Uncharted 4: Ultimate Nathan Drake by NECA

When it comes to modern gaming, I waffle between love and indifference, with a lot of the newer franchises leaving me cold. I’m more apt to spin a disc in my Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, or go back to the truly retro treasures of my youth in the 80’s. That having been said, Uncharted has undoubtedly been one of my favorite franchises in the modern era. I was hooked the moment I started the first game and it was pure love ever since. The star of the series, Nathan Drake, was always perfectly suited to action figure stardom, but until now all we got was a Sixth-Scale Sideshow figure with a very unfortunate head sculpt. And as bad as it looked, I still came close to buying it a few times. Fast forward to now and NECA has secured the license from Sony/Naughty Dog and have worked their usual magic on this figure of my second favorite globe-trotting treasure hunter.

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We should all know by now what to expect from the packaging. I’ve Featured a dozen of these Ultimate figures now and the presentation has always been top notch. They did step away from the game box style branding a little here. If you remember, the Ultimate Kratos package actually looked like a box to a PS3 peripheral. Here we just get some great artwork on the front, the name of the figure and series on the side panels, and a front flap, secured by velcro, which opens to reveal a printed map interior and a window to show off the figure. Everything is collector friendly and Nathan comes on a single tray with all his extra goodies surrounding him. And the best thing? THIS FIGURE DOES NOT NEED YOU TO DOWNLOAD A 5.5 GIG LAUNCH DAY PATCH LIKE THE F’CKING GAME DID!!!!

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As a character, Drake only dabbles with a signature look, usually making due with a grunge-encrusted T-shirt with a button down collar. In the case of Uncharted 4, it’s blue, but I recall it being white in the previous games. From the waist down, he doesn’t stray too far from the Indiana Jones path, featuring a pair of khaki pants and brown boots. The clothing here is perfectly reproduced though some detailed sculpting and some expert paintwork. The blue top has a wet sheen to it, reflecting a mix of sweat and water from whatever river Nathan just dragged himself through. You also get some general dirt and grime, and some blood stains, hopefully mostly from the bad guys. The paint wash on the pants reflect the mud from miles of jungle, and of course a few more patches of blood. Other beautiful little details are included in his belt, the stitching on his pants, and the pouch he wears behind his right hip.

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Drake features a functional brown shoulder holster, permanently laid onto the figure. The wear and tear on the holster itself is absolutely fantastic and it holds his gun beautifully. The right side includes a pair of sculpted magazine pouches. You also get a grappling hook, sculpted in a coil that tabs right into Drake’s left hip and offers a very obvious wink and a nod to that certain other intrepid adventurer.

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You get two head sculpts with the figure, which continues to be one of my favorite things about NECA’s Ultimate line and also continues to tempt me into getting doubles sometimes to display both options. So far, I’ve resisted! First, you get a portrait with a rather neutral expression. NECA did a beautiful job on this likeness from the sculpt, right down to the paint. I can’t move on without once again pointing out how ironic it is that NECA was able to produce such a great portrait in a $25 6-inch action figure, while Sideshow totally shit the bed on their $160 12-inch Drake. And believe me, I love Sideshow and I think they’re products are overall fantastic. I’m not trying to pick on them, but NECA deserves some real kudos here. I also love how the shirt appears to be laid onto the buck, which adds a lot of convincing depth to the top buttons and collar.

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The other noggin option is Drake’s “I’m sick of this shit, and I’m going to kick all your asses,” expression. When it comes to displaying my figures,  I’m usually one to go with the less expressive portraits, but here’s one that might be an exception. Slap this head on the figure, get him in an action pose with one of his guns, and you’ve got a great display piece. Dammit, now I’m talking myself into picking up a second one to go with both options.

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The articulation here is overall pretty standard for NECA’s Ultimate line, with just one noteworthy exception. As for the usual stuff, you get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and ankles, and there are swivels in the biceps. The big departure here was the decision to go with double hinges in the knees, rather than rotating hinges. I think it was a good choice, as it does allow for that extra deep leg bend. The sacrifice is some pretty chunky looking hinges exposed on the backs of the legs. It doesn’t bother me much, but some might take issue. You also get a ball joint hidden under the shirt, just above the waist, and a ball joint in the neck. The range of motion in the elbows is a little restrictive, but if you own any of the Ultimate T-800 figures, than you should know what to expect.

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Moving on to accessories… In addition to the coiled grappling hook that I’ve already shown, Drake comes with a second grappling hook, an automatic pistol, an AK-47, and a pair of accessory holding hands to swap out with the fists that come on the figure. The right hand is designed to hold the guns, while the left one can hold the grappling hook, or cradle the AK. The pistol is a solid sculpt, cast in matte black plastic, and has a satisfying size to it. It also fits perfectly in the shoulder holster.

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The AK-47 is another wonderful sculpt with black and brown paint. It comes with a carry strap, which can be un-tabbed at one end to help secure it to the figure. Of course, if you own the Ultimate Terminator figures, you have access to a plethora of other armaments for Drake to use.

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And lastly, the extra grappling hook features the prongs deployed and is attached to a short rope. Let’s face it, if there’s one thing Drake likes to do more than shoot people, it’s climb!

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I’ve been anxiously following the progress of this release ever since it was first revealed and now that I have him in hand, I have to say he doesn’t disappoint. Indeed, Nathan Drake epitomizes everything about NECA’s Ultimate line. You get a great figure, quality craftsmanship, lots of extras, and all at a great value. The prices on these tend to waver a bit, but I picked up mine from NECA’s Ebay Store for about $31 shipped. If you’re lucky enough to find him at a retail store, you’ll more likely only pay around $24.99 and you sure as hell can’t beat that. And hopefully this figure will sell well, because I’d love to get a Sully to go with him. A bit of a stretch? Probably, but with NECA, anything is possible!

By figurefanzero

Marvel Legends: (Juggernaut Wave) Rogue by Hasbro

What’s this? Another lovely X-Lady? Didn’t we just do this last week? Y’all know it was going to come down to either Rogue or Poolsy today, and I guess I felt like a having a little sugah to go with my coffee this morning. We’re in the home stretch now, folks, as I open the penultimate figure in this magnifcent X-Men wave, so before moving on, let me just say a few things about this wave so far… “Lighten up on your speeches, sugah!” Um… right. Let’s look at the packaged shot…

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Yeah, it’s all been said and many times over, but damn this packaging is still as sexy as hell. And speaking of which, if there’s one thing I remember most about the 90’s X-Men cartoon, it’s Rogue’s perfect ass and how they never missed an opportunity to show it. I’d like to tell you I was an adolescent at the time, but those were my college years. Apparently, I never lost my thing for the animated ladies. It’s probably safer to leave Rogue behind protective packaging, but let’s tear this baby open and check her out.

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Hot damn, this is a great looking figure! It feels like I’ve said that a lot in the past couple months of Marvel Mondays, but it’s never been more true. Rogue has had some rough treatment at the hands of Toybiz in the past. I still have that god awful Giant Rogue figure they did that looked like she’s wearing a fright mask. No, she actually looked like one of those clowns you shoot water into at the carnival. What? Oh yeah, we’re talking about this figure, and she’s none of those things. Nope, she’s gorgeous! Bravo, Hasbro!

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Rogue comes donning what for me is her most iconic costume. I’m usually all for experimenting with changes, but I find anything else I see her in positively jarring. Here she has her yellow and green body suit and brown half-jacket with the popped collar, and matching belt hanging off her hips. The paint here is pretty good, with some bright and vibrant yellow plastic and metallic green. Mine does have a stray mark of green on the front of her left thigh. It’s not terrible, but if I happen to come across another one in the wild without it, I’d probably pick her up. The jacket-vest-sculpted sleeve deal here is a little more apparent than usual, because the torso is bright yellow and the jacket is brown. Although, kudos to them for painted along the rim of the shoulder to try to help the illusion along. Naturally, she has the X patches painted on her shoulders.

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The portrait is so much better than we’ve seen from this character in the past, but I still have a little quibbles. The eyes seem like they should be just a smidge closer together.  Other than that, I’m more than happy with what’s here. The paint on the eyes, eyebrows, and lips is all clean and sharp, she’s got her familiar white streak running through her hair, and her green bandanna sculpted across her forehead. The hair is sculpted so as not to interfere with her neck articulation too much.

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And so long as we’re on the subject of articulation, Rogue is sporting exactly what we saw out of the last two ladies in this line. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The hips are ball jointed, there are double hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The thighs have swivels, but again, no such luck in the biceps. And lastly, there’s a ball joint just under the chest and both a ball joint and hinge in the neck. Not bad at all.

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Rogue comes with one accessory, and that’s a bare right hand. I like the way they made the sleeve of the gloved hand removable, so when you swap the hand it really does look like she slipped her glove off.

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This figure was certainly looooong overdue and I think she turned out fantastic. But then, that’s been the case with all the figures in this amazing assortment. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited for an entire wave of Legends and I’m happy to report that each and every figure lived up to my expectations. I could get used to getting so many members of a team in one shot like this, and I hope Hasbro will consider doing it more often in the future. And of course, that leaves me with just one figure left to open before getting to the Juggernaut Build-A-Figure. Next week, I’ll wrap this magnificent wave up with a look at everyone’s favorite chimichanga chompin chowder-head, Deadpool!

KanColle: Kagerou Class Destroyer Shiranui (Preparation Figure) by Taito

I had planned on looking at a Figma today, but some uninvited water has my toy closet in upheaval and while nothing was damaged, there’s a lot of stuff I can’t physically get to this weekend, as I await new carpeting so I can put everything back. That, and it’s been too long a week for me to get involved in a lengthy Feature. I just want to chill out today, play some video games and marathon some episodes of One Piece, and coif some rich, life-fortifying Jameson. Fortunately, I do have a newly arrived Prize Figure from Taito handy, so let’s do this!

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Today I’m having a look at another character from the video game, as opposed to the anime series. Again, my familiarity with the game exclusive characters is limited, so I always take this opportunity to read up on them. In this case, I’m not getting a lot of personality from Shiranui or even any really memorable quotes, so let’s just press on with the packaging. She comes in the usual fully enclosed box that we’ve seen many times here from Taito. You get several photos of the figure, but precious little in the way of English, but hey this is an import after all. As you can see, my box came pretty smashed up. I do keep these boxes to store the figures when they’re not being displayed, but considering how cheap I get these for, it’s probably foolish to expect good packing. Shiranui actually comes in a bubble inside the box. That’s the first time I’ve seen that!

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As you probably read way up there in the title to this piece, Shiranui is a “Preparation Figure,” which means this depicts her getting ready for battle. I’ve looked at one other of these, and that was the Light Cruiser Yahagi. I was mostly drawn to this figure by the rather distinctive nature of her outfit. It’s still got some of the trappings of the traditional Fleet Girls sailor-style school uniform, at least in the form of the pleated skirt. In this case, however, she’s wearing a more traditional collared blouse, a black vest, and black leggings that go just above her knees. She isn’t sporting any rudder boots, just a pair of gray socks and some sensible brown loafers. Maybe they’re boat shoes. HA! It’s kind of an eclectic ensemble, but I like it.

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Shiranui is quickly tying her necktie, with one glove stuffed in her belt and the other dangling from her mouth. She has one of her smaller twin gun mounts strapped to her right thigh, but the rest of her armaments are on the ground waiting to be equipped. The coloring on this piece is not overly sharp, but it is pretty solid. There’s no evidence of any especially bad slop or untidy lines. The white, black, and gray outfit is livened up a bit by the bright red necktie. The skin tone is warm and soft, but there are some really obvious and unsightly seams on her arms. That’s a bit of a downer for me.

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I like the portrait here. The pink hair and blue bow helps spruce up the color palate quite a bit. The large eyes are neatly printed, and the expression is solemn and measured. She doesn’t look like she’s frantically hurrying, but rather preparing herself, physically and mentally, for the sortie ahead. It’s a somewhat sober emotion for what has generally been a fairly whimsical line.

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The bases on the figures are all over the board. Here we get a simple clear disc with places to peg her unequipped armaments. In front of her is the smaller twin gun mount for her left thigh, and behind her rests the larger 12.7cm high angle gun mount, which I believe she wears over her shoulder. Like the other Destroyers, Shiranui is supposed to have an oxygen torpedo mount, but it isn’t present. I like that the base here is extremely respectful of my diminishing shelf space. It’s only as large as it needs to be.

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I like this figure a lot, but it’s not one of my favorites. It might be because I haven’t been able to glean much about the character from my readings. The quality is solid for a figure in this price range (mine was $16 shipped!), but it also feels like a little bit of a drop from some this line’s overall standard. I know, I shouldn’t expect top quality from a mere prize figure, but Taito has set a high bar with some of their releases. Still, I’m very happy to add her to my Fleet Girls shelf. And apologies for no group shot for comparison this time, but as I said earlier, I can’t even get into the area of the room where the others are displayed. Hopefully, I’ll be able to take some snaps in a few days and add them in.

Cover Girls of the DC Universe: Vixen by DC Collectibles

As many of you know by now, Cover Girls is a line that I love to collect, but it often has to take a backseat to other priorities. It’s a gamble, because sometimes they get discounted and other times they sell quickly and skyrocket in price. Getting backlogged on this line can be a scary prospect. Most recently, I was torn between picking up Vixen or the second version of Catwoman next, but then I figured I already have the first Catwoman release, so why not expand the family? And besides, Vixen is awesome.

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It’s been a few months since I last visited with this line. The boxes haven’t changed. They’re simple, and collector friendly, and they show a number of shots of the collectible inside. The back of the box has images for Starfire and a new version of Harley Quinn. Vixen has been getting a little love in the DCTV media lately, with both animated and live action appearances. And seeing as how DC Collectibles is already producing second versions of some of the A-Listers in this line, it’s nice to see that they aren’t completely ignoring some of the B-Listers. No offense, Mari. Anyway, getting Vixen set up is easy, you just peg her into the base and she’s good to go, so let’s do that and check her out!

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Grrr, baby… Grrrrr! If you’re a newcomer to this line, these ladies tend to be approximately 9 to 10″ in scale. Vixen stands with legs apart and her arms held out, as if she’s ready to pounce right off her base. The Cover Girls line has offered a reasonable compromise between action and museum style composition, and I think Vixen is another good example of that. In this case, what we get really captures the character nicely. This is just such a simple and elegant pose.

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Vixen sports her rather simple body suit with sculpted cut-outs to resemble animal stripes, and long sleek gloves. You also get some sculpted seams, boot lines, and whatever that strategically placed silver fixture is right above her you-know-where. The paint on the costume is almost entirely… ochre? Is that what you’d call that? Yeah, let’s go with ochre… with a hint of metallic sheen to it. There’s also a low plunging neckline for those of you who like a little sumthin-sumthin with your lady statues.

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The portrait here is among my favorites that this line has done in its current series. Mari’s got a beautiful face with a stern expression that shows she means business. The skin tone is warm and soft and the paint lines around her tribal necklace are pretty nice and sharp. In fact, all the paint on her facial features are equally sharp and precise. I especially like her yellow eyes and the sheen on her lipstick. There’s a little spray around her hairline, but I’m thinking that is intentional. Speaking of the hair, it’s sculpted beautifullly, and I dig the way it trails down around her high collar and over her right shoulder.

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This line continues to use simple and standardized oval bases, in this case personalized with an animal head cut out at the cardinal points. It features a silver top and stripe and the edges are painted to match her costume. The limitation is hand numbered on the bottom of the base. Mine is 874 of 5,200.

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As beautiful a piece as this is, I’m guessing that Vixen isn’t selling all that well, because she’s available everywhere and at pretty deep discounts. That’s a shame for two reasons. One, at this price point, you’re getting a stunning statue of a great character. Two, a lot of people complain that these lines stick to the safe A-listers, which brings me back to my earlier point. Doing lesser known characters is a gamble for these companies and if it doesn’t pay off, they won’t keep doing it. And honestly, Vixen isn’t exactly obscure. It’s something to keep in mind when we’re seeing the second versions of Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Wonder Woman, and still haven’t seen a Zatanna, Jessica Cruz, Fire, Ice, Stargirl, Star Sapphire… I could go on and on…

Transformers “Titans Return:” Furos & Hardhead by Hasbro

Ahhh, I can’t tell you how great it feels to have brand new content for Transformers Thursdays again! Today I’m continuing my look at the initial wave of Deluxe Class Titans Return figures with one of my all time favorite Headmasters from the G1 days, Hardhead. Hardhead was one of the handful of Headmasters that I managed to collect about 15 years back, before unloading them all for whatever my next big obsession was. I later replaced him with Toyworld’s unfortunately named homage, Hardbone. Now, I’ve come full circle back to Hasbro again.

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I’ve been getting my Deluxes online and the cards have all been beat to hell. It’s no biggie, because I’m over this packaging design. You know what else I’m over? These damn plasting straps they use to secure these guys onto the bubbles. What was wrong with the white string? The white string was easy to deal with. These little things go everywhere and I hate them. I’d rather get the figure rattling around a little in the package than have to deal with these. Anyway, rant over. Hardhead comes packaged in his robot mode, but as usual, I’m starting off with his alt mode.

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There’s no beating around the bush here, this is straight up G1 Hardhead. Oh, there are a few minor changes, like the cockpit being a bit further back, and that gray plate, which I assume is some kind of access hatch, being closer to the front, but he’s still a futuristic green quad tank with black treads and a big gray cannon. The coloring here is achieved mostly through the plastic, with not a lot of paint apps showing in the vehicle mode. Nonetheless, the deco is great and instantly invokes the original toy.

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The only gripe that comes to mind is that I consider Hardhead too small to be a Deluxe Class figure. He’s a tank with a lot of firepower and I feel he should be bigger than someone like Blurr, who despite being a sportscar, is actually longer than Hardhead. The issue is by no means a deal-breaker, as there’s something appealing to me about having most of the characters scaled in one size class, but it’s certainly going to irk a number of collectors out there.

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For some reason, Hardhead’s little head buddy has been renamed from Duros to Furos, otherwise he’s exactly what you might expect: A tiny green and gray robot. As we saw last time, his legs are fused together, but are hinged at the hips and knees, and he has articulation in both his shoulders and his neck. And yes, if you turn him around, there’s a giant face on his back. The only paint work on the front is his little face, which is surprisingly well done for such a tiny bot.

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Furos can sit comfortably inside Hardhead’s cockpit and the canopy closes perfectly.

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There’s some other points of interactivity between the little bots and Hardhead’s alt mode. The back part of the cannon opens up to reveal a chair, and if you peg Hardhead’s rifle into the top of the gun, you have an extra gunner station. There are also pegs on the front treads to place some more of the little buggers. I’ve called in the individually packed Headmasters, Clobber and Loudmouth to help illustrate. Like I said last time, I love these extra little play features that Hasbro is including in the designs here. Size notwithstanding, everything else about this alt mode gets high marks from me. Now, let’s check out that robot mode…

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Hot damn, I’m loving these figures! There’s nothing terribly complex or amazing about the transformation here. Hardhead’s front treads become his arms, the back treads become the legs, and the body of the tank folds in two places at the middle to form the front and back of the torso. Flip the pelvis plate down and you’re good to go. The cannon can be removed, but it doesn’t have to be for the transformation. It lands behind his right shoulder pointing straight up, but you can angle it forward to make it more useful and I really like having that option.

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Like Blurr, there’s a ton of great sculpted detail on this figure and he’s perfectly proportioned. Unlike Blurr, there’s actually a lot going on with the coloring here. The robot mode shows a lot more black and gray, and a little of the green, but you also get some very nice yellow and paint around his pelvic area and some tiny Autobot insignia on his shoulders and again just above his waist. I love that they have the gray chest plate, which in the G1 toy folded down to reveal his stats when the Headmaster was plugged in. And speaking of which, Furos forms an absolutely perfect head with a great sculpt and terrific paint.

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Once again, all the heads are interchangeable. If you were with me last week, you know this isn’t a play mechanic I plan on using, because I have a lot of familiarity vested in these characters and swapping out the heads kind of ruins that. Nonetheless, here’s a shot of Hardhead’s body wearing Clobber as a head. Damn, I left one of the arms askew. Oh well, he’s a pretty shitty head anyway, what with all that unpainted off-white plastic. Be warned, Clobber, you will not fare well when I get to reviewing the individual head packs.

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As we already saw, Hardhead comes with a big green rifle, but sadly only one. If I ever find him on the pegs and on sale, it’ll be real tempting to pick up a second so that I can give him his proper G1 twin gun armament. And again, other than size that’s really the only complaint I have about this guy. In robot mode, he still feels under-scaled for the character. He’s no taller than Blurr, but he does at least have a slightly bigger upper body build, which makes him look a tad bulkier.

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I loved Blurr, and that goes double for Hardhead here. He’s a relatively simple figure, but I’m at the point in my Transformers collecting, where I can appreciate the more simplistic engineering. I don’t want them too simple, but I’m not a fan of the overly complex figures anymore. Hardhead is quick to transform and loads of fun to play with. The joints are a little looser than my Blurr’s, but not so bad that he can’t hold his own weight. But besides all that, he’s a near perfect homage to the original figure, and that is what I’m digging the most about Titans Return so far. And that wraps up the two Autobots of the first Deluxe Class wave. Next time, we’ll start in on the Decepticons.

 

 

Mythic Legions: Atilla Leossyr by The Four Horsemen

Is there any better way to celebrate getting halfway through the week than checking out another Mythic Legions figure? I think not! Of all the content I write each week, I look forward to Wednesdays the most right now. The progeny of The Four Horsemen’s 6-inch fantasy action figure Kickstarter has filled a void in my collection that I didn’t even know existed and all I want is more and more and more! Yesterday the Pre-Orders closed on the most recent crop of offerings, so hopefully T4H can get those numbers to their factory and get production underway. Today, I’m Featuring a fellow named Atilla Leossyr. Technically, he’s yet another one of the knights, but he still manages to be one of the more unique figures in the line.

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I’m going to keep including packaged shots, but by now there really isn’t anything more to say about it. Unless, this is the first of my Mythic Legions Features you’ve stumbled upon. In that case, let’s just say it’s fairly attractive, very serviceable, and surprisingly collector friendly for a bubble and card affair. The cards are all generic, but the bubbles include inserts with individual character bios on the right panels. I’m still waffling over whether or not to keep the packages once I’m through Featuring all the figures in this assortment. I’d like to keep them, but space remains a premium commodity here at FFZ Central, especially since I have to make room for a lot more of these figures in the near future.

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So yes, Atilla is another knight, but one given a lot of personality thanks to his unique headgear. The fully armored body is built from parts that we’ve seen on the other knights more than a few times. The difference here is the combination of the lower sash that we saw on Sir Gideon and Skapular paired with the full plate chest armor. The color scheme here consists of bronze plate armor with silver painted rivets and silver chain mail at the joints. The trim includes some lovely blue and maroon accents. The quality of paint on the armor in this line has been exceptional and Atilla here is no different.

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Once again, the figure is packaged with the shoulder armor off, and while the figure looks fine without it, the shoulders are required to attach the cape. While the capes continue to be uncommon accessories in this line, I’ve shown off two types so far, the black and red. This red one is the same one that we saw last week on The Blood Armor and the material is softer and easier to work with than the black ones. The way the capes attach allow them to be bellowed out, but in this case, I prefer to keep it folded and narrow on Atilla here. If the shoulders look familiar, they are the same sculpts that we first saw with Gorgo and several times since. I think they look splendid in this color.

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Besides the beautiful new deco on the armor, the real draw here is the head sculpt. There are a fair share of humans in this line, that is presuming the knights are all humans, but very few with exposed faces. I only own two such figures, this guy and Sir Gideon. I recall there being one more, that I didn’t buy. Either way, the head sculpt here is good, but the paint on the face is ever so slightly disappointing. It’s applied very neatly, but there’s not a lot of complexity or depth to it. The eyes, in particular, just aren’t all that convincing. Hey, after gushing on and on about these figures for months, there was bound to be something I could nitpick, right?

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But that’s OK, because the real draw here is Atilla’s stunning lion head helmet. I’ve always been a fan of these style helmets, where the face is positioned inside the jaws of the beast. In this case, the top of the lion’s mouth forms a jutting visor over Atilla’s brow, while his cheeks are flanked by the lion’s mane. There’s no bottom jaw, just Atilla’s exposed, stubble-covered chin. Both the sculpt and the paintwork here conspire to make the helmet look like it really is forged in bronze. It’s an important distinction, and one that deserves to be called out. T4H didn’t just sculpt a lion head and paint it, they sculpted it to look like it was hammered out of metal and it looks simply fantastic. This helmet may be the most impressive piece of sculpting in this entire line so far, and that’s really saying something, because it’s all been pretty amazing.

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To quote Shakespeare, the articulation in Mythic Legions is “as constant as the Northern Star” and rotating hinges are the POA of choice. You get them in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles, as well as some generous rockers for those wide stances. The waist is ball jointed, as is the neck. The neck guard is soft plastic and is designed to shift if need be to accommodate the neck movement. As I’ve said before, the articulation here probably offers a better range of motion than an actual person would have wearing bulky armor like this, but at the same time, Atilla won’t be doing much in the way of crazy ninja-like gymnastics. As always, these figures are modular in construction, so if there’s a joint then chances are good that you can easily detach it and swap it out for another piece.

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Naturally, Atilla comes with a bunch of weapons, all of which we’ve seen before. The sword is the larger, two-handed one, with a slightly leaf-shaped blade, a stylish crossguard, and a maroon painted grip. The shield features a wrist clip that pegs on so the shield can be orientated in any position no matter the position of the arm. The crest here features a bronze lion head painted on a field of maroon, which matches his armor quite nicely.

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And then there’s this lovely implement of death. If you axe me if we’ve seen this weapon before, I’d have to say yes. Many times! This time around it’s got some bronze paint on the blade reinforcements and maroon on the top and bottom of the shaft. The grips are painted brown. As always, you can remove convert it into either a single or double bladed weapon.

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It’s crazy to think that I came very close to passing on this guy back when I was tallying up how much I could spend and playing a game of Sophie’s Choice on which figures wouldn’t be able to make the cut. I think I had this figure ruled out right up until the end when I tossed him in. Why he wasn’t on the top of my list is beyond me, because he’s an amazing figure and definitely one of the more distinctive knights in the line. It just goes to show you how tough it was to weed any of these out to hit the magic number of seventeen figures, which was all my budget at the time would allow. Speaking of which, Atilla is the 13th Mythic Legions figure I’ve featured so far. That leaves four more to go from the initial crop, and two more that I picked up afterwards, so we’re a good bit past the halfway mark!

Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor Sixth-Scale Figure by Big Chief

It was three years ago that I Featured Big Chief’s Eleventh Doctor Sixth-Scale figure here on FFZ. It was a somewhat expensive gamble on an untested company, but ultimately it paid off. While the tailoring on the outfit wasn’t quite up to Hot Toys’ level, the likeness was excellent and I wound up with a solid figure at a good, but admittedly deep-discounted, price. Jump into the TARDIS and travel three years into the future, or now as we like to call it, and I find history repeating itself. This time, I was able to pick up The Twelfth Doctor at a decent price and everything I said about Eleven pretty much applies here.

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There can be no denying that Big Chief has the presentation down pat. You’re paying for a high end collectible, and everything about this package sells it. At first glance, the package appears to be a simple blue shoe box style affair illustrated with the gears from the 8th/9th Season openers, the Doctor Who logo in the center, and “Twelfth Doctor” down in the bottom right hand corner.

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The back of the box shows off the figure against the backdrop of the TARDIS console room and you get a blurb introducing The 12th Doctor and how he got his new set of regenerations. On closer inspection it turns out that the front and side panels are actually a tri-fold wrap-around that’s held on by magnets. When you remove it…

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You reveal a window showing off the figure and a heavy cardboard stock backdrop of the TARDIS interior to display the figure in front of. I absolutely love this idea! The layout of the interior of the box should be familiar to anyone collecting Sixth-Scale figures these days. You get two trays. The top has the figure resting in a molded plastic cradle with his accessories and extra hands around him. The lower tray consists of the figure stand and, in my case, an empty space where the miniaturized TARDIS from “Flatline” would be. There’s some confusion over this accessory. It wasn’t advertised as part of the initial promo pitch, it’s definitely been bundled in some of the Con Exclusive releases of this figure, but apparently not all of them. It’s odd, because as the box proclaims, this is a Limited Edition figure and at only 1,000 of the regular release produced, it seems like they could have included that accessory in with all of them. Well, let’s get out The Good Doctor and see what he’s all about…

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First up, let’s talk wardrobe. Throughout the 8th and 9th Series, Twelve has been all over the place with his costumes. He’s gone from finery that would have made The Third Doctor jealous to slumming it with a hoodie that even Nine probably wouldn’t have worn. Happily, Big Chief decided to go with the outfit that Peter Capaldi wore in the first official images of him as The Doctor. It features his gorgeous navy blue coat with red liner, a navy sweater, a white button down shirt, black trousers, and shiny black boots. Straightaway, something here felt off, and I quickly identified it as the sweater. He wore it initially, but not enough that I associate him with it. It’s definitely the weakest part of this outfit and it’s hard to get it to sit right on the figure, especially when articulating the arms a lot. Also, it made the jacket feel way too snug and restrictive in the upper body and shoulders. That sweater has to go!

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Much better! The button down shirt here is a huge improvement over the one on the 11th Doctor figure. It’s made of lighter material and not nearly as puffy, but the collar still has a habit of popping up and I’m considering pinning it down, as I think it will make a huge difference. The shirt features nice stitching, tiny buttons, and even french cut sleeves. The belt makes the waist look a bit too small, but then Capaldi is a pretty thin guy, and the jacket conceals most of that issue.

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The stitching on the jacket is splendidly done and includes the buttons on the sleeves. The inner lining is also gorgeous. You even get a breast pocket for you know what! There’s a magnet placed inside the jacket if you want to display him with it closed.

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The Capaldi portrait here is quite good. After several different Doctors, I’ve found Big Chief to be a little hit and miss with their likenesses. I’d rank the Matt Smith sculpt and this one as their best. The Tennant, Eccleston, and Tom Baker likenesses are close, but a little off. And I’m at odds with their William Hartnell likeness. In this case, I think the actual sculpt is spot on and they’ve made a valiant effort at painting that eerie spark of life into the eyes. The skin tone is good, but it’s the paint that keeps this from rising to the ranks of the top tier Sixth-Scale competitors. Still, not bad at all.

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As for the body itself, it feels very similar to the Matt Smith body. The joints are looser than Hot Toys and more on par with Sideshow, however they are capable of holding any pose I put him in and supporting the weight of the figure. The generic stand I’m using is entirely for balance issues. Happily, the outfit is not at all restrictive, making The Doctor a lot more fun to play around with than most of the other Sixth-Scale figures in my collection. Of course, you also get a bunch of hands, which include: Relaxed hands, fists, accessory holding hands, and the right hand to mimic that wonderful pose in that instantly iconic initial press photo, which introduced Capaldi to us as The Twelfth Doctor. The hands use a peg system practically identical to Hot Toys and Sideshow and they are very easy to swap in and out. You get plenty of extra pegs too, but I can’t see ever breaking one of these.

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Big Chief has been great about including a lot of nifty accessories with these figures. And as before, none of these are mind blowing, but they are good selections and lots of fun. First and foremost are a pair of Sonic Screwdrivers, one with the tip open and one closed. These are essentially the same pieces that came with The Eleventh Doctor. As already shown, there’s a pocket in the jacket to slip it into and the hand designed to hold it works perfectly.

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Next up, is The Doctor’s yo-yo, which he uses as a super high-tech instrument for measuring gravity.

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Jelly Baby, anyone? Yes, you get the posh little cigarette case that The Doctor used to store his favorite sweets in “Mummy on the Orient Express.” It’s a static piece, sculpted in the open position with individually painted Jelly Babies inside. I love that they included it as an accessory, especially since it was used as basically a one-off gag and never seen again.

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The Psychic Paper! Easily my favorite addition to The Doctor’s arsenal since the show returned in 2005. Yes, this is essentially the same accessory included with The 11th Doctor figure.

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Moving on, we have a gloved hand and spoon! This pair of extras were inspired by that episode that I adore and everyone loves to hate on, “Robots of Sherwood.” The premise was ridiculous, the resolution was dumb, but it was such a fun ride and Capaldi’s sheer annoyance with Robin Hood was absolutely fantastic. Also, that whole dungeon scene ranks up pretty high on my list of favorite Doctor Who moments. I love that they included these, because again they are pretty much one-offs.

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And, finally… it’s The TARDIS in Siege Mode from “Flatline.” This is a really nicely sculpted accessory, but also one that I can’t get terribly excited about because, a) The Doctor was inside The TARDIS at the time, so having it as an accessory to interact with the figure is a little odd. b) It looks way too much like a miniaturized version of The Pandorica.

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Before wrapping up, we have to talk about the stand. Oh, God, the stand! It’s so hard to imagine that Big Chief put so much work into something like this and screwed up the basic premise of its functionality. You all may remember that I was less than pleased with the stand that came with The Eleventh Doctor, but that piece is like an engineering marvel when it comes to this one. The base is a mirror and there’s a light up feature that illuminates some Gallifreyan writing, which is a really neat effect, but one that I couldn’t really capture in a picture. Unfortunately, the post that’s designed to support the figure does not attach securely to the base, so when you put the figure on it, the post immediately pushes away and falls off. This is a relatively easy fix, by gluing the post to the base, but then it’s never going back in the box again. I have yet to decide whether I’m going to do that. For now, I’m making use of the inexpensive and generic figure stand that you’ve seen throughout these pictures.

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I love this figure and it makes for a wonderful display next to my Big Chief Eleven. But in the end, so much of collecting comes down to money and Big Chief has been asking a lot for these figures. Twelve debuted at $239, which is even higher than many of Hot Toys’ standard releases these days. Of course, Big Chief’s figures are a lot more limited, and as popular as Doctor Who has become, it’s safe to say these figures are more niche than the box office juggernauts of Marvel and Star Wars. But even with that being the case, my satisfaction with their Eleventh Doctor figure coupled with my unending reservoir of adoration for Peter Capaldi as Twelve couldn’t get me to pull the trigger at $239. As good as these are, they’re not comparable to the insane level of craftsmanship that goes into a figure at the Hot Toys price point. That’s nothing to be ashamed of, Big Chief, as few figures can compare, but if you’re going to market a product at the same price, you really should be offering the same level of excellence. These are on the right track, but they aren’t there yet. Ultimately, I found Twelve for $150 shipped, and that was the number that made me take the plunge and I feel it was worth it. I’m still in a holding pattern on some of the others, but if any of those hit that magic number, then Big Chief’s Sixth-Scale Doctor Who may return!

Marvel Legends (Juggernaut Wave): Phoenix by Hasbro

It’s Marvel Monday again, and thanks to a little doubling up last week, I’m up to my sixth figure in Marvel Legends‘ oh-so-solid wave of X-Men. Today I’m turning my attention back to the X-Ladies with a look at Jean Grey as Phoenix!

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While a number of the characters in this wave are making their modern Marvel Legends debuts, there are a few retreads. Jean Grey is one of those… sort of. She last appeared about three years back as part of the Rocket Raccoon BAF Wave and sporting her Jim Lee look. This time we’re getting the Phoenix version and I’m pretty happy about that. The Toybiz version of Phoenix was among the last handful of figures from my old Marvel Legends collection to get sold off quite a few years back leading to almost instant regret. Needless to say, I’m excited to get a modern Legends update. I’ve said my piece about this wonderful packaging, so let’s rip it open and check her out…

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And here she is in that lovely gold and green costume that just pulls on all of my nostalgia strings at once, while also making me feel a little funny in my nether regions. Damn, this is a great looking figure! The costume is achieved with some gold swirly plastic and green and black paint. Also, it looks like Jean has been raiding Carol Danvers’ closet, because she’s wearing the Ms. Marvel sash around her waist. It’s OK. Nothing wrong with that. The paint lines are all pretty clean, especially around the Phoenix emblem on her chest. I’ve just got zero complaints about this lady. And what is it about the X-gene that gives the X-Ladies such wonderful bums? Damn, Jean, you don’t need no telepathy, because you’re blowing my mind with that caboose! Know what I’m saying?

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The portrait here is mighty solid.  Hasbro continues to be doing a nice job on their 6-inch female sculpts… at least in the Marvel Legends line. Hasbro, you might want to loan out some of these guys to that Star Wars line you do. The paint here is sharp and clean and she has a copious amount of hair. Yeah, all that hair does hinder the neck articulation a bit, but not completely.

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Speaking of articulation, Jean’s got it in spades. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles have hinges and lateral rockers, and the torso features a ball joint under the chest and both a ball joint and hinge in the neck. The only thing that’s a little problematic is getting her balanced on her tiny feet.

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I don’t think I was quite prepared for how much I was going to love this figure. Like so much of this wave, Jean is just classic X-Men goodness synthesized into bright, shiny plastic. And apart from being just a really solid release, it feels so good to get Phoenix back into the collection again. I’ve always had a thing for this costume and until now I regretted unloading the Toybiz one. Now I just regret unloading that bitchin’ translucent phoenix flame effect piece with her. And with another one down, I’m left with just two more figures to open. Who will it be next week? Merc with a Mouth or Sassy Southern Belle? Honestly, I’m not even sure myself!

S.H. Figuarts: Sailor Pluto by Bandai Tamashii Nations

What? A rare Anime Saturday with no Kantai Collection? I know, right? Well, don’t worry my personal KanColle love fest will return, if not next week then soon. In the meantime… it’s hard to believe that it’s been exactly a year this week since I last looked at the S.H. Figuarts Sailor Moon line. And yet, that’s about how long it took me to finally get one of the last Sailor Scouts I needed. Sailor Pluto has finally landed, weighing in as the eighth figure in my collection and I’m rather excited to revisit this great line and check her out! “Pluto Planet Power… MAKE UP!!!”

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It’s been a while, but the package hasn’t changed. The figure comes in the same compact and colorful, little window box with plenty of pictures of the figure and the accessories. The side panels also identify the figure, so if you’re like me and have a lot of these boxes lined up on the shelf, it’s easy to grab the one you want. There’s also a fairly decent amount of English copy on the box, making it friendly to us Western collectors. Finally, everything is collector friendly, which is great, because even when I have the figures on display, I use the boxes to keep all the extra bits and bobs organized.

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It’s safe to say that I’m not nearly as familiar with Pluto as I am the earlier releases. My exposure to Sailor Moon comes strictly from the anime and Pluto was a late arrival. Nonetheless, I dig her a lot. Obviously the costume is quite similar to the other Scouts, and Sailor Moon’s in particular. The boots are almost identical in sculpt, only without the crescent moons on below the knees. Other slight differences include Pluto’s top being sleeveless and her collar not having the same clear sailor motif. The black and white of her costume is quite striking and rather distinctive when compared to the more vibrant colors of her sister Scouts. The brown bows are a bit of an odd choice, but they work, and I love her long green hair. The deco is rounded out by the bright red stones on her chest, tiara, and earrings. Paint has never been a big issue on any of these figures for me, but that having been said, Pluto’s paint is among the best in my collection. With the exception of a little bleed around the top of the skirt, I’m hard pressed to find anything to nitpick here.

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I don’t tend to run down the articulation on these figures, because Figuarts are generally all very similar. Suffice it to say you get loads of rotating hinges, and most of the joints are designed to pull out, rather than break. Articulation is generally excellent, although the skirts on the Sailor Scouts do tend to inhibit some of the hip movement. Also, the shoulders on my Pluto feel a little stiffer and more restrictive than my previous Scouts. Neither issue is a big deal though, and these figures are always so hard to put down, once I start messing around with them.

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Of course, you get the usual collection of hands and a total of four portraits. The faces include a shouty face, a concentrating with closed eyes face, and a slight smile and a neutral face, both of which are so similar, I’ve got to really look to tell them apart. The hands come pegged onto the usual hand totem pole for easy organization, and there are a lot of them! You get relaxed hands, closed hands, splayed hands, fists, hands designed to grip her Garnet Staff, what I like to call hocus-pocus hands, and a right hand pegged to hold the Garnet Stone without the staff.

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The Garnet Staff, which she uses to guard the Space-Time Door, is just a lovely piece of work with the key-like teeth sculpted on the sides. It features some beautiful metallic paint and as I’ve already shown the head piece comes off so she can hold it separately. The bottom third of the staff also disconnects to make it easier to slide it into her grippy hands. One of these hands was open and one had the fingers connected. I opted to slit the connection on those fingers to make it easier to fit it into that particular hand.

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Of course, Sailor Pluto comes with the same style of crystal heart-shaped stand as all of the previous releases, and that leads me to my only complaint about this figure. Her copious amount of hair doesn’t make it easy to get the stand connected to her waist. In the past, like with Sailor Mars, Bandai has compensated by allowing the hair to part in the middle and get the stand through. In this case, the hair is one solid piece, and only articulated at the top. You can swing it all the way to the right or left, or you can pull it away from her back, but then you’re getting into a situation where the neck is articulating downward too. The above two shots illustrate that it is possible, but in all the cases where I was going for a fairly static and relaxed pose, I was content to just lean her up against the stand, rather than use it properly.

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It’s been two years now since I started collecting this line and I can’t tell you how happy I am to be re-visiting it. These figures have been a delight since the beginning, and I probably enjoy this line a lot more than any middle aged male has any right to. In fact, since playing around with Pluto, I’ve already gone back and picked up one of the very few I’m missing, Sailor Venus, and I’m once again eyeing Tuxedo Mask. It’s also been a while since I’ve dipped my toe back into the anime series, but playing around with Pluto has me hankering to go back again for a re-watch, or maybe even give Crystal another go.

By figurefanzero

Justice League War (DC Animated Movie Series): Shazam by DC Collectibles

It’s DC Friday again, and I’m almost to the point where I’m caught up on opening my backlog of DC figures. It’s possible that I might start switching up Friday content a bit in the future, but I’m hoping it won’t come to that. I’ve got the rest of August and part of September covered, and by then, I’m hoping some new stuff will start rolling in. Today, I’m looking at my last figure from the Justice League War animated film, Shazam!

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Here’s the obligatory shot of the packaging, or at least the best one I could salvage after my cat hit the table while I was taking it and I didn’t realize the picture was wrecked before I tore open the package. Whoops! Again, it’s clean and simple, and it shows the figure off beautifully. There are some stills from the movie printed on the card behind the figure, and some shots of other figures in the series on the back of the card. It’s not at all collector friendly, so let’s rip this sucker open and see what we’ve got!

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Because of the animated style, this line focuses more on paint than individual sculpts. Indeed, Shazam here is a repaint of the Superman body, and that’s a good choice that works well. The costume is mostly deep red with gold paint for the boots, belt, wrist bracers, and some gold and yellow for his chest emblem. Overall the paint is neatly applied, although there are some areas, particularly around the cape’s trim, which could have been sharper.
The cape is the only newly sculpted piece for the costume. It’s fairly light and very pliable, but it still makes him a little back heavy. The hood is sculpted down, which is the way I prefer it. I have passed on at least a couple of Shazam figures because the cape was permanently up.

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The head sculpt is one of the better ones in this line. Yes, that’s a loaded compliment. Superman’s sculpt was a lumpy mess, Green Lantern’s was a painted nightmare, the rest have been OK. I think they did a pretty good job capturing the animated style in this portrait and the paint is fairly clean. There are, however, a couple of stray marks on his bottom lip that unfortunately look like cold sores. Hopefully them old wizards have a cure for herpes!

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The articulation has been a standard in all the male bucks of this line. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, swivels in the biceps and wrists, ball joints in the hips and neck, and hinges in the knees. There’s no articulation in the torso at all. These are not highly pose-able figures, but I’d still rank them as better than most of the releases from the dark days of DC Direct’s premier lines, where nothing but t-crotches and swivel cuts were the order of the day. Still, there’s only so much you can do with him, hence the limited number of shots I used for this Feature.

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By now, you all know that this line has been hit and miss for me. Shazam was the last one I have to open, and seeing as he’s one of the better ones, so I’m happy to ending my look at this series on a positive note. If I ever stumble across The Flash at a decent price, I’d probably grab him to complete the Justice League War set, but otherwise it’s safe to say I’m finished with these. Even though I picked up all of these for ten bucks a pop, my hindsight is telling me I should have passed on them. At a time when I’m trying to tighten up my collecting habits, the amount I spent on these figures could have paid for a Cover Girls statue I needed, or even one of Mezco’s upcoming One:12 Collective releases.