DC Universe Signature Collection: Starman by Mattel

Quick! Before July is over let’s check out July’s monthly figure from Club Infinite Earth! Yeah, Matty’s shipping was actually pretty decent this time around and I got my figures in about a week, as opposed to the 10 to 12 days it’s been taking in the past. Anywho, this month’s figure is Thom Kallor, aka Starman. I know this is a figure that a lot of fans have been waiting to get into their collections, myself included, and that’s what makes me adore the CIE sub so much. There was a time when we might have seen this guy in the now defunct DC Universe Classics line, but with the direction the last couple waves went, now I’m not sure it would have happened without this more collector-focused sub. Too bad it looks like there’s almost no chance of the CIE sub going through for next year.

By now, we know what to expect from the Signature Collection packaging. Starman comes in an attractive and functional window box that also happens to be very collector friendly. The figure comes with his “masked” head on and the Thom Kallor head mounted beside it. The side and back panels have some decent character art. I really dig the artwork on the side panel, but I don’t think the back panel illustration is among the better we’ve seen. Granted, Starman is a little tougher to work with than some of the other characters in the line. You also get the ubiquitous bio blurb connecting him to both the Legion of Superheroes and the Justice Society of America.

Out of the package, and it doesn’t get much simpler than this sculpt. Starman is a straight buck with painted boots and fisted gloves. The cool thing here is the semi-translucent black plastic used with sparkly flecks throughout the body. Matty could have gone another direction on this guy and almost certainly failed, but with the figure in hand, I’ve got to say this is the only way the figure would have worked, and it works brilliantly. If you hold the figure up to the light, you can see the joints inside, which is a little distracting, but in any kind of normal light, the effect is really well done. I especially like the shimmery pearl colored paint used for the boots and gloves. The spare Thom Kallor head is a fantastic sculpt. The hair and beard are perfect as are his high cheekbones. It’s like Mattel understood how little sculpted detail was needed in the figure and went nuts on the spare head. I’m really torn on which head I’m going to use to display the figure, but right now I’m leaning toward the Kallor head.

Starman features standard DCUC articulation. You get a ball jointed head, the arms have ball joints in the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have universal movement in the hips, hinged knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The torso swivels at the waist and has the usual ab crunch hinge.

And there you go, folks. Another monthly CIE figure, another great addition to my DCUC collection. As simple as he is, Starman could have been an easy figure to screw up, but clearly Mattel knew exactly the right way to go with him and the end result looks great. I’m also really digging the fact that Mattel went with the more traditional Starman design, rather than the look from the 2005 reboot. I do actually like both, and I wouldn’t be opposed to getting another version down the road, but with how unlikely it seems the CIE sub will be going through next year, I’m just content to have this figure on my shelf.

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Star Trek Innerspace: Romulan Warbird by Playmates

I had originally planned on looking at two of Playmates’ Innerspace toys today, but I had some unforeseen social commitments arise, so we’re going to have to settle with just one. I know, bummer, right? Not to worry, we can come back to the other one another day. Today’s little piece of plastic Trek tat is the Romulan Warbird with Captain Picard and Romulan Sela. Once again, it’s been a long week, and I’ve got a barstool waiting for me down at The Pub, so let’s dive right into it…

Like the Shuttlecraft Goddard, the Warbird comes on a simple card. The ship is partially open so you can peak inside to get an idea of what you’re getting, and the two minifigures are mounted off to the side. Overall, this is the same package we saw last time. It’s not terribly attractive or exciting, but it does its best to tell you as much as it can about the toy inside. The back panel shows various shots of the toy’s features and has a smattering of information about the ship, of both the fictional and broadcast variety. You also get a little punch out collector card.

Out of the package, the Warbird is a pretty solid little recreation of the Starship from the TV show. I’ve always liked the design of this ship. It was bold and different and introduced way back in the first season of the show, and yet they stuck with it right up until the end. It’s molded in green plastic, which fits the onscreen color fairly well. The panel lines are also painted in. I could have probably done without these extra paint apps, but then again, the ship might have looked rather plain without them. The only real problem with the toy’s design is that you can see the interior if you look between the wings. It’s especially obvious if you have the minifigures rattling around in there. Still, this is a little transforming playset and not intended to be a completely accurate recreation of the ship, so it earns itself a pass.

The top of the Warbird opens up to reveal what the package calls “a detailed reproduction of the Romulan Warbird bridge.” What you actually get… not so much. I’m pretty sure the Warbird wasn’t a two-seater roadster, but that’s what we get here. There are seats, and two flip up workstations with screens and compartments for the figures to stand. Now, I know I’m being overly harsh. This little toy Warbird is way too small to even try to create a realistic bridge. I think Playmates did a fairly good job, considering the limited space they had to work with. What’s here is actually pretty well detailed, both in the sculpting and with the strategic use of stickers. I’m sure a kid with some imagination could have had fun with this thing, assuming, of course, you could find a kid that actually played with Next Generation toys. The flip up cover also has a sticker that serves as the viewscreen, showing off the Enterprise. I don’t know why, but I think that particular touch is really damn cool.

The tiny minifigures consist of Commander Sela and Captain Picard. Sela was of course played by Denise Crosby who decided she was better than the show and left, only to realize that she really wasn’t and so she came back to reprise her role as Lt. Yar, until they killed her off again, leaving her no choice but to come back as a recurring character based on her own half-Romulan daughter. Holy shit! As for Picard, don’t get too excited, because it’s Picard in his Romulan disguise, a figure I really didn’t need in this scale. I would have much preferred another Romulan. Either way, the figures are pretty damn good for their tiny size and have articulated legs so that they can stand or sit.

I really don’t want to be too hard on this toy. It’s a cool little idea for what it is and if nothing else it’s a kitschy little item for my Star Trek collection. It’s not the best of what the Innerspace line offers, but it is pretty typical of a lot of the toys, which means this line is really an acquired taste. On the plus side, you can pick these up for dirt cheap. I got mine brand new in the package for four bucks. Not bad for what is nearly a 20 year old toy. Next time we’ll check out the Klingon Bird of Prey.

Vintage Vault: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Zarak by LJN

Yes, we’ve come back around to LJN’s AD&D line again. Today we’re checking out another one of the standard figures. He’s Zarak, the Evil Half-Orc Assassin! It’s been a long week for me, so I’m just going to get right to it.

Zarak came on a standard AD&D card, with some subtle differences depending on whether you got him as part of Series 1 or Series 2. The character art is pretty cool. It’s a lot darker and more sinister than the somewhat goofy figure. As always, you get a rather lengthy bio blurb on the front of the card, which is more about the Race and Class than it is the specific character of Zarak. I always found it odd that LJN decided to do a Half-Orc figure and never a full-blooded one. Maybe they had one planned before the line was cancelled.

Out of the package and Zarak is an odd little fellow indeed. Yes, “little” isn’t what one tends to think of when one thinks of Orcs, but Zarak probably got his altitude-challenged nature from his human side. Still, he’s got a stout, stocky build and crooked shoulders, which helps give him an undeniably twisted look. I like his outfit, it’s black with some red trim, red gloves, and he even has a whip and a red pouch sculpted onto the back of his belt. I’m a little divided on the head sculpt. First off, he has a blue hood with a black outfit? Girlfriend, you need to learn how to accessorize! <double snap> It just looks weird and wrong. I’m tempted to pick up a spare and paint it red or black to see how it looks. And then there’s his face itself, which kind of looks like Shrek with chickenpox. He’s certainly an ugly bastard!

Zarak has five points of articulation. You get ball jointed shoulders, ball jointed legs at the hips, and a head that turns side to side. His short, stubby legs and arms don’t give you a lot of poseability, but the articulation is pretty standard for the line.

Our little assassin friend comes up pretty light in the accessories department, which is disappointing. LJN obviously didn’t use a lot of plastic on him, so one would think they could have thrown a few more goodies into the mix.  All he comes with is a little yellow dagger. How about the whip? Why not include a whip instead of just sculpting it to his back?

Even all the nostalgia in the world can’t help some figures, and Zarak is almost one of those. There’s not a lot of redeeming qualities here, but I still have too many fond memories of him as a kid to hate on him now. Granted, as a kid I just used him as toady, rather than a fierce assassin, but there was still always a place for him crawling around my Fortress of Fangs playset. Still, you can pick him up for pretty cheap nowadays and if you get him without his dagger, you aren’t missing out on much.

DC Universe Signature Collection: Rocket Red by Mattel

Hey, look! It’s another bonus feature! I decided to just go full guns this week or else I’m going to get too far behind, and this way we can break up the streak of Marvel stuff with a pinch of DC…

It’s been another smooth month for my Matty subs, where I was actually charged the correct amount and my figures were shipped out ahead of the Sale Day. That’s three in a row, I believe, so keep it up, Matty, you’re getting better. I’ve got two Club Infinite Earth figures to look at this month, and I decided to start with the oversized quarterly figure: Rocket Red. This guy has been a pretty controversial figure, mainly because of the size and design that Matty decided to go with.This version obviously wasn’t my first choice for the character, I know I’m not alone in that, but we’ll try to get past that and have a look…

 

Ok, so obviously, I knew going into this one that he was an oversized figure, but holy hell, look at this packaging. Look how massive it is next to one of the regular sized figure boxes. That’s nuts! Otherwise, the box is just a larger version of the same design we got with Jay Garrick and Atrocitus. The window is big and really shows off the figure nicely. The back panel has a big piece of character art and a blurb about the Rocket Reds. I’ve been gushing over the character art on these packages, but this time around I’ll just say it’s nice, not spectacular, and leave it at that. Hey, Matty, you need to be up to date on your DC lore or at least read your own bio. These are dudes in suits… why is he so damn big? As always, the box is collector friendly so you can take him out and play with him and return him to the packaging for display.

Rocket Red is built off the buck used for Atom Smasher, the Build-A-Figure from DC Universe Classics Wave 7. So think about that right now, A Rocket Red as big as Atom Smasher? Yeah, and he’s even bulkier when you consider his armor. The helmet and arms are almost to scale for a regular big-sized dude, but for the legs to work, the guy in the armor would have to be a giant. So to make this guy work in my display, I’m either going to consider him a straight robot or some kind of freak specially engineered to wear the armor. I think I’ll go with the first.

So with the scale issues set aside, I really do dig the look of this guy. The chest armor, shoulder armor and backpack are all cast in one piece of softer plastic and worn over the figure’s torso. The armor has a simple, almost retro-primitive look to it, which really scratches my itch. The cool wrist weapons are permanently attached to the arms with molded, painted straps. The blank-faced Cobra Commander styled helmet really tops everything off nicely. On the down side, I’m not a fan of the veins sculpted into the arms, because it’s at odds with the robot theory that the size of this figure is making me adopt.

The paint is fairly simple here with only two colors used on the whole figure. The base body is red and the armor is silver and most of the pieces are molded in their respective colors. That’s pretty much it! He has a star and “01” stenciled on his chest plate, which looks nice and crisp. There’s a little bit of scuffing to the right wrist weapon, and some abrasions to the faceplate, but overall the colors are fine.

The articulation here is pretty solid and predictable for this size DCUC figure. The head is ball jointed; The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have universal movement in the hips, the knees and ankles are hinged, and there are swivels in the thighs. You also get rockers in the ankles, although they don’t have a lot of range of motion. The torso swivels at the waist and has a workable ab crunch hinge hidden under the chestplate. I’ve seen quite a few complaints about review samples of the figure not holding together well, but I don’t see that problem on my figure. I’ve spent quite a lot of time fiddling about with him and I haven’t had anything pop off him yet.

Rocket Red cost me $30 plus shipping, which is no little sum for a single action figure, and that price was because I’m a Club Infinite Earth subber. If you bought him off the Matty Collector site, you paid a ridiculous $45 plus shipping, and that’s just insane. No doubt, he’s a big, solid and satisfyingly large figure, but the sculpting and paint apps don’t hold up to the $55 you’d have to pay to get him a la carte. Now, don’t get me wrong, as a stand-alone piece, I really do like this figure, and I’ll even find some justification to shoehorn it into my DCUC display, but there was absolutely no reason for Matty to have given the Reds the super-sized treatment to this extent. Besides making the figure cost way more than it should have, the scale will be too much of a stumbling block for a lot of fans to accept this figure into their collections. Amazingly enough, by the time you read this, Red will have long since sold out, so in the end, I guess Matty was justified. It’ll be interesting to see what he goes for on the secondary market.

Marvel Legends Wave 2: Madam Hydra by Hasbro

The second wave of Marvel Legends is the wave that keeps on giving, thanks to the ridiculous number of variants. Not long ago we checked out Piledriver, the swap-out figure for Thunderball, and today we’re looking at Viper, or Madam Hydra if you prefer, the swap-out figure for Madam Masque. I’ve flipped my opinions on this figure more than a few times. When I first heard she was going to be part of this wave I couldn’t wait to get her. When I saw some initial pictures, the head sculpt was a deal breaker. Next, I saw some photos of the actual figure and I was willing to give her a try. In hand, I think I may like her even more than Madam Masque. Let’s take a look…

There she is in the package. I have little left to say about this delightful package deco. As with the Wrecking Crew figures, Viper’s name doesn’t appear anywhere on the package. Instead Hasbro was content on using the “Marvel’s Madams” moniker and illustrations of both characters to allow for the shared packaging. I’ll also go ahead and mention here that this figure comes with a variant of the Arnim Zola BAF figure’s torso with Red Skull’s face projected on the screen. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not going to pull apart my Zola figure to make this one, so you’ll have to be content with seeing him in the package.

Madam Viper uses a straight repaint of the Madam Masque body. There’s no new sculpting, but I have to say I really dig the paintwork on this figure a lot more than Masque. She has a glossy green outfit and gloves, with lighter green boots painted on, and painted skin tones for her arms. Besides the colors just being more vibrant, I never really cared for the way the blue paint wash looked on Madam Masque’s white outfit. Sure, these are two different characters and each one has their own look going on, but from a purely aesthetic point of view, I just think this figure’s body looks a lot better in both design and execution. The separate belt is still present, and includes a functional holster.

And then there’s the head sculpt, about which I’ve waffled back and forth on so many times. My main concern was that it looked too man-ish, and it still does mostly when viewed dead on. On the other hand, if you catch it at the right angles, she’s a bit more passable. Either way, the face is definitely harsh and angular, but not at all ill-suited to a villain. At the right angles (and with the right number of beers) she can even be somewhat attractive… or not. At least the paint work on the face is sharp and clean, particularly the emerald lip gloss and the eyes. The sculpted hair looks good, although as one might expect it does impede the head articulation to a point.

Madam Hydra’s articulation is solid, although granted she is not one of the most poseable figures in the line. You get a ball jointed neck, ball joints in the shoulders, hinged elbows and swivels in the gloves. The legs have ball joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. There’s no waist articulation, but she does have a ball joint in the upper torso that allows her to swivel.

Viper comes with repaints of the same two weapons as Madam Masque. You get the scoped, AR-15 style assault rifle and the pistol. The pistol is repainted emerald green, the rifle has some green accents where the cream colored paint apps were on Masque’s weapon. The pistol fits into the holster on the belt and she can hold both weapons pretty well.

And there you go. I ended up liking this figure a lot more than I thought I would, and ultimately, even more than I liked Madam Masque. The paint is excellent, I dig the colors, and in person, the head sculpt isn’t the stumbling block I thought it was going to be. I don’t think I would have paid a premium to get her, but finding her just hanging there on the pegs was a welcome treat.

Avengers: “Fusion Armor” Iron Man Mark VII by Hasbro

A little bonus feature for this week. I’ve actually got a lot of stuff in this week, so I wanted to get through some extra stuff this week so I don’t get too far behind. We all know Tony Stark has more Iron Man armors than most people have pairs of socks, and damn if he doesn’t have the plethora of action figures to prove it. As much as I love the character in the comics and on the big screen, even I suffer from Iron Man figure fatigue. Nonetheless, I picked up this one because it’s the new armor in the movie and it’s the suit he’s wearing toward the end of the film when shit really starts getting real. Did I really need to own this one? Let’s find out…

It’s the Avengers 3 ¾” figure packaging… Yuppers. Is there any more to say? There’s a “Try Me” slot so you can spin the ridiculous saw blade weapon, which probably somehow hypnotizes you into forgetting you already own a dozen Iron Man figures and that you desperately need this figure in your collection. Once again, the packaging is attractive and serviceable. Let’s shred it so I can get to my figure.

So, the most obvious difference on this suit, from the previous Avengers Iron Man figure is the Arc Reactor in his chest has gone from being a triangle, back to being a circle.  I actually prefer the circle, and that’s why I bought this figure. It’s a lot bigger than the circle reactor on previous figures in this scale, and it looks like just a big white dot, which is disappointing. A little blue hue around the edges would have been cool, because it really looks like they forgot to paint it. The rest of the armor is quite nicely sculpted and is completely different from the previous figures in both subtle and not-so subtle ways. I like the additional sculpted bits on the shoulders.

I’m a little happier with the paintwork on this figure over the last one. The red is more glossy and vibrant and more like that awesome “new car finish” style lacquer that Hasbro used on the Iron Man 2 figures. The gold isn’t quite as vibrant and there’s a little slop on the back of his legs, but overall, the colors and paint on this figure pop nicely.

The articulation here is identical to the last Iron Man figure, which means it’s not that great. You get nine points and all of them are ball joints. That’s the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. Yep, there’s zero articulation in the torso and that definitely hurts the figure. There’s also a lot of limitation to the hip joints. I didn’t mind the diminished articulation so much in Thor, but you can’t really get Iron Man into any great poses.

Iron Man comes with one accessory and… wait for it… waaaait for it… Yep, it’s a piece of garbage. It looks like it’s supposed to be some kind of shield with blue energy that spins around it. I was going to throw it out, but my cat took a fancy to it and now all I have to do is put it on the coffee table and spin it, and the cat goes absolutely nuts playing with it. Maybe this should have been called Iron Man “With Bonus Cat Toy!”

As much as I should, I cannot hate on this figure. It looks great standing on my shelf besides my movie Avengers. I’m not a big stickler on articulation, so the figure’s biggest stumbling point isn’t a deal breaker for me. Did I really need this one? Nah… but at seven bucks, it didn’t really break the bank either. I suppose the real issue is that I should have passed on the first Avengers Iron Man figure and waited to get this one, because I didn’t need both of them. But that’s it, Hasbro, I’m done buying 3 ¾” Iron Man figures for quite a while now. And based on what I’ve seen of the armor design in Iron Man 3, I may be passing on that figure too. You can, however, sell me a Ben Kingsley Mandarin figure… because seeing that on the pegs… well, that’s just going to blow my mind.

Avengers: “Cosmic Spear” Loki by Hasbro

For such a huge and wonderful movie, the Avengers didn’t have a lot of staying power in the toy aisles around here. The bulk of the stuff has already been supplanted by Amazing Spider-Man and the few pegs that are left for the Avengers 3 ¾” figures are choked up by Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America figures, because some retailers have merged the SKU’s on the four lines (Yes, if you haven’t guessed already, I’m in the retail biz). As a result, I’ve been relegated to ordering the rest of what I want online. Yesterday, I got a package from Toys R Us with a couple of the 3 ¾” Avengers, and today we’re going to check out Loki. I’m sort of excited, since I never picked up any of the previous versions of Loki in this scale.

We’ve seen the packaging for the Avengers line here before, and we shall see it again. I don’t have much new to say, except I’m still digging on it. It’s attractive and serviceable. There’s a “Try Me” cut out so you can see the pathetic oversized weapon in action, but I can’t seriously imagine pressing that button will sway anyone’s opinion in favor of buying this figure. The back panel shows off a big photo of the figure, as well as some of the other figures in the assortment, and you also get a little blurb about Loki.

Out of the package, I’m pretty impressed with the sculpt of the figure. The head sculpt isn’t exactly a dead-on likeness, but it’s still a nice sculpt, complete with helmet and his trademark horns. The body depicts him wearing his full Asgardian armor, which is actually layered with some soft rubber pieces hanging off his torso and then his cape on top of that, hanging off his shoulders. The layering gives a nice depth and complexities to the already solid and detailed sculpt. The bulk of the figure is black, with gold paint apps for his armor pieces, and some green fringe, and a green cape. The cape is sculpted so that it’s blowing a bit off to the side. It isn’t terribly intrusive, but I really do wish it were removable.The paint apps on my figure are clean and precise. The gold paint is particularly nice and vibrant, and the whole deco really makes the figure stand out nicely on the shelf.

Loki’s articulation is pretty limited compared to Hasbro’s past Marvel movie figures. He has a ball jointed neck; His arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and again at the elbows; His legs are ball jointed at the hips and again at the knees. He has no torso articulation at all, and he’s also lacking wrist and ankle articulation. It’s not ideal, and if articulation is a major factor for you, you’re probably better off going with one of the Loki’s from the Thor line. On the other hand, the joints on this guy are solid and he stands very well on his own.

You get two accessories with Loki, one of which being the shitty oversized gimmick weapon called the “Cosmic Spear” It’s basically an overcomplicated pole axe with two stubby little blades that come  out of the sides when you push the shaft up. I’ve seen worse… at least it isn’t a missile launcher, but I really have no need for it so into the Tote of Forgotten Gimmicky Oversized Weapons it goes. One day, I shall bury that tote in the backyard and teach the future generations never to dig there. Of course, the good accessory is his Chitauri Staff, which featured so prominently in the movie. It’s a pretty nice likeness of this distinctive weapon. On the downside, only one of Loki’s hands is sculpted to hold it, the other is a fist, so he can’t hold it in both hands, like I’d like him to.

No real surprises here. In the end, Loki is a fantastic looking figure with articulation issues. I’m happy to have him on my shelf beside my Marvel movie figures, and I think kids could have a lot of fun with him, but if you’re a collector into posing your figures, he’s likely to disappoint. I tend to display my figures in a standing position and take them down every now and again to fiddle about with them, so the articulation doesn’t really bother me too much. Either way, the real reason to buy him is to get the Chitauri Staff.

Star Trek Innerspace: Shuttlecraft Goddard by Playmates

Playmates put out a shit ton of Star Trek action figures and ships and roleplay toys, but they also launched a pair of interesting little lines called Innerspace and Strike Force. These consisted of little transformable playsets with minifigures. The concept is very close to the Micro Machines Star Wars playsets in that they’re pretty simple and you can close them up and take them with you. We’ll get into the Strike Force stuff eventually, but today we’re going to take a look at one of the Innerspace toys. It’s the shuttlecraft Goddard, and it’s one of the better toys in this little series.

While there were some larger, boxed Innerspace toys, the majority of the line came carded, which should give you an idea about just how small these things are. The Goddard is partially opened so you can get a peek inside and the two tiny minifigures are mounted off to the side. The back panel of the card has some specs and background information on the shuttlecraft, consisting of both fictional details as well as its first appearance in the series. You also get a bunch of close up photos of the toy and the various features. The packaging isn’t exactly attractive, but then this is Playmates we’re talking about. It is, however, informative and there’s even a little punch out collector card.

Out of the package, the Goddard is a really nice little recreation of the shuttle designs that started becoming standard about halfway through The Next Generation. In fact, it’s pretty spot-on. How small is it? Well, it falls right between the size of a Deluxe and Scout Class Transformer. There are a few nice details in the sculpt, and the markings on the toy are a combination of paint apps and fairly well applied stickers. About the only complaint I have here is that the windows are stickers instead of paint, and the main windshield is actually two stickers placed on each side of the seam where the toy opens up. I may get inspired enough to actually paint the windows on this thing one day, as I think it would be a big improvement.

The aft of the ship opens up and the boarding ramp drops down, just like it did in the show, and you can reach in and slide out the cargo pallet, just like you could on the larger Goddard vehicle that was designed for the regular action figure line. There are a couple of pegs under the shuttle that can be used to land on and pick up the pallet for transport. Honestly, even if this were all there was to it, I would still really dig this little toy.

But as the name, Innerspace, implies, the Goddard can be split down the middle and opened up to reveal an interior play area, as well as the minifigures (assuming you put them in there). The interior of the shuttle is even a bit more accurately portrayed than the larger Playmates shuttle. There’s a pilot area with a swiveling chair in the front, with some pretty cool stickers to make up those distinctive LCARS control panels. There are similar stickers on the two halves of the shuttle that open up, including stickers showing a replicator serving up a meal and another a piping hot beverage… earl gray tea perhaps? The back portion contains the cargo pallet, which can be slid out to allow the passenger seats to fold open. The interior really is well executed for such a tiny little toy.

The minifigures consist of Lt. Commander Geordi LaForge and Commander Deanna Troi. Really? A Commander? Every time I’m reminded of her rank, I want to call bullshit. But I digress. Imagine what you think of when you hear the term “minifigure” and now shrink it down a lot more, because these things are really friggin small. And yet, overall the sculpt and the paintwork are well executed to the point where you can certainly tell who they’re supposed to be. Geordi even has a little tool molded into his hand so he can run one of those damned Level 5 Diagnostics he was always talking about. Geordi is articulated at the hips so he can stand or sit in the pilot chair. Deanna on the other hand, has zero articulation, so she can either stand behind him and nag him while he’s flying or just lay out in the back cargo area. Her paint is a little less polished than Geordi’s. In fact,  someone went a little crazy when painting her comm badge.

The reason this toy works so well for me is because it’s totally in scale with the figures. There’s really no gimmick here, it’s just a little vehicle that opens up to let you play inside it. I would have LOVED it if the larger Goddard toy had been designed more like this tiny little toy. Unfortunately, the Goddard is pretty atypical for the Innerspace line, and as we’ll see next Saturday, most of the rest of the toys feature the huge Starships that really require you to suspend your beliefs and summon up all your imagination for them to work. Next time, we’ll look at the Romulan Warbird and the Klingon Bird of Prey.

Vintage Vault: Sectaurs Skulk and Trancula by Coleco

Today’s foray into the world of Sectaurs presented me with a real quandary. Generally speaking, I don’t like to feature figures that aren’t at least close to complete. That’s not usually a problem, since a majority of my features cover new, nearly new, or mostly new toys. Obviously, Vintage Vault can pose problems, and while some of the toys I have featured here have at least been close to complete, the stuff I’m looking at today is missing virtually everything. Nonetheless, Skulk and Trancula are so cool, and it’s been so long since I’ve been back to look at Sectaurs on Vintage Vault, I thought I’d make an exception here.

 

Obviously, no packaged shot, but Skulk came riding atop Trancula in a magnificent window box with his gear mounted beside him, still waiting to be clipped off the plastic tree. I’ve found this set to be among the harder ones to find complete, along with an example of Winged with his wings still attached. In fact, I picked up Trancula all by his lonesome from a fellow collector and Skulk came in an assortment of Sectaurs figures and parts that I grabbed a long while ago off of Ebay, so these two aren’t even from the same set. Skulk was loose, so I don’t have any of his accessories. I was tempted to just look at Trancula and come back to Skulk when I could get myself a better, more complete example, but then Trancula is a riding beast, so there’s no point in looking at him without including a figure.

I’ve already looked at one of the Sectaurs riding beasts, but in case you missed out, these toys are among the more clever ideas to come out of any of the 80’s action figure lines. They’re basically half toy, half puppet. You put your hand into the back and you can work the legs with your fingers and sometimes other parts of the toy via a lever or pull mechanism. Coleco wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of puppets interacting with action figures. I still remember being freaked out by the spotty, green alien hand in my old Mego Star Trek playset, but Coleco really took the idea and developed it into something new.

If spiders creep you out, then you may want to stay away from Trancula, because he’s one big hairy spider, and yeah, I think it’s the hair that creeps me out. The fur is thick and brown and has various black patterns and markings on his big bulbous backside. It’s really pretty ceepy and disgusting. But, is he actually a spider? Not really. He’s only got four legs, but that’s your fault because you only have five fingers and the middle finger goes into a pull-ring that works his jaws. I suppose Coleco could have tacked on some extra non-working legs to bring the count up to eight, but I think that would have ruined the illusion. Besides, these are all alien mutant insects anyway. Nonetheless, his spider characteristics carry through to his face with his multiple red eyes. His jaws have white fangs on the top and bottom and, as mentioned, his jaws open and close at the command of your middle finger. There’s a sculpted saddle that snugly holds a Sectaurs figure so he can ride this beast into battle.

Skulk is a very cool and distinct looking figure. He lacks the humanoid facial features of many of the Sectaurs and shares his beast’s spider-like features. He’s got six red eyes scattered about his face and a small mouth with two big white fangs. The back of his head has a gross bumpy texture and, take note, my Skulk’s antenna have been clipped off close to the base.

The body, on the other hand, is more humanoid. His torso is a fairly standard Sectaur sculpt with a chiseled, muscular build and slight flares to the shoulders. His arms and legs are segmented, just like an insect’s, and they end in big white claws. Skulk features the standard Sectaur’s articulation, with the arms and legs attached with ball joints, his knees are hinged, and his head rotates.

Skulk comes with a ton of cool accessories and weapons, and as I warned earlier, I have none of them. The only thing I have with this figure is his harness. The harness secures snugly around his torso and has a really cool sculpted backpack. It also has a functional scabbard loop for his sword and a holster for his gun.

I’ve featured enough Sectaurs here that you should know by now how much I love the Sectaurs figures by themselves, but I absolutely adore the whole hand puppet beast and rider gimmick. Skulk looks amazing seated atop Trancula and the pair makes for a great display. You could argue that the Battle Beetle has a better biting gimmick, but Trancula’s creepy spider factor just pushes him over the top for me. I’m also always amazed at how well these ride-ons held up over the years, particularly where the hair is concerned. Sure, he’s got some scratches to the paint, but the fur is all clean and fresh, even after almost 30 years. Yeah, it’s too bad my Skulk is missing… well, everything, but don’t worry, we’ll come back to him somewhere down the road when I finally track down a complete version.

Lego Mini-Figures, Series 7

Last time I did a feature on Lego minifigs it was waaay back in Series 2 and I bought enough blind bags to make it theoretically possible to get them all. Obviously, I didn’t get them all, but I did do pretty well with only a couple sets of doubles. Well, five series later and I haven’t been holding out featuring these. Nope, I just haven’t been buying any. Why? I honestly don’t know, because for $2.99 you get an amazing moment of either sheer delight or total devastation as you spill out the parts and see what you got. Anyway, I decided to break the unintended moratorium today as I was bumming around the toy section on the prowl for early releases of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures. This time, I was content with just picking up two packets of blind bagged Lego goodness.

Yes, if you don’t know the deal, the Lego Minifigs come blind bagged. There are all kinds of tricks to figure out who’s actually hiding inside, but I honestly think that ruins the fun. Keep in mind, I’m not a diehard collector, and I do feel for you Legophiles who are dead set on getting every last figure, but for a guy like me, I’m happy to go with the luck of the draw. So let’s check out the first one.

The Olympic Swimmer? Son of a fucking bitch!!!! So much for the luck of the draw, as I think this is the one figure in this whole assortment that I wanted the least. I mean, seriously? What the fuck am I supposed to do with this? Godammit! She’s so terrible that she isn’t even pictured on the baggie, only on the folded checklist inside the baggie. Why? Why, Lego Gods? Why have you forsaken me??? I suppose if I had any Star Wars Minifigs, I could use the medal as a Battle of Yavin medal. The swimcap would work if I ever custom make a Moe Howard Minifig. …Seriously, I’ve got nothing else to say about this one, except she’s got two printed faces and for some reason the one with the goggles makes me really angry. I’m going to try my luck on baggie number two. And so help me God, if it’s another Swimmer…

Fuck and yes! The Black Knight. Not only is this one absolutely amazing Minifig, but it actually goes with a lot of the sets I have. Just check this guy ou! He has slick armor patterns printed on his legs, and a blank upper body with a separate armor piece that slides on. The silver deco printed against the black really looks fantastic. And check out that printed face! He looks like he’s going to kill you and then use both your femurs as chopsticks to eat your intestines as if they were a delicious Lo Mein. Sadly, he only has the one printed face, but look at those bloody rage-filled eyes and tell me you would prefer something else. The helmet is nicely sculpted, and he comes with a cool sword and shield.

Ok, so as pissed as I was to get stuck with Olympic Swimmer Lady, I have to say getting the Knight cancels out the anger. This guy is one of my favorite figures in this assortment, although to be fair, this is a pretty great series with a number of truly great Minifigs, which kind of makes getting the Swimmer suck all the more. Either way, I’m not deterred by the experience. If anything, I want to try again and pick up a couple more real soon.

By figurefanzero Tagged