Thundercats: Mega-Scale Tygra by Mezco

It’s been almost five years since Mezco embarked on bringing out the beloved Classic Thundercats in a giant 14-inch Mega-Scale figure format. There were times along the way that it felt like the team might never see completion. And while it seems unlikely that we’ll ever see a Wily Kit and Wily Kat, we finally have a core team of cats with the release of Tygra! I’ve made no bones about being a huge fan of this line. At a time when Ban Dai couldn’t decide what to do with the Classics line, these releases came as a bright ray of shining hope in the unfortunately short-lived Thundercats revival of 2011. Needless to say, I’m pretty damn excited to finally have this figure in hand.

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The boxes have been fairly consistent throughout the five year stretch. Tygra comes in a very colorful window box with the glorious Thundercats logo emblazoned across the front and side panel. You get some damned beautiful character art of Tygra on the front and the rest of the cats on the other side panel. There are some minor changes for each of the different cats’ boxes, and Mumm-Ra came in a black box because he’s so damn evil, but these are collector friendly and look mighty nice when all lined up on the shelf. Provided you have a shelf big enough to contain them all. With a little patience required to untwist some twist-ties, Tygra comes out of the box and all set to go!

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And looking damned good! The sculpt walks the fine line between being sparse enough to maintain the animated style, while offering enough detail to make for an interesting and appealing figure. The bulk of the sculpting here is in Tygra’s impressive muscle tone. His cat feet are fully realized, and all of the details that make up the costume are part of the sculpt as well as the deco, including the Thundercat emblem on his chest. While these are billed as “action figures” it should be noted that articulation is fairly limited and Tygra is sculpted in an action-ready stance. The bulk of useful articulation is in the head and arms. There are ball joints in the neck and shoulders, a swivel in the middle of the left arm and another at the right wrist. The legs swivel at the hips and again at the tops of the boots, but these are mainly there to help shift the balance and achieve a good footing. In the end, I found I could get some good variations out of him, but like the other figures in the line, it’s best to temper expectations on posing.

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The paint here is solid, but does show some rough patches under close scrutiny. The tiger stripes look particularly nice and the muted shades of blue and green that make up his costume all look right on point and are fairly clean. Some of the lines could be crisper and the paint more even, especially around the border of his left sleeve. Nonetheless, Tygra is still an attractive looking figure and I’m only going to expect so much from the quality of paintwork on a piece this big with a price this reasonable.

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The portrait is where this figure really shines. I think the sculpt does a wonderful job capturing the character’s likeness and I really like how the rather fierce expression matches the action-orientated stance of the figure. These are definitely cats that are prepared to do battle with some mutants. The teeth and the eyes are just amazing.

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Tygra comes with his bolo whip, which fits comfortably in his right hand and has a wire running throughout so that it can be put in a variety of positions depending on the look you’re going for. It’s here where I really have my only gripes with the figure. I feel like a collapsed bolo would have been a nice extra. I also wish the whip itself was a little longer so that I could get it snake around him a few times while holding his hand over his head. Of course, then I remember the price point here, and I feel bad about asking for more.

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I brought up price a few times throughout this Feature and that’s because Mezco has been able to keep this line at a $35 price point (give or take a little, depending on where you buy it). And while I may nitpick an imprecise paint line here and point out some missed opportunities with the accessories, the truth is that I think what we’re getting here is an amazing deal. While jumbo figures have become something of a trend nowadays, the sculpt, paint, and overall quality on these cats is leaps and bounds better than what I’m seeing in the slightly larger 18-inch Star Wars figures on the shelves. Indeed, these feel a bit more like collectibles and not like mass produced toys. In the end, I’m truly grateful that Mezco saw this line through to at least give us the four major cats and Mumm-Ra. These make for an absolutely epic display. I’m still considering buying the second release of Lion-O just so that I can get Snarf. And hey, if they do decide to get us a Thunderkitten two-pack, I’d be totally down with that.

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Marvel Universe Legends: Captain Marvel and Spider-Man Noir by Hasbro

Marvel Monday continues to take a short sabbatical from the 6-inch Legends line so that I can check out some figures from other corners of the Marvel Universe. I spent a couple weeks with some Sixth-Scale Hot Toys, now it’s time to turn to the other end of the spectrum with the 3 3/4-inch figures. I have to be honest, I’ve been re-evaluating my need to keep collecting this line, but it’s not like there are a lot of releases, so I keep on hanging in there. Let’s see if today’s acquisitions get me any more excited about it…

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Oh, look! It’s been re-branded… AGAIN! Gone are the terrible bland and boring black cards of the Universe Infinite Series and in its place we get something a bit better. The cards are still black and bland, but at least we’re back to some original character art on each card. Meh. Nothing beats the colorful old Universe packaging. And wait, these are called Legends now too? But… the 6-inch line… that’s called… OMG, WHAT IN THE NAME OF THE WATCHER ARE THEY SMOKING OVER AT HASBRO THESE DAYS??? Sod it, I’m just going to call them Marvel Universe Legends. I’m going to open up Spider-Man Noir first.

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While it’s been quite a few years since his debut, I was first introduced to Spider-Man Noir in the pages of Edge of Spider-Verse and rather enjoyed seeing the exploits of the darker Depression-Era Peter Parker. Hopefully, Hasbro is going to start mining Spider-Verse more for figures and I’ll confess I was very glad to see Spidey-Noir get a release, even if I would have preferred it in the 6-inch line. It’s also a bit of a bummer to not have any enemies from Earth 90214 for him to fight.

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Obviously, there isn’t a lot of paint here. He’s black and gray and has silver eyes. Everything on the figure is textured, his boots feature buttons up the sides, the pants are rumpled and include pouches on the thighs. The shirt has sculpted button down flap and a high collar. The hood has sculpted stitching, silver goggles, and a sculpted wrap around the mouth area. He looks like he’s wearing a really creepy gimp mask, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the head sculpt strikes me as a little too soft.

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There’s a ton of articulation here, so let’s run through it. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have rotating hinges and swivels in the hips, double hinges in the knees, swivels at the tops of the boots, and the ankles are hinged and feature lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint just below the chest and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. In theory, that’s all great, but I’m not a big fan of these hips and the way the shoulders are designed, you can’t really get his arms all the way down to his sides. He seems like he should be a lot more fun to play with than he actually is. Moving on to Ms. Danvers…

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Captain Marvel has become one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Now! era, so it’s nice to see her 6-inch Legends figure getting a 3 3/4-inch companion release. This is a much simpler figure than Spidey-Noir, and I’m rather surprised that Hasbro didn’t just go back to the buck used for the Modern/Classic Ms. Marvels. The costume is almost entirely painted, but the paint looks great and the lines are sharp and clean. Compared to the really rough paint on the past Ms. Marvels, this one is a huge improvement. She wears her scarf tied around her waist, which appears to be the same piece used for the Modern Ms. Marvel figure from several years back. The head sculpt is quite good and looks a lot like the one used for the 6-inch Legends Captain Marvel.

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Captain Marvel features a serviceable level of articulation, although it’s limited compared to recent female bucks in the line. In fact, it doesn’t even have the waist swivel from the Modern/Classic Ms. Marvel figures. You do get rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, but no bicep swivels, and oddly enough no wrist articulation at all. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. Despite the reduction in articulation, I actually like this buck a lot. It’s a lot less wobbly than some of the more super articulated MU figures and yet still plenty of fun to play with.

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Both Captain Marvel and Spider-Man Noir are solid additions to my Marvel 3 3/4-inch collection, although Carol is my definite favorite here. I expected to like Spidey-Noir a lot more, but in the end he’s just OK. Really, my big gripe with this line continues to be the price. These are going for anywhere from $12.99 to $14.99 on the pegs these days and that’s really steep. Add to that the distribution in my area is atrocious. I was lucky enough to pick these up at the lower end of that spectrum from a really great online retailer, but right now Spidey-Noir is going for upward of $18-20 on Amazon, which is crazy for what you’re getting. Even at the regular price, it’s shocking that Hasbro couldn’t have thrown in a gun for Spidey and an alternate masked head for Carol. I feel sorry for 3 3/4-inch Marvel completists. Lately I’ve just been adopting an attitude of buy what I can get at a good price and just let the rest go.

KanColle: Fubuki, Mutsuki, and Yuudachi “Super Premium” Prize Figures by SEGA

In case you missed the memo, Saturdays at FFZ are all about the anime figures now. And that’s convenient, because I am on a serious Kantai Collection kick and have been picking up a lot of figures from this series. Today, I’m not looking at one, but rather three figures from SEGA’s “Super Premium” Prize Figure series. Yeah, I couldn’t decide which one of these gals to start with, so I just figured I’d do all three Destroyers from The Third Torpedo Squadron.

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The figures come in pretty standard window boxes and with hardly any English… nope, not even the character names! Just the full title of the series, “Fleet Girls Collection KanColle Animation Sequence!” Yeah, that’s a mouthful. The boxes are color coded to match the girls within, so Fubuki’s blue and Mutsuki’s green match their school uniforms. And Yuudachi’s is pink, um… because… Poi? There’s some nice character art on the side panels and overall, these look nice but the boxes are a little on the flimsy side and prone to shelfwear.

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It’s worth noting that SEGA isn’t kidding around when they call these “Super Premium” as the boxes measure 10-inches high and the figures, at about 9 1/2-inches from the base to their masts are a full 1/7 Scale. No, they’re not your average Prize Figures, and I was positively shocked by the size of them. The gals come all assembled. Just peg them into their bases and they’re ready to launch! Let’s start with Fubuki…

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Special Type Destroyer Fubuki is clad in her blue and white school uniform and all geared up and ready for battle. It’s a pretty passive pose (as is the case with all three girls), but I like hers the most out of all three. Sure, something a little more action orientated would have been fun, but I think this pose works especially well when displaying them together. She has a pretty neutral expression, although definitely the most serious of the three, and I like how her hair is blowing just a little bit off to the side.

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The sculpt is all around solid, albeit a little soft on the hardware pieces. Her armaments include two 61cm triple torpedo mounts on her hips and her 12.7cm twin gun mount held at her side in her right hand. Her rudder heels look great as does the tower, smokestacks, and mast assembly on her back. Next up…

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Mutsuki! Besides the coloring, Mutsuki’s uniform features some nice changes from Fubuki’s, including a different collar and a button down blouse, and full stockings. She also has a slight smile and her right hand raised to her chest. Nothing about Mutsuki’s character really stuck with me from the series, other than her being Fubuki’s sidekick for most of it.

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Her armaments include two 61cm triple torpedo mounts on her hips, although these are different configurations than Fubuki’s, with the tubes exposed and criss-crossing straps securing them to her legs. She wields her 7.7cm machine gun mount on her left hand, held down at her side. I really dig her smokestack and mast assembly, as it comes equipped with two racks of depth charges. Mutsuki’s heel rudders aren’t nearly as pronounced as Fubuki’s and only one can be partially seen. And that brings us to…

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Poi! Yuudachi is without a doubt one of my favorite characters in the series. She’s just hilarious. This is Yuudachi before her sudden remodel. Her mostly black uniform is more distinctive than those of her fellow Destroyers, but the white trim and red stripes help add a little color. I really dig the way they sculpted her long blonde hair fanning out around her. She also appears to be the most cheery of the three Torpedo girls.

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And speaking of torpedoes, Yuudachi sports two 61cm quadruple torpedo mounts, fitted out with oxygen powered payload. As for her hand weapon, I believe this is the 10cm twin high-angle gun mount. The way she holds it across her chest makes her look like she’s the most ready for action of the three. Her backpack is the simplest of the three, with just the one stack and the mast. It’s very cool that the girls each have unique masts.

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The paint on all three figures is good, although not as crisp and clean as one might expect from the pricier figures. For example, there are a few stray spots of white on Fubuki’s right sleeve. With that having been said, there’s nothing else that stands out as bad at all. In fact, there’s even some lovely little touches like the tiny anchors on Fubuki’s socks, the deco pattern on Mutsuki’s stockings, or the fine striping on Yuudachi’s collar and sleeves and on Mutsuki’s skirt. The three Fleet Girls all come with the same style base. It’s a simple pentagon shape cast in translucent blue, which is appropriately suggestive of the water. The figures peg into the base with satisfying clicks, which holds them perfectly.

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I can’t say enough good things about these figures, particularly when you bring the pricing into the mix. When they arrived, and I first saw the size of these figures in the boxes and equated that with the average price of $20 each, I was afraid the quality wouldn’t be there to back up full-sized figures. Remarkably, these gals pull it off quite nicely making these possibly the best values I’ve ever picked up in my somewhat modest years of Japanese figure collecting. SEGA also did two of the Carriers in this line, Kaga and Akagi and I’ll certainly be getting to those in the near future.

Justice League War (DC Animated Movie Series): Superman and Wonder Woman by DC Collectibles

Marvel may be ruling the world of live action movies, but DC has long been kicking ass with their animated direct to video presentations. Justice League War was one of these and boy was it great. Superb characterization, a really fun Batman vs. Superman fight, some dude called Wonder Woman a whore and got outed as a transvestite, and overall a really good feature length treatment of the first story arc from The New 52’s Justice League book. Rather than just bring us animated Jim Lee art, these films tend to skew a little more stylized and if nothing else that gives them the opportunity to market action figures of the same characters to idiots like me.

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Now let me say straightaway, that I would have included Batman here, but for some inexplicable reason, they didn’t make a Justice League War version of Bats. Shazam? Sure! Batman, nah! That seems really shortsighted to me, but they did release him from Son of Batman, naturally I have him and I’ll get to him eventually. Anyway, the packaging here looks nice, but it’s a simple bubble on card affair and not collector friendly. You get some stills from the feature behind the figures and character art on the right panel insert. The figures are numbered, with Superman and Wonder Woman being #2 and #4, respectively. Let’s start with Superman!

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Oh, boy. This is a stylized re-imagining of the New 52 look, and I think the work on the costume is pretty solid. Keep in mind that this line uses some buck sharing, so with the exception of the cape, all the details on Superman’s costume are achieved with paint alone. I like the rich shades of blue and red they used and for the most part the lines are fairly sharp. The intricate panel lines of the comic look have been toned down to just a few. The package suggests these might glow in the dark, but I don’t see much evidence of that. There are a few unfortunate globs of glue on my figure, one by his right cape attachment and another on his left bicep. These were priced about the same as regular DC Collectibles figures, but the quality control on Supes could have been better.

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The cape is OK. It’s not too heavy and it doesn’t drag on the floor, so it doesn’t inhibit wider stances. There’s no S-shield printed on the back. I can’t remember if he had it in the film, but I’m guessing not. Moving on to the portrait…

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Sweet Kryptonian Jesus!!! While everything from the neck down is passable, I don’t know what is going on with this head sculpt. It’s like someone cast older Robert Z’Dar to play Supes. Too soon? Sorry Z’Dar fans. Anyway, this portrait is just all sorts of wrong and I’m hoping that the mold got pinched in production or something, because I don’t want to call anyone out on their work. Phil Ramirez sculpted him and he’s a talented guy. I have lots of his work in both action figure and statue form, so I’m just not sure what happened here. The promo pictures were actually spot on and should have been enough to warn me off the figure, but I remember thinking, there’s no way the actual figure’s portrait is going to look like that. I have no one to blame but myself.

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Articulation is pretty good for a DCC release. You get rotating hinges in both the shoulders and elbows, as well as swivels in the biceps. The wrists look like they have swivel cuts, but mine won’t budge and I don’t want to twist them off trying. The legs are ball jointed and the knees are hinged. And lastly, you get a ball joint in the neck. Let’s move on to Wonder Woman…

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Diana is an entirely different story, in that she’s excellent in almost every way. Granted, you have to buy into the the stylized design, and the fact that her costume got a pretty unique overhaul for this movie, but I happen to like it a lot. Wonder Woman is the only female in the Justice League War series, but I believe they might have recycled some of the parts for the buck for Mera from the Throne of Atlantis.

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Either way, her costume is also all achieved through a deco of red, blue, and silver paint, coupled with some flesh tones. There are a few lines that could have been sharper, there’s a stray spot of silver on her left heel, but all in all, I think the paint is good here. Her sculpted lasso is permanently attached to her hip.

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While Superman looks like he caught a freight train full of bees with his face, Wonder Woman’s portrait, sculpted by Jack Mathews, is very well done and quite faithful to her likeness in the film. The painted features on her face are very sharp and I especially dig her ponytail.

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The articulation here is close to Superman’s, just minus the bicep swivels.

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Wonder Woman comes with her short sword. It’s a welcome accessory, because she used the sword a lot in the movie… even to inadvertently demand ice cream at the point of a blade.

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I’d call my first foray into the DC Animated Movie Series to be a hit and a miss. Superman would have been fine if not for his unfortunately weird face, but I’ve got nothing but love for this Wonder Woman. In fact, she’s so good it makes me all the more sad that I don’t have a decent looking Superman to go with her. Ah, well… I also have a lot more of the Animated Movie Series to open, because most online retailers were blowing them out at $9.99 and I can’t help myself.

Transformers Animated: Swindle by Hasbro

Transformers Thursdays have been slim pickings these days. I’m awaiting the release of Unite Warriors Bruticus and arrival of my Deluxe Groove, I’m still mulling over whether to pick up MP Shockwave, and maybe one day I’ll finally buy the Leader Class Skywarp that’s been languishing on the shelf at Target. But today it just so happens that I did pick up a Transformer last week, thanks to a hook up on Twitter. It’s been a long time coming, but I finally added TF: Animated Swindle to my collection, which just about completes my Deluxes for this series. I bought him loose, so no package shot. Instead, I’ll jump right in and have a look at his alt mode.

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The Consensus seems to be that modern Swindle should be a Humvee and that is indeed what the TF:A version is. While this series favors highly stylized vehicles, Swindle’s actually looks fairly normal. Swindle has a few sculpted panel lines, but that’s about it, and there is some rather unsightly mold flashing on his driver side quarter panel near the hood. There’s also very little in the way of paint apps. He gets by mostly with tan colored plastic. The front grill and windshield are both a rather striking translucent purple and the side windows are painted purple to match, albeit rather unconvincingly. A little black plastic trim, black wheels, some shockingly pink headlamps, and he’s good to go. Oh yeah, he also has that glorious Decepticon emblem stamped right on his hood.

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Swindle comes with his rather large blaster, which can peg right into his roof and give him the extra firepower that any respectable Decepticon demands. You can also plug it into the side, but I prefer it as a top cannon. The fit is disappointingly loose, but to make up for that it can fire a missile. Transforming Swindle is just satisfying enough for a Deluxe and holds a few fun surprises, like the way his hands come together to form the hood. There’s some clever plate shifting there and the resulting robot form is pretty damn sweet.

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Yes, one of the most remarkable things about this line is the way the toys were able to mimic those highly stylized animated designs and still work as functional Transformers. Swindle is a nice approximation of his animated counterpart. I should note that the back panels can be positioned in a few different ways and I like to mix it up. I think they look better sticking out to the sides, but that can get in the way of aiming his arm cannon, so it helps to be able to point them upward. There’s some fun stuff going on here, like his rather large, albeit somewhat impractical, claw hands and I really dig the appearance of even more of that translucent purple plastic. The way the tires make up the bottoms of his feet is pretty cool too. Also note, the detailing on the lower torso is the front of the vehicle mode faked out.  If I had one gripe about Swindle’s design is that his chest is just a little too close to the iconic look of Optimus Prime for my taste.

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But then I look at that face, and how can I not love him? Swindle features some giant eyes with some lovely purple light-piping and a smarmy grin that totally suits the character. One thing even the detractors of T:FA must admit, these robots had a lot of personality.

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The arm cannon is awkwardly large, but that’s not to say he can’t aim it. Once again, I wish it stayed on better. I might have to pop a little glob of blue tack into that hole to better seal the deal. Oh yeah, if the giant arm cannon isn’t getting the job done, Swindle has a little surprise hidden in his chest…

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Say hello to my leetle friend! Yes, he has a flip out gatling gun. A little lower and he’d really have something to brag about! I actually didn’t know about this gimmick going in and it was a pretty neat surprise. 

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One of these days I need to go back and revisit the TF: Animated line. I was a little worried about how well this figure would hold up after jonesing after it for so long and there being so much time between now and when I was collecting these figures back in 2008. Turns out, I dig this guy a lot and I even had some fun with Lugnut and Oil Slick when I pulled them out for a little group shot. Animated was one of those queer little detours in what passes for a Transformers continuity that I was fine with at the time, so long as I knew a more traditional line was lurking around the corner. These are clever designs and ultimately fun toys, but given my inability to get into the current Robots in Disguise line, I don’t know how receptive I would be if this line released now. I do know that I’m a little more motivated now to take stock of what I have and maybe pick up the last TF:A figures that I’m missing!

Heroes of the Storm: Arthas (Warcraft) by NECA

I’m continuing to dig through the pile of figures waiting to be opened on the floor of my closet and I’m proud to say that I can finally see carpet and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! This time I’m returning to NECA’s Heroes of the Storm line and after a brief interlude with Diablo’s Tyrael back in April, it’s back to Warcraft with Arthas!

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This is the fourth time showcasing this packaging, so I don’t have much new to say about it. We’re back to the sealed clamshell, which is most decidedly not collector friendly and therefore requires a trusty, and preferably not cursed, blade to open it. It also rewards you by releasing the sweet, noxious gasses of plastic goodness. Ahhh, nobody gives plastic fumes like NECA does. So good!

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Arthas, aka The Lich King, needs no introduction to any followers of Warcraft lore. He’s as iconic a character as they come and NECA did a beautiful job here reproducing him in action figure form. The proportions, with chunky hands and feet, convey that delightfully distinctive WoW style that is instantly recognizable and this figure is absolutely packed with rich sculpted goodness. From the hammered finish on his boots, to the amazing skull-adorned armor plates on his legs, arms, waist, and shoulders, every little detail of The Lich King’s gear is lovingly recreated here. All the armor plates are sculpted over a cross-thatch chain mail texture that give the suit a satisfying feeling of depth. Oh, and is that soft goods I see?

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Indeed it is! You get a purple cloth sash and cape, which are certainly not firsts for NECA, but definitely this line. I dig it!

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Arthas’ portrait is mostly obscured by his elaborate helmet, complete with the spire-like spikes that rise off the top in a crownly fashion. Strands of his blue hair cascade down the sides and if you get in there close enough you can make out his eyes and mouth. It looks like there’s a fully realized head sculpt under that helmet, and that kind of effort impresses the hell out of me.

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The paint on this figure is phenomenal. You get a muted mix of grays and silvers with copper painted rivets and borders. The mix of drab grey and metallic silver does a fine job of picking out all the careful texturing and sculpted scrollwork on some of those armor plates, as well as weathering. I especially love the effect in the eyes of most of the skulls, which use various shades of blue to give off an illumination effect. It’s brilliant. The paint is rounded out with some buffed brown for the leather gauntlets and straps and some tan for the tufted fringe on the gauntlets and boots.

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For a guy in a clunky suit of armor, Arthas sports some damn fine articulation. NECA kitted him out with rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles. He’s got swivels in the wrists, a swivel in the waist, a ball joint under the chest and a ball joint in the neck. Both the knee and shoulder armor are soft plastic so as not to inhibit those joints. I had to do a little gentle coaxing on one of the elbow hinges, but once I got him warmed up the joints all feel great and he’s a pretty limber fellow.

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The Lich King comes with one accessory, and as any Warcraft fan could have guessed, it is indeed the cursed sword Frostbourne. It’s lovingly recreated with the iconic ram skull at the center of the guard and the blade features a tarnished paint with a copper center. The hilt is designed to come apart so as to stick the hilt into the enclosed fingers on his right hand from the bottom and the top part of the hilt and blade into the top, pegging them together in his grip.

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NECA is absolutely killing it with the HotS line and I can’t say enough good things about these guys. Of course, that’s coming from someone who doesn’t even play Heroes of the Storm, but rather I collect this because it’s populated by familiar characters from Blizzard games that I have played. But even if I’d never spent a single day venturing in Azeroth, I think I’d still be buying these. The crazy money I spent on The Four Horseman’s Mythic Legions figures (which should be shipping any time now) prove that I’m a sucker for 6-inch scale fantasy and there’s no doubt that Arthas fits that bill nicely. Now I just have to pick up the Deluxe Stitches figure and I’ll be all caught up!

Masters of the Universe Classics: Vultak by Mattel

It’s been almost a couple of months since I last looked at anything from Masters of the Universe Classics. But, last week I got a new package from Matty on my doorstep, so today I’m opening up Vultak, who’s motto should be better late than never. Or rather it seems that should be the motto of the Collector’s Choice 2016 line, since we’re seeing a lot of delays. I’ll confess, I don’t remember a lot about this guy, but with a ton of MOTUC figures now on my shelf, I don’t think there are any surprises left in this line…

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…unless Vultak turns out to be an “Evil Flying Zookeeper.” Well played, Matty. I stand corrected. Well, at least there’s nothing new to say about the packaging. It’s the same awesome presentation we’ve been seeing all along, except for the lack of bio on the back of the card. Besides having a ridiculous title, Vultak is a member of The Evil Horde, and unfortunately made an appearance in the She-Ra Filmation cartoon, which meant that I was contractually bound to watch it for this Feature. The episode is called “Zoo Story” and it was about 24 minutes of pure agony. Despite having the word “story” in the title, there was no story, just a shallow mystery surrounding animals disappearing from the ironically named “Freedom Forest.” Who took them? Vultak, of course! Hordak’s Evil Zookeeper! What a cheat! How were we kids supposed to figure that out when we never saw this asshole before?

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Anyway, the episode may be terrible, but Vultak is a pretty cool figure. He sports a standard buck, cast in gray, complete with standard belt and fuzzy diaper. The bulk of his costume comes from his black vest with red Horde emblem sculpted on the front and his abs are painted black to give the illusion that it’s part of the vest. He also has webbed reptilian feet, which I thought we’d seen before, but the ankle articulation makes me think they may be new.

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Speaking of seeing things before, he’s also wearing the wings from Mattel’s DC Universe Classics Hawkman figure. Not a bad choice for recycling and they look really good on Vultak. The coloring on this figure is pretty basic, but makes for a very pleasing deco. The red Horde emblem combined with the blue paint for the wrist cuffs, boot fringe, and belt, really contrasts beautifully with the gray and black. The wings have a slight purple about them.

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Besides the wings, the head sculpt is the real draw here. It’s not only a good likeness to the Filmation character, but it packs a lot of personality all on its own. Keep in mind, Hordak didn’t have this guy run the Zoo for wildlife preservation. He didn’t even do it so he could sell tickets and make a profit. He did it just because he’s a dick and wanted to keep a lot of animals locked up in cages. They literally point that out in the episode. Look into the face of this figure and you are looking at the type of degenerate that would run that kind of place. He looks like a real sicky who is way too proud of himself. Seriously, I love that he’s smiling.

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You get all the usual MOTUC articulation, which includes rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, hinges in the elbows, swivels in the wrists, ball joints in the hips, hinges in the knees, a waist swivel, a ball jointed neck, and an ab crunch hinge. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers that I believe are the ones introduced to the Club 2.0 2016 Filmation line. I’m not a big fan of the way they look, but the rockers are nice. Finally, the wings are hinged where they connect to the back and and hinged again to allow them to extend.

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Vultak comes with two accessories. You get the ubiquitous Horde crossbow, but it’s a new sculpt with a feathered wing motif. Matty should consider releasing some kind of specialized weapons rack to display all the individual Horde Crossbows. They’ve had some really cool and varied designs over the years.

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You also get a pretty cool leash with a collar that opens and then pegs closed. I don’t have any animals to put it on, but it also works for capturing Rebellion scum. Especially when they’re do-gooders trying to free the animals in your zoo.

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Will I ever grow tired of collecting these figures? Probably not. Vultak is as solid a figure as they come and he makes me happy that I subbed the Collector’s Choice line. While double dipping on animated versions of characters I have already was too much to ask, I’m glad we’re still getting new releases this way. Especially when they’re Evil Horde members like Vultak. I’ll take all the Horde figures I can get! Plus, getting my MOTUC shipments every other month keeps my Matty fix going a little longer until the Thundercats start shipping.

Avengers “Age of Ultron:” Scarlet Witch 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Captain America: Civil War has been blowing up the box office for a few weeks now (I did my part, seeing it twice in Imax and once on a regular screen), and while Hot Toys has plenty of pre-orders up for the Civil War versions of The Avengers, a few of the last Age of Ultron figures are still trickling out. In the case of AoU Scarlet Witch, I’ve actually had her on my shelf for a little while now, and it’s long past time I check her out.

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I already showed off the Hot Toys’ Age of Ultron packaging when I featured Hawkeye and Vision. This is the same deal only with a red deco and Wanda Maximoff’s lovely mug on the front of the box. It’s still basically a window box with an illustrated sleeve wrapped around it and while it looks attractive and certainly gets the job done, I can’t help but feel as if Hot Toys has been cutting costs in their package presentation while the prices of the figures continue to climb. All the goodies come on one tray and everything, as always, is collector friendly.

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Wanda comes more or less ready to go right out of the box. You do have to put on her two necklaces, which require popping off the head, but that’s easy-peasy. The hair required a little futzing, but all in all I was surprised how little I had to mess with it to get it where I wanted it. In fact, Wanda is a very simple figure, but the costume hits all the right points. The outfit consists of a thin black dress over a black and pink lacy slip, a red leather jacket, leather arm bracers, tattered black stockings, and some chunky boots. While this is about as far from any of Scarlet Witch’s comic designs you can get, I like this look a lot for the MCU version of the character and I was glad to see her wear something pretty similar for a good part of Civil War.

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The jacket is easily the most impressive of these sixth-scale garments. It’s beautifully tailored and textured and fits the figure perfectly. The coloring on it is also very nice, particularly the way it transitions to a darker color at the bottom. The costume design also does a good job of concealing most of the joints, preventing Hot Toys from having to go with seamless arms and legs. The stockings cover the knees, the bracers cover the wrist joints, and the jacket sleeves, well they cover the elbows most of the time, so long as your diligent about pulling them down while posing her. Still, with extreme elbow bends, you’re likely to see some hinge. If I were going to nitpick something it would be the boots. They look fine on their own, but if you compare them to say the sculpting on AoU Hawkeye’s boots, the detail here looks a lot more soft. It’s also worth mentioning here that while the boots don’t allow for lateral rockers, the rest of the costume is one of the least restrictive costumes I’ve seen on a Hot Toys figure in a long while. With no restrictions and very little fragility here, Wanda is a fun figure to play around with.

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I’ve got no complaints about the portrait. Hot Toys has worked their usual magic here. I will say that I find the likeness can go from spot on to just very good, depending on the lighting and angle, but even Hot Toys’ “very good” is usually better than everyone else’s best, so I’ll happily take it. The skin tones in the face are superb and the paintwork on the eyes is downright eerie. While some collectors still fight against rooted hair, I’m a fan of it in certain cases and this was one of them. Yes, there are some fly-away strands, but I don’t think this would have looked good with sculpted hair. I haven’t used any product or actually did any styling… I need to draw the line somewhere. While the arms and legs don’t feature the seamless rubbery”skin,” the neck and upper torso does, so you can get some articulation out of the lower neck despite no visible joint there. I do wish they made the charms on her longer necklace out of diecast, as it would have weighted them better. As it is, the longer necklace doesn’t really hang naturally.

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You know what time it is? It’s time in the Hot Toys feature where we talk about hands… lots of extra hands! Wanda comes with a total of eight, although in this case the count is weighted in favor of the right side. As many of you may know, I’m not an extra hands kind of guy, but in this case, the hands are actually a lot of fun, because some of them are very expressive and they tie in with her hex powers. The majority of the hands have red translucent finger tips to create the magic effect, and it works quite well. All of the hands come complete with all her sculpted rings. And that brings us to her other accessories…

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Effect Parts! If there’s one thing I’m usually even more ambivalent toward than extra hands it’s effect parts, but once again Hot Toys surprised me here, and in more ways than one. The hex magic effect parts that come with Scarlet Witch are both frustrating, and ultimately fun accessories. These are sculpted in clear plastic with a nice shade of red mixed throughout. They are designed with a very specific use in mind, to have the effect trailing behind the hands. The instructions sort of show how this is done, but not very well and the way the pieces are designed to fit the hands isn’t at all intuitive.

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However, with a little experimentation, I’ve found them to be pretty versatile and capable of creating some pretty neat poses. For people who like to have accessories that go in a proper way for a very specific look, these might prove more frustrating than their worth. But they had me playing around with Wanda a lot more than I usually do with a new Hot Toys arrival.

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Finally, Wanda comes with Ultron’s heart. It’s a decent enough accessory and it allows you to create a pretty cool moment in the film, but it’s nothing terribly special. At the prices we’re talking about, I would have preferred something metal and maybe with an LED.

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Scarlet Witch’s stand is patterned after the other Age of Ultron figures that I featured. The big difference here is that instead of a crotch cradle, it comes with a wire loop that hugs the figure’s waist, like a more traditional doll stand. The base is larger and more posh looking than the older Hot Toys stands, and I do appreciate that it offers a better sense of value. The only downside here is that it takes up more real estate on the shelf and doesn’t match the older Avengers figures.

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I could go on about how any sense of value is slipping away as Hot Toys’ prices continue to rise, but if I’m still buying them, then I guess I shouldn’t be complaining and in the end, I’m going to pay what I need to pay to get the characters I want. One thing I wish Hot Toys had done here was do a discounted bundle on Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, because I find that I wouldn’t mind having her brother on display with her, but there’s no way I would buy him on his own unless he hits some really deep discounts. And I can’t imagine that situation is out of the question. Of course, Hot Toys has already shown off their Civil War version of Wanda, and while it hasn’t made me regret picking up this figure (I’m big on getting first appearances), it has made me consider double-dipping on her.

And that should catch me up on my Marvel Hot Toys. I have Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy and Cap from Civil War on pre-order, but they aren’t due out until later in the year. I’d love to pick up Ultron, but I don’t think he’s going to be in my budget. Likely the next Hot Toys I’ll be featuring here on FFZ will be some of The Force Awakens offerings, which should be shipping sometime toward the end of the Summer. 

KanColle: Abyssal Fleet Airfield Princess By Furyu

Anime Saturday has become a trend around FFZ as of late and I think I’m going to keep that going because I have a ton of these gals to look at. Today I’m taking a little break from Sword Art Online and turning my attention to KanColle, short for Kantai Collection, or if you prefer… Fleet Girls Collection KanColle Animated Sequence! That’s a mouthful! Originally a Japanese web-based browser game, KanColle has also produced a rather entertaining little anime series that I has quickly become an object of my obsession. It ran for 12 episodes and chronicles the adventures of the Fleet Girls, girls with the souls of warships, who skate over the ocean surface into battle with bits of ships attached to them and fight against a horrific race of ocean going demons called Abyssals. The animation is great, the characters are endearing, the battles are really cool, and the series takes time out between them to chronicle dorm life and curry cooking contests. And yes, they even find time to for the ubiquitous fan service swimsuit episode. I’m kicking things off with the Abyssal Fleet Airfield Princess from Furyu. I don’t usually start out with the villains, but I just love the crazy designs of the Abyssals. These things are like a cross between Hellraiser and The Blue Meanies from Yellow Submarine.

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The figure comes in a squat window box, which is most definitely not Western friendly at all, as there’s hardly any English on the package. That’s not a criticism, just an observation. What is a criticism is how boring the box is. The red grid and circuitry pattern doesn’t really makes sense and aside from a small KanColle logo and a small piece of character art on the back, there’s nothing at all reminiscent of the series. And to make matters worse, my box arrived in pretty poor shape, like it was kicking around a shop in Japan for a long while. But it’s what’s inside that counts. And seeing as this is my very first figure from Furyu, I’m pretty anxious to find out what we’ve got.

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Oh yeah, this is some fine nightmare fuel here and I love it. The Airfield Princess measures about 4-inches tall, but she’s reclining, so I’d say she’s roughly a 6-inch scale figure. She also comes out of the box all ready to go with the figure permanently attached to her base. You do get a little transparent cube to put under the jaws of the gun to prop it up, but it really isn’t at all necessary as it balances just fine on its own. The Princess reclines on her “throne” encircled by an airstrip and with twin cannons jutting out from the armrests. Beside her is the behemoth gun… with teeth…. three sets of them. I really dig the way the figure rests her head on her arm as if the calamity of war and killing bores her. Also, those piercing red eyes are superbly printed and are really freaking me out.

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She has two devices on her head, which I’m going to assume are some kind of radar, because the Fleet Girls where similar headgear to receive signals and detect enemy fleets. The Airfield Princess’ copious white hair spills out behind the base and check out those spikes on the bottoms of her boots.

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The gun to her right practically overshadows the figure itself. It’s mounted on what looks to be the prow of a warship with open jaws and several rows of human-like teeth. The whole jaws and teeth motif is pretty big among the Abyssals, as both their aircraft and surface warships all look like demonic sharks with guns coming out of their mouths. The designs in this series are just awesome.

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In terms of quality, this piece is very solid but not exceptional. This would still be considered a Prize Figure, so it’s far from a high end piece, but the sheer size and heft along with the complexity of the base makes it feel like something more. And as such, it’s possible I had higher expectations. The sculpting is perfectly serviceable, particularly for the gun and its giant teeth, but the sculpt breaks down in relation to some of the finer details, like her right arm, which looks fine from a distance, but pretty rough as you get in close. The same could be said for the paint. The gradient red on the gun’s teeth looks amazing and I really dig the way the gun itself looks like its hot from being fired. The airstrip markings are sharp as well. But the figure itself could have used some sharper lines and the white could have been cleaner. Of course, this is all just nitpicking for a piece that cost me less than $25. It’s also possible that I’m a little spoiled by how great the Asuna Taito Prize Figure was that I looked at last Saturday. Truth be told, I’m extremely happy with this one for the money and I’d certainly consider picking up some more of Furyu’s figures in the future.

Next Saturday, I’m sticking with KanColle, but it’s back to Taito!

DC Comics: Deluxe “New 52” Swamp Thing by DC Collectibles

The New 52 is winding down and the time of ReBirth is upon us. Now, that doesn’t mean an end to New 52 figures around these parts, because I’ve got tons of them still to get through. Quite the contrary, if anything it’s going to light a fire under me to get through more of them and more quickly. Today’s figure has been sitting in the corner waiting to be opened since late last year… it’s Swamp Thing!

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When they say Deluxe, they ain’t kidding around. This is a pretty damn big box. To qualify that, it isn’t as big as the Deluxe Darkseid, nor is the figure itself even much taller than the DC Universe Classics version of Swamp Thing. Still, it’s a big box and it needs to be to hold such an imposing figure. I don’t have a lot to say about the package itself. It’s really just a big window box that let’s the figure inside do the talking. The back panel advertises the Super Heroes Vs Super-Villains boxed set, which I’ll get around to Featuring eventually. The packaging is collector friendly, so long as you’re patient getting him out. Getting those wings out through the slit in the tray was a project in and of itself.

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Wait, wings? Yeah, it’s pretty obvious that this isn’t your daddy’s Swamp Thing, particularly if your daddy happens to be Alan Moore. Now I’ll confess, while I’ve stuck it out to the end with quite a few New 52 books, Swamp Thing wasn’t one of them. On the other hand, I am a big fan of character re-imaginings and I think this is a pretty cool design by itself, just not necessarily one that I was interested in seeing in my ongoing Swamp Thing book. At some point, I may still pick up the collected edition and give it another whirl. Anyway, the look they were going for here was part Warrior, part Avenging Angel and if nothing else, I think it makes for a striking action figure and measuring in at about 9 1/2-inches tall and with a 15-inch wingspan, this guy would be hard to miss on any display shelf.

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The sculpting here is excellent and it’s only broken up by those rather jarring ball joints in the hips. Otherwise, there’s hardly any space on the figure that isn’t covered in texture, mostly bark and patches of moss. He also has that adorable little pink flower sprouting on the back of his right leg. The wings are a work of art in themselves with the main body of the wings textured to look like moss and the “feathers” bark. Granted, the figure doesn’t have that same gee-whiz feel of the rubber skinned DCUC figure, but it’s still an absolutely striking piece. All that sculpting is backed up by a pretty solid paint job of mingling greens and browns and varying shades and intensities.

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The portrait is also fantastic. I can definitely see some Classic Swamp Thing in there, and he almost has a bark helmet integrated into his face. The antlers are cool, as they remind me of the sort of ornaments that could sometimes be seen on knights’ helmets. He also has some rather vicious looking barbs protruding from the top of his head. And the eyes… those deep set eyes are painted with a metallic red that is rather haunting.

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The articulation here is pretty good. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, with swivels at the top of the legs. The knees are double hinged and the feet themselves are on rotating hinges below the ankle, which allows to adjust for stability. There is no articulation in the torso, the neck is ball jointed, and the wings swivel where they peg in and each have a hinge. It’s worth noting that the left elbow on my figure is fused due to being painted over and while I may give him a little heat treatment eventually, for now I’ve opted to leave it that way.

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Swamp Thing actually comes with two accessories, his sword and shield. These are designed to appear as if they grew out of him and attach to his arms via tabs. When not in use, there are bark pieces with twigs coming off of them to tab into the holes and hide them.

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This is an amazing figure. In fact, I’d dare say it’s a work of art. While DC Collectibles doesn’t churn out figures in the quantity of a Hasbro or a Mattel, I’d still consider their product to be mass market, and you just don’t see this kind of craftsmanship in these kinds of figures very often. The sculpt and coloring are just off the charts. That makes it kind of sad that this guy didn’t sell well. With an MSRP of $50, I can’t say he isn’t worth it and yet he’s still hanging around many online retailers at pretty deeply discounted prices. I’d like to credit that to a lot of people butt hurt over the new design, rather than the appeal of the workmanship here. No, he isn’t going to replace my Classic Swamp Thing from Mattel, but he is going to look damn nice on the shelf… or at least he will when I can find the space to accommodate that wingspan.