Doctor Who: Leela by Character Options

Character Options kept us waiting a long time to find out what the big Doctor Who Classics reveal was going to be at the SDCC this year. Turned out I wasn’t disappointed as it was everybody’s favorite sexy savage and my favorite companion of all time, Leela. Not only was she tops on my list of figures I wanted to be produced, but she comes to us introducing a brand new level of articulation for the Doctor Who line.

There are two important things worth noting about the packaging. First off, it’s brand new and obviously designed expressly for Classics figures. You get the retro-style logo, which fits much better than the 2005 logo that CO has been using on the Classics stuff. Some may note that the packaging bears a passing resemblance to the cardbacks used by DAPOL on their craptacular Doctor Who figures from way back when. The other thing worth noting is that Leela isn’t a two-pack. It’s been some time since we’ve seen a newly sculpted Classics figure released without a repack figure or something else packed in to inflate the price. Could all of this point to a new strategy or push for the Classics line? Well, I can hope. Apart from all that, the figure still comes sealed in a clamshell with an illustrated insert inside. The back panel of the insert features a brief synopsis of the episode, The Face of Evil. Overall, the presentation here is really nice, although it’s worth noting that there is no indication anywhere that this release is an SDCC Exclusive.

I wasn’t sure about this sculpt when I saw the first pictures. Now that I have the figure in hand, I think it’s much better than I gave it credit for. It’s not quite one hundred percent percent Louise Jameson to me, but it’s close enough. Of course, I’m talking about the face here, the rest of the body and outfit is totally on target. There have been a lot of QC issues reported with this figure, particularly where the paint is concerned. Mine is overall decent, but Leela does have a couple of scratches on her arms and legs. I’m still deciding whether or not they’re even worth fixing. Either way, she isn’t up to the QC standards I’ve seen in most of my Doctor Who figures, and that’s a shame.

As mentioned, Leela features brand new articulation, which results in a lot of good, and a little bit of bad. On the bad side, CO went with a new style of ball joint for the hips. Nice idea, in theory, but I pulled one of her legs off just trying to remove her from the package, and I know that I wasn’t alone. Sure, they’re ball joints and they just pop right back on, but having them come off while posing her is more than a little annoying. Considering the old style hip joints gave us better articulation than these new ball joints, I don’t think this was a worthy or even logical trade off at all.

On the other hand, the new hinge/pin ball joint used for the shoulders, is much better than the standard swivel we’ve been getting in the past. You can debate whether Leela or River Song is the first to introduce this, but Leela’s the first of the two I’m looking at so it’s new to me. The introduction of lateral movement to the shoulders in the Doctor Who line is a most welcome addition to the line’s articulation. Leela also features swivel cuts in the neck, waist, biceps, wrists, and just above the boots. She also has hinged elbows and knees. It’s worth noting, however, that her sculpted hair does interfere with her neck articulation.

As a fierce warrior, Leela certainly loved her weapons and CO packed her with a mini arsenal. She comes with a crossbow with an arrow, a Tesh gun, and of course her trusty knife. What? No Janus Thorn? Probably too small to sculpt. [Actually, on closer examination, I’m pretty sure it’s sculpted in a pouch on her belt. – FF] The crossbow is nicely sculpted, although it seems rather oversized compared to the one she carried in the episode. The arrow is also kind of useless and easy to lose. The gun, on the other hand, is pretty spot on and a very welcome accessory. Her knife if good too, and it fits nicely into the sheath on her belt.

Leela the action figure has about 25 years of my anticipation to live up to, so it’s only understandable that she may fall a little short. Unfortunately, the QC issues with the figure’s hip joints and scarring to the flesh paint are issues that make the figure feel a bit more like a custom than a professionally finished product. I applaud the addition of the lateral arm movement in the shoulder hips, but CO really needs to deepsix these new ball joints in the hips and go back to the solid swivel and hinge system they’ve been using. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… and definitely don’t replace it with something worse. Knowing CO, I’m betting she’ll turn up again in a repack of some sort, so there’s always a good chance they’ll clean up some of the QC issues on a later release. Until then, I’m still happy to finally have a Leela figure in my collection, flaws and all.
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Transformers Dark of the Moon: Thundercracker (Deluxe) by Hasbro

[Phew, it’s been a long week of DC Universe Classics goodness. I’ve got a shit ton of other toys piling up, but I need a day off, so I’m just checking in today with a quickie. No, I haven’t forgot that I still need to do the two All Stars bonus figures that I got with Wave 16. I’m going to break up the DCUC run for the next three or four days with some other stuff, and then I’ll get back to take a look at All Stars Joker and Deathstroke sometime around the middle of next week. For reals! -FF.]

So… Deluxe Class Thundercracker from Dark of the Moon seemed like a good choice for a quickie, since he’s just a repaint of the Starscream figure that I reviewed a week or so back, we can take a quick look at him without doing the mold a disservice.

Bam! Dark of the Moon Deluxe packaging with the figure carded in his jet mode. The package deco still looks great. I found Thundercracker’s bio blurb a little funny as it basically says he’s Starscream’s protege. Seems as though Starscream has taken him under his wing. HA! Let’s move on…

It’s the same awesome Deluxe sized F-22 Raptor that we saw with Starscream, but the new paintjob really pops compared to Starscream’s cyber-tats. Besides the nice deep blue of G1 Thundercracker, he’s got some gorgeous red and silver striping on the wings and rear fins. The grey dorsal hinge is a little unsightly, but apart from that I couldn’t be happier with this figure’s jet mode aesthetics. On the downside, the plates on my figure don’t line up all that well, certainly not as well as on my Starscream.
I’m still impressed with the transformation on this mold and how solid the resulting robot mode is. Granted, if you don’t like Starscream’s movie design, I doubt this repaint will win you over. As I said in the Starscream review, this design has grown a lot on me and I think it looks great in the new color scheme. I’m particularly fond of the black paint job on the head.

Hasbro went an interesting route with Thundercracker’s MechTech weapons. They included one of Starscream’s Null Rays, which can peg in under the wing or onto his arm, but without the other half, it really isn’t a MechTech weapon anymore, is it? He does, however come with a repaint of my favorite MechTech weapon so far: Roadbuster’s chainsaw. I’ll grant you it doesn’t serve much purpose to have a chainsaw mounted under the wing of a Raptor, but it sure works great on his arm in robot mode.

Thundercracker is either an easy pick-up or an easy pass, depending on your take on the Deluxe Starscream mold. I was impressed with it and found it to be a big improvement over the old Voyager mold in terms of stability and playability. What’s more, Hasbro put some real love into Thundercracker’s deco. A figure that could have easily been a quick and dirty repaint cash grab, turned out to be a really snazzy looking repaint cash grab. And doesn’t that mean we all win?

DC Universe Classics Wave 16: Collect & Connect Bane by Mattel

There’s not doubt that Bane has graduated from background Batman villain and really put himself on the map. And I’m not just talking about the fact that he broke Batman’s spine. Bane’s appeal for me comes from Gail Simone’s masterful development of the character in the pages of this year’s amazing Secret Six comic. Either way, this was one of those C&C figures I knew I had to complete, no matter what figures populated the wave. He’s a C&C figure, so there’s no packaging to look at, so let’s get right to the figure.

As is usually the case for the DCUC Collect & Connect figures, Bane is made up from seven pieces, which include the torso, the head, the pelvis, and two arms and two legs.

For a C&C figure, Bane isn’t exactly huge. He’s certainly no Trigon or Kilowog, but he’s scaled pretty well to his character, and he’s definitely more sizeable than a standard DCUC figure. The sculpt is fairly detailed, albeit mostly with Bane’s muscles. The shoulder straps that hold up his pants are actually sculpted from separate plastic, which give the figure some nice depth, as does the use of the extra glossy black on his boots and gloves, over the matte finish on his pants. Some have complained this version of Bane is something of a pinhead, but I just don’t see it. His head is certainly proportioned smaller than his upper torso should probably command, but it still looks right to me.

Bane’s venom delivery system isn’t as elaborate as what we’ve seen in some more modern designs of the character, in fact it’s a little understated. The tube runs the gauntlet on his left hand to a fastener on his bicep and then into the back of his head. It would be pretty easy to cut it off if you want a more Secret Six accurate Bane, but even so, I’m content to leave mine in place.

Articulation is standard for the DCUC style. You get a ball jointed neck; Universal movement in the shoulders and hips; Swivels in the biceps, thighs, and waist; Hinged elbows, knees, and ankles; And you get the ab crunch hinge in the torso. Bane’s ab crunch seems to have a better range of motion than most of my other figures.

I’ve seen my share of negative reactions to this figure, but I can’t say I share them. It’s true that I’ve come to expect something bigger in my C&C figures, but I think Bane here is going to be more the rule than the exception as the DCUC line continues its precarious existance into and beyond Wave 20. Bane is certainly too big to be packaged as a regular figure, though, and that makes him fine for C&C status in my book. Either way, he’s a great addition to my collection, and it was well worth picking up the one or two figures in Wave 16, that I could have lived without, in order to build him.