Batman (Classic TV Series) Quarter-Scale Figure by NECA

This big guy has been setting unopened on my shelf for way too long, but that shouldn’t reflect poorly on my interest in him. No, I’ve been saving him for just the right time. That turned out to be this past weekend,  because the Hot Toys version of the 1966 Caped Crusader started shipping and since the reports of the super delicate body suit has officially scared me off of dropping $200 on him, I thought I’d settle for this giant Adam West as my consolation prize.

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This figure is the fourth of NECA’s Quarter-Scale line in my collection, and my second Batman, so the packaging here doesn’t hold many surprises. It’s a simple and huge window box that displays the figure well and offers up all that kitschy charm of the old TV series. Even the cardboard tray inside is illustrated with all that cartoony artwork in the style of the TV Show’s opening credits. The back panel has more of the same and does a nice job showing you what kind of accessories are inside.

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The figure comes secured by a plethora of plastic ties, so you better come prepared with your Bat-Snippers. All the extra bits come secured in trays under bubbles on each side of the figure. The box is totally collector friendly, and if you’re buying this guy in an actual store, you should be able to scrutinize the figure you’re buying quite well to avoid any blemishes or unsavory paint surprises. If you aren’t familiar with the sheer size of these figures, Batman stands about 18-inches tall. That puts one of Mattel’s Batman figures at a height roughly equivalent to this guy’s knee. They’re big!

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Freed of his diabolical trap, I gotta say NECA did a really nice job on this sculpt. Sure, Adam West’s Batsuit isn’t the most detailed ensemble to reproduce, but I still have to give props for how good it looks. I was a little concerned that it might look bland or spartan in this huge scale, but instead it just looks downright impressive. The body suit is an even grey, which is possibly a little too dark, but not enough of a divergence for me to get upset about. The plastic simulated material used for the boots, gauntlets, undies, and cowl, on the other hand, is downright perfect. These parts have just the right amount of sheen and some brilliantly sculpted wrinkles. The batsymbol on his chest is neatly printed and the yellow is bright and vibrant.

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As with NECA’s giant Keaton Batman, the cape comes pretty rumpled out of the box. It does improve a bit after being allowed to fall naturally. I keep meaning to pick up either an iron or a cheap steamer and have a go at these capes. I think the results would be pretty phenomenal. Batman’s cape is secured around his neck with a metal chain clasp and it’s designed so that it can fall over his shoulders or it can be neatly folded back so as to be worn off the shoulders and out of the way.

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The portrait here is excellent. Not only is it a decent likeness to West, but I’m super impressed by the way the head is constructed to give depth and credibility to the mask. The head is obviously a full head with the mask layered on top of it and the result is that if I didn’t know better I’d swear it was removable. Of course, it isn’t. The skin tone is excellent as is the faint pink paint on the lips. Still, I think it’s the eyes that really drive this portrait home. The glossy paintwork is absolutely phenomenal and better than anything they’ve done on any of these Quarter Scale figures that I’ve seen before. There really is an uncanny spark of life in Batman’s peepers.

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The utility belt hangs on the figure so that it can be repositioned if needed. The pouches are all sculpted on and you actually get one loose pouch that clips onto the belt. It doesn’t open or hold anything, so I’m not sure why NECA did it, but it’s there nonetheless. The belt buckle opens to reveal the Communicator button. It’s worth noting that the hinge on the buckle feels extremely fragile, although I don’t see any signs of it breaking.

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The articulation here is well beyond what I expected. Previous Quarter Scale figures in my collection have had serviceable points, but most of the articulation was in the arms and everything else felt like it was just there for tweaking. Batman’s articulation makes him feel like an actual action figure and not just a giant display piece. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, double-hinged elbows with a great range of motion, and hinges and swivels in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and knees, the ankles have hinges and the feet are hinged in the middle. There’s a ball joint in the torso and the head is ball jointed as well. There’s a lot of great poseability here and the leg joints are strong enough to hold the bulk of the figure. My only real gripe is that I would have preferred rockers in the ankles over the hinged feet. It’s also worth mentioning that I had to do a lot of gentle coaxing to unstick a a few of these joints.

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Before we get to accessories… let’s inventory the hands. Batman comes with a total of three pairs of hands, all of which can be swapped just by unplugging the pegs. You get a pair of fists, a pair of Batusi hands, and a pair designed to interact with the accessories. The Batusi hands are also really good for hooking the cape on if you want to display Batman with his cape spread outward.

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Batman comes with a pair of Batarangs, one of which folds up and can be stored in a pouch, which can be clipped onto the back of the utility belt. It’s rather bulky, but a nice option nonetheless. I really dig the fact that you get two Batarangs, and both have holes so you can attach a string if you so desire.

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You also get the Bat Communicator, which is a really nice piece that has a pair of telescoping antenna. That’s all there is for the accessories. Not bad, but a can of shark repellant would have been pretty cool.

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I have to say that this Batman is possibly my favorite entry into this NECA line since Captain America. I expect these giant figures to be great display pieces, but this guy is the first one of these Quarter Scales that I had trouble putting down because I couldn’t stop playing with him. Size be damned, he’s just an incredibly fun action figure and well worth a look if you want a giant conversation piece to express your love for the Adam West Batman. At about $90, these giant NECA figures still feel like a good deal, but considering the fact that I got Batman here on sale for $75 shipped, he turned out to be an extremely good deal. As always, the only downside with these figures is having to find the space to display them. Right now I have all of mine still in their boxes and lined up on the bottom shelf of one of my book cases, but as soon as I can find some extra room, they’re going out!

Oh yeah, NECA… I’m waiting for my Quarter Scale Robin!

 

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen: Swerve by Hasbro

It’s Week #4 of Transformers Thursday held hostage and that means I’m serving up yet another Bayformer. This time my random grab into the bin of robots from the live action movies pulled up a Revenge of the Fallen figure. It’s Swerve! Swerve was not actually in the film. He’s one of those Expanded Universe characters and he is in fact a repaint of RotF Sideswipe with a new head. For those of you Bayformer fans that fear all of these features are just going to be a lot of hate mixed with lukewarm acceptance, today should be a treat because I actually love this figure. Let’s start with the alt mode…

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Swerve is a red Corvette Stingray and he is absolutely gorgeous. Sure, it helps a lot when your basing your toy off of a dead sexy car like this one, but Hasbro also did a fine job creating this alt mode. Swerve is a bit of a shellformer, but I don’t find the seaming on this car all that unsightly. There are not a lot of paint apps to speak of but this car doesn’t look like it’s missing anything. The exhaust and front grill are painted black and there’s a little touch of gold on the hood ornament. It works fine and looks great. The windows are tinted black so as not to let you all the ugly robot parts crunched up inside. The tires and wheels are fantastic sculpts and the headlights are clear plastic. The final touch is a neat little Autobot emblem printed on the rear license plate. Fabulous!

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Swerve can be a bit of a bitch to get cracked open, but once I got him going, I was pretty good at transforming him, even after not having seen him for a couple of years. I will note that I like to mis-transform Swerve by making a back plate out of his hood, instead of him wearing it up on the back of his shoulders. It helps differentiate him from his brother, Sideswipe and I think it looks pretty good. As far as Bayformer aesthetics go, I’ll just come out and say that I think Swerve is a gorgeous design. He’s rather unique in that he wears the back of the car as his chest, rather than the front. There’s also just enough mix of car plates and complex inner robot parts that makes him feel like he’s straddling the design elements of regular Transformers and the movies.  And the coloring here is superb. In addition to the red and black plastic, you get some sharp metallic silver paint operations and a little bit of gold too.

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I’m on record as not being a big fan of the Bayformer heads, but I dig Swerve’s. He’s still as ugly as all hell, but I can’t help but appreciate the staggering amount of detail and beautiful paintwork that went into his tiny noggin. Look at those teeny tiny intakes on the sides of his mouth. That’s brilliant!

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There are also some particularly cool things worth pointing out here. First off, I love the pistons in his hips. These are made of soft plastic and articulate with his legs. Second, the configuration of his feet allow for them to convert to wheels so he can roller skate into battle. Yes, it does make standing him up more than a bit troublesome, but I think the tradeoff is worth it. His exhaust pipes wind up angled upward behind his head and naturally I like to think of these as mortar launchers, because who wouldn’t want to be able to launch mortars from their back? And lastly, the pointed armor on his forearms swing down to form battle spikes. I absolutely adore the way this works. It’s a wonderful added weapon gimmick that adds a lot of personality to the figure.

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So there you have it. I may have been a little guarded in my appreciation for figures like Bonecrusher and Longarm, but I’m coming out in full support of Swerve. He’s a beautiful figure that proves to me that the movie aesthetics can work quite well. He also represents some very clever engineering for a Deluxe and he manages to pull off looking great in both car and robot modes. I was going to toss in some pictures of Sideswipe too, but that would be cheating on the whole random nature of this little Bayformer exercise. Who will it be next week? We’ll just have to wait and see!

Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor and Dalek Alpha by Character Options

As much as I bitch and moan about the demise of the 5-inch line of Doctor Who figures, the truth is that CO is still managing to deliver some product to the hands of us collectors. One little sputter of activity has been the release of a whole slew of Doctor and Dalek two-packs. While seeming to be mere repacks, each one of these sets actually does feature some form of new figure, either repaint or re-sculpt. While I will no doubt eventually collect all of these sets, some have garnered more attention and excitement from me than others and the one I’m looking at today was the one that had me quite excited indeed. Why? Because of it, I finally added the Eighth Doctor to my shelf!

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The window box here should be familiar to anyone collecting the line. It’s compact, collector friendly and it displays the figures quite well. You get a very vintage style Doctor Who logo on the front as well as the Doctor Timeline on the bottom. This set is somewhat unique in that the inspiration isn’t pulled from a TV story, but rather the comic strip “Children of the Revolution” which was published in Doctor Who Magazine. It makes sense, since Eight only made a single TV appearance (ok two if you count “Night of the Doctor”) so virtually any new set featuring Paul McGann as the Doctor would have to come from a comic or a Big Finish audio production. Oddly enough, the box doesn’t tell you anything about who Dalek Alpha is nor does it give you a synopsis of the comic, so I’ll step in here: To put it succinctly, Alpha was one of three Daleks genetically altered with a human element, a concept that dates all the way back to the Second Doctor story, “Evil of the Daleks,” and he was encountered by the Eighth Doctor in the comic.  Let’s bust open this set and start with a look at The Doctor.

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As far as I can tell, Eight has only been available in figure form by buying the huge Eleven Doctors set. As much as I wanted him, I wasn’t prepared to pay $100+ and get minor variations on all the other Doctors to do it. Yes, I am indeed the same person who twenty years ago would have sold one of my kidneys for Doctor Who figures and now I’m bitching about buying variants. There’s just no pleasing some people! Nonetheless, I decided to play the waiting game to see if CO would release him again later on down the road. They haven’t and that’s why this figure is such a welcome addition to my collection. Of course, he’s not the same figure that came in the box set, but at least I finally have Eight on my shelf.

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I haven’t read the comic, so I don’t know exactly what his costume looked like in it. This figure, however, gets by with a convenient repaint of the figure from the previous release. It’s the same Elizabethan style suit with a cravat, double buttoned vest, and a long overcoat. The coat this time is painted blue, the cravat is a sort of ochre, the vest is brown, and the trousers are tan. All in all the costume is sculpted quite nicely and the paintwork is all clean right down to the chain on his fob watch. I like the costume here well enough, but it’s worth mentioning that the paint on the original Eighth Doctor figure is much more interesting and dynamic.

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The portrait is certainly a passable likeness of Paul McGann, although I think it’s one of the weaker efforts among all the Doctor figures. I’m not saying it’s bad, I can certainly tell who it’s supposed to be, but it just isn’t a total slam dunk to me. Nonetheless, the hair is quite good and as with the rest of the figure, the paintwork on the face is top notch.

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Eight features the standard articulation for this line. The arms rotate at the shoulders, swivel at the biceps and wrists, and are hinged at the elbows. The legs are hinged at the hips for universal movement, swivel at the thighs and are hinged at the knees. Both the head and the waist can swivel. The Doctor’s right hand is sculpted to hold a sonic screwdriver and since he didn’t come with one, I leant him one from one of my many Fourth Doctor figures.

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Moving on to the Dalek, I have to once again confess to not having read the comic, so I can’t really vouch for how accurate this guy is, but he is certainly a cool looking piece. Alpha looks like he’s a repaint of one of CO’s “Destiny of the Daleks” figures with a new eyestalk and one of the original Dalek guns swapped on. For someone who has been a fan of the show for nearly 30 years, you’d think I’d be better at telling my Daleks apart. The deco on this Dalek is very striking. He’s red and silver with black sensor domes and skirt and I really dig finally getting a Classic-style Dalek with some color to it. He also as a silver Alpha symbol painted on his dome right beside his eyestalk. I’ve had a few issues in the past with the paint quality on my Daleks, but this one is done very well. There’s virtually no slop or bleeding and the silver and red paint on the mesh between his slats is downright impressive.

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In the end, the only downside to this set is the price tag. I got mine for $40 and I was lucky to get it for that, because of all these Doctor-Dalek sets, this one seems to be the hardest to find. My regular retailer sold out of it almost immediately, but I was able to get in on a second shipment that they received. At twenty bucks per figure, these two certainly aren’t cheap, but they’re quite unique and I don’t feel at all squeamish about dropping $20 each on figures from my all-time favorite property. Just the fact that figures like this exist still blows my mind, so I’m not going to quibble about the price.

Game of Thrones Legacy Collection: Tyrion Lannister by Funko

The last time I looked at Funko’s Game of Thrones figures, I was left with what could best be called satisfied apprehension. The Hound and Jon Snow are both great looking figures that required a lot more care and tinkering than mass market releases should warrant. Nonetheless, I promised I would press on and try a couple more and to that end a box from Amazon arrived last week with the next two figures for my collection. Today we’re checking out Tyrion Lannister, a fantastic character in the books and one that I think has been elevated to even further greatness by the wonderful performance of Peter Dinklage.

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The figure comes in a splendid window box, which is also designed to hang on a peg. The deco is simple, clean and attractive. There’s a faint linen-like deco to the box and the front has the name of the figure as well as his House’s sigil. The back of the package has a shot of Tyrion from the show and a list of other figures available in this wave. Obviously, Tyrion is a little person and that certainly comes across from all the vacant space in the package. Everything here is collector friendly and as with the previous two figures, when I opened Tyrion I was confronted with a smell that has doubtfully ever been equaled in the annals of action figure marketing. Holy hell, I don’t know what kind of noxious plastic Funko is using, but it really reeks something fierce.

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This figure is based on Tyrion in his battle armor from when he was attached to the Vanguard of the Lannister army. While it’s a very specific, not to mention atypical, version of the character, these are action figures, and so I think it makes sense to go with the more action orientated Tyrion as opposed to drunk, whoring, court Tyrion. Gentle Giant is behind the sculpting on this line and it certainly shows. Tyrion sports not only a great likeness and great proportions, but he’s brimming with little details.

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The portrait is every bit a great likeness of Peter Dinklage. I especially like the sculpting of the hair and the pensive expression on his face. The paintwork here is quite good, from the work on his eyes to the unshaven stubble, and even the painted skin tone.  I should point out that the paint used on his lips stands out far less in person than it does in pictures.

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The armor is an equally impressive combination of sculpted detail and excellent paintwork. The cuirass has a very realistic coppery finish to it with sculpted straps and rivets and an embossed lion just under the collar. The gold chain is neatly painted as are the fixtures on the retaining straps. You get carefully painted laces on the insides of his arm bracers and shoulder armor has more embossed and painted lion heads. The skirt and shoulder armor are all made from very soft and pliable plastic so as not to impede the hip or shoulder articulation.

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Uh-oh, what about that articulation? The biggest issue with The Hound and Jon Snow were the stuck joints. Well, I’m happy to report that all the joints on my Tyrion are absolutely perfect. Nothing had to be boiled, baked, frozen, or worked and he was fully poseable right out of the box. Tyrion features a ball joint in the neck that allows for a generous amount of movement. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders and elbows and swivels and hinges in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and knees and have swivels and hinges in the ankles. He can also swivel at the waist. All the joints feel nice and solid.

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Tyrion comes with one accessory… his trusty axe. It too is a carefully crafted piece with beautiful detailed paintwork on the handle and a little battle damage sculpted into one of the axeheads. Tyrion’s hands are designed so he can hold the axe in either hand or both.

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I really am pleased to say that everything about this figure is excellent. In fact, the only room for nitpicking here might be the price. Tyrion sure uses a lot less plastic than The Hound and yet both figures cost the same. Clegane even came with two swords, while little Tyrion only comes with the axe. Funko could have probably found something else to throw in there to sweeten the deal a bit. Maybe a Tyrion and Joffrey two-pack? Ah, but that doesn’t mean I regret buying this figure at all. He’s a superb piece of action figure craftsmanship and well worth the money to me. The paint, the sculpting, everything just comes together splendidly, making me quite excited to see what else this line has in store for us. And hopefully we will still be getting that drinking, whoring, version of King’s Landing Tyrion, because I’d certainly buy that one too! And Bronn… Bronn is a must!

Marvel Legends Infinite: Black Cat by Hasbro

So, a couple of weeks back that new Spider-Man movie came out. I am wholly unmoved by the Garfield reboot so l figured I’d catch it on Blu-Ray at some point. Then some friends were going to see it and I allowed myself to be dragged along. I thought it was pretty terrible, but that’s a discussion for another time and place. I was similarly unmoved by the wave of Marvel Legends figures that preceeded the movie, however, I did pick up the Superior Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man and liked them a lot. But wait, wasn’t there one more figure that I wanted out of that wave? Oh yeah, it was the impossible to find Black Cat. I broke down and paid a bit of a premium for her last month and she’s been sitting on my stack of unopened figures ever since. Time to remedy that, eh?

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We’ve seen the new Legends Infinite packaging around these parts plenty of times so I won’t bother going on about it. I like it a lot, and because Black Cat comes with the Ultimate Goblin’s torso, there’s certainly a lot of plastic crammed onto that tray. Black Cat comes a little pre-posed with her whip flourishing over her head, but not to worry, it didn’t seem to warp any joints or anything. You may also notice that Black Cat’s name doesn’t appear anywhere on the package. Instead, it reads Skyline Sirens as she shares this slot with Julia Carpenter Spider-Woman. I’ve waited a while to get this figure, so let’s free her from her package prison and check her out…

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Yowsa! Dat ass! Black Cat reuses parts from the modern female buck that we saw in the SDCC Thunderbolts boxed set, and she does it well. Besides being a nice and shapely body, there’s enough resculpting here to make it work for me. The boots and gloves have the additional sculpted fur fringe and the upper torso is completely new with the fur fringe on her plunging neckline and enough cleavage to embarrass parents walking through the toy aisle with their kids. Her hands are sculpted so as the right can hold her accessory and the left is showing her claws. My only complaint here is that the high heeled boots are so tiny, she is one difficult figure to stand. I’d make the comment that it’s because she’s top heavy, but in fairness her derriere helps to balance things out.

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The portrait here is quite good. Obviously, Hasbro has been upping their game on the female head sculpts as of late. Felicia is certainly a pretty lady and the paintwork on her lips, eyes, and mask are all quite immaculate. That’s not something I’m used to seeing in a lot of mass release figures these days. The sculpted hair looks great, but as suspected it does impede the neck articulation quite a bit.

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Speaking of articulation, Black Cat has some serviceable points. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and elbows and swivel at the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinged knees, swivels in the thighs, and swivels and hinges in the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the torso and again at the neck. The bicep swivels that have been seen in this body before have been removed, and that’s rather disappointing. I also would have liked the elbows to have a wider range of motion. Still, what’s here is pretty good.

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Felicia comes with her whip-slash-climbing claw. It’s a simple, but welcome accessory that she can hold pretty well in her right hand. It’s rather pre-posed but it’s soft pliable plastic so you can do a few different things with it.

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The last Black Cat figure I owned was the less than stellar 90’s Toy Biz effort from their Spider-Man line. Suffice it to say that it’s nice to get a nicer version of the character in scale with my Legends collection. Of course, the problem is that Black Cat, like Black Widow in the Captain America wave, is short packed and damn hard to find at the retail price. I finally broke down and got her for $35 shipped, which is quite a premium, but considering I spend that each month on Masters of the Universe Classics figures, I decided it was worthwhile to get her and be done with it. Ultimately, I’m glad I did. She’s a great looking figure and she also adds the torso to my Ultimate Goblin BAF parts. I doubt I’ll ever get the other figures to finish it, but maybe if they turn up cheap enough I’ll bite.

Star Wars Black: Clone Sergeant (3 ¾” Scale) by Hasbro

Today, I’m going back to before Christmas when Amazon was selling 3 ¾” Star Wars Black figures for about three bucks a pop. I picked up a bunch and I’ve still got some sitting unopened in my closet. Man, I kind of wish I hadn’t bought these. With the exception of that “Attack of the Clones” Padme, these figures have been pretty damn shitty. Nonetheless, I’m anxious to open the rest of them so I can toss them into my Star Wars figure bin and I’m starting today the Clone Sergeant from “Attack of the Clones.” I can’t show you a packaged shot because the bubbles fell off of the cards inside the shipping box and they were all just rattling around in there. Doesn’t matter. We’ve seen the SWB 3 ¾” packaging here before and I still think its rubbish. Those of you who visit here often may remember that I was not impressed with the Stormtrooper or the Biker Scout from this line, so let’s see if this guy can do any better.

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The figure seems to reuse the body for the Clone Trooper from a couple years back. That’s a good thing, because I have a bunch of those and I think it’s an excellent figure. The key difference here is just a matter of the green painted stripes to denote his rank. The armor on this one looks just as good and you get the same level of super articulation. With the exception of the shoulder armor inhibiting the arm movement a little bit, the Sergeant here can do pretty much everything I want him to do including crouched firing poses. And thank god those shoulder pieces are there, because if they weren’t we’d probably have the same unpainted hinge problem that we saw on the Stormtrooper and Scout Trooper. On the downside, the plastic feels super rubbery and cheap like it’s a knock-off figure.

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As with the previous Clone Trooper, this figure’s helmet is removable to reveal the stock clone head that Hasbro has been using on these guys for a while now. I know some collectors don’t fancy this feature, but I kind of dig it. I don’t think it compromises the look of the helmet too badly and I like being able to pose them with their helmet in the crook of their arm. Oh yeah, I’ll also take this opportunity to once again express my undying love for the “bucket head” style of clone helmet. I dig it so much I’m still considering picking up the Sideshow figure.

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The quality of Paintwork has been a big issue with these figures and I’m sorry to say that’s still the case here. That’s pretty shameful when you consider that the figure required so little paint and they couldn’t even get that right. From the neck down everything looks good, even the little rank dots on his left breast. There are virtually no problems with the black and the green Sergeant striping all looks great too. Unfortunately, the green paintwork on the helmet is botched terribly on the right hand side.

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The Sergeant comes with two weapons. You get the standard E-11 style Blaster and you get a rifle. Both of these guns are pretty standard fare, but they’re welcome nonetheless.

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All in all, this Clone Sergeant is much better than the SWB Stormtrooper and Biker Scout, but the figure still feels like a rushed job. The rubbery plastic and piss-poor paintwork on the helmet tells me that Hasbro doesn’t give a crap about this line and they’re just using it to fill pegs. It also begs the question; why not just repack the older superior figures? Somehow I can’t imagine that they don’t have truckloads of those figures lying around somewhere. Still, considering I just spent a couple of dollars on this one, I think he was well worth it. In fact, had he just been a straight Clone Trooper, I probably would have picked up more and been happy. I also have the Clone Pilot in this assortment and I’ll try to swing back around to him next week.

Transformers (2007 Movie): Longarm by Hasbro

It’s Day #3 of Transformers Thursday held hostage where I am forced to write about Bayformers or else Michael Bay will have Bumblebee come round and piss oil on my face. I don’t need that… No sir! Today’s random dip into the Bayformer tote produced yet another figure from the first live action movie. I honestly had no idea I had so many figures from the first flick. I thought this was going to be mostly Revenge of the Fallen figures. Anyway, Longarm wasn’t really in the movie, he’s just based on the tow truck that Mikaela used to drag Bumblebee around after his legs got blown off. Let’s face it, there weren’t a lot of Transformers in the movie, so Hasbro had to make up some new ones to sell more toys. I’ve got no in-package shot, so let’s jump right to the alt mode…

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As far as tow trucks go, Longarm’s alt mode isn’t bad, but maybe a little bland. It’s a rough approximation of the truck seen in the movie, with a similar white and blue deco, but I think the lettering on the sides is different. In this case, it says, “Orson’s Towing” and there are tiny Autobot emblems on the sides too. There are a lot of seams on him and if you don’t have him transformed just right the panels tend to separate or pop out. I think the coolest detail on this guy is the way Hasbro reproduced that crosshatch metal texture in the bed liner. You also get an articulated hitch so that Longarm can actually tow your disabled Autobots back from the frontlines. Gotta love that!

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I’m usually fan of clear windshields, as opposed to having them painted on, but in this case Longarm’s windshield prominently displays the total lack of a cab interior. I know, it’s only a Deluxe figure and I’m probably expecting too much. I suppose if that’s the biggest thing I can nitpick, than this alt mode is pretty solid.

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Moving on to the robot mode, Longarm has some really cool stuff going for him. For starters, that textured metal bed liner that I love so much from the alt mode makes up his chest and arms in his robot mode and it looks really sweet. The proportions on the figure are pretty wonky, what with the really short torso, stout legs and big feet, but I think it’s a good compromise between regular TFs and the Bayformer aesthetic. Because Longarm is an original robot design and not based off one in the film, he doesn’t suffer as much from the horrible malady of Bayformeritis.

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I really dig the head sculpt on this guy too. It’s not at all like the insectoid messes that pass for Bayformer heads. Instead, we get a cool helmet that integrates the mouth plate beautifully. There’s also an excellent orange light piping effect in the eyes. The tiny Autobot emblem on his forehead is a nice touch, although after thinking about it, it might give the Decepticons something to aim for. Maybe it’s a bad idea.

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And then there’s that big ass gun. The idea of having a robot transform with a gun already in his hand sounds really cool. Hasbro did it later with a great deal of success when they designed Revenge of the Fallen Brawn. But when it’s a rifle this unwieldy and it’s permanently attached, the idea breaks down in execution. Don’t get me wrong, the way the rifle converts from the towing assembly is very clever, but it really messes with my ability to pose Longarm, mainly because the stock of the gun juts right up into his armpit. If the rifle weren’t screwed into his hand, and there’s no reason for it to be, this figure would have turned out so much better. I was really struggling to come up with more than a few poses for this guy. He can actually hold it away from him to the side as if taking a shot, but the ball joint in his shoulder isn’t strong enough to hold up all that weight. I should also note, that the rifle fires an orange missile, which I could not find to save my life.

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So, in the end I’m a little torn on this guy. I dig the alt mode well enough and it helps that I have a thing for Autobot tow trucks. The robot mode looks just fine standing on the shelf at attention and holding his gun. Indeed, he makes for a fine and rugged looking Autobot warrior. But the moment I try to play about with him, I get frustrated really fast. Overall, I think there’s more good here than bad, and ultimately the figure just stumbles on a good idea gone wrong. I should also note that Longarm was repainted at some point as Hoist. I can’t remember what line that figure was released in, but one of these days I’m going to track it down.

DC Comics: Catwoman ArtFX+ Statue by Kotobukiya

If you haven’t heard by now, Koto has officially launched their Marvel line of ArtFX+ statues and if you missed it, you can check out my review of their first offering The Hulk. Nonetheless, I still have some unfinished business with the DC side of things, so today I’m stepping back to check out a piece that’s been sitting on my shelf for a while and yet has managed to elude the spotlight. It’s New 52 Catwoman!

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While not part of the Justice League series, Catwoman comes in a box that matches the JL statues. You get a translucent and somewhat delicate plastic box with some nice artwork on two sides and two sides that offer a more or less unobstructed view of the statue. Of course Catwoman comes wrapped in plastic, so you’ll still need to bust her out to get a good look at her. Let’s do that now…

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In case you’re still unfamiliar with the ArtFX+ line, they are in the 1/10 Scale, which puts them a bit bigger than your average 6-inch figure and yet not quite big enough to be in scale with Koto’s Bishoujo line. I find it to be a great scale because they don’t take up that much room and yet they’re still big enough for plenty of detail. In this case, however, Catwoman features her tight and sexy, shiny black catsuit, which doesn’t require a lot of intricate sculpting and instead lets Selina’s beautiful curves speak for themselves. The high gloss sheen looks great, and there are some strategically placed rumples, along with some satisfying details to the boots and gloves.

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Since the catsuit doesn’t require all that much attention to pull off, the sculptors went all out on the portrait. I love the way her collar splays out and the giant ring for the zipper is pulled down just enough to get a peek of kitty cleavage. I might add that the painted skin tone contrasts beautifully with all the black. Selina is wearing a tight choker and she has her goggles on with her beautiful painted eyes clearly visible behind the yellow tinted glasses. The paint on the face is quite flawless and her bright red lips are ever so slightly hinting at a smile. You do have a few display options here as well. The goggles are removable, although the sculpted strap that’s supposed to hold them in place is still there. You also get a second pair of goggles with larger and more opaque glasses, and these I don’t care for at all. I’m pretty sure I’ll be sticking with the stock goggles to display her most of the time.

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The composition of the piece goes for pure seduction. Selina stands with her right hip jutting out ever so slightly and her left foot arching to the ground. She has her right hand resting on her hip and her left hand is drawn slightly behind her and holding her whip. The whip is made of string with a handle that splits apart so you can put the base of the handle into her hand from the bottom and peg the top in from the top. It works quite well and you can drape the whip through her right hand and coil it around her feet at the base for a very nice effect.

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As with all ArtFX+ statues, Catwoman comes with a simple metal square base that works with the magnets in her feet to hold her securely. Catwoman can actually stand surprisingly well on her own, but it’s nice to get that extra bit of stability provided with the magnets. Unlike the Justice League bases, this one is left completely black with no logo or lettering.

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Catwoman retails for around $40, but if you hunt around you can probably find her in the mid to low $30’s. I may sound like a broken record, but I find Koto’s statues to be some of the best values on the market. They’re particularly great if you can’t spare the monies or the display space for the big high end stuff like Bowen or Sideshow. Catwoman is a beautiful stand-alone piece and also a very nice companion to the Batman or Nightwing ArtFX+ statues.

Warbotron: Air Burst (WB01-A) by Warbotron

I made a little promise to myself this year that I would cool it on the Third-Party combiners. After all, I’m still in the middle of completing MMC’s Not-Predaking. But I’ve been cautiously eyeing Warbotron’s Not-Combaticons ever since they showed off the first unpainted prototype. When the first figure in the series hit the retailers, I discovered what I probably already knew: When it comes to Transformers, I have the backbone of an eclair. In other words, my resolve crumbled and I bought in. There is an awful lot of controversy surrounding Warbotron and a certain temporary exclusivity deal signed with one retailer in particular. I’m not going to get into the politics and pitfalls of that quagmire. I’m just here to look at toys. And with that having been said, let’s take a look at Air Burst, who is of course, Not-Blast Off.

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Air Burst’s package features some beautiful design and presentation. You get a silver sleeve with a very nice piece of artwork showing Air Burst in front of a ghostly image of the gestalt, Warbotron. The box is pretty big, but then Air Burst is a figure big enough to hang with MMC’s Feralcons. On the other hand, first impressions of the box might lead one to believe that there’s a bunch of extra stuff in there, like combiner parts, when there isn’t. All you get is the figure and his weapons. The combiner parts will come later.

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Lift off the sleeve and you’re treated to a very colorful window box, which again features some bitchin artwork. The box shows off the figure in his robot mode and the weapons are concealed to the right. In addition to the figure you also get a profile card and a comic book with instructions. I love the artwork, but the comic translation is laughably bad. Granted, the comics and cards are never a big deal to me with these figures, but it seems like with all the work that the company put into the toy and the presentation, they could have had an editor look over the translator. I’m sure there someone out there would have done it for a free figure. Psst… Warbotron… Call me! Ok, enough about the packaging, let’s move take a look at Air Burst’s space shuttle mode.

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I always thought that a space shuttle was an odd choice for a team of combat vehicles, but Air Burst’s beefy and armored looking shuttle mode really sells it. The overall silhouette matches that of the iconic NASA shuttles, but this one looks like it’s been uglied up to take a beating… and I mean that in every bit a good way. It’s a rugged looking ship with two giant laser cannons mounted on the sides, or you can reposition them under the wings if you prefer. I like to angle the wings down when the guns are on the wings. There is admittedly a lot of seams and hinges visible on the alt mode, but I think it just adds to the vehicles utilitarian and militaristic charm. The mostly brown coloring follows through on Air Burst’s military nature and the touch of Decepticon purple ties it all together. The shuttle mode doesn’t rely heavily on paint operations, but little touches like the painted yellow lights are welcome.

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When properly transformed, everything on Air Burst’s shuttle mode locks together beautifully, but that often involves some fine tuning to get everything just right. I do have just a couple of minor gripes to toss out there. One, the hinges on the wings can be a little floppy. They hold fine until you bump them and then they tend to droop. The second issue involves the front landing gear. They were a real bitch to fold out and when they did finally come out, the tiny wheels dropped out of the clips. The clips don’t have enough tension to hold them in place, so I’ve decided I’m better off not bothering with the gear at all. It’s not worth messing with them and risking losing one of the wheels because they are visible on his chest in robot mode. Neither of these issues are crippling, nor do they really impact on my enjoyment of the toy.

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In robot mode, Air Burst is a damn fine looking robot. There are definitely some liberties with the G1 design, most notably the addition of the shoulder armor, but I really dig him. Overall, the transformation is pretty straight forward. I’ve had him back and forth a bunch of times and there’s no evidence of any stress marks. The pivot where the feet rotate on was super tight at first and when I rotated the feet the first time, they shaved some plastic off the inside of the joint, which solved that problem all on its own. Now the feet rotate fine. The hands can be tough to fold out from the arms, and you have to have them positioned just right to fold back in. The plastic is very good quality and there aren’t any movements involved in the transformation that are anxiety inducing. Some people have reported having trouble repositioning the shoulders with the head getting in the way, but I didn’t have any such issues.

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It is worth mentioning that a significant bulk of Air Burst’s shuttle mode is removed for transformation into robot. Some people may have a problem with that, but in Air Burst’s defense, they are used on the robot mode. The two back engines come off and can be used as arm mounted rocket pods if you want, but if you don’t want them on the arms, you can also keep them attached to what become his back legs. I kind of like this look because it bulks his legs out and adds the back fins as heel stabilizers, although it is admittedly a bit kibbly. Still, it’s a nice option for storing them if you want to give him a cleaner look on his arms.

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In addition to the optional rocket packs for the arms, Air Burst can use his shuttle cannons as handguns. The guns are designed to telescope out and collapse, but I prefer them with the longer barrels in both robot and shuttle modes. And whether you prefer guns or rocket pods, or both, Air Burst is an amazingly fun figure to pose. He’s brimming with useful articulation and the joints are solid and hold really well. I paritcularly love the tight ball joints in the ankles that give him the ability to maintain a flat foundation in all sorts of action poses. The thruster cones act well as stabilizing heels and it’s in the action poses where you probably want to not have the extra bulk of the shuttle on the backs of his legs.

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The portrait here is pretty amazing too. Some have commented that he has an Optimus Prime vibe going on, and there are certainly those similiarities. Nonetheless, the faceplate and helmet are certainly reminiscent of the G1 Blast-Off. Of course, the best thing about this guy’s mug is the incredibly effective light piping in the visor. It’s one of the best executions of the gimmick I’ve seen. And while we’re on the subject of translucent purple plastic, I really dig the use of it on Air Burst’s chest plate. It’s there to serve as a hatch for his combiner port and it really dresses up the figure beautifully. I just wish there were a bigger spot on it to place a Decepticon emblem. I haven’t decided yet where I’m going to go with that.

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At just under $90, Air Burst is a pretty great value, especially when you figure in how sizeable he is. He stands right between MMC’s Feralcons and TFC’s Uranos Jets, which puts him right in line with a decent Voyager Class figure, so he should look right at home in a lot of different Transformers displays. I love his chunky design and the engineering is simple but effective. I’m not attempting the arm mode until I have a full set, but some fans are pointing out that the final arm mode is not nearly as clean as the one proffered in the prototype. Honestly, that doesn’t bother me, because I buy these teams primarily for their individual bot modes. I’ll just have to judge the Warbotron gestalt mode when I get the whole set. The next one, Not-Swindle is due out sometime this month, and i’ am super excited for him. Swindle’s one of my favorite Decepticons and if he turns out as good as Air Burst, he’s going to be downright amazing.

Marvel Universe: Nova by Hasbro

I’m making a concerted effort to open the last of my Marvel Universe figures so that I can move on to the new Infinite branded line. As a result, today I’m checking out Richard Rider, aka Nova! It’s been a long working weekend, my back is killing me, and I’m anxious to have some drinks and collapse onto the sofa, so let’s get right to it…

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Ah, it’s nice to see the MU packaging again. It may be defunct now, but we’ll be seeing it a bunch more times as I still have a lot of figures in the line to cover. You get some nice character art and the figure looks great in the bubble, but there’s not a lot going on in there. Nope, no stand or accessories. I’ve been hunting Nova for a long time and I finally found him hanging on a peg in Target, which surprised the hell out of me. I was clearly so delighted that I had to explain it to my Marvel-challenged buddy who I was with by labeling him as the Green Lantern of the Marvel Universe. Despite the ignorance of my friend, I think Nova’s probably pretty popular right now because of his role in the Spider-Man cartoon. I’m guessing he’s going to be a popular figure in the coming days since the Nova Corps will be featured in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film. Man, I can’t wait… August can’t come soon enough.

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Nova makes clever use of a standard, modern MU buck with extra bits attached to make up his Corps uniform. The added gold parts go a long way to add depth and complexity to the outfit, but the pieces on his legs and arms do tend to flop around about. As a result, you need to adjust them almost every time you repose the figure. It’s annoying, but at least it makes sure that they don’t impede the articulation. Still, a strategically placed spot of glue on each might remedy the situation. The buck is uniform dark blue, and the added matte gold parts really make the figure pop on the shelf.

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The portrait here is certainly very comic inspired. Hasbro really nailed the bucket-style helmet with the red starburst on the forehead. The exposed part of the face seems rather stylized, though. It might just be because of the shape of the helmet’s cut-out, but the jaw and the lips seem super pronounced. It still works for me just fine.

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Because Nova is built on the most modern of MU bucks, he sports some crazy articulation. The arms feature ball jointed shoulders, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, hinged at the ankles, and feature swivels in the thighs and again below the knees. The torso swivels at the waist and features a ball joint just under the chest and the neck is ball jointed for a generous amount of movement. As is often the tradeoff with these newer bucks, Nova can be a bit tough to stand without assistance and some of the hinges feel a little soft.

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With no accessories, that’s pretty much all I have to say about Nova. He’s as solid a figure as they come and he’s definitely a welcome addition to my army of MU figures and a pretty timely release on Hasbro’s part. Considering that the pegs here are just full of Caps and Iron Mans, I was beside myself when I found him out in the wild. I didn’t even have to dig through the pegs for him as he was just hanging there in plain sight waiting for me to grab him. Yes, this is what figure hunting in my neck of the woods is like, folks. It’s brutal and most often non- productive. Anyway, Nova’s been sitting on one of my online wish lists for a while now at a couple bucks above retail and I’ve just been waiting to pull the trigger. Good thing I waited!