DC Universe Signature Collection: John Constantine by Mattel

It’s the last day of November, which means today’s my last chance to get the feature for the second November Club Infinite Earths figure in just under the wire. Ah, John Constantine. I adore this character so much. He’s one of those comic book personas that I can honestly say transcends his books, and that I read them for my love of who and what the character is and not so much the actual stories. And even beyond the panels of the funnybooks, there was so much potential to bring this character to live action and it was all squandered on that terrible movie. Anyway, it was the reveal of figures like Constantine that made me all the happier that I subbed Club Infinite Earths, and that’s saying a lot since this series has yet to really disappoint in character selection or execution.

We just saw the DCUSC packaging earlier in the week with Uncle Sam, so I won’t spend a lot of time on it here. I will say that this box is so far the sole instance where I’m not thrilled with the character art. It’s fine enough on its own, but it doesn’t match the figure’s portrait at all, and quite frankly I like the figure’s head sculpt a lot better, which is ironic because at first I wasn’t sure about it. As always, the figure looks great in the package and the collector friendly nature of the box means mint-in-box collectors can have their cake and eat it too.

Let’s start with Constantine’s portrait. It’s very stylized, especially compared to the character art on the box. I wasn’t sold on it when I first saw it in the promo pics and I still wasn’t when I first got the figure in hand. It has started to grow on me a lot, however. For a character that was originally designed to look like pop singer Sting, this figure does not, and in the end that’s probably for the better because nobody’s ever accused me of being a fan of Sting, at least not since he left The Police. I like the hair sculpt a lot and the prominent brow gives him a stern look, which is nicely counterbalanced by the slight smirk in his mouth. The scar is well implemented too. He does seem to have an extra helping of ears, but all in all, this is a really remarkable head sculpt that oozes personality. At this rate, if it keeps growing on me, it may turn into one of my favorites.

Obviously, Constantine is a dude in a trench coat, so I don’t think there was any doubt where Mattel was going to look to get parts for this figure… yup it was The Question! The Question was a great figure to begin with, so Constantine was in good hands. The trench coat, arms and legs are all straight grabs and they work very well. Constantine’s coat feels like it’s cast in a slightly more pliable plastic, which is a good thing, and it looks really good in the new tan color. Constantine stands a bit taller than The Question, making up the extra height in the torso.

The rest of the figure features some nice unique work, including a rumpled shirt and a necktie, separately sculpted so that it’s hanging down from the collar. It was sticking out quite a bit in the package, but fear not. If you don’t want your Constantine looking like Lou Costello dressed him, it will lay flat if you tuck it into the coat for a little while, or you can just use a tiny dab of blue tack. I’m not a big fan of Constantine’s hands. They look like they might be the same ones used for Uncle Sam, which means he looks like he’s meant to hold accessories that he doesn’t come with. A pack of smokes would have been cool, but I suppose I can understand why Mattel didn’t include something like that, even if this is an “Adult Collector” line. Ok, no I don’t. Mattel, you should have included a pack of smokes.

Constantine’s articulation is identical to what we saw on The Question and is pretty typical for all DCUC style figures. The neck and shoulders are ball jointed. The arms feature hinged elbows and swivels in the biceps and wrists. His legs feature the usual DCUC style hip joints, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. John can also swivel at the waist and still retains the ab crunch hinge under the trench coat.

John Constantine is a fantastic addition to the Club Infinite Earth roster and I’m kind of surprised he didn’t sell out. Even ten days after the sale, he’s still available. I can understand Uncle Sam not flying off the shelf, as he’s far more of a niche character, but even he is listed as “Almost Gone” now while there appears to be plenty Constantines left. Granted to the uninitiated, he’s just a cool looking guy in a trench coat, but I thought John here had more street cred than that, and it saddens me to see him lingering on Matty’s virtual pegs.

Lego Minifigs Series 8 Crapshoot #1

It’s Christmas time and that means a huge stocking stuffer dump bin at Target full of blind bagged minifigs from Lego.

Those of you who have been kicking around my little corner of the web may know that I haven’t exactly been rabid in my pursuit of Lego’s devilish little bagged toy lottery. In fact, I’ve skipped some of the series all together. But when I’m dashing in to buy me a bottle of holiday spirits and cashews, it’s hard not to grab a handful of these things and try my luck. This trip, a handful constitutes three. I actually had more than that, but I bought a particularly good bottle that day and had to put a couple back on account of being short a couple of bobs. It’s the Holidays and monies are tight! The other great thing about these little guys is they give me some quick and easy content for what has been a really busy and tiring week. Ok, let’s see how I made out with blind bag number one…

OH HELLS YES! I hit the pirate on number one! I suppose you could argue that there are a few other figures in this series that are on par with the pirate, but you can’t tell me that the pirate isn’t on the top of everyone’s want list. If you try to tell me that, I’ll have you pegged for a filthy liar. Get it? Pegged? Pirate. ARRRRR!

This little guy is a thousand shades of awesome. The printing on his torso and hat are both very cool and his face is very piratey as well. I think it’s funny that he hit the unfortunate jackpot of having every single cliché pirate deformity. “Hey, I got me a mate who’s a pirate. He be missing a leg, an arm, and an eye.” “Arrr, really? What’s his name?” “His name be Lucky!” “ARRRRR HAR HAR HARRRRRR!” Lucky comes with the ubiquitous minifig stand and a little golden cutlass. Pure win, my friends. Pure win. Let’s see how we make out with blind bag number two…

Umm… DJ Guy? I have very little opinion on DJ Guy, other than I see no reason for him to exist. Unless you happen to actually know a DJ in which case this makes for the best Christmas gift three dollars can buy. The record and album cover are actually kind of cool, and are a nice nod back to a couple of previous minifigs, but I really got nothing else to say about him. So… indifference… baggie number two contained indifference. Let’s try for three…

OH FUCK! It’s the football guy. Of course after opening the first bag, I looked at the checklist to get an idea of who I wanted and who I didn’t. Football Guy was top of my “Don’t Want” list. He’s actually pretty well designed, but a generic Football guy just seems like a waste. Make a set of Minifigs with actual NFL uniforms and you may have my interest there, Lego. But look who I’m talking to. Lego isn’t even an American company so what do they know about Football? Even the trophy he comes with seems kind of out of place. It looks like he just bowled a straight game while wearing Football gear. Blah!

Oddly enough today’s outing demonstrated the three potential reactions to opening a Minifig blind bag: Joy, Indifference, and Disappointment. It was pretty convenient for the purposes of this feature and I swear these were the only three I opened so nothing was rigged. I’d wager that I’ll pick up another handful of these before the Holiday season passes us by. There are a couple of figures on that checklist I’m really eager to get.

By figurefanzero Tagged

Star Trek Voyager: Lt. Tom Paris & Kes by Playmates

It’s time to throw in my weekly dose of Playmates Star Trek love. I really should just bring back Star Trek Saturday, since I have so many of these damn figures to look at, but for now I’ll just keep tucking them into the week wherever there’s room. I don’t think I’ve looked at any of the Voyager figures here before, but last week I picked up a few more that I needed to fill out my collection of the crew. Ah, Voyager, while I would argue there were about a dozen episodes that were truly excellent, the show usually balanced that fine line between mediocrity and downright horridness. Today we’re checking out the ship’s navigator and Starfleet badboy wannabe, Lt. Tom Paris, and the annoying and useless Ocampa, Kes. I’m looking at these figures together, because that’s how I bought them, but I seem to recall they were an item for a while in the show, so that makes this pairing all the more relevant.

Paris’ packaging was pretty badly shredded, so let’s use Kes’ as an example for the in-package shot. The card styles have evolved a little since the days of the Next Gen and Deep Space Nine figures, but you can still see the lineage. You get the nice big series logo along with an animated looking version of the Voyager herself. The big bubble displays the figure, the Skybox collector card, and a bunch of accessories. The back of the card shows portraits of other figures in the line as well as a file card for the character and a look at the included accessories. The Voyager line really is the pinnacle of Playmates’ 4 ½” Star Trek figure efforts. They’ve cast off almost all the overly stylized and pre-posed bullshit and what’s left is just plain old action figure goodness. It makes me wish they revisited the Next Gen crew in this manner.

One crazy thing about Playmates’ Star Trek figures is they tend to develop a film on the plastic when left in the packages for too long. Paris’ legs were spotted and Kes’ legs and head were all frosted over. It’s good to have a magic eraser or an LCD wipe handy. After a little polishing the stuff doesn’t come back and the figures look new again.

Ugh, let me start with Kes. I hate Kes. She was a pointless character, and I’m sorry but Jennifer Lien was terrible in that role. I’ll refrain from generalizing about her acting skills because I’ve never seen her in anything else. Maybe she was trying to play it all alien and awkward, and if that was the case, well bravo. Playmates’ figure on the other hand is pretty damn good. The likeness is solid for the age and scale of the figure, although the sculpting of the ears makes her look as much like a Vulcan as she does an Ocampa. She’s wearing a typically boring example of 24th Century casual attire, and I’m surprised she doesn’t have a comm badge sculpted on her chest. I just noticed, she doesn’t have one on the Skybox card portrait either, so I guess it’s accurate. Sadly, there’s a major paint flub on the back of her left sleeve, but overall this figure is a solid effort on Playmates’ part.

Kes’ articulation includes a rotating head, arms that rotate at the shoulders, hinges in the knees and ankles, swivels in the biceps and thighs, and a swivel in the waist. Because of the design of her dress, there’s no hip articulation, so Kes is perpetually standing, which ironically conveys Ms. Lien’s stiff performance on the show. See what I did there? Zing!

In addition to her Skybox card, Kes comes with a computer terminal, a biological scanner, a medical tricorder, and a PADD. All her accessories are cast in an inappropriate dark blue plastic. Ah, Playmates! You and your ridiculously colored accessories… always a treat. She also comes with a personalized figure stand configured to look like the Voyager-era comm badge.

Moving over to Lt. Paris, I was excited to get him because he brings me one step closer to completing the Voyager crew. Now, I’m only missing Chakotay and the Doctor. Paris is a great looking figure, and exactly what I’m talking about when I say Playmates Trek figures hit their stride with the Voyager line. The proportions are excellent with no big ham hands or monkey arms. The Starfleet uniform buck looks great, right down to the cinching on the sides of the tunic. The head sculpt, may not be 100% Robert Duncan McNeill, but I can definitely see him in there, and that’s good enough for me.

Paris features all the articulation I could possibly expect in these figures. The head rotates, the arms rotate at the shoulders and feature swivels in the biceps and hinged elbows. The legs rotate at the hips and feature swivels in the thighs and hinges at the knees. He also has a swivel cut at the waist. Not bad. If I were to change anything it would be a straight “T” for the hips so he can sit without spreading his damn legs.

Along with his Skybox card and figure stand, Tommy boy comes with a portable computer, a PADD, hand phaser, and compression phaser rifle. Amazingly enough all of Paris’ accessories are sculpted in silver, which means they’ll be loaned out to a lot of my other figures who were unfortunate enough to get bright mauve or neon purple ones. I was really excited to get the Phaser Rifle, but it kind of sucks. The sculpting isn’t that great, and Paris can’t hold it for shit. It’s also odd that Playmates left the phaser beam on the hand phaser grey instead of the usual orange, but I’m snipping that off anyway so it really doesn’t matter.

And there we go. I have little love for the Voyager TV series, but being the shameless Star Trek whore that I am, I subscribe to the philosophy that bad Trek is better than no Trek at all. And so I need me my Voyager figures and these are two great additions to the lineup. Like most of Playmates’ Trek figures, these can be had for pretty cheap. I expected to get hit a little harder on Paris, since he’s a bit less common then the rest, but I still managed to snag this pair for $14 shipped, so I’m not complaining!

DC Universe Signature Collection: Uncle Sam with Doll Man by Mattel

I really love it when Mattel digs deep for their DC Universe figures. With so many of the final waves of DCUC populated by topical characters from recent comic events, it’s easy to forget that this line was always intended to draw from the vast corners and deep history of the DC Universe. That should be doubly the case now that the line doesn’t need to rely on casual retail shoppers and can be fueled strictly by the interests of niche collectors willing to seek out and subscribe to the figures online. And that’s why I love the fact that they’re releasing figures like Uncle Sam. He’s not only a pretty obscure piece of DCU history, but a masterful; some might say diabolical, kitbash of a figure. Let’s check him out!

Sam comes in a typical Signature Collection window box. As always, the character art featured on the back and side panel is excellent. Close your eyes and imagine what a character named Uncle Sam would look like, and you’re probably right on the money. Acquired by DC from the buyout of another imprint in the 1950s, Sam is not so much a character but the spiritual embodiment of American patriotism able to possess different corporeal hosts when needed. Wow, that’s awesome. The box is completely collector friendly, which is always a plus in my book.

Uncle Sam is one of the finest examples of Mattel’s deviously clever ability to reuse parts from older figures and have it turn out perfectly. Sam is an unlikely hybrid of Gentlemen Ghost and The Joker. When I look at the figure, it’s so blatantly obvious that he’s a kitbash, and yet the final result looks amazing. He has a sculpted shirt and vest with a separately sculpted jacket layered over it. Toss in the necktie and this figure has a wonderful sense of depth and complexity to the sculpt. The pants are cuffed around his ankles and he’s got spats on his shoes. If spats were socially acceptable, I would wear them every day. The only thing that really mars this figure in any way is the plug used in his back to cover up what I presume is a cape socket. Not a big deal, but just a little unsightly.

The coloring on Uncle Sam’s outfit is deliciously patriotic. There are two shades of blue for his jacket and vest and the white and red striping of his pants really make the figure pop. Alas, there are some paint flubs on his red striping.

Of course, the whole figure is really tied together by the superb head sculpt. He has an iconic and noble looking face that still manages to convey the fact that if you mess with America, he’s going to kick your ass off the hemisphere. The hair and beard sculpting is awesome and his hat really crowns (literally!) the whole piece. Wonderful!

Uncle Sam has pretty typical DCUC style articulation His head is ball jointed, although the sculpted hair restricts the movement of the head to a turning motion. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows and feature swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have the usual universal joints in the hips, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. While there’s no waist swivel, which is disappointing but understandable, Uncle Sam does still have an ab crunch hinge.

While his hands are sculpted to hold accessories, Uncle Sam sadly doesn’t come with any, that is, unless you count Doll Man. He’s similar to the shrunken down version of Rita Farr that we saw last month, only better sculpted and more substantial. He’s actually a pretty solid piece of plastic! I’m not a big fan of Doll Man so he’s kind of lost on me, but it was a nice way for Mattel to deliver a second member of the Freedom Force in this package.

Getting Uncle Sam in my DCUC collection is a real treat. He’s a wonderfully obscure character and while Mattel went the Frankenstein route in creating him, I certainly can’t quarrel with the results. Sam looks amazing and I am thrilled to have him represented on my DC shelf. Of course, November was a double figure month for Club Infinite Earths, and we’ll double back at the end of the week to check out John Constantine.

Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Swindle by Hasbro

Why yes, my Xbox is still out of commission! Thanks for asking! As a result, I still haven’t made it through Fall of Cybertron. I have a replacement drive for it and I keep telling myself I’m going to fix it and I never do. But then, I also told myself I wasn’t going to buy the trade editions of the Combaticons, because I didn’t like the colors, and today we can see how that turned out. It seems like I enjoy lying to myself… a lot. Yesterday, I found three of the five Combaticons hanging on the pegs, and here’s how that went: “Well, I’ve got to buy Swindle. Swindle is the man,” says I. “But, hey, Blast Off looks really cool too!” And then I just said “Screw it!” and tossed Onslaught into the cart as well. But I’ll get to the others in good time. Today is about Swindle, and yes, Swindle is indeed the man.

Oh, God, what glorious packaging! When I saw this on the peg, I never had a chance. I’ve already pontificated on my love for the new Generations cards, so I’ll try to keep it quick here. The old G1-style grid pattern is awesome. And check out Swindle’s character art. I love the smarmy look on his face and the way he’s pointing to his weapon. I can’t tell whether he’s going to shoot me with it or try to sell it to me. Swindle was always one of my favorites from the old Sunbow cartoon and I think this artwork does him justice. Well played, Hasbro. Swindle is carded in his robot form, which seems to be par for the course with the Fall of Cybertron figures.

The only real differences in the packaging here over the other Fall of Cybertron figures I’ve looked at is the fact that Swindle is a combiner and the package goes out of its way to tell you that. First off, there’s a big sticker on the bubble that says “BUILD GIANT ROBOT!” That’s the kind of glorious Japanenglish that I expect to see on Hong Kong bootlegs, not on a genuine Hasbro release. The top corner of the card also proclaims that Swindle is “Part 4 out of 5” for Decepticon Bruticus. The back of the card has an excellent little bio of Swindle and a diagram showing where he falls into the Bruticus build.

Let’s start with Swindle’s alt mode, which is a Cybertronian transport. It’s nothing terribly special, but aesthetically, it fits in pretty well with the other Cybertron vehicles we’ve seen in the Generations series. I like the fact that it has no windows (because Cybertron alt forms shouldn’t!) and the way the gun plugs into the top. There’s a lot less panel line detail to the sculpt than we last saw in Jazz or Shockwave. I’m guessing Hasbro had to cut back on the sculpting a bit since Swindle is sort of a triple changer. Then again, he forms Bruticus’ leg by standing upright in vehicle mode, so there isn’t really any added engineering for that function. Overall, I’m ok with the coloring. For me, Swindle had to be yellow, which is why I can’t commit to the exclusive G2 version of Bruticus. The purple is a traditional Decepticon color too, so I can’t complain about that and he’s rounded out with a little black and grey. I just wish the yellow wasn’t so bright, because it clashes with the purple to give off a blinding neon vibe. Still, I can deal with it.

Transforming Swindle is as easy as it gets. The fact that he’s designated as a Level 2 Intermediate makes me wonder what Hasbro would consider a Level 1. Still, I don’t need my Transformers over engineered just for the sake of it. Swindle’s transformation has a clean and simple G1 feel to it and the figure works well with everything pegging in to make a solid vehicle and a solid robot.

In robot mode, Swindle looks damn good… from the front. From the back he looks rather hollow and unfinished, reminding me a lot of the Energon Rodimus figure. Nevertheless, he has nice, clean proportions and a lot of good detail on his legs and arms, and the way his shoulder armor can pivot front and back is nice. I really like his head sculpt, although a grey paint app on the face would have been welcome to really bring the figure together. I should also point out that Swindle is a nice sized Deluxe. I’ve taken great umbrage with the shrinking size of the Deluxe Class figures as of late, but Swindle is on par with the War for Cybertron versions of Megatron and Soundwave, and considerably bigger than poor little Shockwave.


Like I said, once I saw Swindle on the peg, I never had a chance. I love the character and that Generations packaging practically hypnotizes me into forking over my money. But while I’m happy with how he turned out, $15 is still way too much for this figure, Hasbro, and I didn’t truly realize how absurd it is until I picked up three Deluxes at once for $45. Holy shit… $45!!!  But price notwithstanding, Swindle is a cool addition to the Generations line of Cybertron figures, and while I’m not exactly jonesing to build Bruticus, that’s ok because he works great as a stand-alone figure.

Marvel: Bishoujo Black Widow (“Covert Ops Version”) Statue by Kotobukiya

While I haven’t featured many of Koto’s line of Bishoujo statues, I really do dig them a lot. At any given time, I usually have three or four of these beauties on my want list. But because I’m not really a statue collector, these gals often get pushed down the line in favor of action figures. I’m going to try to remedy that neglect in the months ahead by finally featuring some more of the Koto statues in my collection and by throwing a little more of my collecting budget toward some of these awesome pieces. Today we’re checking out the regular trade edition of Black Widow, and she’s one of the few instances in which I actually prefer a regular edition collectible over an exclusive. I should note that this is the second time Koto has graced Black Widow with the Bishoujo treatment. This statue, dubbed the “Covert Ops Version” to distinguish from the original, features an all new original sculpt and conforms to the slightly larger scale of Koto’s recent releases.



Black Widow comes in a window box, safely nestled betwixt two plastic trays. Yes, I said betwixt! But as is often the case with these statues, she’s cocooned in a lot of protective plastic wrap and comes partially disassembled, so it’s impossible to get the full effect without getting her out. The box design is fairly simple with a plain white deco and Shunya Yamashita’s original artwork. The box isn’t as flashy as the ones used for my Ghostbusters or Tekken statues, but it gets the job done and should you need to use it again for storage, it’s totally collector friendly.


Unwrapped and out of the package, you get the figure itself, the base, a swappable sniper gun hand, and Daredevil’s mask. Here’s where two of the differences between this trade edition and the San Diego Comic Con exclusive come into play. The exclusive version featured Hawkeye’s mask instead of Daredevil’s, and the swap out hand in the exclusive version features a combat knife instead of a sniper rifle. I could have gone either way on the mask, as either one is a nice little accessory, but I vastly prefer the sniper rifle over the combat knife.



Black Widow plugs into the base via a robust peg on the bottom of her left foot and poses seductively with one hand resting on a brick wall and her right leg drawn up at the knee as she looks back over her shoulder. It’s a great, dynamic pose, which manages to convey action while also allowing the figure to show off her lovely assets. The anime styled face is beautifully sculpted and features excellent, precise paint work. I love those big green eyes! The hair is convincingly sculpted to be blowing in the wind. I could argue that the hair could have used a wee bit more red in the coloring, but she still looks damn fine the way she is.



Her outfit is the other point in which this trade edition is distinguished from the exclusive. The SDCC version features a matte grey bodysuit, whereas this one is a high gloss black suit. No contest here. Not only do I prefer the more traditional black outfit, but the glossy finish on this statue is truly stunning, particularly the way it shines off of her ample booty. There, I said it. The detail work on the costume includes her wrist bangles and trademark belt, along with a partially unzipped zipper offering a token shot of cleavage. The sculpting on the outfit is capped off by some strategically placed wrinkles and even the seam lines where a suit this tight would presumably have been sewn onto her. Because Widow’s outfit is mostly black, there aren’t a lot of other paint apps here, but the silver on her zipper and belt is precisely applied, as is the little dabs of red polish on her fingernails.



As already mentioned you can choose whether you want to pose Widow with her right hand free or holding her sniper rifle. The hands pull out and plug in easily and the rifle is permanently attached to the one hand. I suppose the advantage of posing her without the rifle is a better look at the figure itself, but I still prefer her with weapon at the ready.


The base itself is simple enough. It’s a black octagon with a grey floor plate and a portion of a brick wall. The paint and sculpting on the wall is certainly convincing and as a whole the base accentuates the figure quite nicely. I am definitely partial to this sort of diorama setting over the clear base used on my Christie Montiero statue. The Daredevil mask is completely optional and is designed to be placed so as it is leaning against the base of the brick wall.


From the moment I got Black Widow out of the package I was instantly smitten with her. She’s a gorgeous piece of work and a lot heftier than I expected. I got her for only $45 and I still consider the Bishoujos to be among the best values in collectible statues around. If you shop around, you can even splurge for the SDCC version and still probably come in at under $75. Either way, I can’t recommend her enough, whether you’re an age old fan of the character or have recently been introduced to her through The Avengers, this statue represents a great take on her and a beautiful piece of work.

Mass Effect 3: Mordin (Series 2) by Big Fish

Good news, everyone! I survived another Black Friday and while that seems like an end in and of itself, it’s really just the first punch in a month long series of rapid fire shots to my groin. Ah, the joys of being a retail manager at Christmas time! Right now I’m exhausted, working my way through a bottle of Johnnie Walker, and still living off the leftover scraps of turkey and pie. But, I still owe y’all one more Mass Effect figure to round out this hectic week and I aims to deliver. Please understand when I tell you that today is going to be quick and dirty so I can crawl into bed and get some sleep. I promised to save my favorite Mass Effect character for last, and here he is: Mordin Solus.

Blam! Mass Effect 3 packaging. Nothing new to say here, except it still looks really nice and Mordin looks great inside. It’s hard for me to say exactly why I love this guy so much, but it probably comes down to his unique mannerisms and his rich and ethically questionable backstory. There were plenty of characters in the ME universe that I didn’t care much about talking with, but I never shunned an opportunity to rap with my favorite Salarian doctor. Every conversation was deeply satisfying and often made me either chuckle or feel sorry for the burden of the decisions Mordin had to carry.

The sculptors did a pretty good job on Mordin’s portrait, however, I do think his head sculpt is softer than the other figures. There’s just enough detail to get by, it still captures a lot of the character’s personality, but when you compare him to the likes of Grunt or even Thane it seems like he could have used a bit more work. I do like the way they executed his head apparatus, which is cast in soft plastic but stands up well and does not interfere with his head articulation.

Mordin’s body sculpt is great and really accentuates the alien nature of his legs and forearms. Those Mass Effect designers really loved using the “chicken leg” configuration for a lot of their aliens and the Salarians are no exception. His lab coat style outfit is achieved with pliable soft plastic attached to the torso and allowed to drape down to his knees. Alas, the paintwork on this figure is a little inconsistent. The white on the coat is slathered on rather unevenly and there’s a little bleeding here and there. Still, when all is said and done he’s an attractive looking figure.

Mordin features pretty decent articulation for this line. His head is ball jointed and has a good range of motion. His arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows, and have swivel cuts in the biceps. His legs feature the usual “T” joint in the hips and are hinged at the knees. Once again, we aren’t dealing with super articulated figures here, but what Mordin has, combined with his neutral stance, is useful enough. I was really concerned with how fragile Mordin’s thin elbow hinges might be, but they turned out just fine, making me consider that my Miranda figure’s elbow was really just a freak QC issue.

Accessories? You get the standard disc figure stand and you get a pistol. The figure stand is pretty essential since Mordin has virtually no chance of standing on his own without it thanks to his tiny feet and chicken legs. The pistol is a unique sculpt and features some really nice white paint apps. It fits in his hand pretty well and you can even thread his finger through the trigger guard.

And that’s all the Mass Effect I’ve got for you cats now. There are, of course, two more figures in Series 2: Garrus and Legion. I will be picking them up to complete my set, but it may be a little while until I get around to it. Overall, I’m glad Bioware and Big Fish were finally able to get these figures out. Sure, there are some inconsistencies in the line. But on the whole, I think it is a pretty solid set of figures. Granted, I got quite a good deal on these, only paying around $13 a piece, which is considerably less than the usual $18-20. I’d say four out of the six would have been worth the full MSRP to me, and I’m sure you can guess which ones those are. I’m tempted to try to get another Miranda to see if I can get a figure without the QC issues, but in the end I’ll probably stick with what I’ve got.

Mass Effect 3: Miranda (Series 2) by Big Fish

Ugh… Too much turkey and pie! I’m lying on my sofa, laptop on my bloated stomach and contemplating whether I can fit another turkey and stuffing sandwich. Maybe another brandy will help with the digestion. Yes, it’s Thanksgiving night and I hope everyone had a good holiday. What better way to spend it than to digest too much food and talk about action figures? Today, I’m pressing on with the first figure of Big Fish’s second series of Mass Effect 3 figures. It’s Miranda!

From the front, the packaging for Series 2 is identical to Series 1. Miranda’s looking pretty good in the package. If you flip it around, you can see that the printed insert has changed to show the four Series 2 figures and give you a little blurb about each. I didn’t shoot the back of the packages, so you’ll have to take my word for it. I was really excited to get Miranda, so let’s get her out and see how awesome she is. Hmm… awesome may not be the right word. “Ok?” “Mediocre?” Or maybe, “Oh shit, her left arm just came off!” Yeah, strap in kids, we’re going to have some issues with this one.

So, where to begin? Let’s start with the sculpt. For a figure in this price range, the folks at DC Direct, Big Fish, or whoever’s responsible, did a passable job with Miranda’s portrait. That’s passable, not perfect. The hairline is a little too high and her left eye is drooping, but I can still see Miranda in there somewhere. The biggest problem is that she can’t really hold her head straight. It’s not her hair sculpt, but rather something with the configuration of her neck, but she’s constantly looking at least a little bit down.

Moving south, her bodysuit is faithfully sculpted, right down to the hexagonal panel lines, and I like the high gloss paint used for her gloves and boots. Still, there’s something about the paint apps on her collar that always makes me think she’s wearing a bowtie when I first look at her. Bowties may be cool, but not here. Miranda’s shapely feminine form is certainly well reproduced here, but there’s something a little odd about her derrière. It’s probably from the way the hip joints are made up, but it looks like someone looked at the sculpt and said, “Needs more ass!!!” and they added an extra butt flap.

Miranda’s articulation sounds good on paper, but in execution it has some issues. Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up. Her legs feature a standard “T” at the hips and she has hinged knees. Unfortunately because of the aforementioned ass flap, her hip joints only allow her legs to move forward. You can pose her in a traditional Captain Morgan stance, with one leg up on something, but a lot of dynamic action poses are out of the question. Miranda’s arms are better, in theory, as she has ball jointed shoulders, swivel cut biceps, and hinged elbows. Unfortunately, the elbow hinges are so weak that her left arm pulled right out at the joint as soon as she was out of the package. It will go back in, but to pose her you pretty much have to reset the arm every time. The neck is ball jointed, but as already mentioned, she can’t look all the way up. The lack of a swivel in the waist further commits her to life as a somewhat articulated statue.

Miranda comes with a black disc figure stand. She will stand on her own, but with those little high heeled boots, the stand comes in handy. She also comes with a pistol, which she can hold fairly well in her right hand, providing you don’t bump her or anything.

As you can see, Miranda is certainly a letdown. She looks OK standing in the back of the shelf with her Normandy shipmates around her, but as an action figure, she really sucks. I realize Big Fish put these out, but they started life as DC Direct figures, and with poor articulation and a major QC issue, she represents two of the biggest inconsistencies collectors often have with DC Direct products.  I was really at odds whether to write up a feature for a downer like this figure on Thanksgiving, but then I didn’t want to end Mass Effect week on a sour note. And that means I saved the figure of my all-time favorite Mass Effect character for last… tomorrow we’ll wrap things up with Mordin.

Mass Effect 3: Tali (Series 1) by Big Fish

Here we go, time to finish up the first series of the DC Direct Big Fish figures with my second favorite character from the games: Tali or Tali’Zorah vas Normandy nar Rayya … um, yeah, I think that’s correct. Anyway, I thought the Quarian culture was one of the best fleshed out aspects of the Mass Effect universe. I liked the idea of the Flotilla and the Pilgrimage, and I particularly loved the way Tali was introduced in the first game as one of the more unlikely party members. The mystery behind the character’s masked appearance was a nice little story device as well. There were more than a few parts of the ME universe I glossed over for lack of interest, but I’d dare say I absorbed all that the game had to offer of the Quarian culture.

Once again, here’s a shot of the packaging. It hasn’t changed at all from the previous three figures in the Series. After looking at Thane in package, Tali is a welcome treat. She comes with her Omni Tool attached to her left arm and her shotgun visible through the side panel of the bubble. Not much else new here, so let’s razor this baby open and check her out.

First off, Big Fish made some very cool choices in the layering of this figure with soft pliable plastic for her hood and her lower sash. The hood allows for a completely separately sculpted and articulated head under the hood, which works wonderfully. The lower sash of Tali’s outfit is sculpted as part of her belt, so as to give the illusion of being part of the figure and then it is glued down to the legs. These features, along with the excellent sculpting of the figure itself, really convey all the cool complexities of Tali’s outfit. Other very cool touches include the sheathed knife on her left leg and the pouches on her belt.

The paint work on the figure is mostly excellent. Big Fish went with a nice pallet of purple, black and gold with some grey accents thrown in. There are a few tiny flubs here and there, but nothing outrageous for a figure in this price range. I do think they should have gone in a different direction with her mask’s dome.  It’s painted in high gloss purple and transitions lighter toward the top, but it doesn’t look quite right. Maybe if it was clear plastic and painted from behind it would have been more convincing? Some way of conveying her eyes through the mask would have been cool too. Still, what’s here is certainly serviceable.

Tali’s articulation is fairly good from the waist up and a little limited in the legs. The head is ball jointed, and the aforementioned soft plastic hood still allows for good movement in the neck joint. The arms feature ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, and swivels in the wrists, giving her good range of motion there. Her legs feature a typical “T” joint at the hips, ball joints in the knees. The legs give you a little something to work with, but the sash does impede movement down there a bit. Plus, with the way Tali’s lower legs are designed, in reality she should probably have a second set of hinges. Tali also has a swivel cut just below her chest. Super articulated? No, but she’s still far more action figure than statue,and you still have a fair amount of good poseability here.

Tali comes with the same stand as the other figures in Series 1, although she can stand just fine on her own. She also comes with her Omni Tool, which is sculpted in very soft translucent yellow plastic. Theoretically you could take it off her arm, but I haven’t tried. Lastly, she comes with her Scorpion Shotgun, which is a very nicely sculpted and painted piece. Unfortunately, it takes some futzing to get her to hold it. I may have to dig into my cup of clear rubber bands.

Tali is a nice return to form for Series 1 after the horror of Thane. I may have nit picked a few things, but that’s probably just because I love the character design so much. Truth be told, Tali is an excellent figure and looks great displayed on my shelf beside the rest of the Normandy crew. On a side note, I will likely still be  buying the forthcoming Play Arts Kai version of Tali, simply because she has no exposed face for them to screw up, and I like the character design enough to be willing to have her as a stand-alone piece in that scale.

And that wraps up Series 1. Tomorrow is Turkey Day and I’m taking the day off to eat, drink and spend time with family. I’ll be back on Friday to kick off Series 2, or at least the half of it that I currently have in my collection.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Mass Effect 3: Thane (Series 1) by Big Fish

Oh yeah, folks, it’s time for more Mass Effect 3 goodness and today we’re checking out… oh shit… it’s Thane. I’m taking an extra couple belts of Jameson to get through it, because today’s feature is like a double punch to my gonads. Not only do I hate this character, and don’t even get me started on his Loyalty Mission in ME2, but his figure turned out to be total crap too. Ok, let’s do this…

Thane features the same packaging we’ve seen for the other figures in Series 1. The only real difference here is how awkward and ridiculous Thane looks in the package thanks to the pre-posed nature of the figure. I know we’re talking about the packaging here, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but Thane is designed for one pose and one pose only: Firing his weapon. But like the other figures, he comes packaged without his weapon in his hands, and so right off the bat he looks like trash before you even open him up. Is he miming a tug of war?  Is there a fire hose for him to hold somewhere in the package?  Is he handing me an invisible baguette? Sure, you can see his pistol through the side panel, but I seriously thought there was another weapon that had either fallen down to the bottom of the bubble, or was left out entirely. I just couldn’t believe any company would package a figure like this.

So let’s get the big stuff out of the way first. Unlike Shep and Grunt, Thane is basically an articulated statue. His entire body is sculpted for a specific pose, and while I’ve tried to tweak him into something different, everything just looks awkward. His right shoulder is unnaturally hunched forward, so that his arm is literally attached to the front of his twisted torso, and his legs are permanently in a wide stance. His head is designed to look cocked to the side. Your other option is having him look straight down at the ground. Why DC Direct/Big Fish decided on such a departure from the rest of the line for this one character is completely beyond me. The other figures look like action figures, Thane looks like one of those old Star Wars Unleashed statues from Hasbro.

I guess the likeness to the character is pretty good, but maybe I’m the wrong person to ask, because to me Thane’s design looked like he was phoned in at the end of the day. “Hurray, it’s 5pm on Friday!” “Wait, we’re still short one character!” “Dude, just sketch out a fucking lizard man so we can go hit Applebee’s… I’m buying!” The sculpting for the portrait is certainly solid enough, but there’s something unnaturally bright and cartoony about the paint used for his face. I just think it looks odd next to the other figures. The sculptors did an adequate job on Thane’s suit, but the paintwork is another story. The uneven piping looks like it was hand painted by blind Krogans, while other parts look slathered on with a trowel. His back features smudges and splotches, which further suggest that nobody gave a shit about how this figure turned out.

So, Thane comes with the token disc display stand and his pistol. His display stand is kind of important since he’s hard to stand up without it, but when I tried to peg his foot into it, the peg literally shot through the other side of the stand. WTF? His gun is a nicely detailed little piece, but it should have just been sculpted into his hand because a) there’s really no point in ever taking it out, and b) he doesn’t hold it very well. While on the subject, Thane’s pose seems like it’s designed more for a rifle than a pistol. His hands appear to be sculpted to hold something bigger, and the pose seems unusual for a pistol.

Thane sports many points of articulation that sound useful on paper, but in reality are totally pointless. The head is ball jointed and yet the figure will always have his chin perpetually tucked into his chest. The arms feature ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows and swivel wrists, none of which can be of any use. He has a standard “T” joint at the hips and his knees are hinged. The leg articulation is probably the most useful, and that’s just for adjusting him to stand properly.

There is a bright side at the end of this feature. If any figure had to be screwed up this badly than I’m glad it was a character I hated. I’m also very glad that I got such a great deal on these figures because if I had paid anywhere near $20 for Thane I would have gone ballistic. He’s a poorly conceived and poorly executed piece of garbage, especially when considered alongside Shepard and Grunt. Hopefully things will look up again tomorrow when we finish up Series 1 by checking out one of my favorite characters in the games… Tali.