Avengers: “Shield Launcher” Captain America by Hasbro

It took a while, but I think I’m at the end of my 3 ¾” Avengers run. I may still pick up a variant Thor, but otherwise I’ve got what I wanted to get out of this line and I can move on, although I’d still love to get a Maria Hill without having to buy that ho-hum Helicarrier. Obviously, Cap was a “must have” figure for me, since he’s the one that really changed his look the most between his own movie and the Avengers flick. Amazingly, I never did find this guy on the pegs and had to pay a little extra for him via the Interwebs. Let’s see if it was worth it…

Could this be the last time we see the Avengers packaging here on FigureFan? Could be, rabbit, could be. You’ll note the package heralds this figure as the “Shield Launcher” Cap, which means the figure is saddled with a ridiculous bazooka that fires Cap’s shield. I can only imagine this contraption is designed in case Cap can’t show up one day, but left his shield behind and some regular grunt needs to shoot it at a Chitauri. Once again, I beg the question to you, Hasbro, is it really cheaper to make these shitty weapons than it is to put a goddamn swivel cut in the figure’s waist? Moving on…

As mentioned earlier, this is the first time we’re seeing 3 ¾” Cap in his Avengers outfit and I think it translates pretty well. At first, I thought the figure a bit too bulky, particularly in the chest and belt area, but having viewed Avengers again since buying the figure, I think it’s pretty close to screen accurate. In fact, I really dig the way the sculpting makes the suit look more like armor than cheesy superhero spandex. There’s some especially nice detail worked into the gloves, boots and the belt, and I love the fact that the star on his chest is sculpted rather than just painted on. Cap also has a functional holster sculpted into his thigh. I’m certainly more a fan of his WWII-era costume from his original film, but this one has grown on me a lot. The paint apps are all nice and clean and the figure is bright and colorful, just like a comic book figure should be.

By now we all should have lowered our expectations over articulation in this line. If you’ve managed to do that, you won’t be disappointed. Cap’s got ball joints all around, in his neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees, and that’s it. The stymied articulation didn’t bother me as much in the other Avengers, because they all had similar figures with better articulation released previously. Sadly, this is the best we’ve got for Avengers Cap. The compromise is that the figure feels a lot more solid than some of the more articulated versions and stands on his own very well.

Besides the aforementioned stupid gimmick weapon, Cap also comes with his trusty shield and an automatic pistol. The shield has an awesome vac metal look to it and is sculpted with straps to slide on to his arm just like the real thing did. I give Hasbro major props for doing this in the 3 ¾” scale, rather than using a clip as they have in the past. The downside is that it doesn’t attach to his back. There is, however, still a peg back there, in case you want to rob a shield from one of your other 3 ¾” Caps and stick it on. Another bummer about this shield is that it’s sculpted from really soft plastic and mine came out of the tray a little warped, making one side look flat. The automatic pistol is a pretty standard little item, sculpted in silver plastic and it fits nicely into his holster.

I’ve heard a lot of bad things about this figure before finally getting my hands on it, but I have to say I’m digging it a lot. Sure, like all the Avengers 3 ¾” figures, this one could have had better articulation, but laying that aside, I think he looks great on the shelf and I’m very glad to be able to hunt him down. Was it worth paying a little extra for him? Hells, yeah. I can’t have my Avengers team without Cap.

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DC Universe Signature Collection: Mirror Master by Mattel

I didn’t mention it during my Voltron features, but Matty did another great job handling my subscriptions this month. Once again, I was billed the correct amount, everything was processed about five days before the Day of Sale and the package was shipped out about two days ahead of the Sale Day. I realize it’s kind of crazy to have to be praising a company for getting it right, but with how screwed up Matty Collector has been in the past, it’s worth giving credit where credit is due, and I haven’t had any difficulties with Matty for quite a few months. I was really looking forward to this month’s Club Infinite Earths figure, as I really love me some Flash and I’m always happy to add more villains to my collection. Put the two together and it’s no wonder I was happy to get Mirror Master.

There’s that Signature Collection packaging that I love so much. It’s a simple window box with some really kick ass character art on the side and back panels. The package is totally collector friendly and includes a little blurb on Mirror Master on the back, pointing out that this is indeed the Evan McCulloch incarnation of the character. Until I can reorganize my DCUC display, I’ve been keeping all my Signature Collection figures in the boxes and they sure look great lined up on the shelf.

Out of the package and we see that Mirror Master gets by with a very simple sculpt. What we have here is a very basic buck with sculpted boots and wrist bracers. There’s a sculpted belt with two functional holsters, each with fastening flaps and there’s a sculpted neckerchief draped above the figure’s shoulders. The body is cast in brown plastic with green paintwork on the bracers and boots. Both hands are sculpted to hold his weapons.

Mirror Master’s head sculpt is well executed, but I don’t think it’s one of the more remarkable ones we’ve seen from the Club to date. That’s not meant to be critical. Truth is there’s nothing wrong with McCulloch’s head, it just doesn’t pack that extra wow factor that I’ve experienced with figures like Jay Garrick or the unmasked Thom Kallor head. A bit more character in the expression might have helped, because as it is, it’s just rather neutral and flat. The paint work on the head is overall pretty good, although there are a few orange smudges on his chin.

Naturally, we get the standard DCUC points of articulation. The head is ball jointed. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows, and have swivels at the biceps and wrists. The legs have universal movement at the hips, hinges at the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The torso swivels at the waist and features the standard ab crunch hinge.

Mirror Master comes with his rather distinctive looking pistols, both of which fit snugly into his holsters. They also each include swappable barrels that feature them deployed in firing mode as well as the standard configuration.

No, Mirror Master isn’t the flashiest of figures (har har) but he is a great representation of a really great character. This figure has gone through some major improvements since it was first revealed. Original images suggested the figure wouldn’t be able to hold his guns, let alone hint at the guns having dual configurations. It’s likely that the improvements were planned from the beginning and what we were seeing was just an early prototype, but you never quite know with Mattel, and fans were pretty vocal about the changes they wanted to see. Whether those changes were always planned or the result of a response to fan feedback, it’s nice that Matty put the extra effort into the figure.

Voltron: Blue Lion by Mattel

Today we’re checking out the latest release from Matty’s Club Lion Force and it’s the Blue Lion, number four. Blue is the second of the robo-cats that make up Voltron’s legs and that makes him the same size as Yellow, in other words, he’s one of the big ones. He arrives in a white mailer with the Allura figure bundled inside. At this point, there aren’t a lot of surprises, so let’s dig right in…

Ah, the packaging. It looks so good when it first arrives. As with the other lions the package consists of a cardboard base and backer and the rest is clear plastic. The box is color coded to coordinate with the Blue Lion theme and the back of the box shows off some pictures of the toy’s features as well as a little blurb about Princess Allura. You also get a tantalizing shot of Voltron showing where the Blue Lion fits in. The lion is posed inside with the help of a tray and heavy duty clear plastic straps and his weapon is rubber banded to the back. It takes some deft scissor work to get him out without tearing the hell out of the package. This whole ensemble is just collector friendly enough so that you can get the lion back inside, but it’s not very durable and once unstrapped, the lion just rattles around inside the package. I really would have preferred a straight up box with some artwork to store the lions in. I’ve saved all the packages so far, but chances are once I can build Voltron, I’ll be pitching these to reclaim some space in one of my toy closets.

When Yellow Lion arrived, I was blown away by his size and the same was true when I got Blue in hand. As expected, Yellow and Blue are both built on the same basic body, but there are plenty of resculpted parts to make Blue distinctive. He has a flat back, minus the grey half cylinder on Yellow. His head is also more squared off and less organic looking than Yellow’s. The legs are identical to Yellow’s, giving the toy the same nagging articulation limits. As with all the lions, I really wanted mid joints in the legs that could move both ways. Sure, there are still some good poses available here, but not as good as it could have been.

There have been a number of reported QC issues with the coloring on the lions. I know more than a few people have received lions composed of two shades of plastic. I’ve been really nervous since then about having a similar issue, but so far I’ve had no problems and I’m happy to say that the coloring on my Blue is spot on. In fact, the color here is pretty spectacular. I love the shade of blue used for the body and it contrasts beautifully with the white and yellow. All the paintwork on the head is bright and sharp. About the only flaw I can find is a little uneven application around the edges of the cockpit, but that’s only visible with the cockpit open and even still, I have to get pretty nitpicky to find anything to complain about.

As with Yellow Lion, Blue’s cockpit is hinged at the back and is opened by pressing the key (or key or any pointed object) into the button to release the catch. Once open you get a simple sculpted seat and stickers to add the details of the controls. It’s a roomy cockpit and little Allura has no trouble fitting inside.

Blue comes with a spikey dagger that he can hold in his teeth. There aren’t any little dimples in this one to match up with the teeth, but Blue’s jaws close up pretty tight so he can hold it very securely. I’m not a big fan of these weapons, but I suppose it’s nice to have them.

As it stands, I think Blue here is my favorite of all the lions. He’s beautifully colored and I love the sculpt. There are certainly some things that could have used more attention, particularly the featureless black plate on the top of his head. Either way, I really like this guy and I’m still digging the 80’s retro vibe I get from these toys. I’m also officially starting to get really excited about finishing off my BFV* and quite frankly having all the limbs and no Black Lion is driving me crazy. I’m still having trouble fathoming just how huge Black Lion is going to be, not to mention the Voltron figure itself. What I do know is that I’ll be lining all the lions up at least a week before Black Lion is shipping, just so I’m all ready to go when he gets here.

 *Big Fucking Voltron

Voltron: Princess Allura (Blue Lion Pilot) by Mattel

Yep, it’s Voltron time again… if you’re keeping score, we’re up Lion and Pilot #4 (ok, Pilot #5 if you count Sven) this month. Today we’re going to check out the Blue Lion pilot and sole girly-girl of Team Lion Force: It’s Princess Allura. As usual, she comes in a white mailer box tucked away in the larger white mailer that contains her Lion. We’ll be checking out Blue Lion tomorrow and throwing all our attention behind the pilot figure today. The pilot figures have been pretty formulaic, so if you’ve been with me from my first look at Lance back at the beginning of the year, a lot of this will seem awfully familiar…

…like the packaging! Allura comes in the same collector friendly box as all of the other pilots (minus Sven, of course!).  And like the others, Allura’s box is color coded to match her lion, so in this case it’s blue. The front of the box has a decent piece of artwork showing off the figure’s animated counterpart. There’s also a window to show the figure itself. The back of the box has a blurb about Allura and Blue Lion and some shots of the figure and her accessories. Take note, the photo on the back erroneously shows the key-stand being pink, while the one you actually get is appropriately blue.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it one more time in a few months, this package design is nearly perfect. The only thing I would have preferred is having the figure’s name printed on the side for when I store them on the shelves lined up like books. Oh well, at least they’re color coded.

Open up the box and slide out the tray, we get a great look at everything that comes inside. You get the figure with the swappable head, the key style figure stand, the piece of the Blazing Sword, in this case it’s the top of the hilt and the base of the blade, and you also get one of the two clear stands for the Blazing Sword. I’m still resisting the temptation to start assembling the sword until I get everything.

Some early pictures had me a little worried about Allura’s body sculpt. She looked a little too chunky, but with the figure in hand it looks like those were probably just from unflattering angles. The proportions and build of the final figure look really good. Once again, Mattel has done a decent job of using different builds for each of the figures making them look as diverse in size and shape as the characters were in the cartoon. I am, however, a little iffy on Allura’s heads. The sculpts seems ok, I like the shape of the face and the sculpting on the hair, the helmeted head looks great, but I think it’s the eyes that just seem a little weird or creepy to me. It may just be conveying the animation style, but there’s just something about those eyes that doesn’t gel right with me. Once again, the figure’s gun is sculpted into the holster and once again, I’ll point out that at $15 each, these figures should have had removable guns.

The paintwork on this figure is excellent. The aforementioned eyes are a style choice, and not caused by sloppy paint. I’m particularly impressed by the paint on her thin, silver tiara. The pink on her uniform is great, and while some of these figures have been prone to some smudging on the white uniform, Allura has none of that.

Articulation here is exactly what we got with all the other figures. In this case, that’s a bit of a relief because sometimes female figures get a few points of articulation cut out. That’s not the case here. Allura has ball joints in her neck, shoulders, elbows and knees, and universal movement at the hips.

As usual, the figure comes with the key that can be used to open the accompanying Lion’s cockpit and it doubles as a stand. It’s a good thing, too, because Allura’s tiny feet make it difficult for her to stand on her own. One of my running gripe’s with this line is that Matty couldn’t pony up for an extra sticker on both sides of the key and yes, that still irks me a bit.

So, there are no big surprises here. Overall, Allura is a solid figure. We deserved better at this price point, but by now we all know what to expect and we’re either comfortable with that or we’re not. I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to be displaying these figures in front of my completed Voltron, leaving them in the cockpits, or just keeping them in the boxes. I suppose that’ll be determined by how much space I have. Tomorrow, I’ll be back to check out Allura’s lion.

Thundercats: 4-inch Cheetara by Ban Dai

So, Cheetara has been a tough Thundercat figure to get. Apparently she was shortpacked in a lot of the cases, and yet let’s face it, every fanboy wants her. I ultimately hit Teh Bay for my Cheetara figure, and while I certainly paid over retail for her, I didn’t get beaten up all that bad. Either way, I certainly didn’t want to wait any longer to add her to my collection. Was she worth it? Let’s find out…

After looking at the Deluxe figure packages, it’s cool to come back to the simplicity of the Basic figures’ cards. I really do love the way these figures look on the card, and if I ever do start finding these figures at a local brick-and-mortar retailer, I very well might buy a second set to keep carded and hang on the wall. Cheetara looks great standing in her bubble with her quarterstaff beside her.
As far as the sculpt is concerned, Cheetara is among the best of the line. There are some minor proportion issues, like I think Ban Dai shrunk her breasts a bit and enlarged her feet, but minor quibbles aside, this is one great looking figure and definitely faithful to her animated counterpart. She even has her bangles sculpted on her wrists and ankles. The head sculpt is particularly good and I love her the likeness of her face. On the downside, Cheetara is the first figure in the 4-inch line that is adversely effected by the ThunderLynx gimmick. Her long hair is sculpted around the magnet box on her back. Not only does this look kind of awkward, but it means that she has absolutely zero neck articulation. Boo!
The paintwork on my figure is damn near immaculate. The figure has a nice glossy finish everywhere excapt on her face and hair. The paint apps on her face rae perfect, right down to her eyes and lips. There’s no slop or bleeding to be found anywhere. Seriously, Hasbro, take a look at the paint on this little 4-inch figure and try to see what you’re doing wrong. The only downside to the paint is that once again the pins and hinges in the joints aren’t painted.
Cheetara’s articulation is surprisingly different from Lion-O or Tygra. I’ve already mentioned that her head is immobile, and yeah that’s a pretty big downer. She also lacks any articulation in the torso, which is also disappointing. What does she have? Her arms feature universal movement in the shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps. Her legs have swivels in the hips and thighs, and hinged elbows. You can still get plenty of great poses out of this gal, but a lot of the articulation just doesn’t seem as natural and intuitive as in Lion-O or Tygra.

Cheetara isn’t heavy on the accessories. She comes with her quarterstaff and that’s it. The staff is a simple, flexible brown rod.
So how much did I end up ponying up for Cheetara? With shipping she set me back just under twenty bucks. Yeah, it’s a premium for a 4-inch figure, but I really wanted to make sure I had her in my collection and since none of the stores in my area are carrying the Thundercats figures, I didn’t see any chance to get her for much cheaper anytime soon. Problem is, now I’ll probably have to pony up another Andy Jackson for Panthro. But at least than my 4-inch collection will be complete.

Voltron: Club Lion Force Exclusive Sven by Mattel

As promised, I’m back with some content, and just to minimize the shock of there being no Vintage Vault today, I’m at least looking at something that is rather retro. Yes, those of us who subscribed to Matty’s Club Lion Force not only can sleep at night knowing that our Voltrons won’t be missing a limb for having missed a lion on a Sale Day, but we also got to add the exclusive Sven figure to our collections. I’ve gone on record many times here saying that I’m strictly a fan of Voltron based on concept and the fact that he’s a pop 80’s icon, so I’m not exactly the kind of collector this figure was aimed at. I can, however, still appreciate it and be happy for the fans that have been waiting to get this figure for 30 some years.

Of course, Matty can rarely do anything without eliciting buckets of controversy, and so they decided to package Sven on a retro-style card, rather than in the collector friendly boxes that the rest of the pilots came in. This act of treachery has pissed off many fans who will have to tear open the figure in order to display it with the rest of the pilots. And, of course since this figure is only available as an exclusive with the subscription, you can’t exactly buy an extra for openers. Not unless you were one of the ones that laid out $80 for him at Big Bad Toy Store before they sold out. Crazy! As a result of this madness, I’m only going to be looking at the packaged figure. Nope, I’m not opening mine. I have no desire to display Sven loose with the rest of my pilots, and I really dig this packaging, so mine will remain tucked away in the white mailer until I can find a Zolo-style clamshell to fit it and hang it on my wall.

And there’s that beautiful packaging. The design is obviously a delightful nod back to the cardbacks used for the vintage Panosh Place figures. It’s not a direct facsimile, but there are a lot of similarities, right down to the angled corners of the card, the animated character art and backdrop design. The key stand and helmet are positioned differently inside the bubble and Sven’s modern card has a snazzy reflective ink used for the Voltron logo. I even like the little “First Ever Sven Figure” medallion up in the left corner. The presentation here is first rate and the figure is displayed very nicely, with the helmetless head attached to the figure and the helmeted head beside it, just like the other pilots came in their boxes.

The back of the card is similar to the back of the other pilot’s boxes. It has a little blurb about Sven and it shows how he fits into the Blue Lion’s cockpit. There are also some nice shots of animation from the original cartoon.

Also included in the white mailer is a little double-sided mini-poster. One side has a great shot of Voltron wielding the Blazing Sword. The other side reads, “Let’s Go Voltron Force” and has a shot of each of the pilots, with Sven in place of Princess Allura. I have no clue what I’m going to do with it, but it was a cool little bonus nonetheless.

As for the figure itself, Sven shouldn’t present any surprises to anyone who has been getting these figures since the beginning. In fact, Sven appears to use the exact same body as Lance. If there are any differences in the sculpt, I can’t see them. Both of Sven’s head sculpts are quite good, and I still really like the use of the clear eye shield on the helmeted heads. Once again, I’ll take the opportunity to point out that the gun is sculpted into the holster, and that we should have gotten better on what is essentially billed as a $15 figure. The paintwork on my Sven looks excellent, although it’s hard to tell if there’s any major flubs on the back.

The articulation has been consistent throughout all the pilots and Sven is no different. You get ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows and knees, and universal movement in the hips. The figure has solid poseability, but once again, should have been better considering the cost.

If you’re really pissed off about Matty’s choice of packaging here, you might consider that they could have really been dicks and put a piece of the Blazing Sword in with Sven so you had no choice but rip it open. As it is, Sven just comes with the extra head and an extra Blue Lion stand/key.

I’m very pleased with Sven, and I think most collectors will be happy with the figure. It’s the packaging that will fuel the drama over this release, but it is what it is. I’ll admit it would have made infinitely more sense to keep a uniform package style for all the pilots and most everyone would have been happy. I appreciate Matty trying to do something special for this sub exclusive figure, but if they were going to go this route they should have ponied up for a re-sealable clamshell package or something, especially since it’s just not feasible or affordable for most collectors to buy a second Sven for opening. Me? I’m happy to hang mine on the wall right behind wherever my Voltron is going to stand. And chances are the rest of the pilots will be in their packages too.

[And that’s it for me this week, folks, I will be back on Monday to start covering the rest of my Matty Collector stuff, including Voltron’s Princess Allura and the Blue Lion and my much anticipated Mirror Master figure from Club Infinite Earths. There will likely be some more bonus updates next week too as I continue to try to get all caught up. –FF]

Goodbye, Vintage Vault Friday!

Several months ago, I started making Vintage Vault a regular scheduled update because, a) I was sorting through tubs and had a lot of my old stuff available, and b) There was absolutely nothing new coming in for me to look at. Well, it’s been a fun ride and it’s served its purpose, I’ve been through most of the M.A.S.K., Sectaurs, and AD&D stuff that I have in storage and now there’s a lot of new stuff coming in on a regular basis. Those of you who enjoyed it will be happy to know it’ll still be popping up from time to time, and I can always bring it back as a regular when I need it again. Those of you who didn’t give a shit will be happy to know I’m putting it back on the shelf.

I was actually going to try to get one more in today, but then the UPS guy dropped the Perfect Storm of stuff off on my stoop and I figured I should get started before I get buried.

And, yes… I will be back a little later on with some actual content.

Marvel Super Heroes: Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape (#6867) by Lego

[Yep, it’s another bonus update. I’m still working may through the backlog of plastic tat. I should be close to caught up by the end of this week, but I’m still expecting a few things to turn up in the mail any day now. –FF]

Aw, yeah… time for another venture into Lego’s world of Marvel Super Heroes. This time we’re checking out another one of the sets branded after The Avengers movie. This set is loosely based on the beginning sequence where Loki is escaping with the Cosmic Cube with Maria Hill leading Shield in the pursuit. I say loosely based because Maria Hill isn’t one of the minifigs in the set. Instead it is Iron Man doing the pursuit. On the other hand, it does come with a possessed Hawkeye and Loki and a SHIELD truck.

And there’s the box showing you what you get. Rip it open and you find two unnumbered baggies containing a total of 181 pieces. You also get an instruction booklet and a comic. To the minifigs!

As mentioned, the set includes Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Loki and they’re all pretty solid figures. Iron Man is comprised of simple, printed body, but his helmet is separate from his little Tony Stark head and the visor actually lifts open, which goes above and beyond. The mix of red and cold coloring is really nice too. The Hawkeye is also a pretty simple figure with a printed outfit, hair piece, two printed faces, one with shades and one without. He also comes with his bow. The quiver is printed on, which I thought was a bit of a cop out since Lego has plenty of quiver pieces that they could have repurposed for this set. Loki has a printed outfit, a single printed face, a cloth cape, his trademark horned helmet, and his Chitauri staff. You also get a Cosmic Cube piece. Iron Man is easily my favorite of the bunch, but they are all pretty solid efforts. No complaints here.

The rest of the pieces in the set all go to building the Shield 4×4 truck. I wouldn’t say it’s terribly movie accurate, but it is very nicely detailed and includes a light bar on the top of the cab, a ramming bar in the front, a removable fire extinguisher on the driver side, a clip for Hawkeye’s bow on the passenger side, two flick fire missiles on the sides, and a catapult gimmick in the bed of the truck that can launch a figure in the air. It’s a relatively small vehicle, with only one seat in the cab, but it looks great, particularly with the well-designed stickers all applied. Honestly, I don’t have a lot more to say about it.

The set took me about an hour to build, on and off and I had lots of fun doing it. If I were to have any gripes it would just be that there’s nothing really iconic about a SHIELD truck to me, although it does have the emblems and the SHIELD name on it, which helps. If you’re into Lego vehicles, this set should make you pretty happy, if you’re more into it for the Marvel stuff, then the minifigs may be the major draw of this set. At $20, it’s certainly a decent value for a Lego product, and a satisfying build.

Kre-O Transformers: Autobot Ratchet by Hasbro

Among some of the stuff piling up this last month are some of Hasbro’s “Not-Lego” Kre-O sets. I had this last weekend off, so I took the time to build a couple more and today we’re going to check out one of those… it’s everybody’s favorite Autobot Medic, Ratchet.

As always, the set comes in a nifty cardboard briefcase that you can use for convenient storage. I really like the concept, especially since the Kre-O sets usually have extra pieces left over, depending on whether or not you’re building the robot or the alt form. I can usually fit the built robot into the box by only taking a few pieces off, and I can store the sets in their original boxes on one of my book shelves. Inside the box you get an instruction booklet, a sticker sheet, two individually bagged Kreons, and three un-numbered bags of parts. The set includes a total of 187 pieces; making this one the smallest Kre-O set I’ve built. Let’s go ahead and look at the Kreons first.

Ok, so I’m not terribly impressed with these guys. You get an ambulance driver and you get Ratchet. The ambulance driver is ok for what he is, and gives you someone to sit in Ratchet while he’s in ambulance mode. He also comes with a stretcher that fits in the back of Ratchet. Ratchet, on the other hand, is pretty flawed, since his helmet and the printed face on his head don’t line up very well. If you put the helmet on so that you can see his face, it pops off really easy. If you put the helmet on all the way, it covers his eyes. Ratchet also comes with a tiny gun.

As always, I built the alt mode first. Ratchet is a pretty decent looking ambulance for a Lego style construct of this size. The build is comprised mostly of red and white bricks and there are some well thought out stickers to help it along. It’s not terribly large, with room in the cab for only one Kreon. There’s no steering wheel or dashboard inside, and there are no doors on the sides either, so you need to take the roof off to get him in there. There are, however, working doors on the back of the ambulance, and there’s room inside for the stretcher. Ratchet also has clips on the sides and back to hold the bevy of tools that come in the set. If you compare this build to a Lego vehicle that you might get in a $20 set, it stacks up pretty well, and overall it was a fun little build. There are a bunch of parts left over for the robot build. I can usually find someplace to stick these, but in Ratchet’s case, I just tossed them all into the back of the ambulance.

While I do enjoy getting two builds out of each of these Kre-O sets, I really hate tearing them apart. It’s also a pain to keep track of the bricks with stickers on them, as you need to use them at specific points of the robot build to make him look right. This time, I had the foresight to set them aside, rather than have to root through all the pieces to find the one I need.

In robot mode, Ratchet is a cool enough looking guy. He’s kind of on the lanky side, which sets him apart from the G1 Ratchet design that I identify with the most. His windshield and front bumper are positioned on his chest, but it looks like he needs a little more oompf in his torso to make the proportions work. He’s mostly arms and legs and his head is a tad too small. On the other hand, he’s a nice clean looking design, I like the way his wheels are positioned on his legs and shoulders and the front wheel wells are on his feet. Once again, you wind up with some left over pieces, most of which I was able to attach to the figure and still make it look good.

Ratchet features good articulation, with ball joints for his head, shoulders, hips, and ankles, and hinges for his elbows and knees. He also feels a lot more stable than my Sideswipe, and he can hold his poses better without flopping over or doing the splits.

I have no idea how much this set went for when it was originally released. I seem to remember getting this one on special for around $12, which is quite a steal considering you get close to 200 pieces. I know that Kre-O gets a bad rap by Lego purists as being inferior and all that, but I don’t have a lot of issues with these sets, and I certainly build my share of Lego. The quality has been overall good, the designs are solid and the builds are plenty of fun. Ratchet is probably my least favorite of the sets I own, but he’s still not a bad set by any means. I just wish his Kreon was a little better.

Young Justice: Martian Manhunter & Miss Martian by Mattel

[And it’s a bonus Tuesday update, because I’ve got crap action figures piling up everywhere… there will likely be another on Thursday too! –FF]

After collecting almost every last one of Mattel’s 4-inch Young Justice figures in order to build the Hall of Justice, I got thwarted by the inability to find Stealth Kid Flash and the last piece I needed. At that point, I swore off these goddamn figures. And that should just go to show you what a weak, weak person I am, because now I’m back like a kicked puppy, picking up a couple more 2-packs, so I can at least complete the team in this scale. Today’s feature takes a look at the “Alien Mindreaders.” It’s been a while since I’ve looked at any of the Young Justice 4-inch line, so I’ll toss out the usual disclaimer with these figures and point out that they are done in the most retro of manner. If you were on board with Mattel’s JLU figures, you can probably find a lot to love with these, everyone else may want to proceed with caution.

 

The package is a nice window box that shows off the figures pretty well. I like the fact that Mattel retained the DC Universe logo. The giant Amazo cut-out in the center of the window is kind of an eyesore, but that’s probably because I really don’t care about building that figure. Either way, the C&C pieces are concealed beneath the cardboard. The back panel has portraits of the animated characters as well as a little bio for them. The panel below that shows you what you need to build Amazo. Everything is pretty collector friendly, so you can return the figures to the package and store them that way if you so choose, although this is a lot of box for just two little 4-inch figures and no accessories.

All of the 4-inch figures in this line have been pretty good representations of their animated counterparts, but I dare say Miss Martian is one of the better ones. The sculpt is excellent, particularly the head, which really captures her on screen appearance perfectly. The hair looks good and the paintwork on the eyes, lips and even the tiny freckles is all applied with precision. Her outfit consists of a blue cape, blue skirt, blue gloves, and blue heels, and she has a white t-shirt with an “X” deco. The paintwork on the rest of the figure is executed perfectly. It’s worth pointing out that the combination of her tiny legs and bulky cape make for a rather back-heavy figure, but it’s still possible to get her to stand on her own with a little patience.

Martian Manhunter is solid enough, but he isn’t the slam dunk of a figure that his niece is. For one thing, I think his head is a tad too small. Mattel may have been going for a stylized look here, but I don’t think his head was that small in the cartoon. There isn’t a lot of original sculpting on Jon either. He’s a standard painted buck with a cape and a new head. Can I also take this time to point out how much I hate that almost all the adult figures have the same exact hands?

Both figures have the same five points of articulation. The heads turn, the arms rotate at the shoulders, and the legs rotate at the hips. It ain’t much to work with, but I suppose it gives the figures something of a retro charm.
As already pointed out, Jon and his niece come with two limbs for the Collect & Connect Amazo figure. You  also get a figure stand. Wait… what? One figure stand? ONE FUCKING FIGURE STAND??? Are you serious Mattel? $20 for a pair of 4-inch figures with just five points of articulation each and you can’t pony up for two figure stands? It’s not like it’s a particularly elaborate stand. It’s just a clear piece of sculpted plastic. I’m sorry, but throwing just one stand into this set is worse than none at all. It’s Matty saying, “Hey remember how we made sure you had no chance of finishing the Hall of Justice? Well here, take one figure stand in your two-pack!” At that point they throw sand in my eyes and run out of the room laughing. I seriously turned this package inside and out because I simply couldn’t believe that the world’s largest toy company on the planet could be that fucking cheap. Looks like I was wrong.

All rage aside, this is a pretty good set. Sure, I still don’t have a 4-inch Artemis, but Miss Martian finishes off my collection fairly well and she is a very solid figure. And considering that Batman, Aquaman, and Flash were all bundled with repacks of the single carded figures, I also appreciate the fact that I didn’t have to buy a figure I already have in order to get Martian Manhunter. I picked up the set for about $20, which is about right considering the single carded figures were all $9.99 each. It’s not exactly a great deal for such simple figures, but I guess there’s just something about them that made me want to complete my collection. Stay tuned for a look at the other 2-packs in the weeks ahead.