Transformers Fall of Cybertron: Grimlock by Hasbro

Seems like I can’t go a week without adding more Transformers to my collection, and I’m not complaining about it. The Fall of Cybertron figures have been hard to find around these parts, and I thought for sure I’d have to hunt Grimlock down online, dip into my booze fund, and pay scalper prices. Luckily, I spotted one lone Grimlock on the shelf at my local Target and scooped him up right away. Early production photos of this figure left me a little cold, but I’ve been asking for a Voyager version of Grimmy ever since the disappointing Classics release, so I had to at least give him a chance.

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This is the first time I’m seeing the Generations Voyager box and at first I didn’t know what it was. The familiar G1-style grid seems darker than the cards, but I really dig the artwork and the complex die-cut pattern around the window is beaucoup stylish. I am getting weary of the pointless corner cut-outs and it seems even more awkward when it’s on the bottom of the box. None of that matters, though, because I have no room to save these boxes, so I gleefully shredded it to pieces in order to get at my figure. Grimlock is packaged in robot mode, but we’re going to start out with his dino mode.

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There’s a lot of good and bad in Grimlock’s T-Rex mode. Let’s start with the good. The sculpting is impressive and the coloring is good. I don’t feel the sense of cheap cuts that Hasbro seems to be making with so many other figures in this line. Grimlock is loaded with panel lining and the red mesh paint apps on the panels scattered around his body really make the figure pop. The grey plastic Hasbro used looks fine, and while I would have preferred something a little more vibrant for the gold, it looks ok. Even Grimlock’s play gimmick is cool. Push the lever on the back of Grimlock’s neck and his mouth opens and his eyes and mouth light up with one of the most powerful LED’s I’ve ever seen in a toy. It’s so much better than the crappy light up effects in the Prime toys. All these things add up to a cool looking alt mode.

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Ok, so now for the bad stuff. Grimlock’s dino mode is very hollow. Unless I’m looking at him from the top down, I can’t ignore the cavernous hole in his chest. Next up, his tail is awkwardly proportioned and has zero articulation. Finally, the upper parts of his legs are static, and this has to do with his transformation because they peg into place. You can bend his legs at the knees, but his upper legs stay locked in place, and that’s a big letdown. At least his arms are ball jointed. Any close look at his dino mode makes it clear that Hasbro favored the robot mode over all else. Grimlock probably stays in his alt mode more than almost any other Transformer, so making these kinds of sacrifices on his alt mode are rather suspect.

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My biggest complaint with Classics Grimlock was that Hasbro seemed to go out of their way to change his transformation from the original G1 toy and the result was quite alienating. This version returns to the roots of the G1 transformation, but still manages to muck things up a bit. The thing about G1 Grimlock is that he worked great in both robot and dino mode because of his simple and clever transformation. In spite of being a Transformer, he was a great action figure in both modes and that was certainly a rare thing for a TF back in those days. I would argue that you could take the G1 Grimlock design, make just a few tweaks to improve proportions and articulation and come away with a perfect figure. No need to reinvent the wheel here, Hasbro. Fall of Cybertron’s Grimlock comes close, but then strays away by doing things like making the legs peg into place in dino mode and overcomplicating the conversion of the tail into the legs. Still, at least this version doesn’t have a split dino head for feet, because that was never  the Grimlock that I know.

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And then there’s the robot mode, and this is where the figure truly shines. He’s perfectly proportioned with a hulking upper body, beefy shoulders and sturdy legs. He hits all the points of his G1 design, with the dino head worn as a backpack and his dino feet claws protruding from his wrists. I do kind of miss the wings he had in the G1 toy, but you can still angle the dino arms up if you want to get something a little closer to that aesthetic. The head sculpt is pure Grimlock with some excellent light piping. He’s replete with panel lines and major machinery detail sculpted into his chest and around his neck. The light up gimmick still works in this mode, this time lighting up his chest.

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My other big issue with Classics Grimlock was his size. Grimlock should never be a Deluxe and that problem is certainly solved with this release. Even in the G1 cartoon he was significantly taller than Optimus. This version of Grimlock scales nicely next to my War for Cybertron Prime. Some may say he’s a little too big, but I think he’s just right.

In robot mode, Grimlock features great articulation. His head is ball jointed; his arms rotate at the shoulders and have some lateral movement as well. The elbows are hinged and there are swivels in his biceps and wrists. He legs are ball jointed at the hips, his knees have solid ratchet joints, and there are swivels in his thighs. A waist swivel would have been nice, but what we got is pretty good.

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Grimmy comes with two accessories. You get the energon sword and shield he used in the game. Both are extremely nice pieces. I usually prefer guns with my Transformers, but in this case, the accessories fit the character and he looks great holding them. The only downside is that they don’t store anywhere on him. With all that hollow space in his dino chest, you’d think he could have found a way to store his weapons up there.

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When all is said and done, me like Fall of Cybertron Grimlock. Grimlock no bozo, Grimlock is king. Sure, there are plenty of things I’d rather Hasbro had done differently and there were sacrifices that I feel didn’t need to be made. Still, the near perfection of his bot mode makes up for a lot of the unfortunate things about his dino mode. Fans of Grimlock haven’t received a whole lot of love from Hasbro over the years, so I think this release should go a long way to scratch that itch. Plus, he never gets tired of me telling him about the petro-rabbits.

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DC Universe Signature Collection: Phantom Stranger by Mattel

Last month’s Club Infinite Earths figure, Saint Walker, wasn’t exactly high on my want list. This month’s release was not only on my list, but I never thought Mattel would ever actually get around to creating and releasing him. He’s Phantom Stranger and he is exactly the kind of character that this line should be all about. Finishing teams is great, I certainly approve of that, but I can’t believe Phantom Stranger would ever have wound up on the pegs in the DCUC line. And if he did, you can bet it would he would come with a part for one hell of an essential C&C figure to make sure he sold to the masses. Sure, he’s already been available as a DC Direct release… but now he can feel right at home on my DCUC shelves… let’s take a look!

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This figure is the second release in this year’s tweaked packaging. Since last month, I’ve been forced to ditch all the packages, except for the quarterly oversized figures, so the change doesn’t bother me as much. I am, still clipping out the backs so I can save the character art and bios. Speaking of bios, I was really curious to see how Mattel would approach Phantom Stranger’s, since the true nature of the character has never been decided. I often vacillate on which of his intriguing backstories I like the most. If I were in charge, I probably would have left the bio area for him blank, because he really is that much of an enigma. But at least they didn’t suggest he was Superman and Wonder Woman’s son from the future, so I’m happy.

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Phantom Stranger is a pretty obvious kitbash. I don’t mean, if you’ve been collecting DCUC for years you’ll probably recognize some parts. No, I mean, if you subbed Club Infinite Earths last year, you will easily recognize the entire body of this figure. It would be one thing to say Phantom Stranger reuses the repainted lower half of John Constantine, but it’s another to say he uses the exact same body as Black Mask, with only a re-sculpted turtleneck to stand out as new. Of course, if you’ve also been collecting DCUC for years than you’ll take note of the fedora used for Sandman and The Question, Martian Manhunter’s cape, and a pair of hands cribbed from The Spectre. In theory, everything should work well, but when I look at him, I can’t help but see all the individual components. I think I know why, so let’s talk…

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Coloring! I think the reason the kitbash elements stand out so much has a lot to do with the figure’s coloring. While character art for Phantom Stranger varies, I think it’s the fact that the blue cape and hat clash with the black suit, which makes the reuse on this figure stand out. I’ve seen plenty of art where his ensemble matches, and I think a more uniform appearance would make the borrowed parts look more cohesive. It doesn’t help that the cape is the same color as Manhunter’s and the fedora is the same color as The Question’s. I dare say, I think I would have liked the figure more in a suit that matched the hat and cape. Sure, all the parts suit the character, but as it stands, it still looks like the figure was cobbled together in someone’s basement.

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As for the new stuff… The head sculpt is good. I had my doubts about the wash used on the face for shadow effect, but it does look good on the figure in hand. Likewise, the chain used for his medallion looks less clunky and more appropriate in person. Oddly enough, the hands, while still recycled, garner special attention as really tying the figure together. It’s the hocus-pocus aspect of the fingers, which are really expressive and really suit the character beautifully. It probably helps that Spectre was released quite a while ago and so cribbing his hands doesn’t feel so much like double dipping.

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All things being equal, Phantom Stranger is a decent enough figure. He’s a character I wanted represented on my shelf, and in fairness the figure matches the source material quite well. As a kitbash released by the biggest toy company in the world, however, he just barely manages to scrape by. I’m usually perfectly fine with Mattel sharing parts. In fact, I usually enjoy seeing how they do it and I’m often impressed by how well they pull it off. Not so much here. A straight re-use of this much of a figure that we just got last year seems like it’s going just a bit too far and there’s not enough new here to justify a $30 figure. Is it just me? Maybe the prices on these guys are starting to get to me. Oh well. Chances are I will be subbing Matty’s Filmation line, so at least that will help defray some of the shipping costs. Either way, I have a feeling that next month’s CIE release will remedy the malaise of the last two months.

Demolition Crue: Apex (DC-01) & Geminus (DC-02) by Mech Ideas, Part 2

Ok, I’m back for Part 2 of Mech Idea’s amazing, marvelous, and pretty damn cool tribute to the G1 Jumpstarters. Earlier I gushed about Apex (“Not-Top Spin”) and now it’s time to take a look at his brother in arms, Geminus (“Not-Twin Twist”). Geminus is a recolor and remold of Apex, so I should be able to keep this mercifully shorter than Part 1. Then again, I still have a lot of gushing to do, so I won’t make any promises.

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There’s the packaging. Once again it’s the only bad thing about these guys, and by bad I just mean it isn’t as polished as some of the packaging we get with other third-party toys. I also would have preferred straight boxes to these carded blister packs, just because they tend to store better. That having been said, if Mech Ideas wants to keep producing figures this amazing at this good a price, they can wrap them in old Chinese newspapers and shoelaces for all I care.

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Geminus’ alt mode is a drill tank. He’s largely the same configuration and sculpt as his brother. The most noticeable difference is he has little drill bits instead of Apex’s intakes, and instead of wings he has molded and painted tank treads running along the sides. Geminus has the same little recessed area above his cockpit for an Autobot symbol, if you have a sticker lying around, and his deco is the opposite of Apex’s so what was white is now blue, and vice versa. His vents are painted in a similar manner to Apex’s and his drills are painted with nice bright, metallic silver. Some have argued that his drills are a little puny, but their size was clearly sacrificed for his robot mode, and I approve of the trade-off.

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Geminus comes with the same hammer as Apex, but a new set of guns. In this case, the hammer is supposed to peg into the top and serve as a giant cannon, and you can still plug his guns in on either side of it. Obviously, you can do the same thing with Apex’s hammer, but the intent here is to make Geminus look more like a conventional tank. I haven’t decided whether I prefer him with or without the hammer-cannon yet. In some cases it looks pretty good, other times, I think it just looks like a giant hammer on his roof. Either way, if you prefer the more clean G1 homage without the weapons, you certainly have that option, and just like Apex, Geminus’ hammer can break down and you can stow it under his backside.

Geminus transforms exactly the same as Apex and I didn’t encounter any problems or quality issues. The plastic is great and the engineering is clever. But it’s still a good idea to be mindful of some of the tiny tabs.

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Robot mode! All the love I expressed for Apex remains true for Geminus. Once again, the reversed deco looks great, and he actually has some unique yellow paint apps to distinguish him from his brother. His head sculpt makes him look a little more of a bruiser than Apex, with a slightly bulkier helmet and separate eyes instead of the visor. Geminus is a fantastic looking robot with super fun articulation.

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Oh, right… one more thing. If you pre-ordered this pair you got a little extra bonus. It’s an extra battle damaged head for Geminus, which may or may not be a very specific reference to a certain character in some limited comic book series, which everyone should read because it happens to be fantastic. It is undoubtedly a cool little extra with impressive sculpting and paintwork for such a tiny piece. I doubt I’ll ever display him with it, but I’ll never complain about getting a nifty bonus like this one.

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And there you have the Demolition Crue! I waffled back and forth over pre-ordering these guys for a long while, just because I haven’t had any experience with Mech Ideas before and spending loads of money on third-party Transformers is still something rather new to me. But now that I have them in hand, I’m inspired to fall back on the words of the great Dr. Channard, “And to think… I hesitated.” These guys are awesome in every way and at $70 for the pair they are a great value as far as third-party robots go. All that’s left to say is that I am thrilled to have this pair in my collection and I’ll be very interested to see what figures Mech Ideas churns out next.

Demolition Crue: Apex (DC-01) & Geminus (DC-02) by Mech Ideas, Part 1

Ah, The Jumpstarters. Top Spin and Twin Twist have suffered at the hands of a lot of haters over the years because of their G1 toys. But as a kid, I loved those figures. Not only were they fun to play with because they transformed instantly, but while most of my G1 bots didn’t look much like their animated counterparts, the Jumpstarters’ robot modes actually looked like something that could pass for the Sunbow aesthetic. Plus, besides Shockwave, these guys were the first G1 toys that actually had Cybertron alt modes and that was plenty cool. Sure they were bricks, but few G1 Transformers weren’t, so why single these guys out? Anyway, the characters have long since been redeemed by becoming part of the popular Wreckers fiction and now, thanks to third-party Mech Ideas, these guys have got some modern toy updates. Let’s check out The Demolition Crue! Demolition… Wreckers… get it? I’m going to kick it off with Apex and hopefully I’ll be back later on today to look at Geminus.

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This is a surprise! I was expecting a box, but Apex comes carded on a blister pack type deal. But never fear, they used a sparing amount of tape and it was very easy to slide the card out and remove the tray, making these packages still totally collector friendly. The bubble displays Apex in his alt mode along with his weapons. The card has some character art on the front and photos of the toy on the back, along with a lengthy bio to prove that this toy is indeed totally original and any similarities to any other toy or character is purely coincidental. Wink. The printing on the card is rather fuzzy and poor quality, making this package quite a dip below what other third-party companies like Fansproject or TFC use for their products. Inside you get a folded color instruction sheet, which is designed to work with both figures.

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First off, the quality of the plastic used here is really nice. He’s the size of a current Deluxe Transformer and the weight of the figure matches a similar sized Hasbro product. He’s also extremely solid and tight in his alt mode, as everything locks together extremely well. If you’ve spent any time with the G1 Top Spin figure, then you should find Apex’s alt mode instantly familiar. He’s a Cybertronian jet and a pretty cool looking one at that. The biggest difference is that the original toy had dual cockpits, whereas Apex has two small intakes and one cockpit. The intakes still mimic the cockpits on the G1 toy and the homage is certainly solid enough. He has a hollow compartment under his rear, but that’s designed so that you can break down his hammer into parts and store it inside. Clever! His guns peg into the holes on the top to give him some firepower in his alt mode. Plugging the guns in do detract a bit from the G1 homage, but I think they complement the design pretty well.

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Apex mostly utilizes the off-white and blue colored plastic for his deco, although his cockpit is painted black and all of his vents are neatly painted with a very nice shade of silver-grey. There’s also a recess just behind his cockpit in case you feel like outfitting him with an Autobot insignia. So far, so good. Let’s convert him and check out his robot mode.

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Apex’s transformation is a clever piece of engineering. I didn’t expect anything as simple as the G1 Jumpstarters, but this guy has a few cool tricks in the way his torso flips about. Because everything in his alt mode pegs in so well, there were a few instances where I had to use a tad more force than I would have liked, but as I said before the plastic feels very good and I don’t see any problems with stress marks through normal handling. Just watch those tiny little tabs!

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In robot mode, Apex is a sexy little beast and a great homage to G1 Top Spin. I’m particularly delighted with the head sculpt, which I believe is damn near perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing about it. You can turn his intakes around to make them look a little less Starscream-ish and more like the original toy, and I really dig the way his wings form a jetpack on his back. Besides his overall clean design, there’s a ton of sculpted detail, from panel lines to vents, all over this guy. Apex stands at the same scale as any of Hasbro’s Fall of Cybertron Deluxe figures and if you count his intakes, he stands almost exactly as tall as the Deluxe War for Cybertron Optimus Prime.

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Apex’s color scheme is largely the same off-white and blue deco as his jet mode, although he has some nice red paint apps on his shoulders and there’s another recessed spot for an Autobot symbol on his chest. The colors of the plastic look fantastic, unlike the cheap white stuff Hasbro has been using, and I especially like the vibrant blue.

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You want articulation? You gots it. After all, what’s the use of having a two-handed hammer if you can’t wield it in both hands? Apex’s arms can rotate and move laterally at the shoulders, they have swivels in the bicep and double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs can rotate and move laterally at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, hinges in the knees, and both hinges and rocker joints in the ankles. And naturally, his head is ball jointed. That grocery list of joints translates to this guy being loads of fun to pose and play around with.

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Did someone mention a hammer? Yes, Apex comes with a two-handed hammer, which can break down into three pieces for storage in his alt mode, and as mentioned he can hold it in either hand or wield it with both. It can also be converted to a double barreled turret-like weapon. He also comes with two guns, one for each hand, and they can also be pegged into his back for storage for when it’s hammer time.

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Apex is a fantastic figure and Mech Ideas did an absolutely beautiful job on him. As far as third-party Transformers go, there’s really no downside to this guy. Not only is he a great update to a very old toy design, but he’s one of those figures that I simply cannot put down. The fact that he fits in perfectly with my Hasbro Deluxe Transformers is also a huge plus. Engineering, color, quality, articulation, fun weapons, he hits every category that makes up a great Transformer. And at $70 for the set, that puts Apex at only $35, making him easily the best value in third-party Transformers out there today. You want me to say something bad about him? Ok, the packaging isn’t so great. That’s the best I can do.

Ok, enough gushing. I’ll be back later to check out his brother Geminus.

FarScape Series 1: D’argo (Til The Blood Runs Clear) by Toy Vault

It’s Monday… it’s more Farscape! This time we’re checking out the Klingon of the Farscape universe: D’argo the Luxan Warrior. I did not know what to think of this guy as I started watching the show, other than he seemed pretty derivative of the aforementioned other alien warrior race. Actually, I spent most of the time pondering whether that was supposed to be his real nose or some kind of nose armor shingle. Maybe his nose has a boney shell to protect it? If not, does he stick it on there every morning before going out? It both fascinates and perplexes me. Eventually, I warmed up to the big guy, so I was pretty anxious to get his action figure.

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We’ve seen the Farscape packaging twice already, so there are really no surprises here. D’argo looks great on the card with its huge bubble and Moya-inspired deco. The back has a few tidbits of information about the character. Apparently Luxans can only survive for 15 minutes in a vacuum, so let’s tear him open and get him out.

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Hell, yeah… that’s D’argo alright. He’s a huge, hulking slab of beautifully sculpted and painted plastic. At first, I thought he had escaped the mixed media treatment, but on closer inspection you can see that the braids of his beard are some kind of hair-like substance. Each one is actually braided and carefully tied off at the end with string. Toy Vault made this guy with love. I suppose his fabric belt and shoulder strap also count as mixed media too. There’s lots to love about D’argo’s sculpt, like the pattern in his clothes and the fact that Toy Vault even included those horrible rings piercing his chest that were used by the Peacekeepers to chain his collarbone to a bulkhead. Holy shit, Farscape can be hardcore when it wants to be. The portrait is spot on as well. I’ve got no complaints about the paintwork on the figure, either. In fact, Toy Vault did a fine job reproducing all his various tats.

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But wait… Uh oh, what happened to the articulation? Zhaan and Chiana weren’t exactly highly poseable, but D’argo has even less going on. You get a whopping five points, which include a swivel neck, rotating shoulders, and swivels in the wrists. You can’t get much rotation out of the head because of his tentacles and hair that hang down his back, and the left wrist on my figure is stuck, so if I try to swivel it, it will likely twist off. I had the unpleasant experience of doing that a while back to one of my DCUC Raven’s legs, so I’m content to leave it where it is. Below the waist, D’argo is completely static. This guy is designed to stand there and hold his sword, and not a lot else.

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D’argo comes with three accessories, which include two weapons and a sand mask. For weapons you get his Qualta Blade and  dagger. The dagger is pretty simple and can be tucked into D’argo’s belt, which is convenient since I never expect to display him holding anything but his trademark sword. It also looks like something someone picked up at Hoffritz Cutlery in the mall. Yes, kids, go google Hoffritz Cutlery… it was a store in the mall that sold nothing but edged weapons! Can’t do that nowadays! The Qualta blade is clearly the real showpiece here. It’s nicely executed, albeit kind of a shame that Toy Vault didn’t include a second version converted into the gun form. I also would have liked a way to store it on his back.

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The mask is the one Dargo wore in the episode “Til The Blood Runs Clear” and I’m pretty sure it’s the same prop used by him in “Through The Looking Glass.” It actually fits on the figure quite well, but who is ever going to display their figure wearing this thing? As mentioned earlier, they would have been better off spending the effort in sculpting a second Qualta blade.

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Yes, D’argo lowers the bar for this line’s articulation. If Zhaan and Chiana flirted with the idea of being actual action figures, D’argo makes no bones about being a slightly articulated statue. On the other hand, he is a very nice looking statue and a fine tribute to the character in plastic form. Plus, I dig the fact that he isn’t as pre-posed as Chiana. The sculpting and paintwork show that Toy Vault knew what they were doing with the license… at least from what I’ve seen so far, and D’argo will make another excellent addition to my 7-inch scale sci-fi shelf.

Next Monday we’ll starburst into the Farscape universe once again with a look at Aeryn Sun.

Star Wars Power of the Force 2: Gamorrean Guard and Malakili by Hasbro

It’s the last day of this Jabba craziness and this week FigureFan has seen more Star Wars features than it has in a long time. I kind of enjoyed it, and I’m going to make a point to not ignore Star Wars quite so much in the future. Anyway, today we’re swinging back to the POTF2 line to take a look at a couple of Jabba’s husky henchmen. It’s a little known fact that yours’ truly could stand to shed a few pounds, so it’s always nice to see some portly action figures get some attention and make me feel fit by comparison. I think Jabba read in a PR magazine somewhere that if you surround yourself with heavy people, you look skinny. Sorry, Jabba, it ain’t working. To the figures!

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The packaging is the same we saw with the torture droids a couple of days back. These are also part of the Freeze Frame series, so you get a pair of slides showing the characters in screen grabs from the movie. Considering Malakili is in the film so briefly, his slide is extra important as it serves as evidence that Kenner and Hasbro didn’t just make him up. Let’s go ahead and start with him.

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Malakili: Once known only as “Rancor Keeper.” For the longest time, this guy was the best example of the fact that any Star Wars character was eligible for action figure honors. Sure, I had the vintage version of him as a kid, and yet I have no idea how or why. I have no recollection of actually walking into a store, being told by my parents that I could pick out a figure, and coming back with him. It’s hard to imagine that happening, and yet apparently it did. Maybe the rest of the pegs were full of Lobots. I also can’t remember ever playing with him. My ever creative kid brain summoned up all kinds of convoluted back stories for even the most obscure figures, but all Rancor Keeper ever did was stand somewhere behind Jabba’s throne and try not to be noticed. And now, I’ve gone so far as to have purchased him twice. Well played, Star Wars merchandising. Well played!

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In fairness, Malakili had a few nanoseconds of screen time more than a lot of figures produced by Kenner and Hasbro. So what, if he didn’t have a speaking line? He sobbed. That was more than we ever got out of Prune Face or Squid Head. I can remember seeing RotJ with my parents and asking why that man was crying. My Mom simply answered because his pet just died. I felt sad and my young mind started questioning the very foundations of my heroes. What kind of asshole was Luke that he killed the poor fat guy’s pet? It was right at that moment that I was truly introduced to the concept that maybe morality is actually subjective. Maybe there are no rights and wrongs, and there are only grey areas. Thank you, Malakili, you taught me more than my college philosophy professor ever could. Of course, Malakili went on to Mos Eisley to open a restaurant with his friend. It’s true! I can’t make that shit up, but apparently someone else can. Either way, it’s clear to me that Malakili in all of his 60 seconds of screen time invoked more empathy in me as a character than anyone who appeared in any or all of the prequels.

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So, I’ve gone on about Malakili for three paragraphs and haven’t said anything about the figure. But really, what is there to say? He’s a husky, shirtless guy in puffy pants with a hood. How many people do you know wear hoods with no jacket or shirt? He’s a trend setter. If you’re in the market for a Rancor Keeper, this one is improved over the original Kenner version and he’s actually not a bad sculpt, although Hasbro has since released a newer version in the Legacy Collection. The package on the POTF2 version says he comes with a vibro blade, but if you’re a ludicrously well informed nerd like me, then you know that’s a gaffi stick given to him by some Tusken Raiders for helping them out. And no, I didn’t really know that, I looked it up.

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And then there’s the Gamorrean Guard. I don’t have nearly as much to say about these guys, save for the fact that I’ve always had an inexplicable love for them. Maybe it’s because they’re one of the first aliens we’re introduced to in RotJ and they really set the tone for the crazy creaturefest that follows. Maybe it’s because they get to wear sandals to work. I do know that I love their medieval garb and the fact that they were so bad ass that they carry axes rather than fancy laser swords or blasters. I also love that they walk around with snot running out of their noses like leaky faucets. It’s like someone scooped them off their planet and never bothered to tell them about technology like blasters… or tissues.

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The vintage Kenner version of the Gamorrean Guard was a pretty good figure, but the POTF2 release has long been my Gamorrean of choice. I’ve yet to pick up a Vintage Collection version, but their pants look too furry and they’re way too expensive to army build. I can get three POTF2 Guards for every one VC version and it’s all about army building, my friends. In my mind, the POTF2 Gamorrean Guard is one of the best figures the line put out. He has a very good sculpt, which is pretty faithful to the source material, and if Hasbro meant to buff him out, you can’t tell because he was already fat. I can hate on plenty of the figures from this era, but this guy is solid enough to stand proudly in my Jabba display. I also like his axe better than the one that came with the vintage figure.

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Both figures feature the same six points of articulation. Their heads rotate, their arms rotate at the shoulders, they have standard T-crotches, and they can swivel at the waist.

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And that puts this week of Jabbapalooza in the bag. I’ll be back Monday with another Farscape figure and the rest of the week will be all about going through some new receivings, including some Marvel and DC figures, a Lego set, Transformers, and even a certain pair of third-party Transformers from Mech Ideas. Enjoy your Sundays, and after church, why not go take the kids to Malakili’s restaurant for a nice brunch? I’ll see ya there!

Star Wars Saga Collection: Princess Leia in Boushh Disguise by Hasbro

I know… I just featured Slave Leia a couple of days ago. I’m a bad host. I’m double dipping on the Leia. But I wanted to get as many different lines into this week as possible and I just happened to have this Saga Collection version of her lying around too. But it’s ok. Even as a kid I never used my vintage Kenner version as Leia. I rarely ever took off the helmet and the figure was always just another bad ass bounty hunter to me. Decades later and nothing has changed. While my Boba Fett figure can keep his ongoing grudge chasing Han Solo, I consider this Boushh figure to be the original Ubese mercenary, still alive and well and earning his pay by killing Jedi stragglers for Crimson Nova. But for the purposes of this feature, I guess we’ll consider her Leia in disguise…. More than meets the eye!!! Sorry, I’ve had a few Jamesons. Let’s look at the package.

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Damn, this was some fine packaging. It borrowed heavily from the vintage cards with the starfield and the old school logo, and then blows my mind by putting a scene specific printed insert into the back of the bubble. The effect is like you’re getting a mini snowglobe diorama. Leia comes carded with her helmet off and beside her. With the exception of actually reproducing the vintage cards, I think this was Hasbro’s best original package design. Unfortunately, the figures themselves were a total mixed bag. You got some great new sculpts with good articulation, and you got some straight repacks going all the way back to the POTF2 line. Leia here was the first figure released in this series, let’s see how she turned out.

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She is indeed a brand new sculpt, and a mighty fine one at that. Her outfit is layered so that the cape, backpack, belt and bandolier strap are all one piece and fitted over the rest of the figure. The skirt is a second layer that hangs down over the tops of the legs. She’s also been scaled way down from the previous release to fit Leia’s tiny size. The portrait is ok, but not great. I don’t care much for the paint on her eyes, which makes her look kind of drugged out {token Carrie Fisher drug reference deleted} and the stray hair on each side of her face sort of looks more like sideburns than what it’s supposed to be. Still, all in all not bad, and I never display the figure with the helmet off anyway.

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The helmet is similar to what we’ve seen before. It’s a hollow, slightly rubbery piece that fits right over the figure’s head. The sculpt is great and it looks fantastic on the figure. There’s only one problem. Leia’s ponytail hangs out the back! It’s kind of like one of those episodes of Scooby Doo, where Shaggy and Scooby are disguised and sneaking away, but Scooby’s tail is hanging out the back of the disguise. No? Just me then? Ok. It’s not terribly obvious, and you can’t see it from the front, but I have been tempted to snip it off.

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While the sculpt may mingle with current Vintage Collection standards, the articulation sadly does not, but it comes frustratingly close. Leia has a ball jointed neck, as well as ball joints in the shoulders and the knees. She has swivels in the elbows and wrists and she can swivel at the waist. She has a typical T-crotch for articulation in the hips. She’s sort of pre-posed in a way to have her holding her long weapon in one hand and the thermal detonator in the other, but it’s not so obvious that you can’t get some more neutral stances out of her. The biggest shame of this figure is the lack of ball joints in the elbows. Those would have made her a lot closer to being a definitive version.

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In addition to her helmet, Leia comes with her rifle, a tiny thermal detonator, a personalized figure stand, and a hologram of Obi-Wan that looks like gummy candy. Too bad it’s not candy; at least I could eat it instead of throwing it away. The detonator is just a tiny ball that I will probably lose shortly after this feature. It pegs into Leia’s left hand.

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No doubt, this version of Leia/Boushh is a great figure. All this depth in the sculpt makes her look like she’s ahead of her time, especially for a 2006 assortment that retailed at $6.99. And that’s what made the Saga Collection so frustrating. If you were a seasoned Star Wars collector, you could easily spot when you were getting a cool new figure or a crappy old repack. On the other hand, the unsuspecting or those buying them by the case online, were in for quite the crap shoot. I’ve always liked the POTF2 version of Boushh, but this one has long since become my definitive figure of the character.

Star Wars Vintage Collection: Weequay (Skiff Master) by Hasbro

I’ll refer you back to this feature for my confession of love for all things Weequay and my naive childhood notion that Weequay was the dude’s name and not his race. Yes, we’ll chalk that up to ignorance and not an early onset of racism. And while the brown vested Weequay will always be my favorite, the VC version of that figure is still eluding me now on order, so this week we’ll have to settle for the “Skiff Master” version. Hey, it’s all good. I prefer Coke, but offer me a Pepsi on a hot day and I’ll still accept it and thank you kindly. The Weequay figure isn’t officially Throne Room fodder, but more a part of my mission to stock my POTF2 Skiff with a Vintage Collection crew, but he’s also going to be hanging out somewhere in my Throne Room display. Hey, the guy can’t be feeding the Sarlacc all the time.

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The vintage style cards are so awesome. The fact that every figure Hasbro produces isn’t slapped onto one of these cards makes me question the sanity of the persons at Hasbro responsible for that decision. Even at times when I swore off Star Wars completely, seeing these cards on the pegs was always akin to offering a recovering addict a taste of blow. But it’s the ultimate instance of not being able to have your cake and eat it too. I want to buy them, I want to keep them carded, but I don’t have the space to buy doubles and I’m an opener at heart. Plus, opening this guy hurts even more because the card doesn’t have a giant f’ing Darth Maul face sticker on it schilling a mail away for Lucas’ toenail clippings or other such crap. And so I take a belt of Jameson to steady my nerves, and I rip the bastard open.

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The thing I dig so much about the skiff guards in RotJ is that they’re basically mercenary pirates that fly boats around in the desert. How is that not awesome? The Weequays are especially cool because they look like they were born mean and their heads have clearly been left out in the sun too long. Everyone knows those two things are top of the list when recruiting desert pirates. Hasbro did a fantastic job recreating this figure from his portrait. His grungy, segmented tunic looks spot on, his sculpted belt is perfect and his head is a great likeness. Weequay even has a functional holster. Damn, I love functional holsters in my 3 ¾” figures. Hey, Mattel… check this out. It’s a functional holster on a 3 ¾” figure. The gun can come out and the guy can hold it. Thought you might like to see this before you go and design those $15 Voltron pilot figures and… oh, wait that was last year… I’m way too late. Never mind. I also dig the way he wears his gun butt facing front, like he’s f’cking Lee Van Cleef. Welcome to FigureFan, where you get references to Voltron, Star Wars, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly all in the same feature. Enjoy!

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If I’m going to nitpick anything on Skiff Master Weequay, it’s going to be his sculpted hair braid. It’s a bit heavy handed and it sticks out a little too far. If this were a regular release, I’d be cool with it, but I’ve come to treat a lot of these VC figures as definitive. As in, “this is it, Hasbro, this is the last version of this figure I’m ever going to buy so please for the love of god, make it perfect!” The hair braids don’t ruin the figure for me by any stretch, but a little extra care could have been invested to make it look perfect. That’s all I’m saying. If all I can do is bitch about the guy’s braids, I think he’s doing ok.

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Weequay’s articulation features a ball jointed neck and shoulders. The arms have ball joints in the elbows and swivels in the wrists. He’s got ball jointed knees and swivels in his ankles. He’s got a standard T-crotch, which is somewhat restricted by his tunic, and he can also swivel at the waist. The shoulder joints in my figure feel like super tight ratchet joints. It’s kind of odd for a 3 ¾” figure, but it certainly helps him hold his poses.

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Accessories? What self-respecting mercenary desert pirate would be complete without some weapons? Weequay comes with a hold out blaster, which fits nicely in his holster, and a pike. I love the design of these pikes. Next to the Dreadnok chainsaw gun, I think it’s my favorite weapon design of the 80s. While Weequay comes carded holding his blaster in his left hand, it’s actually made to fit perfectly into his right. If you want him to hold it in his off hand, you better save those clear rubber bands!

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Skiff Master may not be my favorite Weequay, but I really love this figure. Everything about it is quality. In fact, I love it so much that after playing around with him for just a little while, I went and ordered the other VC Weequay along with Wooof, and I’m already eyeing VC Kithaba and Nikto. It’s a figure like this that make me weep for most of what Hasbro is turning out in the 3 ¾” scale these days. But let’s not sully Weequay’s feature by dwelling on the bad. Let’s celebrate the triumph of Weequay, for he is truly an excellent figure.

By my reckoning, I still have two more days of this Jabba madness. What’s on tap for tomorrow? I have no idea… I better start rummaging through some totes.

Star Wars Power of the Force 2: 8D8 and EV-9D9 by Hasbro

Torture droids! Everybody loves torture droids!!! Despite being a franchise aimed at kids, every one of the three Star Wars films featured some kind of implied or explicit torture scene. Whether it was Princess Leia getting stuck with needles to give up the Rebel Base or Han Solo getting his face electrically burned off. And if that’s not creepy enough, Hasbro has delivered at least a few figures based on these scenes. But today we’re focused on a couple of the custodians of Jabba’s robot dungeon. And somehow toys based on the torture of robots seems a little less likely to offend the folks at Amnesty International. I loved the designs of these guys, and while I never owned EV-9D9 as a kid, I did have the 8D8 that came with the “Jabba’s Dungeon” playset and he was always a favorite of mine.

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This pair of sadistic servoids were released as part of the Freeze Frame sub-line in POTF2. They’re on green cards and each one comes with a slide showing the character in a screen grab. This was a great gimmick, and I always regret not getting that special offer display holder and saving them all. I have bags full of various crappy coins that came with Star Wars figures over the years, but somehow, I never manage to save any of these cool slides. The back panels of the cards show a large clip-out version of the scene on the slide. You also get some shots of other POTF2 goodies.

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Let’s start with 8D8. I’ll take this opportunity to point out that my favorite droid designs in the Star Wars films are the ones that couldn’t possibly support actors inside them. I was pretty fascinated with robots when I was a kid and to me having a robot in the movie that wasn’t just a guy in a suit was way cooler, even if they were more puppets than actual robots. 8D8 is one of those designs and that makes him a winner in my book.

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The other cool thing about 8D8 is just how damn creepy he looks. His white coloring, exposed “ribcage,” and his thin arms and piston-driven framework legs make him look like some kind of deformed skeleton. He also kind of looks like robot Christopher Lee and he’s got that awesome hunchback configuration that makes him perfect for lurking around a dank dungeon. The sculpting here is particularly good for a POTF2 figure. He doesn’t suffer from the buffed out proportions and basically takes the original vintage Kenner figure and tweaks it in all the right places. 8D8 includes his droid branding device, which comes in two pieces and an articulated lever. It’s a nice piece to display beside him, especially if you have any unruly Gonk Droids lying around.

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Next up is EV-9D9, who is another one of those cool robot designs that couldn’t support a human actor and thereby makes my Top Droids of Star Wars list. Like a lot of bit characters in the Star Wars Universe, she’s also got a somewhat involved backstory in the EU that can be traced back to Cloud City. She’s a lot taller than 8D8 and much less creepy looking, but she does feature the same thin arms and legs. She has three beady little yellow eyes, one of which she apparently installed herself to detect the pain levels in droids! My favorite thing about her design in the movie was the little articulated mouth flap. Oddly enough, the vintage Kenner figure translated that into a gimmick on the figure, but the POTF2 version doesn’t attempt it. I also dig that you can turn her head around and she looks like she’s has a new head with giant bug eyes. She also has a screw running up her back in place of a spine. EV-9D9 has a great bronze and black two-tone deco and comes with her console table.

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Both droids feature the same five points of articulation. You get rotating heads, shoulders and hips. No big surprises there. Their limbs are pretty rubbery, but both figures can stand fairly well.

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While not technically part of Jabba’s Throne Room entourage, these guys are still going to make it into my Jabba display when I put it together. I think I’ll likely just create a little alcove off to the side. For a couple of droids that were only in the film for a few moments, I love these guys a lot more than I have any right to and I’d love to see them given the modern treatment one of these days.

Star Wars Legacy Collection: Princess Leia (Jabba’s Slave) by Hasbro

Alrighty, I’ve got five days ahead of me where I am committed to a regimen of features on figures from Jabba’s Palace. Let’s start with Slave Leia, because everyone loves Slave Leia… well, right up until she throttles you with her chains. There have been a few golden bikini clad Leias over the years, but today we’re looking at the one that was designed to work with the “Jabba’s Throne” set released by Hasbro right around the same time.

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There’s a long and tortured story behind me finally getting this figure into my collection. I paid no attention to it when it was first released, because I wasn’t collecting a lot of Star Wars and I doubted I had much chance of finding the “Jabba’s Throne” set because it was a Walmart Exclusive, and my Walmart seems to boycott their own exclusives. Nonetheless, eventually I got it and everything changed. I remembered Hasbro released a Slave Leia with the ability to sit on Jabba’s throne, only I didn’t know what series she was released in and I couldn’t find her anywhere. I thought I hit paydirt when I found the Vintage Collection figure, only to discover that she didn’t include the swappable lower half. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, when I was trawling Ebay for nothing in particular, that I stumbled upon a listing for her and grabbed her up.

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I’m pretty sure I’ve only picked up a couple of figures from this “Legacy Collection.” The packaging is so weird and so not Star Wars to me. The artsy cut edges of the card, the white background, the generic portrait of Leia, it’s no wonder I never paid much attention to this line when I saw it on the pegs. It’s not terrible, but it’s just bland and uninspired. I’d hate to see what the rejected Legacy package designs looked like. The large bubble shows off the figure and accessories pretty well, apart from the obnoxious Darth Maul head special offer sticker. It also displays the disembodied legs right next to the figure, which I thought was kind of odd. I guess since Hasbro was already hiding a Build-A-Droid part under the insert, there was no place to tastefully conceal Leia’s extra set of gams.

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Let’s start with Leia as she comes on the card. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but there’s something just a tad off about her. The face isn’t a slam dunk, but it’s not bad either. It’s not really Carrie Fisher, but the figure isn’t dog faced. Considering Hasbro’s track record with the portraits on Leia figures, this one is certainly passable, but not the best. Her bikini top and torso are nicely sculpted, and they even got some of the subtle muscle definition into her stomach. One of the little nagging issues is the way the chain around her neck and the pony tail over her shoulder make her cock her head to one side. You can take the chain off and bend the pony tail to the back to fix this, but it sucks that you have to. The ball joints also make her arms look rather funky looking, but I guess that’s the price we pay for articulation.

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The lower half of the figure has a sculpted belt, which secures a softgoods skirt and the figure looks fine so long as the skirt is covering her legs. If you get a good look at her legs, however, they seem short and stubby. Maybe this figure’s proportions are more accurate to Carrie Fisher, but all I know is she looked pretty damn good in that bikini, and that’s not necessarily reflected by the bottom half of this figure.

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Articulation includes ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. She has standard T-style joints in the hips, another ball joint under her breasts, and she can swivel at the waist. I don’t usually mind the T-crotch, but in this case, not having the ability to do a wider stance really hurts the figure.

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Of course, the main reason I got this figure is to display on Jabba’s throne. You can get some passable poses with her regular legs, but by the swappable lower half gets the job done better. The replacement legs are molded in one piece, along with her skirt and she is sitting on a pillow. The paintwork on the static legs isn’t as tight as it could be, there’s some bleeding between the flesh tones and the pillow, but the result still works really well and she certainly does look great sitting on Jabba’s throne.

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In addition to her extra set of extremities, Leia comes with a goblet and some kind of staff weapon. Similar looking weapons have been around since the Kenner vintage figure days, and I’ve never known what those things are. Is it a vibro axe? A force pike? A gun? How is that even used as a weapon? Is the top part sharp? Do you just use it to push people over the railings of the barges and skiffs? Somebody help me out here.

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The engineering behind this figure was a clever idea on Hasbro’s part and it certainly works well. That having been said, if we’re taking about the ass-kicking Sail Barge Slave Leia, I think I still prefer either the POTF2 or the POTJ versions of the character. I know, that sounds crazy. They are less articulated and the portrait isn’t quite as good, but they seem better proportioned to me. On the other hand, Legacy Leia works great as an accessory piece to Jabba’s Throne, and that’s what I bought her for, so it’s all good. Now I just have to decide whether Jabba’s got room for two bitches on his throne, or if Oola becomes Rancor food.