Justice League War (DC Animated Movie Series): Shazam by DC Collectibles

It’s DC Friday again, and I’m almost to the point where I’m caught up on opening my backlog of DC figures. It’s possible that I might start switching up Friday content a bit in the future, but I’m hoping it won’t come to that. I’ve got the rest of August and part of September covered, and by then, I’m hoping some new stuff will start rolling in. Today, I’m looking at my last figure from the Justice League War animated film, Shazam!

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Here’s the obligatory shot of the packaging, or at least the best one I could salvage after my cat hit the table while I was taking it and I didn’t realize the picture was wrecked before I tore open the package. Whoops! Again, it’s clean and simple, and it shows the figure off beautifully. There are some stills from the movie printed on the card behind the figure, and some shots of other figures in the series on the back of the card. It’s not at all collector friendly, so let’s rip this sucker open and see what we’ve got!

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Because of the animated style, this line focuses more on paint than individual sculpts. Indeed, Shazam here is a repaint of the Superman body, and that’s a good choice that works well. The costume is mostly deep red with gold paint for the boots, belt, wrist bracers, and some gold and yellow for his chest emblem. Overall the paint is neatly applied, although there are some areas, particularly around the cape’s trim, which could have been sharper.
The cape is the only newly sculpted piece for the costume. It’s fairly light and very pliable, but it still makes him a little back heavy. The hood is sculpted down, which is the way I prefer it. I have passed on at least a couple of Shazam figures because the cape was permanently up.

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The head sculpt is one of the better ones in this line. Yes, that’s a loaded compliment. Superman’s sculpt was a lumpy mess, Green Lantern’s was a painted nightmare, the rest have been OK. I think they did a pretty good job capturing the animated style in this portrait and the paint is fairly clean. There are, however, a couple of stray marks on his bottom lip that unfortunately look like cold sores. Hopefully them old wizards have a cure for herpes!

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The articulation has been a standard in all the male bucks of this line. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, swivels in the biceps and wrists, ball joints in the hips and neck, and hinges in the knees. There’s no articulation in the torso at all. These are not highly pose-able figures, but I’d still rank them as better than most of the releases from the dark days of DC Direct’s premier lines, where nothing but t-crotches and swivel cuts were the order of the day. Still, there’s only so much you can do with him, hence the limited number of shots I used for this Feature.

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By now, you all know that this line has been hit and miss for me. Shazam was the last one I have to open, and seeing as he’s one of the better ones, so I’m happy to ending my look at this series on a positive note. If I ever stumble across The Flash at a decent price, I’d probably grab him to complete the Justice League War set, but otherwise it’s safe to say I’m finished with these. Even though I picked up all of these for ten bucks a pop, my hindsight is telling me I should have passed on them. At a time when I’m trying to tighten up my collecting habits, the amount I spent on these figures could have paid for a Cover Girls statue I needed, or even one of Mezco’s upcoming One:12 Collective releases.

 

Transformers Titans Return: Hyperfire & Blurr by Hasbro

It’s hard to believe Combiner Wars has come and gone already, eh? No, actually it’s not. While I enjoyed the line quite a bit, seeing those same molds over and over was beginning to wear out its welcome. Thankfully, we have a brand new line coming in, and like Combiner Wars, I’m happy to say that it is slavishly beholden to Generation 1. I hope you like Headmasters, because that is indeed the main gimmick of Titans Return. I know, these figures are old news to a lot of people, but they’re still hard to find in my area and I’m quite excited to be looking at my first one. So I’ll warn you ahead of time I’m going to talk about this figure a lot.

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Alas, the packaging hasn’t changed all that much. It’s still mostly black with Transformers running vertically up the side. This overall design grew on me a little over the last year or so, but I was hoping for a change up. It still bears the Generations insignia in the upper right hand corner and the cards still feature character specific art at the top. Unfortunately, the art here is not really grabbing me. I appreciate that it’s emphasizing the Headmaster gimmick, but it just looks goofy to me. Also, the fact that I have to title these Features with the Headmaster’s name first like the actual figure is an afterthought is going to irk me every time. In the end, I’ve never even been tempted to keep carded Transformers packaging, so it’s not a big deal to me. Into the rubbish bin with you, foul packaging! OK, let’s start with the alt mode…

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Hey, did I mention it’s Blurr? I love Blurr! Always have. He was one of my favorite characters from the movie and post-movie season of the Sunbow series. This is about as close to G1 Blurr as we’ve had in forever and it’s making me very happy. The vehicle is a beautiful homage to the G1 toy right down to the engine/exhaust/fin thing on the back and the gap behind the cockpit. It holds together tightly, rolls along fine, and the robot mode’s gun mounts under the nose of the car. As far as alt modes go, this one is simple, you can kind of see what’s going to happen with the transformation, and all that is just fine with me. I adore this.

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The coloring is solid as well. The bulk of the car is cast in an ever so slightly metallic blue plastic. You get some gray, as well as a little minty blue all of which conspire to replicate those instantly recognizable colors from the G1 toy. The brilliant silver paint used for the gun is easily the stand out attraction here. An Autobot emblem on the hood and a translucent blue tinted cockpit helps seal the deal.

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Blurr’s little chum is Hyperfire, which is a name that sounds more suited to a Targetmaster than even the name of G1 Blurr’s Targetmaster, Haywire. As a kid buying toys, I was already growing out of Transformers by the time the Headmasters hit. I enjoy the gimmick now, but I think I would have been confused by it back then. I didn’t want to worry about how that whole symbiosis worked and who’s personality was who’s. I just wanted robots that changed into stuff and fired lasers at each other. Anyway, my rambling should tell you that I don’t have a whole lot to say about this little guy. He’s cool for what he is: A very tiny robot that turns into a head and can also ride in Blurr’s alt mode. His legs are fused together, but they can bend together at the hips and knees. His shoulders are jointed, and since his little head is also the connection to the robot, it is also articulated. Hasbro made a valiant effort at painting this tiny guy, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s got a giant screw right in the middle of his chest.

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Hyperfire can indeed sit comfortably in Blurr’s car mode and the cockpit closes perfectly. I would dare say that my favorite thing about the Headmaster gimmick is having these little guys to interact with the vehicles. Speaking of which, those pegs beside the cockpit are there so you can attach more Headmaster riders via the peg holes in their tiny feet. Oh yes, Blurr also has a second alt mode, and to show it off, I’m bringing in one of the individually packed Headmasters, Nightbeat.

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You basically take the hood section, flip it upside down and peg it into the side to form an outrigger with a cannon. This is not the most clever of designs, but I have to say, I love this concept probably more than it deserves. Something about this just reminds me of the old Micronauts toys, where you could pull pieces off of them and remake them into different things. Blurr’s sidecar doesn’t quite measure up to that level of complexity, but I really appreciate what they did here in terms of added play value. Well, enough of the alt modes… can Blurr’s robot mode live up the same level of ungodly G1 goodness?

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Yes it can. There isn’t a whole lot to transforming Blurr, but damn do I dig the results. Like the alt mode, this robot mode just pulls at all the right nostalgia strings for me. This figure is as Blurr a Blurr as we’ve had in the modern era and I am in love with him. A lot of early reports have scared me about how loose the joints on these figures feel, but I’m fortunate that my Blurr has no such issues. He’s perfectly proportioned and there is an impressive amount of sculpted detail on him. But as complex as some of the detail is the overall feel of this figure is positively elegant in his simplicity.

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Unfortunately that simplicity follows through on his coloring, where it is less of a selling point. There’s precious little paint on this figure and in robot mode he shows a lot less variety than in his car mode. What’s here is good. I really like the way they painted the look of the original toy’s stickers above the feet. You also get a little of the lighter blue trim around the cockpit, but the bulk of that coloring winds up on his back and the backs of his forearms. Other than that, it’s just a whole lot of that metallic blue plastic. His deco (or lack there of) is not unattractive to me, but arguably on the bland side. It’s also worth noting that there is an obvious place on his lower chest intended for an Autobot insignia, but Hasbro didn’t bother printing it in there. That bugs me more than anything else, and I’ll likely wind up digging through my sheets of repro stickers to find one to put there.

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Blurr has a hood-shield similar to his G1 counterpart. I was never a fan of that design and I’m delighted to say that the piece on this figure can store on his back to fill out the torso a little more. The result is no obvious car-part shield and no extra part lying around. The silver gun can be held in either hand and goes a long way to spruce up the otherwise sameness of the coloring here.

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Like all Headmasters, Hyperfire just rolls up into a ball to form the head and it works just fine. The head sculpt is great. It’s undeniably the Blurr that I grew up with and the head stays together even when I manipulate it on the neck. For people who aren’t into the whole Headmaster thing, I don’t think the look of the head will be an issue, other than having to attach it after transformation.

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And yes, all Headmasters will work on this guy. I pulled out Nightbeat once again to illustrate. The idea of swapping heads is a big one in Titans Return, but not one that really interests me a lot. Heaving a Headmaster for Nightbeat doesn’t make me want to put it on Blurr, it makes me want to have a proper body for Nightbeat. And if there were such a body and the head was called Nightbeat, than why isn’t Blurr’s head called Blurr? See… this is exactly the sort of shit that would have fried my child brain if I had these way back when. Granted, I seem to recall that in the original concept, the Nebulons were bonded to specific robots, so this perverse practice of head-swapping wasn’t possible. Nonetheless, I bet this is fun for the kids and I’ll admit to already own eight of the individually packaged Headmasters, four Autobots and four Decepticons. I will eventually do a very quick Feature on them when I run out of the regular figures to talk about.

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You need only look at how long I droned on about a simple Deluxe Class figure, to know that I really love this toy. In fact, apart from the lack of paint apps in robot mode, I’d say he’s very nearly perfect to me and he’ll definitely be replacing that Blurr that was recycled from Drift a few years back. This is my new Classics/Generations Blurr and I find that he even scales fairly well with Classics Rodimus and most of the gang from the Generations line as well. He was a great choice for me to usher in this new line and I can already tell that I’m going to be into Titan Returns in a very deep way.

Mythic Legions: Vorgus Vermillius (The Blood Armor) by The Four Horsemen

It’s been one of those days, folks. Meetings ran long at work and here I am getting home late with content left undone. What can you do? It’s those long meetings that pay for toys! I was tempted to take the day off of bloggery, but it’s Mythic Legions Wednesday and I can’t let the day go un-celebrated, so I decided to look at a figure today that wouldn’t require a whole lot of time…

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Behold… Vorgus Vermillius and the ubiquitous in-package shot. Nope, there’s nothing new to say about the package. I will, however, do something I haven’t really done with these figures before and give a shout out to this guy’s bio, because it’s just so damn awesome. To make a long story short, the brutal vampyric Knight Lord Edgard got himself some kick ass enchanted armor, but it turned out to be a trap that slowly consumed the life force of its wearer. In that regard, this isn’t necessarily a figure of Lord Edgard, but rather The Vorgus Vermillius, or Blood Armor, that roams the land looking for new victims to wear it so it can be fueled by their goddamn souls. Holy crap, that’s metal! Let’s check him out…

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Does he look familiar? The reason this figure won’t take a lot of time is because he’s the closest I’ve come so far to looking at a straight repaint in this line. The Blood Armor is Gorgo Aetherblade, only with horns instead of antlers, and a diffent cape. The figure comes packaged with the shoulders off and the cape comes in a plastic baggie. The repaint is done mostly in one color and it is a very deep and rich red. So deep and rich that it looks brown under certain light. You do get some black wash as well, which adds a certain look of antiquity to the figure. I mentioned last time, when I looked at the Knight Legion Builders, how amazing these sculpts look even with simple paint jobs, and that’s the case here as well. I can still make out all of those beautifully sculpted details in his full suit of armor. As always the figure is modular in design and articulation is constant across the board in this line, so I’ll just refer you back to the Feature on Gorgo if you need to get up to speed. Now, stare into the grim face of death…

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Damn, he’s gorgeous! Normally, the shoulders are completely optional, but I can’t imagine displaying this guy without them. They add a lot of menace to his stature, and they’re also instrumental in attaching his black cape. The cape has holes cut in it that you pass the peg through to secure it and as with Gorgo’s red cape, this one really adds to the figure. Every Dread Lord needs a flowing black cape! And yes, you also get the now familiar brown belt, which can be worn on the waist or as a shoulder strap to carry his sword.

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Sword, you say? Yes, The Blood Armor comes with the usual array of killing instruments, all of which are repaints of weapons we’ve seen before. The sword is the same one we saw packed in with Gorgo, and several other figures since. It features a vaguely leaf-shaped blade, a two handed grip, and a stylish crossguard that really evokes the style of Tolkien weaponry for me. The blade is painted silver and the hilt is painted to match the armor itself.

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You also get a repaint of the same axe that was bundled with Gorgo. It’s painted in the same colors to match the sword and as we’ve seen before, it can be converted from a single-blade to a far more formidable looking double-bladed weapon.

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And finally, The Blood Armor comes with a spear. This spear has been recycled time and time again, but that’s not really a sticking point with me. Heh. Heh Heh. Ahem…

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Whatever you do, do not mistake my brevity today as any slight on this figure. The Vorgus Vermillius is another absolutely outstanding figure in the Mythic Legions line and one with a damn cool backstory too! Indeed, when I was picking out which figures to get while remaining in my budget, I expressly tried to avoid any that were close to straight repaints. And yet, this guy still wound up on my list. It was quite simply the amazing paint job on the already fantastic sculpt that sold me, and I’ve had no regrets since I have had him in hand. And let me tell you, there is no better reward after a long, hard day at work than to pour a tall Jameson and sit down to admire and write about a magnificent figure like this one.

Contra: Bill Rizer and Lance Bean by NECA

If you came of age in the 8-bit video game era than you already know what run-and-gun platforming perfection looks like. If you didn’t, than here’s a visual aid…

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That’s right, motherf’cking Contra on the Nintendo Entertainment System! It rocked hard than and it still does. It remains one of my go to games and I still play it frequently because the music is fantastic, the action is frantic, and it brings me back to simpler times when all you had to worry about was a jump button, a fire button, and not getting hit. Of course, that was easier said than done. I was already 16 when this cartridge blazed its way onto the NES. By then, I had a solid eight years of video gaming under my belt and I still had never played anything quite like it. It was tough as nails and the alternating perspective was a nifty trick for its time. This game was undoubtedly the shit, but we’re here to talk about toys, not video games, so let’s check this out…

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You’re looking at the packaging for Private Bill Rizer and Lance Bean in glorious action figure form, lovingly crafted by the fine folks at NECA toys. And let’s not forget Konami, who apparently licensed it out and then fought them every step of the way. They were so uncooperative and difficult to work with that NECA claims to have sworn off dealing with them ever again. Yup. Did you see those early shots of the 8-bit version of Castlevania’s Simon Belmont? Well, forget it. It’s gone. Thank Konami for that. But I don’t want to dwell on the bad stuff. This is a day to be celebrated, because it genuinely looked like this pair of figures would never see the light of day… and yet here they are!

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The packaging is very reminiscent of NECA’s other video game figures as well as their Ultimate line. You get a big beautiful box that in this case looks like an over-sized box for a Nintendo cartridge. You get the beautiful retro artwork on the front and an opening front flap that shows you the player select screen on the reverse and a window displaying the figures inside. The back has a little blurb about Contra and shots of the figures set up to look like screenshots from the video game. The figures come on one tray and there’s a second tray under it with a whole bunch of extra goodies. Naturally, everything is collector friendly, so you don’t have to ruin this fine presentation to get at the toys inside.

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And here they are. If you aren’t up on the characters, That’s Bill Rizer on the left with the blonde hair and red outfit and Lance Bean on the the right in blue. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know. I’ve been playing this game for decades and even I had to look it up. From the neck down, these are the same sculpt, with the exception of Bill having gloves and Lance going without. I’m guessing NECA borrowed some or all of these from either the Rambo or possibly the Predator Dutch figures. Sadly, I don’t have either in my collection to verify. They come shirtless and advertising their 80’s action hero manliness and wearing combat fatigues and boots. The head sculpts are bursting with personality. Bill looks a little confused, like he’s trying to remember the Konami Code, whereas Lance looks like the most pissed off guy I’ve ever seen in my life. Superb!

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The coloring on these guys consist of some great digital 8-bit camo on the pants and some white wash on the skin to further drive home the video game look. The red and blue used for the pants, boots, and headbands are both vibrant and beautiful. Each figure also includes an ammo bandoleer strap across their chests. The articulation here is pretty standard for NECA’s modern figures. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees. You get both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The torsos have ball joints in the waists and below the chest, and the necks are also ball jointed. In short, these figures are loads of fun to play with!

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The figures include belts with holsters for automatic pistols and sheathes for combat knives. I wasn’t expecting either of these accessories, so they come as very welcome treats. You get some very nice painted detail on the pistols and the knives have bright silver blades and handles painted to match each player’s color palate. The hands hold the guns beautifully, but they clearly aren’t designed to hold the knives. I was still able to make them work.

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Of course, the pistols and knives are just fallback weapons. These babies are the real hardware! Each figure comes with the same base gun, but with attachments to set them apart. Bill’s gun comes with a removable muzzle and stock. The stock also extends and collapses. Lance’s comes with a double-barrel muzzle attachment. Both guns have fold down stands, possibly meant to be similar to bi-pod rests. The customization on the guns is something else I hadn’t expected to see in this set and it’s a great surprise, which adds some play and display value. And speaking of which, how about that other tray of extra parts?

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The tray consists of a whole bunch of effect parts, as well as the previously mentioned stock for Bill’s gun, and what I like to call the Power Up Football. There are some great pieces in here, and one piece that doesn’t quite pan out as well as I had hoped.

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The Power Up is pretty simple. It’s a great likeness to the floating Power Up in the game and it can be displayed “levitating” on the clear stand. Unfortunately, the base for this stand is shared by another piece in this set, so you can’t really display everything at once. But I’ll come back to that in a bit to explain how that isn’t a problem for me.

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The first of the effect sets consists of these simple shot pieces for Bill’s gun. These peg into each other like a chain, so you can have one shot, two or three, however you want to display it. I think the effect here is pretty damn cool.

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You also get a three-way spread shot piece for Lance’s gun. The explosive effect plugs into the barrel and again, this is a great looking effect. If you want to go full spread shot, that’s an option, albeit sadly not an ideal one.

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Yes, this huge piece simulates the extension of the spread shot effect and I think it looks awesome here. Unfortunately, I had to use a lot of trickery to make it work. The piece was very warped when I took it out of the tray, mainly because the plastic is so very thin. It’s designed to plug into the same base that the Power Up uses, but when I plugged it in, it just leaned to the side. It’s possible it could be straightened with some heat, but considering how tenuous the plastic is, I wasn’t about to try it. In the end, I had to cobble together a bunch of pieces from a Bandai stand kit to get it to stand straight so I could take the highly doctored picture above. I’d be interested to see if the issue is common to all sets or just mine. It was a nice idea, I’m glad they tried it, but in the end, it just doesn’t work out all that well. So, sharing that base with the Power Up won’t be a problem after all.

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But believe me when I say that I in no way want to end this Feature on a downer, because these is an unbelievably cool set of figures and I can’t even express how happy I am that NECA was able to make it work and get them into the hands of us collectors. I picked this set up off of NECA’s Ebay store for about $55 shipped and I couldn’t be happier. There were times when I practically chewed my fingernails down to nubs reading some of NECA’s tweets about whether or not these were actually ever going to happen. It’s sad that NECA and Konami had to part ways over this release, but if you’ve followed gaming news lately, than you already know the folks in control of Konami have lost their god damn minds. Still, this set opens up so many other possibilities. Damn, I’d love to see Double Dragon get this exact same treatment!

Marvel Legends (Juggernaut Wave): Havok and Iceman by Hasbro

It’s Week Four of my Monday romps through the recent X-Men Wave of Marvel Legends and today I’m knocking out two figures in one Feature. No disrespect to either of these characters or figures, but I’m seriously backlogged on opening my Legends toys and with eight figures plus the Build-A-Figure this wave is a tall drink of water. I’m not complaining, Hasbro, keep them coming! In the end, I think I can do justice to both Havok and Iceman in one shot, because while they are both excellent, they are relatively simple figures.

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Once again, the packaging for this wave feels special to me. The bold X-Men logo on the front and the X-symbol on the top panel advertise a wave that given the current state of the comics, shouldn’t exist. The yellow and black deco is striking and you get some beautiful character art on the side panels. Normally, I don’t mind tossing out my Marvel Legends packages, but in this case, I wish I had the space to keep them. Havok and Iceman are two more examples of the great character selection in this wave. Both received the Universe 3.75-inch treatment, but it’s long past time they landed in the modern Legends 6-inch line. Let’s start with Havok…

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Havok features his modern look, or at least it’s one of the most recent costumes that I recognize. Granted, I know this look best from the pages of Cable & X-Force and that’s got to be nearly five years old already, so I guess modern is a relative term. Dark and simple is the style on display here and while I dig it, I do prefer the look with the lit lines feeding into his chest. Nearly the entire costume is conveyed through minimal paint on a black buck. In fact, from the neck down the only original sculpting here are the cuffs of his silver gauntlets. You get some more silver striping on his boots, and partially around his waist. The costume is wrapped up with the blue emblem on his chest. This version of Havok was an easy figure for Hasbro to do, no doubt, but it still looks solid.

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The head sculpt is quite good. Alex sports a stern and determined look, like maybe he’s sick of Scott’s shit again. The paint lines between the flesh and the black mask are sharp, and the silver bands on his head are crisp.

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A rundown of the articulation here shows pretty standard stuff for the modern Legends line. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, have swivels in the thighs and lower legs, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge, and the neck is both ball jointed and hinged. He’s lots of fun to play with, but damn, those ratchets in his shoulders are tight!

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Havok comes with a pair of effect parts to simulate his ability to shoot plasma blasts. They’re similar to the hocus-pocus effects we got with Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange, but new sculpts with a subtle conical shame. I think they look damn good, and coming from someone who usually just tosses effect parts into the dreaded and bottomless Tote of Forgotten Accessories, that’s saying a lot! Moving on to Iceman…

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Where Alex Summers got by with minimal sculpting and minimal paint, Bobby Drake gets it done with a surprising amount of new sculpting and virtually no paint at all! Hasbro wisely went the translucent route with this figure, something that they haven’t done in Legends since the Ghost figure in The SDCC Thunderbolds Exclusive set. I love translucent figures! Do I love photographing them? Oh, God no! When I do they always look like piss. In this case, the plastic is a little blued and a little chalky and it looks absolutely fantastic… in person. Honest, you’ll have to trust me on this one. The buck here is recycled from one of the recent Spider-Man releases, but you get new hands, forearms, and lower legs with some jagged ice effects, as well bare feet, which appear to be new pieces. There’s also a removable chunk of ice that plugs into his back.

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A bitchin’ new head sculpt with white painted eyes rounds out this beautiful figure quite nicely. He’s also got a great little smirk.

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The articulation here is almost identical to what we got with Havok. Iceman loses the extra swivels in the lower legs, but gains the lateral shoulder crunches. It’s a worthy tradeoff!

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Havok and Iceman are great additions to a wave that is so good it’s downright… uncanny? It’s true that Hasbro didn’t break the bank on Havok. He’s a simple painted buck with a new head and that’s really all he needed to be. Iceman, on the other hand… well, I wasn’t expecting as much unique sculpting to go into him and the results are quite spectacular. With only three figures left to go, I’m beginning to believe this wave can do no wrong. Next Monday, I’ll be checking out another of the X-Ladies!

KanColle: Abyssal Fleet Battleship Princess Senkan Seiki By Taito

I had honestly planned to mix things up for today’s Anime Saturday and do something different, but then I got this Battleship Princess from Taito and couldn’t wait to open her up. Still, it’s sort of different, because in the unending parade of KanColle figures that I’ve featured here, I’ve only looked at one other Abyssal figure, and that was the Airfield Princess by Furyu way back in May.

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Enclosed boxes are still the order of the day for Taito’s prize figures. Gone, however, are the cheery colors of the Fleet Girls’ boxes as here we have a more sinister black and red deco that better suits the evil Abyssal Fleet. There’s a little more English on the package than we usually get, a nice big Kantai Collection logo on the front panel, and plenty of pictures of the figure inside. This box is also notably bigger than most of the other releases in this line and it weighs a lot more than usual. I’m excited to open her up and see what we’ve got!

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Holy hell! Despite how elaborate this piece may look, it requires very little assembly. You get a piece of hose that plugs into the back of Seiki’s neck, next you tab the feet and the other end of the hose into the base. I found that it was impossible to get her right foot to tab in all the way. I may need to shave the tab a bit, but even as it is, she stands fine. It’s also worth noting that Seiki herself is scaled a bit smaller than most of Taito’s Fleet Girls, but that’s understandable given the amount of plastic used for the base. And speaking of the base… I’m going to break my usual formula and start by discussing base first and including some shots of it without the figure.

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Obviously, I’m used to seeing plain plastic discs for the bases on these figures, but here we have a sculpted water environment cast in a beautiful translucent blue plastic. The monstrous left hand of the Battleship Water Demon reaches up from the waves while the tip of one of its two heads breaks water surface to the back left, along with one of its triple gun mounts to the back right.

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The sculpt on the Water Demon parts is all solid. The hand looks incredible, while the battleship parts are a little more basic and convey the look of rough hammered iron. Apart from the vibrant blue water the design doesn’t offer a lot of colors to work with here, but Taito still did some nice stuff with the paint. The coloring on the head gradually becomes more toward the giant monolithic teeth and the ends of the gun barrels are red, as if running hot from being fired. The effect of these pieces mixed with the translucent water is just fantastic. Moving on to the figure itself…

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Seiki stands atop the Water Demon’s hand with her long black hair fanning out around her. In design, she’s slightly less creepy than the Airfield Princess, but only slightly. There is some nice sculpted detail on her black dress, her low plunging neckline shows off her lady battleship parts, and you get her little demon horns protruding from above her chest and her forehead. I really like the sense of scale between the Water Demon’s hand and Seiki, which may be why she appears to be a little smaller than Taito’s other Fleet Girls.

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The only coloring here is black and gray with some red accents for her eyes, horns, and some highlights in her hair. You do get a little mix of gloss and matte black, though. The paint is a little more heavy handed than I’m used to seeing on Taito’s work. In fact, this is one of the first times I think the pant quality was vastly superior on the sample used for the box shots. Still, what we got is not bad at all.

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I’m totally blown away by this piece! This is a prize figure and to get something so elaborate in this format impresses the hell out of me. Granted, she cost me more than any of my other KanColle prize figures, but at under $30, she still feels like a great deal, and despite a little variance in scale, she displays quite nicely besides my Furyu Airfield Princess.

Batman (Classic TV Series): Batman, Robin & Batgirl Box Set by Mattel

For today’s DC Friday, I’m pulling out a line that I thought I was done with. As most of you probably remember, the 1966 Batman TV Series was in licensing limbo for a long time. No DVDs, no toys, no nothing. Well a couple of years back some lawyers reminded everyone involved that money is a good thing and managed to break that log jam. The result was an avalanche of toys and merchandise. Mattel scored the 6-inch scale action figure license and produced a couple of series of figures and while they were far from exceptional, they were fairly decent by Mattel standards.“Holy backhanded compliment, Matty, are you going to let him get away with that?” SHUT THE HELL UP, ROBIN, ADULTS ARE TALKING!!! I liked the figures well enough, but let’s face it, they would have been in better hands with just about anyone else. Where was I? Oh yeah… let’s look at this…

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Yvonne Craig was one of the last hold outs in terms of likeness rights, Mattel finally got them, but the timing was awkward and unfortunate as the line was already breathing its final breaths. The package even makes a funny little jab at that fact with Robin’s quote: “Holy return from oblivion, Batman!” Mattel managed to get the figure out anyway, but in a typical Mattel dick move, they released her in this three-figure boxed set, making sure that pretty much everyone buying her was going to be re-buying the Batman and Robin figures too. This is actually my third time out with the same Batman figure, because Mattel made us buy him again in order to get Robin. Sheesh! In the end, this set arrived on store shelves around the same time the earlier figures were deep discounted on the clearance racks. I’m pretty sure this set was a Toys R Us Exclusive (that’s where I got mine), but there’s nothing denoting that on the package.

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The packaging here is actually quite nice, although based on early promo pictures, I assumed the box opened up to look like this, but nope, it’s just a weirdly shaped three-window box. Presentation was always this line’s strongest suit , and I think that’s reflected here. The colorful artwork is great and the box shows off each of the figures beautifully. The back panel even shows Batgirl’s motorcycle. which would have been a pretty cool vehicle for Mattel to make if this line had lived longer. While the individual carded figures were not at all collector friendly, this set is, so between the Batmobile and these figures, I still have the look of the package represented on my shelf. Anyway, if you haven’t guessed by now I’m really here to check out the Batgirl figure.  I’m not going to spend a lot of time with Batman and Robin, because I’ve already featured them here several years back. But let’s take a quick look at them anyway…

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Batman is the same as the carded release, which just means he doesn’t have the wire running through his cape. So, I suppose if you only bought the Batman & Robin 2-pack, this figure is new to you. Robin also comes sans cape wire, which means he’s also sort of a new figure and he’s nice to have as he fits in the Batmobile better than wire-cape Robin. The paint on this pair is OK, but the quality seems to have dropped a smidge from the earlier runs. My Robin has a stray mark of green paint on his upper right leg and my Batman has a stray blue mark on his chest. Overall, though, not bad.

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The articulation on these figures is pretty good for what are essentially Mattel’s Movie Masters line. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The legs feature those lateral hinges, which should be familiar to people from the DC Universe Classics days. There are swivels in the thighs and hinges in both the knees and ankles. There’s an ab crunch in chest and the necks are ball jointed. The right thigh swivel on my Batman is fused. It’s probably an easy fix with a little heat, but seeing as I now own three of these, I don’t think I’ll bother. A lot of people loved to shit all over these figures, but I really do enjoy them a lot. If these were available when I was a kid, it would have blown my little mind. Moving on to Batgirl…

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I watched the intro of every episode of Batman with baited breath to see if Batgirl was going to drive by in the animated intro sequence. They did that whenever she was going to appear and while I’m not sure I knew why back then, I always wanted her to appear. She made me feel funny in every good way possible. Mmmm… Batgirl. What? Oh, the figure… right. This was a great costume. It was campy and colorful and it really showed off Barbara’s Bat Assets. The costume itself is recreated quite nicely here, but something about Batgirl’s figure is lost in her figure. She just ends up looking a little too boxy in the hips and a little too lanky in the limbs. The same was the case with this line’s Catwoman. Still, all in all, I think the good outweighs the bad here.

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The cape is cool, so long as you’re OK with it always being spread out. The stitching is surprisingly well done for a figure in this scale and the fabric matches the purple paint on the cowl fairly closely. It’s definitely going for a singular look, but it displays nice on the shelf, so long as you don’t stand anyone behind her.

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The head sculpt is fine, although it really begs the question why Mattel needed the rights to Yvonne Craig’s likeness to make this figure. Sure, it looks like her, but I attribute that mostly to the cowl and mask and hair. The eyes are painted sharp and straight and the extra flare of mascara really sells it, but it’s hard to believe they had to pay out to the actress just for the eyes and the lower half of the face sculpt. If this were a Hot Toys figure or even a NECA release, I could understand it. You’d get more of an attempt at accuracy in the sculpt. This feels more like what we might have had in a vintage action figure likeness.

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The articulation here is pretty close to what we saw in The Dynamic Duo. You get identical articulation in the neck, arms, and legs. The only difference here is that the ab crunch on Batman and Robin is replaced with a ball joint under the chest. At least I think it’s a ball joint. Truth be told it only allows for a swivel on my figure. Despite her tiny feet and high heeled boots, she can stand surprisingly well. As for getting her to high kick? Well, as the fine print on the packages often say, that required some additional support.

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One of the fun little gimmicks of this line was the inclusion of stands for all the figures, each of which featured one of the comic style fight expletives. In this case, Batman gets “BAM!” Batgirl gets “SOCK!” and Robin gets “WHAMM!!” Each has a foot peg to secure the figure and there’s a slot in the back to stick in the collector card, which doubles as a backdrop. I’ve opted not to remove my cards from the box, but the fronts have animated shots of the characters, and I presume the backs have stills from the TV series. At least that’s how the carded figures did it.

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As I mentioned earlier, I really do like these figures and think it’s a shame they get dumped on as much as they do. I would have certainly been all in for another wave of villains. I think one of the big problems is that despite the “Adult Collector” moniker on the package, these feel more like toys to me than collectibles. But that’s fine, because in that sense they’re fulfilling a wish that I had as a kid. There’s no doubt a company like NECA could have done these better, hell they proved that with their one off Adam West Batman release, but I’m all for enjoying these for what they are, rather than lamenting over what they could have been. One legitimate gripe I do have about these was the price. These figures retailed for $20 a pop and these are definitely not twenty dollar figures. Not in any dimension. Fifteen? Yeah, I guess. And here’s where having to buy this whole set to get Batgirl won back a little favor with me. I got mine for $30 on clearance, which means if I factor Batgirl in at $20, I only paid five bucks a piece for the Dynamic Duo.

Transformers Unite Warriors: Combaticons (UW-07) Box Set by Takara, Part 4: Bruticus Combined

Well, I’ve looked at all the individual Combaticon figures and their alt modes, so there’s only one thing left to do…

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Combaticons…

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Transform…

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And Merge…

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Into…

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BRUTICUS!!!

Despite using a heavily remolded Defensor torso, Bruticus is definitely his own combiner, and that comes from the new chest pieces and having three out of four new molds for the limbs. The only clear connection I can make out to Defensor are the shared upper legs and helicopter arm.  And while the slightly over-sized arms continue to be a defining feature of the CW/UW combiners, I think Bruticus looks pretty damn good, not only as a combined robot in general, but as an update to G1 Bruticus.

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The head sculpt is absolutely fantastic and really invokes that G1 feel and Onslaught’s guns mount on the back to help drive home that iconic look. But the real draw of the Takara version over the Hasbro in this combined form comes in all that glorious new paint on the chest and pelvic pieces. The Hasbro version is just off-white plastic and makes him look bland and unfinished, although in fairness it does make him look a lot more like the vintage toy. Here you get some gorgeous brown, purple, and silver paint that makes the figure come alive!

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The stability here is overall pretty solid, but he does have some issues. Onslaught’s arms don’t stay pegged into the top of the shoulder pieces, but thankfully this doesn’t effect the integrity of the actual shoulders. I can move Bruticus’ arms without the shoulder assembly coming apart all the time like it does with Defensor and Menasor. The chest piece does a fantastic job of keeping the shoulders tabbed into place. Vortex and Blast Off don’t always want to stay together, especially in the forearm areas, but I find if I articulate the arms while holding those together he makes out OK. Brawl and Swindle as the legs are perfect, but the ratcheting joints in the hips are as unforgiving as usual. They support the figure fine, but there’s no finesse in movement there. He frequently feels like he either wants to topple forward, or like he’s leaning too far back.

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In the end, I have to give Hasbro/Takara very high marks for this one. I’d rank Bruticus as my second favorite CW/UW combiner, right below Superion. It’s crazy how far they’ve come since the combiners from Energon, Power Core Combiners, and that Fall of Cybertron Bruticus. The design is beautifully executed and while he can still be a little frustrating to play with sometimes, the good far outweighs the bad here. As for my decision to go Takara on this one, I think the advantages are hard to deny. My only other Takara combiner so far is Superion, and I’d argue that going Hasbro or Takara on that release was more of a toss up. Especially once the option to replace Alpha Bravo presented itself Stateside. Here, it seems highly unlikely that Blast Off in his space shuttle mode is going to get a US release. And even if that wasn’t the case, the additional paint on this guy’s combiner parts makes him the clear winner of the two for me.

On the next Transformers Thursday, I’ll finally get into some Titans Return figures, although I’ll eventually be swinging back to Unite Warriors for Computron!

Mythic Legions: Knight Legion Builders (Silver and Gold) by The Four Horsemen

If there was ever any doubt that the runaway success of the Mythic Legions Kickstarter wasn’t just a flash in the pan, the pre-orders for Wave 1.5, 1.75 and a selection of All-Stars from Wave 1 have been going like gangbusters. Indeed, this is a line that has me seriously re-evaluating my collecting habits in an effort to divert funds to the amazing figures that have been revealed for Wave 2.0. But I’m getting ahead of myself, as I’m barely at the halfway mark of my ongoing look at the figures that I picked up from the initial Kickstarter, so let’s press onward! Today I’m going to delve into the Legion Builders and I’m looking at not one, but two of the knights!

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The term “Legion Builder” refers to the figures that featured fewer paint applications than the regular releases. While the regular figures were in the $33 range at the initial offering, these originally sold for only $18 a pop. The idea here is that you could stock up on these guys as troop builders, or if you have customizing skills, you could use them to make your own unique creations. I only bought three of these, two of which are the Silver and Gold Knights that I’m checking out today. The packaging is right in line with what we’ve been seeing all along. The only difference here is that the bubble inserts are the same for both figures, as there are no bios on the side panels, nor is there anything distinguishing whether the package contains the Silver or Gold figure.

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As always, these figures are packaged without wearing their shoulder armor, and despite some unsightly notches in the back, they display just fine without the extra armor pieces. From the neck down, these sculpts are identical to each other, as well as two other figures I’ve already looked at: Sir Owain and Gorgo. You get straight silver paint on one and straight gold on the other. The paint on both figures is gorgeous and really brings out the detail in the sculpt, particularly some of the ornate scroll work. They still look great, but it’s easy to see how the extra paint applications make the regular figures in this line look all the more special. I can’t help but think that these resemble what Mythic Legions might have looked like if it went through a major toy manufacturer and had to cost out for regular retail sale. It seems like the paint apps are always the first to go! Even so, these would still be the best looking figures in the toy aisles.

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As we’ve seen these bodies before, there’s no surprises with the articulation. You get a hearty dose of rotating hinges, appearing in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles, swivels in the thighs, and ball joints in the waist and neck. As the figures are modular in design, all the articulation points can be separated, making it easy to swap just about any part on the figure with any of the other figures in the line.

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Each figure comes with a different pair of shoulder armor. Goldy has repaints of the same shoulders that were bundled with Sir Gideon and Sir Silver has the repaints of the pair bundled with Gorgo. And yes, we’ve seen these pieces many times since! They simply peg into the sockets in the back of the shoulders.

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We’ve also seen these head sculpts before too! Goldy’s helmet was last seen way back in my first Mythic Legions Feature as the alternate head for Sir Gideon, while Sir Silver’s was last seen as recently as last week on top of Sir Owain’s shoulders. Both helmets have plumes that feature the only variation in paint on the figures. The Gold Knight sports a vibrant blue plume while The Silver Knight has a red one.

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Both figures come with the same assortment of accessories, but T4H did a palate swap on them, so the Gold Knight got the silver and gray accessories and the Silver Knight got the gold ones. They each come with the usual brown belt, which can hold the sword and be worn on the waist or as a shoulder strap. The shield and spear should be very familiar, and the sword is the one that was included with Sir Gideon. I’m not totally sold on the gold painted accessories that came with The Silver Knight. They are stunningly beautiful, but they seem a garish for troop builders.

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I think the Gold Knight made out better. The sword is left as unpainted gray plastic and it looks like a mass produced weapon that a rank-and-file soldier might have. The spear has a silver painted tip and the shaft is left unpainted. Ironically, I like this unfinished look better than the all silver painted spears we’ve seen with other figures. I just like having the different color to separate the spear head and the shaft. The shield here looks like it does have some paint work on the surface simulating wear. Like the sword, I think this works really well as just a utilitarian shield that your average troops might carry. Goldy’s weapons look like the tools of war, whereas The Silver Knights’ look like they’re ceremonial.

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It’s amazing how great these figures look even without that extra paint work that T4H has invested in the regular figures in this line. I’m sure I’ve made mention to the old vintage Knights figures by Marx before and these single color figures remind me a whole lot of those older toys. In hindsight, I’m tempted to say that I should have passed on these and poured that money into one of the other figures that I skipped while trying to budget my selections. But that would suggest regret at buying these, and the truth is I have no regrets. These look great flanking behind the Hero Knights of the line like Gideon or Owain, and while I probably would have preferred both figures came with the gray weapons, I can’t deny that those gold accessories are an eye catcher!

The Terminator: Ultimate T-800 (Police Station Assault) by NECA

Even as I finished the feature for the last Ultimate T-800 figure, I knew he’d be back. And sure enough, here I am ready to open up a another Ultimate T-800 from NECA. Today’s release is the third T-800 in this series and the second from the original movie. I already looked at the version from the “Tech Noir” Nightclub and today I’m checking out what in my mind is the most iconic version of this time-travelling killer cyborg… The “Police Station Assault” T-800!

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I think “Police Station Assault” is the official name for this figure, but it doesn’t appear anywhere on the box. As always, the Ultimate figures come in window boxes with a front flap secured by velcro. These look like over-sized VHS tape sleeves and this one features some artwork on the front that I don’t recall ever seeing before. It looks like lesser seen promotional artwork for the film. The last release snagged the art from the poster I know best, so it’s nice that they tried to mix things up a bit with this package art. The side panels feature the title of the film along with a very 80’s style grid pattern, this time in blue. Obviously, everything is collector friendly and there’s even a J-hook on top if you want to hang it on the wall or a peg.

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Like I said earlier, this is the iconic version of the T-800 to me. Leather jacket, sunglasses, a cold and calculating killing machine wrapped up in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s body. If you own the “Tech Noir” version, you’ll surely recognize some of the parts here. From the waist down this version is lifted directly from the previous release with just some natural paint variation to mark any differences. The leather jacket is new and packs some crazy detail. The collar and lapels are popped a bit to give the figure some lovely depth and it features the usual action figure jacket trickery where the jacket is sculpted as a vest and the sleeves are sculpted as the arms. Besides the detailed stitching and realistic texture of worn leather, you get some sharp silver paint apps on the zippers and buckles of the jacket and the same on the biker boots. The sculptors at NECA have become wizards at rendering clothing in plastic, and nowhere is that more evident than here.

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The front and back of the jacket feature bullet holes too, with some bloody paint apps around the holes.

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The previous two Ultimate T-800’s each came with three separate head sculpts, and NECA isn’t breaking with tradition here. This release comes out of the box with the classic head with shades. It’s another great likeness and the big glasses hide the fact that by this point in the movie, he’s had his eyebrows singed off.

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The second head is sans glasses and eyebrows, and features the damage to his left eye. The organic part of the eye and and surrounding tissue has been blown away and you can see his mechanical eye showing through. This effect is so beautifully done, thanks to a solid sculpt and some great paintwork.

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Last up, we have the severely damaged head. In addition to the exposed left eye, you can now see the inner workings of the skull where his left cheek has been blown off. Part of the skull plate is showing and there are abrasions on the right side of the face. Again, this is fantastic sculpting and paintwork on display here. I will note this third head was a bitch to get on. I had to go in with a razor and clean away some of the plastic before getting it to fit right. In addition to the three heads, the T-800 comes with an extra set of battle damaged hands. All four hands are designed to work with the guns.

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If you’re keeping score at home, we now have six portraits of the T-800 from the first film!

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The articulation here is identical to the “Tech Noir” T-800. The points are all there and it looks fine on paper, but there are a few instances where I wish there was a better range of motion. Here’s what you get: Rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, and ankles. The wrists are ball jointed, as is the neck. The legs swivel at the hips and have swivel cuts at the tops of the boots. Finally, you get a ball joint just above the waist. Once again, the elbows barely give 90-degrees, so getting him to hold a weapon raised and close to his shoulder isn’t going to happen. I have been able to get him to hold the shotgun in both hands, but it involves exploiting the fact that his right elbow is pegged in and has a little play.

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Of course, we can’t do a T-800 figure review without talking about guns. This fella comes with three of them. First you get the dinky little Smith & Wesson Model 15. It has a chromed finish and painted natural wood grips. It also looks comically small in the T-800’s hands. That’s not a criticism of the accessory, it’s a nice piece and it appears to be scaled correctly. It’s just a little understated for what I want in my T-800 figure displays.

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OK, now we’re talking. Next up is the SPAS-12 shotgun. Another fine sculpt cast in the sexy tactical matte black finish and with some lovely details.

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Lastly, we get the AR-18 with folded stock and magazines taped together. This is another excellent sculpt also cast all in black matte plastic, but it is also a little bendy, particularly at the end of the muzzle.

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As mentioned earlier, both his hands can hold the weapons, so you can have him dual wielding for maximum effect as he cuts his way through the police station in what was one of the more intense scenes from the film.

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Now here’s the tough question. You’re in the market for a T-800 figure from the first film. Which one do you get? Well, this is certainly the definitive look for him as far as I’m concerned. And I’ll go ahead and say the two damaged heads in this box work very strongly in its favor. On the other hand, the “Tech Noir” figure includes the clean portrait from the beginning of the movie, as well as the swap-out damaged arm and three unique weapons. There’s no way I could choose, but my guess is that this one is going to be the one that appeals to most casual collectors. The Ultimate figures have been creeping up a bit in price by a few dollars, but this one still retails for under $25 and that’s a damn fine bargain for the craftsmanship and extras that went into this figure. Keep the Terminator figures coming, NECA, and I’ll keep buying them!