Star Wars Black (The Mandalorian): Cara Dune by Hasbro

We’re four episodes (five if you count today!) into The Mandalorian, the new Star Wars series on Disney+, and I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying it a whole hell of a lot. It’s refreshingly simple, well crafted, and the backdrop is rich with the Star Wars Universe. I already reviewed the Black Series figure of the titular character, and now I’m back to check out Cara Dune, a character that made her appearance the very same week that her figure was hitting my doorstep. Now that’s some pin-point timing on your distribution, Hasbro! Too bad you ain’t got none of them Baby Yoda’s to sell. What? Mattel is making that? WHAT?? It won’t be out until later next year? What the hell is going on over there, Disney? Don’t you and Hasbro like money anymore???

Setting aside the lack of Yoda Babies, we are introduced to Cara Dune in Chapter Four: Sanctuary, which plays out like an old episode of The A-Team. Or that episode of Enterprise where they have to defend a colony against Klingon raiders by teaching the locals how to fight. Here, The Mandalorian and his new associate, Cara, must defend a village from raiders who also happen to have a pet droidified AT-ST and they need to improvise. Despite an eye-rolling cliche clip of the villagers getting drilled with the use of quarter-staffs, it was most enjoyable and the script does a nice job fleshing out Cara’s character and actress, Gina Carano does an equally fine job bringing her to life. I’m presume we’ll be seeing more of her, but instead of speculating, let’s have a look at her figure.

As a former Rebel fighter and all around roughian, Cara comes sporting a set of armored fatigues that look right at home in the Star Wars Universe. The ensemble consists of a chest-plate, shoulder armor, grieves on her forearms, and a single right knee-guard, because to hell with the left knee, right? The outfit is all part of the body sculpt, which makes some nice use of texture for the chest and back pieces, as well as the outer portions of the legs. She’s got a couple of sculpted gear belts, one of which supports a working holster on her right hip. Her boots have sculpted wraps leading up to her knees as well as some code cylinders strapped to her lower right leg. The blue, gray, and black deco is certainly distinctive, and there are plenty of silver paint hits to the buckles and gear. There’s also some very nice weathering on her armor, which looks good and is used sparingly. Finally, a tattooed segmented band encircles her right bicep. The sculpt and paint here are both excellent, and I also dig how the figure’s build matches Carno’s powerful stature.

And speaking of matching, the portrait here is a pretty solid likeness for the actress, but I don’t think it’s among their best. I think it’s very good from certain angles, but from others it loses me a little. But hey, if we’re grading the Black Series on a curve because of some truly lackluster portraits, I think this one still ranks in around a B+. Not as good as what we’re seeing from Hasbro’s Marvel Cinematic Universe figures from down the hall, but I’m not going to quibble about it. The hair is particularly well done, sculpted separately from the head and covering part of her right face, while strands fall down the other side between her cheek and ear.

I’ve already mentioned the functional holster, which holds her blaster pistol, and includes a retaining strap that fastens with a peg and hole. We got to see this weapon up close and personal in her battle with The Mando and it features a lot of great detail in the sculpt as well as painted grips. The pistol strikes me as a little demure for her, but nevertheless it appears faithful to its on screen counterpart. She can hold it in either hand, but it works best in the right hand with the hooked trigger finger fitting through the trigger guard.

Next up, she comes with a little combat knife, which can be held in either hand. I struggled for a bit to figure out where this goes on her outfit before spotting a little slot on the side of her left boot. It’s a simple accessory, but still quite welcome.

And finally, Cara comes with a weapon that seems more suited to her stature and that’s this heavy blaster rifle. This big boom-stick features a cool over-under double-barrel design, not to mention two big drums of whatever passes for ammo in the Star Wars Universe these days. Like the pistol, there’s some excellent detail work on this weapon, brown paint on the grip and stock, and it includes a grab bar on the top so that Cara can wield it with both hands.

It also includes a shoulder strap, so she can carry it on her back. Nice!

At a time when I’ve been considering slowing down on the 6-inch Black Series, Cara comes along and rekindles my interest in this line. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that’s the case for The Mandalorian in general. I don’t see myself buying a lot of figures from Rise of Skywalker, because I just don’t think I’m going to end up liking the film all that much. Hopefully time will prove me wrong. But The Mandalorian is another story entirely and I sincerely hope that Hasbro starts pumping out figures from this line at a quick pace. There’s already quite a few that I’d like to see from the first handful of episodes.

Transformers Siege: Prowl and Barricade by Hasbro

It’s been a real struggle for me to get back to three reviews a week. I mean, you can see how well it’s been working out for me. So, until I get there again, In an effort to get caught up, I’m going to be trying to bundle reviews a bit more often, especially when it’s appropriate. And when I’ve got two Transformers police cars from the same mold waiting to be opened, this seems like one of those appropriate times. Let’s check out Prowl and Barricade!

If you comb back through FFZ, you will find evidence of my undying love for Prowl. The original G1 toy was one of my first Transformers, it was my favorite Autobot mold, and whenever I played with my convertorobots, he stood prominently as Optimus Prime’s first lieutenant and all around right-hand-bot. Hell, even when I watched the Sunbow cartoon I would lament and stew over the fact that Prowl wasn’t in it more often. I’ve been patiently waiting for my boy here to get a proper toy update. After all, the Classics version has aged horribly and the Combiner Wars version was really never more than a place-holder for me. As for Barricade, well I’m not someone who’s anxious to see a lot of Bayverse Transformers shoe-horned into my regular Transformers line, but I will admit that seeing Barricade turn up in Siege has intrigued me a bit. He was one of the cool things I liked about the original film and doing him as a repaint of Prowl seemed like a no-brainer. So let’s start with the alt modes!

Obviously, Siege is focused on Cybertronian alt modes, so my hopes for a proper Datsun are quickly dashed. What we get instead is a Cybertronian interpretation of the Datsun and it looks remarkably like its Earth counterpart. The only big difference is the atrophied cabin, after all these aren’t supposed to be vehicles for meat-bags, and the translucent wheels for cruising down alien roads. There are also some exaggerated contours to give the body more of a futuristic flavor. And hey, I can get behind all of this just fine. Prowl’s white body and black trim certainly looks familiar and while the Cybertronian script on the sides is unintelligible to me, it mimics the police markings just fine. There’s even a light-bar and an off-set Autobot emblem on the front of the hood. I dig it.

 

As for Barricade, he retains a good deal of his coloring from the first film and I’ll be the first to say this deco looks great. A black-and-gray body with white doors and the same alien “police” script on them gives us a perfect Cybertronian nod to the Bayverse Decepticon. The translucent purple used for the faux canopy is gorgeous and the same plastic is used for the wheels as well. The snappy new deco is tied together with a Decepticon emblem stamped on the front of the hood. It’s a great looking car!

Each figure comes with a weapon, which can be plugged into the light-bar for those rolling highway battles. Prowl’s actually resembles his G1 gun quite a bit, while Barricade’s is a double-barreled weapon which can split into two pistols. Transforming these guys is a pretty straight-forward variation of the original toy. Sure, it’s a bit more complicated, but not too much. I was able to get these guys to robot mode and back without any instructions, so you know it can’t be that hard. So how’s about them robot modes?

Yeah, what we have is very similar to the Prowl I know and love. His proportions aren’t quite perfect, as he strikes me as having extra broad shoulders. It’s a similar style to Siege Sideswipe and it is not by any means a deal-breaker for me. Quite the contrary, I think these guys look fantastic. The jutting hood chest remains my all-time favorite Autobot design, complimented by the door wings. Conspicuously absent is any sign of shoulder-mounted guns, giving all the third-party companies out there a chance to make some money. The lower legs still form out of the hatchback, but in this case heel-spurs are added to fold out and grant stability. These guys aren’t quite as well polished when viewed from the back, but I’ve certainly seen worse.

As for the decos, they remain pretty faithful to their respective car coloring. Prowl adds some yellow paint accents on his lower chest as well as the sergeant stripes on his biceps, which is just a lovely touch. Barricade adds a new color to the mix, which is like a pale gray-lavender for his arms, upper legs, and torso. As with all Siege figures, there’s a lot of detail to the sculpts by way of panel lining, and Barricade shows these off much better because of the lighter color plastic.

If you’re looking for a G1-faithful portrait, Prowl’s head sculpt is just about perfect. I don’t think I would change a thing about it. The “helmet” is well defined and includes the red horns jutting out from the center ridge. His noble Autobot face features some snappy silver paint. I’d go so far as to rate this portrait right up there with the Masterpiece version, it really is that good!

For Barricade, I’m happy to say that Hasbro designed a brand new face because the f’ugly Bayverse bug-faces just don’t belong in this line, and I really like what they did with it. His facial features aren’t quite as sharp as Prowl’s, but he does look appropriately grim. The brown face is an interesting choice and I suppose it goes well with his darker deco. The “helmet” is similar to Prowl’s as it shares the central crest with protruding horns, in this case purple, but there’s enough differences to set it apart and make it distinctive.

Obviously the guns we saw in their alt modes can be wielded in their hands. Once again, Prowl’s pays homage to the original G1 figure’s gun and is cast in white plastic. Barricade’s can be used as a single weapon or split into two pistols.

So far Siege has failed to truly disappoint me and that track record isn’t going to be upset today. Prowl and Barricade are excellent figures, and coming from me, that’s saying something because I hold my Prowl figures to high standards. Actually, I’m usually just happy enough to get them at all, but in this case Hasbro did the design proud in both robot and vehicle modes. These guys look great, are quick and easy to transform, and they are tons of fun to play around with. Of course, we haven’t seen the last of this mold, and Siege Smokescreen will be hitting my doorstep sometime next week. I probably could have waited and reviewed all three together, but I’ll just have to come back and give him his own look when I get the time.

Marvel Legends: Emma Frost (Walgreens Exclusive) by Hasbro

Folks, I’m really trying to get back to a regular three-post rotation for content each week, but it hasn’t been easy. I almost had it last week, but stuff came up and I just didn’t have the time. Maybe this week will be different. In the meantime, it’s another Monday, and that means time to open another Marvel Legends. And today I am once again forgoing random chance and taking a look at a figure that was just pitched at my porch by an Amazon delivery driver. It’s the Walgreens Exclusive Emma Frost!

No, that’s no mistake. I had to go to Amazon to get this figure, which is unusual because my Walgreens has been pretty good at getting their exclusives on the shelves. I’m not sure if I missed this one, or just didn’t get lucky, but when I saw her turn up on Amazon at a sort of reasonable price, I gave up on my luck changing and jumped at the chance. Hasbro’s last crack at Frost wasn’t exactly a 10 out of 10, but I still would have been happy to have found her at a price that wouldn’t have prohibited me eating for a week.

And yes, this new release is sort of a consolation prize, because she isn’t Emma in her traditional white costume. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Dark Reign, and I can’t deny the appeal of the black costume, but seeing as how this is currently my only Emma Frost on my Legends shelf, it’s not the iconic look I would have preferred. In terms of sculpting, this is one of those figures that relies heavily on paint to create the costume. Her black one-piece is all paint, with skin-tone recreating the split down the middle. Likewise, her sleeves are painted to be cropped short, and even her thigh-high stockings are painted with some gray lines running across them. She has high-heels, which I’m sure we’ve seen before, and there are separate pieces that hang around her wrists and ankles to create the illusion of the tops of her boots and gloves.

From the neck down the only other new stuff we get is a wide belt, a pair of shoulder armor, and her jacket-cape-thingy. I do really dig the slight billowing effect of her cape, and the sculpted stitch lines are a great touch. She also features red branded X’s on her shoulders, which I don’t really remember from the art, but I like them all the same. With that having been said, everything looks pretty good, although there’s fair amount of black paint spray around her chest. At least the silver buckle and eyelets on her belt are neatly painted.

The head sculpt here is absolutely fantastic. She’s very pretty and the paintwork is a heck of a lot more crisp and clean than some of those lines on her costume. The metallic blue lipstick is a nice touch too. The blonde hair is sculpted as a separate piece of plastic, which gives it that lovely degree of depth. It partially hides her right ear and the left side of her face.

The articulation here follows the usual Legends gal pattern. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows. The wrists are on rotating pins, allowing you to swap the hands between fists and the open magic-casting hands we’ve seen plenty of times before. The legs have ball jointed hips, double-hinges in the knees, swivels at the tops of her stockings, and ankles with both hinges and lateral rockers. And yes, it is a royal paint in the butt to get her to stand with those heels, but hey who needs practical when they look that good, eh? Finally, Emma has a ball joint under her chest and a hinged ball joint in her neck.

And in case you thought I forgot, Emma does come with a second head sculpt featuring her shorter cropped hair and metallic red lipstick. It’s every bit as good as the other head, possibly even a tad better, but you know what? It’s also like a big F*CK YOU to me, because now I have a perfectly iconic Emma Frost head without an iconic body to put it on.

Does it sound like I’m a little angry at this figure? Eh, I’m really not. It’s a great looking figure and certainly not a bad addition to my Legends line-up, but it isn’t the Emma Frost I wanted. Hell, I don’t even have any Dark X-Men to display her with on the shelf. Hey, Hasbro! There’s a great idea for an Amazon Exclusive. Do a Dark X-Men six-pack like you did with A-Force and Alpha-Flight to go along with this Emma. Hell, most of them would just be repaints anyway, and dopes like me will buy it. Anyway, Consolation Prize Emma set me back $28 on Amazon with that lovely free Prime shipping. So, yeah, I had to pay a premium for her, but at least I didn’t get too beaten up. Now if only Danni Moonstar would drop a couple of bucks, I’d bite the bullet and pick her up as well.

Star Wars Black (Solo): Han Solo (Mimban) and Chewbacca by Hasbro

So, the other night I re-watched Solo on Disney+ and about half way through it I got up, dug out all the Black Series figures from the movie that were on my Pile of Shame© and had a hell of a time ripping them open while finishing the movie. And since I did that, I thought I’d go ahead and start reviewing them in pairs. I’ve already looked at quite a few figures from the film, and today I’m pressing on with Han Solo in his Mudtrooper uniform and his new found friend, Chewbacca.

Of all the Star Wars films, both good and bad, Solo feels like the one that just kind of came and went. The lead up to its release seemed to be dominated by talks of messy production and re-shoots, but once it hit the theaters I don’t recall hearing much about it, other than it was a disappointment for Disney at the Box Office and it resulted in them tabling any future plans for the Star Wars Story films. Me? I enjoyed it quite a bit in the theater and I’ve probably watched it two or three more times since it hit Blu-Ray. And now that I find myself casually viewing it again on Disney’s streaming service, I have to say that it’s held up just fine each time and other than a certain shoe-horned cameo at the end, I’ve got no complaints. Let’s start out by looking at Han.

Serving with the 224th Imperial Armored Division, Corporal Han Solo in his Imperial Mudtrooper outfit is a figure that I was anxious to get my hands on. I loved the whole sequence in the film and I really dig this particular uniform. It’s a nice blend of familiar Imperial fashion call-outs with some new stuff thrown in, and Hasbro put an exceptional amount of work into making this figure something special. Here it is stripped down to the basics with the familiar cuirass previously seen worn by the AT-AT Commanders. The backside of the armor features a sculpted backpack sort of thing with some detailed panels. The cuirass is not removable and is sculpted over what looks like a fairly typical Imperial Officer’s uniform tunic, but with added shoulder armor and bicep armor, with the right bicep painted red. The high boots feature a liberal dusting of what is probably supposed to be mud, but it actually looks like it would work well for snow or ash. In addition to the dirtied up boots, there’s some absolutely lovely weathering applied to the cuirass. Even if this was all there was to the figure, I’d have been happy, but there’s plenty of gear to add on to him. But before getting to that…

Let’s talk about the portrait! Hasbro has had some troubles in the past getting Harrison Ford’s likeness as Solo quite right, but I Think they’ve had a lot more luck with Alden Ehrenreich. Their first figure from the film looked great, and I think the likeness on this one is another direct hit. The hair and contours of the face are right on the money, as are pretty much all the facial features. And the printing used for the face is also excellent. OK, let’s start loading him up!

The extra uniform pieces consist of a cape, a helmet, goggles, and a breather mask. The cape features some particularly great sculpting and weathering, and I like that it’s not too cumbersome, because even as it is, it seems like the most impractical thing to include on an infantry uniform. [OK, that was only true until I realized it’s probably a rain poncho and not a cape.] It’s designed to tab into two notches on his shoulders, but mine doesn’t like to do that, which isn’t a big problem because it stays on just fine by hugging his shoulders.

The helmet fits perfectly and includes a chin-strap. The breather mask has two partially sculpted straps that hold it on simply by friction and the tubes run behind the head and plug into the holes on the top of the backpack. Finally, the goggles can be worn up on the helmet or down over the eyes. One of my frequent complaints about the Black Series is that it doesn’t often make use of the larger scale, but here’s a figure that really does. I’m sure all of this could have been done in the smaller 3 3/4-inch scale, but I don’t think it could have been quite as well executed as it is here. I mean, it would have been much easier to just sculpt the goggles, helmet, and mask all as one piece, but I’m happy to see Hasbro rose to the challenge here.

The final accessory in the box is Han’s E-10 blaster rifle. It’s a nice change-up form the usual Imperial small arms and features some great detail in the sculpt. The forearm grip is even folded down so it can be held in both hands. And since I’m looking at two figures today, I’m just going to skip the usual run-down of articulation. There’s nothing new here, and I’ll just say how I wish Black Series made use of double-hinged elbows like Marvel Legends does. The rotating hinges are OK, but I would really like a better range of motion in those elbows. Moving on to Chewbacca…

I actually don’t have a whole heck of a lot to say about Chewie here. I was actually going to pass on this figure, but I found it on sale and I decided I needed him to stand beside young Han Solo. It seems to borrow the same body sculpt as the original Black Series Chewie, but with a very different paint job. Gone is the more uniform brown and in its place is a mix of dark brown and light tan. Unfortunately, I don’t think the new paint does the sculpt any favors. It looks very basic and the radical differences in color shades makes this look more like an animated version of Chewie to me. Maybe a wash would have helped. Of course, Chewie’s more familiar bandoleer strap is replaced here with the Y-shaped baldric and satchel.

We do get an entirely new head sculpt, which I think is a fairly solid and I dig the goggles, which have an elastic strap and can be worn up on his forehead or down over his eyes. Once again, I’m going to take the lazy way out and not run down the articulation. I’ll just refer you to my review of the original Black Series Chewbacca review from many years ago.

Chewbacca comes with the blaster rifle he wielded in the film. I’m not sure what this one is called, but it’s a formidable weapon for a formidable Wookie. The sculpt features loads of detail, the forearm grip is painted brown, and there’s a small side grip that’s actually articulated and can fold in or out. It’s a great looking gun, I just wish they had re-sculpted Chewie’s left hand so that he could hold it by the forearm.

In the end I couldn’t be happier with the way Mimban Han turned out. It’s rare that I can give the Black Series the nod for going above and beyond, but Hasbro did just that on this figure. All the removable gear makes him lots of fun, and he’s just a great looking figure. Chewie isn’t quite as big a success story. There’s a lot of recycling here and the paint just doesn’t do the sculpt any favors. It’s not a terrible figure by any means, and I’m ultimately glad I got him, but I’m also glad I didn’t have to pay full price for him. And I have to say, it’s been fun going back and checking out figures from Solo. So much so that I may try to squeeze a couple more into the mix next week.

Marvel Legends (Wendigo Wave): Guardian by Hasbro

The Marvel Legends Alpha Flight six-figure set just landed on my door and I want to dig into it more than anything! But, I also know that I’m going to need to set aside some serious time to do that, so today’s not-at-all random pick for Marvel Monday is another member of Alpha Flight, who just so happened to be released in the X-Men heavy Wendigo Wave.

Yes, it’s James Hudson… Guardian… Weapon Alpha… and leader of Alpha Flight! And I promise to try to be as sensitive to my brothers from The North as possible during this review. Because why shouldn’t Canada have its own team of National Superheroes! And in any case, any character coming from the prolific pen of John Byrne has me on board 100%. As you can see, this is a pretty crowded package, and poor Guardian is being pushed off to the side by the significant bulk of the BAF torso and tail. Let’s get him out of there before he’s crushed.

Guardian proves that you don’t need the stars and stripes on your flag for it to inspire a great looking costume! Seriously, I love this suit! It’s pulled off here with beautiful pearlescent white plastic and some vibrant red paint. The lines are pretty crisp, especially around the prominent maple leaf on his chest, and other than some unpainted pins on his inner right knee, he’s just gorgeous. And sure, it’s obvious that when it comes to sculpting, Guardian is one of this wave’s budget figures, as the entire suit from the neck down is achieved by coloring alone, but I got no problem with that!

The new sculpting shows up above the neckline, and what we got is pretty damn good. The pearlescent tight-fitting cowl only reveals the lower half of Hudson’s face, and it’s advertising one of the biggest scowls I’ve ever seen on a Canadian before. Hey, I live in Florida and a lot of them vacation down here and all the ones I’ve met seem like lovely, happy people. I calls it like I sees it. Guardian, on the other hand, looks like he’s ready to put someone’s head through a wall.

I’m happy to see that articulation in The Great White North is the same as it is down here. Guardian sports rotating hinges in his shoulders and wrists, double-hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs and lower legs, double-hinged knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab-crunch hinge in the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

So, there isn’t a whole lot else for me to say, other than Guardian is another great example of simplicity of perfection, and what the wizards at Hasbro can do with just some new coloring and a new head. I can still remember the bitterness of getting Aurora and Northstar in the 3 3/4-inch Universe line and then nothing more after that. And that was before Legends became as prolific as it is. I never even dreamed of getting the whole Apha Flight team in Legends, and yet here I am trying to find the time to review them all. We truly live in a wonderful age!

Kenner Predators: Lasershot Predator by NECA

Even with a seemingly endless variety of Yautja hunters available, from the movies and comics and video games, to cast into plastic, NECA is still always looking for new material. They mined the old Kenner Toys line for their Aliens line, so it’s only natural they would do the same for Predator. And that’s exactly what they did here, plucking Lasershot Predator straight off the pegs of the 90’s and giving him a complete overhaul so that he will fit in with just about any modern NECA Predator on your shelf… Groovy!!!

The box is similar to what we’ve seen with NECA’s Ultimate releases. It seems like a fully enclosed box, but there’s actually a front flap that opens to reveal a window to show off the goods. It’s also an extra thick box to accommodate Lasershot’s significant stature and all the extra bits and bobs that come with him. I dig the artwork and its distinct 90’s flavor. The colors are great and the front panel mimics the old figure in a sort of clam-shell packaging. Of course, everything is collector friendly, which is great for me, because I do keep these figures in their boxes when I’m not displaying them. The box also exclaims that Lasershot features an Electronic LED Targeting Eye which I was damn excited to try out. Lasershot is known for his obsession with technology and his willingness to augment his own body to make himself the Ultimate Alien Hunter, so you know we’re in for a treat!

Many of the Kenner Pred designs were about as goofy as you can get, which makes NECA’s figure here all the more impressive. I think they managed to burn away almost all the gimmicky wackiness of the original figure, while leaving behind mostly just Yuatja badass. OK, maybe there’s still a little bit of campiness left in this guy, but I still love him. Probably the most distinctive thing about Lasershot is the purple skin, which includes a black wash to bring out the detail. Why purple? I don’t know. Maybe it has to do with all the augments he’s performed on himself. Combined with that lovely purple is his golden armor, most prominent on his lower legs, hips, forearms, and upper body. The armor trades the usual tribal flavor and trophies for what looks like ancient Yautja designs mixed with high tech improvements, and there is a ton of detail in this sculpt to reflect it. I’m particularly fond of the large blades attached to the lower legs and the organic curves of his shoulder weapons, which rests dormant on his back when not in use. He also has a skull sculpted into his belt, that’s very reminiscent of a T-800 Terminator. Lasershot is a lot to take in all at once, and the sculpt and coloring conspire to make him quite the work of art.

His portrait is no slouch either! Like any Yautja, he’s got a face only a mother would love. The purple skin is still prevalent here, and it really makes those teeth at the end of his mandibles, and the spikes around his cranium, stand out. He’s got one deep set piercing eyeball, and his other has been replaced with an artificial targeting system,nesting in a mess of grafted golden tech. A nest of brown dreadlocks spill out the back of his head, each one with a sculpted gold band. By now, NECA are pros at sculpting the uniquely hideous Predator head, and like the all the others, this one is just a marvel of tiny detail.

Lasershot comes with a bio-mask that can be worn over his head. It’s vaguely like your average Pred mask, but it has a lot more panel lines sculpted into it. The upper right side is also missing to accommodate his facial grafts. The bio mask is painted with a copper finish, which puts it at odds with the golden armor, but it still looks pretty good on him. Although, to be honest, I think I prefer him without the mask. NECA did too fine a job with that head sculpt for me to be covering it up.

The LED light advertised on the box is activated by pressing a disguised button on the top of Lasershot’s head, producing the familiar triple light targeting system we’ve seen in the films. The lights are nice and bright and can be seen fairly well even under normal lighting conditions. They can also be seen while he is wearing the bio-mask. Let’s move on to some of this guy’s weaponry.

The double cannon rig on his back can be slid up the track and angled over his shoulders. His left shoulder features the standard plasma-caster, while the right one is a harpoon launcher, complete with two optional heads. One is capture-claw and the other is just a nasty looking spike. You also get a rather thick, bendable tether to make it look like it’s been fired. The cable has a strong wire running through it, allowing it to be bent any way you like it, and it holds up really well too. The claw is good for grabbing hold of prey, while the other just looks like it would make short work of most anything.

Next up, Lasershot has an energy shield that deploys from his right gauntlet. There are two pieces that can peg into the hole there. The device looks like a pair of golden horns with a red crystal in the center. It’s actually got something of an Egyptian flavor to its design. The second piece features a translucent purple disc of energy, simulating that the shield is activated.

Finally, you get an interchangeable left hand, which is a larger claw with articulated fingers. The socket on my figure’s claw was too small, so I had to dremel it out a bit to get it to fit, but now it goes on and off easy-peasy. It looks like a nasty piece of business, and when combined with the energy shield, it gives Lasershot some nice options for close-quarter melee combat.

It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of NECA’s modernized Kenner Aliens, and now I can happily say that their magic works on Kenner’s Preds just as well. Lasershot is a great looking figure and lots of fun to mess around with. He also displays well going up against those Kenner Aliens or even with any of the other NECA Preds on my shelf. The addition of the LED targeting system is a particularly nice bonus, especially since at $27.99 it didn’t really drive up the cost of the figure that badly. Indeed, I’d love to them revisit the gimmick in some of their future Predators. I’ve been trying to be a little more selective about my Predator purchases, because of space limitations, but when I saw this guy on the shelf at Target he just had to come home with me, and I’m glad he did.

Marvel Legends: Ant-Man Helmet by Hasbro

If you came around for Marvel Monday yesterday, I have to apologize for my inactivity. I mean, I know my content hasn’t been all that regular lately, but Mondays are usually non-negotiable. Alas, I spent the weekend getting drunk at the Medieval Faire and blowing off my hostly duties. Not that I’m apologizing. I really needed it. Anywho, here I am a day late and whipping up a fast review so I don’t fall any further behind. I’m keeping it in the Marvel Legends wheelhouse, but I’m also cheating a bit by looking at one of the roleplay prop-replica toys that Hasbro has been churning out now and then. I dipped my toe in this pool a little while ago with the Star Wars Black Series Stormtrooper helmet, and I was rather impressed. Let’s see if Hasbro can do the same for The Avengers!

The helmet comes in a fully enclosed box with artistic renderings of the toy that awaits you inside. The helmet itself comes wrapped in plastic and requires a little bit of assembly. The antenna pieces have to be snapped into place and the back cover has to be attached. Oh, and I’ll be coming back to that rear cover in a bit. The helmet requires three AA batteries (not included) to make the electronics work. These are installed by removing the mouth piece and using a screwdriver to open the battery case door. But as we’ll see in a little while, if you are fresh out of batteries, it may not be worth it to run down to the store to get some. OK, let’s get this thing out and see how it looks. Oh, by the way… I’m using a metal paper towel holder from Target as a helmet stand.

Out of the box, and I’ve got to say the helmet looks pretty damn great. The plastic has a nice, metallic silver coat that can pass for metal under the right lights. The sculpt is quite sharp, and while the design doesn’t feature a lot of hyper-detail, the toy has it where it counts, like in the mouth piece, the grommets around the eye lenses, and the panel lines. There isn’t a lot of call for paint here, as the helmet is mostly silver, but the red stripes coming up off the eyes looks bright and sharp, and the black pieces also have a solid finish that passes for metal. The eye lenses are thin plastic, and these pieces are the only area where the helmet approaches feeling cheap, but they are serviceable and look good. I just plan on being extra careful not to scratch them up while handling it.

The antenna attachment connections are strong and firm. They don’t wobble or come apart with handling, although they can be disassembled if you want to store the helmet in its original box, which is always a plus for me. The ear discs feature a bit of a rough texture and the exposed area around it has a sort of honeycomb screen texture that looks like it runs under the layers of plating, even though it’s all part of the same sculpt. The top of the helmet features some more of the same screen-like texture.

That brings us to the back plate, which is without a doubt this helmet’s biggest flaw. The piece fits onto the helmet almost seamlessly, but it relies on two sets of fragile clips to attach to two fragile bars to work as a sort of hinge to hold it in place and allow it to pull open just enough to get the helmet onto the wearer’s head. None of this works. It’s extremely difficult to get the clips to do their thing and even when they do, they tend to pull out even at the slightest jostle, causing the whole back plate to fall off. Why they couldn’t have just used a few simple magnets to make this work is beyond me, but I imagine anyone who plans on using this as a cosplay piece will have to work out some kind of alternate solution to keep the back on.

Apart from that, the helmet fits even my meaty adult melon fairly well, even with my glasses on. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s comfortable, but it’s not too bad either. There’s a strap that holds it on the back of the head and there’s a dial which can be used to tighten or loosen the fit to some extent. The weight of the piece rests on a similar soft plastic headband that circles the top of the inside. The interior of the helmet is also fully sculpted with vents, and panel lines, and little bits and bobs to make it look like a real piece of tech. Not bad.

And then comes the electronics, which are definitely not worth the price of admission (and I’m talking the cost of three batteries, not the helmet!). There are no sounds, just lights, and they are depicted in the two pictures above in all their disappointing glory. Press the button on the right mandible and four panels on the mask light up red, as do the tips of the antenna. Press it again and they all light up blue. I can usually barely tell that the red lights are lit unless the room is really, REALLY dark. The blue lights fare much better, but they’re still not all that exciting. Now, I can’t really fault the lack of sound effects, because I’m not even sure what those would be, other than sound clips of Paul Rudd. But here’s an idea, why not light up the eyes? You know, since they lit up on the mask in the movie? Eh, whatever!

The Ant-Man helmet originally retailed for about $99 and that’s how much it was when I saw it on the shelf in Gamestop. I then proceeded to hop on my phone and buy it off of Amazon for about $60, and it still turns up at that price now and again. There’s no denying the rear panel is a faulty design and a huge misstep for such an expensive toy, but as I will be only using mine as a display piece, I can live with it. Sure, I would have liked some more impressive electronics to justify my purchase, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with this thing. It’s a pretty solid build, and it looks damn nice on the shelf. This thing isn’t likely to impress like those expensive Star Wars helmets, but for a Hasbro toy it looks damn fine on my shelf, and most people that take notice of it are surprised to learn it’s a toy when they handle it. I’ve been considering picking up the Iron Man helmet, or maybe even Cap’s shield, and despite this piece’s flaws, it has not deterred me.

Mythic Legions (Siege at Bjorngar): Faustia by The Four Horsemen

Once upon a time, there was a thing around these parts called Mythic Legions Wednesdays, wherein I was working my way through the Advent of Decay figures. I had hoped to make it through all of them before T4H shipped the next batch, but as most of you know calamity ensued in my life and I got off track. So as not to have to wait forever to open the new arrivals, I’ve decided to push them to the head of the line. So let’s open up the first of the Siege at Bjorngar figures!

Bjorngar introduced some new, bigger figures into the mix, and every fiber of my being wanted to dig right into those Ogres, but I decided to space things out and went for Faustia here instead. The packaging is none too different from what we’ve been getting all along. It’s collector friendly, but not spiffy enough for me to invest in space to store them, so I’ve been snipping off the bios and junking the packages here. And speaking of bios… Faustia is billed as being one of the lead clerics and right-hand to none other than Atilla Leossyr!

Out of the package, here’s Faustia with her shoulder armor pegged on and her sword slung across her back. And don’t she just look fine? Parts sharing continues to be the name of the game with Mythic Legions, but Faustia is very nearly a straight repaint of Delphina of Eathyross from Advent of Decay. And yet dismissing her as a mere repaint seems kind of unkind, because the new deco makes her look so fresh and new. I mean, just look at the colors! Faustia sports a snappy combination of gold armor pieces layered over black, with a sculpted, crimson tabard running down the center. Yup, all of that comes out of Delphina’s sculpt, but the figure is positively transformed by this new color palate. The gold paint is so lush and it stands out perfectly against the glossy black, with some panels painted a deep red. As always, all the little belts and buckles are painted, as well as the exposed chain-mail in the joints, and individual rivets. There’s even a crisp golden border painted around the upper tabard, and it’s finished off with a black crest of a dragon holding a hammer.

Faustia’s head is shrouded in sculpted hood with gold trim to match the tabard. It’s a beautiful face sculpt with glossy paint used for the eyes and lips, giving it a somewhat lifelike quality. There’s no sculpted hair visible, so either Faustia makes a habit of shaving her head, or her coif is meant to be tucked into the hood. The hood is actually sculpted as part of the head, and the hole where it connects to the neck is large enough to allow for a good deal of movement. Let’s talk some weapons!

Delphia’s main arms consist of a long two-handed sword and a rounded shield. The length of the sword make it best worn on her back using the belt as a shoulder strap. Sometimes these belts don’t work too well with both pauldrons attached, but that’s not a problem with these. Of course, she can wear it on her belt, but I find it’s a bit awkward between how long the sword is, and the fact that the parrying hooks near the hilt keep it from passing all the way through the loop. The sword itself is a nice break from the same-old, same-old we often see in this line. It has an ebony hilt with a down-curved cross-guard and red stones in the guard and a bright, silver blade.

Likewise, the shield is a nice break from the overused pattern introduced in the original assortment of figures. It’s comprised of concentric circles, with gold face, a silver outer rim, and a red inner donut, and silver studs circling the outside of that red loop. I dig that the colors coordinate with Faustia’s armor, but that being said, I think the shield is what I like least about this figure. I don’t hate it, but It just looks too modern for me. Also worthy of note, T4H have doubled down on the angled grip handle for the shields and I’m still on the fence over these. I understand that the wrist clips, used in the original assortment, ran the risk of stressing and breaking, and also could scrape paint off the figure’s gauntlets, but in terms of practicality, they just worked better. I’d love to buy a whole bag of those clips from T4H so I could have the option of which type to use. Seriously, Horsemen… toss a bag of those up on your website!

Laying the sword aside for a bit, Faustia also comes with a crimson cloth cape, which attaches via the pegs in the pauldrons and can be a bit tricky for her to wear with the sword slung across her back. T4H did a fine job matching the color of the cloth with the paint used for her plastic tabard. Using both real cloth and sculpted plastic “cloth” as part of the same outfit can be hard to pull off, but I think it works beautifully here.

In addition to the optional cape, Faustia also comes with a helmeted head. And, surprise! It’s a repaint of Delphina’s sugar loaf-style helm. And again, I’m not going to quibble over the re-use when the end result looks this good! The bulk of Faustia’s helmet is painted in the same gold as her armor pieces, with a deep crimson paint applied to the cruciform visor reinforcement. The eye slits are breathing holes are painted black, and the individual rivets are carefully painted silver.

 

And before wrapping up, there’s one more weapon to look at, and it’s a big god-damned mace! The bulbous golden globe features silver studs perfect for bashing in the heads of anyone who dares cross her lord, Atilla. It’s mounted on a super long ebony shaft, making for some fine accessorizing and color coordination. I don’t know how effective this thing would be as a weapon, but it sure looks cool. Maybe it’s more ceremonial than intended for function.

Every time I open a new Mythic Legions figure, I find myself falling in love all over again. Granted, I probably say that in half the reviews that I write for this line, but it’s definitely called for here, because I’ve been away from this line for so long. Opening and playing around with Faustia has made me want to dive head first into all those Advent of Decay figures left to be opened and reviewed. And maybe I’ll make a concerted effort to come back this way more often. At the very least I’d like to get caught up before the next assortment ships. Or even the one after that! But before backtracking, I’m going to try to get through the rest of Bjorngar in the next couple of weeks.

Marvel Legends (Banner Hulk Wave): Rescue by Hasbro

With another wave of Marvel Legends wrapped up last week, I’m able to start indulging in some random reviews again. This time, I reached my Infinity Gauntlet’ed paw into the Pile of Shame™ and came up with Rescue from the Banner Hulk Wave. This wave will be an odd one for me, since I’ll been giving the BAF parts to my nephew. Right now I have about half the wave and he has the other half, and he’s really eager to build the Hulk BAF. Maybe I’ll borrow Hulk Banner from him when it comes time to wrap things up, but I already have a couple MCU Hulks in my collection and my desire to be a good Uncle outweighed my need for a third.

And hey… it’s Pepper Potts in the Rescue armor! Ever since Iron Man 3 teased us by putting Pepper into one of Tony’s suits, I’ve been hoping we’d see Rescue turn up. Hell, it even makes the cringe-worthy woke girl-power scene in Endgame worthwhile. But seriously, MCU, please don’t go down that route. You have some kick-ass female heroes in your roster to be proud of. You don’t have to do stunts like that. It feels like you may be flirting with more of it in the next Phase, but it hasn’t served the comics well, and I don’t think it’s going to do the films any favors either. But putting that aside, I’m so glad we got this figure in the Legends line. The Hot Toys release of Rescue is clocking in at over $400 and, as much as I love this armor design, that’s a lot more than I’m willing to spend, so this 6-inch version is probably going to be it for me.

But what a nice version it is! The Rescue armor features all the usual segmented and panel-lined detail of the other Iron Man suits, only this time contoured for the ladies! It’s not actually that much more demure than some of Tony’s more organic-looking armors, but you certainly do get Pepper’s feminine form bleeding through and giving it some character. Other highlights of the suit include forearm pieces that extend past the wrists (giving me a lovely Knight Sabers vibe!), a flight pack on her back, which I’ll come back to in a bit, and the more modern triangular arc reactor in the chest. As the name suggests, the Rescue armor looks like it’s built more for support and speed, than for heavy combat, but as we’ve seen in the film, when the shit hits the fan it can certainly account for itself in a fight.

The coloring on this figure is absolutely gorgeous. She features a metallic blue base coat which appears to be the actual color of the plastic. It definitely rivals any of Tony’s candy-apple red suits, with its’ lovely new-car shine. The blue is accented with some gold, and a few silver, panels all of which make the figure pop splendidly. The back pack features some gold striping, which kind of gives off a hazard stripe motif to me, and you also get the name RESCUE printed down one side and 0049 down the other, presumably making this one the Mark 49 armor. The paint lines on my figure are all quite sharp, as I really need to get in close to see any spray, and I can’t say enough good things about the overall quality of the finish used.

The helmet doesn’t offer too much of a change-up from those on Tony’s traditional suits. The configuration of the face-plate, eyes and mouth slit are all on point.  Maybe the eyes here are a little more feminine, and the sides of the plate are swept up to give the appearance of high cheekbones. Finally, the elongated neck further betrays that this is indeed a lady suit. As with the rest of the figure, the paint on the helmet is quite well done, adding a little blue for the eyes.

Hasbro even stepped it up on the articulation here. Y’all know my big gripe with the gals of Marvel Legends and their more limited arm articulation. Well, instead of the usual rotating hinges all around, Rescue features double-hinges in the elbows and swivels in the biceps, just like the dudes! Interestingly, the rotating hinges in the shoulders here are ratcheted, and while the wrists have the usual pegged hinges, the piece on the forearm can interfere with their movement. The legs feature rotating hinges in the hips, swivels in the thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s no waist swivel, but you do get a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

And speaking of neck ball joints… Yes, if you were wondering, the Pepper Potts head from the Iron Man 3 three-pack does indeed work with this figure.

The flight pack on her back can be removed and exchanged with an open one and boy does it sport some wonderful detail! The inside panels of each of the flaps is painted silver and features some pane lines and the exposed portion of the back is black and shows more sculpted detail. I especially dig the piercings in the lower flaps.

I was damn excited when this figure was first revealed and now that she is in hand, I’m just as excited to have her. Hell, I’d even go so far as to say this is my favorite Iron Man armor to be released in Legends in a long while. The sculpt is great, the colors are beautiful, and the added articulation to the arms makes all the difference. Sure, I’ll probably still drool over pictures of the Hot Toys version, but this makes for a pretty damn fine consolation prize.

Star Wars Black: Deluxe Emperor Palpatine by Hasbro

The first time Hasbro released The Emperor as part of the 6-inch Black Series, I took a pass. I think I was on the outs with collecting Star Wars at the time. or maybe I had too many other things on my wish list that month, but for whatever reason I didn’t pick him up. It was a decision I learned to regret because he started going for a good amount of money on the second hand market, so when I finally decided I wanted him, I was shit out of luck. But to my surprise, this was a case where hesitancy ultimately paid off, and Hasbro released this new Palpatine figure with an extra pair of heads and his almighty throne. Truly, the Sith Lords had smiled upon me.

Submitted for your approval, the terrible mock up package used by Amazon as their official image. Mine arrived with the package smashed to smithereens, so I’m forced to use this one. You get the idea. The window box follows the usual deco for this series with a black box, red interior, and red right panel. You get some monochrome character art in the lower right hand corner, a multi-lingual blurb about the character on the back, and as usual everything is collector friendly. The only difference between this box and the regular releases is the size, as this one is thicker than normal to contain the throne piece. Also, this release is an Amazon Exclusive, so there’s no number on the right side panel.

And here’s Papa Palpy out of the box and overall I am very pleased with him. One of my unending gripes with the Black Series is Hasbro’s reluctance to use soft-goods when it’s called for. Hell, it took a do-over from The Mandalorian to give us a proper robe on a Jawa! Well, if there was ever a figure that needed soft-goods, Palpatine was it. The figure features sculpted robes covered with a black cloth skirt, and finally a hooded and sleeved robe on top of that. There’s a plastic sash around his waist and a plastic catch holding the robe together just under his neck. Does it look perfect? Nah, not really. But I am willing to grant some leeway because of how difficult it is to get tailored clothing to look right at this scale. Hell, even at the bigger one-sixth scale, it can be tough. But in this case, I think the robe falls about the figure quite naturally and the sleeves are tailored to give him the hanging wizard sleeve effect. I do find that it’s necessary to futz around with the cloth a bit to get it to look right, but that’s to be expected too.

The only area where the cloth gives me trouble is in the hood. The sides of the hood are supposed to fold out a bit on his shoulders, and the garment is tailored to make that happen, but they tend to hover a bit higher. Also, the fold on the left side tends to ride higher. It sometimes gives him a Sally Field Flying Nun look to him. That’s a reference to an old TV show, kids. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, and honestly, it may not be an issue on all figures. My guess is that a lot of these will have their own individual quirks, so your mileage may vary.

I’m not going to run down the articulation here, but it feels like the figure makes use of all the standard points. He is definitely a lot more agile than I need my Emperor figure to be. Seriously, in terms of posing him, he can do most anything, but all I need him to do is stand there looking haggard and menacing. Palpatine comes with his rustic black cane, which he can hold in his right hand, and his left hand is sculpted so as to be pointing. The cane feels a little short. I don’t remember The Emperor hunching over quite that much when walking. But I can live with it.

You get three different heads and all of them are spectacular sculpts. The figure comes out of the box with a neutral expression or, in The Emperor’s case, slightly dour. You also get a smiling face and an angry “Imma Gonna Force Zap You” face. All of these are excellent sculpts with some solid paint to back them up. Unfortunately, all the years of Robot Chicken have made it difficult for me to take The Emperor seriously. Especially when he’s pulling that smiling face.

Of course, the big draw of this set is the inclusion of his throne. It’s likely to get collectors to double-dip on the character, so how is it? Pretty damn good, actually. It’s solid and sturdy and features some great detail, particularly in the control panels on the arm rests. It’s a shame they couldn’t have included a cardboard backdrop showing the window behind him, but then I guess I’m asking for a lot.

The figure fits in the throne quite well. At first, I thought there wasn’t enough head clearance, but it looks like that was the case on the actual film prop. I think my only gripe here is that his feet don’t quite touch the floor when he’s sitting in it, and that looks a bit silly.

The last accessories in the box are a pair of Force lightening hands. I’m really glad, Hasbro went this route, rather than just give us blue energy tendrils to attach to his arms. It works very well and I think the effect looks great.

I pre-ordered this figure ages ago, and had completely forgotten that it was even coming. At close to $40, it was a bit of an indulgence, since I try to be finicky about how much I spend on my Black Series collecting these days. I’m at that point in collecting where space is running out and something’s got to give. Black Series is often close to hitting the chopping block, but then it releases a figure like this and I’m sold on it all over again. With that having been said, if some third-party out there wants to produce a display base for this set with the illustrated cardboard backdrop, I would probably pony up the cash for that.