Galaxy Squad: CLS-89 Eradicator Mech (#70707) by LEGO

Ahh, LEGO, how long has it been my addictive and over-priced friend? By my reckoning it was last September when I built a LEGO City 4×4 and Boat Trailer. Of course, it’s been even longer since I visited with the Galaxy Squad series. That was way back in October of 2013. Wow, how time flies. I guess TRU was having a 50% off sale on these sets. My parents emailed me a list asking me which ones I had and if I would recommend any for my nephew. Turns out they were just trying to see which ones I didn’t have because I got two of these bigger sets under the tree on Christmas! Santa can be tricky… I like that! Anyway, I’ve got the LEGO withdrawals, so let’s get the preliminaries out of the way so I can get started.

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The box is pretty big and as always the art and photos give you a great idea of what you’re building. In this case it’s a giant Galaxy Squad Mech to fight off those damn space bugs. I absolutely loved this series. It’s like a cross between Space Police, Alien Conquest, with a love letter to Starship Troopers thrown in. Opening up the box reveals…

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This mess… SHIT! Bag #1 literally exploded on me when I tried to tug the corners and straighten it out. Hopefully I didn’t lose any pieces. We’ll find out soon! Anyway, you get two beefy instruction booklets, a small sheet of stickers, and three numbered bags of bricks. When all is said and done, you build two Minifigs, two Swarm Bugs, and the Galaxy Squad Mech, Eradicator! Let’s start with them Minifigs!!!

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The Minifigs include one human Squaddie and one robot. The Squaddie features an orange space suit with a gray double-printed torso. He has a helmet with clear visor and two printed faces. I like to use the one with the breathing gear when he’s wearing the mask and the other when the mask is off, but maybe it’s supposed to be the other way around. He also features two big ass guns. Actually, I thought they were big ass guns until I saw the one for the robot. I guess everything is relative. And hey… robot! I forgot this line featured robots, but now I remember one came with the Space Swarmer set. They’re cool!

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The first bag builds the Swarm Bugs and I’m glad to see that I hadn’t lost any pieces in the terrible bag explosion. The Swarm Bugs are pretty cool, although they do share a fair amount of the same build. The heads are identical and the legs are the same, and they both feature translucent green butts that can double as prisons for the unfortunate Squaddies that get captured and shoved up a bug butt for imprisonment. It’s a terrible war! Also, one of these beasts has wings while the other is purely a scuttler. I would have preferred an extra set of legs for each as six legs would have made them more stable. C’mon LEGO… This set sold for a lot of money, could you not have thrown in four extra tiny pieces??? I may eventually frankenstein them together into one superbug if I get ambitious enough.

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The second and third baggies build The Eradicator and it is one cool and tough looking mech. I’m definitely getting a lovely MechWarrior vibe off of it. It stands on two stubby legs with ball joints at the hips and ankles and it can pivot at the waist. The two arms feature a chain gun and a rocket launcher with five rockets, because as the song goes… “Everything is awesome… when you’re inflicting genocide on a hostile alien race.” I really like the design of this thing and some of the wonderful little touches like the cartoony sprays of bug guts on the feet, no doubt from stomping on the fleeing enemy forces. Another very clever touch is the way the robot’s big gun can mount on the gatling gun for added firepower. The main cockpit can fit the Squaddie, while the robot sits in a rather awkward position in the back. But there’s a reason for that…

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Because you can launch the main cockpit of The Eradicator as a little attack shuttle and transform the rear cockpit into the mech’s main cockpit. I just said the word “cockpit” a lot! You simply flip up the back of the mech, swivel the waist 180-degrees and reposition the weapon arms. It’s pretty cool that The Eradicator can lose a good piece of its structure and still function as intended without missing a beat. It’s a perfect design for divide and conquer tactics against the damn, dirty bugs!

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The little attack shuttle is exactly the kind of one-person ships that the folks at LEGO love to design. It is indeed small, but it has hinged wings and a pair of missile launchers. It can also poop a landmine out of the back. I imagine it’s also a good escape pod for when the tide of alien bugs turns against you. “Hey, robot, wait here, I’ll be right back… YOINK!”

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I seem to recall seeing this set at around the $40 price point, which feels like a very good deal as LEGO sets go. Even without the clever separation and transformation engineering, The Eradicator would have been a welcome addition to my Galaxy Squad forces. Likewise, I’m happy to add a few more bugs to my Swarm Army. While there’s a fair amount of redundancy to the build, both in the bugs and the mech itself, I still found building it to be quite enjoyable and it took me a couple of hours, although granted that includes interruptions here and there. The set is also loaded with playability as you get a very fun good guy vehicle and a couple of bad guys to fight. I place a lot of value in these “battle in a box” style sets, as even if this is your first acquisition in the series, you’ve got everything you need to start waging the war between humankind and the dirty bugs.

And with that, I’m off to do a little drinking and flip the clock with some friends. Everyone have a very safe and happy New Year’s Eve, and I’ll see y’all on the flipside…

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Masters of the Universe Classics: Snake Face by Mattel

So, my December box from Matty Collector arrived yesterday dramatically increasing the already large stack of unopened MOTUC figures in the corner. Damn, and I was just starting to make a dent in it too! Better get on those. Today I’m opening one of the figures that Matty re-issued for sale in November and it is Snake Face. Hmm… I wonder what he’s all about!

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Looking at him through the bubble, I can just about get a taste of the nightmares that this unholy thing is going to induce. The package consists of the usual Greyskull inspired deco and the bubble features a “Snake Men” sticker, just in case you were unsure about the faction of a guy named Snake Face who is a snake man with snakes coming out of every orifice on his head. SNAKES!!! This guy makes Serpentor from GI JOE look subtle by comparison. The bio is mostly uninteresting to me, although it does declare that he has been enchanted with the power to turn people to stone. I’m also guessing he has the power to make me shit myself if I ever saw him in real life. Because he looks like this…

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Christ almighty! Matty really dialed up the disturbing factor to about an eleven on this figure. Since MOTUC is technically an adult collector line, I went back to find a picture of the vintage figure to see if the Mattel of yesteryear had inflicted this same level of horror on kids and I was pretty shocked to see that they had. The vintage figure is possibly made even a tad more disturbing by his functioning action feature and the fact that he’s aimed at eight year old kids. I looked in vain to find an actual commercial featuring this guy, but I did unearth this disturbing slice of nightmare fuel made all the worse by its poor quality.  Anywho, let’s back up and check out the figure.

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Even in his basic form, Snake Face gives me the creeps and a lot of it has to do with his open fangy maw. It looks like he’s dislocated his jaw and is about to attempt to eat something his own size. All of the Snake Men have been pretty solid figures, but there’s just something about this dude’s portrait that just oozes character. His helmet kind of reminds me of the ones worn by the Palace Guard, which makes me want to throw out his bio and just pretend this guy was once a human guard who got all snaked up, just like poor Duncan. One of the cool things about his helmet is all those snakes actually have their tails hanging down the back to form a ghastly pony tail.

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The rest of Snake Face is somewhat low key. I do really dig the the extra scaly texturing on his arms and the snakes that wrap around his fore arms. His purple scaled undies are a questionable choice, but his vest has a really nice black finish and some decent sculpted detail. The vest is a bit chunky on him and Snake Face has a bit of a problem getting his arms down to his sides… Yes, I mean even more so than most MOTUC figures. That’s not such a big deal for me because this guy is going to be posed on my shelf with his arms held up in an “oogity boogity” fashion and in full snake deployment mode.

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And that brings us back to Snake Face when he’s all snaked out, which is primarily achieved with a swappable head. If it isn’t enough that he has blood red snakes pouring out of his mouth, eye holes and from behind his ears, he also has two removable straps on his vest that allow you to plug in two additional snakes pouring out of his belly. I don’t care if I was the most powerful man in the universe, if this guy was coming at me, I’d drop my sword and run for the hills. Seriously, f’ck that shit!

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Snake Face comes with a pretty cool shield with a very distinctive design. Can you guess what it is? SNAKES! Yeah, you got it. And just to make sure his chosen theme isn’t too subtle, he also comes with a snake staff. It’s the same one we’ve seen a whole bunch of times now, only this time it’s molded in green plastic, which I find a lot more appropriate than the black one that came with Tung Lashor. Obviously these snake staffs are handed out at Snake Men Orientation.

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In a world where misguided parents are fighting to get Heisenberg figures off the pegs, it’s probably a good thing Snake Face here is by online subscription only. While the Walter White figure might promote kids to play meth dealer, Snake Face here will straight up give kids a glimpse into a Meth fueled hell ride. They should have just called him Methamphetamine Psychosis-or. Hmm… on second thought, maybe they should sell this guy on the pegs as some kind of misguided PSA. Either way, I absolutely love this figure. He’s easily one of the creepiest pieces in my collection and he’s given me a new appreciation for my little Snake Men army.

Marvel Universe Infinite: Deathlok by Hasbro

[Sorry for the technical difficulties this morning. This is my second crack at today’s feature as I had a problem with the original upload and the first completed draft was lost to the farthest reaches of the Interwebs. I’ve done a speedy re-write in a coffee and donut fueled rage, so let’s try this again… ]

Well, Christmas if finally behind us and I’m anxious to get back to business as usual. Sometime last week I was cleaning out the Toy Closet and I happened upon a couple of unopened Marvel Infinite Series figures, Deathlok and Valkyrie, that had fallen behind the shelving. It’s always fun to find unopened toys that I forgot I had, so let’s tear one of these babies open! I’m going with Deathlok because if I had remembered that I had him I would have opened him up along time ago. No offence, Valkyrie, but it’s Deathlok!

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Ah, there’s the bleak and ugly Infinite Series packaging. It’s black and boring and everything a comic book action figure package should not be. The back of the package points out that this is the Luther Manning version of the character, but apart from that I don’t have much more to say about the card. I haven’t heard much about the Infinite Series since the last wave when Hasbro made the mistake of re-releasing the Guardians of the Galaxy figures on single cards. They were great figures and all, but it was a poor choice considering that boxed set was still sitting on the toy shelves of many big box retailers. At least that Wave did give us a powered up version of Wonder Man. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, Deathlok…

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I have a strange affinity for people who are mortally injured and saved by cybernetic enhancements. It’s a cool compromise in that you’re still alive, but not quite the person you used to be. That’s why I love Robocop so much, and Deathlok too. Of course, Deathlok takes it to a whole new level with dimension hopping and fighting demons and all sorts of crazy Marvel shit. I think Hasbro did a really nice job on the figure, even though it’s obvious they did some parts shopping from other figures to build him. The limbs are almost definitely off of Marvel Universe Colossus and we saw them again as recently as Wave 2 of Infinite Series with Death’s Head. I’m not complaining though, the parts reused make sense and there’s enough new stuff here to make the figure work. The paint is quite well done as the yellow striping on his costume and the American Flag tampo on his chest are both clean and precise. Most of the sculpted detail on the body comes from the segmented design of the cybernetic limbs.

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The portrait here is really good. The organic part of the head looks grisly and zombie-esque and contrasts beautifully with the sterile and almost featureless cybernetic half. Hasbro has introduced some pretty great sculpts into this line since the Marvel Universe days and I’d dare say that Deathlok’s is among the better ones.

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In addition to borrowing some parts for the figure, Hasbro also raided the Marvel Universe Cable figure for Deathlok’s arsenal. The gun belt is the same, only repainted brown and both the pistol and rifle are the same, just cast in a different color of plastic. I suppose that the pistol could pass for Deathlok’s helium neon laser pistol and as for the rifle, well that’s one of my favorite weapons in the line so I don’t mind getting it again.

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Unfortunately, Deathlok has some issues with articulation. The points are all there with everything I’ve come to expect from the modern Marvel Universe buck, but his leg joints came out of the package a bit warped. He still works OK for action poses, but I can’t get him into a regular, standing at attention pose because the legs just want to be splayed outward. Also, the ball joint in his torso is really loose and floppy. It feels like an old GI JOE figure when the O-ring was going bad. I’m not sure if it’s a problem with my specific figure or one that is common to the whole run, but I like this guy enough that I may pick up another to see if I make out any better.

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Don’t let my talk about parts re-use fool you, I really dig this figure a lot and I’m kind of surprised that it took Hasbro this long to get us this character in their expansive 3 3/4” line. I am a bit surprised they went with the more classic look over Deathlok’s most recent appearance, but I’m not disappointed. I like the classic look a lot better and despite all my efforts, I haven’t been able to get more than a few issues into v5 of Deathlok before wandering away from the book to read other things. Next time we revisit the Infinite Series, I’ll check out Valkyrie and that should just about bring me up to date on Hasbro’s 3 3/4″ Marvel offerings.

Transformers Generations: Crosscut (IDW Comic Pack) by Hasbro

Well, I hope you all had a great Christmas, Toyhounds. I don’t want to be a scrooge, but I’m glad it’s over and I’m anxious for things to start returning to normal. Since I took the day off yesterday, I decided to bump Transformers Thursday to today and we are going to be opening up a certain Autobot that Santa Primus left for me under the tree. It’s Crosscut and he’s a repaint of Skids. Ho Ho Ho!

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Is there a more beautiful sight to behold than an action figure packaged with a comic book? I think not. If this had been a thing back when I was a kid, I might have grown up with a better outlook on the world and life in general. I’m just glad I lived to see it happen. Crosscut is one of Hasbro’s “Thrilling Thirty” to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Transformers. I’ve lost track of where they are with these, but 2014 is just about gone so there can’t be too many more of these left for me to open. I’m a little apprehensive about what 2015 holds for Tranformers. I don’t see myself buying many of the Combiner Wars stuff, other than the Legends Class figures, so I’m going to be sad to see all this IDW stuff disappear from the pegs. But I digress… he comes packaged in robot mode, but let’s start with his car mode.

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If you missed my review of Skids, you should know that I really liked that figure a lot and so I was eager to pick up this remold-repaint. The car mode is an adorable and unassuming little compact that in no way suggests the kick-ass looking warrior bot that you’re going to get out of it. Still, as much as I still dig this mold, the Crosscut version is pretty bland when compared to the original Skids release. Gone is that beautiful blue plastic and in its place is this swirly gray crap that Hasbro likes to use. Cars are meant to be shiny and this bare plastic just doesn’t work that well for the alt mode. The red and white striping on Skids’ sides is replaced by a black stripe and some red scoops. There’s also a lot of new paint to be found on the grill, but I’ll deal with that after we get him transformed.

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Crosscut features the same ports on his sides, just in front of the rear wheels, so you can attach his weapons to his car mode. All in all, this isn’t a terrible looking car. If I try hard enough I can get a little G1 Camshaft vibe off of him, but based on coloring alone, I much prefer the Skids release.

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Transforming Crosscut into robot mode isn’t too bad, it’s getting him back into car mode that I find a little daunting. Nonetheless, the robot mode on this guy is just a thing of beauty. I love the proportions, particularly since the transformation is so well engineered that it almost looks like the toy uses mass shifting to get such a long and lean bot mode out of such a compact little car. You also have some very classic Autobot design elements at work here, what with the front of the car forming the chest, the wheels on the shoulders, and the door wings angling up from the back. Of course, the mold is still not without some issues. The car kibble on the sides of the legs is rather ungainly and the figure does have a habit of falling backwards if you don’t get his stance just right. This is one Transformer that is sorely in need of some heel spurs.

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Like Skids, Crosscut is bristling with weaponry. You get those awesome rocket packs on his shoulders and a pair of shoulder cannon reminiscent of the old G1 Datsuns. He also has dual cannon slung under each of his forearms and these can be angled up for firing, but I prefer them positioned under his arms. It’s odd that his bio should call out that this guy isn’t known for his accomplishments in battle, seeing as how he looks like a walking death machine.

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So what’s new? Well, Crosscut does feature a brand new head sculpt, complete with mouth plate and a cool “helmet.” Other than that, the new deco features the same gray plastic we saw in car mode with some snazzy metallic gold paint on his feet, hands, helmet, and shoulders. The gray plastic works for me much better in robot mode than in car mode. The front grill and bumper is now black with some more metallic red and yellow headlamps, which goes a long way to differentiate him from Skids. Honestly, the only issue I have with his deco in bot mode is that the head sculpt uses the bare gray plastic for his face and part of his helmet. I really wish these parts had been painted, especially the mouth plate.

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Crosscut’s articulation looks good on paper, but like Skids, he doesn’t feature a lot of mobility in the shoulders. The jointing is there, but the sculpt does its best to interfere. Conversely, his leg articulation is great, but it’s hard to make use of it without Crosscut toppling backwards. The end result is a figure that looks really good standing on the shelf, and can be really frustrating when trying to get great poses out of him.

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Crosscut comes with black versions of Skids two weapons. One is a rifle, the other looks like a beefy pistol with a drum magazine and they can be combined into one big gun. Taken together, this is one of my favorite Transformers weapons in recent memory, so I don’t mind getting another, but it’s also very character specific for Skids, so it feels rather out of place getting it again for another character.

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All in all, Crosscut is a nice second run at a mold that is admittedly problematic, but one that I love nonetheless. The aesthetics here just scream classic Autobot sexiness to me and I can’t get over how much I dig those rocket packs in the shoulders. The deco works better for me in robot mode than it does in car mode, but I don’t think either are necessarily better than what we got with Skids. I don’t know that Crosscut is a “must-have” figure, especially for collectors that already own the mold, but he is the only one in this wave that I sought out to buy and that’s just because I dig Skids so much.

Star Wars Original Trilogy Collection: “Large Size” Boba Fett by Hasbro

Merry Christmas, Toyhounds! I wasn’t planning on doing a feature today, but I was working on cleaning out the Toy Closet earlier this week and I found something that had a tenuous Christmas tie-in, so I thought I’d go ahead and take a look at it before I ship it off to my nephew. Journey back with me to ten years ago, Hasbro got the wonderful idea to release a bunch of Star Wars toys in packaging that was reminiscent of the stuff we got in the late 70’s and early 80s. It was a brilliant marketing idea, as it got middle aged people like me to buy questionable toys just because they were in packaging that tugged on our nostalgia strings. While most of this stuff catered to the 3 3/4” action figure range, they did release a few figures based off the vintage Kenner “large size” action figures. Today we’re checking out one of those… It’s Boba Fett!

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There he is in the packaging. Well, partial packaging. This box actually came in a larger tray with the OTC logo on it, but I don’t have the outer packaging anymore. This box is pretty damn close to what the big Kenner figures came in, right down to that awkward flap that juts out of the side and seems to serve no purpose other than to get inadvertently bent. It has the great vintage Star Wars logo and even sports the Kenner logo too! There’s also a window to show the figure inside, which in this case might not have been the best idea. The rest of the package is loaded with awesome shots of Boba Fett in action, including one where he’s lighting you on fire with his flamethrower. Cool!

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So, here’s the Christmas tie-in: When my brother and I were little we used to put up little “Charlie Brown” trees in our bedrooms at Christmas time. My parents would wait until we were asleep on Christmas Eve and put one present under each of these trees. They were smart, because it meant that when we woke up at 5am, we had something to open and keep us busy and they could sleep a little longer. One Christmas, the present under my tree was the Kenner “large size” Boba Fett and this thing was absolutely brilliant. By today’s standards it looks really lanky and it has a crazy giraffe neck, but it sported some wonderfully forward-thinking articulation that set it apart from the other five POA large size Star Wars figures. Plus he had that Six Million Dollar Man viewing lens in his head and a grapple hook and a removable jet backpack and all sorts of cool stuff. I had so much fun with that toy all by itself. I don’t think he ever even interacted with the other “large size” figures. He just went on his own adventures. When I saw this new figure in the same packaging, there was no way I wasn’t going to buy it. Unfortunately, once you look beyond the great box, the figure inside is a real mixed bag.

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The biggest controversy over this release among collectors was the color of the jumpsuit. It was originally released with a blue jumpsuit and the later ones had a gray one. Some argued that the reason was to reflect the different color suits used between Empire and Return of the Jedi. The problem is that the blue jumpsuit is so damn blue that it looks nothing like the one worn in Jedi. Seriously, Hasbro might as well went with pink or plaid. It would have been just as inaccurate and awkward looking. Naturally, mine is the blue jumpsuited figure. At one point I was going to hunt down a gray one, but at the time they were selling for crazy money on the secondary market and I decided that even with the proper colored garment, I didn’t like the figure enough to throw good money after bad.

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So apart from the obvious coloring of the costume, what’s wrong with this figure? Well, he has absolutely no neck, which is kind of ironic since the vintage Kenner one had way too much neck. Also, the range finder on his helmet is made out of rubbery plastic and came straight out of the box all warped and messed up. It’s such a prominent feature on the figure and it looks terrible. In fact, I think the figure would actually look better if I just ripped it off completely. Lastly, Boba has some serious problems standing up. His ankle joints are really weak and even when I can get him to stand, he just flops over a few moments later. Last, but not least, it’s almost impossible to get him to hold his rifle correctly. The stock just isn’t designed to fit his grip and into the crook of his arm. I can get it to look right in a couple of positions, but the gun is really just resting on top of his arm and not in his grip.

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That’s not to say that Hasbro didn’t put some admirable work into this figure. The jumpsuit actually features working pouches with velcro flaps, which I still think is a nice detail. You even get plastic tools to slip into the pockets on his legs. The weathering on his sash looks nice and the Wookie braids are also incredibly well done. Indeed, the weathering on the armor isn’t bad either and I like the worn look of the Mandalorian emblem on his shoulder. Even the rocket sculpted into his gauntlet looks good. Boba Fett is also built on a pretty good Sixth-Scale body with lots of useful articulation, providing you can get him to stand with those week ankles.

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Mr. Fett comes with his trademark carbine, which is a decent sculpt and cast entirely in black plastic with no paint apps at all. His jetpack is also removable, but it’s just a static piece of plastic. The thrust nozzles on the bottom aren’t articulated and the rocket doesn’t come out. It also feels like it’s missing paint apps. The coloring on the rest of Fett’s armor looks about right, but the jetpack needs more red.

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At about $30 when it was first released, this guy was probably priced about right. I believe Hasbro had some 12-inch Joes on the shelves around that time closer to the $20 mark, but I’m not sure that they featured the same level of complexity to the costume. Plus, Hasbro was clearly marketing these figures as premium collectibles. Honestly, if my Fett had the gray jumpsuit and his range finder wasn’t warped beyond help, I would probably be keeping this figure and possibly even displaying him, but as he is I really have no use for him. While he may fail as a collectible, I think he would make for a pretty fun toy for kids, so hopefully my nephew can get some enjoyment out of him. I didn’t buy a lot of these “large size” OTC figures, but I do have one more that I will likely be looking at next week. Also, if you stopped by today expecting to find Transformers Thursday, fear not, I just bumped it to tomorrow. Hope you all have a great Christmas and I’ll see you on the flipside!

Masters of the Universe Classics: Plundor by Mattel

I’m continuing to make my way through the large stack of MOTUC figures that sits in the corner waiting to be opened. I’ve gone through three New Adventures themed figures in the last couple weeks, but now I’m pulling it back to something more conventional. And nothing says conventional like an evil purple rabbit. I seem to remember a lot of complaining on the He-Man boards when this guy was revealed and I can’t for the life of me understand why. First of all, he was a prominent Filmation villain, at least in one episode, and secondly if the idea of an evil purple rabbit-man is too bizarre for you, then why are you even bothering with this action figure line? It frightens me to think that there are people out there saying, “Woah! I’ll take a crab man and a guy with a robot elephant head, but rabbit people is where I draw the line. That’s just stupid!”

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Here he is in all his packaged glory. Please note the greatest tag line for any Masters figure, ever… “Evil Rabbit Seeking Riches.” It sounds like a personal listing on Craig’s List. I love it! The bio on the back recounts “The Quest for He-Man” an episode that I can actually remember quite well probably because it was batshit crazy even by Masters standards. It was also a thinly veiled PSA about how evil corporations are trying to destroy the environment in search of the almighty dollar. I’d like to know what the gang at Filmation was smoking that made them decide that the personification of corporate greed is a purple bunny rabbit. And those of you still complaining that we got this figure should just thank the Gods of Eternia that Matty didn’t give us a Gleedal figure, which was basically a woman with a smoking hot body and a bird’s head. As an adolescent boy a the time, I don’t mind admitting that chick confused the hell out of me and certain parts of my anatomy. I think I should open the figure now.

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On a lot of levels, Plundor is a very simple figure. You get a hairy sculpted buck with boots and gloves. He isn’t wearing the traditional hairy barbarian diaper either. Instead you just get a smooth set of undies with a belt. The bulk of his outfit is the single piece that rests on his shoulders and protrudes down to his belt, and yes if you pop off his head it is removable. Of course, the fact that this lavendar man-rabbit is just wearing a little leather and shows off so much of his ‘roided out physique makes him all the more unsettling in my eyes, but if you want to go for the bare chested look, have at it.

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Of course, most of Plundor’s personality rests in that delightful head sculpt, which I think is up there with some of the MOTUC series’ best work. It straddles a creepy line between cartoon lunacy and pure evil. The yellow soul-piercing eyes, buried under that furry, disapproving brow is pure poetry. I also love the evil smile punctuated by those two glimmering white buck teeth. The hair on his head is a little tostled and I love the way his one ear is bent down. In terms of scary looking rabbits, he’s not quite up there with the Hat Trick Rabbit from the Twilight Zone movie, but he’s certainly memorable. This is most definitely the visage of a rabbit who is going to rape your planet’s ecosystem just to make a few bucks so he can buy the finest things in life. Or probably rabbit-hookers.

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Articulation here is standard for the MOTUC line. The arms have rotating hinges at the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels at the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have hinges at the knees and ankles, and there are swivels near the hips and again at the boots. Plundor features a swivel at the waist, ab crunch hinge in the torso, and a ball jointed neck.

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Plundor comes with a couple of cool weapons. First off we get this double-bladed battle axe thing with a crystal ball on the top. I don’t remember this thing from the episode, and a little research tells me it’s actually intended to be one of Skeletor’s weapons, which makes sense. I like it, as the crystal ball can be used for gazing or shooting magic beams while the axe is still plenty functional. It’s kind of a fantasty multi-tool. Not only is it a decent sculpt, but I appreciate the metallic paint on the edges, especially when a lot of the more recent weapons in this line could have used more paint hits.

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For me, the real star of the accessories is Plundor’s awesome little laser-sub-machine-gun. This thing has a great retro sci-fi flavor and I really dig that it can be held in both hands. It’s exactly the kind of weapon I would imagine a purple man-rabbit-gangsta would be toting around. The sculpt features decent detail for what is supposed to be an animated style Filmation weapon and we actually get some silver paint hits, which once again are greatly appreciated. I may put a strap on it so that he can sling it across his back.

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And so you can love him or hate him, but eitehr way I count myself among the members of Team Plundor. This release gives us one of the more memorable one-off villains from the show for the first time in figure form and I think T4H did a marvelous job with him. The sculpting and coloring here is top notch and while he’s relatively simple, I think he’s undeniably fun and looks fantastic among the other freaks and weirdos on my beloved MOTUC shelves. I’m particularly glad that Matty included him in the Cyber Monday Sale, because otherwise I would have most definitely wound up paying a lot more for him from the secondary market.

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Myaaah! Give me that you buck-toothed jack-a-nape! It’s mine!!!!

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Silly rabbit! Axes are for Skeletor! 

DC Comics: Starfire Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

BISHOUJO! Y’all know I love it and it’s been a couple of months since I last checked in on this magnificent line of sexy statues by the great peeps at Kotobukiya. Over the last few months, we’ve seen some amazing teaser artwork and a number of finished pieces coming down the line, but today’s entry is one that I was very excited about because Koriand’r was practically born to be in this line of statues. Indeed, it’s hard to believe it took Koto this long to get around to giving her the Bishoujo makeover. I’m really anxious to get this piece out of the box, so let’s just jump right in, shall we?

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If you have any experience with this line than Starfire’s packaging should be readily familiar. You get a mostly white, window box with some glorious and colorful character art by Shunya Yamashita. The Bishoujo boxes vary in size depending on the composition of the individual statues, but I’d say Starfire’s is slightly larger than most. There’s a large window on the front and smaller ones on the top and right side panels to let some light in and give you a tease of what’s inside the box.

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of Shunya Yamashita’s art that I didn’t love, but this one definitely has to be one of my favorites. I mean it’s just absolutely gorgeous. Can the actual statue inside possibly live up to this? We’re about to find out.

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Oh, my! Starfire comes out of the box all ready for display. You don’t even have to plug her into the base because… well, she doesn’t really have one. I’ll come back to that in a bit, but let’s start off with the composition. While Koto’s Bishoujo statues have featured many different styles and poses over the years, it’s hard to forget that the foundation of this series has always been one of pure cheesecake and Starfire’s statue embraces that idea wholeheartedly. This here is a good old fashioned T&A show and Starfire looks rather proud of that fact. The young princess from Tamaran is leaning forward on a strategically placed outcropping of alien rock with one foot on the ground and the other bent up behind her. With derriere jutting out prominently behind her and chest squeezed together between her arms, she gazes off to the side with an expression that redefines the word coy. If you’ve been reading Red Hood & The Outlaws then I think you’ll agree that every aspect of this statue fits the current take on Starfire’s character perfectly.

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Before I get into the particulars of the costume, or at least what little there is of it, something must be said about how exquisitely Koto tackled Starfire’s hair. These statues have almost always featured the dramatic windblown look when dealing with the subjects’ hair and in this case Starfire gave them a chance to run absolutely wild with it. And yes, the results are quite awesome. The translucent orange hair beautifully frames her face and proceeds to snake down and around the left side of her body and wrapping around to end in curls at the front of the statue’s feet. It adds a wonderful sense of energy to what is an otherwise fairly static pose and the direction of the hair is strategically designed so as not to cover up anything, um… important.

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Speaking of covering things up, Starfire’s trademark outfit does very little of that. In fact the bulk of her outfit comes from her thigh high boots and arm bracers. The rest amounts to little more than a very revealing space swimsuit, which seems barely up to the task of containing Starfire’s rather expansive assets. The outfit is painted with a striking iridescent purple with red metallic stones at the tops of her boots as well as in her collar and arm bracers. The purple sheen of her costume contrasts beautifully with the soft orange tones of her alien skin. I will point out that there are a few small areas where the paint lines between the costume and skin aren’t quite as immaculate as I’m used to seeing on the statues in this line, but I’m really nitpicking here, because it’s still far better than the quality of paint I’ve seen on far more expensive statues produced by other companies. Also, these fleeting areas aren’t in prominant locations, so you really need to look to find them.

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Last, but not least, I’m very happy with the way the portrait turned out. I’ve commented before that there are some characters that just aren’t suited to the Bishoujo art style and it takes a lot of effort to make it work (I’m still debating whether or not I will pick up the She-Hulk Bishoujo. I almost never skip these releases, but I’m not sold on her yet). Koriand’r, however, is just perfectly suited to the look. I’m absolutely in love with what they did with her eyes, right down to the emerald paint. And just look at her perfect little mouth with lips slightly parted to flash a glimpse of her white teeth. Wonderful stuff! Ok, thanks for humoring me. You can now go back to looking at her butt and ta-ta’s again.

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As I mentioned earlier, the statue doesn’t really feature a base, only the rocky formation that she’s leaning on. The rock formation is well done and it reminds me of the deliciously retro styrofoam rocks that were used as set dressing on a lot of the Classic Star Trek episodes. When she came out of the box, Starfire’s right foot featured a clear plastic support, but oddly enough all it seems to do is throw off the statue’s balance. Take it off and Starfire stands perfectly fine on the shelf. I can’t help but wonder why that piece was even included since it doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Starfire not having any base at all, but once I got her on the shelf containing my DC Bishoujo’s I found myself totally fine with it. In fact, I kind of appreciate the economy of space it provides, especially when looking at how ridiculously large the base is on my Ghostbusters Bishoujo Lucy statue.

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The prices on these statues have been fluctuating a bit between releases, with some shipping in the $50 range and others creeping up as high as $70. Starfire landed at $65, which seems to be the new average, at least for the statues that are shipping and pre-ordering now. Considering how tough it is to find a decent looking statue these days at under $100, I’m still totally comfortable with the retail on these beauties. In fact, I probably would have been just as happy with this piece if I had been forced to pay a bit more, but let’s not tell Kotobukiya that, eh? The box previews Batwoman as a forthcoming release, and I’ve already seen final pictures of the Jubilee Bishoujo. My next acquisition in the line, however, should be rolling in early next month and she is kind of a special one that raises some interesting questions about the line. It’s Batgirl and she is a reissue of a statue that has been out of circulation for a little while.

Nightmare on Elm Street: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Freddy Krueger by NECA

I really hate being constantly reminded of how old I am, and yet it seems as if everything I hold dear in pop culture is doing just that by celebrating some insane anniversary these days. Now it’s Freddy’s turn, as the undead bastard son of a hundred maniacs has turned 30 this year. I’ve pontificated a lot in the past about how into these movies I was when I was a teenager. My VHS copies of the movies got regular workouts in the VCR, I watched the TV series every week (for as long as it lasted), I had a giant poster of Freddy on my bedroom wall (much to my mother’s chagrin), I even had the only two issues of Marvel’s canceled magazine-format comic book and I still do! Hell, if there was a Freddy Krueger breakfast cereal, I’m sure I would have eaten it. Mmm… Krueger-O’s. Part of this nutritious breakfast! Anyway, NECA has done a lot with the license in the past, and now they’re giving us a self-proclaimed “Ultimate” version of the character to celebrate his 30th. Let’s check him out…

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Holy shit, this is some rad packaging! Yeah, I said “rad” because I feel like it’s the 80s again. I had no idea what the package was going to look like, so I was expecting a standard NECA clam shell or window box, but no! What we got was this snazzy box with the totally bitchin’ original poster art by the great Matthew Peak. I love this poster! It’s absolutely balls out crazy and all sorts of creepy. This is from before Freddy became a wise-cracking loveable murderer and was still pretty damn scary. And even though the box is much bigger than a VHS tape, I still get the same kind of vibe off of it. The side panels have the familiar franchise logo along with “30th Anniversary Ultimate Freddy” and the back panel has some pictures of the accessories. Open the front flap and you’re treated to a window showing off the figure inside and everything is totally collector friendly, which is awesome because I’m definitely going to be keeping this box. NECA has been doing some really nice presentations lately, particularly with their repainted 8-bit video game style figures (which, admittedly aren’t my thing), and this package is fine example of some of that superb packaging.

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Out of the package and Freddy is sporting what is easily one of NECA’s finest sculpts. And, well, this is NECA, so that’s saying quite a lot. I have some suspicions that some of this figure is re-purposed from past Freddy figures. The different heads all look like the ones that were included with their last Freddy. I’ve got no problem with that because if it is the case, they’ve obviously chosen the best they had to offer. The sweater is cast in soft plastic and attached over the figure buck. It’s appropriately textured and worn and while the green stripes don’t all line up with the sculpted striping in the texture, I didn’t even notice that until really scrutinizing the figure. Freddy’s glove hand features soft finger knives, which straighten out pretty easily and should resist breakage, which is more than I can say for the finger knives on my Mezco Freddy.

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Before getting to the portraits, let’s look at articulation, because I’m pretty sure this is the first Freddy figure from NECA that has full articulation below the waist. In fact, I think that’s specifically what makes him the “ultimate” Freddy. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs likewise have rotating hinges in the hips, knees, and ankles. There is a ball joint above the waist and the head rotates on a post. Based on the poseability alone, this figure certainly qualifies as being an “Ultimate” Freddy figure, but I’ll swing back to that idea in the conclusion.

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Moving on to the portraits, and these are probably my favorite points about the figure. All three heads are exquisite with a depth of detail in the sculpts that is beyond impressive for a figure at this price point. The regular head is a serious, “I’m done making pithy puns now and I’m going to murder the shit out of you” expression. You also get grimacing Freddy and the “That bitch Tina just pulled my face off while I was wrestling with her in the backyard” Freddy. They all look amazing and all are capable of wearing the included fedora. If I had one complaint here, I wish the faces had a glossy top coat like we see on the ripped off face. Freddy’s make up always looked glossy and wet to me, whereas here it looks flat, at least on two of the three heads. Then again, a top coat probably would have drowned out all those tiny details in the sculpt, so NECA may have made the right call here after all.

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Besides the fedora and the extra heads, Freddy also comes with a few cool accessories inspired by scenes from the original film. First off you get poor Tina’s face, which Freddy briefly wore while peering in the front window of Nancy’s house.

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The tongue phone is a bit of a stretch, as Freddy never actually interacted with it in the film. If it came with a Nancy figure it would have made more sense. But hey, it’s a phone with a tongue coming out of it. That’s still plenty cool.

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Lastly, you get an extra left hand from where he cut off two of his own fingers complete with green blood spewing out in a little fountain. “Hey, Tina… watch this!”

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Some may take issue with the use of the “Ultimate” moniker on this Freddy figure. If you’re a fan of Freddy’s entire filmography like I am, you’ll certainly notice lots of cool stuff from the later films missing, so it’s probably best to consider this just a 30th Anniversary Freddy and a tribute figure to the first film. Also missing are the extra long arms that were included in the previous Freddy. When you consider this one has the same removable arms, I’m actually considering going back to pick up that figure just for those pieces so that I can make this release all the more ultimate-er-er. Still, even with those gripes, I think this is a fantastic release. The packaging is awesome, the sculpt is superb, and even if you have a bunch of NECA’s old Freddy figures, it’s probably worth getting just for the added leg articulation alone. At about $21 it certainly doesn’t break the bank!

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“So who the fuck are you supposed to be?”

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“Remember, kids, you gotta get up pretty Earle-y to get one over on me… HA!”

Masters of the Universe Classics: Slush Head by Mattel

As promised, I’ve got lots of MOTUC figures to look at on my receivings pile and I just got shipping notice for the December figures. There’s no end in sight!!! I’ve been on a New Adventures kick lately, so rather than buck that trend, today we’re checking out the last of the Space Mutants that I have waiting to be opened. It’s Slush Head, which was coincidentally a term that my brother and I used to use when one of us drank our Slushee too fast and got a migraine. “Ha Ha! You have Slush Head!” Yeah. Anyway, this guy is joining he fellow evil Space Mutants, Optikk, Karatti and Flogg on my quickly expanding New Adventures shelf!

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There he is filling out his package rather admirably. The bubble has the “Space Mutants” sticker on it and tag line is “Scaly Goon Squad Thug.” The bio on the back labels him as a swamp creature from Denebria’s dreaded Quagmire Swamp and points out that that head dome of his is indeed full of stinking swamp water. Fun! As with most of the Space Mutants, I know nothing about this character, but he looked like a rather fun fellow, so I picked him up during Matty’s Cyber Monday Sale. Let’s rip him open and see what he’s all about!

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I have to confess, I love the idea of a reverse diving suit. That is to say, a suit that is full of water so that an aquatic creature can walk around on dry land. You don’t see it too often, and maybe that’s why I still find it bizarre and original. Slush Head is wearing just such an apparatus that allows him to keep breathing in that stanky swamp water while hob-nobbing with us air breathers. His suit consists of a vest with a metallic back pack and the clear dome. There’s even a removable plug on the back of the dome if you want to actually fill it with some kind of liquid. The side of the package even encourages you to do this because it’s fun. Well, you convinced me! I live in Florida, so it shouldn’t be hard to find some authentic swamp water. The suit is rounded out by a pair of lower leggings with fins and what appear to be propulsion jets.

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I really dig the parts of Slush Head’s skin that are exposed. He’s got a reptilian texture to his torso and shoulders and the rest of his skin is just smooth and green. He has ridges on his thighs and forearms and webbed feet and claws. Off hand, I think I recognize Merman’s feet, but apart from that I’m not going to try to place the rest of the parts that Mattel used to make this guy. Maybe I see some Whiplash in there? Suffice it to say, whatever they cobbled together to make Slush Head works on every conceivable level. I also really dig the coloring on this figure. The green skin tone is rather muted, especially when compared to the day-glo color of Karatti’s skin. It mixes with the blue and silver quite nicely.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his disgusting head, which is basically a dome of flesh within a dome. Slush Head’s got a pair of bulging eyes and a permanent snarl that makes him look half crazy with rage. He kind of reminds me of Acturus from the Doctor Who story “The Curse of Peladon.” No, he really does. That wasn’t just an excuse to throw in a hipster Doctor Who reference. As far as noggins go, this one oozes personality and probably a few other nasty things. I should also note that the head is permanently encased in the clear dome. You can take off Slush Head’s suit, but if you do the head goes with it and therefore head movement is excluded from the regular points of MOTUC articulation, which Slush Head otherwise conforms to.

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Slush Head also sports a pair of mechanical claws that plug into the sides of his backpack, because this guy wasn’t crazy looking enough without metal tentacles coming out of him. One of the claws is articulated, the other is not, but both are suitable for grabbing other MOTUC figures. I haven’t decided if I’m going to display this guy with the mechanical limbs or not. They do take up a lot of space and I’m tempted to just imagine that they can be fully retracted and display him without them.

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You still want more? OK, Slush Head also comes with a weapon that doubles as both a battleax and a trident gun. Yeah, I know… we just saw a gun-ax combo with Karatti, but I’m not complaining because this one is even cooler. Seriously, I love the design on this weapon. It’s crazy original and suits the character really well.

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And so there you have it. Another day, another Space Mutant. I really have taken a liking to these guys. Their designs are all just so batshit crazy and Slush Head here really is the looney icing on that crazy cake. I think it’s great that Skeletor left Eternia, went into space, and found even weirder henchmen to do his bidding and I’m really starting to come to grips with the fact that I need to get a New Adventures He-Man to fight all these space bastards. Ugh! Anyway, there’s plenty more MOTUC figures for next week, although I’ll be taking a break from the New Adventures stuff to look at some more conventional characters.

Transformers: Masterpiece Bumble (MP-21) by Takara

It’s Transformers Thursday again, and I’m happy to say I have a new entry in Takara’s Masterpiece Series to look at. This time around it’s none other than Bumblebee! I’ve been pretty apprehensive about getting this figure in hand. The Internets have been packed with pictures of the figure leading up to its final release and there are several things about this figure that made me uneasy. Was I going to be OK with the small size? Was it still going to feel like an MP figure or just an expensive Deluxe? And was I going to feel right about having to pay for an Exosuit Spike figure that I didn’t want at all? Well, now that this set is in hand, I can put most of those concerns to rest because Bumblebee is indeed an excellent figure on a number of levels. Let’s check him out!

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The box should be readily familiar to anyone who has been collecting the line. It’s entirely enclosed and totally collector friendly. You get pictures of Bumblebee on the front in both robot and vehicle modes with his buddy Spike beside him. The box proudly displays the Volkswagen emblem on the front and includes a hologram sticker on the bottom panel proclaiming that it is indeed a fully licensed product. If you’ve followed the tug-of-war between Takara and Volkswagen over use of the license, then you know what a huge victory this is! The back of the box shows some additional photos of the toy along with it interacting with MP-10 Optimus Prime. You’ll also note that the box bears his Takara name, Bumble, but we’ll be calling him Bumblebee for the purpose of this review. As usual, we’ll start off with Bumblebee’s vehicle mode.

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I never thought I’d see this day! It’s Bumblebee as a VW Beetle and it feels so good to see him like this again! The little guy has been everything from a generic compact sports car to a Chevy Camero, and none of that ever seemed quite right. The car mode is indeed tiny, about on par with a modern Deluxe Class figure, but as far as licensed alt modes go, I’m extremely happy with the way he came out. Before he’s ready to roll, you do have to remove one of his side view mirrors from a sprue and peg it into the driver side. You also get a choice as to whether you want to display him with or without the spare tire on the back. I like the spare tire, so that’s the way I’m going! Oh yeah, Bumblebee’s pistol also stores neatly under his car mode.

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Bumblebee’s Beetle mode does feature some seaming as a result of the transformation, but nothing too bad. The car stays together quite well and as long as you have him transformed correctly, there aren’t any big gaps or plates that are difficult to align. I’m also very pleased with the paint job. I’ve seen chips and dings on a lot of the pictures of this guy online, but I was happy to see that the paint on mine is pretty much flawless. There are some minor shade variations between the paint on some of the plates, but it’s nothing that’s bad enough to upset me. The windows are tinted just enough so that it isn’t too obvious that there are robot shenanigans going on in there, although you can make out some robot kibble peeking out behind the rear wheels. Otherwise, the detail is so good here that this little guy reminds me of a Corgi VW Beetle I had as a kid, minus the diecast of course!

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Also, despite his small size, Bumblebee’s car mode feels right at home with the other Masterpiece cars. I snapped some pictures of him with Smokescreen for comparison. They look just fine together. So how’s that robot mode?

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Not too shabby at all! Of all the Masterpiece figures we’ve had so far, Bumblebee certainly had the most room for improvement over the original toy, so it was hard to imagine what to expect here. Transforming the figure is quite easy and I find him to be far less fiddly than some of the other MP cars. It does sort of feel like a complex Deluxe toy, although the engineering and clearances on him feels better than what I’m used to getting off the pegs. The way the wheels are all concealed in robot mode is quite inspired as is the way everything packs away so neatly on his back. A couple of minor complaints may be worth mentioning, but I’ll confess they are rather nitpicky. I do wish there was a way they could have avoided the hollow forearms. Also, some yellow paint on the black areas on the inside of his feet wouldn’t have gone amiss. But yeah, I’m really reaching.

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The portrait is classic Bumblebee through and through. He does come with two swappable face plates, but the differences are so minor to me that I doubt I will ever go through the effort of changing them. I understand that there is also an exclusive addition out there with a battle mask reproducing the look of the G1 toy’s face. That’s neat, but again not something I would ever bother to use.

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Besides looking great, Bumblebee is an amazingly fun little figure to play with thanks to some excellent articulation and some very solid and tight jointing. The arms feature ball joints in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and hinges in the elbows. The legs have rotating hinges at the hips with swivels, hinges in the knees, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The waist has a swivel and the neck is ball jointed. Toss his little blaster pistol in his hand and this little guy is all ready for action!

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And that brings us to Spike in his Exosuit. I’ll go on record now by saying I really had no interest in this figure. I was never a fan of this Exosuit design and I wasn’t happy with Takara tossing it in to increase the value of this set. That having been said, I’m stuck with it, so we may as well check it out. Unlike Bumblebee, Spike comes packaged in his non-transformed mode, so let’s start there. The figure is a pretty good approximation of the design seen in the cartoon and since it’s designed more like a mech suit, it makes him a lot bigger and better scaled to interact with his Autobot chums. I tend to associate this suit more with Daniel than I do Spike, but whatever.

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The suit is articulated enough to consider it an actual action figure. You get hinges in the shoulders and ball joints in the elbows. The legs have ball joints in the hips and hinges in the knees. The ball joints on the elbows tend to pop out pretty easily on mine, but they go right back in. The only real disappointing thing here is the lack of paint apps on Spike’s face.

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As in the cartoon, this suit transforms into a weird one-person car thing. It looks like it would be really uncomfortable and awkward to pilot this thing. I’ll concede, however, being impressed that the engineering works. I doubt the cartoon design was ever meant to produce a real, working toy so the fact that Takara was able to make this is kind of neat. On the other hand, it still kind of looks like something a fan cobbled together with a 3D printer. I highly doubt this figure will make it to my display shelf. He’ll likely spend his time hanging out in the box. In terms of mandatory extras, this could have been worse, but I still would have preferred it had been left out and Bumblbee sold at a reduced price.

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All in all, I think this turned out to be a really solid package. Yes, I have a few minor quibbles with Bumblebee, but I’m still left more impressed than not. In fact, I’m happy enough with the figure that even at the $70 price point, I don’t mind paying the extra for a Spike figure that will likely almost never see the light of day outside of the box. It’s hard to imagine another G1 Transformer that will be as difficult to bring into the MP world as Bumblee, but now that Takara has done it, I’m anxious to see some more of the Mini-bots get an upgrade like this. And yeah, I’ll be all over the inevitable Cliffjumper repaint-slash-remold as soon as it comes our way. Well done, Takara! Now bring on Ultra Magnus!