Aliens: Deluxe Alien Queen by NECA

Work for me in September is going to be a nightmare, so I’m trying to get to at least a few of the bigger things on my review list before I get really pinched for time. One of those things that’s been sitting around here for a while has been NECA’s Alien Queen. Originally released for the 35th Anniversary, this lady was re-issued this year to meet a high demand after the initial production had long since sold out. Just give me a few ticks to convert my sad little photo staging area into something bigger and we can get started…

This is a big box! The deco is dark and creepy and offers a window that gives you a peek at the horror inside. Part of that horror consists of the approximately 10,000 twist-ties that you have to undo to get The Xeno Queen off the tray. Otherwise, everything here is collector friendly, but I dread ever having to get this monstrosity back onto that tray, as it’ll have to be in just the right pose. In the end, I will likely get rid of the tray and flatten the box like I do for some of my statue window boxes. I should also note that the Queen requires some assembly and sadly there’s no instruction sheet to show you how. All you really need to do is attach the six spikes on her back, but I had to go through quite a few pictures before I figured out the proper way to do it.

Here she is all set up, and she is indeed a magnificent bitch. I know I sometimes throw the term “work of art” around when discussing NECA’s stuff, and I try not to do it as hyperbole. I’m certainly not engaging in that here when I say, this figure is a piece of art, plain and simple. Seriously, this is something that I would just set up on a roman column stand in entrance hall for people who visit to admire the craftsmanship that went into it. A lot of my Alien figures go into totes, because I don’t have the space to display them, but this was a case where I made room in my den the moment I opened her up. I also poured myself a nice tall glass of Jameson and just sat there sipping and marveling at what a beautiful hung of plastic she is. I know I’m gushing here, but I think it’s justified. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s step back a bit.

The Alien Queen ain’t called a Deluxe figure for nothing. She measures in at about fifteen inches tall and over thirty inches long, which means she dwarfs NECA’s impressively large Alien Warrior figures. Indeed, as big as the box is, it still doesn’t quite convey the size of her once she’s set up. And on that note, she does come with a display stand to keep her standing, since the Queen’s posture isn’t something that could support itself otherwise in most poses. The base of the stand is clear plastic, with a metal rod that connects to a clear plastic circular clasp. The stand doesn’t appear to be designed for any specific area, but I find that just cradling her abdomen in the clasp works perfectly. With that having been said…

If you rear her up on her legs and use the tail as a support, she not only gets frighteningly taller, but can actually stand on her own. I’m still going to opt to use the stand for stability, because I fear if this gal takes a shelf dive, she may not survive it because of her disproportional weight.

One of the cool things about owning this figure is it really gives me a sense of what this beast truly looks like. That’s something I could never really work out from watching the film, because everything is so dark. She stands on two hind legs, almost like a T-Rex and features two pairs of arms: One large pair connecting at the “shoulders” and the other smaller pair connecting under the belly. Lady Xeno boasts a total of 30 points of articulation, consisting of a plethora of ball joints and rotating hinges, which allow for some pretty good variations for display. The sculpt is bewilderingly complex, and I’d expect nothing less from one of NECA’s Xenomorphs. Still, here there’s a lot more surface area to work with and so many little details on display. And as great as the sculpt is, the Xeno-bitch has got the painted chops to back it up. Here are some highlights…

These external rib-like bones, which run along the neck are painted in gold, making them stand out beautifully against the rest of blue and black body. As you can see, even on the undercarriage, there’s hardly a place on this figure without some sculpted detail.

I really dig the contours of the legs as well as the cut outs. Again, you get some nice gold-brown paint along the edges and some more on the blades that come off the backs of the knees. On the insides of the legs you get some exposed segmented tube-like structures running through the inside. She also features silver paint on her claws and all of her finger and toe joints.

The tail is constructed of the typical bendy plastic that NECA has been using in all its Xenos. There’s a swivel cut at the base, but below that you can bend it into all sorts of configurations and it will stay put. Each of the segments are beautifully detailed and painted.

The large plate that makes up the top of Queen Xeno’s head is as long as your average Alien figure. The interior triangle on the top side is sculpted to look like some kind of leathery skin stretched between the exoskeletal framework. Even the underside of this large plate is beautifully detailed and fully sculpted. You really need to get in there to see any of this clearly, which makes it all the more impressive that NECA made a point of adding this detail.

The spikes that need to be attached are simple ball and socket connections. They can be a little tough to get in and every now and then one of them will pop out when I’m handling her, but for the most part they stay in fairly well. Each of these pieces is not only ball jointed, but also hinged, giving them a surprising degree of individual posability.

The head is appropriately terrifying and the teeth are absolutely fantastic. They’re sculpted in a clear plastic with a greenish tint, along with the sinews that connect the jaw on the sides. The jaw is fully articulated and you get two secondary mouth pieces, one that fits inside the closed mouth and one that extends outward.

As mentioned, this is a re-issue of the original figure. I believe the figure is identical, but I think the package is new. It’s a testament to the popularity of this piece that NECA had to go into production again, as the original sold out everywhere fairly quickly and began demanding stupid crazy prices. Not that the figure itself was ever cheap. I pre-ordered mine at around $120. It’s a testament to how much I love this design and what NECA did with it, that I was so willing to drop that money on a creature from a movie that I wouldn’t call one of my favorites, but I do really love the franchise as a whole, and simply had to have this magnificently ugly bitch on my shelf. The only downside? I think I pretty much have to buy the Power Loader now to display with her.

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Marvel Legends (Warlock Wave): Polaris by Hasbro

As promised, I’m back tonight to serve up a heaping second helping of Marvel Monday so I can try to get caught up on my Legends reviews. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep doubling up every Monday, but I’ll sure give it a try. The figure of choice for tonight is Polaris, and since this is one of those figures that I bought loose in a lot, there’s no packaged shot and we’re going to jump right in.

And here she is, sporting her modern green costume, and while some may have liked a more classic look, I’m happy with this choice. I think this is what she’s been wearing most recently, but then I’ve given up on reading Marvels current run of books until they can figure out how to suck less. A lot less. Anyway, Polaris represents a nice mix of borrowed and original parts. Right off the bat, I recognize those arm bracers from the Rocket Raccoon Wave Jean Grey and only because I just had her out to photograph alongside Cyclops earlier today. Polaris looks like she shares a lot with Scarlet Witch, but I don’t think it’s as much as it seems. With the exception of those bracers, the entire costume is achieved solely through paint and it works well. The two shades of green look fantastic and most of the lines are sharp, and I really dig the gloss green used for the bracers. The only real complaint I have is that the seams running up her sides are rather unsightly, especially over the exposed skin.

The short cape rests on her shoulders, but also pegs into the back to keep it in place. It’s also easily removable. I’ve heard a lot of things about the balance of this figure being way off, but I actually haven’t had any issues getting her to stand with or without the cape, and it really doesn’t impede her articulation all that much either.

The portrait here is good and very reminiscent of the Wanda Maximoff likeness we got a little while back. That makes sense, because they are sisters? half-sisters? Whatever. At first, I thought it was an illusion because the tiaras are somewhat similar, but now I’m guessing this might be a re-sculpt of that head. Either way it works, although maybe it’s a tad too big for the body. Or maybe that’s because of the rather unique hair sculpt, which has it bunched up at the top and back of her head. The paint apps on her face are nice and clean and I really dig the gloss used for her lips, it’s quite striking.

Polaris’ articulation is pretty standard stuff. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have ball jointed hips, double hinged knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers, there’s a ball joint under the chest, and the neck features both a ball joint and a hinge.

As far as accessories go, Polaris comes with the circular effect parts that we’ve seen over and over again to portray her powers of magnetism. Hasbro even included these with Havok, which is nice so the couple can sport a matched set. This time they’re cast entirely in a translucent neon green and she looks pretty good when displayed with them.

And there we are, Polaris is a solid entry for this wave. Maybe not exceptional, but I don’t have many real complaints. Granted, she isn’t a character that I was super excited to get, but this line is all about universe building for me, so I’m certainly happy to have her in my lineup and on my X-Men Legends shelf. Next week, we’ll press on through the Warlock Wave with a look at Shatterstar!

Marvel Legends (Warlock Wave): Cyclops by Hasbro

It’s that time again to start the reviews rolling on a brand new wave of Marvel Legends figures! By my count, I’m now FIVE waves behind in my reviews with the Warlock, Vulture Wings, Sandman, Man-Thing, and Gladiator Hulk Waves all before me. Oh yeah, and another SDCC set arrived in the mail over the weekend with an additional five figures. Hoo boy. I decided that I’m going to hold off on the Vulture Wave until we’re closer to when Homecoming hits Blu-Ray release, and the Gladiator Hulk Wave closer to when Ragnarok hits the theaters. So, let’s do the X-Men Warlock Wave next. And in the interest of getting caught up I’m going to look at one figure now and another one later on tonight.

I’m only going to have packaged shots for two or three of these figures, as I purchased most of this wave loose from a buddy online. I was worried I would have a tough time finding some of them through regular retailers, and I didn’t care much about building the Warlock BAF. As it turns out, the BAF parts were included anyway, and that was at least a nice surprise. Also a nice surprise was actually finding Cyclops at retail, as he’s supposed to be one of the tougher ones to find and is currently still going for $40+ on Amazon. I found him when I ducked into a Walgreens for coffee creamer. Go figure. And I’ll be honest, there was no way I wanted to pay a premium for Cyclops. Scott Summers isn’t one of my favorite characters, and the one thing that this figure really has going for me is that it’s the classic 90’s outfit. Honestly, while I still adore a lot of the characters, the truth is that the further away from the 90’s I get, the less I care about The X-Men as a comic.

But with all that preamble aside, I find this release to be a really solid figure with some annoying problems, and a lot of those problems have to do with all the bands and straps. Ahh, useless straps! They, were staples of 90’s comic art, but they don’t always transfer well to action figure form. So, for starters, Scott is built on a mostly blue buck and it’s a very snappy shade of blue. I like the build that they used for him, but this particular buck has some weird shoulders that show unsightly gaps and almost make it look like the arms weren’t meant for the torso. I’m pretty sure the yellow for his “undies, boots, and gloves is plastic as opposed to paint. Either way, it’s nice and bright and shows none of the bleed through that we sometimes see when lighter paint is applied over darker plastic. Yup, there’s no doubt about it, the coloring is one of this figure’s strongest points. Not only is it gorgeous, but it really takes me back to a time when I was a young adult making my way on my own, and the only things I had to cling on to simpler times of my childhood were comic books.

The belt and shoulder rig is one separate piece, which pegs together at the back. Overall, it looks pretty good on him and it more or less stays put. That’s a hell of a lot more than I can say for the rest of the belts. The two thigh straps have one sweet spot where they will stay put, but when I pose the figure, they tend to drift. They also look too bulky for my taste and I think maybe they would have been better off painted on. The straps at the tops of the boots have a similar problem. The wrist straps aren’t too problematic, but I’m pretty sure those are supposed to be part of his gloves, and that effect is ruined by the fact that the blue can be seen in the gap.

I like the head sculpt well enough. It’s a solid effort, but not extraordinary. The hair sculpt is particularly well done, and I really dig how the visor looks like it’s a separate and removable piece, even though it isn’t. My figure has a fair amount of mold flashing along the jawline, which I’ll have to shave off. I don’t know what it is with Hasbro and mold flashing lately, but I’m seeing more and more of it. Still, as far as QC issues go, that one is the easiest to fix.

The articulation here is quite good and fairly standard for modern Legends. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivel cuts in the thighs and tops of the boots, and double hinges in the knees. The ankles have hinges and lateral rockers, the torso feature a waist swivel and an ab crunch, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. What’s more, Cyclops’ left hand is sculpted so that he can be made to operate his visor.

While I’ve got a couple versions of Cyclops in my 3 3/4-inch Marvel Universe collection, this is surprisingly his first appearance on my modern Legends shelves and as such he’s most certainly a welcome release. I know it sounds like I had a ton of issues with him, but in the end, I’m still willing to concede that he’s a solid figure, and thanks in particular to the great coloring, he looks fantastic on the she shelf. Come on back later on tonight, and we’ll check out Polaris!

DC Designer Series: Wonder Woman (Adam Hughes) Sixth-Scale Statue by DC Collectibles

The last bunch of DC Fridays haven’t been terribly cheery ones, as I’ve been slugging my way through a wave of Mattel’s subpar DC Multiverse series. As a result, I’m extremely pleased to be able to take a look at something of quality for a change. Anyone who’s been kicking around my blog for a while, should know that I’m a big fan of the latest run of DC Cover Girls statues, but I confess that I often feel bad that I didn’t jump on board with the original Adam Hughes run. A lot of those statues are difficult to come by for reasonable prices these days, so I’ve dismissed any prospects of ever going back and collecting them now. Fortunately, DC Collectibles has decided to take one of the best pieces in that line and give it a remake in an up-scaled sixth-scale format. Let’s check out the new DC Designer Series Adam Hughes Wonder Woman statue!

This Amazon Goddess comes in your typical fully enclosed DC Collectibles statue box and is limited to 5,000 pieces. The box is mostly white, has a blue side panel, and features several photos of the statue inside. It also has a logo celebrating Wonder Woman’s 75th Anniversary. The packaging is totally collector friendly and the statue itself comes sandwiched between two styrofoam bricks with the stand stored in a separate compartment on the outside of one of those trays. Once you get her unwrapped, all you have to do is plug her foot posts into the stand (the posts on mine went in easily, but are not quite flush with the base) and she’s good to go. I will pause here for a moment to say while this statue was billed as a cold cast porcelain piece (much like the Cover Girls statues, there are parts of it that look and feel more like resin, so I’m not entirely sure about the materials we’re dealing with here.

But whatever materials are used here, Diana is absolutely gorgeous! This iconic pose comes from the cover of Wonder Woman V2, Issue #150, which is itself a stunning piece of art, and I’ve got to say that the sculptor, Jack Mathews, has pulled it off perfectly in 3D. Her arms are stretched above her with each hand holding on to her golden lasso as the gilded magical rope coils and dances around her. The composition here is bold, majestic, noble, and bespeaks everything there is to be said about the Princess of the Amazons. And while this is a sixth-scale statue, the fact that she’s on a base and has her arms stretched upward, she actually measures in at just under 15 inches tall.

The outfit is both classic and simple, consisting of her iconic one-piece. The front features the wide golden wing border over her chest and the very large gold belt around her waist. Both areas are painted in a lush gold leaf paint that gives off a brushed metal look when viewed in the right lighting. Both the chest and waist pieces are sculpted as well as painted and the lines between them and the red middle are fairly clean. I had to get in pretty close and view it from a low angle to really see any minor deviations in the line. Diana’s blue “undies” are painted with a very vibrant shade of blue and speckled with razor sharp white stars. Lastly, her boots are red with white stripes running down the centers and white borders circling the tops. They also feature a very cool texture to make them look and feel like leather.

I’m extremely happy with the way the portrait came out as well. Her chin is lifted slightly upward, but no so much that it interferes with viewing the statue from dead on. Diana features soft, but well-defined facial features and crisply painted lips, eyes, and eyebrows. Her hair blows backwards and off her shoulders, and her gold tiara can be seen on her forehead, peeking out from her hair. If there’s one gripe I have, it’s that the ears didn’t receive quite the same level of detail as the rest, but they’re mostly obscured by her hair anyway. Now’s also a good time to come back to the question of materials, because I’m pretty sure that all the exposed skin is resin. It definitely isn’t flesh paint over porcelain. Whatever the case, I love what they did here. It gives her skin an extra warm and more realistic look, which contrasts beautifully with the matte paint used for much of the outfit.

And speaking of materials, the golden lasso is made of a springy wire, which is perfect in that it allows it to hold its intended shape, while not being brittle and prone to breaking. It’s even patterned to look like actual rope. I anticipated having to go through a lot of fussing and bother to get her lasso to look the way it’s supposed to, but it turns out that none of that was necessary. The statue actually comes out of the box with the lasso in it’s intended position, and that fact by itself is pretty damn impressive to me.

The base is a simple black disc, but it is extremely heavy. The figure is no slouch either, but in this case, the base clearly makes up most of the weight. That means you don’t have to worry about this lady toppling over, probably not even if you bump her. The stand includes Diana’s sculpted Wonder Woman emblem, which is also painted in the same lush gold leaf paint used for her costume. The bottom of the base features the statue’s hand numbered limitation. Mine is 3064 of 5000.

I can’t even express how happy I am that DC Collectibles decided to give this beautiful statue a new lease on life.  She’s an absolutely gorgeous update to the original piece and displays a level of quality and craftsmanship that actually feels like it exceeds the cost of the piece. And at just a smidge over $100, she actually clocks in at considerably less than you’re apt to find the smaller, original release. I own a lot of DC Comics Statutes, but this one is going to get a place of honor somewhere in my display. Previously, my favorite Wonder Woman statue was the first Wonder Woman Bishoujo statue by Kotobukiya, but this piece may usurp that one. Now, the only question is can the next DC Designer Series Wonder Woman (by Frank Cho and set to release next month) possibly upstage this one? I’m excited to find out.

Transformers Titans Return: Ominus and Sky Shadow by Hasbro

Well, I said I’d be getting to one of the bigger bots sooner or later, and it looks like it’s finally happening. I stumbled across Sky Shadow last weekend and while I had planned on passing him over for the Overlord redo, I found that he was too cool looking to pass up. Also, he’s an homage to Black Shadow, a certified badass among badasses and I really needed that character in my collection. I’ll call you Sky Shadow for the purposes of this review, big guy, but behind closed doors, you’ll always be Black Shadow to me!

Here’s a quick packaged shot. While I haven’t been dipping into the bigger figures in this line all too often, this is actually my third Titans Return Leader Class, with Powermaster Prime and Blaster being the others. Let’s start out with his alt mode… whoops, I mean alt modes PLURAL. As in TWO INDEPENDENT AND SIMULTANEOUS alt modes. Does that make him a Duocon? Sure, why not! Although, I doubt even Hasbro would repaint a Leader Class as Flywheels unless it was some crazy Con or Club exclusive.

So first off, we’ve got this totally bitchin’ Decepticon tank. It’s a very conventional-looking Earth tank, but it also reminds me of the drone that came with Energon Megatron/Galvatron way back when. Now, as far as toy tanks go, it doesn’t do a hell of a lot. The turret doesn’t rotate, the gun cannot elevate, it’s treads are molded faux treads, but it can roll along on its concealed wheels. You do, however, get some tiny foot pegs on the back and on the turret so you can load him up with a bunch of Titan Masters. OK, maybe not the most exciting of toys.

But, with all that having been said, I still really love this little death machine. There’s a ton of sculpted detail on the body, including all sorts of panel lines and hatches. The black body with red trim is a fantastic color combination for a Decepticon and the silver paint on the gun barrel and the two Decepticon insignia stickers are all gorgeous. In fact, I’d say this is a case where the deco carries the day and totally sells this stubby little tank mode.

The translucent red hatch on the top of the turret can open and fit a Titan Master, which makes now as good a time as ever to introduce Ominus. He’s cast in black and gray plastic, and is just your typical tiny head robot, albeit with a great name. Alas, there’s no paint on him at all, which really peeves me off on these Leader Class toys. Hey, Hasbro, I spent some real monies on this thing, how about a dab of paint on this robot’s wee little face? Ah well. We have another alt mode to look at…

While Sky Shadow’s tank patrols the ground, his other half takes to the skies in what is a superb nod back to Black Shadow’s jet mode. This is the air and ground version of robot surf-and-turf. Eh, forget that, that doesn’t make any sense. That was the Jameson talking. But, this is one sleek and sexy aircraft, featuring the same style of angled wings that we’ve seen a few times in Titans Return, and a pair of chunky blasters under those wings that look like they mean business. The profile alone on this bird makes it one of the fiercest looking jets in the entire Decepticon fleet.

The deco here is mostly the same as the tank mode, and that’s a very good thing! It features all that lovely black plastic with red and silver trim, but here you also get some gold paint on the back rear section and a little dark gray plastic too. The striping and Decepticon emblems on the wings are actually pre-applied stickers and they look straight and sharp. They’re loads better than the ones on my Broadside figure. I only hope they don’t start peeling too badly over time.

Ominus can fit into the cockpit and he can also pilot the drone that’s stored under the nosecone. I actually prefer the look of the jet without the drone attached, but it’s still a cool little bonus. Here’s where I wish Sky Shadow came with more than one Titan Master. I mean, I realize he can only have one head at a time, but Ominus can’t operate both alt modes and a drone at once. Maybe he pilots one alt mode while Sky Shadow focuses on controlling the other. Maybe I still don’t fully understand the dynamics of the whole Headmaster/Titan Master relationship. Maybe I’m overthinking it and should just move on…

Sky Shadow’s jet mode can also pick up his tank mode and carry it with him. There’s a fairly strong tab that locks the two together. Naturally, this looks fairly ridiculous, but it comes in handy. Nothing is more embarrassing than flying a couple hundred miles, wanting to transform, and then realizing you left half of your body back where you were. Also, being able to fly over a battlefield and drop a tank right into the middle of the action sure is quite an attention getter. But wait… did I say Sky Shadow had two alt modes? Well, I lied, because he also has one of those tertiary base modes.

Ok, so as far as bullshit tacked-on base modes go, this one isn’t terrible. It’s got the typical robot leg pylons in the front and robot arm pylons in the back. There’s a central deck area with a big cannon and a jet nosecone that passes for a control tower. It can almost work as some sort of super-tank mode, since the tank treads are on the bottoms of the pylons. There are plenty of Titan Master foot pegs if you want to load it up with occupants. There’s a place for the cannon operator to sit, and also a control room on the right pylon to seat another Titan Master. But enough with the alt modes, let’s check out Sky Shadow’s robot mode.

The tank transforms into Sky Shadows legs and robo-groin…

While the jet transforms into the upper half, and the two connect in the middle.

And once fused together at the waist, he is a shining pillar of Decepticon magnificence. There is nothing that I don’t like about this guy. He sports a ton of sculpted detail, carried over from his alt modes, and I’m in love with the giant cannons that angle up and outward from his shoulders. This guy can shoot Autobots out of the sky while just standing around! He’s also so satisfyingly big and bulky in all the right places. The deco carries over a lot of the black and red from his alt modes, but adds some dark and light gray plastics, as well as a lot more of that beautiful silver paint on his chest and shoulders. He’s also sporting a bold Decepticon sticker on each of those shoulders. This dude is fabulous!

From the back, he looks nice and clean. The backs of his legs are mostly filled out by the two halves of the tank turret. His bent wings angle off his back, Seeker-style, and the nose cone of the jet rises up behind the back of his head to make him look even more imposing. The drone can peg into his back, like I have it in the above shot. I think it looks good back there, even if it does give him a bit of a stubby tail.

Just as we’ve seen with the other Leader Class Titans Return figures, Ominus transforms into Sky Shadow’s head, but actually fits inside a helmet. Overall, this has worked pretty well on these bigger toys and it works great here as well, allowing Ominus to work with the smaller Deluxe Class figures as well as the big boys. I’ll also go ahead and say that this is my favorite Titan Master head of the entire line. The fierce angles, the piercing yellow eyes, and the beautiful silver paint conspire to make it a work of art. Combine it with a very traditional G1 style “helmet” and those pointed blades rising off the sides, and you’ve got Titan Master perfection.

Sky Shadow’s extra bits, the drone from his jet and the cannon from his tank, can be pieced together to form a gun, but I really don’t like the way it looks. I dislike it so much, I didn’t even bother shooting a picture of him holding it. I’m much happier just stowing the drone on his back and giving him the tank cannon as a gun. It isn’t a terribly imposing gun for a robot this size, but it’ll do.

For what is essentially a sloppy seconds figure based on a mold that was designed to be Overlord, Sky Shadow is an absolutely stunning figure. I’ll confess on the ride home from the store, I was having second thoughts about buying him. After just selling off a bunch of old Transformers from the Unicron Trilogy, I’ve been trying to be more picky about the ones I buy, especially when it comes to the larger figures that take up more room. But once I had this fella out of the box and in hand it was pretty much love at first sight, and having him has only whetted my appetite for Overlord.

Heroes of the Storm: Sylvanas (Warcraft) by NECA

Last week, I started looking at the last wave of NECA’s wonderful Heroes of the Storm line with the Orc Warchief Thrall. Today, I’m pressing on by opening up Sylvanas. It’s the last Warcraft-based figure in the line, and that makes me a very sad little Murloc.

Ah, but check it out! It’s the sexy and deadly Ranger-General of Silvermoon, Sylvanas Windrunner, now known as the Banshee Queen of the Forsaken. Give me a moment to unsheathe my Sin’dorei Warblade, slice open her sealed prison and release her. ACK! I HAVE UNLEASHED THE NOXIOUS PLASTIC GASSES!!!

Once again, NECA really knows their way around the Warcraft aesthetic and have done a beautiful job bringing this figure to life. She’s their first female from the Warcraft universe and still manages to retain her shapely form while including the jagged and somewhat bulky armor that is so popular in the realm. Sylvanas features beautifully sculpted armored boots, gauntlets, and shoulders, with some added plates on her thighs and to cover her blood elf bewbs. Her midriff and ample cleavage are, of course, exposed, because who would ever take advantage of that in battle?

As with Thrall, the illusion of layered gear on this figure is very well done. The armor pieces are all part of the sculpt, but thanks to the carefully detailed underlying clothes and the sculpted straps and buckles, I could almost be convinced that she’s actually wearing the armor. The attention to detail in the shoulders is particularly exquisite. All the armor pieces have that wonderful hammered metal finish, the reinforced borders harbor tiny nicks and dents from battle, and the shoulders are adorned with spikes, sculpted feathers and tiny skulls.

From the back, Sylvanas sports a purple fabric cape, which shows some considerable wear. She also has a quiver, which also has its share of nicks and scrapes from use. The quiver is designed to hold the loose arrows she comes with, but I’ve only been able to get two in there at a time. I’m not sure what’s going on down inside that thing, but the arrows are fragile and I don’t want to force them.

The paintwork on this figure is a real treat and is all about the contrasting of the drab brown and black of the trousers, boots, and straps with the beautiful metallic purple of the armor plates and the soft matte blue of Sylvanas’ skin.

NECA did a bang up job on the portrait here. Sylvanas is wearing a sculpted hood with slits for her long and elegant ears to protrude through. Her wispy eyebrow extends out over her right eye, but her left eyebrow is concealed. Bits of her hair peek out from the hood to frame her face. Her eyes are beautifully painted, but they can be tough to see under normal conditions, because the hood casts a shadow over the top part of her beautiful face.

Sylvanas sports many conventional points of articulation, some of which are at odds with her sculpting and character design. Y’all know how much NECA loves their rotating hinges, and this figure has them in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. She also has a ball joint under her chest and in her neck. The shoulder armor pieces are flexible, so you can manipulate them to allow her shoulders to move a bit more than you might expect, but maybe not as much as you might like. She also has swivels in her biceps, and mine look like they’ve been pulled a bit, as there’s a noticeable gap. It’s tough to see, since they’re buried under the shoulder armor, but I worry a bit that they may get floppy over time.

As for accessories, Sylvanas comes with her bow, Deathwhisper, which is a damn beautiful sculpt. It includes a lovely organic shape, as well as a shield attached to the center. The underlying bow is brown with bulked out pieces painted in silver and metallic purple to match Sylvanas’ armor. It also includes a real string. It’s a little tough to get her to hold it. I actually had to razor apart her fingers, so that I could wrap her hand around the grip, but once it’s in hand it stays put. Also included are her three loose arrows, which I mentioned earlier.

The articulation allows for her to knock an arrow and get ready to fire, but she can’t really pull back on the string very far. I actually think this may not be so much a restriction of the articulation, but more because the bow is strung tight, and there isn’t much elasticity to allow it to be pulled back. Now, with that having been said, I was still able to get some nice poses of her leading up to taking a shot.

Sylvanas also comes with an effect part for one of her skills, Wailing Arrow. This is a great looking piece, but I was totally stumped as to how it’s intended to be used. I was ultimately able to wedge it in between the shield and her grip to make it look like it’s being fired, but I tend to think it was just included as a bonus and not to be used with the bow in any specific way. I’d say this was a pretty big oversight, but at least I was able to get it to work.

And so, it is with a heavy heart that I end this review, knowing that there will be no more Warcraft figures from NECA. Boo! It’s especially painful because Sylvanas really is a great little figure and I wanted to see so much more out of this line. Which begs the question, where did the license go? Well, I know Blizzard struck a deal with Max Factory to produce Overwatch Figmas, but I don’t know why that would necessarily preclude NECA from continuing with this line. But, them’s the breaks and I really have to learn to be thankful for what I have, rather than what else could have been. Besides, I still have one more figure (from the Starcraft franchise) in this line to check out, and I’ll swing back to him in a couple of weeks.

Marvel Legends (Mantis Wave) Mantis Build-A-Figure by Hasbro

As promised, I’m back to finally kill off this wave of Marvel Legends with a look at the Mantis Build-A-Figure. Consisting of a total of six pieces, spread across a wave of seven figures, Mantis is fairly easy to cobble together, although I did have a little trouble getting her legs into the hips all the way. But wait, you’re saying this petite alien chick is the BAF?

Yes, generally speaking, BAFs were created to sell waves, but also to deliver figures that were often too big or complex to do in the regular price point or packaging. As a result, people may scratch their heads at the diminutive Mantis being a BAF. Well, there has been precedent for smaller BAFs in the past. Both Rocket Raccoon and Hit Monkey were even smaller. Once, someone told me that Jubilee was even a BAF, although I have no physical evidence to support that claim. Yes, I’ve seen pictures, and that last remark was just a bitter dig at Hasbro’s poor distribution. ANYWHO…

Here she is! Mantis! All assembled and looking absolutely fab! Mantis is a fairly simple figure, and as such, this is going to be a pretty quick review. But don’t let that fool you, because one look and it’s clear that Hasbro put some real love into her. The outfit features all the great sculpted detail and texturing that I’ve come to expect in my MCU Guardians outfits. I particularly dig the leaf-like skirt that wraps around her hips and backside. I expected this to be a belt, but its actually attached to the buck around the waist and as such looks more like a natural progression of her top.

Still, as impressive as the sculpting here is, it’s the paint that makes this a stand out figure. The gorgeous emerald green paint has a striking metallic sheen to it and its used not only on her top and gloves, but also the ribbed panels running down the sides of her trousers and outlining the panels in her skirt. Under some nice lighting, it contrasts beautifully with the black.

This head sculpt is no slouch either. This time around, all the MCU Guardians likenesses have been winners, and I’d say that Mantis ranks pretty high among them. Her distinctive eyes and bendy antenna have been recreated beautifully here, as has her sculpted hair, which even curls up at her chin. Whatever you’ve been doing with these portraits, Hasbro, please keep doing it!

The articulation is fairly close to what I’m used to seeing in the Legends female bucks, which means she’s fairly limber.

With no accessories, and not exactly weighing in as an action star in the movie, Mantis may not be the most exciting figure around, but I sure am glad we got her in figure form. Why Hasbro opted to make her the BAF is still a bit of a poser. Maybe they thought she wouldn’t sell on her own? But with Gamora and Nebula in the wave, I’m not convinced that was it. It would have been cool if she got her own boxed release and Hasbro could have just given us Ego as the BAF, at least then I wouldn’t have to buy a second Star-Lord to get him in that two-pack. But that’s just me griping. You do whatever you have to do, Hasbro to keep these figures coming! Next week, I’ll be starting to look at a new wave of Legends, but I haven’t decided which yet and there’s so many to choose from. Warlock? Sandman? Vulture? Ragnarok? Man-Thing? Well, I’m going to rule out Ragnarok, because I’d like to look at those figures closer to the film’s release. Right now I’m leaning toward going with the either the Warlock or Sandman waves next.

Marvel Legends (Mantis Wave): Death’s Head II by Hasbro

It’s been a long road, with a lengthy detour, but I’m finally wrapping up my look at the Mantis Wave of Marvel Legends today. Death’s Head II is the last packaged figure I have to open and then I’ll be back later on this evening with a look at the Build-A-Figure, Mantis.

At this point, I don’t have anything new to say about the packaging, except that you’ll note Death’s Head II does not include a BAF part. Maybe Hasbro realized a lot of people wouldn’t be familiar with the character and thus chose to not make him a mandatory purchase to build Mantis. However, looking at the package, I think it’s more likely that they just couldn’t squeeze anything else in there. Also… “Marvel’s Death’s Head II?” As opposed to all those other Death’s Head II’s? I’d be interested to see what potential copyright infringement made them feel it necessary to do that. That’s just weird. Anyway, I’m anxious to get this guy open, but before I do that. first I’m going to take a moment to ruminate over what a cool time it is to be a comic lover and toy collector, because Hasbro made this delightfully obscure character into a figure and distributed it as a regular retail release to boot! OK, maybe obscure isn’t the right word. After all, his first issue, X-Treme Prejudice hit something like 500,000 copies and was one of UK Marvel’s most exported issues of all time! Hey, Marvel, how many copies of Mighty Captain Marvel did you sell in June? About 20,000? Oooooh. Lemmie, guess, it’s really popular in digital format? Yeah, whatever.

And holy hell is he all kinds of awesome! It’s like someone synthesized all that was great and ridiculous about 90’s comics into one action figure. Death’s Head II (hereafter DHII, because I’m getting damned tired of typing that!) is a super fun character for a few reasons. Sure, he’s an AIM cyborg who absorbed Death Head’s personality to become DHII. Sure, he’s his own sequel! But he also owes much of his extended fictional existence to copyright issues between Marvel and Hasbro. Plus, he can make the amazing claim of being canonical in not only the Marvel Universe, but also the The Transformers and Doctor Who Universes, as well. Did I mention he’s a f’cking cyborg badass?

DHII is built on a generously large blue buck with a hint of metallic sheen to it. While electric blue might not instantly shout out the idea of cyborg killing machine, it did back in the 90’s and to be honest it really looks nice here. He has gold bands wrapped around his lower legs, which produce jagged, curved spikes, and some more of those gold bands encircling his left forearm.  You get those very Colossus-like segmented cyborg biceps with some lovely tarnished steel paint and while his feet are still the same blue as the rest of the body, he also has some sculpted segmented lines there as well. Finally, his belt looks like a bunch of twisted brown organic tendrils that have reached around from his back in order to hold a giant armor plate to protect his cyborg goody sack.

And then you’ve got his beautifully sculpted metamorphic arm! As the name suggests, this monstrosity serves multiple purposes. Besides being a weapon, it is also the interface for DHII’s Cranial Siphon, which enables him to suck out and absorb the personalities and abilities of his victims. Hasbro did a fabulous job on not only the sculpt here, but also the coloring that gradually matches the color of his arm. Otherwise, it’s just an awesome twisted blend of blades, gun barrels, and segmented cables.

The portrait is also excellent and pretty damn grizzly. He’s got a a skull cap and downward pointing horns as well as some disgusting strands of “hair” snaking its way over his shoulders and down his back. The gold mask looks like it’s half melted to his face and his exposed jaws and teeth can be seen underneath. One eye is exposed, while the other is just a blue lens. I’m often very impressed by the head sculpts that Hasbro turns out for their Legends line, but even with that being said, few have given them the opportunity to shine like this guy and they really knocked it out of the park.

The articulation is everything I expect in these bigger Legends bucks. The legs feature ball joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, hinges in the ankles, and lateral rockers too. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, and hinges in the elbows. The left wrist is a rotating hinge. The torso has a swivel in the waist and an ab crunch hinge in the chest. The neck is both ball jointed and hinged. Oh yeah, DHII also has an extra left hand with an extended finger. I’m not sure whether this is meant to be pointing, or maybe it’s a “come here so I can suck out your identity,” finger. Whatever the case it’s a nice bonus.

When you consider how many well-known Marvel characters still haven’t seen the light of day as a Legends figure, I don’t know whether to be amazed or pissed off that I’m holding Death’s Head II. Nah, just kidding. I could never be pissed off about something like this. He’s awesome! Other characters will get their turns, but it clearly took just the right alignment of the planets, and just the right mix of alcohol and cocaine, for some magnificent bastard at Hasbro to green-light this release. Even if I had no idea who Death’s Head II was, I’d still love this figure. He’s imaginative, fun, and creative, and basically encompasses everything that I loved about comics from his decade. And so, that’s the last of the packaged figures, come on back later tonight, and we’ll wrap up this wave with a quick look at Mantis from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2! 

DC Comics Multiverse (Doomsday Wave): Dark Knight Returns Batman and Robin by Mattel

So, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’ve been using Mattel’s ho-hum Multiverse line as filler for DC Fridays as I await some better stuff to come in. I should have something next week for sure. In the meantime, I’ve picked up a couple waves of these figures for stupid cheap and I’ve been trudging through the Doomsday Wave. Today I’m doubling up with a look at both Batman and Robin from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. I was actually looking forward to these figures and hoping they would be the breakouts of the wave. Turns out those were lofty and unfulfilled hopes. Let’s have a look…

The figures come in window boxes and are collector friendly. They’re not ugly, they’re not great, they just are. Sometimes I’m sad about tossing packaging, but in this case, I don’t really care. There’s some nice character art on the side panels, and you get a little blurb about each character too. Let’s start with Batman…

So, my first thought here is that the figure looks drab and unfinished and I proscribe that to the lack of paint. I suppose you could argue that they’re going for a comic look here and the art in this particular book sure isn’t cheery. In fairness, they did attempt to add a little color diversity here and there. You get the dark gray of the armor pieces, with the lighter gray and blue of the underlying suit peeking out. Then you get the blue of the cape and cowl, and the bright yellow of the utility belt. And yet still, there’s something about the coloring on this figure that looks cheap.

The sculpt itself is passable. I like that the chest armor is soft plastic wrapped around the buck. It adds to the bulk of the figure and also gives it a unique matte finish to contrast with the rest of the plastic. There are some little cinches and rumples sculpted in too. You get some panel lines in the armor rings, some nice ribbing and texturing on the fists, including reinforced plates on the knuckles, and best of all, you get those crazy spikes on the soles of his boots. Again, I think a lot of the reason this figure falls flat for me is the lack of paint. I’ll also point out that mine came out of the package with the right shoulder cape attachment warped so it looks like it’s pulled up.

The head sculpt isn’t terrible. It fits the style of the art. There’s some nice depth between the face and the cowl. But the paint on my figure is all chipped around the upper lip, exposing the gray plastic under it like some kind of unfortunate case of necro-herpes. For a figure with an MSRP of about $20, that level of quality control just isn’t here.

Articulation here is quite limited. That’s been a gripe of mine for the first two figures in this wave and it looks like that isn’t going to change. Once again, the problem isn’t with the points, but with the range of motion in those points. The elbows in particular have are laughably limited. In the case of this figure, I’m maybe willing to be a bit more forgiving, because he is wearing bulky armor, but it still means that this figure isn’t much fun to play with. Also, there’s a waist swivel in there, but mine is locked tight with the torso slightly turned to the right.

Batman comes with his EMP gun and it’s a pretty sorry excuse for an accessory. Maybe this would have been OK for a 3 3/4-inch scale weapon, but come on, Mattel. This is just embarrassing. I’ve had enough of this guy… let’s move on to Robin.

 

We’re still focused on TDKR here, so this is of course, Carrie Kelly. I like the scaling here, especially when you display her next to Batman, because she’s appropriately tiny. From the neck down, the sculpt isn’t half bad. Mattel actually did a decent job with the classic Robin outfit. It’s not overly encumbered with detail, but it definitely gets the job done and adheres to the art style reasonably well. I even like the coloring here. The bright red, yellow, and green really make this figure pop splendidly. Well, look at that, I had some nice things to say!

For a while I was a little torn on the head sculpt. At certain angles it doesn’t look too bad, but in the end I have to come down against it. The glasses look way too large and blocky and having them just painted over green doesn’t work for me. At this point, I realize it’s asking way too much to have clear green plastic and sculpted eyes behind them (although even Funko’s Pop! Vinyl managed to do it), but it doesn’t change the fact that what we got here looks kind of awkward. And speaking of awkward, the bottom part of the face and lips does not look like anything like a child to me.

Like Batman, the articulation here sucks. Again, on paper this figure should have all it needs to work, but none of those points offer any real range of motion, except the shoulders. The hips are confined by the tunic, the elbows can barely make 90-degrees, and the ankle hinges are all but useless. I pick these figures up, fiddle with them for a few moments, get frustrated, and put them back down again.

Robin comes with her slingshot accessory, which is a good thought, but executed pretty hamhandedly. The rubber band looks like a chewed stretched piece of caramel. She can hold the slingshot in her right hand or it can get tucked into the loop on her belt, where it looks like an oversized albatross.

Goddammit, Mattel! After one disappointment (Supergirl) and one meh (Superman Doomed), I’ve was hoping to finally hit a couple of Multiverse figures that I actually liked and instead I got these. They look and feel cheap, they have horrible articulation, and Mattel should be ashamed of themselves for asking $20 a pop for these. Keep in mind, I paid eight bucks for each of these and I’m still not satisfied. These are giant leaps backwards from the days of DC Universe Classics, a line that Mattel killed many years back so that they could, what… work on developing this garbage? OK, I still have two more figures in this wave to review before I can put together Doomsday, but I feel like I’m really bumming out DC Fridays with this crap, so next week I’m going determined to cleanse the pallet with something decent.

Transformers Titans Return: Aimless and Misfire by Hasbro

Folks, I have a sad. Hasbro showed off their new convertorobot line at SDCC and it’s called Power of the Primes and I hate it so much because it means that Titans Return is ending. Now, I still have plenty of Titans Return figures to pick up, and I’ll concede that I passed on some of the Voyagers (Like Optimus Prime and Megatron), but the Deluxe Class figures in this line can do no wrong in my book, and today I’m opening one that I am particularly excited about. The sadness is lifting, as I try to live in the moment.

Misfire! He’s one of the handful G1 Targetmasters that I actually owned in the past, and I was so happy to see the character get a slot in one of the Titans Return Deluxe assortments. Yup, this is another example of a Targetmaster changed into a Headmaster and I don’t care FIGHT ME!!! I have nothing to really say about the packaging, so let’s jump right in to his alt mode.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Cybertronian jets that have been turning up in this line, so it should come as no surprise that I really dig Misfire’s alt mode. The designers basically took the look of the original toy, sucked out all the boxiness, and streamlined it into a sleek fighter craft. The back isn’t as hunched as it is in the original design, but the jet still sports that distinctive forked nose with the little fin stabilizers, and the angled, bent wings. This is a phenomenal update, with my only real gripe being that it looks a little unfinished from the back. It doesn’t really bother me, but hmm… who does that remind me of?

Yes, Misfire and Triggerhappy share the same hind quarters in their alt modes, which means they have the same legs in their robot modes. Hey, if you’re going to borrow parts, might as well be from Triggerhappy, because he was one fine looking toy.

The coloring gets by with mostly a pinkish-mauve plastic that fits the character fairly well. I swear I’ve seen the original toy in red as well, but I’m pretty sure my old one was closer to this color. There’s a little pale gray showing here and there, but not much, and you get the blue tinted canopy over the cockpit. There are some beautiful tampos on this toy, which include red and silver wing stripes, some little silver panels to the front sides of the cockpit, and some more panels between the two rear fins. All of this is accompanied by some lovely sculpted panel lines. For a toy that makes due with a very stagnant deco, Misfire look amazing.

Misfire’s handguns mount under his wings to give him some much needed firepower.

Aimless is Misfire’s head robot partner and… Holy shit, is that paint on his little face that I see? It is! Primus knows, these Titan Masters look so much better with a few microscopic licks of paint. I can’t figure out why Hasbro decided to start painting faces again, but I’m not complaining. Oh, and obviously, Aimless can sit inside Misfire’s cockpit and serve as a pilot.

And here’s the robot mode! Misfire features a pretty simple transformation. The coolest thing is the way the front of the jet folds down to become his back. This figure hits so many great design points for me, it’s hard to know where to begin. I suppose my favorite thing is the way the wings protrude out from his back, Seeker style. Even from the back, this dude looks very polished, and I dig the way the dual points of the front of the jet, along with the fins, peek up from behind his back. Very cool! As already mentioned, those are Triggerhappy’s legs and they look good on him, with the fins protruding out below the knees. The deco remains largely unchanged, although it does add more of that pale gray to the mix, as well as some red paint on his chest. I think we have a new contender here for my favorite Decepticon Deluxe robot mode in this line.

Aimless forms a great looking noggin.  I dig the blue visor and the lavender paint they used for his face is pretty distinctive. My figure has a few smidges of blue transferred onto the face, but nothing too bad.

The articulation here is very standard for the Titans Return Deluxes. Sometimes I forget to even cover it, since it’s pretty much the same throughout most of the Deluxes in this line. The shoulders swivel and are hinged, elbows are hinged and there are swivels in the biceps. The hips are ball jointed, the knees are hinged, and there are hinges in both the foot and the heel spur. Misfire can swivel at the waist, and his head can rotate.

The wing guns that we saw earlier unpeg and can be used as Misfire’s hand guns. As usual, they’re mirror images of each other and can combine to form a double-barreled gun with a seat for a Titan Master. There’s really no good way to use the combined gun on Misfire’s alt mode, but there are plenty of other figures you can add it to.

As you can no doubt tell, I can’t stop gushing about this line’s Deluxe Class figures! Misfire is everything I’m looking for in a Transformer. He’s a solid update to a G1 character, his transformation features simple but effective engineering, and he looks absolutely bitchin’ in both his alt and robot modes. He’s also loads of fun to play with, shoulders not withstanding. I’m currently on the hunt for Twintwist and Windblade, and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on Slugslinger. In the meantime, I’m hoping to have one of the bigger bots to look at next week, but I can’t make any promises yet.