Red Hood and the Outlaws: Arsenal by DC Collectibles

I had intended to get back to this assortment of figures last week with a look at Starfire, but unfortunately my figure had other ideas. The right arm twisted off at the shoulder and her shoulder pads went flying, I know not where. I’m working on getting a replacement and I’ll still be working all of those poor QC shenanigans into that review. In the meantime, let’s skip ahead to Roy Harper, aka. Arsenal.

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It’s the same box we saw when I looked at Red Hood. It’s pretty dull and boring, but it does show off the figure fairly well and it is collector friendly if you like to hang on to dull and boring packaging. Also, my Arsenal’s bow was rattling around loose in the package. The best thing about the box is the illustration of the figure on the side panel in case you want to store the boxes lined up on the shelf. Like Red Hood, I took a lot of care removing Arsenal from the tray as these figures do feel rather delicate. Ironically, Starfire felt like the most robust of the bunch and she’s the one that didn’t last.

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While I really dig Red Hood’s look in this comic, I’m a little more iffy on Arsenal’s design. He kind of looks like Terry Bogard from King of Fighters is cosplaying as Speedy. On the other hand, part of me thinks it’s so crazy that it works. I don’t know. If I was a much bigger fan of the character I would probably be insulted by this look, but The Outlaws is the first book I’ve invested time in with him as a regular character, so I guess I’m on board.

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Whatever my verdict on the character design, it’s hard to find fault in the way DCC translated it into action figure form.The outfit consists of lightly rumpled pants and a chestpate with sculpted muscles. The boots and gloves are painted with metallic red, which contrasts quite nicely with the matte red used for the rest of the outfit. Arsenal features two quivers, one hangs off his belt and the other is worn on his back and both are well stocked with arrows permanently sculpted into them.

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The portrait here is prettty good and suits the character well. You get his domino mask sculpted and painted onto the face as well as the party-end of his mullet and his copious sideburns. The whole ensemble is topped off with a trucker’s cap. He looks like someone you might find next to you at a diner at 3am eating pancakes at the counter. My only complaint here is that his expression is fairly blank. I think they should have given him a bit of a cocky smirk, but I still like what we got.

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I’ve already mentioned the deco of the outfit, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about what a nice job DCC did on his tatts. They’re tampo’d onto both his shoulders and biceps and are neat and crisp and look great.

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Arsenal’s articulation is solid but not exceptional. The shoulders have rotating hinges, which use the same brittle clear plastic as my poor Starfire. Luckily Arsenal’s shoulders don’t seem to have any problems. The elbows are hinged and there are swivels in his gloves. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees and ankles, and have swivels at the boots. Lastly, the neck is ball jointed and there’s actually a swivel in his cap so you can turn it all the way around as he sometimes wears it that way in the comic. Very cool! There may or may not be a swivel in the waist, but if there is, mine is stuck, so I’ve got no torso articulation at all.

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Naturally Arsenal comes with his bow, which is painted with the same metallic red paint used for his boots, and features a real string. You also get a gadget arrow. The articulation makes it impossible to pose him while knocking the arrow, but you can still get some decent enough poses out of him.

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If you’re a fan of The Outlaws book, I’d definitely recommend picking up this figure. DCC did a beautiful job on him and I’m happy to say there’s no ugly QC issues to speak of. He looks great when displayed with Red Hood and hopefull even better when I can get an unbroken Starfire to go with them. Speaking of which, it may be a couple of weeks before I get a replacement Starfire, so the next time I revisit the DC Collectibles New 52 line it will be with their World’s Finest 2-pack of Huntress and Power Girl.

Star Wars Black: Luke Skywalker and Yoda Dagobah Training (3 3/4” Scale) by Hasbro

The last three features have been all about expensive stuff, so I thought it’d be a nice change of pace to go dumpster-diving in the pegs again where all the “common” toys live. Plus, it’s been a little while since I revisited Hasbro’s 3 3/4” Star Wars Black line, so let’s remedy that today! I’m actually doubling up on today’s feature because figures #21 and #22 are designed to go together. Here we’ve got Luke and Yoda from the Jedi training scenes on Dagobah. I think it’s pretty cool that Hasbro has tied these two figures together and released them in the same wave. It reminds me a bit of when they released the four Dagobah themed figures in the Original Trilogy Collection with matching bases and everything. Wow, that takes me back! Anyway, this line has been a total crapshoot of highs and lows, so let’s take a look at this pair and see where they land…

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The next wave will feature a redesigned card, so I can see the light at the end of the tunnel where I’ll never have to look at these dreadful packages again. As one would probably expect, there’s quite a big disparity between what’s in the bubbles here. Besides being a normal sized figure, Luke has all sorts of extras packed in with him. Yoda on the other hand… well, even with the backpack and a couple of other accessories he seems really small in that big bubble. It’s a good example of how things often cost out across a wave of figures like this. You get a little more with Luke and a little less with Yoda, but if you’re buying both it all evens out in the end. Or at least that’s the idea. I’m going to start with Yoda because there’s not much to talk about so I might as well just to get him out of the way…

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Based on Hasbro’s original pictures I had no interest in this figure at all. The promo pics looked absolutely terrible. However, when I finally saw him swinging on a peg in a store I thought he looked so much better in person. Now that I finally have him in hand I think he’s decidedly mediocre. The head sculpt is actually not too bad, although I think they gave him way too much hair. It looks like someone shaving creamed the back of his head.

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The little softgoods robe is OK for what it is. It’s hard enough to do good looking softgoods clothes on regular 3 3/4” figures and Yoda is so tiny I’m not going to pick apart Hasbro’s effort on the robe. It even has a tiny belt to hold it together. I haven’t taken it off of him, but it feels like Yoda is just sporting a straight up five points of articulation. Again, for a figure this size, I’m not going to quibble.

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Yoda comes with his tiny cane, which he can sort of hold in one hand, and he comes with a necklace thing, which doesn’t look very film accurate on him, but maybe I’m misremembering. He also comes with the backpack for Luke, which we’ll get to in a bit. Also, where the hell is his pet snake??? I WANT HIS SNAKE!!! Alright, enough about Yoda, let’s move on and talk about Luke and…

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OMG, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HIS ARMS??? Yeah, Luke’s got some tragic arms, but as the old saying goes, the road to tragic arms is paved with good intentions… or something like that. That’s certainly the case here. Hasbro wanted to give us a Luke figure with super poseable, double-hinged elbows and even swappable hands. The result is this set of crazy arms. It’s not just me is it? They do look nuts, don’t they? Well, not only do they look really weird to me, but the left arm on my figure keeps popping out at the bicep swivel. They’re also loose as all hell. This wasn’t necessary, Hasbro. It’s an experiment that went horribly wrong.

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It’s really tough to overlook those arms, but pretending we can for a moment, the rest of the figure isn’t too bad. I think the head sculpt is competent, but he’s definitely not dirty enough. He’s got some green smudge on his shirt, but he should be dirtied up more to accurately replicate the scene in the film. It’s also awkward that Luke has so much great articulation in his arms, but the ball joints in his knees allow for so little movement. He can’t even kneel down on one knee. And look at those crazy hip joints with the flesh tone hinges showing through his pants. C’mon, Hasbro… you’re not even trying anymore.

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Luke comes with a removable gun belt with a holster that can fit his blaster. Check out how unbelieveably large his blaster is. It’s ridiculous. He also comes with a lightsaber hilt and a lit lightsaber. The weird thing about that is the hilt is pegged, but there’s nowhere to peg it onto the figure. He does have this weird thing on his belt that looks like it’s supposed to hold something, but it doesn’t, so… FAIL! His extra hands are flat out and are useful if you want to have him trying to lift his X-Wing or move some rocks around with The Force.

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I was hoping there would be some payoff when putting the two figures together, but that’s just not the case. The softgoods backpack is too big and it looks downright awkward on Luke. That belt buckle is freaking huge! It looks like he’s gearing up to jump out of a plane. Remember those Original Trilogy Collection Dagobah figures I mentioned? Well, they did the whole Yoda backpack thing a lot better than this. In fact, let’s do a quick comparison.

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The headsculpt has improved a bit, but I like the mud smeared all over the OTC Luke. I also think the backpack looks much better on the older figures. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that you pull apart and plug his top half into it so it is a cheat.

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As for the Yodas. Man, that OTC Yoda creeps me the f’ck out! I don’t know what it is about it’s head, but I don’t want to look at it anymore. I think I’ll bury him in the back yard. I do like the articulation on the older figure better. The ball joints in the shoulders and swivels in the elbows are pretty cool, even if there is no articulation from the waist down.

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So, this pair was on clearance for five bucks each at an online retailer where I was buying some other figures and I tossed them into the cart. The Yoda is passable, I suppose, if only because I don’t have many versions of him and the softgoods robe tugs on the nostalgia I have for the vintage Kenner Yoda. But even still, I can’t recommend either of these on any meaningful level. In the end they’re just another example of what a wildly inconsistent line this has been. I don’t think I’ve been this disappointed with Star Wars figures since the days of that pre-posed “Attack of the Clones” garbage.

Feral Rex (Reformatted Series): R-02 Talon (Aerial Assaulter) by Mastermind Creations

I know, I ended last week with a third-party convert-o-bot, and I’m beginning this week with another. I do like to mix things up a bit, but I’ve got the final Feral Con, Tigris, arriving any moment now and I really wanted to get Talon his time in the spotlight beforehand. Despite his number, Talon is the fourth release in MMC’s Feral Cons series, and I’ll be referencing the others a fair amount in today’s feature, so if you aren’t caught up yet, by all means take the time to check out the others. If you haven’t guessed yet, Talon is intended to be an homage to the Predacon Divebomb and he does indeed combine with the other Feral Cons to form Feral Rex, a big fella that bears a striking resemblance to a certain Predaking. I’ll also point out here that Talon took absolutely forever to arrive from the place I pre-ordered from, making it all the stranger when Tigris dropped in just a handful of days later. Ok, I’ve got a lot to cover and I want to do it all in one shot, so let’s get started.

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There’s the packaging and it has remained consistent and uniform throughout this series. Of all the third-party series of changebots I own, I like the packaging for the Feral Cons the least. There’s nothing really wrong with it, it’s just a matter of personal taste when it comes to the deco. The boxes are quite large and they need to be to hold these beefy Voyager-plus sized figures and all their extras. The box is collector friendly and features a front flap that opens to reveal a window to display the figure. The side panel of the box tells you who the figure is, so if you’re like me and store these packages lined up on a bookshelf, it’s easy to see which box has which figure in it.

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Inside the box, Talon comes on a clear plastic tray. You get the standard combo instruction and comic book, a profile card, and some replacement parts for previous figures that have had some QC issues. I’m not even sure what these replace, as I haven’t had any issues with any of my Ferals. Additionally, you get a separate baggie containing Talon’s arm cannons. There’s no place for them in the tray, but I just pop them back into the baggie and put them under the tray when I store the figure in his box. In looking back through my other Feral Con features I realize that I was all over the place when deciding whether to start with robot or beast mode. I guess this time I’ll just go ahead and start with Talon’s robot mode.

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Just one look at this guy and it makes me so happy that I decided to invest in this set, but then that’s been the case with every one of these fellas. In robot mode, Talon is everything I could possibly want out of a Masterpiece style Divebomb. I actually expected him to be smaller than the others, but apart from lacking some of the bulk of Fortis and Bovis, and looking a bit leaner, he still measures up to his teammates. While Talon represents a fresh new mold, there is still a delightful degree of consistency among these figures. You see a lot of the same design tropes and features throughout whether it be between shared molds like Bovis and Fortis or the originals like Leo Dux and Talon here. They all have the same style of jointing and articulation and they all use the same high quality yellow, orange, red, and black plastic. They also all feature a number of sockets to store their weapons on. Of all the third-party combiners I’ve invested in, MMC’s Feral Cons feel the most like a unified team.

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As is the case with the other Ferals, Talon’s mold is just loaded with detail. I’m particularly fond of his upper chest design with the two deep set vents, directly pulled from the G1 toy design, and the indented shield provided for placement of a Decepticon logo, which I have yet to do. The shoulder design looks really good, as does the way his bird feet fold up onto the front of his lower legs. His robot feet are attached to hinged arms via ball joints and this gives him a wide range of movement for wide stances and action poses. These worried me at first, as to how they could support the weight of the figure, but the retract completely giving Talon all the support he needs. Surprisingly enough, even with a lot on his back, he’s still a very well balanced figure.

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Of course Talon’s most impressive quality is his set of wings. These are absolutely magnificent. Each lushly painted gold blade is articulated and so they can be fanned out for a grand and majestic display or closed up to allow him to stand shoulder to shoulder with his comrades. They are also hinged, so you can angle them back a bit (my favorite look!) Or you can fold them straight back to give him a cleaner and tighter profile from the front. I also really dig the way the back part of his wings looks kind of like a jetpack.

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MMC has had some winning head sculpts with this line and Talon is no different. He has a very human looking face, painted red and with an orange “helmet.” The eyes are meticulously painted with a metallic red to make them stand out. You also get a very generous ball joint in the neck to allow some great and expressive movement.

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Before we transform him, let’s check out Talon’s arsenal. For starters, he comes with a pair of double-barreled cannons, which mount on his arms and actually stay put during his transformation to provide his bird mode with some basic firepower. These can also be held in his hands as pistols and can be stored by plugging them into the side panels on his legs, which act like holsters.

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Next up, you get a pair of short swords, with some pretty wicked looking crooked blades. I’m usually not a huge fan of edged weapons with my giant robots, but in some cases it feels right. These guys are supposed to be savage animal-robots and so I’m in favor of them having some blades. These swords also look particularly nice when slung on his hips. As with the other Ferals, it can be a little tough to get him to hold them just right, but once they’re in he gets a pretty firm grasp on them. Of course, thanks to all the versatility of his weapons, you can also mount the swords on Talon’s arms. I really dig the way this looks, especially when he’s armed with his pistols.

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Lastly, Talon sports a sniper rifle with a stock that can fold up to form a scope. I love the idea of Talon carrying this kind of weapon because he can just hover over the battlefield and snipe away at targets from above. Surprisingly,  he can even hold the rifle by both grips. When not in use, the rifle can be slung onto Talon’s back. Ok, enough about his gear, let’s check out Talon’s bird mode…

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I honestly didn’t know what to expect from Talon’s transformation seeing as how simple the conversion should theoretically be. In the end, it’s still rather simple, and nearly all of it involves packing up his legs. At first, I thought this one might be the weakest of all the Feral Cons alt modes, but I think that falls in line with the original toy. It is, afterall, no easy feat to turn a humanoid robot into a bird. Nonetheless, this mode still works just fine for me and there are a couple things about it that even impress.

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One is that even with Talon’s robot head folding into the bird head, there’s still articulation in the beak. Secondly, just like in robot mode all of Talon’s weapons store comfortably on his bird mode. The arm cannons can stay right where they are, the swords can mount on his wings, and his rifle can peg right into his back, giving him that extra little bit of firepower. He can even stand just fine on his own, which frankly surprised me.

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Talon is another exceptional release in this line and as I write this I see that my Tigris is out for delivery to my door so I’m pretty damn excited to finally be completing this team. For me these gestalts are always about the individual robots first and the combined mode second, and while I’m expecting Feral Rex to be amazing, the important thing is that each and every one of these figures has blown me away strictly on their own merits. Even at just under $100 I still feel like my money was well spent. I can’t recommend these guys enough and MMC continues on their way to overtake Fansproject as my favorite maker of third-party conversion-bots.

 

Lost Exo-Realm: Columpio with Drepan (LER-01) by Fansproject, Part 2

As promised, I’m back to wrap up my look at Fansproject’s first foray into the world of dinosaur change-a-bots. Columpio does indeed bear a purely coincidental resemblance to a certain Transformer named Sludge. Yesterday I took a look at his alt mode and his little buddy Derpan. Now it’s time to transform this beast and see what his robot mode is all about.

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Damn, he looks so sweeeeet! But before I get into how beautiful he looks, let’s talk about the conversion process. Transforming Columpio feels vaguely similar to the original G1 toy with the complexity beefed up to account for better proportions and articulation. Really, the biggest change is the way his tail packs away into his legs. Some other cool things are at work like the way his shoulders pull outward and upward and his torso pulls up a bit allowing the chest panel to drop forward and the head to fold out. He even has articulated knee flaps to help with his range of leg movement. The dino legs on his robot legs peg into place nicely and while the dino head just hangs loose down his back it stays put quite well. The plastic and tolerances on the toy feel fine, although it was a bit scary “cracking” open his dinosaur shell to start the process along, but it helps to split the tail first. Yeah, the instructions were helpful when I had to consult them, but after just one change forward and back I think I’ve got this guy down pat. It’s not terribly fiddly and it goes pretty quick.

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As for aesthetics, I find Columpio to be a delightful mix of G1 homage and originality. He’s a damn powerful looking figure and I think he scales quite well with the Classics Voyager Prime and the Deluxe Autobots, particularly if you like your Dinobots to be giants. They were pretty big boys in the Sunbow cartoon. And yeah, I suppose he can hang with War For Cybertron Grimlock, at least until Fansproject’s own version of Grimmy comes along. I think the biggest departure in Columpio’s design is found in his chest configuration. It’s still got the black panel running down the middle and jutting out, which flipped out on the original toy to seat the pilot. The upper chest has been rebuilt to give him a more stylized look by adding blue vents and neck guards running on either side of his head. It almost looks like the front end of some kind of vehicle. Maybe? I have to say I really like those two blue discs midway down his chest. I like to imagine that they can serve as chest headlights. Why? I don’t know. I just think that would be cool.

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Columpio’s arms and legs feel right in line with what I wanted in an updated Sludge. The big difference with his legs is that the split tail stores inside the leg and not on the outside. That was a wise move because not only does it fill in his leg cavities, but it allows for the room necessary to store those big dino legs on his robot legs. Columpio still features the “wings” that the G1 toy had, but they are much more compact and they don’t stick out past his arms, unless you want them to and you can achieve that effect by not folding in the side panels.

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The head sculpt is pure money. It’s a sharp sculpt with a silver painted face and a somewhat original “helmet” design. Fansproject went with blue eyes, which favor the Sunbow character over the original toy, and added some nice blue paint hits to the “helmet.” Fansproject has always turned out some of my favorite third-party head sculpts and Columpio here does nothing to buck that trend.

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Articulation? Columpio has it in spades. The arms feature rotating hinges with a generous range of motion, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. His wrists do not swivel, but they are hinged as part of the transformation and his fingers are all set on one hinge to allow him to grasp his weapons. The legs have ball joints in the hips, powerful ratchets in the knees, with secondary knee hinges below as part of the transformation. The front of his feet are ball jointed to mimic lateral rockers and allowing him to look more natural in wider stances. He can swivel at the waist and he has a ball joint in his neck. The hip joints could be a little tighter, but they are certainly capable of holding him just fine and they’re actually much better than the loosey-goosey hips on my Hasbro Masterpiece Grimlock.

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As for weapons, Columpio comes with a rifle and a sword. The rifle is a satisfyingly large piece that can be held in either hand and features a folding bayonet that I absolutely love. The handle can also fold in for when it’s being stored on Columpio’s back or on his dino mode.

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The energon sword has a broad angular blade cast in transparent red plastic with lots of panels sculpted into it. The hilt is pretty beefy and has a cable running from top to bottom making it look a bit like a knucklebow on a traditional sword. Like the rifle, he can hold the sword in either hand and he looks great doing it.

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Both weapons can peg into the inside of Columpio’s wings for storage. It looks a bit clunky from the back, but not so bad from the front. I actually think it works best when you’re just storing a single weapon, so if he wants to get medieval with his sword, he can stow his rifle back there until it’s needed. I always love the ability to store weapons on the figure like this. I wasn’t expecting it so it was a very welcome surprise!

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The last thing to talk about is Derpan’s weapon mode. He transforms into an axe with a few possible configurations for the blade. A couple of cool things worth noting are the way his own weapons store on him when he’s a weapon and the fact that the pommel of the axe handle is a tiny sculpted dinosaur head. Well, isn’t that just precious!

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The standard double axe configuration looks pretty badass, but there’s also a cool battle pick that involves folding up one blade and leaving the other out. Either way, I think Derpan’s weapon mode is a win. It’s well executed and Columpio looks great wielding him. Still, it must really suck to transform into an implement that other robots use to hit things.

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In a way, I expected Columpio to give off a strong War For Cybertron vibe, but in hand, I have no problem regarding him as my regular G1 Sludge. It’s true, he may stray a little too far from the conventional Sludge design for some, but I think he works beautifully for a general modern update to the character. It’s the kind of design I could see appearing in Generations, if Generations were a whole lot better and more expensive. Speaking of expensive, Columpio set me back $115, which feels about right for a Voyager sized third-party figure, and a bit better when you toss in Derpan as an extra. The quality and engineering is definitely here, but then I would have expected nothing less from Fansproject. I think Columpio is a fantastic first step for the Lost Exo-Realm line and I am super excited to get my hands on the next figure as well as see the rest of the reveals.

Lost Exo-Realm: Columpio with Drepan (LER-01) by Fansproject, Part 1

Not-Dinobots… everybody is doing them!!! Yes, folks, these days if you’re in the market for pricey third-party versions of the Dinobots you have a lot of choices. And unless you have all the monies and display space in the world, you’re going to have to do some serious research and make some serious choices. Some are Masterpiece sized, some are Voyager sized, some are even combiners! In the end, I went with Fansproject’s Lost Exo-Realm series, mainly because… hey, it’s Fansproject! I’ve got a couple of shelves full of their toys and these guys have never disappointed me. The other reason I went with the LER Dinos is because they are doing their own Not-Grimlock and it’s really important to me to get a matched set of all of them in the same size and style. Their first release is Columpio, aka Not-Sludge. I’m featuring this guy in two parts, because there’s a lot to talk about and it’s too much for me to accomplish in just one day. Today, we’ll look at the packaging, the dino mode, and his little buddy Drepan, and tomorrow we’ll look at his robot mode and get more into his weapons. Let’s go!

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Ahh, this is some amazing packaging! Columpio comes in a rather large, landscape orientated box with a front flap that opens upward and is secured with velcro. The entire box has a nice matte finish and is loaded with artwork. The front panel features a bitchin piece of character art with Columpio in robot mode wielding Drepan in his weapon mode. The back of the box shows photos of the toy in both modes.

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Open the flap and you get a die-cut window that looks like you’re viewing the figure inside through a cave entrance. The inside of the flap has more shots of what you’re getting inside the box. Columpio comes packaged between two clear plastic trays in his dino mode with Drepan in his robot mode and all the weapons laid out around them. While I frequently toss the boxes to many of my “over-the-counter” toys, I always save the packages for my third-party convert-o-bots, and while it tends to take up a lot of room, it’s presentation like this that makes it worthwhile.

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On the other hand, Fansproject seems to have poured all their efforts into the box and not much into the ephemera. There’s no profile card or comic book. You only get a three page color instruction “booklet” and the middle page isn’t even stapled inside. I’m not really complaining, but some folks who look forward to those little extras may be disappointed. Let’s start off with his dino mode.

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And here is Columpio in all his Dino Mode glory. When I was a kid, this dino mode was known as a Brontosaurus, but I guess that’s not considered scientifically accurate anymore and Apatosaurus seems to be the accepted name these days. Why? Because science! Either way, Columpio is a four-legged cybernetic behemoth with a long snake-like neck. I don’t usually start with the deco, but in this case it’s worth pointing out that the initial con exclusive release had vac metal gold, whereas this regular retail release gets by with just gold paint. I say “gets by” but in person the regular gold paint on display here is pretty damn sumptuous looking. It’s got a sexy satin finish and it is beautifully applied. I think in the end the question of which deco is superior will come down to a matter of personal taste, although the exclusive con version will always have that special level to gravitas to it. Personally, I like what we got here and he still manages to sport some bling via the metallic silver paint on the plates behind his neck, just like on the original G1 toy. The rest of Columpio is comprised of a nice gray plastic with some black, red, and a little blue showing here and there. The coloring definitely delivers on the G1 vibe that I was looking for. I couldn’t be happier with the way this deco turned out.

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As for the sculpt, there are some great panel lines and vents and whatnot to accentuate his cybernetic form. The gold vent pieces on his back are more prominent than the original G1 toy, but they serve a purpose that we’ll get to in a bit. The legs on this guy are wonderfully proportioned and feature excellent articulation, which includes some lateral movement in the “shoulders” and hinges in the “knees.”

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The head sculpt features some nice personality to it, at least for a robot dinosaur. The eyes are red and there are matching discs embedded in his jaw hinges. The mouth does open revealing not a whole lot inside other than his sharp teeth. Of course, one of my favorite things about this guy is the design of the neck. It’s segmented with joints between each, allowing for a beautiful degree of poseability.

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Moving on to Drepan, Columpio’s little buddy and homage to the old Diaclone pilots that came with the original releases of these molds. Fansproject went the extra step and they’re making these little robots transform into weapons for their Dino-formers. He’s a bit bigger than I expected and a very nice sculpt. He’s also very nicely articulated with ball joints in the shoulders and hips and double hinges in the knees and elbows. His head can even rotate. On the downside, Drepan has a huge handle coming off his back. I did not expect that and it’s rather disappointing. Of course, let me qualify that by saying that these partner robots were not a big selling point for me and the LER line, so when I say that huge protuberance disappoints me, it’s not really putting me off my purchase and I still kind of dig Drepan for what he is.

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And hey, this little guy even comes with his own little axe and shield. The axe fits into the hole in either of his hands and the shield can peg right onto his arm. All in all, Drepan is well thought and a lot of fun and as we’ll see tomorrow he can transform into a pretty cool weapon.

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Drepan can also ride on Columpio’s back and that’s where those vents come into play. They can rotate around to make a pilot seat for the little guy. It works OK, but if I ever display Columpio in dinosaur mode, Drepan will probably be chilling out back in the box.

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While I’ll be dealing with his weapons more tomorrow, I did want to just point out that Columpio’s gun and sword will attach to his dinosaur mode very much in the way Hasbro’s Generations Grimlock’s accessories attached to him. I’m not a big fan of this as a display option, but it’s a nice option to have nonetheless.

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And that’s where I’m going to call it quits for today. So far Columpio is hitting all the right points. His Dino Mode looks great and is lots of fun to play with. Tomorrow we’ll get Columpio transformed and check out his robot mode and other goodies!

 

Transformers Generations: Autobot Skids (IDW Comic Pack) by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday and I worked late into the night to spare you all another Armada figure! Yes, I had some new newish figures arrive in the mail yesterday afternoon and I jumped on the opportunity to get one of these guys ready to go for today’s feature. Skids is from a couple waves ago, but he’s been eluding me for a long while now and I’ve been reluctant to pay scalper prices for him because of many reports that he isn’t all that exceptional. But he’s Skids and I needed him for my Classics/Generations shelf, so I was willing to take a chance. Fortunately an online retailer surprised me and put this wave back up for order a couple weeks back and I was able to pick him up with the rest of the assortment.

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Oh god, how I love these comic packs! The presentation is just so superb… from the old school Transformers logo and grid pattern on the card to the way it cleverly uses an actual comic book for the packaging art. Hasbro has used this style with great success for everything from Marvel to GI Joe and Star Wars. I wish they’d bring all of it back because I can’t get enough of it. Also, I gotta say for a figure that I’ve heard a lot of negative things about, he sure looks fine to me in the package. Let me bust this guy open and check him out. But first, I’m going to light up a Hoyo De Monterrey Excalibur Cigarillo and enjoy the comic book. Be back in a few.

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And BACK! Yeah, this is More Than Meets The Eye #22, so I’ve already read it. In fact, I believe this is the last issue in Volume 5 of the TPB with Volume 6 not due out for a couple of more months. It’s still a great read, but that goes without saying as I’m on record that MTMTE is not only my favorite piece of Transformers fiction, but one of the best comics I’ve ever read. For those still not blessed with the experience, this issue is a nice way to dip your toe in and get the flavor as it showcases some of the great humor, dialogue and characterization. Although I’m not really sure why they chose it as Skids’ comic because he’s not at all central to the issue. Anywho… let’s start off with Skids’ alt mode.

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Gone are the old days of being a mini-van! Skids’ auto mode is a cute and compact blue sports car and not a bad one at that. The first thing that strikes me about him is the deco and that’s worth pointing out because the color and paintwork on Hasbro’s Deluxes these days hasn’t always been the best. Skids bucks that trend with a vibrant blue plastic as the base coloring of the figure and some bright red and white paint to jazz things up. The windows may appear to be painted black, but they’re actually just a really dark tinted clear plastic. The front grill is picked out with some additional gray paint and some gold hits as well and there’s a tiny Autobot emblem stamped right where the hood ornament might go. This car is defintely pleasing to the eye. Just compare Skids’ auto mode to the IDW version of Bumblebee and look at the difference in overall quality and appearance.

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Skids does have his share of seams from the transformation, but nothing too bad. It was a little tough for me to close all the gaps and tighten it all up when going into car mode on the first go around. The transformation here is very clever and feels very fresh, but it’s one of those designs that requires you to lock everything up at the end and while there’s certainly a tab for everything to hold it in place, making it happen just right requires precision transformation skills. On the other hand, going to robot mode is pretty intuitive.

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There are sockets located just in front of each of Skids’ rear wheels that allow you to peg in his extra weapons. I always enjoy this option. Any time that I can’t store the weapons under the car, I like to have the ability to weaponize the hell out of it. Skids actually looks pretty decent with his guns hanging off his sides. So far so good, we’ve already had a peek at his robot mode, let’s check it out for reals!

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So my initial reaction is one of pure love. Skids is a wonderfully intricate design and a fantastic reproduction of his comic character art. The way he wears the front of his car mode instantly reminds me of IDW Trailcutter and Hoist, which ain’t a bad thing at all. But there’s so much else going on with him. To be more specific, he’s positively bristling with weapons! He’s got rocket packs in his shoulders, two double barreled cannon angling up on either side of his head and two more sets of double barreled guns on his arms that can be slung below his fists or worn in a split fashion. So cool!

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And check out that portrait! It’s a great likeness to his IDW counterpart. The odd thing here is that he’s decked out on the back of his noggin for light piping, but his eyes appear to be painted over. And yet they have an eerie piercing quality about them. It’s pretty nice work.

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As solid as the deco is in car mode, it’s in robot mode that it really shines. Skids carries over all of that brilliant blue plastic and shows off some more of that striking red paint. I’m extremely impressed with the paint apps that went into each of his individual rocket hatches. This stuff may sound like nothing to crow about, but with how stingy Hasbro has been with paint lately, I really want to call it out when it looks this good.

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Ok, so with all that having been said, I can certainly see some issues. First and foremost his shoulder articulation is at odds with all his car kibble. His shoulders bump up against the roof and door parts on his back. I can still get a full rotation out of the shoulders by shifting things around, but there’s almost no lateral shoulder articulation. The articulation is there, but the sculpt won’t allow it. He is an amnesiac. I suppose I could just pretend he forgot how his shoulders work.

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Two other points worth mentioning occur down south in his legs. First off, those plates that jut off the backs of his lower legs are rather unsightly when viewed from the side. Also, Skids is in dire need of a set of heel spurs. He doesn’t look like he’s back heavy, and yet he’s constantly falling backward. I really dig the way his wheels fold down to form his feet, because you don’t see that a lot, but it’s clear that his footsies aren’t up to the task of holding him vertical. I mention these two things together because if Hasbro had been able to engineer a swivel into those lower leg parts they could have angled downward and solved both problems. I know, it’s easy to say but something like that isn’t simple or cheap to execute. I’m imagine it wouldn’t cost out for a Deluxe. It looks as if they already maxed the budget on this guy with sculpt and paint.

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The last thing to talk about is Skids guns, which combine together to form a big rifle. I love the design on these things, especially the pistol, which looks like it has a drum magazine. They look great when combined and they have multiple pegs so you can attach them to any like sized port. I think the pistol works well for my Generations Swerve, at least until I get around to buying that third-party “My First Blaster” for him.

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And so, I was tempering myself for disappointment, but in the end, I’m really not seeing why this guy gets such a bad rap by some. Granted, I’ve been told that I’m really forgiving when it comes to my assessment of Hasbro’s Deluxe Transformers and I would tend to agree with that criticism. Anyone who is an articulation whore, and there’s nothing wrong with that, will certainly be frustrated by Skids’ arms, but I really dig the engineering of his transformation and looking at him up on my shelf, I think he’s one of the better looking Deluxes in my Classics/Generations lineup. At one point, I almost laid down $25 for him and in retrospect I probably would have been OK with that. Of course, it was better to get him for $15 as part of the wave assortment.

Next Thursday I’m going to detour to check out Masterpiece Wheeljack and after that I’ll come back to this Generations wave and start looking at the rest of them.

Marvel Legends Infinite: Agent Venom by Hasbro

So, I had originally planned on looking at DC Collectibles Starfire today, but my figure turned out to be all kinds of broken, so I’m working on getting a replacement. I also just made up a new rule. If a DC figure fumbles too badly to be reviewed then Marvel gets to take the ball. I suppose the reverse would be the case. Fair is fair. Anyway, today’s figure, Agent Venom, comes from that curious new breed of Walgreens Exclusives. Nope, that’s not a typo. I didn’t mean to say Walmart. As odd as it seems, Walgreens is indeed asserting their presence in the action figure game by signing exclusive deals with companies like Hasbro, Funko, and even Character Options to make them the only source for certain characters from Marvel, Game of Thrones, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. I actually had some luck getting one of the Doctor Who exclusives, but my hunt for Agent Venom proved fruitless. Luckily, thanks to this awesome dude, I was able to get me an agent Venom without having to carve out a piece of my kidney for him on Ebay. Although, his price on the secondary market does seem to be calming down.

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I’ve got no packaging to show you, as I just asked that he be mailed to me loose or in a tray or whatever way possible. Suffice it to say, Agent Venom comes in a package very similar to what we’ve been seeing in Hasbro’s Marvel Legends Infinite line. Since there is no packaging to speak of, I’ll take the opportunity here to say that this was a character I desperately wanted in the Legends line. Flash Thompson is a fantastic and compelling character to me on every level. I loved that he didn’t get left out of the Superior Spider-Man run. Some of the interchanges between him and Doc Ock were priceless. And Agent Venom’s involvement in the affairs of Spider-Island was easily my favorite thing about that whole story arc. Well, him and J. Jonah, of course. It was cruel blow to find out that Flash was going to be a hard to find exclusive, and I’m really thrilled to have him in hand.

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Cast entirely in black plastic, Agent Venom is an imposing looking figure. The sculpt here is fantastic and I’m particularly fond of the armor pieces that look like a cross between sports equipment, riot gear, and crustacean parts. You get a mix of what looks like fabricated straps with that cool bumpy texture that looks and feels a bit like natural shell. Most of the torso bulk comes from a soft rubbery vest that’s laid on over the figure’s buck, which thankfully has the shoulder pads attached. This means that they can flop up and down to avoid hindering the shoulder articulation. It works so much better than putting them on a hinge as I don’t have to worry about them popping off like the ones on the Space Armor Iron Man figure included in the recent Guardians wave. The paintwork on the figure consists almost entirely of his white markings. I know some have complained about rough paint on this figure, but I’m actually pleased with mine. I think the paint itself could have been laid on a little thicker, as the black tends to bleed through in some areas, but apart from that the lines are pretty crisp and there’s no slop to speak of.

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In addition to all that great armor, Agent Venom sports a well stocked equipment belt, which is all sculpted in one piece. The belt features enough pouches to make both Rob Liefeld and Deadpool jealous. He’s also got a canteen, smoke grenades, regular grenades, and a combat knife. Oh yeah, he’s also got a sculpted hip holster with a permanently attached automatic. And the silver paint on that gun is the only other paint on the figure apart from those white markings. Wait, what? The gun doesn’t come out of the holster? Boo. Agent Venom needs weapons!

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Well, ask and you shall receive. Flash actually comes with four guns. You get a pair of gray automatic pistols, a gray sub-machine gun, and a black pistol with a laser scope (oh, look! One more paint hit!) mounted under the barrel. Nice! And like a lot of other people who get this figure, I’ll be giving those matching pistols to my Winter Soldier Black Widow who also suffered from Guns-sculped-into-the-holster Syndrome.

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In addition to an embarrasment of guns, Agent Venom also comes with a single piece of four tendrils that plugs into his back. The ends of the tendrils are sculpted into little “hands” to hold his guns, although this feature works with somewhat mixed results. It’s still a very cool option.

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The articulation on this figure is great. There are no mushy joints and all the right points are there. His arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the gloves. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, although they are those somewhat frustrating ones that require you to reposition the joint to make it work in different positions. The legs have double hinged knees, swivels at the top of the thighs, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. Agent Venom can swivel at the waist, and despite wearing the vest he can still hinge forward and backward a bit in the torso. He also has a hinge and a generous ball joint in the neck. He’s well balanced and loads of fun to play with!

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Man, do I love this figure and I am absolutely thrilled to add him to my Legends shelf. Whether or not Walgreens having exclusive figures pans out to be a benefit or headache to collectors remains to be seen. On the plus side, I’ve got at least three Walgreens within a 20 minute radius of my home, whereas the nearest Toys R Us is about an hour away. On the downside, distribution seems to have been a little spotty so far, but I suppose we need to give it time. In the case of Agent Venom, however, we have a figure that was cancelled from a previous wave and then still left out when that wave found it’s way to TRU’s shelves. As a result, I would have been happy to get this figure in my hands no matter who wound up offering it. Hey, Walgreens, how about that red Legends Deadpool? Maybe you can work your mojo with Hasbro and get your hooks into that one too!