Doctor Who: “The Time Monster” Master and TARDIS by Character Options

In case you haven’t noticed, Character Options is striving to get a lot of mileage out of their classic figure sculpts. They’re doing this by making us buy the same figures or toys over and over again to get a new piece in our collections. Just look at the four Davros sets or the fact that they’re putting out another Sontaran set with the ship, and you’ll see what I mean. This Time Monster set is yet another example, where I’m buying a figure that I already own, in this case The Master, just to get his TARDIS and a few little accessories. Does this piss me off? Nope. Not in the slightest. If this is what CO needs to do to get a return on their investment and keep making figures, that’s fine by me. I’ve waited so long for these figures and toys and I’m so happy that CO is making them, I’ll gladly keep forking over the dough as long as CO keeps making them.

The package is a window box with the same deco that’s been used for sets like the Vengeance on Varos or The Sontaran Experiment. You get a blue deco with the 2005 series logo. The front of the package features a photo of Roger Delgado as The Master along with a shot of his TARDIS as it appeared in the episode. The back panel has a nice synopsis of the episode, The Time Monster, and more photos from the show. One of my favorite things about this set is the cardboard insert that is illustrated with roundels from inside the TARDIS and can be taken out and used as a backdrop to display the figures with. No doubt this backdrop will go a long way for folks looking to do custom TARDIS interiors.

I don’t have much to say about The Master, as he’s the exact same figure that was released with the Claws of Axos set. He’s a fantastic figure with a wonderful likeness of Roger Delgado, but I’ve got nothing new to say here. Feel free to take a look at my review of The Claws of Axosset for more on the figure itself.

The TARDIS is designed to look like a 1970’s era computer bank. Much to The Doctor’s chagrin, The Master’s TARDIS had a fully functional Chameleon Circuit. It’s sculpted in hollow plastic and feels kind of like a dog’s chewtoy. The sculpt and the paint apps are simple enough, but don’t expect anything else out of it other than a prop. It doesn’t open, nothing moves on it, it’s just a display piece for decoration. Some may find that disappointing, but then there’s this counter-argument. “Holy shit, they actually have a toy based on The Masters TARDIS from The Time Monster.” Who the hell thought we’d ever see something like this? Yeah, I’m willing to be pretty forgiving here.

There are also three accessories included in the set. First, you get The Master’s Tissue Compression Eliminator, which is the same one issued with The Claws of Axos Master. Next up, you get the Crystal of Kronos, which is actually a really nice little scaled replica of the artifact from the episode. Lastly, you get the Time Sensor that The Doctor built, which is also a pretty nice piece.

If you missed out on picking up The Claws of Axos set, and you’re in the market for this Master figure, this set is a nice pick-up. It’s especially a nice set if you passed on the Axos set out of bitterness that the Axon figure was actually just a repainted Krynoid. On the other hand, if you already have The Master in your collection, this set is by no means a must have. The TARDIS is cool enough and the accessories are nice, but it hardly justifies buying the set. On the other hand, with a retail of about $25-30, picking this one up isn’t going to break your bank like collecting all the Davros sets will. Personally, I’m trying to support this line as much as possible, so buying this set was a no brainer for me.

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Masters of the Universe Classics: Catra by Mattel

Today we’re looking at on one of this month’s MOTUC figures from Matty Collector. It’s Catra and the fact that I own this figure is proof that Mattel is making some awesome figures. [Need more proof? I bought She-Ra too, and we’ll probably be looking at her tomorrow. -FF] I have absolutely no recollection of or affinity for this character from the old Filmation cartoons, but then I never spent a lot of time watching She-Ra. Nonetheless, she looked pretty cool and I was just itching to get some new MOTUC figures this month. Besides, I’ve yet to be disappointed by an MOTUC purchase. So let’s see if that track record holds true.

When the Matty box showed up at my door this morning I had almost completely forgot that even ordered it. That’s a slightly less beligerent way of saying Matty’s shipping is pricey and slow. Ok, it’s only been 10 days since the sale, but it seems like most of the other retailers I deal with can get my goods to me faster and cheaper. But, I digress… let’s look at the packaging. It’s the same old Greyskull inspired green brick motif, and it’s just as magnificent looking as ever. Some may argue that Matty should have done more of a Princess of Power themed package for the figures from that property, but I’m not one of them. Besides, there’s a nice Evil Horde sticker right on the bubble to declare her affiliation.

In a universe populated by bat-shit crazy looking people and creatures, Catra looks pretty normal. Even more so when you consider that she’s totally obsessed with cats and can indeed turn into one herself. The head sculpt is positively gorgeous with some definite feline aspects to her facial structure, particularly in her eyes and her high cheekbones. Her hair is very nicely sculpted and doesn’t interfere with her neck articulation. The legs and boots seem to borrow from She-Ra, which is fine, but I’m not terribly thrilled with her useless and very soft left hand. The hand is sculpted to look like she’s going to scratch someone, and I’m guessing that safety protocols required the fingers to be bendy. But wait, isn’t this an Adult Collectors line? I dunno. It’s not such a big deal, if you plan on keeping her shield clipped to her left hand, but I would have rather had a functional hand. Her one-piece outfit is sculpted from rubbery plastic and permanently attached just like She-Ra and Teela and I really dig The Horde emblem sculpted into it. It’s a nice break from the cat motif of the rest of her gear. She also comes with a soft plastic cape that floats freely around her neck and can be removed by popping off her head.

Catra comes with a nice little assortment of accessories. You get her sword, shield, whip, tiara and cat mask. The sword and shield both have a cat motif. The shield is actually a resculpt of She-Ra’s. The whip has a comb sculpted into the handle, which seems to be the running gag with the MOTUC Princess of Power ladies. The tiara and mask are sculpted to fit snugly onto Catra’s face and either one holds on quite well, although I prefer displaying her with the tiara over the mask.

The articulation is standard for the females of the MOTUC line. You get a ball jointed neck, univeral movement in the shoulders and hips, hinged elbows, knees, and ankles, swivels in the wrists and boots. You don’t get any torso articulation, which is a bummer, but it seems to be par for the course with the ladies of the MOTUC line.

All things considered, I’m really happy with this figure. She looks great and helps to add a little to the ranks of the MOTUC ladies. I like the understated design and the quality of the sculpt and paintwork is certainly up to The Four Horseman’s excellent standards. I can even live with her floppy left hand. Plus, now my Hordak has someone to keep him company. I’ll probably have to break down and pick up Grizzlor now too, although I may wait until he makes another appearance on MattyCollector.

Transformers Dark of the Moon: Cyberverse Starscream Orbital Assault Carrier

Last time we looked at one of the single carded figures from Hasbro’s new Cyberverse line of Transformers, but this time we’re going to delve into what this line is all about… The larger sets. Cyberverse is all about making Transformers small enough to interact with transforming playsets (for lack of a better word… I guess they’re actually more like vehicles) much like some of the old G1 Micromasters did. It’s a great idea that revisits a really cool element of the Transformers, while still maintaining the core gimmick… things transforming into other things. These larger sets come with a Cyberverse figure and their larger interactive piece. So let’s check out Starscream and his Orbital Assault Carrier.

The set comes in a window box that strikes me as being somewhat similar in size and configuration as the Human Alliance toys. The artwork features the cool new Dark of the Moon deco and boasts that the contents are a “3-in-1 action set!” Starscream comes mounted in his robot mode with his Orbital Assault thingy taking up most of the interior’s real estate. The toys are set against an illustrated insert of a cityscape burning in typical Michael Bay fashion. The insert can also be taken out and folded into a cool diorama background in the same way Habsro has been doing it for some of their other lines. I don’t think the background suits these toys all that well, but it’s cool enough that I’ll probably save it for some other figures. Also included in the package is a missile and a folded instruciton sheet.

Let’s start with Starscream. Remember how I gushed about Ironhide and how awesome he was for such a little figure? Well, I won’t be doing that with Starscream. He’s not terrible. He’s certainly better than the Legends Starscreams, but he’s nowhere near Ironhide in terms of ingenuity of design. I don’t know if Hasbro is including dumbed-down figures with the larger sets as cost, but I guess I’ll find out as I pick up more of the Cyberverse toys. It could also be the difference between the so-called Commander figures and the Legion figures. It’s all pretty confusing. Either way, if I bought this Starscream on a single card for eight bucks, I would have been severely pissed off.

Starscream’s Raptor mode is about what I expected, very kibbletastic. The top of the jet looks ok, but look at it from any other angle and you can see all the robo-baggage he’s carrying underneith. He also does not hold together very well at all. On the up side, Hasbro did a decent job reproducing all his tatts. In robot mode, things are only slightly better. He looks ok, but the panel that folds up to become his back doesn’t want to stay folded up, as it doesn’t lock into anywhere. He lacks the intricate details of Ironhide and just looks kind of bland. If Ironhide looked like a Deluxe toy shrunk down, Starscream here looks more like a Legends toy enlarged a bit. He’s serviceable, but not impressive, although he really doesn’t look like he belongs in the same line of figures as Ironhide.

So, I’m guessing Hasbro through most of their efforts into the Orbital Assault Carrier, as it’s actually pretty neat. As the box proclaims, it does indeed have three modes and all of them are solid enough, which isn’t always the case with triple changers. Starscream can also interact with each mode in a different way.

The in-package mode is the Assault Drone, which is just a big flying weapons platform. There’s a harness underneith that opens up and you can put Starscream in his Raptor mode in there, but he doesn’t really fit into place all that well and just winds up getting knocked around. It seems like they could have had some pegs or clips or some better way to secure him inside the harness.

Next up is the Carrier mode. This is the one I was most interested in, as it’s basically a little airborne aircraft carrier that Starscream can land on. It looks ok, although once again, despite a number of sockets on the flattop, Starscream doesn’t really lock onto it in any way. If you get him just right you can get his landing gear into the slots, but he’ll still slide off without much coaxing.

Last up is the Battle Station mode, which is the one for Starscream’s robot mode. It’s a weapons platform with a place for Starscream to stand when he’s in robot mode. It actually looks like some kind of crazy throne with armaments. I’m not sure how it works in battle, but it looks good and it makes Starscream look a lot more formidable than when he’s standing on his own.

This set was about fifteen bucks at Walmart. Not a bad deal considering the single carded Cyberverse figures sell for about half that. Does it sound like I was disappointed in this set? Well, I think it would be more accurate to say I was disappointed with the Starscream figure, and that’s probably mostly because I opened it right after opening Ironhide. Starscream is actually pretty close to what I expected out of these figures, but then Ironhide raised the bar a lot higher. The Orbital Assault Carrier is actually pretty cool, but I do wish that Starscream interacted with it a bit better. Nonetheless, I think the overall concept works ok, and I’m not deterred from picking up more of these sets.

Transformers Dark of the Moon: Cyberverse Ironhide by Hasbro

Hasbro surprised us all back during Toyfair when they revealed a new subline for the Dark of the Moon toys. It’s called Cyberverse and it’s a brand new class, falling somewhere between the Legends and Scout classes in terms of size and complexity. The purpose of the new size seems to be interactivity with transforming playsets, but today we’re going to start by looking at one of the stand alone figures in this new assortment. Let’s check out Cyberverse Ironhide.

Ironhide comes carded in his robot mode under a big cylindrical bubble. I still really like the deco on the Dark of the Moon packages. It’s such an improvement over the Revenge of the Fallen artwork. The back panel has a little bio of Ironhide along with photos of the toy and his tech specs. If you’re a MOC collector, these should hold up really well, although probably not as easy to store as the more traditional carded figures. Either way, I love the look here.

Even though Ironhide is packaged in his robot mode, I’m going to start with a look at his alt mode. He’s still a GMC Pick Up and for such a little guy, this is one great looking and amazingly detailed truck. He has about the same amount of robot kibble in his undercarriage as the Voyager Ironhide toy from the previous movies. He locks together fairly well and there’s not an excessive amount of seams, although there is a slight gap in the hood to allow for the way those panels slant together during transformation. I’m particularly impressed by the detail work in the grill that is not only meticulously sculpted but even has a painted GMC logo and the Road Armor logos on the bumper. That’s crazy detail, right there! Because of the nature of his vehicle form Ironhide has very few paint apps to speak of. His stacks are painted silver and you have some more silver paintwork on the grill and that’s about it. I’d say this alt mode would be perfectly acceptable as a slightly larger Scout class toy, so it’s all the more impressive here.

The Cyberverse figures also manage to mimic some of the MechTech weapon gimmickry of their larger cousins, and Ironhide here is a great example of that. He comes with two cannons, which can combine into a larger weapon. There are three sockets on the truck where these can be placed, with one on each door and the third on the roof. There’s also a clip in the truck bed. This kind of versatility with the weapon gives this little truck plenty of play and display options.

Transforming Ironhide is pretty simple, but what you get is simply amazing. Hasbro has managed to take all the character and personality of the Voyager toy and shrink it down to this little guy. He looks amazing, and I don’t mean for a Transformer this size. No, I really am blown away by how faithful the design remains to the larger toys. Once again, the MechTech style weapon gives some options for play and display. You can mount the two weapons to his arms, or you can have Ironhide hold the larger combined weapon, or peg that into either of his arms.

Ironhide’s robot mode has solid articulation with ball joints in the shoulders and upper legs, hinged elbows and knees, swivels in the elbows, and hinges in the ankles. The shoulders, however, are at a strange angle, which keeps his arms from doing what I’d like them to, but you can still get some nice poses from him. The only thing that bugs me is his head doesn’t turn. Of course, his ball joints are prone to popping off, particularly the arms, but it’s not as chronic a condition as I’ve seen with some of the larger Revenge of the Fallen toys.

Ironhide cost just under eight bucks, which may make some collectors wince, since he’s smaller than a Scout and yet he’s priced about the same. It doesn’t even seem like all that long ago when we could pick up Deluxes for just a buck or two more. Whether a toy this small is worth the price tag is up to you. Personally, I think for the amount of sculpt and engineering that went into this little guy, the price is not unwarranted. Besides, it places him right around the same range as a standard 3 3/4″ action figure. I was damned curious to check out these new Cyberverse toys, and I’ve got to say if Hasbro can keep up this level of engineering, I’m going to be buying a lot of them. And that’s coming from someone who rarely bought any of the Legends class figures.

Next time, we’ll check out one of the larger Cyberverse sets.

Captain America: Red Skull (Movie Series) by Hasbro

I’m pretty psyched up for the Captain America movie, but I don’t plan on buying many of the figures. I will, however, be picking up some of the Comic Series as well as figures that fill holes in my Marvel Universe collection and Red Skull is obviously one of those holes. It’s certainly possible that Hasbro will be giving Skull the Comic Series treatment in the near future, but this movie version is plenty cool and I since I forsee that very soon the pegs being clogged with the ten million different variations of Captain America, I figured I better grab Red Skull while I can.

 

I can’t say there are any big surprises to be had in the package design, but then again, I have to admit it looks quite nice. You get artwork of Cap himself making up a good portion of the card, along with the Avengers Assemble emblem showing off Iron Man and Thor. Ant Man? Hulk? Who’s that? Yeah. Anyway. The bubble shows off the figure very nicely along with his accessories. The back panel of the card shows a photo of the figure, a short bio blurb and some of the other figures in the line.

The sculpt used here looks really top notch. Granted, the movie isn’t out yet and I still haven’t seen any stills of the character in the movie, but as far as the figure is concerned I like what I see. Besides, which, I got this guy to go with my MU figures, not for his role in the Marvel movieverse. Either way the head looks great and the paint apps are very well done. Red Skull’s uniform is wonderfully detailed, although the plastic tunic unfortunately interferes with his upper leg articulation, reducing the joints to being almost useless. It’s a bit of a shame since the rest of him sports the same excellent articulation seen in the Marvel Universe line, right down to his double hinged knees. Hey, Hasbro… what’s up with the number on his boot?

Red Skull comes with a few accessories. You get the Cosmic Cube, a pistol, and a huge firing missile launcher. The Cube is pretty nicely done for such a small accessory and is cast entirely in translucent blue plastic. He can even hold it fairly well in his hand. The missile launcher is the throwaway piece that we’ve come to expect from Hasbro’s 3 3/4″ figures. It’s goofy and awkward and it can go into my tote filled with all the other ones I have from Rise of Cobra to Iron Man 2.

I’m still waiting to see if a Comic Series version of Red Skull comes out in this line, but for now I’m perfectly happy with this figure. Whether it be Iron Man or Thor or now Captain America, Hasbro has been giving the Marvel Movie figures their all. I’ll admit, it’s too bad that these lines are littered with so many ridiculous variants of the heroes. It made sense in the Iron Man lines, but it’s uncalled for in the Thor and Captain America lines. Still, I’m happy to take what I want and leave the rest.

Transformers Dark of the Moon: Megatron by Hasbro

The Dark of the Moon figures have hit retailers full force this week and Hasbro is bringing the big guns. There’s a bewildering amount of toys for the line, although, if you’ve been in Target recently it looks like Disney’s Cars 2 won the marketing battle for the most real estate. I resisted the urge to fill a cart with Transformers today and instead just picked up the one figure I was looking forward to most in the initial assortment… Megatron. Why Megatron? He’s gotten the short end of the transforming stick in the first two movies, so I was really excited to finally see him getting a legitimate alt mode, instead of just something that looks like an HR Giger inspired horseshoe crab with a gun on it. Ok, let’s check him out.

Here’s my first look at the new DotM packaging. OMG, why does the box seem so tiny? Well, we’ll get to that in a bit. The artwork is a big difference from the last two movies, and I like it a lot. It just makes more sense to have a dark space motif on my Transformers packages instead of a bunch of hieroglyphics. As a Voyager Class, Megatron comes in a window box and packaged in his robot mode. His bio is now on the side of the package and the back panel shows photos of the toy in both modes as well as the character’s specs. There’s a Try Me hole cut out in the window that lets you see how the Mech Tech weapon converts. But don’t let the Try Me thing fool you, the toy does not feature any electronics.

Despite being packaged in his robot mode, I’m actually going to start by looking at Megsy’s vehicle mode. He’s a grimey looking tanker truck, which is an alt mode I never would have thought would suit Megatron very well, but in this case I kind of like it. For some reason, I just like the idea of both Prime and Megatron being trucks. But before getting into the truck itself, let’s talk size and scale. Megatron is tiny. Check out a picture of him besides another Voyager toy, the original Movie Ironhide, and a Revenge of the Fallen Deluxe, Bumblebee.

Not only is he way too small to be in scale with Voyager Ironhide, but he’s even way too small against a Deluxe car from the last movie. Now, I tend to be pretty leniant with scale in Transformers, since Takara and Hasbro have played fast and loose with scale ever since the G1 days, but DotM Megatron just seems way too small. He should have been a Leader Class, and that would have at least made him displayable besides some of the Autobots from the last two movies. Ok, so we are discussing three separate lines, and just because the first movies’ toys synched so well with Revenge of the Fallen doesn’t mean DotM toys should do the same. Just be prepared for the surprise that Megatron is, relatively speaking, a damn small toy.

That all having been said, I do like his truck mode a lot. He’s a nasty grey and green color with some paint app rust spots here and there. There’s some excellent detail work on the grill, including the Mack Truck logo and he holds together well and rolls along nicely. I’m not entirely sure why one of the windshields pops out further than the other, but it is depicted that way in the product images, so it’s obviously intentional. Megsy’s alt mode also has a soft plastic molded tarp that can be placed over the rear end of his tanker, which looks pretty cool. The Mech Tech weapon forms the front half of his tank. It can be removed and plugged into the socket on the roof of his cab to give him some extra firepower.

Transforming Megatron is a little tricky, thanks to a few shifts mostly involving his upper legs. Once you get the hang of those moves, the rest is very simple. In fact, he’s laughably easy to transform for a movieverse Voyager. Nonetheless, what you get when you’re done is the cleanest, most symetrical and most humanoid looking Megatron Bayformer we’ve seen. In fact, he looks great and what little truck kibble is here is all neatly tucked away. The Mech Tech weapons plugs into his arm as a fusion cannon, which doesn’t look that much like a fusion cannon unless you activate its Mech Tech feature. The problem is that the weapon only stays transformed when you keep the button pressed in. The tarp that covers part of Megatron’s tank forms a cloak in his robot mode with an extra bit that hooks on to form a hood. It looks pretty cool on him, and the hood serves to hide some of the right half of his face, which is battle damaged. I’m overall pretty happy with the way this guy looks and his articulation. Too bad the scale issue is still very much there when he’s in robot mode.

In defense of Megsy’s size, I don’t have any other DotM figures to compare him with. I don’t know that Voyager Prime looked about the same size, so that’s something. He’ll probably be fine alongside the Deluxe figures in robot mode, but the vehicle modes are still going to be way out of wack.

Along with Megatron’s diminished size, comes a diminished price tag. I’m used to paying about $20-23 for Voyager class Transformers, but the DotM Voyagers were only $18 each at Walmart. Not bad considering they’re brand new and not even on special or anything. I expect the price to go up a few bucks in the coming weeks. Either way, Megatron’s size and complexity make him something of a disappointment. He just feels too much like a stand alone figure that doesn’t fit into any of the previously released classes. I do like his truck mode, and I do like his robot mode, though, so he isn’t a total loss, and he’s a decent enough toy for the money.

Marvel Universe: Bullseye by Hasbro

The final installment of this Marvel Universe trifecta goes to one of my favorite Marvel baddies, Bullseye. Whether he’s standing in as Osborne’s new Hawkeye or sparring with Deadpool over a mark, I know I’m always in for a treat when he turns up in the pages of my favorite funny books. Bullseye was one of those MU figures that was notoriously hard to find for a while and was in surprisingly high demand online. There were a few times that I was almost ready to pull the trigger on him through Ebay at some pretty ridiculous prices before coming to my senses and deciding to wait. Well, waiting paid off as Hasbro has been doing right by fans and trying to get some of these figures out in greater supply. And sure enough I found him hanging out on the pegs.

The standard Marvel Universe package with some underwhelming character art. Bullseye has a lot of personality in his face, and it’s not really conveyed here. It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t be wholly satisfied with it if I was inclined to keep the figure Mint On Card. Bullseye comes carded with dagger in one hand and an assault rifle mounted over his left shoulder. This is an earlier release that predates the HAMMER waves, which means he doesn’t come with a figure stand. He does, however, include the Top Secret documents that are no longer included in the current releases.

Bullseye is one of those MU figures that gets by with a simple, generic body sculpt and paint apps to make up his costume. His personality is all in the head sculpt and unlike the character art on the package, I think Hasbro did a fantastic job here. He looks wonderfully maniacal. On the downside, there’s some odd yellowish paint slop all over his chin. Where’d that come from? Luckily, the white paintwork on the body is nice and crisp, as is the trademark bullseye on his forehead. The one questionable thing about Bullseye’s sculpt is the playing cards sculpted into his left hand. I’ve waffled back and forth on whether or not I like it. In the end, I’m pretty cool with it, as he looks awesome posed with his hand up.

You get two accessories with Bullseye. There’s a pretty generic, yet nonetheless welcome assault rifle and a tiny little dagger. I promptly lost the dagger shortly after opening it, which is not a problem since he could not hold it in his hand without using one of those tiny clear rubber bands to tie it in there. I would have much rather had a pistol than this useless dagger, but thankfully, I can rob an arsenal from my GI JOEs for him.

And that’s Bullseye, folks. This is one of those figures that I’m more excited about having in my collection than reason would dictate. But between how much I love his appearances in the comics, and how expensive he was online for a while there, I truly thought I wasn’t ever going to be getting him. Despite a few minor blemishes, he turned out great.

Marvel Universe: Apocalypse by Hasbro

So, it’s pretty rare that I’m actually able to pick up a Marvel Universe figure from the current wave, but as mentioned last time a little out of town shopping netted me this Series 9 figure, Apocalypse. This is definitely one of the MU releases I was looking most forward to and I was really thrilled when he turned up on the radar. And unlike some of my more obscure favorites in the MU lineup, I’m certainly not alone in my anticipation of this figure. Apocalypse routinely ranks pretty high in the annals of Marvel villains and I have to imagine that he’s going to be one popular and welcomed release, especially among those of you heavy into the X-Men figures.

Standard Marvel Universe packaging, with some very nice character art of the Big Bad himself. As this is a current release, the Dark Reign of Osborne has ended and we’re back to the SHIELD emblem adorning the front of the bubble. And a mighty big bubble it is, which the figure fills out quite nicely. Apocalypse comes with a custom stand, but in case you missed the memo, Hasbro has dumped the Top Secret documents that were included in past waves of the MU figures. Normally, I’d rather have the figure stand, but in this case, Apocalypse just doesn’t need it. He’s huge and stands just fine on his own.

Considering the gravitas of this character, one would presume that Hasbro would put a lot of effort into the figure, and you’d be right. Wow. Critics of the MU series may point out that so many of the figures are just a standard body with a new head and some paint apps to make a costume, but you sure can’t say that about Apocalypse here. He’s huge and beautifully sculpted and fits the character design perfectly. Check out the detail in his giant boots, gauntlets, the musculature of his body, or the amazing head sculpt and you can easily see this figure was crafted with lots of love. Even the treads on his soles of his boots are detailed. The huge shoulder pads are sculpted in softer plastic and hang over the shoulder joints so as not to inhibit his arm articulation and the hoses leading from his gauntlets and on his back are also soft plastic and move fluidly with the figure to allow for prime poseability.

I’m particularly happy with the coloring on this figure as well. The blue on his armor has a satisfying metallic sheen to it and the grey of his skin is washed to bring out the detail in his sculpted muscles. The paint apps on the head are crisp and clean and the whole figure is free of any slop or bleeding. Compare this guy to some of the earlier MU figures and it’s hard to tell their from the same series.

Apocalypse includes all the articulation we’ve come to expect from the male figures of the line. His head rotates, his shoulders are ball jointed, he has hinged elbows and swivels in his biceps and wrists. His legs feature universal movement at the hips, hinged knees and ankles, and swivel cuts in the thighs. He also rotates at the waist. The only thing missing is the ab crunch that is present in most of the smaller proportioned figures.

Yep, Marvel Universe continues to be a damned frustrating line to collect and Apocalypse here is a perfect example of why. I try to convince myself that these figures aren’t worth the bother to hunt down. I try to convince myself that at $8 at retail, and often a lot more online, they aren’t worth the price either. And yet whenever I do happen to stumble upon a new figure in the line, I buy it and fall in love with the Marvel Universefigures all over again. I had high expectations for Apocalypse and Hasbro managed to satisfy. He’s worth the hunt and definitely worth the money.

Marvel Universe: Black Widow by Hasbro

[Well, I can’t say I didn’t warn you. I got the first of three drinking binges trips I need to take in May out of the way and while I had every hopes to get back and do at least one update, it just didn’t happen. I also had planned to do a bit of toy hunting on my excursion and that didn’t happen either. Although, while dropping into a Walmart on the way back home I found that while the pickings weren’t great, they were at least much better than the dismal findings at the Walmarts in my hometown. Thus, I was able to pick up three Marvel Universe figures. Today, I’m going to get back into the swing of things slowly with a quick look at a figure that has been out for a while, but very tough for me to find… Black Widow. -FF]

Ah, the Marvel Universe packaging. I can’t tell you how good it is to see it hanging on the peg and not be an Iron Man or Hobgoblin. When I saw the gorgeous artwork of Black Widow gazing luridly out of the card I was a pretty happy camper. I only saw this figure once before on the pegs and at the time I passed her up for some new Transformers. When I went back, she was gone and I was pissed. Despite the fact that I’ve looked at this character in figure form before [Marvel Famous Covers series by Toy Biz. -FF] I have never been a huge fan of the character, at least not until she turned up in Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes. She was no slouch in Iron Man 2 either, but my point is, I haven’t made a point to follower her in the funny books. Getting back to the packaging, she comes on a standard MU card, issued as part of the Dark Reign series with the HAMMER logo instead of the SHIELD. She comes packaged with a personalized figure stand, her Top Secret file, and an assault rifle.

In a line of brightly colored and outlandishly costumed heroes, Black Widow stands out precisely because she’s rather plain. It suits the character and Hasbro did an admirable job of reproducing her in 3 3/4″ form, but she isn’t all that exciting to look at. Her blackish-blue body suit is simple and true to form and adorned only with her two wrist bracers and her belt. If I recall, these accoutrement are usually portrayed as yellow in the artwork, but here Hasbro chose to go with a silver. It definitely makes for more modern and realistic look, but that’s not necessarily what I’m looking for in my MU figures. So, yeah, I would have preferred them yellow.

The head sculpt is simple enough. Hasbro often has problems producing attractive female faces in this scale, but they did an ok job with Widow. At first, I thought it might be too generic, but when I went back and compared her to some of the original artwork, I was suitably impressed.

Black Widow’s articulation is standard for the MU female body. She has balljoints in her neck and shoulders, hinges in her elbows and ankles, double hinges in her knees, swivels at the waist, and universal movement in her hips. I really do miss having swivel cuts in the thighs and biceps, but all in all, she has a nice wide range of poseability.

I’m glad I finally found Black Widow on the pegs. I wanted her in my collection, but she isn’t a striking enough figure for me to want to pay a premium for her online. For a while there she was going for quite a bit over her MSRP through online retailers, but I suspect this is one of those shortpacked figures that Hasbro decided to reissue, because a couple of my friends have recently reported finding her and offered to pick her up for me. She’s a solid representation of the character and another excellent addition my MU lineup.

Vintage Vault: X-Men X-Force Quark by Toy Biz

Time to start ripping open some good old fashioned Toy Biz X-Men figures. Why? Well, why not. They’ve been hanging around in my closet for long enough, there’s nothing new on the pegs around here, and I’m hankering for some new figures to look at. Or at least newly opened. I’ve got a whole tote full of these guys, so there’s plenty to go round. Today we’re going to start with Quark, and I don’t mean the guy slinging drinks on Deep Space Nine. 

How can you not love this packaging? The super colorful card is set up to look vaguely like a comic book with the little Marvel Comics tab up in the corner. The artwork and logo are both really exciting. I particularly love the way Quark’s smoking gun is positioned in front of the X-Men logo. Very cool. The bubble is huge to accomodate both the figure and his big weapons. This is the kind of awesome packaging that we got in the 90’s by the likes of Toy Biz and Playmates. I’m sad to say that apart from Star Trek figures, I really wasn’t collecting a lot of figures in the 90’s, and this is the kind of stuff I was missing out on. I am not usually a Mint-On-Card collector, but even I have to admit, tearing open this thing made me cry a little inside. 

Out of the package, you can’t help but love Quark. He looks like a hyper-muscled ram-man with a pirate’s eyepatch, but in reality he was one of the race of slaves Mojo had created to help his kind with the hard labor. It’s tough picking up after yourself when you haven’t got a spine! Of course, as is often the case with those pesky slaves, they tend to turn on you and so Quark was part of Longshot’s revolt on the Mojoverse. He may look tough, but he was a good guy at heart.

The sculpt is simple enough, but it’s got it where it counts, particularly the head sculpt, which gives the figure a ton of attitude. Quark looks like he’s ready to drive his head through the nearest wall, and he’s got the horns to back him up. Apart from his belt with side pouches and bulging muscles, there’s not a heck of a lot of detail here, but the whole thing works as a comic/animated figure and I really dig the high gloss used on the paint.

Quark’s articulation includes a rotating head, arms that rotate at the shoulders, legs that rotate at the hips, and hinged knees. He’s not what we would call super-articulated by any stretch, but he’s got better than the five points we’re used to seeing in figures from this era. Quark also has an action feature, triggered by the lever in his back, which shoots his arms up so that he can quickdraw his weapons. Those weapons include a silver shotgun and a silver assault rifle. The shotgun is hinged in the middle so when you activate his gimmick it snaps up into place. It’s kind of a dopey gimmick, but it doesn’t really detract from the figure, so s’all good.

Quark isn’t what you would consider an A-lister in the Mutant Hall of Fame, but he’s a really cool character that I actually first encountered just a few years back when I was reading up on my X-Men comics. The figure really does him justice and he’s definitely worth picking up and certainly reading up on. You just can’t go wrong with a trip through the Mojoverse. It doesn’t hurt that you can probably find him carded for just a couple of bucks if you look hard enough.