Masters of the Universe Classics: Serpentine King Hssss by Mattel

Controversy and Matty Collector seem to go together like PB&J. In this case, the hub-bub centered around word that Matty would be including a newly tooled snake torso for King Hssss in one of the Club Eternia figures for 2015. I try to tune out a lot of this stuff, but I think the plan was to pack it with Buzz Saw Hordak, which admittedly would have made that terrible figure a bit easier to swallow. Whether this was a promise or a loose comment, I don’t remember, but the bottom line was it didn’t happen because it would have been too expensive and despite Matty being fairly transparent on the matter and sending out a letter to the fans, subscribers still went berserk. Matty ultimately offered the piece for sale as its own figure with a bevy of extras at a pretty good price and it arrived at my door last week.

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Yup, that’s the same old MOTUC packaging we’ve been seeing for years now. There’s even still a bio on the back, which is missing from the most current figure cards. You get a colorful “Snake Men” sticker on the bubble and Hssss’ tagline is “Evil Disguised Leader of the Snake Men.” To say that he fills out the bubble nicely is a bit of an understatement. It actually looks like Matty just took a pound of snakes and crammed them in there. In fact, it’s such a mess of snakes that I can barely make out most of the accessories.

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There’s no doubt that the new torso is the star of this show. It takes the concept of the snake torso that we got with the original Classics King Hsss and cranks everything up. It’s beefier, better proportioned, and it ultimately it makes a pretty goofy idea and makes it look bad ass. Also, someone clearly said, “NEEDS MORE SNAKES!”  I actually own two of the first Masters Classics King Hssss, which is convenient to display one human and one half snake. It’s also an odd thing to admit to, since I was never that fond of the original’s snake torso and would probably never display him with it. But this? This I like a lot. If the were coming after me, I would step on old ladies and babies to get away from this guy. Thanks to some bendy plastic and wires, six of the snakes are posable, so while the only two actual articulation points above the waist are the swivels in the waist and the main snake’s “neck” you can still have some fun with him.

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The sculpting and paint on display here are both excellent. Hssss is covered in scales quite literally from head(s) to toe and there’s a lovely high gloss finish over the whole figure to give it that illusion of slime that all snakes are burdened with. The bulk of the figure is a sort of ochre color, that feels like a nod to the original snake torso, with green patterns. From the waist down, this seems to be a repaint from the Snake Men two-pack. At least that’s my impression. I never did get my hands on one of those packs. Either way it mates wonderfully with the new torso, although the legs on my figure are somewhat loose.

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The main portrait features an open mouth, which offers a grizzly view right down the snake’s gob, and displays a pair of white fangs and a long cascading forked tongue. All the snake heads, right down to the tiniest have solid paintwork for their eyes and mouth and all around this is a great looking figure.

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To sweeten the deal, Hssss comes with what is basically a mini-weapons-pack, which includes a shield, a mace, and a sword and spear, both with serpentine blades. These are actually some of my favorite weapons to come out of the line and they go a long way toward building value in this package. The weapons can be held in some of the smaller snakes’ mouths, but it’s tough to make it work and I honestly think these weapons will be better served getting doled out to my Snake Men or just being added to one of my Weapons Racks.

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How about a bonus head? Yeah, Matty’s got us covered there too with a mid-transformation snake head for the humanoid King Hssss figure. Now, I presume this was intended for both the original and the 200x versions, but the socket is way too small for my original Classics Hssss. I’m sure I could get it to work if I tried hard enough, but for our purposes here, I’m showcasing it on the 200x figure from the two-pack. Again, it’s a great piece of work and looks fantastic on the figure.

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Of course, while Serpent King Hssss is a complete figure onto its own, the torso is also compatible with the legs from either of the previous King Hsss figures, so you can mix-and-match all you want.

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Naturally, I’m very glad Matty got this figure out and onto my shelf. It totally blows away the previous snake torso on every level and the fact that they gave him some legs and threw in so many accessories makes the pot all the sweeter. As for the controversy… it doesn’t really interest me. I can see collectors being frustrated when a company can’t follow through on an expectation, but while I am a toy collector, I’m not a child, and I realize these things happen in the grown up world of big business. I can see cause for rage if this individual piece motivated someone to buy in to the sub only to find it wasn’t included, but I can’t imagine that was the case for most. And in the end, the figure went up for sale to subscribers for $20, which quite frankly is a great deal for this densely packed bundle of goodies.

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Terminator 2 Judgement Day: Ultimate T-1000 by NECA

It’s time to gush once again all over another of NECA’s Ultimate figures. And what better subject for an Ultimate line of figures than the Ultimate Summer Sci-Fi Action Blockbuster, Terminator 2? This is the third time this series is dipping into the Terminator franchise, and we know it won’t be the last. I’ve already checked out the T-800 and Sarah Connor, so today let’s check out the relentless, liquid metal killing machine that is, the T-1000!

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As usual, the figure comes in a collector friendly window box with a front flap. The deco here matches the other T2 figures perfectly and these look amazing all lined up on a shelf. You get some great stills from the film as well as shots of the figure itself. I’ve already gone on and on about how much I love these boxes, so rather than dawdle any longer, let’s look inside…

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Yup, there’s a reason this line is called Ultimate. I mean, just look at all that stuff! Naturally, I’ll be looking at everything in turn, but let me just run it all down here: An automatic pistol (missing from the tray because I already put it in his holster), a gun-holding right hand, two pry bar arms, two hands with pointy metal index fingers… and if all that isn’t enough you get an extra head, which is split down the middle, and a head and front torso with bullet damage. Wow! The tray is set against an illustrated backdrop that looks like the interior of The Pescadero State Hospital. Brilliant!

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The base figure is quite solid and includes all sorts of detail on the police uniform, from the creases down the front of the trousers, the pen in his pocket, the badge and the individual buttons and rumples across the front of the shirt. Apart from some seams running down the sides of the torso, it’s pretty hard to tell that the top half of this figure is meant to split apart and take a replacement.

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The belt rig is quite detailed and includes a functional holster for his pistol and some non-removable items, like a police radio and a pouch for his handcuffs. Despite having the removable front torso, the articulation is not hampered at all. It does look like they probably built the rotating shoulders on exposed front pins to make it work, but you still get a great range of motion there. You also get rotating hinges in the elbows, knees, and ankles. There are ball joints in the hips, wrists, waist, and neck.

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The likeness to Robert Patrick is pretty spot on. I really dig the way his eyes are painted to look up so they appear natural when the head is pointing down slightly. It achieves that wonderful stern and creepy look he frequently gave in the film, especially when waggling his finger like a cross teacher. No, he doesn’t come with a waggling finger, but let’s get into some of the stuff he does come with…

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The pistol is pretty straightforward and as mentioned it fits in his holster and he comes with a hand made to hold it. It’s the only weapon included with the T-1000 because, let’s face it, he is a weapon unto himself. His liquid metal construction makes him the equivalent of a humanoid swiss army knife.

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The pry-bars are achieved by pulling out the forearms and pegging these into their place. The way the paint transitions from the blue uniform to the silver metal is well done. These are, of course, handy whether you’re chasing down a car and need to hitch a ride or prying open the doors of an elevator when they just won’t hold it for you.

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The two metal pointy “I know this hurts” fingers are just pop-and-swap hands with one metal finger longer than the other. The metal index fingers are naturally a little bendy so you need to finesse them a bit, but they look great. Next up, let’s swap some noggins…

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It’s a testament to the film that they were able to pull off all these Looney Tune injuries and still have it work, oh so well. The first one that the figure lets you recreate is the split head as it’s in the process of being “zipped” back up from the bottom. I love this piece, it looks wonderful right down to the metal paint inside the head. Mine was actually pretty tough to get on the figure, though, and I had to do a little shaving inside the socket to finally get it in.

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Next up is the the hole head that comes attached to the swap-out torso front. The front of the torso simply un-pegs and pulls off allowing you to peg on the replacement. Oddly enough, the first time I’ve seen engineering like this was in Character Options’ Doctor Who line. They did something very similar for their Professor Bracewell figure as well as the Time of the Doctor 11th/12th Doctors. It’s a great gimmick that allows a large variation to the figure without having to create a whole new body. The metal impacts from the bullets are very well done.

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The head is no slouch either. Again, there’s some wonderful paintwork inside the hole and along where the “flesh” has changed back into metal. It’s also worth noting that since the neck posts are on the torso fronts, you can use any head with either torso, so mix and match until your heart’s content!

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When I’m writing up these features on NECA’s Ultimate line, I always feel like I should play it off like one of those infomercials. You get the gun, the gun, hand, the pry bars, and the pointy metal figures. Now how much would you pay? But wait… there’s more… you also get the two extra heads and the replacement torso… all for $21.99! Yes, that’s how much this figure cost me, and I’m continually stunned that NECA can put these figures out there at such great prices. Hey, I love my Marvel Legends as much as the next guy, but there’s so much more craftsmanship that goes into these NECA Ultimate figures and all at the same price, not to mention that they’re based off of a 25-year old film.

Vitruvian HACKS: Medusa and Coral Gorgon by Boss Fight Studios

Last week I tackled half of my initial shipment from Boss Fight Studio’s Vitruvian HACKS Kickstarter with the Spartan and Cursed Spartan. Today, I’m checking out the second half of this first wave. There’s a lot to cover here, so I’m going to dive right in and look at some snake ladies!

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Once again, the figures come in collector friendly blister cards that allow you to bend back the edges, slide out the card and get at the goods without damaging anything. You can keep the pristine card all by itself or just return the figure to the bubble and keep the whole shebang. I’m not one for keeping packages, but with presentation this nice, I’ll be hanging on to these. Each of the Gorgons have custom card art and blurbs about them on the back of the card along with shots of all the other figures in the series that you can collect. Let’s start out with Medusa, the Cursed Gorgon Sister!

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Wow, this is a unique and wonderful looking figure. From the waist up, she’s all woman. Below the equator, she’s all snake. The humanoid part of the buck is very nice and includes sculpted muscles in the abs and armor on the chest and shoulder as well as a wrist bracer on her right arm. She also wears a belt rig slung loose on her hips with a loop for her dagger on the right and an armor plate on the left. The sculpting and paint on the armor pieces represents some great work and gives it a realistic, worn patina and pitting. The tiny sculpted leather rigging that holds the shoulder armor is above and beyond for figures in this 4-inch scale.

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The snake tail includes six ball jointed segments with overlapping snake skin plates that make for a pretty well articulated tail that can support the figure in a surprising number of poses, whether coiled flat, tail up, or extended out behind her. There’s a lovely bit of sculpt around the back of the torso where the snake scales taper off to become regular flesh. Below that, the scales are individually sculpted on the back of the tail and the painted patterns look amazing. The creepy appendage is topped off with a large rattle.

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Insert ex-girlfriend joke here. This gruesome portrait is spectacular. Her mouth is open in mid scream, exposing her forked tongue and pearly whites. She has red, pupil-less eyes and her forehead shows some faint scaling. The head is topped off with a grizzly mop of snakes.

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In addition to the segmented tail, the upper half of the figure includes all the articulation we saw in the Spartan male bucks, which suffice it to say is quite good. You also get a pair of extra hands included with both of the Gorgons, as well as the standard Boss Fight Studio figure stands which, in the case of these legless lasses, are totally useless. But hey… free figure stands!

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Medusa comes with two weapons, a dagger and a whip. Both accessories look like they are fashioned from bone, or spinal columns to be precise. Actually, the whip looks like it might just be a snake skeleton right down to the tiny skull that makes up the pommel of the grip. Either weapon can be held in either hand and the dagger can be carried through the loop on the figure’s right hip. Quite frankly, I could gush on and on about this figure, but we’ve still got another to look at, so let’s move on to the Coral Gorgon…

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While we’re dealing with the same basic buck, there are so many changes here that the Coral Gorgon feels like a fresh figure. And nothing against Medusa, she’s awesome, but this Coral Gorgon is sporting one hot and sexy deco. You get a deep reddish-brown with some lovely black and yellow stripes, not only on the tail, but also on the biceps. Coral is also wearing armor consisting of a full chest and back plate with sculpted muscles and very similar to the style and color worn by the Spartan Warrior, only clearly designed with the female form in mind. She’s also got a pair of matching wrist bracers. The bright luster of the bronze armor is gorgeous when paired with this deco.

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The tail has the same great articulation, but the rattler at the tip is replaced with just a standard taper. The coloring here really picks out the detail in the sculpted scales wonderfully.

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The head is shrouded in a remarkable animal skull helmet with the spinal cord slinking down the figure’s back. It’s a fantastic piece for this, or any scale and it is easily removed to offer a better look at the head itself.

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NOPE!!!  Egads, I don’t know why, but I find this portrait to be a thousand times creepier than Medusa’s. Not sure if it’s the bald head, the giant yellow eyes, or the exposed fangs, but this is some serious nightmare fuel. QUICK, PUT THE HELMET BACK ON!

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Coral Gorgon comes with a sword and a shield, both of which are made to look like stone. Maybe she snatched them off the bodies of petrified victims? The shield appears to be the same gorgeous piece of kit that came with the Cursed Stone Spartan, whereas the sword is unique in this initial assortment. I have the same difficulty getting the figure’s hand to properly clutch the grip on the shield, but it’s not really necessary here, since the bracers lock into the sleeve a lot better and hold the shield securely without the hand in place.

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As great as the Spartans were, these Gorgons are the real showpieces of this initial assortment. And while Medusa is an absolute classic and a figure that I so badly wanted back when I was a young lad playing with my Clash of the Titan figures, I think the Coral Gorgon edges her out a bit with her gorgeous and distinctive deco and downright creepy helmet and face sculpt. Either way, I’m starting to regret not picking up more of the Gorgons. I have six more figures coming to me, and none of them are Gorgons. WHAT HAVE I DONE??? Well, with pre-orders still open, I think I may have to remedy that.

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Of course, I will be back to look at more of these figures as soon as they arrive on my doorstep, but I’ll conclude by paying the best compliment I can to a Kickstarter. Boss Fight Studios delivered here on everything they promised. It might have taken longer than anyone could have expected, but in the end, when the figures are in hand and they are this spectacular, it’s hard to come away with anything other than satisfaction. I’m all the more anxious to get the rest of my order, and super excited to see what the Fantasy Series is going to look like, because I’ll be a proud backer of that one as well.

Marvel Legends (Red Onslaught Wave): Whirlwind by Hasbro

Last time on Marvel Monday, I started in on the Red Skull/Onslaught Wave with a look at Cottonmouth. Today I’m pressing on with the figure that shares that figure’s slot, or at least would be sharing it if they were actually variants and Hasbro was still making running changes in these cases. And thank God they stopped that shit, eh? Anyway, the other half of the “Forces of Evil” is the mutant Whirlwind, and I was pretty happy to see this guy make an appearance in Legends.

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The box is literally identical to the one we saw last time, with the character name absent from the front. This wave is branded under “Captain America,” complete with a shield emblem on the top flap and blue-filtered images of Whirlwind on the right panel and Cottonmouth on the left. It’s collector friendly, but thankfully I convinced myself not to try saving all my Legends packages because if I did, I’d have an entire wall of my living room covered in them. Wait… Actually, that sounds pretty cool.

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I’ve always loved Whirlwind’s design. He’s that right mix of screwball goofy, but still realistic enough to take serious. You don’t snicker at a guy in a costume if he’s coming at you with buzz saws. I think he would fit right in guest starring as some kind of crazy Super Saiyan villain in a live action Japanese series or just duking it out with the Power Rangers. The costume is basically a metallic gray body suit with reinforced green armor bands around the torso and those buccaneer boots that comic characters are so keen on wearing. Oh yeah, he also has those spinning saw blades on his wrists! I’ll bet it took all of Hasbro’s collective resolve not to put a spinning torso gimmick into this guy. Oh, you know they wanted to!

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Damn, Whirlwind’s packing a tight little bottom! Yup! Anyway, the two-tone coloring is very simple, but extremely well done. Yeah, there’s some of that annoying swirly pattern in the gray plastic, but it’s not so bad that it bothers me like it did with the comic version of Ultron from several waves back. It’s just really nice to get a figure with some actual sculpting in the body, rather than just a painted on costume.

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The head features Whirlwind’s bucket helmet, and while this no doubt required a lot less effort than a full on face sculpt, I’m happy to say Hasbro didn’t cut any corners. The eyes and lips visible through the holes in the helmet are good enough to convince me there’s a fully sculpted head under there, even though I know better. The metallic green finish matches the armor bits on the body and really makes for an attractive finish.

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The saw blades on the wrists are removable, as they simply peg into place. It’s a cool feature and one that I didn’t even notice until one of them popped off as I was playing around with him. It would have been neat if he came with an extra pair.

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The articulation here is quite good. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs have ball joints at the hips, double hinges at the knees, hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, and swivel cuts in the thighs. It seems like there are swivels at the tops of the boots, but mine won’t give and I’m afraid I’m going to twist them off. The torso features an ab crunch hinge and a swivel in the waist. Finally, the neck has a ball joint, but because of the helmet, it really only allows for rotational movement of the head.

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No doubt about it, this figure is as solid as they come. He’s loads of fun to play around with and he and Cottonmouth make for a wonderful looking pair of costumed bastards. The paint is fantastic, the coloring is great, the joints are sound, and he has more original sculpting than most of the figures we’re getting in Legends these days. Sure, some may quibble about why are we getting characters like “A” when we still haven’t got a good version of “B,” but I say keep the villains coming, Hasbro. Figures like Whirlwind are exactly the type that I want to populate my shelves so the more the merrier is my motto. Also, I’ve now got both of Red Skull’s meat hooks!

Alien Eggs by NECA

It’s Easter and what better day is there to check out some Xenomorph eggs? This pack was released by NECA last year and it works as a wonderful novelty piece as well as accessories for your 7-inch scale Aliens figures. And best of all, you don’t have to color them for Easter because they look amazing right out of the carton!

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Yes, carton! These half-dozen cage-free Xenomorph eggs come fresh from LV-426 and straight to your grocer’s refrigerator. The presentation here is absolutely killer. The eggs come in an authentic looking cardboard egg carton with a colorful label on the front that includes “Nutrition Facts” and a hazard image that shows the life cycle of the Xenomorph. This is some fantastic stuff!

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Open up the carton and the eggs come in a staggered layout, three closed and three opened. There are also “Safe Handling Instructions” printed on the inside of the top flap.

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The closed eggs are just that, eggs, which have not yet popped to eject the facehuggers within. The fact that NECA can take a simple solid plastic egg and make it something so fantastic is a real testament to their workmanship. The sculpts on these are unbelievable and the quality of the paintwork is there to match it. They look slimy and they’ve even managed to replicate the interior glow effect of the facehugger inside with simple paint applications. They also have a really nice heft.

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The open eggs each contain an individually wrapped facehugger. These eggs are even more disgusting than the closed ones. The membranes are folded back to show the pink and squishy interior. There’s sculpted mucus stretched between the flaps, and once again the whole thing looks slimy to the touch, thanks to some gorgeous high gloss paintwork.

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The three facehuggers are identical, static pieces. They’re tiny, but that didn’t stop NECA from packing them with sculpted detail both top and bottom. Nothing has been spared on these little huggers, and I find the undercarriage to be particularly unsettling. Ewwww!

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A half-dozen of these Alien eggs ran me about $20, which is a damn good deal for the amount of craftsmanship that went into these. Most of the marketing I’ve seen has treated these as a novelty item, but make no mistake, these are made to be displayed and interact with NECA’s Aliens figures and they do that splendidly. So, grab yourself a carton of these babies, this Easter, hide them for the kiddies, and make sure to have your phone ready to snap those priceless pictures of little Jimmy or Suzie coming out from behind the sofa with a facehugger attached to their head. HAPPY EASTER!

Cover Girls of the DC Universe: Batgirl by DC Collectibles

It’s DC Friday again, and for the past few weeks I’ve been working my way through some DC Statues: Bishoujos, Femme Fatales, and yes, some Cover Girls too! I’m still way behind on the DC Cover Girls line, something that is concerning me because there’s quite a few I’d like to pick up before they hit the secondary market and the prices start to escalate. Today, let’s check out Barbara Gordon in her New 52 look, before she got the Babs Tarr makeover and moved to Burnside.

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As always, the statue comes in a fully enclosed box with photos of the piece all around. Inside, the collectible is nestled inside a brick of styrofoam. The only assembly required is pegging the feet into the base and the pegs fit very easy. Oddly, some of the statues in this line come attached to the base and others peg in, so I always have to be careful to support the base when I’m picking them up. Porcelain statues seldom survive drops, so better safe than sorry! At about 9-inches tall, Ms. Gordon scales perfectly with her fellow Cover Girls and continues to skew this line in favor of Bat-flavored characters.

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And damn what a beauty she is! Batgirl’s (former) New 52 costume is a favorite of mine because it doesn’t stray too far from the traditional. Fans old and new should be able to get behind this design. Of course, it is New 52, so you do get the sculpted panel lines in the body suit that suggests it’s more armor than mere latex. I like the ribbing inside the thighs, under the arms, and in all the places where a lot of flexing would take place. The yellowish-gold boots and gauntlets have scalloped edges and match the belt, bat symbol, and the interior lining of the cape. All of the yellow has a slight hint of glossy sheen to it, which contrasts nicely with the more matte finish of the black suit. The paint on this piece is very clean, but I’ve come to expect that. Truth be told, even with eight of these ladies on my shelf, I haven’t had any notable paint issues with this line, so when I say the paint is especially good on Batgirl, it’s intended as high praise.

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Batgirl stands with feet apart and her right arm drawn up and ready to fling a batarang at an unseen adversary. There’s some lovely subtle bits about her pose, like the way she’s arching her back and twisting in the middle. This is a piece that shows off the art of the female body in all its splendor.  As often the case with this line, the composition here is a nice blending of action and a bit of museum-style mugging for the beholder. The invisible wind that bellows out her cape and tosses her hair adds a little more kineticism to the piece. It’s a statue that has a couple of “sweet spots” depending on how you want to position it on the shelf. If I had to come up with something critical to say, I’m not particularly fond of how slender the middle of the cape looks from behind, but when it comes to complaints, that’s really reaching.

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The portrait is absolutely fantastic and certainly a high point for this series. The emerald colored eyes are beautiful as is the subtle pink used for her lips.  The nose is softly defined and the edges of the mask are clean. Even going back to the 70’s, one of the most fetching things about Batgirl for me has always been the way her red hair spills out from behind her cowl and this statue conveys that quite well.

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Batgirl features the now standard oval base. In this case, the coloring doesn’t actually match anything on Ms. Gordon’s costume, instead it’s a bright purple. While unusual for the line, I do dig the color as it calls back to the days when the lovely Yvonne Craig wore donned a different Batgirl suit. As with the Batwoman statue, you get bat emblems on the front, back, and sides.  The limitation here is, as usual, 5200 with the individual number of the piece written on the bottom of the base.

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Batgirl is another great addition to my Cover Girls shelf, and she displays beautifully with Huntress and Batwoman. I’ve yet to be disappointed with the quality and composition of this line. The 9-inch scale is perfect for a statue collector tight on space and while the MSRP’s on these are usually right at the $100 mark, they can often be had for twenty or so dollars less, which makes them a great value for the money. Now, I just have to pick up Mera, Vixen, Wonder Woman v2, Catwoman v2, Katana, Starfire, Black Canary, and Bleez before Power Girl and Raven are released and I’ll be all current! Yeeeesh!

Star Trek: Klingon Disruptor by Diamond Select

Originally featured in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Klingon Type 3 Disruptor would go on to be a very familiar weapon, commonly seen throughout the rest of Trek’s TV and motion picture run. By my count, this same design has been in service for about 100 years, much like the Bird of Prey, and both instances are very conveniently cost effective for producers of the franchise who don’t have to keep coming up with new models and props. Indeed, when you consider the changing trends in Starfleet weapons, I’d dare say this design has become one of the most iconic pieces of equipment in the series. And that’s fitting, because the design is so very Klingon and I absolutely adore it. It’s not sleek or pretty, but it has a certain primitive and swashbuckling feel about it. Starfleet weapons look like sterile implements, but the Klingon Disruptor looks like it has a history behind it. It certainly resembles a standard firearm more than most of Starfleet’s weapons, or at least the ones appearing in The Next Generation era. With a traditional pistol-grip leading to a breech-like body and a beam emitter positioned at the end of three silver pylons that resembles a gun barrel, this is a design that I fell in love with the very first time I saw Kruge use it to vaporize one of his own officers. Let’s check out Diamond Select’s version of this warrior’s honorable weapon.

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If you’ve picked up any of DST’s Starships, Phasers, or other gear, then the package here should be familiar. It’s a blue and black box with a bit of a starfield deco. The front panel features a window that shows the weapon and a “Try Me” hole that lets you sample one of the electronic sounds. The back has a picture of the Disruptor and a little blurb about it. This is a big box for an item that is much bigger than I was expecting. The only other Klingon Disruptor I ever owned was the Playmates scaled down version and going on just my memory, this one is huge by comparison.

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Diamond’s version is perfectly sized and while it feels a lot lighter than I imagine the real things would be, it doesn’t feel cheap in the hand and it has a decent balance. The quality straddles that line between toy and replica. Some of the sculpted details are a tad soft, there are visible seams in the plastic, and the weathering is very simple, but they did take the time to plug the screw holes on one side. Mine has some scratches that are clearly not intentional, but they work toward making it look more properly used. This is a piece that looks good on display and is perfectly suited to cosplaying at a Con, assuming they still let you carry anything that’s even vaguely gun shaped any more. What this isn’t is a collector’s grade prop replica.

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The electronics on this piece are very simple, especially when compared to some of DST’s phasers. There’s a silver sliding switch on the back that puts the weapon into three different modes. I’m assuming, the equivalent of Stun, Kill, and Disintegrate. Each time you move it, it registers with a sound. The trigger is appropriately placed as a thumb button up where the hammer on a real gun would be. Pressing it fires the appropriate sound and lights up the red emitter on the business end of the weapon. Normally with DST ships and equipment I record a little video to show off the electronics, but it wasn’t even worth my time here. The emitter light is sufficiently bright, but the sounds are mediocre at best and not great quality. If you’re expecting something that clearly resembles the awesome sound this weapon made in Star Trek III, you’re going to be disappointed.

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While DST’s phasers have had features like removable palm units, this disruptor is pretty much just a static piece. The “breech” does slide back, but it’s designed to do that in order to reveal the battery compartment. I do recall seeing the Klingons “cock” this thing at one point (I think before beaming down to Genesis), but I think it was achieved by twisting the barrel. Still, sliding this piece back a bit and pushing it forward could achieve a similar look, I guess.

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It’s no secret I’m a sucker for Star Trek Role Play Equipment and seeing as how much I love the design of this piece, I’ve had my eye on this Disruptor for a long time. I’m pretty sure it’s been on the market for well over a year. The issue for me was price and the hit and miss history I’ve had with the quality control on DST’s Star Trek items. The Disruptor originally retailed at about sixty bucks, which is quite ludicrous for what you’re getting. I’ve since seen it quite often for as low as $45 and even there I balked. Turns out the right price for me was $27 because that’s what got me to finally pull the trigger, if you’ll pardon the expression. At that price, it’s a decent piece, even if the electronics aren’t as good as I had hoped. It’ll still look great hanging on the wall alongside the rest of my sci-fi arsenal.

Star Wars Black (Rebels): Kanan Jarrus by Hasbro

The newest wave of the Star Wars Black Series has a particularly interesting offering in it. No, I’m not talking about Old Han Solo… I’ll get to him eventually. No, I’m talking about a realistic treatment of Kanan Jarrus, the fugitive Jedi from the Rebels animated series. Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen animated characters get a realistic makeover. Hasbro did it to Ahsoka Tano in the Vintage line. Actually, they did it to her again in this wave, only not in the wave I got stuck with. My case had two Lukes in it instead. But don’t get me started again on that. Really, don’t.

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Despite the Rebels crossover there’s nothing new to be said about the packaging. You get a monochrome portrait of the character on the front and a little blurb about him on the back. Kanan is Figure #19.

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So, right off the bat, I’m going to say that I think this is one of the nicest figures we’ve had in the Black Series in a while. Putting aside whether or not the realistic portrait works or not, and looking at it from the neck down, the sculpt and paint on this figure are both fantastic. Hasbro added texturing to the pants and part of the shirt to give the outfit a realistic look, while also downplaying those vertical stripes on the shirt from the animation model. There’s also a more drastic color difference for the darker parts, which adds a little more complexity to this new realistic look. Overall, the colors are more muted, making for a grittier appearance.

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The armor on his right shoulder and arm looks particularly good. The paint is very convincing as worn metal and the added white insignia on the shoulder looks appropriately worn and weathered. The cross strap for the shoulder armor is sculpted as part of the buck and the fixtures are neatly painted. He also features a smuggler’s style belt with a low slung holster on his right hip. No doubt about it, this version of Kanan looks like he would be right at home swaggering through a backwater planet in the live action Star Wars Universe.

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The portrait is no slouch either. To be clear, I enjoy Rebels in spite of its stylistic look, not because I’m a fan of that look. I didn’t like the style at all in the beginning, but the show ultimately won me over. So, I was likely an easy mark for this figure and I really like what they did with the head sculpt. There’s a little over spray on the beard and I do wish Hasbro would stop using the waxy plastic for the heads or at least find some way to paint more realistic flesh tones, but that’s the best nitpick I can come up with here. The head looks great, right down to the little ponytail in the back.

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The articulation here is as solid as we get in the 6-inch Black Series.  You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivel cuts in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the torso and both a ball joint and hinge in the neck. I would have loved some swivel cuts in the biceps, but Hasbro seems to be done putting those into this line.

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Kanan comes with both his lightsaber and his holdout blaster. The blaster is a great sculpt, and looks a lot like the ones carried by some of Jabba the Hutt’s henchmen in Return of the Jedi. His right hand is sculpted to hold it and it also fits nicely in the functional holster on his right hip.

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The lightsaber includes a removable blade and the hilt breaks into two parts so that they can be worn separately on his belt like he does on the show. After all, you can’t go around advertising you’re a Jedi. The larger part tabs in horizontally on the back of his belt and the smaller tabs into the front. After getting so many of Luke’s lightsaber in this line, it’s nice to get a fresh and original design.

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Sure, I was excited for this figure to begin with, but I didn’t expect it to turn out anywhere near this good. It’s no secret that the Black Series has been languishing in mediocrity a lot of the time, so to get a figure that impresses me is a nice surprise. Granted, there’s nothing about this figure that couldn’t have been done just as well in the 3 3/4-inch scale, except maybe the hilt would be too small to break apart. Still, at this point, I’m just happy to get a figure that looks this good and feels like Hasbro put a lot of work into it. Sabine from Rebels has already been confirmed for the Black Series, and I seriously hope that Hasbro plans to follow through with the rest of the crew at least.

Vitruvian HACKS: Cursed Stone Spartan by Boss Fight Studios

As promised, I’m back to check out the other humanoid figure in the initial Wave of Vitruvian HACKS, Series 1. This fellow is not as lucky as the Spartan Warrior that I looked at this morning. He done got himself an eye-full of Gorgon and he’s been turned to stone. Because this figure shares a great deal with the Spartan Warrior, I’m going to suggest reading that feature if you haven’t done so already. In the interest of brevity, I’m going to refer back to it a lot.

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The packaging is basically the same as the Spartan Warrior’s, but everything is customized to suit the character. There’s even a grizzly passage on the back about how humans cursed by the Gorgons experience heightened senses while petrified. So, not only are they conscious for it, but they are aware of everything that’s going on around them for miles. Creepy!

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From the neck down, this poor guy is just a repaint of the regular Spartan, so the same great sculpt applies here as well. The paint is a wonderfully convincing stone finish. There are a few areas where the paint was a little sticky when I first got him out of the package, but it seems to have settled down after a little handling and I can’t find any evidence of it on my fingers.

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The articulation here is identical to the previous figure, which means for a petrified guy, he can move around pretty well! I’ll refer you back to my one issue with the Spartan and that was the legs. The legs on this figure are a little more wonky. I think some of it might have to do with his grieves needing to be straightened, but part of it is that the soft plastic joints are warping at the knees. I may try a little blow dry straightening to see if it works. It’s not really noticeable to me when he’s in action poses, only when standing straight.

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The Cursed Spartan features a new head sculpt, which is bald and works well for this look.

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You also get a removable helmet. It’s the same basic style as the one included with the Spartan Warrior, but it is a unique sculpt with several notable differences.

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I had a lot of great things to say about the regular Spartan’s shield, but the sculpt on this guy’s shield is even more amazing. Ironically it features Medusa’s head on it, all sculpted as well as a decorative border around the edge. This is a stunning piece of work and the intricate detail in the sculpt is married perfectly with the faux stone finish. The interior of the shield is the same as we saw last time with a soft plastic sleeve and a hand grip. Once again, it’s tricky to get the hand on it and I’ve found it better to just leave it there, since you do get an extra pair of hands to work with.

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The Cursed Spartan comes with a sword and a spear. The sword has the same leaf-shaped blade as the regular Spartan’s, but the hilt is brand new. The spear is the same sculpt as the regular Spartan’s spear. Both accessories are treated with the same stone finish as the figure and shield. You also get the same figure stand that was included with the normal Spartan.

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While largely a variant of the figure I looked at earlier, this is still a wonderful piece of work. Obviously, this figure is going for a very specific look and it succeeds brilliantly. I wouldn’t mind picking up a few more, as there’s enough accessories and articulation here to create a nice display of Gorgon victims. And speaking of Gorgons… I’ll be looking at those next week!

Vitruvian HACKS: Spartan Warrior by Boss Fight Studios

The Summer of 2014 saw a lot of Action Figure related Kickstarters and one of the big ones was Vitruvian HACKS (Highly Articulated Character Kit System) from the folks at Boss Fight Studios. This 4-inch line based on Greek Mythology boasted great sculpts and a system of interchangeable parts making these figures perfect for collectors and customizers alike. The project was wildly successful, but hit a lot of delays for reasons I have no intention of going into here. To make a looooong story short, the figures were originally slated to ship in February of 2015, but in actuality are only now shipping out to backers. I got my initial Backer Reward wave late last week, but I’m still waiting on the four additional figures that I ordered at the time the project ended in July 2014, plus another two I purchased when the figures went up for general Pre-Order in December of last year. While I’ll be the first to admit my patience wore thin toward the end, I was always confident the figures would come and they would be great. These guys know what they’re doing and I think they did a fine job when faced with numerous hurdles. I was going to look at two figures in this initial Feature, but I ran long…

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The figures come packaged on landscape-orientated cards and I am absolutely thrilled to say that they are collector friendly. I still remember how difficult it was for me to make the decision to cut into the bubbles of my Legends of Cthulhu figures from Warpo Toys, but there’s no such anguish here. You just fold back one of the edges of the plastic front and slide the card back to remove the tray from the bubble, thus having your cake and eating it too. Some of the accessories come on the tray and others are bagged behind it. The packaging displays well standing, and there’s also a J-hook if you want to hang them on the wall.

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The card art is colorful and customized to each character. The back of the card features a profile of the character. You also get a classic “Collect Them All!” spread of each of the figures in Waves 1 through 4. The Spartan Warrior is where this line began, so I will in turn begin with him. I do want to proceed with one caveat: The customizaiton aspect of these figures does not interest me at all, so I’m not really going to touch on it. I’ll just note that if you have a bunch of these figures, some custom skillz, and a Philips-head screwdriver, the sky is the limit.

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So, I have to admit, after waiting so long, taking the Spartan Warrior and his accessories out of the package felt like an event. A lot of impressions came to mind as I started to play around with the figure. Let’s start with the good stuff first, and frankly it’s really almost all good stuff. The sculpting here is excellent. The figure is built on a nearly naked buck with some excellent definition in the muscles. Yes, that means that all the armor is removable, and while it looks like it would take a bit of work to get the grieves off, the armor on the torso just un-pegs and is worn like a vest. The chest plate also features sculpted muscle tone and the individual strips of the skirt are clearly defined, despite being one piece. From painted preview figures to final production, this guy remained consistent through and through.

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The paint quality here is also solid work. I adore the bronze paint they used for the armor as it features just the right amount of sheen. The red and white paint on the skirt makes the deco pop beautifully. Each of the tiny straps on the sandals are painted and the paint on the head is absolutely immaculate. There are a few minor flubs here and there along the skirt, but these are hardly noticeable when you’re just viewing the figure in hand and with the naked eye.

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While there’s obviously no likeness to be beholden to (although possibly inspired by Gerard Butler), I dig the head sculpt a lot. There’s a lot of sculpted detail in the hair and the somewhat larger eyes give the figure a distinctive, somewhat stylized, look that works for me.

The articulation is solid, but it’s missing a few key points I would have liked to see in a figure in this price range. What you do get: Lots of rotating hinges! They’re in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and ankles. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and have double hinged knees. There’s a swivel in the waist, a ball joint in the torso, and another in the neck. What’s missing are swivel cuts in the thighs and when you couple that with the grieves limiting the ankle articulation a bit the legs can sometimes look a little awkward when posed. That having been said, you’ll note the lack of figure stand in any of my action shots, which means he stands just fine on his own in almost any pose. It hardly even took much work on my part.

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Moving on to the accessories, you get an incredible looking helmet that fits the figure’s head beautifully. I can’t remember a piece like this ever being designed to fit a figure this well in the 4-inch scale. It has the same gorgeous bronze paint as the figure’s armor and a bright red comb. This piece and the way in interacts with the figure is quite literally perfect.

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Next, we have the scabbard and swords. The accessory is worn on a shoulder strap that’s pegged into the scabbard. Again, the fit here on the figure is exceptional when you consider the scale. It sits high on the figure, which I believe is historically accurate, and the fact that it’s pegged into the strap means that you can swivel it to get a nice position for the figure to draw the sword. The paint on the strap’s buckle as well as the fixtures on the scabbard and the red tassel all look great.

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You get two swords (xiphos), one long and one short, with identical hilts. Both will fit the scabbard, but the longer one is a tight fit and a bitch to get out, so I’ve been keeping the smaller sword in there. It comes out easy and if you are only displaying him with the one blade, there’s no way to tell it isn’t the longer one. The swords are gorgeous, with leaf-shaped blades and bronze-painted hilts that match the armor and bright silver blades. He can either sword in either hand perfectly.

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Next is the shield, and this is a real showpiece of his accessories. And rightly so as the hoplon is where the Greek Infantry’s name, hoplite, comes from. The front has a sculpted hammered look to it and a gorgeous bronze and red paint job. The reverse of the shield is fully detailed and features a grab bar and sleeve to accommodate the Spartan’s arm and hand. I’ll note that it was really tough for me to get the hand to hold the bar. Ultimately, I popped out the hand, got it in position and then fed the arm through the soft plastic sleeve and reconnected. Since the figure comes with an identical set of extra hands, I’m going to opt to just leave one grabbing the bar at all times.

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And that brings us to the final piece of the Spartan’s arsenal, the spear (doru). Like everything else about this figure, Boss Fight spared no expense on the detail and paint on the spear. It has a sculpted tip and butt cap and a sculpted grip, all beautifully painted. It’s a solid piece too, with no warping at all, and both the head and butt are super sharp and pointy.

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The Spartan Warrior also comes with a sculpted Boss Fight Studio stand, which is included with all the figures. It’s a functional little piece that pegs into the figure’s feet and is perfect if you’re lining your figures up for a museum-style display. But as I said earlier, the figure’s balance is such that stands really aren’t needed for most of the poses.

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If you can’t tell, I am absolutely delighted with this figure. Even the one minor issue I have with the legs is easily forgiven by the care and attention to detail that went into everything about this guy. The base figure is solid and the accessories are among the best I’ve ever seen executed in this scale. If you missed out on the Kickstarter, the Spartan Warrior is currently available for Pre-Order through Boss Fight Studios’ online shop at $20. However, they’re still processing and shipping Kickstarter orders, and made it clear that they won’t be processing the Pre-Orders until all the KS business is taken care of. While $20 may sound like a premium to pay for a 4-inch figure, it’s not a whole lot more than you’ll pay for Hasbro’s 4-inch Black Series right now. And you’re also getting a premium quality product to go along with that premium price. While I’ve only opened the one figure so far, I have to say I’m very glad I backed this KS, and it was worth the wait.

And since I intended this to be a Double Feature, I’m going to run off and recoup a little and I’ll be back later this afternoon with a look at the Cursed Stone Spartan.