Transformers Siege: Soundwave by Hasbro

I probably should be looking at something other than a Transformer this week, since I’m getting way behind on NECA and Star Wars stuff, but I got caught up purchasing all the Transformers: Siege releases last week and because I’m digging this line so much, I was really jonesing to open another. Soundwave remains one of my favorite characters, and is always a good choice, so let’s go with him.

The Decepticons are really owning the Voyager Class in this line, with Megatron, Soundwave, and Starscream up against lonely Optimus Prime. Then again, the Autobots are all but monopolizing the Deluxes, and I guess that works for me. I almost always judge a new Transformers line by how well they do the Decepticon High Command. They did a nice job with Megatron, so needless to say, I am hoping for good things out of Soundwave. Let’s start with his alt mode. For several lines now (Titans Return being the exception), Soundwave has had this weird thing going on, where Hasbro tries to salvage his tape-cassette gimmick while not having him actually turn into a tape deck. I kind of get that. Deploying mini Decepticon warriors is a huge part of what makes him so unique and before the whole retro-80’s craze, a lot of kids probably couldn’t identify with a cassette player as a toy. And so this time around, Hasbro gave Soundwave the alt mode of a Cybertronian space cruiser.

And as far as bullshit, made-up alt modes go, I honestly don’t think this one is all that bad. And yes, I realize I’m in the minority here, because I’ve seen plenty of shade thrown at this toy for this very reason. Truth be told, I kind of dig this chunky design. It kind of reminds me of some of the old Wing Commander designs, and that ain’t a bad thing. It also actually takes some engineering to get between robot mode and this alt mode. Indeed, the only thing about this mode that I don’t like is the giant tape door on the back.

The coloring and finish are both great. You get a pretty typical Soundwave-y deco with a lot of deep blue and gray. The weathering is nicely done and I think it contributes well to making this look like a well-used spaceship. Additional paint hits like the red trim on the weapon pods and the silver, yellow, and red panels add to the visual appeal. And that’s really all I have to say about this thing. I’m surprised at how much I dig it, but I’m really here for the robot mode, so let’s jump right into that.

In his bot mode, Soundwave emits waves of pure G1 goodness. I absolutely adore this figure. I mean, nothing is ever going to live up to the Masterpiece version, but for a retail release, this is just so damn good. All the tape deck features are here, for no reason at all, like the buttons on his pelvis and the giant tape door in his chest. He even has his battery shoulder cannon. Does any of this make sense? Nope. Do I care. Also, nope. But besides being very traditional looking, Soundwave is also distinctively Siege. Hasbro has taken the basic G1 Soundwave design and dipped it into the hyper-detailed look of Siege, with a crazy number of panel lines and other little details pressed into the sculpt, coupled with the weathered paintwork and the scratches all over the tape door. He looks fantastic.

Soundwave looks pretty damn good from the back as well. His legs are filled out, and with the exception of the backpack, there’s nothing terribly out of place here. And while that backpack isn’t really a traditional Soundwave feature, I think it looks great. Plus, if you fold open the backpack you can see that Hasbro still sculpted in a reference to the belt clip that was on the original toy. Pretty cool! There’s some kibble under the forearms, but it’s not too obtrusive, and you can even fold them out as retractable blasters.

The rest of the deco matches what we saw in the spaceship mode, so there aren’t really any surprises there. Nice touches include the colored panels just below his knees, and the thin red stripes around his wrists. The pelvic buttons are painted silver, and his tape door features a gold border. I’ve already mentioned the abrasions painted onto the tape door, and while I wasn’t sure how I would feel about those when I got the figure in hand, I can’t deny they’re well done, as is the weathering on the lower legs. Granted, if you’re looking for clean bots, these figures aren’t for you, but I have really grown to love the battle-worn flavor of this line.

I have no complaints about the head sculpt. The detail here is really nice, especially the recessed vents on the lower half of his “helmet.” It’s all very sharp for a head this small. Some people are apt to complain about the choice to go with the toy accurate yellow visor. Me? I prefer the yellow visor, but it wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker if they had gone with red. Either way, just look at that glorious light-piping. The visor catches the light easily and really brings the portrait to life.

Not only does Soundwave’s tape door spring open at the push of a button, but they also sculpted a finger on his right hand especially to push the button. Wonderful! He doesn’t come with any tapes, but Hasbro has since released Laserbeak and Ravage as Micromasters, which are compatible. I was hoping to squeeze them into today’s review, but I went a little long, so I’ll hopefully be able to circle back to them next week if time permits.

He does, however come with two weapons. Well, three if you count the removable shoulder cannon. The first handgun is his other battery rifle, which is a pitch-perfect match for the original G1 weapon. The beam emitter even retracts into the battery portion, and as we saw, it’s used for the spaceship mode.

The other weapon is a simple folding gun. It can be used to turn both of Soundwave’s battery weapons into one long gun. Otherwise, it’s nothing special and doesn’t really feel like it belongs to him, so I’ll likely be giving it away to another lucky bot.

I passed on the Titan Returns Leader Class Soundwave, because it was just way too similar to Blaster, so this is the first regular retail release of Soundwave in a while that I can say I really love. I get it, some people are not going to like this alt mode, but I was surprised at how little it bothered me. And once I get those Micromaster tapes opened up next week, Soundwave will really feel complete!

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Marvel Legends (M’Baku Wave): Erik Killmonger by Hasbro

Just when I thought I had dipped into all the waves of Marvel Legends that were out there, this week my random draw from the Box of Shame™ pulled out a figure from the M’Baku Wave. And yup, this is my first foray into this assortment. I kind of forgot all about it. And as is often the case these days, I’m a little pressed for time today, so let’s just jump right in and check out this new(ish) version of Killmonger!

Of course, we already got a Killmonger in the original Black Panther themed wave. That version was wearing his Panther suit, while this one portrays him in his mercenary-style outfit. And considering that Erik here ranks up there as one of my favorite MCU villains, I’m all for getting another figure of the character. And hey… an actual portrait based on Michael B. Jordan’s likeness! The Panther suited version of Killmonger didn’t have an unmasked head, but we did get one in the two-pack, when he was bundled with Agent Ross. I haven’t picked that one up, and now that I have this portrait, I’m not sure I will. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s check out the figure!

I really liked this look for the character in the film. It was certainly more interesting than an “evil” version of the Black Panther suit. And as a general fan of military figures, this one also scratches that itch nicely. For starters, the outfit is brimming with detail! Hasbro doesn’t usually skimp on the sculpting when they’re doing the MCU figures, and this figure keeps that trend rolling along nicely. I especially dig his armored vest. It features some great panel lining and edging, as well as all the individual sculpted straps intended to keep it in place. The great detail in the vest is contrasted by the arms, which are simple blue sleeves, the baggy trousers feature an ammo strap on his left leg, just above the knee, and even the detail in the combat boots is impressive.

There’s more impressive detail to be found on the tactical belt, which is also removable. You get more pouches with magazines in them and a permanently sheathed combat knife. What I find a bit puzzling, and disappointing, is the decision to sculpt the sidearm as part of the holster. Hasbro’s 6-inch figures are no strangers to having functional holsters, so what happened here? It’s even more of a poser when you consider that he comes with the gun that I believe is supposed to be in the holster.

The coloring here is also quite well done. Indeed, it’s surprising just how colorful this figure turned out. The camo pattern on the pants looks great, and the blue sleeves and little touches like the emerald green on the shoulders makes what could have been a drab-looking figure turn out to be anything but. The straps for the vest are painted tan, and they even picked out the grenades on the belt with some green and the belt buckle with some silver. But most of all, I dig the subtle metallic wash on the front and back of the vest. Great stuff!

And because the character portrait is such a big draw for me here, I’m happy to report they did a wonderful job on the likeness. Not only is the face sculpt a solid piece of work, but I really dig how they did his hair. It adds some nice depth to the portrait. The half-tone style printing method still appears to be in use here, and I’d say this is one of the best examples of it. It even holds up pretty well when I get in real close.

And yes, the unmasked head fits nicely on the previous Killmonger release!

Killmonger also comes with the horned mask that he took from the British Museum’s West African Exhibit and this is a nicely done piece as well. It’s designed to fit over the face and it pretty much just stays on with friction. It tends to come off when I’m playing around with the figure, but it will usually stay put when I’m displaying him.

In addition to the mask, Killmonger comes with two weapons. The pistol is most likely supposed to be the Springfield 1911. It’s a decent little pistol cast in black plastic and it can be held comfortably in either of the figure’s hands. Again, why they didn’t just give him a functional holster to hold it in, rather than sculpting one in the holster as well? Who knows.

And last but not least, Erik comes with the BCM Recce 14 KMR-A with scope and grenade launcher. I don’t know if it’s all the goofy coloring and crazy sci-fi designs we’ve been getting with the comic figures lately, but I find myself really appreciating this beauty. It’s a wonderfully detailed sculpt, and like the pistol, he can hold it well in either hand.

Well, I’ve gushed a lot about this figure, but now comes the time for some gripes, and surprisingly they all seem to revolve around the articulation. All the points conform to the usual Legends model, so I won’t tick them off here. Instead, let’s talk about a few issues I had. Some of the hinge joints on this figure are really soft, particularly in the elbows, and mushy hinges are one of my pet peeves. But the wrists are even more problematic. At first, I thought the hinges were stuck, but instead they seem to have a weird ratcheting effect, where it takes a lot of force to move them and when they do move, there’s no subtlety there at all. As a result, the hands often look oddly positioned. Not to mention, the amount of force it takes for me to work those hinges puts stress on those tiny wrist pegs. I’ve never come across this phenomena in a Legends figure before and hopefully I never will again.

Killmonger has some issues, but even so, I think he still turned out pretty great. The coloring and attention to detail are both excellent, the weapons are awesome, and the mask is a mighty nice bonus. And unless it turns up super cheap, I really didn’t have any intention of buying the Killmonger two-pack, so naturally I was happy to get this unmasked head. Never in a million years did I think Hasbro was going to take a second pass at Black Panther with another wave of Legends figures, but if Killmonger here is any indication, I’m certainly glad they did.

Transformers Siege: Cog by Hasbro

I’m still working out getting back on a regular posting schedule, but for now I’m just carving out what time I have to work on reviews and tossing them up when they’re ready. Things will likely be sporadic for a while, but taking the time to do this blog every couple of days is one of the few things keeping me going these days, even if it’s just a little piece of a review each time. Today, I’m checking out one last figure from Siege’s first wave of Deluxes, so I can eventually start digging into the second wave. And Cog here is definitely the odd man out in the assortment.

As an homage to Fortress Maximus’ parts-forming companion figure, Hasbro really took the idea of Cog and ran with it. He’s not your traditional transformer, he’s a Weaponizer! And that means he can be broken down into various add on pieces for other Transformers. In theory it’s a pretty cool idea, even if I can’t noodle out how that would work from Cog’s point of view, as a sentient robot. And yes, in addition to being weapon and armor parts, he also has some more traditional alt modes, but before we get to that, let’s go against convention and start with his robot mode.

G1 Cog was an extremely basic figure, even for a vintage Transformer. This new version takes his general design and injects it with a ton of detail, more coloring, and obviously better articulation. The result is a fantastic looking figure that represents such an extreme makeover with really just the general silhouette as the only thing connecting the two together. This Cog still has the towers on each side of his head, capped off with little wheels. The extended gun shoulders are more defined, and he has the addition of integral arm guns protruding from his wrists. One of the things I dig the most about Cog is how puzzling his alt mode kibble can be. He’s obviously got wheels and some treads, but good luck guessing what he turns into. And we’ll see why in a bit.

From behind, Cog’s aesthetics do break down quite a bit. He looks pretty hollow and unfinished, but the view from the front more than makes up for it. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I love his ankle rockers. This dude can take some pretty wide stances and still keep his big robot feets planted firmly on the ground. I love it. The coloring here is also fantastic. The deco takes the blue and gray from the original figure and cranks it all the way up. You get some nice deep blue with black and bright red accents, and that gorgeous silver paint that has been turning up on Transformers from time to time. He also sports a crisp Autobot emblem on his right shoulder pylon. All in all, this deco does a great job matching with the coloring on the recent Titan Class Fortress Maximus.

The head sculpt garners a lot of love as well. He’s got a sharply defined “helmet” and a pretty dominant mouth plate with a recessed silver visor. From a practical perspective, those towers are a mixed bag. They look cool and probably do a good job of keeping Cog from getting his head knocked off, but the hit he takes to his peripheral vision has got to be a bitch.

Cog comes with a set of twin guns, which are molded in black plastic, feature great designs, and sport some nice detail. My only complaint here is that the peg hole on my figure’s right hand seems to be a little too big and the gun fits in there very loosely. OK, let’s move on to his alt modes.

Cog’s first alt mode is this… well, whatever it’s supposed to be. A Cybertronian rolling death machine? Sure, why not. This is also one of the simplest transformations I’ve seen in a Deluxe Class figure in a long time. You just fold the head back, fold the arms back, and lay him down on his back. That’s it, you’re done! Now, with everything else going on with this figure, I’m not going to come down too hard on this alt mode. It’s OK and I’m often willing to give Cybertron modes a lot of leeway. Of course, many collectors will want something more like G1 Cog’s dual alt modes, and that’s possible here as well…

Here we have two little attack vehicles, and I actually dig these more than his official single alt mode. While they look like they’re just the bigger vehicle pulled apart, there’s actually a little more to it than that. Not much, but a little. Otherwise, they’re perfectly serviceable Cybertronian vehicles packing some decent firepower. And from a size standpoint, they’re each not that much smaller than your average Deluxe Class alt mode. Not bad at all!

The all blue half-track is my least favorite of the two. It’s not bad, but it’s not very stable because the back half doesn’t lock together. You do get a few options on where to put the guns, and there’s extra peg holes for more weapons if you really want to load him up.

This one is my favorite of the two. I think the deco is just a lot more interesting and it’s a much more stable vehicle. Also, those guns on the top look like they can do some pretty good damage. But we’re still not done yet! Let’s see how Cog’s Weaponizer element works, and I’ll bring in Sideswipe to help demonstrate…

Oh boy! Like the Buffalo, we use all the parts of the Weaponizer and this is the “official” pairing between Cog and Sideswipe. I’m not keen on a lot of it. The shoulder armor piece and the larger feet just look ungainly and stupid, in my opinion. I do, however dig those shoulder cannons.

Yeah, just giving Sideswipe the shoulder cannons and the twin guns is definitely cool. I dig this look a lot. There are a whole lot of other things you can do with the parts, a lot of which are pretty goofy looking. Let’s get freaky…

As an adult collector, I can’t really get behind too many of these, but if I were a kid, I would have been all over this shit. It’s just fun taking parts and mixing them up and seeing what you can come up with and the play value here is really through the roof. Especially if you start tossing in the little Battle Masters, the effect parts, and a child’s imagination. After all, when I was a kid playing with stuff like this, I was more concerned with having fun, than building things that made sense or looked aesthetically pleasing.

I will say, some of the stuff works great on Optimus Prime as well.

When I find myself saying that this is my least favorite Deluxe in the first wave, that’s really a testament to how great this assortment is. Because Cog is a pretty damn fine figure. He’s got a great looking robot mode, some fairly decent alt modes, and a Weaponizer mode that may not really be my cup of tea, but introduces an undeniably clever new play pattern to the world of Transformers. With all that going on, I’m surprised this guy turned out so good. And after spending some time with him, I’m officially excited to get my hands on Sixgun from the second wave. Plus, it feels great to finally have a Cog to go with my Fortress Maximus.

Marvel Legends: Mystique by Hasbro

While scheduling the rest of my weeks’ normal content continues to be hit or miss, I have more or less managed to get back on track for Marvel Mondays. This is the one day of the week that I’m trying to preserve at all costs because my Legends backlog is so damn big. And today I have a little more time to invest than the previous two weeks, so I’ve decided to once again throw randomness to the wind and open up Mystique for a little action figure therapy.

The package doesn’t call it out, but Mystique is a Walgreens Exclusive, so she isn’t part of a regular wave and there’s no Build-A-Figure part. Hasbro does manage to make up for that by bundling some extra cool stuff into the box. Also, this is the new style of packaging, which doesn’t look any different, but features the window as a cover to the tray rather than as part of the box. I haven’t had a lot of trouble finding previous Walgreens Exclusives on the shelves, but Mystique turned out to be an exception. I hit a couple local stores before giving up and grabbing her through a third-party retailer. Luckily it only cost me a few dollars more. I had a hunch she’d be worth it, and I was right.

And here she is in what I would certainly consider her most iconic outfit, with her white dress, boots, and gloves, and her skull belt. We last saw Mystique way back in the third wave of modern Legends with her black outfit. I was really fond of that figure at the time, but I don’t think it has aged well, making this one all the more welcome. I do actually have a few minor gripes about this new one, but I’ll get to those in a second. Also, how is it that Hasbro hasn’t started selling figure stands with a connector that will plug into these back holes? With figures like Mystique here, it would make the otherwise useless hole serve a purpose. Anyway…

Most of the costume is achieved with paint, including the boots, gloves, and top of the dress. Original sculpting comes into play with the skull belt, and the front and back of her dress, which hangs down between her legs, and is sculpted as part of the belt. It looks good, and while it can ride up a bit with certain poses, I think it’s pretty convincing at creating the illusion of being all part of the same dress. The white parts of the outfit are nice and bright and they contrast beautifully with her deep blue skin. On the downside there are some sloppy lines, particularly around the tops of the boots. There are also some rough edges around the lower back of her dress and some other parts of the figure. It almost looks like something that was 3D printed and not properly sanded down.

Hasbro rarely disappoints when it comes to their Legends portraits, and Mystique here keeps that trend rolling along nicely. It’s impossible to overstate what an improvement this one is over the Wave 3 head sculpt. Here she sports some wonderfully defined contours to her cheeks and chin, and wears a rather wicked looking smile, which just oozes personality. Her narrow yellow eyes are punctuated by the sharp eyebrows, and her face is framed by the short sculpted hair. The portrait is topped off with a tiny silver skull set in the middle of her hairline. There are two extra heads in the package, but I’ll circle back to those at the end.

Mystique comes with two guns, which aren’t as impressive as the previous figure’s arsenal. And that’s the only time you’ll hear me praise anything about that figure over this one. The first is a gold Luger-like pistol that we’ve seen bundled with figures over and over (and over!) again. It’s also a slightly smaller version of the same pistol design that came with the Wave 3 Mystique. Truth be told, I don’t really mind this gun and I actually dig the design and sculpted detail quite a bit. But because it’s so distinctive, it’s all the more conspicuous when it keeps turning up with different figures. At least I think it’s pretty well suited for Mystique. Also, both her hands are sculpted with trigger fingers to wield it.

Next up, is this monstrosity! It looks like someone blended together elements of a sniper rifle, pump-action shotgun, and a drum-fed machine gun. In other words, it’s bat-shit crazy, but I also kind of like it. I do, however, wish that it wasn’t sculpted in gold plastic. The gold works OK for the pistol, but it just looks too garish for my tastes on this bigger weapon. On the plus side, the drum magazine is detachable and that’s pretty cool. But I’m still probably going to give Wave 3 Mystique’s weapons to this new version.

Mystique’s articulation is exactly what I’ve come to expect from my Legends Ladies. The legs feature ball joints in the hips, double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. There’s a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. As always, I lament Hasbro’s reluctance to put bicep swivels and double hinges in the arms of their femme figures, but even as she is, Mystique is a hell of a lot of fun to play around with.

Swinging back around to those extra heads, the first is Mystique in the middle of transforming into Rogue, and oh boy was this a great choice. It seems to be more or less the same sculpt as the portrait that came with the Rogue figure from the Juggernaut Wave. Besides the partially blue face, the other big paint difference is in the hair.

The other head is that of Majestrix of the Shi’ar Empire, Lilandra Neramani, and this one is a bit more of a poser. I’m going to go ahead and assume that it’s also supposed to be Mystique, but unlike the Rogue head, it’s not depicted in mid transformation, so it looks out of place on Mystique’s body. Collectors seem to be content to re-purpose the recent Silver Sable body for this purpose, and I have to admit it works OK.

If you twisted my arm and made me say something bad about this figure, I guess I’d cry foul at Hasbro giving such an important release to Walgreens as an exclusive. No, these aren’t usually hard to find, but c’mon, this is Mystique! In my book, Iconic versions of A-Listers shouldn’t be exclusives and it’s hard for me to reason against putting her into one of the regular X-Men waves. With that having been said, she is available at a number of online retailers for just a bit over regular retail, so I guess no harm, no foul. Either way, she’s an excellent figure with just a few minor quality control hiccups keeping her from being perfect.

My Dad…

This morning my Dad passed away after three weeks in Hospice care. He had terminal cancer and did not want to endure the kind of invasive procedures required to extend his battle. He endured a lot during his last few weeks, but ultimately died peacefully in his sleep.

His name was John and he was born in NY, but lived most of his life in NJ. He married his High School sweetheart, Beverly, and had two sons. He was an electrical engineer by trade. In 1971, he was drafted into the Army and did a tour of duty in Vietnam. He eventually started his own business and retired to Florida.

My Dad loved math and problem solving. He loved science and puzzles. He was the most organized man I ever knew. He loved tinkering in his workshop with everything from electronics to wood. He liked playing video games from time to time. His favorites were Duke Nukem and Silent Service. He also loved reading World War II history and studying submarines. He was a talented photographer and a master of Photoshop. But most of all, he loved his family and he gave us everything he had and somehow always managed to find more to give.

I think the best way to characterize my Dad could be found in his final weeks. He was in the hospital, in rough shape and in a lot of pain. He knew he was facing a no-win situation. And yet every nurse that cared for him made a point of saying what a wonderful man he was. He was kind and polite and did not complain, even when he was at his lowest.

Dad, you were the best father that anyone could have ever asked for and more then that, you were my best friend. I will love you forever and I will never forget you. I feel like I will have a hole in my heart for the rest of my life. I cannot imagine a single day will ever go by that I don’t think about you, and all you did for me, and what a wonderful man you were.

By figurefanzero

One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Perhona (Code: B) by Banpresto

In case you missed it, I’m a little bit smitten with Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship series of roughly 9-inch scale One Piece ladies. I came for the first releases of Nami and Boa Hancock and stayed for the rest. And since it’s been so very long since I last did an Anime Saturday feature, and because I have so many of these piling up, let’s open up a new figure in this series. Yeah, I know it’s Wednesday, but things are so discombobulated on my end, who cares anymore? Oh, hey… it’s Perhona! The Ghost Princess!

As always, these figures come in fully enclosed boxes with some lovely shots of the figure inside and the CRANEKING logo. The package is fairly bi-lingual in that it bears the line’s mission statement in English on two of the panels. Perhona comes wrapped in plastic and requiring a little simple assembly before she’s ready for display.

And here she is, standing with a wide stance, her left hip thrust to the side, her left hand tucked behind her and her right hand tugging on her top. She’s sporting one of the more interesting outfits in this series, and that’s really saying something! Starting at the bottom, Perhona’s showing off a pair of glossy black high-heeled boots, with the toes pointed slightly inward. The boots end just above her ankles giving way to what I can only describe as some kind of kinky latex stockings laced up the side, with pink stockings peeking out the tops and secured with sculpted garter belts. Wow! The platforms on her heels are gray and she’s got a red ribbon tied around her right ankle.

As we go higher, she’s sporting a super-short black mini-skirt with a wide pink padded strip running around the top and a brown ammo belt fanning some cartridges just below her exposed mid-riff. Up top, she has a cropped sailor uniform blouse, gray with a red collar and a big black bow up front. The ensemble is punctuated by a pair of long, glossy black fingerless gloves, with exposed elbows. The result of this costume is a peculiar mix of cutesy fun, dark sailor scout, and BDSM Dominatrix.

Oh yeah, Perhona also sports a rather unique looking flintlock rifle, slung over her right shoulder. I really love what they did with this piece. The stock feature a sculpted wood-grain pattern with the barrel and fixtures painted gold. There’s even a beautiful scroll-work motif sculpted into the panels on the sides.

And that brings us to the portrait, and this is where I have to confess that Perhona’s eyes creep the hell out of me. Those giant perfectly round pools of inky black look like they were made to suck the souls right out of people. What’s even more disturbing is the contrast between those eyes and her large coif of bright pink hair. It flows down her back in giant locks and spills down each side of her face in braided pigtails with black bows on the ends. Finally, a black and gray cap is crookedly perched on here head.

It’s worth noting that the coloring and paintwork on this figure are quite good. From the mix of dark glossy black to matte black to the warm skin tones and the cotton candy pink of her hair, there are a lot of contrasts here and it certainly makes for a very unique looking figure. She even has her little pink bat tatt on her left shoulder.

I didn’t set out to collect this line. I originally just wanted Nami and Boa Hancock. Then I decided I would just cherry-pick the ones that I really liked, but so far that’s been all of them. Perhona is a great example of that because her character doesn’t do a lot for me, and I already mentioned that her eyes creep me the hell out. But I still dig this figure a lot and I’m mighty glad I added her to the lineup. And at about $25 a pop, this line still feels like it offers a decent value for the money.

Marvel Legends (Lizard Wave): Prowler by Hasbro

I didn’t think I’d make it today, but I’ve been squirreling away a little time here and there and chipping away at another Marvel Monday review. This one is going to be another quickie, but at least I’m trying to get back on the horse, right? And because today has to be quick-and-easy, I’m not doing the usual random grab into my Marvel Legends Backlog of Shame®. Instead, I’m picking a figure that I don’t have a hell of a lot to say about. And that lands us back in the Lizard Wave with Prowler.

It feels like I started reviewing this wave a lifetime ago, but I’m over the hump and there are just a few figures left before I can build my Lizard. And how about that Prowler, eh? Honestly, I got nothing. It doesn’t often happen where I find myself without any affinity toward a character at all, but I’m hard pressed to remember more than a few times that I ran across Prowler in my funnybook readings. And that’s crazy because he and Spidey go way back. I’m not doubting his pedigree, I just don’t have many feelings for him one way or the other. I’m guessing this is Hobie Brown’s Prowler as the costume is pretty classic.

Though classic it may be, this isn’t a costume that really grabs me, but that’s not to say that Hasbro didn’t do a decent job executing it. The costume is achieved mostly through a green buck with purple paint for the boots and gloves and yellow-green paint for the chest emblem. Original sculpting includes the gas cartridge bracers he wears on his wrists and ankles, as well as a simple waist belt. The ankle bracers are supposed to stay in place with friction, but they mainly wind up loose around his ankles.

The other big piece of original sculpting is the cape, which is rolled up to form a ring around his neck before cascading down his shoulders. It looks good, but it does weigh down the figure a bit. Lately I’m on a real rage against plastic capes on 6-inch scale figures.

The head sculpt is easily my favorite thing about this figure. The purple and black mask looks pretty damn cool with the narrow, deep set, pupil-less eyes and the subtle wrinkles that show the contours of his face beneath the mask. I get a major Spawn vibe off Prowler and that ain’t a bad thing at all.

A quick rundown on the articulation holds no surprises. Prowler’s arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, with swivels in the biceps and double hinges in the elbows. The legs have ball joints in the hips, double hinges in the knees, and swivels in at the thighs and the tops of the boots. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a waist swivel and an ab-crunch, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

Remember my motto, Legends is all about the Universe building! Does it matter that I don’t have a lot of love or even much familiarity with Prowler? Hell no. Am I happy to get another Spidey villain on my Legends shelves? Hell yeah! And who knows? Now that I have his figure on my shelf, maybe I’ll hunt through some of my back issues and look him up again.

Grimm Fairy Tales: Sela Mathers (Snow White) Bishoujo Statue by Zenescope

Does anybody love Zenescope more than I do? I dunno, maybe. But the fact is that I love them a whole lot. When Marvel’s comics started seriously disappointing me, I started spreading my comic monies around to some of the indies and Zenescope took a lot of it. The only problem? Zenescope doesn’t have a lot of support in the way of merchandizing and that’s especially the case when it comes to statues and action figures. Well, obviously Zenescope saw the problem and answered it by Kickstarting a Bishoujo-style statue of their former leading lady, Sela Mathers as Snow White. If you’ve seen some of my Kotobukiya reviews, than you probably know what a Bishoujo Statue is. And it’s clear that Zenescope’s Kickstarter set out to imitate Koto’s Bishoujo formula as much as possible. So, how’d they do? Let’s find out…

Well, for starters I really dig the packaging! Sela comes in a colorful window box, and while it lacks the side and top windows that Koto employs on its boxes, this set up still looks nice. The statue itself is held between two clear plastic trays and you can get a pretty good look at her while she’s still boxed. And because everything is collector friendly, you can feel free to display her in or out of the box. As far as set up is concerned, Sela comes already mounted on the base, so all you have to do is put her sword in her hand and her glasses on her nose. Yeah, don’t forget the glasses. Mine were rattling around in the bottom of the tray after I opened her, and they’re probably pretty easy to lose when removing the statue for the first time. They do, however, slide into place pretty easily and stay on fairly well.

And here she is! I think the composition here is really close to perfect. It’s not only iconic for the character, but it succeeds in creating an image ripped from a cover page of the prolific comic. Sela assumes a wide stance with her left hip tossed to the side, her famous book of Grimm Fairy Tales clutched in her left arm and her right arm holding her sword behind her. If I were to nitpick anything here it would be that the book be positioned just a little lower so that it wasn’t obscuring the lower half of her face from certain angles. And that is indeed just a nitpick. Truth be told, I think they did a fantastic job designing this piece.

Equally impressive is the sculpting that not only defines Sela’s lovely form, but recreates her costume as Snow White. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing terribly intricate on display here, but what’s here does a fine job. The high heeled boots include sculpted laces running up the fronts, as well as some creasing here and there. The edges of her stockings are sculpted around her thighs, her short shorts feature some simple stitch lines as well as lacing on both hips of her shorts, the half-top has a sculpted, decorative border running around the top and the whole costume is rounded out by the bracers on her biceps and forearms. As for the coloring, it’s pretty solid, but some of the paintwork could have been sharper. The white paint on the all the lacing is fine, but there’s a little bit of slop along the gold border of her top. I’ll also note here that the skin tone has a bit of a waxy finish to it, which just just happens to be one of my pet peeves when it comes to PVC statues. It’s often one of those things that tends to separate more quality pieces from knock-offs. Does it bother me here? Yeah it kind of does. Is it enough to ruin the statue? Certainly not.

The portrait is every bit as good as the rest of the sculpting. It’s definitely Sela only filtered through the Bishoujo style. It works really well for the character and I think the likeness is close enough that even Grimm fans who aren’t into the Bishoujo aesthetic could overlook it and still enjoy this figure. The paintwork for the eyes and lips are both sharp and the glasses look great, even without any plastic for the lenses. The hair sculpt is extremely ambitious and for the most part I think it succeeds. However, it does break down a bit under close scrutiny, as some of the edges aren’t as sharp as they could have been and there’s a bit of what I presume is mold flashing here and there.

As mentioned, in her right hand, Sela holds her sword, Lysraseri, forged from four of the most powerful swords in all the Realms of Power. And this is indeed a beautiful recreation of the sword from the gold and silver finish, right down to the four gems in the hilt, representing the powers of Excalibur, Chrysaor, Mistilteinn, and Kusanagi. It also fits perfectly in her hand.

The book is also very well done. It has some gold decorations printed on the front as well as the title on both the front cover and the spine, with a bookmark peeking out the bottom of the pages. Unlike the sword, the book is permanently attached to the figure’s hand.

And our final stop on this figure is the base, which is a simple black disc. It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d expect to see on a Prize Figure, and even some of Koto’s own Bishoujo’s have gone with this utilitarian look. It’s functional, it works fine, and it doesn’t detract from the figure. There were also a number of bonuses added to the Kickstarter as Stretch Goals. As I recall, some were included free while others were Add On purchases. Here are some of the goodies that I got with her…

The coolest item was the Kickstarter Exclusive comic featuring the concept art on the cover. She also came with the same comic with a Sketch Cover, which I didn’t photograph because, well… it’s just a blank Sketch Cover.

The other bonuses included a Collector’s Pin with the same artwork on it, two metal Collector Cards, and a sticker.

The Buy In to get the Statue as part of the Kickstarter was $70 if you got in on the Early Bird pricing, which is right about average for a Kotobukiya Bishoujo figure, or at least it was until recently when those prices started jumping up. Is the quality here the same as on a Koto figure? Nope, not even close. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad figure. Indeed, for a first try, I think Sela turned out pretty well and while there were some production pictures during the course of the Kickstarter that made me a little worried, I’m quite pleased with the final product. Maybe I’m being a little extra forgiving because Zenescope figures are such rare occurrences, but what I do know is that if the teaser on the back of the box is true, I’ll be the first in line to pledge for a Robyn Hood Bishoujo.

Marvel Legends (Apocalypse Wave): Gladiator by Hasbro

Things are still pretty terrible with me and my family, but today I had a some time to myself and I decided I needed to treat myself to a little fun and since it’s Marvel Monday here I am for a quickie review. This will probably be the only one I get to this week, so thanks for bearing with me. Eventually I’ll get back on track…

Back in 2014, Hasbro released their Thanos Imperative set, an SDCC Exclusive which offered Legends scale versions of Black Bolt, Star Lord, Medusa, Blastaar, and of course Gladiator. I seem to recall it being pretty damn popular back then and the demand was great enough that I wasn’t able to get my hands on it. And now it sells for all the monies, so that was just one of those things I had to let go. Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story for some of those figures…

Because Hasbro has been pretty good about eventually getting these kinds of convention exclusive figures out to regular retail, and this boxed retail release of Gladiator as part of the Apocalypse Wave, leaves Blastaar as the only figure in the set that hasn’t been re-released one way or another. As is often the case, there are some changes in the paint, but since I don’t have the previous release, I’ll have to leave it up to you to hunt down some comparison shots. For now, let’s get him opened and check him out…

I don’t share a huge affinity for the character (other than the fact that he did once punch the USS Enterprise), but I do absolutely adore his design. Aesthetically, Gladiator is the epitome of everything I love about classic comic design, and this figure pulls it off pretty well, although I do have some notable nitpicks. The costume itself (minus the cape) is achieved entirely with paintwork and the mix bright red, dark blue, and yellow all conspire to make for an attractive deco. I can’t fault the lack of original sculpting, as the costume doesn’t really need it, but I will say the lines between the red and blue on my figure are really sloppy. It’s most noticeable on the thighs and chest, but really none of those lines are anywhere near as sharp as they could be. By contrast, the chest emblem and the belt are both remarkably crisp.

The cape looks great and includes the high collar and a sculpted tether that goes across the neck and connects with two large medallions. The yellow border shares some of the same rough paint lines as on the figure itself. And while the cape looks good in passive poses, it’s a little cumbersome when playing around with the figure. Part of this is because it’s pretty heavy, and part is because they chose to curl the left corner forward so that it could wrap around the leg. It’s times like this that I wish Hasbro would start experimenting with cloth capes and wires, because this is definitely a figure which could have benefited from it.

While I have nitpicks with the figure itself, the head sculpt is spot on. The details in the face are sharp and his determined expression is perfect. The sculpted hairline accentuates his pointed ears, and the plunging, dominant brow drives home the point that this is not someone you want to mess with unless you’re further up the Cosmic Marvel food chain. They also did a nice job with his magnificent mohawk.

The articulation is exactly what I expect from one of these beefier figures. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, the elbows are double hinged, and there are swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, the knees are double hinged, and there are swivels in both the thighs and lower legs. The ankles have hinges and lateral rockers, there’s a swivel in the waist, and an ab crunch hinge in the torso. Finally, the neck is both hinged and ball jointed, and it offers a nice range of motion so that he can look up for those flying poses.

And that’s all I got for today’s admittedly abbreviated review. Overall, Gladiator is another solid addition to my Legends shelves. Sure, I wish the paint was sharper in some areas, but the rough lines aren’t enough to ruin the figure for me. Yeah, he’s also a case where I’m really beginning to question whether or not Hasbro should be investing in some softgood capes, but I think that has the potential to go sideways, so maybe I should be careful what I wish for. And now that we have Gladiator in the Legends line, maybe it will break the logjam so we can get some more Shi’ar characters. Come on, Hasbro, Daddy wants a Marvel Legends Deathbird!

Hiatus…

Hey guys,

The long and short of today’s post is that I have to take a little time off. I don’t know how long, but right now I’m betting it will be at least a week. I hope it won’t be more. If you aren’t interested in the details, just know that it’s family stuff and please check back for new content soon. If you are interested in what’s going on, here it is…

The last month has been a challenge that keeps getting harder and harder. A couple months back my Dad was diagnosed with an aggressive and fast moving cancer in his hip. It quickly robbed him of his ability to walk. He took his first round of chemo last week and unfortunately, it tanked his white blood cell count putting him in the hospital this past Tuesday. He was running crazy high fevers and was in a really bad way. That night I spent nearly two hours holding his hand while he slipped in and out of a delusional state. It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life, because I love him so much. For the next few days he slipped in and out of high fevers as they isolated his infection and began treating him for it. Tonight he should be stable enough to move out of the ICU. But that just begins the real journey.

A week ago, when he finished his first round of chemo, he was optimistic and full of cheer. He had no noticeable side effects, and he was sure this was going to work. Now, his treatment has been side-lined. He’s lost at least a week of progress, and his pain just gets worse and worse. He can’t even turn over in his bed without serious pain. He has a long hard road ahead.

Now add to this mix the fact that my mother has dementia. She can still do things around the house. But she is continuing to lose her short term memory. She gets confused more easily and is getting to the point where she can’t be left home alone for very long. I have been juggling both of their care with work and it has felt like an impossible situation. Right now, I get up at 7am. Make my Mom lunch and drive over to her house. I make her coffee and breakfast and we head off to the hospital. She stays with my Dad while I go to work. After work, I drive back up to the hospital. Spend a little time with my Dad and then drive her back home. I get everything set up for her so she can watch TV for an hour or so before going to bed. I come home, chill a bit. Crash into bed and then start it all over again.

There are probably a hundred words that can describe how I feel right now. Some of the ones that come to mind are: Heart-broken, frustrated, exhausted, devastated, hopeless, and defeated. My only hope is to get my Dad home from the hospital and comfortable so that I can get some in-house care for them both.

Needless to say, this doesn’t leave me any time for this blog. And while that seems like a trivial thing when dealing with all of this, the truth is that this blog is therapy for me. It’s my lifeline when I’m drowning, and now I don’t even have that.

Right now, I’m just setting FFZ aside for this week. I’m not even going to try to do anything with it. Hell, I barely had time to type this. I hope to get something up maybe by the week of the 17th. Maybe sooner, maybe later.

Thanks,

Dave

By figurefanzero Tagged