The Avengers: Black Widow ArtFx+ Statue by Kotobukiya

Some of you may know that I’ve spent 2014 building my team of Justice League ArtFX+ statues and that I’ve really been enjoying this line. I finished off that team last month, but I still plan on picking up some of the stand-alone DC statues here and there. Of course, that’s not good enough for Koto. They need all my monies and so they’ve embarked on assembling The Avengers in the same format. The Hulk was the first amazing release in this line and now I have the second release in hand… Black Widow! I’ve had this statue on my receivings pile for a couple of weeks now and I’m more than ready to get her open and check her out!

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Widow comes in a standard fully enclosed box. While some have enjoyed the artsy-fartsy packaging used for the DC line, I’m actually quite pleased Koto has returned to the more serviceable and storage-friendly boxes. The deco is exciting and it gives you a good idea of what’s in store for you inside. The statue itself comes suspended between two plastic trays and requires some assembling. Widow is comprised of four pieces (top half, bottom half, and arms) plus her two pistols. The statue just takes a couple moments to put together and didn’t require any scary pressure or force to make everything fit nice and snug.

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First off, I’ve got to say how happy I am that Koto is going for the current comic versions of these characters, and that’s doubly the case with Black Widow. Not that I have anything against Scarlet Johansson as the movie Widow, but I really dig the character’s more traditional comic look here and it’s refreshing to see it portrayed in this series. Natasha is donning her gold disc belt and gold bracers, two aspects of her comic costume that I’ve grown particularly fond of over the years. No detail has been missed from her low drawn zipper and pistol holsters to the Black Widow emblem on her belt buckle. The gloss used on Widow’s suit is subtle enough to set it apart from the highly metalized deco on the Justice League statues, but still bright enough to make it snap. It contrasts great with the more matte gold used on the belt and bracers.

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I honestly wasn’t expecting the portrait here to wow me as much as it did, but the pictures I’ve seen just didn’t do justice to Natasha’s gorgeous face in person.  Her eyes are beautifully shaped and rather hypnotic and the paintwork used for both her emerald eyes and her crimson lips is absolutely immaculate. Widow’s hair has a bit of flow to it, but they went for something a little tamer than we usually see on the Bishoujo statues and I think it works wonderfully here.

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The composition of this piece is equal parts action and seduction. Natasha is poised with pistols ready and her hip thrown slightly to the side. I love it. The pose is designed to put her form slightly in profile with her face turned off to the side. Having the pistols as separate accessories was an interesting choice, as it seems totally unnecessary. Her hands are sculpted to hold them and so if you display her without the guns, she looks a bit weird. Plus, they can’t go into the holsters, so I’m not sure why you would want to take them out of her hands anyway. I’m not really complaining, just puzzled.

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As with all of the ArtFX+ line, Black Widow features a metal base that works with the magnets in the statue’s feet to keep it secure for display. You can position her anywhere on the base you want and you can even have them straddle combined bases when displaying multiple statues.

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Widow set me back about $55. It’s fairly more than I was paying for the Justice League statues, but I still think it’s a pretty solid value. At 1/10th Scale, Widow is a bit bigger than your average Marvel Legends figure and thus offers a nice compromise between detail and economy of display. What’s more The Hulk looks absolutely…. Smashing… when displayed beside her and I have no doubt this team is going to look fantastic when they’re finally all assembled together. Ah, but even if you aren’t planning on collecting a whole set, I’d still recommend this one as a fetching stand-alone piece. She’s a red-head, she’s hot, and she’s wearing leather… what’s not to like?

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Guardians of the Galaxy Legends: Gamora by Hasbro

As promised, and in an attempt to get through the Wave before the damn movie gets here, I’m bookending this week with another GotG figure from Marvel Legends. This time we’re checking out that gorgeous green babe, Gamora, The deadliest woman in the whole galaxy! Can I take this time to mention how epic the Angela and Gamora brawl was in the Guardians comic? Holy shit, I was squeeing like a little kid during every panel! Oh, right… this figure is from the movie. Can I take this time to mention how epic every trailer of this movie looks? Holy shit, I was squeeing like a little kid during every second! So far this wave of figures has been nothing short of amazing… let’s see if Gamora can keep it going.

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Hey, it’s the packaging! Hey, we’ve seen this before! With her rather slight build and only one accessory, Gamora doesn’t fill out her tray as well as Star-Lord or Drax did. The giant tree truck that constitutes the Groot BAF part, however, does help her along.

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And here we have what is the first speed bump along the road. Gamora has a few notable flubs going for her right out of the package. For starters, there’s some high profile paint slop going on right inside her cleavage. Not that I was looking or anything, but yeah it’s rather noticeable. Normally I wouldn’t lead off with a single paint issue, but the other figures were so immaculate, I found it to be surprising. I’m happy to report the rest of the figure’s paintwork seems quite clean and precise, so maybe I just got bad luck in the chesticles department. As long as we’re leading off with paint, there are indeed some nice touches on this figure, including the metallic blue that mingles with the black of her outfit. I also like the transition of color in her hair and the green they used for her skin tone.

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The next hiccup here is the portrait. It’s not a bad head sculpt in and of itself, but the likeness to Zoe Saldana just isn’t there for me. I think most of the issue lay in the eyes, which appear as if the sculptor was going for more of an Asian look. It doesn’t ruin the figure for me and normally, I would let it go, but again the first two figures that I opened in this wave set a really high standard.

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The rest of Gamora strikes me as quite good, but just not exceptional. There’s a lot of detail in her outfit, particularly all the sculpted straps and buckles on her leggings, but none of them have any paint hits to really make them stand out. The texturing for the mesh of her shirt is well done and I do like the sculpting on her wrist and hand wraps. Gamora also has a separate belt that hangs loose on her hips.

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As is sometimes the case with Marvel Legends women, the articulation on Gamora also takes a bit of a hit. The arms feature ball jointed shoulders and both hinges and swivels in the wrists, ball joints in the elbows, and no bicep swivels. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, but the sculpt prevents a lot of lateral movement. She has swivels in her thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and both hinges and swivels in the ankles. There’s a ball joint in her torso and again in her neck. Considering some of the crazy acrobatics I expect to see Gamora doing in the movie, the figure’s articulation could have used a few more points. I’ll also mention that the top hinge on my figue’s right leg is splayed out making the joint rather loose.

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Gamora comes with one accessory, a very thin sword. It’s easily the weakest accessory of the wave so far, although there is some detail work in the design. She can hold it pretty well in either hand, and while I’m not sure it’s intentional, you can clip the sword onto her belt for storage.

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This third outing for the Guardians of the Galaxy Legends wave is by no means a bad figure, but it doesn’t hold to the high pedigree of the first two releases that I looked at. Had I opened Gamora first, I might not have been as hard on her, but even with a few issues, I’m still glad to have her on my shelf to complete the team. And speaking of completing the team, usually I hold off looking at the Build-A-Figure until I’ve covered the entire wave, but next week I’m going to break tradition and look at both Rocket and Groot in the same feature. That way I can complete the core team and I’ll get to checking out Nova and Iron Man sometime in the following weeks.

Transformers (2007 Movie) Barricade by Hasbro

Tomorrow is the day that Michael Bay drops another Transformers movie on the world and I will likely be in attendance, albeit not in any state even approaching sobriety. And with Age of Extinction hitting tomorrow that means that today is indeed the final week of Transformers Thursday held hostage by the Bayformer Menace. I was going to go back to a random grab this week, but then I thought about the trouncing that I gave Bumblebee last week and decided to go with something that had more potential for positivity. Barricade was one of my favorite Transformers in the first movie. Why? Because I love Decepticon cars and I love Mustangs. My first three cars were all Mustangs. Needless to say a Decepticon Mustang was practically an instant win in my eyes. It’s been a couple of years since I had this figure out, so let’s see if he still rocks as much as I thought he did.

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Well, the vehicle mode sure does! You get all the sexy contours of the car right down to the spoiler and “SALEEN” sculpted into the back. You also get a translucent lightbar, translucent headlamps, and a ramming bar on the front. The toy is molded in black plastic and while it doesn’t quite have that new car sheen that I would have liked, it still looks great. Barricade features clear windows and a clear windshield, although the rear windows are all molded in plastic. Did you know that one of the original Barricade Mustangs was sold for only $36k at auction. Shit, I would have paid that!

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Besides being a very nice mold of a custom 2005 Saleen Mustang, the deco on this baby has some lovely callbacks to the car used in the movie. In addition to the snappy painted doors, you get that wonderful Decepticon police logo just behind the front wheel wells and the tiny “to punish and enslave…” motto above the rear wheel wells. I absolutely loved that little touch in the movie and was really glad that it made it to the toy. Additional points to the deco include his car number on the roof and again on the front bumper and “POLICE” emblazoned across the rear spoiler.

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Barricade features also features a minor gimmick. You can flip down the ramming bar and pull out a Frenzy figure that’s stored within. The figure isn’t much to crow about and it’s a little too large to be in proper scale, but it doesn’t hurt the vehicle mode at all, so I’m cool with it being there as a nice little bonus.

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Transforming Barricade to robot mode is pretty simple and unfortunately his bot mode isn’t quite the slam dunk that the car mode is. Like most of the 2007 movie figures, he’s a much simpler representation of the “bag of knives” robot design seen in the movie, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I also like the traditional way in which the front of the car becomes his chest and while he does sport chicken legs, they aren’t as obvious as other figures in this line. On the downside Barricade’s proportions could be a little better. He really doesn’t have much of a torso, instead his hips kind of just connect to his chest.

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And then there are those arms. Most official pics of him I’ve seen have the shoulders pointed straight up, although they are ball jointed, so you can position them in different ways. I tend to point them down and outward so the wheels are showing. The forearms feature a terrible spring-loaded gimmick that extends Barricade’s arms and the springs don’t hold well and they almost always activate while I’m posing him. It’s one of those examples of a gimmick that sadly harms the toy and would have been better left out.

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I thought Barricade had one of the better portraits in the movie and I think this toy captures it quite well. There’s a lot of sculpted detail on his noggin and the addition of some gold paint and red light piping in the eyes really helps it along. Indeed, all the deco on Barricade’s robot mode looks good as it features a little bit of metallic silver and purple to make the black and white pop.

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In the end, Barricade gets a thumbs up. I totally dig his car mode and even though there are things that could have been done better with his robot mode, he’s not a total loss. In fact playing around with him makes me wish that I had picked up the Human Alliance version when he was out on the shelves and not going for a bundle on the second-hand market. Either way, I think this was a good choice to end the Transformers Thursday Bayformer Hostage Crisis. I don’t think a lot of these toys have aged well, but there were definitely some worthwhile figures in this line and Hasbro did their best engineering toys based on some ridiculously complex and ugly character designs. So far I’m holding my own on my promise to myself to not pick up any Age of Extinction figures and that will be the first Transformers line that I take a complete pass on in… well, ever.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Extendar by Mattel

June’s Club Eternia subscription figure arrived a few days ago and I thought I’d go ahead and jump on the opportunity to get him featured and out of the way. He is Extendar and he is quite possibly one of the strongest arguments in favor of wrapping up this whole Club Eternia thing sooner rather than later. Maybe that’s a little harsh, because I truly do adore this line, and I’m sure there are collectors out there who were hoping against hope that Extendar would one day make the cut. More power to you, but for me this release is an example that when it comes to character selection, Matty is starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Yes, Extendar is my first disappointment of the 2014 Sub.

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There’s the packaging. We’ve seen it time and again, so I’m not going to dwell on it. The front insert declares that Extendar is indeed the “Heroic Master of Extension” which also happens to be what the ladies call me. At least they do when I goose them an extra fifty bucks for the night. As you can guess from his moniker, Extendar’s claim to fame is that he can extend his cybernetic arms, legs, torso and neck. Yes, this guy pretty much renders Mekaneck completely redundant. “Oh, you can extend your neck? That’s cute. I can extend EVERYTHING!” And yet, part of me is sad that I own this figure and not Mekaneck, because I’m thinking he’s got to be a much better figure than Extendar. Of course, it doesn’t help that the character was a late release in the toyline, which meant that I had virtually no exposure to him at all beyond a faint memory of seeing him advertised on the TV.

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In his regular un-extended form, Extendar is a woefully bland figure and that’s a shame because he features a lot of original parts in a line that is famous for recycling. The problem here for me is two-fold. First, the character design is painfully boring and the sculpt does nothing to prop it up. Extendar has a very knightly look with nearly featureless armor and even a faceplate to hide his head sculpt. There are a few flourishes here and there, but in a world full of as many fantastical freaks as Eternia, Extendar is practically unique in how generic and uninteresting he looks. The deco does nothing to pep things up. He features a bare pearlescent plastic with a red belt and some gold paintwork. I’m not a fan of the pearl plastic as it feels super soft and cheap and the gold paintwork on my figure is practically slopped on. Of course, you can jump on me by arguing that he’s being faithful to the vintage figure and I’d have to agree with you, but that doesn’t make me appreciate him any more.

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Despite his gimmick, which we’ll get to in a moment, Extendar still manages to retain most of the articulation that has become standard in the Classics line. His chest armor is actually a vest worn over the buck, so that inhibits the ab crunch hinge, but everything else is there. Unfortunately, the plastic is so soft that trying to pose him almost always results in me popping off his arms and legs. And of course, unless you have his head extended, the articulation there is useless.

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So, let’s talk about the extending gimmick. While the original toy just let you pull out the limbs by using a sort of telescoping feature, Extendar achieves his extensions by adding pieces to the arms, legs, torso, and neck. It’s the same idea we saw employed with figures like Mekaneck and Strong-Or and while it seemed like an OK substitute for the feature in those figures it feels more bothersome for a figure like Extendar where everything extends. I don’t know, having to keep six extra parts lying around seems like overkill to me. I will at least give some credit to the detail sculpting on the extension pieces. They look better than anything else on the figure. I’ll also grant you that Extendar has a freakishly imposing quality about him when he’s got everything extended out.

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To add insult to injury, even Extendar’s accessories are disappointing. The lance and shield are a nice idea to further the knightly motif of the figure, but they each have their own problems. The paintwork on the lance is pretty sloppy and there’s a fair amount of scratching around the grips as if it was put into the figure’s hands already… and a lot. The shield, which is hinged so that it extends outward to become bigger is an interesting idea, but it looks unfinished. A big accessory like that is just screaming for a couple more paint hits. The plastic also has a lot of scratching on it making it look used. Also, what’s with all the hidden peace symbols on this guy? There’s one sculpted into at least one of his extension pieces and you can also clearly see one in the upper right corner of the circuitry pattern on the shield.

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Sorry, Extendar… I’m just not digging you. At the very least I can say he looks somewhat interesting standing in the back of my MOTUC display with all his shit extended out. I also dig that you can at least combine two of the arm extenders to get one arm really long. I suppose you could do that for one of his legs too, but there would be really no point. Battle Lion may have been the first character in the 2014 Sub that I didn’t really want to have to buy, but at least he turned out to be an excellent figure. Extendar is the first release this year that I really don’t even want in my collection. Indeed, the only thing that keeps this guy from being the worst figure this line has produced is the existence of releases like Sir Laser-Lot, Cy-Chop, or that total piece of crap, The Mighty Spector. Of course, I wasn’t subbing then, so I didn’t have to buy them.  I’m actually kind of surprised that Matty would release a figure like this in the same month that the 2015 Subscription drive is starting, but then I may very well be in the minority on my general dislike for this figure.

Star Wars: Mara Jade Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

It’s time for another installment of, “Kotobukiya is taking all my f’cking monies!” So far, they’ve raided my wallet for statues based on the DC, Marvel, Street Fighter, and even Ghostbusters licenses. Today I start down the Dark Path and forever will it dominate my bank account. It’s Star Wars Kotobukiya. Now, Koto is no stranger to the Star Wars license. They’ve been making ArtFX+ and Fine Art statues from the property for years, but they’ve just started introducing Star Wars to the Bishoujo line and that’s where I got on board. I’m starting with their second Star Wars Bishoujo, and it’s that red headed minx, Mara Jade.

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The statue comes in a pretty simple black box with the Star Wars logo on the front and a rather limited window that shows off the statue’s portrait, as well as an arm socket. Yes, there is assembly required! The side panels show a shot of the statue as well as some of the line art. It’s not as flashy as the regular Bishoujo packages, but it works well enough for a Star Wars product. I will note that the packaging does its best to irritate my OCD. The front is clearly labeled as an ArtFX statue with no indication that it’s part of the Bishoujo line until you read the copy on the back of the box. Does it matter? Not really. What does matter is Koto equipped this gal with more than a few display options to embrace both her service to the Empire and her redemption. For the purposes of this feature I’m going to start out with my preferred method of display and then we’ll look at the other option.

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Dayuum… check her out! Here’s living proof that Koto doesn’t have to show a lot of skin in a statue to make it sexy. Of course, a skin tight outfit and a killer bod does go a long way. Mara is wrapped in a two-tone blue bodysuit, which features all the usual little piping and wrinkles that they love to pack into these statue sculpts. I particularly like the um… ribbed padding on her inner thighs, the knee pads, and her high heeled combat boots. Yum! The use of both matte and gloss for the two materials also makes for a very dynamic contrast on this piece. Also, I’ll just go ahead and say it… that ass makes me want to cry.

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In addition to the body suit, Mara sports a gun belt with a blaster sculpted into the holster and a snap down pouch on her backside. The blaster and holster look so good that I actually thought the pistol might come out. She also has straps on her biceps and a shoulder harness with a silver fixture clasp on the back. There’s a cloth scarf and a set of goggles, both of which are separate pieces and are added or removed by popping off the statue’s head.

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The portrait here is exactly what I’ve come to expect from the Bishoujo line. Mara walks that line between cute and sexy. The face sculpt is quite soft and the paintwork on her lips, eyes and eyebrows is all immaculate. I’m also totally in love with how they did her flowing red hair. Just about every Koto Bishoujo statue goes for the windblown hair effect and they almost always nail it, but in this case, I think Mara’s hair just looks exceptionally well done. It also balances the composition of the piece quite nicely by countering her outstretched left arm. Mara’s right arm draws slightly behind her and the hand is sculpted to hold either of her lightsabers. The hilts on these are wonderfully detailed and they make use of a colored translucent plastic for the blade.

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The statue’s base is a simple clear plastic disc right in line with what we’ve seen for the recent Chun-Li Bishoujo and the Tekken Bishoujos. It doesn’t waste any space as it’s barely larger than the figure itself and both the lightsaber and outstretched arm extend past it. The bottom of the base opens up and you can insert either a Rebel or Imperial insignia inside or you can leave it clear if you so choose. I’m not usually a big fan of these clear bases, but in this case I think the ability to display the emblem adds value. I’ve opted for the Imperial insignia and purple lightsaber for my regular display of this statue.

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Of course, you do have options! Mara also comes with a removable, billowing cape that can be attached or removed by popping off the head. For this feature, I’ve chosen to go with the cape for the redeemed version of Mara and display it with the Luke Skywalker lightsaber and the Rebel insignia. Of course, you can mix and match all of this any way you want.

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The cape is my big dilemma with this statue. It looks outstanding and it really adds a lot to the composition of the piece. It creates a lot of kineticism to the pose by pushing back away from her outstretched hand and it complements the flow of the hair quite nicely as well. The khaki color has some nice shading and I particularly like the little tears and fraying sculpted into the end. So what’s the dilemma? It covers up that fine ass, and I simply can’t have that. The sculptors at Kotobukiya no doubt poured hours, neigh possibly days into getting that ass so perfect and I will not allow it to be obscured by an additional garment, even if you could argue that it’s essential to the statue’s fully realized composition.

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While I am still hemming and hawing over whether I need the Bishoujo Jaina Solo on my shelf, Mara Jade was a must buy the moment I saw her and she’s lived up to just about all my expectations. I will mention here that my particular statue has a stray mark of red paint on her left arm, just below the shoulder. It no doubt came from the hair and while it isn’t terrible, it’s worth pointing out because even with fifteen Bishoujo Statues under my belt, this is the first time I’ve ever had anything less than flawless paint. Honestly, I’ve seen far worse paint flubs on $200+ Bowen statues, so I’m not going to get all upset over it. At $55 Mara Jade is yet another example of what great value Kotobukiya offers in their products. She’s an absolutely gorgeous piece and she has an unprecedented amount of display options for the Bishoujo line. I can’t recommend her strongly enough.

Guardians of the Galaxy Legends: Drax the Destroyer by Hasbro

Happy Monday, Toyhounds. Things got a little derailed last week, so I’m trying to get back on track and actually looking at what’s landed on my doorstep over the last few weeks. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been two weeks since I looked at Star-Lord and I do believe a return to the Marvel Legends Guardians of the Galaxy figures is long overdue. Today we’re looking at Drax the Destroyer!

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As expected, Drax comes in a compact window box that can also hang on the pegs. Have I noted yet how odd I think it is that the flaps on these boxes are never taped? Well, they’re not. It must make it a lot easier for toy brigands to steel figures, BAF parts, and accessories. Drax doesn’t come with nearly as many extras as Star-Lord did, but his big bulk and the Groot BAF part fill up that tray quite nicely. I’ve got a pretty good idea from the trailers how the movie is going to treat most of the characters, but Drax is still a bit of a mystery to me. I’m really excited and curious to see how they’re going to handle him.

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And there’s Drax in all his movie glory. Yes, this is actually the second time we’ve seen Drax in the modern Marvel Legends line, but this is the first time we’re getting the character as part of a complete team. The first thing I need to point out on this guy is that all of his tattoos are actually part of the sculpt, and I think that is amazing. It would have been so easy for Hasbro to reuse the old Drax body and paint him up, but they are clearly going all out for this wave. The pattern that covers his torso and extends to his arms and face is crazy complex and the combination of sculpt and paint make what could have been a pretty ordinary figure into a stand out deco. The pants feature a ton of sculpted detail as well and the boots are fantastic and even feature functional sheathes for his knives.

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The portrait here has a passing resemblance to wrestler Dave Bautista in the Drax makeup. Either way, it’s definitely a well fleshed out sculpt with impressive definition to the facial features and more of those awesome tats.

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Drax’s articulation is pretty much perfect for this line. The arms are ball jointed in the shoulders, double-hinged at the elbows, have swivels in the biceps and swivels and hinges in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double-hinged at the knees, have swivels in the thighs, and the ankles have both hinges and rockers. Drax can swivel at the waist, he has an ab crunch hinge in the torso and the head has both a hinge and a ball joint. On the downside, my Drax’s right elbow was stuck and I had to do some boiling. The hinge on the forearm gave it up pretty easily, but I’m still working on the hinge in the bicep.

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In addition to the Groot BAF part, Drax comes with his two trusty daggers and these are very cool pieces. They’re each cast in simple silver plastic with no other paint operations, but they do have ornately sculpted handles and some decorations etched into the blades.

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When Hasbro suggested that the Infinite Series of Marvel Legends would be more of a premium line of figures, I sure had my doubts. I think we saw glimmers of that coming to light in the Winter Soldier Wave and not so much in the Amazing Spider-Man 2 Wave. But here, in the Guardians of the Galaxy Wave, I think it’s on full display. Drax offered Hasbro many opportunities to cheap out, but they rose to the occasion and delivered a truly excellent figure. Just because of the simple nature of the character design, I thought it would be difficult to make a Drax figure that matched Star-Lord, but they stepped up. Stuck joints aside, Drax is a fantastic addition to this wave, and I’m all the more excited to keep opening these figures and assembling the team on my shelf. I’ll swing back to this series again on Friday with a look at Gamora.

Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt’s Musical Extravaganza, Part 3: Jabba’s Dancers!

Today I’m going to wrap up the weekend with a look at Jabba’s Dancers, but before we get to the ladies, there’s one more Special Edition band member to cover… Introducing, Rappertunie on the growdi!

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Unlike the rest of the figures in these features, Rappertunie was released later on in Hasbro’s Saga line and he was single carded with his instrument. While far more cartoony than Barquin and Doda, I still like this guy a lot. I think he fits the overall Star Wars creature aesthetic a lot more than Joh Yowza does. That may be because he was an actual puppet and not an awkward CGI model. At at a time when Hasbro was dishing out a lot of sub-par figures, this guy and his elaborate instrument felt like an amazing value. He’s also pretty benign to the whole “Jedi Rocks” scene. In fact, he’s probably the lowest profile member of the band. I’d say he needs a better agent, but his career was no doubt better off not being associated with that train wreck of a performance.

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The figure features the standard 5-points of articulation, although Rappertunie is designed with pretty much one thing in mind and that’s sitting on his instrument and playing it. Unless you happen to have a 3 3/4’” scale bean bag chair and rack of ribs. You could probably make something happen with that. Hasbro went all out on this Rappertunie’s sculpt and the paintwork is superb as well. The instrument looks like a glorious kind of steampunk invention and there’s a detachable hose running from the instrument to the base.

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And now we can move on to the dancing girls: Rystall, Greeata, and Lyn Me. These ladies were released as part of the Power of the Force 2 line in what was commonly referred to as a Cinema Scene pack. It was window boxed with the three figures standing against an illustrated backdrop from the film. I loved these packs and I’ve owned probably three or four of this one over the years. It’s just one of those items that come and go out of my collection over and over again because it’s so damn common and cheap. Let’s look at them each in turn.

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With bright red hair, purple spots, and elephant feet, Rystall is one crazy looking chick. Nonetheless, Rule 34 tells me that there is someone, somewhere whacking it to an image of her. And judging by the way Boba Fett was flirting with her in the movie, I’m guessing I just found that someone. Rystall features nice coloring and a decent sculpt. The spotting on her skin is neat and reminds me of the markings of a Trill. Wiki nonsense tells me that Rystall’s entire family was a slave owned by an official in the Black Sun organization until Lando set them free in a game of cards. Because no matter how big the Universe is and how insignificant the character, everyone in Star Wars has to be connected to another in some way, right?

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Next up is Greeata, the Rodian dancer. She easily has the best and most complex sculpt of the three dancers. Not only did Hasbro give her a really cool head sculpt, but they textured her entire body with creepy Rodian skin. They also did a particularly nice job with her outfit, or at least what little there is of it. In addition to the sash and bikini top, you get her bracelets, anklets, and necklace all impressively recreated for a figure from this time. You also have to love that mohawk that runs all the way down her back. Having read her backstory, I’m genuinely surprised to find that Greeata was not Greedo’s sister. That sounds like something the Expanded Universe couldn’t help itself from doing.

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Last of is Lyn Me who is the Twi’lek. This figure should have been my favorite of the bunch, because I have a thing for Twi’lek slave dancers. See above Rule 34. Unfortunately, she comes out at the bottom of the trio for me. She looks rather stocky and it’s really hard to get her to stand without bending her over a bit. I appreciate that the wraps that make up her costume are all part of the sculpt, but the paint is a little sloppy. The head sculpt is Ok, but I think it could have been better. Lyn Me had some sort of crush on Boba Fett and followed him to Tatooine. I wonder what she thought of him macking on Rystall?

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All in all, these dancers are pretty cool figures, although they’re fun factor is curtailed by the fact that their all a bit pre-posed. With their arms held straight and each one tossing their hip, there’s little you can do with them other than stand them in a line in your Jabba display in the manner in which they were packaged. Even the standard 5-points of articulation and added waist swivels don’t help that much. Still they serve as some decent window dressing.

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Of course, even after three days and ten figures, I’m still not done yet. Jabba was quite the patron of the arts and there are more musicians to cover. Rest assured I’ll be revisiting this series in the future, as I’ve yet to touch on the percussion section of Jabba’s orchestra and I’ll probably throw in the POTF2 Oola for good measure. I should be getting a couple of boxes of my old stuff shipped from my brother in a few weeks that may or may not contain a cornucopia of Star Wars figures. It’ll be kind of nice to see more Star Wars features around here.

Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt’s Musical Extravaganza, Part 2: The Rest of the Band!

Yesterday, I got swept away in nostalgia looking at the POTF2 versions of The Max Rebo band. Today, I spit in the face of nostalgia with a look at the extended members of the band from that dreaded Special Edition of Return of the Jedi. A lot of people will tell you that Greedo shooting first is the worst change Lucas made to these movies. Now, I agree that change profoundly altered a scene that commented deeply on Han Solo’s character. But to be honest, I didn’t even notice the change when I first saw it. What I couldn’t help but notice was a shitty cartoon character shoved in my face in the new song and dance number added to the Jabba’s Palace scene in Jedi. The whole thing felt like an out of place gag in what was originally an incredibly tense and scary act of the movie. Nevertheless, today I present you with… Barquin D’an, Doda Bodonawieedo, and Joh Yowza.

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As we saw yesterday, in the late 90’s Hasbro took a cue from The Blues Brothers and embarked on a mission to get the band back together. But rather than do it in one clean and simple three-pack like Kenner did back in the day, they split them up into three separate 2-packs. If you wanted the Rebo Band, you had to buy the Special Edition band members as well. Why? Because, f’ck you! And because money. Yes, they were also available much later as a big box set Walmart exclusive, but we’re talking POTF2 here, peeps! Star Wars figures were making a huge comeback and dammit, collectors wanted their Rebo Band even if it meant sucking down the Special Edition dudes too. The breakdown of the two-packs went like this: Max Rebo came with the Bith, Barquin D’an; Droopy McCool came with the Rodian, Doda Bodonawieedo, and Sy Snoodles came with that insufferable piece of CGI’d shit, Joh Yowza. God, I hate that I know his name. Let’s take them in order…

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First off is Baquin D’an. I’ve got no problem with this guy. He’s just a Bith musician blowing on his kloo horn. I once had the entire set of Creature Cantina Bith figures from the Modal Nodes that came in a really cool collector’s tin. I often wish I still had those, so getting this figure in my collection makes me happy. Sure, he’s partly responsible for playing the intro to the shameless spectacle “Jedi Rocks” but I’m not going to blame him for that because I like him. Did you know that Bith music is called Jizz? Now you do. You’re welcome.

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Baquin is a pretty simple figure but I love him because he can fit in all sorts of displays. He has the usual 5-points of articulation, plus a waist swivel, and while he is pre-posed to be playing his horn, if you remove it you can make it look like he’s just holding a drink and socializing after the gig. He just makes for great alien rabble filler in any display you want to set up. The kloo horn is a pretty cool accessory and the mouth piece fits right into Baquin’s tiny little mouth hole. Did I mention their music is called Jizz? Once again, you’re welcome!

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Next up is Doda Bodonawieedo, Baquin’s co-conspirator. I ain’t gonna lie, I dig this figure a lot too. He’s a demure Rodian wearing an orange tunic and for the time, he’s a pretty good sculpt. Doda shares the same articulation as Baquin right down to the waist swivel, although his tunic prevents his hip joints from doing him any good. Also, like Baquin, Doda is pre-posed to play his instrument, the sliterhorn, and if you take it away he also looks like he could be mingling at a party with a drink in his hand. I wish I still had those Cantina sets, they came with drink glasses. God, somebody keep me off of Ebay!

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And then there’s Joh Yowza. F’ck this guy. I really liked the original “Lepti Nek” tune that the Rebo band played before Lucas butchered the scene. I actually had it on vinyl. It was a forty-five and I think I recall it having the original Ewok Celebration song on the flipside. I’m not joking! I used to get all hopped up on Pixie Sticks and rock out to that. Ahh… the 80’s! And then this guy came along, pushed Sy Snoodles out of the limelight and took a shit right in our ears. Even the figure is a travesty. This guy looks out of place even in a room of puppets and freaks. Did you know that his race is called Yuzzum, they are indigenous to Endor, and they were supposed to be featured in the movie alongside the Ewoks? At least we were spared that. I guess things could have been worse.

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Joh Yowza is going right into the deepest depths of one of my darkest action figure totes and then possibly buried in the back yard. He’s a crappy looking figure based on an abomination of an idea. Better yet, when I get a new Rancor, I’m going to put Yowza in its mouth. The other two, Baquin and Doda, are actually pretty cool figures and I have no problem with them chilling in the back of my Rebo Band display providing some tasteful back up for the Club Remix of Lepti Nek that will most assuredly be playing in my Jabba Palace display.

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Tomorrow, I’ve got one more Special Edition band member to look at and then we’ll wrap things up with a peek at Jabba’s Dancers.

Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt’s Musical Extravaganza, Part 1: The Max Rebo Band!

I realize that I have a lot of new stuff that I should be getting to. I’ve got Marvel Legends and Kotobukiya and even a Hot Toys figure I’ve yet to feature. But I felt like going off the reservation for the rest of the week. I promise next week will be all new releases. In the meantime, join me for a three-parter weekend that will  take us through (almost) all the players in the Musical Extravaganza Show that occurs in Jabba the Hutt’s palace on any given night. These features are sponsored by a fellow collector who was giving up a lot of ten figures at a price I just couldn’t refuse. Let’s kick it off today with The Max Rebo Band.

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Max Rebo, Sy Snoodles, and Droopy McCool! These are not the Kenner originals, but rather from the late 90’s Power of the Force 2 two-packs that were associated with the dreaded Special Edition release of Return of the Jedi. Nonetheless, I can still remember that day as a kid when I first saw the originals. I think it was at a Sears, but I clearly remember skittering off to the toy aisle to see what I could find on the pegs when I was confronted with one of the most a-typical Star Wars figure sets that I had ever set my little kid eyes upon. It was a window box with the entire Max Rebo band laid out inside. I couldn’t believe that there were actually figures of these guys, complete with microphones and everything. I immediately entered full-on pleading and begging mode and after promising to mow the lawn for the next three weeks straight and engage in all manners of other menial child labor, my Dad agreed to get them for me. Of course, those figures are long gone. Max Rebo was one the most prized targets of my kleptomaniac dog, and who the hell knows what become of the others. So let’s check out these POTF2 versions.

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Max Rebo! How many keyboard players get the whole band named after them? Rebo does! He’s just that good! Did you know his real name is Siiruulian Phantele and that he eventually joined the Rebel Alliance because they have the best food? Wiki says it so it must be true. What difference does it make? He’s a blue elephant wearing diapers that plays keyboard for an intergalactic crime boss. This figure appears to be quite close to the original Kenner mold, but the hands are a bit different and he’s got a large ring molded onto his belt to keep his diaper up. The paint is also a lot better here. Not only is that diaper painted, but the tips of his fingers are as well. He’s a really vibrant shade of blue and he has two little beady black eyes.

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I can remember how cool I thought it was that the figure came out of his keyboard, partly because you got to see what the rest of him looked like, and partly because I had him going on all sorts of adventures with my other Star Wars figures. On more than one occasion the Han Solo and The Millennium Falcon was hired to get Rebo and his band to their next gig and The Empire was determined to stop them because The Empire is evil and hates music. Amazingly enough, Rebo features the standard 5-points of articulation as most vintage Star Wars figures, although he’s definitely pre-posed with one thing in mind… jamming on that keyboard… or waving hello to people.

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Speaking of the keyboard, it’s one of the coolest Star Wars figure accessories ever. I can’t believe all the work that Kenner put into this thing. There’s never been anything else quite like it and this one appears to be pretty damn close to the Kenner original right down to the individual keys that can actually be pressed in. I think the paint apps on this new one are better. I don’t remember the silver fringe being painted on the original toy, but then it’s been a long time since I owned one.

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Moving on to Droopy McCool, this figure also strikes me as a nice compromise between the original Kenner release and something new and improved. He still features that same pre-pose mold for playing his chidinkalu horn. The horn is a removable accessory, but if you take it away from him, he just looks like he’s miming playing it, so there isn’t much point. I suppose you could put a rifle in his hands and make it look like he’s going to blow his own head off. Musicians sometimes do that. But that would be sad, let’s not do that to Droopy.

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Despite the pre-pose, the figure also features a sixth point of articulation, which is a swivel in the waist. It comes in handy for putting him in a half turn, depending on which side of Rebo’s organ you want him standing on. The biggest departure from the original Kenner figure is Droopy’s rather heavy handed paint wash to bring out all the creases in his flesh. At first I wasn’t too keen on it, but it’s grown on me, even if it isn’t terribly screen accurate.

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Last up is the lead vocalist Sy Snoodles. I like to think of her as the Debbie Harry of the Star Wars Universe. Her figure definitely got the biggest facelift from the original Kenner version and that results in some good and some bad. On the good side, her legs are more stable. I can still remember having trouble getting the Kenner figure to stand. This Sy has legit action figure legs and she stands just fine. Like Droopy, she also features the standard 5-points of articulation, plus an added waist swivel, which was a lot more than the original figure had. On the downside, she’s clearly based on the Special Edition CGI model, which gives her a more stylized and cartoony look and she’s also missing the feather from the original puppet. All in all, I still like the figure a lot, but the omission of her microphone really confuses me and pisses me off. And damn, those loose microphones go for crazy money on the Ebays. I really need someone to 3D print me one of those damn things.

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As far as action figures go, this is definitely an odd bunch. Clearly my love for this trio is fueled by nothing but hardcore nostalgia, but I don’t care because it’s so damn cool to have these characters in my collection again. The Rebo Band just may have been that first step where the Universe decided… Yup, every single damn character in the Star Wars movies is going ot get a figure. There was no turning back and that long journey has culminated in getting Bespin Ice Cream Maker Guy. But that’s a Feature for another day. A little while ago, I decided to start rebuilding my Jabba display with figures from all different series and this trio will certainly be a cornerstone of that display. The last release of Jabba and his throne is one of the few Star Wars figure sets that has been on display since the day I got it, and now I can finally start adding to it. Of course, it’s important to note that each of the Max Rebo band was bundled with one of the band’s extended members from the Special Edition and those are the figures that I’m going to look at tomorrow.

Transformers (2007 Movie): Bumblebee (Classic Camero) by Hasbro

It’s Week-something-something of Transformers Thursday held hostage by the Bayformer menace. Christ, I’m getting tired of this! Age of Extinction comes out next week, so soon this will all be over and I can get back to featuring some Transformers that I actually want to look at. I should warn y’all that I’m in a real pissy mood today. Why I’m so put off isn’t important, but because I am, I’ve decided to break the randomness factor of TFT Bayformerpaloosa and channel my anger against a particular Bayformer that is worthy of my rage. It’s the original Bumblebee Deluxe figure from the 2007 movie. Holy hell… what a piece of crap!

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I’ve had this figure since it was first released, so I’ve got no packaging to show you. Instead, I thought I’d spend the time to talk about the fact that a few nights ago I re-watched the movie for the first time in a while. I’ll also point out that it is now a day later, so I’m no longer the raging bastard that I was when I wrote the rest of this feature. Consider this an oasis of positivity before I start shitting all over the figure. So, I was a little surprised that I still genuinely enjoy this movie quite a bit. The two sequels have become films that I love to hate, or hate to love, depending on my mood, but this one is pretty alright. It’s not the Transformers movie I wanted, but it’s one that I can accept. I still love the introduction of Blackout destroying the US Army base, the fight between Barricade and Bumblebee is pretty cool, and the battle for Mission City injected a lot of the Transformer-on-Transformer action that I thought was missing from much of the rest of the film. The first time Optimus Prime transforms and speaks still gives me goosebumps. Hell, I even kinda liked Frenzy.  Amazing special effects aside, ‘07 Transformers feels a lot like an 80’s movie in all the good ways. Deep down inside, it has heart, and while there’s a lot in it that I wish wasn’t there, I think it did an admirable job setting up for what could have been a great series of movies. I guess you could say it was a solid origins movie. I look back on it as a missed opportunity and it’s an especially fresh experience when you go back to it after watching the clusterf’ck that is Revenge of the Fallen. Ok, I’ve said my piece and now I’m returning you all to the original bad-tempered bitch-fest that is today’s article.

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Now where was I? Oh yeah, what a piece of crap! What you’re seeing is the alt mode as good as it ever looked. Don’t try to tell me, “but Fig, it’s been a while, the springs have worn down.” Bullshit! This is what Bumblebee looked like the day I took him out of the package with his droopy, broken hood. Hasbro had plenty of those little rubber bands holding this mess together. And it took me about ten minutes of tweaking to get it to look this good, because it usually looks like this.

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This is clearly what Bee should look like after Sam got wasted on Mojo’s pain meds, blacked out and hit a tree. And don’t tell me I got a bad one either. This is my second Deluxe Bumblebee from the first movie. They both had the same issue. There’s a lot of reasons this crap should piss me off, but the biggest is because I genuinely wanted a decent version of his classic Camero mode. I liked Classic Camero Bumblebee and it sucks that this is the figure we got out of it. It also falls prey to my greatest of toy pet peeves… if you can’t pull off a gimmick that works, don’t do it. This droopy hood is the fault of the stupid “auto-morph” bullshit, and as we’ll soon see, it doesn’t fare much better in robot mode. Had they left that out, the toy’s alt mode would have been fine. The mold isn’t bad at all and while I’m not at all a fan of the painted windows, I see a lot of wasted potential in this car mode. Let’s transform him and see if he fares any better in robot mode. Here’s a spoiler… HE DOESN’T!

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This robot mode doesn’t look anything like Bumblebee did in the movie. The chest is inaccurate, the feet are too big, and he just looks all sorts of wrong. Again, thanks to how badly the “auto-morph” gimmick fails, I still have to make all sorts of adjustments on pieces that are supposed to pop into place, so why did they even bother? Those headlights never pop out right and I usually have to dig that Autobot insignia out to get it into position. Is he at least a decent Camero Transformer? I guess. I think my biggest gripe is that it doesn’t look like any thought went into the legs at all. They’re just the back half of the car pulled apart with a few minor tweaks. And guess what? They feature “auto-morph” bullshit as well. Also, the way the windshield hangs off Bee’s back to make the door wings work feels really forced.

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As long as I’m spreading the anger and hate, I’ll save a little for myself. Bumblebee came with a pair of missile launchers. I found them while going through another tote a few months ago and put a note on them and put them in a baggie. Well, instead of walking over to the closet and putting them in the drawer where the movie figures are, I wound up just tossing them back into the tote that got buried in my closet. I blame the fact that I probably had quite a few Jamesons in me at the time. Either way, as a result, I didn’t include them in any of the shots. Suffice it to say, they can be attached on his car mode by pegging them into the back wheels, and they make up a pair of shoulder launchers for his robot mode. They’re neat, but they only serve to alienate the toy design from the movie design even more.

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The above pictures say it all. That’s what his chest usually looks like after I transform him and the “auto-morph” gimmick fails. One headlight nipple almost never pops out. And I can’t think of a better photo for the end of today’s feature. After beating my head over what it is about this figure that is so wrong, I came up with just a general sense of uneven complexity. It looks like all the engineering went into making the auto-morph in the chest and the rest of the figure was just given no thought at all. It’s like the entire budget was blown on the upper half and the rest was given the engineering of a Legends Class. Maybe that’s a little harsh, but then I think back to how the “auto-morph” totally ruins the car mode. Blah! I want this figure to be good and it just isn’t. Hell, that even got me thinking. If a third party out there made a decent Classic Camero Bumblebee, I might be tempted to buy it. In the meantime, screw this goddamn figure. It’s not even good enough to get sent up to my nephew in Jersey.