Transformers Generations: Legends Class Swerve by Hasbro

If you haven’t read the More Than Meets the Eye comic from IDW you are missing out on one of the best comics of all time. That’s not hyperbole, that’s really how I feel. It’s got something for everyone and as far as I’m concerned, the book has managed to create some of the most memorable characterizations of any Transformers fiction to date. One of those characters is Swerve and everybody loves Swerve! Well, everybody except the crew of The Lost Light. They kind of hate him. But either way, the MTME iteration of the character finally got his own official action figure from Hasbro and that figure has quite suitably landed in the Legends Class assortment.

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There’s the packaging and I’m still digging the G1-style deco and the bitchin character art that Hasbro is using on these cards. Ok, I’ll admit I would have liked to see Swerve holding a drink, but I’m guessing that such a thing wouldn’t have been deemed acceptable on a toy package. Remember, kids, learn to love booze early and it’ll make life so much more bearable. Either way, at least they included his awesome shit-eating grin. Swerve is packaged in his robot mode beside his Targetmaster, Flanker, who is in his jet mode. Let’s start with Swerve and his alt mode.

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Swerve is a pick-up truck, which works for me. The truck mode isn’t overly encumbered with sculpted detail, but it does have some nice attention spent on the front grill and headlights. Yeah, there is major seaming working against it on the sides of the truck, but that’s something that often plagues Deluxes too, so I’m not going to make a big deal about it when talking about a Legends Class toy. The coloring is bright and appealing, with a satisfying red plastic that is sparsely deco’ed out with some white and silver paint apps and black painted windows.

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The Legends Class figures, or any Transformers for that matter, aren’t exactly slaves to scale, and that goes extra for Swerve. So far we’ve seen a tank, a jet, a truck, and a sportscar, and none of them have really been in scale with each other and yet they still seem to belong in the same line. Well, Swerve’s is the first alt mode here that clearly feels like it was designed to interact with a different line. When you put him next to his fellow Autobot Legends Class alt modes, he just looks too big and chunky to belong. Is that a bad thing? Well, I’ll come back to that in a bit.

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Transforming Swerve is pretty damn easy. It’s so easy that it harkens back to the old G1 Minibot days. You unfold his legs from the back, pull out his arms and tuck the hood behind his back. The result is a pretty spectacular little version of the Lost Light’s resident barkeep.

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Yup, that’s Swerve alright! From the detailing on his chest to the way his wheels land on his shoulders, Hasbro did a wonderful job on this guy, despite the simple conversion process. His robot mode also brings a lot more color to the table by showing off his white torso and his silver upper legs. Plus, with ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, and hips, and hinges in the knees, you can get some decent poseability out of this little scrapper. I do wish his head would turn, but as it is it can only look up or down.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be Swerve without that smarmy expression and Hasbro nailed that pretty well too. This isn’t the sharpest head sculpt I’ve seen in the Legends Class, but it certainly gets the job done. I will, however, note that Swerve unfortunately has some sloppy paintwork. The silver on the grills on either side of his head aren’t fully painted in and there’s a big dallup of silver in the top right corner of his right chest gril. There’s also a bit of the red plastic bleeding through his white face paint. It’s not the end of the world, but if I find another on the pegs with better paint, I’ll definitely pick it up.

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So, back to that whole scale thing. Despite being a Legends Class figure, Swerve feels like he was intended to interact with the regular Generations line. Stand him next to Legends Optimus and he stands bulkier and even a smidge taller than the Autobot leader. On the other hand, put him beside Classics Rodimus and he feels right at home. My guess is that Hasbro wanted to get the figure out for the Classics/Generations line and the Legends price point was the only way they could do it and I certainly applaud the decision.

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Swerve’s Targetmaster, Flanker is a little blue jet. He’s a simple little guy, but his paint unfortunately reflects some of the paint issues with Swerve. The white striping on his wings is rather spotty and the blue plastic is bleeding through in afew spots. His jet mode is Ok, but the lack of detail in the nose makes me want to consider him more of a drone than a proper jet. I do, however, dig his robot mode a lot.

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Where Flanker really shines is his gun mode. He converts into what looks like a three-barreled minigun of some kind and it’s totally bad ass. It also doesn’t look as terribly oversized as some of the other Targetmaster guns in this line. Sure, I would have preferred Hasbro find a way to give him his “My First Blaster” gun, but it’s at least comforting to know that the third party companies have that accessory covered.

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The price point, packaging, and Targetmaster may put Swerve in the Legends Class assortment, he’s still going to be going straight onto my Classics/Generations shelf. I think it’s awesome that Hasbro was able to recognize that this was a character fans would want and I have to say this is one of the first Hasbro releases where I can honestly say that I’m happier to have their version than the third-party Swerves that are out there. Maketoys “Trash Talk” comes closest to getting the job done, but it’s a little too white for me, and with the big gulf in price differences, I don’t even consider Hasbro’s official figure a compromise. Now if only Hasbro would get us some more crewmembers from The Lost Light, I’ll be a happy camper.

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Masters of the Universe Classics: Flogg by Mattel

So last week we checked out the first Club Etheria figure, Double Mischief, and I found her to be a double downer. Today we’re checking out July’s Club Eternia figure, Flogg and I actually have some high hopes for this guy. While I’m not really a fan of the New Adventures continuity I do rather like the idea of it and so far I’ve been really enjoying the wacky designs of the Space Mutant figures. Optikk was one of my all-time greatest “I have no idea who this guy is, but he’s awesome” figure purchases. I’ll note here that I was on my fifth or sixth Jameson when I decided to open Flogg and my alcohol addled brain failed to realize that I had not yet snapped an in-package picture of him. No biggie, we all know what the packaging looks like by now and Flogg’s is more of the same. With that having been said, let’s just jump straight to the figure.

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Unlike a lot of the New Adventures characters, I sort of know who Flogg is. I don’t know him intimately, but he featured heavily on the few fleeting parts of the NA cartoon that I have seen. But I can set that aside, because I think this figure gets by solely on his own merits. The design reminds of some of the vintage Major Matt Mason alien designs. It’s probably the goofy retro alien head and the ribbed tubing on the arms and legs his space armor. The armor definitely features some reused parts. I see some Trap Jaw in there, and I’m pretty sure those are Hordak’s flipper feet. Still, the overall look of the armor is fresh to me and quite striking as well. There’s plenty of great detail in the vest and I particularly like the sculpted ammo pouches that line the back of his belt. The arm bracers and boots have all sorts of bolts and straps and the texturing on the shoulder armor is pretty nifty too. Besides the great sculpt, you also get a very snappy deco with the deep crimson contrasting beautifully with the metallic silver parts.

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Flogg’s portrait is probably one of those love it or hate it kind of deals. He’s got a weird expression, sort of like he’s just realized Icarus has fired a missile at his face and there’s nothing he can do about it. I still like the head sculpt a lot, particularly the huge eyes and the way the helmet goes along with the raised collar. It almost looks like he could pull his head in like a turtle to protect himself. I seem to recall Matty originally showing off Flogg with a removable helmet, but that seems to have been nixed in the final release. That’s Ok. Options are nice to have, but I can’t imagine I would ever want to display him without his helmet anyway. What’s also cool is you peek down into the neck guard you can see his purple scaled skin runs all the way down his neck.

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The articulation here offers no surprises. Ball joints abound in the neck, shoulders and hips. The arms have swivels in the biceps and wrists as well as hinged elbows. The legs have swivels at the hips and hinges in the knees. The ankles are hinged and also feature a bit of a lateral rocker. Flogg can swivel at the waist and while his ab-crunch hinge is buried under his vest, you can still get a wee bit of movement out of it.

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There are two accessories included with Flogg, but only one is for him and that’s his… um… ah… weapon? I have no idea what this thing is. The bio talks about a whip of some sort. This is a pole with a control pad near the grip and what looks like a caltrop hanging from a string. Yeeeeeah. I got nothing. My cat does enjoy playing with it though.

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The other accessory is a more Filmation accurate Power Sword, pictured up there in He-Man’s left hand. Honestly, I have no use or interest in this piece. I had to hold it next to the sword released with the original MOTUC He-Man just to make out what the differences were. It’s going straight into my bin of accessories.

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I’m at a weird stage with the MOTUC line. I’ve never been hardcore with the fiction or the vintage toys, so Matty has already covered most everyone I was actively looking for. On the other hand, one of my favorite things about this line has been its ability to deliver figures that I love, which are practically unknown  characters to me. Flogg certainly falls into that category. I’m thoroughly delighted with this figure. He’s colorful, he’s wacky, and he’s going to look great on my shelf amidst the menagerie of other Space Mutants, once I manage to pick up more of them. As for now, he’s just chilling in the corner of the shelf with Optikk.

Star Wars Black: Darth Vader (3 ¾” Scale) by Hasbro

If you haven’t noticed, I’m trying to work one Star Wars feature into each week when possible. I’m doing this not only because getting a box of my old vintage Kenner figures has rekindled my love for the stuff, but also because I have a heck of a lot of Star Wars figures sitting in a pile in the corner waiting to be opened. The 3 ¾” Black line has been hit and miss with me, but mostly miss. Nonetheless, it’s figures like Vizam that give me renewed hope. Today I’m opening Darth Vader because I really need another Vader figure… yeah, like I need a barbed kidney stone lodged in my urethra. Even after my great Star Wars toys purge from a few years back I still have tons of Vaders. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop me from picking up this one last Christmas when Amazon was practically giving them away with a qualifying order.

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There’s the packaging and man do I love it. No, wait… love isn’t the right word. Oh yeah, now I remember… I friggin hate it because it looks like garbage. Normally we can rely on the clear view of the figure to help elevate the presentation, but here we have black Vader against a black card. It doesn’t help. I should probably note here that this is Vader from The Empire Strikes Back, specifically inspired by the “We’d be honored if you would join us” dinner party scene. But before you get the cold sweats and flashbacks to the scene specific figures of the Attack of the Clones days, fear not. The specificity of this figure mostly relates to the accessories. I hate to admit it, but even though I own a hundred Vaders in this scale, it’s been so long since I got a new one, I’m rather excited to check this one out.

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And here he is out of the package. I’m pretty sure we’ve seen this figure before and I’m pretty sure I own it already. He’s got a few strange quirks about him, but I still dig him a whole lot. For starters, the use of soft goods here is excellent. The cape feels really good and falls about the figure as well as a 3 ¾” scale garment with almost no weight to it can be expected to. But it’s the addition of the second layer of cloth underneath that really makes this guy stand out for me, particularly the way it’s fitted under the shoulder cowl and belted. The cape comes attached via a hole that passes through the neck post, but I found it to fit better if you pass the post between the cape and the neck chain. The helmet looks pretty good to me, but I’m not one of those people who could point out all the differences from one movie to the next. It does have a very nice “new car” shine to it and that makes me happy.

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The figure does have a couple of minor setbacks. First, the middle of his cowl seems to be pushed in. It looks like a bantha kicked him right in the plate there. I’m not sure if that’s a problem with just mine or with all of these figures, but it’s hard to ignore it. It doesn’t look as bad when viewed from an angle, but I can’t not see it when viewing the figure dead on. The other issue is the head, which tends to pop off rather easily. I tend to have to push down a bit when turning it to keep Vader’s noggin from separating. I think it has to do with the cape material being between the head and body.

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The articulation here is Ok, but not great. The shoulders and elbows are ball jointed and there’s are swivels in the wrist and again in the neck. Vader can also swivel at the waist. Alas, Hasbro is really sticking to the T-crotch design and it feels rather backward when compared to the rest of the figure’s articulation. I’d blame it on this guy being a repack, but the T-crotch has also been plaguing the Vintage Collection too. Beyond that you also get ball joints in the knees and ankles. Vader isn’t exactly an action star, so he’ll still be able to do most of what I want him to, but I would have enjoyed the ability to get him into a wider stance.

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Vader comes with three accessories: His lightsaber, a swap-out hand with effects part, and Han’s blaster. The lightsaber is pretty self-explanatory. It looks good, but it is one solid piece, so you can’t detach the blade for a deactivated hilt and even if you could there’s no place on his belt to peg it into.

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The other two accessories are meant to recreate the dinner scene at Cloud City where Vader deflected Han’s laser blasts and then force-yanked his gun away from him. I give points to Hasbro for trying something here, but in all honesty I don’t think it works. Effect parts are often hard enough to pull off in larger scales and here it just doesn’t look anything like what it’s supposed to. As for the blaster… I recently realized that the Han that came with my Legacy Falcon doesn’t have his anymore, so I was able to hand it off to him.

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There was a time when I thought I would rather stub a cigar out on my genitalia than buy another Darth Vader figure. And it’s very probably that this exact figure is already somewhere in one of my storage totes. Now, with all that having been said, I do like this figure quite a bit. It’s not perfect, and I’ll concede that’s kind of disappointing. How many decades has Hasbro been making Vader figures in this scale now? You’d think they could finally produce one that hits all the right points. An update to the T-crotch really would have been a welcome improvement and it takes a lot of effort to futz with his cape to make it look just right. Otherwise I’ve had some fun playing around with him, and now I think I’m going to stand him up on the shelf in front of my Imperial Shuttle because I have no idea where the Vader went that came with that ship. He was definitely worth picking up on the cheap.

Marvel Universe Infinite: Ant-Man by Hasbro

I love Hank Pym. He’s one of those wonderfully flawed and ultimately very “human” characters that are oftentimes scarce in mainstream comic books. Of course, sometimes it’s hard to love him, but I think that’s what makes him such an interesting character. Anyway, the sad truth is that up until now I had absolutely no representation of his Ant-Man persona in my collection. But now, thanks to the new Marvel Infinite Series, I finally have me an Ant-Man figure. And thanks to the wonders of Pym Particles, he’s a figure that can fit in with my Universe, Legends, and hell even my Hot Toys Marvel figures.

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There’s the packaging and I’m still not a fan. There’s no craft of presentation here. All this does is protect the figure and allow you to get a good look at what you’re buying. As far as I’m concerned Hasbro might as well dropped it into a Ziploc bag and wrote Ant-Man on it. Blah!

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Ant-Man makes use of the same slender buck that Hasbro used for their previous Hank Pym figure, Yellowjacket. This is also one of those figures that rely almost entirely on paint apps for the costume details. In this case, you get his red costume with blue and black deco and there’s an effective use shading to give the outfit a little more depth. Yes, from the neck down Ant-Man is an extremely simple figure, but in the case of this character it certainly works. Articulation consists of ball joints in the neck, chest, shoulders, hips, and ankles. The arms feature hinged elbows and swivels in the biceps. The legs have double hinged knees and swivels in the thighs.

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The head sculpt is where it’s all at. I’ve always the design of Ant-Man’s helmet and Hasbro did a nice job reproducing it here for the 3 ¾” scale. The front part of the mask is actually sculpted separately and permanently attached to the helmet. Having it separate from the face gives the portrait a lot of depth and credibility and I’m surprised to see something like that done in this scale. Even the deep set eyes are clearly defined and look great. Critics may take note of the lack of antennae. I don’t think that was an oversight, but rather just a concession that it would have been impractical to do them, make them look right and have them not break off.

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Ant-Man comes with one accessory… himself! Yes, it’s a tiny little PCV version of himself, which features some remarkably good sculpting and paintwork for such a teeny little piece. I thought this was going to be the same pack-in that was included with the Marvel Universe Yellowjacket figure, but it’s actually brand new. It’s also something that I lost almost immediately after opening him up. It must have dropped onto the floor during the photo shoot and in my house anything that small that drops onto the floor instantly becomes the posession of the cat. Poor tiny Ant-Man no doubt currently resides in the kitty’s personal cave of trophies that is also sometimes known as “under the sofa.” Perhaps the little guy will find some ants under there to help him escape.

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Ant-Man is one of those characters that was mighty high on my list for the Marvel Universe line and it’s good to see him finally getting the spotlight in the Infinite Series, especially when his film seems to be languishing in developmental purgatory. Speaking of which, it’s kind of odd to me that Hasbro went with Pym over Scott Lang, since it is the latter that will be taking on the mantle of Ant-Man in the movie, but I’m glad they did because finding out that Hank Pym wasn’t going to be the focus of the Ant-Man film really knocked it down a couple notches for me. Either way, as simple as this figure is, Hasbro did a fine job on him and it’s great to have him in my collection. Next time I revisit the Infinite Series we’ll check out Wasp!

Masters of the Universe Classics: Double Mischief by Mattel

Another Matty Sale Day has come and gone and you know what that means? Subscription figures are landing at my door! Yes, this month it’s figures (plural) because in addition to the Club Eternia release, the Club Etheria Mini Sub kicked off this month and that’s the one that I’m going to look at first. This is the second of these Mini Subs that I subscribed to, the first being the Club Filmation. I can honestly say that I didn’t think there was a bad figure in that entire series. Will that be the case with Club Etheria? Well, let’s take a look at Double Mischief and find out.

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While she may hail from a new Club Subscription, Double Mischief features the same great packaging we’ve been seeing all along. The only difference worth noting is a snazzy 30th Anniversary She-Ra logo printed on the back of the cardboard mailer box. You’ll have to take my word for it, though, as I tossed it before I was able to shoot any pictures. The front of the bubble has the Princess of Power sticker on the front. The back of the card has the usual bio and pictures of other figures in the line. Looks like I’m only missing Bow and Snout Spout. The bio proclaims that Double Mischief’s real name is Rebekkah Kettle. Wait… what? Ok, well for the rest of the feature I’m calling her Becky, because I don’t want to keep typing Double Mischief.

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Holy shit, this figure is crazy! I realize that’s usually a compliment for MOTUC figures, but in this case I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way. Becky’s gimmick is that she’s basically a female Man-E-Faces and while I happen to dig the Man-E figure a lot, in this case I’m getting more of a weird and off-putting vibe. I guess I’ll start with her portrait, because that’s where it’s all going on. She has the same bucket-head kind of helmet with a rotating set of faces. In this case, Becky only has two faces, one good and one bad. The idea is that she’s a member of the Great Rebellion posing as a Horde member. She’s a double agent, get it? So why does it work for me with Man-E-Faces and not with this chick?

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It’s tough to put my finger on exactly why. I think a big part of it is that Man-E was more of a freakish monster and Rebecca is just a regular lady with a monument sized bucket on her head. And girlfriend, that hair ain’t helping any neither. <insert double-snap here> The hair is not only a ridiculous fountain of plastic spurting out of her top, but the paint on it is terrible making it look dirty and just plain nasty. It looks less like hair and more like what you get when you push play-doh through one of those toy pasta maker machines.

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You switch faces simply but turning the knob on the top of her helmet and the main difference between the two is in the eyebrows. One face has a set of eeeevil eyebrows. And god help you if you stop halfway through changing the faces because you’ll be confronted with a featureless lump of flesh that will haunt your dreams forever.

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It’s a shame because I think the rest of the figure looks mostly good. I like the green dress and the high collar and those silver Go-Go boots look like they’re right out of a classic Star Trek episode. I had high hopes for the translucent green cape, but in person it looks kind of dingy and not so great. From the neck down, Becky has the same articulation as most of the other females in the line. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows and have swivels in the biceps and wrists. Her legs have universal movement at the hips, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels at the upper thighs. She also has lateral rockers in the ankles. Naturally, there’s no neck articulation because this chick doesn’t really have a neck. If you want her to look in either direction you can work the knob on the top of her head. She’s not someone you want with you in battle because she’s got zero peripheral vision.

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Becky comes with only one accessory and that’s her Horde crossbow. It’s designed so that it can convert to a less evil looking crossbow for when she’s with her Rebellion chums. You convert it simply by twisting the front. It’s because of the crossbow that I’ll probably keep her displayed with my Horde figures.

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Unfortunately Club Etheria isn’t off to a great start as far as I’m concerned. I find it odd that Matty put Double Mischief out there as their first offering and one that would land on people’s doorsteps smack dab in the middle of Subbing Season for 2015. I thought she was a dubious offering from the beginning and there are much stronger figures and characters that they could have used as their inaugural release. There are precious few figures in the Masters Classics collection that I don’t enjoy on some level, but I think Becky here is going to be counted as one of those few. Fortunately the rest of this Club’s offering should be a lot better.

Transformers Generations: Legends Class Megatron by Hasbro

Wow, it’s Thursday again. The week just flew by and it’s time for more Transformers goodness. We’re in the fourth week of my infatuation with the Generations Legends line and so far everything about these little toys has been nothing but kittens and rainbows. Well, sadly that trend is going to end today with Megatron because I’m just not digging this guy as much as the others. Let’s take a look…

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Here’s the packaging. Well, the deco is still awesome, but I can’t say the same for the character art. Oh, the artwork is just fine, but when you get down to it, I just don’t like this design for Megatron. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Megsy comes packaged in his robot mode with his Targetmaster, Chop Shop beside him in his bug mode. There isn’t much new to say here, so let’s start out with Megatron in his vehicle mode.

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Megatron is a tank, and honestly if he isn’t going to be a gun, this is my preferred Megatron alt mode. If you can’t be a gun, be a tank! Interestingly enough, Hasbro actually used the Legends Class assortment a few years back to get us a new G1-style gun mode Megatron, but I was ignoring the Legends line at the time so I never picked him up. Anyway, I don’t have a lot of quibbles with this Megatron’s alt mode. Sure, you can see his hands on each side of the cannon, but even though they’re right there, I don’t think it looks too bad. It’s a rather f’ugly mode, but it still works well enough for what it is. Overall, there’s some nice detail in the sculpt, particularly in the tiny faux treads, and I appreciate the fact that the turret can rotate. I’m not a fan of the plastic they used for the two parts on the back of the turret, which becomes Megatron’s shoulders. It looks cheap. I think it’s the weakest of the Legends alt modes I’ve looked at so far, but for a toy this size, I’m willing to give it a pass.

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Transforming Megatron is pretty simple and apart from maybe the way the lower legs pack in there’s nothing terribly clever here. The result is a fairly decent representation of a version of Megatron that I just don’t happen to enjoy all that much. Honestly, I think a big part of my problem with this design is the coloring. It’s that black chest and head with the yellow hazard striping effect. The Megatron I know wouldn’t walk around looking like that. That’s not to say that the quality of the paintwork here isn’t excellent. The yellow hits are crisp and the little touches of red around his midsection and elbows are welcome. I still maintain that there’s better and more complex paint on these little guys than a lot of the Deluxes I’ve seen in the past few years. Either way, with a more G1-style deco I could probably be more accepting of this figure.

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Megs features decent articulation for this size class. You get ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, and hips, and hinges in the knees. Some of his transforming parts don’t lock in as well as I would like, but he’s still a fun figure to play with.  The tank cannon works OK as his arm blaster. It’s a little thin to drive the homage home, but at least it’s there. It’s also ball jointed, so you can shift it between the outside of his arm or have it like he’s holding it like a gun.

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And then there’s Chop Shop! I was unusually excited to see this guy because the old Deluxe Insecticons don’t tend to get any love these days. I never owned any of the originals as a kid, but I was certainly curious about them, mainly because they didn’t look anything like the rest of the official Insecticons, who were official in my eyes because they were actually in the cartoon. I like Chop Shop’s beetle mode a lot and while his robot mode just consists of standing him up, I still think it’s pretty cool. Again, the sculpt and paint on these teeny little figures is impressive to me.

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I guess it’s a misnomer to call Chop Shop a Targetmaster, since his weapon mode isn’t a gun, but rather a giant pincer claw. It’s also not really an independent mode at all. You’re just sticking his beetle mode on Megs’ arm and you can work the claw by opening and closing the back half of the beetle. Personally, I think it works better as a shield. Man, that would suck being the Transformer that turns into a shield for another Transformer! I was kind of hoping I could stick Chop Shop onto Megs’ back because positioning the pincers behind his head would give him a cool Armada Megatron look. Sadly, the socket on Megatron’s back is too big for the peg. It seems like either a wasted opportunity or a tease. You can also stick Chop Shop on top of Megsy’s tank mode, but it just looks like exactly what it is, a giant beetle riding on top of a tank.

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So, Megatron is not one of my favorites in this line, but that doesn’t make him a terrible figure. Most of what’s here works just fine and my real issue with him is just my personal disinterest in the design. I’m certainly not sorry I added him to my collection. At $10 a pop, these little figures aren’t exactly a high risk gamble. Next Thursday, the Legends Class train will roll on with a look at a very highly anticipated figure… Swerve!

DC Universe Classics: Captain Marvel by Mattel

What’s this? DC Universe Classics??? Yup! I’m a little short on time today so I wanted to do something I could run through pretty quickly. My vehicle is about ready to die on me and so I’ve got to go out and engage in the horror of horrors known as car shopping. I’m not happy about it because in addition to tying up my day, it’s going to force me to spend a lot of money that could have gone to toys.  Anyway, I’ve been filling some holes in my DCUC collection latel and so it seemed like an opportune time to give the old line a little spotlight again. It’s hard to believe that we’re coming on two years since I completed Wave 20, the last wave in the line. The DC Signature Collection helped to soften the blow and put the line on life support and now even that’s gone. But the list of figures that I still need is substantial and last week I was able to check another one off as I finally added Captain Marvel to the collection.

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And there he is! I picked him up loose as part of some trades with a fellow collector, so there’s no packaged shot. That’s a shame because with all the bland and shitty packaging on the pegs these days, it’d be nice to see a little DCUC to brighten the day. I also got him without the C&C Kalibak part, but that’s OK, because I plan on picking up that figure complete on Ebay one of these days. Captain Marvel hails from the early reaches of the line, all the way back to Wave 6 and yes, if I remember correctly he was indeed packaged under the name “Shazam!” because of copyright issues. Poor guy. He’s never going to live that down, is he?

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In a line that garnered a fair share of criticism for recycling a handful of figure bucks with painted costumes, Captain Marvel actually stands out a bit thanks to his unique cape. But if you look more closely you can actually make out the sculpted flap of his tunic and where it buttons just under his right shoulder. It’s a little thing, but totally unnecessary and I think it’s cool that Mattel bothered to put it in there at all. Apart from that you get the sculpting on his segmented arm bracers and the cuffed tops of his boots. The sculpted cape is worn off his right shoulder and while the neck cord is a little chunky, I think it overall looks pretty good right down to the sculpted finials. Alas, the factory got a little sloppy with the glue on this one as there are a few gloppy parts around his neck.

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The pure cheese of the head sculpt suits the character quite well, although the squinting makes me think that I can repurpose this head if I ever want to customize a David Puddy figure from Seinfeld. You can stand Captain Marvel right next to Mary Batson and get creepy smiles beamed at you in stereo. The rest of the figure gets by mostly with red plastic and some yellow paint. The lightning bolt on his chest is nice and crisp, although there’s a little slop on the gold trim of his cape. I’ve also got a little of the red plastic bleeding through the yellow paint on the sides of his boots, but that’s no big deal to me. It’s a simple enough deco, but it’s so bright and colorful that I absolutely love it.

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Articulation consists of what we’ve been seeing in this line more or less since the beginning. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs have hinges in the hips that allow for universal movement, hinges in knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab-crunch hinge in the torso and a ball joint in the neck. Nothing surprising, but it still works well.

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And that’s it… told ya today would be a quickie! It feels good to finally fill that gap on my shelf between Mary Batson and Freddy Freeman. This figure has been high on my want list for a long time now, and I can’t for the life of me noodle out why it took so long to pick him up. He tends to be fairly reasonably priced on the second hand market, at least when he’s loose, and even the trade that landed him in my collection didn’t require me to give up much of anything important. Either way, he brings me another step closer to a complete DCUC collection, but there are still quite a few steps on that journey left. The next time I stop back to look at DCUC, it’ll be for another figure I’ve been desparate to get… Orion!

Marvel Universe Infinite: Death’s Head by Hasbro

While he may bask in relative obscurity, the character we’re looking at today wears a veritable aura of greatness about him. Well, he does as far as I’m concerned! Through the pages of Marvel comics, he has hob-nobbed with The Transformers and Doctor Who alike. He is a conduit for tying together two of my favorite franchises of all time and for that I can’t help but revere him. I also can’t help but sit here in slack jawed amazement as I stare at this figure on my desk. He is Death’s Head! Hasbro made a Death’s Head figure! Holy shit!!! I have no packaging to show you, because this fella came to me loose from the proprietor of the spectacularly awesome toy review site, Starscreamersrants. Go check it out. Seriously… go now. I’ll wait.

<Let’s see what’s in the paper today. Well, look at that. A big ass hole opened up in Siberia. That can’t be good. Can’t be long until demons start spilling out of that. I bet right now they’ve got Spetsnaz teams headed down there to dynamite that thing closed before the para-dimensional invasion begins… >

HUH? Oh, you’re back. Ok. So, Starscreamer was content enough to scoop me on the review before bartering the figure into my greedy hands and sparing me having to risk getting my throat cut by going down to 17th Street and buying the figure from my dealer. Anyway, the packaging is the same horridly boring and uninspired dreck that we saw last week for the Cyclops review and we’ll be seeing a lot more of it in the future so I need not dwell on it.

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And there he is in all his glory. Hot damn, it’s Death’s Head! Even if I had no idea who this character is, I’d still fall in love with his wild and colorful design, which is beautifully portrayed in this figure. I mean, I just look at this guy and my imagination runs wild.

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The body is built straight off of the Marvel Universe Colossus figure and I think that was a great choice. The only notable resculpting done to the buck is the addition of the new and bulkier boots and new hands. The silver paintwork on the arms and legs is also kept, albeit made a smidge more vibrant. The biggest changes come in the addition of the shoulder and cape piece, which is removable, and the new belt and skirt ensemble. Hasbro put some beautiful work into these new pieces. I love the pitted and pock-marked armor on the shoulders and the battle scrapes and scars on the boots and skirt pieces. Very nice!

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Of course Death’s Head sports a new sculpt for his… Death’s head! This guy’s portrait has more personality than anyone I can think of. He’s basically a metal skull, horned demon, with the jowls and under bite of a bulldog. It’s readily apparent that sweet, sweet love was poured into this head sculpt and it is most certainly appreciated. And as great as the overall sculpt is, this figure is also enhanced by some beautiful coloring. In addition to the aforementioned silver paint, you get some really beautiful metallic blue mixed up with the yellow, red and even some gold on his belt. This is what a comic book figure is supposed to look like. It’s like watching colors having sex. Seriously, I’m looking at him now and my eyeballs are aroused.

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As he’s built entirely on the Colossus buck, Death’s Head features the same articulation as his predecessor. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and ankles, double-hinged knees, and swivels in the thighs. There’s a ball joint in the torso and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

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Death’s Head comes with a few accessories to aid him on his bounty hunting. You get a classical spiked mace and a short handled axe. Both pieces are cast in metallic silver and the axe has some great weathering in the sculpt to show that Death’s Head gets a lot of mileage out of his weapons. You also get a small bronze colored target shield that can clip onto either of his wrists. The shield can also be clipped onto his back and there are slots on the shield to hold both his weapons.

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Normally I would say that Death’s Head’s obscurity as a character, at least in the US, is going to restrict the appeal of this figure to only a small number of collectors out there. On the other hand, his quirky character designed coupled with the wonderful job Hasbro did on the figure have me reconsidering that. It’s hard for me to imagine that many Marvel Universe collectors are going to see this beauty on the pegs and dismiss him just because they aren’t familiar with who he is. I know I’d pick up this figure even if I had no history with the character at all. Possibly the only sad thing here is that even with two scales of Doctor Who figures out there, Death’s Head isn’t compatible with either of them. That’s OK, though. I think he fits in OK with the Classics and Generation line of Transformers, and that’s probably where I’m going to display him.

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

I love Skiff Guards. If you haven’t read my chronicles of love for these delightful alien desert pirates then I will direct you to HERE and HERE and even HERE. These characters got some great attention in the Vintage Collection line and it’s nice to see that they’re still getting some love in the Star Wars Black series. Today we’re looking at Vizam who I presume is the guy firing the gun from Jabba’s Sail Barge and I’m pretty sure this is the first time he’s being released as a figure. While I have a number of figures in the 3 ¾” scale Black series, most of them I picked up on the cheap. Vizam here is the first one that I actually sought out to purchase simply because I cannot resist the Skiff Guards.

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There’s the packaging. Last Friday I said my piece about the abysmal art design on Hasbro’s current packages and I don’t want to dwell on it any more. I suppose the bland, black cardbacks are more appropriate for Star Wars than they are Marvel. Even the copy about the character on the back is so bland and sterile that it feels like Hasbro just doesn’t care about presentation anymore. They might as well just print, “this is some dude from Star Wars. Buy it.” Either way, the package here is nothing more than a purely utilitarian vehicle to get the figure to the collector. The only real redeeming feature here is that the unobscured bubble does indeed give you a great look at the figure you’re buying.

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Vizam is a Nikto, which I always used to think was a name and not a race mainly because the more familiar Skiff Guard figure that appeared first in the Kenner line was called Nikto and still was right up to his Vintage Collection release from a year or so ago. As a result, Vizam uses a repaint of the same head used on Vintage Collection Nikto. It’s a great head sculpt and the fresh paint makes it work as a different character, so I’ve got no gripes about the recycled noggin. The headgear is brand new and it’s still removable too!

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The rest of the figure represents the usual ragtag style of outfit that is all the fashion amongst the Skiff Guards these days. I kind of get the feeling that on their day off, these dudes walk around the Sarlacc Pit to scavenge for clothes that the beast has coughed up. Vizam has a little bit more color than most of his cohorts thanks to his blue sleeves, which contrast rather sharply with his brown tunic and his quilted tan chest armor. There are some nicely detailed pouches on his belt and he has a functional holster for his little holdout blaster. Both the sculpt and paintwork are excellent here. Sure, the hinges in the shoulders and knees aren’t painted, but other than that the figure looks so good that I’m inclined to believe Vizam started life as a Vintage Collection release before getting bumped to be repackaged into the Black Series.

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Articulation here is right in line with what we got on the Vintage Collection guards. There are ball joints in the neck, shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. There is a swivel in the waist and again at the wrists. The only real disappointment here is the antiquated T-crotch, which prevents any kind of wide stances.

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In addition to his pistol and headgear, Vizam comes with the cannon that he mounted to the rail of Jabba’s Sail Barge to take pot shots at our heroes. It’s a really nice sculpt, but it’s cast in some very unfortunately soft plastic. Also, the mounting arm connects to the gun with a ball joint that wants to pop out every time you work the articulation. The arm does have a clip, which is compatible with the railings on the Vintage/POTF2 Skiff vehicle, which is an incredible nice touch.

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It’s a little big, but then the Skiff is a tad undersized for the figures anyway. I still think it works well enough.

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And so, the 3 ¾” Black Series continues to be all over the map in terms of quality. I’ve been disappointed by more than my share of these figures, but just when I’m about to quit on the line altogether I get a figure like Padme Amidala or Vizam here, which gives me renewed hope and makes me hang on a little longer. Granted, I’m totally biased in favor of this guy because I do love me my Skiff Guards so damn much, but I still think Vizam is a fantastic all around figure and a great addition to my the crew of my Tattooine Skiff.

Marvel Universe Infinite: Cyclops (Astonishing X-Men) by Hasbro

I do still have some unfinished business with the now defunct Marvel Universe line, but in the interest of being topical I’m going to press on and start looking at some of the Marvel Infinite Series. Yes, it’s the same thing only rebranded. It’s so much the same thing that a significant portion of the Infinite lineup has been repackaged figures or in today’s case figures from MU that were cancelled altogether. This Astonishing X-Men version of Cyclops was from a planned three-pack. It’s possibly worth noting that this is my first figure of Scott Summers since the one included in the Secret Wars Comic Pack a long time ago.

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There’s the brand new packaging and it, along with the Star Wars Black and Age of Extinction packages, provides further evidence to me that Hasbro has sacked its entire art design department. I mean, really Hasbro, what the hell is up with this? It’s so bland and boring. You’re supposed to be marketing comic book figures for chrissake. Look at the old packaging. It was colorful and exciting and it had great character art. Hell, I still have some of those carded figures hanging on my wall because they look so good. This is so sterile and… blah! Had I not known better I would guess that this package was designed for repacking older Marvel Universe figures and selling them at The Dollar General for five bucks a pop. On the plus side, I don’t have to feel bad about opening the figures any more. So, let’s shred this crappy card to bits and get Cyclops out of his dingy digs.

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I can’t say the Astonishing X-Men version is my favorite incarnation of Scott’s costume. Nostalgia dictates that I will probably always be a fan of the 90’s look. Nonetheless, I’m always going to applaud Hasbro for trying to get the look from the current books out on the shelves and pegs. Something in me has to believe that there are still kids out there reading the comics and wanting to go to the store and buy the corresponding figures so they can make adventures of their own. Anyway, aside from the head, there’s really no original sculpting on this figure. Cyclops represents the fairly easy “paint a costume on a standard buck” variety of release.

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Cyclops is cast in dark blue plastic with gold paint apps for the arm bracers, lower legs and piping of his costume. He also has the “X” emblem painted on the left of his chest, which I really don’t recall him having in the comics. The paintwork here is all pretty clean with just one break in the gold piping on my figure.

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The head sculpt is pretty good, but nothing extraordinary. The lower part of the face assumes a rather stern expression and his visor is quite well defined. Cyclops also features a left hand that is sculpted so that it interacts with his visor to help create some good action poses. There is something odd going on with the paint on his face. It looks like he had an explosive sneeze. It’s not noticeable under normal circumstances, but it’s sure turns up when you get in close with a camera lens.

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As far as articulation goes, Cyclops makes use of the most articulated buck we’ve seen in the Marvel Universe line. You get ball joints in the neck, shoulders, and hips. The arms have hinges in the elbows and swivels in both the elbows and wrists. The legs have double hinged knees and swivels in both the thighs and lower legs. The ankles feature both hinges and some generous lateral rockers. The torso swivels at the waist, has a ball joint just below the chest and there’s an extra hinge in the neck. It’s worth noting that the waist swivel on my figure was totally stuck and I had to boil the figure in order to reclaim the joint.

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If it hasn’t come across in this feature, I’ll just come out and say it now: Cyclops was the one release in the Infinite line so far that I was the least interested in. In fact, I intentionally picked him to go first so I could spend some time talking about the rebranded packaging because I just don’t have a lot else to say about this figure. There’s nothing wrong with him and if anything he has reassured me that despite the crappy new packaging and the needless name change, once you get the figure loose, this is still the same old Marvel Universe that I’ve collected and loved since the beginning. If you were jonesing for Scott Summers in this costume then you’ll probably be glad to have him.