Matty Never Fails to Disappoint…

No feature today. Work really kicked my ass over the last couple of days, I got home late yesterday and bone tired, and I didn’t get any time to do the editing on what would have been today’s piece. Instead, I’m just going to bitch about Matty a bit before crawling into bed with a bottle of something.

So, yeah, yesterday was Matty Sale Day. Besides some Masters of the Universe Classics figures that I don’t care about, its finally time for Club Infinite Earths to kick in. Yeah, yeah… it was supposed to kick in back in April, but Matty couldn’t get their shit together so they bumped it back another month to May. Only it seems like it wasn’t enough because here we are on the day of the May Sale and Jay Garrick Flash still ain’t ready to ship. Right now they’re estimating a 5 to 7 day delay and that subscribers will have their figures ship out first, but at this point, I just don’t care any more. It looks like a great figure, I’ll get it when I get it, and frankly I’m just too tired right now to go on and on about Matty’s incompetence and how they expect all kinds of commitments from their subscribers, but in the end, they’re not obligated to follow through on anything they promised.

It seems as if MOTUC was affected as well. All this comes hot on the heels of Matty announcing that the Dana/Zuul figure statue that was promised to be available as one of the planned figures in the now defunct Ghostbusters line has been re-purposed as a 2012 SDCC Exclusive. Oh, Matty, do you ever get tired of kicking your faithful customers in the gonads? Ah well, we’ll likely still get a chance to pick one of those up via the website and after the Con. And chances are this one won’t turn yellow a few months later like those $70 Stay Puft figures, right?

As for Jay Garrick… normally, I don’t get my monthly figures until the very last day or so of the month of the sale. Now I can probably not expect to get Flash until sometime in June. Either way, I’ll be featuring him here as soon as I can get him.

Vintage Vault: M.A.S.K. Raven with Calhoun Burns by Kenner

As I hinted at in this weekend’s update, the MASK editions of Vintage Vault are headed into the home stretch. I planned this as a limited series, and while I will eventually  come back to it, we’re down to the last three installments of the initial planned run. In the last installment, we looked at Thunderhawk, today we’re going to look at one of the other flying sportscars in the series, and one which I think is overall a much better toy. Let’s check out The Raven and its driver, Calhoun Burns. And as always, we’ll start with the figure.

Calhoun’s outfit is a bit like a traditional flight suit, but the colors are totally off the wall. The bulk of his jumpsuit is dark blue with some lighter blue detailing and neon orange pads. The coloring here reminds me more of a 90’s GI JOE than a mid-80’s MASK figure. The sculpt is pretty good for a figure of this size, especially his head sculpt. Some of the MASK figures have some pretty soft face sculpts, but Calhoun’s is clear and well defined. As usual, the only paint apps on the figure’s head is the hair. His mask is called Gulliver and has the questionable power to make things appear really big or small. Ummmm… ok. Gulliver is bright orange with a blue visor and some black paint apps on the gizmos on the back. Its a cool looking mask, but it sits a bit awkwardly high on the figure’s head.
Like all the MASK figures, Calhoun features seven points of articulation. His head turns 360-degrees, his arms and legs rotate at the shoulders and hips. His legs have hinged knees.
In its civilian mode, Raven is a black Chevy Corvette. This time, there are no actual trademarks or insignias on the car, but its pretty clear from the mold that its a Corvette. The car’s body is molded entirely in black plastic with tampo’ed red, yellow, and white scrollwork on the hood, sides and spoiler. The wheels feature real rubber tires with the Good Year trademarks on them. The windshield is clear plastic, but the rear window and the side windows are all opaque black plastic.
Like Thunderhawk, Raven’s doors open as part of the car’s transformation gimmick. In this case they’re sort of reverse gull-wing doors that open down and allow you to put the Calhoun figure inside. The door design is obviously not accurate to the car model, but it works. The interior of the doors have stickers with the MASK logo and various instruments. Raven’s interior is orange with a nicely detailed cockpit and dashboard. The vehicle seats two figures, and have seatbelts to keep the figure’s in place during those rough battles.
Raven’s combat mode is a flying boat, which gives it some serious versatility over air, sea and land. The conversion is in three parts. Push the button just in front of the passenger side door and the front of the car flips upside down. You can then flip the tires up, revealing a total of four guns on the front. Next, you flip the doors down to make the wings. Lastly, you press in the rear license plate, which causes the chromed out rear engines to spring up, and then you fold in the back wheels. The result is a really cool looking jet that works a lot better for me than Matt Trakker’s Thunderhawk. There’s even a disc launcher as a hidden gimmick in the front bumper.
In case you haven’t guessed, I absolutely love this vehicle. It even has an unofficial hovercraft mode where you can fold the wheels up under it like the DeLorean’s hover-mode in Back to the Future. Raven looks great in its car mode, its fun to convert, and the attack mode really looks cool. If I were Matt Trakker, I’d give up Thunderhawk in a second and adopt Raven as my vehicle of choice.
Raven is a pretty well constructed toy and is surprisingly easy to find in good condition. Apart from scratches to the plastic, Raven doesn’t usually show a lot of wear. The tampo designs stay in place and apart from the interior doors, there aren’t a lot of exposed stickers to wear out and deface the toy. While Raven does use springs as part of its conversion, they tend to hold pretty well. I was able to pick up a complete and nice example of Raven for about $25 and while its probably one of the more unsung cars in MASK’s arsenal, I highly recommend it for any MASK collection. I’d even suggest picking it up over Thunderhawk. It may not be as iconic, but it is a much cooler toy.

Lego Kingdoms: Crossbowman Bagged Impulse Set (#30062)

[I am indeed gone for the weekend, but I did have time to put together something that’s been sitting in my hopper since the beginning of the year. I’ll be off again tomorrow, and back on Monday for the usual M.A.S.K. Monday goodies, which by the way is starting to wind down for the time being. In fact, I have only three more installments planned for the present time. Hopefully they’ll be some new stuff turning up on the pegs soon, else I forsee some kind of Summer Hiatus for FigureFan. -FF]

Yes, bagged impulse set! I don’t know what else to call this thing, but no doubt you Lego collectors are familiar with these little impulse sets that turn up en masse during the holiday season. I picked this one up quite a while ago. In fact, it was probably a couple of days before last Christmas in that array of binned stocking stuffer items that Target sells that time of year. I seem to have dropped it into a drawer and forgotten about it, because I only found it again yesterday when I was looking for a bottle opener. I can’t remember the exact price, but it was either $3.99 or $4.99.  That’s a buck or two more than the blindbagged Minifigs usually sell for, but this one comes with a little more than your average Minifig.
As the name suggests, this set comes in a simple, printed baggie. The front shows you what you’re going to get inside and declares that the set contains 31 pieces. It doesn’t sound like a lot of bricks, but for a set this small, that’s not bad at all. It takes no time at all to slap this set together. When you’re done you get the Crossbowman, a little cookfire with a turkey leg, a couple of spears and a box to stand them in, and a target with an apple tree.
The Minifig is very cool, although if you collect the Kingdoms series, he’s probably pretty familiar to you. He’s got a nice printed tunic, a jolly grin and a very cool steel helmet on his head and quiver of arrows slung on his back. He also comes with… wait for it… his crossbow!
The box of spears has been included in various Kingdoms sets before, and I think most collectors of the line will be happy to get another. You can stick it in the corner of your Castle or Prison Tower as an enhancement. More weapons and a place to put them is never a bad thing. The cookfire and turkey leg is an ok piece. I’ve never been overly fond of it, but it makes for a nice enhancement to any Kingdoms camp or guard barracks.
The other bigish piece in the set is the target and tree. The apple tree is a little funky, but hey its hard building a convincing Lego tree of this size. The target is cool and can be angled up or down. Again, this is a great enhancement piece to a Castle courtyard or your Kingdoms camps. Besides, I’m pretty sure I don’t have any Lego apples, so it has some unique bricks for my collection.
In case you haven’t picked up on the subtle theme of this feature, its enhancement, and that’s what this set does best. While there’s nothing essential here to make me want to hunt down more of them, everything in this little baggie make nice additions to any Kingdoms collection. On the other hand, if you just collect the Minifigs, the Crossbowman is a good addition to any lineup, and he does look great dispayed with the extra set pieces. All in all, not a bad little set for the price of admission.

Vintage Vault: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragonne by LJN

[As promised, I’m back today with a wee bit of content. I still have no idea whether I’ll be here for the weekend or not, but if I’m still kicking around at home, I’ll probably get some time to do some posting. If not, I’ll be back on Monday to try to wrangle things back to normal at the FigureFan Ranch. -FF]

Its Friday, and that means its time for some more 1980’s AD&D action figure goodness from LJN. Today we’re going to check out our first creature from the line, and no, Strongheart’s Destrier didn’t count! Most of LJN’s AD&D creatures were the non-poseable PVC kind, but there were a couple bonafide action figures based on the beastiary of Gary Gygax’s Monster Manuals. The Dragonne is one of those, so let’s see what he’s all about…

No package shot, but the Dragonne came in a large window box with a backflap on the top. My familiarity with AD&D is a bit rusty, so I had to consult the ratty, dog-eared Monster Manual. Ahem… according to the all-knowing Gygax, the Dragonne is a Neutral Aligned, desert dwelling, magical beast that looks like a cross between a Brass Dragon and a Lion. When I was a young’un I always thought this thing was supposed to be a Griffin, but I guess that’s different. He has wings, but apparently they’re only good for short trips. He can also let out a terrifying roar that renders all creatures fatigued or exhausted unless they can win a saving throw. All in all, this guy probably isn’t the worst thing you could come across while on a campaign, but you probably wouldn’t want to meet it when it was pissed off.
There’s a fair amount of differences between LJN’s toy and many of TSR’s concept drawings, but that having been said, I think LJN really did the Dragonne proud and I really can’t say enough great things about the sculpt here. The head is amazing, both ferocious and majestic with plenty of detail in the mane, the teeth, and even his little beard. Each individual scale is sculpted on the body as well as the segmented plates in his chest. His toes, claws, and even the pads on his feet are all here. The wings, sculpted in separate and detachable pieces have sculpted veins running through them. Clearly a lot of thought and love went into this toy.
As amazing as the sculpt is, the coloring on thsi figure is equally fantastic. The toy is cast in a beige plastic with loads of paint applied all around. The coppery color used for his wings and scales is just perfect. It makes the figure really stand out on the shelf and it holds up so incredibly well. Even after 30 years, this figure still looks so bright and vibrant. There’s plenty of detailed paintwork on the head, both white and copper on his fur and great crimson eyes. The coloring is finished off with a rich orange for his belly, brown for his footpads, and white for his claws.
The Dragonne isn’t one of the most articulated figures out there, but when compared to LJN’s bendy PVC statues, we’ll take what we can get. There are a whopping four points of articulation here. The head turns from side to side, the front arms (legs?) rotate at the shoulders, and the tail rotates at the base. The wings don’t move, but they are removable.
With all the iconic critters to choose from, I can’t quite understand why LJN chose the Dragonne as one of the deluxe, poseable monsters, but in retorspect I’m glad they did. Its hard to deny that this turned out to be one great looking toy. What’s more, while he often turns up for sale missing his wings, it only takes a wee bit of dedication to track down a nice, complete example. He’s a pretty rugged toy so there isn’t much breakage or wear to worry about, and its not uncommon to be able to pick up good examples at toy shows or on Ebay for under $20. There may have been a lot of creatures I would have rather seen produced in this format, but in the absence of any real evil dragons to fight (I never did own Tiamat), this is usually the beast that my noble adventurers had to slay in order to get at the treasure. Thirty years later, he’s still a great looking figure, and I’m proud to have him on my shelf.

Vacation!!!

Well, not really, but I am going out of town this week starting tomorrow. I should be back early enough on Friday to get some content up before the end of the week, but in the interim Figurefan will be closed from Tuesday to Thursday.

I may also be skipping town for the weekend too, but that remains to be seen. Either way, I’ll try to get back to business as usual by next week.

-FigureFan

Vintage Vault: M.A.S.K. Thunderhawk with Matt Trakker by Kenner

I suppose I couldn’t go much longer looking at MASK without checking out one of the lead vehicles, so today we’re checking out what is without a doubt the most iconic vehicle of the line. Its none other then Matt Trakker’s flying Chevy Camero, Thunderhawk. Now, this may be blasphemy to some of you MASK fans out there, but as both a toy and a concept, Thunderhawk hasn’t aged well for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was in love with this toy as a kid, but while I still have an undying love for many of these clever toy designs, Thunderhawk just doesn’t impress me much anymore. Let’s see why…

But before we get to Thunderhawk, let’s check out MASK’s intrepid leader and single dad, Matt Trakker. If he looks a little familar, it might be because Hasbro gave him the action figure treatment just a few years ago as part of the GI JOE 25th Anniversary Collection. And yes, having a 3 3/4″ Matt Trakker figure on a GI JOE card almost blew my brain out the side of my head from sheer awesome and is a figure I seriously need to look at here later on in the week. It also gave me false hopes that we might see a resurgence in MASK toys and figures, but we all know how that went. Anyway, the original Matt is a fairly simple figure. He comes in a grey flight jumpsuit with a sculpted five-point harness and red armbands, gloves and knee pads. As usual for MASK figures, his hair is painted, but none of the features on his face are, making it a bit difficult to pick out the detail in the head sculpt. Matt Trakker features the same seven points of articulation as all MASK figures: A rotating neck, arms that rotate at the shoulders, legs that rotate at the hips, and hinged knees.
Matt Trakker’s mask is called Spectrum and if I remember correctly it launched some kind of sonic attack that temporarily disorientated enemies. Spectrum is one of my favorite mask designs in the whole line. Its red and silver deco goes well with Matt’s jumpsuit and the fact that it actually looks a bit like a flight mask made it look right very appropriate while Matt was flyng the Thunderhawk, especially since the cockpit was open to the air. That wind sheer had to be killer!
And so that brings us to Thunderhawk. In its covert mode, Thunderhawk is a red Chevy Camero, and I’ve got very little to complain about when it comes to this mode. The car looks fantastic, and as I’ve said before, I loved the fact that so many MASK toys actually used licensed vehicles, complete with trademarks and all. As usual, you even get real rubber tires complete with the Good Year logos. The interior of the car is very nicely detailed, complete with sculpted seats, a dashboard sticker, and seatbelts that hold the figures in place. Yes sir, the Thunderhawk is a very nice recreation of the Camero, with only one exception and that’s the gull-wing doors, which aren’t accurate, but obviously needed for the toy’s conversion gimmick.
The bulk of the car’s body is molded in red plastic and the undercarriage is in grey. The headlights are chromed silver, as are the running boards under the doors. Thunderhawk makes use of some very prominant and very large stickers, which make the toy look great, so long as they aren’t tattered and peeling. These stickers are one of the things that makes getting a really good second-hand Thunderhawk particularly difficult, but more on that later.
So far its all been gushing, so what’s the problem? The problem is in Thunderhawk’s conversion to its jet mode. Its just way too simple. You push the button on the top, the gullwing doors open to form wings and the spoiler and rear bumper lift up to reveal the thrusters. All that’s left is to pull out the wing guns, and that’s it. If you look underneath, there’s two hatches where Thunderhawk can drop its stun bombs. Yeah, one of mine is missing. I had plenty of fun with this thing as a kid, but looking back on it now, it’s just not very clever or convincing when it comes to designs.
The other problem with Thunderhawk is that it can be damn expensive to get a really good one. It is the most iconic vehicle in the line, and so that makes it one of the most desireable. There are plenty out there to be had, but getting one in really good condition is the tricky thing. I’ve already mentioned the stickers. There are two huge stickers on the hood, one on each door, three on the roof, and one that covers the entire spoiler. Years and rough play take their tole on these things, and when they’re mussed up, it really hurts the look of the toy. The other problem is in the springs. Thunderhawk’s conversion is done almost completely by the single press of a button and the catches wear over time. It takes several tries before the doors on mine will lock down, and eventually they just won’t anymore. The rear bumper won’t stay down all the way, leaving the rear jet engines peaking out all the time. I often think about getting another one in better shape, but then I reallize I’ll be spending around sixty bucks, and quite frankly there are other MASK toys that I don’t have, that I’d much rather sink that money into.
Don’t think I’m hating on Thunderhawk. Its still a cool toy, but it just isn’t one of my favorites in the line. Afterall, half of its conversion just entails opening its doors. I’m all for suspending belief at the fact that this thing doesn’t look like it could ever fly in a million years, but when you look at some of the clever designs of the other MASK vehicles, you’d think the leader could get something better. In fact, there were several flying sportscars in the MASK line, and almost all of them were better looking and more clever than poor old Thunderhawk. Next Monday, we’ll take a look at one of those.

Doctor Who: Dalek Sec and Hybrid Dalek Sec by Character Options

[It’s Saturday, I’m tired from a long week and I’m anxious to get on with the weekends boozing. So today I’m going to get quick and dirty with a couple of Doctor Who figures and then you won’t see me again until Monday. -FF]

Yes, its time for another little jaunt in the TARDIS to a couple of years back so we can look at this pair of figures based on Series 3. To be more specific these come from the much maligned two-part story, “Daleks in Manhatten” and “Evolution of the Daleks.” I was none to keen on these two episodes when they first aired, but I have to admit to warming up to them a lot after subsequent viewings. There’s some cool stuff in here, buried under all the problems. I have no package shots of these guys, as I’ve had them for a long while. Each of the figures came individually carded, but I’m pairing them up here simply because they were featured in the same story.
Let’s kick it off with Dalek Sec. He was the leader of the Cult of Skaro, a secret group of four Daleks that were given names and repurposed to think outside the box and help the Dalek with new strategies. I can’t remember if it was disclosed whether or not they were a product of the Time War, but they could have just as easily been created to help in the war with the Movellans. While the other three members of the Cult of Skaro (Daleks Caan, Jast, and Thay) all looked like regular Daleks, Sec had a snazzy gloss black paint job that really made him stand out. Let’s look at the figure!
If you have any of the standard Daleks from the modern series, Sec should be instantly familiar. He’s basically the exact same figure as the “Mutant Reveal Dalek” (which we’ll get around to looking at eventually) only without the removable compartment and he’s painted black. The paint job is actually quite nice on Sec. He’s got a matte black finish for his apron and base, and high gloss black for his upper half and his sensor domes. He’s also got the tiny little pins painted silver on the base of his apron and along his shoulder slats. He even has his tiny little symbol painted white in the compartment under his eyestalk. I’ve had my share of paint issues with my Dalek figures, but Sec here is not one of them.
As usual, this Dalek rolls along on three concealed wheels underneath. His eye stalk can raise and lower, his dome rotates 360-degrees, and his plunger and gun arms are ball jointed. He’s certainly a great looking figure, and can easily stand in as a different rank or line of Dalek, if you aren’t so keen on the whole Sec storyline.
And then there’s Hybrid Dalek Sec. Faced with their own extinction, the Cult of Skaro deemed it necessary to crossbreed with a human host to create a new form of Dalek. Sec volunteered for the honor and the result was Hybrid Dalek Sec. He was humanoid, but he looked like a guy who’s head was being devoured by a one-eyed octopus. Whether you loved or hated his look on the small screen, you can at least rest assured that the figure is a pretty good recreation. From the neck down he’s jsut a guy in a 1930’s style pinstripe suit. It’s a good sculpt and the paintwork shows off some wet patches here and there that I can only presume is supposed to be Dalek afterbirth (Blech!). The head sculpt is a little softer than what I’m used to seeing on CO’s figures, and I think they went a little overboard with the super-high gloss finish, unless that’s supposed to be more Dalek goo covering him. Nonetheless, the sculpt is pretty good. His tendrils are all present and the squiggly bits of his brain are visible.
Hybrid Sec has the same level of articulation we’ve seen in the older Doctor Who figures. You get a swivel neck, arms that rotate at the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs rotate at the hips and have hinges in the knees. The poseability is ok, so long as you don’t need your Sec figure to be some kind of action hero.
Dalek Sec seems to have been a fairly popular figure among collectors, probably moreso because he’s a cool looking black Dalek than for the character he was intended to be. Hell, even I’ve considered army building a couple of him to go along with my modern series Dalek legions. Hybrid Dalek Sec, on the other hand, was far more of a pegwarmer. He’s still pretty easy to get for next to nothing, and its hard to tell if that’s because of his goofy appearance, the fans’ general dislike for the story, or a little bit of both. Personally, I can’t really hate on this guy, so I was quick to pick him up when he first came out. If nothing else he’s a unique addition to my Doctor Who figure menagerie.

Vintage Vault: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Kelek and Ringlerun by LJN

While the dungeons and the dragons may have received top billing in TSR’s roleplaying game, AD&D was just as much about wizards and their crazy magics. Contrary to popular belief at the time, you didn’t have to be an old bearded fart in robes to be a spell-slinger, but it didn’t hurt either and LJN did their best to uphold the stereotype with their wizard figures. There were two wizards released in the 4-inch scale AD&D action figure line, one from each alignment. So you got the Good Wizard Ringlerun and the Evil Wizard Kelek. Actually, to be precise Kelek was termed a Sorcerer and Ringlerun a Wizard. They were available packaged separately, each on their own card back, but today we’re going to take a gander at the pair of them. Suffice it to say, the packaging on this pair is long gone.

Let’s start off with Kelek because, well hot damn, I love this figure. Talk about iconic? I know he made a cameo in the Saturday morning D&D cartoon, but I’d swear this figure is based on cover art from one of the TSR books, I just can’t find the proof. Anyway, much like Strongheart was the epitome of righeous knighthood, if you look up evil wizard bastard in a dictionary, this is probably what you’d see. He looks like he’d be right at home at Alestair Crowley’s Christmas party.
As far as sculpting goes, you don’t see a lot of it on Kelek, because he’s wearing a set of black softgoods robes that covers everything but his head, hands and little upturned feet. It’s a great garment for a figure in this scale, complete with a stitched red border and a high collar behind his head that looks like flames and I’m shocked that it survived the near 30 years in such great condition. I know there’s sculpting underneith the robes, but they’re stitched on good, and quite frankly, I’m not sure I want to go peeking under there.

Nonetheless, what little sculpting you can see, particularly his head, is really amazing. Stare into this guy’s crazy fucking eyes long enough at your own peril, because it just might drive you mad. The contrast between his shiny bald pate and his flowing white beard and mustache is classic, but its those friggin eyes that just creep me out and really make this figure something special. Any figure released today would be proud to have a head sculpt this expressive.

Kelek has only four points of articulation, because his bearded head is sculpted as part his body. He does have ball joints in his shoulders and hips, as is standard for all LJN’s AD&D figures.
Evil Sorcerers need their gear, and Kelek comes with two accessories. You get a long staff and a short wand. Both are molded in this delightfully ethereal neon green plastic that I immediately associate with the slime we used to get in buckets. The sculpt on both pieces is very nice, with snakes coiled around the shafts. The staff has a dragon spreading its wings and a tormented face at the top. Kelek is meant to be able to hold each accessory in each hand. Mine holds the wand just fine, but he tends to drop the staff a lot. Thankfully, I have plenty of blue tack handy.
And then there’s Ringlerun, who is the Yin to Kelek’s Yang. Or vice-versa. The two of these guys could be brothers who at some point went on their separate ways. Ringlerun has the same bald head and flowing beard, but a kinder face that doesn’t give me nightmares if I stare into his eyes. My Ringlerun’s beard has yellowed, which I presume is age and not by design because his bushy eyebrows are white. Nonetheless, the headsculpt is just as good as Kelek’s, particularly for such an old figure. Ringlerun features the same four points of articulation as Kelek. You get ball joints in the shoulers and hips. His head is sculpted as part of his body.
Much like Kelek, Ringlerun sports the softgoods robes. Ringlerun’s are predominantly white with glitter, giving them something of an ethereal quality. Unlike Kelek, Ringlerun’s robes have proper sleeves, but still cover everything except his head, hands, and feet. He has a red sash with black border running down the front and a high collar behind his head. Ringlerun also features the same upturned wizard shoes as his nemesis, Kelek.
Ringlerun gets by with just one accessory. Its a simple staff with a spherical top. Its the quinticential combination of magic staff and walking stick. I actually like the simple, understated quality of this piece a lot, and RInglerun looks great holding it.                         
Kelek and Ringlerun are both great figures, representing the two opposing sides of what is basically the same character class. If I had to choose between the pair of them, I’d say I like Kelek a little more, mainly because he just looks so thoroughly evil, but Ringlerun is no slouch either. The pair of them are still pretty easy to find without breaking the bank, but their predominant softgoods robes make them a little tougher to find in good condition. Case in point, my Kelek looks like he just came out of the package, while my Ringlerun’s robes are a bit on the shabby side.

Marvel Universe: Greatest Battles Comic Pack: Thanos & Adam Warlock by Hasbro

Ever since the Walmart near me started stocking Marvel Universe figures once again, the pegs have been a great source of figures from 2010 and 2011 that I never found anywhere else. This has been particularly true for the Comic Packs. While running into the World of Wally to stock up on hot pockets and frozen pizzas (the fuel that runs FigureFan), I spied one of the packs I’ve been hunting for ages: Thanos and Adam Warlock. I’ve considered picking up this set online many times for around $25, so this was a doubly great find. Oh, happy day!

I never grow tired of singing the praises of these Comic Packs’ packaging, and that’s especially the case with this colorful, seizure-inducing pack. Besides the giant window showing off two amazing looking figures, you’ve got an epic comic cover displayed behind them: Infinity Gauntlet #3. The illustrated insert is bright and beautiful with some dynamite character art.

The comics in these are often hit or miss with me, but this is really fantastic. You get Warlock assembling the army that he’s going to use to go up against Thanos, which is pretty impressive even as a stand alone. The artwork is solid, there are plenty of cool cameos, and the writing is particularly great. The reprint also doubles as a great teaser for the up and coming trade paperback, which is out by now and I may pick up despite actually owning the individual issues, as they’re rather tattered by now.
Let’s go ahead and start with Thanos. This is the second time he’s been released in the Marvel Universe. It probably goes without saying that Thanos was pretty high on my want list of figures. Alas, the initial single carded release was impossible to find in my area. I’ve had him sniped out from under me on Ebay several times and I just haven’t been able to bring myself to buy him online for the twenty or so bucks that he tends to sell for with shipping. So straight away, this Comic Pack is filling a seriously nagging hole in my collection. Unfortunately, this is a variant version, so the question is, am I happy having this be the Thanos for my collection? Well, sort of.
Make no mistake, this is a kick-ass figure. He uses the same body as the previous carded release, but with a brand new paint job. He also comes with a brand new head sculpt, and minus the interchangeable Infinity Gauntlet hand. The head sculpt is every bit as detailed as the carded version, but this one has Thanos giving a beaming, evil toothy grin, whereas the carded version had him snarling. I’m torn on which one I like better. This one gives him some more character, but I think the carded version might look a little better. Naturally, the loss of the Infinity Gauntlet hand is a big strike against this version.

As for the paint job, this version of Thanos has a darker blue costume. The gold also looks like it might be a little darker, duller, and less yellowish, but that could just be an optical illusion from the darker blue. Its a tough call since I don’t have both figures in front of me to compare. This version also has an additional vertical gold stripe running up his torso. I really do dig the coloring on this version a lot. I think the darker tone makes him look more sinister, possibly more realistic. The carded Thanos’ colors, on the other hand, make him look more in line with the comic book art, and more at home with a lot of his fellow MU figures. Gah… I’m so torn between the two of them. I guess the important thing is that I do really love this version.
Thanos is built off the same body used for Juggernaut, so you know he’s a big boy. He also sports some very nice articulation. You get a ball jointed neck, with the extra added hinge. Alas, the shoulder piece does a lot to mar his head movement beyond turning left or right. The arms feature ball jointed shoulders, single hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and at the base of the gauntlets. The legs feature ball jointed hips, double hinged knees, swivels at the thighs and top of the boots, and hinged ankles. The torso is ball jointed in the middle.
And then there’s Adam Warlock. Thanos was the main reason I wanted this pack so badly, and truth be told, I’ve never been a big follower of Warlock’s funnybooks. I have a few scattered issues here and there which came to me as parts of collections, rather than books I purposely acquired. That having been said, I have to admire what is one pretty fantastic looking figure.
Warlock is mainly a standard buck with a striking combination of glossy black and metallic red paint to make up his costume. The paint used here really is vibrant and impressive. The cape is a brand new sculpt, complete with a tiny skull fastener and a sculpted color. The cape is cast in yellow plastic, with a nice, rich glossy red paint for the outside. Warlock’s head sculpt is definitely some of Hasbro’s best work on the Marvel 3 3/4″ line. The stern expression is brimming with tiny little details, as is his coif of blonde hair. If only Hasbro could turn out head sculpts like this on all their figures!

Accessories? With Warlock, you get an Infinity Gauntlet that is designed to snap over a fist hand. It doesn’t stay on all that well, but I do like having it be removable so that it can be used on many different figures. You also get his staff, which is sculpted with a lot of detail and finished with a nice bronze paint wash.
Warlock features the kind of articulation I’d like to see with all of the Marvel Universe figures. The neck is ball jointed with the added hinge. The arms have ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. His legs have ball jointed hips, double hinged knees, hinged ankles, and swivels in the thighs and again just below the knees. Hasbro, why do we get better articulation in these Comic Pack figures, when they tend to be cheaper than the single carded releases? Hmm?
So, what we have here is a pretty amazing Comic Pack with two mighty fine figures. I’ve decided that I’m not going to agonize over which Thanos is better and just be happy to finally have him in my collection. If the opportunity arises, I’ll be happy to pick up the single carded release too, but right now I’m content to have this one. As for Adam Warlock, I could have been perfectly happy never having him in my collection, but seeing as how wonderful the figure turned out, he’ll certainly get a spot on my Marvel Universe shelf.

Voltron: Yellow Lion by Mattel

And as promised… here we go with the second building block needed to construct the ridiculously huge Voltron figure. Yesterday we looked at Hunk, now its time to check out his ride, the Yellow Lion.

Out of the white mailer box, and my first impression is awe at just how big this guy is. I was suitably impressed with the Red Lion’s size, but Yellow Lion is considerably larger. The toy comes in the same style of window packaging as Red Lion. Its not really fair to call this thing a box as about three-quarters of it is made up of clear plastic with just a cardboard back and base. The back panel shows the toy in action along with some of its features. You also get a shot of Voltron showing the Yellow Lion as his left leg. The lion stands on an illustrated cardboard tray with clear plastic supports that holds him in an action pose. A little careful clipping with some scissors can free the lion from the base without mangling the package. The overall presentation here is pretty amazing, as the toy looks absolutely fantastic in the package. But with all that having been said, I still would have preferred a standard regular old box. I’m storing all my lions in their packaging until I get them all together, and these window “boxes” aren’t exactly easy to store.
In hand, Yellow Lion is a nice, big and sturdy toy. His body is one solid piece, as opposed to Red Lion, which has the elbow joint in the middle. This along with his bigger size just makes Yellow Lion feel more substantial and solid. The rounded hump that makes up his shoulders also gives him less of a boxy look and his head is more naturally positioned than his Red brother. Granted, all of this design element comes from the fact that the two Lions form different limbs. I’ve got nothing against Red Lion, its a great looking toy, I just think that the leg design makes for a better looking Lion vehicle and I suspect that will follow through when we eventually look at the Green and Blue Lions.
The coloring here is nice and vibrant and relies mostly on the color of the plastic, rather than a lot of paint apps. Again, Mattel went with a pale grey colored plastic for the legs, and while some will take issue with it, I’m glad they went this route. Technically these pieces are supposed to be a chromed, steel finish. Some argue that white would have been better. I’d rather they be distinguished from the white parts of the Lion’s face and so grey works fine for me.
If you remember my look at the Red Lion, you’ll recall I had issues with the leg articulation, and the same holds true with the Yellow Lion. I’m happy with the strong ratcheting joints at the tops of the legs and the ankles are fine too. Its the middle joints, which only bend backward on the back legs and forward on the front legs that really bugs me. It really limits the poses you can get. Other articulation includes two hinges in the tail, and the head can pivot up and down and rotate left and right at the neck. The jaws also open and he can hold his blade weapon in his mouth. If you flip the lion over you can see a button on his belly. Pressing this while he’s folded up into the leg mode will automatically convert him back into lion mode.
Take the key that came with the Hunk figure (or any pen or pencil) and you can unlock the cockpit and open the Yellow Lion’s back. While Red Lion’s cockpit splits open, Yellow Lion’s just swings open on a hinge in the back. Its a lot less sophisticated, but the idea is the same. Inside you get the same sort of cockpit with a sculpted chair and some stickers for instruments. Hunk fits inside, but the arm rests make the back of the seat too narrow for him to lean all the way back into it. As a result, it feels like the cockpit was designed for one of the thinner figures. Nonetheless, you can still get him in there and close the hatch with room to spare.
It may sound like I have a lot of issues with this toy, but when all is said and done, I’m still plenty happy with how he turned out. As much as I liked Red Lion, I think Yellow is a better lion, because the design of his transformation allowed him to be. He has that same great nostalgic 80’s toy feel as Red. I don’t think its something Mattel was expressly going for, but it just kind of happened. And while I didn’t shoot any pictures of him in his leg mode (I’m saving all that for the end), when I converted him, I really began to appreciate just how big the Black Lion is going to have to be, let alone Voltron. Sure, when you consider Yellow Lion and Hunk set me back about seventy bucks with shipping, it seems rather steep, but I still think it’ll all be worth it in the end. Besides, try hunting this set on Ebay and you’re already looking at paying over $100 in a lot of cases.

And now begins the wait for the next Lion. Sigh… it’s going to be a long year.