The Avengers: Bruce Banner and Hulk Movie Masterpiece 1:6 Scale Figures by Hot Toys, Part 2

I’m back and today we’re checking out Hot Toys’ Bruce Banner! This figure was available for purchase either by himself or bundled with The Hulk. I’ll be honest, I went into The Avengers not giving a crap about who the latest actor was that they tapped to play Dr. Banner and I came out of the movie totally blown away by Mark Ruffalo’s treatment of the character. One might expect to spend every moment Banner was on screen waiting anxiously for him to turn into Hulk and start smashing things, but I was captivated by Ruffalo’s performance. He did an amazing job and there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted a figure of him to add to my Hot Toys Avengers shelf. It’s not like we’re going to get him in any other action figure line, right?

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There he is! And yes, to the uninitiated, this is a very expensive figure of a nerdy looking guy in a suit. But we know he’s so much more than that. He’s the unassuming vessel that holds the pure rage of The Incredible Hulk. Let’s face it, Dr. Banner and The Hulk may be the same person, but they’re definitely two different characters. And my Avengers shelf would never be complete without this guy. Let’s start with the portrait.

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Hot Toys got a lot of guff among collectors over this portrait and I honestly cannot see why. No, it’s not one of their absolute best. Yes, it has it’s good angles and bad angles. But all I can say is in person I think it’s a solid representation of Ruffalo. At first I thought the complexion might be a little too dark, but the more I look at the more I think it’s just right.

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Banner comes wearing the clothes he had on when he boarded the SHIELD Helicarrier. The suit is absolutely fantastic. I genuinely believe it’s a lot easier for sixth-scale figure producers to tailor some of the crazy armors and outfits than it is to do a simple suit. In fact, one of the minor gripes about my 11th Doctor figure from Big Chief was that the tailoring on the jacket was rather puffy and the collar wasn’t quite right. Of course, that was Big Chief and this is Hot Toys and the tailoring on this suit is superb. The trousers and jacket are wonderfully proportioned and I always thought the purple shirt was a nice nod to The Hulk’s traditionally purple pants. The jacket is also pretty easily removed for when you want Banner to roll up his sleeves and start doing science. The entire ensemble is punctuated by a pair of stylish loafer feet.

What about accessories? Well, Banner is not exactly weighed down with extras. You do get the ubiquitous figure stand with “The Avengers” on it and a nameplate that reads “Bruce Banner.” You also get a ridiculous number of hands. Four sets of hands! Why??? There are two open hands, two item clutching hands, and two fists. I will never use most of these.

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You also get two tiny pieces that are basically part of Dr. Banner’s wardrobe. First, there’s the amazingly detailed wristwatch and second there’s the eyeglasses. I don’t have anything to say about the watch, other than it looks great and it comes in handy so that Bruce knows WHEN IT’S TIME TO DO SCIENCE! The glasses are nicely done for such a tiny accessory, but they don’t interact well with the figure at all. There are two tiny and very shallow holes in the figure’s hairline where the arms of the glasses are supposed to go. They fit fine, but there’s not enough depth there to hold them in place. It took a lot of angling trickery just to snap a picture of him wearing them. You could have him holding them, but even with four sets of hands, none of them seem particularly well suited to the task. I’ve decided they look best just tucked into the top button of his shirt collar. I wear glasses most of the time, but I don’t need them when I’m reading, so I tend to tuck them in there.

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The only big and noteworthy accessory is the Chitauri Spear. I’m pretty sure this is a straight repack of the shorter of the two spears that came with the Avengers Loki figure. I’m not complaining, mind you. It was a good accessory to include since Banner was holding it in the lab while the team was bickering. I’m also glad to have it because I didn’t buy the Loki figure from The Avengers, and I will likely buy The Dark World version and just give him this spear.

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In the end, I really dig this figure a lot. At around $190 by himself, he’s among the least expensive figures Hot Toys has put out lately, but that’s to be expected since he is just a guy in a suit. Nonetheless, had Hot Toys not offered The Hulk bundle I would have still ponied up for him alone, but that’s just because I never expected Banner to be so well integrated into the movie and I just loved the portrayal of the character. Thankfully, Hot Toys did offer the bundle and while $529 shipped is a hell of a lot to pay for a pair of action figures, The Avengers has become one of my favorite movies of all time, so it’s a solid investment for me. It’s an even better deal when you consider that The Hulk is selling for around $400 or so on Ebay all by himself, making this two-pack the most economical way to get him. As of today the set is still available through Sideshow Toys, but it’s been marked with the dreaded, “Hurry less than 90 remain.”  Anyone regretting not picking The Hulk up the first time around should definitely give this set a look. I’m certainly glad I did!

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The Avengers: Bruce Banner and Hulk Movie Masterpiece 1:6 Scale Figures by Hot Toys, Part 1

Alrighty, toyhounds, strap in because today’s a doozy! I’m checking out Hot Toys massive Bruce Banner and Hulk 2-pack. Ha… 2-pack! That’s a term that sounds appropriate for disposable razors and toilet paper, and not so much high end collectibles. Nonetheless, Hot Toys has taken their massive sold out Hulk figure and bundled it with their new Bruce Banner figure and wrapped it all up in one big $510 package. It may be two figures, but as far as collectibles go this set represents the most money I’ve ever dropped on a single box. Today I’m going to look at the packaging and The Hulk and tomorrow we’ll look at Dr. Banner.

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The box is massive. It’s so big that there was no way it was going to fit within the confines of my backdrop, so I just snapped it on my coffee table along with a can of Coke to establish scale. Sideshow wouldn’t lend me their apple. Despite its size, the box is designed to complement the package designs used for the other Hot Toys Avengers figures. The only real difference is that this one doesn’t have a sleeve. The front has an excellent shot of The Hulk and a rather poor shot of Dr. Banner. I’ve heard at least a few people complaining that the packaging here isn’t more special, but I’m rather pleased that they kept it in line with the rest of the series. Anyway, the top flap of the box opens and you can slide out the contents.

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Inside, you get a large foam tray that holds The Hulk and his two swappable hands. On the other side you get an equally large clear plastic tray that has Banner and all the other accessories. It’s certainly an impressive layout and there’s no better way to demonstrate the sheer size of The Hulk figure than seeing him in his tray next to Banner. Keep in mind, Banner is not a tiny figure. He’s actually taller than Black Widow and less than a head shorter than Thor. But we’ll get to that tomorrow. Suffice it to say, opening these trays and laying them out gave me a nice sense of value, even considering the ridiculous amount of money I laid out for this set. Let’s get The Hulk out of his tray and check him out.

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When standing fully erect, I’d say this guy is about 18-inches, putting him at about the same height as NECA’s ¼-scale figures. Of course on display, you’ll want to have him hunched over and even then he towers above your average Hot Toy figure and one of his fists is considerably larger than Thor’s whole head. What’s more this entire figure feels like solid, heavy plastic. The only place there’s any squishy parts is in the elbow jointing and the rest of The Hulk’s body is rock hard. Obviously a big part of Hot Toys’ wow factor comes from a combination of superb head sculpt and outfit crafting. The Hulk doesn’t have much to offer in the costuming department, although the torn pants are quite nice and fit the figure very well. The rest of the figure still manages to impress with an intricate muscular sculpt all sorts of tendons and veins and even some sculpted chest hair.

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Yes, there is exposed jointing in the figure, which can be a bit jarring for Hot Toys collectors, as they usually do a good job hiding it. Hulk’s elbow joints are concealed under the “skin” of the arms and the hips are concealed under the pants. The ball jointed shoulders are easily the most obvious and unsightly of the joints as you can clearly see the gaps in the torso where the shoulders fit in and move. Depending on how you pose Hulk, you’ll likely also be able to make out the knee joints. The wrist and ankle joints are also visible, but not nearly as much. None of what I’m saying here is meant as a criticism of the figure, but it’s worth pointing out just because it’s not the norm in a Hot Toys figure. It’s just a necessary evil for the articulation.

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And how about that head sculpt? The portrait here is nothing short of phenomenal. It’s obviously Hulk from The Avengers film, but at the same time it works beautifully as just an iconic Hulk portrait. The expression is pure rage and the eyes and teeth are so real looking that it’s just plain eerie. The sculpted hair looks great, although if you look close enough you can make out the seams where the top of the hair lifts off to grant access to the PERS system. PERS is the Parallel Eye Rotating System and it basically gives you access to tiny joysticks on the back of each eye so you can reposition them. It’s a very cool, and slightly off-putting, design that I honestly think could have been left out of The Hulk. His eyes are set so deeply that even when I reposition them it’s hard to notice any difference. Plus, the system works well with figures that require expressive changes based on different poses. The Hulk’s only expression is rage and the only place I need his eyes pointing are at the thing in front of him that he’s about to smash. I’m guessing Hot Toys wanted to add some value to the figure and seeing how big he is, it was rather easy to put in the PERS feature. Still, I doubt I’ll ever make use of it.

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Hulk comes with his two fists installed, but he also has two open hands, each with four poseable fingers. It’s rather easy to swap the hands and chances are I’ll probably have him displayed most of the time with a left fist out in front and his open right hand hanging back. The open hands also come in “handy” (HA!) for a couple of the extras that Hulk comes with in this set. And that brings us to the accessories!

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One of the complaints about The Hulk’s initial release was that he was very light on accessories. In fact, there were no accessories, not even a stand. All you got was the figure and the two extra hands. Hot Toys remedied that a bit with this release, by tossing in a few bits from previous sets. First, you get a diorama base with a dead Chitauri on it. I’m pretty sure this piece is a straight repack from the battle damaged Mark VII Iron Man Armor. It’s still a surprisingly fitting stand for The Hulk. It’s certainly big enough for him and there are even two places on the base that look like they were made for him to stand.

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You also get a pair of twisted girders or support beams, which Hulk can hold in his poseable hands. I’m pretty sure I read that these were recycled from another set too, but I don’t know what they came with originally. They’re pretty lightweight accessories, but I can’t deny it’s nice to have something for Hulk to look like he’s tearing apart.

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While I think Hot Toys had to sacrifice a bit of their wizardry for the type of figure this is, I’m still absolutely amazed by the way he came out. Sure the visible jointing steps on the uncanny illusion of realism that you get with most Hot Toys figures, but I find that it’s not making me love this big guy any less. Besides, I’d rather have the jointing than some kind of experimental rubber skin that’s going to tear over time. If you’ve already picked up the first release, the extras certainly aren’t enough to make anyone want to double dip, but probably enough to cry foul that the stand and girders weren’t included with the al a carte version of the The Hulk. Tomorrow, I’ll wrap up my look at this set with the Bruce Banner figure!

Doctor Who: “The Claws of Axos” Collectors Set by Character Options

Hooray It’s Classic Doctor Who time! I got this set in the same box as “The Daemons” Set, which I looked at ages ago. Needless to say this one’s been sitting in my receivings pile for a while now. I think I put off opening because I know that aside from the Doctor-Dalek Two Packs, this is the last Classic Who set we’re going to get from Character Options for quite a while. In any event, I should point out that this set shouldn’t be confused with the other “Claws of Axos” based two-pack, which included The Master and an Axon and was released way back in late 2010.

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The set comes in the same style box as the last Classic Who multi-packs. You get a deco that’s fairly reminiscent of the 70’s Pertwee Era. There are some stills of the characters and a blurb about the story on the back of the box. The set includes another variant of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, a new version of Jo Grant, and an Axon in humanoid form. If you have a problem with double-dipping on characters, this set might not strike you as a good value, but as we’ll see this is a very different (and much better) version of Jo Grant and as for The Brig, well I can never have too many figures of the beloved Brigadier. Since he features the most recycled parts, we’ll check him out first.

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And here we are: Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. So, what we have here is the same basic body as the last Brig release only with a new head sculpt. It’s the first time we’re getting The Brig wearing his UNIT beret and I like it a lot. It just seems more natural to me that if he’s wearing his tactical sweater he should have the beret rather than his officer’s cap. As a result, I tend to consider the Brig in his full dress uniform and this one as the two essential versions. You’ve got one Brig for Sunday Best and one to go out in the field and shoot aliens up the bracket. Sure, the figure that came with “The Daemons” set is a nice variant, but largely unnecessary.

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This time around The Brig only comes with his handgun, and it’s the same gun we’ve seen twice before. After the cornucopia of accessories that came with the last Brig, some collectors may find this set a little stingy with the extras. I could argue that another swagger stick would have been welcome, but that’s Ok, at least I got one with the last release.

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The last time we saw a Jo Grant figure was in the Three Doctors boxed set. It was an Ok figure, but I think CO phoned in the head sculpt. It seemed like a weird mix of old and young Katy Manning. This new figure reuses the same hair, but the portrait is a vast improvement. The outfit consists of a purple skirt, purple go-go boots, and a really funky top. It’s 70’s chic through and through. The paintwork here is also top notch, right down to the silver paint on her individual rings. Yes, the previous Jo Grant figure had swap out arms and a removable jacket, and this one offers no such surprises. Still, I think I’ll retire the previous release in favor of this one on my display.

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Last up, you get the Axon in his humanoid form. This is the way these guys looked when they first arrived on Earth and were trying to dupe us stupid humans. I really dig the design here, even if in the show it was just a painted unitard and a gold mask. The design works even better in action figure form. I’m not sure if the unitard was supposed to be clothing or skin in the TV show, but CO recreated the costume on the figure with all the little wrinkles. The gold paintwork is well done and I think this Axon head sculpt is right up there with the Voc Robot figures in its accuracy and attention to detail. Very nice!

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Articulation on all three figures includes the more modern ball jointed shoulders that so many of CO’s Doctor Who figures sadly lack. The arms also include hinged elbows, swivel cuts in the biceps and swivels in the wrists. The legs feature a T-crotch which includes lateral movement, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees. They can swivel at the waists and the heads can turn.

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It should come as no surprise that I love this set. The figures are all excellent and while two of the three are quite possibly characters that are already on every Doctor Who collector’s shelf, it’s still a set that is worth a look. The Jo Grant is definitely the better of the two versions released and I consider this version of The Brig to be a must have, right next to the one from The Three Doctors set. As for the Axon… who doesn’t want more Classic Who monsters on their shelves? Besides he displays real nice next to the Axon in its natural form. Still, opening this set has been bittersweet, because CO hasn’t shown off anything else quite like it, and it may very well be the last of these boxed three-packs from the Classic Series. And that makes me a very sad Whovian.

Marvel Legends Infinite: Red Skull by Hasbro

Well, it took me a while to do it, but today I’m going to wrap up my look at the Captain America wave of Marvel Legends Infinite. I know, I know. I haven’t featured Black Widow yet. She’s supposed to be getting a second release at some point, so I’m still trying to resist dropping forty bucks to get her unless I absolutely have to. Let’s check out Red Skull. Hail Hydra!

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There’s the packaging. I’ve got nothing new to add other than to reiterate how much I love the combination of peg hanging card and collector friendly box design. Red Skull comes with one of the arms of the BAF Mandroid and his accessories arranged around him on the tray. Keep in mind, this figure shares the slot with the Hydra Soldier so the name Red Skull doesn’t actually appear on the package. Instead, it just says Agents of Hydra.

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A lot of collectors have been referring to this figure as the “Nick Fury Red Skull,” but I think it would be more topical to call him “Punisher Red Skull” because this figure is like 95% Punisher. I’m not averse to the recycling of parts when it makes good sense and yeah, it kind of makes sense here. The trench coat, which we saw used as far back as Fantomex, is sort of appropriate, but it’s a very distinctive piece and it’s hard to look at it from a fresh perspective, particularly when I have two other examples of it standing on the same shelf. The rest of the figure also screams Punisher to me too much to make me look past the recycling. I think maybe it’s the fact that the coloring is so similar between them. At least the Hydra insignia on his shoulders are nice. Also on the plus side, I do really dig the comic inspired portrait. It’s a great head sculpt with some mighty nice paint to back it up.

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The articulation here is the same as we got with The Punisher, and why not? It’s practically the same figure. The head is ball jointed and includes the extra hinge to help him look up and down. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, double hinged at the elbows, have swivel cuts in the biceps, and the wrists have hinges and swivels. The legs are ball jointed with swivels at the hips, hinged at the knees, and the ankles have hinges and swivel. There’s also a ball joint in his torso. Some of the hinges are a little soft, but Red Skull is still fun to pose.

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Red Skull comes with three accessories. You get a Tesseract, and yes it’s just a clear blue cube, but hey who doesn’t want a 6-inch scale Cosmic Cube for their collection? You get a pretty dopey little red automatic pistol, and you get some kind of funky looking pistol, which I presume is meant to be Hydra technology. Red Skull has two functional holsters, one on his right hip and one in a shoulder holster. Unfortunately, only the red gun fits comfortably into them.

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I can’t deny it’s nice to add a Red Skull to my Marvel Legends shelf, but I would have liked something more unique than what we got. The recycling here isn’t a total reach, but it isn’t removed enough from The Punisher to make it work for me as anything other than a quick-and-dirty repaint and kitbash. I realize Red Skull wasn’t in the movie, but considering we didn’t get a 6-inch scale version from The First Avenger, now would have been a good time to do him justice.

Transformers Generations: Armada Starscream (IDW Comic Pack) by Hasbro

Hopefully next week I’ll get back to looking at some Bayformers on Transformers Thursdays, but today we’re checking out another IDW Comic Pack that I picked up a couple of weeks back. Everyone should know by now how much I loved Armada, and thanks to IDW using the Armada Starscream design in their comic, Hasbro delivered a Deluxe Class homage to that comic character and, in a roundabout way, the Armada toy as well.

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Yup, the Comic Pack may indeed be the highest evolution of action figure packaging. Starscream comes in his robot mode and in front of a reprint copy of the IDW comic spotlighting the character in his new body. Cool! The Armada Seekers were a big deal to me because it was the first time we had a proper set of Decepticon Seekers in a really long while. They may not have been the best toys, but I loved the design and I thought they looked great standing on the shelf together. Pity mine are gone now, but maybe someday I’ll pony up and replace them. Let’s start with Starscream’s jet mode.

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Armada Starscream is a sleek Cybertronian jet and a pretty good approximation of the original toy. Hell, he even features Minicon ports on his back and sides to drive that homage home. I think this design works really well as a Cybertronian Seeker, and as soon as I saw it replaced the old Tetrajet design in my mind. In addition to the stylish finned nosecone, Starscream carries on his back two large engines that double as missile launchers. The launchers are of the flick-fire variety, where you can jam on the back and they will shoot. The use of clear yellow plastic is new, but I think it complements the deco fairly well. Speaking of the deco, it seems to me that this version is a little heavier on the red and lighter on the grey than the original Armada toy. Then again, we are dealing with a treatment of the IDW character design and not the Armada toy. You also get three sets of folding landing gear.

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Transforming Starscream is extremely simple and quite reminiscent of the Armada figure. The end result is rather hollow, particularly when viewed from the back, but the robot mode works well as a scaled down version of the original. The proportions are cleaned up a bit with longer arms and while the articulation here isn’t exactly superb, it’s leaps and bounds better than the Armada toy. This is a figure that looks badass just standing on the shelf. And that headsculpt? Yeah, that’s pure Starscream!

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The biggest change to the design is actually a huge improvement to the original toy that allows the shoulder launchers to be angled in the upward position. With the launchers pointed up, you get a nice nod back to the shoulder intakes of the G1 Seeker design. You can still flip the launchers forward so they rest on the shoulders, but doing so makes them stick out the back pretty far. I love this new feature and really wish it had been incorporated on the Armada Seeker toys.

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Starscream comes with a pair of translucent yellow swords that fold up and store under his wings. The original Armada toy allowed you to remove part of his wing and turn it into a sword, so these swords are a pretty cool update to that idea. He looks great holding them, but because of the limited articulation, particularly the lack of swivels in the biceps or wrists, there’s only so much you can do with them vis-à-vis posing.

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In the end, I dig this figure a lot. He’s got some opportunities, mostly in the articulation department, but he’s a fun toy and he looks great on the shelf, even if I don’t really have a display where he fits in. It’s a shame that he’s doomed to be an oddball figure in my collection, particularly because of how unlikely it will be that Hasbro will deliver on Thundercracker and Skywarp repaints. Yes, I realize that such releases would make no sense against the IDW source material, but as an Armada fan, I’d really like to have a set of all three Seekers based off this mold.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Blade by Mattel

It’s that time again, kids! My monthly box from Matty Collector hit my doorstep earlier this week. Considering the sale was on the 15th and I got my sub figure on the 20th, I’d say that’s record time. It almost justifies the crazy shipping prices that Matty charges. Anyway, this month’s figure is Blade… yes, the bald eye-patch guy from the 1987 Masters of the Universe movie. I have absolutely no idea what the general nerd reception is for that movie these days. I kind of liked it back then, but I wasn’t a hardcore MOTU fan so it probably didn’t offend me as much as some. It’s probably been 20 years since I’ve seen it, and no… I am under no obligation to watch it for this review. I tell ya what, if Matty gets around to doing one more movie figure, I’ll watch it for that review. There, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Now, let’s look at the figure.

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Blade may be from the movie, but you wouldn’t know it from the packaging. There’s no sticker or anything declaring his Hollywood origins. You just get an awesome card and bubble with that glorious Greyskull-inspired green brick deco. The insert dubs Blade as the “Evil Master of Swords” and the bio on the back even gives a nod to the 1987 movie plot. I love the idea of folding all of this stuff into one uniform line of action figures and even if it does mean I have to watch the movie again, I really do hope we get more figures from the film. I’ll also confess that I never knew there was a Blade figure in the original MOTU toyline. Nope, I only just learned that today while poking around the Interwebs to remind me a little bit about the character in the film.

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There he is, and might I say, “Damn, this guy is bitchin!” He’s like some kind of techno-sky-pirate-warlord from one of those late-night Cinemax Post-Apocalypse movies. And I mean that in every way as a compliment. I don’t even know where to begin with this guy. I guess I’ll start with the armor. Blade is wearing a soft, rubbery vest and skirt that’s sculpted and painted to look like chainmail and the effect works brilliantly. If I wasn’t already in the know, I’d have to get in pretty close to see that all those chain links are faked out, especially with the way it falls down between his legs. It’s brilliant! The chain coat is beautifully adorned with a silver medallion in the center. The huge slabs of shoulder armor may be a tad much, but… hell, why not? In for a penny, in for a pound. If you’re going for a high intimidation factor, and I do believe this guy is, you might as well go all out and turn your shoulders into razor tipped walls. The whole ensemble is nicely rounded out with rings of sculpted daggers around each of his thighs and a dart gun mounted on his left bracer. Christ, this is one outstanding battle ensemble!

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The portrait is pretty sweet too. Blade’s bald head sports a nasty scar that disappears under his patched eye and he’s wearing a fierce scowl. His ears are covered with bladed back-swept wings and he’s even got a pair of spikes protruding out from his chin. What the hell are those for? Does he chin butt people? Sure, it’s crazy… crazy awesome! The hell with Eternia, Blade would be right at home in the Badlands, manning a custom gun turret on top of a battle wagon made out of a converted ’76 Ford Torino. Don’t tell me you can’t picture that!

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Blade comes with his trusty swords, each of which fit into loops on his belt for convenient carrying. He has one straight broadsword and one slightly curved cutlass-style weapon. Much has been made by the fan community about the paint operations being nixed from these swords. The cutlass is completely unpainted and the broadsword just has red paint on the crossguard. I get it, they would have looked better painted, but considering how much spectacular work was done on the figure itself, I can live with the unpainted weapons. Besides, they may still turn up all painted up in a weapons pack somewhere down the road. Of course, having to buy the painted swords separately will just give the fans something else to complain about.

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You also get a laser whip. I did not at all remember Blade having this in the movie until a friend set me straight and showed me some pics of He-Man getting the shit whipped out of him by Blade. It’s a cool accessory, but it doesn’t quite live up to the weapon in the film. Plus, I get a bit of a Gummi-Worm vibe from it. I don’t think I’ll display it with the character. His name is Blade not Whip, I want him to have his swords at the ready, not a licorice candy whip.

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Blade is yet another reason why I’m so very happy I subbed Club Eternia this year. Mattel went absolutely apeshit on this guy with all the new sculpting and paintwork and they turned out a truly amazing figure. Even if I wasn’t collecting this line, I think I’d want to have this guy on my shelf just because he’s dripping with 80’s sci-fi badassery. You’re not going to the display shelves yet, Mr. Blade. No, you’re going to hang out on my desk for a while so I can play with you on my downtime. Keep it up, Matty. You’re making 2014 a great year!

Feral Rex (Reformatted Series): R-04 Leo Dux (Squadron Commander) by Mastermind Creations

I’ve got two complete third-party combiners under my belt (TFC’s Uranos and Fansproject’s M3) and I love them both. So, it really means something for me to say that Mastermind Creations has been turning out the absolute best contenders in this field with their Feralcons. Bovis and Fortis are absolutely superb and now it’s time to check out their commander, Leo Dux (aka Not-Razorclaw). I split up the last two Feralcons into two features each, but I’m going to get to all of Leo in one shot, so let’s dig right in.

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The packaging is the same style we’ve seen with the previous two releases. Pay no attention to the R-04 number, because MMC has mixed up the order on these figures and Leo is indeed only the third release in the series. The figure comes in a pretty standard box with an opening front flap and a window that shows off the figure in robot form. I’m on record as not being terribly impressed with the presentation here. It’s not bad, it’s certainly collector friendly, but I don’t think the renders they use for character art do the actual figure any justice at all. In the end, I think it just comes down to my personal taste. Considering that being underwhelmed by the box art is the worst thing I’ll have to say in this entire feature, that’s a pretty good thing.

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In addition to the figure, you get Leo’s gigantic twin swords and some extra parts used for a few different things. Of course, also included are the ubiquitous profile card and a combination instruction booklet and comic book all in color. And lastly there’s a baggie of button batteries to be installed in Feral Rex’s head for a light up visor. I’m going to go ahead and start with Leo Dux’s alt mode.

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Yes, he’s a giant robot lion and a mighty awesome one at that. The aesthetic here is right in line with the beast modes of Bovis and Fortis creating a definite continuity of style. The color palette is mostly black with some yellow and red and is mostly achieved through colored plastic with some gold paint to add some zing. ZING! While he may not quite rival the chunky brute force of Bovis and Fortis’ beast modes, Leo Dux is still a beefy and powerful looking cyber-beastie. The transformation doesn’t hold many surprises and I love the fact that he doesn’t look like a robot standing on all fours and imitating a lion, like a certain other third-party homage to Razorclaw. Sorry, TFC, I calls it likes I sees it. Leo is nicely proportioned and thanks to the articulation in his legs you can get some cool poses out of him, which include everything from sitting to pouncing and running. But mostly I just like to stand him majestically. And speaking of majestic that best describes this guy’s superb lion head. He’s an angry looking kitty with intimidating red eyes and an articulated mouth that shows plenty of teeth. The mane is comprised of a series of orange blades with some snazzy gold paint on the front.

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The extra parts that came in the box are combined to complete the lion mode. Two pieces join together to fill in the lion’s breast cavity. The other parts combine to form his tail. If I had to choose something to nitpick here, I guess it would be the tail. It looks fine, but with only two points of articulation it’s very angular and stiff. Then again, maybe that’s what a robotic lion’s tail is supposed to look like.

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Leo Dux’s lion mode is rocking two laser cannons on his back, which peek out just over his mane. These can also be deployed in an elevated position to give him a better range of firepower. Lastly, you can peg his massive swords into the sockets on his rear legs to give him some side blades. I didn’t think I would dig this as much as I do. It doesn’t make much sense, but it sure does look badass. I mean, he’s a freaking lion with giant blades coming out of him. YEAH! I also appreciate the fact that, like Bovis and Fortis, you can display Leo in lion mode without any leftover parts.

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Transforming Leo Dux into his robot mode is quite straightforward and it feels just a bit easier than transforming Fortis and Bovis. In fact, the most fiddly thing about it for me was getting his lion mane packed up just right. As with his fellow Feralcons the plastic is incredibly high quality so there are no scary or precarious manipulations. When all is said and done, you’re left with an absolutely stunning figure. I literally love every little thing about this guy, from the way his lion head sits on his chest to the way the guns rise up from behind his back. And look at that head sculpt. It’s pure love. That is if love was a cold-blooded Decepticon. Leo is also a satisfyingly large figure, standing a good head and shoulders above Bovis and Fortis, and that’s not even counting his guns, which can also be angled forward into a firing position.

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Leo’s colors even out a lot more in robot mode than in his beast mode where black dominated. Here he uses a pleasing mix of mostly yellow, red, and black plastics to give him his striking deco. The shades match perfectly with Bovis and Fortis and he brings some nice matte gold paint to the table to make him distinctive. Because of all the colorful plastic, there isn’t an overabundance of paint operations, but what’s here is clean and tastefully done.

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As with Bovis and Fortis, Leo Dux makes use of all the parts in whatever mode he’s in. The tail and chest pieces all combine together to form a mace. I’ll admit, this is not the most exciting weapon, but there’s nothing wrong with it either and I give MMC points for trying. The two swords can be wielded in each hand or they can be combined together to form one big ass sword. Lastly, the back cannon can be removed and used as arm cannons if you so desire. And seeing as how Leo doesn’t come with any handguns, the option to mount the cannons on his arms is a very welcome feature.

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While I now have enough parts to build the legs and torso of Feral Rex, I’m going to keep with tradition and save that until I have a complete set. Besides, this feature has gone long enough today, so I’m going to wrap things up. Suffice it to say, I’ve been blown away by MMC’s Feralcons from Day One and here we are three figures in and this set seems to keep getting better. The quality, the engineering, and the fun of these figures all delight me to no end. I’ll go one further than that: Right now Leo, Bovis and Fortis are without a doubt three of my favorite figures in my Transformers collection and that’s saying a lot. I’m even more excited about the last two, Talon and Tigris, just because they’ll each represent unique molds and add a greater dynamic to the team.

Marvel Universe: Cloak and Dagger by Hasbro

Surely everyone has heard by now that the Marvel Universe 3 ¾” line is dead, but in reality it’s just being rebranded as the Marvel Infinite line. While the MU line and I have had our ups and downs, I’ve been a loyal collector from the early waves and even though it’s just a name change I’m still sorry to see it go. I haven’t looked at anything from this line since back in November of last year, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been buying them. I actually have a sizeable stack of unopened MU figures that I’d like to get through before I start covering the Infinite figures. So, let me try to get back on track with that today with a look at Cloak and Dagger.

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I was first introduced to this pair when I was about 15 when I bought the four-issue miniseries from 1983 in a used bookshop downtown. I don’t remember the exact circumstances, but considering my age at the time, I’m thinking I picked it up for three reasons: Dagger’s tight white unitard on the cover and boobs. I never thought this pair would ever make it to Marvel Universe but I’m certainly glad they did. The last time I owned these characters in figure form it was that unfortunate boxed set from Toybiz. Here they come single carded on the usual MU packaging. The excellent character art features both characters and the insert identifies them only as “Marvel’s Knights.” Uh-oh. You know what that means! Yes, Hasbro offered this duo as two variants in one slot and it’s a terrible f’cking idea. Who is going to want just Cloak or Dagger? Why do you do this shit to your customers, Hasbro? Fortunately, I was able to snag a pair online for only eleven bucks a figure. Let’s start with Cloak.

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Cloak was a really easy figure to make. He features a totally black buck with a newly sculpted head and cape. The cape is what you would probably expect. It’s sculpted to billow out and it fits right over the neck post. There’s some decent texturing, a grey clasp at the neck, and the back has dark blue striping, which represents some of the only paintwork on the figure. The sculpt of the cape doesn’t interfere too much with articulation, although the fact that it falls just short of the ground make Cloak a bit back heavy.

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The head sculpt includes the hood all as one piece and it creates a nice illusion that it’s part of the cape. The head sculpt is excellent, with a suitably stern, almost blank expression. The face is painted brown and the eyes are white, which makes a nice effect of the eyes shining through from the hood.

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The buck isn’t the most articulated of the modern 3 ¾” bodies, but it is close. You get ball joints in the neck, shoulders, hips, and ankles. There are single hinges in the elbows and doubles in the knees. You get swivels in the biceps and wrists, and a ball joint in the torso. The key thing missing here are the thigh swivels, which appear on what I consider to be the ultimate buck that Hasbro uses in this scale. It’s no biggie, although I do kind of miss the rockers in the ankles.

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Moving on to Dagger, here we have another pretty easy figure for Hasbro to produce, as she makes use of the standard modern female buck with a new head popped on. The pearlescent white they used for her bodysuit looks fantastic and the dagger shaped cut out down her front is decently executed. My figure had some black spots on her white paint, which had me worried until I got the figure open and was able to scratch them off with my thumb nail. Not to take away from Dagger, but I can’t help but think with a little fresh paint and some tiny roller skates and Hasbro could easily turn this figure into a mighty nice Dazzler.

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The head sculpt is good, but maybe a tad too intense. The paint is nice and clean and the hair looks fantastic, even if it does inhibit the neck articulation a bit. I think my biggest gripe here is the plastic used on the face is really waxy and can be a little distracting.

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In terms of articulation, Dagger brings her A-game. You get ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, torso, hips, and ankles. Her elbows are hinged and her knees are double-hinged. You get swivels in the wrists, thighs and calves. The neck is both ball jointed and hinged, and you get rockers in the ankles. Nice! The hinges are a little soft on my figure, but that often comes with the territory on the skinny chicks.

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Yes, Cloak and Dagger were easy figures for Hasbro, but that doesn’t make me appreciate them any less. This pair is a very welcome addition to my menagerie of Marvel Universe figures and I’m very happy I was able to score both at a reasonable price. In fact, the only criticism I have is that the way they were released seems to have been designed to torture and agitate fans and collectors. Hasbro simply should not have gone the variant route and it only serves to remind me of the fact that I’m still missing one of the Legends Wrecking Crew for the very same reason. WHERE’S MY BULLDOZER, HASBRO??? I know Hasbro doesn’t do Universe two-packs, but they do those three-packs, so they could have tossed in a Spectacular Spider-Man and made this an easy boxed set.

Marvel Comics: Miss Marvel (70’s Version) Statue by Bowen Designs

It’s only been the past couple years that I’ve really started to appreciate and collect statues. The overwhelming majority of the pieces that I own are from Kotobukiya, but I’ve been meaning to branch out and pick up something from Bowen Designs for a while now. I’ve had a number of these statues on my radar for a little while, but Miss Marvel now has the honor of being my first purchase. It may seem like an odd first choice, but I’m really into her current book, Captain Marvel, and the retro sex-appeal of her Bronze Age costume has always been one of my favorite looks for her.

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The statue comes in a nice big box to accommodate what is essentially a 1:6 scale statue on a raised base. The deco here features a sort of marbled deco with a collage of Marvel character names and sillouettes. It also points out that this piece was digitally sculpted by Jason Smith and that it measures about 12.5 inches tall. There are nice big photos of the statue itself, and while the box warns that the actual statue appearance may vary, I think the final release matches up to the box photos quite well.

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Inside the box you get a thick styrofoam coffin. The lovely Ms. Danvers requires some rudimentary assembly. She plugs into the base via a peg on the bottom of her right foot and the peg fits quite comfortably and holds the statue securely. I’m also pleased to see that both feet make good contact on the base. The scarf gets placed on her shoulders and is secured via two generous tabs, and finally the head goes on, secured by a strong magnet.

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The composition of this piece goes for a sense of simple heroic majesty. Ms. Marvel has her feet placed at a somewhat wide stance and leaning her weight on her right leg so as to jut out her hip ever so slightly. Her hands rest on her hips and she gazes off to her left as her scarf billows off to her right. I love the pose, as it really captures the spirit of the character: Heroic… noble… and certainly sexy.

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Yes, the sculpt captures her shapely form perfectly. Carol’s certainly got all the right curves in all the right places and a particularly stellar tush. I love the way this outfit shows off her legs and the exposed belly button is a nice touch too. I think they did a nice job with the way the hands rest on the hips with the fingers slightly splayed. All of the edges of her costume are sculpted in, as are the little wrinkles at the backs of her high heeled boots and in her gloves and elbows.

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The portrait is also excellent. The expression is quite neutral and there’s a sense of natural beauty to her face. The lips are ever so slightly pursed her mask is part of the sculpt. In keeping with the Bronze Age look, I really dig the short hair, although it’s admittedly a fuller style than she wears in the Marvel NOW Universe. Maybe the sculpted hair is a little chunky, but that seems often to be the case with these statues, and it certainly doesn’t look bad.

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From what I can tell, Bowen has had some issues with paintwork. It’s one of the things that has made me squeamish about buying these online. Nonetheless, I have to say that I’m quite satisfied with the paint on this piece. The skin tone is smooth and even and I like the wash used on her legs to highlight some of the muscles around her knees. The high gloss red and blue used for her outfit looks great and the lines are mostly clean and fairly sharp with just a few instances of overstep here and there. There certainly aren’t any outstanding flubs that detract from the statue.

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The base is a raised disc with The Avengers emblem sculpted into the face of it. I’ve seen this base used on other statues and I absolutely adore this particular design. I just think it looks great and it’s the perfect mix of utility and style. The bottom of the base has the limitation information. Mine is #733 out of 750 pieces.

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After shopping around for this statue an awful lot, I was finally able to get a decent deal and in the end she set me back $165 shipped and I’m very happy with the price. The quality of the piece is fantastic from the sculpt to the paintwork and she looks damn fine standing on my shelf beside my Kotobukiya Iron Man. Of course, it helps that my favorite version of the costume happens to be the easiest and least expensive version of Ms Marvel to get, although I’m not ruling out throwing the money at Bowen’s Warbird statue at some point in the future before it gets any higher.

Transformers Generations: Scoop (IDW Comic Pack) by Hasbro

I love the idea of Targetmasters. Who wouldn’t want a couple of friends that turn into guns? But I was already getting out of Transformers when this new breed of Transformers was arriving on the scene. I did, however, somehow manage to get Scoop and his two little buddies. I think he was my only one, but it’s possible I had Targetmaster Blurr as well. I don’t know if it was because I finally had an Autobot construction vehicle or because of the whole Targetmaster gimmick, but I really dug that G1 Scoop figure a lot and thanks to the character’s appearance in the IDW comic, this unlikely figure has gotten a long overdue update in the Generations line.

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Yes, as unlikely as it is to see an update to Scoop, it’s even more incredible that he comes with a comic book spotlighting the character. But that’s what I always liked about the IDW comics, they draw their character roster from a deep well of Transformers lore. We’ve seen this packaging many times before, so I don’t have anything new to say about it, except it’s still among my favorite of all the Transformers packages. You get the figure in robot form with his two Targetmasters, Tracer and Holepunch, beside him and a bonus reprint comic book in the background. How can you go wrong? You can’t! Let’s start with Scoop in his alt mode.

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Obviously, that alt mode is an orange payloader vehicle and in that sense it definitely pays respect to the original G1 toy. It’s a fairly simple sculpt with some articulation in the front scoop and it holds together and rolls along great. There are some notable details, like the molded ladders on the sides of the driver’s cabin, but that’s about it. There’s also not a lot of paintwork to speak of. You get a lot of orange plastic and black wheels. I’ve been known to jump all over Hasbro for how much they’ve scaled back on paint operations on recent toys, but in the case of Scoop’s alt mode, I don’t think it hurts the toy any. Construction vehicles aren’t meant to be flashy, and besides, Hasbro saved most of the color for Scoop’s robot mode, which I think was a rather good choice.

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There are three sets of peg holes on Scoop’s alt mode that can fit the Targetmaster guns. The two above his rear wheels don’t work so well because the guns bump up against the fenders. The ports between the two wheels work Ok, but I prefer to stick them onto the two top holes.

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Transforming Scoop doesn’t feel all that much different from the original toy. It’s extremely simple when going to robot mode. It was only when going back into vehicle mode that I had to ponder what exactly to do with the arms. Either way, the end result is a very clean and wonderfully proportioned robot. Scoop wears his scoop on his back and two of his wheels fall proudly on his shoulders. Some blue paint apps nicely recreate the chest stickers from the original toy and he’s got a crisp Autobot insignia stamped on his chest.

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Scoop sports some simple but effective articulation, which compliments his clean robot mode. With ball joints and hinges in the shoulders, ball joints in the hips, and hinges in the elbows and knees, Scoop feels very action figure-y, making him a lot of fun to play with and pose. If I have one complaint about Scoop it would be that he feels very hollow. The legs are hollowed out, the arms are hollowed out, and he’s rather light even for a Deluxe. But, maybe that’s more of an observation than a complaint, because it really doesn’t affect my enjoyment of the figure at all.

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The Targetmasters, Tracer and Holepunch, are simple, but oh so awesome. They represent some fantastic sculpting and paintwork for such little figures. These guys are a lot more stylized than the Nightstick figure that Hasbro released with Classics Cyclonus and I really dig that. Their articulation and transformation is simple, but that’s to be expected, and in the end you get a nice pair of little figures and a decent pair of guns. You can even combine the two into one ridiculous and unwieldy weapon just like you could with the original G1 figures.

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With distribution on these IDW comic packs being so poor in my area and online prices getting crazy, I all but gave up on getting many more of these. Nonetheless, a little persistence netted me Scoop for just a couple of bucks over regular retail and I’m mighty glad to have found him. He may not have been high on everyone’s list of Transformers that needed an update, but it’s hard to argue with results like this. He’s a fairly simple figure, but he’s easily among the best modern redesigns of a classic figure that Hasbro has done. He’s a great looking figure and super fun to play with… and hey, two Targetmasters! What’s not to like?