MOTU Classics: Mer-Man by Mattel

This one has been sitting on my harddrive for a while now and is long overdue. Its just been a really shitty couple of weeks, I’m begrudgingly considering a career change, and I just haven’t had much time for my diversions. But today I just decided to make some time, hoping that posting an entry would maybe cheer me up. And so, here we go…

Coming into collecting the Masters of the Universe Classics line at the beginning of this year, I had a lot of catching up to do. Some of the figures I was able to grab on Ebay without getting beaten up too badly, but there were a couple that were going for far more than I wanted to pay. Mer-Man was one of those pricey figures, so I was really happy to see Matty giving him a re-release. I was also really happy to see that he didn’t sell out right away, because on Sale Day, I didn’t get to my computer until a couple hours after Zero Hour. I sure as hell missed out on Optikk, but good old Mer-Man was still waiting for me.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have batteries for my camera when this figure arrived. I went out the next morning to get some fresh ones, but by then it was too late and I already ripped him open. So, no in-package pics this time. Not that it really matters, because there’s no difference between this guy and the dozen or so other MOTU Classics figures I’ve looked at. You get the same awesome retro-styled cardback. The only interesting change here is that he didn’t arrive in one of those white mailer boxes. Some may get pissed off at this, but it really doesn’t matter to me, it all just winds up in the trash.

Virtually every bit of what makes Mer-Man a unique figure is found in his armor and head sculpts, as his base figure is pretty unremarkable and generic. It uses the standard He-man pelvis, with green belt and yellow furry diaper. The arms and legs are from Skeletor, with the grieves and bracers painted yellow. The rest of his body has a pretty cool blueish-green tint to his skin that gives off just a hint of metallic sheen and makes him look rather fishy.

Fortunately, Mer-Man’s chest armor covers a lot and goes a long way to make him look like a fresh figure. The chest armor is great, as its made to look like it was fashioned from fish bones and shell and it even has a clip on the back to store his sword. The head sculpts are both really well done. Yes, he comes with two heads, one to match his vintage style and one to look more like his 200x counterpart. I like them both. Right now I’m going with the vintage style, but chances are I’ll go with the newer sculpt once Stinkor gets a release, as he’ll most likely use a repaint of the Mer-Man head as with the vintage figures. I will note some disappointment that Mer-Man’s left hand is sculpted in an open position and is therefore quite useless. Its annoying that he can’t grasp his trident with both hands or hold his sword in the off hand.

Besides the extra head, Mer-Man comes with two other accessories: A trident staff and a sword. Both accessories are nicely sculpted with an underwater theme. Like his armor, they look like they’re fashioned from bone and shell. The sword is really awesome and its blade is even serrated like shark teeth.

Mer-Man has the standard MOTU Classics articulation, which includes a ball jointed neck and shoulders. His arms have hinged elbows and swivel cuts in the biceps and wrists. His hips have universal joints, his knees and ankles are hinged. He can swivel at the waist and he has a large hinged joint in his torso. Good stuff.

All in all, this is a really solid figure. Although, Mer-Man has never been one of my favorite of Skeletor’s minions, he was a core character and thus an important figure in my collection. Picking up Mer-Man pretty much brings me up to date on the “must have” figures in the MOTU Classics line. There are still a few I’m missing like He-Ro, Stratos and now Optikk, but as far as the core characters go, I’m finally content with what I have. Of course, the bad guys are starting to outnumber the good guys on my shelf, so hopefully Matty will start throwing some more of He-Man’s buddies our way soon.

Doctor Who: The 7th Doctor with Electronic TARDIS by Character Options

Last week was busy for Doctor Who collectors, and for many it was also a disappointing one. In one day we were hit with the 7th Doctor & TARDIS set, the 4th Doctor & TARDIS set, and a brand new version of the 1st Doctor from the pilot episode, An Unearthly Child. Besides dealing with the cost, these toys were issued in pretty limited supplies Stateside and as such unless you were lucky enough to pre-order what you wanted, chances are you missed the tiny window in which these remained on e-tailers’ websites. In many ways it was a similar experience to what Masters of the Universe fans face on Matty Collector’s site just about every month, only we Who fans didn’t even have a specific time as to when these would be available for purchase.

I was lucky enough to get a pre-order in for this, the 7th Doctor set, the one I wanted the most, but I would have liked to have picked up theUnearthly Child figure as well and I’ll have to bite the bullet and hunt him down somewhere. The 4th Doctor & TARDIS set is pretty cool, but I just couldn’t justify dropping $100 on two TARDIS sets in one month, so I went with the 7th Doctor, mainly because he’s a new version (albeit just a repaint), whereas the 4th Doctor is the exact same figure I already own.

Let’s get the figure out of the way first.

The 7th Doctor’s early stories were pretty flippant and silly, but as time wore on, they took on a much darker style and his outfit evolved to portray that change. His jacket went from cream to dark brown, his paisely scarf got darker, even his tie got darker. This repainted figure reflects those changes really well and the quality of the paint job is excellent. Unfortunately, CO didn’t take the opportunity to give us a new head sculpt, and while a smiling Sylvester McCoy may have been appropriate in the outfit from his more whimsical days, its pretty out of place in this darker attire. This figure should have definitely been issued with a more serious and somber head sculpt. Apart from that everything is the same as the previous release. He has the same articulation and the same umbrella accessory. Its a great figure, and I think the repaint makes him well worth owning in addition to the previous release.

And now… the TARDIS.

Casual and newer fans of the show may be surprised to learn that the iconic Police Box, the one constant throughout the entire series, wasn’t so constant. Sure, the TARDIS remained a Police Box, but the prop saw a number of variations over the years. You can actually go mad studying the slight (and some not so slight) differences in the TARDIS props. The package says this is supposed to be the TARDIS from the episode The Curse of Fenric, but it actually better matches the one used for the 7th Doctor’s earlier stories, or even the later 6th Doctor stories. Either way, its significantly different than the one used in the 2005 series as its slightly shorter, considerably narrower, has much smaller windows, and the sign on the door is blue instead of white.

One thing you should know about this toy is that it is not just a redesigned version of CO’s previously released Flight Control TARDIS. Its a much simpler and somewhat lesser quality toy with fewer features. There are no interior lights, which actually makes sense, since the windows on the classic TARDISes didn’t have that interior glow like the ones in the current series do. It still has the take off and landing sounds, activated by picking it up or setting it down, and a flashing lamp on top, but there’s no more vortex sound or humming when its at rest. Consider this, a stripped down version of the Flight Control TARDIS.

The doors on this model are designed to work in a similar manner to the Flight Control TARDIS, but they don’t. There is still an opening cubby for the phone, but its bigger on this model, and so that door won’t open in very far at all. The other door is designed to lock in an open position and can be released by pushing a button on the floor. Unfortunately, the door usually won’t stay open at all, instead it just springs closed. I’ve gotten it to stick open a few times, but its not as solid as my other TARDIS.

Probably the most frustrating thing about this TARDIS is that Character Option chose to leave the interior completely unfinished. Open the door and look in and its just an empty box. It would have been easy for them to include an insert of the classic console room to brighten things up.

All things being equal, its a bit tough to justify the $50 price tag on this set. Unfortunately, it had a very limited production run and even fewer than those came Stateside, so if you missed out on the initial offering, you’ll probably have to pay a premium. Some may seriously regret dropping more than fifty bucks on this set once they get it in hand. Don’t get me wrong. There was a time when this set would have been like a dream come true and I probably would have paid double to own it. But since then, Character Options has given us a huge number of fantastic Doctor Who figures and toys and now I’ve come to expect better. It just goes to show how far we’ve come that we can be so discriminating about a set of Doctor Who toys.

Danger Girl: 1:6 Scale Abbey Chase by Dragon

J. Scott Campbell’s Danger Girl is something one might call a flash in the pan. The franchise produced a fair number of books beyond its initial series, but you don’t see too many real devoted Danger Girl fans these days. To say it was derivitive would be quite an understatment, as the concept is basically James Bond meets Charlies Angels meets Indiana Jones meets a Russ Meyer film. You can call it fanservice, call it shallow, call it a shameless T&A show, but I fell in love with the original series the first time I read it and have been picking up whatever books or merchandising have come my way ever since. One of my favorite items released was this 1:6 scale Abbey Chase figure by Dragon. I don’t buy a lot of 12″ scale figures, so I am by no means a connoisseur of this format, but if I really like a character and he or she is offered in this format, chances are I’ll pick it up.

The packaging here is pretty awesome. It features a standard box with a velcro-latching front flap that opens to reveal a window that shows off Abbey and with all her gear and accessories neatly laid out beside her. The box is littered with conceptual sketches for the comic, along with a nice full-body portrait in color of Abbey herself. The box is also totally collector friendly. Just open the top flap and the tray slides right out.

Going from 2D comic artwork to 3D sculpts doesn’t always work well, but I really think Dragon did an exceptional job with Abbey’s likeness. Some may gripe about the fact that she doesn’t have rooted hair, but in this case, I’m glad they went with the sculpted, as it maintains the style of her character all the better, and I don’t know that it would have translated as well with a rooted hair system. That’s not to say the hair couldn’t have used a bit more detail in the texturing. The face is pretty good, especially the nose and lips. I do think McFarlane did a slightly better job capturing her appearance with their six-inch figure/statue, but what’s here is still pretty damn fine. The facial paint apps are overall good as well, but a little inconsistant around the eyes.

Abbey uses Dragon’s “Neo Body,” which may sound misleading, since this figure is quite old now and to be honest, I have no idea what that means anyway. I realize that avid collectors of the 1:6 scale figures get really picky about the finer points of articulation, but as I mentioned, I only dip my toes into this scale of figure every now and then and so a level of articulation that may seem to me to be perfectly fine, may be severely lacking to others. In the case of Abbey, I’m pretty happy with what she’s capable of doing. Her overall body shape manages to hold the ridiculous comic style proportions, although I think Dragon infused her with a little touch of realism. They certainly didn’t cheat her in the boob department, and her top shows off her molded high beams quite well. Abbey also has molded gloves on her hands. The hands are pretty soft, so she can grip her gun or her phone, but not much else. But more on that in a minute.

Abbey’s outfit consists of her iconic black and green leather/cloth pants with black boots, a tight fitting top that exposes her midriff, and a black and green leather/cloth jacket that matches her pants. The outfit fits her really well and the mix of faux leather and cloth is well done. She also comes with a belt and holster, which is technically part of her accessories, since it comes grouped with the rest of her gear, but since I never take it off of her, I decided to mention it here. The holster straps around her thigh and the belt has her trademark “DG” belt buckle.

Abbey does come with a fair amount of stuff, but only about half of it is really useful. The other half is just too tiny for her to hold. Included is an automatic pistol, extra clip, flashlight and holder, cell phone and holder, sunglasses three pieces of tech, and a satchel. Let’s start with the good stuff…

The automatic pistol is a really nice sculpt and painted very well, but the clip is not detachable, which makes the extra clip we get a bit useless. The cell phone is pretty cool, it has a flip down face, a belt pouch to store it in, and she can hold it very well. The sunglasses puzzled me when I first opened this figure. The arms don’t fold, so you can’t clip them to her top, and with her molded hair, she didn’t seem to be able to wear them. On closer inspection, though, you can see that her hair is molded separately from her head and she can actually wear the glasses quite well just by tucking the arm between her hair and face.

The rest of the stuff isn’t so great, mainly because she can’t use or hold most of it. The flashlight is too small for her to grip, although it does fit in its own holster that clips onto the belt. Likewise, the combat knife is too small for her to hold, and it doesn’t even come with a sheath, so unless you just tuck it into her belt or into her boot, there’s nothing you can do with it at all. I have no idea what the last three things are. I think one is a bomb, but all three are probably just supposed to be some high tech spy stuff. All of it fits neatly into her satchel, which is about all you can do with them. Considering how prevalent extra hands are with larger scale figures, it seems like Dragon could have thrown in an extra set so that she could interact with some of these pieces better. Or better yet, they could have scrapped most of this stuff and just given her another weapon.

The stand is a pretty humdrum affair, although it does serve its purpose. Its basically a metal rod with a clip on one end to go around the figure’s waist, and an opaque white little platform. A personalized stand with the Danger Girl logo would have been cool, but considering I’ve never gotten a stand with any of my other 1:6 scale figures, I’ll not do much complaining about this one.

I absolutely loved this figure when I got it way back when and I still do. She’s by no means perfect, and she may seem lacking compared to the twelve-inchers of today, but keep in mind, at about $39.99 new, she was not a high-end item at the time, and hence I think she was a pretty good value. Unfortunately, Danger Girl’s merchandising never went over that well leaving companies like McFarlane and Dragon holding the bag. McFarlane managed to get four figures out before calling it quits (we’ll take a look at them in the near future), but Dragon only released one more character in the 1:6 scale: Sidney Savage. At the time, I was pretty unhappy with some of the design choices they made with Sidney and her outfit, but we’ll take a look at her another time.

GI JOE VS COBRA: TRU Exclusive Cobra Rattler

The original Cobra Rattler was one of my all time favorite vehicles as a kid. Of course, as a kid, I didn’t really know anything about the equally cool real world A-10 Warthog on which it was based. All I knew was the Rattler was prominantly featured in the GI JOE cartoon, it could take off and land vertically, carry two figures, and was great for the Cobra head hanchos to fight over while trying to escape capture my incoming Joe forces. My original Rattler is long since gone, and considering how many sandbox crash landings it made during its lifetime, there probably wouldn’t have been much left of it anyway. I really wanted to pick up the more faithful Target exclusive reissue from a few years back, but never found it. Looks like I’ll have to settle for this consolation prize that I picked up for five bucks at a garage sale last weekend.

This repaint of the original Rattler was released as a Toys R Us exclusive back in 2002. Besides the new deco, the gunner station no longer came with an enclosed canopy and the toy was retro fitted with the gimmicky soundbox that came with many of the GI JOE VS COBRA toys of the time. This one that I found still has the original box and instructions and incredibly enough all the parts. The box is a tad worn, and there are no inserts, but all in all, not bad. I really love the box art and the back panel shows the toy itself with all of its features. This one is missing the Wild Weasel figure, so I grabbed a couple of contemporary Cobras to serve as stand ins.

There’s a few things that need to be put together when you dump this thing out of the box. I really miss the good old days when you had to put toys together. Actually, mine came with a lot of stuff already done. I just needed to attach the wings, soundbox, landing gear and bombs and missiles.

I actually really like the new paint deco for this toy. The copper and black with red trim really pop. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer the traditional Cobra blue of the original toy, but as far as re-decos go, this one isn’t too bad. You could almost use it for Serpentor’s private Rattler, since the gold sort of matches his Air Chariot. The stickers on mine were already applied and they all look nice and fresh.

What I absolutely hate is the use of the neon red plastic used for the gunner station ring and the bombs and missiles. Not only does it look awful, but the plastic used on the missiles and bombs is so soft that they don’t want to stay plugged into their sockets. The result is you’ll get a lot of inadvertantly dropped bombs if you try to woosh this thing around the room. I’m also not thrilled about the lack of the canopy on the gunners station.

One nice touch is the inclusion of two battle damaged panels that can be snapped in to replace the normal ones.

I’ve never been a fan of the soundboxes used on this era of Joe toys, but the one on this Rattler isn’t too obtrusive. Its mounted onto the piece that holds the wings to the fusilsage and there’s a corded piece that plugs in under one of the engines and holds a nice big minigun. The whole rig stays together very well. The soundbox on mine isn’t working, and I’m just not motivated enough to open it up and replace the batteries.

The current Joe figures will fit into both seats of this Rattler, but its a pretty tight fit. So, overall this piece is a pretty mixed bag. The redeco is nice and the toy itself retains most of what was cool about the original mold. I could have done without the soundbox,but its tucked neatly under the jet, so it isn’t as big a deal as some of the other vintage molds that were retrofitted with this gimmick during the time. Overall, the plastic used for the weapons payload is the only really awful thing about this toy. I am by no means a customizer, but in this case, I plan on getting some black and silver paint to do over the obnoxious neon parts. It’ll go a long way to making this one sweet ride.

Doctor Who: Cyberman Voice Changer Helmet by Character Options

Quite a few years ago, Hasbro cooked up an affordable toy replica of Darth Vader’s mask, threw some electronics into it and struck gold. Since then, we’ve seen the “voice changer helmet” appear in all sorts of toy lines from Star Wars to Street Racer to Iron Man 2 to Transformers and yes, even Character Options got into the mix with their Doctor Who line of toys. When these things are done right, they can appeal to kids, as well as collectors who don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for a high quality studio style replica. And the Cyberman helmet is certainly done right.

Sadly, I don’t have an in-box photo of the Cyberman helmet, as I’ve had it for quite a while now and the packaging has long since been tossed. It came in an open style package, very similar to Hasbro’s helmets, complete with a try me mode that let you test out the electronics. If you’ve purchased any boxed toy from CO’s Doctor Who line, then you have a pretty good idea about the style of artwork.

The coolest thing about the Cyberman helmet is that the design hasn’t been altered to conform to any toy safety regulations. You know, like the way the visor strips on the Hasbro Clone Trooper helmets are ridiculously large or the eye holes on the Iron Man helmets are massive. As a result, you get a pretty good prop-style replica of the 2005 Series Cyberman and hey, if that means a few kids have to fall down flights of stairs because they can’t see while wearing it, I suppose that’s a fair enough trade off.

The electronics feature the ubiquitous voice changing gimmick as well as a number of pre-recorded phrases and sounds, which can be activated by pressing the somewhat discrete buttons on the left side of his chin. Pressing the buttons also cause the lights in his mouth to light up blue while the sound or voice is firing. The speech is pretty loud and sounds just like the Cybermen in the TV series, and there are quotes from the series as well as some original ones. Here’s what he says:

  • You must be upgraded. Upgrading is compulsory.
  • You wil be deleted. Delete! Delete! Delete!
  • You will be taken for analysis. You will be upgraded or deleted.
  • You will be taken for upgrading.
  • You will become identical. You will become like us.
  • You will become like us or you will be deleted.
  • I am unit five-oblique nine-eight. I am Cyberform. Once I was human.
  • Resistance is illogical. You will be upgraded or you will be deleted.

Of course, the toy is designed primarily as a roleplay item, to be worn as a mask. The helmet is a two-thirds style piece so that you really have to practically get behind it to see that it isn’t a fully enclosed helmet, which really improves the display value. It has an adjustable plastic strap inside so it will fit adults fine, but it looks awkwardly large when worn by kids. If you choose to display it, I highly recommend paying extra for this chrome metal Official Cyberman Helmet Display Stand.

Ok, actually that’s a paper towel holder from Target’s housewares department, but it really does work perfectly as a stand for the helmet and you can pick one up for about seven bucks.

The prices on this helmet vary anywhere between $30 and $50. Its been a while since I priced one so they may be getting harder to find, but for a while there it was often being sold online in the US at less than retail. There’s also a variant Cyber Leader style with black ear pipes, an exposed brain, and all new phrases. I haven’t tracked one of those down yet, mainly because I’m running out of room in my Doctor Who display case, but maybe one day.


Star Wars 30th Anniversary Collection: Hoth Patrol Battle Pack by Hasbro

I’m really not supposed to be buying Star Wars stuff until the new toys start hitting in August. Yeah, there was Zuckuss, but I rationalized him as a one-time slip up to a promise I made myself. Well, here’s another slip up, because the clearance price of $12.48 for a Wampa, Tauntaun and Luke figure seemed like too good a deal to pass up. Now, after the fact, it became clear that my excitement over great value blinded me a bit in the store, because when I got this set home and opened it up, it didn’t seem like such a great deal anymore. I don’t necessarily regret buying it, but its all in all its a pretty shabby assortment of toys.

As mentioned, the pack consists of a Tauntaun, Wampa and Luke Skywalker in Hoth gear. The package is standard for the 30th Anniversary Collection with a TRU Exclusive sticker on the window. It features a large window that shows off the figures nicely and has a cool ice cave motif inside that makes them look really nice in the package. The box is also very collector friendly as you can just slide out the tray and pop out the figures, and put them back again without tearing anything up. There’s surprisingly few rubber bands holding them in, and even without them, the figures fit snugly in place.

We’ll start off with the Wampa, because he is without a doubt the best thing in this box. He was originally issued back in the 2004 Saga Collection as a single carded Ultra Class figure. Despite being a bit long in the tooth (ha ha), his overal sculpt and articulation still hold up pretty well. His fur has lots of sculpted details and he even has pads on the bottoms of his feet. His shoulders and hips have rotating joints and he’s double jointed in the torso to give him the ability to twist a bit. His head will also turn, although not all that much. Hasbro may have gone a little overboard with the paintwork when dirtying this guy up, as he looks a tad too yellowish, but that may just be me. The blood around his mouth is a nice touch, though. The Wampa comes with a joint of meat and his right arm can be pulled off to simulate Luke’s barbarous lightsaber attack on this poor, harmless animal.

Moving on… the reuse of this Tauntaun is quite simply inexcusable, as its the one from the Power fo the Force 2 collection. Yeah, he’s stamped 2003, but I remember this sculpt and I know better. That’s right, folks, Hasbro reached all the way back to 1997 for this toy, and unfortunately it really shows. The sculpt isn’t horrific, but it looks really soft and dated. If Hasbro was insistant on reusing this mold, they probably could have saved it with better paint, but no such luck. The paint work is equally dated and has that grey, heavy handed wash that looks just terrible and yet characterized so many of the POTF2 toys. Even the white “snow” speckling on it doesn’t look good. The bit and harnass are separate and removable, and in case you’re wondering, he doesn’t have the split belly feature. This beast is a passable place holder if you are completely without a Tauntaun or are hoping for an updated release around the corner, but otherwise, you can do much better. I should note, that it is vastly improved if you happen to own a Hoth Luke that is capable of properly riding him. And that brings me to…

Luke Skywalker in Hoth gear. The sculpt on Luke actually isn’t bad at all, but this figure was a really poor choice for this pack because he doesn’t have the sculpting or articulation that would allow him to sit on the Tauntaun. Seriously, why would you include a mount and a rider in the same package that weren’t made to be used with each other? You can actually get Luke to sit on the Tauntaun, but you have to bend out his legs and force him on and it doesn’t look at all natural. His articulation is not only dated, but weird. He has this crazy, primitive joint in his neck that allows him to look up and down, but looks really strange. He has universal joints in his shoulders, rotating joints in his hips, but that’s it. Luke comes with a lightsaber and a useless pair of goggles that he cannot even wear. Wow. You can also remove the scarf hanging off his hat, but why? Unlike the other two figures, I can’t place this Luke anywhere, so if you can, please help me out. I’m pretty sure it isn’t the 2004 Saga Luke that was meant to go with the Ultra Class Wampa, but then I could be wrong. It just seems like a real oddball figure.

The original retail on this set was $24.99 and I’m sorry, but at that price, this set was a rip off. I do realize that these Battle Packs are designed by Hasbro to give them an outlet for cashing in on older stock. Its also a pretty good way for kids and new collectors to get toys that are otherwise not on the shelf anymore. But here’s another good way to do that: Ebay. Even still, Hasbro could have done much better when making the selections for this one. Actually the whole set would have been vastly improved with a more context appropriate Luke. At the clearance price of $12.48 its a little better. The Wampa alone would probably sell for close to that nowadays, but anything more and it would be stretching it.

DC Universe Classics: Aquaman Vs. Black Manta “Undersea Assault” by Mattel

In this modern day of instant news on the Interwebs we collectors don’t get too many surprises in the toy aisles, but boy did I get one today when I went to pick up some groceries at Walmart. I knew Matty had some DCUC 2-packs coming out, hell I’ve had the Supergirl Vs. Luther one on pre-order forever, but I had no idea this Undersea Assault set with Aquaman and Black Manta even existed on the radar, and as a Walmart Exclusive to boot!

The figures come in a fishtank style package with artwork that remains totally faithful to the single carded figures. The figures come in cool action poses ready to kick each other’s ass, with their accessories in hand. The back panel shows photos of both figures along with their respective stats and biographies on the bottom. Wow, Manta’s actually mentions his murdering Aquaman’s infant son. That’s pretty heavy stuff for the back of a toy package and for a Wally World Exclusive, that’s positively hardcore! The package is completely collector friendly, which is a good thing, because right now my DCUC shelf is too congested to fit either of these figures.

Before going on to look at each figure, individually, I do want to point out that the plastic on these guys doesn’t seem like the same quality used on the single carded DCUC figures. Its not terrible, but it does feel considerably softer in some areas. On Aquaman it only seems to be the case on his legs, especially his knee joints. As for Black Manta, it seems to be his whole body. I’d sort of compare it to the differences in plastic Hasbro uses for their Marvel Universe and Secret Wars comic packs.

This version of Aquaman is my absolute favorite as it really harkens me back to my days as a yewt watching the Superfriends cartoon. Its also one of the more diverse and detailed sculpts of the line. The combination of sculpted scales and gold paint on his torso and upper arms looks fantastic, and I love the high gloss green used on his gauntlets, legs and boots. He has sculpted fins in his gauntlets and calves, and overall the head sculpt is pretty good too. He does look a bit more smug than Aquaman has any right to be, but all in all, its still a good sculpt. He comes with his gold trident, which is nicely sculpted, but the soft plastic gives the forks a tendency to bend a bit.

Like Aquaman, Black Manta also remains a favorite of mine because of his prominance on Superfriends. As his character design dictates, Manta is a much simpler sculpt than Aquaman. Apart from his muscle tone and his belt, his entire body is practically void of any detail and painted in one solid color. Oh wait, there’s actually one other paint app. The trademark information that’s stamped on his ass is painted white. WTF? Seriously, why in the name of all that is holy would Mattel decide to paint this white so that it stands out like a neon sign in the middle of the night?

Of course Manta’s head makes up for the lack of details from the neck down. He sports his huge silver saucer head, complete with hoses that run to his backpack. The metallic silver on his head and backpack really pop against his dark blue body. Overall, as a character, I think its safe to say that Manta enjoys the benefits of Boba Fett syndrome. He’s cool because he wears a cool looking helmet. Nuff said. Manta comes with a silver pistol.

Both figures have the same standard DCUC articulation. They have ball jointed necks; ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, knees and ankles; swivel cuts in the biceps, wrists and thighs; and universal joints in their hips. The only difference is in Black Manta. His head is technically balljointed, but the hoses keep it from being very poseable. You can turn his head from side to side quite easily, but it tends to snap back to center.

This 2-pack retails at $29.99. I probably need not point out to DCUC fans that this classic verision of Aquaman was in dire need of a reissue, what with the high prices he commands on Ebay, so to be able to get him and Manta for $15 a pop made my day! Even more incredible is the fact that I was actually able to find a Walmart Exclusive at retail. Apart from the Star Wars AT-ST, which was available in mass quantities, I think the last time I was able to walk into a Walmart and buy an exclusive was back when Hasbro reissued 2-packs of old Beast Wars figures as Dinobots. The other half of this 2-pack assortment is a Batman and Robin, which is a pretty nice set, but as much as I would love the Robin figure, I already have the Batman, so I took a pass.

Ghostbusters: Stay Puft Marshmellow Man Bank by Diamond Select

This thing has been out there for quite a long time now, and I’ve had it in my basket at various e-tailers more than a few times, only to wind up cutting it in favor of something else. But as my collection of Mattel’s Ghostbusters figures has grown, my desire to own Mr. Stay Puft in plastic form has become more and more pressing. Today when I saw him on the shelf at TRU, I decided this was the day to get him.

I’m really not a fan of this type of packaging. Staypuft comes in a cardboard tray and twisty tied to the back in a rather flimsy manner. It looks ok from a presentation standpoint, and you certainly get the complete idea of what you’re getting, but the obvious drawback is that the toy is exposed to the elements. Granted, he’s just a big hunk of plastic, so there’s really nothing on him that can break, but out of the seven that were on the shelf, only two were without some kind of serious scratching or rubbing. One of them looked like a herd of cats had played with it. Sure, I was able to get a good one, but it makes me really happy that I didn’t order him online and have to get one sight unseen. The back panel shows off Diamond’s other Ghostbuster’s toys, nearly all of which are the Minimates, which I have zero interest in. The Slimer bank looks nice, but ultimately, the only reason I bought Stay Puft was to go with my figures, so Slimer is a pretty easy pass.

As the package says, Stay Puft is a bank. Ok, actually, you practically have to get him off the package to see the word bank hiding behind his head, so you might miss his actual raison d’etre. While I have no interest in keeping coins in him, his true purpose is still significant, as it points out that this guy is not a figure, but rather a hollow statue. His articulation is limited only to his head, which is designed to twist off so you can get to the money you put in. I suppose you can also fill it with Fluffernutter. His arms are fitted so they could technically swivel, but mine don’t want to and I don’t want to force it.

The sculpt here is obviously simple. After all, it is based off a cartoon style marshmellow man, so you can’t expect a whole lot of detail. They really nailed his appearance, but I doubt it was much of a challenge for Diamond’s sculpting wizards. My only complaint about the sculpt is they didn’t make any attempt to hide the coin slot, which is right on the back of his neck tie. I can’t really hold that against Mr. Puft, since he is a self proclaimed bank, and at least its on his back and not on the top of his head or anything.

I paid $20 for Stay Puft, which I guess isn’t too bad. He is pretty big and pretty nice for what he is. Considering the much smaller Ghostbusters figures from Mattel are sold at the same price point, I can’t complain too much. Ultimately, he definitely serves the purpose I bought him for as he displays real nice with the other figures. Sure, he’s not in scale with the Mattel figures, but he’s sizeable enough to make for a good stand in. Even if Mattel does ultimately release a Stay Puft, I doubt it would be much bigger than this guy.

Busy Week

So, I took the week off of posting because I had a ridiculously busy work week. I haven’t had a day off in 8 days, and two of those included switching to the graveyard shift and back again. I am off tomorrow, but that’ll be mostly spent decompressing and getting my place cleaned up after a week of neglect. And I still have two more days to go before I get a proper weekend to myself. Its been work, come home, get drunk, go to sleep and repeat. So yeah, updates were pretty much out of the question.

Needless to say that I haven’t had the time to go toy shopping and it looks like a professional commitment is going to keep me out of the loop for Matty’s Sale Day next Monday, which is not a terribly big deal, since the reissue Mer Man is the only figure I really want this time around (maybe Optikk) and if I have to, I’ll go the secondary market route for both of them.

I did eek out enough time to go see Iron Man 2 last Saturday. I’ll probably attach my feelings about it to the next Iron Man related toy review I do. Probably sometime next week. Suffice it to say, I really enjoyed it a lot. The early reviews had me a bit nervous, claiming it to be a Spider-Man 3 style mess. Well, it was certianly a busy script, but I thought it tied together nicely. I don’t think anyone expects a sequel to be as tight as the original, and IR2 certainly wasn’t, but it was possibly more fun. Next chance I get, I’ll go see it again.

I’m also seriously overdue on my weekly Doctor Who review. I did manage to catch Vampires of Venice on Saturday and I’ll put together something on it for tomorrow. I also have another figure from the Resistance 2 line by DC Unlimited to review. Its been kicking around, unopened on my shelf for almost two weeks. I don’t usually do that, but I knew I was going to have a shitty week coming up, and I thought I’d save him to open him when I needed a treat. It was a good idea. I sliced him open yesterday and all I can say is these figures continue to impress.

So, now, I’m going to fix myself a nice, tall bourbon and coke, kick back, relax, and watch two of today’s new Blu-Ray releases: Daybreakersand Legion. Yeah, I already saw them both when they were in the theater. Daybreakers was an exceptionally well done film on a number of levels. Legion was, well, let’s just say its my kind of stupid.

Depending how I feel, I may pop over to Toys R Us tomorrow.

Indiana Jones: German Troop Car by Hasbro

If clearance has a name, it must be Indiana Jones!

Its sad but true, there’s still fallout from Hasbro’s Indiana Jones toyline kicking around if you know where to look. I never saw one of these things at retail during the toyline’s lifespan, and then all of the sudden I stumble upon two of them at Ross’ toy graveyard for about seven bucks each. I was pretty excited to find it, because besides that elusive Vogel figure, this Troop Car was the last piece I needed to complete my collection. Couldn’t find it anywhere, now I have two. It never rains, but it pours.

The Troop Car is one of three larger vehicles released in the IJ toyline. The others included the German Cargo Truck from Raiders and the Soviet Jungle Cutter from Crystal Skull. The packaging is really sweet, and while they look like normal boxes, the inside trays actually convert to some cool little dioramas, provided you’re willing to trash the box to get it. The artwork on the boxes is somewhat reminiscent of the old Kenner line, only with a cool action packed illustration on the front and the toy images on the back, showing off the various features. In addition to the truck, you get three oil drums, a breakaway barricade, and a missile for the machine gun.

The toy itself is not as detailed as the Cargo Truck or the Jungle Cutter. Its a nice piece, but it just looks somewhat lacking. Some weathered paint apps or a sticker sheet would have gone a long way to helping it along, but then let’s remember that swastikas are a no-no. Still, what’s here gets the job done. There’s a spare tire mounted on the back, a decent looking grill and headlights on the front. The floor and runningboards are textured, there’s a clear windshield, steering wheel, and even a stick shift for the manual tranny.

The toy rolls really well and you can get it up to a good enough speed to really smash through the barricade and barrels. The machine gun on the back rotates and has a pegged platform to hold a figure. It also shoots a missile. Granted, that’s about all this thing does, but you can really load it up with figures. In addition to the gunner, there’s room for four figures on the seats and another four pegged on the runningboards. If you’re like me and acquired quite a few German soldiers from this line, you’ll have plenty of space for them on this ride.

My one big gripe with this toy is that the windshield and rollbar are made of soft rubbery plastic. I suppose its less likely to break, but if you store your car in the box, make sure its sitting upright or else you’ll get a little warpage like on mine. Thankfully it can be straightened out with a little patience and effort.

Overall, the Troop Car takes a backseat to the Cargo Truck as my favorite toy of the line, but then the Cargo Truck is work of art that’s hard to beat. This thing is not too shabby, though, and when you get past the fact that its a little bland, its actually a lot of fun. The bonus accessories are really cool and make great additions to display with the Cargo Truck and Motorcycle as well.