The Avengers: Hawkeye ArtFX+ Statue by Kotobukiya

I started collecting Kotobukiya’s Avengers ArtFX+ line back in April of last year with The Hulk and now with only two more statues to go, I’ve reached the home stretch. I’ve been putting off looking at Hawkeye until the release of the final statue, Iron Man, drew closer and now that Mr. Stark has hit my Pile of Loot, I figured it was time to get Hawkeye his due. No disrespect to Hawkeye, but this was the statue in this line that I was least excited about. I don’t mind Hawkeye’s Marvel NOW! Look, but compared to the likes of Hulk, Thor, or even Black Widow, it isn’t the most exciting thing in this lineup to me. Still, there was never any doubt that I would get him to complete the set. Let’s see if this statue can hit my mark.

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The statue comes in a completely enclosed box with some great shots of the piece itself set against a monochrome collage of comic art. I’ve been a big fan of these boxes as they’re not only collector friendly, but they display really well too. On the downside, each box has been individually sized to fit each statue, so they don’t really stack evenly or line up all that well on the bookshelves. But hey, they’re sturdy and I can rely on them for storage if I ever move or have to rotate these pieces out of my current display and that’s mostly what I’m looking for in my statue packages.

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Inside the box, Hawkeye comes pressed between two clear plastic trays and does indeed require some assembly. You have to connect the top and bottom half together at the waist, his left arm at the bicep and equip him with his bow, quiver, and arrows, all of which are separate pieces. Yes… I was delighted to see that each arrow (eight in all) is separate rather than just having the ends molded into the top of the quiver! I may have underestimated just how cool you’re going to be, Hawkeye. The assembly here is a tad more involved than any of the others, mostly because of the bow, but everything still goes together easy-peasy.

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With Hawkeye all set up I’ll confess to being surprisingly impressed with the Koto’s execution of this statue. I think what really makes it stand out is the way they did all the gear. The pistol actually looks like it could be removed from the holster (even though it can’t) and the way they designed the bow to peg together in his hand is rather clever. It reminds me of the way they did the lariat for the first Bishoujo Wonder Woman statue. Had they gone with one single assembly for the bow, arrow, and draw arm I don’t think it could have possibly came out as credible looking as it did. Even the way Clint is knocking the arrow (any one of them will do) works beautifully. Hawkeye’s pose has him on the move as he’s preparing to shoot. It’s nothing original, but it works well for the character. At this point, I’d dare say it’s an iconic look for him, and it displays beautifully from virtually any angle.

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The portrait is clean and definitely represents a little Marvel NOW! And a little Jeremy Renner. The sunglasses are part of the sculpt and the texturing in the hair looks great. My one complaint here would be the back of the neck where it’s pretty obvoius that the hair is a separate piece as there’s a channel running between hair and skin making it look artificial from the back. Also, as good as the head sculpt looks, I still can’t help be reminded of Albert Wesker from Resident Evil whenever I look at it. That’s not really a criticism of the sculpt, but rather the character design.

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The coloring here is mostly black with a little purple to pay fleeting respect to Hawkeye’s classic comic outfit. While the potential was there for the costume to be rather drab and boring, Koto mixed up the black with a matte finish for the outfit itself and a glossy finish for the pouches, belt and holster. You also get a little gray on the buckles and straps. The paint lines are sharp, even around the fingerless gloves and the hairline.

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As always, the statue comes with a plain black metal square base that interacts with the magnets in the statues feet to keep him secured while on display. This comes in handy if you want to put all the bases together to make one large platform and have the statues overlap on different bases.

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So, yeah, I wasn’t expecting much from this one. I bought Hawkeye mainly to complete the Avengers team, but he turned out to be a very pleasant surprise in the end. In fact, right now I’d probably even rate him in higher standing than Thor, even though I think both are great pieces. The wizards at Koto obviously looked at what made Barton unique and put a lot of their efforts into that aspect of the statue, meaning his bow and arrows. Hawkeye would have been an easy one to phone in, but instead they turned it around and delivered something special. He set me back just a smidge over $40, which makes him a little bit on the low end of what I’m averaging for these pieces and he was well worth every penny. And that brings me to the last release in the ArtFX+ Avengers series. Next week, we’ll check out Iron Man!

Magic The Gathering (Legacy Collection): Nissa Revane

Last week I dipped my toe into Funko’s Legacy Collection Magic The Gathering figures with a look at Hot Pyromancer Chandra and I was mighty impressed. Today I’m pressing onward with Nissa Revane. In case you missed the first feature, I’ll point out once again that I know next to nothing about Magic The Gathering, but these looked like some nice fantasy figures and I’m always up for that. So let’s see what’s in the cards for Nissa. See, I said “cards” because these figures are based off a card game. Cards. Funny? No? Little bit? Ok then, moving on…

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The package consists of a window box designed to stand on a shelf or hang on a peg. It’s all the rage with 6-inch figure lines these days and it certainly gets the job done. The box identifies the figure, lets you get a good look at what’s inside, and it’s totally collector friendly. I really dig how Funko puts the figure’s name and portrait on the side panel so you can line them up on a shelf and still know which is which without having to pull them off. If Hasbro had done that with the Star Wars Black boxes, I might have hung on to them. Anyway, the one thing the package is missing is a little bio about the character. And because I know nothing about these characters, I quickly buggered off to Wizards of the Coast to find some information about Nissa. Apparently she’s a rather proud Elf that wields nature magic. Her biggest turn-on is flowers and her turn-off’s include both vampires and snakes. Let’s get her out of the box…

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Nissa Refane is clearly one of those hot chick tree-huggers. You know, the kind you pretend to like soy milk for so they’ll go out with you and then they wind up leaving you for a botanist after you paid for her BA degree in Ecology. Yeah, you know the type. She’s the epitome of a classic fantasty wood elf and I mean that in every good way possible. The green and brown motif really invokes the feel of the forest and the paint on this figure is pretty near flawless.

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I totally dig the way Funko constructed Nissa’s outfit. It’s quite complex and layered for a figure in this scale and price range. The boots and leggings are part of the sculpt, but skirt and sash are sculpted of softer rubber and permanently attached around the waist. The top of the outfit is part of the figure buck with extra pieces of soft plastic attached to make the high collar, cape, and the loops that hang free around her arms. The arm loops are pegged in, so if you pull them too far, they just pull out and you can pop them back in. The lacing for the top piece is also sculpted into the buck and painted. The detailing in her wrist bracers is quite good too and her taut exposed midriff reveals some painted tattoos.

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Funko certainly seems to know how to sculpt a pretty female face because the portrait here is every bit as good as Chandra’s. Nissa has somewhat of a slightly concerned expression, or possibly its a hint of sadness. She sports green, pupil-less eyes and those extra long Elf ears that usually turn up in anime, mangas, or games by Blizzard. She features shoulder length brown hair, complete with a very thin gold chain painted in and some tattoos on her face that match the ones on her tummy.

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Ah, but Funko has made great looking figures before only to have them snap apart in my people’s hands. The proof is in the pudding, or in this case the articulation. I’m happy to say that my figure has absolutely zero issues with frozen or brittle joints. And while Chandra did have a restricted ball joint in the chest that I wasn’t willing to force, Nissa’s got complete movement in hers. The articulation here is pretty much the same as Chandra’s, but let’s run through it anyway. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and hinges in the elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have rotating hinges in the ankles. The neck has a ball joint, which is somewhat restricted by the sculpted hair, and that ball joint under the chest allows for swiveling and leaning forward or back. Nissa is one limber little Elf!

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Nissa comes with one accessory and that’s her magical staff. It’s a sculpted to look like a twisted piece of wood and she can comfortably hold it in her left hand.

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So far, Funko’s MTG line is two for two, and hot damn, I’m loving these figures. The quality and craftsmanship here is right on par with some of the better efforts of DC Collectibles or even NECA. Nissa features a superb sculpt, great paint, and wonderful articulation… what more can you want in a figure? I’ve got one more of these ladies to open before I decide whether or not to pick up the other half of the line, but the next figure would have to be a disaster to make me stop collecting these now. I’m certainly getting more and more confidence in Funko’s 6-inch action figure chops and anxious to see what they’ll have to show us at Toy Fair this week.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Legends Class Thundercracker by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday again and I’m spending it looking at the final figure from Wave 1 of the Combiner Wars Legends Classes. The Legends line has been a bright spot for me lately as I opted out of the Age of Extinction toys and now I’m doing the same with Robots in Disguise. So far, this Wave has been pretty solid with two excellent figures (Bombshell and Powerglide) and one that just squeaked by (Windcharger). Today’s figure is Thundercracker and it shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that he’s a repaint of the Generations Legends Class Starscream. I’m a sucker for Seekers and Thundercracker was one of the first Transformers I got as a kid, so he has a special place in my heart.

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I’ve said my piece about this new packaging. I don’t love it, but at least its not bland and totally black like a lot of Hasbro’s other lines of late. It looks like the art department actually spent some time on the design and ‘Cracker’s character art on the card is pretty damn sweet. This new method of securing the figures, on the other hand, well this shit has got to go. They aren’t rubber bands, they aren’t twist-ties, they’re just these insufferable little plastic wires like the ones often used to attach tags on clothes. They’re a pain in the ass and I hate them. Anyway, Thundercracker comes packaged in his robot mode, albeit a bit mis-transformed, but let’s kick it off with his alt mode first.

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What was a great jet mode for Starscream is still a great one for Thundercracker. If you turn the jet over you can still see the arms and hands pretty clearly, but they aren’t obvious from the top. You still get a flip down front landing gear and there’s still a peg hole on top of the jet if you want to plug one of the Targetmaster Mini-cons into him. Starscream’s gray and light blue plastic has been replaced with dark navy blue and black and some of the red paint with silver. The cockpit is still gold and the paint on the wings is more or less the same, just a little more metallic this time around. Thundercracker’s Decepticon insignia are slightly bigger and shifted a bit closer to the main body of the jet. All in all, good stuff.

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Thundercracker has the same easy transformation as Starscream, but it makes for a fantastic robot mode. The proportions are great and little touches, like the way the tail fins fold back really help streamline the design. I love the detail sculpted into the intakes on his chest and the head, which appears to be the same as Starscream’s, features an equally impressive and sharp sculpt. If I had one complaint, it would be that I wish the wing piece pegged into the back, but even without a peg, it holds in place pretty well. The deco in robot mode is very close to what we saw in jet mode only with a little more silver paint showing.

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Articulation includes ball joints in the shoulders, elbows, and hips, and hinges in the knees and ankles all of which add up to a fun figure. The guns on his arms are pegged in so they can be positioned facing up or down, used as hand held guns, or removed entirely.

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Hasbro did a great job with this mold the first time around, so it’s no surprise that Thundercracker makes me a happy Transfan aswell. This figure represents everything that I love about the Legends Class figures these days. He’s simple and fun and I’m mighty tempted to just carry him around in my pocket all day for when I get some down time. It really feels like Hasbro is pouring that extra love into this line and I hope it continues, because lately these little guys represent my only outlet for new Transformers outside of Masterpiece and Third Party stuff. Now, Hasbro, bust out that paint and get us a Legends Skywarp!

Star Wars Rebels: Ezra’s Speeder Bike (#75090) by LEGO

One of the biggest disappointments out there right now in the toy aisles for me is Hasbro’s total failure at getting their 3 3/4” Rebels figures out to the pegs. I’ve yet to see one in the wild and, while that’s not uncommon in my area, the fact that the figures are still selling for around $25-30 each on Amazon leads me to believe that the distribution problem is universal. And so, I fall back upon LEGO to get me my Rebels toy fix. Way back in September, I looked at LEGO’s Phantom and this time I’m going to check out Ezra’s Speeder Bike set.

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There’s not much to say about the box, except the deco is pretty cool. I like the use of the Stormtrooper helmet in the corner a lot more than a giant Darth Maul or Yoda head. It’s going to be hard to get used to new Stormtrooper helmets when Episode VII comes out. Anyway, the box let’s you see exactly what you’re going to be building. Inside there are two baggies of bricks, one small sticker sheet, and one instruction booklet. There are 253 pieces total and when you’re done you get two Speeder Bikes and three Minifigs. As always, let’s start with the Minifigs!

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The Minifigs include Ezra Brooks Bridger (Yeah, I seriously typed Brooks first. I obviously have cheap whiskey on my mind!), Sabine Wren, and a Stormtrooper. Ezra is unfortunately the same Minifig that came with The Phantom only without the Imperial Pilot Helmet, so I don’t have much use for him. I’m not going to complain, though, since the set is called Ezra’s Speeder Bike, I knew what I was getting into. He comes with a lightsaber and a wrench. Sabine seems like an odd choice for this set, but she’s a great figure and I’m glad to get her. On the downside, the fact that she doesn’t come with her Mandalorian helmet is unforgivable and an obvious ploy to get you to buy another set where it will most certainly be included. She comes with two blaster pistols. The Stormtrooper is another great figure. The sculpt on the helmet is fantastic, even though he looks more like a regular trooper than the stylized ones that appear in the cartoon. The printing on him looks great and he comes with an E-11 Blaster. Ezra and Sabrine each have double printed faces and the Stormtrooper a single.

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The Speeder Bikes are great builds and they’re actually a bit bigger and more complex than I was expecting. They are, however, identical builds so if you aren’t a fan of redundancy in your LEGO sets, this one might disappoint from that aspect. The only differences between the two bikes are the color of the bricks and some extra stickers on Ezra’s bike. Some of the play features include articulated front stabilizers, a clip to hold a weapon behind he seat, two firing launchers slung under each bike, and the front stabilizer assembly can extend outward. Both decos are plenty cool and if you want I suppose you could easily use the Stormtrooper and his bike with your regular Star Wars LEGO sets.

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For a $20 set, this one feels like a pretty good value. Three Minifigs and two vehicles is certainly nothing to complain about and I had a good time building everything, even with the redundancy. The bikes are excellent and all the Minifigs are quite good. Still, I take serious issue with Sabine’s helmet not being included. I consider it a necessary part of her outfit and the omission smacks of serious money-grabbing tactics on LEGO’s behalf, although currently I haven’t seen any of the Rebels sets that includes her with the helmet, which kind of makes the situation suck all the more. Either we have to buy another set to get it, or we aren’t getting it at all. Ah, but I can’t stay mad at you LEGO and with Hasbro dropping the ball on getting their toys to retail, I intend to pick up more of these Rebels sets.

Disney Infinity 2.0: Captain America, Hawkeye, and Hulk

I’m a little pressed for time today, so I thought it would be a good day to try to get caught up on looking at my Disney Infinity figures by finishing off The Avengers. I’ve had Cap and Hawkeye since the line first launched and Hulk was a delayed release, as prior to that he was an exclusive included with one of the limited pack releases. Disney’s been pumping out a lot of new Marvel figures for the Infinity 2.0 software lately, so I’m starting to get the bug and get back into collecting these.

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I don’t have much to say about the packaging. The figures come on a simple carded blister pack with their character art dominating the card and a symbol showing which Playset they are designed to work with. It’s important to keep in mind that any 2.0 figure can be used in the Toybox Mode, but you can only use specific figures in specific Playsets. If you care about the packages, I’d avoid getting them at places like Gamestop. That’s where my Cap came from and you can see what they did to his card. In addition to the figure, each package contains a collectible art card that doubles as a web code to unlock the character in the PC version of the game.

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Captain America sports a pretty classic pose with his shield out in front of him and his other hand balled into a fist. Cap is also the only figure in the line where I have some paint issues. There’s some overspray between the blue and gray on his right bicep and a little bit of rubbing on the white star on his chest. It’s nothing terrible, but worth pointing out because the paint on the rest of my Infinity figures has been absolutely solid work. At least the paint on his shield is immaculate.

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Cap also happens to be my favorite of these characters to play in the game, and overall second only to Iron Man. They really nailed the play mechanics of his shield beautifully. I love whacking Frost Giants with it by doing combos and it’s a very satisfying to hurl it, strike an enemy, and watch it arc back to me. Pure arcadey goodness!

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Next up we have Hawkeye, who is styled very much like a cross between the Marvel NOW! look and his Marvel Movieverse appearances. Hawkeye is relatively simple looking, but it’s the pose on this figure that really does it for me. He’s reaching for an arrow from his quiver and has his bow held out in front of him. The position of the legs is very dynamic and he looks absolutely fantastic when displayed beside Black Widow. I didn’t expect much from playing the game as Hawkeye, but it was a surprisingly fun experience, particularly after unlocking some of his advanced bow skills.

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Lastly, we have The Hulk. He was the one Avengers character that was delayed from launch to entice early adopters to buy the super expensive complete set. I thought he was going to be tough to find, but I was able to pre-order him as a single-pack through Amazon with no fuss or muss. He’s pretty much a perfect little stylized and cartoony Hulk. I love his angry little face and those big honkin’ nipples. He’s also sporting a fantastic “come at me bro!” pose. The green they used is a tad washed out, but otherwise the paint is neat and clean. He probably needed to be a little bigger, but I’m sure they were under constraints to keep him within the price point and to work with the Infinity Portal.

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Hulk is the only one of the Avengers characters that I haven’t beaten the game with. In fact, I haven’t actually played him in the game at all. It’s nothing against Hulk, but after going through The Avenger’s Playset five times with the rest of the gang, I needed a break. If Hulk had been available at launch, I’m sure I would have played him by now, but either way, I’ll get back to him sooner or later.

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And that (finally!) wraps up The Avengers from Infinity 2.0. I like these little figures a lot and they look great all lined up at the top of my entertainment center. The next set I’ll be working on will be The Guardians of the Galaxy. I already have Rocket Raccoon, as he is the only Guardian that can be unlocked for use in The Avengers Playset. I’ll probably wait until I have a complete set and have played the Guardians Playset through a bunch of times before I feature them here on FFZ. The new figures that have been hitting the shelves this past month look great, but I only wish they could interact with the Playsets and not just the Toybox.

DC Comics: Batgirl Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

I’ve only been into statues for about four years now. It’s an aspect of my collecting that still takes a back seat to action figures, but it’s been a growing percentage of my collecting budget ever since. I didn’t pick up my first Bishoujo statue until sometime in 2011 and after I got hooked on this buxom plastic crack, I suddenly realized that there were a number of statues in the line that had come and gone and were now only available at crazy high prices on the secondary market. It’s an old story for collectors, getting into a line late and regretting those pieces that you’ll likely never own. And man, the Bishoujo line has a lot of them: Emma Frost, Rogue, Psylocke, Scarlet Witch, and Phoenix, to name a few. And also Batgirl. While I don’t recall Batgirl ever reaching the crazy prices of Rogue, she still commanded a price that was beyond what I was willing to go for. And now Kotobukiya has re-issued her and she’s finally on my shelf.

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Batgirl comes in a window box that should be readily familiar to any collector of this line. You get a large window in front and smaller ones on the top and side to let some light in. As always, this arrangement gives you a glimpse of what you’re getting, but she’s wrapped in plastic, so you really need to bust her out of there to get a good look. The box is mostly white and includes some great full color art from Shunya Yamashita. I particularly like the image on the side panel where Batgirl’s cape is illustrated in the foreground and obscures some of the text in the background.

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What’s bugging the hell out of me is the Coming Soon: Catwoman thing on the bottom of the back panel. Of course, Koto always has a look at an upcoming release here, but in this case what we’re seeing is most likely because of a reuse of the Batgirl box. I’m pretty sure Koto has gone on record a few times that they have no plans to re-release Catwoman, but then I never thought we’d see Batgirl again, so maybe it’s still possible. Anyway, I believe Batgirl was the 6th statue released in this line, if you don’t count variants, and I think she may been the first DC Comic character to get Koto’s Bishoujo treatment. She was also available in a black costumed variant, which followed the original blue. The statue comes out of the box fully assembled and ready to go, so let’s check her out.

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Dear God, I love these statues! One of my favorite things about a lot of Koto pieces is their ability to convey energy and movement in a static form and that’s certainly the case with Batgirl here. Her pose is pretty simple, she’s got one foot up on a very “Gotham-Style” gargoyle, but it’s the spectacular twirl of her cape that makes the composition here stand out. It’s fanning out all around her and it just looks absolutely stunning. Standing fully erect (ahem), Batgirl stands roughly shoulder to shoulder with most of the other statues in the line, although you could argue she looks a wee bit more demure when displayed next to the likes of Huntress or Power Girl.

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Newcomers to the Bishoujo line may find this Batgirl rather tame by comparison to more recent releases. The line has always been about pretty women in tight outfits, but it’s become quite the gratuitous T&A show in recent years. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but Batgirl certainly represents a time when the line conveyed a lot more subtlety. Don’t get me wrong, this Batgirl is still dead sexy and her costume still looks like it’s painted on, but it’s not as overtly in-your-face sexualized as say a Starfire, or Spider-Girl, or Powergirl. There’s also a lot less skin than some. Indeed, the motion that Barbara is making with her cape actually obscures her chest almost completely. Although it’s a nice counterbalance that the same motion also serves to showcase her fabulous butt.

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The bulk of Batgirl’s outfit is pretty simple, at least the bodysuit part of it, so most of the sculpting here went into the motion of her cape, as well as the belt, gloves, and boots. And, of course, let’s not forget the portrait. Barbara has her head slightly lowered with her red hair escaping from her hood and flowing about her. It’s a pretty simple face sculpt, although the eyes are more defined on this piece and given a bit more depth and I like it a lot.

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Batgirl’s costume is predominantly painted with a charcoal paint that somehow manages to be both metallic and matte at the same time. There’s a dull sheen to it that contrasts nicely with the slightly richer gold and the brilliantly blue glossy cape and cowl. And oh god, is the blue on this statue gorgeous! I think the last time I was this impressed by a shade of paint was the red used for Bishoujo Spider-Girl’s outfit. The blue here is so rich and vibrant and manages to capture that new car finish level of brilliance. As is usually the case with Koto’s pieces, the paint on this statue is absolutely flawless. The lines are sharp and there’s no slop to be found anywhere.

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The base is a simple black disc with the gargoyle for Batgirl to practice her best Captain Morgan pose on. It’s a hideous little beastie with its tongue sticking out and some really detailed sculpting, especially on the backs of its wings. It’s pretty convincing as a piece of granite done in plastic and it contrasts quite nicely with the smooth sheen of Batgirl’s attire.

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This one was a long time coming and after a long time scouring Ebay and Amazon and hoping against hope I’d find a deal, all to no avail, it’s awesome to finally have Bishoujo Batgirl on my shelf. She’s absolutely gorgeous and I’d rank her among some of this line’s best work. What’s crazy about this release is that with an MSRP of around $50 she’s hitting most retailers a good ten to fifteen dollars under what most current releases in this line are starting at. It’s still kind of early to hope that his release will open the floodgates to reissues of the other expensive early Bishoujos, but it certainly does present some possibilities. And even if this is a one-shot deal, it’s still nice to have a statue in my collection that I probably would not have otherwise gotten hold of.

Magic The Gathering (Legacy Collection): Chandra Nalaar by Funko

So, I bought some of these Magic The Gathering figures. I know next to nothing about the game, only that it’s played with cards and has something to do with wizards. I honestly didn’t even know it had characters to make figures out of. So why the hell did I buy these? Well, there are four reasons. 1) I have a problem. 2) I wanted to see how Funko’s Legacy line is improving for when they get around to doing Firefly figures. 3) They were really cheap. 4) I have a problem. I got nothing else to preference this little ditty with, so let’s just dig right in. We’re starting with Ms. Chandra Nalaar!

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There’s the box. It’s very similar to the packages we’ve been seeing for Funko’s Game of Thrones, Hasbro’s 6-inch Star Wars Black, and NECA’s Classic Planet of the Apes, just to name a few. I was a little apprehensive about buying these online, mainly because the paint and QC with Funko’s Legacy line has been pretty spotty, but they were cheap enough that I was willing to roll the dice, or in this case throw down my card. There’s nothing on the package to really tell me anything about this character so I went right to the source, Wizards of the Coast, to learn something about her. She’s a pyromancer and described as strong-willed and independent. Good enough, I can work with that.

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From what I’ve seen, this line strikes me as a fairly traditional fantasy line, but Chandra here is a bit of an exception, as she looks a little more steampunkish to me. That’s cool. As much as the concept gets played out, I still like a little steampunk in my fantasy. Chandra’s outfit is a sort of stylish mish-mash of chainmail reinforced with plates, some leather, and some strategically placed hoses. The detail on her outfit is exceptionally well done. From the texture of the chainmail to the rivets in the plate armor, even the wrappings of her sleeves and boots, and the fingerless gloves… it’s all top notch work.

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As wonderful as the figure is from the neck down, the portrait doesn’t disappoint either. Chandra sports a clean and pretty face sculpt with a magnifcent sprout of flame hair twisting off the top and a pair of goggles worn up right about on her hairline. The plastic used for her skin is a tad waxy, but I’m not going to complain about it because everything else about the portrait, including the eerie firey orange paint in her eyes is without fault. Stack this head and body sculpt up against most anything DC Collectibles has done recently and you’d have some pretty good competition.

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So the sculpt is fantastic, but does it have the paint to back it up? Oh yes it does! The armor has a nice tarnished gray finish and the leather is painted with a few different shades of supple brown. There are even subtle patterns painted on the edges of the sash wrapped around her waist. From the dark brown of her boots to the brilliant orange fire of her hair, the paintwork on this figure is something to be admired. Everything is crisp and spot-on beautiful.

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Articulation is one of the areas where Funko has been having the most problems with this line. It isn’t so much with the degree or design of articulation, but rather problems with frozen and snapping joints. I’m happy to say that nearly all of Chandra’s points of articulation were limber and serviceable right out of the package. The only point of contention is what appears to be a ball joint under her chest. There’s very little give to it and I’m not comfortable trying to force it for fear that I’ll snap the figure in half. Yes, I’d like that joint to work, maybe I’ll try a boil and pop, but it’s not a dealbreaker for me. As for the rest of the points… The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and hinges in the elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, have swivels in the upper thighs, and rotating hinges in the ankles. The neck is ball jointed. It’s worth noting that the armor plates on her shoulders and left arm are all made of flexible plastic and glued on so as to not interfere with the articulation. It’s a great way to go, unlike the hinged shoulder armor DC Collectibles used for that QC-disaster of a Starfire figure.

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If there’s anything I can nitpick Chandra for it’s that she’s light in the accessories. She comes with a ball of fire that she can sort of hold in her hand. Seeing as I know nothing about the character, I’ll assume she’s not big on anything but throwing fireballs. I certainly can’t point to anything missing, so I’ll just move on.

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While I started out this feature by kidding around about why I bought her, the real reason is that I just dig fantasy style figures and all of these character designs appealed to me. If you’ve read my Masters of the Universe Classics features then you should know I don’t need character or backstory to enjoy a good action figure. Nope, it’s all about design and coloring and craftsmanship and Chandra here hits all those points beautifully. I’m so pleasantly surprised at how well this figure came out and it’s instilled a lot more confidence in the belief that Funko is moving in the right direction with the Legacy line. You’ll note I pulled a lot of comparisons between Chandra and DC Collectibles’ products and that’s because I feel that’s the market that Funko is going for and if Chandra is any example of what they’re capable of, they have it in them to surpass the competition in sculpt and paint quality. So far, I’ve only picked up the three ladies of this line, so I’ll swing back next week and check out another. If all three ladies impress me as much as Chandra, I’ll definitely be picking up the dudes as well.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Legends Class Windcharger by Hasbro

I’m past the halfway point in checking out Hasbro’s first wave of Combiner Wars Legends Class figures. I’ve already looked at Bombshell and Powerglide, both superb figures, and today it’s Windcharger’s turn. This figure has an uphill battle to win the approval of a lot of collectors because his predecessor, Reveal the Shield Windcharger, was such a damn nice figure. I, however, don’t have that one in my collection, so maybe this guy will have a fighting chance with me. Let’s open him up and find out.

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The new CW packaging still feels strange to me, but since I’ll be buying very few Hasbro releases in this line, I’m not going to bother to try to get used to it. Windcharger comes packaged in his robot mode and comes with a collectible art card. The character art has been pretty good so far, although I’m not digging ‘Chargers all that much. Why does his head look so much like Megatron? Is it just me? Is that some wacky and bizarre thing from the comics that I missed or is it just a coincidence? Also, my package has cello tape across the top of the bubble as if the factory was having more problems getting the bubbles to stick to the cards. Why does it feel like so much of Hasbro’s stuff is being made out of someone’s garage these days? Those new 3 3/4” Avengers figures look like they came out of a .25 cent gumball machine. Anyway, I digress… let’s kick it off with Windcharger’s alt mode.

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‘Charger is a pretty bitchin’ low-profile sports car. He’s got a bit of modern Camero vibe to him and overall I like it a lot. You get some nice sculpted contours to the hood and sides, an integral spoiler, exhaust pipes sticking out the back, and there’s even a peg hole in the hood if you want to steal a Targetmaster Mini-Con from one of the Generations Legends and let him borrow it. The coloring is mostly red plastic, and while it does have some of that swirly nonsense going on, I don’t mind it so much in a toy this small. Some black paint on the windows and silver on the headlamps, grill and hood round out a simple but effective deco. All in all, this car is tight, holds together well, and rolls great.

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If you pick up Windhcharger and turn him over you can see most of what’s going on with his engineering. Getting him into robot mode is as simple as unfolding him and straightening everything out. Getting him back into auto mode is mostly about packing the legs underneath and the arms at their sides. He’s mostly ball joints, so you don’t have to worry about anything pulling out that won’t go back in, although one of the rear tires keep popping off when I’m changing him. It makes the toy feel rather cheap, but it does go back on without a fuss.

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Alright, so the biggest problem I have with this guy is his wonky proportions. The shoulders actually remind me of Armada Prime’s shoulders and that shouldn’t be a bad thing because I still adore that version of Prime, but they don’t work quite as well on ‘Charger here. The design seems confused over whether it was going for a bulky or lean robot and so we get the hulked out shoulders and spindly legs that don’t go well together. The car plates on his thighs help to balance things out a little, but not enough for it to really work for me. I think he can be made to look better in wide stances, but when you compare him to some of the other robot modes we’ve seen in the Legends Class lately, Windcharger feels like a stutter-step.

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That’s not to say it’s all bad. The head sculpt is on par with the excellent portraits we’ve been seeing in this line. There’s a lot of detail and neat paintwork packed into that tiny noggin. I also like how the front plates on his legs are faked out to look like the shuttered back of the original G1 Windcharger’s car mode. The coloring here is also quite good. You get a lot of the same red plastic from the car mode with some dark and light grey thrown in on the torso and limbs. It’s also worth noting that the side panels on his thighs can be displayed with the wheels front or back. The difference doesn’t really help the proportions, but I prefer them with the wheels facing front and that seems to be the official transformation.

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Windcharger does sport some good articulation. The shoulders are mounted on ball joints and attached to hinged arms and the elbows are also ball jointed. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and knees, and the ankles are hinged as part of the transformation. Also, despite his bulky top and demure lower half, he’s a fairly well balanced figure. As with most of these Legends figures, he’s a lot of fun to throw in my pocket and play around with during the day, especially when trying to get through those boring meetings at work. Just don’t let anyone catch you. Seriously, it’s embarrassing.

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Where to come down on Windcharger? I love his car mode, but I’ve got mixed feelings about the robot mode. The consensus among collectors seems to weigh heavily against this guy, but I can’t summon up any hatred for him. It’s not the best robot mode, but I’ve certainly seen a lot worse and in toys bigger and more complex than this guy. Hell, I’ve mailed about a dozen Transformers to my nephew in the last month or so that wished they looked this good. He’s a far cry from the sexiness that was the Reveal the Shield version, but taken on his own I don’t think he’s all bad and he scales really nicely next to the Generations Legend Bumblebee. Maybe this is a case of me being more forgiving of the Legends Class figures, but I’ve been far more disappointed with some Deluxe Class figures than I could ever be with this little guy. Indeed, I’d say that if this is the worst that Legends Class has given us lately, it’s a sub-line that’s doing pretty damn great.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Lizard Man by Mattel

Oh, happy day! I’m finally caught up on my Masters Classics figures! Sure, I’m opening last month’s figure today, but I’m doing it before this month’s figures have shipped out and I call that progress! Today’s offering is actually the first release for the 2015 Club Eternia Sub and it is Lizard Man. I have very little memory of the episodes this guy appeared in, but back in 2011 that once great site Topless Robot (I miss ya Rob) gave him 1-20 Odds that he’d ever get an action figure. It was a good call and the author’s reasoning was certainly sound. Lizard Man just didn’t conform to the standard Matty Buck and his release would be contrary to the entire MOTUC money-saving business model. And afterall, it did take almost four years to happen, who even could have guessed the Matty Collector Train would still be chugging along for such a long while?

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The only thing I have to say about the packaging is DAMN YOU MEKANECK FOR BEING THE ONLY FIGURE ON THE BACK THAT I DON’T HAVE!!! There’s also an intriguing sticker on the top corner of the cardback that tries to teach me how to get the best performance out of my glow-in-the-dark accessory. GITD? I had no idea! Anyway, Lizard Man’s tagline is “Heroic Cold Blooded Ally” and the bio laments the fact that being a good lizard causes him to deal with discrimination, because most of the lizard people on Eternia are assholes. Maybe it would help if people didn’t call him “Lizard Man” because that right there is some racist shit. That’s it. I got nothing else… let’s pop this guy out and take a look at him.

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Holy crap, I love this guy! Everything about him really shouts the Filmation aesthetic. Yeah, he’s just a lizard guy in a blue two-piece, but for a C-level character, T4H did a beautiful job on him. His lean stature makes him stand out in a sea of MOTUC bucks and I do believe most everything on this figure is brand new. Liz is mostly cast in a pleasing, deep green plastic and his belt and clothes are all sculpted right onto his body. There’s no real flexibility to the tail, but it is positioned to help the figure stand more easily, although he’s well balanced enough that he doesn’t need to rely on it. And check out the awesome webbing between his fingers! It’s done with a really thin plastic that’s semi-transparent and looks amazing.

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The head sculpt is chock full of personality. Lizard Man is sort of wearing a smile, although its hard to tell whether he’s happy or just being a lizard. The eyes are painted yellow with black slits for pupils and he has a blue hood sculpted on his head. It’s definitely Filmation through and through, maybe with a little bit of Don Bluth mixed in and that ain’t a bad thing at all. I think if I had one gripe about the figure as a whole it’s that he seems a little too tall. What little memory I have of him makes me think he should be significantly shorter than He-Man, but maybe that’s because he’s often seen hunched over.

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Despite the new buck, the articulation here remains pretty close to what we usually see in the line. Lizard Man’s arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels at the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have rotating hinges at the knees, hinges in the ankles and swivels at the hips. The neck is ball jointed and the figure can swivel at the waist, but there is no ab-crunch hinge. So we lose an ab-crunch but gain a little extra movement in the knees. What’s really fun about Lizard Man’s articulation is not so much found in the individual points, but rather that the lean body allows for a wider range of motion than the bulky, beefed-out MOTUC bucks. He’s certainly fun to play with!

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You get two accessories with Lizard Man, both of which are just random Filmation pieces bundled with the figure. Matty promised they were going to be doing this whenever possible and they have indeed delivered some neat stuff. The Diamond Ray of Disappearance comes from the very first episode of the series that bears the same name. It’s a permanently opened box with a GITD diamond inside that exiles your figures to another dimension. Actually, you may need to use your imagination for that to work. The bottom of the box has intended room for Skeletor’s fingers to help him hold it, which was a good idea in theory but has mixed results.

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The other piece is the Filmation version of Skeletor’s sword with the crossed bone hilt. It’s a nicely sculpted piece, but the fact that it’s left unpainted in bare gray plastic really makes it uninteresting to me. Why not cast the thing in purple? I think it would have looked better. As it is it just looks like an unfinished, prototype accessory. Still, I give Matty props for continuing to get us the Filmation accessories and so far the good have far outweighed the flubs. If I had some customizing skills, I’d probably try to paint it, but that’s never going to happen.

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As a character, I don’t know how many people were clamoring for a Lizard Man figure, but keep in mind, I collect MOTUC for the figures themselves and not so much the fiction or the characters. Yes, I started collecting the line largely based off of nostalgia for characters like He-Man and Skeletor, but the majority of the figures I get could have no fiction at all behind them and I’d still love them. Taking that into consideration, I couldn’t be happier with how Mattel has kicked off the final year for Club Eternia because Lizard Man is just a great figure. 2015 is going to be interesting as they’ll be bringing in a lot of lesser known names to the table, but again seeing as how the characters are secondary to me, I think I’m going to find a lot to love this year, possibly more so than most.

Lost Exo-Realm Cubrar with Tekour (LER-02) by Fansproject, Part 2

I’m back to wrap up my look at Fansproject’s Cubrar, Not-Slag, and it’s time to get to the transforming. Going from dinosaur to robot involves some clever engineering, although there are also some subtle double-hinged plates that need to be positioned just right to make some things work. I know, that’s the case for most changeable robots, but it the margin for error feels particularly small here. For example, if you miss a minor double-fold on the plate holding the dino legs, then getting them packed into the robot legs is an impossibility. It took me a little patience the first time, but after that it was easy-peasy. Changing him back into the dinosaur mode has its own challenges, particularly getting everything to pack in and close up just right. That’s where that extra sheet of instructions came in real handy. In the end, Cubrar’s transformation feels a lot more complex and fidgety than Columpio’s, but the tolerances and clearance all feel good and not at all scary.

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Like Columpio, Cubrar’s robot mode walks a fine line between G1 Dinobot and original design. It’s easy to see a lot of the stuff borrowed from Slag, the most obvious being the way the dino’s bottom jaw drops down to form the center of his chest and the top of the dino head forms a hood behind the robot head, complete with horns and all. On the flip side, Fansproject put enough of their own marks on this design to make it feel fresh. Probably my favorite departure from the G1 look is the way Cubrar wears the dinosaur’s neck crest as shoulder armor. It’s a beautiful touch and pretty damn clever the way it works. Also, rather than wear his bulky dino legs on the outside of his robot legs, they pack neatly inside, similar to what Columpio’s design did with his tail. This wonderful mix of old and new results in an absolutely fantastic robot mode. The proportions on this guy are just amazing and he follows he whole G1-but-not-G1 aesthetic that I love so much about most of Hasbro’s Classics and Generations lines.

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Cubrar also improves on a couple of issues I had with Columpio, particularly in the way the back kibble is handled. Cubrar wears the dino’s tail on his back in a similar fashion to the way Columpio wore his dino’s neck and head. But while Columpio’s was left to flop in the breeze, Cubrar’s actually pegs in securely, making for a more solid robot mode. Of course, the downside of this is that it locks up his waist pivot. It’s a shame the hinge for the tail couldn’t have been mounted higher to avoid this. The biggest issue I had with Columpio was how loose his hip joints were, although I was able to fix them with a little nail polish. You get none of that with Cubrar. Every joint on this guy is tight and solid and he holds a pose beautifully.

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Cubrar’s noggin is a bit beefier than Columpio’s, partly because his face is broader and partly because his “helmet” is larger. His face has plenty of character with large blue visor and an extra helping of lips and the silver paint is immaculate. And for those of you who are fans of Lockdown from Age of Extinction (Shame on you!!!), you can transform Cubrar’s face into a gun, or in this case, I guess it’s a flame-thrower. Yeah, it’s just a byproduct of the transformation, but a fun option nonetheless.

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The deco in Cubrar’s robot mode closely matches what we saw in dino mode. You get the same great gray and red plastics with some metallic blue and silver detail work and more of that satiny smooth gold. The colors on this guy really pop and they match Columpio perfectly. I’m hoping this is the coloring that we’re going to get all the way through to the end of the line.

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Accessories? Cubrar comes with two guns and a sword. The guns are a matched pair of short and stocky weapons, not quite pistols and not quite rifles. Individually they aren’t as cool as Columpio’s rifle with folding bayonet, but Cubrar sure looks great dual wielding them. The sword has a translucent red energon blade and is a very nice piece. Chances are I’ll wind up displaying him with the sword and one gun.

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As with Columpio, Cubrar can store two of his weapons by pegging them into his back flaps. I think the sword looks great positioned diagonally across his back. The guns can also peg in side by side, or you can go one gun and one sword. I think this storage gimmick works a little better than Columpio’s. The stored weapons don’t look as awkward this time around.

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And last but not least we have Tekour’s axe mode. I thought Drepan’s weapon mode was pretty good, but I think Tekour’s outshines it. Drepan was kind of a war pick, whereaas Tekour is just a bitchin double-bladed axe. It’s a damn solid weapon mode and the pommel of the handle is sculpted with a triceratops head, because Cubrar likes to accessorize, dammit!

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Tekour can also double as a rifle and while it’s basically just the axe held differently, I think it works really well. The stock does get in the way, as it doesn’t fit into the crook of Cubrar’s elbow, but he can hold it out in a pretty sweet firing position.

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With two Lost Exo-Realm figures on my shelf, I’m loving this line more and more and I’m getting really excited to see the team together, even though that’s going to be a long road to travel. The quality and engineering on Cubrar is up to FP’s usual impeccable standards and I’ve totally fallen in love with this aesthetic. The only hard choice will be deciding whether to display them in robot or dino modes because I really dig them both. Fansproject has been a little quiet on the Lost Exo-Realm front lately, but if things progress as they seem to be, their Not-Swoop may very well be next, but there are no pre-orders up yet, so at this point anything could happen. All I have to say is keep them coming, and I’ll keep buying them!