My Ups and Downs of Toy Collecting in 2016

So, I’m mixing things up this year and casting off my week of traditional week long Top Ten lists for something a bit more laid back, before taking the weekend off. The lights are dimmed, my trusty cat is cleaning his asshole on the side of my desk, and I’ve poured myself a nice tall Jameson. It’s a little taller than the last one, but not as tall as the first one. It’s probably about the size of the three or four I had in the middle. So let’s do this thing, and take a whimsical romp through my Ups and Downs of Toy Collecting in 2016…

Kickstarters!

Up: Mythic Legions! Nobody should be surprised to see this Kickstarted line appear so prominently on my list. If you’ve spent any time this year reading my deranged ramblings about toys here, than you already know that I’m absolutely smitten with this line and that it has been, without a doubt, the highlight of my year. It was a brand new toy-line, it wasn’t tied to any existing media or franchise, and I spent a shit ton of money on it. Although technically a good deal of that money was spent in 2015. These figures are like magic to me and I’m still in awe of my display whenever I pass by it. I’ve got more figures coming soon and I’ll be going deep into Wave 2.0 Kickstarter… DEEP!!!

Down: The rest of the Kickstarters. I didn’t have the funds to go in on Dime Novel Legends, because… Fiscal Responsibility! I am, however, hoping those figures will be available to buy at some point down the road, because I really want to get some of those when my belt isn’t pulled quite so tight. I was also hoping for the folks at Warpo to come out of hiding and reveal a new line this year, but sadly it didn’t happen. Vitruvian HACKS finally shipped this year, and while they were incredibly solid figures, the fact that I still have a lot of those left over to look at in 2017, shows just how overshadowed they were by Mythic Legions.

Transformers!

Up: Combiner Wars and Titans Return have been a treat since day one, and I’m hoping that Titans Return continues strong through next year. Sure, Combiner Wars started feeling rather played at the end with a lot of mold recycling, but we still got some amazing combiners and some pretty damn cool Leader Class figures. As for Titans Return, the Deluxes have been the high point of these lines for me, but then I still have quite a few of the bigger figures from Titans Return to pick up… not to mention Fort Max himself! I went into 2016 thinking that it wasn’t going to be a big year for me and Transformers, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Down: Third Party Transformers… Now don’t get me wrong, those third-parties are still churning out some fantastic stuff, but 2016 is the first year in a little while that I didn’t buy any Third Party figures. In fact, the last third-party product I purchased was back in the middle of 2015. I’m still planning on finishing Fansproject’s Lost Exo-Realm series, but after that I don’t see myself going back to that well again. I don’t regret any of the purchases of elicit convertobots that I’ve made in past years, but getting that monkey off my back will be a relief to my wallet.

Down: Masterpiece Transformers… Again, I’m not slagging on Takara’s amazing MP line, but the fact is that I only picked up two MP figures in 2016 (Tracks and Ironhide) and both were in the first quarter of the year. Still, next year should see more activity on this front. I still hope to get Ratchet at some point, Megatron is pre-ordered, and Inferno is going to be coming home to me soon.

Hasbro 6-inch!

Up: Marvel Legends… Back when Hasbro rebooted this line in 2011, I never could have guessed that it would become the (dare I say it?) Juggernaut that it’s become today. Legends is at the point now where it has surpassed the 3 3/4-inch Marvel line as a Universe building series and we continue to get a great mix of B-listers and C-listers tossed into the mix. Not all the figures have been exceptional, but very few have been truly bad. The fact that it was a struggle to keep up with this line throughout 2016 was a nice problem to have, and I hope Hasbro can keep it going strong in 2017.

Down: Star Wars Black… The 6-inch Black line continues to sputter between solid and disappointing releases. Very rarely are these figures terrible, but even some of the better ones are a far cry from what my expectations were after the initial wave. I keep asking myself are these really any better than what we got (or could get) in the 3 3/4-inch scale and the answer is invariably no. On the other hand, they aren’t flooding the pegs like Marvel Legends is, so I keep collecting these without breaking the bank.

Matty and Matty!

Up: 2016 was Matty Collector’s last year of operation and while some may hate to give them credit, I’ll concede that they accomplished just about everything they set out to do. We got all the vintage figures as Classics updates, plus a bunch of Filmation style figures and other characters no one ever thought possible. Not to mention vehicles and playsets and mounts. I look at my beautiful collection of Masters Classics and I can’t help but smile and say, good on you, Matty. And thanks for all the great figures.

Down: Of course, there was a lot of typical Matty bullshit in 2016 as well. ThunderCats Classics was cancelled leaving us yet again with just bits and pieces of an incomplete line. By the time most of us had purchased the ThunderCats SDCC Exclusive, news trickled in that the line was dead. QC didn’t seem to be nearly as tight on some of the MOTUC figures as the line neared its finale. Plus, there were horrible delays on most of the figures towards the end. In fact, I have a huge box of figures from the last two months that were all dumped on my doorstep last week because of delays in shipping. One might think that Matty was hoping fans would see them off with tear-filled eyes, and yet they did their best to fill us with rage and contempt. The legacy of Matty Collector will certainly go down as a bitter-sweet one.

And The Rest…

Up: NECA… If it weren’t for The Four Horsemen’s Mythic Legions, NECA would have won the year for me. From their excellent Aliens and Predators figures, to Rocky and their new Heroes of the Storm line, NECA knows how to get to my wallet. Not to mention the incredible Ultimate Series of releases, which never fails to live up to its name. These guys are true craftsmen at their trade and I’m looking forward to throwing a lot more money at them in 2017 just to get caught up. The only downside to NECA is that they’re usually impossible to find in my area, so I have to hunt them online and usually wind up paying a premium… but hey, they’re worth it!

Up: Hot Toys… It’s always a good year for Hot Toys, but in my case 2016 started with a lot of additions to my collection and gradually petered out during the final half of the year. I finally completed my “one of each” of The Avengers and dabbled a little in The Force Awakens, including two figures that I have yet to review. I’m suspecting that 2017 will be somewhat light for my Hot Toys purchases. With most of my Marvel Universe covered, so far I’m only committed to picking up Drax and Doctor Strange. And hopefully Poe will finally get his due.

Up: DC Icons… I swore I wouldn’t get into this line when it was first revealed. I didn’t want to start the whole DC Universe again in a slightly smaller scale. But in the end, I buckled. I caved. I gave in. And I’m glad I did. These figures have been excellent from the very first release, and judging by next year’s solicitations, DC Icons has every chance to take up the mantle that DC Universe Classics left behind. So long as DC Collectibles keeps up with their own release schedule, you can expect to see a whole lot of this line featured on FFZ in the new year.

Down: Doctor Who… Let’s face it, being a Doctor Who fan in 2016 sucked. There was no TV series and the action figures have all but dried up. I looked at only two offerings from Character Options this past year, and both of those were in the beginning of the year, leaving me with just the 12th Doctor Sixth-Scale figure from Big Chief later on. Part of me was really hoping that Character Option would have a few surprises for the 5-inch line throughout the year, but even the crappy 3 3/4-inch figures seem to be drying up.

Up: Prize Figures… The beginning of the year was a strong one for my Kotobukiya Bishoujo habit, but the releases got fewer and farther between as the year went on and I needed to find another solution to get my fix on little plastic anime gals. As a result, 2016 was the year I started collecting Prize figures, mostly from Taito and SEGA, with a few from Bandai and Furyu thrown in. It became such a prolific new area of collecting for me that I had to create the Anime Saturday features just to cover all my new acquisitions.

And that’s it for me for the year, Toyhounds. I’ll be back on the first with a brief announcement about next year.

Until then, have a safe and happy New Year.

Thanks for reading and keep collecting!

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By figurefanzero

Transformers Titans Return: Throttle and Breakaway by Hasbro

I’ve got time to get in just one more Transformers Thursday before 2016 wraps up and it just so happens I’m right in the middle of my look at Wave 3 of the Titans Return Deluxes. I’ve already checked out Hot Rod and Twinferno, now it’s time to look at the one that I was really looking forward to. The figure that I knew was going to be amazing before I got him in hand. That’s right, it’s… Breakaway? Really? This guy? Nah, of course not. I’m being roboto-sarcastic. This figure is the quick-and-dirty repaint that Hasbro snuck in to help cost out the wave.

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If you haven’t guessed by the packaged shot, Breakaway is a straight repaint of Chromedome. He’s also an homage to the G1 Powermaster, Getaway, and the Titan Master, Throttle, is an homage to Getaway’s little engine buddy, Rev. Hey, if Hasbro’s going to give us a repaint, at least they did it trying to deliver us another updated G1 toy. Let’s start with his alt mode.

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Yup, it’s a white Chromedome. The car design is definitely not a close match for G1 Getaway, unless you’re grading it on the most abstract of scales and count it having four wheels and, well… also being a car. With that having been said, Hasbro tried to match the deco is best they could. You get the red and blue stripes on the sides of the hood and again on the blue panels in front of the rear wheel wells. The red tinted windows and yellow stripe above the windshield is a nice touch too.

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On the downside, it loses points for not having a spoiler, especially when you consider one could have been added by a relatively simple remold. I also think that the front grill and headlights are desperately in need of some more paintwork. It’s honestly not a bad looking car, but if I didn’t already know it, I’d be hard pressed to identify this guy as an update to Getaway.

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Throttle is a simple enough little bot. As expected, there’s no paint on him, but I will give him credit for not being all one color. In this case, his body is white and his arms, legs, and head are blue. I think it’s odd that they didn’t try to color match Rev, but matching the colors between Titan Master and robot seems to be the order of the day here. As you probably guessed, Throttle does not turn into an engine, but he can sit in the driver compartment of the car and the fact that he’s got a lot of blue in him means that he doesn’t blend in with the same colored plastic interior like a lot of these little guys do.

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Breakaway comes with the exact same weapons as Chromedome, this time cast in blue plastic. The toy allows for several different ways to attach the weapons to the car, one of which provides a gunning station on the roof.

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Obviously, Breakaway transforms exactly the same as Chromedome and here’s where this toy starts to lose me a little. It feels a bit too much like a throwback to the engineering we saw on some of the Combiner Wars Stunticons. Sure, I loved those toys, but this is a new line with a new direction and after getting so many repaints and remolds of those figures, I’m not crazy about seeing it reproduced here again so soon. And yes, these are all issues I had with Chromedome too. Still, if you can get past the deja vous, the robot mode isn’t bad at all. He looks particularly good from the back because everything packs away very cleanly.

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The new deco does its best to differentiate Breakaway from Chromedome. You get paint apps that serve to accentuate this and diminish that. I will say that I was surprised by how good the white plastic looks and feels. I was expecting it to be the cheap stuff Hasbro sometimes uses, but it’s quite good, as is the quality of all the paint applications. The deco, however, doesn’t do that great a job of matching Getaway. The arms aren’t blue, and you don’t have the red on the lower legs. Obviously, the chest is not made up of the roof of the car either, but the deco does feature some red and yellow paint to make it look like a heavily morphed version of the windshield.

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The head is a decent enough sculpt, but thanks to the “gray” helmet, the colors don’t match Getaway like they should. Also, while I’m used to seeing mouth plates, Breakaway is really just lacking a face altogether. He’s just got eyes and a big blank under them. It’s kind of creepy.

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We already saw that the weapons are the same as Chromedomes. That’s a good thing, because I really like this gun mold.

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Cards on the table: If it weren’t for the fact that I bought the whole wave in one go, I wouldn’t have bothered picking up Breakaway at all. Now that I have him, I have to admit that I like him a whole lot more than I thought I would. He will not be going into the dreaded Tote of Unwanted Repaints and instead, I have him displayed with the rest of my Titans Return figures and looking pretty sharp. Yes, the homage to Getaway is quite a stretch, but then Getaway was a figure that I didn’t even remember existed until I consulted some photos of him for this review. Besides, now Rewind can have that Menage-a-Trois he always dreamed about… and film it too!

Mythic Legions: Skeleton Legion Builder by The Four Horsemen

Well, looky here, I’ve managed to sneak one last Mythic Legions Feature in before the end of the year! Today’s figure comes from the small selection of Wave 1.0 figures that T4H put up for pre-order back in November. Finally, I was able to get myself a Skeleton Legion Builder. Not picking him up on the first go around was a major regret and I was lucky to get a second crack at him without having to go to Ebay where these figures are selling for a king’s ransom.

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We’ve seen this packaging plenty of times, but it’s been a little while, so here’s another look at it. I can’t stress enough how difficult it was to choose just seventeen figures for my original Backer Reward. I stretched my budget to the max to get as many as I got and I regretted every one I had to leave behind. With that having been said, it’s somewhat ironic that this much coveted Legion Builder is really just a more basic repaint of Tibius. And since I already reviewed that figure earlier this year, I can be a bit brief when checking this guy out.

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Here he is, and he’s a great example of how even the “budget” figures in this line still look amazing. The Legion Builders are designed to be troop builders or custom fodder and the fact that they have less detailed paint allowed them to be priced significantly less than the regular figures. And it’s exactly that less-premium paint job that I love about this guy. He’s wearing old, grungy armor, making him look like a fallen warrior that’s been rotting in a tomb, or perhaps the bottom of a bog, for centuries before once again rising to the call of battle.

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Even without that extra paint, the detail in the armor here still impresses. This guy does come with the shoulder armor and I’ve included one snap of him wearing them, but I do believe I’m going to display this guy most of the time without them. I really dig those segmented armor plates over his biceps and I’d rather not cover him up. I also like that he looks a little frailer and more skeletal without them. Besides, I prefer saving the “good” armor for the named characters and let the rank-and-files go into the fray with lighter armor.

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Like the armor, we’ve seen this skull before and it never ceases to amaze me. In this case, it isn’t just the sculpt, but the fantastic paint wash that makes it look like it’s been in the ground. This is one of the most authentically aged skulls I’ve ever seen on an action figure and it’s not lost on me that it all comes down to the paint… on a figure with what is supposed to be a “budget” paint job.

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In addition to the shoulder armor, Skeleton Legion Builder comes with a satisfying collection of weapons, which by now should all be very familiar. For starters, he has the long sword with the fantasy-type crossguard and skull-crusher pommel and a dagger painted to match. Both have black grips and bright silver paint for the metal bits. Yes, I would have enjoyed getting some weathering on these, but it’s hard to deny that those gleaming blades are pretty.

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Finally, you get the standard Mythic Legions battle axe, painted black and silver to match the other weapons. And, as always, you can switch it between a single bladed weapon, or a double.

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I can’t deny that Tibius is the more impressive figure, what with the paint detail on his armor, ragged cape, and excellent weathering. But I didn’t feel like my Skeleton forces were complete without at least one grunt and this guy fits the bill. This is exactly the kind of fella I used to doodle on my Trapper Keeper while daydreaming in class. He’s such an iconic design and he would look right at home, whether battling my other Mythic Legions figures or shambling through the halls of an AD&D Dungeon. I still haven’t decided whether I’m going to get the time to do my usual End of the Year lists, but just in case I don’t, it’s safe to say that Mythic Legions was the highest point for my action figure collection in 2016.

ThunderCats Classics: Pumyra by Mattel

Cheetara is dead! She was killed alongside Tygra when the two ‘Cats stole a Sky Cutter to escape Mutant custody and it was shot down causing them to burn to death in the wreckage. You could smell the burning cat hair all the way to the Berbil Village. The humanity! But after a long period of mourning, Pymyra stepped up to take Cheetara’s place. This is the sort of sick and twisted canon I have to come up with in my head to justify why certain characters are missing from my ThunderCats team, because Matty screwed us all over. So let’s check out Pumyra, also known as NOT-EFFING-CHEETARA!

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The packaging comes in a black mailer box with some minimalist artwork, serving as only a teaser of what lies within. I’ve said my piece about this packaging, but it stands repeating. It’s gorgeous, it’s collector friendly, it feels premium, and it sickens me that I won’t have dozens of these lined up on my shelf. In fact my only gripe here is that the character art on the back is pretty bad. Pumyra looks less like a ThunderCat and more like something Buffy would poke with a wooden stake.

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Fortunately, the figure fares somewhat better than the box art. Overall, she’s a pretty solid recreation of her counterpart on the Classic cartoon. Her outfit consists of that same slinky brown dress with the sides cut out. It’s funny how I distinctly remember that seeming really risque for a kid’s cartoon back then, meanwhile Cheetara’s cat-boobs were practically busting out all the time. The dress is sculpted directly onto the buck, instead of layered onto it. This feels a little cheaper than what Mattel often did with the female MOTUC characters, but in the end it looks fine. They did a particularly nice job with the ThunderCat emblem on her chest. She also has a sculpted pouch on the right side of her skirt and a belt that can be removed by un-tabbing it where the tails hang down. Also, I’m pretty sure the belt is supposed to also be her weapon, buy I’ll come back to that. The ensemble is rounded out by a pair of boots and a ribbed shoulder pad… ribbed for her pleasure… and protection… of her shoulder.

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The portrait here is where my admiration for this figure begins to waver. There’s something about it, and it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what that is. I think it’s the shape of her face. It’s possibly too elongated and the contours are exaggerated. I’m not sure, but something feels off. I do, however, like the way they painted her eyes. It’s very distinctive and the paintwork is pretty clean. Also distinctive is Pumyra’s coif, which is pretty well sculpted, albeit with the white paint application being rather heavy handed. I’m not prepared to write this portrait off as a total miss, but to me it’s just not nearly as good as the Lion-O or Jackalman.

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The articulation here doesn’t hold any surprises. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips with swivels set right up at the hip joint. The knees are hinged, and the ankles feature both hinges and rockers. She has a swivel in the waist and her neck is ball jointed. As usual, the skirt impedes the range of motion in the hips.

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For accessories, Pumyra comes with her projectile-tossing whipcord, which again… I think it’s supposed to be her belt. In any event, I’m going with that and removing the belt when I display her with the whipcord readied. This is a pretty cool weapon with some sculpted and painted projectiles in loaded up and ready to launch.

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She also comes with a throwing star, which is a pretty basic piece and not terribly remarkable. To handle these weapons, Pumyra comes with a total of four hands, one pair of which is designed to hold the weapons in either hand. She also has a right fist and a left hand with her fingers reaching out.

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And then you get this thing. It’s like a big amulet on a stand or a wand of some kind. Seriously, what is it? I have no idea. I have a feeling it’s there to mock me for not knowing my Season 2 ThunderCats stories better. And yet, I know many of the First Season stories by heart. Go figure…

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Pumyra is the first figure in this line that I feel isn’t a home run. She’s not fantastic, she’s not terrible, she’s a solid OK. And I swear to Jaga that I’m not just saying that because she isn’t Cheetara. Not to be a devil’s advocate, but it made sense from a business standpoint for Matty to not give up all the core ‘Cats in the first sub, but once the whole thing collapsed after just the one year, it backfired on us fans when we have Pumyra and not Cheetara in our collections. Do I sound bitter? Good, because I still am.

Marvel Legends (Dormammu Wave): “Masters of Magic” Doctor Strange and Brother Voodoo by Hasbro

So, I’ve decided to go with new content this week, rather then put the blog on autopilot with insufferable lists and hide under a blanket from the encroaching new year. This Friday I will likely be churning out some kind of retrospective and then embrace the New Year weekend from inside of a bottle. Either way, this is still the last Marvel Monday of 2016, and holy hell, even after 52 Marvel Mondays, I’m still falling behind on featuring my Marvel Legends, so let’s double up today with two figures.

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Pressing forward through the Doctor Strange Wave, today I’m checking out both of the figures released under the “Masters of Magic” Slot: The comic version of Doctor Strange and Brother Voodoo. I’ll go with Doctor Strange first, because I don’t have a lot to say about this guy.

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And that’s because he’s very nearly just a repack of the Doctor Strange we got in the Hulkbuster Wave and I can just refer you back to my earlier review of that release for most of the details. The key difference is that here, Strange has been reunited with the Amulet of Agamotto and the Cloak of Levitation. As for the base figure, the only variation is in his gauntets. The previous release had them sculpting as part of his forearms, while here they’re just painted. It’s a strange (Haha!) change to make. Why would you go through the trouble of taking away sculpting in favor of paint? I think the other version’s gauntlets looked better. But it’s a moot point, because you can easily just swap the Cloak onto the previous release. It’s also worth noting that the red paint on this new figure is a little brighter.

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As for the Cloak… it’s a nice piece of work. The high collar looks great, as does the gold painted border with the sculpted scollwork running through it. On the downside, it does make the figure very back-heavy and difficult to stand.

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You get the same pair of magical effect parts that were included with the last release, only this time they’re molded in orange plastic instead of green. So, let’s move on to the figure here that I was really looking forward to…

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I first met Brother Voodoo as a result of my favorite past-time as an early teen: Bicycling downtown to the used book shop and rifling through their stacks of used comics in a dark corner under the stairs to the second floor. Strange Tales was a title I always bought when I could find it, even if they were practically falling apart. And while I never had a complete run of Brother Voodoo’s stint in the book, but I enjoyed the two issues I did have. Naturally, he’s gone on to feature prominently in some heavy-hitting story-lines and needless to say, I was very happy to see him turn up in this wave. And wow, did they do a nice job on him.

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Hailing from the pages of The New Avengers, Voodoo features a basic black buck with the white skeletal motif painted onto it. All the other aspects of the costume are derived from additional pieces. You get the gold wrist bracers, the long green belt with skulls hanging off the back, and the ragged red cape that hangs around his neck. I’ll concede that this is not my favorite look for the character, but I still like it a lot. The costume looks absolutely fantastic and is a fine example of how easy it is to build a great looking figure off a standard buck and some additional parts.

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The portrait here is also superb. I love the grim countenance they gave him and his features are well defined.

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Brother Voodoo includes a pretty cool staff, which I do remember him having in The New Avengers, although not quite looking exactly like this. Either way, I can’t remember if it has a name or specific purpose. I like the transition from painted wood to translucent blue plastic.

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And yes, it is possible to convert Voodoo into The Sorcerer Supreme by giving him the Amulet and the Cloak from Strange. Alas, Voodoo’s hair is a bit at odds with the high collar making it a tight fit, but it certainly works.

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I’m tempted to complain about the fact that despite sharing a slot, you still need both of these figures to complete the Dormammu BAF. But then, I probably would have picked up this version of Doctor Strange anyway. It’s just a shame that Hasbro couldn’t have given us this more complete version first, because now that initial release is pretty much superfluous. Either way, taken on their own, these are both great figures and solid entries into this wave.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Castle Grayskull by Mattel, Part 2

Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m spending this morning on the living room floor, under the tree, in my footie pajamas with a cup of cocoa! Not really. I don’t have a Christmas tree, I’m actually wearing sweatpants and an old T-shirt from a Journey concert, and I’m having an Irish Coffee with extra Jameson to infuse myself with good cheer for the day ahead. But, I might as well be a kid again, because it’s Christmas morning and I’m opening up one of the coolest playsets ever. OK, technically I opened the box a few days ago and checked out the exterior yesterday, but Christmas Eve is all about peaking, right? And today’s the day I get to open up Castle Grayskull and really start playing with it.

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When you first open this sucker up, you’re met with a massive interior and a lot of parts. Parts in bags, parts in cardboard, parts in other bags stuffed in cardboard. There’s a lot here to process, and a giant sheet of instructions to tell you where everything goes and how everything works. The first thing to do is put the three floor pieces down, which locks the playset in this open position and gives you a place for figures to stand, and maybe even a place to park a vehicle, but I’ll come back to that later. There’s so many things to look at here, I’m just going to start on the ground floor and work my way up. But first…

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These are pieces that I’m not using. One is a decorative point for the top of the castle and the other is a carry handle, just like the original playset had. I like these, but word is once you put them on, they can be really hard to get off again and I don’t want to risk breaking anything trying to take them off. Why would I want to take them off again? Because Grayskull won’t fit back in the box with these in place and I want to hang onto that option at least until I can find some place to actually display this thing. That may be never, so for now these pieces are being set aside. Now, back to the ground floor…

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Naturally, you have the inside of the jawbridge, which can be opened by sticking a sword in a slot and triggering the mechanism. Next to it, there are a couple of places where you can clip shields to hang them on the wall. The set even comes with one to get you started. There’s another, similar set up on the other wall. This one has a sword behind it. The shields look really good on the wall, but if you’ve had them clipped onto your figures’ wrists for a while, it may stretch them out too much for them to stay put here. Also, to the right here you can see that backdoor we saw yesterday from the outside. It’s sculpted to look like it’s reinforced on the inside with a plate of steel.

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Also down here is this horrible little dungeon with a sticker showing more horrible things locked away under it. For a bunch of good guys, the Masters don’t seem to be very humane to their prisoners. Sure, you can argue that they’re all monsters down there. But let’s face it, this is Eternia, and that sticker might as well be a picture of any Eternian’s family album. The cell door opens and closes and you also get some chains for the prisoners. One of these sets of chains is designed to peg into somewhere… anyone happen to know where that might be, cause I sure don’t!

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Also down here is this nifty training device. I love the sculpted detail on this thing, especially the ornamental head and the giant hand that’s designed to smack you when you’re trying to hit it. Also check out some of those hack marks in the wood. This is such a beautiful piece!

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You also get a handful of weapons, including an axe, a mace, and two laser pistols. Now would be a good time to dig out that weapons rack, because it looks fantastic in the corner, and you shouldn’t just leave weapons lying around.

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You can climb to the second floor via the ladder or just take the elevator. The lift features pegs for a figures’ feet and it holds strong enough to carry the weight of a figure without sliding back down. At least for now. The second level features more of those lovely sculpted floors.

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A little further on is this spiffy computer bank with a scanner screen. One of my favorite things about MOTU has always been the melding of fantasy and science fiction, so there’s just something about seeing high tech stuff like this in a medieval style castle really does it for me.

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Speaking of which, the next point of interest on our tour is this crazy space armor. It’s a static piece that just pegs into the floor and makes for quite the conversation piece. It’s also positioned next to another hi-tech computer bank. Or that might be Grayskull’s central AC unit. Moving on…

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Behold… The Throne of Grayskull. This is a regal chair, indeed. I love the gold paint used on it and the two blue orbs. The starburst on the back looks great too. There’s a lot going on in this picture, so let me break it all down. First off, that sword on the wall up there is removable and you can replace it with most other swords. There are two battle standards that hang down on either side of the throne, and if you look to the right you can see the secret door that leads out to the ledge on the exterior. That’s clearly the “Oh, shit!” door, used to bugger off when the rest of Grayskull’s defenses fail. Oh, yeah… and speaking of defenses, you see that horribly garish rug beside the throne?

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Turn the throne and it activates the trap door. I used Tri-Klops to demonstrate, but only now am I realizing that I should have put Trap Jaw down the Trap Door. It would have been poetic. Anyway, I love this thing! It’s very design counts on your enemy besting all your defenses, finding his way into an impenetrable fortress, fighting his way through all your Men-At-Arms, confronting you as you sit on the throne, and then standing there and monologueing like an idiot for long enough for you to activate the trap. How unlikely is that to work? Oh, wait, we’re talking about Skeletor here. Never mind, it’ll work. Unfortunately, when it does work all it does is drop him down a floor and makes him ride the elevator back up again. That’s probably what the “Oh, shit!” door is for.

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The rooftop level is accessible by the elevator. Here you can admire the flag or open up that little door to reveal whatever the hell this thing is. Seriously, what is it? Anyone know? The instructions are failing me on this one.

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Finally, our last stop on the tour is a mounted laser gun for fending off attacks from Snake Mountain. And if all that isn’t cool enough, back on the ground floor, there’s room to park the Wind Raider!

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Well, sort of. The circular slot is designed to take the Wind Raider’s stand. And while this beautiful craft does technically fit, it’s a tight squeeze and it eats up a lot of real estate. It also kind of looks like a big albatross and probably cooks anyone locked in the dungeon when it takes off. To be honest, I’d probably be more likely to park it a little further out and off the floor pieces.

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The Sky Sled, on the other hand, is compatible with the same stand and it fits a lot better. hell, even if you want to do away with the stand, there’s plenty of room to tuck this vehicle in here without compromising all your play room. And speaking of playing… this set really starts to shine when you load it up with figures.

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In case you haven’t guessed by now, I am absolutely in love with Castle Grayskull. In fact, I love it so much that I almost feel bad that I waited until it was on clearance to buy it. Grayskull originally debuted at $300, which in itself is a huge chunk of change, but that sum inflated even more when you added tax and Matty’s crazy idea of a reasonable shipping rate. When all was said and done, I think it cost around $360 to get this thing shipped out. Back then I couldn’t fit it into the budget, and I cried myself to sleep many a nights (when I was drinking) over the fact that I would never own it. Then last year, Matty blew this beauty out at $150 with free shipping and that made it practically an impulse buy. No regrets!

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And thus ends the chronicling of my magical Christmas morning with Castle Grayskull. I really did feel like a kid again while I was setting this up and getting out all my figures to put in it, and hopefully I was able to convey some of that in my ramblings. To me, this is a big part of what Christmas is all about. Remembering happy times of Christmas Past and feeling young at heart again. As to the other part, I’m about to head out to spend the rest of Christmas with my family, eat a lot of great food, come home get drunk and watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special. And that, my friends, is my formula for a perfect Christmas.

Whatever constitutes your Perfect Christmas, I hope you all get it. Have a happy and safe holiday and I’ll see you on tomorrow for Marvel Monday!

Masters of the Universe Classics: Castle Grayskull by Mattel, Part 1

It’s finally Christmas… well, almost! As a kid, this was always the one chance of getting that huge playset from my favorite toy line. The one that I had no chance of coaxing out of my parents any other time of the year. Asking for such a grail would always elicit the same response, “Put it on your Christmas list!” It was a good strategy on my parents’ part, because if it was still on my list six or seven months later, chances are I really wanted it! I can remember a lot of examples of these from Christmases past. Whether it was the Micronauts Mega-City, the Star Wars Death Star Playset, the GI JOE HQ Command Center, or The AD&D Fortress of Fangs. These were the big guns that I begged for all year, and I was a lucky little shit, because Santa always delivered. This Christmas, I wanted to relive some of that glory from my youth by opening up and featuring something comparable. Something special. I wanted to feel like a kid on Christmas again. And so I’ve been saving Grayskull all year for just this occasion.

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And here it is. The ginormous box that’s been sitting in the corner of my closet since last December, building my anticipation to the bursting point. Gosh, has it really been that long? Yes, I’ve been gazing longingly at this glorious artwork and anticipating the day that I would finally slice that tape and open her up. While a lot of those old playsets from my youth would probably seem pretty small to me now as a grown up, MOTUC’s Grayskull is appropriately inflated to account for my adulthood. This has quite simply got to be the largest boxed toy I have ever owned. And that’s saying something, because I have owned a shit ton of toys. Hell, the box dwarfs He-Man so much, he looks like a 3 3/4-inch figure in this shot. All I have to say about the artwork on the front is that if I ever do get rid of this box, I’m going to frame that panel and hang it over my fireplace. Oh wait, I live in Florida… I don’t have a fireplace. DAMMIT! What am I going to do with all these chestnuts I bought?

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But besides just being a huge playset, this Castle Grayskull is kind of special to me. Masters of the Universe was one of those few major 80’s toy-lines that I wanted to get into as a kid, but I never owned any of the toys. Oooh, poor me! Don’t feel bad… I had plenty, and my parents had to draw the line somewhere! Well, for the past few years, I’ve been living that missed opportunity of my youth through the Masters Classics line. The feeling of getting to open up a gigantic updated Grayskull like this when I already have a huge collection of figures to go with it is as close as I can get to going back in time and experiencing Christmas again as a child as I’m ever likely to get. Plus, now I’m drinking a lovely Jameson when I open it, so even better. Grayskull comes packed in the box surrounded with some cardboard padding and wrapped in a huge plastic bag. Surprisingly, it comes out all in one piece and that’s it! There’s nothing else rattling around in that huge box. All the extra pieces are conveniently stowed inside it’s green plastic walls.

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Look at the sculpting and color on this thing! The jagged, unfinished rocky base gives way to the smoother, worked stones of the massive castle walls. It’s so goddamn iconic. I love the subtle variations of gray and green and the wash that picks out all the details. Just taking this massive playset in from the front suggests it may very well be toy perfection. I am literally in awe of this thing and I simply can’t compliment the guys who worked on this enough.

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The massive fanged skull that dominates the front facade is just amazing. It’s also one of the things that confused me the most about the He-Man continuity. I mean, let’s say I was a third party arbiter brought in to mediate the ownership dispute between He-Man and Skeletor over Castle Grayskull. All I would need to do is meet those two and I’m going to have a pretty good idea who’s castle it really is. I mean, am I going to give it to the tanned dude with the Prince Valiant haircut, or side with THE GUY WHO’S FACE BEARS A PRETTY STRONG RESEMBLANCE TO THE DESIGN OF THE CASTLE?

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The drawbridge door is one of my favorite aspects of the exterior. The coloring and ancient wood texturing on the planks looks incredibly realistic, as does the hammered finish on the “iron” hinges, the cross bar, and handle. The whole thing is topped off with a beautifully sculpted coat of arms. I could picture Skeletor battering on this thing forever and it never giving way to his attempts to gain entry. It looks virtually impenetrable.

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As we turn the mighty fortress to the right, we can see the two catches that hold the castle together on its left side. There’s a ledge that winds its way around the left tower and toward the front. It also looks like there’s some kind of hidden panel above it. What could that be?

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Coming around to the back shows more of that amazing stone detailing, as well as some truly spectacular coloring, as well as what appears to be a hidden back door, complete with a tiny keyhole in the stone.

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The little details here, like the wooden ledges under the windows, really give the castle an authentic medieval feel. I particularly love the sculpted thatch roofing and the wooden support beams on the turret. All the windows here are actual windows, teasing me with the dark and mysterious interior of this structure. What amazing features await us, as we flip over to the castle’s right side?

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Eh, nothing really. Just a hinge.

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Finally, I love how the top of the castle offers this walkway to put figures on even when the castle is all closed up. While the inside of the tower is just the unfinished reverse of the sculpted stone, I can let that slide because look at the sculpted detail in the wood floor on the battlements. You also get a smaller, sculpted wood door leading into the depths of the castle. I have to be honest, wherever I wind up displaying this beauty, space limitations will probably demand it remain closed up. So, it’s nice to know I’ll still be able to put some figures on the battlements.

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And did I mention it was big? Yeah, I did. Probably several times. But it is! I seem to remember a big controversy when the prototype was shown about how He-Man could barely fit through the front door. Well, they sure changed that. He looks properly scaled standing right in front of the mystical fortress. Even if this thing didn’t open up, it would be worth owning just to be able to stand He-Man in front of it, looking all majestic. It reminds me of just how much I adore this toy line and how, even despite the bumps along the way, I’m very grateful to Matty for delivering it to us these past few years. You see, opening up this beautiful castle on Christmas, wasn’t just about getting to experience being a kid on Christmas again, but it was also an opportunity to celebrate the ending of Matty’s run on this fantastic line of toys.

And unfortunately, that’s all I can show you today. Because it’s only Christmas Eve and I can’t open my present until Christmas morning. So come on back tomorrow and we’ll open her up check out all the amazing goodies on the inside of this marvelous playset!

Transformers Titans Return: Daburu and Twinferno by Hasbro

Welcome, my friends to what might be the last Transformers Thursday of 2016! Then again, it might not. Stick around at the end for some administrative notes on what I’ll have going on for the rest of the year. In the meantime, I’m particularly excited about today’s convertorobot, Twinferno because he’s a modern update to the Monsterbot, Doublecross. I never had Doublecross as a kid, but when I got back into collecting G1 Transformers sometime around 1999, I picked up a nice example of him off of Ebay and he turned out to be one of my favorite figures. The fact that Hasbro worked him into this newest wave of Titans Return line both surprises and pleases me to no end.

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There he is in his package. And yes, he’s another example of a Non-Headmaster G1 character that has been made into a Titan Master. This seems to bother a lot of people, but not me. And can I just say that Twinferno is both one of the cheesiest and most glorious re-names I’ve seen in Transformers in a while. As for his little buddy… Well, as I understand it, Daburu, is an homage to the Takara Beastformer figure White Leo (that’s Battle Beasts to us ‘Muricans). But that’s enough chit-chat about names… Let’s rip this bad boy open and start with his beast mode!

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Oh, hell and yes! True to form, Twinferno’s alt mode is a two-headed dragon and it’s almost everything that I look for in my cyber-beast-formers. In fact, my one design gripe with this guy is one that I shared with the original G1 toy is the decision to make the arms and lower legs look organic while the rest of the alt mode is more cyber-creature. To me it always made the toy look like a hodge-podge of ideas. But hey, that’s just my personal hang-up and in the end it wasn’t a bad decision to be faithful to the G1 toy. If anything it gave this guy a strange charm. The largely black and gray deco looks good, especially with the white heads and little bits of red here and there. Another favorite detail of mine is that they made his stubby wings partially transparent. Oh yeah, it’s also worth mentioning that Hasbro sculpted the tiny thumb wheel as a nod to the original toy’s sparking gimmick. So cool!

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The heads are excellent and I really dig how the horns are now more obviously part of the head, whereas the old toy molded them into the neck to the point where they were not even all that noticeable. There’s some good articulation in there too, as they can swivel at the body, they’re hinged a little above that, and the jaws on both heads are articulated. All around, I find this guy’s beast mode a lot more fun that Titan Returns Mindwipe, which looked good, but just stood there.

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Daburu’s white, black, and gray plastic helps make up for the absence of paint apps. He’s a heck of a lot more colorful than a lot of the other little Titan Masters. On the other hand, with no paint on his head, it’s hard to make out the sculpted eye patch they gave him to pay respect to White Leo. In fact, his face really just looks like a lump of plastic. Nevertheless, how cool is it that Hasbro is spending time making these obscure references? I really enjoy this sort of thing.

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Daburu has a few options on where to ride Twinferno. First, there’s a cockpit compartment in the chest. This is similar to what we saw in Mindwipe and I like it a lot. He’s fully enclosed in there and it looks like he’s controlling the beast mode like a mech.

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Secondly, the two guns can be combined and placed on Twinferno’s back, offering a gunning station. Both options work really well, but I think this one is my favorite. Now be honest, let’s say your Daburu and you’re going to ride this dragon. Would you lock yourself up in his chest or would you ride into battle on his back with the wind blowing through your… er, eyepatch, guns belching out hot death on the enemy below. This is the only way to go! The guns look fantastic on the back of the dragon, especially when he’s flying. Nothing says bad ass like a robotic two-headed dragon with guns strapped to his back and a little robot lion-man riding him. Add a guitar and some hellfire and the above picture is practically made to be the cover of a Meat Loaf album. Daburu pegs in there pretty good too, so you don’t have to worry about him falling off when you’re swooshing the dragon around the room. Trust me… I’ve tested it!

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You also have the option of mounting the guns on Twinferno’s wings. It’s the same amount of firepower, just spread out a little more. I like this, but overall I still prefer the double guns on the back. I suppose it’s a good way to go for when Daburu is riding inside him.

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As much as I dig Twinferno’s dragon mode, it’s the robot mode that really shines for me, because it’s such an amazing update to the G1 toy. I mean, this guy looks perfect. The details on the body are so sharp and the colors are gorgeous, with the red and white complimenting the gray and black plastic just beautifully. Toss in some silver and yellow applications and this guy feels like he’s got more paint on him than most of his brothers from the earlier waves.

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There are some surprisingly clever bits of engineering to the transformation. The way the dragon arms fold into compartments in the sides of the torso is very cool, as is the way the upper legs of the dragon become the robot modes feet with the lower dragon legs folded into them and functioning as heel spurs.

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You can also keep his twin guns mounted on his back for storage in his robot mode. I think he looks pretty good with the barrels rising behind his shoulders. Onslaught, eat your heart out!

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Daburu makes for a pretty good head. It’s definitely a decent update to Doublecross, but because it’s mostly molded in that white plastic the details aren’t all that sharp and other than the blue visor it is a bit bland.

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Twinferno technically has dragon heads for hands, so I’m not sure he really needs weapons when his hands can both punch and bite foes at the same time. Nonetheless, the guns are designed to peg into the sockets that make up the hinge for the dragons jaws. Herein lies my only real issue with this robot mode. When he’s holding his guns like this, the elbow joints have to be positioned on the sides of the arm, so he can only aim his guns with his arms straight out. It’s not the end of the world, especially since it’s one of the few things things I can find to bitch about. I just love this guy too much.

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So yeah… Monsterbots! Who the hell ever could have guessed we’d see updated versions of these guys from Hasbro? Not me, that’s for sure. Doublecross was just one of those quirky late G1 figures that did it for me and I’m absolutely delighted to have Twinferno as his modern version. Is it possible that Grotesque and Repugnus could be on the horizon? Oh, Primus… I hope so! I never found either to be as good a figure as Doublecross, but I’d still love a complete set of the Monsterbots trio.

And now for some administrative stuff! I’m all caught up on my new arrivals DC pile and I’ll be working some crazy hours tomorrow, so there will be no new Feature Friday. I will, however, be back on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with a special two-parter. I’ve also decided that I’m not going to be doing my traditional Favorites/Disappointments Lists this year. I know, I’ve done those like five years in a row, but I honestly don’t have enough stuff this year to bitch about, and that’s a good thing. I may just do a one-off retrospective on some of my favorite things this year. I may do a more laid back Ups & Downs of 2016 Feature. Then again, I may just stick to regular content as usual next week, as I’ve got a lot of stuff stacking up to be looked at. 

That’s it for now… If you’re doing last minute shopping, be safe and I’ll see y’all on Christmas Eve! 

Ash Vs Evil Dead: Ash Williams (Value Stop) by NECA

Starz delivered on another superb season of Ash Vs Evil Dead this year and I continue to be amazed at not only how great the concept works as a series, but how far the creative team is willing to push it. Not to mention how attached I’ve become to Ash’s sidekicks. Of course, NECA is on the scene and delivering some figures from the series. I’ve already looked at Hero Ash and the Eligos Demon and today I’m wrapping up the initial wave with a look at Value Stop Ash!

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The package is identical to what we saw with the previous figures in Wave 1. You get an attractive, collector friendly window box that shows off the goods and has some photos of the figure and accessories on the back. I’ve been hanging on to these boxes, at least for the time being, but chances are they will eventually have to go bye-bye to make room for more figures.

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While Hero Ash was the iconic, chainsaw wielding, Deadite hunter, this version is the lowly retail stockboy. Here, Ash dons his company-approved red Value Mart button-down shirt, complete with pocket protector full of pens and his employee name badge. The detail on the name badge is particularly well done and you get all the meticulously sculpted wrinkles and stitching that we’re used to seeing on NECA’s plastic wardrobes. The articulation is identical to what we got with the Hero Ash figure, including those double rotating hinged elbows, which is a huge improvement over the single rotating hinges we usually get. Beyond that, Ash features rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the wrists, rotating hinges in the knees, and ball joints in the hips. The ankles feel like ball joints, there’s a ball joint in the waist, and another in the neck.

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So, let’s deal with the elephant in the room. Somewhere along the way S-Mart got replaced by Value Stop. It’s a minor point, but I still would have loved to hear Ash spout out the motto, “Shop smart, Shop S-Mart” one more time. There’s no in-universe explanation for this, but apparently there were trademark issues, which probably involved not having the rights to the third Evil Dead film. I’d just like to think he got fired from S-Mart for lighting the place up with his boomstick and Value Stop was the next employer on his way down the ladder of retailers. Anyway, let’s get back to the figure.

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Value Stop Ash includes two portraits and as you might expect from NECA, both are excellent. The first is a pretty neutral expression, or possibly one of slight befuddlement, which is appropriate most of the time for Ash. The heads included with Hero Ash were both on point, but I think this one tops them all in terms of overall quality of likeness. It really is superb.

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The other head really works for me as either a screaming Ash or a laughing-his-ass off Ash, although as we’ll see in a minute the intent here was the former. Once again, this is a great likeness and the detail in the mouth, in particular, is fantastic right down to his tongue and upper dentures. And just to sweeten the pot, both of these heads are interchangeable with the heads that came with Hero Ash, and vice-versa, so while the overall appeal of this figure will likely not be as high as Hero Ash, you really are enhancing that figure by picking up this one. I particularly like the screaming head on Hero Ash.

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While not really an accessory, Ash also features his wooden right hand and it is removable. As long as we’re talking hands, it’s worth noting that Ash’s left hand is the same one used on Hero Ash, so it is capable of holding the Boomstick that came with that figure, or any other weapons you may want to rob from NECA’s expansive arsenal of guns included with figures in this scale. It also works pretty well as a pointing hand.

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“Looking for Tampons? They’re over in Aisle 4. Shop Smart, Value Stop!” Nope, just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

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And yes, in case you were wondering, the chainsaw from Hero Ash can be used on Value Stop Ash. It’s just an easy pop-and-swap.

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Ash comes with one accessory and that’s the possessed doll from the pilot episode. It’s crazy tiny, but nonetheless still remarkably well detailed and painted. It’s also designed to attack Ash’s face.

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Getting this to work can be difficult. I think the doll’s hand are actually intended to grip him by the nostrils, but I couldn’t get her to stick. I was able to get her to grab his nose between her tiny arms. All it takes is a little patience. It’s a surprisingly fun accessory for such a tiny piece of plastic.

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Value Stop Ash is another fantastic figure in NECA’s ever growing and always impressive stable of licensed action figures, but let’s lay cards on the table and concede that this one is for the die hard collectors out there. Most of the casual toy collectors (is there really such a thing?) are going to be happy with Hero Ash and leave it at that. In fact, I’m surprised that NECA didn’t make this one a two-pack just to make sure they could move an adequate number of Value Stop Ashes. Me? Oh, there was never any question that I needed both and if you’re on the fence, the extra heads really are worth having to get the most out of Hero Ash.

Star Wars Black (Rogue One): Scarif Stormtrooper by Hasbro

After a weekend of avoiding all of humanity for fear of spoilers, I finally got to see Rogue One yesterday morning and that evening, I got all the gushing out of my system with a bonus feature. But even a day after seeing the movie, all I wanted to do was play with more Rogue One toys. Lucky for me a couple of Scarif Stormtroopers showed up at my door just a few days before and were waiting to be opened.

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Damn these trooper exclusives! First it was the TRU getting the Hovertank Pilot and now it’s Walmart getting the Scarif Stormtrooper. Why make a troop builder an exclusive and the Squad Leader a wide release? It made a whole lot more sense when they made the Snowtrooper Sergeant from The Force Awakens an exclusive and the regular a wide release. In this case, however, I was lucky enough to pick up a couple of these from Wally World’s Website and didn’t have to pay scalpers on the wretched hive of scum and villainy known as Ebay. Anyway, I was hoping to get the Squad Leader by now so I could look at the two together, but as luck would have it I’m still hunting him. I’ve got nothing to say about the box, other than these figures are not numbered because they are exclusives.

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Damn, I love the look of these guys! But, I’ll confess I didn’t even realize that this armor shares so much with the Hovertank Pilot until toy blogger extraordinaire, Carnitas Fever, pointed out in the comments. Yeah, I’m pretty terrible at noticing details like that, which is probably why Hasbro can get away with selling me so many repaints. Nonetheless, the torso, arms, legs is the same mold used for the pilots with some variations in paint. It’s movie accurate, and it doesn’t make me enjoy these any less, but it’s still worth pointing out. Not to mention the fact that this was an excellent sculpt to begin with. You still get some nice ribbed textures in the bodysuit, beautiful contours in the chest armor, and some sharp details in the leg armor.

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In terms of sculpting, the biggest differences come in the belt, which is not only completely different, but also features some hip plates, as well as a magazine pouch slung low and off toward the right hip. These are all cool additions that look great, but they do inhibit the hip articulation a bit, which is unfortunate.

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Of course, these troopers also get a completely different helmet. The extra armor on this helmet’s forehead (blast shield?) is similar, but the down-swept cheek plates are a lot more prominent on this guy. The visor and mouth piece are very reminiscent of the Imperial Scout Troopers. I’m not sure how all these differences specializes them to patrol the beaches, but it’s definitely a cool look and let’s be honest, that’s what’s important.

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Like the Hovertank Pilot, the armor here is weathered but much more, and that’s another thing I love about these guys. They look like they’ve been in the thick of battle. There’s mud and grime present and the armor itself is yellowed. It’s a great contrast to the pristine white armor of the regular Stormtroopers. You also get red and yellow paintwork on the right upper arm, almost like an armband, and a white stripe on the left shoulders. I’m guessing these are regimental markings. If I had a copy of the Visual Dictionary, I probably wouldn’t have to guess.

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Because the body is essentially the same as the Hovertank Pilot, the articulation here is identical. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, with swivels in the thighs and double hinges in the knees. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. There’s a swivel in the waist and a ball joint just under the chest. His neck has both a ball joint and a hinge.

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The Scarif Troopers come with their trusty E-11 Blasters. They’re very nice sculpts and they even feature some silver dry brushing to make it look like the finish is worn. My only complaint here is that he doesn’t have a holster or any way to clip it onto his belt or leg.

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I found so much to love in Rogue One, but among my favorite things was getting to see the Imperial Forces in action once again. In fact, I love how the film handled it. They didn’t replace my beloved Stormtroopers, but rather just augmented their forces with some brand new types of soldiers for me to buy action figures of. The Scarif armor is definitely my favorite of all the new Troop armor on display in this flick and after drooling over the design for a while, it was great to finally see them in action on the big screen.