Mythic Legions: Jorund Runeshaper by The Four Horsemen

Mythic Legions news dropped late last week from the T4H, announcing that the new Kickstarter for Advent of Decay (previously known as Wave 2.0) would be going live at the end of the month. They also let it be known that the last of the pre-ordered figures, including the Trolls, have arrived at their warehouse and would be shipping out in a couple of weeks. Seems like a good time to look at the last figure I have waiting to be opened. And it seemed appropriate to do one last Mythic Legions Wednesday before I re-work my posting schedule for the year (yet again!), bringing myself to four weekday updates, and taking Wednesdays off.

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Jorund Runeshaper is one of the figures I passed on while trying to budget out my initial Kickstarter Add Ons. He was also one of the ones that was hard for me to let go, because I wanted a lot of dwarves. Well, late last year, T4H put up some of their remaining stock up for pre-order, I had a second crack at this guy, and naturally I took it! I’ve got nothing new to say about the packaging, so let’s get him out!

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This is my fourth Dwarf, but if this is your first look at one of these, you should know that they share the upper body and arms with the armored humans of the line, and only the legs are shorter and dwarf-specific. Jorund’s bio indicates that he’s a rather atypical Dwarf in that he’s a master of the mystic arts and I’d like to think that’s reflected in his spectacular, and obviously enchanted, armor. Indeed, with the metallic blue, gold, green, and purple deco, this is one of the most visually striking suits of armor in the entire line, and that’s saying a lot! The quality of paint that T4H uses on these figures continue to amaze me as does the precision of application. Every tiny sculpted rivet on this suit is painted and the emerald green and gold look superb against the blue. It’s absolutely gorgeous!

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As always, the shoulder pieces are optional, although in this case they’re required if you want him wearing his cloth cape. Personally, I prefer him with the cape and shoulders, but when I get to articulation, I’ll talk about some of the drawbacks of using them. The cape is made of very soft material and I’d stress caution when taking it on and off, because the fabric is thin at the tops of the holes and it looks like it wouldn’t take much to tear it.

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I was expecting this portrait to be a straight repaint of Thord Ironjaw, but I was pleasantly surprised. The face looks the same, but the sculpt of the beard and mustache and bushy eyebrows are all new. The head gear is also new, with a smooth, rounded helmet and a crest above his forehead. The wings are repaints of the ones we originally saw worn by Sir Gideon Heavensbrand and they look quite nice here.

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And then there’s the neck. Like all the Mythic Legion figures, Jorund’s head is on a ball joint, which is usually fine, but the shoulders and the head sculpt here are all at odds with each other. If you want the shoulders on, you’re going to sacrifice almost all neck articulation. Trying to move the head results in it popping off or the wings popping out. Take the shoulders (and cape) off, and the problem is solved. There’s one other way to solve the problem…

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Jorund comes with an alternate helmeted head. This is the same sculpt we’ve seen a few times in the past, now painted to match the armor. It looks great on the figure, but I think it robs him of a lot of his character. Besides, when he puts that helmet on, where the hell does all that beard go? Hey, I love options and I’m always happy to see T4H throwing bonuses like this in the package. I honestly didn’t even expect it to be in there. But I honestly doubt I’ll get much use out of it. I just love the regular portrait on this figure way too much.

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In addition to the extra helmet, shoulders, cape, and ubiquitous brown belt, Jorund comes with some weapons that we’ve seen before. First off you get the single handed sword with matching dagger. These feature disc pommels and are among my favorite weapons sculpts in the line. They’re just great, serviceable, no-nonsense weapons, and they each have purple painted grips to match his helmet deco.

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You also get the spear we’ve seen many times before, painted all in silver. The spears seem a little much for these little guys, so I think that one is going to go to one of my other figures and I’ll let Jorund get by with his matching blades.

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And so we have another amazing figure from Mythic Legions. I can’t put into words how glad I am to have had a second crack at this guy for my collection. He’s a gorgeous figure and that enchanting deco on his armor will serve to brighten up my little band of Dwarves while they’re out adventuring together. And it can’t hurt for them to have someone skilled in the arcane arts along for the ride. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have a some new Mythic Legions figures to check out, including a big ass Troll. You can probably also expect to hear me plugging the T4H’s new Kickstarter quite a bit towards the end of the month.

Marvel Legends (Dormammu Wave): Iron Fist by Hasbro

Iron Fist is the next character to get the spotlight from Marvel’s Netflix endeavors and I’m pretty excited about what I’ve seen so far. It seems only natural to keep him in the spotlight on the toy aisles to, and so Hasbro dropped Iron Fist into this Doctor Strange Wave. The mystical connection is certainly there, but I could think of a few more appropriate figures that they could have slotted into this wave. I would have particularly loved a wide release of Magick. But then I think… hey, it’s Iron Fist… he’s cool!

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There’s no actual Doctor Strange branding on the package and Iron Fist actually gets his own logo down at the bottom. If you’re getting a twinge of Deja Vous from this release, it’s because we just saw Iron Fist (in his white outfit) about a year ago in the Allfather Wave. But don’t roll your eyes just yet, because…

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If you were grumbling about getting a straight repaint of the last Iron Fist, you should be pleasantly surprised, because this one is all new. I liked the last release a lot, it’s an incredibly fun figure, but it did use that carry-over body from Hasbro’s old Legends line, which included those terrible ball hips, but I’ll get back to those when I talk articulation. This body sculpt strikes me as more fluid and natural, and less like one of those pose-able artist’s anatomy dolls. It’s just a lean, mean kung-fu-fighting machine.

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Of course, the costume is achieved mostly through a painted buck, and even with that having been said, the paint is minimal. You get a mostly green body with yellow painted boots and his emblem printed on his chest. The fists and wraps are new sculpts and the belt is sculpted as a separate piece.

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The previous Iron Fist head was passable, but this one is excellent. Granted, it’s a very different style. The exposed lower half of the face features some sharp detail and the mask looks great and features the long, loose ties streaming off the back.

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This is the Pizza Spidey buck, so the articulation is both familiar and excellent. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and about halfway through the forearms. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinged knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The torso features a swivel at the waist, an ab crunch hinge, and those wonderful lateral crunches in the shoulders. The head has both a hinge and a ball joint.

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While this version of Iron Fist doesn’t include the plethora of extra hands the last release had, you do get a pair of glowing fists, achieved through translucent yellow plastic. You also get two translucent yellow effect parts, which can be used over either pairs of fists to give him flaming fists of fury!

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So, some may cry foul at getting another Iron Fist so soon, but it’s hard for me to argue when the figure is this good. And, boy is he good! Throw in the fact that I relate to his green costume a lot more than his white one, and this figure is actually a very welcome variant-slash-do-over. Next Monday I’m going to wrap this wave up with a look at both variants of the MCU Doctor Strange and follow it up with Dormammu himself!

And now is as good a time as any to declare that my new posting schedule is not working out so well, so next month I’ll be changing it up, hopefully for the last time, and going to a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday rotation. Yes, it’s only adding one more Feature a week, but I’m afraid I was going to fall too far behind if I continued with just three. Hopefully this will be the happy compromise I’m looking for I have been getting a lot more time in on my backlog of video games and comics, and I think the one day off in the middle of the week will be enough to keep that going.

And no, I haven’t forgotten about the occasional Anime Saturdays, I’ll have another one of those ready for the end of this week. 

Arkham Knight: Batgirl and Oracle by DC Collectibles

It’s a familiar story to most collectors. A figure comes out, you procrastinate picking it up, and next thing you know it’s going for all the monies and you missed your shot. One of those instances for me was the Oracle figure that DC Direct released in their Birds of Prey set over ten years ago. Well, when I got wind that DC Collectibles was taking a shot at the character from the Arkham video game series, I wasn’t hesitating this time and pre-ordered this set the moment it was solicited. For a while I forgot it was coming, but here it is!

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So far, I’ve only played the first two Arkham games and Knight is still confined to my sad pile of games waiting to be played. Nonetheless, I like the aesthetics in the series and I’ve been starting to collect some of DCC’s Arkham figures, so you’ll likely start seeing some of these featured here from time to time. This set comes in a sizable window box, which gives you a great look at both Barbara Gordon figures and all the accessories. It’s a little roomier than it needs to be, but it also feels like something special. It’s also collector friendly, which is great because I tend to keep these multi-figure sets from DCC in the box, as they display really nicely. Let’s start off with Batgirl…

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The Arkham Knight version isn’t a huge departure from the New 52 look. The black body suit is still very tactical in appearance with sculpted panel lines and ribbed sections under the arms and between the thighs. Here, her boots, gauntlets, belt, and bat symbol are all painted with a snappy gold instead of the traditional yellow, making for a very sharp looking suit. She retains the scalloped boot tops from the New 52 look, but her belt is far more intricate and ornate. It almost looks like it’s sculpted to look like a ring of laurel leaves. You also get some tiny painted snaps and fasteners near her shoulders. I like the look of this suit a lot and DCC did a fine job executing it here.

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The cape is soft and pliable, with a scalloped bottom edge. It features a painted gold finish on the interior and a thin gold border running around the outside. It’s just the right length and weight so that it doesn’t throw off the balance of the figure too badly. Even in some precarious action poses, she does not tend to topple backwards. That’s a good thing, because she doesn’t have peg holes in her feet to accommodate a traditional DC Collectibles figure stand.

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Where this figure stumbles a bit (just a bit) is in the portrait. It’s certainly not bad, but I fell like there’s something a little off about it. The plastic used for the skin is soft, and the face is pretty, but the green eyes are a little dead and the face is a little too full and rounded. On it’s own, I would probably be OK with it, but she’s going to be sharing a display case with the New 52 Batgirl that DCC put out just a few years back, and the inevitable comparisons are just not that favorable. On the other hand, the sculpt work on the cowl and hair are both fantastic. Maybe I’m just being picky, because this was a somewhat pricey set.

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The articulation here is slightly better than what I’ve come to expect from the modern DCC figures. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinged knees, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the ankles. There’s a ball joint just under the chest and another in the neck. The addition of thigh swivels is a very welcome treat. To help with those action poses, Batgirl includes no less than three pairs of hands. The fists are attached with the other options being open hands and gripping hands. I love that the open hands have the interior gripping parts of the gloves painted black.

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Batgirl comes with a batarang. It’s a static piece with no hinge in the middle like we’ve seen on some of DCC’s other batarang accessories. This is also pretty big accessory, so big I wonder where she would possibly keep it. It sure as hell isn’t going anywhere in that utility belt! Still, I dig that it’s substantial, she can hold it very well, and it’s a very nice sculpt along with some silver paint on the edges.  Let’s move on to Oracle…

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Oracle comes out of the box seated in her wheelchair, which is a completely separate piece, but obviously integral to displaying the figure. DCC did an impressive job with the chair’s sculpt and paint. The parts that are supposed to be metal have a metallic gray finish with orange trim. The cushions are off white with a matching orange paint. All four wheels are designed to roll. There are no pegs or tabs to secure the figure in the chair, she just sits right in it.

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The sculpt and paint on this figure are both excellent. She’s wearing yellow shorts and a lavender and yellow jacket with a grey and pink striped shirt peaking through the top. The outfit is rounded out with some finger-less gloves, yellow sneakers, and white socks. The detail in the clothing goes above and beyond for DCC. For a company that’s used to doing either spandex costumes or panel-lined armor, they really went all out with the little details on Oracle’s civvies, right down to the little buttons pinned to her jacket. The paint is pretty clean too, with one glaring exception: Mine has a glob of yellow paint on her left shoulder. It’s not a big deal for me, but had I been able to buy her at a store, I could have picked out a better one.

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The portrait here is solid work. It’s not easy to do glasses in this scale and make them look good, but DCC pulled it off here with aplomb. That having been said, the I would have appreciated it if the two portraits matched a little closer. Apart from the red hair, the likenesses on these two figures don’t do a lot to suggest that they’re the same person.

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All of Oracle’s articulation is in her upper body. There are rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists; She also has ball joints below her chest and in her neck. My only nitpick with Oracle is that I wish she sat a little straighter on the wheelchair. The way she’s pre-posed has her perpetually leaning forward, which actually would work fine if there was a computer desk to put her in front of. I am able to get her seated back further and looking fine, even if her feet aren’t quite touching the foot rests.

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Oracle comes with a few nifty accessories, the biggest of which is her backpack. This piece is designed to hang off the back of the chair and it fits quite nicely. It has a trendy pink camo deco along with a peace sign painted on the back. There are a number of sculpted books and whatnot peeking out of the open pouches and there’s a pouch for her water bottle. The bottle is even removable. I am a little surprised that they didn’t include a laptop with her.

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Oracle also comes with a pair of stylish headphones, which are not designed to fit onto her head, but rather just hang off the back of the chair.

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I like this set a lot and both figures are quite solid. Best of all, Oracle’s design is versatile enough so that I don’t mind her standing in with my comic based figures. Speaking of which, it’s a shame that DC Collectibles hasn’t done a modern comic version of Black Canary because posing Batgirl in her place alongside Oracle and Huntress makes for a nice picture, but granted doesn’t make any sense, leaving me one Bird of Prey short. These figures set me back fifty bucks, which sounds about right when you figure about $20-22 a figure and then factor in the wheelchair as a very large accessory. It’s always possible this set will drop in price eventually, as many of DCC’s Arkham video game figures do, but this was a case where I wasn’t willing to take that risk and with the figures in hand, I’m glad I didn’t.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Tuskador by Mattel

It’s 2017 and the self-proclaimed King of Collectors is dead. Or, wait… Matty wasn’t the King, the collectors were King. But Matty wore a crown. Who was the freaking King again? I’m so confused, but I suppose in the end it was all bullshit. Matty is no more, but I still have a HUGE pile of figures (and even some vehicles) from them waiting to be featured, so you’ll still be getting a lot of Masters Classics content coming your way here this year. Today, I decided to open Tuskador, because…

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Well, just look at this beast! I had no idea who this was when his name turned up on my billing email and even then I was clueless. But when I felt the heft of his mailer box and gazed upon him in the package for the first time, I knew that it was love at first sight! The packaging may look standard, but trust me it’s much bigger than what we get for the usual MOTUC figures. Turns out Tuskador is one of the Galactic Protectors from the New Adventures series, and that’s cool because I’ve been really enjoying what Masters Classics has been doing with these goofy space bastards.  And speaking of New Adventures, did I mention that I had to buy a new Flogg because my old Flogg’s crotch spontaneously exploded when he was sitting in a tote in the closet? That’s craziness! But enough about Flogg’s crotch… let’s open this guy up and check him out!

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OH. MY. GAWD. As we saw in the packaged shot, the figure comes with the tusks off and you have two different pairs to choose from. I started with the big’uns and HOLY CRAP LOOK AT THESE GODDAMN THINGS! They are both awesome and ridiculous at the same time, which pretty much describes half the Masters Classics line. Let’s call it Awediculous. And yes, I realize that the placement of them basically makes them nipple-tusks. I’m starting with this big pair because, to be honest, I can’t even get a closer look at the figure with these mammoth (That’s right, have a pachyderm pun, free of charge!) tusks in the way. There’s no bio on the package, but a little research tells me that Tuskador is a trader and sort of a supply officer for the Galactic Protectors. How the hell is he going to walk through some marketplace or fly a spaceship with these things coming off of him? It only makes sense that he can switch them out. Anyway, I’m just calling these his battle tusks. It’s sort of like his Sunday best, only in this case he puts them on before a fight so he can gore Evil Space Mutants with them. They’re glorious, but I’m going to swap them out now so we can get on with looking at the figure.

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That’s better. The tusks simply peg right into the sockets on his armor, and both feature a beautiful pearlescent finish. They swap out really easily and they can rotate where they attach so you can tweak them a bit. These smaller tusks are still suitably large, but at least the figure is more manageable with them on. And what a great looking figure he is! He’s built using some parts from the Ram Man buck, most notably the arms and upper torso, but he actually stands notably taller than Rammy. The torso and legs are cast in two different shades of blue plastic, and feature lots of great sculpted detail, including panel lines, and some amazing treads on his boots. He also features a pair of metallic gold knee pads. There are also some very subtle touches of metallic blue paint on his pants and boots.

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Of course, the real draw here is the gold armor that makes up the top third of the figure. The gold paint is beautiful and once again, the attention to detail here is just great. You get these powerful looking shoulders, panel lines, sculpted rivets on the plating, hoses, and this big circular contraption on the back, which I’m going to assume is some kind of cooling unit to keep him from dying under all that apparatus. It’s a lot of technology just to get a guy to wear some tusks, but in the crazy sci-fi-fantasy world of New Adventures, it all makes perfect sense. Despite being a bulkier figure, Tuskador features all the articulation we’ve come to expect from the regular size figures.

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Buried deep under all those armor plates and support systems is a little open area showing Tuskador’s head. The mouth is obscured by additional hoses and a mouthpiece that’s sculpted to look a bit like a mechanical elephant’s trunk. It looks like there’s an amazing face sculpt under there, and thankfully, the helmet is removable to allow us a better look!

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Yup, that is one great portrait, especially for a figure that keeps the head covered up most of the time. The facial features are sharp and packed with personality. I particularly love the detail in his blue arming cap. It reminds me of a WWII tanker’s helmet.

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As if having a huge pair of tusks strapped to his chest isn’t enough, Tuskador comes with a rifle that he can wear on his belt. The sculpt is pretty cool, as it looks like a cross between a laser rifle, sub-machine gun and blunderbuss. Unfortunately, it’s all sculpted in an off white plastic and doesn’t feature any additional paint apps. In this case, I’m willing to give it a pass, because they sure put a hell of a lot of extra work into this figure.

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It’s fitting that Tuskador is the last new figure I will receive from Matty, because this figure happens to represent everything I have loved about this line. It’s a character I didn’t know or care about until I got the figure in hand, at which point I don’t know how my collection ever existed without him. He’s crazy, he’s ridiculous, he’s beautiful, and he’s gloriously fun, and as I said earlier, that pretty much sums up this entire line. And there’s no point for me to serve up a sappy farewell to MOTUC here, because I still have one more new figure to look at, and after that I can turn my attention backwards to some of the older figures that I picked up late in the game and still need to be featured on FFZ.

Marvel Legends (Dormammu Wave): Karl Mordo by Hasbro

Yup, I’m still working my way through the Doctor Strange wave of Marvel Legends, and at this rate I’m at least on course to get through it all before the film hits home release. Oh, and if you haven’t seen the film yet, I’ll toss out a spoiler warning here now. But, c’mon… it’s been out long enough!

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I have mixed feelings about the way the MCU treated Mordo in Doctor Strange. On the one hand, I was expecting him to be revealed as the villain to be a turning point in the movie, and I think that would have made for a more interesting story (remember, I liked this movie, but I didn’t love it). On the other hand, having him be a decent guy for the bulk of the film and doing the turn as part of the post-credit stinger, probably gave him some more depth and gives me something to really look forward to in the inevitable sequel. I’ll also confess that I really adore Chiwetel Ejiofor as an actor. He proffered a solid performance in this film, and if his wonderful performance in Serenity is any indication, he has the potential to be the best villain in the MCU since Loki. OK, granted that isn’t saying a lot, but my point is I am super excited to see him and Strange face off in the future. Anyway, with that huge digression, let’s take a look at the figure…

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Mordo dons sculpted mystical robes quite similar to what he wore in the film. There are some minor inconsistencies, but overall I think Hasbro did a decent job with the costume. The top half of the costume is sculpted as part of the buck, whereas the bottom is soft plastic and hangs down around the legs. You get some nice detail in the form of cut lines and texturing, which to me are reminiscent (maybe a bit too much) of the costume designs for MCU’s version of Asgard.

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There’s a lot of detail in the belt, although the frayed trim that is supposed to hang down from the belt is just sculpted onto the robes and isn’t terribly convincing. Am I nitpicking? Probably. While the deco here is fairly muted, you do get a nice range of colors, including two shades of green, some gray, some blue, and black. The color scheme gives a bit of a nod to Baron Mordo in the comics. All the paint on my figure is very sharp and clean. With all that having been said, I just don’t find this figure terribly exciting and that falls more on the design than it does on Hasbro’s efforts. Plus, since I haven’t opened my MCU Doctor Strange yet, Mordo is quite the loner right now and forced to hang out with the comic-based figures.

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The portrait is quite good and hits all the right points for me in sculpt, paint, and likeness. It’s a sharp sculpt that picks out enough characteristics in Chiwetel Ejiofor to make it recognizable to me. Incidentally, this is one of those many times, I’m happy I stick with written reviews, as I don’t have to butcher his name by trying to pronounce it. One odd thing worth mentioning is the really obvious seam running down the front of his neck. Weird.

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The articulation here holds no surprises. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinges in the elbows. It’s worth noting that the hinge on the right hand is orientated front to back, while the one on the left hand is side to side. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have swivels at the thighs. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the chest and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

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In addition to the BAF parts, Mordo comes with his staff. It’s obviously a very simple accessory with just some wood texturing in the sculpt. It’s a little bendy, which is expected, yet nonetheless disappointing. And here’s the one place that the figure really stumbles for me and that’s not having a way for him to wear the staff on his back like he did in the film. A separate cross strap with a simple loop in the back would have been extremely welcome here.

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Mordo is a nice enough figure, but I think he suffers from a bit of a boring design, as well as being a sort of “one-off” release. I mean, sure we were going to get an MCU version of Doctor Strange, but then to just give us Mordo and not The Ancient One and Kaecilius seems like an odd choice. I mean, even as I was writing up this piece, I was wondering, “is anyone even going to care enough about this figure to read it?” Maybe once he becomes a proper bad ass, presumably in the next film, but then he’ll likely get a new costume and a new figure. Indeed, if Hasbro wasn’t going to go deep into the movie’s characters for this wave, I would have just rather they gave us comic book Baron Mordo, so I could put Strange on my MCU shelf and have a Mordo for my comic shelf. There’s certainly precedent for that, as they gave us a comic version of Batroc instead of the MCU version from Winter Soldier. Ah, but I’m probably being too picky.

Alien 3: Ellen Ripley and Dog Alien by NECA

What’s that? You hate Alien 3? Fantastic, that just means more for me! Yes, I will stand up to be counted as one of the few true fans of this flick. Awww, but it sucks because Newt and Hicks died. DEAL WITH IT! Life in the future is a toilet and there’s a long line of Xenomorphs waiting to take a dump into it. And in space, no one can hear you flush. Seriously, though, I dig this movie a lot and it fills my heart with happiness that NECA graced it with a wave of figures. I’ve already looked at the Weyland-Yutani Commando from this wave and today I’m checking out Ripley and the Alien.

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We all know the deal when it comes to NECA’s Alien packaging. You get a hermetically sealed clamshell that keeps the baked plastic goodness fresh and hot. I like to poke a little hole in it, insert a straw into my nose and snort the plastic fumes right from the source. Seriously kids, don’t do that. As always, these packages show off the figures beautifully, but they are not collector friendly, which saves me the trouble of deciding whether to keep the packaging or not. Let’s start with Ripley…

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As you might have noticed from the package shot, Ripley comes with an extra pair of arms, so there are two display options here. Out of the package she comes with her jacket on and the rest of the fatigues that Clemens gave her. As a sidebar, I’m not entirely sure why her package reads “Prisoner,” because she wasn’t. She was just an uninvited guest there waiting to be picked up by Weyland-Yutani after her escape pod crashed on the planet. Anyway, the details in Ripley’s costume is as excellent as I’ve come to expect from NECA’s figures. You get all the tiny obligatory stitching lines and in this case some nice weathering, including torn holes in the pants. The paint detail is exquisite, from the drawstring on her pants to the individual laces and silver eyelets on her boots.

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The jacket includes a sculpted quilted pattern on the back and a hood sculpted in the down position behind her head. There’s sculpted elastic trim around the waist and cuffs of the sleeves and she’s wearing a pair of black gloves. The outfit on this figure is just another great example of how NECA spares no expense when paying attention to the tiniest details.

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The portrait here is not my favorite example of NECA’s work with Sigourney Weaver. That having been said, NECA has had a fair amount of experience sculpting her portrait and this is a very distinctive look for Lt. Ripley, especially after her haircut. I don’t dislike it, but there’s something slightly off about it. I think it may be that it strikes me as being a little more stylized than the previous Ripley figures. Still, the paint is sharp and clean and they even gave her a nasty bruise on the left side of her forehead.

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The figure’s second look involves pulling off the arms, taking off the jacket and putting the bare arms on. The swap is really easy and you get a cool variant that most other companies would have packaged and sold separately. It’s a profound enough change that this is one of those instances where I’m considering picking up a second Ripley so I can display her both ways, because I really can’t decide which one I like more.

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Ripley comes with two accessories: A flashlight and a torch. Both are decent enough extras and definitely fitting for the character and context of the film, but neither are terribly exciting. It’s also worth noting that only one of her hands is really designed to work with the accessories. I can get her left hand to hold the flashlight, but it’s obviously not the intent. Let’s move on to the Xeno!

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Awwww, shit! This thing is gorgeous! One of the things I love about this movie is that we’re back to just one Alien against a handful of barely armed prey. Xenos are so bad ass, that unless you’re the creatively bankrupt gestalt known as Hollywood, you don’t need to cram a million of them into a movie to make them scary. The Xeno in this wave was unique in having burst forth from a dog (originally an ox) and this figure is available in two colors: Brown or gray. I went with the brown one, just because I associate this entire movie’s dreary and industrial color palate with lots of browns and rusty oranges.

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The design of this Xeno makes it my second favorite in the series, right behind the original 1979 Big Chap. Because it’s birthed from a quadruped, it’s back logs are structured like a dogs’ with the extra joint below the knee and the ankle up off the ground. The other given name for this guy is The Runner, and it’s easy to see why. It also makes him extra terrifying to me, not to mention he has a spear tip on the end of his tail. As usual, NECA packed all the lovely Geiger-esque bits into the sculpt, including the creepy mix of exposed sinews and and bone-like structures. The glossy brown wash brings it all out with striking clarity. If you want an example of a work of art expressed as a $20 action figure… here it is!

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Another of my favorite things about this Xeno’s design is the structure of the head. It features the smooth, transparent dome that’s reminiscent of the original Xeno design with a segmented skull visible within. The jaw on this guy is articulated and you can open it up and pull out the secondary mouth.

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The articulation is very much in line with what I’ve experienced with NECA’s other Xenos. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, wrists, with dual rotating hinges in the elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and include double hinges in the knees, and hinges in the secondary knees, and in the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the chest and another in the neck. The tail swivels at the base and is made of bendy material that can take and hold a pose. Overall, my only real nitpick here is that the head does not go far enough back to get him looking forward when he’s running on all fours. But based on the sculpt, it looks like that would have been pretty tough to do.

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The Xeno does come with one accessory and that’s this nifty stand to help keep him upright. I was actually pretty surprised at how many poses I could get him into without needing to rely on the stand, although as is the case with most of these Xenos, the leg joints can have difficulty sustaining the weight of the figure in the long term. When I do get a shelf cleared for my NECA Alien figures, I’ll definitely be making use of this one. His feet are also supplied with peg holes, so you can use the regular NECA stands with him as well.

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It’s hard to pick a favorite Wave when talking about this line, because quite frankly NECA slams them all right out of the park, but this one ranks pretty high for me. It’s not just because I’m a fan of the film, but because it’s such a wildly unpopular film that it’s surprising NECA risked making these figures at all. Although, it does seem to be performing fairly well at retail. While Ripley is readily available at a number of e-tailers for deep discounts, the Commando seems to be in high demand, particularly among troop builders, and the Xeno (which are admittedly always popular with collectors) can be really tough to find at a decent price. NECA has teased on Twitter that there’s more Alien 3 goodness to come, and I’m rather intrigued to see what that means.

Transformers Titans Return: Blowpipe and Triggerhappy by Hasbro

It’s the first Transformers Thursday of the new year and… oh, shit. That’s right, it’s Wednesday. This new schedule is going to take some time to get used to. Either way, it’s time to check out the last of the Wave 3 Deluxes from Titans Return and it is indeed the wonderfully named, Triggerhappy!

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I’m in uncharted waters here, because I have had next to no dealings with the G1 incarnation of this character. Never owned the toy. Never encountered the character in any of the fiction. I only know that he was a Decepticon Targetmaster that turned into a spaceship, and his Targetmaster was Blowpipe. This should be refreshing! Let’s start with his alt mode…

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If I were to express sexual desire in the form of a high-powered Decepticon attack craft, surely this would be it. Indeed, this sexy ship looks like it would be right at home in any number of top-down arcade shooters and that’s a big part of why I love it so very much. With an ultra-aggressive profile and bristling with laser cannons, Triggerhappy is so very aptly named, and I’ll bet his alt mode makes all the other ‘Cons rage with jealousy. The ship design is finished off with detachable guns under the forward-angled wings and a single folding landing gear under the cockpit. Simply magnificent!

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The coloring here is pretty good as well. You get a two-tone deco of pale gray and royal blue plastics, along with some lovely gold and silver paint apps on some of the vents and panels. The wings are striped and have Decepticon emblems in the traditional purple and silver, and there’s an additional emblem, in white, stamped right behind the cockpit.

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Blowpipe is a pretty typical little Titan Master. There’s no paint, but at least he’s composed of the same blue and gray plastics as Triggerhappy, giving him a little variety in color. The cockpit’s canopy hinges open in the middle giving the little guy a place to sit.

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Triggerhappy’s transformation is both very easy and pretty clever. Basically, the nose of the ship and the back of the ship rotate to switch positions, allowing the cockpit to split apart, which makes the final robot mode look like the transformation should be a lot more complicated than it is. Truth is, you can convert this guy back and forth very quickly, and that’s always a big plus for me when playing with my change-o-bots. But, can Triggerhappy’s robot mode possibly rival such an amazing alt mode?

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Yes it can… and it does! As mentioned above, the cockpit splits so he’s wearing part of it on his lower torso with the nosecone packed onto his back. The torso and legs are amazingly clean and well proportioned, and even the wings on his lower legs look more like a style choice than actual kibble. In fact, the only real kibble here are the back swept wings on the shoulders and the dual cannons that are folded up on each arm, but I’m OK with that, because those cannons have a purpose in that they can be folded down to give Triggerhappy some insane arm rifles.

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They can be made even crazier if you plug the rifles into them. It’s not my personal favorite way to display him, but options like this are always fun to have.

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Triggerhappy looks pretty solid from the back too. Yeah, he’s got those hollow lower legs. Some of the Titans Return figures have been good about closing them up, others don’t seem to care. The nosecone from the spaceship mode isn’t terribly bulky and it stays put nicely when posing and playing with the figure, and those extra long heel spurs help keep this fellow standing upright. Even those wings that hang off his shoulders are kind of stylish and they don’t get in the way of his arms too badly.

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The toy’s deco doesn’t really change much in robot mode. You still get a pleasing balance between the blue and gray plastics, with the same silver and gold paintwork showing. I think the gold thrusters on the shoulders look great and I really dig the way the white Decepticon emblem lands right in the middle of his chest. And I have to say, I absolutely love the head sculpt on this guy. There’s certainly an unusual Optimus Prime resemblance in there, which comes from the combination of the “helmet” and the face plate. The yellow paint on the eyes and red face plate both look great.

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Naturally, the guns that un-peg from under the spacecraft’s wings can be wielded as rifles. If I’m nitpicking, I wish these were cast in the blue plastic to offer a little more variety to the coloring. They can be pegged together to form a large double-barrel cannon that Blowpipe can operate, but there’s really nowhere to use it with Triggerhappy. Or at least not one that I’ve found.

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This third Wave of Titans Return Deluxes may have been skewed in the Autobots favor by three to one, but that’s OK, because there’s no doubt in my mind that Triggerhappy is the strongest figure in this assortment. Keep in mind, I absolutely adored both Hot Rod and Twinferno, so to give this guy the nod as my favorite… well, that’s saying a lot. It’s hard to think of many Transformers that feature such strong robot and vehicle modes and are this fun to play with. And that catches me up on the Titans Return Deluxe figures. When I revisit this line in a week or so, it’ll be to check out the big daddy of the series… Fortress Maximus!

Marvel Legends (Dormammu Wave): Nico Minoru by Hasbro!

While there are changes coming to FFZ this year, Marvel Mondays will not be one of them. I now have two complete Waves waiting to be featured, unfinished business with a third, and yet another that I haven’t even started buying yet. And with that, let’s continue through the Doctor Strange Wave and kick off the New Year with a certain little Witchy Woman… Nico Minoru!

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Nico is the other half of the “Mystic Rivals” slot, sharing it with The Enchantress, so her name doesn’t actually appear on the front. It’s a pretty ballsy move on Hasbro’s part, because let’s face it, Nico probably isn’t a household Marvel name. I’m sorry to say that I’m not a big fan of the current run of The Runaways. She has, however, appeared in a number of other event books, but I remember her most fondly as Sister Grimm in the Mystic Arcana mini-series. She certainly fits this wave quite well, as she’s not only part of Marvel’s mystical side, but was one of the runners up to possibly become Sorcerer Supreme before the job fell to Brother Voodoo.

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Looking every bit the *ahem* runaway from Father Flanagan’s Home for Unwanted Goth Kids, Nico presents as one of the most unique looking figures to come out of the modern run of Marvel Legends, and I absolutely love that! With her black dress, chunky belted boots, black and purple striped tights, and long black gloves, she looks like she’d be more at home in the pages of a Zenescope book than a traditional Marvel comic. The sculpting on this figure is all new and it’s great that Hasbro is willing to invest this kind of tooling on someone like Nico.

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The outfit features some nice little details, like the painted lace on her sleeve and the sculpted fringe at the hem of her dress. Her corset-like top has all the stitching sculpted in and the rows of buckles on each of her boots are individually painted silver.

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While the costume is great, I think it’s the portrait that really makes this figure shine. It’s a beautiful face sculpt with some very sharp paint for her lips and eyes. And, oh, those eyes! Her red pupils and heavy mascara are totally Goth Chic!  The hair is also particularly well sculpted.

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The articulation here is pretty spot on, despite being a rather unconventional new buck. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs as well as at the tops of the boots. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint just below the chest and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. Even the dress isn’t too restrictive on the hip articulation.

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Despite including the rather beefy lower half of Dormammu’s torso, Nico also comes with some pretty cool accessories. First off, you get an interchangeable left arm, which is the same sculpt, but this time partially cast in purple translucent plastic as a spell effect. You just pop out the stock arm at the shoulder joint and pop this one in.

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Nico also comes with the Staff of One, which has a removable effect part cast in the same purple plastic as the extra arm. The staff is a very simple sculpt and cast in gold plastic. It’s also, unfortunately, a little bendy and it can be a little tough to get her to hold it once the effect part is wrapped around it. Still, a cool accessory, nonetheless. I really dig that they made the effect part optional.

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Nico may just end up being the breakaway figure of this wave for me, despite having only limited exposure to the character. I love everything about this figure and it both surprises and delights me to see Hasbro willing to invest so much in what is very likely to be a one-off buck. I just can’t see any of this going to another character. In a line that is often content (and usually justifiably so) to get by with just repaints of basic bucks, Nico is a stand out release and a real treat in this wave!

Happy New Year!!! Less Content in 2017!?!

Yes, 2017 is upon us and I’m going into the new year with a plan to scale back a little so I can engage in some other pursuits. The plan is to cut back to three Features a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. The challenge to myself will be sticking to that and not falling back into a Monday through Saturday thing again. And believe me, it’s not going to be easy because I really love keeping this blog, I love writing about toys, and I worry about getting backlogged. I basically want to try this, at least for the first quarter of the year, and see how it goes.

The new structure will keep Marvel Mondays, because if I don’t I’ll never get through the stacks and stacks of Marvel Legends figures I have waiting to be opened. Wednesdays will rotate between Transformers and whatever else and Fridays will rotate between DC Fridays and whatever else. Anime Saturdays will continue, but probably only a couple times a month.

By not committing myself to the insane schedule of six days of content each week, I hope to spend some of that newly found time reading my backlog of comics, playing my backlog of video games, and just trying to be a smidgen less obsessed about writing about toys all the time. Ugh, it hurt just typing that. It’s like a parent saying “I’m going to try to spend less time with my kid next year.” If I see myself falling too far behind, I’ll likely supplement with some extra Features, but I’m going to try my damnedest to stick to this.

With that being said, I’m looking forward to a whole new year of chronicling the horrific depravity of my plastic addiction and I’ll be kicking it off tomorrow with the first Marvel Monday of 2017!

By figurefanzero

My Ups and Downs of Toy Collecting in 2016

So, I’m mixing things up this year and casting off my week of traditional week long Top Ten lists for something a bit more laid back, before taking the weekend off. The lights are dimmed, my trusty cat is cleaning his asshole on the side of my desk, and I’ve poured myself a nice tall Jameson. It’s a little taller than the last one, but not as tall as the first one. It’s probably about the size of the three or four I had in the middle. So let’s do this thing, and take a whimsical romp through my Ups and Downs of Toy Collecting in 2016…

Kickstarters!

Up: Mythic Legions! Nobody should be surprised to see this Kickstarted line appear so prominently on my list. If you’ve spent any time this year reading my deranged ramblings about toys here, than you already know that I’m absolutely smitten with this line and that it has been, without a doubt, the highlight of my year. It was a brand new toy-line, it wasn’t tied to any existing media or franchise, and I spent a shit ton of money on it. Although technically a good deal of that money was spent in 2015. These figures are like magic to me and I’m still in awe of my display whenever I pass by it. I’ve got more figures coming soon and I’ll be going deep into Wave 2.0 Kickstarter… DEEP!!!

Down: The rest of the Kickstarters. I didn’t have the funds to go in on Dime Novel Legends, because… Fiscal Responsibility! I am, however, hoping those figures will be available to buy at some point down the road, because I really want to get some of those when my belt isn’t pulled quite so tight. I was also hoping for the folks at Warpo to come out of hiding and reveal a new line this year, but sadly it didn’t happen. Vitruvian HACKS finally shipped this year, and while they were incredibly solid figures, the fact that I still have a lot of those left over to look at in 2017, shows just how overshadowed they were by Mythic Legions.

Transformers!

Up: Combiner Wars and Titans Return have been a treat since day one, and I’m hoping that Titans Return continues strong through next year. Sure, Combiner Wars started feeling rather played at the end with a lot of mold recycling, but we still got some amazing combiners and some pretty damn cool Leader Class figures. As for Titans Return, the Deluxes have been the high point of these lines for me, but then I still have quite a few of the bigger figures from Titans Return to pick up… not to mention Fort Max himself! I went into 2016 thinking that it wasn’t going to be a big year for me and Transformers, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Down: Third Party Transformers… Now don’t get me wrong, those third-parties are still churning out some fantastic stuff, but 2016 is the first year in a little while that I didn’t buy any Third Party figures. In fact, the last third-party product I purchased was back in the middle of 2015. I’m still planning on finishing Fansproject’s Lost Exo-Realm series, but after that I don’t see myself going back to that well again. I don’t regret any of the purchases of elicit convertobots that I’ve made in past years, but getting that monkey off my back will be a relief to my wallet.

Down: Masterpiece Transformers… Again, I’m not slagging on Takara’s amazing MP line, but the fact is that I only picked up two MP figures in 2016 (Tracks and Ironhide) and both were in the first quarter of the year. Still, next year should see more activity on this front. I still hope to get Ratchet at some point, Megatron is pre-ordered, and Inferno is going to be coming home to me soon.

Hasbro 6-inch!

Up: Marvel Legends… Back when Hasbro rebooted this line in 2011, I never could have guessed that it would become the (dare I say it?) Juggernaut that it’s become today. Legends is at the point now where it has surpassed the 3 3/4-inch Marvel line as a Universe building series and we continue to get a great mix of B-listers and C-listers tossed into the mix. Not all the figures have been exceptional, but very few have been truly bad. The fact that it was a struggle to keep up with this line throughout 2016 was a nice problem to have, and I hope Hasbro can keep it going strong in 2017.

Down: Star Wars Black… The 6-inch Black line continues to sputter between solid and disappointing releases. Very rarely are these figures terrible, but even some of the better ones are a far cry from what my expectations were after the initial wave. I keep asking myself are these really any better than what we got (or could get) in the 3 3/4-inch scale and the answer is invariably no. On the other hand, they aren’t flooding the pegs like Marvel Legends is, so I keep collecting these without breaking the bank.

Matty and Matty!

Up: 2016 was Matty Collector’s last year of operation and while some may hate to give them credit, I’ll concede that they accomplished just about everything they set out to do. We got all the vintage figures as Classics updates, plus a bunch of Filmation style figures and other characters no one ever thought possible. Not to mention vehicles and playsets and mounts. I look at my beautiful collection of Masters Classics and I can’t help but smile and say, good on you, Matty. And thanks for all the great figures.

Down: Of course, there was a lot of typical Matty bullshit in 2016 as well. ThunderCats Classics was cancelled leaving us yet again with just bits and pieces of an incomplete line. By the time most of us had purchased the ThunderCats SDCC Exclusive, news trickled in that the line was dead. QC didn’t seem to be nearly as tight on some of the MOTUC figures as the line neared its finale. Plus, there were horrible delays on most of the figures towards the end. In fact, I have a huge box of figures from the last two months that were all dumped on my doorstep last week because of delays in shipping. One might think that Matty was hoping fans would see them off with tear-filled eyes, and yet they did their best to fill us with rage and contempt. The legacy of Matty Collector will certainly go down as a bitter-sweet one.

And The Rest…

Up: NECA… If it weren’t for The Four Horsemen’s Mythic Legions, NECA would have won the year for me. From their excellent Aliens and Predators figures, to Rocky and their new Heroes of the Storm line, NECA knows how to get to my wallet. Not to mention the incredible Ultimate Series of releases, which never fails to live up to its name. These guys are true craftsmen at their trade and I’m looking forward to throwing a lot more money at them in 2017 just to get caught up. The only downside to NECA is that they’re usually impossible to find in my area, so I have to hunt them online and usually wind up paying a premium… but hey, they’re worth it!

Up: Hot Toys… It’s always a good year for Hot Toys, but in my case 2016 started with a lot of additions to my collection and gradually petered out during the final half of the year. I finally completed my “one of each” of The Avengers and dabbled a little in The Force Awakens, including two figures that I have yet to review. I’m suspecting that 2017 will be somewhat light for my Hot Toys purchases. With most of my Marvel Universe covered, so far I’m only committed to picking up Drax and Doctor Strange. And hopefully Poe will finally get his due.

Up: DC Icons… I swore I wouldn’t get into this line when it was first revealed. I didn’t want to start the whole DC Universe again in a slightly smaller scale. But in the end, I buckled. I caved. I gave in. And I’m glad I did. These figures have been excellent from the very first release, and judging by next year’s solicitations, DC Icons has every chance to take up the mantle that DC Universe Classics left behind. So long as DC Collectibles keeps up with their own release schedule, you can expect to see a whole lot of this line featured on FFZ in the new year.

Down: Doctor Who… Let’s face it, being a Doctor Who fan in 2016 sucked. There was no TV series and the action figures have all but dried up. I looked at only two offerings from Character Options this past year, and both of those were in the beginning of the year, leaving me with just the 12th Doctor Sixth-Scale figure from Big Chief later on. Part of me was really hoping that Character Option would have a few surprises for the 5-inch line throughout the year, but even the crappy 3 3/4-inch figures seem to be drying up.

Up: Prize Figures… The beginning of the year was a strong one for my Kotobukiya Bishoujo habit, but the releases got fewer and farther between as the year went on and I needed to find another solution to get my fix on little plastic anime gals. As a result, 2016 was the year I started collecting Prize figures, mostly from Taito and SEGA, with a few from Bandai and Furyu thrown in. It became such a prolific new area of collecting for me that I had to create the Anime Saturday features just to cover all my new acquisitions.

And that’s it for me for the year, Toyhounds. I’ll be back on the first with a brief announcement about next year.

Until then, have a safe and happy New Year.

Thanks for reading and keep collecting!

By figurefanzero