Star Wars Vintage Collection: 4-LOM and Zuckuss set (Celebration V Exclusive) by Hasbro

This year, Hasbro decided to have a little fun with one of their Celebration V exclusives by creating this 30th Anniversary Bounty Hunter set. The set includes updated figures of bounty hunters Zuckuss and 4-LOM carded on facsimiles of their original error cards, which switched their names around. It pokes fun at the sometimes ridiculous nature of the action figures that were produced off of characters that fans knew nothing about and often appeared for only a split second on screen. Sure, all sorts of stories and histories have been retconned around these characters over the last 30 years, but at the time they were released nobody could have possibly known that Kenner had named the characters wrong on the original packages. I can still remember getting my 4-LOM mailaway figure before seeing The Empire Strikes Back. I had no idea who he was. I’m pretty sure I wound up using him as a Rebel spy. I even remember looking for him in the movie, expecting him to have some huge role. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even spot him at all.

Oftentimes a big draw of these exclusives lies in the special packaging, and that’s doubly true for this set, since the whole point of it is to recreate the original error cards. The figures themselves are almost secondary to the whole package.

The set comes in a thin, illustrated cardboard sleeve. It’s decorated on the front with pictures of the two original cardbacks against an appropriate star field pattern. The bottom right hand corner has a Celebration V logo with Boba Fett. The sides include a brief synopsis of the history of the original packaging error.

Take the sleeve off and you have the box. The sides show off full size versions of the Zuckuss and 4-LOM cards. The box opens like a book and is secured with velcro tabs. Open it up and it reveals two windows displaying the carded figures inside. The top and bottom of each of these compartments are taped, but with the flick of a razor you can remove the carded figures for closer inspection.

The fronts of the cards are identical to the regular Vintage Collection cards with one exception. The borders used on these cards are actually foil as opposed to just being illustrated to look like foil. These figures also do not have the Free Boba Fett stickers that most of the carded VCfigures have. The back panels of the cards, however are identical to what is seen on the regular VC figures.

The figures inside are each unique in their own way. Zuckuss (or in this case 4-LOM) is the same sculpt as the figure that was recently released as part of the Legacy lineup. The paint job has been changed to match the vintage figure more and the cloth gown has been changed for a material that more closely matches the one used on the original figure. 4-LOM (or Zuckuss), on the other hand, is the same sculpt as the figure released in the Legends line and currently repacked in the Vintage Collection line, only with a cleaner and more basic paint job to better match his vintage figure.


Whether or not you can really consider this set an exclusive is a matter for some debate. It was obviously created with Celebration V in mind, but it went up for sale on Hasbro’s Toyshop after the convention and at the time of writing this article, it’s still readily available. Obviously, either Hasbro overestimated the demand for this set or just decided to produce enough to make fans happy [yeah, unlike the SDCC Sgt. Slaughter figures! -Ed.].

The price on this set is $14.99, which is a really nice deal. It’s about the same price as these figures would cost if you bought them individually off the pegs at Walmart. You’re basically getting the extra special packaging for free and it won’t break your bank if you want to grab a second set for openers.

 

Advertisements

Star Trek: Hot Wheels Enterprise-D by Mattel

I’ve had this ship sitting on my desk for a little while now. It was back when I was hunting the pegs at Toys R Us for something or other and came up empty handed that I decided to pick up this ship rather than call it a wasted trip. Well, I’ve been on a Star Trek kick lately, rewatching episodes from all across the Trek continuum, but mostly some of my favorite Next Generations, so I decided it was time to take a look at this nifty little ship.

A while back I looked at the Hot Wheels Enterprise and Reliant from The Wrath of Khan. In that article I went through some of the other various attempts by toy companies to market collectible Star Trek ships from Micro Machines to Johnny Lightning. I won’t go through all that again, but I’m pretty sure that even back then I predicted this Hot Wheels line didn’t have any staying power, and sadly I was right. Mattel produced the initial assortment of the two Enteprises and the Reliant. A later revision saw the release of a Klingon Bird of Prey and the 2009 movie Enterprise, but that was it.

I don’t have the packaging anymore, but these ships came in a window box that showed off the model pretty well. The packaging was functional, but nothing spectacular.

The ship itself is a mix of plastic and diecast metal, with the stardrive section being diecast and the warp nacelles and saucer section plastic. The sculpting on this little guy is excellent. On my other Hot Wheels ships, there was a big contrast between the crispness of the details on the diecast and platic parts, but on Enterprise-D they both look quite good. The paint apps are also very nice on this one, albeit consisting mostly of the blues and reds of the nacelles and the deflector dish. The phaser arrays are all painted and the registry information is very precisely detailed.

While the other Starships I have are just static models, the Enterprise-D does have a detachable saucer section, which is a pretty neat little touch. It also comes with the same display stand as the other ships in this line. The display stand is plastic and has a ball joint that connects to the socket in the bottom of the ship and lets you position it in various ways. It’s a nice idea, but with a model this small, I’m not sure it’s really necessary.

Originally, these ships retailed at $14.99 a piece. I think I paid under five bucks for this one on clearance. I’m not going to say the original price was a rip off, afterall I know working with diecast can be expensive, but I have no doubt that the price tag was part of the reason this line of ships didn’t make it. Any way you slice it, fifteen bucks is a lot of money to pay for something this small that just sits there. The fact that it bore the Hot Wheels moniker, a brand synonymous with a line of collectible cars that typically sell for under a dollar, probably didn’t help either.

Still, if you’re like me and you unloaded your old Playmates Enterprise-D years ago on Ebay, and you don’t have the funds or the extra display space for the Diamond Select version, the Hot Wheels Starship is a pretty decent substitute.

Transformers Power Core Combiners: Searchlight by Hasbro

So far the Hasbro’s PCC line of Transformers has been pretty hit and miss. I loved the Combaticons set, didn’t much care for the Aerialbots set, and I was pretty happy with Smoulder. I wasn’t going to pick up Searchlight and Backwind at all, because the early promotional shots of him looked bad, but when I saw him in person today, I thought better of him. I’m not sure if he was mistransformed in the pics I saw, or if he’s just one of those figures that looks better in person, but either way I picked him up.


Searchlight is one of the Commander figures that is bundled with a Minicon, as opposed to the larger sets that come with four drones. You can treat him like a stand alone Transformer, and he can interact with his Minicon, but unless you already have one of the drone sets, you won’t be able to take advantage of his combination abilities. The figure is packed in robot mode, alongside his Minicon on a pretty attractive card. The back panel has a little bio blurb about how Searchlight is the Autobot’s number one guy for search and rescue ops.

Searchlight’s alt mode is a twin rotor style rescue helicopter. For a Scout Class sized toy, his chopper mode is not too bad and I get a bit of a G1 vibe from it. On the downside, there’s a few unsightly parts exposed on the top and bottom, where you can recognize what will be his arms and legs. You can also see his combiner pegs hanging off the back. For some reason Hasbro has done a rather poor job concealing the combiner pegs on some of these Commander figures’ alt modes. The coloring here is gray and blue with black painted windows. He’s got Autobot emblems on his sides as well as a registry number printed on his rear stabalizers, and he’s got a single Minicon peg located on the chin of the cockpit. Yeah, Searchlight’s alt mode doesn’t stack up to the Scout sized figures we’ve been seeing from the movie lines, but considering this line is designed more for kids, I think it’s perfectly serviceable.

Converting Searchlight into his robot form is a little complex for a Scout and I actually like his robot mode pretty well. He does have a good deal of alt mode backpack kibble going on, but it doesn’t really interfere with the articulation or balance of the figure too much. In fact, the only thing that really bothers me about his robot form are the combiner pegs sticking out of his knees, which look horribly out of place. Apart from that he’s pretty sharp. You can leave his rotors pegged into his arms as weapons, or remove them if you feel they get in the way. I kind of like leaving them where they are so he can chop up Decepticon fools.

Searchlight has a good deal of articulation. His head is ball jointed, as are his shoulders and his elbows feature both ball joints and a double hinged joint. His legs have universal joints at the hips, as well as hinged knees and ankles.

Searchlight’s Minicon is Backwind and Backwind sucks. Ok, he’s actually a pretty cool little robot but as a Transformer he’s got nothing. He supposedly converts into weapons for Searchlight’s robot and chopper modes, but they both look awful and detract from Searchlight’s modes. The handgun looks like some kind of squished energon frog and while the chin-mounted chopper component looks a little better, it’s still way too ungainly and awkward looking. Backwind also converts to a power armor chestpiece, which is the best of his three alt modes, but that’s not saying a lot.


I don’t expect a lot from these quadruple changing Minicons, but at least Smoulder’s Minicon converted into a fantastic energon axe and a decent cannon. I really have no use for any of Backwind’s alt modes. It’s a shame, because I love this revival of the Targetmaster gimmick and Backwind’s robot mode has plenty of attitude, but I think Hasbro is just trying to do way too much with these simple little figures.

As a Power Core Commander, Searchlight forms a pretty decent torso for the combiner drones that come with any of the larger Combiner sets. I combined him with the Aerialbot drones that came with Skyburst and I think he actually looks pretty damn good. The yellow helicopter arm is still pretty nuts, but apart from that this combined form works a lot better for me than it did with Skyburst, and that defintely made this figure worth picking up.

Searchlight and Backwind ran me $9.99 at Walmart and considering what the single carded Scout sized figures are selling for, this price seems about right. All in all, Searchlight is a decent figure and considering I was going to avoid getting him, he actually turned out to be a nice surprise. I’m glad I picked him up, even if his poor Minicon is a well-meaning mess.

If you’re still on the fence over these PCC figures, I doubt Searchlight will win you over. I think I’m more forgiving of this line because it’s taking a backseat to Generations and Hunt for the Decepticons, so I can get my fix on the more collctor orientated lines, I don’t have to take these Power Core figures quite so seriously. Anyway, the last Commander figure I need now is Huffer, but what I’m really looking forward to are the two new drone sets, which look pretty sweet.

Star Wars Vintage Collection: AT-AT Commander by Hasbro

I really am trying to pace myself on picking up these new Vintage Collection figures. After being away from Star Wars for a while, I’m trying not to overdo it. Nonetheless, I’ve picked up a new one each time I stop in to Wally World to pick up something. Early coverage of the Empire Strikes Back assortment referred to this figure as General Veers, which I think he is definitely intended to be, but I suspect Hasbro went with the more generic “AT-AT Commander” to satisfy the requirements of reusing the vintage card. As far as I’m concerned, it’s Veers.

Still loving the packaging, but then even as a kid, I loved the vintage AT-AT Commander card. Even though it doesn’t show the character, it shows the AT-AT’s and that’s plenty cool and made it somewhat distinctive. As with the other releases in this line, the card features the Free Boba Fett sticker on the front and the back featues photos of the vintage figures and cards. These new vintage style figures are also issued without the clamshells used in the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection. The downside about the new packaging? Yep, it’s so cool, I had to buy two so I can keep one carded.

With that out of the way, the last time we saw General Veers as a figure was in the Saga Collection. Is this new release a major improvement? Well, in some cases yes, in others no. The articulation is a huge improvement, but we’ll get to that a little later. The sculpt on the new figure is excellent. I think the head sculpt is a significant improvement, but the rest of the figure is about on par with its predecessor. Like the Saga Veers this figure has a removable vest and helmet. The helmet is about the same, although the new figure comes with goggles that can be worn over the figure’s eyes or up on the helmet itself.

It’s the vest where I take issue with this new figure. On the Saga figure, the vest included the larger sculpted belt buckle and when it was removed, Veers was in his normal Imperial Officer uniform. His head was even sculpted with his officer’s cap and the helmet was made to fit over it. On this update, the huge belt buckle is sculpted onto the figure, so you can’t fully convert him to his officer’s uniform and he looks rather silly with the vest removed. He’s also not wearing his officer’s cap. Bottom line, I liked the option to go from his field outfit to his duty uniform on the older figure. It’s not a huge deal, and yes, this is still a nice figure. But I like to apply the Hippocratic Oath to figure updates. Hasbro should do no harm, or in this case, don’t go backwards on a good idea. And in the end, my Veers can’t chill with his fellow Generals without feeling like the odd man out.

I wish I still had my Saga Collection Veers to do a comparison pic, but I’m afraid he went with my Endor AT-AT, so we’ll have to just settle for a shot with good old Uncle Ozzel.

The AT-AT Commander’s articulation includes a ball jointed neck and universal joints in the shoulders, elbows, knees and ankles, as well as swivel cuts in his wrists. He has standard leg movement in the hips and he can swivel at the waist. Not bad at all.

Besides his aforementioned vest, helmet and goggles, the Commander comes with a blaster that fits into his sculpted holster.

The AT-AT Commander cost $7.98 at Walmart, which sure beats the $12.99 I was paying for some of the last Vintage OTC figures even without the clamshell. If it sounds like I came down hard on this figure, keep in mind that I still really love this guy and he’s a nice addition to my BMF AT-AT. I just think that Hasbro sidestepped some really good ideas employed in the last release that they should have applied here.

 

Transformers: Warman’s Transformers Field Guide by Mark Bellomo

Here’s something a little different. I read a lot. History, literature, some modern fiction. Reading and collecting books are about the only pasttimes that give my love of figures and toys a run for its money. And while I love writing and discussing the books I read, I try to save that for other venues, because I try to keep this blog focused on toys, at least 95 percent of the time. Nonetheless, a friend of mine sent me this book for my birthday and I thought we’d take a quick look at it.

As the title suggests, this book is designed as an on-the-go guide. It’s pocket sized in terms of its page and cover dimensions, but weighing in at 510 pages, it’s thicker than your average (non Stephen King) novel. Nearly every page is covered with crisp, full color illustrations, a majority of the figures are shown in both of their modes, and in many cases they are confined to one figure per page. There are only occasional photos of boxed toys and not a lot of attention paid to accessories and parts, but obviously something had to be left out to keep the book managable in size.

But if the book sacrifices a bit in order to make it portable, it’s still remarkably extensive for what it is. It’s probably best to consider it a companion volume to Bellomo’s far more exhaustive Transformers Identification and Price Guide. Nonetheless, it has photos and descriptions of nearly all the American Transformers releases throughout the course of what we now call Generation One. It’s also laid out more or less chronologically by release, so you know exactly where each figure falls in the Transformers timeline.

I’ll admit that upon first flipping through the book, I was a bit skeptical that I could learn anything from it. Afterall I have been collecting Transformers since they first came out when I was a wee lad. Nonetheless, there’s more than a few rare and unusual pieces in here. Some of which I owned as a kid and forgot all about (like the Powerdashers or the Time Warrior digital watch) and others that held little interest for me at the time of their release (like the Action Masters). And yeah, there are a few items in here that I’m pretty sure I never even knew existed, like the STARS Autobot Command Center.

Unfortunately, I remain skeptical on how useful printed price guides on collectibles are these days. In fact, I was pretty surrpised to see that they are still being published. It seems archaic to depend on this system of snapshot pricing when you have sites like Ebay to show you a live concept of what an item is worth from day to day. Afterall, the value of any collectible is only what someone is willing to pay for it. And with the increasing number of people with full Internet access on their cellphones, even the portability of a printed guide is no longer a unique asset. I have no doubt this aspect of the book was well researched, but I think the space would have been better spent on something else. It may sound like sacrelidge for a book lover to denounce a printed book in favor of digital options (I don’t even own an e-reader), but in this case I have to calls it like I sees it.

Warman’s Transformers Field Guide is published by Krause and retails at $12.99. This edition is a few years old, and I’m not sure if it’s been updated since. Nonetheless, it’s a fun curiosity and I’ve had a great time flipping through it and enjoying the photography, but I can’t recommend it as a purchase for reference. Every bit of information in this book is available for free on that Interwebs contraption and you can get a far more accurate appraisal of a Transformers’ worth by trawling Ebay’s Completed Auction lists. However, if you are interested in this sort of thing, though, be sure to check out Bellomo’s other Transformers guide (as mentioned above) as well as his excellent Ultimate Guide to GI JOE 1982-1994. His research on these books is without a doubt impressive.

 

Star Wars Vintage Collection: C-3PO by Hasbro

I looked at the Vintage Collection Han and Leia figures together, but I wanted to save C-3PO because he deserves his own review. Yes, he is just that bad. In fact, there’s so much wrong with this figure, it’s hard to know where to start. This figure is poorly designed, poorly executed, and he has a gimmick that doesn’t belong anywhere near a “vintage style” 3PO mounted on an Empire Strikes Back card. In fairness, I knew this figure was going to be crap when I bought him. You can see it right through the bubble. But I figured I’d check him out anyway and at least I’d get a PoP for my Boba Fett mailaway.

One ridiculous thing about this release is that C-3PO was already released as part of the Vintage Original Trilogy Collection on this very same card and so for carded collectors he’s somewhat superfluous. It’s possible that Hasbro was trying to make a mends for the VOTC 3PO, which was also a terrible, terrible figure, but somehow swapping one crappy 3PO for another doesn’t seem like a good plan. Either way, the packaging is the best thing about this figure. The front is nearly identical to the VOTC version. The only real drawback of this figure’s packaging is that the choking hazard sticker is stuck directly on the card, whereas it was on the clamshell of the VOTC release. There’s also the mailaway Boba Fett sticker on the front.

I’ll start with one of the few things I like about this figure, and that’s the coloring. We’ve had plenty of shiny 3PO’s but not too many grubbier ones. This version’s duller coppery finish makes it pretty good for the Tatooine scenes from A New Hope, which begs the question, why put him on an Empire Strikes Back card? The other thing I like about this figure is the articulation. 3PO has a ball jointed head, and universal joints in the shoulders, elbows and knees. He also has swivels in the shoulders and ankles. 3PO has a ball joint in his waist, but unfortunately the back lip of his torso gets caught on the wirey midsection, which makes use of this joint tricky. He’s also pulled apart at the waist a few times while trying to make use of this joint.


This 3PO has some issues with proportions, a lot of which has to do with the gimmick that I’ll talk about in a minute. His upper torso looks a little too wide, but his pelvis looks absolutely huge, which gives his hip joints a weird extra wide stance. I’ll admit there’s some nice sculpting at work, especially the detail on his arms and the exposed wires of his midsection, but that doesn’t help a lot when the proportions look so wrong.

The dumbest thing about this 3PO is that he was designed with removable plates. It’s a gimmick that severely effects the aesthetics of the figure. Since 3PO never appeared like this in any of the Original Trilogy films, it’s obviously a nod to his appearance in Attack of the Clones, but if that was the intention, Hasbro should have saved this figure for an Attack of the Clones card, since they are doing some prequel figures in the vintage style too (don’t get me started on how stupid an idea I think that is!). The face plate, chest plate and right thigh plate are all removable to expose his inner workings. Unfortunately, the face plate and right thigh fall off almost every time I fiddle with him.

In the end, I think this figure is just a bit better than the awful VOTC 3PO, but mainly because that figure couldn’t even get the paint job right let alone the sculpt and there’s absolutely nothing that I like about it. Had Hasbro nixed the idea of the removable plates and improved the proportions, this could have been an excellent 3PO, but then it would have been an entirely new figure. Again, I like the coloring and the articulation at work here, but the rest of this figure is a damn shame.

Back to the Future: 1:15 Scale Delorean by Diamond Select

It’s ridiculous how long I’ve had this thing on my want list, and how long it has taken me to actually pick it up. I’ve had it in cart at various e-tailers plenty of times, but it always seemed to get axed just before checkout in favor of something else. Part of the reason might have been that I was struggling between getting this original version, the BTTF2 version, or wait to see the BTTF3 version. I really don’t want to invest in a fleet of these things. In the end, I opted for the original and I decided to spend a little birthday money and get it before it disappears.

My first reaction when I slid this out of the packing box was, “holy shit it’s big.” And I’m not just talking about the toy in the box. There’s very little extra space used in the Delorean’s packaging. I guess I had a hard time imagining what a 1:15 scale Delorean would look like, because this thing is much bigger and beefier than I had expected.

First, a little about the packaging. I’m not sure why this one was released under the Back to the Future, Part II moniker, rather than the original movie. Especially since toy e-tailer Entertainment Earth secured the exclusive version seen in the second film, complete with Mr. Fusion and the hover conversion. Seems like that one should have been the only one released under the BTTF2 title. Either way, this toy comes in a serviceable window box with the back panel showing the toy and listing it’s features. The inside of the box is made to look like a street, complete with burning tire marks. It’s a nice presentation, and best of all the car is easy to slide out and then put back in.

I am absolutely thrilled with the quality and attention to detail on this piece. I’ve always been impressed with the sculpting that Diamond Select turns out and this car is no exception. They’ve captured the profile and proportions of the Delorean very well and all the extra time machine bits look outstanding. It’s even got the OUTATIME license plate. There’s certainly room for more detail in the engine area, but considering the relatively low price point, I think they did a fine job. Especially when you consider the amount of detail in other areas.


The attention paid to the interior is truly amazing. Most toy companies would have been happy with tossing in some seats and a steering wheel, but the Delorean’s detailed interior makes me want to crawl inside to better see it all. Luckily with the way the Delorean’s gull wing doors work, you can open both of them and get a pretty good look inside. You get detailed bucket seats with sculpted safety belts, a light up dashboard with gauges and a light up computer for setting the time destination. Naturally, the flux capacitor is there as well and yes, it lights up too!


Yes, a big part of this toy consists of the electronic FX. There’s about five or so different sequences of sound and lights that you can cycle through by pushing the button on the engine. Honestly, some of them are a bit muffled and it’s hard for me to recognize what they are supposed to be, but that’s ok, because holding down the button for about three seconds gives me the real money shot. This sequence gives you the full time travel effect with all the lights firing at once. Let’s count them! Headlights, the blue energy piping on the front and sides, the dash board and time computer, the flux capacitor and the break and rear engine lights. Nice. Even the battery compartment is cleverly concealed under the opening hood.

Overall, the quality control on mine is pretty good. There are a few minor blemishes on the bodywork, but that’s the only thing I can see.

One of the really appealing things about this Delorean is that it’s done in the 1:15 scale, so it should technically fit most 3 3/4″ action figures. And thus also leads us to the only really disappointing thing about this whole toy: It doesn’t include any 3 3/4″ action figures. Sure, I’m willing to appreciate this thing of beauty as it is, but at the same time I find it positively maddening that Diamond Select can churn out those ridiculousBack to the Future Minimates and not a Marty and Doc Brown for this set. Even if they sold them separately and at a premium, it would be so worth it. Part of my rage on this matter may just be that I absolutely hate/can’t understand the whole Mini-mates collecting mindset. Or perhaps it’s the fact that they actually thought more people would want a Mini-mate figure of Marty’s mom in her prom dress than a Doc Brown figure for this Delorean. Ok, so I’m a little bitter. [My apologies to any collectors of Mini-mates. I know they’re popular, and I don’t mean to knock them. I just don’t get it. – Ed.]


Diamond Select’s Delorean first retailed at around $45-50, but these days it can be had for more in the $40-45 range as a number of e-tailers have been clearancing it out. At either price, I think it’s a nice acquisition. There’s no doubt it’s nicely executed, the electronics are very well done, and it’s big enough to be a real impessive piece on my DVD shelf. In fact, it’s the first thing people tend to flock to when they come in my living room. They all want to pick it up and play with it.

Star Wars Vintage Collection: Han Solo (Echo Base) and Princess Leia (Hoth Outfit) by Hasbro

I picked up my first figures from the new Vintage Collection today. Actually I picked up two of each, so I could keep two carded. This is something I almost never do, but since I already got on board this whole vintage style figure idea back during the Original Trilogy Collection, I might as well keep going. The first two I’m going to look at are Han and Leia in their Hoth outfits. I also picked up 3PO, but we’ll save him for next time.

The packaging is the real draw here for me. Hasbro certainly knows how to pull on the heart (and wallet) strings of late thirty-something geeks, because seeing these things hanging on the pegs again really is something special. As with the VOTC releases, the fronts of these cards are excellent facsimiles of their early 80’s counterparts. Ok, actually Han is oddly enough an original figure with an original card, but it still looks like something authentic. The backs of the cards show the old figure with the new one (again, except for Han), along with a blurb about the line and some photos of other figures in the assortment. The other big difference is the Boba Fett mailaway advert on the front, which is a sticker and not printed directly on the card. What’s missing? That’s right, the clamshell.

I had mixed feelings about Hasbro abandoning the clamshells they used for the VOTC line. On the one hand, these new released don’t quite look as streamlined next to the VOTC carded figures. Yes, I plan on putting them in clamshells (which Hasbro conveniently sells), but they won’t have the special foil stickers or the embossed “Star Wars” on the back. On the other hand, as we’ll see a little later on the price is significantly lower, so there are some good points too.


Let’s start with Han in his Echo Base outfit, which is basically a Bespin Han only instead of the regular blue jacket, he’s wearing a Hoth style trenchcoat. The trousers and boots are the same as we’ve seen Han wearing as part of his Cloud City outfit. His belt is a separate piece, which includes a working holster for his pistol. His trenchcoat is also a separate piece, which is actually sculpted like a vest, which in conjunction with the figure’s arms is meant to look like a jacket. It works, pretty well, although the illusion crumbles under close inspection around the arms, or obviously if you take it off. Still, I don’t mind it and the jacket features some nice sculpting.

Hasbro didn’t quite get the job done with this figure’s head sculpt, which is kind of strange, since many of the modern Han figures have been fairly good likenesses. This one doesn’t completely miss the mark, but it’s not exactly Harrison Ford either. Fortunately, you can always grab one of your other recent Han figures and swap the heads if you so desire. Of course, that doesn’t help you for your mint-on-card figure.

Han’s articulation is excellent. He has a ball jointed head. His arms have ball jointed shoulders, elbows and he has swivel wrists. His legs have standard rotation at the hips and balljoints in the knees and ankles. Han also has a ball joint in the torso.

Apart from his iconic broom-handled pistol, Han comes with a welding mask and a welding tool. The mask has a handle, so he can hold it up to his face. I think they’re pretty cool accessories to stow away in the BMF Falcon.

Hoth Leia is a very welcome figure, since this version of her hasn’t been done in a while, and I don’t think it’s ever really been done particuarly well until now. Her outfit consists of her Hoth off-white fatigues and gloves with grey boots. There’s a lot of excellent sculpting on her outfit, including wrinkles, stitching and her arm communicator. Her vest is a separate piece, and unlike Han’s jacket, this piece is intended to be a vest so it can be removed without exposing the whole fake sleeve syndrome.

Hasbro has frequently had issues getting Leia’s head sculpt right, but in a bizarre turn of events, they actually did a fine job here. It’s not a perfect likeness, but it’s close (certainly closer than Han’s), and it’s not f’ugly, nor does it look like a monkey. The hair is also well sculpted and the paint apps on the lips and eyes are razor sharp.

Leia’s articulation includes a ball jointed head. Her arms have ball joints in the shoulders and elbows, and her wrists swivel. She has standard rotation in the hips and her knees are ball jointed. She can also swivel at the waist. Leia is missing any ankle articulation.

Leia comes with a standard Rebel-style blaster.

I picked up these figures for $7.98 each at Walmart, which is what regular Star Wars figures have been priced at for a while now. Keep in mind that back when the VOTC figures were released, they sold for around $9.99 to start with, but before the line ended they were up to $12.99 each at a lot of retailers, and that was a few years ago. I realize that they no longer come with the clamshell, but even if you buy a pack from Hasbro, you’re still ahead of the game. I think what I like about this pricing the most is that I’m not paying for an unwanted clamshell on the doubles that I plan on opening. If Hasbro was smart, they’d sell special clamshells with the foil stickers on them, but I’m willing to make do with the generic ones in favor of this price reduction. In hindsight, it’s too bad I didn’t keep the ones from the VOTC doubles that I opened.


Doctor Who: Scarecrow by Character Options

I’ve been meaning to getting around to looking at some of Character Options’ older Doctor Who figures, and so today I’m going to start doing just that. Afterall, with the exception of the occasional surprise release (like The Master and Axon set), it’ll probably be a little while before there are any new releases for me to look at. There will be no rhyme or reason to which ones I select or the order I do them in. I’m just going to grab them off the shelf from time to time and dig in. We’ll start with The Scarecrow from Human Nature.

The origins of this creature are possibly a little more convaluted than one might think. They were featured in the Series 3 episodes Human Nature and Family of Blood. which were adapted from Paul Cornell’s excellent 7th Doctor novel, Human Nature. There were no evil animated Scarecrows in Cornell’s original story and the official word is that Russell Davies had the idea to toss them in, because the story lacked a proper monster. Still, it’s kind of hard to not believe these shambling bags of hay might have been inspired by another Doctor Who novel, The Hollow Men by Keith Topping and Martin Day, which did in fact contain evil animated Scarecrows.

Um, yeah. Either way, the Scarecrows from the Series 3 story were simply animated soldiers, drummed up by the aliens who called themselves The Family of Blood, to lay siege to the school where The Doctor was hiding in human form thanks to a very special pocket watch and a device called the Chameleon Arch. Phew. Enough back story. Let’s look at the figure.

I know that there are a couple schools of thought on these guys. Some saw them as silly, some saw them as creepy. But then isn’t that the case with most Doctor Who aliens, both old and new? I rather liked these things and I’m particularly fond of the figure as well. It was actually released with a few different color variants. I have two Scarecrow figures, but they are both the same.

The sculpted detail on this figure is excellent. The colors are all… well, mostly brown and reddish brown and muted. The sculpting on the head bag is particularly well done, complete with a downturned, stitched mouth, angry eyes and the cord around the neck. The outfit is tattered and ill fitting, and I like the way the sculpted hay protrudes from the cuffs.

These are earlier CO efforts, so the articulation is lacking a few points that we are now used to seeing in the Doctor Who figures. This guy has rotating head, rotating shoulders, universal movement in the hips, hinged elbows and knees, and swivel cuts in the wrists and ankles. Conspicuously absent are the swivel cuts in the biceps and thighs that most Who figures have now. Still, not bad articulation, overall.

The Scarecrow is a pretty easy figure to find and fairly cheap too, which makes them good army builders if you are so inclined. I wouldn’t rank them up there as one of the more iconic monsters, and I wouldn’t say that they are a “must” for any Doctor Who collection, but they were well designed, creepy, and they left a lasting impression on me.

 

Transformers The Hunt for The Decepticons: Hubcap by Hasbro

I don’t know how many Hunt for the Decepticon figures I’m going to actually pick up. I’m not keen on too many of the repaints (except maybe Jetblade), and I have no real interest in buying Deluxe versions of Ironhide and Ratchet when I already own the Voyager versions. There are, however, a number of interesting looking Scout Class figures in this lineup that I will no doubt buy, and the first is this little Autobot named Hubcap.

Hubcap comes on a simple card and mounted in his robot form. The packaging is serviceable, but very reminiscent of the Egyptian theme used for the Revenge of the Fallen toys, just colored more orange than red. As the packaging suggests, these figures are designed to fit in the “Bayformer” aesthetic (although as we saw a few posts back, Sea Spray is an exception to that rule). As usual, there’s a small bio blurb on the back of the package along with the character’s stats.

Hubcap’s alt mode is a vintage automobile. Its a pretty simple car without a lot of sculpting detail or paint apps. The body is somewhere between orange and red, the windows are painted black, and there’s gray exhaust pipes, bumpers and radiator grill. He’s also got a tiny little Autobot emblem right about where his hood ornament would be. Like i said, it’s simple, but still very appealing. It holds together well, although the seaming down the trunk is a little bit sloppy, and it rolls along great. I suppose Hasbro could have gotten a little more creative with the color scheme, but I’m sure they’re just saving that for an inevitable repaint.

Transforming Hubcap to and from his robot form is a breeze. He actually has one of the most simplest conversions I’ve seen in the movie based lineup. In fact it’s almost reminiscent of the simpler G1 styles. Nonetheless, Hubcap has a really great robot mode. He pretty much wears his car parts as armor and the robot underneath is two-tone gray. His head sculpt leaves a lot to be desired, but for a Scout, I guess it isn’t too bad.

Hubcap sports excellent articulation. He has ball joints in the neck, elbows and hips. He has universal joints in the shoulders and hinged knees and ankles.

For the most part, I’ve really enjoyed most of the Scout Class figures that came out of the movie lines, but Hubcap here has a special place in my heart. He has an unabashed G1 simplicity to him and yet once transformed he makes for a great action figure, and there’s something in me that loves a Transformer based on a vintage car. Hasbro really should do more of these. Either way, I really recommend picking up Hubcap. Even if you have been shying away from the movie based “Bayformers,” this cool little guy might be worth a look for you.