A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010): Freddy Krueger by NECA

I practically grew up on the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. If you’re pushing forty like me, you probably remember that Freddy Krueger was a huge part of the pop culture of the time and there was always a bizarre amount of merchandising around the character. I had comic books, a toy freddy glove and I even had a poster of him (I won it spinning a wheel on the Jersey boardwalk) hanging in my room. Yeah… I had a poster of an undead child murderer hanging in my room. Amazing I turned out as well as I did. Hell, there was even a weekly TV series. Of all the crazed slashers that hit the theaters in the 80s, none of them had more appeal (or a better agent) than the K-Man.

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Obviously, the Elm Street franchise changed a lot during its lifetime. The first movie was pretty damn creepy, the second was pretty damn crappy, and beyond that the series quickly turned into a parody of itself. That’s not an insult, mind you, I think the series really came into its own when it achieved a campy comic book-style wackiness mixed with some nuggets of true horror. I enjoyed the franchise for most of its stretch, and I was always willing to go see Freddy quick with his razor glove and the one-liners. Alas, by the time The New Nightmare came out, I just didn’t care any more. A lot of my friends still swear by that movie. I may have to check it out again. Anyway, reminiscing isn’t really why we’re here today. Nightmare on Elm Street got a remake and NECA stepped up with two action figures of the new Freddy Kreuger. There’s Freddy before and after getting the zippo equivalent of a lynching. I found both of these figures at Toys R Us today, but I opted to just bring home the “After” figure, since the first one is just some dude to me. I thought it funny that he was also hanging right next to a pair of figures from the older Elm Street films. Some day I may have to pick those up too.
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It seems there’s a lot of mixed feelings about the new Freddy design, or more specifically his face. Personally, I like it a lot. The burns are more realistic and his face is a lot creepier than his original style. Either way, this isn’t Robert Englund anymore, so he really should look different. Well, like the new look or not, the headsculpt on NECA’s figure (or sculpts, since he comes with two heads) is excellent and very close to the stills I’ve seen from the new movie. I think he looks a lot less human and more demonic. There’s a ton of intricate texturing in the sculpt and the coolest thing is the fedora is removable, so you can display either head with or without it. As for the two heads, there really isn’t a huge amount of difference. The one he had on in the package has the mouth closed, the other has it open in a partial snarl. The snarl head shows a bit more exposed muscle to the left cheek and as such, I think I like that one a little more. Overall, its just more expressive.

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The rest of the figure’s sculpt is just as good. The texturing on his ratty trademark sweater is excellent, both in the simulated fabric and the subtle tears and distressing. There are even some holes worn through it in the back. The red and green paint on the sweater looks really good too. It’s possibly a little too glossy for fabric, as it tends to look like its wet, but I’m really nitpicking to complain about anything. Of course, he wouldn’t be Freddy without his glove. The glove is nicely detailed and its sculpted into a partially open position that allows for a good looking pose in just about any position you move his arm. I’m a little disappointed that NECA didn’t go for a swappable glove in a different position. I would have definitely preferred that over getting the two portraits, but what’s here is still plenty good.

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What’s not so good is the articulation. I think NECA’s inconsistency with articulation is the company’s only failing. In this case, Freddy is a statue from the waist down. Ok, technically his ankles are balljoints, but between the sculpting of his pants cuffs and the lack of articulation in his legs, these joints are useless. His upper body is thankfully a different story. He has a slight ability to swivel at the waist. His arms feature balljoints in both the shoulders and elbows. His head is balljointed, and his wrists have swivel cuts. You can get a pretty good range of poses, just nothing terribly dynamic.

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Freddy set me back $13.99, which is pretty much what all the other figures in TRU’s “collectible” action figure aisle go for these days. It’s hard to quarrel with that price when the sculpt and paint are this good. I’m very happy with him and whether or not the movie flops or rises to the occasion, I’m glad to have this reimagined Kreuger in my collection.

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As for the movie… I’m not one of those people who rabidly object to Hollywood trying a remake. Yeah, many of them are souless cash grabs, but I think many of them have actually been fairly successful when it comes to the horror reboots. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was really well done. The Hills Have Eyes was awesome and Friday the 13th… well, as Meat Loaf says, “two out of three ain’t bad.” But while some are wailing over their beloved Freddy getting rebooted, I’m actually interested to see the results. On the one hand, it looks like they’re definitely going for scares over campy laughs, but then judging from the trailers, I’m worried that the thing is going to be too much of a shot-by-shot remake. Well, we’ll know soon enough. I’ll be hitting the theater the week it comes out.

 

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Ghostbusters: 1:6 Scale Peter Venkman by Mattel

Back when Matty first revealed the 12″ Ghostbusters, I spent a great deal of time vascilating over whether or not to get them. I knew from the get-go that I was going to invest in the 5″ figures, that much was a no brainer. I had initially told myself that would be the affordable way to go here, but then I saw the prototypes of the larger figures and had to change my pants. Of course, the actual production pieces didn’t quite live up to the prototypes (as they rarely do) but the figures still looked pretty good and their equipment looked incredible. In the end, I contented myself with knowing that they would be sold out before I could get the money together to buy one.

Of course, they didn’t sell out, and that surprised me a lot. At $60 each, these are not exactly high-priced for 1:6 scale figures. Ask anyone who collects figures from Hot Toys or Sideshow or Triad and you’ll see that the price tag could be much worse. These days finding decent 1:6 scale figures under $100 is getting to be a rarity. On the other hand, while these are limited pieces, and the quality of their proton packs are worthy of higher end products, the figures themselves are about on par with what you would expect from a mass market release. I guess what I’m saying is that considering we’ve been waiting 25 years for proper Ghostbusters figures, I just thought these would sell better. Ray and Egon each hung around for over a month and a half when I finally decided to use some Christmas money to get them. Pete Venkman didn’t last nearly as long, but by the time he was put up for sale, I was already commited to get all three of the original Ghostbusters.

I’m not one to go ga-ga over packaging. Its usually something I just throw away, but I do tend to hang on to my 12″ figure packaging so that I can return them to the boxes for storage or display. But, its hard not to get excited about these packages, as they’re both really nicely designed and fairly collector friendly, so long as you’re patient when first opening your figures. The window package shows off the figure really nicely, and they’re secured very well via a molded tray and lots of twisties and rubber bands. In fact, Pete is secured a little too well as the packaging squished his head. Thankfully, after just about two days out of the package, his head puffed out to normal, but if you plan on keeping these sealed, you’ll have to live with it. The back of the package has some silly stats about Pete lifted from the movie and the side panel has part of a scene that can be completed by placing all four Ghostbusters boxes next to each other, or at least that will be the case once Winston is released.

Like Egon and Ray, I was able to excise Pete from his box without inflicting much damage. It took a lot of work, but it was worth it to preserve the fantastic packaging. Besides the fact that the figure looks great displayed in it, it also features a pull out cardboard locker to store the extra equipment.

Before I get into the figure itself, let’s talk head sculpt. There have been a lot of mixed emotions about these figures’ heads. They are clearly mass market quality sculpts and definitely lean more toward stylized, animated looks than realism. I don’t mean they look like the characters from The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, but rather that they look more like cartoonified versions of the actors. Now, compared to Ray and Egon, I think Pete looks most like his real life counterpart. It definitely seems as if the sculpts are getting slightly better with subsequent releases. Pete does suffer from some serious bobblehead. You can get his head to hold most positions, but if you bump it or shake it, the head is going to bob all over the place. Its interesting since both Ray and Egon suffered from almost the opposite problem. Still, all said and done, I’m fairly happy with Venkman’s head sculpt.

As with their 5″ cousins, these 12″ figures share the exact same body, jumpsuit, utility belt and proton pack. Everything from the neck down is identical, apart from their personalized name tag on their left breast. So if you have Ray and/or Egon, you basically know 90 percent of what you’re getting with Venkman. I don’t think this is as offensive a cop out as it is with the smaller figures, mainly because the cloth suits and adjustable equipment offer some inevitable cosmetic differences between the three figures. The jumpsuits are pretty good and fit fairly well, and they have all the right zippers and pockets. The Ghostbusters emblem on the shoulders is crisp and clear.

Naturally, Venkman has a fully removable proton pack. It belts on around the arms and waist, is fully adjustable, and can be made to fit very securely. The pack is easily the most amazing thing about the figure. I won’t go so far as to say its like buying a scale model of the pack and they throw in a figure for you to display it on, but its close. The amount of detail on this thing is absolutely incredible, as everything is detailed with excellent paint apps and even stickers with readible text and lots of wires and hoses running about. There’s also some good weathering on the black paint making it look a bit scuffed and worn. The pack runs off batteries and a push of a conealed button on the bottom causes red LED lights to cycle for about a minute. A sound chip of the pack warming up would have been cool too, but alas, its just lights. The wand is made of sturdy plastic with a flexible hose and it easily clips on to the side of the pack for storage.

Just like Ray and Egon, Peter comes with a walkie talkie with a holster that clips onto the belt, two pairs of extra non-gloved hands, and a ghost trap. I think its really cool that Mattel has thrown in a ghost trap with each of the 12″ figures. The trap is excellently detailed and the doors are spring-loaded to flip open with the push of a button. The foot pedal is articulated, but it doesn’t trigger the trap to open. As you may recall, both Ray and Egon also came with a piece of personalized equipment. Ray had his infrared goggles and Egon had his PKE Meter. What’s Pete’s special item? Just a pair of molded folded gloves that can be tucked into his belt. Disappointing? You bet! These should have come with all three figures, and even so, it doesn’t come close to equaling the goggles or the PKE. What’s more, there’s not a lot of space on the belt to hang them, unless you take the walkie talkie off.

Just like with Ray and Egon, there’s one thing about Pete that really irks me. You know that tube that comes out of the pants leg of his jumpsuit? It doesn’t go anywhere. Its just tucked in between his back and the proton packs. Now, I read somewhere that this is exactly how the real thing was situated in the film. That’s all fine and dandy, but would it have killed Mattel to secure it to something? Sure, you really have to look to notice, but let’s face it, these are supposed to be figures of fictional characters, not figures of the actors in their costume. The tubes are secured in the smaller scale figures, I wish they had done the same with the larger ones. Still, this is the worst complaint I can come up with… not too shabby, I guess.

So all in all, there aren’t many surprises to be had with Pete. If he’s not your first Ghostbusters 12-incher, you already know what you’re getting. The head sculpt is decent enough, and really only his lack of a cool personalized accessory ranked as severely disappointing. I was certainly very surprised at how quickly he sold out, and I’m very glad I was able to get one and complete my three, but I’m pretty sure this is where I’m calling it quits with the 12″ line. Maybe if Winston comes out on a slow month and I’ve got the money kicking around, I’ll splurge on him, but unless Matty releases a 12″ Gozer, I’ll be sticking with the 5″ figures from now on.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Evil Lyn by Mattel

Last month, I sat out the release of Moss Man, mainly because I had obligations that were going to keep me from being at my computer at 12pm. I probably could have gotten out of it, but the truth was I wasn’t all that keen on Moss Man. Nothing against him, but he’s the first release in the MOTU Classics line that I didn’t see as a “must have” purchase. This month, on the other hand, Matty brought out their big guns with the First Lady of Snake Mountain herself, Evil Lyn. There was no stopping me from being at the computer this time. Obviously, Evil Lyn was a popular release, and she seems to have sold out in under ten minutes. Not a record, mind you, but still pretty damn quick to those of us subscription-less collectors trying to nab her. So far, my luck has held out on every release date, and I was able to score her along with a few other goodies.

The packaging on these figures has not changed, and that’s a good thing because its still awesome. The green rock-motif on the card and the classic Masters logo makes me want to pop in a Filmation DVD and remember the simpler times. The package shows off the figure nicely, along with her falcon Skreetch. The back of the card features a bio as well as teases you with photos of a bunch of figures that you can no longer get outside of Ebay. Lord knows I’m not a mint on card collector, but if ever there was a line that tempted me to it, its this one. The presentation on these figures is just fantastic.

Naturally, Evil Lyn is a repaint of Teela from the neck down, but amazingly, she just doesn’t seem like one. I don’t know if its the dramatic color change, the yellow skin, or the wonderful head sculpt, but Evil Lyn really feels like her own figure and not a quickie repaint cash grab. Everything that was white and gold on Teela’s outfit is blue and darker blue on Evil Lyn. I was admittedly worried about Matty’s choice to go with the vintage-style yellow skin on this figure, but I have to say it turned out looking great. Its very faithful to the original figure and it serves to set her apart from Teela all the more. Overall, the other paint apps on the figure are a bit mixed. The paint apps on Evil Lyn’s face, notably the eyes, lipstick and green mascara are practically perfect, and its cool that she even has little black paint apps on her fingernails, but there’s some notable slop on her chest armor. Its not terrible, but the paint on my Teela is so immaculate, its hard not to notice even minor flubs here.

The head sculpt is spot on. She’s the perfect blend of beauty and wickedness and I love the exotic quality to her eyes that makes her look not quite human. Her simple skull cap with crest is right in line with her vintage counterpart. There’s a little disparity between the skin tone in her face and the rest of her body, but apart from that I wouldn’t change a thing. Funny, it wasn’t until getting this figure that I realized we have no idea what Evil Lyn’s hair looks like… or even if she has any!

Evil Lyn comes with a nice inventory of accessories, although not quite as much as her counterpart, Teela. She has a little hooked dagger with a nicely sculpted skull pommel and a wickedly jagged back edge. She has a blue orb wand that can convert to a full staff by swapping out the shaft. She also comes with her bird buddy, Skreetch. Granted, Skreetch is just a repaint of Teela’s Zoar, but its still an awesome sculpt, complete with hinged wings and feet that can grip Evil Lyn’s arm. Skreetch also comes with his own perch, which Zoar was sadly missing, as well as removable birdy battle armor. No doubt about it, with Evil Lyn you get a good amount of stuff for your money.

The articulation here is the same as on Teela, which means its close to the standards set by the male figures in the line, but not quite the same. Her head is ball jointed. Her arms have ball joints in the shoulders, hinged elbows and swivel cuts in the biceps and wrists. Her legs have universal movement in the hips, hinged ankles and knees and swivel cuts at her boots. She also has the extra joint in her feet that allow you to set her at a wide stance, while keeping both her feet flat on the ground. What she’s missing is a swivel cut in the waist. Still, she’s got a great degree of poseability. No complaints here.

Naturally, I’ve been waiting to get my hands on an Evil Lyn figure ever since I first started collecting this line and my cadre of evil-doers from Snake Mountain no longer feels like it has a huge vacant hole. (well, except for Mer Man, but thanks to a pending re-release, he will soon be mine!) I still give Teela the nod as the better figure, mainly because the paint apps on her outfit are just so striking and expertly applied, but then Evil Lyn makes up with that in spades because, well, she’s the bad girl and we all know bad girls are more fun.

Quake II: Strogg Iron Maiden and Strogg Technician by Resaurus

Last time, we looked at the two human figures, and their monster pack-ins, from Resaurus’ Quake II line. This time, let’s check out the Strogg Iron Maiden and her pack-in figure, the Strogg Technician. Honestly, this is a case where its hard to tell which figure is the pack-in and which is the main attraction. They are both big and cool and would probably have been totally acceptable on separate cards. The Iron Maiden is more of a conventional action figure and while I don’t have the original packaging anymore, I seem to recall that the card gave her top billing so we’re going to start with her.

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Iron Maiden is my least favorite figure of the bunch, mainly because of her pose and lack of articulation. But that’s like saying I like regular chocolate ice cream less than rocky road, because this is still a nice looking figure with an absolutely fantastic sculpt. The thing that impresses me most about the Quake II figures is how much detail Resaurus packed into them. There is not one tiny part of this figure that isn’t covered with some kind of love and attention. And that’s not surprising because how could you not love this beauty? The Iron Maiden is a hellish mix of gnarled flesh and mechanical parts. Her torso looks like a reanimated corpse. Her right leg is entirely mechanical, while her left leg is a fusion of stapled skin and a robotic boot. Her right arm is withered and her left arm is a giant gun. You just don’t see detail like this on most figures, even ten years later.

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Now the not so good stuff. Iron Maiden’s head does not turn. My guess is Resaurus nixed the joint because of the hoses running from her head to her body. Her arms rotate at the shoulders. She will theoretically rotate at the waist, but the skin hanging down from her torso makes it difficult. The real downside, however, is the articulation from the waist down. Her legs rotate at the groin and her legs are hinged at the knees and ankles. The problem is with the way her feet are positioned. Her left foot is turned outward, which makes her stance very uneasy. This figure is begging for swivel joints in her legs to correct the awkward stance, but there are none. So, besides being difficult to stand, the articulation that is in her legs serves almost no purpose at all.

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The Iron Maiden only has one accessory and that’s her swappable left arm. The replacement arm is a nasty looking bloodied blade that looks like it would be perfect for skewering those nosey marines. The arm pops on and off really easily although with the blade installed you do lose the point of articulation that was in the gun arm’s elbow. One of these days I still plan on picking up a second Iron Maiden just so I can display her both ways. Now granted, with just the extra arm this lovely lady comes up pretty short in the accessories department, but considering the size of her pack-in figure, I think we can forgive that.

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The Technician is a most interesting figure, if you can call it that. Its really just a hidious alien head flying around in a metal box. The outer shell is wonderfully detailed with an insane amount of sculpted rivets, hoses, welded panels, etc. Even the coloring of the plastic and the paintwork conspire brilliantly to give this thing a realistic and weathered metal finish. There are red tinted windows on the front and back, both of which open to reveal the head inside. The front is hinged, whereas the back one just pops right off.

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The head is blue-green with yellow eyes and a series of black plates covering the mouth. I can’t vouch that this is what they actually looked like because I never got close enough to one in the game to peek inside, but I know that Resaurus worked closely with the concept art so there’s no reason to doubt them on this one. There’s a chaingun molded onto the side of the figure’s bottom, near its levitating thrusters. On the downside, this guy doesn’t stand very well. I’m thinking maybe it would have been worthwhile to release him on his own and include a clear flight stand of some kind to help him out and give him a levitating effect. Some day I may try to repurpose one of my DCUC stands to do the trick.

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As expected, the Technician doesn’t offer much articulation, just a claw arm on the front that rotates and two smaller arms on the back sides that rotate. All three of which can be removed. One of the smaller arms on the side is pretty tough to get pegged in properly as it bumps up against part of the mold.

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Like the Marines, The Iron Maiden is still available if you know where to look. She pops up on Ebay frequently and can even still be found in the forgotten corners of some web dealers’ online catalogs. She’s also argueably the most common of the whole Quake II assortment. You shouldn’t have to pay much more then $15 for her, and that’s a pretty good deal for two very well executed figures and a whole lot of plastic for your money. And that wraps up the Quake II line. As I said in the previous post, I would have loved to show off the Strogg Tank. He was a magnificent figure, and definitely the showpiece for the whole line. Ah, but like most of my Duke Nukem figures, he wasn’t built to last. Despite surviving in storage for about six years, I had him out once and posed him on my shelf and after just a few minutes he tottered over, hit the carpet and broke into at least a half dozen pieces. As much as I loved him, there’s no chance of me replacing him any time soon as he goes for quite a lot of money these days.

My box from Matty arrived yesterday, so I should get around to posting Evil Lyn, Hordak and Peter Venkman tomorrow.

Quake II: Marine Major and Jungle Marine Athena by Resaurus

So, last time we looked at the tragic tale of upstart toy company, Resaurus and their Duke Nukem figure. But Resaurus’ Duke line was far from a one shot deal. This was a company that delivered on some really good video game action figures from Street Fighter to Crash Bandicoot and some of those can be damn pricey these days. But for my money, their best looking line of figures came out of the Quake II franchise. It’s a fitting situation since at the time Quake II was everywhere. If you were even slightly into PC gaming you were absolutely saturated by it. In addition to doing a few figures based on the game’s horde of baddies, Resaurus also made two good guys: A male and female Marine, each packaged with a monster. Let’s turn the camera around on this First Person Shooter and see who’s holding the guns!

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The male Marine is just called Marine Major (if he had a name, I don’t remember it) and he comes packaged with a Barracuda monster. The Major is big and buff and one hell of a fantastic sculpt. The amount of detail on this figure really is impressive. He has a flattop buzz cut and a vicious sneer with a well placed trickle of blood coming out the corner of his grimace. His arms are bulging with muscles and veins and he’s got a bloody bandage wrapped around his left arm and a strap of grenades around his right. His combat outfit is a messy hodgepodge of plates, exposed electrical components and hoses. Its pretty worn and there are several bullet impacts situated about. There’s even sculpted treads on the bottom of his boots. The sculpt and paintwork here is just oozing with love for the project. It’s like the designers didn’t know when to stop, and I mean that in every possible good way.

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Marine Major is slightly pre-posed and intended to be holding out both his weapons, but he still has good, serviceable articulation. His head rotates, his arms rotate at the shoulders and have swivels in the biceps arms. There are no hinges in the elbows and they are molded in a slightly bent position. His legs rotate at the hips and he does have hinged knees. No, he’s not super articulated, but there’s enough here to make him a solid and fun action figure rather than just a collectible statue trying to pass for a figure.

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Of course, Quake II is all about the guns, and that idea wasn’t lost on Resaurus as The Major comes with two massive weapons: The missile launcher, with a removable missile clip, and a minigun-style rifle. The detail on these weapons is as impressive as the figure itself. In fact, I’d dare say these are some of the best weapon sculpts for a figure in this scale that I’ve ever seen. You can count all the rivets and there’s textured plating sculpted right in. He can easily hold both weapons at once, although how he could remain standing while firing them is beyond me… and yet he does! Clearly this guy is ready to murder him some Strogg.

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Of course, The Major needs someone to shoot with those big damn guns and so he comes with the Baraccuda pack-in figure, which apart from being another really nice sculpt, doesn’t really do anything. Nope, this is just a hefty piece of nicely sculpted rubbery plastic. I’m not complaining as it’s still a wonderful looking piece, but considering the size of the Marine and his two weapons, its a very nice bonus for an already well rounded package. You rarely get this much stuff in a carded figure. Poor Baraccuda… I don’t think he really has a chance against those guns.

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The femme fatale of the line actually has a name, Athena, although she was also known as the Jungle Marine. She comes with the more substatial of the two monster pack-ins, the Strogg Dog, but that’s probably because she and her weapons are much less bulkier than the Major and use less plastic. Athena is a really nice figure, but the sculpt isn’t quite as impressive as the Major. I think the main problem I have with her is the thin head and the vacant stare. Her face just doesn’t have the same expressive character as the Major, although she is fairly attractive and sports a decent bit of clevage and a pony tail. Too bad she’s almost wall-eyed. Her combat outfit isn’t as complex as the Major’s either, but it still has loads of detail and the same awesome little bullet notches and battlewear. As her title implies, the cloth parts of her outfit are camoed green for a jungle environment. Oh, and that Quake I tattoo on her arm? That’s like a big wet kiss straight from the designers. Athena has the same basic articulation as the Major. She has a rotating head, rotating shoulders, and swivels in her upper arms. Her legs rotate at the hips and she has hinged knees.

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So as not to discriminate against the fairer sex, Athena also comes with two weapons. Sure, they’re both a little smaller than The Major’s guns, but she’s got to be able to hold them so fair is fair. She has a combat shotgun, and what I think is an assault rifle, although it looks more like a really bulky pistol. Its been a long time since I played Quake II, so the weapon inventory is escaping me. They both have great detail, but overall they are not nearly as impressive as the Major’s arsenal.

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Of course, to make up for her smaller size and smaller weapons, she comes with a much bigger pack-in monster, the Strogg Dog. Rather than just a sculpted piece of PVC, this Strogg pooch is more like a second action figure as he has rotating joints on all four of his legs in addition to a big bendy tenticle-arm that comes out of his back and over his head. The sculpting on this figure is just amazing and I love the way the soft quishy organic bits contrast with the harsh metal cyborg components. The fact that this is just a pack-in piece and not really the main attraction just goes to show how much work Resaurus put into this line. You just wouldn’t see this kind of stuff on the pegs nowadays.

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From my experience the Quake II figures are easier to find than most of Resaurus’ Duke Nukem toys. You can still scare up carded examples of both these figures for under $20 each if you look hard enough and that’s really not a bad price for figures of this size and quality. Also worth noting, these figures are much, much better made than the self-destructing Duke Nukem figures, so you don’t have to worry about breakage. Alas, the same can’t be said for the enormous Strogg Tank, as mine broke into so many places that I won’t be able to review him here. But next time I’ll round out the rest of the series by lookng at the Iron Maiden and Strogg Technician.

 

Duke Nukem by Resaurus

Let’s keep the video game figure ball rolling with another treasure reclaimed from my closet of totes. Ever heard of Resaurus? If you’ve been an action figure collector for a while, you probably have. While I distinctly remember seeing some of their products on the pegs in Toys R Us and the KB Toys Outlet, most of their wares seemed to be peddled online or at indie comic shops. Nonetheless, there was a time when it looked like this upstart little toy company was going to go places. They had an awesome website that I used to have loads of fun perusing, which featured all sorts of cool video game related figures from Street Fighter to Quake to Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot. They also involved the fans in their process by showing off prototypes and talking up future waves and generally encouraging fan input at a time before the now established Internet Q&A sessions. Then Resaurus closed down, never to be heard from again. Seriously, it seemed to happen overnight, and a lot of their planned figures sadly never saw production.

It seems almost morbidly fitting that one of the game franchises Resaurus got hold of was Duke Nukem, another name that fell on hard times and disappeared into the past. The story behind Duke Nukem’s decline from video game icon to washed up has-been as far more tortured than I can go into here, but feel free to insert your favorite double entendre using the title of his last planned game, Duke Nukem Forever. Either way, just keep in mind, these figures came out back when Duke was still a big name in video games. He had conquered the computer, going from shareware sidescroller to king of the First Person Shooter, and was in the process of invading the game consoles. It was a time when the king and queen of video games was Duke Nukem and Lara Croft. But this was before the poor guy went out with a wimper. Death by eternal release delays of Duke Nukem Forever.

Anywho, I ordered the entire initial assortment of Duke Nukem figures when they were first available. They were delicate as all hell, and sadly, few of them survived unscathed to this day. Keep in mind these figures spent their lives standing on display shelves or wrapped in plastic in a secure roughneck tote. They haven’t exactly been stressed with the rigors of play and yet when I unwrapped Duke today to talk about him, the trigger guard on one of his guns promptly crumbled to dust in my hand. No shit. Imagine if kids actually played with these things! The other figures didn’t fare much better. Long ago, both arms fell off my Pig Cop, and my Battlelord figure took a swan dive off the shelf onto a carpeted floor and literally shattered. In retrospect, I wish I had just glued them back together, but in a fit of rage I tossed them. I didn’t even save their weapons. I had the Octabrain too, but I have no idea what happened to it. I suspect it might have vaporized while in storage.

But Duke survived, and he is a pretty decent figure, so long as you don’t plan on rough housing with him in the sandbox. The sculpt is pretty good. The detail isn’t overwhelming, but his muscles are well defined and you can even see the tendons bulging in his manly arms. His outfit is a simple sculpt and mainly detailed with paint apps for his blue trousers and black boots. He has a soft plastic harness and belt combo, which I’m surprised has lasted this long without crumbling away. The harness straps have molded shotgun shells and ammo pouches and his trademark Nuke symbol beltbuckle. His head sculpt is pretty much spot on, complete with trademark sneer, sculpted on shades and blonde flattop buzzcut. Its definitely Duke, alright.

The articulation isn’t the best, but it is an older figure and it doesn’t reflect the vast improvements that the industry has since seen. Duke’s head turns, his arms rotate at the shoulders and his legs rotate at the hips. He has swivel cuts in his forearms and wrists and his knees are hinged. He’s nowhere near as bad as some of the statues that pass for video game figures, even today.

Duke does come with a number of accessories. He has a large double barreled weapon called The Devastator. He holds it in each hand and it can be pegged to his back like a backpack. He has two smaller SMG’s, one of which, as noted above, is now missing a trigger guard. He’s also got a blood splattered combat knife. The SMG’s and the combat knife are all pegged and can clip onto holes on the sides of his legs, which is admittedly a really nice touch.

Like I said, I really wish I had attempted to save the other figures. Even if glueing them meant nullifying their articulation, I still would have liked to have had them for display as they were all really great looking figures. I can’t really recommend hunting these figures down, because they’re surprisingly scarce on Ebay, probably because they were so prone to breakage. The Duke figures are actually easiest and cheapest to scrounge up, especially the repaint variant, Night Strike Duke, but the aliens will require some pretty signifcant wallet diving for figures that tend to break if you look at them funny. If you do hunt them down, my recommendation would be to leave them mint on card.

Maximo Vs The Army of Zin: Figures by BMA Toys

After looking at DCU’s figures from Resistance, I thought I’d keep the video game theme going by digging through my totes and looking at some more game inspired toys and figures this weekend. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, Maximo was a game exclusive to the PS2 and developed by Capcom as a sort of unofficial revamp to the old coin-op favorite, Ghosts & Goblins. The game was a love it or hate it affair, mainly because of the steep difficulty curve. It was followed by a more forgiving sequel called Maximo vs The Army of Zin and its really on that game, which the figures we are going to look at today are based.

Keep in mind that these aren’t the first time figures have been released based on the Maximo franchise. The first was a figure-statue that EB Games was giving away with pre-orders placed for the original game. Next, there was a short lived series of figures based on that game as well. When the sequel came out, so too did more figures. With the exception of the incentive statue, these figures were pretty easy to find at reduced prices through any number of online retailers. I passed on the first game’s figures, but after seeing them over and over again, I finally picked up Maximo and Tinker for next to nothing.

The Army of Zin figures were made by a company called BMA Toys. I’ve never heard of them before, but that’s probably explained by their logo on the cardbacks that proudly exclaims they’ve been in business since 2003, probably the very year these figures were released. Why the hell would anybody boast that they’ve been in business for a whole year, I have no idea. I did a little digging on them and it looks like they’re already out of business, as their website is shut down. Apparently, they were actually last heard from while exhibiting at the 2004 Toy Fair where they announced plans to base figures off of some other video game licenses. Ah well. Let’s take a look at a piece of the legacy they left behind.

I kept these figures carded for a lot longer than I usually do, but at some point I was making room in my closet and well, loose figures take up less space, so I opened them. I don’t have any photos of the package, but the figures came mounted on simple cardbacks. The cards aren’t terribly exciting and pretty much let the figure do the talking. There is a sidebar that shows that these figures are designed so that the bottoms of their feet interlock with legos. I always thought that was a cool idea. The back panel of the cards show some conceptual drawings and pictures of all eight figures in the line. Let’s start with Maximo…

I’m not at all crazy about Maximo’s head sculpt. Its true he looked a little different in the second game, mainly more mature, but the figure makes him look not so much more mature, but just creepier. In fact, he looks like Zombie Maximo. His face is emaciated and scarred and his eyes are really big. The rest of the sculpt is pretty good, though, especially the detail in his armor and the paint apps are pretty solid.

Solid sculpt aside, a closer look at the figure suggests why BMA Toys didn’t last too long. Maximo is not what I would consider a real quality figure. The plastic has an overly soft feel to it, espeically the head. The joints are more than a bit wobbly and feel like they may pull out if given just a bit of force. In fact, his right leg detaches at the knee frequently during handling. The neck joint especially wants to pull every time you turn his head, and when you do turn his head it just slowly returns to its original position.

Maximo’s articulation is pretty good for a figure in this scale. His arms rotate at the shoulders, have hinged elbows and swivel at the wrists. He swivels at the waist, his legs rotate at the hips and his knees are hinged. I’m barely counting the neck as a point of articulation because the head really feels like it doesn’t want to turn without breaking.

Maximo comes with three accessories: A sword, a shield and a figure stand. The sword and shield are both ok. The sword does have a bit of paint slop on it, but the sculpt is faithful to the game and it fits in his hand well. The shield is sculpted very nicely with a decent black and gray pattern and it clips onto the wrist of his other hand, but no matter where on his arm or wrist I place it, the clip doesn’t want to stay clipped very well. The stand is textured like a stone floor. It has three large pegs, none of which fit the pegs on the feet all that well, unless a lot of force is applied. The reverse of the base is socketed to interact with Legos.

Tinker is a tomboyish redhead girl in overalls who I think was responsible for making the robots you fight in the game, but its been a while, so don’t hold me to that. Either way, she was some kind of mechanical genius, hence her name. The character design is nothing special, but the sculpt and paint apps are both excellent. Her overalls offer just a hint of tried-and-true anime girl cleavage, her pants are rolled up to her knees and she’s wearing work boots and gloves. She’s also got a tool belt with various pouches and sculpted tools.

Tinker is surprisingly different from Maximo in that there’s a lot less articulation but the quality of the figure seems overall better. Her arms rotate at the shoulders, her legs rotate at the hips, her wrists swivel and her head turns. And that’s it. Her right hand is molded so as to hold a little hammer she comes with, while her left hand is a bit bent at the elbow, and I believe her hand is molded to be adjusting the silver goggles that can be placed on her head.

Tinker is a lot smaller in stature then Maximo and while she does come with a figure stand, her little hammer and goggles don’t add up to all the plastic used for Maximo and his sword and shield. Luckily she does come with one more item.

This is without a doubt, the coolest toy treasure chest I’ve ever seen. This big medieval style chest is like its own little work of art. Its got textured wood panels with hammered iron fringe and rivets holding it together and a big clasp that latches on the lock ring to hold it closed. flip the latch and it springs open to reveal a giant pile of gold with a clear diamond on top. The pile of gold is actually set on a spring, so that it depresses when you close the lid. The diamond is a separate piece and can be removed. Seriously, folks, if you need a treasure chest for fantasy or medieval or pirate figures close to this scale, Tinker is worth buying just for this chest alone.

All in all these are ok figures, but if this was their best effort, its easy to see why BMA didn’t make it. Because they’re so delicate, these figures definitely make better collectibles than toys, as Maximo would never withstand any kind of playwear before his joints became too loose to hold him. The only reason why Tinker is much better is because she doesn’t have the same level of articulation. If you can find these on the cheap, and I’m guessing you can, they aren’t a total loss. I think the really sad thing is that BMA had some interesting and possibly innovative ideas here, what with the lego interactivity, but they dropped the ball on simple durability and quality. In a way a way, I’m sorry I opened them.

Transformers Universe: Micromaster Constructicons by Hasbro

I really dig small Transformers. I was hooked on the Mini-cons like crack and their spiritual predecessors, the Micromasters were just as awesome. Yeah, these figures are really simple, but they’re so highly collectible, I can’t help but have totes full of the little buggers. My favorite of all the little guys were the combiners. And since Devastator has always been my favorite combiner, there was never any doubt that I would have to pick up the Micromaster version of him put out by Takara a while back as Sixbuilder.

Of course, the original Sixbuilder didn’t come standard in the iconic green and purple Devastator colors, but rather each of the six figures were available in these colors as chase figures. If you were in Japan, it was probably a maddening prospect to get them all, since these figures were blind packaged. In other words, you bought the little box and had no idea who was inside until you got him open. I was lucky enough to find an auction a while back that was selling a whole case of them, which guaranteed at least one of each chase figure.

Later, these figures were released in the US under the Transformers Universe moniker. They were carded similar to basic class figures and were KBToys exclusives. That meant that you were probably better off flying to Japan and trying your luck with the blind packaging, then finding them in the US. Back in my golden age of toy hunting, I actually once spotted three or four of them hanging on the pegs of a KBToys Outlet store, but never the whole set.

Unlike the original Constructicons, which were a team of five, there were six of thee guys, hense the name Sixbuilder. The figures consisted of Hightower, the boom crane. Quickmix, the cement mixer. Bonecrusher, the bullsozer. Long Haul, the dump truck. Scavenger, the steam shovel. And Buckethead, the earth mover. Obviously, Hasbro lost some of the trademarks of the original names over the years and had to get creative. Plus, these were the names of the American figures. With names like Crush Bull and Gran Arm, I’m not even going to go into the Japanese names.

Naturally, the figures are simple to transform, but there’s still a really nice amount of detail on them, both in robot and vehicle form. They all roll nicely in vehicle form and many of them have moving parts like Hightower’s crane or Buckethead’s scoop. They all have tiny stamped Decepticon logos, their little faces are even painted, and in many cases, their articulation isn’t much worse than the original G1 figures.

Like the original Constructicons, these guys rely on a number of add-on parts to complete their gestalt form. Each figure came with one of these pieces and consisted of a frame for his torso and pelvis, two feet, two hands, a head and a gun. The cool thing about these little Constructions is that their spare parts, when not being used to form Devastator, can be used to build an attack jet that one of the robots can ride in.

I have no idea what the Takara figures sell for nowadays, but you can usually find a set of the US ones on Ebay in the $50 range. Its a fair amount of money for such small and simple toys, but if you happen to be a MOC collector, that would be the best way to go. I’ve never owned the US set, but I have to admit they do look fantastic in their packaging. Either way, these are great little figures and well worth tracking down, especially if you are a Devastator nut like myself.

Resistance: Steelhead and Chimera Advanced Hybrid by DC Unlimited

I used to be a real video game junkie. These days, I still play them, but in far more moderated quantities. I didn’t pick up a PS3 until earlier this year, and that was primarily for its Blu Ray capabilities. I did, however, buy two games with it that I was dying to play, Uncharted and Resistance: Fall of Man. I wouldn’t call Resistance a “must play” experience (although Uncharted sure is!), but as far as first person shooters go, it was a really solid effort and I had fun playing it. I really dig the enemy designs used in the game, so when word was out that the franchise was getting some figures, I was certainly interested.

I started my collection with two of the Chimera forces: Steelhead and the Chimera Advanced Hybrid. The sculpts on these figures are just plain outrageous.

I really dig the packaging on these figures. They come in compact little clamshells with artwork insert all around. Its a sealed clamshell, so it isn’t at all collector friendly, but the insert is designed so that it can double as a backdrop if you can get it out without shredding it. It also opens up to show off some of the Ratchet & Clank figures. The back has a blurb about the game, Resistance 2 actually, and photos of the four figures in this first series.

The Steelhead is my favorite of the two, mainly because of his cybernetic implants. I love the detail work on his backpack and especially the tubes feeding out of it into the front of his harnass. They’re red rubber and very flexible, so no worries of stress or breakage. He’s got goggles for his multiple eyes and, naturally the steel plate running up the center of his head like a short mohawk. Every bit of his skin is textured as are his pants. He’s got armor plates and buckles and straps all over too. Like the sculpt, Steelhead’s paint apps are wonderfully executed. There are several different apps to his skin, like the red wash around his cracked shoulders and upper arms and his cybernetic parts are a realistic mix of silver, gray and black. There’s bright yellow accents on his goggles and some of the indicators on his backpack’s instruments. Beautiful!

Steelhead comes with an assault rifle, which is also very nicely sculpted. His hands are flexible enough to grip it, and firm enough so that once he’s got it in his mitts, he isn’t going to drop it. He also comes with a black disc figure stand, pegged for one of his feet and with “Resistance” printed on it. Its a nice bonus, but this figure is so solid, he can stand fine on his own in a number of great poses.

Next up is the Advanced Hybrid, and while Steelhead is my favorite, this guy is no slouch either. He has a lot more detail in his head sculpt, since he isn’t wearing the goggles. He’s every bit as fugly as he should be and DC did a remarkable job sculpting out the details in his jaw muscles and his formidable teeth and multiple eyes. Like Steelhead, every inch of his skin is covered with texturing or details in his muscles. His armor is all sculpted on, but its executed well enough so that it looks like its removable, especially the shoulder and leg plating. All the good stuff about Steelhead’s paint apps apply to this fellow as well, but they really went all out on his head, particularly the crimson hue around his beady little yellow eyes… all six of them!

Like Steelhead, the Advanced Hybrid comes with a figure stand and a weapon. His gun is smaller, like an assault carbine, but no less detailed.

With sculpts and paint this good, I was afraid these guys would be glorified statues, but their articulation is actually very good. They have balljointed heads, their arms have balljointed shoulders, hinged elbows and swivels in the biceps and wrists. Their legs rotate at the hips and they have hinged knees and balljointed ankles. Not bad at all.

I just can’t say enough great things about these figures. The sculpts and paint apps are outstanding and the articulation is solid. They run $13.99 a piece, which is right on par with most of the video game related figures on the pegs these days. I actually think they’re a pretty good value, considering that they have something of a niche audience. I think the best thing I can say about them, though, is that even if I had never played the games, I probably still would have grabbed them up. They are just that good.

They are smaller than a lot of the video game figures on the pegs, though, aiming more for the 5″ scale, but I’m perfectly happy with that since it puts them right into the same scale as my Doctor Who figures. I certainly hope we see more of these figures beyond this series, particularly some of the allied fighters from the first game in their WWII style fatigues.

Battlestar Galactica: Stealth Warrior Cylon by Diamond Select

I’m old enough to have been a fan of the original Battlestar Galactica and for the first three seasons of the new series, I thought it was a one of the best sci-fi series of all time. After that it went into the crapper faster than shit through a daggit. I’m not going to go into the tortured mess that the show finished as, but suffice it to say I barely made it to the end, and I shouldn’t have bothered. But none of that really has anything to do with today’s post. The fact of the matter is, I loved the Cylons from the original series, and I really liked the retro-style Cylons that were briefly seen from time to time in the new series.

I have no intention of collecting a bunch of Battlestar Galactica figures, but I’ve been jonesing for one of the retro-style Cylon figures ever since I first saw them. On my recent trip to Toys R Us, I found one hanging on the peg and grabbed it up really fast. Now, the one I’m looking at today is the TRU Exclusive Stealth Warrior Cylon. I really didn’t even notice that until I got him to the checkout. I’d have preferred the regular flavor, but since he’s basically just a darker version of the same figure, and they didn’t have any others, I was happy enough with what I got.

The packaging is serviceable, but nothing special. Its a bland card with a huge bubble. As big as the figure is, there’s still a fair amount of unused space in the bubble. The Battlestar Galactica logo and the figure’s name are both printed inserts. There’s an embossed sticker on the bubble to show its a TRU exclusive. Nothing terribly exciting about the presentation here.

The retro-style of this figure comes from the use of what is essentially the old style Cylon head from the original series. The body is redesigned to be bulkier and less streamlined than the Centurians from the new series, but still a lot more machine like than the suits of armor used for the original series Cylons. Portions of his arms and legs are little more than robotic framework and he’s got all sorts of exposed hoses and hydraulics. His backpack is a nod back to the original Cylons and I really dig the array of ammo clips he has circling his waist. The result is a retconned predecessor to the new Centurians from a pretty cool mix of old and new, all of which is executed really well through an amazing sculpt.

The Cylon’s articulation is exceptionally well done as it makes not only for great poseability but really accentuates the overall design. The head moves from side to side, the arms feature balljoints in the shoulders, hinged elbows and swivel cuts both right above the elbow and at the wrists. The legs have hinges in the hips, double hinges in the knees to give his legs a chicken-like appearance, and hinges in the ankles. There are simulated functional hydraulics in both his biceps and the back of his lower legs.

The figure comes with only one accessory, an old style machine gun. I’m still kind of iffy on the choice to have the Cylons use conventional firearms in the series, rather than the lasers. I realize it was by design to add more realism to the show, and I suppose its really just a matter of taste. Either way, the machine gun is nicely detailed, but there’s a bit of a disconnect in its design, since it obviously wouldn’t fit any of the ammo clips hanging around the Cylon’s waist. It makes me think he was intended to come with a second, larger weapon.

Mr. Stealth Warrior Cylon cost $13.99, which is a pretty good price considering he’s pretty big and has loads of detail. I’m not one to usually just buy one or two pieces from a figure line, but in this case, I just love the figure’s design so much that I couldn’t resist. Eventually I’d like to pick this guy up in the regular chromed variety as well as the gold version too. Ah, now if only Diamond made some that were to scale with my Doctor Who figures. I guess I’ll just have to settle for a Star Trek crossover.