DC Icons: (#21) Deathstroke by DC Collectibles

Collecting the Icons series has been quite the roller-coaster ride. The line swelled pretty quickly and with a slew of releases planned for this Summer, it only seemed to be gaining more and more steam. I was sure we were looking at the next DC Universe Classics. And then DC Collectibles began the cancellations and it seemed as if the writing was on the wall. Right now, we’re getting mixed signals, with some figures still shipping, but I think it’s safe to say this line is on its way out. DCC blames poor retailer support. Either way, I’m not going to let my support for the line falter. Today I’m checking out Figure #21: Deathstroke!

The packaging remains unchanged from the last Icons figures I looked at, and it’s actually very similar to DCC’s Designer Series as well. Hey, why not go with what works! You get a nice clean design with a large wrap-around window to show off the goods. The left panel includes the name of the figure, the number in the series, and the comic that he was pulled from, in this case, The Judas Contract, a real classic, and the subject of a recent DC Animated film. Very good choice! Let’s open up this box and check out Slade Wilson!

As far as costumes go, Deathstroke is about as iconic as they get. I wouldn’t think that orange and metallic blue would go so well together, but I guess it works for The Hobgoblin too. Here we have Deathstroke in all his classic comic book glory. He features some ridiculously exaggerated buccaneer boots and gauntlets, and sculpted scale armor on his legs, arms, and lower chest. The upper chest and shoulders are matte black, which leads into his mask. The use of all original sculpting is a big part of what makes this line shine, and there’s plenty of that on display with this figure. I particularly love all the detail in his belt, right down to the pouches and grenades. He also features a belt of ammunition slung across his chest.

From the back, we can get a good look at Slade’s sword and scabbard. The scabbard pegs into his back and stays on firmly. It’s orange, to match the costume, and it features gold painted fixtures. And a closeup of the holster shows that his revolver fits into it… well sort of. I wish they had put a hole in the bottom to pass the barrel through. As it is, it rides kind of high. That’s probably convenient for those quick draw situations, but not so beneficial when it falls out unexpectedly.

I’ve already mentioned the coloring on this figure, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t praise both the quality and application of the paint. The metallic blue used for the scale armor is just so damn gorgeous and it contrasts so nicely with the matte orange. You also get some yellow applications on the trim of the gauntlets and various places on the belt. The ammo strap has more of that lovely blue, with each cartridge painted gold on the front and back, and some more gold on his collar. Even the sculpted straps for the holster are neatly painted. This is a beautiful figure!

Slade comes out of the box with his masked head, which is simple but nonetheless excellent. I really dig how the sculpt shows the contours of his face underneath it, and the one eye is superbly painted as is the black outline around it. You also get some metallic paint on the discs over the ears. The mask is rounded out with tie strings coming off the back and running down behind the neck.

And you also get the unmasked head, which is a fantastic piece of work and really presents me with an unsolvable conundrum. Which head to display him with? Which only leads me to other questions: Do I need to pick up another one of these figures so I don’t have to decide? Will it save the line if I buy two of every figure released? Because I’m prepared to do that!

Articulation is standard DC Icons stuff, which is to say it’s pretty damn good, but not quite pretty damn great. The legs have ball joints in the hips, double hinged knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. Nope, still no thigh cuts, and that’s a big part of what keeps the articulation from being all that it could be. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The torso has an ab crunch and a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is ball jointed as well. Make no mistake, this figure is tons of fun, but after playing with the Designer Series Bombshells, I can’t imagine why DCC couldn’t have added those thigh swivels.

No doubt Deathstroke comes with a lot of goodies, which I’ll run through right now, but he also has an extra pair of hands to help hold his killing tools. I’ve already shown off his revolver in the holster, so here’s a shot of it out and ready for action. It’s a good sculpt, but just cast in silver plastic and has no extra paint apps. His right hand is sculpted to hold it perfectly, trigger finger and all.

Next up, we have this assault rifle. It’s an interesting design, very futuristic, and like the revolver, he can hold it perfectly in his right hand. It’s cast in the same plastic as the pistol, and here especially I think some additional paint apps would have helped make a cool looking weapon even better.

His sword draws from the scabbard easily, and his left hand is designed to grip it firmly. The blade is made of pretty stout plastic, so it isn’t susceptible to warping and I really dig that.

And finally, Slade comes with his staff. It’s another accessory cast in silver plastic. It also separates to form two fighting batons.

DC Icons Deathstroke is such a damn great figure, I can’t help but feel sad for the Icons releases that have already been cancelled. Booster Gold, Ted Kord Blue Beetle, Etrigan, Catwoman, Sinestro, and Deadshot are all among the confirmed cancellations and that’s breaking my heart. I know, I shouldn’t be pissing all over the end of this review by dwelling on this stuff, but every time I open a new Icons figure, I just want more and more. I’m guessing it’s too late to save this line, but I still have pre-orders up for all of these figures on Amazon, where they have yet to be taken down. I know, it’s wishful thinking that I can change anything, but I’m still willing to try.

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Transformers Titans Return: Blunderbuss and Broadside by Hasbro

What’s this? For the third consecutive week I actually have a new convertorobot for Transformers Thursday? Yup, and I’ve been stockpiling, so it looks like I should be covered well into June. Today I’m checking out the Voyager Class Triplechanger, Broadside. I have not heard many kind things about this figure, so I’m a little apprehensive about this bot, especially since I’ve got no nostalgia for this character going in.

As a kid, I barely knew that Broadside existed. I don’t recall ever seeing him in the Sunbow cartoon, and with his original G1 toy released in 1986, that would have put him on the shelves a little bit after 14yo me was starting to drift away from Transformers. In this case, that was probably a good thing, because looking back, the G1 toy looks rather cringe-worthy, even by G1 Triplechanger standards. Let’s see if a new and updated Broadside can win me over. I’m going to break tradition today and start out with his robot mode.

Oh, boy, I really dig this robot mode a lot. Broadside is a bruiser, with powerful squared off slabs as shoulders, a stout chest with a cockpit canopy in the center. The sheer boxiness of this bot is a thing of beauty and the amount of detail in the sculpt is impressive. There’s just so much going on here, from the retracted landing gear in his chest to the folded conning tower on left shoulder and what I’d like to assume is a rocket six-pack on his right shoulder. No matter where I look, there’s something interesting to see on this guy. I also love that he has those wedges for shins. Those probably come in handy if he loses his weapon and has a tough scrape with a Decepticon.

Even from the back, there’s nothing to complain about. He wears the nose and canopy of his jet mode as a backpack and he has wings behind his arms, which can be angled out or folded in, depending on your display preferences. Although, it is worth noting that the wings have to be angled all the way out to take advantage of his shoulder rotation. Broadside is a bit back heavy, but the double hinged ankles let you float the foot forward or backward, to counterbalance whatever stance you want to go with. As for the coloring, the two-tone gray is all business, but the red with hints of yellow and translucent blue looks damn snappy on him.

Blunderbuss makes for a head that really fits the body. This noggin looks like it’s designed to take a pounding. There’s also a button below Broadside’s chest that can deploy a pair of pylons to further protect the head. I don’t know what Hasbro’s fascination with this gimmick is, but they’ve been including it with most of the Titans Return Voyagers. The difference is that this is the first time I actually like it.

And in robot mode, Blunderbuss’ mix of gray and red plastic makes him look good even though there aren’t any paint apps on the little guy. The usual Titan Master articulation applies: ball jointed shoulders and neck, and hinges in the hips and knees of the fused legs.

Broadside comes with a translucent blue gun, which he can hold in either hand and it does have a seat that fits a Titan Master. All of this is great stuff, and as a robot, I have nothing but love for Broadside. So let’s see how the first of his alt modes fares…

Broadside’s first alt mode is an aircraft carrier, which is admittedly not that easy to pull off, since it’s essentially just a slab with a flight deck. Nonetheless, I think he pulls it off pretty well. I do, however, have a few gripes. I’m not thrilled about the use of stickers for the runway, but I used a stylus to smooth it out and sharpen the edges and in the end I think it looks OK. Nonetheless, since it’s set over hinges, there’s bound to be wear and tear after multiple transformations. Finally, the prow section of the ship does not peg together, which can be annoying. If everything is tabbed together just right, it usually stays in place, but it has a habit of separating with handling.

There are three folding feet on the bottom for it to stand on and you can attach the gun to the side to give it some extra firepower. There are also tons of pegs on the flat top to stand Titan Masters, but they also serve a second purpose. Hasbro included a set of tiny Aerialbots to peg into the deck. They’re very simple pieces, all white, and they come on a sprue, and I absolutely love that these little jets. They really give this carrier a ridiculous sense of scale that takes the concept of mass shifting to the extreme.

I also dig that this mode works as a flying carrier too. Oh, it’s nothing special. I just fold out the wings on the sides and plug the gun into the bottom. It’s a subtle, but nifty little fan mode that makes the toy just all that much more fun. So, how about that third mode?

Yeah, it’s a bizarre hump-backed jet. Much has already been said about Broadside’s unfortunate attempt at a jet mode. To pile on it even more seems unnecessary. I’m used to seeing half-assed third modes in Triplechangers, but this one seems especially egregious. The funny thing is, I could almost accept this as a space fighter mode, but even with all that is wrong with it, what really pisses me off about this alt mode is that Hasbro was too lazy to make the tail fins point in the right direction. I’m not even kidding. If these pieces weren’t backwards, I could almost get behind this sad aircraft. There’s just something about the back half of this jet that just screams the design team just gave up.

Now, the red fins just pop out and can be reversed. The gray fins can probably be taken out by knocking out the pin and reversed as well. I don’t think it would make a huge difference for the other two modes, so it is a possible option for improvement, but I don’t think it’s worth the effort. At least not for me. I also find it really odd that the carrier mode has landing gear, but the jet mode doesn’t. You can, however, flip out the fists to help support the back of the jet.

Of course, the cockpit opens and Blunderbuss can fit inside, which is cool. You can also plug Broadside’s rifle into the top to fill it out a bit more and add a gunning station to the top. Does it help? Not really. But I have to wonder if a kid with an imagination wouldn’t love this ugly jet anyway. I’m thinking they probably would.

With a great robot mode and one solid alt mode, Broadside still gets my stamp of approval. He’s a fun toy and it’s a hell of a lot better than the Broadside that was out when I was a kid. Granted, I didn’t have very high expectations going in, and I already knew that the jet mode was going to be hot garbage. It feels like that mode is just a few tweaks away from being acceptable, and that’s what’s probably going to bug people the most about it. That having been said, I’m certainly not sorry I picked him up.

Predator: Ultimate Jungle Hunter by NECA

It wasn’t too long ago that I checked out the aptly named, Ultimate City Hunter from NECA. Yes, the Ultimate Pred from the second movie was actually released first, and now hot on its heels comes the Jungle Hunter from the original flick. I need not gas on about how much I’m in love with NECA’s Ultimate figures. To the uninitiated, these are basically characters that NECA has released before, but now they’re given the utmost attention when it comes to articulation, accessories, and overall presentation. They’re not only wonderful action figures, but the line touches on all those wonderful nuggets of cinematic nostalgia from my youth. Needless to say I am super excited to dive right in and check this ugly sunovabitch out!

If you’re like me and already own City Hunter, you’ll be happy to know that Jungle Hunter’s package pairs up with it perfectly on the shelf. Hell, it pairs up beautifully with all the other Ultimate figures on my shelf from Terminator to Commando, to the slew of 80’s horror figures. Seeing these boxes all lined up is a beautiful thing and it reminds me of the VHS cassette cabinet that I had in my room with all the same titles on the spines. The package consists of a seemingly enclosed box with an opening front flap that reveals a window and allows for a good look at the figure inside. You get the Predator title running down both side panels and a whole mess of pictures of the figure on the back. Of course, everything is collector friendly and the only thing standing between me and my new Predator is a piece of cello tape and some twisty-ties.

Jungle Hunter comes out of the box with his shoulder cannon off, but I’m starting out with it attached to the figure and with the masked head on. Remember how I gushed over the City Hunter? Well, all that gushing goes for this guy too! The detail on display here is just crazy. I adore the creepy plastic they use for the Predator skin and how convincing the body net looks, even though it’s sculpted as part of the buck. I also love that I’m getting high off the fumes of this fellow even though he wasn’t sealed in a clam shell. Despite seeing both Predator and Predator 2 more times than I can imagine, I was never really aware of how many differences there were between the Preds until I had these figures in hand to compare. In fact, it’s worth noting that I’m hard pressed to find any parts shared between this guy and the City Hunter.

Some of the wonderful details on this Pred include the leather loin cloth, the beautiful pitting in the leg and thigh armor, the alien carvings in his belt buckle, and the strings of bones that hang off of his shoulders. Oh, and let’s not forget the sculpted sandals. Am I the only one who thinks that Preds wearing sandals is weird? Well, this one does so I should probably just get over it. Where was I? Oh yeah… the details! So good! I know I use the phrase “work of art” a lot when I talk about NECA stuff, and here’s yet another example where it’s appropriate. I can just get lost in every little loving detail that NECA put into this figure. If you want better than this, you’re going to have to go to Sixth-Scale and shell out a whole lot more money. Or maybe just go for one of NECA’s Quarter-Scale Predators.

The shoulder cannon is a lot beefier than what we saw on the City Hunter and it is a beautiful piece. It tabs in at the shoulder and again in the back, making it pretty easy to put on and take off. It also holds in place quite well. I love the segmented armor running down the back of it like a crustacean shell. The piece also mates nicely with the armor sculpted into his left arm as well as the hoses. It all makes him look more formidable, and yet a little more primitive, than his urban-hunting successor. The hoses have a habit of pulling out when I’m posing this guy, as you may notice in some of the pictures, but they can be stuck right back into place.

NECA included an effect part that pegs into the shoulder cannon. It looks OK, but the added weight is too much for that little ball joint to take, so it doesn’t really work that well. I can usually get it to sit right for a little while, but then it just droops. I guess it’s the thought that counts.

The masked head is a lot cleaner than the pitted and weathered City Hunter’s mask, although it does have a few painted blast marks and some light scratching and scarring. I really like the detail in the laser tracker just above the right eye slit. But in the end, it’s the dreadlocks that impress me the most with this head. Each one is individually sculpted and painted and boy do they look great. And while I do enjoy the masked head a lot, it’s hard to go with it when the other display option is this…

Fantastic! Once again, I’ve got to say how great this plastic is. It’s very glossy, giving the Pred a slimy look and it takes the coloring very well. The sculpting on the mandibles is beautifully done and again we get the individually sculpted and painted dreads hanging off the back. The deep set piercing eyes, which are practically buried under that prominent brow are also superbly executed.

In addition to the shoulder cannon, Jungle Hunter includes the retractable blades on his right gauntlet and the self-destruct computer on his left gauntlet. Once again, both of these are completely different sculpts from City Hunter.

Probably my favorite extra included in the box is the mask, which obviously doesn’t fit over the face, but allows you to display him as if he’s taking it off for that memorable moment in the film. It’s especially nice if your torn between displaying him masked or unmasked, because it gives you the best of both worlds without having to buy a second figure.

And finally, you get some trophies! The skull with spine is the same piece included with City Hunter, only this time without the gore. You also get an extra skull. Jungle Hunter also comes with an extra set of hands, which are designed to hold the spine.

Is it any surprise that City Hunter turned out so fabulously? Well, it shouldn’t be, because NECA has been working their magic on Predators for what seems like forever now and they know their stuff. Their regular release Predators are fantastic in their own right, so it’s only natural for me to have high expectations from the Ultimate Preds, and all those expectations have been fulfilled here. It’s the crazy level of detail and all the differences between the City and Jungle Hunters that make me want to start collecting NECA’s regular Predator line. And yet it’s still something I’m trying to resist. Both my wallet and limited space do not need me to dive down that rabbit hole. Now, I’m just counting the days until the re-releases of Dutch come out, so I’ll have someone for Jungle Hunter to fight. Sadly, still no Lt. Mike Harrington figures on the horizon, but a fella can still hope.

Marvel Legends (Titus Wave): Darkhawk by Hasbro

Ah, the 90’s. It was in that decade that I reached adulthood and I often look back on it as that asshole of a decade that was unworthy to follow the blinding greatness that was the 80’s. Still, if you asked me to give you one good thing about the 90’s, I’d undoubtedly reply with two words: “comic books!” The comics of the 90’s were wondrous, ridiculous, and full of excesses. To borrow a phrase, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. Obviously, I mention the 90’s because our figure today is based on a character was created at the early end of that decade, and he had a pretty good run for four years and about 50 issues. Let’s check out Darkhawk!

Darkhawk shares a slot with Vance Astro as one of the Masters of the Mind. It’s a stretch, but I think they were going for Christopher Powell’s ability to use his mind to control the Darkhawk body. A little less tenuous is his link to The Guardians of the Galaxy. They hob-nobbed in the pages of War of Kings, and he’s certainly part of Cosmic Marvel. Hell, the dude even got the stamp of dis-approval from the Shi’ar and branded the “Galaxy’s Most Wanted.” With all that having been said, I largely forgot Darkhawk even existed until I encountered him in my Marvel readings a little while back. I’d like to tell you that he was a favorite of mine, but that just wasn’t the case. Amazingly, this is not Darkhawk’s first outing for Hasbro, as he got a 3 3/4-inch figure in the Marvel Universe line a little while ago. I never did find that figure on the pegs, so the Legends 6-inch will be the first version of the character in my collection.

I’m so totally in love with Darkhawk’s design and I think this figure pulls it off beautifully. The body is a generic buck with a gorgeous glossy, dark blue finish that goes perfectly with the lovely shade of silver. This is a perfect example of less being more. The two colors just compliment each other perfectly and with the exception of a little red for the chest piece and the visor, that’s all that’s needed here. Original sculpted parts include his belt, his wrist bracers, shoulders, collar, and of course his wings.

The wings consist of four separate pieces, which connect to the backs of his biceps and forearms. You could argue by designing them as separate pieces they aren’t as faithful to the comic art as they could be, but what it lacks in authenticity it makes up for by not impeding the articulation. In the end, I’m perfectly fine with the decision they went and I can’t get over how great this figure looks. The simplicity of the suit and the grace of the wings makes Darkhawk look like an art deco sculpture.

The head sculpt is as simple as the rest of the costume. There’s a reinforced mask with a crescent shaped red visor that gives him the wonderful feel of a futuristic knight. My one complaint here is that I wish the reinforced area of the mask got the same beautiful silver paint as the collar. Instead, it’s bare plastic. It still looks OK, but it could have looked even better.

As already mentioned, the articulation is  not compromised by the wings, so what we get is standard Legends pose-ability. Darkhawk’s arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs and lower legs, and double hinged knees. The ankles have hinges and lateral rockers, and finally, the torso features a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge, and the neck has both a hinge and ball joint. I can’t even tell you the fun I had playing around with this guy and discovering new poses.

Other than the Titus BAF part, Darkhawk doesn’t come with any accessories. With how much I love this figure, I feel bad nit-picking, but I can’t help but think it would have been cool to do something more with his grapple hook. As it is, it’s just three bendy claw-like tendrils coming out of his arm bracer. That’s fine, but it would have been cool to enhance it a bit.

Initially, I’d say my anticipation for this figure was fairly tepid. I really enjoy getting the more obscure characters for my Legends shelf, and I always liked the look of the character, but I didn’t think he was going to be all that special or impressive when I got him in hand. Besides, it’s not like I really had any nostalgia for the character. Little did I know that once I picked him up, he’d be so hard to put down. I probably ended up shooting three times the pictures I needed for this review, just because I was having such a blast playing around with him, and I’ll be honest, when I get past all the technical stuff about sculpt and paint and all that jazz, a great figure for me is the one that I can’t stop playing with. And its there that Darkhawk succeeds triumphantly.

DC Comics Super-Villains: Deathstorm by DC Collectibles

Yup, every now and then I’m still picking up some of DC Collectibles’ New 52 line and the Super-Villains series was one of my favorites. I was tempted to pick up all of the Crime Syndicate, but I already have the DC Universe Classics versions, so I decided to just pick up some of the ones that Mattel never put out. Enter Deathstorm!

As usual, the figure comes in a sizable window box and it’s even branded with the Crime Syndicate logo up on the flap. This figure is based on the character’s appearance in Forever Evil where he was basically a living prison, trapping the Justice League inside his energy matrix. I really enjoy that story arc and Deathstorm had some solid moments in the events that unfolded, but the main reason I wanted the figure is because his character design is just so bad ass.

Deathstorm’s costume is a dark and sinister reflection of that of his counterpart Firestorm’s. He has a burgundy and black suit with the flared shoulders and segmented boots and bracers. He even has his own version of the energy burst symbol offset on his chest. From the neck down this is a fairly simple costume, but the figure pulls it off quite well, thanks mostly to some excellent paint work. I especially appreciate the mix of matte and gloss black.

And Deathstorm has a portrait that would make Ghost Rider proud! Yup, he’s sporting a full on skull for a face and he has a flame for hair. The skull is cast in the same translucent plastic as the flame and painted over with a dirty white finish. I’ll bet that lends to some pretty damn nice light piping.

Aw, yeah. It does! It’s a shame they couldn’t have slapped a hinge in that jaw, but it probably would have been difficult with the hood that frames it.

Speaking of articulation, Deathstorm’s got all the right points. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps and thighs, ball joints in the hips, double hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The torso has a waist swivel and an ab hinge, and the neck is ball jointed. Note, I didn’t mention the elbows and note that there are no visible joints on the elbows. There are actually what appears to be rotating hinges buried under rubbery sleeves. It’s really uncommon for DC to put hidden joints on a figure, and I find it odd that they chose Deathstorm to get this treatment. Unfortunately, it has some mixed results. The right elbow articulates perfectly, the left one won’t hold a bend and it’s impossible for me to know what’s going on in there. Oh well, it was a cool idea.

And that’s really all I have to say about Deathstorm. He comes with no accessories, although I’d like to think DCC sculpted a teeny tiny Justice League and inserted them all into his torso. He’s definitely a simple figure, but well executed. At least, everything but that one elbow. I picked him up at a really good price from an online comic shop, and I only wish the rest of the Crime Syndicate were going for reasonable prices these days, because I wouldn’t mind having more of them to go with him. As it is, I only have two other members of the Syndicate from this series, and I’ll be coming back around to look at them in a few weeks.

Transformers Titans Return: Legends Class Brawn by Hasbro

Well, be still my energon pumping heart, today makes two Transformers Thursdays in a row that I actually have some new bots to look at. In fact, I should be covered for a little while now so the drought is officially over! Today I’m checking out Legends Class Brawn, another figure that I had to grab off of Ebay because these never show up around here. And then when I feared the deal might not be sound, my buddy came through with one for me as well. Either way I was covered, and in the end I wound up with two. Now, the downside of having to go second-hand on these is that both were shipped to me loose, so I have no in-package shot for you, but we all know what it looks like by now, so let’s jump right in to Brawn’s alt mode…

True to his original G1 form, Brawn takes the form of a green off-road vehicle, and this is a pretty solid one at that. There isn’t a whole lot of sculpted detail here, but you do get a spare tire on the rear of the roof. More importantly, the coloring on this little 4×4 is especially nice for a Legends Class. The pretty metallic green is joined by some black painted windows, and yellow bits peeking out from the sides and the front, all of which keeps his deco very faithful to the original toy. You also get some lovely silver on the front bumper and a tiny Autobot insignia on the hood. And so in the end, this vehicle may be a little modernized, but there’s no denying who this is supposed to be.

I was never a big fan of Brawn as a character, he always struck me as a jerk and even a bit of a bully in the original cartoon, but I loved his G1 figure for all its quirkiness and everything about this alt mode does that figure proud!

Despite being a Legends Class, Brawn can actually open up and take on a Titan Master driver! Here’s where things can get weird, because Hasbro already released a Titan Master pack with head robot named Brawn that transformed into Brawn’s head. So, yes, you can actually have Brawn driving himself around. That’s some weird and crazy Inception shit right there. What really cooks my noodle is that both of these figures had to be in production at the same time, as they’re both clearly designed for Titans Return, so why did Hasbro even bother making the Titan Master Brawn if they knew they were also making a proper Legends Class version of him. It really makes no sense.

Anywho… Transforming Brawn is as simple as it gets and it’s basically the same thing as a lot of the old school Minibots. I find that to be really refreshing and I wish Hasbro would embrace this kind of simplicity for the smaller figures more often. All you do is pull the arms out of the sides and fold the legs out of the back. OK, so Brawn cheats a little bit because you have to take off the the piece of the vehicle with the spare tire, but it’s hard to argue with the results, because Brawn looks absolutely fantastic.

I mean, just look at this little guy! I adore the fact that the structure of his blocky yellow torso is practically pulled directly from the original toy! He’s got some great proportions and all around a very clean and tidy robot mode. The only real kibble on him are his wheels and they look great on his shoulders and lower legs. Hasbro also saw fit to take away those unwieldy chromed metal meat hooks that the original toy called arms and instead give him proper sculpted fists with silver paint. Even from the back this little dude looks pretty good.

The head sculpt is also excellent. He features his trademark domed “helmet” with a face that sports a superb likeness to the animated Sunbow design. His face is painted with more of that lovely silver paint and his blue eyes are crisp. Brawn can also turn his head, which is something that can’t always be taken for granted with these Legends figures. Hasbro stamped another Autobot emblem on his chest and even broke out the blue paint expressly for that one little panel below it. Classy!

You have a few options as to what to do with the tire piece. You can have him hold it like a gun, as it does have those three sculpted emitters on it. He also has peg holes in the sides of his forearms so he can wear it like a shield. Personally, I don’t think it works all that convincingly as a gun or shield. Then again, that could be because I’m a middle aged guy that lacks the imagination and wonder of the child this toy was aimed at. Thankfully, you do have a third option…

Yup, just peg it right on his back. It really doesn’t add a lot more bulk to his backpack and in all honesty it looks like it was meant to go there anyway.

As far as I’m concerned, Brawn is a perfect modern update to the old toy and definitely ranks in among my favorite Transformers this year. Yes, I’d actually like to see more of the Minibot characters get the Deluxe Class makeover, but when the figure is this good, I’ll take what I can get. And it’s great figures like this one that makes me wonder why Hasbro can’t just take a crack at updating all the Minibots together in a timely manner. They’ve had some real hits with this one and Powerglide and even Generations Cosmos is a figure that still holds up very well. Sure, the last Bumblebee wasn’t so great, but I guess they can’t all be gems.

Star Wars Black (Rebels): Sabine Wren by Hasbro

For me, one of the high points of the Black Series 6-inch line has been the Rebels figures. Kanan Jarrus and Ahsoka Tano are among my favorite figures the line has produced so far. Needless to say I was excited when Sabine was announced. I’ve actually had this figure for quite a while now and the fact that it took this long for me to get around to reviewing her just shows that I wanted to make sure I had the time to give her the proper attention she deserves.

There’s not much new or noteworthy about the packaging, although this is one instance where I actually really like the monochrome character art. I think they did a lovely job with Sabine’s portrait. I should also take this time to admit that I’ve been a bad Rebels fan. I went into Season 3 with good intentions, but I quickly fell out of watching it. Rebels is a show I like to binge watch, so I’ll likely just hold off until it gets a release on Blu-Ray. I will say that it’s hard for me to come up with a show that has matured as well as Rebels has. It started out on shaky ground and gradually grew into its own. Sabine has been a great character and one that really demanded an action figure from the very beginning. I’ve already reviewed two versions of her in the 3 3/4-inch line, so let’s check her out in the 6-inch scale.

Putting a Mandalorian in the show could have gone horribly wrong, but Rebels makes the character work and that goes double for Sabine’s character design. Rather than just put her in Femme Fett armor, she has a distinctive look, made even more unique by her personal artistic touches to her armor. All of that is wonderfully recreated in this figure. The personalized paint on her chest and shoulder armor looks fantastic and served up with a pretty realistic looking weathering, which sets it apart from the more brightly colored markings on the 3 3/4-inch figure. I can’t say the same for the speckling on her boots and gauntlets, which looks really overdone here, but it’s not something that ruins the figure for me, so I can get over it. Suffice it to say, sometimes less is more.

Of course, this version of Sabine has also been given a realistic make over, shying away from the super stylized look of the series. So far, Hasbro has had great success with this conversion, both with Kanan and Ahsoka and they’ve pulled it off here once again. Added detail, like the stitching and slight rumpling in her clothes help add to the realism of the sculpt, and Sabine even sports two functional holsters, one on each hip.

The head sculpt is decent, but it isn’t quite the slam dunk we got with Kanan or Ahsoka. It’s very soft, which admittedly works for Sabine, but it’s also let down by the paint. Imagine that? A Black Series figure let down by paint! In this case, my Sabine has a bad case of the wonky lizard eyes. I’ve actually been hunting for a better one, and while I’ve come across a surprising number of Sabines on the pegs, I’ve yet to find one that’s much of an improvement and I’ve even seen at least one which was a lot worse. I think they could have also done a better job with the gradient colors in her hair, but then I remember that I’m really overestimating the efforts of Hasbro’s painters in this line.

Sabine also comes with a helmet, which fits over her head. It’s a snug fit, but I’m actually very pleased that they were able to pull this off without making the helmet look too big or the head look too small. I’d be a little concerned about rubbing paint off the face if I take it off and on too many times, but that’s part of the reason why I’d like to bag another Sabine one of these days. The range finder is articulated and it’s stout enough so as not to warp too badly.

The articulation here holds no surprises. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hips. The legs have double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a ball joint under the chest and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. I would have liked a swivel in the waist, but I’m guessing that might have been nixed because of the gun belt.

Sabine comes with her paint sprayer, which is a simple, but very welcome accessory. Ironically, there aren’t any paint apps on it, but it does have some sculpted detail, including the buttons and the nozzle.

And you also get her twin blasters, which fit into the holsters as well as both of her hands.  Like the paint sprayer, these are really simple accessories with no additional paint apps, but they get the job done.

While there is certainly room for improvement regarding the wonky eye paint, Sabine turned out to be another fantastic figure from the Rebels series. And that’s a good thing, because let’s face it, the only other options we have are the 5-POA 3 3/4-inch figures. They’re decent in their own way, but they’re nowhere near as fun as having a fully articulated figure like this one. Next up for this little sub-line should be Hera Syndulla, and I am most definitely looking forward to that release! My only fear is that they’ll abandon these releases before completing the crew, and that would be a shame because once assembled these are going to make for one hell of a great display.

Marvel Legends (Titus Wave): Drax The Destroyer by Hasbro

If you follow me on Twitter, than you probably know that I loved Guardians Vol.2. You also probably know this if you’ve been anywhere in my general vicinity. God help you if you’re stuck in an elevator with me, because I’ll keep saying, “And remember that time when [insert character here] did/said that thing?” until you inevitably swallow your own tongue for sweet release. All the characters did their part to make this movie a sheer delight, but Drax continues to shine as one of the most pleasant surprises of this entire franchise. And as such, David Bautista deserves to have praise heaped onto him for the amazing job he has done breathing life into the character. Even doubly so when you consider his limited experience as an actor. And seeing as how my Hot Toys Drax figure has now been delayed a half dozen times, I now look to Hasbro’s Marvel Legends for more plastic Drax loving.

We’ve seen the packaging already. The three figures from the film are branded with the movie title and Drax here comes with a fair amount of goodies laid out in the tray, including a BAF part for Titus. I’d like to tell you that this review is going to be a balls-to-the-wall love fest, but unlike the character, this figure lets me down on a few levels. Let’s take a look…

So, from the neck down, what we have here is a total reuse of the 2014 Drax figure from the first film. The pants are now blue, the boot buckles are a little brighter, and his skin is an entirely different shade of green. Other than that it’s the exact same figure. Now, I don’t really have an issue with them reusing the body. It was a great sculpt than and nearly three years later, it’s still a great sculpt. There’s plenty of detail in the boots and trousers, and the way Hasbro sculpted his tattoos onto the buck really has to be commended because it looks fantastic. As for the skin recoloring, well it’s hard for me to make a call on which is screen accurate because Drax’s skin tends to vary depending on the lighting. I suspect this newer one is more accurate and the fact that the plastic has more of a matte finish is cool, but I actually tend to like the skin tone on the original figure more. That’s just personal preference.

The new sculpting here comes in the form of a brand new head and this is an angry and yelling Drax. It’s certainly a departure from the more neutral expression on the previous Drax figure and it’s a fairly decent likeness with some excellent detailing and solid paint work. Of course, I think if we were going for an accurate Guardians Vol.2 Drax they should have made him laughing, because he really does spend a lot of that movie laughing his ass off. Anyway, the biggest issue I have here is that given the change in skin tone, you can’t really swap heads between the two figures and make it work, and to me that’s a bummer. Hasbro could have rectified this by tossing in the old head with updated coloring, but that didn’t happen. I guess my issue here really isn’t with what we got, but with what could have been.

Obviously, the articulation here is identical to the previous release and that means it’s plenty damn good. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and the wrists. The elbows and knees have double hinges. There are swivels in the biceps and thighs. The ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. Lastly, you get a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. The joints all feel great and there are no gummy hinges.

As you may have guessed, Drax comes with his pair of knives and they are indeed the same accessories that were included with the 2014 release. They’re nice sculpts, they could have used a little paint, but I’m not going to make a big deal about it. And yes, they still fit into the sheathes that are sculpted into the sides of his boots.

You do get a brand new accessory, which is his bazooka. It’s fairly detailed sculpt, but it’s all cast in black plastic and there are no additional paint apps. I’ve said it before, but if Hasbro is going to do big weapons for this scale, they really need to bust out the paint, otherwise it just looks damn cheap. I understand paint apps are often the first things cut when costing out a figure, but this is an almost entirely reused sculpt, so it’s hard to see where the money went. Anyway, the bazooka is a rather unique and fun design, and he can hold it pretty well in one hand with the back resting on his shoulder.

Am I too harsh on this figure? Possibly. I do like it a lot, but then I liked it a lot three years ago too. My guess is that the average collector’s mileage will vary depending on whether or not it’s they’re first MCU Drax. If you missed out on the last one, this is a fine substitute. I like the screaming head, but I would like it more if it was an optional portrait and not the only one. And like I said, you can’t swap it with the 2014 Drax head because of the color change. I didn’t feel at all bad about buying a new Star-Lord figure. It’s a new look and the heads are swappable between the new figure and the old one. Drax, on the other hand, feels a lot more like double-dipping.

Figma “Fate/Extra” Caster by Max Factory

I do indeed love me some Fate/Stay Night. It’s one of those anime series that I’ll watch over again, even though I have a dozen new series waiting on my “to watch” list. That’s probably why I’m so far behind. Well, it’s only natural that love spilled over to Fate/Extra when it released on the Sony PSP. I thought it was a miracle the game was localized for US release and jumped on it right away. In the end, there was a lot I liked about it, and a lot I didn’t. Fast forward to now and Fate/Extra is poised to get an anime series treatment in the form of Fate/Extra Last Encore. Oh, and we also got this new Figma release of Caster from Max Factory!

As unlikely as getting a US localization of the game was, getting figures from the game is just mind-blowing to me. Caster comes in a pretty typical window box. It’s numbered as #304 on the front and features shots of the character on the side panels and plenty more on the back. Everything is collector friendly, and that’s a good thing because, as always, there are quite a few bits and bobs inside that you’ll want to keep track of.

And wow, I absolutely love how they recreated Caster’s outfit here. Granted, the character is rendered in 3D in the game, but I still wasn’t sure how this costume would translate to plastic form. Well, the answer is, beautifully! As one can imagine, it’s not exactly practical when it comes to character movement. For example, when you render those puffy sleeves in plastic, they tend to get in the way, but thanks to some strategic ball joints, I’m still pretty satisfied with how they’ve managed to salvage some decent arm movement, despite of such an impractical design. Even the flowing black flaps are set on ball joints to allow them to be posed out of the way as needed. And speaking of impractical designs, she’s sporting some crazy platform shoes.

And yup, she’s sporting her big and bushy fox tail, and it’s proven to be the most frustrating thing about this figure. It simply will not stay in place. Seeing as how the peg is mounted on a ball joint, I’m tempted to tip it in with a little glue. And while I’ve always found Figmas to be exceptionally well balanced figures, Caster’s tail makes her decidedly back heavy, which is no small feat considering that she isn’t exactly packing light in the chest region. I was able to get her to stand on her own, but it can be a frustrating affair. Thankfully, you get the usual stand, which sockets into the hole in her back. I should also note here that the coloring on this figure is absolutely gorgeous. The blues and black and gold leaf all go so well together. Toss in that orange fox fur and her warm skin tone and you get a figure that is most definitely pleasing on the eyes!

Caster comes with three different portraits, and these are all pretty standard Figma fare.  You get a smiley face, a worried face, and a super happy, playful face. These are swapped out the standard way, by removing the front of the hair. And yes, the adorable fox ears stay on as they are sculpted as part of her head.

You also get a bunch of hands, although this is one figure where I’ve found that I didn’t have a lot of desire to swap out the hands. Her stock hands are great for spell casting, and those are the ones I’ve left on her most of the time. You get a pair of fists, which are hard to even see buried in those sleeves, a pair of pointing fingers, which are useful, and then some that are designed to work with her accessories.

The first of which is one of her charms. It’s super tiny and designed to fit between the fingers of either one of two specialized hands. There’s printing on one side.

Far more impressive is her Noble Phantasm mirror, the Eightfold Blessings of Amaterasu. This piece includes its own stand, plus an extra arm so that it can be attached to the figure stand and made to levitate around Caster to simulate her attacks. You do get some hands that look like they are designed to hold it, but they don’t work too well, and in fairness most of the time Caster is commanding the mirror she isn’t actually holding it. With that having been said, it’s a super fun accessory.

So yeah, it’s crazy that we’re getting Figmas from Fate/Extra, and doubly so that we’re getting them strictly off the game and before the anime even comes out. But I’m not complaining. I seem to recall seeing images of Saber from the game as well, but I can’t remember if she’s out already or yet to be released. I’d look into it, but right now, I’m more interested in getting the re-issue of Saber from Fate/Stay Night when she comes out, not to mention Archer as well. As for Caster, well it was more my love of her character design than than anything else that made this figure irresistible to me. Although I will say that playing around with her has made me want to pop in the Fate/Extra UMD and give it a spin again.

DC Bombshells (DC Designer Series): Harley Quinn by DC Collectibles

After weeks of gushing, I’m finally at the very last figure in the initial wave of DC Collectibles’ Bombshells figures. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that these figures are numbered, but I didn’t go through them in that order. Instead, I saved my favorite one of the bunch for last, and yes it is indeed Harley Quinn! And that’s some high praise for Ms Quinn here, because this initial assortment has been rock solid all the way through. Let’s take a look…

We’ve already had Batwoman the baseball player, Wonder Woman the propaganda poster gal, and Poison Ivy the pin-up queen. Bombshell Harley represents the nose art that often showed up on WWII bombers and really epitomizes what this whole concept is all about. The package is the same as we’ve seen three times already, so I’m not going to dwell on it. I’ll just say that I’ve actually saved the boxes for these figures, which is something I hardly ever do.

And here she is! Harley sports a cool WWII-era bomber jacket, capped off with a fur-lined collar, red aviator gloves, and a skimpy red and black top. From the waist down she has a very short pair of shorts, red and black thigh-high stockings and adorable little socks and boots. The ensemble is finished off by a simple black choker and a re-purposed Batman utility belt with the pouches customized with red and black paint. I love this costume. It captures the feel of the era, while still preserving Harley’s signature look. The paint is pretty sharp too, the plastic used for the skin tone looks great, and the finish on the jacket and the boots looks particular fantastic.

There are some wonderful details here too. The front of the jacket features some painted metals, and you get some really cool “Joker’s Wild” artwork across the back of her jacket. She even has a playing card tucked into her right stocking. And yup, it’s The Joker!

The portrait is also excellent. Harley features yellow hair with fiery tips on her pigtails and a pair of aviators goggles perched up high on her head. Her face is painted white and she’s got beautiful green eyes and bright red lips. It’s both instantly recognizable as Harley, and yet still manages to feel like a fresh and original take on the character. The circles on her cheeks and the little diamond under her eye are nice touches.

The articulation here is pretty much identical to that of the other Bombshells, which makes Harley a super fun figure to play with. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, with swivels in the thighs, and double hinges in the elbows. The hips are ball jointed, there are swivels at the tops of the stockings, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There’s an ab crunch hinge and a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is ball jointed. She also comes with three pairs of hands, which include fists, accessory holding hands, a right hand with two fingers up, and a left hand with relaxed fingers.

As for accessories, Harley comes with her trademark pop gun. I have a lot of Harley figures in my collection and a lot of them come with their own versions of this accessory, but this particular one is the best I’ve seen. The paint work is on point, with a silver, metallic finish and a very realistic looking cork in the barrel. It also has a Batman charm dangling off of the lanyard ring!

And it wouldn’t be Harley without a giant, obnoxious hammer! This one is basically a barrel with a handle on it. Once again, the quality of sculpt and paint on this piece is exceptional. The individual planks that make up the barrel are sculpted with some pretty realistic wood grain texturing. There’s even sculpted rope wrapped around the shaft where it meets the barrel. It’s a comically huge and heavy weapon, but Harley can hold it pretty well.

Harley is yet another outstanding figure in what has been an all around amazing wave of figures. I’ll confess that I’ve been looking forward to these ever since they were first solicited, but this is one of those cases where the final product exceeded my very high expectations. These figures manage to take all the great stuff about the Bombshells statues and effortlessly combines that recipe with the sheer joy of some wonderfully articulated action figures. The sculpt, the paint, everything about these gals have come together perfectly and I simply cannot wait until wave two finally ships. I’m still a little sore at you, DC Collectibles, for shit-canning so many of the DC Icons figures. But if you keep this line going, all will be forgiven.

By figurefanzero