Masters of the Universe Classics: Saurod by Mattel

It hasn’t happened often, but finally we’re getting another figure based on a character in the 1987 Masters of the Universe film. While I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of the copyright situation, Mattel seems to be currently limited to producing only the movie characters that had figures in the vintage line. And that would indeed be what Blade, Gwildor and Saurod all have in common. And since Matty’s goal this year has been to complete the Classics line with updates to all the existing vintage figures, we all knew Saurod had to be coming. And that’s fine by me because I’m all for lizard warriors in space armor.

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There isn’t much new to say about the packaging. I am surprised that Matty didn’t opt to put a sticker on the bubble for the movie figures, but again they might be restricted by all that copyright nonsense and the bio is designed to wrap him up in the Classics canon. His tag line is “Evil Spark Shooting Reptile.”

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I have to admit to being blown away by this figure the moment I got him out of the package. I think it was the coloring that caught my eye first. Admittedly, the coloring doesn’t seem to match the big screen character all that closely, but I’m fine with that because it looks so striking. The copper colored armor is fantastic on its own, but when coupled with the blue-green underneath it, the deco really ups the wow factor big time.  I’m a little confused as to whether all that blue-green paint is supposed to be Saurod’s skin or not because the sculpt in some areas makes it look more like chain mail and yet it more or less matches the areas that are obviously textured with a scaly skin pattern. And then you’ve got what appear to be his green undies, which also have a scaly lizard skin pattern, but matches the color of his tail underneath. Am I over thinking this? Well, either way, I love the coloring on this piece.

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The armor itself is intricately detailed with panel lining on the legs, circuit-like patterns on the arms and a wonderful hammered and pitted look to the shoulder pieces. Sculpted straps secure his upper leg plates and the lobster tail armor above his tail looks amazing. A stray nick and scrape here and there makes the armor look well used and battle worn. I have no idea what that thing is hanging off the back of his helmet, though. A lizard pony tail? Hey, it’s Eternia, so why not?

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Saurod’s head sculpt is mostly comprised of his impressive helmet and mask. There’s a little of his scaly skin showing around the eye holes and two cold and piercing reptile eyes peering out of his rather intricate mask. The right eye on my figure is a little out of whack, but compared to some of the googly-eyed Saurods I’ve seen out there, I’ll definitely take what I got.

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Despite the distinctive armor and sculpting on display here, Saurod retains all the standard articulation found in the MOTUC buck. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed with hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels up at the top of the thighs. Saurod can swivel at the waist, has an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and his head is ball jointed. The tail is rubbery, but not really poseable. It does, however, help with balance on some of the more action orientated poses.

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Saurod comes with one accessory and that’s his trusty laser pistol. It’s a simple piece with a decent sculpt. The sidearm can be stored in his functional holster or wielded in his right hand.

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Whatever bad blood Matty earned for making me shell out money for that ridiculous Hordak variant last month is now forgiven, because Saurod here really is a spectacular figure. I have no particular love for or nostalgia for the character, but this figure is so damn striking that I can imagine I would probably have wanted him on my shelf even if I wasn’t collecting the MOTUC line. The coloring, the sculpt, and the personality of this guy all come together so beautifully. Now if only Matty could work out the licensing rights and get us some more movie figures, particularly that blinged out version of Skeletor, I would be a really happy camper.

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Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket and Groot 1:6 Scale Figures by Hot Toys, Part 2

Yesterday I took a look at Hot Toys’ Rocket Raccoon and, as promised, today I’m back to look at his giant buddy Groot! We already checked out the packaging, so let’s just jump right in…

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Hoo boy, is this a big and weighty figure! Even with a bit of a hunch, he stands a full head and shoulders above your average human sized Hot Toys figure. That’s doubly impressive considering that every tiny spot of this figure is covered with sculpted bark. The look and texture of Groot’s skin is beyond realistic. When I touch it I fully expect to feel wood rather than plastic. And it’s not just the wood grain on his skin, but the vines and tendrils that wrap around his arms and legs and the little sprigs that randomly crop out form various places on his body. This is a sculpt fashioned with love. I have no doubt of that!

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The paintwork is also phenomenal. There are subtle shades of brown for the bark and green for the vines. I think my favorite thing about the paintwork, however, is the little hints of green around some of the bark pieces, which looks like moss growing on an overturned log. Simply stunning.

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The stock portrait is Groot’s regular stoic expression, which is a dead ringer for his big screen counterpart. Again, it shows that the wizards at HT are not only good with human likenesses, but can recreate just about anything in plastic. The painted eyes definitely have that spark of life and while I don’t like to throw the word around to often, this portrait just strikes me as perfect.

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The alternate portrait, which I believe is a Sideshow Exclusive, is his angry face, and boy you don’t want to get Groot angry. In this case, it’s not a complete head swap, but rather the front of the face comes off, sort of similar to the way Figuarts and Figma does it. If you’re going for an action pose on the shelf, this portrait really sells it.

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Articulation consists of a lot of really chunky and powerful rotating hinges. He also has a ball joint in the upper chest. While the smooth hinges are visible in the elbows and the backs of the knees, Hot Toys went a long way to try to conceal the rest. The hips, for example are shielded by some bark plates attached by hinged arms. I love the little touches like that!

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In addition to the extra portrait, Groot comes with some extra hands, of course! The figure has a pair of relaxed hands attached when he comes out of the box. The second pair are angry, grabby hands. You also get an extra right hand with translucent fingers to simulate him blooming those glowy spores. You also get an extra pair of wrists posts in case you snap one off. Good thing too, because I snapped one off. With nearly 20 Hot Toys figures on my shelves, that’s the first time I’ve ever had that happen to me.

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Groot comes with the same style stand as Rocket, which also matches the ones used for Gamora and Star-Lord. In this case the rod and waist clamp makes perfect sense to handle this tall and rather heavy figure. However, you also get a very clever connecting piece, which allows you to attach Rocket’s stand to Groots and pose the little guy riding on Groot’s shoulder.

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“Quit waving to the camera. Yer making us look like a bunch of idiots!”

If ever I needed a reminder that I collect Hot Toys figures as a form of art, Groot is the figure to do it. The sculpting, attention to detail, and overall craftsmanship on this piece really is awe inspiring. And while the $360 price tag here is no small thing, it’s hard for me to believe that the character could be done better justice in a more expensive statue. Indeed, the fact that Groot turned out so wonderfully allows me to push a little of the cost of this set into his column and away from Rocket. Hey, whatever I have to do to sleep at night, right? Don’t get me wrong, they’re both great figures, and I couldn’t imagine displaying one without the other, but Groot is without a doubt the star here. Hot Toys’ has been killing it with their Guardians lineup ever since Star-Lord first shipped and while I’m still a little disappointed we won’t see a Ronin or Nebula the Guardians themselves have been a welcome treat. And that just leaves the question: Where’s Drax? While the figure remains in licensing limbo, a new prototype was shown as recently as July and is currently pencilled in for a 2016 release. I feel pretty confident he’s coming, but for now nothing has been set in stone. Why would it be set in stone? Shut up, Drax, it was a metaphor.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Rocket and Groot 1:6 Scale Figures by Hot Toys, Part 1

With some new Hot Toys figures rolling in, it’s long past time that I get around to reviewing this pair of figures from Guardians of the Galaxy. Seriously, this pair has been on my shelf for so long that I forgot I never gave them the spotlight. So, in keeping with the theme of Marvel Monday, I thought I’d put off my return to the Legends Hobgoblin Wave just one more week in favor of these beauties. These figures were available separately or together in the bundle I’m looking at today. I’m going to kick things off with a look at the package and Rocket, and tomorrow I’ll swing back and look at his arboreal buddy, Groot.

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Holy hell, that’s a big box. I mean, I’ve yet to buy a Premium Format Statue, so everything is relative, but still. It’s big! It’s not quite as big as Hot Toys’ Hulk, but it’s no slouch either. It’s taller than a regular Hot Toys figure box and more than twice as wide. Surprisingly, everything comes laid out in a single tray and that includes both figures, two stands, an alternate head and hands for Groot, alternate hands and feet for Rocket, Rocket’s gun, and a pair of potted Baby Groots. The deco is designed to match the look of the Star-Lord and Gamora boxes, and that makes me happy because I actually save these packages and my OCD gets aggravated when things don’t match. The star-field and grid background still remind me of the kind of 80’s cheese you’d see on a VHS tape sleeve or PC game box. Hopefully that’s intentional. The character art of Rocket & Groot is fantastic. The only complaint I have about the packaging is that the box itself is made of pretty light cardboard stock and for a box this big, it tends to get shelf worn pretty easy.

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Rocket is a rather unconventional Hot Toys figure, what with him being so small and being a rodent. He features fully sculpted fur, which was a sticking point for me until I got him in hand and realized it was the right way to go. Doubly so since I’ve seen some rather dubious pictures of their flocked Chewbacca figure. Instead, there isn’t even the tiniest space on this figure that doesn’t feature some sculpted detail and that’s impressive. Rocket’s costume consists of his little orange jumpsuit, which is cloth and beautifully tailored. I imagine it’s hard enough to tailor 1:6 scale clothes, so I’m doubly impressed with all the little stitching on this smaller raccoon space suit. It’s also reinforced with all the plates, shoulder pads, and harness seen on the big screen outfit.

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The portrait features Rocket with a rather fierce look on his little face. I like it a lot as it shows some wonderful little sculpted teeth and I think it captures his personality quite well. Although considering his size, it seems like HT should have ponied up for an alternate head. It doesn’t feel absent in this two-pack, but certainly in the single boxed figure. The wire whiskers are a great touch and the glossy paint on his nose makes it look appropriately wet. Hot Toys is no stranger to producing life like eyes on humans, but it turns out they can do some mighty fine peepers on a raccoon as well, because these look great.

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The articulation feels more like a conventional action figure than a usual HT product, but that’s a given considering his size. I don’t usually go into detail on articulation with my HT figures, because the points are covered up and it’s not a sticking point with me on these figures. With Rocket, it’s pretty easy to see what’s there and he’s pretty much got rotating hinges all around and an extra ball joint at the base of his neck. The tail is a straight ball joint and it does have a habit of popping off when posing, but it just pops right back on again. The figure stands surprisingly well on his tiny little feet and appropriately enough, you can use the tail to counterbalance him.

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It wouldn’t be a Hot Toys figure without extra hands, would it? No exceptions for raccoons! Rocket comes with a pair of relaxed hands, a pair of adorable little fists, a pair of hands designed to work with his gun, and a pair of feet. The extra feet remind me of the “action feet” that Sideshow used to include with some of their 1:6 Scale GI JOE figures as a substitute for articulation in the middle of the foot. Options are nice, but I frankly have no need for these.

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Rocket comes with his trusty rifle, which is about as tall as he is. The attention to detail that HT put into this piece is almost ridiculous and in the few short years that the flick has been out, this weapon has become as iconic to me as anything in Star Wars. I should note that I found it extremely difficult to get Rocket’s gun-gripping hand around the grip and now that I have, I doubt I will ever take it off, even if I swap hands. Ah, but y’all know me and the fact that I don’t often use a lot of the extra hands and I can’t imagine ever wanting to display Rocket without his weapon.

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I might as well talk about the Potted Groots here, because I see them mostly as accessories for Rocket. The original solicitation for this set advertised a Potted Groot as the Sideshow Exclusive for this set, but it does indeed come with two. One is just the stalk with the head and the other has his arms out like he’s dancing. These are beautifully crafted little pieces and I always have one of them displayed on Rocket’s base, even though the big Groot is behind him.

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Speaking of bases, Rocket comes with the same style of figure stand that we saw with Star-Lord and Gamora. The only difference is rather than the crotch-cradle stand, Rocket features a transparent rod that plugs in and an adjustable gripping claw for the waist. This style of stand may seem like overkill for the little raccoon, but Hot Toys went this route for reasons that will be clear in tomorrow’s wrap up.

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I usually talk financials at the end of a Feature, but I’ll toss it in here because it pertains mostly to Rocket. As part of the $360 set, Rocket’s price seems palatable to me, because in my head, I’m figuring Groot could be a $260 figure, but the $160 HT is asking for Rocket alone seems outrageous. At that price, he should have come with a second portrait and possibly even the Hadron Enforcer to sweeten the pot. It’s not a question of quality or craftsmanship, because that’s certainly all there, but when I consider that some of my first full sized Hot Toys were around $160-170, I just can’t see where all the money went. Maybe it’s a moot point, because I can’t imagine too many people buying Rocket without Groot and like I said, in my mind the two-figure bundle seems more reasonable, at least as far as Hot Toys prices are concerned.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back to check out Groot!

DC Comics Super-Villains: (Brooklyn Bruisers) Harley Quinn by DC Collectibles

With Mondays being all about Marvel, it seems only right to be book-ending the weeks with DC Fridays and that’s exactly what I’ll continue to do until my backlog of DC figures and statues dries up. Today I’m checking out another of DCC’s Super-Villains assortment, which happens to be a new version of Harley Quinn. This Harley is ripped straight from the pages of her self-titled comic, which is a book that I am constantly asking myself why I’m reading. It has it’s moments, but all in all I just don’t think it’s very good. Most of the time it just feels like Harley is just screaming, “Look at me, I could be Deadpool, too! I can break the fourth wall and get into wacky adventures!” Sure. OK.

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We’ve seen the DCC packaging here at least a dozen times and the only real difference here is they’ve gone with a black box and in this case a read swipe across the front. It’s a lot more exciting than the plain white, so let’s give credit where credit is due. The window gives you a great look at the figure, and in this case all the stuff that comes with her. In her book, Harley inherits a building in NY and takes some jobs to pay expenses. Yeah, this is what they came up with for Harley’s solo comic. One of those jobs is with the Brooklyn Bruisers Roller Derby Team, which sounds like it has promise, but barely gets any panel time.

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My reaction to the comic may be tepid, but I know an outstanding figure when I see one, and boy is this it! I’m probably one of the few people out there that digs Harley’s New 52 whorish look and here it’s perfectly adapted to the Roller Derby circuit. Everything is sculpted with such loving detail from the laces and pompoms on her shoes to the knitted texture of her socks and the adorable little bells on her choker collar. Even the laces on the back of her top are individually sculpted. Her belt includes a brace of sculpted bullets and she has a functional holster for her automatic pistol. The paint on the figure has the chops to back up the magnificent sculpt. The high gloss used for her outfit is stunning and contrasts beautifully with her pale white skin. What’s more the paint is just about immaculate. There’s hardly any slop or bleeding to speak of.

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As for the portrait, well the art in the book is kind of all over the place. I generally like Chad Hardin’s style, but it tends to run from mature to hyper cutesy and in this case we got the later, while I would have preferred the former. Still, the head sculpt certainly matches that particular aspect of the panel art and in that sense it’s a great sculpt and I’m not going to quibble over what is still a great figure.

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In terms of articulation, Harley’s got a lot of points in the right places and fares better than some of the other recent DCC figures I’ve looked at. Her arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The shoulder armor is hinged to improve the articulation and I don’t have any problems with them popping off like I did with Starfire’s. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, hinged at the knees, and have swivels in the ankles. The hip joints are a little more restrictive than I would like. There’s no articulation in the torso, which I’m actually OK with because it would have probably marred the sculpt, but she does have a ball joint in the neck.

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I don’t usually expect a lot of accessories with my DC Collectibles figures, but in this case Harley hit the jackpot. For starters,  you get her giant hammer. In this case it’s painted with a metallic red and it’s light enough to allow Harley to wield it quite well while not losing her balance.

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Next up you get her automatic pistol. The sidearm fits into the holster on her belt and she can hold it in her right hand.

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Lastly, and certainly not least, she comes with her roller skates. These are wonderful little pieces, which peg into the bottoms of her feet and feature spinning wheels. I’m impressed by how well they work with the figure and they really show off her beautiful balance.

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I can’t say enough good things about this new Harley Quinn. Sure, the comic might be a bumpy ride, but I’m so very glad that DCC seized the opportunity to make this figure. She looks amazing and thanks to her awesome roller skates and some superb balance, she’s ridiculously fun to play with. That’s saying a lot for a line that is more aimed at being collectibles rather than toys and meant to be placed on the shelf and admired. Like most DCC figures, Harley retails at around $20 and she’s worth every last penny of that, but I was able to grab her for about $16 and I ain’t complaining.

Transformers Combiner Wars: Hot Spot by Hasbro

Alrighty, folks, over the past four weeks I’ve been through all of the Deluxe Class Protectobots and that means there’s just one bot left to look at: Hot Spot! I can remember coming close to picking up the Generations version of him, which was just a repaint of the Inferno mold, and now that Hasbro has delivered a brand new version of the character, who also happens to be part of a genuine combiner team, I’m mighty glad I never pulled that trigger. Let’s take a look…

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I don’t get to show off the Combiner Wars Voyager Class packaging here too often. In fact, I think the only other one I’ve picked up was Motormaster. Don’t forget my Silverbolt came in the Takara Giftset.  The overall deco isn’t changed. It’s still a mostly black box with Transformers running up the side and a decent piece of character art on the front. There’s no free comic book, but you do get an art card. Hot Spot comes packaged in his robot mode, but as usual, I’m starting with the alt mode…

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It wouldn’t be Hot Spot without a powder-blue fire engine as the alt mode and that’s exactly what you get here. While still plenty long, Hot Spot’s truck mode is a lot less bulky than I imagined it would be. That’s not really a criticism, just an observation. He still looks great with the rest of the Protectobot vehicles and while he’s a modern take on the fire engine, I find he still remains faithful to the original G1 toy. Everything tabs together beautifully making him a solid truck, although if you don’t get everything locked together just right he can have some clearance problems and you don’t want his beautiful chestplate scraping the ground.

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There aren’t a lot of paint apps here, Hot Spot gets by mostly with blue, black, and white plastic. And that’s fine because he looks great. You do get a little red paint on the lights and some silver paint on the front of the vehicle. He also sports some bitchin’ “FIRE RESCUE” tampos on the sides complete with a flaming Autobot symbol. Nice! The mold also features a lot of nice sculpted details like grills, doors, equipment lockers and other doo-dads.

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The ladder does raise and lower and it can rotate 360-degrees at the base, so there’s a little bit of play value there. You can also plug his guns into the side of the ladder base and they actually look like they’re meant to go there, rather than just tacked on goofiness. All in all, this is a great looking truck and a fine compromise between modern look and G1 nostalgia. He’d also make for an interesting RID Optimus Prime repaint. Just saying, Hasbro.

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Transforming Hot Spot holds few surprises, but I do love the results. His legs are made up of the front of the truck with the lights forming his knees and the front of the cab his feet. The fact that the wheels land inside the legs is an interesting mix up and I dig the sculpted springs between his armor and his arms. The proportions here are quite nice too.

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Yeah, Hot Spot is a fire engine, so obviously there’s going to be ladder kibble. I’ll concede that his back isn’t exactly pretty, but everything does pack away as neatly as can be expected. The ladder does clear the ground when Hot Spot is standing straight and it can be angled back so it’s out of the way for those wider stances. It does also come in handy sometimes as a counterbalance when posing him.

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The headsculpt is pure G1 Sunbow goodness and between the “helmet” and that mouth plate, Hot Shot does indeed bear more than a passing resemblance to Optimus Prime. The darker blue for the mouth plate and the sharp red paint for the eyes are nice extra touches. I’m particularly impressed by the sculpted detail in the chest and shoulders and the silver and red paint really give the figure that extra pop. Very pretty!

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Hot Spot comes with a pair of rifles, which can be neatly stored by pegging them into his backpack.  You know, for those times that he’s not murdering the shit out of Decepticons and actually rescuing people. These guns continue the trend of Hasbro giving the Protectobots some truly great looking weapons. They can also combine into a longer weapon, but I’ll save that for the Defensor Feature.

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The Combiner Wars Protectobots have been exceptional figures from the get-go and Hot Spot is no exception. In fact, I’ll just go ahead and say that he’s my favorite of the CW Voyager Class figures so far. The only real nitpick I can level against him is that he still has those rather unforgiving ratchet joints in his hips that don’t allow for a lot of subtlety when deciding on his stance. But that’s hardly a crippling issue and when a figure looks this good, I’m willing to overlook certain things. But can a team of figures this good possibly still manage to pull off a great combined mode? Well, I’ll find out next Thursday when I combine them all into Defensor!

 

Star Wars “The Force Awakens:” (Jungle Mission) Kylo Ren and Captain Phasma by Hasbro

I get the idea that Force Friday proved to be more of a hit with Hasbro than it did with the fans. Stores quickly sold of of all their figures and to my surprise the 3 3/4″ line seemed to be among the hardest to track down. Even the e-tailing juggernaut Amazon has been dry. Luckily Toys R Us added some to their website about a week after the big day and I was able to order most of the initial assortment before they disappeared again. The figures are assorted into “mission” categories (Desert, Snow, Jungle, and Space), which feels rather weird for a Star Wars line, but it’s not something that’s really emphasized, especially if you’re like me and have no interest in the lame build-a-weapon gimmick. Yeah, take a good look at those pieces in the package, because I’m not going to bother to show them again.

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The figures come on cards which are folded over to envelope the edges of the bubble. It’s kind of weird and hard to describe, but it gives the card the illusion of being made from thicker stock. At first, I thought this meant that I’d be able to carefully cut the tape and slide the bubble out, but there’s still plenty of glue making these decidedly un-collector-friendly. The packages themselves look amazing with some wonderful individualized character art and Kylo Ren’s mask and lightsaber up at the top. With Hasbro’s ho-hum package design lately, it’s nice to see presentation that looks this good swinging on the pegs again. I imagine they’ll be a real treat for Mint on Card collectors. Me? I’m an opener, so let’s tear these babies open and check them out. I’ll start with Kylo Ren…

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As everyone knows by now, these are very basic figures and the articulation here is a straight 5-POA style exactly like the old Kenner figures only with a ball joint in the head instead of just a swivel. Like it or lump it, it is what it is. That having been said, Kylo Ren, the mysterious hooded villain, is reproduced here quite well in the 3 3/4″ scale thanks to a surprisingly detailed sculpt. The entirety of his robes are textured with a crossthatch pattern, the arm wraps are sculpted and even the insides of his robes if you move his legs apart reveal his sculpted legs underneath. The hood is part of the head sculpt, but the cape is a separate piece that can be removed if you pop off Kylo’s noggin. There’s not a lot of paint here, but that suits the design. You do get a little silver on the mask and a little on the belt buckle.

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Naturally, Kylo Ren comes with his unconventional lightsaber, which looks great for the smaller scale and even includes the crossguard blades cast in clear red plastic. The only downside here is that the blades don’t come out, so the only display option is to go with it activated. Moving on to…

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Captain Phasma! This character’s popularity has already reached critical mass via what I like to call “Boba Fett Syndrome.” We know nothing about her, but her bad ass chromed out Stormtrooper armor sure is bringing all the boys to the yard. It’s nice to see that this isn’t just a re-used Stormtrooper and that she’s properly sized and about a full head and shoulders taller than the troops. I don’t think anyone was expecting a vac-metal figure in this scale, but the silver plastic Hasbro used does a fairly decent job. There’s a few stray black marks here and there, but otherwise the paint is sharp and clean.

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Phasma comes with her cape, which is cast in soft, pliable plastic and is removable by popping the head off the figure. She also comes with her blaster, which can tab onto her leg and can be held fairly well in either hand.

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Overall, I’m pretty pleased with this pair, articulation not withstanding. The plastic feels good and the sculpts are quite detailed. They look great standing on the shelf and only really disappoint when I take them down and start fiddling with them and their limited poseability takes over. I’m sort of warming up to the idea of looking to the 6-inch scale for my articulation and relying on these smaller figures for the whole retro-charm thing. I can understand collectors not embracing these, but I find I’m totally fine with them and at $7.99 a pop, they seem to be priced right.

Tekken: Nina Williams Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

Collecting Koto’s Bishoujo statues these days is like trying to keep your head above water. The releases are coming fast and furious and if you don’t keep up you’ll die in a watery grave. Actually, no you’ll just have to pay a lot more for what you missed out on through the secondary market, because most of these statues, particularly in the Tekken series, shoot up in price like crazy as soon as they’re discontinued. Yes, sadly, I have to face facts that there’s at least one Tekken gal that will probably never land on my shelves for this very reason, (I’m looking at you, Alisa Boscono!) and I’ll probably eventually lay down the $80 or so bucks that Jun Kazama is going for these days. I didn’t want that to happen with Nina Williams, because she’s been my gal ever since I first played the original Tekken.

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Nina comes in a rather compact window box. Don’t forget the Tekken pieces are scaled slightly smaller than Koto’s other Bishoujo lines. The box is black, features the Tekken Tag Torunament 2 logo and some great shots of the artwork by Shunya Yamashita, which inspired this piece. The back panel has some shots of the statue, a little blurb about Nina and a teaser image for the next release, which just so happens to be Nina’s sister, Anna. Inside the box, Nina is wrapped in plastic and secured between two clear plastic trays. She comes attached to her base and all ready for display, but I found it easier to remove the base to get all that plastic off of her. Thus far all, or at least most, of these statues have been from characters introduced later in the series, but Nina’s been around as long as the franchise has and even starred in her own game on the PlayStation 2, Death by Degrees, which shipped with a Tekken 5 Demo Disk. This gal has done it all!

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And here she is in all her glory. she’s caught turning around and winding up for a lethal side kick. Koto loves showing off the balance on these pieces with the girls often posing on only one leg and these are often my favorites. This one in particular works really well from multiple angles, either with Nina looking straight out from the display shelf, or kicking off to the side.

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In keeping with the theme of this series, Koto went for Nina’s modern look. I believe she first wore this outfit in Tekken 5 and she’s been donning this as her Player 1 outfit ever since. She’s wearing a two-piece purple camo tactical suit (because… video games!), which allows her to show off a little mid-riff, with the top belted to her bottom in the front and back. The pants include integral high-heeled boots, wrapped with belts, silver reinforced plates on the interior of her legs, armored knee-pads, and a sheathed combat knife strapped to her right thigh. Her top is a bevy of straps and belts with long sleeves, thick gloves, and bare shoulders.

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Nina’s portrait is a thing of beauty. She wears a sly smile on her perfectly painted lips with her pretty eyes glancing off to the side. Somebody’s about to get a whooping! Her blonde hair is cinched in a ponytail with strands framing her face and blowing every which way. Interesingtly, Koto seems to be shying away from the transparent hair effect in some of their current pieces. I’ve always been a fan of that look, but I can’t say as I really miss it here.

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The coloring on this piece is overall rather soft and muted, even with the crazy purple camo pattern on her tactical suit. Even the metallic silver used on her legs isn’t the super shiny stuff that Koto likes to use. You do get some high gloss purple on the insides of her legs near the knees, the back of her collar, and some more used on the soles of her boots. The paint is immaculate with plenty of silver used on the buckles and rivets holding her straps together. As always the skin tones are perfect.

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The base consists of the simple clear disk we’ve been seeing on all the Tekken pieces. While I find these are tough to keep free of fingerprints, I appreciate the economy of space they present. As always, you get a number of graphical inlays that you can put inside the base to customize your statue. I do believe I’ll end up going with the character art.

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I have to admit, when I started collecting the Tekken Bishoujos way back in 2012, I never imagined Koto would keep it going this long. What’s even more impressive is that the line ran for three whole years before releasing a primary character like Nina Williams. That right there was probably a sign that they were in it for the long haul. I grabbed this statue for the ridiculous low price of $45, which is practically unheard of these days, but even at the full retail of around $60ish, I think she’s well worth the money.

Marvel Legends: (Eric O’Grady) Ant-Man by Hasbro

“You [Hank Pym] are so frustrating. This is why you have fewer action figures than all the other Avengers”  -Eric O’Grady, Ant-Man and Wasp.

I’m taking a slight detour from my jaunt through the Legends Hobgoblin Wave to look at this one-off Walgreens Exclusive. Sometimes having crippling insomnia comes in handy because when I stopped by the corner drug store to replenish my supply of precious sleep-granting Unisom I happened to notice this fella on the shelf and snatched him up. It’s Eric O’Grady as Ant-Man… er, Black Ant!

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Despite being a Walgreens Exclusive, the package is right in line with what we’ve been seeing from the Ant-Man Wave with the Ultron BAF. There’s no sticker or any other indicator that the figure is an exclusive either.

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And here he is, Eric O’Grady… Thunderbolt, Secret Avenger, womanizer, all around scumbag with a heart of gold. His is likely not the first or even the second name that springs to mind when you hear Ant-Man, and indeed he’s a relatively new creation that starred in his own short-lived book before getting shuffled off to other publications. If you want my recommendation, I’d say go read the Ant-Man and Wasp mini-series by the wonderful Tim Seeley, in which he teams up with Hank Pym as The Wasp. It’s a fun read, although this isn’t the suit he wore in it. In fact, technically O’Grady never wore it at all, but rather his Life Model Decoy did and not as Ant-Man but as Black Ant. Yeah, it’s confusing… let’s look at the damn figure.

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O’Grady features a very lean buck, which I can’t place, but I suspect comes from the past Legends line, before the current reboot. At first, I thought it was a resculpted Yellow Jacket, but the hips aren’t right for that. Either way, the costume is almost entirely painted on and while there’s some instances of the black plastic bleeding through the red paint, it still overall looks pretty good. The belt is a new piece, which just hangs on the hips. There’s a hole in the back, which presumes the previous owner of this body had a cape.

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The head sculpt is quite outstanding. I love the helmet, particularly the configuration of the communication device on his chin and the way the antenna look. The visible lower half of O’Grady’s face has good definition and the neon orange paint used for the eyes and other details really makes the otherwise dark figure pop.

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The articulation is above average for Legends, thanks to the added shoulder crunch hinges. I love those things! Additionally, the arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have swivels at the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso features a swivel at the waist, ab crunch hinge at the torso and both a ball joint and hinge in the neck. There’s no mushy joints here, either.

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You know it’s a beautiful day to be a Marvel Legends collector when a) Hasbro is turning out characters like Eric O’Grady and b) stores like Walgreens are interested in stocking them. Conversely, Black Ant is a perfect exclusive in that most casual collectors won’t be broken hearted if he’s tough to find. Ironically, with the way things work around here, I have an easier time finding Hasbro figures at Walgreens then anywhere else, so I do hope the retail chain keeps these coming. It’s an easy way to get an extra twenty bucks out of me when I stop by to pick up Unisom, cat litter and frozen pizzas.

DC Comics Super-Villains: “New 52” Joker by DC Collectibles

Those that know me, know that I don’t get really deep into Batman’s comics. I do, however, try to read the collections that revolve around important story arcs. That’s what dragged me into finally reading “Death of the Family” and I found myself thoroughly enjoying it. Conversely, I’ve only really been collecting the DCC figures related to the books I’ve been reading, so naturally The Joker now had to be on that list. This figure has actually been on my want list for a while and when he turned up on clearance at an online retailer, I tossed him in my virtual basket, along with a bunch of other “New 52” figures I was still missing.

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The package is the same style window box as we’ve been seeing from DCC all along, complete with extended back and J-hook. In this case, however, they did switch up the deco quite a bit. Instead of the white box with purple swipe down the front, we get black and green. I presume the black is for evil and the green is Joker’s hair? I dig this more than the normal boxes, but I’d still like to see some character art or something more comic-book-y. Everything is collector friendly, but I don’t keep these boxes.

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And here he is out of the package and he looks great! If you need any proof as to how unswervingly popular the Joker has been as a character over the decades, you need only look at the ridiculous number of ways he’s been depicted over the years. He’s had so many different looks that it’s hard to keep track of them all and this incarnation, after his face had a run in with The Dollmaker, is one that goes for shock value. To be more specific, this figure is based on Joker after he has returned to Gotham and reclaimed his face and is basically wearing it as a mask. I gotta tell you, I dig this look and DCC did a wonderful job bringing it to life in action figure form.

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We might as well start with the portrait, because… damn! All the little staples and hooks holding the face on are realized in the sculpt and neatly painted, while the face itself shows the macabre wrinkles and stretch marks. Around the border you can see the reddish-brown exposed muscle and I love how deep the eyes are set into the sculpt. The detail in the teeth is also impressive and the whole thing is topped off nicely by his tuft of green hair. You could argue that a lot of DCC’s subject matter doesn’t give them the opportunity to strut their stuff as much as this guy does, but they sure stepped up when that opportunity arrived. Bravo!

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The outfit consists of mechanic’s overalls from Joe’s Garage, which includes a convincing amount of sculpted rumples and wrinkles. I dig the oversized work gloves and the sculpted laces on the boots. The real star of the outfit, however, is the tool belt, which not only includes a bunch of sculpted tools, but places to store some of his extra accessories. 

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The articulation here is very good for a DCC figure. That may sound like a loaded compliment, but it isn’t meant to be. Sure, apart from the waist swivel, there’s no articulation in the torso, but everything else here is plenty serviceable. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs feature a T-crotch at the hips (probably the most disappointing thing about the figure), hinges in the knees, and swivels in the ankles. The head rests on a generous ball joint. All the joints were fine right out of the package, and nothing feels like its in danger of snapping.

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DC Collectibles isn’t big on accessories with their figures, but Joker hit the jackpot. He comes with four implements of torture and murder in the form of everyday tools. You get a hammer and a wrench, both of which can be stowed in the loops on his belt. You get a pair of needle nose pliers, identical to the ones sculpted into his back pouch. And finally, you get a nasty looking serrated knife.

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This figure is outstanding on just about every level. The sculpt and paint are both top notch and if we’re grading articulation on a curve, even that is better than your average DCC figure. I would have been perfectly happy picking him up at the MSRP of $20, but grabbing him for $13 was all the more sweeter. He is easily my favorite DCC figure standing in my display at the moment, and that’s saying quite a bit because as I said, I’m pretty selective about the Batman books that I read. But hell, I like this figure so much, I’ll probably go scoop up DCC’s Trinity set so I can have a proper DCC “New 52” Batman to go with him. Next Friday I’ll keep this DC Collectibles train rolling along with a look at a brand new Harley Quinn figure.

Transformers Combiner Wars: First Aid by Hasbro

Here we are, it’s Transformers Thursday again and today I’m opening the last of the Deluxe Protectobots. I saved First Aid for last for no particular reason at all, so don’t read anything into the order here. Somebody had to be last. Truth is that so far this lineup can do no wrong and I’m rather excited to see what this guy has in store for me. So let’s take a quick look at the packaging.

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Nothing new to say here. First Aid is packaged in robot mode and you get a free comic, which is always a treat. Also, the bio on the back is the first one of the Protectobot Bios that doesn’t make the character sound like a homicidal killer, which is a nice change of pace. You know, because they’re called Protectobots. As usual, I’m starting out with his alt mode.

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First Aid is a futuristic looking ambulance. He’s also similar to Streetwise in that he uses the core design of another mold, but there’s so much resculpting that you wouldn’t really know it. In this case, First Aid is built off of Offroad, and if I hadn’t been privy to that information beforehand, I doubt I would have been able to tell until I started to transform him.

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Overall, I think this is a solid alt mode, although the sides feature a lot of jagged seams, which sort of reminds me of Universe Ratchet, and while that’s not a good thing, it isn’t enough to ruin the toy for me. When going into car mode, it helps to give him that final squeeze that seems to snap all the plates together and diminish the seams. The coloring is pretty basic with blue windows, a silver grill, and some red on the sides, but it’s still a bright and pleasing deco that really pops. My figure has some stray red marks on the driver’s side, but nothing too bad. There are also peg holes on the sides if you want to store his axe.

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As mentioned, transforming him is identical to Offroad and the result is oh, so satisfying. In robot mode, you can make out some more of the Offroad connection. He wears the front of the car as a backpack with wheels behind the shoulders and the torso is the exact same sculpt. Beyond that, everything else is new. Even the shoulder door-armor is different. The new deco for robot mode is mostly red and white, with some nice touches of blue and silver. The “RESCUE” tampos from the alt mode land perfectly on his shoulders. This is a great looking figure!

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Naturally, First Aid is sporting a new head sculpt and it is pure G1 love. The pronounced crest on the “helmet” looks just like the combiner post head from the original figure and the blue and silver paint looks great. There’s a little red spray on his visor, but you have to get in pretty damn close to notice it.

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In addiiton to the combiner foot/hand part, First Aid also comes with an axe. This is a repaint of the same weapon that came with Offroad, recolored to black with a silver blade.  It’s kind of a good fit, because rescue workers often carry axes to hack there way through debris and it doubles nicely as a weapon.

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This jaunt through the Protectobots Deluxes has just gotten better and better. Blades was nice, Streetwise was very solid and Rook and First Aid are absolutely top notch. It’s impressive to think that everyone but Rook here are either repaints or remolds of previously released figures. I’d dare say that this team has come together just as well as the Aerialbots and I absolutely love that set. There’s only one figure left to look at before moving on to Defensor, so next Transformers Thursday, I’ll check out Hot Spot!