Doctor Who: Judoon Trooper and Judoon Captain by Character Options

Its time for another jaunt in the TARDIS, back in time, to some of Character Options’ earlier Doctor Who figures. There’s more than a few of these guys that we haven’t shined the Spotlight of FigureFan on before. And with not a lot of new stuff on the shelves and pegs right now, I’ve got to find something to look at, haven’t I? Anyway, I’ll be off to The Pub in a little bit, so this is going to have to be a quickie.

I adore the Judoon. When they were first introduced in the episode “Smith and Jones” I thought they were Sontarans, right up until the Captain took his helmet off. You can’t blame me, what with their black leather armor and giant dome helmets. Nonetheless, giant space rhino mercenaries are just as cool as spud-headed clone warriors. The fact that they turned out to be the right arm of The Shadow Proclamation was just icing on the cake. Some time ago, I featured CO’s 1:6 scale treament of the Judoon, which you can check out HERE, but I was pretty surprised that I hadn’t tackled the 5-inch scale versions before. The larger Judoon featured a removable helmet, whereas these smaller guys came in two versions: The un-helmeted Captain and the helmeted Trooper.
Ok, so from the neck down, we’re basically looking at the same figure, with just two key differences. Let’s start with the Trooper. He’s got a huge, sculpted and non-removable, helmet. CO did a nice job sculpting his leathery armor, particularly the detail in the arms, the abdominal muscles, and all the tiny little belts and buckles that make him look like some kind of crazy S&M fiend. There aren’t a lot of paint apps, but what’s here is quite good. All the little buckles and pins are neatly painted silver. The strips of plastic that make up his “skirt” are soft, rubbery and quite flexible so as not to inhibit his leg movement. All in all, this is a pretty great likeness of the Trooper on the screen.

Mr. Judoon comes with three accessories. You get a gun, a language assimilator, and a bio scanner. The gun fits into the holster on the belt and the other two accessories peg into holes on his belt.
The Captain has his helmet off and I have to say, his head sculpt is brilliant. He’s got a cool textured, leathery skin and an angry toothy snarl. The horns look great and you have to love his tiny little Rhino ears. Its a shame CO couldn’t have pulled off a removable helmet for him, but I still love what we wound up with. The only other difference between the Captain and the Troopers is the inclusion of the language assimilation port in his neck. You can actually pull the assimilator off his belt and put it into the socket too! Why the Troopers have the assimilator when they don’t have the port is beyond me, but who am I to balk at extra accessories, eh?
The articulation on both figures is identical. You get arms that rotate at the shoulders, have hinged elbows, and swivels in the bicep and wrist. The legs have universal movement at the hips, hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The figure also swivels at the waist. Its fairly good poseability for a race that were more lumbering than agile in the show.
The great, or sad, thing about the Judoon figures was that they were dirt cheap for quite a while. I used to pick these things up for under six bucks each, and for a while I couldn’t stop myself. I was only able to dig out four Troopers for this feature, but I know I have at least one more Captain and a couple more Troopers hiding in a tote somewhere in the FigureFan Toy Closet. Whether friend or foe, these guys are among my favorite additions to The Doctor’s Rogue Gallery since the show came back in 2005, and I hope we get to see them again in a starring role sometime in the future… or the past.

Avengers: Quinjet by Hasbro

If you’ve gone out your door to any retail establishment in the past month, surely you’ve noticed the onslaught of Avengers merchandise. The toy aisles are certainly getting taken over, and while you have to cull through a lot of gimmicky crap to get to it, there is a fairly cohesive 3 3/4″ action figure and toy line to be found. A big hurdle Hasbro will surely face with Avengers is that they’ve already put out a lot of these figures already in their 3 3/4″ Marvel Universe, Thor, and Iron Man 2 lines. And that’s a big reason why I’ve passed these figures up the last bunch of trips to the toy aisle. I’ll circle back and get them eventually, but until then I thought we’d start out by taking a look at the Avenger’s Quinjet.

The Quinjet comes in a pretty big box with a little window showing the Iron Man figure that’s packed with it. While the packaging is nothing extraordinary, I have to say I really dig the overall presentation. The front panel shows an illustration of the jet along with profiles of The Avengers (well, the A-listers anyway. Hawkeye and Black Widow are nowhere to be found. Now you guys know how Antman and Wasp feel!) There’s a bit of a comic feel to the package with explosions declaring some of the features, like “Iron Man included!” and “2 modes!” Its nothing as gloriously obnoxious as the new Marvel Legends packaging, but it works. The back panel shows photos of the actual toy and some of its features, as well as some of the other toys and figures in the line. Let’s open her up, and slide out the cardboard tray…                                      
Wow, there’s a lot of empty space in there! The jet comes in four parts, so you’ll need to AVENGERS ASSEMBLE it! Sorry, couldn’t resist. Basically, you just have to attach the two wings and the tail section. You also get a simple instruction sheet and a small sheet of stickers. Yay, stickers! If you’re careful, you can actually get the tail section off again and store it in the box, which is a big plus for me, since I have zero shelf space to display this thing.
Let’s go ahead and get the Iron Man figure out of the way first. He’s a pack-in figure through and through, which means don’t expect to buy this and cross Iron Man off your list of Avengers figures to buy. He’s actually a pretty nice sculpt, but his paint apps are severely lacking. He’s cast in red plastic, so he doesn’t have that nice, glossy new car sheen that past Iron Man figures have had and he just has a bit of gold painted accents, most of which are rather sloppy. Mine has a random dab of gold on the side of his helmet! He also features the old school standard of five points of articulation. The head rotates, his arms rotate at the shoulders, and his legs rotate at the hips. All that having been said, I can’t help but feel a nostalgic charm eminating from this figure. He really does feel like an 80’s figure, and on some crazy level, I kind of dig it.
As for the Quinjet itself… keep in mind, I don’t recall actually having seen it in any clips from the film, so I’ll give Hasbro some credit and assume the design is pretty close to what we will see on screen. I do have to imagine that this toy is severely undersized, as it really only has room for two figures inside: One in the cockpit and one in the back, however there are pegs on the top, so you could conceivably crowd most of The Avengers on this thing. Its really more like a fighter than a transport. I get the diminished size thing, and it doesn’t bother me too much. Hasbro was obviously shooting for a certain price point here, so compromises had to be made.
While the design doesn’t really jive with what I tend to associate with the Quinjet from the comics, the toy is still pretty nice looking. There’s a lot of sculpted panel lines and tiny bolts, the deco is a pleasing charcoal, gold, and grey, and it has a pretty cool looking profile. I’m not crazy about the speckled yellow plastic used for the canopy, but its not a deal breaker.
The Quinjet has a few gimmicks and play features. Obviously, the canopy opens up so you can put a figure into the cockpit. The back also has a hatch that folds down to reveal a little area inside with a single chair. The three landing gear can be folded up or down, and there’s a little clear clip that pulls out of the side of the jet so that you can simulate a figure flying beside the jet, under its wing. The major action gimmick is the two-mode conversion. Slide the rear engines back and the cockpit drops down a bit, the wings reconfigure to show off the VTOL engines, and a missile launcher pops up out of the top and can rotate 360-degrees.

The Quinjet retails for $29.99 and that seems about right. There aren’t any electronics in it, and while you might expect to find them in a toy at this price point, I don’t miss them. Its size is a bit bigger than Hasbro’s Star Wars ships that retail for around $24.99. Its a fairly solid toy, except for wings, which feel a little flimsy.
There’s no doubt Hasbro struggled with this to keep costs down, but with cutbacks in articulation and entire figure lines being shit-canned, struggling seems to be a running theme with all toy companies in 2012. Nonetheless, the Quinjet is a pretty cool toy and if you don’t feel as though your Avengers have need of it, you can always repurpose it for your GI JOEs. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hasbro does that at some point later down the line.

Vintage Vault: M.A.S.K. Vampire with Floyd Malloy by Kenner

This week’s Vintage Vault contains more of Kenner’s MASK goodness. Last week we looked at one of the good guys, this time we’ll flip over to the baddies and take a look at one of VENOM’s vehicles and drivers. Here’s another Series 2 toy, hence one that I never owned as a kid. Its the Vampire with biker gang-member and expert forger, Floyd Malloy and his mask, Buckshot. Vampire is one of the smallest of the MASK toy assortments, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. Let’s start with the figure…

As usual, these MASK figures are only about half the size of your average 3 3/4″ figure (you do the math, I’ve been drinking!), but they still have a respectable amount of sculpted detail and articulation. Malloy has the usual lack of paintwork on the head, with just the fleshtone and the yellow tuft of hair, but if you look close enough, you see a lot of personality in that f’ugly mug. Yes, Floyd Malloy is not only a bad guy, but he looks like he has some deeper genetic issues. Holy hell! It may be hard to tell because of the lack of paint apps on the head, but Malloy has a face that would scare werewolves.
Malloy’s outfit makes him one of my favorite VENOM figures. The black, red, and silver deco looks outstanding and the design has a definite Mad Max meets posh quality that works well for a biker terrorist. I can’t get over how much sculpted detail Kenner worked into this little guy, but suffice it to say its pretty amazing. I have no idea what that little thing jutting up on his right shoulder is, but I’m betting its some kind of weapon.
Buckshot is a somewhat unique as it doesn’t cover the figure’s whole head, but rather has a hole int he top for his tuft of yellow hair to stick out. A lot of the masks used by MASK and VENOM have some pretty sophisticated weapons and devices. Malloy’s on the other hand is basically just a shotgun. Once again, its a remarkably detailed sculpt and the deco matches the same color scheme as Malloy’s outfit.
Malloy’s vehicle, the Vampire, is a red sports motorcycle. It doesn’t look like the kind of bike a dirtbag like this guy would be caught dead on, but than again it ain’t your average motorcycle. The sculpt is relatively simple, and the toy relies on stickers, particularly on the saddlebags, and some nice vac metal on the engine, exhaust and wheels to spruce it up. Unlike most vehicles in this toyline, Vampire isn’t quite as good at hiding its alt form. You can definitely tell there’s something going on under those saddlebags, but it is a small toy, so I’m willing to give it a pass. It can be tricky to get Malloy to sit correctly on the bike, but with a little patience, he can do it.
Vampire converts into a cool little one-man attack jet. Remember that whole concept versus execution thing I talked about last week? Well, Vampire hits both points dead on. The conversion is easy enough, as all you have to do is push the button on the back and then fold down the two wings. The button moves the sheels backwards, drops the front of the bike down to reveal a rotating gun, the stabilizer wings spring up in the back and the engine-slash-missile launchers are revealed in the back. The result is a very cool little jet with a pair of missile launchers. Malloy does have to be repositioned a bit when the bike converts, so it isn’t as fluid as most of the other MASK and VENOM vehicles, but the concept still works well.
One of the really cool things about the MASK line is that the smaller toys can be just as fun as the bigger ones, and Vampire here is a perfect example of that. I love the idea of having a motorcycle that turns into a jet and the transformation is both simple and cool. Toss in the fact that the Malloy figure is one of my favorites and you’ve got a great little set here. I was lucky enough to pick up this little guy, complete, but no box, for just under $20. Sure, its a bit steep for a little toy, but it was well worth it for such a nice example of this cool toy.

Thank you for calling FigureFan, I’m not in to take your call…

Nothing to see here, as I’m taking the day off. Still, there were just a couple of points of business I wanted to mention today.

For all you masochists out there, don’t forget tomorrow is Matty Sale Day. Its another opportunity for Matty to show you their appreciation by letting Digital River bend you over a table and… ah, that got away from me a bit. Although, I should give credit where credit is due. I did get my notification yesterday that my Voltron Club-Whatever-The-Hell-Its-Called Subscription was charged and shipped. Its nice to know mine shipped out at least one day before the sale. What wasn’t nice was how it goes from $55 retail to $71 shipped. But its what I’ve come to expect. I haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to bother with any of the other figures being offered up tomorrow. Draego-Man does look somewhat cool.

C2E2 is being held in Chicago this weekend, with a few action figure and toy companies showing some wares. So… yeah, that’s something that happened.

Anyway, tomorrow kicks off a new week with another MASK edition of Vintage Vault. Also included next week will be a little Doctor Who, one of the vehicles from the upcoming Avengers movie, some GI JOE, and at the end of the week, a second helping of Vintage Vault, which will be something not-MASK.

Until then…  enjoy your Sunday!

Marvel Universe: Greatest Battles Comic Pack: Daredevil & Bullseye by Hasbro

I know… riiiight? You just made us suffer through an entire week of Marvel Legends and now its more Marvel? Sorry, folks, I post ’em as I get ’em and while I am genuinely trying to mix things up this week, I had to sneak this one in here. Besides, its been a while since I’ve looked at any of Hasbro’s Marvel Universe comic packs. In fact, I think the last time I did it was one of the initial Secret Wars assortment. Its not that I don’t love these things to death, but distribution of these in my area has been crap. Nonetheless, with my local Walmart once again stocking MU figures, This morning I was able to pick up one that I’ve been after for a while. Its a particularly great and unlikely release, since both Bullseye and Daredevil have been released as single carded versions. Bullseye was once ridiculously expensive, but then Hasbro included him in newer case revisions and he became more and more common. The single carded Daredevil continues to be pretty elusive and expensive, unless you want to settle for the peg-warming Shadowlands version. No, thank you, Hasbro. Not today.

Whether it be Star Wars, GI Joe, or Marvel, the packaging on these Hasbro comic packs is awesome. You take two figures and card them in front of a reprint comic book on a huge bubble and you have marketing genius. Its hard to believe these are done by the same company that pulled the comic reprints from Marvel Legends the moment they got a hold of the line.
The funnybook included in the package is Daredevil #132. I generally don’t read DD’s books, but I enjoy the character when he appears in events or crosses over into the other books that I do read. This ish is nothing special, but its an enjoyable read and a good choice for this pack as it has plenty of action between DD and Bullseye and you get some pretty good background info on what kind of guy Murdoch is if you aren’t all that familiar with the character. Its more or less one big fight between the two at a circus. Its definitely dated, and there are some really unintentionally funny lines because of it.
If you’re thinking that this Bullseye figure is a straight repack of the single carded version, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Generally speaking, I’ve found that the figures in these comic packs aren’t quite as good as the ones released single carded, but this one is a thousand times better than the carded release. Its a completely new figure, slightly bigger than the single carded one. The head sculpt is different, not necessarily better, just different. Both head sculpts are great so it just boils down to personal preference. What is certainly better, is this Bullseye has two working hands, rather than the playing cards molded into the left hand as with the solo release. This one comes with a gun and a dagger and he can hold them in either hand. If you really are keen on the playing cards, you can always swap the card hand on the other figure into this one and get the best of both worlds. The other really cool thing is the belt with functional holster and sheath for his weapons.
Another thing that is loads better about this comic pack Bullseye is the articulation, which is identical on both figures in this pack. You get ball jointed necks with that lovely extra hinge. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders, swivels in the arms and wrists, and double hinged elbows. The legs feature ball joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs,  and double hinges in the knees. The ankles are hinged and even have rocker joints! The torso’s swivel at the waist and are ball jointed at the chest. This is the kind of articulation that we should be getting in all the single carded figures, Hasbro. They are, afterall, more expensive per figure than these comic packs.
I don’t have quite as much to say about Daredevil, as I don’t own the single carded release to compare him to. And let’s face it, Daredevil isn’t the flashiest of costumed superheroes around. He’s mostly a guy in a maroon suit. I’m not usually a big fan of the paint wash that Hasbro uses on the MU figures, but in this case I think it turned out really well. It really adds definition to the sculpted muscles and allows the “DD” tampo on his chest to stand out a bit more. The headsculpt is excellent right down to his tiny little horn bumps. His belt is a separately sculpted piece and he has a pouch on his left leg to hold his batons, which can also be pegged together. As mentioned above, Daredevil has the same amazing articulation as Bullseye.
This pack cost $14.88 at Walmart, which is a pretty great deal. At $7.44 a figure and a free comic, you just can’t go wrong. These are without a doubt two of the better MU figures I’ve picked up in a while and they sport the best articulation I’ve seen in the line to date. These are the bucks that I wish Hasbro would use more often, particularly for the single-carded figures, which tend to cost more. Even having already owned the previous release of Bullseye, I am still thrilled to have picked up this set. Its fantastic.

Transformers: Commemorative Edition: Powermaster Optimus Prime by Hasbro, Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of the amazing Powermaster Optimus Prime. We’ve looked at Prime’s cruising and ass-kicking modes, so let’s check out everything else. Before we go anywhere we have to start with the tiniest robot in the set and the key to unlocking Prime’s awesomeness. He’s Ginrai!

For those that aren’t up on their Transformers history, toward the tail end of G1, Transformers were being designed with little robot buddies that changed into their guns (Targetmasters), heads (Headmasters), or in this case engines (yep, Powermasters). The Powermasters never seemed to catch on as much over here, and I never really understood them. In theory you needed to transform these little guys into the engine and plug them into the vehicle so it could transform into its robot mode. In practice, you could still transform the toy without it, so if you lost the little bugger, you weren’t completely screwed. Anyway, Ginrai is a pretty cool little figure for how small he is. His arms rotate at the shoulders, and his legs are technically articulated, but only as part of the transforming gimmick.
Anyway, you change him into his engine mode and plug him straight into the front grill of Prime’s cab and you can change Prime into his most basic robot mode. The overall design is fairly similar to the original Optimus Prime, but the truck-front chest is actually a fake, as the cab’s real front is on Prime’s back. I like the looks of this Prime, as he has a bit more of an animated look. The stickers on the legs add some nice detail too. Granted, the articulation on this figure is pretty limited, even for a Transformer. In fact, really all he can do is bend his arms at the elbows.
The rest of Prime’s trailer transforms into a pretty cool little base. Transformers bases have been pretty hit and miss over the years, but I really think this one is one of the better ones. There’s a couple of ramps and platforms to park other Transformers. There are two turrets and three larger elevated guns on the tower. The only real eyesore here is the obvious Prime arms sticking up the top, but if they bother you, you can always fold them down out of the way. Prime can also stand in the tower to man the guns, but as a base, this is more convincing when populated by smaller Transformers. Overall, I think this is a really cool looking piece. There’s a lot of great sculpted detail and the huge stickers really make it look great.
Next up, is Prime’s slightly more powered up version. You basically ball him up into a box and plug it into a body made up from his trailer. Pop on a bunch of guns and his new head, and you’ve got the more bulked up Prime. This version actually uses the front of the cab as his chest, and you can clearly see the Powermaster engine plugged in there. You get a little more articulation here. His arms rotate at the shoulders and his legs can assume a wider stance. Yeah, its not much more, but a little better.
At this point, you can also convert the spare trailer into yet another robot called Apex Bomber. This guy isn’t really a transformation, but rather building him out of the parts you break the spare trailer down into. Normally, I consider this type of Transformer design cheating, but in this case, its like a bonus robot, so I’m not complaining. Apex Bomber looks pretty great. He’s nicely proportioned, has arms that rotate at the shoulder, he can hold Prime’s weapons if the big guy feels like sharing, and he can mount the missile launcher on his shoulder. In a lot of ways, he reminds me of G1 Top Spin. I just like this design.
Ok, so enough farting around. Its time to take everything and stick it all together into Apex Armor Optimus Prime. He’s basically the medium bulked out Prime figure with bits of Apex Bomber attached all over him. He gets bigger feet, bulkier arms, and that magnificent chromed out bling-chest that was absent from the American release, and if you ask me it really makes this figure. AAOP can still hold both his guns, he gets a pair of duel cannons on his ankles so he can kick you in the face and shoot you at the same time, and he can mount the big missile launcher on his shoulder.
Yes, Apex Armor Optimus Prime is a brick. He has the same articulation as the medium bulked out Prime, which means he can only rotate his arms at the shoulders, and assume a wide stance at the legs. But he’s still a friggen glorious looking brick. He’s also a pretty solid figure, considering how much crap he’s got stuck all over him.
And there ya have it, one if my favorite Transformers of all time (if not my favorite). I love everything about this set, from the presentation to the design of the toy, to just how good AA Optimus looks standing on my shelf. What he lacks in articulation he makes up in spades with balls-to-the-wall play value. There are just so many options and combinations in both robot and vehicle modes that fiddling about with him never gets old. I’ve never regretted ponying up for two of these back in the day, although truth be told considering how awesome it is, you can still pick one up for surprisingly cheap. Sure, MISB versions can go for over a hundred bucks, but if you’re persistant enough, you can often find open and complete ones for just $10-20 over the original MSRP. Considering how much, oh let’s say the 2009 SDCC Soundwave goes for these, days, Powermaster Optimus Prime is a steal.

Transformers: Commemorative Edition: Powermaster Optimus Prime by Hasbro, Part 1

I’ve been meaning to get around to this one for quite a while now, but I never thought I had the time to do it right. This beauty was released back in 2003 as part of Toys R Us’ exclusive Commemorative Series, which were basically reissues of G1 Transformers. It was a great series of collectibles, and while many cases required Hasbro to ruin muck about with the molds for safety concerns, there were a few cases where Hasbro was able to improve on the originals and Powermaster Optimus here is one of them. This Commemorative release included parts that weren’t on the original US release, so outside of importing a Takara toy, this was the first time we Americans could really get this toy complete and as it was intended to be. After nearly 30 years of collecting Transformers, its hard for me to settle on a favorite figure, but if you were to put a gun to my head and make me choose, this one would probably be it. In fact, I loved this thing so much, I actually bought two so I could keep one in the package. There’s a lot to look at here, so I’m going to tackle this guy in two parts. Today we’ll look at the packaging and the vehicle modes, and then tomorrow we’ll look at the robot and base modes.

Prime comes in a huge box that just oozes G1 nostalgia. It has the same red grid pattern as the original issue toys did and the same Transformers logo. Even the side panels that show the various modes of the toy during conversion are similar to what appeared on the original box panels. The front has a flap secured with velcro that has some really awesome artwork of Apex Armor Prime. Fold it open and it reveals cutouts in the box with windows to show Prime in his truck mode, the extra Apex Armor trailer, the larger Prime head, and the Powermaster Ginrai figure.
The back of the panel features a gorgeous battle montage just like the ones that appeared in one form or another on the original G1 boxes throughout the years. There are also bio blurbs for regular flavor Prime, Apex Armor Prime, and Apex Bomber.
Open up the box and you find two sticker sheets, a large folded set of instructions, and the huge tray that slides out to reveal all the pieces of the set spread out before you. I can’t say enough great things about the packaging here. It really feels like those expensive collector sets that Takara releases for the combiners. It still baffles me that I was able to walk into a Toys R Us and buy this masterpiece off the shelf for a mere fifty bucks.
Optimus Prime’s basic truck form is fairly similar in design to his G1 version. The red cab with chromed front and silver striping should be readily familiar as is the blue and grey trailer with the stripe and Autobot emblem on the sides. There’s a little more kibble than on the original version of Prime. You can clearly see robot fists peeking out both behind the cab and on the front of the trailer, but to be fair, the designers packed so many modes into this toy, I’m amazed the basic tractor trailer mode looks as good as it does. The toy rolls along great and the cab detatches from the trailer, and as we’ll see later, transforms into a basic version of Optimus Prime, similar to the original version of Prime. This vehicle right here could have been released all by itself as a stand alone toy and it would have been just fine.
The Apex Armor trailer is a cool little battle wagon all on its own… sort of. Actually, its just a box on wheels with a big gun. The chrome front piece is made to look like a cab of sorts. And you can peg the big missile launcher onto the top. But this section really shines when its attached to the back of Prime’s trailer. Snap on all the additional weapons and parts and you get…
Optimus Prime’s Mega-Super-Destroy-You-Death-Train! That’s right, rolling along on seven sets of wheels, Prime is through taking crap and now he’s loaded for bear. This thing really strides the fine line between awesome and ridiculous, but you can hardly deny that its overkill. The cool thing about this toy is you can really customize the set up a bit by pegging the guns onto various places, but I tend to like the official version best. He’s got two angled cannons on the front of the cab, two giant guns on the front roof and one huge rotating missile launcher on the back. He’s also got a pair of wings for… well, they just look cool. You might as well be stylish while your running down Decepticons and blowing them into slag. This thing is so long, I barely have any shelves big enough to display it in all its glory.

So, that’s Powermaster Optimus Prime in all his vehicular glory. I’m going to break here and come back tomorrow to take a look at the base and various robot modes contained within this awesome toy.

Doctor Who: Clockwork Men by Character Options

I’ve been hankering for some Who and since I haven’t picked up any new figures lately, today I’m going to hop in the TARDIS and go back to 2006 to look at a pair of very cool figures from the 2nd Series episode, “The Girl in the Fireplace.” This episode is still one of my favorites from the early modern series. Its a great story with lots of humor, action, and emotion and The Doctor in absolute top form. But most importantly it has some really cool and creepy robots known only as Clockwork Men. These robots were maintenance bots from the starship SS. Madame du Pompadour whose misguided attempt to repair the ship took them back in time and space to seek out the brain of the ship’s namesake. Seriously… how do they make this shit up? Anyway, the Clockwork Men looked absolutely amazing, from the intricately stitched period costumes right down to the weathered porcelain masks. I think they’re extra creepy because they have a slight clown vibe going on. All I know is if Doctor Who didn’t win an award for costume design for this episode, it got robbed.

I’ve had these figures for a while, so no in-package shot, but these figures were released in the old fashioned card and bubble. That’s before Character Options went with the sealed blister packs and then back to the card and bubble. The Clockwork Man was available in two versions back then: Blue coat and black coat and we’ll take a look at both of them today. Yes, there is also the elusive purple coat variant that came out later. And, yes, elusive is my way of saying, I don’t have one. While the black and blue versions do share some parts, they also each feature unique sculpting, so they aren’t just quick repaints. Let’s start off with the blue one…
The head sculpt is pretty spot on, albeit without the fine details of the spider-webbing cracks in the face mask. The sculpted hair is beautiful and the paint apps around the eyes and mouth are crisp and executed with precision. The body uses two soft plastic layers on top of the figure’s core, one is the vest and the other is the coat on top of it, and finally there’s a sculpted ruffle tied in a bow around his neck. Its a lot of additional plastic tooling for the figure, which gives it a great layered look and yet doesn’t bulk him up too much. The fringe of the blue vest and coat features strips of sculpted finery, painted in a nice glittery gold finish, as do the pockets, and even the individual buttons are painted gold. The arms end in ruffled sleeves and he has black gloved hands. The legs feature sculpted culottes and buckled shoes.  From sculpt to paintwork, this is an amazing looking figure!
The black coated Clockwork Man shares the same head, legs, and hands as the blue one, but everything else is new. He has the same sculpted and layered vest and coat, but his vest is less pronounced, and his coat joins at the chest and then parts down the rest of the way. Even his ruffled necktie is different. The jacket has a somewhat more elaborate deco of sculpted finery and buttons, all painted in the same pleasing gold, and he has some additional red paintwork around his sleeves. While this figure’s head sculpt is the same, the paintwork on the face is different to give him more of a unique look.
Articulation is identical for both figures. The necks are jointed to swivel, although with the heads on, you can’t get too much movement out of them. The arms rotate at the shoulder, have hinges at the elbows, and swivel at the wrists. The legs have universal movement at the hips, hinges at the knees, and the torso swivels at the waist. Yeah, there’s not a lot of articulation here, but the basic points are covered, and these guys moved pretty stiffly in the episode, so I’m not sure all that much more was needed in the figures.
Both Clockwork Men feature the same two gimmicks. The heads are removable to reveal the clear globe with the clockwork gears underneath. There wasn’t a lot of detail CO could get into the small globed head, but what’s here conveys the idea pretty well. They each also have the multi-function tools, which plug into their sleeves, and each figure’s tool is unique and furnished with sculpted detail and paintwork.
It couldn’t have been easy to capture all the intricacies of these guys in a 5-inch figure, and yet Character Options did a great job. Each figure is so unique looking it seems unfair to refer to them as variants, even though they do share some parts. Overall, I think this pair is a testament to why I love CO’s work so much. The Clockwork men were just one-off villains and yet they poured so much love and attention into their figures, it really shows how much they respect the property. These are two of my favorite figures from the early series. And yes… one of these days I will track down the purple coated one too.

Lego City: Mobile Police Unit (#7288)

Ok, so yesterday’s Lego City set was ok, but it didn’t really blow me away. Let’s see if something a little beefier can fit the bill. We’re still on a police vehicle kick, but this time we’re looking at the Mobile Police Unit, a semi-truck that opens out into a CSI style crime lab. If you’re living in Lego City, chances are a lot of your taxes got pissed away on this thing, so let’s hope it’s paying off with a return on lower crime rates, eh?

The box is satisfyingly big and it shows off the truck opened up as well as all the other goodies and figures you get in this set. It also shows a motorcycle cap nabbing a crook running off with a gold bar. How clever can the criminals of Lego City be to be knocking over gold bricks right in front of what looks like a $2.5 million mobile crime lab? Not very. At 408 pieces, this set is more than twice the size of the last one I looked at. Inside the box, you get four numbered baggies of bricks, two instruction booklets, one sticker sheet, and a loose base, which will become the floor of the trailer. This one took me quite a while to put together and there’s all kinds of cool stuff going on with it. When all is said and done you get three minifigs, a little sports car, a road barricade and traffic cone, a police motorcycle, and of course the truck itself. As always, let’s start with the minifigs.

You get two cops and one criminal. The criminal is just a guy wearing a striped shirt and a pair of grey pants. He’s got a skull cap and he comes with the gold brick. Next up, we have the crime lab guy. He’s wearing a blue shirt with a badge and tie and has the cushy job of sitting in the lab while our next minifig, the motorcycle cop is humping the beat all day. The motorcycle cop is my favorite figure in the bunch. He’s got a nicely illustrated outfit showing off the zippers on his jacket, his badge and his walkie-talkie. He’s also got a helmet with a movable visor and the ubiquitous mirrored shades painted on his face. He also comes with a pair of handcuffs.

Next up are the little vehicles. The police motorcycle is an awesome little piece. If Lego would put this bike and the cop in a baggie and sell them alone, I’d bet they’d move a bunch of them. I’d buy a half dozen just in case I ever want to make a Lego Presidential motorcade. The little car, on the other hand is pretty goofy, but it still makes for a nice bonus in the set. I’m guessing it’s the criminals getaway car.

And then there’s the truck. It’s built in two pieces: The cab first and then the trailer. The whole thing is beigger than I expected. The cab can disconnect from the trailer and the trailer has fold down support so that it can stand on its own. The cab features opening side doors, angling sideview mirrors and movable spotlights on the top. The trailer features a compartment just behind the cab to store the road barricade and the traffic cone. The back of the trailer has a cell area with a barred door and bars on the windows. There’s also a rotating dish antenna on the top of the trailer.

The roof and doors to the trailer all fold out to give clear access to the crime lab inside the trailer. Inside you get two workstations with chairs and computer screens, a coffee pot, which oddly enough is one of my favorite things in the set, and a rack to keep equipment like the magnifying glass, extra handcuffs, and flashlight. The set makes great use of the stickers as display screens on the walls, maps of the city, and a wanted poster.

At $40, this set was a lot more satisfying then the last one. It was double the price, but it has signicantlly more than twice as many pieces. The extra vehicles add a lot of play value to the set and the whole design of the truck and crime lab conversion is executed extremely well. Plus, the motorcycle and cop are really cool additions to the set. If you’re short on Lego funds, I’d recommend skipping the Prisoner Transport and going straight for this one. Yeah, it’s more money, but you really get a lot to show for it.

Vintage Vault: M.A.S.K. Hurricane with Hondo MacLean by Kenner

Here we go, FigureFan’s first forray into Kenner’s line of loveable Masked Crusaders who were fond of working overtime fighting crime… fighting crime!  I was tempted to start small and work my way up, but obviously a lot of the MASK toys I’m going to look at don’t have their packaging anymore, so I wanted to start off with one of my packaged MASK toys just to convey how these things looked on the shelves. And so let’s kick it off with one of the mid-sized MASK vehicles: Hurricane and its driver, Hondo MacLean. Hurricane is a 57 Chevy that converts into what’s called a “Field Command Post.” Let’s look at the package and see what this thing is all about.

Hurricane is a Series 2 toy, and like most MASK toys, the vehicle and figure come in a simple box with the MASK logo and a red and yellow deco. You get some nice artwork on the front showing the vehicle in its combat mode, and every other panel of the box is loaded with big photos of the toy and all its features. The front panel also has a photo of the Hondo figure and his mask, Blaster II. The photo of the figure is very close to actual size, so you have a good idea what you’re getting. In fact, even though there’s no window to see the actual toy, the MASK boxes really do a great job conveying everything there is to know about the toy inside. Besides the vehicle and figure, the box contains a folded set of instructions, a sticker sheet, and a poster.
Let’s go ahead and start with the figure. Unlike GI JOE, MASK was always a bit more about the vehicles than the figures. That’s not to knock the figures, though. Sure, they only come up to the waist of your average 3 3/4″ figure, but they’re still plenty cool. The Hurricane actually features the second version of Hondo MacLean, as he was originally bundled as the driver of the Series 1 vehicle, Firecracker.
This version of Hondo is an all new figure, and while the original version came with the Blaster mask, this one comes with the newly designed Blaster II.  The sculpt and paintwork is pretty good for such a little figure. In fact, the only real stumbling point with these guys tends to be the lack of paint apps on the faces. Kenner probably guessed kids would have the masks on them most of the time, so why bother. Hondo’s wearing a pretty hi-tech looking pilot suit in yellow and purple with some blue sculpted instruments on his chest and right leg. Yeah, the deco is a little garish, but it was the 80’s after all. The Blaster II mask is not one of my favorite mask designs and its red and aqua green deco doesn’t do much to subdue the figure’s color scheme. Then again, it shoots “supersonic laser rays” so who cares what color it is, eh? MASK figures all have the same standard seven points of articulation, which ain’t too shabby for a figure this small from 1986. The head turns, the arms rotate at the shoulders, the legs rotate at the hips, and the knees are hinged.
Moving on to the main attraction, its the Hurricane! Straight away, I’ve got to say how awesome it is that Kenner was able to use proper licensed vehicles for many of their toys. Nowadays this would probably have been a generic vintage car, but in this case, the Hurricane is a bonafide 57 Chevy, complete with the appropriate logos, and if you still doubt me, it even says it on the package. Hell, even the real rubber tires say Goodyear on them. I love it!
In its regular vehicle mode, Hurricane is an awesome looking toy. Its mostly molded in greenish blue plastic, with vac metal bumpers, wheels, and accents and topped off with some bitching flame tampos. The windows and windshield are painted black. The toy rolls along great and has only a few subtle hints that it is in fact more than meets the eye. Oh, wait… wrong toy line. The only real downside of Hurricane is that you can’t really put Hondo into it in its regular car mode without revealing its secrets. While they definitely look like they open, the doors on the sides are only sculpted to appear that way. Hondo gets into the vehicle from the opening roof hatch and once you open the roof hatch, you’re starting the conversion to battle mode. So, let’s convert it and take a look at the features!
Officially, Hurricane’s alt mode is called a “Field Command Post” but I prefer the name “Wagon of Rolling Death.” because this thing is armed to the teeth. Turning the roof causes the car to raise up on its hydraulics and reveal a third set of wheels in the center, probably to stabilize it while firing its howitzer. Yes, howitzer! Opening the roof hatch causes a howitzer (I’m sorry, make that “Gale Force” howitzer) to deploy from the front windshield and a pair of cutting lasers flip up over the top of what is now an armored shield. What is now the turret can rotate 360-degrees to dish out death to VENOM fools from every angle.
Hondo can sit inside the Command Box in the turret or he can peg in behind the armor plate to man the cutting lasers. The inside of the turret is decked out with stickers, and yes, you can keep the figure in there when you convert Hurricane back to its regular street mode.
Hurricane’s front bumper lifts up to reveal a Night Vision scanner and the two headlights pull out to serve as Infrared Blasters. Lest, you think Hurricane is all business up front and party in the back, let’s check out the caboose!
Reach under the rear bumper and give a tug and you reveal the circular sawblade. Push down on the rear bumper and you launch the spare tire, which becomes the “Terror Spare” Landmine!

One thing you’ll see in all my MASK features is a question of concept versus execution. From a concept angle, Hurricane isn’t as simple as some of the Series 1 toys, like a car turning into a jet or a motorcycle into a helicopter. Nope, the designers just said let’s take a vintage car and see how many weapons we can pile onto it. In execution, it works great. The decision to go with a vintage car gave the vehicle enough bulk to conceal all its deadly goodies and what you get is a really fun toy with lots of cool surprises. If this were a Series 1 toy, the designers probably would have been happy with just the hydraulics and the turret, but the addition of the headlight blasters, infrared shield, buzzsaw and spare tire bombs give it a neat James Bond kind of feel. In fact, Hurricane can make use of a lot of these gadgets without even fully converting.
Hurricane is a fairly common find at a lot of the regular vintage toy haunts. Its a toy that doesn’t tend to break easy and except for the spare tire and flip up cutting lasers, there really aren’t any parts to lose. The stickers are almost all located inside the cockpit, so sticker wear isn’t as big an issue with this vehicle as it is with some other MASK toys and the flame deco tampos tend to survive fairly well. The chrome wear is probably Hurricane’s biggest enemy as well as the usual cracking that can occur with the rubber tires and the possibility of the spring mechanisms wearing out. I seem to recall paying around $35 for my Hurricane, complete with instructions and a pretty worn box and it was worth every penny.