Marvel Legends (Sauron Wave): Sauron Build-A-Figure by Hasbro

Not much content last week, but if you knew what an achievement it was for me to find the time just to do this belated Marvel Monday on Wednesday, you’d forgive me. And who knows, maybe I can squeeze in a second review in this weekend, but I don’t want to make any crazy promises. Last time I opened Omega Red, the last figure in the Sauron Wave, and that means it’s time to cobble another Build-A-Figure together. I’ve been looking forward to completing Sauron for a while now, so let’s check him out…

When it comes to fun and crazy characters, Sauron ranks pretty high up there for me. Then again I’m usually biased toward anything related to The Savage Land. And appropriately enough, Sauron is a little different than your average BAF. He still requires the usual six pieces, four of which consist of the arms and legs, but the head is already attached to the torso and that sixth piece is his tail. And technically, the arms each consist of two pieces, as part of the wings are on detachable hinges to allow them to collapse. Hasbro could have easily milked this BAF for two more figures and packaged those wings separately. But despite the little change-up, this Build-A-Figure is still pretty easy to put together. And the results are indeed one of the most unique and interesting BAFs that we’ve had in a while.

Oh yeah, I’m in love! You know all those figures we get with just a bit of new sculpting and mostly painted costumes? Well, those are what allow for figures like this one. Sauron features a ton of new sculpting and unique parts, and is as much a love letter to collectors as we’re likely to see. The body is covered with sculpted scales, bumps, and all around great texturing. They even did a nice job sculpting the sinews and muscles in the arms and legs. There’s hardly any area on this figure that doesn’t feature some kind of detail. Even the primitive belt and pouches look great. And while the arms and legs mostly feature a chalky green skin tone, the chest is spruced up with some yellow highlights. The tail is cast in a soft plastic, so there’s some room for bending there, and it also helps to form a support as Sauron’s wings can make him a little back heavy with some poses. And hey… how about them wings?

Each wing is made of three pieces, which are designed to collapse inward and spread outward, based on Sauron’s arm movements. These work really well, and are a huge improvement over wings we’ve seen on some past Marvel figures, especially in the smaller 4-inch scale. I’m looking at you, Vulture and Falcon! And like the body, these wing pieces are positively covered with textured detail. The membranes show filaments crossing and crisscrossing each other, and there are even little places here and there where the membrane has worn through. The coloring is also fantastic, with the same green used for the body near the skeletal frame, and the membrane itself transitioning to yellow.

The portrait is also superb. You get more of the same scaly and bumpy skin texture, a pair of beady red eyes, and some nice color gradation as the skin tone goes from green in the back to a sort of yellow-ochre toward the tip of the beak. But the real show here comes when you open the articulated jaws and have a look inside that mouth. The individually sculpted and painted teeth frame a lumpy red tongue, which has a little curl at the end. Even among the admittedly small sampling of Pterodactyl Men action figures, Sauron here is oozing personality.

Normally the rundown of articulation on these Marvel Legends bores me to tears. It’s always serviceable, but almost always the same. Here we get some differences thanks to the unique nature of the character. The legs remain pretty much true to form, with double hinges in the knees, hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, and swivels up near the hips where the legs connect. The torso features a ball joint just above the waist and under the abs. The head mounts on a neck stalk with a ball joint and the stalk being able to slide forward and back in a slot. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and wrists, with swivels in the biceps as usual, but only single hinges in the elbows. Finally, the larger wing pieces are pegged in so they can swivel.

No doubt about it, Sauron is one of the most unique BAFs we’ve had in a while, and definitely a prime example of a figure that could never have been executed as a pack-in, thereby making great use of the Build-A-Figure format. Hasbro went all out on this guy, and I have to imagine that even collectors who aren’t familiar with the character, will have to concede that this is one absolutely gorgeous figure.

Advertisements

Marvel Legends (Sauron Wave): Omega Red by Hasbro

Hey, look! I showed up this week! I hope you weren’t waiting long. I’ve decided that if I can only manage one review a week this month (but I am aiming for better!), I’m going to keep the Marvel Legends love going, because that’s the one line where I’m backlogged the most. Although, with everything else piling up these past few weeks, everything is backlogged. So, no random grab this week, instead I’m going straight for the last figure I have to open in the Sauron Wave… Omega Red!

This bastard last graced FFZ back in 2014 when I reviewed the excellent 4-inch Marvel Universe version. It was a great figure, but even back in 2014 it seemed like Universe was getting steamrolled by Legends Now, that line is mostly just a memory that I keep in a box deep down in the bottom of the Toy Closet. Meanwhile, 6-inch Legends has become the dominant scale for true universe building. What a crazy, wonderful time it is to collect Marvel figures! Well, let’s open this asshole up and see if this bigger version is just as good.

Just as good? I’d say even better. Not to rag on the little guy, but I was in love with this figure the moment I got him out of the box. Or probably even before. To be fair, a lot of that comes from the character design, which I’ve always adored. This is every bit of that crazy, colorful, and bigger than life 90’s X-Men crack that I wish I could just inject right into my veins. And oh boy does it work beautifully as an action figure! OK, let’s give Hasbro the credit for executing it so brilliantly. Arkady is built on an appropriately beefy buck, which is a huge improvement over Red’s last Legends appearance. The bulk of the figure is cast in a snappy red plastic, with chalky white on the arms. New sculpting includes the massive knee and shoulder pads, harness, and the gauntlets which house his Carbonadium tendrils. I’ll circle back to those in just a bit. All in all, the costume here is just a nice mix of simple buck enhanced with add-on parts. I particularly dig the texturing in the shoulder armor and chest straps, as well as the painted bands on the canisters. The lick of silver paint on the gauntlets and kneepads looks great, as do the Omega symbols on the backs of his hands.

Hasbro continues to churn out some amazing portraits in Legends, and I tend to think the villains are among the best of the best. And here, Omega Red looks every bit the glorious monster that he is. He sports a frightfully wicked visage with his unsettling grimace and his face twisted into a snarl of rage. His blonde hair cascades down each side of his head and is partly kept in check with his red headband embossed with the Omega symbol. The rest of his coif is divided between spilling down his back and pluming out in a curiously placed ponytail. Arkady has always struck me as one of the more terrifying X-Men villains and this portrait lives up to my fears and expectations.

Omega Red’s tendrils allow for three display options. You can remove them entirely for a completely retracted look. You can put in the short ones, or you can go full-on Carbonadium mayhem with the really long ones. Both sets simply plug into the holes in the gauntlets, and you can use either one for either arm for extra display options.  Obviously, the longer tendrils are the most fun. They are cast in an extremely bendy plastic, which makes it easy to wrap them around other figures so Red can leach their energy.

And articulation adds to the fun too, because Omega Red features all those great points of poseability that I’ve come to expect in my Legends action figures. The legs have 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 and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. You get a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the chest, and the neck is both ball jointed and hinged.

The only reason I can’t come away saying Omega Red is the hands-down best figure in this wave is because Bishop was in here too. And between the two of them, they make up for Hasbro’s rather dubious idea of cramming two novelty Deadpool variants into one assortment. If I were really pressed to pick a favorite, I would probably have to give the nod to Bishop, but there’s no shame in that for Omega Red, because it is really close, and both of them are absolutely fantastic figures. Now, normally I like to do a double feature when I get to the end of a wave and knock off the Build-A-Figure too, but it was a struggle for time just to get this one done, so right now I’m going to pencil the Sauron BAF in for next week. Because, if I get time to squeeze in another review this week, it’ll be something non-Marvel. Otherwise, I’ll see you back here next Monday. Fingers crossed.

Marvel Legends (Sauron Wave) Deadpools by Hasbro

Real life continues to be a nightmare of a challenge for me and it definitely didn’t leave any time to write content for FFZ. This week I’ll be back to a light schedule, beyond that we’ll see how things go. Hopefully in a month or so, I can come back in full force. Obviously, I missed Marvel Monday, but with so many Legends left to open, I decided to just bump it to today. And since I technically missed two Marvel Mondays, let’s do two figures today. Time to check out some Deadpools!

One novelty Deadpool variant is fun, but packing two of them into one wave is a little much. And that’s coming from an unabashed Deadpool fan. I can only imagine how salty the non-fans are for having to buy these figures to complete their Sauron BAF. And surprisingly, neither of these saw the huge price drop at online retailers that I anticipated. On the flipside, these have been clogging the pegs in my local toy aisles for a while now. I guess we’ll start with Underpants Pool.

No-Pants-Pool lives up to his name as he’s fully-suited topside, but lacking a pair of trousers down yonder. I have to hand it to Hasbro, they really committed to this idea with a lot of new sculpting. It’s hard to believe we’ll see these legs turn up anywhere else, and as a couple of one-off parts, that makes it even more impressive. The arms and torso, we’ve seen before, but they are enhanced by the white boxer shorts with adorable pink hearts. We’ve seen the belt before, and that’s fine, as it’s a good sculpt and has the ‘Pool Logo painted onto the buckle. I have one gripe with the belt, but I’ll swing back to that in a bit. His nasty bare legs represent a medley of exposed muscles and sores. He’s got one nasty, sagging grey sock on his right foot and a pair of pink slippers on his tootsies.

One of the highlights of this figure is the new head, which has the mask drawn up over the nose to expose his shit-eating grin. Even if you don’t have a lot of use for this figure, it’s a nice consolation to get that head for one of the other ‘Pools in your collection. As always, the sculpt here is excellent, including wrinkles and stitch lines on the mask and a lot of detail in the skin and teeth. Very nice!

No-Pants-Pool comes with a pair of guns, a pistol and rifle, and these are the same sci-fi designs that we saw issued to Domino and Silver Sable. I like these a lot, and I’m happy to get them in black plastic. On the downside, the pistol isn’t compatible with the holster on the belt, so I would have rather just had a standard automatic pistol with this figure. Oh well, no big deal.

The articulation here is standard stuff. The legs feature ball jointed hips, double hinges in the knees, swivels up under the shorts, and both hinges rockers in the ankles. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinges in the elbows. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. Let’s move on to X-Pool.

Like any person, Deadpool craves inclusion, hence this self-made “X-MEN” costume. It sports the yellow spandex of the real X-Men outfits with some black with red trim. I dig the concept of this figure a lot more than the previous figure, but since this one is more or less a kit-bashed repaint, it isn’t nearly as impressive to me and I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it.

We’ve seen this buck before. If I’m not mistaken it’s mostly a reuse of the 90’s Deadpool right down to them shoulder crunches. The belt, sword rig, and swords are also recycled, this time from the recent X-Force Deadpool. There are extra bands on his wrists to make his hands look more like gauntlets, as well as similar rings around his legs to simulate the tops of his boots. All four of these pieces are held on by friction, so they are sometimes apt to slide around when playing with the figure.

X-Pool also comes with a rifle, and this too is recycled. We’ve even seen it included with Deadpool before. It’s a weird sci-fi design cast in soft rubbery black plastic, and definitely not one of my favorite weapons in the Legends arsenal.

Finally, you also get the head of Madcap, Deadpool’s sometime rival. It’s an amazing sculpt and includes a removable wide-brimmed purple hat. The inclusion makes for a great pose in the package, and I suppose you could always pop it on this figure as, what? Madcap impersonating Deadpool again? I don’t know. Hasbro seems to have adopted a weird pension for including heads with figures instead of releasing them with the actual figure.

When it comes down to it, I dig these figures, and I didn’t mind having to buy them to complete Sauron. I’m sure there are plenty of collectors out there who will feel otherwise, but I guess them’s the breaks when you’re collecting BAF parts. X-Pool definitely feels like the cheap cash-grab of the wave, but he’s still cool. As for No-Pants-Pool, well, it still amazes me how much work Hasbro put into him. I’m kind of hoping that Hasbro is all ‘Pooled out for a while, although I still have to pick up that one with the scooter and Dogpool. Oh yeah, today’s reviews also puts me only one figure away from completing Sauron, so if I get a chance to do any reviews next week, I’ll likely throw randomness to the wind and open up Omega Red so I can finish it up.

Just Dropping In…

There is nothing I wanted more than to drop in today with a Marvel Monday review, but life keeps getting in the way and there was simply no time this past week for me to prepare any content. It sucks, especially since this is my best source of therapy and I’m really missing it. It doesn’t help that my backlog of Marvel Legends is going from out of hand to just plain ridiculous.

And it’s not just Marvel Legends. I have NECA figures, Transformers, Hasbro’s new Overwatch Ultimates, Prize Figures and some Sixth Scale stuff all piling up just waiting to be opened and explored. My Toy Closet is back to the point where I can’t even walk into it anymore. And my den is surrounded by stacks of comics waiting to be matriculated into long boxes. I’d say it’s been all work and no play, but I did manage to eek out the time to see Avengers: Endgame, which was like a tiny miracle in itself. And I say that not just because the movie was great, but because I actually found the means and occasion to see it.

Anywho, my goal is to try to get a couple of reviews up this week, one of which will be the Marvel Legends review that would have gone up today if I had had the time to finish it. And by finish it, I mean actually open a figure, write the review, photograph it, do the editing and post it. I’ll try to get one up on Wednesday and another on Friday, but with my life the way it is, I can’t make any promises.

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!

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.