DC Universe Classics Wave 12: Part 3, Iron and Desaad by Mattel

Sorry. I know its been a little bit since I posted Part 2, but I’ve had a busy week and I just haven’t been able to get back to my computer much and when I have, I’ve been spending time with Star Trek Online. Now, I’ve got some toys piling up and I’m trying to make a concerted effort to finish up this piece so I can move on to other things. So, getting back to DCUC Wave 12… today I’m looking at Desaad, my most anticipated figure in this wave, and Iron, my least anticipated figure in this wave. And let me just clarify when I say Desaad is my most anticipated figure, I’m not counting the C&C Darkseid. Because:Darkseid > Everything.

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Yep, as we’ve seen already, these figures come in slightly different packaging. There’s a new “75 Years of Super Powers” logo and you get a collector button that I couldn’t give a shit about. Sorry, I don’t mean to be insulting to Mattel throwing us collectors a little bone now and then, but these little pins just don’t do a thing for me. There are bios and stats of each character on the back.

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Let’s start with Iron, because I had absolutely no desire to own this figure, mainly because unlike everyone else in the wave, I had no idea who the hell he is. Now, surprisingly, this doesn’t happen all that often with the DCUC figures, which I am pretty proud to say, because there have certainly been some obscure characters released and I’ve been nerd enough to know most of them. Conversely, I am not at all shamed by the fact that I never heard of The Metal Men until I read the bio and looked him up online. It has, however, motivated me to get some comics and bone up on my reading. I’m a great champion of a well-rounded education, especially when it comes to comic books.

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Now, not knowing who Iron was, doesn’t hurt my appreciation for what is still a very cool figure. He’s basically iron personified and this figure does that concept justice. His arms and legs still have an organic, muscular look to them, but his torso is one peice and made to look like it was hammered out of… well, iron. The metal motif is further conveyed by the sculpted rivets and pitting scattered around his body. Overall the execution of the sculpt on this guy is first rate. Iron doesn’t have a lot of variety to his paint apps, in fact he’s done entirely in one color, but Mattel did a great job giving him a gunmetal blue finish that really makes the figure look like he’s made of metal. The only other time I’ve seen a paint effect this cool on a figure was on Hasbro’s recent Comic Series War Machine figure.

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Iron comes with two attachments for his arms that socket over his hands to make these pieces look like his arms have morphed into them. The right hand takes a giant chain and wrecking ball, while the other has a huge pipe wrench. The ball has a real chain to attach it and the pipe wrench actually works. By that I mean it opens and closes, don’t try doing any real work with it. These attachments give Iron a number of variables for posing and display, which you don’t see too often in this line of figures.

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Mattel made a few sacrifices to Iron’s articulation in favor of his sculpt and design. Most obvious is the fact that he has no hinge in his torso or swivel in the waist as his torso is all one piece. The articulation might be buried under there somewhere, but the plastic layered on top makes it a moot point. The missing turn in the waist is a bit of a bummer, but I really don’t miss the torso hinge at all. Apart from that, Iron has all the usual DCUC articulation. He has ball joints in the neck and shoulders. He has swivel cuts in the biceps and wrists and his elbows are hinged. His legs have universal joints in the hips, which are somewhat inhibited by his “skirt,” he has swivel cuts in the thighs and hinged knees and ankles.

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Ah, and then there’s Desaad. As a kid, I didn’t have too many of Kenner’s Super Powers figures, but I did have a few and one of them was Desaad. I was anxious to get a bigger and better version, not only for nostalgia sake, but because I dig the character. Its also still astounding to me that we have toys based on a character who was: a) a torturer, and b) basically named after one of the most infamous sexually depraved writers of all time. The DCUC version sticks pretty closely to the original design and it really takes me back. The only thing missing is that action feature that squeezes his arms together.

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Desaad’s character design has him cloaked, which brings both good and bad. The good is that it makes him a really stand out figure. Let’s face it, a lot of DCUC are paint variations on a similar body, so Desaad’s creepy, druid-like appearance is pretty fresh and unique. On the bad side, Desaad suffers the fate of many plastic-cloaked action figures… limited articulation, which is also somthing we are definitely not used to seeing in the DCUC figures. Although it seems to be the running theme today. I love the Desaad’s head sculpt. He’s got a creepy, sadistic grin and all in all he just looks like some kind of sick-o pervert. His robes are rather plain, but they do feature a lot of sculpted wrinkles and his boots have buckles and straps sculpted onto them.

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Naturally, Desaad comes with his bizarre set of torture gear that he wears around his chest. This piece fits over his head like a harnass and rests on his shoulders. Its got a control panel, two articulated hoses that can be directed under his arms towards his back, and two leads that he holds in his hands, presumeably to attach to his victim. I really love the fact that Mattel made this contraption removable as it gives the figure a lot more potential for different poses.

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Like Iron, Desaad sacrifices some articulation because of his design. The figure body actually has all the usual DCUC articulation, but the molded plastic robes inhibit some of it. He can turn his head and swivel at the waist. He has ball jointed shoulders, swivel cuts in the biceps and wrists and hinged elbows. His legs feature universal joints in the hips, swivel cuts in the thighs and hinged ankles and knees. The robes are slit up the sides to give him a bit more movement below the waist, but the robes do get in the way. I’m not sure if this body has the torso hinge or not, but if it does, you can’t really do anything with it.

I’ve been waiting to get a Desaad figure in this line for a while now, way before he was even announced, and finally having him in my collection is something I’m really excited about, especially since now I have a Darkseid to stand him next to. As for Iron, that’s the great thing about the DCUC figures, in the same wave you can get a figure you’ve wanted really badly and another you don’t even know. Its fun to look up some of these oddball characters, learn about them and in a lot of cases, I’ll even hunt down some of their comics. And chances are the character you don’t even know is one that someone else has been hotly anticipating, and vice versa. Its all just part of the DC Universe Classics experience.

Next time, I’ll finally wrap up my look at this wave with Mary Batson, in both variants, and the Collect & Connect figure, Darkseid himself.

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DC Universe Classics Wave 12: Part 2, Dr. Mid-nite and Copperhead by Mattel

Last time, we looked at The Spectre and Eclipso, which was a pretty common sense pairing. Today, not so much. There is sometimes a certain sense of randomness to the figures being released in these waves, so apart from just wanting to look at these figures two at a time, there’s really no other reason I’m pairing these two together. Except, maybe, for the fact that they are both awesome figures based on characters that I was hotly anticipating being released through DCUC.

Once again, slightly new packaging. Ok, really not all that different apart from the “75 Years of Super Power” and the collector button, which has already been pitched into one of my junk drawers and forgotten. Bios and stats are on the back, along with photos of the other figures in the wave and Darkseid!

Dr. Mid-nite is fantastic. I love this character and for whatever reason, I get into all sorts of arguments with one of my pals insisting he is in fact awesome and not lame, as this fellow suggests. I love the fact that he’s a surgeon and I love the fact that despite his “power” of being able to see in pure darkness, his goggles give him the best of both worlds. Oh yeah, he has a sidekick… he’s an owl… and his name is Hooty. Try to top that! No, don’t try… you can’t.

The figure captures all that is great about this character right down to the crescent buttons on his red tunic. He has black sleeves and leggings, a black cowl with his infrared goggles, and brown gauntlets and boots. His green cape is pretty narrow and doesn’t get into the way of his articulation much at all.

Naturally, Mid-nite comes with Hooty the owl. This little guy is an amazing sculpt for a little accessory. All of his feathers are detailed as his his tiny little face. His paint apps are equally impressive giving him realistic glossy eyes and beak. His bottom is molded so he can clip onto Mid-nites arm as if perching there. He’s even articulated as he can rotate his head 360 degrees.

Copperhead is admittedly something of a backbench villain, but I’ve always thought he was damn cool and pretty creepy at the same time, especially the way he was portrayed in the Justice League cartoon. Yikes. Besides being a sicko in a snake suit, he’s also got a poisonous bite and constriction and contortionist skills.

Copperhead’s body sculpt is particularly cool as he’s covered in scales, save for his green boots, undies and gauntlets. His skin has a glossy orange finish. The fact that his face is visible through the snake hood’s open mouth is something I’ve always found unintentionally hilarious, made even more so by his face sculpt frozen into a maniacal laugh. Awesome. There’s really only one thing that keeps this figure from being close to perfect. Umm… where’s his friggin tail? Seriously, it was a pretty big aspect of his costume and the fact that Mattel omitted it really pisses me off.

Articulation on these figures is standard for the DCUC line. You get a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, swivel cuts in the biceps, hinged elbows and swivel cuts in the wrists. The waists swivel, there’s a huge hinge in the torso. The legs have ball joints up in the hips, swivel cuts in the thighs, and hinged elbows and ankles.

I wouldn’t change a thing about Dr. Mid-nite, and Copperhead is really a great figure too, even if he is missing his tail. Grrr. He’s good to have around for when my Batman gets tired of beating the shit out of The Joker and wants a little variety. These are two great additions to DC’s amazing figure line and I’m really glad to have them in my collection.

Next up… Desaad and Iron.

 

DC Universe Classics Wave 12: Part 1, The Spectre and Eclipso by Mattel

I’ve all but given up finding DCUC figures at retail. I own almost three dozen of these figures, and of all of those I think only three were purchased off the pegs. Its all the more frustrating when you consider that finding an entire wave is essential to completing any of the Collect and Connect figures. Needless to say, I’m quite grateful that Mattel has started offering entire waves of these figures on Matty Collector’s site. But I’m particularly thrilled that they did so with Wave 12, because the C&C figure is Darkseid and I absolutely had to own Darkseid. Not to mention this is an awesome selection of figures. There was only one character in the bunch that I didn’t have a lot of interest in, and even he turned out to be pretty cool. So let’s kick off Wave 12 with The Spectre and Eclipso.

This wave comes in the newest style of packaging. It has the “75 Years of Super Power” on the bottom of the bubble and each figure comes with a small collector pin with vintage style artwork. The Spectre’s bubble even has some cool ghostly faces molded into the tray. The back panel still features a short bio and stats for each character as well as photos of the other figures in the wave and the C&C figure, Darkseid. Overall, its not a huge departure from the sort of packaging we’ve been getting, but I have to say it really pops.

The Spectre figure that Matty included in this assortment is unfortunately not the glow in the dark variant. That’s not really a deal breaker for me, but I know a lot of folks picking up this set from Matty Collector were disappointed by this news. Considering that The Spectre is a pretty simple figure, without a great deal of color (just off-white and green) I think Matty probably should have made all of them glow, but then I have no idea how much that adds to the cost of production.

Either way, The Spectre is still a great looking figure. The face sculpt is really nice and if you have a guilty conscience, you can practically see your fear reflected in his empty eyes. Mwahahaha! The hood on his head is actually separate from his cape and collar, so as not to inhibit his neck articulation, which is a nice touch.

Eclipso is just plain awesome. The head sculpt is fantastic, complete with his fiendish, toothy grin and devilish ears. He looks sinister through and through. I also love the fact that his left hand is sculpted to be pinching the Heart of Darkness between his two fingers. Its a shame Mattel didn’t paint it black, but that’s the only complaint I have about this figure’s paint apps. In fact, the coloring on this figure is exceptionally dynamic and the white trim lines between his boots, gloves and sleeves are all sharp and crips as is the eclipse emblem on his chest. And yes, it looks like he’s wearing a championship wrestling belt.

Articulation on both of these figures is still the standard found in this line. You get a ball jointed neck, ball joints in the shoulders, swivel cuts in the biceps and hinged elbows. There is a swivel in the waist and a hinge in the torso. The legs feature universal joints in the hips, swivel cuts in the thighs and hinged knees and ankles.

The Spectre and Eclipso are awesome characters and these figures really do them both justice. I’m glad Mattel finally got around to releasing them, and I’m even happier that they both wound up in the same wave.

Next time… Copperhead and Dr. Mid-nite!

Doctor Who: The 7th Doctor and Imperial Dalek by Character Options

Well, it took a while, but we finally have them all. With the release of the 7th Doctor (played by Sylvester McCoy), Character Options has finally given us figures of all the original Doctors from the classic series. In fact, if you toss out Peter Cushing from the old American feature films (which no Who fan considers canon anyway) the only Doctor that has not yet been released is Number 8 (Paul McGann) from the largely unsuccessful 1996 Fox TV film.

Sylvester McCoy had the dubious position of playing The Doctor when the show got shitcanned back in 1988. While his early stories were pretty rough, he really shined in the role and ultimately made it his own. The 7th Doctor went from being a comedic bumbler to one of the craftiest and darkest of all The Doctors. His episodes spanned everything from sharp political commentary to sinister stories that pointed to The Doctor having a dark and mysterious past. Episodes like “The Curse of Fenric,” “Silver Nemesis,” “Ghost Light,” and yes, even “The Greatest Show in the Galaxy” rank among my favorites. Of course, he also had some real stinkers like “Delta and the Bannermen,” which to this day I still find completely unwatchable. But nobody’s perfect… not even Time Lords.

Just like the first three Doctors, the 7th Doctor comes in a two figure blisterpack, bundled with one of his foes: In this case it is a white and gold Imperial Dalek from the episode “Remembrance of the Daleks.” The packaging is identical to the first three Doctors with a personalized insert in the bubble and blurbs about the 7th Doctor and the episode on the back. If I were a MOC collector, I would have much rather the classic Doctors all be carded alone, but considering I ripped this baby open the second I got it, it really doesn’t matter to me.

Before getting on to all the good stuff, let me start out with what I consider to be this figure’s biggest stumbling block… the goofy smile. The head sculpt is actually a very good likeness, but when CO released the 4th Doctor, they gave him two interchangeable heads. One had him grinning his big toothy (and batshit insane) grin while wearing his fedora, the other was a hatless and more serious look. I really, really wish CO had gone the same route with the 7th Doctor. I don’t mind the hat, since he wore it enough, but there really should have been an alternate head if they were going to have him smiling like that. Yeah, I know that during the opening credits, he winks and grins, but the truth is that the 7th Doctor spent most of his time scowling at enemies and administering stern lectures to his companion Ace. I just don’t think the smile fits all that well.

Ok, so that having been said, the rest of the figure is fantastic. CO really nailed his outfit perfectly. He’s got his cream colored jacket and matching hat. The paint apps on his plaid slacks, question mark sweater, pocket hanky and paisley scarf are all excellent. A big part of each Doctor has always been their iconic choice of outfits and the 7th Doctor’s outfit is reproduced here meticulously. His height is also perfect. Sylvester McCoy is a pretty short guy and this figure reflects that pretty well.

The articulation is exactly what we’ve been getting on the previous classic Doctors. He’s got a swivel neck, rotating shoulders, swivel cuts in the biceps, hinged elbows and hinged wrists. His legs have universal joints in the hips, swivel cuts in the thighs and hinged knees. Not bad.

The Doctor comes with one accessory, and this time its actually not a Sonic Screwdriver. No, the 7th Doctor comes with his trusty question-mark handled umbrella, which he not only used to keep the rain off of him, but to zip line down cables, snatch weapons out of enemy hands and all sorts of other clever improvisations. Its molded in soft plastic and fits nicely in his hand.

The Dalek is a repaint and slight remold of the classic Dalek sculpt that CO has been turning out for a while now, but that’s not to say it isn’t a welcome addition. The color scheme here has always been one of my favorites and not only matches the pattern used in “Remembrance of the Daleks” but can also double for the Imperial Daleks seen in the 6th Doctor episode, “Revelation of the Daleks.” Either way I’m always happy to add another variant Dalek to my army. The main difference in the sculpt is in the “ear” lights which are new sculpts for this design. The Dalek has ball jointed blaster and suction arm, a swivel head, and the eye stalk can move up and down.

As with the first three Doctors, this two pack retails for $39.99. Sure, $20 a figure is pretty steep, but if I can pay that much for Matty’s Masters of the Universe Classics, I’ll certainly pay it for figures based on my favorite TV show of all time. Another version of the 7th Doctor, in brown coat and hopefully sans smile, will be released in a few months and bundled with a classic version of the Flight Control TARDIS. I’ve already got mine on pre-order!

Oh yeah, and its just about another week and a half until Series 5 starts. And man, I can’t wait!

Star Wars: Legacy Collection Joker Squadron Figures by Habsro

Ok, so sometime around three years ago I gave up collecting Star Wars figures and toys and sold off most of my collection. It was a decision that was partly motivated by me needing space (I wanted to convert my spare room into a library) and partly because I needed the money. But it was still a conscious effort to cut off Star Wars rather than the other toy lines I collected. I guess my main reasoning was that it had just gotten so out of hand. I had bookcases upon bookcases lined with loose figures, and more and more of those figures were based on characters I barely knew. Some of the EU figures I didn’t know at all and a growing number were coming from the Prequel movies that I really didn’t have a lot of enthusiasm for.

I did keep some items, like most of the figures for my Imperial army and some of the ships that I really liked, mostly from the Original Trilogy. I still have fun taking a look through some of the new Star Wars stuff that comes out, and I’m open to pick up a piece now and again, but the truth is that in the last three years or so, the only Star Wars toy that I’ve purchased was the Legacy Millenium Falcon. That is until now.

I was poking around Ross’ Toy Graveyard today, you know the horribly kept area in the back where dead toy lines go to rot. From time to time I’ve found some good stuff back there for good deals and today I was following up on a lead that they were starting to get in some of those GI JOE Assault on Cobra Island sets. I didn’t find any of those, but I did find this Joker Squad set for $14.99 and I decided, “what the hell… why not.” It does go with the Imperials that make up the remains of my collection and I did actually read the Legacy comic that these figures are taken from (it was only Issue #4 and thus early enough in the series that I hadn’t quit on it yet). And considering this thing sold for more than twice that over at Entertainment Earth, I just couldn’t resist picking it up.

The packaging is nothing special, but it does a nice job of displaying the figures, and best of all it is 100 percent collector friendly. You just open the side flap and slide out the tray. The only thing holding the figures down are those clear rubber bands, so a quick snip snip and you can get your figures out and return them to the tray with no worries. It also has a sticker denoting that it is a Limited Edition Entertainment Earth online exclusive. Now, if only Ross hadn’t cemented that friggin price label right to the window of the box. Grrrr.

If you haven’t read Legacy #4, I can’t really recommend it, unless you’re a crazy serious Star Wars junkie, and if that’s the case, you probably already did. Its ok. Its interesting in that it covers another Civil War within the Empire, this time dealing with renegade Stormtroopers defecting to support another Emperor pretender. The characters are all cliche war movie schlock. You’ve got Anson Trask, the “noob” that joins the squad right before the suicide mission; Harkas the hard-ass sargeant; Hondo, the silent type; Vax the scrounger; and Jes Gistang, the Squad’s token female, who for some non-sensical reason is in charge of the heavy gun, despite being the smallest of the bunch. There’s also Lord Maleval, a Sith Lord sent to go with the Squad and make sure they take out the 908th Division’s base.

The set consists of the five members of the 407th Division’s Joker Squad along with Maleval. Now keep in mind, as five of these figures are Stormtroopers, the set reuses the same body four times. The fifth is the now infamous first female Stormtrooper figure, Jes, for which Hasbro was generous enough to provide a unique, body sculpt and a new belt. She also comes with the “big gun” she used in the comic. The other troopers all come with their standard blasters and Hondo comes with his vibro knife. The only other difference among the Stormtroopers bodies is Sgt. Harkass has yellow stripes on the arms of his armor, which I didn’t remember him having in the comic, but when I dug out my copy to check… yep, there they are. These figures use the same rubbery removable helmets as the Legacy Collection Stormtrooper with Jango Fett’s face.

The head sculpts are all new and unique. Naturally, each member has a really unique look about them to distinguish them as separate characters, at least with their helmets off. Which begs the question, how the hell do they keep from shooting each other when fighting other Stormtroopers? In the comic, both factions of Stormtroopers look exactly alike. Either way, the head sculpts are all good, although Hondo looks exactly like Luke Skywalker.

Lord Maleval is a really cool figure, even if he looks like the product of Darth Maul raping a Quarran. The coolest thing about this figure are his robes. Besides having a skirt around his legs, he has a massive flowing cape and hood, and the bottom of the cape is lined with a bendy plastic wire that not only weights it down but lets you pose it a bit. Its one of the cooler things I’ve seen in a Star Wars figure in a while. Maleval also comes with his lightsaber and his electrified whip.


All in all, this is a nice set and it brings something rather unique to my collection of Imperials. The question of it being a “Limited Edition” is pretty dubious, as it was released quite a while ago and Entertainment Earth still seems to have plenty left. All in all, I think the biggest problem with this set was the initial price. Sure $39.99 doesn’t sound like a lot for six exclusive Star Wars figures, as its actually less than these would have sold for on individual cards. But when you consider this sets heavy reuse of parts, it just seems way overpriced. They could have at least thrown in a copy of the comic for people who didn’t read it.

Transformers Robots in Disguise: Dreadwind and Smokejumper by Hasbro

In today’s post I’m going to take a look at one (actually, make that two) of my favorite of the slightly obscure Transformers: Dreadwind and his little pal Smokejumper. These guys were originally released in Japan as part of the Neo Beast Wars line in the mid 90’s as Destrons, Starscream and BB with a cool black, purple and neon yellow color scheme. I wish I still had mine to show you, but BB broke and I ditched them both out of disgust. Fortunately, these molds eventually came Stateside as Decepticons with new color schemes and new identities.

These figures were released under the Robots in Disguise moniker around 2003 as Target Exclusives. Keep in mind, though, this was well after the RiD line had gone away and the artwork on the boxes were made to more resemble the Armada line, which was still out at the time. I think, technically, these releases fit more into the Universe line, back when it consisted mostly of repaints of older molds. Either way, they came packaged together in a window box. They also came with a pair of those cool character cards that Hasbro packaged with the Armada and Energon toys.

Dreadwind is the huge tactical stealth bomber and Smokejumper is the smaller fighter plane. They both feature a ton of detail on their sculpts, mostly in the form of intricate panel lines. They are each molded in two-tone green with gray and have transparent red parts. I can’t say I like the colors quite as much as the original black, purple and yellow, but it is still an overall nice military style color scheme. There are a few stickers on each to add some more detail and the Decepticon logos are actually painted directly onto the figures. These guys came with a whopping 14 missiles, of which I can now only locate 6 for Dreadwind’s main cannon. There are six more that slot in under Dreadwind’s wings and another two for Smokejumper’s launchers.

Besides looking great, these Decepticons have a handful of cool gimmicks. In jet mode, Smokejumper can dock with his larger buddy just by sliding him into the space on his back. And if that’s not enough, Dreadwind is also a triple-changer with a third alternate tank form. The tank form definitely looks rather tacked on, as it basically just amounts to folding out the molded treads on the sides, folding up the wings (which are spring loaded) and folding up the huge missile launcher, which can rapid fire all six missiles as you turn the back of the drum. Both aircraft also have working landing gear and Dreadwind’s wing-mounted missiles can be dropped like bombs by pressing the buttons over each one.

Dreadwind has a pretty cool transformation and when you’re done, you’re left with a stocky, but really powerful looking robot. His overall design is really cool, with the front portion of the aircraft forming his chest and that huge missile launcher resting on his shoulder so that he can blast away at Autobot fools. His face is pretty simple, but the light piping on red visor works exceptionally well. His articulation is excellent and consists of a head that turns, arms that have universal movement in the shoulders and hinged elbows, and legs that have hinges in at the hips and knees. The only problem here is that Dreadwing is really top heavy and his leg joints tend to be rather loose, so making him stand can be a challenge.

Smokejumper is a really neat little guy. In scale he’s somewhere between a big Scout and a smallish Deluxe. His overall appearance and transformation are both very similar to the Energon Deluxe Starscream figure, which was obviously modeled closely on this little guy. And for good reason too, since this mold was Starscream in the Neo Beast Wars line.

Both of Smokejumper’s missiles launchers come off his wings at transformation and can be held in his hands while in robot mode. He has decent articulation, consisting of a turning head, universal movement in the shoulders and hinged elbows. His legs have ball joints in the hips, but his knees are not hinged to move front and back, just inward as part of the transformation.

I absolutely love these figures. They display great, are lots of fun to play with, and make an excellent addition to any Decepticon air force. Despite some loose joint issues, these are actually much higher quality than the original Japanese releases, which were made from some seriously flimsy plastic. Its a shame that these were exclusives, because they really are too good to be only circulated in a limited release. I’m also kind of surprised that Hasbro hasn’t rolled them out again, especially since, both toys were re-released in yet another color scheme in Japan. The good news is that when they do crop up on Ebay, they don’t usually go for much more than $20-30 for the pair, and they are well worth it.

X-Men Ninja Force: Deathbird Figure by Toybiz

If there’s one thing you simply cannot overestimate, its the popularity of ninjas in the 90’s. Yeah, they were popular in the 80’s too, but that doesn’t help my segue into today’s post. So, yeah, pop culture in the 90’s was obsessed with ninjas and nowhere is that fact better displayed then on the pegs of the toy aisles. It was such an awesome force of nature that even companies who produced traditionally non-ninja figure lines had to get into the act. This phenomenon can best be summed up in two words: Ninja Force!

Both Hasbro and Toy Biz banked on the Ninja Force concept. For GI Joe, just having Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow and Jinx and all the other ninjas just wasn’t ninja enough to appease the ninja-hungry 90’s toy buyer. No, they had to create GI Joe: Ninja Force. Toy Biz had an even farther reach by introducing the concept of X-Men: Ninja Force. The story involved Wolverine and Psylocke heading off to Japan to fight aliens and ninjas, and possibly alien ninjas, but then the story isn’t as important as the fact that we were seeing something as unlikely as X-Men ninja figures.

I used to have a few of these figures back in the day, but I was never all that enamored with them and where they wound up is anyone’s guess. However, I was recently re-introduced to them when I picked up a lot of miscellaneous figures off of Ebay and Ninja Force Deathbird happened to be one of the extras in the lot. I’m really glad she was in there, because you can easily toss out the whole ridiculous ninja angle, and you have a pretty good figure of everyone’s favorite Shi’ar mutant, Deathbird.

The packaging is certainly colorful. All the cards are the same on the front with a seriously pissed off animated-style Wolverine on the top and the figure displayed in a huge bubble. Behind the bubble is the X-symbol made up from two crossed katana swords. Wow. Just, wow. The back panel shows off some simple instructions on how to equip the figure with her exo-armor and shows off the other figures in the line along with some of the Spider-Man animated figures too.

The sculpt here is pretty simple, but I like it a lot, and its improved by the accessories included to turn regular Deathbird into exo-armor wearing Ninja Deathbird. Actually, there’s really nothing ninjafied at all about this figure as her armor is pretty reminiscent of some of her comic book appearances. The base figure just features a painted purple body suit and arm-length gloves. Her face sculpt is excellent and her mask is permanently attached, but her purple feathered cowl is removable to show off a little mutant birdlady cleavage and her wings come off too.

Or at least, her wings are supposed to come off. Despite my figure coming mint on card, I don’t think she was stored in very good conditions because as soon as I got her out of the package the peg that holds her wings on snapped off from being brittle. I glued them back on so they look great, but unfortunately that inhibits one of the figure’s cool play features. Her arms can peg into the wings to make them move with her arms, or you can detach them to give her arms independent articulation. Either way, this figure looks really awesome with wings spread and spear in hand.

Her exo-armor pieces are purple vaccuum plated, which give the figure a pretty striking look when attached. Mine have aged well, but it doesn’t take much to make these things start to flake. The armor set consists of front and back pieces for the torso and two arm pieces that are attached to the front chest piece by flexible cables. She also has two leg pieces. The cables could be a tad more flexible as they do either inhibit some of her armo movement or just pull the arm plates off if you try to move them too much.

Deathbird’s articulation is pretty good. She has ball joints in her shoulders, rotating joints in her hips and hinged knees. Her head also rotates from side to side. If your figure isn’t broken like mine, the wings rotate up and down. While the leg armor does cover up her knee joints, it doesn’t inhibit her articulation at all, which is pretty cool.

Overall, this figure was a nice bonus and looks really great on display. The only problem is I don’t really have any other X-Men or even Marvel figures in this scale to display her with, so right now she’s just a stand alone piece, but I’m still glad to have her. In fact, just looking at her has motivated me to go dig out my Star Trek X-Men comic and give it another read… maybe Second Contact too!

Star Trek The Next Generation: Shuttlecraft Goddard by Playmates

Well, looky here, I just picked up a new Shuttlecraft Goddard from Ebay and I’m vowing that this is the last time I’m going to have to buy this friggin toy, as this makes the third one I’ve owned. I first bought it back when it was released in ’92 and it got misplaced in a move some three or four years later. I bought another one off of Ebay to replace it a few years back, but I was never really happy with its condition and I eventually passed it on to someone else in a trade. This time, I picked up another brand new one, never opened, and I’m hanging on to this one. I absolutely love this thing.

The Goddard was the first toy in the Next Generation line that Playmates released to interact with the figures. Eventually there would be a bridge and an engine room and a transporter, but the first time I saw this shuttle sitting on the shelf in the store, I thought it was the coolest thing ever and I had to have it. Sure, you have to be willing to accept that it isn’t really to scale with the figures, but it still works pretty well.

Throughout the course of the Next Gen series, the shuttlecraft went through a bunch of redesigns and there were also different classes of shuttles, from the one person Shuttlepods (which this toy is closest in scale with) to the full fledged shuttles. I believe the design for the Goddard was first shown in Season Two or Three and was a lot more angular in design than the shuttles initially used.

The box is pretty cool. Its bright and colorful and it shows off the toy, both illustrated and with actual photographs. The back panel shows the various features and the front has an open window to allow you to use the electronics’ “Try Me” function. Like the figures, the shuttle is also numbered on the front of the box to make it appeal to collectors. The shuttle comes pretty much assembled in the box. The only thing you need to attach is the rear loading door. It comes with a cargo pallet to load into the back, a schematic sheet, an instruction sheet, and two sticker sheets.

Scale aside, this toy is pretty faithful to the design used on the show. There’s a lot of stickers to put on it, and they’re all pretty important because the toy is pretty spartan looking without them. You have to apply all the registry markings and there are a lot of stickers that take the place of paint apps. So, needless to say, there’s a lot of pressure to get them all placed just right. While it was pretty cool to be stickering one of these babies again, I was really letting the explatives fly as I was trying to get some of them on. I still haven’t been able to place all the stickers for the control panel because its so hard to get my man hands into the compartment and get them placed correctly. I’ll either have to get some tweezers to sneak the last ones on or take the whole friggin thing apart.

The only really unorthodox thing on the toy is the fact that it has wheels. Granted, they’re concealed beneath the ship, so they don’t get in the way of the sculpt. I imagine they were added as a play feature.

The front windshield opens up like a hatch, which of course the real shuttle didn’t do. This is just another play feature to provide easy access to the pilot seat, just like the hatch on the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon toys. Because of the scale down, there’s only one seat, although most figures will fit in there, so long as their sculpts don’t preclude them from sitting. There’s also a three-point safety harness to secure the figure in place.

The back cabin of the shuttlecraft is equipped with two fold down seats, each with safety belts and a cargo pallet that can be slid in and out on tracks. I’m really not sure what the pallet is supposed to be, but it looks like sensor equipment or some other kind of device. Again, because of the scale down, the back cabin is pretty limited and its tough to even get a couple of figures to sit on the seats because its so crampt back there. Its not even big enough for a figure to stand up inside.

The Goddard has two electronic features, which are activated from the top two buttons. One sounds the engines and lights up the nacelles and the other sounds the phaser fire and also lights up the nacelles. I’m pretty sure that on the show it wasn’t standard for these shuttles to be equipped with phaser banks, but I do recall them adding them on occasion, so we’ll let that slide. Besides which, the firing phasers sound really cool. The nacelle lights are neat, but the effect could be better. Most of the light comes out at the front of the nacelle, rather than illuminating the entire blue strip.

The Goddard isn’t difficult to find, although if you are going to buy one, I really recommend that you spend a little extra to get an unopened one. If the stickers aren’t applied well, or if they’re worn, it really effects the look of the toy. Furthermore, the battery compartments in these Playmates toys were really prone to leakage. I can’t tell you the number of the tricorders and phasers I’ve gone through because of corrosion and whatnot. If the scale really bothers you, or you don’t collect the figures, this toy is still a really nice stand alone display piece for your shelf.

Darkchylde: Ariel Chylde Figure by Moore Action Figures

If you haven’t read any of the Darkchylde comics, you may want to pick one up and have a go. I stumbled upon these a while back when I saw some random panel and I was immediately pulled in by the excellent composition and storytelling. Or maybe it was the fact that it featured a sexy blonde heroine who was scantily clad and happened to have demon wings. Either way, I had found a new guilty pleasure! I never knew if there were any Darkchylde figures produced, until one day when I was on vacation and happened upon this figure in the discount bin of a comic shop. I picked up quite a few figures from that cheap figure bin, but today we’re here to look at one particular witchy-woman, Ariel Chylde.

I’m not going to get into the whole figure vs statue thing with this piece. In spirit, This collectible is more a statue than a figure. She has a diorama base and not a lot of useful articulation. On the other hand, she does have the same five points of articulation that many of the vintage figures I grew up with figure had (plus two more in her demon form) so technically she’s a figure. Whatever the case, Ariel is mainly designed to stand on your shelf and look pretty, and so long as that’s all you’re looking for you shouldn’t be disappointed. She’s produced by by Moore Action Figures. Are they even still around? I don’t recall to have seen anything from them in recent years. They did have a pension for making figures based off indie comics and TV series with sexy female stars, including, Witchblade, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Fathom, Heavy Metal and Vampirella, to name a few, so Darkchylde was the perfect fit for them.

The cool thing about Ariel is that she comes with all the parts to display her in either her purely human form or in her half-demon conversion. The demon parts include arms (which are sadly not appearing in this review because I have inconveniently misplaced since I opened her) that have hinged elbows, and a pair of magnificent looking wings. The arms can just be popped off and interchanged and the wings peg into slots on her back.

While I wouldn’t have expected it from a figure found buried in a deep discount action figure bin, the sculpting on this figure is actually quite outstanding, especially considering her scale. She’s only about 7″ tall without the wings, but she’s got a sculpt good enough to compete with larger statues. They did a great job with her muscle tone and the tiny details on her denim shorts and bikini top are amazing. They’ve even sculpted a toe ring onto her left foot! But what’s really great about the sculpt is the likeness. Its not always easy taking 2D character designs into a 3D model, but these guys really nailed the character’s face quite nicely, even if the expression is a little bewildering.

The paint apps vary a bit on my figure. The details on her shoes, shorts and bikini top are all excellent as are the paint apps on her face. I particularly dig how well they painted her eyes. There’s some slop on her hairline, and on her hair itself, but fortunately its in pretty inconspicuous spots. The coloring on her wings is extraordinary and they’ve even painted in her anklet tattoo. The only thing I would really change on this figure is to have given her skin a less glossy finish. Yeah, it gets that from being sculpted in bare, flesh-toned plastic, and I’m probably asking a lot to have the whole figure painted over, but as it is it looks like Ariel is having a very sweaty day.

I already touched on her articulation a bit. Her head technically has a swivel joint, but her hair restricts it from moving. Both sets of arms rotate at the shoulders. Her human arms have no other articulation, but her demon arms have hinged elbows. Her legs both have swivel cuts all the way up at the hips, but unless you want to sit her down in an awkward and unnatural looking way, these joints don’t do the figure a lot of good.

Besides her demon parts, Ariel comes with the aforementioned base. Its also very nicely sculpted with details of the forest floor, including a tree stump, some tiny shrooms and a rather suspiciously placed ribcage. They clearly put a lot of work into the sculpt and paint and it’s appreciated. She pegs into the base and it’s definitely the optimal way to display her if you don’t want her taking a shelf-dive every couple of hours.

That’s pretty much all I have to say about Ariel here. I was really glad to find her and add her to my collection. If you’re interested in obtaining one, she shouldn’t set you back too much. $15 seems to be the average going price, although I got her in a 5 for $10 deal, so I’ve got no complaints. I have a special place for her on my shelf right beside my three Danger Girl figures by McFarlane. She is actually available as a harder to find variant with demon colored skin and I like this figure enough that I may try to hunt that one down later on.

Star Trek: TNG Captain Montgomery Scott by Playmates

You’re going to see a lot of vintage Playmates Star Trek figures cropping up in my posts over the next couple of weeks. I started collecting these 4″ figures back when they first came out. I was in my early 20’s back then and these were technically the first figures I ever purchased as a collector and not as toys to play with. I picked up a lot of the original two waves of Next Gen figures and was just starting to pick up a few of the Deep Space Nine figures when I stopped for whatever reason. I think it was probably because I was saving money to move out of state. Now, about 18 years later, I’ve decided to work on finishing this collection.

Scotty was one of three original crew members to appear in The Next Generation TV series, both Spock and McCoy showed up in different episodes, but McCoy just had a cameo and Spock’s two-parter was ok, but a little contrived and tiresome for me. Scotty’s episode “Relics”, on the other hand is one of my favorites. The crew finds a derilect ship with Scotty stuck in the Transporter’s pattern buffer. They save him, but he soon finds out that in the future he’s a bumbling fossil (and apparently an alcoholic) until his out-dated ideas save the day. We all learn a lesson about not treating our elders like worthless retards and Picard makes a rather audacious gift of one of the Enterprise’s shuttlecraft to Scotty. Wow, is he really allowed to do that? This episode also had the balls to show the classic Enterprise bridge exactly like it was in the old series… made of gray cardboard! Simply awesome.

I really liked the packaging on these figures. The background is so colorful and follows through with an overall animated look. And holy shit did Playmates advertise a lot of crap on these cards, all screaming at you in yellow bursts of text. Your Figure is Individually Numbered! Collector Card included!! Deep Space Nine figures coming soon!!! PLAY THE GAMES ON THE SNES AND GENESIS!!!! The front of this card is like a Las Vegas billboard.

Yeah, that numbering thing was an interesting tactic Playmates used to sell these figures as both collectibles and toys, but billing these figures as collector pieces was a joke. Hey, my Scotty is only 134,264 of I don’t know how many made. And that’s probably a low number. The fact that almost 20 years later you can buy these things mint and carded for under five bucks (Scotty cost me $4.99) just pours salt in the wound. But I don’t care. I love that these figures are dirt cheap and that I can pick them up making impulse buys on Ebay.

The Playmates 4″ figures are notorious for being highly stylized and almost caricatures of their subjects. In many cases, the figures almost look like animated versions of their live action couterparts. Its a design element that really turns some people off, but for the most part, I think it works pretty well. As the series went on, the figures slowly began to shed this curious appearance until by the time you got to Deep Space Nine and Voyager, the figures were a lot more like direct likenesses.

Scotty is a pretty good balance of the Playmates signature look. Its a really good sculpt with a nice likeness of the aged James Doohan. I particularly like the gray two-tone paint apps in his hair. He can also easily double as a classic film version of Scotty since he’s wearing the same basic outfit that he wore in Star Trek V and VI. The only real difference is this version is wearing one of the Next Gen style comm badges instead of his old insignia. His vest is really nicely done and sculpted complete with his little tool pocket and zipper.

The articulation here is pretty good. His head rotates at the neck, his arms rotate at the shoulders, he’s got swivel joints in the biceps and hinged elbows. His legs are jointed at the hips and have hinged knees. Scotty doesn’t suffer from being overly pre-posed like some of these figures.

Scotty comes with a bunch of accessories, but if you are familiar with this line then you already know they are mostly shit. Sorry, that may sound harsh. The sculpts on the accessories are actually ok, but they’re always molded in some obnoxious color plastic, in this case orange. I’m not going to go through the various engineering tools he has, but most of them are repacks of the tools that came with figures like Geordie and Data. Truth is I usually dump these figures into a bag and I have no interest in digging through it to get to Scotty’s, but you can see them in the packaged image. Scotty also comes with a Dilithium Crystal, a Starfleet style figure stand and a collector card. I loved the collector cards! These reminded me of the old Star Wars cards I used to get in Wonderbread. Christ, I’m old.

I don’t know why its taken this long to add this figure to my collection. He’s awesome, cheap, easy to find, and from one of my favorite episodes. And even though I display these figures loose, its a cool luxury to be able to buy them carded and be the first to open them up.