves on careful packaging and catering to the picky nature of collectors. There’s some grainy artwork on the front and back, and the window isn’t very useful because the contents are wrapped in so much plastic, that I couldn’t see anything until opening it. The picture I snapped looks better than it did in person, because I have since removed all that interior wrapping. About the only props I’ll give the presentation is the illustrated cardboard tray is a mock up of the character select screen in the game. Granted, I’m usually looking for an excuse to get rid of packaging so none of this really phases me, but it would have been cool to get some background copy on the character… Naw! I’m kidding. Golden Axe franchise has had about a half dozen games and spin-offs in its catalog, but none of the characters are anything more than avatars to let you beat the shit out of medieval assholes.

Freed of his package, Ax Battler is a fairly non-descript character, but very faithful to his video game counterpart. He’s a muscle-bound Barbarian in a pair of blue underwear and blue boots. There are silver buttons on the front of the boots, a silver belt running around the tops of the undies, and silver wrist bracers, but otherwise this dude is just a slab of musclebound meat. But, like I said, very faithful to the character’s appearance in the game. And for what is a pretty minimalist design, Storm did a wonderful job with the sculpt. His musculature is all very well defined, you get some veins running through his arms, and they even sculpted him with a permanent wedgie, which is probably why he’s so angry all the time.

The figure comes with two heads, one neutral and one angry, and while both are pretty good, I think I prefer the neutral one the most. And here’s where Storm probably got to exercise some creative license, because I’m not sure what source material they used to model the portrait. You sure don’t get that great a look at him in the game, as his head is just a collection of tiny pixels, so I’d guess they used the cover art from the Genesis cartridge case. Either way, I’m not complaining, because what we got is pretty good, albeit generic. He has a strong nose, high cheekbones, a jutting chin, and a determined, pouty lip. The eyes that are set deep under his prominent brow are painted very well, giving him a pretty realistic spark of life. The long hair is sculpted separately from the head, complete with some unkept strands that cover his forehead. He doesn’t look overly bright, but I’ve never seen anything in the game that suggested otherwise. All in all, a damn fine portrait for a figure in this scale.

The heads are mounted on ball joints, so swapping them out is pretty easy. The angry portrait is pretty good, but I don’t think it quite conveys the ferocity that I would have liked. He’s gritting his teeth, but it looks more like he’s forcing a smile while posing for a SEGA promotional picture. Or just smiling in a wind tunnel. The rest of the face just needed some more evidence of fury here. Maybe squint the eyes a bit, furl the brow more, and put some wrinkles in the nose. It’s always nice to get the option of a second portrait, and what we got here isn’t bad, but could be better. I think I’ll likely stick to the neutral portrait for display.

Ax Battler has articulation in spades, and this is one of those examples of how all that extra articulation can sometimes affect the look of the figure. Some of the joints here are a little ugly, particularly the fronts of the elbows, the backs of the knees, and the wrists in general. Still, I wouldn’t change anything because this is a crazy fun figure to pose and play around with. In addition to double hinges in the elbows and knees, he has ball joints in the hips, hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, and even hinges in his feet. The shoulders are ball jointed and have lateral crunches, he has swivels in the biceps, and his wrists are on rotating hinges. There’s a ball joint under his big muffiny chest and his neck is ball jointed. All the points work quite well and offer up a satisfying range of motion, which is pretty ironic because the character animations in the game were pretty stiff!

As you’ve already seen in the pictures, Battler comes with a surprising four sets of hands. You get fists, accessory holding hands, relaxed hands, and grabby hands. Honestly, I was not expecting this man hands! Like the head, they are extremely easy to swap out, but with those exposed joints in the wrists, they sure should be!

Besides the passel of hands and an extra noggin, Ax Battler also comes with his trusty sword. Wait, what? Why isn’t he called Sword Battler? Always wondered that. Anyway, this is a really nice accessory with a beautiful painted silver finish on the blade, crossguard, and pommel. The grip is painted gold, and there’s a gold decorative fixture rising up from the crossguard and extending up for about a third of the blade. I love how the blade swells a little before coming to a point. The sword can be held securely in either of the accessory holding hands, but the grip isn’t long enough for him to go two-handed with it. There’s no scabbard or anywhere for him to stow it, but then again, this guy has his sword out pretty much all the time. All in all, they did a nice job recreating this weapon from the game cartridge’s cover art. OK, I’ve gone on long enough about Ax Battler, let’s move on to his Dragon Mount!

And that’s this beautiful red-scaled sunovabitch! At various points in the game, Ax Battler (or whoever you are playing) can hop onto different types of mounts and use them to move more quickly and deliver heavier attacks. At least until you get knocked off of it too many times and it runs off screen. It was kind of a fun play mechanic because whenever there was an empty mount on the screen, the game turned into a power-struggle to claim it and stay on it, which was easier said than done. The first mount you can acquire in the game is a really weird two-legged pink parrot-salamander-looking thing and part of me wishes they had attempted that figure because the design is so goddamn bizarre and totally unique to the game. But then I cast my peepers on this beauty and I knew they made the right decision. I mean, holy hell just look at him!

This is an absolutely beautiful sculpt with a scaled texture over most of the body and a smooth, ribbed strip running from his neck, down his belly, and to his tail. The fingers and toes are armed with hooked claws, there’s a stripe of ridges running down his back, from head to tail, and there’s some nice attention to detail in the muscles, particularly in the legs. He actually requires one bit of assembly when he comes out of the box, and that’s attaching the tail to the double-ball joint. It goes in pretty easy and can be removed again if you want to return him to the box for storage. The body is packed with articulation, mostly in the form of ball joints and rotating hinges. The arms and legs each have three points, and he even has hinges in his toes. The only disappointing thing about his articulation is that the legs attach to the body with only the means to rotate. I would have loved to see ball joints up there to give him a wider stance. Still, the balance on this guy is pretty nice, and he stands quite well on his own.

The head sculpt is a work of art, and it’s pretty damn cool that Storm got this much detail out of some pixels and whatever promotional art was available. The dragon sports two segmented horns sweeping backwards and up at the tips, and I really dig how they flow into the ridges over his deep set eyes. The dragon’s mouth is punctuated at the snout by a beak and an smaller horn jutting upward, while the jaws are studded with some impressive teeth and a giant tongue. And yes, the jaw is indeed hinged. The portrait is rounded out by the two fin-like fans that protrude backwards from the sides of his head. The coloring is also worthy of note. The bulk of the dragon is a mix of red and orange, with the two colors blended beautifully throughout the various features of the head.

The dragon comes equipped with his riding tackle, which is cast in soft plastic, painted brown, and textured to look like leather. The gear includes a saddle with stirrups coming off the sides, and a harness for the head, with reins for the rider to hold onto. One of the coolest things about this figure is that all the tackle is sculpted separately from the dragon itself, so you could theoretically take it all off if you wanted to make him the kind of dragon that prefers to guard treasure hoards, and doesn’t like to be ridden. Whether it could be reattached is another matter, and while I’m not going to attempt it on this figure, I may just keep an eye out for the set to turn up on sale or clearance to pick up a second. So how does the Ax Battler figure work as a rider?

Pretty damn well! There aren’t any tricks to attach him to the beast. You just sit him in the saddle, put his feet through the stirrups, and he can hold the reins in his accessory holding hands. He fits perfectly and stays on pretty well too. At least until one of Death Adder’s assholes comes along and knocks him off of it.

The Dragon Mount comes with an effect part to recreate the fireballs that he can spit in the game. It’s cast in translucent yellow and orange plastic and it looks good! There’s no special trick to attaching it to him. You just kind of shove it in his mouth and tighten his jaw around it.

As someone who has been collecting toys pretty hardcore for the better part of 25 years, it’s amazing to still be both surprised and impressed by a release like this. I never in a million years would have imagined that someone would release an action figure set of this quality based off a thirty-one year old video game beat-em-up. And yet here we are. Life is good. It’s an amazing time to be alive and collecting toys. I think Storm did an amazing job here and I’ll even say that at $59.99, I don’t think the price is too bad either. Especially not for something as niche as this set. And even more surprising, this was not a one-off release, as they have also produced a Skeleton Warrior 2-pack from the series, and I’ll be checking that out within the next week or so. As to whether there will be any more, who can tell? I think the Skeleton 2-pack will get a lot of traction well beyond fans of the game, and I can even see people picking this set up to integrate the dragon into their Mythic Legions collections. I would love to see the another two-pack featuring Gillus the Dwarf and the super hawt amazon Tyris Flare. Or maybe repaint the dragon into the other flavor dragon mount in the series and give him the appropriate fire stream effect part.

Marvel Gallery: Emma Frost (FCBD Edition) by Diamond Select

I was supposed to be spending this Marvel Monday diving into a new wave of Marvel Legends, but then I realized I should take this opportunity between waves to have a look at some of the other Marvel related collectibles waiting to be reviewed. And it just so happens that I have a new(ish) and unopened statue from Diamond Select’s Marvel Gallery series, so let’s have a look at Emma Frost today!

DST did something kind of weird with this release, making the translucent diamond version of the statue the regular edition and this regular-looking version this Free Comic Book Day Edition of the statue. Seems like that should have been the other way around. Not that this one is any more difficult to get than the regular flavor Emma, and it doesn’t seem to be any more expensive either. As always, the statue comes in a multi-window box, which lets in plenty of light from the top and sides. The PVC statue comes fully assembled and suspended between two clear plastic trays. While this figure is scaled about the same as other releases in this line, her pose makes for a really tall box! The front of the box is marked with the Free Comic Book Day tag and everything about the box packaging is totally collector friendly.

And here she is out of that box and ready for display on the shelf, and damn she’s just all sorts of beautiful! Emma stands atop the remains of a Sentinel, taking a slow and sultry victory lap, with her right arm stretched above her head. The composition is so simple, and yet so elegant, and that goes for pretty much everything about this piece. I do love me some museum-style poses, and this one adopts that style only with a side-order of sexy thrown in. It certainly accentuates, Emma’s lovely curves and just exudes power and confidence. And while this is a fairly large and impressive piece, it doesn’t require a whole lot of real estate to display it, just make sure you’ve got a shelf with a lot of vertical clearance!

The outfit is all cast in a striking pearlescent plastic, which gives it a lovely sheen, while the cape has more of a matte finish to it, creating a subtle but welcome contrast in what is an almost entirely white costume. Sometimes this sort of plastic can look cheap, but that’s certainly not the case here. Sparse and subtle details in the costume include sculpted stitch seams, which run up the up the middle of her leggings, and several more on her top. The high-heeled boots have some light rumples where her ankles are flexed and the top edges are well defined. There are two branded X-Men discs, one used as a belt buckle, and another up in the center of her chest, which secures the front of the cape, while the back is secured at the collar. The way the cape is attached gives it a cool cut-out effect, leaving her shoulders bare. And speaking of bare skin, DST did a really nice job giving Emma’s exposed bits a nice, warm skin-tone, which pops against all that white of the costume. There’s certainly a lot to love here for such a simple look.

The portrait is equally praiseworthy with Ms. Frost looking as striking as ever. The paint applied to the eyes and lips is pretty sharp and clean, and if you look close you can make out her choker collar buried under her chin and between her cascades of hair. The hair is sculpted separately from the head, giving it a great sense of depth and I really dig the way it frames her face, The hair itself is painted with a sandy matte finish, which looks so much better than when they try to go full on yellow blonde and add a wash. The hair sculpt offers just enough to show some detail, but remains soft, and I think they did a nice job with the way it bunches around her shoulders, making it look quite natural.

The base hints at being a piece of Sentinel scrap, although it’s hard to make out what exactly. I’m thinking probably a couple of fingers. It looks fantastic and features some wonderfully weathered paint, and the sculpt itself is all nicked and scratched showing that this Sentinel saw some action before Emma brought it down. The cold dirty metal finish also makes for a lovely contrast to the clean white look of the figure. The base is, however, very small compared to the rest of the piece, and while that is certainly welcome in a sense of preserving real estate on the shelf, it doesn’t really convey the sense of Diorama, which is exactly what DST continues to call these. Although, I’ve gone down this road before in these reviews, and I have a feeling the diorama moniker has something to do with licensing.

I have absolutely no room these statues, and while I’ve been better about being more selective, I still continue to buy them. Why? Because they look great and are probably the best value on the statue market these days. For what is essentially a budget line of statues (Emma cost me $50), DST really does bring their A-game to a lot of these Gallery releases. And that goes double for Ms. Frost here. She’s absolutely stunning in every way, and other than in the materials used, I’m not seeing a whole lot of difference between this statue and some of DST’s much higher priced Premier Editions. Hell, I think Emma here is at least as good, if not slightly better than a few of those, and they rank in at the $150 range. Throw in the fact that these Gallery statues often turn up for sale at under the MSRP, and it’s hard to go wrong here and even harder to resist temptation when they turn up in my browsing.

GI JOE Classified: Cobra Commander by Hasbro

After the frustrating hunt that was the Cobra Island exclusives, it feels like I’m suddenly getting hit with a whole bunch of great figures from the new GI JOE Classified series. I just reviewed Gung Ho last week, finally found a Baroness at Target, and got my pre-ordered Arctic Storm Shadow. But I don’t think I was anticipating any figure more than old Bumper Face himself! Let’s take a look at Cobra Commander!  “…Wasssss once a man…” Holy shit, that still creeps me out every time I think about it.

That’s right, fans of the hooded serpent will be disappointed, but that’s OK, because I’m sure we’ll get that variant eventually. I’ve always liked both looks, but you only have to look to the Sideshow Cobra Commander that I have to realize that when given both options, I do prefer the helmet and chrome face shield. Maybe they could have tossed in a hooded head with this one, as I think the hood would look fine on this body. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a shot of him in the package, and everything looks as great as ever. Hasbro continues to number these, and Cobra Commander ranks in as Figure Number 6, but the actual system for numbering them doesn’t always make a lot of sense.

The box features some really nice wrap-around art, which surprisingly gets a lot of the coloring on the figure completely wrong. In the artwork, the silver trim on the figure is replaced by gold. That’s really odd, considering this is an original design, but whatever. I also really dig his skill icons. The puppet icon is hilarious, but what the hell is the lightning bolt brain supposed to be? Mind control, maybe?

Classified Cobra Commander looks regal as all hell, and I love that! While I may waffle between hood and helmet sometimes, I was never a fan of Battle Armor Commander. To me The Commander is all about puffing himself up on pomp and circumstance and shouting at his troops from as far away from the battlefield as possible. And boy does this figure design fit that bill perfectly. Yeah, I’ll admit that I was worried about what we were going to get for Cobra Commander, because a couple of the designs choices have strayed a little too far from the Real American Hero originals than I would like. Turns out I worried for nothing, because this guy looks amazing.

Our Leader sports a dress uniform with a very spiffy tunic, complete with silver lined front flap and two rows of buttons that may or may not be painted to look like serpent eyes. I’m going to just give Hasbro the credit and say that’s intentional.The shoulder area has a snake scale texture to it, as does the panels on the sides of the tunic, and the red stripes running down the sides of his trouser and disappearing into his high boots. The Cobra insignia is printed in red on his chest and partially covered by a gold ornamental chain. His forearms have silver bordered bracers, each with their own Cobra insignia as well. This is a snappy uniform and I absolutely love it. My only gripe is that I wish the blue were a tad lighter. Based on leaked pictures, it seems like we may be getting a brighter repaint, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see. The Commander has a double belt and shoulder strap, which connects to a left pauldron, which also secures his half-cape. The pauldron sports some silver paint and there’s a golden Cobra fixture holding it in place, while the cape is black on the outside with a painted red liner. The belts all have a snake-skin pattern to them. Nice!

The helmet is very form fitting and I dig how the sides are separate from the face shield. The silver “mohawk” is there as well as some black cut-outs above the ears and a silver border painted along the bottom edge. The helmet looks great, but the paint on mine is a little disappointing here, as there’s a bit of silver slop on the side. I do like the finish they used for the shield quite a bit. It’s obviously not a mirror polish, but it does have a nice luster to it.

I won’t run through all the articulation here, because it’s pretty much identical to the Classified male figures we’ve seen so far, and that means it’s very good. The lower part of the tunic does inhibit his leg movement a bit at the hips, but not terribly so. Cobra Commander comes with two sets of hands. These are a right accessory holding hand, a right pointing finger, a left grasping hand, and a left fist. I’m always grateful for extra hands, but I believe it was a rather big omission to not give him a left accessory holding hand when he comes with two accessories. I would have much rather had that than the fist. So, let’s talk about those accessories!

First up, Cobra Commander comes with a bitchin’ sword with a gold cobra-head hilt. I love the hilt, but the blade is super funky. I’m sure Hasbro was going for something highly stylized, futuristic, and cool, but I would have preferred a standard saber. This thing just looks so crazy and impractical that it took me a little while to decide which side is supposed to be the edge. It also doesn’t fit very well in the included scabbard. The scabbard actually has a slit cut in it to allow the blade to protrude out, but I think the idea is that part of the blade is meant to protrude out the top. I’ve tried it in the scabbard both ways, and concluded that the best way to go has the snake head facing forward. I don’t want to come down too hard on this piece. It’s still pretty cool, but I would have gone in a different direction with the blade.

Next up is his pistol, and holy shit this thing is all sorts of awesome. It’s basically a silver-plated flintlock with an over-the-top snake motif going on. It’s obviously a far cry from his old iconic hair dryer pistol, but as impractical and crazy as this thing looks, I think it perfectly suits the Commander. I can picture him firing off his one shot at a battle and then shouting to his troops to finish the job. while he retreats to the safety of his command center. Ugh, the lack of a second accessory hand is killing me here. I want to pose him holding his sword aloft and firing this thing. Maybe I can rig something up with one of the Snake Eyes hands. Also, notice he doesn’t have a holster for this gun. Another disappointing omission.

Clearly, I’ve had a few nitpicks here, but all those issues have just been things that I think could have made this excellent figure so much better. OK, so the one accessory hand is a pretty big gaffe on Hasbro’s part, but I don’t want to let those things detract from how much I love this Cobra Commander! The dress uniform characterizes him perfectly and it looks damn sharp. The accessories are crazy in almost every good way, and he looks fantastic standing next to Destro and barking orders. The only downside is now more than ever I want to get a second Cobra Trooper to display behind him. COBRA!!!

Transformers Earthrise: Quintesson Judge by Hasbro

To quote the great Bob Dylan, “How many roads must a man walk down, before he gets an official figure of a Quinesson Judge from the original Transformers movie?” Well, if we equate those roads as years, the answer is 34 roads. While Hasbro once dabbled with the idea by releasing the horrifically terrible Alpha Quintesson in the Energon line, it really has taken us this long to get a proper Quintesson Judge. I’m not sure if it’s because they were convinced it had to have some kind of transforming gimmick, and up until now couldn’t come up with one, but more on that later. For now, let’s just see if it was worth the wait!

The Judge conforms to the Voyager price point, and he comes in a window box with all the typically awesome artwork that I’ve come to expect from Siege and Earthrise. You can get a good look at the figure inside, but he does require a little bit of assembly as two of the Five Faces of Darkness are detached so he can better fit in the package. I don’t think I can adequately stress how amazing it was to finally hold a toy of this guy. The Quintessons blew my little mind back in the day. They epitomized the new direction that the art and design would take in the movie, and also represented the new direction for the Transformers lore that would go on to characterize the third season of the Sunbow series. They were a prime example of the kind of look we would get into the Universe that the Transformers lived in, and introduced a whole new backstory to the series canon. So yeah, getting this toy is kind of a big deal.

Here he is out of the box and sure enough, he is indeed a proper Quintesson Judge! These things were so damn weird, that it’s hard to believe they were actually incorporated into a Western released cartoon. The Judge is characterized by his egg shaped, eh body? levitating on a stream of energy, with tendrils coming out the bottom, and the fabled Five Faces surrounding the middle of the egg. The body itself features some basic panel lining and features a lever, which can rotate the heads as they were apt to do in the cartoon. The tendrils are bendy, but they pretty much hold just one configuration, although they can be positioned up or down thanks to some jointing where they meet the body. The levitation beam is translucent plastic and can be removed from the bottom. The above image shows my favorite of all the faces, Death, and it is a fantastic sculpt. A lever on the bottom allows the mouths on some of these faces to articulate.

Next up we have The Face of Wisdom. Not nearly as creepy as Death, but still pretty cool. It really shows off the more organic types of faces that the artists were starting to design for the robotic life in the Transformers Universe. Heck, even a number of Transformers were starting to get much more organic looks to them.

For number three we have The Face of Judgement. This one strays a little bit from what I remember the orginal design looking like, but after consulting some pictures, it’s really no that far off. Maybe just a bit more stylized. I love the long face and those tapering sides of his “helmet” The spikes on top are pretty cool too.

The fourth face is The Face of Wrath, and it is a pretty nasty looking piece of work indeed. The yellow teeth and the beady red eyes are great. Once again, I dig the way they did the “helmet” with the sides protruding from an outward angle away from the face. The pointed chin gives the face a severe look. I’d also like to point out here how Hasbro went overboard with the coloring on this figure. Lately, we’re lucky if we get a handful of colors on a Deluxe or Voyager, but here we get greens, reds, oranges, grays, everything is colored the way it should be.

And finally we have The Face of War. I always thought this was the goofiest of the faces, and an unlikely candidate for being War, but it’s still a remarkable sculpt, with the bulbous lips, the circular cheeks, and the angled slits for eyes. We also get the coloring that suggests a mustache, along with a beard. What was it with Transformers and facial hair? I remember first seeing that on Alpha Trion back in the day and even my little mind, full of wondrous imagination, couldn’t comprehend it. Either way, there you have a tour of all the Faces and I think they look great. Indeed everything about this toy registers as a direct hit in my book.

The Judge needs his throne, and Hasbro included a little green chair for him to sit in, or in this case levitate on. It’s a nice reference to the throne that the Judge was sitting on in the movie, but it’s very basic and lacks the pomp and circumstance of the one seen in the movie. Honestly, I think this was included solely for the transformation gimmick.

Oh yeah, he also comes with a little gun that can be pegged into any of the tendrils. The gun also has a regular peg handle so it can be used by any of the other figures. Cool! I’d be perfectly fine with ending the review right here, but of course, Hasbro had to give him a transforming gimmick, because… you know… Transformers! So let’s see what they came up with!

Yup. That’s certainly a thing. Hasbro has made it a habit of dropping in a few figures here and there that transform into playsets for the tiny figures, and that’s the direction they went for here. Conceptually, I’m not all that clear on what they were going for here. It’s basically a tower and a jail cell. The cell is designed for the little guys in this line, but I just had a Titan Master handy, and he works pretty well. Honestly, I don’t know if the person who designed this alt mode deserves a commendation for originality or to be laughed at. On the one hand, I guess it’s impressive that they were able to get any kind of alt mode out of a Quintesson. On the other hand, you can be sure that this will be the first and only time I’ll ever transform the figure.

I have one rule about bad and unnecessary transformers: If they don’t mess with the figure, I don’t care, and that’s most definitely the case here. Sure, I would have been fine if they had just left out the transformation gimmick altogether, but since it doesn’t effect the figure I can just pretend that it doesn’t exist. And this is a really great little figure! Hasbro did a beautiful job bringing this creepy guy to my collection, and yes, I will be hunting down a couple more. Now I can’t wait until the rest of the Quintessons start turning up. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind a Deluxe Class upgrade to the Sharkticons either!

Avengers Endgame: Thanos Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Since I’m between waves of Marvel Legends, I’m going to divert my attention elsewhere on this Marvel Monday, and shift the spotlight to Hot Toys! Wow, it’s been a while since I reviewed a Hot Toys Marvel figure. I still have a few more Marvel Hot Toys to review, a few on pre-order, but my confidence in the future of the MCU has been waning, and I have a feeling that my days of collecting Hot Toys Marvel may be drawing to a close. It makes me a little sad, but my wallet very happy. Speaking of which, let’s take a look at The Mad Titan himself, who recently snapped his fingers and made half my toy budget for the month disappear! I passed on Hot Toys Thanos twice before. The Guardians of the Galaxy version with the throne looked great, but it was also a little small and I didn’t have the scratch for it back then. It was a shame because it’s the only Hot Toys release from that film that I didn’t buy. Next came the Infinity War version, and that was an easy pass because his costume was just so boring that I couldn’t justify the price tag. This armored up Endgame one was obviously the one I was waiting for!

Big Boi’s come in Big Boxes! If you’ve been with me for some previous Hot Toys reviews, you may know that I don’t think much of their packaging. They usually have pretty artwork, but the cardboard is super flimsy and they’re little more than window boxes with sleeves around them. I just think the price I’m paying warrants something a little more impressive. Hell, I don’t even keep most of these boxes anymore, because they take up too much space for what they are. That’s pretty much true for Thanos here, but I will admit the size itself is impressive! Thankfully, Thanos comes out of the box with most of his armor on and pretty much ready to go!

And here he is looking absolutely superb! Thanos not only towers above my other Hot Toys (well, except for The Hulk), but he’s also a hefty mo-fo with a lot of girth. Everything about this guy feels substantial. The figure depicts past Thanos who followed The Avengers back to future Earth in full battle gear. Yes, this could also pass for Thanos in the very beginning of Infinity War, and I’ll come back to that idea eventually. Hot Toys did a beautiful job on his armor, which is comprised of golden plastic plates over more flexible and textured black plastic. I was happy to see that it’s not sculpted as part of the figure itself, but an actual suit. I’m not sure if they did this to reuse the previous Thanos body, or just to be awesome, but it adds so much to the figure’s complexity. He even has cloth pants under his leg armor. The gold plate pieces are exquisitely painted, giving off a look that is so convincing, it’s almost surprising to touch it and feel that it’s just lightweight plastic. These pieces feature some panel lines, as well as a number of nicks and scrapes acquired in past battles, giving the suit a very lived in look. There are also some tarnished spots in the paint to make it look well weathered. Hot Toys didn’t go too nuts with these effects, as they sure wanted to sell a proper battle damaged version of this figure too, but what’s here is just enough to make it look like the armor has been well used. I also really dig the copper colored pieces on his chest, just to mix things up a bit.

Despite being worn, the bulk of the armor is permanently attached to the figure, but the right arm bracer can come off. The left can’t, but more on that later. The bicep pieces are held on by the straps and friction and they stay in place quite well. There’s a decent amount of clearance in the shoulders, so the arms can be posed without me being too worried about scraping or breaking these pieces. But as with most Hot Toys, you just don’t want to try to get the arms raised much higher than the shoulders. The arms are covered with a rubbery skin, quite similar to what we saw on The Hulk. It looks great, but I’m not terribly keen on how the skin folds at the elbows when the arms are flexed. It just looks a bit too much like what it is, rubber covering an articualted arm. I think I might have preferred that they went with regular exposed elbow joints here. Then again, if he’s in a pose with his arms fairly straight, it does look much better with the seamless joints. It’s a compromise. And while on the subject of articulation, I’ll give credit to the ratcheting joints they designed for him. This is a hefty figure, but he has no troubles standing on his own and his joints tend to stay where you put them. You can use Thanos’ joints to tweak some cool poses, but nothing too extreme. Of course, that’s usually the case for most Hot Toys.

I’m not sure if the regular portrait is recycled from the Infinity War figure, but whatever the case, it’s everything I would expect from Hot Toys these days. Seeing as how they have all but perfected capturing actor likenesses with remarkable realism, a CG version of Josh Brolin is probably no great shakes for them. Still, I don’t want to take away from how amazing it turned out. The purple skin tone looks great and matches the arms perfectly. If you get in really close you can make out all sorts of little creases and natural looking textures in the skin. His well-defined facial features are recreated flawlessly here as is his giant ball sack of a chin. The deep set eyes also have that wonderful spark of life that only the best paint in the industry can convey. Of course, you do get the visible jointing between the head and neck, but it’s mostly apparent when the portrait is viewed from the back or side, and it’s to be expected. The head is attached via a balljoint, and it is easily popped off to swap it out with the second portrait.

Here we have angry and defiant Thanos, and it is a powerful portrait indeed. Thanos bears his titanic teeth in a grimace of rage. I often imagine that it’s far more difficult to convey emotion in these portraits, but you wouldn’t know it from how well this turned out. The sculpting and paint on his teeth is truly amazing. It’s going to be a tough call to decide which portrait to display on the figure regularly. Chances are it will be the first, but only because I plan on displaying him in a fairly neutral position. Nevertheless, I’ll likely be changing it up fairly often. Hot Toys really needs to follow in the path of NECA Toys and release some kind of display method for extra heads. I usually just wind up resting them on the display stands.

Thanos also comes with his helmet, which fits easily onto either portrait. I was very afraid that this was going to be a tight fit and would risk damaging the paint every time I wanted to put it on or remove it, but I’m happy to say that’s not the case. It looks like a form-fitting piece, but it doesn’t feel like it’s rubbing much when it goes on. Heck, it fits so well that I could be convinced it was part of the head sculpt if I didn’t know better. Once again, the gold paint here is exquisite and the weathering is especially well done, with lots of little scrapes and some pitting. The helmet presents another dilemma on whether to display with it on or not. Right now, I have the figure holding the helmet in his left hand. And that brings me to hands!

You can’t buy a Hot Toys figure and not expect to get a bunch of hands. Thanos comes with no less than four sets. You get fists, relaxed hands, graspy hands, and accessory holding hands. These attach via some pretty chunky ball joints, and they are a real breeze to get on and off. I have my share of Hot Toys figures that don’t get their hands changed out often because they are difficult to get off, or I’m afraid I’m going to snap the wrist pegs, but the benefit of having a big figure like this is the hands are a lot easier to work with. The fists work really well with the more expressive portrait.

Thanos’ big accessory is his double-bladed sword, and it is indeed an intimidating weapon! When held vertically it’s taller than the figure and Hot Toys did a great job with this design. The blades have deeply etched designs on the flats of the blade and if you look really closely you can not only see a faint damascus pattern in the blade, but also the marks on the edges where it has been sharpened. That level of detail really blows me away.

As amazing as the sword looks, it’s rather deceptive when picked up, mainly because it’s so incredibly light. I really feel like they should have done something to beef this up a big, particularly with how tight the grip is. Maybe they could have made the the framing pieces on the backs of the blades die-cast. Unlike everything else about this figure, I felt like I needed to be super cautious when putting the sword into his hand. Indeed, I’ll likely leave the hand attached to the sword from now on. It feels like a good idea would have been to have the sword split apart in the middle of the grip, so you could pass one end through the top of his hand and the other through the bottom and peg them together.

The last accessory included in the box is the Infinity Gauntlet, which is something of an anachronism, since this version of Thanos never had it. Nonetheless, Hot Toys had it made for the Infinity War Thanos, and it’s cool that they threw it into the box here, as it can transform this version of Thanos into the one from the beginning of Infinity War, so long as you’re willing to overlook the fact that all the Infinity Stones are present. Accurate or not, I will be displaying him with the Gauntlet, just because it looks so damn cool. This piece is attached by pulling the left arm off at the joint where the bracer starts and plugging in the Gauntlet. Like everything with this figure, it goes on easy-peasy. There is a light up feature included, but it’s disappointingly dim. Maybe the batteries I got aren’t at full strength, but it really wasn’t worth the effort of showing it off. In addition to rotating at the arm, the gauntlet has a ball joint at the wrist, which also allows you to pull off the fist and replace it with an articulated Gauntlet.

The articulation here includes double hings in the fingers and a rotation in the thumb. It’s not quite good enough to get his fingers into a snapping position, but I like the added articulation a lot. In the case of both Gauntlets, the gold finish is quite luxurious and it’s given a deeper and richer finish than the armor, making it look newer. The sculpted details look great, as do the individual Stones. And since the electronics are in the lower portion of the Gauntlet, the articulated hand shares the same light up feature as the fist.

Finally, Thanos comes with a figure stand, which is similar to the regular Hot Toys bases, only a lot bigger. And yet it feels like it’s not quite big enough. In a moderate stance, Thanos’ feet hang over the edges of the stand. But it still works just fine. The base has a colorful image of the Avengers logo disappearing into dust and the logo proper closer to the front. The base has a nameplate on the front as well. I like the way it looks a lot, but I’m a little surprised they didn’t go for some kind of diorama base like they did for The Hulk.

Sometimes patience pays off and that was certainly the case here. I really wanted a Hot Toys Thanos in my collection, but the Infinity War outfit just didn’t do anything for me, especially not at such a titanic price. This guy, however checks all the boxes. He’s huge and imposing and he comes all decked out in his battle gear. Plus, the inclusion of the Infinity Gauntlet was a wonderful bonus. He’s a commanding presence on my shelf, and I had to rework a whole bunch of my Hot Toys collection to find room for him. Still, he was worth the effort, as well as the $415 price tag! With the exception of the Marvel Hot Toys that I have on pre-order, this could very well be the last MCU figure I purchase, so it was pretty cool that it was such a great figure!

GI JOE Classified: Gung Ho by Hasbro

Distribution and exclusives issues aside, Hasbro’s new GI JOE line has been delivering tons of goodies and we’re still in the initial months of its launch. I honestly did not expect this many figures to be hittinig the pegs so soon. Yeah, I’m still hunting for a Baroness, Beach Head and a couple more Cobra Troopers, but that’s cool. They will be mine eventually!!! And so without wasting any time, let’s dive in and check out the newest addition to the JOE team, everybody’s favorite gumbo-slurping Jarhead… Gung Ho!

The packaging looks just as good as ever. It’s colorful, it has some wonderful character art, that cool iconography-based skill list on the side panel, and it’s all collector friendly if you want to save these. And much like Hasbro’s Star Wars Black Series, the figures are numbered, which means you absolutely have to buy them all. YOU HAVE TO!!! I was excited to see Gung Ho was teased so early in the line, as he was a favorite figure of mine in the Real American Hero series.

And I’m equally excited to see that Hasbro hasn’t messed around with his iconic look too much. This Marine from the Bayou still dons his camo pants and wears a tactical vest with no shirt, allowing him to show off his guns and his chest tattoo. The vest features some great sculpted detail, which includes pockets, reinforced plates, a brace of grenades on the left shoulder, and some cool texturing. He also has that silver and blue gizmo on his right shoulder that a lot of the JOEs have had. When I first saw this on Roadblock, I thought it was some kind of tool for adjusting his machine gun, but apparently it’s some sort of ID? Maybe?

In addition to the vest, Gung Ho has a few other separately sculpted pieces worn on him, including a trio of canister grenades strapped ot his left thigh, a silver arm bracer on his right forearm, and an elbow pad on his left arm. He also has some armor pieces on his lower legs, but these are sculpted as part of the figure. Overall, I like the deco on this guy. The camo pants and darker green jacket give him that appropriate military look while the metallic silver paint add some pop.

Gung Ho’s head sculpt is fantastic! It takes the portrait on the old figure that I know and love and gives it a dose of realism. He’s sporting a stern expression, and the sculpt and paint on that handlebar mustache is on point. The hat is removable, and to be honest, I had to apply a little blue-tack to get it to stay on. I was surprised when it came off to see Gung Ho sporting a little mohawk patch up there, which is also perfectly sculpted and painted. This guy just looks like he was born to piss in Cobra’s cornflakes. I’m glad he’s one of the good guys, because I would not want to mess with him.

The articulation here is every bit as good as I’ve come to expect in this line. Gung Ho’s arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, double-hinges in the elbows, and he also has the added shoulder crunches, which I was not expecting as these are concealed by the jacket. His legs have those double ball-joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. He has a ball joint in the waist, an ab-crunch hinge under the chest, and his neck is both hinged and ball jointed. Gung Ho is a lot of fun to play around with, and with his vest off, he looks like he’s ready to go a few rounds with Cobra’s toughest customer in a cage match to the death.

Gung Ho comes with a pretty big backpack, which is capable of holding all of his weapons. Well, technically it is. The side clips work well, but the clip on the bottom, not so much. But that’s OK, because he can hold that weapon and still manage to carry everything he comes with. As has been the case with previous figures, Gung Ho’s weaponry have a decidedly science-fiction flavor to them. In some cases, I don’t mind this so much, as long as there’s still a real world element to them. Let’s see how these guns turned out!

First off, he has what I presume is supposed to be a grenade launcher. I think this was a great choice, as I seem to recall his 25th Anniversary figure coming with an M-79 grenade launcher. This one has a revolver-type cylinder and a top carry bar. Like all the weapons here, it’s molded in a sort of gray plastic, which seems to hold the sculpted detail pretty well. This baby fits my criteria as looking fairly convincing in its overall design and I dig it a lot.

Next up, we’ve got what I’m calling a shotgun. Yeah, it has some kind of vertically orientated beam emitter on the muzzle, but the foregrip looks like it’s meant to pump. Maybe you pump to charge it and it blasts out a spread of energy? Maybe I’m over-thinking it. Either way, it looks like it has what is supposed to be a telescoping stock and there’s a rail on the top to fit a scope or light or whatever else he wants to throw on top of it. So, this one isn’t quite as convincing as the grenade launcher, but I don’t mind it.

Finally, Gung Ho comes with a carbine, with a rear mounted magazine. This has some similarities to the shotgun, as the muzzle is basically the same and it also has a rail on top for customization. This looks like it would be a pretty good gun for when you’re boogying through the jungle and need to blast any Cobra that happens to pop up out of the trees.

And so, Hasbro delivers another great figure in this new Classified line up. Gung Ho keeps the trend going of taking a familiar design and tweaking it just enough to make it feel fresh and new, while still being faithful to the original character design. I’m sure there are plenty of purists out there who will scoff at the armor pieces and the sci-fi weapons, but I’m finding that I really dig these new looks. As I’ve said before, it wouldn’t have been my first choice, but I can’t deny that these are great looking figures and above all loads of fun!

Female Mercenary Heart King Sixth-Scale Figure by Very Cool Toys

With all the Hot Toys and TBLeague figures waiting for their turn at the review table, I probably shouldn’t be going off on tangents like this one. But, I picked up a couple of figures from Very Cool Toys to see what they were all about and as long as I had them accessible, I thought I’d take a look at one before finding a space for her up on the shelf. Very Cool seems to specialize in pseudo-military-style figures, usually ladies, many of which appear to be based on characters or skins in Wefire, a shooter from the Chinese megacorporation, Tancent Games.

Suffice it to say I know absolutely nothing about these games, but a retailer I deal with was having a sale and the figures looked pretty cool, or maybe they looked… VERY cool! . I didn’t know what to expect, but when they arrived I was fairly impressed by the packaging. It appears to be an enclosed box, but it’s actually more like a box in a slipcase with a little strip of ribbon to help pull it out. The slipcase is illustrated on all sides, has a picture of the figure on the front, and a lot of Chinese writing on the back. The spine simply identifies the figure as NO.VC-TJ-04 which sure is catchy. Indeed, the only reason I know that she’s called Female Mercenary Heart King is because that was the name of the listing on the site where I purchased her.

Heart King requires a fair amount of work to get her all kitted out and ready for action. Basically she comes out of the box wearing her basic clothing, and all her gear is placed around her in the foam trays. It took some doing to get everything on her, but I don’t mind. It gives me some quality time with the figure before she’s ready for display. First off, let’s talk about the body, which is a hybred of the seamless stuff we usually see from Phicen/TBLeague and a regular jointed figure. OK, actually nothing on the figure is seamless, but she does make use of a silicone covered torso, which mean’s the exposed skin is squishy and has more of a life-like look and texture. The limbs are all jointed and the costume does its best to cover these joints. So, the swivels in her biceps usually line up with her sleeves, and the jointing in her elbows are covered by sleeves and elbow pads. Similarly, the joints in her knees, which tend to show through the super tight pleather pants, are concealed by soft cloth sleeves and armor pads. In the end, the arm joints do tend to show from time to time, but it’s not too unsightly.

Her uniform consists of the yellow-orange pants, a white sports-bra kind of thing, and a crop-top jacket that matches her pants. I like the color they went with here, as it really does look like something a character in a video game might be wearing. There’s a shoulder patch on each of her jacket sleeves to give it a little bit of a military vibe. Her brown pleather boots sip up the sides and have pretty high heels, which demonstrate the figure’s balance quite well. I never had to rely on a stand for her when shooting the pictures, which is impressive. The tailoring on the clothing is all very well done. The stitching is neat and and everything fits the figure perfectly. The only downside is that the super tight pants inhibit her hip movment a lot. It’s hard to get anything resembling a wide stance out of her without fear of popping that stitching, so I”m not even going to try! The sleeves have a cool honeycomb pattern on them, she has a pair of matching WeFire bracelets, and her fingerless gloves are sculpted and painted onto her hands.

The attention to detail on her gear is also quite nice. She has a trio of magazine pouches strapped ot her left thigh, which holds in place by friction and doesn’t show any sign of slipping. Her right thigh has a hard plastic holster, which pegs into the plate that’s strapped to her leg. Again, this holds in place perfectly. There’s even a retaining strap for her pistol. Her backpack attachces to her shoulder rig, and can be removed while leaving the shoulder rig in place. There are straps with working buckles holding the top flap down and non functional pouches on the sides. And finally, she has a studded belt, which is worn loose on her hips and does it’s best to conceal the straps of her G-string peeking out of her pants.

I really dig the head sculpt here. It’s a great compromise between realism and stylized game character. The skin texture is good, albeit far from Hot Toys or Sideshow quality. The paint used on the eyes and lips, however isn’t too far off. The sculpted red hair features some fine detail and it’s sculpted from a separate piece of plastic to allow it to hang over the head and give it some depth while framing her face. The head is ball jointed, but it is an absolute chore to get it off and back on again. Fortunately the only time I had to do that was to put on her dog tag and choker.

As a Mercenary, this lady comes with some essential Tools of the Trade. First off, she has her trusty automatic pistol, and this is a fantastic piece. The detail is absolutely exquisite, from the brown checkered grips to the silver painted trigger. Even more impressive is that the slide actually works and the magazine is removable. They even painted the bullets that can be seen in the top of the magazine. This scaled pistol is every bit as good as any that I got with my Hot Toys or Sideshow figures, and that’s no small boast! The figure comes with two sets of hands, one relaxed set and one for working with the accessories.

Next up we get a couple of canister grenades. These are fun with a cartoony skull-and-crossbones printed on the side of each. They have clips to attach to her belt and actual rings to pull before she throws them!

And finally, our Mercenary comes with an AK-47, which is another beautiful piece of work. The stock and foregrip are painted brown and the rest has a blued finish. The action on this thing actually works thanks to a rather tight spring inside the receiver. The sites can be flipped up and the magazine is removable. Actually, she comes with two magazines for the rifle. The detail is impecable, right down to the paddle to eject the magazine and the fire selector.

I have to say that I’m fairly impressed with the way this figure turned out, especially for a figure that is priced at around $140-150. Very Cool didn’t skimp on anything. The costume tailoring is great, the attention to detail in the gear is solid, and the weapons are absolutely fantastic. And this is all coming from someone who has absolutely no connection to the character or game that the figure is pulled from. I’m not sure that she’ll spend a whole lot of time displayed on my shelf right now, but if I can clear off a corner somewhere, I may actually wind up putting her in with my Resident Evil Sith-Scale figures. I think she would fit in perfectly. I’ve got another one of these ladies to check out, and I hope to get back to her in a week or so.