DC Universe Signature Collection: Poison Ivy by Mattel

I think it’s probably safe to say that Poison Ivy was a predominant name on many DCUC collectors’ wish lists. It’s kind of hard to believe that the line lasted 20 waves without her showing up. Even I, someone who only bothers with Batman when he’s part of the Justice League, was pretty excited to finally get the character in my collection. Of course, Matty was well aware of her popularity and wound up pimping her out as a threat to get people to subscribe to Club Infinite Earths. They even went so far as to warn collectors that if the sub didn’t go through, Poison Ivy would never be made. Pretty classy stuff, Matty.  Instead of a thermometer, they should have had a live cam of the prototype being slowly lowered into a bucket of acid and a tagline, “Only your subs could stop the descent!” Well, all the threats and recriminations are behind us now because the sub did go through and I’m holding in my hands, the DCUC version of Poison Ivy.

I’m always glad to see the Signature Collection package. It looks awesome, it’s collector friendly, and what’s inside seldom disappoints. I’ve been a big admirer of the character art that Mattel has been using for these packages and Poison Ivy’s continues to raise the bar. It was actually a pretty ambitious and risky piece of art to go with, because it’s a lot more detailed than the actual figure, particularly where the vines are concerned, but we’re going to come back to that in a second. You get the usual little bio blurb on the back and as always, the box is totally collector friendly.

A lot of the early criticisms of this figure have been that she looks too plain, and I think those are valid complaints. Just look at the character art on the box and all of those little vines and tendrils. That kind of detail is tough to create in an action figure at this price point, and so compromises have been made. Mattel went with using some simple, sculpted plastic vines, which are molded in spirals so that they snake around her arms and her left leg. They add some depth to the figure, they don’t inhibit her articulation, and generally they look good, but they don’t convey the beauty and complexity of what’s seen in the art. I think the figure would have been much better served with the vines sculpted into her arms and legs and then painted in, but remember, Mattel’s game is to create versatile sculpts that will serve them again later. In the DCUC line, they can often get away with it without compromising the figure, but that’s not the case with Poison Ivy. Her torso suffers from a similar problem. There’s foliage sculpted along the edges, but the rest is plain. In this case, however, it’s less forgivable. The entire one-piece should have been sculpted with vegetation. It would have helped the figure look less spartan. I’m actually surprised that Mattel went with bare feet instead of boots, but I’m glad they did, as it adds some individuality to the figure.

That all having been said, I’m very happy with the way the head sculpt turned out. Ivy’s face is beautiful with a slightly stern expression. The hair is absolutely amazing. It’s intricately sculpted and peppered with leaves here and there. The same effort that went into the hair sculpt should have been vested into her one-piece. That would have helped the figure along quite a bit.

Poison Ivy’s coloring is quite good. Mattel went with a minty colored, unpainted plastic for Ivy’s flesh tone and it looks very cool. A darker green was used for her one-piece and vines, the paintwork on her face is immaculate, and even her toenails are painted. But, again, it’s the hair that really shines here. The deep red paint is gorgeous and really brings out the details in that sculpt.

Ivy features most of the same articulation we’ve been seeing all along in DCUC. Her arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows, and feature swivels in the biceps and wrists. Her legs have the usual DCUC universal hip joints, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. Her head is ball jointed, but her sculpted hair does inhibit the head movement quite a bit. It’s in the torso where things get a bit kooky. Instead of the usual waist swivel and ab crunch, Ivy has a swivel just under her breasts. It’s admittedly a lot less unsightly than the traditional DCUC articulation, but it’s not as versatile either.

Poison Ivy was a long time coming, so it’s natural she’s going to be subjected to a lot of extra scrutiny. I’m actually fairly happy with what we got, although I will concede that, unlike most DCUC figures, she doesn’t hold up to her character art. From a business standpoint, I understand why Mattel did what they did, but then I shouldn’t have to look at a figure and justify its production from a financial standpoint. On the other hand, despite this line being billed as a “collector club” it’s still essentially a mass market line and for a more complex looking sculpt, we have to look elsewhere. One of these days, I’ll pull out my Bishoujo Poison Ivy statue and we’ll see how great this gal can really look in plastic form.

Transformers Prime: Bulkhead by Hasbro

Primus knows, I haven’t been the biggest champion of any of the modern Transformers TV series, but I’ll happily admit right now that I dig Bulkhead. While most of the characters we see in Transformers are all reworks from the G1 days, Bulkhead is one of the few new characters that has survived to be re-imagined across two otherwise unrelated series. I find him to be a really endearing character, good comic relief, and one that deserves to be added to the catalog of Transformers that will continue to get recycled through future reboots. As a result, I was pretty excited to pick up the TF: Prime Bulkhead, especially since none of the TF: Animated versions have found their way into my collection.

Transformers Prime… Voyager packaging… Yeah! It’s essentially the same thing we’ve seen with all the TF: Prime Voyagers. It’s very cool, Bulkhead is packaged in robot mode, and there’s a hole in the window that lets you try the shitty light up Mech Tech style weapon. Let’s get back with tradition and look at Bulkhead’s vehicle mode first…

But, before we get to the figure, here’s a quick Public Service Announcement from FigureFan. Kids, when your new toy comes in a window box, take a look at it before you buy it. I didn’t, and my Bulkhead has scratches all over his hood. Granted, the figure was in robot mode in the package, but I still could have seen the scratches if I looked hard enough. I could take it back, but it was the only Bulkhead they had, so I guess I’ll consider it the ultra-rare “Battle Damaged” Bulkhead and live with it.

In alt mode, Bulkhead is a big military vehicle. I’d say he was supposed to be some kind of jeep, but he’s obviously a lot bigger than the other cars, so I’m going to go with some kind of variation on a Hummer. His vehicle mode is solid enough and while I’m not a big fan of painted windows, at least the front windshield is transparent. There are some seams on the sides, but for the most part they synch up with the doors so they aren’t terribly unsightly. A socket on the roof allows you to plug in his battle ram, or if you want your toy to look terrible, you can plug in the light up Mech Tech thingy. All in all he’s a solid toy and rolls along great.

There are some shell-former shenanigans going on with Bulkhead’s transformation, but it’s mostly with the arms. It took me a couple of tries to get them locked down just right. Apart from that, he’s got a pretty cool and innovative design that gets him into and out of his robot mode.

I am a big fan of Bulkhead’s robot mode. In fact, the only thing that bothers me about it is that he seems a little short when standing alongside the Deluxe figures. That having been said everything else is pure love. Bulkhead’s TV design has some wonky proportions, but this figure makes them work really well. I love the way the doors form extra armor plates on his chest and the Autobot symbol on his shoulder armor is a nice touch too, especially since it isn’t upside down like Starscream’s Decepticon shoulder emblem. Bulkhead’s headsculpt is right on the mark and his jaw is even a little articulated. I’ve heard tales of him being really hollow and awkward in the torso, but I don’t see it at all, and even when viewed from the back he’s got a nice squared off backpack with wings.

Oh yeah, there’s one other design element that I wanted to nitpick. Hey, Hasbro, what is up with the faked out wheels on the robots lately? I noticed these when I featured Cliffjumper and here they are again. Right on the outside of Bulkhead’s legs you can see clearly sculpted tires that have been left unpainted. Bulkhead is a four-wheeled vehicle and all of his actual wheels are accounted for, so I have no idea why Hasbro is doing this, but little things like this have a habit of eating away at me when I’m trying to sleep.

Besides the light up weapon that I already tossed in a bin, Bulkhead comes with his battle ram, which can be attached to either arm. I really wish he had some kind of serviceable spiked ball attachment for his hand. Alas, Hasbro incorporated that into the Mech Tech weapon, making Bulkhead the only figure which is really affected by the fact that I throw those out.

Yes sir, Bulkhead is a great figure. I like him so much, that I might be persuaded to pick up one that isn’t scratched to shit if I happen to find him again. He’s loads of fun to play around with in both robot and vehicle modes and he really captures everything I love about the character. But best of all, he brings me one bot closer to completing my core Autobot team. I’ve yet to find Arcee on the pegs, but I’m thinking I’ll have to bite the bullet and snag her online.

And that leaves me with just one more TF: Prime figure to look at, but I’m going to have to come back to him. Schedules must be kept and the trains must run on time. Tomorrow I’ll start looking at some more of the odds and ends that I picked up from the Toy Show a few weeks back.  

A rather large box from Matty Collector landed on my stoop yesterday afternoon, so there’s going to be a little change of plan.

I’m bumping my original plans for this week back so I can check out the new goodies. I’ll kick things off tomorrow with DC Club Infinite Earth’s monthly figure, Poison Ivy. Then we’ll get into the Voltron goodness with Keith on Tuesday and the Black Lion on Wednesday. Thursday I’ll bring it back to DC with the quarterly oversized figure, Elasti-Girl, and the we’ll cap off the week with a look at the big boy himself, Voltron in all his ginormous glory.

Transformers Prime: Dreadwing by Hasbro

The TF: Prime pegs here may be crammed with nothing but Bumblebees and Cliffjumpers, but the Voyagers have certainly been arriving in a timely manner. Much to my wallet’s chagrin, I was able to find both Bulkhead and Dreadwing sitting on the shelf the other day and I couldn’t help but grab them both up. Dreadwing seems to be the hotter of the two, and definitely the one I was most anticipating, so let’s check him out, and we’ll look at Bulkhead tomorrow.

Dreadwing comes in the same style window box that we saw with Megsy, Prime, and Screamer. He’s packaged in his robot mode, which is a great choice on Hasbro’s part. I defy any Transformer collector to see this guy standing there in the box and not have to take him home. The window has the “Try Me” hole for the token shitty Mech Tech style weapon. The fact that it lights up just draws attention to how horrible it looks and we will speak no more of it. The side panel features a little bio on Dreadwing and the back shows him in both his modes. I know, I usually do the alt mode first, but the transformation and alt mode really irk me, so I’m going to get all the gushing out of the way first.

In robot mode, Dreadwing is an example of all that is right with this line. He’s a satisfying size for a Voyager class figure and I’m pretty sure he’s meant to be based on the Skyquake character in the TV show. The coloring is a pleasing mix of deep blue and light grey with some translucent yellow parts peppered about, including the cockpit on his chest. The head sculpt is fantastic and the face is beautifully painted gold with red eyes. He’s a great mix of organic curves and jagged plates and I really dig the way his jet exhaust hangs off his back like a jetpack. Dreadwing also comes with a sword, which he can hold in either hand.

So about the transformation… I love figuring out the transformations on these guys by myself, and that’s a good thing because Dreadwing’s instructions not only suck, they are downright misleading. The changeover to jet mode features a lot of stuff moving at once, but for the most part it is surprisingly intuitive, until you get to the part with the tail section. Looking at it, it’s easy to see what’s supposed to happen and where everything pegs in, but when I set that up Dreadwing’s hands were just hanging there about half an inch past the exhaust of the jet. “That can’t be right,” says I, “Let’s consult the instructions.” No, really… I said that! Sure enough, the instructions indicate I’m doing it right, but it doesn’t show the robot hands hanging off the back. I had to go online and find some gallery pics to show me that the instructions are pretty damned misleading, and that I was doing it right all along. While omitted from the instruction illustrations, and carefully hidden in the product pics with tricky perspectives, the hands really do hang off the back end of the jet. I call bullshit, Hasbro!

Overall the jet mode looks pretty great from almost every angle, just don’t look at the back. Sure, there’s a lot of robot kibble on the undercarriage, but you know what? That’s a fact of life for most Transformer jets, and I’m fine with that. The blue and gold deco looks very nice and really reminds me of Revenge of the Fallen Dirge.  The wings on his Decepticon insignia are a nice touch that reminds me of the Cybertron Defense emblems used for some of the Autobots in the Cybertron line. Dreadwing holds together very well and sits nicely, provided you can get his front landing gear down, I had quite a struggle with it. Nonetheless, those hands hanging off the back are just terrible. It really feels like they either just ran out of money while engineering the toy, or they got that far and just said, screw it… that’s good enough. Either way, it’s one of the most overt examples of rampant robot kibble in a Voyager alt mode that I can remember since Hasbro just left poor Energon Ironhide’s head sitting right on top of his roof.

I think the biggest shame with Dreadwing is that 99 percent of this figure is so damn good that those hands hanging off the jet mode just makes me weep. Even if you could just pull them off, it would have been an improvement. Ultimately, the good still outweighs the bad here, and I say that mainly because I display my Transformers in their robot mode and damn if Dreadwing isn’t one great looking bot. Tomorrow, we’ll see how Bulkhead fares!

Doctor Who: Character Options Moving To 3 3/4-Inch Scale!

Anyone who’s poked around FigureFan for any length of time should know that even after nearly four years of cranking out ramblings on toys, I tend to shy away from industry news. Why? Because I’m not an insider, I’m just a collector, and there’s a thousand other places on the InterWebSuperHighway that are plugged into the industry and who can deliver the toy news faster and better than I. Nonetheless, every now and then something pops up that affects me enough that I feel the need to tap out a few paragraphs.

I am a Doctor Who fan. My avatar, the very face of FigureFan itself, is from NuWho, and I’ve been watching Doctor Who since I first discovered it sometime when I was around 12 years old. That was in 1984, on account of me being really old.  Obviously, I collect Character Options’ line of Doctor Who figures. I haven’t featured a lot of stuff lately, but that’s because it’s been a while since they’ve put out any Classic Who stuff, and the NuWho stuff has been rather uninspiring. But am certainly still been anxious for more.

Well, a few days ago, in an interview with www.toysnplaythings.co.uk, representatives of Character Options have revealed that they are planning a scale change for their Doctor Who line. As of now, there will be no more NuWho figures produced in the existing 5-inch scale and going forth the figures for Series 7 and beyond will be released in what they call the “industry standard” 3 ¾-inch scale. This revelation means that the forthcoming Rory figure should be the final 5-inch figure based on the modern series. I have to admit, I started freaking out, until it was further revealed that the scale change will not affect the Classics line, which will continue on at the current 5-inch scale and will not be produced in the new diminished form. Phew!
If the Classics scale was changing, I would have been pretty devastated. The line is sporadic at best and really tests the collectors’ patience with repacks and remolds, but they’re figures that I would have killed for as a kid and so I’m willing to take it as it comes and support it all the way. It’s not lost on me that the Classics series only exists in the first place because of the modern series toys, and that the scale change for the NuWho figures does probably make the existence of the Classics line a bit more precarious. Yes, that worries me. Nonetheless, we’ve got a “Pyramids of Mars” coming at the end of this month, and The Brigadier and Jo Grant coming in January and I’m hoping to see more in 2013. All I can do is wait and see. Nonetheless, I’ve always said that should the Classics line stop at any moment, I would still be so grateful for the collection I have and I’d continue to cherish it always. The fact that it exists at all is nothing short of a little miracle.

As to the modern line going to 3 ¾-inch scale, well, I’m kind of interested to see what comes of it. I’ll admit to being sometimes frustrated at the use of the oddball 5-inch scale, but changing it up this late in the game is quite a coup. On the one hand, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t want Doctor Who figures in scale with some of my other lines of figures, vehicles and playsets. On the other hand, I do like to mix my new and old Who figures, so it’ll be sad to think that if some cool new variation of the Cybermen or Daleks, or other Classic Who baddie debuts on the show and gets a figure, they won’t be able to hang with my Classics. Boo!

The advantages of the scale change should be obvious. The figures are cheaper to produce and cheaper to ship. We could get a wider range of characters and possibly even vehicles and playsets and even some characters scaled bigger than the others. If this change were already in effect, I can think of quite a few things we could have seen, like some dinos and the robots from “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship?” Maybe a Dalek Zombie 2-pack from “Asylum of the Daleks?” maybe last Series we would have seen a Silent TARDIS, and the Minotaur from “The God Complex” could have been more likely.

To be frank, most of the figures for the last two Series of the show have been poor. Sure, I dig the New Paradigm Daleks. They actually work for me as figures, just not so much on the screen. I also adore my Silurians, and like the Silents well enough. But there were a ton of characters that deserved figures, which we never got and if the scale change allows us to get more, than I’m interested.

And that’s all I’ve got to say on the matter. People who know me are probably surprised that I’m not feaking out over this. Frankly, if the NuWho 5-inch figure line had been more expansive and better thought out this past year or so, I would be more upset, but as it stands, it’s just not cutting it for me. So long as CO keeps the 5-inch Classics coming, I’m ok with it. And besides, I already have my armies of NuWho Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, and Silurians to represent on the shelves… that is if only I had room for them all. The pics I’ve posted are just what I have room to display. Yeah, I’ve got totes more.

I guess what I’m saying is, Doctor Who figures are the flagship of my collection, and I’ve got room in my heart to support both lines. And I will.
Ok, back tomorrow to wrap up Star Trek week…

Star Trek: Mugatu and Harry Mudd by Playmates

On Wednesday, we looked at a couple of the ladies of Starfleet and today we’re going to check out some of the baddies from The Original Series: The Mugato and Harry Mudd.

 

Both figures come on the same style card with “Star Trek” in the old movie-style logo. Obviously, Playmates is trying to aggravate my OCD by using the movie logo for Classic Trek figures and using the Classic Trek logo for movie style figures. Even more confusing is the fact that The Mugatu gets his own Skybox Collector Card, but Harry doesn’t!  What the hell, Playmates? What the hell? Either way, I’m so glad I open these things, so I can toss the packaging and forget all about it. Let’s start with The Mugatu.

The Mugatu was featured in the excellent episode, “A Private Little War” in which the Klingons were screwing around with the development of life on a primitive planet. I am in no way ashamed to admit that when I first saw the Mugatu it totally scared the piss out of me. Sure, it’s just a guy in a white ape suit with a horn on his head, but even when I was a little older and they used to show Classic Trek re-runs at midnight, that thing creeped me the hell out. I’m happy to say that Playmates managed to translate all that creepiness into this little sculpt. The face really is spot-on, the hair is sculpted all over his body, and he even has ugly ape hands and ape feet. What’s more, Mugatu is the first Playmates Trek figure I’ve ever had to assemble. He comes with his spine and tail as a separate piece, which plugs into a slot on his back.

The Mugatu actually comes with accessories, all cast in a muddy brown plastic. You get a clutch of Mako Root, which looks like a pile of turds. You also get a drum and a hand phaser, both of which look like they were sculpted out of a pile of turds. The Flintlock isn’t too bad, and he comes with a unique figure stand.

The Mugatu features only five points of articulation. You get standard head, shoulders and hips. It’s not great, but it’s just enough to put him into some pretty good mauling poses.

Harry Mudd was one of many colorful no-good-niks that crossed paths with The Enterprise crew, but he was special in that he had actually got to come back for a repeat performance. Part loveable rake, part murderous bastard, he was a great character that I would love to see revisited in the 2009 reboot films. Personally, I think JJ Abrams missed a huge opportunity not going with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Mudd. That stuff practically writes itself.

Mudd’s sculpt is pretty solid. In the series, Mudd was played by Roger Carmel, a prolific performer who also leant his voice to some other iconic toy characters, like Cyclonus of G1 Transformers fame. In truth, the figure looks more like Carmel if he played the role as a baby but kept his mustache and comb-over. Still, there’s no guessing as to who he’s supposed to be, thanks to his iconic costume and mustache. Yes, he’s got his billowy blue swashbuckling shirt, complete with medals and epaulets, and the sculpting and paintwork on his comb-over is hilarious. I’d say Playmates did a solid job capturing what the character is all about.

Mudd shares all the same points of articulation as the rest of the Trek crew. You get a head that turns, arms and legs that rotate at the shoulders and hips, swivel cuts in the biceps, and hinges in the knees and elbows.

Mudd’s accessories are all molded in red plastic. You get a case of the Venus Drug, a ridiculous red Starfleet Communicator, and a couple of Lithium Crystals, which look like absolutely nothing. You also get a goblet, which is kind of ok. Oddly enough, Mudd comes with a Starfleet-style figure stand.

I’ve had this pair on my Want List for quite a while and it’s good to finally have them in my collection. The old adage says always leave fans wanting more, and while Playmates produced more Classic Trek figures than I could have ever dreamed possible, this pair really makes me wish they had produced more of the one-off baddies that appeared in the various episodes.

And that wraps up this Star Trek Week. Unfortunately, I only got to cover about half of the Trek stuff that I picked up at the Toy Show, so we’ll have to come back to it either in another Trek Week or just here and there. This weekend I’m going to circle back to some of the Transformers Prime figures I still have waiting around, specifically Dreadwing and Bulkhead, and then next week we’ll dip into some of the other, Non-Trek, stuff I picked up at the Show.

Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan: “Regula-1” Kirk by Art Asylum

I realize that I’m not being terribly original when I say that Wrath of Khan is my favorite Star Trek movie, but it’s also one of my favorite go-to films when I want to watch a good sci-fi flick. I love the story, the script, and most of all, I absolutely adore the costumes and props. Ok, the communicators are shit, but apart from that, this movie is represents the High Renaissance of the Star Trek Universe for me. It was the meeting of the gritty old stylings with newer flashier special effects, and it was glorious. The transporter and phaser effects are breathtaking, but the Starfleet uniforms! God damn, I love these uniforms. But we’ll talk about those another time. Today we’re looking at “Regula-1 Kirk”, and he’s all about that bad-ass Landing Party jacket. I picked up this figure at the Show loose. He was baggied with all his parts, but no packaging, so instead of packaging, we’re going to take a look at the movie poster, which is something else I picked up from this Dealer.

The poster I got is a repro, and it’s still rolled up in a tube, but that’s it pictured above. By, God, but that was the right way to do the poster for Star Trek II. It was Paramount’s way of saying, “We know the first movie bored you to the point where you wanted to commit suicide in your theater seats. But check this shit out!” It’s got explosions and phaser fire and some dude we don’t know yet who looks like he may have just stabbed the hell out of Kirk. There’s mysterious desert people and I’ll be damned if that ain’t Paul Winfield screaming his ass off in a space suit. I saw the poster at the theater when I was about 11 years old and it almost blew my little mind, because I wanted to see what was going on so bad. This poster just captured everything that it meant to be Star Trek and awesome at a time where Starship bridges weren’t carpeted and Earl Gray Tea was served at book clubs and not on Starships. God, I love this movie!

  

Art Asylum did a lot of versions of Kirk from Wrath of Khan, and eventually I hope to look at all of them. But, as you can see, this one is called “Regula-1” Kirk as it’s based off the scenes where he beamed onto the Regula-1 Space Station only to find out that Khan had tortured and murdered the shit out of everyone. The idea of having special gear for landing party duty wasn’t often explored in the original show, but it made sense to me, and that’s where this jacket comes in. The jacket is just bad ass and Kirk being Kirk needs to wear it with the collar up to make him look a little extra bad ass. The jacket is wonderfully recreated here, with all its little patches and pockets and stitching and some very nice paint detailing. Like so many of the designs for TWOK, this thing not only looks cool, but also totally functional. Ok, except maybe for that huge pouch over the ass. How would you get anything out of that? The large Starfleet shoulder patch is present as are the rank insignia on the sleeve, the distinctive diamond pattern on the back, and the Starfleet insignia on the chest. The legs are pretty much the same as the ones used on the regular Wrath of Khan Kirk, with the red piping down the sides and high gloss black paint used for the boots.

  

And then there’s the head sculpt. Yeah… there’s definitely some Shatner in there, but it isn’t one of Art Asylum’s best pieces of work. One of the running themes of TWOK was about Kirk getting old, and that’s kind of ironic in retrospect, since it wasn’t so much a theme more than 10 years later when he was still chasing around the galaxy. I mention it here, because at certain angles, this Kirk head looks a bit older than Kirk from Star Trek II. Everything else here is pretty good and the painted flesh tone is thankfully free of any dirt or smudging. Kirk even has his trademark 24th Century (read early 80’s) pointed sideburns.

Alas, as good as the jacket looks; it really destroys a lot of the figure’s articulation. The head and arms are fine, as you get a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinged elbows. The leg articulation is all still there, and includes swivels in the thighs and hinged knees, but with the jacket extending down to his legs, you really can’t do anything useful with it. It’s kind of ironic, since this is supposed to be the action-packed, “I’m gonna beam down and kick your ass!” Kirk, but given the way the figure is built, I guess it’s understandable.

“Regula-1” Kirk comes with lots of extra hands. You get two replacement sets, and as is often the case with extra hands, I don’t find a lot of need for them. One is sculpted with the comm bracelet that he takes off of Chekov and screams the infamous“KHAAAAAAAAN!” line into. It’s a cool bonus. The other set seems to be slightly better at holding the gear, but not enough to make me want to swap them out. As for the other accessories, you get a phaser and a communicator. The phaser seems to be the same one that came with my Motion Picture Kirk and Spock, which is fine because the prop was more or less the same. The communicator actually opens and closes, and it feels like it’s sized down a bit, which turned out great because the communicators in the movie were ridiculously large and clunky.    
                                                                           

I love this figure as much as I always knew I would, but I also knew that once I bought one Wrath of Khan figure, I would be committed to getting the whole set, and considering that a lot of them were SDCC Exclusives, these figures tend to be more expensive than your average Diamond Select Trek figure. I was able to get MOC Khan and regular Kirk from the same dealer, without getting beat up too badly (I won’t get to those this week, but soon), but those were regular releases and not exclusives. I’ll probably just try to hunt down one of these a month until I’m done.  

Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up the week by looking at a couple more of Playmates’ Classic Trek figures: Harry Mudd and The Mugatu!

Star Trek Classic Series: Nurse Chapel and Yeoman Rand by Playmates

Back when Playmates first dabbled in The Original Series by releasing the Classic Bridge Crew, I assumed it was just a really cool one-shot deal. But as their Trek line swelled in popularity, they eventually started releasing all sorts of figures from the Classic Series and movies. Today we’re going to check out two members of the Enterprise’s extended crew, who were high on my want list: Nurse Christine Chapel and Yeoman Janice Rand. These ladies were some of the very few recurring crewmembers in Classic Trek that weren’t part of the senior officers or bridge crew. Rand went on to make return cameos in several of the Trek feature films, while Majel Barrett (aka Chapel) had a little thing of her own going what with being Mrs. Gene Roddenberry, Troi’s mom, and the voice of just about every goddamn computer in the Federation. Let’s start with Nurse Chapel…

I have no idea what specific line this figure falls under. Playmates’ had so many different lines of Trek figures going, you’d have a better chance of selling contraceptives to a Tribble then working out where some of the figures belong. The card simply says Star Trek in the classic film font, but if you look on the back she’s pictured with other figures under The Original Series font. Does it matter? Only to my OCD. The front of the card has a pleasing deco, that’s pretty subdued compared to some of Playmates’ other cardbacks, and it shows off the figure very well, with her Skybox Collector Card next to her. The back panel of the card, on the other hand, has a lot of stuff going on. There’s shots of other figures, a catalog of Chapel’s gear, and a file card, which gets major points for mentioning Roger Korby and Exo III from the episode, “What Are Little Girls Made of?” I do, however, take points back for the card claiming she had command potential. Then again, if Janeway could become an Admiral for losing one of Starfleet’s most advanced Starships for 7 years, why not make Chapel a Captain?

Chapel reuses some parts from the Original Series Uhura figure, most notably the legs, skirt, and possibly the upper arms. The top of the torso is, however, new as it features a lower neckline for her uniform. The head sculpt is ok for Playmates standards. It’s not one of their better likenesses, and I doubt a lot of people would be able to identify her by the head alone. That having been said, the hair looks pretty good and the paintwork on the face is solid. Overall, it’s a simple and attractive head sculpt, so I’ve got no complaints.

Chapel comes with a bunch of bright blue accessories, which include a Tricorder, an Anabolic Protoplaser (gotta have one of those!), a Hypospray, and a Medical Scanner. She also comes with a display stand, which I take issue with because it has a Red Cross on it. I realize she’s medical staff, but she should have the same Science Department emblem on her stand as McCoy and Spock. Hey, I’m a Trekkie. I nitpick. That’s what we do. Moving on to Yeoman Rand…

Janice Rand comes on the same style card as Nurse Chapel, and I’ve spent enough time trying to noodle out the card style and series, so there’s not much new to say here. The Yeoman rating seems to have dropped off the board in Starfleet since the days of Classic Trek, but that’s not surprising since Rand’s duties seemed to center around bringing coffee to the Bridge Crew and getting leered at by the Captain. Nonetheless, Yeoman Janice Rand got a fair amount of face time and even got to beam down with the Landing Parties every once and a while. She even landed a nice gig as Comm Officer on board the Excelsior.

Rand shares some parts with the other Classic Trek gals, most notably the skirt, legs and possibly the upper arms. Playmates could have easily gotten away with reusing Uhura’s torso too, but this is a new sculpt as the insignia is slightly further away from the collar. The head sculpt is pretty solid, and I think this figure is a lot closer in likeness to actress Grace Lee Whitney than the Chapel figure was to Majel Barrett. She’s even sporting her 24th Century (read 1960’s) beehive hairdo!

Janice comes with some great accessories. Besides the same Phaser and Tricorder we’ve seen with the Classic Bridge Crew, and they actually have paint apps! She also comes with a very cool Classic Trek PADD and a Tricorder. Best of all, her gear is all cast in an appropriate black plastic, meaning that Tricorder is going to be handed around to a lot of figures in my collection. She also has a Skybox Collectors Card and a Starfleet-style stand.

Both ladies feature the same points of articulation. The head turns, the arms rotate at the shoulders; there are swivels in the biceps, hinges in the elbows and knees, and a swivel in the waist. The construction of the skirt means no upper leg movement, but all in all what’s here isn’t bad.

It still blows my mind that these figures exist. Granted, they were released as part of the 30th Anniversary of the original series, but we all know how hard it is to get female figures on the pegs these days. And yet here we have a couple of chicks… from a 30 year old TV show… in skirts… and one of them has a beehive hairdo! For that you just got to love Playmates, because this kind of thing just wouldn’t happen today. At the Toy Show, I dropped $15 a piece on these ladies, which is quite a premium for Playmates Trek figures, which you can usually pick up for about $5 a pop mint on card. Nonetheless, it was well worth it to have them in my collection.

Tomorrow, we’ll get away from Playmates for a day and take a look at some of Art Asylum’s work.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Collectors Case (and Generations Figures) by Playmates

Most of the Star Trek stuff I got at the Toy & Collectibles show came from one dealer, but today we’re looking at something that came from somebody else who just happened to have a Next Generation Collector Case with some of Playmates figures from the Generations movie. I wanted the Collector Case so I could get rid of the trays and store my baggied Next Gen figures in it. The fact that  figures came with it was just a nice bonus… Let’s start with the case…

Collector Cases! If you are a child of the 80s or 90s, chances are you remember these vinyl and cardboard relics from the greatest decades of action figures. Almost every line of figures had them, and there were even cheesy generic ones themed for your fantasy, space, or robot figures. They were simple cases, usually with a locking clasp and a carry handle and while they didn’t usually hold all that many, they were sufficient for you to tote some of your figures over to a friend’s house so your toys could kick the shit out of their toys in epic backyard battles. This Next Generation case by Playmates was released toward the end of the Collector Case era, but it’s still a perfect example of what these things were all about.

The charm of these cases is all in the artwork. Some were amazing and some were downright terrible. I think this Next Gen one falls right about in the middle. I love the giant illustration of the Enterprise on the front along with the Next Gen logo. I’m not as keen on the little window with the photo of the crew. I think if you’re going to go with the animated look, you shouldn’t mix media like that. The reverse panel is a “clean” image of the front without the photo, and I think it looks much better. The spine of the case also has individual headshots of the crew. Hey, at least they didn’t put goddamn Guinan on it! All in all, I think this is a very attractive case that captures what Playmates’ Trek line was all about.

This case was meant to stand upright and has a locking clasp on the side and a carry handle on the top. Open it up and there are were two flimsy black plastic trays inside, each one meant to hold six figures and their accessories. You could probably get more than the suggested 12 in there with the trays, but once I deep sixed the trays, I was able to get all my Next Generation era figures into it. Now I just need a second one for all my Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Classic Trek figures, since Playmates never made Collector Cases for any of those lines. Boo!

Originally, the cases didn’t come loaded with figures, but that’s sometimes one of the benefits of picking them up second hand. Mine came with eight figures, and all except one (Major Kira, who we’ll save for another day) are from the Generations movie, which is cool because I didn’t have any of these yet. The lot included Picard, Data, LaForge, Crusher, and Troi. No Worf or Riker, but I’ll surely hunt them down later. The Klingon sisters Lursa and B’Etor were in there too. The Enterprise crew seems to have most of their gear, but the Klingons only had their stands.

Before getting into the individual figures, let’s talk uniforms! Generations was an odd movie, as I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I saw a feature film re-use sets, costumes, and even actual stock footage from a TV show. The movie was originally supposed to feature all new Starfleet uniforms. In the end, they wound up using a weird mix of the regular Next Gen uniforms and the black jumpsuits used on Deep Space Nine. It was like Starfleet issued a decree that said, “Wear whatever the hell you want, we don’t care anymore!”

Nonetheless, Playmates’ Generations figures were based on the new uniform concepts, not what was used in the film, and so we got a set of figures in uniforms that have never been seen on screen and I suppose are technically not canon! Honestly, they’re very similar to the regular Next Gen uniforms with the addition of the classical naval-inspired flap on the front and a few other little tweaks and bobs. The addition of rank stripes on the sleeves is a nice nod back to older Trek and overall, I like these uniforms a lot. The uniform snafu probably worked out better for Playmates as the alternative was to just repackage the Next Gen figures on Generations cardbacks. With all new sculpts, it gave collectors an excuse to buy the characters again.

Unfortunately, Playmates decided to nix about half their standard articulation for this line. It’s as if Playmates got the memo halfway through production that the uniforms weren’t even going to be used in the movie and in blind rage they just said, “Sculpt them, kick them out the door, and to hell with articulation!” These figures each feature the basic five points (neck, shoulders, and hips) with a swivel in the waist. Gone are the bicep swivels, and hinges in the knees and elbows.

Playmates dipped into the usual bin of outlandishly colored accessories for the figures. I’m pretty sure most of what’s here is all reused from the regular Next Gen line, which in fairness is appropriate since the equipment in the movie used most of the same TV props. As usual I’ll toss in my lament about how I wish they just sculpted all the gear in grey plastic. Each figure also comes with a personalized display stand based on the new comm badge design used for the movie and for Voyager.

I don’t have a lot to say about Picard, other than he looks great. His head sculpt seems the same as the Next Gen version I have. He comes with his prized Picard Family album, a computer terminal and a tricorder. His stuff is molded in a blue, which is totally inappropriate, but not as vomit inducing as some of the other colors Playmates has used in the past. I’m guessing he originally came with a phaser too, but he’ll have to borrow one from one of my other figures. All in all, this Picard is a very cool figure.

Next up is Data. I’m very keen on this version of Data, since he doesn’t have the giant monkey arms that the regular Next Gen figure suffered. The head sculpt looks a bit tweaked too, or at least the mold came out better than my other Data. This guy came with a Tricorder, a PADD, and a Stafleet Monitor and naturally, they’re all cast in neon purple plastic. Why not! He also comes with a silver phaser, which I will be clipping the beam off of shortly.

LaForge is also looking good. The paint on this figure’s face is better than my regular LaForge, and it’s cool that his VISOR is still removable. He comes with three bright blue engineering tools and I have no idea what they are. I know the figure originally came with some more stuff, but I’m cool with what I got.

Dr. Crusher seems to use the same head sculpt as my original Next Gen Crusher, which is cool because it’s a pretty good sculpt. One thing I’m not too keen on is the difference between the male and female uniforms. The black from Crusher’s pants extend all the way up to just under her chest, and she doesn’t have the sculpted flap for her tunic, making it look like more of a jumpsuit. I’m not sure if they did this to make the uniform look more slimming for the ladies, but I’d rather they were all the same. Crusher comes with a Tricorder, a Medical Case, and a Portable Medical Computer, all cast in bright blue plastic. She’s also got a silver phaser… Yeah, I think I’ll be snagging that for Picard.

Troi has the same issue with her uniform design as Crusher does, apart from that she’s looking good. The head sculpt is so much better than the travesty used for the first Next Gen Troi release. (I have a theory that the same person who sculpted the first Troi head used to work for Toy Biz and sculpted the fright face they used for Rogue’s head in their 90’s X-Men line.) Troi comes with a Computer Terminal, a Tricorder, a Portable Computer, and a PADD, all cast in pink plastic.

And then there’s Lursa and B’Etor. The Duras sisters originally came with a shit load of Klingon weapons, but mine only came with the stands. I think the sculpts and paint on this pair are pretty darn good, although one might argue that Playmates went overboard with the Klingon cleavage, especially for what are still essentially kids toys. On the downside, the molded plastic skirts mean that these figures have even two fewer points of articulation then the rest of the line.

This whole lovely lot set me back a mere twenty bucks, which I thought was a pretty solid deal. I’ve got a pretty sizeable collection of Playmates 4 ¾” Trek figures, so the fact that I only had one out of the eight figures in this lot made it feel like it was meant to be mine. Sure, these some of the accessories are missing, but I rarely ever display these figures with their f’ugly rainbow gear anyway.

Tomorrow, we’re going to check out two of the ladies from Classic Trek… Nurse Chapel and Yeoman Rand.

Star Trek Generations: Engineering Playset by Playmates

Much like the Tatooine Skiff, I featured yesterday, this Engineering Playset by Playmates has been on my want list for a long, long while. I’ve scouted it on Ebay a bunch of times, but a lot of the time, it’s loose and the stickers look like they were put on by a maniac, so I’ve been holding off for the right time. That time happened to be at the Toy Show last week, when I found one that was complete in the box. Granted, The Next Generation Bridge Playset is my true grail from this line, but I thought I’d start small and work up to it. Let’s take a look…

I could have sworn this playset was first released in standard Next Gen packaging, but I haven’t been able to back up that recollection. Either way, this one comes in a Generations style box. There’s some decent artwork and lots and lots of photos and text about all the features on this little set. In truth, there aren’t really that many features, but the box does its best to call out every little thing, and you get a pretty good idea about what’s inside. I really wish I had taken some shots of the set straight out of the box, but I was so excited to get it together, I didn’t take the time. Needless to say, the set comes with some assembly required, but chances are it will take longer for most people to put the stickers on then it will to throw up the walls and get this baby together. You’ll also need a set of three AA batteries to get the full lights and sounds experience. Thankfully, the entire thing can be disassembled and returned to the box for storage, which is always a plus in my book. I should note here that there are some stray paint marks here and there on the plastic, making me question Playmates’ QC on this piece, but it’s nothing too bad.

Playmates had to tinker around with the scale a little bit, so what we’re actually getting here is an interpretation of Engineering, but what’s here is very well done. The biggest issue collectors are likely to have is the small size of the Crystal Chamber, but the way it’s tucked inside the separate room it sort of creates the illusion that it’s further away. It doesn’t look all that out of scale until you put a figure right next to it, and that isn’t much of a problem as there isn’t much room for figures in the area where the Warp Core is located.

No, the bulk of the play environment is the area outside of the Crystal Chamber. You get a couple of work stations that will be readily familiar to fans of the show. It’s the area where LaForge and Data usually discover and trigger the Deus Ex Machina that allows the episode to resolve itself in the last five minutes before the credis roll. The control panels are all stickers, which perfectly replicate the LCARS displays from the show and there’s a stool so Geordi can take a load off while working. There is one panel with some actual buttons, which we’ll get to in a moment, and another flip down panel that reveals another workstation off to the side. Two doorways lead into the area with the Crystal Chamber. Sadly, there’s no actual window above the main control station like there is on the show.

As already mentioned, the interior area is pretty small, so there’s not a lot of stuff to do in there. The hatch to the Chamber does open and you can put the included Dilithium Crystal inside, which is essentially the same accessory that has been included with a number of Next Gen figures already. The Chamber looks pretty show accurate, and I really like the translucent plastic used for the power tubes.

The lights and sounds are activated by switching the on/off button under the main work station and pressing one of the two buttons on the panel. Pressing one will activate the normal rhythmic pumping of the Warp Drive and a pulsating light in the chamber. The second button will sound alarms and force the pumping to get faster, simulating an impending Warp Core breech. By inserting the included probe accessory (or the tip of a pen or any other pointy object) into the hole on the console, it will trigger the on/off button and stop the breech. It’s both cheesy and clever at the same time. The sounds on the playset are quite good. The lights aren’t bad either, but I do wish they extended out to the power transfer tubes and not just the main chamber. Nonetheless, this thing looks and sounds really cool when it’s activated.

No doubt, this piece is a very simple playset, but I absolutely love it. Sure, it would have been cool if Playmates could have worked that big Engineering console table from the show into it, or the wall that has the giant panel with the cross-section of the ship. It would have tripled the size of this set, but seeing as how Playmates designed this one to connect to the Bridge, they could have easily released another Engineering set to connect with this one. But, now I’m getting crazy and I suppose I should be happy we got this one. The dealer at the show had it marked at $25 and since one flap of the box was open, he didn’t have any problem with me opening it up and checking that it was all there. I didn’t bother haggling and just added it to my pile. Even when I’ve come close to buying it on Ebay loose, it was about the same amount with shipping, so I was pretty happy with the price. When you look at the travesty of “playsets” that Playmates did for the 2009 movie, one can’t help but look back to something as simple as this piece and yearn for the good old days.
Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at a sweet Collector Case and some Generations figures.

Star Wars Power of the Force 2: Tattooine Skiff by Hasbro

As promised, it’s the second part of the weekend where I cross a long coveted toy off my list and add it to my collection. Can this thing possibly live up to nearly 30 years of expectations?

Wow, this thing comes in a pretty big box! One might say an unnecessarily big box, because about half of it is just for presentation. There’s a gigantic window to show off the Skiff, which is mounted against a cinematic backdrop, with a little pop-up Sarlacc on the bottom. Alas, it’s the shitty ret-conned Sarlacc that looks like Audrey 2 from “Little Shop of Horrors” and not the cool foam-core-sand- vagina used in the original movie. The included Luke Sywalker figure is posed standing at the bow of the Skiff with lightsaber drawn. The back of the box has some stills from the movie as well as a big photo of the toy to point out the various play features. The side panels show the scene from the movie recreated with figures, which is very cool.

If you’re a mint-in-box collector you probably love this packaging, if you’re not, then get ready to have some fun getting the toy out of the package. The Skiff is held on with super, double-enforced zip-ties, which are wrapped inside some kind of impervious, clear zip-tie sleeve. I can’t recall ever encountering these things before, but they’re the kind of things the FBI would use to take Hannibal Lecter into custody. They are literally thicker and stronger than a lot of parts on the actual toy. I had to pull out the heavy duty wire cutters to get the toy free without risk to the railings. When you do finally get the Skiff out, you find that the Luke figure is secured to the railing with a cthuluesque web of twist-ties that cannot be cut because they’re so tightly woven around the frail plastic railings. I’m not going to crap all over what is a beautiful presentation on Hasbro’s part, but I would have preferred the toy come in just a regular box so I could pop it back in to store it, not to mention avoid having to deal with all the twist-ties. Still, it was damn tempting to try to save the box, but space concerns being what they are, I had little choice but to pitch it.

 

Once the Skiff was out of package, freed of all its tethers and in hand, I have to say I really am thrilled with this thing. Make no mistake, it’s a very simple toy, with no electronic lights or sounds or any of that jazz. There are a few play gimmicks, and we’ll get to those in a bit, but none of them mar the toy as a display piece. Sure, the Skiff is not exactly to scale, but it’s certainly close enough that you can load it up with all the key figures from the scene. I can comfortably fit three of my Skiff Guards as well as Luke, Han and Chewie. The sculpt and coloring on the toy are both particularly well done. There’s a lot of black, weathered paint laid over the greenish plastic as well as some silver metal rubbing. You also get a few well-placed laser blasts sculpted into the mold. For a late 90’s toy, refurbished using the mold of a mid 80’s toy, Hasbro did a very nice job on this piece. It not only holds up well, but I’d say it even surpasses some of the Star Wars toys we’ve seen in recent years.

My favorite action feature on the Skiff is the retractable landing gear. Not only does this feature allow you to stand it so it’s “hovering” off the ground, but it’s so well integrated into the toy and allows the vehicle to stand quite well. A clear stand would have been cool, but I appreciate that the legs are molded to look like actual landing gear the vehicle might have and they are actually deployed by one of the levers at the pilot’s station! I can’t think of too many Star Wars toys where the vehicle’s actual controls perform a function on the toy. The other lever deploys the gangplank, which once extended all the way drops the tip down to eject the prisoner. I could have done without the floppy end gimmick, but otherwise I really dig the gangplank.

Other action features include levers on the back that turn the two rudders in unison, two drop down side railings, and a spring-loaded deck plate that actually ejects a figure off of the Skiff. There are also some holes in the center block on the deck, which I presume are for storing the guards’ force pikes. Overall, I think my only gripe here is that I would have liked some more foot pegs on the deck. Thankfully, I have an neigh endless supply of blue tack.

As mentioned, the Skiff comes with an “Exclusive Luke Skywalker” figure, which is appropriately enough, the version of him in his black Jedi garb. The figure seems to be actually kit-bashed from parts, both old and new. I’m pretty sure this was the only version of Jedi Luke with the blaster damage to his right hand, although it’s just a black paint smudge. Besides the normal five points of articulation, Luke also has hinged knees and a swivel cut in his right wrist! The POTF2 line was not always kind to Luke in terms of likenesses, but this one really isn’t too bad. In fact, the only real problem with him is his bizarre, giraffe neck. I thought that design might have been to accommodate a plastic cloak on another release, but I’m not sure. He comes with his green lightsaber, which makes me wish I had saved the clear rubber band, because he doesn’t hang on to it very well.

 

 

It’s hard for a toy to live up to more than 25 years of nostalgia and anticipation, but the Skiff here didn’t disappoint me… not one bit. It was pretty easy to find one, once I decided to buy it and all told with shipping this little beauty set me back only $40. Not bad at all for something I’ve wanted for so long. It may be crazy to compare this simple little toy to Hasbro’s more recent Millennium Falcon, AT-AT, or even the new Slave-1, but it goes to show you that certain toys can still get me all hot and bothered over the Star Wars franchise, no matter how many times I try to swear off collecting it. Hmm… I never did own one of those B-Wing fighters… I always wanted one of those…