DC Crisis on Infinite Earths: Harbinger by DC Direct

We might as well make it a DC weekend. One of the totes I recently grabbed from storage had a heap of DC Direct figures in it, and I pulled a bunch out to use for content in the weeks ahead. I don’t usually buy a lot of these, as I tend to prefer the DCUC stuff, but every now and again I come across them cheap and just can’t resist. With the DCUC style releases being a lot fewer than what they were, I’ve come to the realization that a lot of these characters aren’t going to be released in the DCUC style, and I’m more willing to turn to some of these DC Direct figures as stand ins for my display. Today we’re looking at a figure that really should have turned up in one of those 20 waves of DCUC… It’s Harbinger from a little something called Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Harbinger comes mounted on a rather bland card and basically lets the figure speak for itself. I do really dig the way DC Direct uses the stand as the series title for the package. It’s clever, but it doesn’t save the package from being bland and boring. There’s a little insert in the bottom of the bubble that identifies the figure. Other than that there’s really nothing here to write home about. The back panel of the card is only marginally better. It’s generic to the series, so it shows all the figures available and gives little blurbs about them. Bland packaging doesn’t really bother me, as I’m just going to rip it open anyway, but I’ve always expected better from a collector driven line like DC Direct. This is just cheap, quick and ugly.

I think the sculpting on the figure is ok. The face is good, and I like the way her hair flows out of the back of the helmet. The Monitor armor-inspired outfit is readily familiar and includes a few nice touches, like the sculpted muscles in her stomach. There isn’t a whole lot else to say here, other than overall, the sculpt just looks rather soft. It’s not up there among DC Direct’s best work, and I don’t think it’s any better than a DCUC version would have been, but it’s not particularly bad either. Maybe just a little dated?

At first glance, the paintwork looks pretty good, but it doesn’t really hold up to close inspection. I do like the glossy red used for the helmet and the metallic blue used for her outfit and it meshes well with the silver bits. The flesh tone paint is a bit spotty and there are some dirty spots on her skin that I’ll have to try to touch up with a magic eraser.  The face is a little better, as there’s no slop or bleeding there. The eyes are a little uneven, but nothing too bad. The paint used for her hair looks dirty and feels a little tacky. It’s not coming off, but it is noticeable to the touch. I may try giving it a go with a damp cloth to see if that helps. It may be from being stored in a humid environment for a while. Had I bought this figure on Ebay and not taken it out of the package myself, I would have doubted it was new.

Harbinger has the basic 9-points of articulation that I’ve come to expect from the DC Direct figures. You get ball joints in the neck and shoulders. The arms have hinged elbows and the legs have hinged knees. The hips have angled cuts. Overall, the poseability is not bad, but not great. There’s not a lot of point to the leg articulation, but at least the arms give you some options for posing her.

Harbinger comes with her figure stand, which is pretty necessary for getting her to stand for any period of time.

In the end, Harbinger is solidly average. There’s nothing so wrong with her that cripples the figure, but nothing about her really shines either. My understanding has always been that if you want articulation and a fun toy, you go with DCUC, if you want a superior sculpt for a display piece, you go with DC Direct. But, as I mentioned earlier, I don’t think a DCUC version of Harbinger would look any worse. That having been said, she is scaled appropriately enough with the DCUC line that I have no problem using her to fill this empty slot in that collection, and since they weren’t in the tote I pulled her out of, I’ll probably hunt down The Monitor and Psycho-Pirate for the same purposes. In the meantime, I have a whole pile of figures from Identity Crisis, which I’ll need to get to next month.

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DC Universe Signature Collection: Black Mask by Mattel

It’s time for another Matty Collector release! My Voltron and Club Infinite Earth subs didn’t synch up this month, so I’ve just got the DC figure to look at. I was a little tempted by the He-Man offerings this month, but I kept my resolve and didn’t go for them. Anyway, this month’s CIE figure is Black Mask, and he is one of the very few figures getting released by the Club this year that I wasn’t really looking forward to. Batman’s funnybooks have always ranked pretty far down on my reading list. On the other hand, that hasn’t stopped me from picking up most of the other Batman related figures that Mattel has put out, so I wasn’t exactly sorry to be getting him either. Let’s see if Black Mask can win me over…

Ahh, I still love this packaging. As usual, the figure comes in a very cool and very collector friendly window box. The package displays the figure very nicely, with his accessories (Yes! Accessories!!!) mounted in the tray all around him. The back panel of the box has some excellent character art and the token short biography. A few of Black Mask’s accessories were a little loose in the package, but I care not for I am taking them all out.

Riddle me this, Batman, where have we seen this body before? Yuppers, it’s the Riddler from one of the early waves of DCUC. I want to say Wave 5 or 6. I have no issues with Mattel making use of the suited body again. It’s quite a good sculpt and as we’ll see in a little bit it retains a surprising amount of the core DCUC torso articulation. The suit jacket is layered on the figure, which gives the sculpt a lot of realistic depth, and you can even reach in and pull his stylish tie right out from inside his jacket. Black Mask is a pretty monochrome character, so there’s little coloring to get excited about here. The suit is matte black and the arms and legs match the jacket petty well. The high gloss paint on the shoes is a nice touch. All in all, I’m pleased with how the body turned out.

What about the head sculpt? Alas, I’m really not so happy about how it turned out. I’ve been overjoyed with all of the head sculpts in the Signature Collection thus far, and while Black Mask’s should have been a slam dunk, it just doesn’t work for me at all. The head looks funny on his big trunk of a neck and the details in the sculpt are really soft, particularly around the teeth. The paintwork on the teeth, which is ironically some of the only paint on the figure is kind of sloppy and uneven too. C’mon, Matty. It’s a skull mask! The Horsemen should have really had some fun with this one. Instead, it feels like they phoned it in.

Black Mask retains all the usual articulation found in the DCUC line. That means the head is ball jointed, the arms feature ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have the usual DCUC hip joints, hinged knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. What I wasn’t expecting was to get a waist swivel and ab crunch built under the sculpted jacket. Very cool!

One usually doesn’t get a lot of accessories with a DCUC figure, but Black Mask comes with some goodies. You get a double-bladed fork weapon, a knife, and Batman’s cowl. That’s all well and good, but you know what would have been cool, Mattel? Giving us the gun that’s pictured in the character art on the package. I was actually surprised to find that I don’t have a decent black .45 automatic in this scale, so he’ll have to go without.

Black Mask gets a resounding Meh from me. He’s not terrible. I don’t mind standing him in the corner of my display that houses Batman’s rogue gallery. However, he’s the first figure of the Signature line that really disappoints me, and I wasn’t expecting much to begin with. Considering the recycled body and the figure’s meager need for paintwork, I think Mattel should have put in a better effort with the head. I’m fine with having him in my collection, but considering I didn’t get any other figures from Matty this month, Black Mask shipped alone, and that means he cost me about $25. That’s twenty-five bucks worth of Meh!

Transformers Prime: Cliffjumper by Hasbro

Ok, I’ve decided to wrap up Transformers Prime Week today, rather than go through the weekend, because I’ve got other stuff I want to move on to. I’ll be sure to randomly pepper the rest of the figures throughout the weeks ahead. But with only one slot left and so many figures, which one to do? Which one to do? Well, the answer was pretty obvious. It had to be Cliffjumper. Why? Because he’s a Transformer that was voiced by The Rock, goddammit! And because he is definitely one of my favorite figures in the line.

We’re back to the Deluxe packaging and I’m still digging it. You get a nice big card with cool character art and a big bubble that shows off the figure in its vehicle mode, with the weapon beside it. One point of contention here is that the character art shows Cliffjumper firing his arm cannon, but the arm cannon is only featured in the First Edition mold and not this one. The back of the card has a bio blurb, which fails to mention the fact that Cliffjumper has been trashed, zombified, ripped in two, thrown down a chasm, and finally blown up. That’s cool, because I prefer my Cliffjumper very much alive. Hasbro has since put out an Exclusive zombie version of Cliffjumper, but that’s another story for another day. Let’s tear him open and see what’s what…

 

Cliffjumper’s vehicle mode is a 70’s muscle car and that makes me all kinds of happy. We get precious few older cars throughout the history of the Transformers. The last time a 70’s style car was done was back in the Cybertron series with Downshift. As is par for the course, you get very few paint apps showing on the car mode; instead it’s just molded in a pleasing shade of red plastic, with a little silver and black here and there. As always, I dig the clear windows, and the soft steer horns on the hood are a cool little touch. The car mode does have a bit of seaming and some of these are tough to close all the way when transforming him. He’s also got a little kibble, as his feet are protruding down from his undercarriage just in front of his back wheels.

Transforming Cliffjumper isn’t too difficult, and he does use some auto-morphing, which works quite well. His proportions are a little wonky, as he has pretty long arms and short, stubby legs. I didn’t remember him being like that in the show,  but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the episode with him in it, so I’m sure it’s perfectly fine. Cliffjumper does use a lot of fakery in his robot mode. The blacked out windows on his chest are obviously not the real windows from the car mode, and the horns on his head are not from the actual hood ornament. Normally this kind of fakery irks me, but it’s kind of hard to argue with the results. Cliffjumper’s robot mode looks way too complex to be a Deluxe figure, and that’s kind of cool.

One thing I don’t get about Cliffjumper’s robot mode is the faked out, molded tires that appear behind his thighs. They’re unpainted, so they don’t really stand out, but I’m not sure why they’re there at all, since all four of his real tires are clearly visible on his legs and shoulders. Weird!

Cliffjumper comes with a Battle Hammer, which can peg into two different holes on his car mode. There’s one on the roof and one where the gas cap would be. He can also hold it in either hand in his robot mode. I prefer to have him hold it a different way, at which point it becomes a really big gun, rather than a hammer, because really big guns are better than hammers.

No doubt, Cliffjumper is a cool figure. He gets extra points for being a boffo 70’s muscle car and for having a great looking robot mode. I should take issue with how faked out his robot mode is, but the toy is fun and it’s just hard to hate on him. He’s one of the few Deluxes that I’ve picked up that I wouldn’t have actually minded paying the full $15 that he’s selling for on the pegs, and that’s saying a lot considering he’s on the smallish side and seriously lacking paint apps. I’m pretty torn on whether I like him better than the First Edition Cliffjumper, a figure I do not and probably will never own. On the plus side the FE version has his arm cannon and doesn’t use the window fakery for his chest. On the other hand, The RID version’s chest looks less boxy and more refined. In the end, it’s kind of a toss-up.

And that wraps up Transformers Prime Week. I’ll try to get to what I have left over the next couple of weeks. I’m pretty sure I’m committed to this line now, as I’ve really enjoyed all the figures I’ve looked at so far. Tomorrow we’ll check out this month’s DC Club Infinite Earths figure from Matty Collector. I haven’t decided yet whether or not to take Sunday off, but we’ll see how things play out.

Transformers Prime: Megatron by Hasbro

Just like with Optimus Prime, it’s hard to have a good Transformers series without a good Megatron. And if anything, Megsy can be the bigger risk, since there really isn’t any standard rule for what the Megster should turn into. We’ve seen everything from gun to tank to truck to misshapen Cybertronian crab thing. A good Megatron is important to me, so I was really happy to see that the Transformers Prime figure really nailed him… at least most of him.

There’s Megsy in package. I don’t have a lot more to say about the Voyager window boxes. They look good, they are collector friendly, and there’s a butt load of little strings tying the figure into his tray. Megatron actually has two extra weapons mounted beside him in his tray. One is his Mech Tech Fusion Cannon and the other is some kind of battle spike thing. We’ll get to those in a little bit, but first let’s get him out of the package and look at his alt mode.

I’ve been converting Transformers ever since I got Thundercracker and Prowl back in 1984. I’m pretty good at it. I don’t usually need to look at instructions, and a big part of the fun for me is trying to figure them out on my own. That having been said transforming Megatron was a real pain in the ass. Part of the problem is that his alt mode is a completely abstract Cybertron vehicle and even with the picture in front of me, it was hard to figure out where everything was supposed to wind up. The other problem is that there are some real fidgety maneuvers that need to be just right, particularly with the arms and shoulders. Is it all worth it? Let’s look at his alt mode.

So, it’s some kind of Cybertronian space cruiser. It looks ok. At least it doesn’t look like the unholy offspring of a horseshoe crab and an erector set like Revenge of the Fallen Megatron did. Point is, I’ve seen worse. And hey, a big part of the alt mode makes good use of Megatron’s Mech Tech-style Fusion Cannon weapon, which is more than I could say for Prime and Starscream. You actually combine his two weapons and plug it onto the top of the vehicle. They’re more part of the vehicles actual design than something just stuck onto it, and I appreciate that. If you transform him properly, this mode holds together pretty well. The bottom line, though is that I didn’t find it fun to transform him, and the space cruiser still feels like a token alt mode, so I doubt I’ll be doing it a lot.

Megatron’s robot mode, on the other hand, is pure love. He’s the spitting image of his on screen model and I absolutely adore him. Like Optimus, there’s a little bit of Bayformer mixed in with is design, particularly the head sculpt, but I think the end result is a really cool compromise. There’s not a lot of paintwork on this figure, but the grey and purple deco looks perfect. While I could take or leave the translucent plastic used on Prime, I think it really works well on Megatron. The way the way his armor wraps around it makes it appear more like part of his inner workings rather than Hasbro just using translucent plastic for the sake of it. The curvy designs in his torso look great, and his flared up shoulders look appropriately menacing. The plastic used for his chest even has a slight texturing to simulate that brushed steel look of the TV show model. The proportions on this figure are also really good. His forearms are bulky, but not too much, and his lower legs really give me an animated G1 Megatron kind of vibe.

There’s one thing I cannot compromise on where Megatron is concerned, and that’s his Fusion Cannon. Alas, while Megatron’s Fusion Cannon works well on his alt mode, it doesn’t fare so well when used with his robot mode. Part of the problem is the Mech Tech feature, which converts it into a battle blade. It feels completely unnecessary and the light up gimmick doesn’t really work. But worst of all, in order to accommodate the conversion, the Fusion Cannon only pegs in at one spot and not very well. The result is it’s always falling off. I’ve crammed a little blue tack into the hole, which seems to have helped, but I resent having to do that. As for the cannon itself, it just doesn’t look all that good. I’m thankful that it’s there, but here’s one instance where if a third-party were to make a better looking replacement, I would jump on it.

As much as I still prefer my boxy, animated G1 Megsy, there is a certain appeal to this version’s rounded edges and perfect proportions. There’s a ton of different influences at work in this figure, but they’re all collected from Megatron designs through the ages and so the end result really works incredibly well. I’ve actually gone so far as to move him onto my desk, just so I can glance over at him while I’m working and smile admiringly at his sheer awesomeness. I could complain about the messy transformation and the ho-hum alt mode, but alas, I’ve come to expect very little out of my Megatron alt modes. Honestly, I’d rather just have a great looking robot mode, and that is exactly what we got here. He’s a near perfect looking figure, only marred by his unfortunate Fusion Cannon.

Transformers Prime: Optimus Prime by Hasbro

There were two figures in the TF: Prime line that made me hesitant to start collecting it, we already looked at Bumblebee. The other one was Optimus Prime. The official promo pics that Hasbro and other online sites used to sell it looked terrible. He looked too simple, lacked too much detail, he was too boxy, and too unlike the on screen model. And hey, you can’t have a good Transformers line without a good Optimus Prime figure, right? (SHUT UP, I LIKED ENERGON OPTIMUS PRIME!!!) So, I was really hoping that like Bumblebee, this would be one of those figures that would win me over once I got him in hand. And at risk of killing the suspense… yes he did. I still have more than a few issues with him, but ultimately, I think the good far outweighs the bad with this figure. Let’s take a look…

Optimus comes in the same style box we saw with Starscream. Again, I love the box’s deco and the window shows off the figure nicely. Prime is packaged in his robot mode with his weapons beside him. Once again, you get a “Try Me” hole cut out in the window so you can see just how shitty the weapon is before dropping twenty bucks on the toy. I lie; you really can’t appreciate how shitty it is until you get it in hand, but more on that later. The back of the package shows photos of Prime’s robot and truck modes and these are the pictures that Hasbro should have been releasing early on, because armed with these pictures, I wouldn’t have been so hesitant to buy him. Let’s get him out of the package and start with his vehicle mode.

 

Right off the bat, I’ve got to say Prime’s truck mode looks so much better in person. There’s more sculpted detail on it, particularly the sides, where there are sculpted rivets and some panel lines. The windshield area looked blocky and featureless, whereas the actual toy has plenty of nice detail. I really like the sculpted circuitry like panels behind the clear windshields. Prime actually has full length smoke stacks, although they are a bit bendy. What doesn’t look so hot is the back of the cab, where the recessed legs are exposed.

I was pleasantly surprised by how fresh and clever Prime’s transformation works. You’ve got to hand it to Hasbro. After almost 30 years of designing Optimus Primes that turn into truck cabs, they can still come up with new ways to do it. This version gets a little fidgety where the arms and shoulders are concerned, but I was still able to do it without consulting the instructions, and once I knew what I was doing, getting him back and forth is pretty easy.

In robot mode, Prime looks pretty close to the on screen model. The biggest difference is in the chest area, where the show model’s windshields angle out of his chest and the ones on the toy are just a solid slab. The toy version actually looks more durable and practical, as the TV show model makes me wonder how Prime can get through a normal day without smashing those things to pieces. The body itself is nicely sculpted to look like the on screen model, but the kibble backpack works against it to give the figure a boxier look then it should have. In fairness, the backpack isn’t at all bulky or troublesome, but it does make the figure look more squared off, despite his sleek and sculpted torso. Originally, I didn’t think I’d be a fan of the clear plastic parts used on the forearms, but I’m warming up to them. It’s a shame that the design has the exposed screws on the front of Prime’s shoulders, rather than the back, but now I’m nit-picking. The head sculpt is great, but it feels a little too small, like it was designed for a Deluxe figure, rather than a Voyager.

Prime comes with two weapons: You get his awful Mech Tech blaster and a sword. Both weapons can be fitted to the cab hitch for storage when he’s in truck mode. I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the Blaster. Everything I said about Starscream’s Null-Ray Blaster applies here. Whether held in hand or mounted on the cab hitch, it looks like crap. The only problem here is that while I could happily toss Starscream’s weapon and not miss it, an Optimus Prime figure without a decent blaster feels like it is missing something. And yet, I’d rather have no blaster at all then display him with this horrible weapon. At least he comes with a sword, which looks good in his hand, but unless they’re Dinobots, I’m not a big fan of my Transformers wielding swords.

In the end, this figure features a lot of give and take. The robot mode is not the homerun that Starscream’s robot mode is, but then he is a better compromise between robot and vehicle mode. He’s also a nice solid figure that displays well and is surprisingly a lot of fun to play around with. In the end, he really won me over. Sure, the First Edition figure looks a lot more like the TV show’s model, but I find myself perfectly content with this guy representing Prime in this line of Transformers.

Tomorrow, we’ll keep the Voyager ball rolling with a look at Megatron.

Transformers Prime: Starscream by Hasbro

Yesterday I looked at an Autobot Deluxe, so let’s switch over to a Decepticon Voyager, and who better than to start with Starscream. I may not watch the show a lot, but I absolutely adore Starscream in it. I love his creepy personality, I love his lanky design. They did a beautiful job crafting the same old scheming Starscream in a fresh new way, and it’s awesome. Even if I hadn’t committed to collecting this line, I would have still bought Starscream the moment I saw him. In fact, he’s the only figure I’m looking at this week that I did not get on clearance. Nope, I laid down a full Andy Jackson on him. Let’s see if he disappoints.

Hey, it’s the first look at the Voyager figure packaging here on FigureFan. Starscream comes in a nice window box with the figure packaged in robot form. I really dig the box’s deco. It’s cool, it’s flashy, it shows off the figure well, and above all it makes me want to buy the toy. There’s a “Try Me” hole cut out in the window so you can reach in and activate the Mech Tech Weapon, which transforms and lights up. I think it’s great that they actually call it a Null-Ray Blaster, but as we’ll see in a bit, it’s a worthless piece of crap. The back of the box has a photo of the figure in both modes, and the side panel has his biography and his tech specs. Technically, the box is collector friendly, but I had to cut so many strings to get Starscream out, I thoroughly mangled it in the process.

 

Even though, Starscream is packaged in his robot form, I’m starting with his jet mode. Why? Because I don’t like to break up routine, and also because I want to get the bad stuff out of the way first. Ok, bad may be a little harsh. The jet mode is certainly passable, but because of a lot of hinges and seams on the top and some robot kibble on the bottom it isn’t terribly attractive. It’s also a little chunky. Bottom line, this jet is not the sleek and stylish jet we see on the show. The inspiration is certainly there, but compromises had to be made. Now, I’m willing to give the jet mode a lot of slack because Starscream’s robot mode is so amazing that it’s hard to believe that Hasbro could engineer it to change into a jet at all. The missiles are detachable, which is cool, and while there aren’t any flip down landing gear, there are tiny molded wheels that allow the jet to stand evenly and display well. I should also point out here that getting Starscream into his jet mode can be a bit fidgety, but once you know what you’re doing it’s actually pretty easy.

With that out of the way, we can move onto Starscream’s robot mode and everything is rainbows and cupcakes from this point on, because the robot mode is downright awesome. I seriously adore this figure. Hasbro did a great job capturing all the personality of his on screen design and the proportions are excellent. He’s got the same lanky arms and legs and you can pose him in that hunched over, groveling stance that he loves to so much whenever he’s in  Megatron’s presence.  The way the wings angle up on his back and they are hinged so you can swing them in and out a bit to help with posing. All the other jet kibble is strategically placed. Even the tail fins on his ankles serve to stabilize his ability to stand. You can also remove the missiles from the wings and clip them onto his arms as additional weapons. So cool! And the head! Oh, the head! The head sculpt is absolutely perfect and nicely painted too.

The paintwork is solid enough, but could stand a few simple improvements. I would have really liked to see the same silver paint used for his thighs to be used on the two pieces that make up his chest. I also would have preferred the Decepticon emblem on his shoulder to be right side up instead of sideways. But these are tiny little gripes.

And then you have the Null-Ray Blaster. What a steaming pile of crap! It’s a stab at continuing the Mech Tech weapon gimmick that was started back in the Dark of the Moon line. Now, I have no problem with this idea, and I can remember really digging some of those DotM Mech Techs, but Starscream’s weapon looks like a jumbled mess. Besides just looking like hot garbage, it suffers from the same problem as the DotM gimmicks, where you have to keep holding it to keep the weapon converted. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have it lock into place? Doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t have saved this thing anyway. What’s worse is that Hasbro spent the money to put a light up gimmick in this thing. It can be plugged into Starscream’s jet mode or clipped onto his arm and either way it destroys the aesthetics of the toy. The best thing about it? You throw it in the garbage and forget about it.

So to sum up, Great Primus, this is an awesome figure! Apart from the few suggested improvements to the paint, I love every inch of him. I doubt he’ll spend much time in jet mode, but then most of my Transformers are displayed in robot modes and only converted when I want to play around with them or when it’s time to put them into storage to make room for some others. And speaking of storage, I have a feeling that when my Prime figures are finally rotated out into storage, Starscream will be the one figure that remains on display all the time. And that’s just about the best compliment that I can pay any figure in my collection.

Tomorrow, we’ll check out the big guy himself, Optimus Prime.

Transformers Prime: Bumblebee by Hasbro

So, yeah… I just got a heap of Transformers: Prime figures in the mail, thanks to a certain someone who decided to clearance a bunch of them out. I’ve been pretty tentative about buying these toys, but the three I already have were all pretty good, and hey… clearance! So, let’s kick off this Transformers Prime week with a look at everyone’s favorite, spunky little scout… Bumblebee!

We’ve seen this packaging here on FigureFan a few times already. I like it well enough. The oversized card with the character art really draws the eye. I do have to deduct a few points for the bio on the back mentioning one of the annoying human kids from the series. Bumblebee is carded in his vehicle mode, with his two blasters on the tray beside him. Bumblebee is one of the figures in this line that sort of kept me from wanting to commit. I just haven’t seen many appealing pictures of him in robot mode, so here’s hoping that having the figure in hand can sway me. Let’s start with his sports car mode.

 

 

Ok, so not bad. The fact that the car is held together by rubber bands had me a little worried, but truth be told he’s a solid enough car. He’s a little camero-ish with a twist of anime style. The similarities are there without Hasbro having to pay the royalties. Win-Win. Bumblebee’s windows are all clear blue translucent plastic, and anyone who’s read a few of my Transformers features may know that’s a big plus in my book. There’s not a lot of paintwork going on here. You get the car molded in yellow plastic, with some black stripes. For the most part, this seems ok, but the total lack of paint apps on the back of the car really upsets me. The exposed engine in the hood is cool and that’s where you can plug in the guns if you want your Bumblebee rolling into battle. So far, so good…

Transforming Bumblebee is pretty easy, but not overly so. In fact, I think this guy has just the right balance of ease and complexity. In robot form, Bumblebee’s big problem is his shoulders, which make him way too widely proportioned at the top of his torso. Posing him with a wide stance helps a bit, but the way his shoulders jut out makes me think he’s mis-transformed, when he’s really not. He also suffers a bit from the hollow factor. When you view him from the side, there’s a lot of empty space in his torso, but the down sloping chest and the roof that covers his back helps to make the figure look solid from the front and back.

Everything else about the figure works ok for me. He isn’t the most original of designs, borrowing heavily from the Bayformer look and one thing I do like a lot is the way the final robot form looks like the transformation should be a lot more complex than it actually is. A lot of this illusion comes from the auto-morphing in the torso. I’m not usually a big fan of the auto-morph features, but in this case it works really well and the exposed gears give him a cool mechanical look. I really dig the dual laser cannons that clip onto his arms, and they can also be combined into one quad-barrel gun to be held in either hand or clipped onto the hood of the car when he’s in alt mode.

Articulation? His arms rotate and have lateral movement at the shoulders and swivels and hinges in the elbows, but no wrist articulation. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, with additional swivels just below those ball joints. He’s also hinged at the knees and ankles. There’s no torso articulation, but the head is ball jointed on the neck. All in all, you get fairly satisfactory articulation for a small Deluxe Transformer.

I do have to take some issue with Bumblebee’s coloring. The bulk of the figure is left in the bare yellow plastic, and there’s something about it that feels kind of cheap. But my real issue here is the paint apps that have been stricken from the final figure. They’re on the product image on the back of the card, but in final production, they apparently didn’t make the cut. What really irks me about it is the fact that the Hot Shot repaint (we’ll get to him soon) is brimming with great paintwork. Why, Hasbro, would you cut paint apps on the main character of the line and then go hog wild painting a repaint that only completists are really going to care about?

So, yeah, in hand, Bumblebee is not so bad. In fact, if the shoulders had only recessed a bit into the torso, or flipped around to lay flush with it, I think the figure could have looked down right amazing. As he is now, it just takes some acceptance, and with the right posing, he can look pretty good. That all having been said, he’s a solid enough figure, with a fairly clever transformation and he is tons of fun to fiddle about with. Of course, my satisfaction with the figure also comes from the fact that he was about $6 and at that price, I’m willing to be pretty forgiving. At $10 I think he would have been a satisfactory purchase. But right now he’s hanging on the pegs for $15, and I just don’t think he warrants that at all.

Transformers Prime Week!

I held out as long as I could, having only picked up just a few of these figures here and there. I suppose it was only a matter of time, seeing as I am such a shameless Transformers whore. I found some really good deals on TF:Prime figures last week and I went hog wild and picked up a whole heap of them, hence the commencement of Transformers: Prime Week. I’ll cram as many as I can into the week ahead. I’m not sure if I’ll continue it on into the weekend or not. I definitely have enough figures to go the distance, but I’m guessing I’ll be ready to move on to something else come Saturday. I will try to mix it up with both Voyagers and Deluxes, or whatever the hell Hasbro is calling the size assortments these days.

And yes, everything I’m looking at this week will be the Robots in Disguise versions, not the First Editions. I only took this plunge because I like what I’ve picked up so far, and I really did get these for laughably cheap. I’m not going to be hunting down the First Editions and paying premiums for them.

I’ll also take this time to confess that I haven’t been following the TV series. I’ve probably seen a majority of the first season, and I’ve had pretty mixed opinions on it. There was some great, there was some awful, and a lot that I just didn’t care about. In fairness, it takes a lot of interest for me to track down a show and watch it every week, so unless I own a series on DVD or love it as much as say Doctor Who or Game of Thrones, chances are I’m not going to stick it out.

So, enough preamble. I’ll be back later on today to start it all off with Bumblebee.

DC Universe Classics Wave 20: Collect & Connect Nekron by Mattel

We can argue all day whether or not the new DC All Stars line is really just a re-branded DCUC only without the re-branding, but there’s no arguing that Wave 20 saw the last DCUC Collect & Connect figure. Obviously, Nekron wasn’t everybody’s first choice to fill the last C&C slot, nor was he mine, but I wasn’t terribly upset about it either. Besides, it’s not like Mattel was going to make everyone happy with any choice anyway. While there are plenty of other characters I wanted more, Nekron certainly had potential to be a very cool looking figure, so I was perfectly fine with it.

And cool looking he is! This poor guy has literally been lying on my shelf for ages, hoping that I would get off my ass and buy the last two figures needed to get him his legs. Unfortunately, a bunch of other purchases had priority and so he was going to have to wait. I was almost ready to take up a collection, complete with Matty Collector style thermometer and everything. “Our goal is just $30 to get poor Nekron his legs.” If only he had a long staff-like accessory to lean on. Ah, but more on that in a moment.

Where was I? Oh yeah, he is a great looking figure. The head sculpt is worthy of praise just because there’s so much depth and texturing in it. The skin has a great cross-thatch pattern, the Black Lantern emblem is sculpted, rather than just painted, and every one of the teeth in his rictus grin is lovingly crafted. The deep set eyes are piercing and thanks to a particularly great bit of paintwork, they practically look like they’re glowing, and in a way that is better than most light piping effects can produce. The neck features a heavy collar with real chains dangling off the front and back. Simply awesome.

The body is clad in a soft, rubbery black trench-coat type affair that’s tattered towards the bottom. It’s parted at the chest to allow a good view of the broken rib cage, complete with strands of sinew and flesh clinging on, and the sculpted heart that lies within. Man, it would have been cool if the entire torso cavity was actually hollow to improve this effect, but the way they did it still works well. Nekron has another heavy manacle on his left wrist with another real chain hanging off of it.

If you’re looking for exciting coloring, look elsewhere. Nekron is as drab as death and appropriately so. In a series full of brightly colored costumed heroes and villains, it’s kind of refreshing to see someone dark and dusty and actually looking like they just crawled out of a tomb. The only real contrast from his grey, dead skin is the glossy black pants and the silver on his belt and boots. The coat is matte black, and there’s a great layer of dust painted all around the bottom of the back of the coat.

Mattel went all out on the articulation for this guy. You get a ball jointed neck, and even with the collar, you can still get good motion out of the head. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and double hinges in the elbows. The legs feature the usual DCUC universal hip joints, swivels in the thighs, hinges in the ankles, and double hinged knees. There is no ab crunch, due to the unique properties of the chest sculpt, but it’s nice to see that Mattel tossed in the extra double-hinges in the elbows and knees to make up for that. Nekron isn’t exactly a figure that I need to be busting out action poses, but more articulation is almost always better than less, so I’m not complaining.

Equally cool is Nekron’s trademark scythe. Hey, wait a minute… there’s no scythe! No, there isn’t. While shown off in promo pictures of the figure, the scythe was taken out at the last minute as a cost cutting move. It was a really unfortunate decision as it soured a lot of collectors on the very last C&C figure. What’s worse is that Nekron’s hands are obviously sculpted to hold the missing accessory and they mock me every time I look at them. Seems like Mattel could have thrown us collectors a bone for keeping the line afloat for 20 waves, but then I’ll confess, the scythe is no small accessory and I have no idea how much it would have added to the overall cost of the wave. Not to mention it’s probably not great business sense to go over budget on the final wave of a dead line.

And there ya have it. I can’t help but think that it might have been a little inside joke to have Nekron, the lord of death himself, as the last C&C figure, towering over the final wave of DCUC as it passes into oblivion gets slightly revamped into DC All Stars and continues on its merry way. This format was the way to do him right. The DC Direct version was a great sculpt, but the scale doesn’t work for me. I wanted my Nekron towering over my other figures, and I certainly got that in the end. Scythe notwithstanding, I’m pretty happy with him. He looks great, and the character certainly has gravitas, even beyond the Blackest Night story arc.

DC Universe Classics Wave 20: Reverse Flash by Mattel

It’s raining Flash foes, as I’ve managed to add both Mirror Master and now Reverse Flash to my DCUC collection over the past month. Ok, maybe not raining, but there’s certainly a little trickle to keep Captain Cold company on the shelf. With Flashpoint still fresh in people’s memories, including this figure as part of Wave 20, made a lot more sense to me than yesterday’s White Lantern Flash, as it’s both topical and also remedies a niche that many collectors were likely happy to see filled. Much like yesterday, this is going to be a quickie. But unlike yesterday, it’s not because I’m bored with the figure. Quite the contrary. No, in this case, no matter how happy I am to get the character in my collection, there’s still only so much you can say about a repaint.

There we go. I’d say this is the last time we’ll see actual DCUC packaging, but then I have plenty of holes in my collection to fill, and even a couple of figures still in my acquisitions pile yet to be opened. So, the line may be technically dead, but it’ll continue to crop up from time to time around these parts. The back panel of the card has a nice little bio blurb and shows off the other figures in the wave that you will need to complete your Collect & Connect Nekron figure.

Yep, Mattel has certainly gotten their money’s worth out of repainting this figure body. I’m not complaining, mind you. It’s totally appropriate here and the end result looks good. I was a little worried about how the unpainted yellow plastic would look, but it turned out just fine. The chest emblem and lightning on the figure are all crisp and the red boots and wings on the mask really top off the figure nicely. Mattel did spring for a new head sculpt, and I must say they did a bang up job on it too. The expression is awesome! Oh yeah, there is one other change to the sculpt: The left hand. Instead of leaving the normal fist on the figure, Mattel re-sculpted it so he can hold his baton accessory. I would have been perfectly happy to have kept the fist, but I’m not going to quibble about an extra accessory, and much to my surprise, I did wind up displaying him with it.

Articulation includes everything we saw yesterday with the look at White Lantern Flash. But hey, let’s go through it again anyway: Ball joint in the neck, ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, swivels in the biceps and wrists, patented universal DCUC hip joints, hinges in the knees and ankles, swivels in the thighs, swivel in the waist, and ab crunch hinge in the torso. But chances are you knew all that already.

Truth be told, not every “must have” figure needs to be some amazing new sculpt, and that’s particularly true in the DCUC line. I’m always thrilled to add to my DC rogue gallery and considering some of the questionable slots used up in the last couple waves, Reverse Flash is a welcome treat. It’s like Mattel wanted to get just one more sought out character across the finish line before the race was over. Because he’s Reverse Flash… and it’s a race analogy… ahem. But equally important, my Nekron now has legs. And we’ll check him out in all his standing glory tomorrow as we round out this DCUC weekend.