Doctor Who: The Third Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver by Character Options

In addition to a bewildering number of awesome Doctor Who action figures, CO has been dabbling in other Doctor Who toys from time to time. These are what we’ve come to call Roleplay Toys. But while toylines like Star Wars has its lightsabers and blasters, ever since his second incarnation, The Good Doctor wades into the danger with only his trusty Sonic Screwdriver. CO has put out a number of toys based on The Doctor’s trusty gadget, although today’s featured toy is the first time they’ve gone back to the Classic Series to produce one.

I don’t have any of CO’s Sonics from the modern series, so this one is my first. Why? I’m just not a fan of what the writers have done with the device in the modern series. Longtime fans may remember that the Fifth Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver appeared to be destroyed on screen by an angry Terileptil, but in reality it was destroyed by the producer who felt it was being used way too often as a crutch to get The Doctor out of a jam. Boy, could we use a trigger happy Terileptil in the new series, because in my opinion the Sonic Screwdriver has gotten way out of hand. What was originally a clever little device to open locks, vibrate screws, and detonate the occasional landmine, has become a device so ridiculously versatile, that they ought to start calling it the Sonic Swiss Army Knife. Seriously, once The Doctor started using it as a bio scanner, it was well past time to either retire the device, or reign in the way the writers’ use it. But I’m waaay off topic now. Rant over… let’s get back to the toy at hand.3rdsonic2

The Sonic comes sealed in a blister pack with an illustrated insert, similar to the way CO packages the figures. The artwork includes the blue swirly field introduced for the current line of figures, but retains the logo from the 2005-2009 series. It has nice blurbs on the front and back about the Third Doctor and his trusty device. One would expect a toy like this to be packaged with a Try Me feature, but that’s not the case here. In fact, the batteries are mounted right next to the toy. The package also displays an included hologram card, which shows the desolve from the title screen to The Doctor’s face as it appeared on the opening credits of the show. For a bonus pack-in, I think this is a really cool item. Oh, and make sure you have a trusty blade or a pair of scissors if you want to get this thing out.

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The first thing I noticed about this Sonic Screwdriver is that it isn’t ridiculously oversized, like I feared it would be. It’s definitely a bit bigger than the prop, but only enough to allow for the electronics. I was surprised to see that it strikes a nice balance between replica and toy. It has a nice metallic silver paint job with black trim. The trademark yellow and black swirl is there on the shaft, and the “head” is bright red with the silver nob in the middle. The “head” is made of rubbery plastic, which may feel cheap, but I’m guessing it was the better way to go since the connecting rod is so thin harder plastic would have been more susceptible to breakage.

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As in the show, the Screwdriver is activated by pulling down on the shaft with your thumb. It makes the head appear to be extending and it emits one of two sonic whirrrrs, depending on how far you push it down. The sound will continue as long as you have the shaft pressed down. I don’t really detect all that much difference between the two sounds, but what I do hear sounds pretty authentic to the show. The speaker is unfortunately located in the very base of the toy, which means it tends to get a little muffled if you hold it a certain way. I would have loved the sound to come out closer to the top, but from the Screwdriver’s design, I’m guessing that CO was forced to most of the electronics in the thicker base of the gadget.

The Sonic Screwdriver set me back $24.99. If this were a toy that was being sold off the pegs in the local toy aisle, I would call that a bit steep. But keeping in mind that this is an import, and an extremely niche item featured in a show from the early 1970s. I’m not going to complain. I would have adored this toy as a kid, as I tended to have to improvise a Sonic Screwdriver with various small tools from my Dad’s garage. I do remember seeing some toy Sonics when I went to a Whovent Doctor Who convention in NJ back in the late 80s, but they were just oversized, hollow molded plastic and nowhere as cool as this baby.

 

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WildC.A.T.S.: Pike, EMP Suit Pike, and Major Max Cash by Playmates

Today, I wrap up my look at Playmates’ regular line of WildCATS action figures. We’re going to start with Pike, who was one of the few henchmen of Helspont to get the plastic treatment. While Pike didn’t show up until about the halfway point of the series, he was a good choice for a figure, not only because I like his design, but because he was one of the only bad guys in the show that seemed to have half a brain. He’s also one of the characters that suffered a major re-write from comic book to cartoon series, but I’m not going to open that can of worms here.


Pike is a nice looking figure, although he’s basically just a dude in a mask, wearing an outfit made of a questionable color combination: Pea soup green and red. Hey, somehow he pulls it off. I think the main appeal of this guy for me is the fact that he wasn’t just cannon fodder on the show like the rest of the Troika, and this figure is a nice, faithful representation of that character. Ok, so in one episode I think he was thrwarted because he couldn’t find gas for his truck, but he was still leaps and bounds smarter than dudes like Slag.

Pike’s articulation is standard five points: Head, shoulders, hips. He’s also got a swivel cut in the waist and in both forearms. He’s a bit pre-posed making him tough to stand without his figure stand.

I’m a bit iffy on Pike’s accessories. The only thing I know he came with was a pair of batons that can be joined together to form a pole arm. Alas, I’m missing half of it. He also came with a figure stand, but I’m unclear as to whether it was the one marked Troika, or just a standard Daemonite stand. These are the tribulations you endure when you buy a big bag of figures and accessories, and the reference resources on these figures are few and far between.

I mentioned a couple of posts back that Playmates repainted a number of the WildCATS and tried to pass them off as wearing different outfits. They did the same thing with Pike here, painting him a nice gunmetal blue and calling it an EMP suit. I doubt I would have bought this figure on its own, but since it came in the lot, I guess he’s nice to have. Still, he looks more like he’s meant to be a statue than wearing a different suit of clothes.

And that brings us to Major Max Cash from Black Razor. The Black Razor was something of a third party power in the cartoon. It was a paramilitary organization designed to fight terrorists, and quickly found itself at odds against the WildCATS who were framed as bad guys. Of course, it didn’t help that the organization was infested with people possessed by Daemonites. Max Cash, who was also Grifter’s brother, wasn’t really a bad guy, but since he was against the heroes for a while, I listed him with the advesaries. He was also really downplayed in the cartoon, which is why I saved him for last.

Max’s action figure has the distinction of being the only figure that looks absolutely nothing like his cartoon counterpart. Sure, Playmates upscaled Slag and the Daemonite to look a little different, but the connection was still there. Max, on the other hand, is wearing some kind of battle armor that was never seen in the toon. They went completely off the reservation with this one. In the cartoon he just wore a blue and white uniform, here he looks like he’s wearing something he got out of Robocop’s garage sale. All in all, though, I like it and the silver and black make for a pleasing ensemble.

Max comes with two weapons: A rifle and a pistol. He also comes with a unique Black Razor figure stand.

And that wraps up Playmates’ WildCATS figure lines. It’s too bad that a few more bad guys weren’t made. I would have really liked to have seen Harm, the transformer robot get the toy treatment. It would have been cool to see him as a vehicle, but I would have been happy with a non-transforming figure too. I still have the deluxe ten-inch figures, and I’ll probably dig Grifter out sometime later in the week so we can have a looksy at him.

I know this line doesn’t get a lot of love. In truth, it’s nothing spectacular, but it is a solid effort by Playmates. And let’s face it, apart from the Ninja Turtles and sometimes Star Trek, Playmates’ doesn’t have a lot of wins under their belt. As a fan of the cartoon, though, I found these figures to capture a lot of what made the toon such a fun ride. They’re colorful styles and over-the-top sculpts make them lots of fun despite the prehistoric articulation.

 

WildC.A.T.S.: Slag and Daemonite by Playmates

And I’m back with more of Playmates’ WildC.A.T.S. figures. This time I’m taking a look at all the bastards that our heroic WildCATS figures had to fight. Actually, there weren’t all that many and oddly enough most of the regulars in the toon were never immortalized in figure form. Slag was in quite a few episodes, though, and while the Daemonites were in just about all of them, they looked like normal humans most of the time. I always thought that felt like some kind of hokey live action series excuse to not show aliens. This was a cartoon. It didn’t cost any more to draw them as Daemonites and let’s face it… that’s what the kids wanted to see! Anyway, the interesting thing about these two figures is that unlike most of the WildCATS, they don’t look a lot like their animated counterparts, although in this case, that’s a good thing, because these figures look much, much better. Let’s start with Slag…

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Slag was one of Helspont’s henchmen and he’s some kind of magma rock creature. The toon version of Slag looked pretty crappy, as he had very little detail and was mostly just a big hulking orange guy who for some reason hissed like Cobra Commander when he talked. Thankfully, Playmates upped the ante with the figure’s sculpt and produced quite a nice looking creature. They gave him a rocky body with intricately webbed veins of magma running all over the place. Liquid Magma!!! There’s nowhere on this figure that isn’t brimming with detail and the paint apps really compliment the sculpt beautifully. Even if you don’t collect this line, but find yourself in need of a big hulking rock creature figure, Slag here would make a fine candidate.

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Slag has eight points of articulation, which puts him pretty high up in the WildCATS line. His head can turn from side to side, his arms and legs rotate at the shoulders and hips, and he has swivel cuts in his wrists and his waist. He’s not terribly pre-posed either, so you can make good use of his articulation while playing around with him.

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Slag comes with three accessories. You get a big club that looks like it’s made out of the same stuff he is. He also comes with a similar styled rock. I have no idea what it is. I guess he’s just supposed to throw it at you. And, of course, Slag comes with a Daemonite style figure stand. Speaking of Daemonites…

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The Daemonites were the common foot soldiers in the cartoon. They didn’t get a lot of screen time in their natural form because they couldn’t survive long in the Earth’s atmosphere. As a result, they had to be carried around in egg-like stasis chambers and possess humans in order to move around freely. What the hell! The only time we usually got to see them was when they were trying to possess someone, getting evicted from someone, or when we saw them through VooDoo’s special sight. It was one of the few things that I didn’t like about the cartoon.

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Like Slag, the Daemonite’s looked somewhat different in the cartoon. The general shape was the same, including the extra set of eyes and the extra set of arms, but the cartoon Daemonites were green, which made them look more like lizards to me. As with Slag, Playmates went above and beyond to produce a really cool looking creature here. I absolutely love this figure. The four beady eyes, the massive toothy rictus grin and the disgusting blue veins running all over it’s body. This is a cool looking beasty. There’s a bit of disconnect between the color used on the body and the limbs, but I don’t think it detracts from the figure all that much.

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The Daemonite has seven points of articulation. All four of his arms rotate, his legs rotate at the hips and he can swivel at the waist. Unfortunately, this figure can be really tough to stand, probably because of his chicken legs and his hunched pose. I should also note that I own two of these figures and while one is perfect, the other came out of the package with a really messed up bent leg, which prevents him from standing all that well without the figure stand.

The Daemonite comes with a blaster, a stasis pod, and the same figure stand as Slag. The blaster is a cool design, but unfortunately it’s just cast in one drab tan color. It could have definitely benefited from some paint apps. The stasis pod doesn’t do anything, but it is pretty nicely sculpted.

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I dig that Playmates went the extra mile on these guys, especially since there weren’t as many bad guy figures as there were heroes. Had they designed them closer to their cartoon counterparts they would have probably looked pretty crappy. Although, there’s so much detail in these guys they do look a bit out of place next to the simpler animated/comic book style sculpts of the WildCATS themselves. I sometimes use Slag in my Star Trek displays and the Daemonite is so damn cool that he often warrants a spot on one of my display shelves even when the rest of the WildCATS figures are put away.

I’m going to finish it up next time with the two verions of Helspont’s stooge, Pike, and Major Max Cash, member of The Black Razor outfit and estranged brother to Grifter.

 

WildC.A.T.S.: Spartan and Maul by Playmates

Time to round out the figures from the WildCATS team with the sometimes gentle giant, Maul and the team’s cybernetic commander, Spartan. Let’s start with Spartan.

I call Spartan the leader of the team, but I suppose that’s debatable since Jacob Marlowe funded them and pulled all the strings. But he spent most of his time chilling in his crib with his sexy computer-woman, Void, while Spartan led the team in the field, so to speak. It’s also worth noting that Spartan’s real body got wrecked so he had to have his brain downloaded into his current cybernetic one, although most of the time you couldn’t tell that he wasn’t flesh and blood.

Ok, so let’s get the obvious out of the way. My Spartan figure suffers from the crotch rot. All the white paint has peeled off his gonadular region. Ha Ha. Get all your cuties off, so we can move on. The problem here is that Playmates painted the dark blue figure over with white so not only does it peel, but it looks real hokey on the legs as well, like someone did a bad custom job with a bottle of Whiteout. Apart from the poor lasting power of the paint, I really like this figure. He’s extremely faithful to his animated counterpart, the head sculpt is excellent, and he’s one of the least pre-posed of all the figures in the line.

Spartan has seven points of articulation, including a rotating head, arms and legs that rotate at the shoulders and hips, and his wrists will swivel at the point where they pull off.

Spartan came with two swappable hands. His right one showed damage and revealed his metal skeletal framework. The left one has dayglow energy shooting out of it. I didn’t seem to get the left one with my loose figure, so he’s perpetually attacking with the lightning. He also came with a figure stand, and possibly other stuff like a Halo Industries walkie-talkie. Maybe a weapon? I don’t know. I’ve never seen him use one in the toon.

Next up is Maul. He’s sort of The Incredible Hulk of the line, right down to his green and purple color scheme. The main difference is that Maul is pretty soft spoken and not usually inclined to the high collateral damage. Like many of his teammates, Maul is a crossbreed and he’s sort of a surrogate big brother figure to VooDoo. His main power, apart from being big and strong, is his ability to make himself even bigger. I won’t fault Playmates for not translating that play feature to his figure form.

On the contrary, Maul’s figure is a slam dunk. The sculpt is excellent, the paint apps are nice and clean, and once again we have a figure that is the spitting image of his animated self. I suppose the only thing I can say about him is he could have been slightly bigger, but he still looks fine standing next to his other teammates.

Maul comes with detachable armor for his fists, a silver crowbar, the token Halo Industries walkie-talkie, and a figure stand.

Oddly enough, Playmates gave Maul here the best articulation out of the whole line. True, his head cannot turn because of the way he’s designed, but in addition to the standard arms and legs rotating at the shoulders and hips, Maul has hinged knees, a swivel cut in the waist, and swivel cuts in both thighs. I can’t imagine why this was the one figure that got all this treatment, but it does make me a little bitter that Playmates couldn’t bestow the same articulation on the rest of the line.

And so that’s it for the good guys of my Playmates WildCATS collection. All in all the heroes were well represented, with the exception of Jacob Marlowe. I’m guessing Playmates didn’t think that kids were jonesing for the middle aged wealthy midget, but I would have been happy to get him. Here’s a guy who gets rid of enemy guards by dropping a suitcase with a million bucks cash in it and tells them to take it and get lost. Gotta love it. Playmates also produced repainted variants of Warblade, Zealot, and Spartan, but I opted out of hunting those figures down. Playmates also produced some larger scale versions of some of these heroes, but I’ll save that until I’ve been through all the main line. The WildCATS also had a vehicle, the Bullet Bike, but I’ve yet to add that one to my collection.

Next time… The Troika!

 

WildC.A.T.S.: Warblade and Grifter by Playmates

It’s been a while since I last looked at any of the WildCATS figures by Playmates, but feel free to go back and look at what I’ve already reviewed HERE. I’m going to do my best to post the rest of my collection throughout the next week or so. Keep in mind, these figures are based on the short-lived thirteen episode cartoon and not so much on the comic, so that’s the context in which I’ll be discussing them. Today we’re checking out Warblade and Grifter. I really wish I had in-package shots to show you, because these figures look magnificent on their original cardbacks. The cards are big, colorful and sport some amazing comic style character art.  Unfortunately, most of my WildCATS figures came to me in a big lot of loose figures. If you check out the link above with the older reviews, you can see some of the other figure packaging to get an idea. It’s not a highly collected line, so I often consider going back and picking up a carded set. I don’t usually do that, but it just goes to show you how much I love the presentation on these figures.

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Warblade is the part-human noob of the bunch, as he was recruited to the team in the first episode of the toon. It was kind of similar to what the X-Men series did with Jubilee, but Warblade assimilated pretty quickly and before the end of the episode he was rattling off his teammates’ names and kicking arse like he’d already been around the block more than a couple of times. Being green wasn’t an element of his character that extended onward and VooDoo more or less remained the sympathetic and grounded teammate who kids could better relate to.

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Warblade has never been one of my favorite characters, mainly because his character design is just batshit crazy in only the way the 90’s knew how to do it. Maybe it’s the neon green ponytail or the red eyes or his ape like posture, but he’s a far cry from his human computer genius counterpart. I seriously love most of the character designs in this series, but Warblade is the one exception to that rule. Nonetheless, his suit is a pleasing blue and silver and Playmates did a great job sculpting the cables that crisscross his chest and then feed out to his arms from the back.

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Warblade’s signature power is in his arms, which he can elongate, and he can morph his hands into claws or metal blades. These powers carried over pretty well to the figure, which uses pop off hands as accessories. There’s a set of claws, a large blade, and a normal hand. The rubbery cables plug into a socket in whichever arms you care to attach. In addition to the extra arm attachments, Warblade comes with a Halo Industries walkie-talkie and a figure stand.

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There are seven points of articulation on Warblade. His head turns, his arms and legs rotate at the shoulders and hips, and you can swivel his forearms where they detach. It’s standard articulation for ten years ago, but pretty stale now, plus Warblade’s hunched pre-posed sculpt doesn’t help a whole lot either. You can get some decent poses out of him, although given the lack of knee articulation, I would have preferred him a bit more upright. Ok, enough about Warblade, let’s move on to my man man, Grifter…

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At the other end of the spectrum, Grifter is my favorite member of the WildCATS team and my favorite figure in this enitre line. As the human, gun-toting, smart mouth with a shady past, he’s designed to be the team’s bad-ass and this figure does the character justice. The sculpt is spot-on, from his tuft of blonde hair that crops up past his mask, to the billowing trenchcoat and even the little details on his belts. The paint apps are excellent and the black and red on his mask and gauntlets really make the figure pop. This is what a comic book/cartoon figure is supposed to look like, folks. He’s glossy and very toyish and there’s just something about him that really clicks with me.

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Grifter has eight points of articulation. His head turns and his arms and legs rotate at the shoulders and hips. He also has swivel cuts in the forearms and in the waist. Once again, it’s not a lot, and while he is somewhat pre-posed, it isn’t as bad as Warblade or some of the other WildCATS figures.

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Grifter comes with no less than three weapons, which include a a Kherubim blaster, a shotgun and a blaster pistol. Sadly, the pistol wasn’t included with my loose figure, but I can’t say as I miss it. Considering Grifter was always depicted in the cartoon wielding two of the Kherubim blasters, I’d rather have just had an extra one of those and one day I will likely buy a second figure just to get it. He also comes with the same figure stand and walkie-talkie as Warblade.

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As I mentioned before, the WildCATS figures aren’t exactly highly sought after collectibles these days. If you’re in the market you should be able to find these guys carded on Ebay for under $15 a piece, and just as often you can usually find three or four of them in a lot for less. I can probably live without having an unopened Warblade, but sooner or later I will pick up a carded Grifter to hang on my wall.

MOTU Classics: Chief Carnivus by Mattel

It feels like ages since I’ve featured a MOTUC figure here. Why? Partly because some of the recent figures haven’t “must haves” for me, and partly because my work schedule just will not mesh with Matty’s sale dates. I have no problem hunting down the figures via other means if I really want them, but that hasn’t been the case with anything released in a little while. Chief Carnivus probably would have been one of those figures I didn’t bother with. He looked cool enough to get (even if I am not at all familiar with the character), but I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to buy him. As it so happened, though, I had a day off on Matty Sale Day this month, so I grabbed him out of sheer convenience.

It’s a testament to Mattel and The Four Horsemen that they can even get me to buy the figures based off of characters I don’t know. Not being a New Adventures fan, I didn’t know Optikk, but I still love the figure. Well, I didn’t watch many episodes of the more recent He-Man cartoon (although I still mean to), so Chief Carnivus is a stranger to me as well. Nonetheless, he looks awesome. It’s like someone got their Thundercats in my Masters of the Universe. And so, as with Optikk, I took the risk, and I’m glad I did. Carnivus is one cool cat. MEOW!

Carnivus may be a newer character, but the packaging remains classic and vintage to the core. Same green brick card, same nice big bubble to show off the figure. The back panel shows other figures in the collection (which you can no longer buy because they were all only available for about 30 seconds each), and it has a bio blurb, which in this case was very useful in helping me get to know my new figure.

Carnivus uses a number of Beast Man’s body parts, but there’s plenty new here to make him look fresh and unique. His armor and his pelvis are brand new, as are his lower legs. The head sculpt is magnificent with a noble feline visage. There’s a little bit of slop on the face paint apps, but nothing major. The gold and purple motif on his armor is really striking. The grieves are molded as part of his legs, but the chest and shoulder piece can come off easily. It’s also really easy to remove his cape. You don’t even have to pop off his head. I love this because as great as the cape looks on him, it can hinder some of his potential for action poses.

Articulation is standard for the MOTU Classics line. He has a ball jointed neck and shoulders. His arms have hinged elbows along with swivel cuts in the biceps and wrists. His hips have universal joints, his knees and ankles are hinged. Carnivus can swivel at the waist and he has a large hinge in the torso.

The Chief comes with a sword and a shield. The shield clips on to his arm and has a nice sculpted angry cat head with red eyes. His sword is slightly curved at the tip, almost like a saber and has a big red painted stone in the hilt. It would have been cool if Matty had given him some kind of loop on his belt to hang his sword from.

I give Carnivus the big thumbs up. He’s a great looking figure and a really nice fit for my MOTU collection. He costs the standard $20 plus about $8 shipping, which is certainly steep, especially for a figure based off a character I don’t know. But I can rationalize the price point because I’m not buying as many of these figures as I used to be, and I don’t see myself buying nearly as many next year either. Either way, I highly recommend him.

GI JOE The Pursuit of Cobra: Doom Cycle with Storm Rider by Hasbro

Hasbro has of late been a little sporadic in showing their love for the Dreadnoks, and that’s a sad thing for someone who loves them as much as I do. Granted, most of my affection goes toward Ripper, Buzzer and Torch, but there have still been some cool additions to the gang since they first debuted. Now, it’s been a while since we’ve seen anything from them. They weren’t featured at all in the Rise of Cobra movie, nor did they get any of the “off-screen” figure treatment that also came out of the RoC line. It’s only fitting that they finally get a nod inThe Pursuit of Cobra. Bring on the Doom Cycle!

The Doom Cycle is one of the smaller, Alpha Class vehicles, but don’t let that deter you. The few PoC Alpha vehicles we’ve seen thus far have been so much better than the puny, simpistic, and overpriced ones offered in The Rise of Cobra line. You wouldn’t think that a motorcycle designed for a 3 3/4″ figure could be all that much to crow about, but Hasbro sure put some real love into this thing. As an Alpha Class, the toy comes in a simple window box that shows off the cycle and figure very well. The back shows photos of the toy and Shadow Rider’s filecard can be found on the bottom of the box. The insert can be removed and converted into a little backdrop diorama. These backdrops have been hit and miss with me, but I absolutely love the one that comes with this toy, as it’s basically a burning apocalyptic city-scape that I can imagine using for all sorts of things.



The Cycle itself is a three wheeled chopper, cast mostly in black and grey with a little red. The sculpted detail work on the engine is very nice and the gas tank has great custom artwork with the words “Doom Cycle” and a screaming skull. An additional paint app or piece of clear plastic for the headlamp would have been a good touch, though, as it is it’s just left grey. The Cycle rolls along really well on rubbery tires and it’s designed to work perfectly with the figure, so you don’t have to wrestle with him to stay on.


The hidden (ok, not so hidden) weapons on the Doom Cycle reminds me of one of the old MASK toys. Press the button near the back and you deploy a fan of blades. Press the button on the front button and two shotguns flip up by the handlebars and two skewer blades deploy by the front wheel. The great thing about these gimmicks is that they really don’t detract from the design of the toy itself. I’ll admit, the fan blades on the rear don’t strike me as all that useful, but you can’t go wrong with a pair of combat shotguns mounted on your handlebars or two giant blades protruding from the front of your bike.


And then you also get the new Dreadnok figure, Storm Rider. On paper, Storm Rider may sound somewhat generic. Yeah, he’s a biker dude in a leather jacket and blue jeans, but he’s executed really well. His jacket is personalized on the back with “Dreadnoks” and “Australia” and the sharp detail in the tiny badge on his pocket is very impressive. His arms have various finely illustrated tatts, including the Cobra emblems partially obscured by his rolled up sleeves. His right leg has a sculpted holster, which will hold the revolver that comes with him. His mask is black with what looks like two streams of bloody tears coming down and really reminds me of Raziel from the Soul Reaver games. Even if I wasn’t starved for a new Dreadnok figure, I’d still love this guy. And he suits the Doom Cycle perfectly.

Storm Rider’s black mask can be removed by popping his head off and on again. It looks good on him when he’s riding, but I like the figure just as much with it off. The face sculpt is good (is that a little James Marsters in there?), his shades are sculpted to his face, and he’s got a cool little gray mohawk sculpted onto his bleached white hair.


I do have a couple of nits to pick with this figure. First off, his hands seem to pop off pretty easy, and they’re small enough that you need to be careful about losing them, so if you get him, be careful! Second, his elbow hinges are painted black, which looks rather unsightly against the skintones of his arms. Lastly, my Storm Rider will not stand for love or money, and a figure stand was not included. I robbed the one in the pictures from one of my RoC figures. Hasbro seems to frequently change their minds a lot as to whether to give pack-in figures stands or not and it can get a bit aggrevating.

As most of the Dreadnok’s have signature weapons, Hasbro gave Storm Rider here some kind of spike shooter. It looks like an industrial power tool, like a nailgun of some kind and it has a hose attached to it. You can peg the weapon onto the Doom Cycle and there’s a place to plug in the hose too, but the hose just danlges when Shadow Rider is using it while off the bike.

Even with the few missteps, I absolutely love love both the Doom Cycle and Storm Rider. I’ve wanted a generic bike for my Dreadnoks for a while, and this one certainly fits the bill. If space weren’t such a concern for me, I’d have no problem picking up three more of these for Torch, Buzzer and Ripper. But first, I’d have to pick up Buzzer as he is still woefully absent from my Dreadnok gang. First the Ghost Hawk and now this. After the average-at-best Alpha Class toys from Rise of Cobra, it’s so nice to see some really decent stuff coming out in Pursuit of Cobra.


Smurfs (for a Dollar!) by Jakks Pacific

[Ok, so I’m totally spent from the Star Wars Ultimate Battle Pack three-parter and I’ve had a real crappy Monday back at work. Before I get into some of the other new toys waiting in my In Box, I wanted to take it easy so I delved into my folder of unpublished articles and came up with this one that I wrote at some point last year when I picked up these Smurfs. But just so you hardcore Smurfheads don’t think this article is one big tease, the Smurfs are back at Target’s Dollar Spot. I haven’t looked through the new assortment yet, so I don’t know if they are the same as the ones I got last year. Enjoy. -FF] 


If you are a frequenter of Target, no doubt you’ve wandered into that shitty, poorly kept mess that they keep behind the cart corral in the front of the store. I think its official name is the Dollar Spot and you can sniff it out by the fumes of the cheap, petroleum based plastic wafting up from it. While you would expect such a pit of consumer depravity to be full of knock-off crappy junk, it’s surprising just how much officially licensed crappy junk they get in there. It’s not uncommon to see merchandise from Transformers, Marvel, DC, Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, Littlest Pet Shop, Star Wars, even Family Guy. The problem is these items are rarely toys and more often crappy stickers, journals, notepads, pens, and the like.

Anyway, I was lured into this vortex of conspicuous consumption by one of these licensed stickers or notebooks or something, but whatever it was, I forgot all about when I saw the pile of bagged Smurfs sitting in a caged up pen for one measily dollar each. Just how many different ones were produced, I do not know. Most of them seemed to be the same three that I got here, but I didn’t dig through all of them, as the fumes of cheap Vietnamese rubber was making me woosy. I had to be content enough with getting Papa, Smurfette and Brainy, three of the most instantly recognizable personages among what was practically a clone race of little blue elf-rats.

Yeah, you might not have guessed it, but I loved the Smurfs. I used to watch the cartoon on Saturday mornings and try to figure out whether Gargamel was trying to eat them this week or spin them into gold or just melt them in a spoon and shoot them directly into his veins. Who knows? Maybe he popped them like Viagra. Whatever the case, there was just something infectious about that stupid cartoon that kept me coming back for more.

Somehow, the Smurfs wound up a lost piece of 80’s pop culture. Toy aisles are full of Transformers and GI Joes and Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony, but until now… no Smurfs. Yeah, they’ve always been available in specialty shops or online, but no major presence in the toy aisles. You had to really want a Smurf to actually hunt one down and by one. Nevertheless I can still remember when I was a wee lad and I used to peddle my bike downtown to that now extinct creature called an independent toy store, and right next to the Star Wars figures was a huge display case full of these little blue bastards and their carts and mushroom houses and all sorts of stuff. Of course, I never actually bought any. There were always way too many Star Wars figures, GI Joes, or Transformers to allow me to throw any money into the Smurfs.

So for you young’uns or just the general uninitiated, Smurf figures are basically just little rubber statues of little blue people who only wear pants and a floppy sock hat. They are all more or less identical except for the accoutrements that give them their personality. There were a ton of different Smurfs plus a ton of different variations on each Smurf. I mean, if you think it was evil of Hasbro to make you buy a Bespin, Hoth and X-Wing Pilot Luke, be thankful you didn’t have to buy 1,000 different Greedy Smurf figures to complete your collection.

These dollar Smurfs look just like the originals and I believe they are exactly the same size. While the original Smurfs came in little boxes, these come rather unceremoniously in little clear plastic bags. They are articulated, but don’t get too excited, because apart from turning their heads, there’s precious little you can do but move their arms just a tiny bit. Still, compared to the original Smurfs, these are like super-articulated. They are made by Jakks Pacific now, and they are incredibly well-made figures with good paint work too. There’s only a bit of slop on my Papa Smurf’s nose. Brainy Smurf is holding a book and wearing his trademark look of smugness, Papa is holding out his arms wide in some kind of magnanimus gesture and Smurfette is posed looking as whorish as ever.

The funny thing is, after mentioning to someone that I found these, they merely shrugged and said, “Target has a whole shelf full of Smurf stuff over in the toy section, you dumbass!” I couldn’t believe it, but he was right. They had lots more Smurfs mounted on cardbacks, Smurfs riding in primitive log cars, and even a bunch of different mushroom cottages. How could this be? How could the Smurfs have returned without my knowledge? Probably because they were squeezed into the plush animal aisle far away from the action figure aisles. The sad thing is they’ve all but disappeared again. When the retailers reset after Christmas the new Jakks Smurfs were consigned to the clearance bins and are now gone. I sort of wish I had picked up some more. Thankfully they’ve popped up in the Dollar Spot again for another chance. So grab them if you see them!

 

Star Wars: The Rise of Boba Fett Ultimate Battle Pack (TRU Exclusive) by Hasbro, Part 3

Welcome to the third and final part of my look at the Rise of Boba Fett Ultimate Battle Pack and the entire reason I bought this set: Slave-1. Hasbro has been teasing us with a Super Slave-1 toy for a while now, and here it finally is. Now, I’ve already heard some rumbling complaints from fans who were expecting something a lot bigger. In truth, this Slave-1 is about 20-25 percent bigger than the past Slave-1 releases. It isn’t quite the facelift that the Falcon or the AT-AT got, but it is an extremely nice upgrade. Considering Slave-1 isn’t in the same size class as either of those two toys, I think Hasbro did a fine job in settling on how much bigger to make this ship. After all, proportionally speaking, this Slave-1 upgrade is pretty much right in line with the new Falcon. Yes, there are a few directions that Hasbro went with this ship that I take issue with, but size is not one of them.



The sculpt and paint job on the ship are absolutely fantastic and was obviously designed for life beyond the more simplistic style of The Clone Wars. In short, this ship is every bit as detailed as any regular Star Wars toy, at least that’s the case on the outside. The panel lines are nicely executed, there’s a ton of sculpted detail in the areas where the stablizer wings attach, and the bottom/back part of the ship is just brimming with details, which is a good thing, because this bottom portion of the ship is highly visible when Slave-1 is orientated in flight mode. The paint job is especially good, and while those of you looking for an ESB version will be disappointed, I’m happy to overlook the difference. The hull’s paint job is nicely weathered, making this ship look so much more like an Attack of the Clones Slave-1 and not one based off the Clone Wars series. The interior of the ship is a big step down, though. There are a few sloppily applied stickers on the inside cabin, but precious little else in the way of detail.


This Slave-1’s play features are basically a hybrid of the Vintage/POTF2 version (opening back compartment) and the Attack of the Clones version (opening cockpit) to give us the best of both worlds. Let’s start with the cockpit.

The opening cockpit is one of those play features where Hasbro is taking liberty with the ship’s design to help you get a little more fun out of it, since this panel was never seen to open on the actual ship design. It’s similar to what Hasbro incorporated into the cockpits of the Millenium Falcon toys to allow you to have access to that part of the ship. It wasn’t necessary with the Vintage/POTF2 toy, since you could put a figure into the cockpit seat (or bed?) and then flip it into position. But in the case of this ship (and the Attack of the Clones version) you need to open this hatch to put the figures into the cockpit. This huge portion of the ship swings up and locks into the open position with a very scary click that makes me think I’m hurting something.


This version of Slave-1’s cockpit allows for three figures, one pilot in front and two in the backseats. They are basically standing in the compartments with clips to hold them in place. If you are planning on putting Jango or adult Boba into these seats, you’ll need to use one with a removable jetpack. With the stabilizer’s unlocked, the cockpit will use gravity to orientate itself in the upright position like a gyroscope, so the pilot is always looking straight on in the direction that the ship is flying. The pilot and passenger area isn’t quite accurate to what we’ve seen, but I do like it very much. It’s impressive enough to be able to get three figures into it.

Opening this cockpit hatch also reveals a cargo slot at the base of the ship, which is obviously designed to store a carbonite slab of Han Solo. Unfortunately, the POTF2 slab won’t fit, but the more recent Saga version (yep, that annoying half-melted one) will slide right on in. It is, however, a snug fit, and if you push it in too far, you’re going to need a pen or something to coax it out again. Again, this isn’t at all accurate to what we’ve seen, but it’s still a nice little addition to the ship.

The side panel on Slave-1 lifts up to reveal a compartment inside. There isn’t a lot going on in here, but at least it adds extra room for cargo or passengers or whatever you want. There’s access to the cockpit, but you can’t really get figures in or out of the pilot seat this way. There’s also a peg on the wall, which I’m guessing is to store either Jango or adult Boba’s jetpack, but there’s no official word anywhere as to the function of this peg. I haven’t checked Jango’s backpack yet, but the VOTC version of Boba’s backpack clips on pretty well. There’s also a grid or vent that looks into another part of the ship, which we’ll see in a minute. As I said earlier, the amount of detail in this compartment isn’t stellar, but there are a lot of pegs to stand figures, and a fair amount of room.

Ah, but here we get to what I consider to be the most disappointing (possibly the only disappointing) thing about this vehicle. Despite the fact that the boarding ramp on the back slides down, there is no access into or out of the ship from this point. There’s a fake hatch sculpted on the inside of the compartment, and only part of a fake hatch sculpted on the outside. I think this was a huge mistep on this toy’s design, and in a way can be considered a step back from the Vintage/POTF2 version. Yeah, I can live with it since the ship has so much else going for it, but it really sticks in my craw. It’s like if Hasbro had the gangplank on the new Falcon not really lead into the ship.

Slave-1 features two rotating cannons on the tail boom, both of which fire missiles. It’s also got two bombs that store in sockets on the bottom of the ship and can be ejected by pressing buttons on either side of the ship’s base.


Slave-1 has one last play feature. There’s a hatch that opens above the fake boarding ramp and lowers down to reveal a compartment with a removable cell for holding captured quarry. This is the area that the grid in the main compartment looks into. I’ve heard more than a few fans complain about this gimmick as being silly, but I don’t see a lot wrong with it. At worst, I’d compare it to the little escape shuttle in the updated Millenium Falcon that can be ignored. In fairness, you can remove it entirely and use this compartment to store the carbonite slab instead of putting it in the front of the ship. Now whether or not including this gimmick prevented Slave-1 from having a working boarding hatch under it, is another matter. if that was the case, I highly disapprove.

All in all, I am very happy with this new Slave-1. It is by no means perfect and the fake boarding ramp will always bug me, but many of Hasbro’s greatest Star Wars toys have involved compromises, and this Slave-1 is no different. Still, it’s bigger, it takes play features from all previous versions and incorporates them together nicely, and it even adds a few surprises. Nonetheless, despite Hasbro’s coy and non commital answers at various Q&A sessions, I think we can all agree that there’s a 99 percent chance this ship will be released again with ESB accurate colors, probably with a Boba Fett figure and Han Solo Carbonite slab (painted without the melting effect) thrown in. I’d even wager it’ll happen next year, so if you just can’t justify the price tag for all this stuff, you can probably wait with confidence that you won’t be disappointed.

As for the price tag on this set… two ships five figures and a $109 price tag. Good deal? Well, it’s not a bad deal if you collect the Clone Wars toys. If you factor in that the figures would run around $7-8 each if you bought them all carded, then that’s about $37 right there. The Jedi Starship fits into Hasbro’s boxed vehicle assortment, which are selling for about $25 now, and that brings the total up to $62. If I set aside the fact that I wouldn’t have purchased the figures or the Starfighter on their own, that makes Slave-1’s cost nearly $40, and I don’t think that’s outrageously high. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this box for kids, and one really nice new version of a classic ship for us adult collectors.

Star Wars: The Rise of Boba Fett Ultimate Battle Pack (TRU Exclusive) by Hasbro, Part 2

We’ve looked at the figures from this Ultimate Battle Pack, so now it’s time to check out the first of the two vehicles: The Jedi Starfighter. Obviously, this toy is based off the Clone Wars era starfighter, which I don’t find quite as appealing as the one that superceded it in The Revenge of the Sith. Still, it’s a cool little ship with some nice features. This particular toy is a repack that has been released several times since 2008 as part of Hasbro’s $20-25 medium sized vehicle assortment. The only version of this Jedi Starship that I’ve ever owned was the Obi-Wan Starfighter that came with the Hyperspace Ring. It was the same basic design, but lacked some of this ship’s gimmicks, so this toy is essentially new to me.

My first impression of this starfighter was that it seems to lack the heft of other Star Wars toys in this size class. As I said, I have never owned this exact mold before, so I may be entirely off base here, but it feels like Hasbro may have skimped on the plastic quality a bit when producing this one. It just doesn’t feel as heavy or sturdy as the plastic used in Slave-1 or any of the other ships I own in this size class. The sculpt is very nice, as it features a good number of panel lines and details. There are no stickers to apply, although the Republic emblems are already in place. The paint scheme is ok, a little drab, and the paint lines are kind of sloppy in places. I think my biggest complaint, is that the ship looks a bland with no other paint apps or weathering or stickers. Maybe it’s designed to look a little more clean and cartoony because it’s a Clone Wars toy, I don’t know. But when I compare this ship to my Revenge of the Sith Starfighters, there’s a huge difference.


The rear cockpit opens to reveal a nicely detailed interior, which can seat either Mace or Anakin or most other figures. Just in front of this cockpit is the Astromech droid slot. There’s actually a hinged hatch that opens so that you can put the droid in and close it around his head and shoulders. It’s a nice feature as it keeps the droid locked in place and he won’t come flying out if you’re inclined to have your ship whooshing around the room and doing barrel rolls. The inside of the droid slot compartment is actually nicely detailed and features a cockpit that is clearly intended for a humanoid pilot, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The starfighter includes three firing missiles/laser cannon. Two are mounted on the top and the third is concealed in a channel under the ship. It can be easily pulled out to fire or to serve as a third landing strut.

This starfighter’s main gimmick is that you can pull it apart to become two separate ships. The back portion resembles a smaller, cruder prototype of the Jedi Starfighter seen in Revenge of the Sith. The front has two spring loaded wings that deploy when the ships are separated. So here’s where I get confused. On first glance it seems like the ship made up of the front portion is meant to be piloted by the Astromech, but then the slot obviously is designed to accomodate a humanoid figure. Of course any figure sitting in there and piloting this smaller ship would be exposed to the vaccuum of space. I’ve seen most of the Clone Wars cartoon, and I’ve never seen one of these ships split apart, so I’m really unclear on what the purpose of it is. If anyone out there knows, feel free to drop me a comment. Either way, it’s a pretty cool gimmick that doesn’t interfere with the overall design of the toy, so I’m fine with it.

As a pack-in ship, this starfighter is a pretty nice item. I wouldn’t have bought it on it’s own, as I’m not overly fond of the design, but now that I have one in my hands, I may actually wind up keeping it. It’s a cool little ship, but there’s nothing about it that makes me all that excited.