Vintage Vault: Transformers Collectors’ Case by Hasbro

Hey look! It’s another Collector Case! Yeah, I picked up two of these at the Toy Show. One was for Playmates’ Star Trek line, but this one holds a lot more sentimental value for me, because as a kid, I used a case exactly like this one to cart around my Transformers. A lot of these vintage Collector Cases were more about form over function, as they didn’t tend to hold a lot of figures, and the Transformers case we’re looking at today was one of the least efficient in terms of carrying capacity. I bought this one to repurpose as a modern Transformers case, so let’s see how that worked out.

There were a couple different “official” Transformers collector cases on the market back in the day, but since this was the one that I had as a kid, it was the one that I was really gunning for. What’s here is pretty simple, as it’s just a vinyl briefcase style case with a handle that slips through a slot in the flap to hold it together. A lot of these things had snapping lock, but this one just made due by pushing the handle through a slot in the top. It’s not quite as secure as the ones with the lock, but so long as you were carrying it by the handle, it couldn’t spill open.

The artwork consists of the glorious panoramic battle scene that graced the back of the earliest G1 packages. I absolutely adore this piece of art, because it shows us that very rare peak into the franchise in its purest form, before it got so heavily influenced by the Sunbow cartoon. I got my first Transformers toys before ever seeing the cartoon, so this character art never looked odd or different to me. In fact, it took me a little while to get used to the cartoon versions of some of these characters.

Originally, the case came with a fragile, molded plastic tray that was segmented to hold certain figures If memory serves there were four slots for Minibot Cars, there were a few more slots for the regular Autobot cars, a couple for accessories, and two big ones, which would fit fit Soundwave. For my purposes, the tray was way too limiting, and I was able to get one without the tray for less. That’s a win-win.

The case worked out really well for my modern Deluxes. I was able to fit sixteen of them in there along with their accessories, and a couple of the Legends style Minibots. It’s a cool way to store the figures, and easier for me to get at the ones I want than if they were just piled in a small tote.

My case also had a sad little G1 Bumblebee rattling around inside of it. The dealer pretended he didn’t know it was in there, and tried to get a couple more bucks out of me for it, but when I told him he could keep it, he tossed it in anyway. He’s actually in ok shape, although he does have some chrome wear to the area around his head and some cracks to one of his tires. Damn, I completely forgot these little guys had real rubber tires!

Vintage Vault: Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back: Bounty Hunters! by Kenner

“Bounty Hunters? We don’t need their scum!”

Well, apparently, I do, because against all reason and sanity, I bought a heap of vintage Kenner Bounty Hunters. It’s been about four years since I kicked the Star Wars habit. Oh, sure I’ve picked up a figure here and there, a vehicle now and then, but they were exceptions. And just because I’ve been pulling some of my left over POTF2 stuff out of storage and maybe buying some of the ones I’m missing to fill out my collection, it’s not like I was going to go back and start buying the vintage stuff again. And then this happened.

This dude at the Toy Show had one serious collection of vintage Star Wars figures laid out on his tables. All of them were in Ziploc bags with index cards saying what they were, and it seemed like all of them were in great shape and complete. He had them all neatly fanned out across two 6ft banquet tables. I think it was the mere spectacle that brought me over and started looking. I picked up a Zuckuss, (or 4-LOM, as Kenner called him) and checked him out. He was in pretty good shape, just a little bald spot on his left sleeve, and he had his distinctive weapon. I flipped him over and saw he was marked $7. Obviously, I’m not up on Kenner Star Wars prices, but it seemed like a good deal to me, or at least it would be for someone looking to buy a vintage 4-LOM.  I most certainly was not.

“Hong Kong. 1980. He’s seven bucks” the guy said, as I was looking at him. “You need any of the other Bounty Hunters?” He was grabbing other baggied figures and putting them in front of me. “You can take all five for $25. They’re all complete. The only one not in there is Boba Fett, I’m all out of The Mr. Fett!” (Yes, he said “The Mr. Fett!” …I liked this guy.) Before I knew what was happening I had Bossk, IG-88, Zuckuss, 4-LOM, and Dengar all in my hands, and I was giving the guy $25. It was like an out of body experience. In a few minutes, I had destroyed four years of abstinence.

It’s a self-contained little sub-group, I told myself. I mean, sure now I’m going to have to track down a Boba Fett to go with them, but that’s it. I have a nice little band of vintage Bounty Hunters to stand on my shelf. But then I’ve already thought about picking up a set of vintage figures to display on my Tattooine Skiff. So at this point, anything is possible.

I’m not going to say my piece about each individual figure here today. I’m saving that for when I can take the time to do some proper comparisons between the vintage figures and the ones that have come since, and quite frankly that’s likely to be a week all to itself.

So there you go. Was it a momentary lapse of reason? Well, I’d love to say I regret buying them. I’d love to say that I got home and dropped them into a tote to forget about them because they don’t fit anywhere in my collection. Instead, they landed on my desk, and that’s where they still remain. No, I won’t lie; it’s a hoot having these guys lined up beside my computer. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of them in person and I thought they’d look dated and primitive, but they don’t. They look great, represent a huge part of my childhood, and I’m actually amazed at how well they hold up.

Tomorrow we’ll keep the vintage ball rolling with a quick look at a piece of G1 Transformers goodness…

DC Universe Classics Wave 18: Toyman by Mattel

I was really hoping to snag some of the older DCUC figures at the Toy Show, as there are still quite a few missing from my collection. I figured at worst case, maybe I could get Etrigan or Orion, or best case snag Giganta. Unfortunately, the DCUC pickings were slim, and what was to be found was crazy expensive. Someone had $25 on an Eclipso! When I asked the dealer, “what up with that?” he merely informed me that Mattel don’t make DCUC no more. Yep, I got schooled! Anyway, I did manage to pull Toyman out a bin where he was chilling with some Biker Mice from Mars and vintage He-Mans, and miraculously enough he was still clutching on to both of his accessories by way of invisible rubber bands!

So, no packaged shot, although I should have taken a picture of the tote he was lying in. I’m not worried about missing the packaging or the C&C part. Despite growing up with Super Friends, I absolutely hated Wave 18 of DCUC and skipped it entirely when it was released. The only figures I was interested in were Captain Boomerang, Black Vulcan and Toyman, and I sure as hell wasn’t about to buy the rest just to build Apache Chief, so I always planned to pick up these three later on, loose, and cheap.

The Toyman character is certainly a distinctive enough looking fellow and from sculpt to coloring, this guy is a gorgeous figure and totally hits the mark. The torso and legs are pretty standard DCUC buck, but Mattel went with the longer, lankier, double-hinged arms, which are more in line with the character. The cowl is a separate piece, which flares up at the shoulders and mates very nicely with his crowned jester hood to look like it’s all one piece. Naturally, they went with the pupil-less eyes, and the exposed lower half of his face is just perfect.

Toyman’s coloring is as bright and gaudy as it should be. The unpainted yellow plastic on the torso and arms looks great. Sometimes, I have issues with the yellow plastic used by Hasbro and Mattel, but it looks fine here. His vest is painted with a matte black to match the hood and cowl. He’s got a red and yellow belt, and his pants are orange with blue boots. I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Oh look, accessories! Toyman comes with a toy top grenade and a spinning yo-yo of death. The grenade is brightly colored and looks great. I also love how his left hand is sculpted so that he can hold it in a tossing position. The yo-yo is also excellent and includes a string attached to a plastic ring that can slip over Toyman’s hand. The figure would have been fine on his own, but these extra accessories are so well executed they really round out the package nicely.

Toyman features most of the standard DCUC style articulation, but as already mentioned he does have the atypical double-hinged elbows. As for the rest, his arms have ball joints at the shoulders, swivels at the biceps and swivels and hinges in the wrists. His legs have the usual DCUC universal joints in the hips, swivel cuts in the thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. His head is ball jointed, and he has a swivel in the waist and an ab crunch in the torso.

The tub that I got Toyman from wasn’t priced, and I thought it odd that a modern figure would be in there with all the older 80’s and 90’s stuff. I asked the guy how much the figures in the bin were and then found out that it was one of these bullshit, show me what you want and I’ll tell you how much it is deals. In this case he glanced at the figure while in the middle of another transaction and just said ten bucks. Not exactly the deal of the century, but I was cool with that and Toyman was dropped into a plastic bag and added to my haul.

Tomorrow, not only is Star Wars back again, but vintage Kenner Star Wars… I knew this was going happen sooner or later…

FigureFan’s Collectibles & Toy Show Excursion Week!

[Hey guys! It seems like an eternity since I was at this Toy Show. You see, this week was originally supposed to be last week, but with the Matty Collector Haul coming in when it did, I bumped it from last week to this week. Got it? Good! Let’s go…]

Toy Shows are a pretty big deal for me, because I live in a pretty crappy area for toy hunting. Every once in a while the local Expo Hall or Fairgrounds does an Antique/Collectibles/Flea Market type show that advertises toys and I go and have a gander. These almost always turn out to be a huge disappointment, with tables of cobbled together 12-inch GI Joes, incomplete Megos, and lots of beat-to-hell metal trains and cars. If I can find a dealer selling figures, I’ll sometimes wind up buying a couple things just so I don’t leave empty handed, but for the most part, all I get out of it is a cold hot dog and a warm can of soda. One of the few things I miss about living in the Northeast was you could find shows like this every couple of months, but down here? Bubkis!

This show, however, was considerably better, as this was an actual “Toy & Collectible Show” and it lived up to its name. There were tables with shiny mint-in-package goodies, totes full of loose crap, and everything in between! I found some really cool stuff that I needed for my collection, and some other stuff I bought just because the prices were really good and I thought I might like writing about them. A couple of weeks ago I covered about half of my Star Trek haul from the show, so this week I’ll be covering some of the other stuff I picked up.

On a depressing side note, I had a chat with one of the fellows that organized it and he said it was unlikely to be a repeat performance. He said it was a big hassle to get the dealers to come and that the first day of the show produced disappointing interest and not much in the way of sales. I can’t say as I’m surprised due to the geriatric nature of the community here, but I would have been really happy had it blossomed into an annual gig.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder (Nickelodeon) by Playmates

Ok, folks, I’ve had a long week and it was a busy day of debauchery yesterday, so I’m going to try to salvage what’s left of my weekend to actually rest. Nonetheless, I promised TMNT goodness, and TMNT goodness you shall have. Let’s look at Shredder.


Yuppers, it’s the same packaging we just saw with Splinter. I love it to pieces, while not feeling guilty about ripping it open to get at the action figure center.

Much like Splinter, Shredder’s new design threw me for a bit of a loop. It’s obviously Shredder, but I was pretty iffy on his boxy arm and leg armor. Now that I have the figure in hand, I’m still not entirely sold on it. They kind of make him look like he’s cosplaying a Transformer.  Still, there is a lot about the figure that I do like. The head sculpt is fantastic. The iconic helmet is there, and Shredder’s got some seriously mean looking pupil-less eyes gazing out from behind his face mask. I really dig his shoulder armor, and the way they float on hinges so as not to impede his arm movement. Even the scaled pattern on his chest is plenty cool.

On a side note, it looks like the leg and arm armor can be pried off of the figure pretty easily, but I don’t want to damage my only Shredder. Considering the cost of these guys, I may pony up the extra eight bucks for another and see how much better he looks without it.

Another thing Shredder has in common with Splinter is limited articulation. He has ball joints in his shoulders and hips, his head turns, he can swivel at the waist, and he has hinges in the elbows. I’m really missing the lack of hinges in the knees on this guy. I can understand Playmates investing more articulation into the Turtles, but I seriously wish they had extended that to Shredder too. He’s certainly fun to play around with, but every time I pose him I just keep thinking, “hey, dude, where are your goddamn knees?”

Shredder makes out a little better than Splinter in the weapons department, but not by much. He comes with a katana sword and two throwing stars. The stars are cool, and I’m actually surprised at how well he can hold them. The sword, on the other hand, needed to be a bit more substantial. It looks puny and the hilt rattles around in his grip when he’s holding it. Also, the lack of a simple loop on his back to store it seems like a missed opportunity.

I’m obviously at a point with this TMNT line where I am so smitten with the figures that I’m willing to forgive a lot. Shredder’s design has some issues, and his articulation and accessories are lacking. And yet I still love playing around with him and I think he looks just fine on my growing Nickelodeon Turtles display shelf. Maybe it’s the reasonable price point or just the fact that these figures are making my nostalgia senses tingle, but each figure just makes me want to get more.  In fact, if I weren’t so hungover, I’d probably head down to the store and get some of the new wave right now.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splinter (Nickelodeon) by Playmates

I did my usual pass through the Wally World action figure aisle this week on my way to stock up on toys groceries, and sure enough they had a whole pallet of the new Nickelodeon TMNT figures. I was absolutely blown away by the Turtles figures in this line, and I had always planned on picking up at least three more: Shredder, Splinter and Amy, so I didn’t have a chance in hell of getting out of there without buying something. I wound up with Shredder and Splinter and since I have a weekend to kill before getting back to my Toy Show haul on Monday, I thought I’d give this pair a looksie. And no, I still haven’t seen an entire episode of the new series, and it’s really not a priority for me.

When we last saw the new TMNT packaging I gushed on and on about how much I loved it. Well, I still do. At the risk of repeating myself, this packaging just shows me that Playmates gets it. (Yeah… there’s a concept. Playmates, the masterminds behind the 2009 Terminator and Star Trek figure debacle, actually gets it!) By “it”, I mean, they understand how to make a toy package simple, functional, and yet oh so appealing. As an adult collector, the retro goodness baked into this package design makes me want to buy it, because it really does summon up memories of seeing the Turtles on pegs back in the day. But even if I were a kid, just seeing these figures on these cardbacks would make me swear up and down to take out the garbage, wash the car, and neuter the dog, if only my parents would get me a couple. The back panel has a clip out file card and shows off the other great figures in this little line. Oh yeah, Splinter comes in the package with his tail off. You just need to get it off the tray and plug it into his butt and you’re all good to go.

While I took to the new Turtle designs right away, I was really iffy on the newly designed Splinter. He didn’t look like a rat to me, but rather some kind of bizarre Australian marsupial. Still, the Turtles need their “Honorable Sensei,” and so I was willing to give him a try. I’m very glad I did. His design is still pretty out there, but with the figure in hand, I’m really digging him a lot more than I thought I would. I think my biggest sticking point on the design is the black and white paint on the face. It looks more like aboriginal war paint than rat coloring. Rat coloring? Yes, rat coloring. Turns out, it was just a matter of getting used to it. His stringy little beard is awesome and I love the little nicks in his ears.

Spinter’s robes are sculpted in soft plastic and attached over the figure’s body. You can theoretically take it off, but then Splinter would still have awkward looking sleeve arms, as those are sculpted as the upper arms. His forearms have sculpted wrappings and he has cool, ugly little rat feet. The tail looks good too and it’s rubbery so you can bend it around to try to keep it out of the way.

For a Sensei, Splinter isn’t exactly sporting martial arts caliber articulation. His head turns, his arms are ball jointed at the shoulder and swivel at the elbows. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, and his tail swivels. The lack of knee articulation really doesn’t bother me so much, since the design of his robes would probably render it mostly inert anyway. The lack of hinges in the elbows, however, bugs me a lot. Actually, it should bug me a lot. In reality it doesn’t. He displays just fine and I don’t need my Splinter to be super-poseable, especially at this price point.

What does bug me a little more is the lack of accessories with Splinter. You get his stick, and that’s it. It’s also molded in a translucent plastic, which seems kind of weird to me. Considering the Turtles all got “Ninja Arsenals” I think they could have helped a rat out and gave him some extra goodies. Maybe the point is that Splinter is so badass all he needs is his stick.

Playmates set the bar for the Nickelodeon line very high with the four Turtles. They had great articulation, superb sculpting, and loads of weapons. They were just an amazing value. Splinter features less articulation and virtually no gear, but the sculpting here is still good and the paintwork is solid. I understand the reasoning behind investing extra money into the articulation and accessories of the main characters, and I’m perfectly fine with it. For a figure this size at the eight dollar price point, I’m still plenty happy with him.

I’ll be back later to check out Shredder.

Matty Collector: Club Lion Force Voltron by Mattel

Mega thrusters are go, Bitches!

It was a long wait, folks, and a unique and epic experience: A subscription that sends you a series of stand-alone toys, which in the end will piece together to form one ginormous robot. Throughout the course of my 30-some odd years of toy collecting, there hasn’t been anything quite like Matty Collector’s Club Lion Force: A year long journey, in which every couple of months brought me one step closer to something really damn cool. It was an idea that took the Collect & Connect concept to the extreme, and one that was perfectly suited to the Voltron property. When I came home to find my Black Lion sitting on my stoop, I was so relieved excited to know that the journey was finally complete.

Before moving on, let me throw out a little disclaimer. I realize for some people this ride was not a smooth one.  If you’re a toy company doing something like this, you really need to be able to get your shit together, and that’s something that Matty can’t always claim to be good at. I realize that some people had QC issues with individual lions, others had typical Digital River snafus, and when you’re dealing with parts of a whole, any one of these issues could be enough to ruin the entire experience. I’ve seen the horror stories from the people for whom one problem along the way stopped them from completing their Voltron. If you’re one of those people, I really feel for you. It’s not like you can take these back to the store for an exchange, and the prices of these damn things on Ebay are getting outrageous.

No doubt, I was really lucky. I haven’t had a single QC issue with any of my Lions. Nonetheless, my heart was in my throat as I opened Black Lion in fear that something would be wrong with it, and my journey to form Voltron would crash and burn just inches from the finish line. In the end, he turned out fine. And now with Voltron standing in front of me, comes the inevitable question: Was he worth it? Was he worth the stress and the money? The answer in a word? Yes. The answer in a few more words? Hell fucking yeah, he was worth it! So let’s form Voltron!

Plugging the limbs into the Black Lion goes very smoothly and the connections hold very well. I was a little afraid of how difficult it would be to disconnect the limbs without forcing them, but they all separate again just fine. The arms pull out without any undue pressure and the legs eject just by pressing the buttons on the backs, very similar to the Toynami Voltron.  I’ll confess to not being a big fan of the spring-loaded transformation gimmicks, but I sure do love the way you press in the chest crest to make Voltron’s head snap open and into position. It’s awesome! Once assembled, Voltron’s proportions are excellent and he looks mighty goddamn majestic. I stood him on a table and went to get some work done on the computer, and I just found myself admiring him every couple of minutes. He’s certainly an attention getter.

I try to keep the majority of my toys in my display areas, so they don’t take over the whole house, but dammit if I don’t want to just stand him on an end table in my living room like a vase or something so that guests would say, “Hey FigureFan (because that’s what everyone always calls me), what’s that on your end table?” And I would just say, “That’s my goddamn huge Voltron, son.” And with that we would go back to sipping cognac and playing Scrabble. Let’s just drop in a shot of him standing behind my Toynami Voltron for the proper size perspective.

Obviously we’ve already seen a lot of Voltron’s sculpt when we looked at the individual lions, so I won’t go into a lot of detail there. I will say how much I adore the face. It’s beautifully sculpted and perfectly captures Voltron’s stoic portrait and the paintwork is excellent. The chest crest is really great looking too. I was a little worried about how it would come out since the individual lions were missing some of their finer details, but it has a nice, chunky animated look that makes me smile.

Easily the biggest complaint I’ve seen about Voltron is his inability to stand in action poses or with his weapons in hand. It’s not so much an inability as it is people deciding to come out of the gate bitching, rather than take the time to play around with him to see what he’s truly capable of. He is definitely top heavy, there’s no doubt about that, but in a way very similar to Toynami’s Masterpiece Voltron. Still, his ratcheting joints are strong and effective, and he balances perfectly fine when placed in a typical standing pose. When you put his sword and shield in his hands, you do need to work at it to get him to stand, but I’ve had tons of success posing him while brandishing his weapons. There’s plenty to tweak to get him to stand. Besides the fold down heel struts, you can also make some little adjustments to the Yellow and Blue Lions’ paws for a little added assistance. I generally find that he will stand in all sorts of great action poses on carpet, but he tends to slide real easy on tables or smooth surfaces.

Naturally, Voltron comes with his weapons. We’ve already looked at the Collect & Connect Blazing Sword, but I’ll admit I was surprised to see the extra Sword in with the Black Lion. I’m sure it was revealed during the course of the year, but I must have missed it because I genuinely thought the Collect & Connect sword that came with the figures was all we were getting. Both the sword and shield have huge pegs that go into the recessed sockets inside the Red and Green Lions’ mouths, holding them in place very well.

I was really dismayed by how much negativity there was on the Matty forums about the finished Voltron. Surprised? No. Only dismayed. I’m not talking about the people with QC issues, I’ve already empathized with them, and they have every right in the world to be royally pissed. No, I’m talking about the bunch of whiny fuckers who are bitching just to bitch. Ever since getting my hands on the Red Lion, I had a pretty good idea what the finished product was going to be like, and everything fell right into line just as I imagined it. I wasn’t expecting a super-articulated ninja robot, and there was no reason for anyone to expect that. What I was counting on was a big, heavy beast of a toy that would have been perfectly at home in the 80s. I wanted a showpiece reminiscent of a time when toy companies weren’t shackled by safety regulations and they could produce a giant robot that would crush a kid to death if it fell on them.  No, if the final Voltron held any surprise for me, it was just how majestic he looks fully assembled and standing there on display. I know, I’ve probably thrown the word majestic around a few times in this feature, but it’s honestly the word that best describes him. I adore this thing, and might I remind you all that I’m the guy that cannot stand the Voltron cartoon.

Oh yeah, and while I know it would never happen, Matty if you ever do decide to do a second sub with a similar scaled vehicle Voltron, I’ll be there on day one with my money to suffer through it all again.

DC Universe Signature Collection: Elasti-Girl by Mattel

This month Matty brought double the DC goodness to Club Infinite Earth subscribers with another oversized quarterly figure, and it is none other than Ms. Rita Farr aka. Elasti-Girl! Matty made a point of saying that they wanted to use CIE to finish up some teams, and they certainly are delivering. This year we’ll get the rest of The Metal Men and the figure we’re looking at today brings us one step closer to rounding out the Doom Patrol. Personally, I’ve yet to pick up Beast Boy or Robotman, so I only have Negative Man to keep her company. Either way, let’s take a look at the lovely lady and see how she turned out.

Signature Collection packaging! We just saw it on Monday with Poison Ivy, so I’m not going to spend a lot more time on it. It’s exactly the same as the regular monthly figure packaging, only bigger. The artists at Matty did another great job on the character art. I’m not so sure the sculptors had the same image in mind, but the art here is just gorgeous. I’m so glad these packages are collector friendly, because it gives me an excuse to keep all this stunning box art.

A lot of your personal mileage with Elasti-Girl is likely to vary based on how well you know or enjoy the character. Sure, that’s the case with a lot of DCUC figures, but in this case it’s even more so. If you’re not in the know, she is essentially just a really tall chick in a skirt, and unless she’s seen alongside other DCUC figures, she’s just a chick in a skirt. Nonetheless, fans of the character should find this figure to be a real treat, because it really does her justice. As already mentioned, the head sculpt isn’t quite in tune with the box art, but I still really like what we got. She’s pretty, I dig the slight upturn to her eyes and the face features some truly immaculate paintwork. The hair is sculpted with a band to hold it back, and the hair is short enough so as not to inhibit the head articulation too badly.

The rest of the figure’s body features sculpted gloves and boots, and a belt around her slender waist. The skirt is made of particularly flexible plastic, and it’s wide enough so that you can really get some good range of motion out of her hip joints. The top half of her outfit is painted, with some nice sharp lines between the red and white and the neckline. I would have preferred a paler shade of blue for the belt and boots, but now I’m really nitpicking. She’s also got some seriously nice muscle tone sculpted into her arms.

Elast-Girl’s articulation features that new torso joint that we first saw with Poison Ivy. I’m still on the fence over the new design. Is Matty only going to be using this with all the ladies? Time will tell. It doesn’t seem to have the same versatility as the waist swivel and ab crunch, but it is a lot better looking. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, hinges in the knees, and swivels at the wrists and biceps. The legs have the regular universal movement at the hips, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. Naturally, the head has the usual ball joint. I’m not sure if it’s just because of her size, but I really would have loved to see double hinges in her elbows.

Elasti-Girl comes with a tiny version of herself, which is a very cool bonus. She’s very similar to the Antman that Hasbro put out with their Marvel Universe Yellowjacket, or even the tiny Wasp that came in the Secret Wars comic pack. Just be careful not to sneeze while you’re holding it, or you may lose it forever. The resident FigureFan feline has already been scoping it out for his larder of trophies behind the sofa.

I was pretty delighted when Matty revealed this figure, as I truly believe we would have had no chance of getting her anywhere else. A while ago, maybe I could have seen her as a C&C in DC Universe Classics, but with the direction the line went toward the end, I don’t think it ever would have happened. So what’s the downside of Elasti-Girl? Well, besides now being motivated to go back and pick up the rest of the Doom Patrol, I’m really hankering to pull the trigger on the insanely pricey Giganta, just so I can have another huge chick for her to fight. Then again, I’ve got do some rearranging on my DCUC top shelf in order to fit another oversized figure. At the moment, even poor Rocket Red is still chilling in his box and waiting for some shelf time.

Okdoky, tomorrow we will round out this Matty Haul Week with a look at the Big Guy himself… Voltron! It will, however, likely be posted pretty late, as I’m pulling the graveyard shift tonight and I’ll likely be sleeping most of the day tomorrow.

Voltron: Black Lion by Mattel

Yes, it was the final month for Matty’s Club Lion Force, and that meant that not only did we subbers get Keith, but we got the last and biggest Lion of the pack: Black Lion. Ever since the beginning of the month, I’ve been on pins and needles, worried about getting this thing safely into my collection. Was Digital River going to screw up? Would Black Lion be stricken with some horrible QC issues, like having four back legs and missing a head? Or would Matty just send me one of the Avatar beasts in a Voltron package. I was seriously stressing out. But it was all for naught in the end. Blackie arrived on my stoop with the rest of my October haul and now he’s safely in my clutches.

Once upon a time, I marveled at the size of the Yellow and Blue Lions. But damn, this guy is really big. He comes in the same style box, which has a cardboard base and back, and four clear plastic walls. The animated backdrop shows the Castle and all in all, this thing looks mighty impressive in the package. Matty probably should have mentioned somewhere on there that the Sword and Shield are concealed under the cardboard base, since none of the other lions have had any accessories packaged down there. I have to imagine someone, somewhere is going to pitch the packaging before realizing their horrible mistake.

As soon as I got Black Lion out of the box I gave him a good once over. It was like pulling someone out of combat and searching them for bullet wounds. There was a minor paint smudge on one of his red wings, but it came off with a little magic eraser treatment, and a tiny bit of black rubbing on one of his yellow shoulders. Other than that, this guy is fine.


As expected, Black Lion is the boxiest of the lions, but that goes with the territory of being the torso. On the other hand, he’s also the most complex looking of the bunch. The wings on his back stay folded up quite well, and you only need to lift them up to reveal the key slot for Black Lion’s cockpit. Push in the key, or any pointy object, and the hatch will release to reveal the cockpit compartment for your Keith figure. If you were wondering whether Black Lion’s huge size would give it a more roomy or complex cockpit, well, that isn’t the case. The inside of the cockpit is similar to the other lion interiors. There are some well-placed stickers to make up the instruments, and it’s just big enough to comfortably fit the figure.

In theory, Black Lion has about the same articulation as the others, but the fact that his shoulders form Voltron’s hips and shoulders actually give him a little more range of motion. I also really dig his tail a lot more than the other lions’ tails. He’s got three hinges in it, and it looks wavier, fluid and tail like, while the other lions’ tails look more like antenna.

In addition to the ubiquitous mouth blade weapon, Black Lion comes with the aforementioned Star Shield and Blazing Sword, but I’m actually going to cover those pieces when I look at Voltron on Friday.

I feel kind of bad for Black Lion. He’s easily the most impressive lion of the pack and yet he’s probably going to get overlooked by a lot of collectors who will be using him to form Voltron the moment he arrives and so he won’t spend nearly as much time in his Lion mode as the others. Still, he’s a great looking piece and makes for an awesome display when perched at the head of the group. In the end, I’m just so happy he arrived and in good condition so I can put an end to the rather trying, yet ultimately satisfying, ordeal of Club Lion Force .

Voltron: Keith (Black Lion Pilot) by Mattel

It’s the final month for Club Lion Force and thank Christ for that! While I have been lucky enough to have a pretty good experience with Matty on this subscription, my stress over each release has been mounting, until finally reaching a fevered pitch with this final month. But we’ll get to that tomorrow when we discuss Black Lion. Today, we’re going to check out the final pilot figure, Keith, and I’ve looked at enough of these that I’m going to try to go through this one pretty quickly.

As expected, Keith comes in the exact same style window box that we’ve seen with all the figures, except Sven. The box is black to match his lion and features some decent character art on the front along with a little window that displays the figure, the alternate head, and the key stand. The back panel has a little blurb about Keith and his lion, photos of the completed Blazing Sword and a shot of the figure fitting into the Black Lion’s cockpit. As always, the box is totally collector friendly, which is awesome. On the downside, the Blazing Sword is designed to lock together, so once it’s assembled, it won’t be going back into the boxes.

Keith holds no surprises. He has a solid head sculpt, and appears to be built off of the same body as Lance and Sven. The paint on the figure is great, with no smudging or dirt on the white, and no bleeding around the red. The alternate helmeted head is overall pretty good, but there’s an annoying black spot of paint on his visor. This black spot is the first true defect I’ve had in any of my Club Lion Force toys, so in the Voltron Quality Control Lottery… A winner is me!

Articulation includes a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders and elbows, universal movement in the hips, and ball joints in the knees. Once again, the fact that the pistol is sculpted into his holster and cannot be removed is a constant sticking point with me and these figures, but I take a small bit of solace in the fact that this is the last time I have to mention it. Speaking of repetitive criticisms, I still really wish the key stand had a sticker on each side.

In addition to the key stand, Keith comes with the tip of the Collect & Connect Blazing Sword and the last two pieces of the stand, so we can finally put this thing together. The sword consists of snapping together the hilt, guard, and three pieces of blade. The blade is painted with a faint swirly energy pattern and the edges are sculpted with translucent yellow plastic flames to make it appear to be pulsating with Ro-Beast killing power. In reality, it looks ok, but I tend to prefer the regular Blazing Sword that comes with the Black Lion. But more on that tomorrow!

So, let’s take a moment to ruminate on the pilot figures. Remember when the first Lion Force sub details came out and Matty was going to sell the pilots and lions separately? Well, I think grouping them together was one of the better decisions. Sure, it meant that collectors couldn’t order extras, but I would have been plenty peeved paying $15 plus shipping for these things had Mattel shipped them separately on non-Lion months. A few of my friends maintain that I’m discounting the cost of the Blazing Sword pieces, and yeah it was a nice bonus, but I would have been fine without it. I still like the pilot figures, Keith and his teammates are plenty cool, but there’s no doubt Mattel took shortcuts with them, making them in no way worth the price.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at the grand daddy of all the Lions!