Transformers Animated: Blurr by Hasbro

Yes, I’m happy to say that Transformers Thursday should be back on track for the rest of the Summer! I’ve got some new stuff rolling in, but before it arrives I’ll be taking some time to look at some older TF: Animated figures that I’ve added to my collection. I originally pulled a bunch of the Animated line out to re-shoot reviews and see if I was still in love with them or willing to let them go to clear up some space. In the end, I wound up buying a bunch of the ones I was missing, so we all know how that went. Today I’m looking at Deluxe Class Blurr. I got him loose, there’s no packaged shot, so let’s jump right into his alt mode.

aniblur1

One of the things that I loved about TF: Animated was the way it could take a familiar character and take ownership of it without fundamentally changing that character. Blurr is one of many great examples of that. Just look at his car mode. It’s a sleek, futuristic sportscar that takes the original G1 alt mode concept to new heights. It’s both undeniably Blurr and undeniably TF: Animated. Gone are any of the remnants of the boxy G1 aesthetics and they’re replaced with sleek-as-shit curves and angles. I love everything about this car!

aniblur2

Well, almost everything. The hollow backside is a bit of a letdown…

aniblur3

…but everything else? It’s poetry in plastic. It’s like a mash-up of Speed Racer and Tron. The dual front pontoons, the light-cycle-like wheels, the rear fins, the rear-view mirrors mounted on the roof! Toss into that the killer deco consisting of the traditional Blurr colors of powder blue, dark blue, and a little mint. The black painted windshield and side windows looks great as does the Cybertron Defense Force emblem stamped on the hood. This alt mode is a winner!

aniblur4

The robot mode does that seemingly impossible thing that TF: Animated loves to pull off with ease. It takes a super stylized robot and turns it into a working Transformer. Blurr is so lanky, he’s almost creepy, with his super slim legs and clever wheeled, but not-wheeled, feet. His tall super-tall shoulders give him a distinctive profile. Most of the car elements are on display, but he doesn’t look like the engineering should work. Yeah, part of that is because a sizable piece is removed, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

aniblur5

From the back, Blurr’s robot mode is just as tight. There’s an angled car plate behind his head, but otherwise, all the car kibble is absorbed into his lean, runner’s body. The only real blemish here are the exposed screws on the back, and let’s be honest, Hasbro is often content advertising those on the front of Transformers, so I’m not about to complain about them here.

aniblur7

And that portrait! Once again, Animated Blurr is still Blurr. The head sculpt is perfect, sports some spiffy light piping in the eyes, and also features his trademark fin.

aniblur11

aniblur10

If only everything about this figure were as great as Petro-Rabbits and Cyber-Kittens. But no, my biggest gripe is the way the hood comes off to form his “weapon.” Hasbro, if you’re going to pull off a big piece from the alt mode at least make it a good weapon. This is his Energon Blade and it sucks. It’s sort of reminiscent of the hood shield from G1 Blurr, but I’m not really buying it. I would never display him with it, so what do I do with it? Toss it in a tote with other unwanted accessories? Can’t do that, because what if I want to change him back to his car mode. You see my dilemma?  And yet, I still feel a little guilty for complaining about something similar to what the original toy did.

aniblur8

aniblur9

To a lesser extent, I find Blurr’s articulation a little problematic. The legs are fine, but those arms can dampen the fun somewhat. The big shoulders tend to get in the way of his head, but you can still get some nice running poses out of him and he does have a waist swivel.

aniblur6

aniblur12

aniblur13

Blurr is undoubtedly one of my favorite characters from the Movie and Post-Movie cast. I don’t think my love for him had a lot to do with how he talked or that he could run fast, but I just really liked his animation design and wished that the G1 toy could have pulled it off. This one is admittedly not striving for that G1 look, but it captures the same essence of that design for me and I love him for that. I’m really looking forward to the Titans Return version to see if it can replace this guy as my favorite incarnation of beloved Blurr.

Advertisements

Mythic Legions: Skapular The Cryptbreaker by The Four Horsemen

It’s the third installment of Mythic Legions Wednesdays here on FFZ and today I’m busting out one of the skeletons in the line, the awesomely named Skapular The Cryptbreaker and I’m going to on on record right now by saying this will likely end up as one of my favorite figures in the entire line.

mythscap19

I’ve got nothing new to say about the packaging. It’s simple, attractive, and collector friendly. The card is generic, but you get a bubble insert with a blurb about the character. I’m probably not going to tap too deeply into the fiction for this line, but I think it’s great that T4H supplied stories and background for the people who want it.

mythscap4

As we’ll continue to see with this line, Skapular comes out of the package without his shoulders, and looks totally complete without them. The design on this guy is absolutely killer. He looks like he just stepped out of the pages of a TSR manual, and I’m sure that in the distant days of my role-playing game youth, I painted some AD&D miniatures that looked exactly like this guy. Simply fantastic! There’s a lot of parts recycled from the two figures I’ve already looked at (Sir Gideon and Gorgo), but it’s done so splendidly well that it’s not something that jumps out and the figure still feels totally fresh to me. The gauntlets and lower legs are the same used for those two figures, the torso and hanging tabard are pulled from Sir Gideon, and the neck guard is from Gorgo. Obviously the skeleton bits are new and the upper arms have some segmented armor plates.

mythscap3

mythscap2

The shoulder armor is the same pair worn by Gorgo and they peg in to the back in the same fashion. Again, you get some nice customization options here as to whether or not to leave them off, just give him a right or a left, or load him up with both. The paint on this figure is as exquisite as what we saw on the first two. The armor has a nice steel finish to it with rivets and fringe all meticulously done up in a coppery gold paint and the crimson tabard features a bit of wash and looks great. The bone parts are yellowed to show a little wear and rot.

mythscap7

mythscap18

The head sculpt gives us a grim skull face with vacant, blackened out eye sockets and a rictus grin. I love the definition of the bones in the sculpt, particularly the cheeks, and there’s just the right amount of cracks and wear. Skapular’s face is colored with the same yellowed finish to match his arms and legs and there’s some nice black wash to bring out the detail in the teeth. The skull is nestled in a a crimson hood, which matches the tabard and the skull is capped off with an armored cap that ends in a deadly point. For a skull face, Skapular’s portrait packs plenty of personality.

mythscap17

mythscap5

Despite being a skeleton, Skapular’s articulation is identical to the figures we saw on the two earlier figures. There are rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles, and satisfying lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the waist as well as the neck. The neck guard is soft plastic and doesn’t inhibit the neck movement at all. As always, the figure is designed to be disassembled at pretty much any articulation point so if you like to swap parts, you can go nuts!

mythscap6

mythscap15

mythscap16

Moving on to accessories, Skapular comes with a belt, which is a standard for most figures in this line. It has a loop to hold a sword, or in this case the dagger he comes with. The belt is long enough so that it can be worn as a cross strap, which really only works well when using just one of the pieces of shoulder armor, otherwise it can just hang loose around his waist. The dagger is pretty simple, with a uniform silver paint.

mythscap8

mythscap9

The spear is a piece that we didn’t see included with Gideon or Gorgo, but will be seen again in several upcoming figures. Like the dagger, it’s all done up in silver with no additional paint apps. It has a simple shaft with a barbed tip and he looks great holding it. I’ll confess, I would have liked to see the spear shaft painted brown, especially since the unpainted weapons were supposed to be relegated to the Legion Builders, but it’s not a terribly big deal to me.

mythscap12

mythscap14

mythscap10

The shield is the same mold we saw both Gideon and Gorgo carry only with yet another new coat of arms painted on the front. This is my favorite of the three shields, partly because the weathering on the white half of the deco is done so well, and partly because it’s just an interesting design that looks quite distinct from the other two. Once again, the shield features a clip that goes around the wrist and allows for rotation of the shield so you can orientate it however you want, no matter what position the figure’s arm is posed in.

mythscap11

mythscap13

mythscap1

mythscap20

There’s no doubt about it, this is my favorite figure so far, and that’s an incredible statement considering how great Gideon and Gorgo are. Granted, a lot of that has to do with my unending love for armored up skeleton warriors and T4H really nailed every aspect of this commonly used AD&D trope with this figure. He just feels so iconic to me and just the sort of figure I would have loved to have had in with my old LJN AD&D figures. Hell, even though I’m six months away from compiling my list of Favorites for 2016, I find it difficult to believe that this guy isn’t going to score a high spot on that list. Then again, I do still have 14 more of these figures to open up! Next week, we’ll sample some Orc flesh!

Masters of the Universe Classics: Darius by Mattel

Yes, folks, I continue to cling to the Masters Classics line through the tenuous link of the Collectors’ Choice subscription. I want to say this is the third release in this Sub, with another four or five still coming, but the constant delays are throwing off my count. It’s gotten to the point where I’m just surprised to see one of these show up at my door. Today I’m opening up Darius, and this is a figure that sat around for a little while because I honestly had very little interest in him and, mostly because he was not a Mythic Legions figure and right now anything that’s not a Mythic Legions figure can pretty much go to hell.

motucdar1

Of course, you get the same great packaging as always. Maybe not as snazzy and collector friendly as those Club Grayskull boxes, but I still dig it. You get a “Galactic Protectors” sticker on the bubble and his tagline is “Leader of the Galactic Protectors.” Yup, Darius is one of the good guys from the New Adventures of He-Man. To clarify, he is based off the prototype of an unreleased New Adventures figure and was going to be He-Man’s intergalactic mentor in the cartoon, but they ended up not using him. Do I care? Nah, I’m just in this line for the cool and wacky designs. Note how messed up the top of my card is? Despite charging like $12 for ground shipping, Matty continues to rely on just one sheet of crumpled brown paper as packing. Thanks, guys!

motucdar2

So, one of the things I like most about the New Adventures characters is that they allow for a lot more detail than a lot of the MOTU figures, and Darius here is a great example of that. The paint and sculpt on this dude is just totally off the charts for a line where we’re used to just getting a repainted muscular buck. Just look at all the gizmos sculpted into his vest and thigh armor and the straps holding them on. Even the coloring on this figure is outrageously good, with metallic copper and gold armor against a red and blue costume. Many of the sculpted details are highlighted with additional silver paint. Darius is a techno-infused feast for the eyes!

motucdar3

The blue cape is rather bloated and cumbersome. I think the use of plastic for capes on figures in this scale needs to go away. It looks OK from the front, but from the back it’s just a big hunk of plastic. It cries out for some sculpted stitching, or rumples and wrinkles. There’s even an unsightly seam running down the right hand side. Fortunately it is removable by pulling it out of the shoulder tabs.

motucdar4

The result not only frees the figure from a lot of unwanted bulk, but also lets you get a good look at all the beautiful detail on the back of the figure. Look at the individually painted straps and buckles on his leg armor. Check out all the work that went into the back of his vest. Why hide all that great stuff with an ugly blob of a cape?

motucdar5

motucdar6

The head sculpt here is absolutely fantastic. The facial features are very pronounced and he has a slight snarl that gives him loads of personality. The detail work in the beard and hair is great as well. Yeah, my figure has a few stray marks of the brown paint they used for the hair, but I just consider it dirt from the battlefield, or whatever. This is undoubtedly one of my favorite portraits in the entire line.

motucdar7

motucdar8

motucdar9

To protect that wonderful noggin, Darius comes with a removable helmet, something we haven’t seen a lot of the line. In fact, this may be a first, unless you count Flogg. It fits beautifully on the figure.

motucdar10

motucdar11

I wish I could tell you that Darius comes with some suitably amazing accessories, but the sad truth is that his shield and weapon are both disappointing. The shield is just a weird shape with virtually no detail. And the weapon is… well, I guess it’s some kind of flail, but it just looks ridiculous. It reminds me of an Aspergillum, which is a word I only know because I was raised Catholic and it’s a kind of mace that was used to spritz holy water on crowds of people. And a warm welcome, to all you bewildered folks who find themselves reading a Masters of the Universe action figure review because you googled Aspergillum and it brought you here! Anyway, I presume Darius’ ball is designed more for bashing in heads than it is blessing people. Either way, I just don’t like it at all.

motucdar12

motucdar13

It’s a shame to end this Feature on a downer due to some shitty accessories, because Darius really is a great figure. I was not looking forward to this guy, and even when he arrived, I had little interest and tossed him aside. Once I got him open and in hand, however, I found a lot to appreciate.  I won’t lie, though. I’m really getting to the point with this line where I’m saying, “Wow, I paid like $37 for this guy if you factor in the shipping.” My conception of any kind of value in this line is beginning to wear thin, and I find myself becoming more comfortable with the fact that the end is drawing near. At the same time, I know there are some amazing figures yet to come!

Marvel Legends (Absorbing Man Wave): Beetle by Hasbro

I’m right at the halfway mark in my jaunt through the Marvel Legends Absorbing Man Wave. Last Monday, I checked out, Speed Demon, the first of the two baddies from the “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” book. Today, I’m opening up the other half of that slot, Janice Lincoln, aka Beetle!

marvbeet1

Beetle shares the exact same package layout as Speed Demon with her name only appearing on the back and “Superior Foes of Spider-Man” on the front. The box is branded with the “Spider-Man” logo and the spider emblem on the top flap. This is, of course, the third person to don the alter ego of Beetle and the most recent to appear in the funnybooks.

marvbeet2

marvbeet3

marvbeet4

I was expecting a new head and a straight repaint of Ms. Janet Van Dyne from last year’s Ultron Wave and I was only partially right. The arms, legs, and wings are all from the same mold, but surprisingly the torso has been redone to include fresh sculpting for her corset, top and shoulder straps, as well as the flares at her thighs. Hasbro could have easily gotten away without any of this new sculpting, so I’ll give them kudos on going that extra mile, especially for a character like Beetle. The portrait is simple but very well done.

marvbeet9

Also simple, but excellent is the paintwork here. The entire deco consists of her metallic purple costume and green “skin” with only her two yellow eyes to break up the palate. The paint itself looks great and the lines are sharp and clean with no virtually slop to be found. The coloring is capped off by a brilliant translucent purple cast of the wings. All this adds up to a rather striking figure.

marvbeet6

marvbeet8

marvbeet5

If you own the modern Legends Wasp figure than you’ll know what to expect from Beetle’s articulation. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, ball joints in the hips, double hinges in the knees, hinges in the ankles, a ball joint under the chest and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. The wings connect to the body with rotating hinges and the lower wings are hinged as well. There are no mushy joints here and she is lots of fun to pose.

marvbeet10

marvbeet11

marvbeet12

marvbeet13

I was expecting a phoned-in figure, but the fact that Beetle features some actual new sculpting is a nice surprise. The paint quality is great, I like the colors, and while the recycled wings are rather conspicuous, I still think this is a solid figure and another fine addition to my growing collection of Marvel baddies.

Strike Witches: Charlotte Yeager 1/8 Scale Figure by Furyu

It’s been a bitch of a work week for me, but now it’s Saturday and that means I get to open another anime figure! Today I’m trying to mix up the nearly unending flood of Kantai Collection with some Strike Witches. Because what’s better than a bunch of chicks with warship parts stuck to them? A bunch of magical chicks with animal and fighter plane parts stuck to them! OK, not really better, but still plenty cool! There’s a fair number of companies that have done Strike Witches merch, but today I’m checking out Charlotte Yeager from Furyu.

char2

The packaging is pretty typical for this kind of thing. You get a window on the front and top panels and shots of the figure on the side panels. I particularly enjoy the 501st Joint Fighter Wing / Strike Witches insignia on the bottom. Alas, my box is really beat to hell. Apparently good packing is a trade off for bottom feeding on the price. But, so long as it’s authentic and not a bootleg, I don’t care. Charlotte comes between two plastic trays and there is a little bit of assembly required on the base as well as putting her Browning Auto Rifle in her hand. I’ll confess, I was pretty surprised at the size of the box and figure when I got her. At $23, I wasn’t expecting a full 1/8 Scale figure of this quality.

char

charyeag1

charyeag2

charyeag3

And what a beauty she is! Shirley dons her brown jacket, green tie, and very little else besides her Striker Unit, which is based on the P51D Mustang. She poses proudly with her left hand on her hip, her Browning Auto Rifle resting on her right shoulder and her chest puffed out. Little details like her belt buckle, the wings pinned on her chest, are nice touches. The girls of the 501st don’t believe in pants, which helps facilitate the copious amounts of fanservice shots that pepper every episode. I’d suggest a drinking game based around that, but it would probably kill me, and I ain’t no lightweight when it comes to booze! The M1918 BAR is a separate piece that fits in her hand. It’s not easy to get in there, so I doubt I’ll be taking it out again. It is a nicely sculpted and painted piece, but the barrel is made of pretty soft plastic that is prone to warping.

charyeag10

charyeag7

Her portrait is solid, although the skin tone on her face and elsewhere is a little pale and flat. It just doesn’t have that soft and realistic skin coloring that I see on a lot of better statues. She does have perfectly printed eyes and a cute little smile. I think they did a very nice job on her hair, which blows off to her side, and is, of course, topped off by her rabbit ears. I never did quite understand why she doesn’t sport a little cotton tail instead of the rather long bushy one she has, but to be honest, I’m willing to suspend a lot of my questions while watching an anime like this one.

charyeag9

The paint on the upper body isn’t terrible, but there are a few flubs here and there. There’s an obvious spot on a couple of her blowing strands of hair, the necktie could be a little sharper, and there’s a little bit of spray here and there on her jacket. These things would be unacceptable on a higher end piece, and to be fair companies like Taito and SEGA can pull off better paint at this price point, but I’m still really picking at things.

charyeag5

charyeag6

Down below, the Striker Unit mostly impresses with sculpted and painted panel lines and rotating propellers. In fact, there’s only one area where the paint lets me down and that’s the black and white stripes on her left knee area. They’re notably fuzzier than the ones on the right. Other than that I love what they did here. The silver paint looks particularly nice and shiny and the registry numbers and star emblems are sharp, as is the yellow and orange deco near the props. I like the fact that they went with actual propellers, rather than the clear discs to make it look like they’re spinning fast. I just prefer it this way. The base is clear plastic and designed to hold the figure and be noticed as little as possible. The simple disc cradles the left tip of her Striker Unit in a little cup while an arm holds the inner leg. It works well and allows the figure to be removed and held fairly easily.

charyeag8

While there are a few areas for improvement here and there, it’s hard to complain when you’re talking about a fully scaled 9-inch figure for under twenty-five bucks. And as far as the few areas of problem paint, well that could admittedly just be on my piece. It’s not like I can go into a store and scrutinize three or four different ones and choose the one with the best paint. The truth is this is a great looking piece and she has definitely encouraged me to continue collecting this line. I don’t have the budget right now to be hunting down the Bandai or Figmas of these characters, but Furyu’s line will do quite nicely.

Cover Girls of the DC Universe: Katana by DC Collectibles

It’s Friday! Let’s check out some DC Comics stuff! This week I’m staying on with the Cover Girls statues line and opening up one of the more recent releases, Katana! She’s a cool character, who I believe is going to be getting a lot more merch in the days ahead, so long as the Suicide Squad movie performs well. This version is from the recently defunct New 52 continuity, which is appropriate, as that was where she got her first solo book. I also rather enjoyed her time in Birds of Prey.

covgkat10

There’s not much new to say about the box. With nearly a dozen of these statues on my shelf, I’ve showcased the packaging quite a bit and not much has changed. Katana comes in an enclosed red and white box with various shots of the statue and some teasers of what’s coming up or also available on the back panel. The statue is wrapped in plastic and encased between two pieces of styrofoam. The only assembly required is to peg Katana’s feet into the base and they fit in quite easily.

covgkat1

covgkat2

The Cover Girls line has been a hearty mix of museum-style poses along with some hints of action and on that scale of things Katana comes close to going for all out action. She stands with feet apart and her sword, Soultaker, drawn up to her shoulder and ready to strike. And yet, it still passes for something like a staged shot and I don’t think it goes too far off point. She still looks perfectly at home when displayed with her fellow Cover Girls. Besides, this is a pose that really conveys so much of Katana’s character, and so in terms of composition, I’d say she’s damn near perfect.

covgkat3

covgkat4

The costume features her New 52 armored body suit that looks great without the need for a whole lot of sculpted detail and does it’s best to show off her lovely curves. You do get panel lines running throughout and a cool and consistent metallic charcoal paint that meshes beautifully with the rich matte crimson on her lower leg armor and the quilted sleeve on her right arm. The body suit also features some exposed ribbed black areas in the joints and down the spine, presumably to give her more flexibility. Her scabbard hangs off her back and you also get some sculpted pouches on the small of her back. While the paint scheme and overall sculpt are fairly simple here, everything looks exceptionally clean and this is arguable the best paint I’ve seen in the line to date.

covgkat5

covgkat7

All that praise applies to the head sculpt as well. The beautifully sculpted portrait is two-tone with the lower face painted in matte gray, just a tad slighter than the suit, and the top half in white with the Rising Sun on her forehead. Her blue eyes are sharp and straight and her short hair ruffles ever so slightly in an imagined breeze. I love how her expression offers just a hint of joyful anticipation at the fight that’s about to come.

covgkat6

covgkat8

Katana’s sword looks good, although the sculpt for the hilt is a little on the soft side. Hey, I’m really looking for things to complain about and that’s the best that I can come up with. The blade is straight and while I’m going to be sure and be careful with it, it doesn’t feel overly fragile.

covgkat9

covgkat12

The base consists of the now standard oval with a charcoal and crimson deco to match Katana’s costume. The emblem on the sides consists of a simple red disc suggestive of the Rising Sun. The limitation is hand numbered on the bottom of the base, with mine being 561 of 5,200 statues produced. I think this may be the lowest number Cover Girl I own.

covgkat11

Katana is a wonderful addition to my Cover Girls shelf and definitely a triumph for this line. What’s even better is at the time I publish this Feature, she’s readily available at a few online retailers at close to half the original MSRP. I picked up mine for $55, and damn was that a steal! Considering that DCC has already started doing second versions of some of the gals in this line (Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman) it’s nice to see that they’re also hitting on some of the less high-profile characters like Katana here. She’s a great release for the line and a worthy pick up for folks who just love the character.

 

Transformers Combiner Wars: Groove (Deluxe Class) by Hasbro

LAST TIME ON THE TRANSFORMERS… “The Protectobots are dispatched from Cybertron and arrive on Earth to aid the Autobots in their never-ending war against the eeeeevil Decepticons!”

dxgrov1

Prime: “Welcome, comrades. It’s good to see you all aga… Wait…”

dxgrov2

Prime: “Who the hell are you?”

Groove: “It’s me, Prime! I’m Groove!”

dxgrov3

Prime: “The hell you are!” 

dxgrov4

*CRUNCH!*

dxgrov5

Prime: “Ahhhh, There’s Groove! Help me get him out of his stasis pod!

Blades: “Holy Primus! It’s like the Alpha Bravo incident all over again!”

Prime: “What was that?”

Blades: “Nothing! I didn’t say anything!”

Yup, better late than never! The Deluxe Class Groove that made his debut in Japan has finally come Stateside, so we can all finally throw away our Legends Class Grooves or awkwardly keep him as part of the team as Mini-Groove. Although, Deluxe Groove is still pretty tough to find at a reasonable price. He turns up on Amazon every now and again for retail and quickly sells out. Me? I paid $25 for him. A lot of dough for a Deluxe, but it was an amount I was comfortable paying in order to get him and be done with it. Besides, it’s only a couple of bucks more than if I bought him at one of those swanky rich folks Toys R Us stores where they jack up the prices 20% based on the surrounding demographics. The packaging is typical Combiner Wars fare, although for some reason they showcase him combining with Sky Lynx rather than Hot Spot and the rest of the team. I’ve been waiting a while for this guy, so let’s get him open and check him out!

dxgrov20

dxgrov22

Motorcycle Transformers… don’t get me started! The modern Transformers aesthetics have allowed a finer balance between alt mode and robot when it comes to these two-wheeled convertobots, but if you’re shooting for a robot mode that’s a little more boxy to match the glory days of the Transformers, you’ve got to sacrifice a little in the alt mode to get the job done. Groove’s motorcycle mode does that and I think it’s just enough to get the job done. I can point out all sorts of nitpicks about this mode. The hands are obvious, the windshield is so undersized that it would be useless, and the overall body is pretty big and boxy. But you know what? I don’t care about any of those things. This is an overall solid motorcycle that does what it needs to do in order to get me Groove as a limb for Defensor.

dxgrov21

The deco is pretty simple with a whole lot of white, some black, and a little bit of gold and silver. The white plastic they used on this guy looks outstanding. It’s very bright and crisp and has a nice quality feel to it. You get a bright blue translucent windshield with an Autobot emblem stamped on it and some sharp looking translucent red lights on the front. “POLICE” is printed on both sides near the back of the seat. I really dig the way the guns attach to the lower back of the bike to form exhaust pipes. They also have translucent red lights as well. The alt mode is rounded out by a little kickstand that folds down to hold the bike upright. Transforming Groove is fairly straight forward and makes use of some common Combiner Wars engineering, like the way the legs extend out and retract back into themselves.

dxgrov15

The result is a super solid robot mode that uses a lot of the design tropes we’ve seen in the Combiner Wars Deluxes, but also introduces enough new stuff to make this figure feel almost fresh. Yup, you still get the hinged combiner port exposed in the chest. That’s something that bothered me a lot when this line debuted, but I’ve mellowed on it a lot and now I don’t really mind it at all. The overall design is a beautiful blend of boxy G1 with modern streamlining. The rear wheel splits in half to preserve symmetry on his legs and the silver engine parts look great as his arms. The mostly white and black deco adds a lot more gold to the mix.

dxgrov16

From the back, Groove wears the front assembly of the bike as a backpack. It’s bulky, but it’s also fine by me. Much the way the Aerialbots wear most of a jet on their backs, this is something that I just find endearing.

dxgrov11

Groove’s head sculpt is packed with personality. Although, I’ve got to be honest, I don’t remember a lot about the personalities of the G1 Protectobots. There wasn’t a lot of it in the cartoon to really imprint on me at a young age. I’m getting a major Beast Wars Dinobot vibe off this guy, but flipping back through some of my Marvel comics shows a pretty good likeness to the comic art.  He does looks like a cop that you do not want to be pulled over by. Still, I’m maybe just a little disappointed that Hasbro didn’t opt to give him a motorcycle cop porn ‘stache. Oh yeah… he’s also got some epic light piping.

dxgrov18

dxgrov12

Articulation is what you would expect out of the Combiner Wars limbs and that means a nice assortment of ball joints and hinges. These may be very simple Deluxe figures when it comes to the transformation engineering, but I think that makes them a lot more fun to play with in robot mode. Groove is solid, sturdy and fun to pose.

dxgrov14

Of course, we already got a peek at his weapons on his alt mode. They are twin guns, which make him the second best armed Protectobot next to Hotspot. OK, maybe if you count Blades’ arm rockets he could be in the running too. These are great looking weapons and the translucent red lights on the tops make them look all the more distinctive.

dxgrov17

dxgrov10

dxgrov19

dxgrov23

dxgrov24

You know,  I started getting some major Combiner Wars fatigue when Hasbro started putting out the limbs based on the G1 Autobot cars. That and my decision to wait for Takara’s Combaticons meant that I’ve been sitting out this line for the last few waves. But that shouldn’t come as any kind of  indictment against Combiner Wars as a whole. I’ve really enjoyed this line a lot and Groove here has reminded me of that. He’s a great figure and well worth the extra ten bucks or so that I had to kick in to get him. Also, I was just kidding about tossing away Legends Groove earlier on. He’s still a fine little figure for my Legends collection. I just don’t have a place for him in my Defensor. Wait? What’s that? Did I forget something?

dxgrov8

dxgrov7

dxgrov6

Awww, yeah. As with all the Combiner Wars figures, Groove is capable of forming a leg or an arm, but screw that. He’ll always be a right leg in my Protectobot gestalt. And a damn fine leg he is. While I appreciate the whole “Scramble City” flexibility, I’m set in my ways and I like to stick with my favorite configurations. In this case, it’s Groove and Streetwise as the legs and Blades and First Aid as the arms. Don’t get me wrong, Rook is a fantastic figure and he made for a serviceable limb, but it just ain’t the same without Groove in there. Getting him into the mix really elevates Defensor even further in my esteem and he comes close to rivaling the Superion as my current favorite Combiner Wars gestalt.

dxgrov9

Indeed, even in their individual bot modes, these guys are absolute aces in my book. Now bring on Unite Warriors Bruticus!!!

Mythic Legions: Gorgo Aetherblade by The Four Horsemen

In case you missed last week’s memo, Wednesdays are going to be all about Mythic Legions figures for the foreseeable future. I have a lot of figures to get through and by the time I’m close to getting through all of them, I’m hoping my additional pre-orders will be shipping. My first venture into the line featured the lead hero, Sir Gideon Heavensbrand, so it seemed only right to go to the lead villain next, Gorgo Aetherblade!

gorg7

I’ve said most of what I need to say about the packaging last time, so we’ll just take a quick look. It’s collector friendly and most of the accessories come baggied behind the tray. The cards are generic, but there’s an insert with a little profile about the characters on the bottom right panel of the bubble. It’s worth noting that the trays are not designed to hold the figures with their shoulder armor on, which becomes annoying for caped figures like Gorgo if you want to keep putting them back into the package when you’re done with him. For the time being, I’m keeping these packages, but they may eventually suffer a purge when I get tired of them taking up space.

gorg3

DSCN8144

Gorgo has a full suit of plate armor and uses the same arms and legs as Sir Gideon, but his drastically different deco hides it well. This dude is dark and sinister and invokes a feeling of intimidation and instant dread. The armor is black with some gorgeous red and gold accents. The paint on this guy is absolutely luxurious. From the detailed border work down to the tiny rivets, everything is crisp and clean. As mentioned, he comes without his shoulders attached, and while he looks totally complete without them in place, they do add a lot of impressive bulk and also allow for him to don his cape.

DSCN8145

gorg2

As with all the figures in this line, the shoulders peg into the holes in the back. In this case, you take the cape and fold the edges so the holes each match up with the respective shoulder peg before popping them on. It took me a while to figure out exactly how the capes on these figures work. They have a natural, narrow profile, but can be puffed out with a little futzing. Gorgo’s is a nice, soft red cloth, which definitely adds to the majesty of the figure.

gorg5

gorg6

Gorgo’s head is nested in the center of a copious neck guard, which makes him a lot less susceptible to having his noggin lobbed off. The helmet features some beautiful contours, which curve in at the cheeks and give his diagonal eye slits a more prominent and sinister feel. You also get more of the same beautiful gold, red, and black deco on display. In fact, the only part of the figure that deviates from this color palate are the realistic looking antlers, which protrude from the sides of his helmet. As with Gideon’s wings, these are not only articulated, but also removable and can be swapped out with the side elements from any of the other helmets in the line.

gorg1

DSCN8150

The articulation for Mythic Legions is mostly uniform across the board, so what we get here is identical to Sir Gideon. That includes rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles, as well as ample rockers in the ankles to steady him for those wide stances. The waist is ball jointed, as is the neck. The neck guard is soft plastic and is designed to shift if need be to accommodate the neck movement. You can get some lovely wide stances and rather dramatic action poses with these guys, despite the complex and heavy look of the armor. And once again, if there’s a joint, the figure can be easily disassembled at that joint for mix-and-match customization.

DSCN8149

DSCN8148

DSCN8147

Gorgo doesn’t come with as wide an assortment of goodies as Sir Gideon, which is a little odd seeing as he was the other Backer Reward offering at the $45 level. Still, you do get some cool stuff with him. For starters, he comes with his sword and shield. The sword features an elongated grip and a leaf-type blade that swells a little toward the point. The hilt is painted black and red to match his armor and the blade features some nice silver metallic paint. Both the blade and cross guard give it a very Tolkien look to me, which is something I dig a lot. The shield is the same basic accessory that came with Gideon only with a new coat of arms painted on it. It clips onto the figure’s wrist and the clip can pivot 360-degrees.

DSCN8154

DSCN8156

DSCN8157

Gorgo’s other weapon is his his giant axe. This can be configured with either a single or double-sided blade. It has some black and red to match his armor motif, but also introduces silver to brighten up his arsenal. There’s something about the coloring on this weapon that makes it look a little too modern for my taste. It just strikes me as something you might see in a sci-fi flick. It’s OK, but we’ll see this axe again several times bundled with other figures, and with decos that I like a lot more.

DSCN8153

DSCN8161

DSCN8159

DSCN8160

Lord Aetherblade makes a fantastic adversary for Gideon and is a remarkably striking figure. The recycled parts feel appropriate and are especially well concealed by the dynamic new paint scheme. This is exactly the kind of dude I could be caught doodling on my Trapper Keeper back in Middle School while day-dreaming about getting out of class and playing some Dungeons & Dragons. And it’s nice to see that Sir Gideon wasn’t a one-hit-wonder when it comes to the high quality of these figures. Gorgo just feels fantastic in hand and he’s super fun to play with and pose. While my faith in this line was never really in question, now that I’ve had some serious time to play around with the two main characters, I can already tell that I’m in love with what these figures have to offer. Next Wednesday, I’ll take a break from the knights and check out one of the Skeletons!

Marvel Gallery: Captain Marvel Statue by Diamond Select

I know, Marvel Monday was yesterday, but Mondays are going to be tied up with Legends figures for a long while now, so the Marvel goodness will be spilling out into other days now and then. Today I’m looking at Diamond’s first Marvel Gallery statue, which is, for all intents and purposes, a Femme Fatales statue by another name as she fits in at the exact same 9-inch scale and sits at the same price point. It’s my understanding that DST changed the name of the Marvel series because they will be incorporating dudes into this line. Fair enough!

mgalmav1

mgalmav2

Despite the name change, the box is right in line with what we’ve been seeing out of DST’s Femme Fatales statues. You get the same four panels of windows to show off the statue inside and a deco that is personalized for the character. If anything this box feels just ever so slightly more premium with some nicer coloring and a spiffy satin finish to the art. The statue comes between two clear plastic trays and there’s no assembly required. She’s ready to go right out of the box.

mgalmav3

mgalmav4

This statue looked amazing in the promo pics and I’m happy to say all that goodness transferred to the final product. In hand, the statue looks quite striking for such a relatively low end piece. I’m especially fond of the pose they went with here that has Carol levitating, one knee bent and her arms gently out to her sides. It’s a very graceful look and while far from an action pose, it still manages to convey a little bit of energy and majesty to a gal who has become one of my favorite modern Marvel characters.

mgalmav5

mgalmav6

There’s a fair amount of sculpting involved in the costume. In fact, none of the detail is conveyed by paint alone. Instead, you get some great details like the brass buttons running up the sides of her boots and gloves, the sash tied around her waist and secured with a medallion, and especially the starburst symbol on her chest. Even her gloves have subtle stitching lines running throughout. Add all those little flourishes to her beautiful curves, and you’ve got quite an eye catching display piece. Carol proves that you don’t have to show a lot of skin to be a drop-dead sexy superhero. She’s class!

mgalmav7

mgalmav8

The paint quality in the Femme Fatales line has been overall solid, but I’ve seen it falter every now and then, mostly on a couple of the DC Animated pieces. I’m happy to say, the paint is quite good on Carol’s costume. The shades of red and blue are vivid and smooth and contrast beautifully with the bright gold paint. There’s really no slop to speak of and the lines are clean thanks in part to the way they are integrated into the sculpt.

mgalmav14

Did I mention she has a nice bum? She has a very nice bum. The figure does feature some seaming from where it was assembled. You can see these in the shoulders and again around the right leg where it meets the aforementioned very nice bum. We don’t tend to see these in a lot of higher end pieces, so they may prove to be distracting for some. Considering the low price point here, I don’t mind them much here, especially since it mainly looks like the sort of cuts you would get in action figure articulation.

mgalmav10

mgalmav11

The portrait sculpt is excellent. I’m particularly pleased with the way the hair came out. It’s wonderfully detailed and has a little bit of glitter in the paint that makes for a rather interesting effect. That having been said, the eye makeup is a bit much for me. The look to the eyes leans a little more toward the Dexter Soy art than it does the David Lopez run, but it doesn’t quite match either exactly. That having been said, I think what I’m seeing is more an artistic choice than a comment about the quality of the paint. I think she looks absolutely fantastic when viewed from straight on, but there’s something a little off when she’s in profile.

mgalmav13

mgalmav9

The base is a jagged burst of energy with a gradient orange and red paint that gives it a rather brilliant and almost luminescent effect. In the right lighting it almost looks like it’s glowing. It does a nice job supporting the figure and I like that her lower foot is still suspended just slightly above it to give her that levitating effect.

mgalmav12

I’ve been a champion and collector of DST’s Femme Fatales line long before it started dipping into the mainstream comics, and I’ll happily categorize Captain Marvel as another win for this line. Or, if you want to get technical, a very nice debut for the Marvel Gallery line. I was looking forward to getting this one ever since she was first solicited and so I had her pre-ordered at the MSRP of $40, which is actually just a wee bit less expensive than what the DC Animated statues are being released at. On the other hand, if Marvel Gallery is anything like Femme Fatales, e-tailers seem to be rather competitive when pricing these statues, so shopping around for a deal may be worthwhile. Captain Marvel has already been follwed by Jane Foster Thor, which I’m still on the fence over because I’m not enamored with the sculpt. On the other hand, Spider-Gwen should be out next month, and I’ve already got both the regular and SDCC versions of her on pre-order!

Marvel Legends (Absorbing Man Wave): Speed Demon by Hasbro

Greetings Toyhounds, and welcome back to another Marvel Monday, wherein I attempt to soothe the sting of Monday’s misery by opening another Marvel Legends figure. Today puts me three figures into the Absorbing Man Wave. Morbius and Jack O’Lantern were excellent, and today we’re moving on with yet another baddie, Speed Demon! 

sdemon1

Speed Demon shares a spot with Beetle as the “Superior Foes of Spider-Man.” While the names of these shared slots are usually just schlock, in this case we actually get characters drawn from the book of the same name, which is something that I dig a lot. And it’s nice to see that Hasbro didn’t release him under his other alias, The Whizzer, because that just sounds like someone who likes to urinate in public places. A villainous act? Yes, but hardly worth the attention of Spidey or The Avengers? Anyway, Squadron Supreme, Sinister Six, even sometime member of The Thunderbolts, James Sanders has a pretty rock solid resume. Did I mention he comes with Silvermane’s head on a toy car? Hell,  yeah! Let’s open these guy’s up!

sdemon3

I’m usually terrible about recognizing and identifying the re-used bucks on these figures, but this one jumped out right away as the one used for Superior Spider-Man. It might just be because I love that figure and play around with it a lot. Either way, it’s a good choice for a speedster. as it’s quite lean and very well articulated. The only point of contention I would have are the rather flat feet. But hey… fists!

sdemon4

As expected, Speed Demon’s costume is achieved entirely through paintwork. He has a pleasing red and dark blue deco with some gold stripes and lightning bolts. The paint quality is sharp and clean, and yeah, we still get those annoying white production numbers on the back of the leg.

sdemon11

Hasbro clearly has a good time with their villain head sculpts. They seem to always be brimming with personality, and that’s certainly the case here. Speed Demon sports a cheesy grin as well as his red goggles. The facial features are a little on the soft side, but still a solid effort.

sdemon7

sdemon6

sdemon5

Articulation here is a little better than your average Legends figure, thanks to the additional lateral hinges in the shoulders. Otherwise, you get rotating hinges in the shoulders, and wrists, double hinges in the elbows and knees, and swivels in the biceps and thighs. The ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a waist swivel and an ab crunch hinge. The neck is both ball jointed and hinged. Speed Demon’s hinges are all nice and tight and even feature some ratcheting.

sdemon8

An addition to Mr. Creel’s torso, Speed Demon comes with a pair of flat hands for running, which definitely takes a page from the last couple of DC’s Flash figures I’ve picked up. These seem to have become must-have extras included with speedsters. And of course you get this…

sdemon13

sdemon9

Silvermane’s head mounted on an RC Car as a direct nod to Superior Foes of Spider-Man #3. I don’t think I could adequately put into words how much I adore this thing or how much quirky love it shows on Hasbro’s part for including it. It features a fully realized head sculpt of Silvermane mounted on a ball joint and he looks suitably angry to be suffering such a humiliation. It’s a great sculpt, although mine has a few stray bits of paint on the forehead, which is all the more infuriating for Silvermane, since he can’t wipe himself off! The car itself is just a static piece of plastic, the wheels don’t roll and the antenna pulls out a little too easily, but I’m not going to hold any of that against it. In fact, it really makes me realize how badly I’d dig getting a proper Silvermane in that bitchin’ android body of his.

sdemon10

sdemon12

I have a feeling that in terms of character selection, Speed Demon may be low on a lot of collectors’ lists, but I’m very happy to have him. He’s a solid character with a rich history and I am in love with the idea that Hasbro would take a specific book and use it to fill one of these rotating slots. Indeed, it’s made me rather excited to check out Beetle next Monday and I’ve also gone back to the Ultimate Goblin Wave to pick up that Boomerang that I missed. While I’ll admit he isn’t as exciting to look at as Morbius or Jack O’Lantern, I’m still scoring him in the plus column, currently giving this assortment a score of three out of three.