Marvel Legends (Dormammu Wave): Dormammu Build-A-Figure by Hasbro

Wow, the Doctor Strange Wave was a big assortment of figures! With your average Build-A-Figure comprised of about six parts, the eight figures that constituted the Dormammu Wave seemed like an awful lot. What’s more, every single figure came with BAF parts and this was a wave that I hunted individually, rather than ordering all at once, making completing this one quite the journey. But here we are at the end, and its time to cobble together the big baddie himself, Dormammu!

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Of course, if you happened to be lucky enough to pick up the Marvel Legends SDCC set from last year, you already own a variant of this figure. It’s been a while since I set eyes on that figure but, if I recall correctly, the differences are minor. If you count everything, The Dormammu BAF is actually comprised of eleven pieces. You have the arms, the legs, the upper torso, the pelvis, the skirt, the head, the shoulder armor, and the two skull accessories. With that having been said, he still pieces together pretty easily, although one of the legs on mine was a bit problematic. It should be pointed out that the Doctor Strange film did something similar with Dormammu that Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer did with Galactus. They turned him into a massive, and somewhat amorphous, entity whereas this is clearly the comic version. The character stretches all the way back to the 60s, but this figure is certainly inspired by his modern appearances.

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The buck itself is fairly generic with a lot of sculpted muscles cast in a beautiful metallic purple. The hands are molded into grasping claws and there’s some original sculpting for the boots. At least I don’t recall seeing these boots before. The belt piece is cast in soft plastic and features a half cape in the back, two thigh pieces and a red segmented flap that hangs down the front. It’s slit enough to allow for some pretty good movement in the legs. The red paint on the flap also matches nicely with the paint on his abs, making it look like it’s all one piece. The shoulder armor is impressive and features two large spikes rising up from the front as well as a fashionable high collar in the back. The articulation here is pretty standard stuff. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, wrists, and hips, double hinges in the elbows and knees, and swivels in the biceps and thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers, the waist swivels, there’s an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

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The design of the head is very cool. It looks like a mask floating in a sea of fire, and to me it’s very reminiscent of the look of Helspont from Jim Lee’s WildCATS, another favorite comic villain design of mine. The translucent orange flame can even sport some nice effects when introduced to the proper lighting.

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Dormammu comes with two pairs of glowing skulls, which are pretty damn cool. The skulls are cast in transparent neon green plastic with translucent blue flames coming off the tops. These catch the light beautifully and he looks damn great holding them. Oh, and if they look familiar, that’s because they’re both Ghost Rider heads from the 2012 release.

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To be honest, Dormammu was not high on my list of characters that I wanted for my Legends shelves, but that doesn’t make him less welcome. With the 3 3/4-inch Marvel Universe releases sputtering on life support, Legends has become prolific and deep enough to step up and become my universe building line for Marvel figures and as such no character is really unwelcome. Besides, I really dig this guy and he’s loads of fun to play with. Dormammu is a solid figure and I know a number of collectors were relieved to have the opportunity to pick him up outside what has become a very pricey exclusive box set. He also beautifully caps off what was an overall excellent assortment of figures.

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On the next Marvel Monday, I’ll be backtracking to the Abomination Wave. At only five figures, it’s a hell of a lot smaller than this one, and I’ll likely be doubling up at least once in order to get through it a bit more quickly. 

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Marvel Legends (Dormammu Wave): Doctor Strange and Astral Doctor Strange by Hasbro

Well, in spite of a LEGO inspired detour on the last Marvel Monday, I’m finally here to open up the last figures in the Doctor Strange Wave of Marvel Legends. With how long it took me to get through this assortment, it’s surprising that there’s still a month left until the Blu-Ray release of the movie. I’m excited to get it on disc and give it another watch, because I was a little luke-warm on it when I saw it in the theater and I’m hoping that assessment will improve on subsequent viewings. Anyway, I’m doubling up today for obvious reasons, as we’re looking at the MCU version of Strange as well as the variant Astral Projection version of him.

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Here we have what were the easiest and most difficult figures in the wave for me to get. The Astral Strange is clogging pegs everywhere and going for super cheap online. Regular Strange was nowhere to be found around here and I wound up having to pay a premium for him online. Craziness! Let’s start with him…

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While I wasn’t in love with the movie, I adored the look of MCU Strange’s costume and I thought Cumberbatch did a great job with the character. I’m happy to say that Hasbro also did a great job with the 6-inch Legends version. Strange is built on an appropriately lean body with sculpted blue robes, the lower half of which are separate from the buck and sculpted as part of the rather intricate system of belts. There’s plenty of great detailing in his robes, from the texturing on those belts to the leather wraps around his sleeves. And even the smallest of the brass fixtures are painted. There are a few instances where the paint on my figure could have been tighter. For example, the belts, but there’s nothing here that’s really bad.

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The Amulet of Agamotto is also a separate piece and hangs around his neck. I love that this isn’t sculpted as part of the buck and that it can be taken off and treated as an accessory.

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The Cloak of Levitation can be removed and added without even having to pop off the figure’s head. Hasbro did a wonderful job with the Cloak right down to the painted fixtures that hold the neck straps. It sits on the figure in a very singular manner, draping heavily over the left shoulder, but its worn mostly off of his right. It works for a lot of great poses, but sometimes it feels a little too specific a sculpt to me.

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No doubt, Cumberbatch is a very distinctive looking fellow, but in this case that seems to lend itself well to a recognizable portrait. I think this is a fantastic likeness and just an all around great head sculpt. Both the paint and the facial features are sharp and well defined.

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The articulation here is good, but some of the joints can be a little tricky to work with. The rundown includes rotating hinges in the shoulders, wrists, and hips, double hinges in both the elbows and the knees, swivels in the biceps, thighs, and boots, and ball joints in the waist and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. The ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. As expected, the lower half of the tunic inhibits some of that hip articulation, but you can still get him in a decent, wide stance. It’s worth noting that this figure can pull apart at the waist, so if you want you can remove the lower tunic piece. The figure looks fine without it and it allows for some better movement in the legs.

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Strange comes with two sets of hands. There are accessory holding hands, which feel out of place on the figure, but are good for… well, holding his accessory, which I’ll get to in a second. The other, more appropriate hands are the oogity-boogity spell-slinging mitts. These looks great and will likely be displayed on my figure most of the time.

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That accessory is a big magic effect wheel, which he can hold in either of the above mentioned hands. This piece is cast in a semi-translucent orange-yellow plastic and is a beautiful sculpt. I applaud Hasbro for giving us something new here and not just recycling the magic effect pieces we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. Of course, it’s nice to have a lot of those in my Legends accessory bin to lend to Strange if I want to. Let’s move on to Astral Strange…

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I actually have next to nothing to say about this figure. It’s a straight re-cast of the figure I just looked at only in a rather striking pearlescent plastic. He doesn’t come with the Cloak, but he does have a repainted Amulet of Agamotto. To be honest, I think this idea sounds good on paper, but in practice, it just isn’t a very interesting figure, much less one that I would have purchased if not for needing the BAF piece. That’s saying a lot, because there are very few modern Legends figures that I feel that way about. I think this one would have been better relegated to the SDCC set with this slot going to Magick instead. Yup, I’m still bitter about that one.

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In the end, I wound up paying $30 for the MCU Doctor Strange. I’ve had to do that before with Legends figures that were in high demand, but I’m actually surprised that was the case with this particular figure. That’s not to say I mind all that much. For starters, he is an excellent figure, but at the same time, a lot of the other figures in this wave were remarkably cheap, with three of them only costing me around $12 each. In the end, I made out alright even after having to pay a premium for this Strange.

I’m going to go off and recharge my magics and I’ll actually be back tomorrow to extend Marvel Monday one more day and finish off this wave with a look at the Dormammu Build-A-Figure. After that, I’ll be doing updates on Wednesday and Friday and then next week I’ll be starting in on a new routine of updates on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday!

KanColle: Shimakaze (Four Seasons of Chinjufu Naval Base) by Banpresto

Anime Saturday has been gone for a while, I know, but I’m really making an effort to bring it back. This morning, for example, I resisted the urge to stay in bed and read comics and instead, I got up and opened one of the many prize figures that I have stacked in the corner begging for attention. And since it’s been ages since I opened a new KanColle Fleet Girl, that’s exactly what I’m doing today. Let’s have a look at another Shimakaze!

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Yup, I love me some Shimakaze, and this is actually my first Fleet Girl from Banpresto, all the others have been from Taito and SEGA. I stumbled upon this figure one night while doing a little inebriated Amazon browsing and was shocked because I had never seen her before. Yes, I do have most of these prize figures tucked away on a Wish List for easy ordering. Anyway, the price was right and there was only one available so I jumped on it! The figure comes in a fully enclosed box with virtually no English text at all, so this is one of those cases where you really need to know what you’re looking at. There is a familiar Kantai Collection logo on the box, but it too is in Japanese. Inside, the figure itself comes in two parts and needs to be tabbed together. The dock also requires the posts to be plugged into it. The assembly is easy-peasy and when you’re done, here’s what you get…

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Lovely! Shimakaze relaxes on a dock about to start munching on a piece of watermelon while her faithful Rensouhou-Chan stands beside her and looks to be begging for scraps. Now, I’m calling this a dock, but I’ll concede that it might be intended as a table. I’m going with dock because Shimakaze has her trademark striped stockings and rudder boots off, so I’m assuming that she’s paddling her toes in the water. If this was one of Taito’s releases, it would probably have fallen under their “Day Off” series. Neither figure attaches to the dock, so you’re free to place them wherever you want.

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The sculpt here is quite good, although maybe just a tad softer than what I’m used to seeing from the other guys. And while Shimakaze is partly out of uniform from the knees down, everything above that should be readily familiar to any fan of the character. She has her low riding blue pleated skirt, exposing her G-string, her cut-off sailor-style top, with big buttons and black necktie, and her long white gloves with blue and yellow cuffs at her biceps. And no figure of Shimakaze would be complete without her bunny ears hair ribbon. The paint is overall solid. It could be a little sharper in some areas, but there’s nothing overtly bad here when it comes to the paint quality.

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The portrait is excellent. I happen to be a fan of Shimakaze’s more vexed expressions, but here she’s just clearly happy to be enjoying a little down time, and that’s cool. The large eyes are beautifully printed and her pale blonde hair is parted down the back and blowing off to the sides.

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Rensouhou-Chan is as adorable as ever. This is one of the smaller Rensouhou from her retinue. His sculpt is complete with his little flipper arms and bright yellow propeller tail. His guns rise up from his head like antenna and he has an adorable little face painted on the front of his turret head.

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One cool thing is that this Shimakaze fits almost perfectly into the life preserver base from my Taito figure. It’s crazy how well this works despite the two figures being made by two different companies.

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There’s no doubt that this was an impulse buy. I hit that 1-Click Buy It Now the moment I saw it and I’m not disappointed. At about $21 shipped, it’s a pretty decent price. I’ve certainly gotten better Taito Fleet Girl pieces for less, but those were just ridiculously good deals, so I’m not going to hold it against this gal. I’m a sucker for Shimakaze, and I’ll pretty much buy her figures no matter who puts them out.

Arkham Knight: Azrael by DC Collectibles

It was a crazy, busy week for me, folks, and not a lot of time for toys. Luckily I had a few hours yesterday morning to sit down and open up a new figure for DC Friday, take some snaps and write him up. And what’s this? More figures from a game I haven’t played yet. Hooray! That’s OK, though. I’m familiar enough with Azrael, I dig his character, love his back story, but most of all, I absolutely adore what they did with his design for Arkham Knight. Even if it takes a while for me to get deep enough into my “To Play” stack of games to reach Arkham Knight, I had one look at this figure and knew that I needed it!

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Azrael comes in a window box, featuring that distinctive angled side with the character name, which DCC has been using for a while now. The artwork features the game’s logo on the front and eschews the usual clean, white look of DCC’s boxes for something dark and foreboding. It’s totally collector friendly and shows off the figure beautifully. You even get a nice piece of tissue paper to protect the cape.

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Oh, where do I begin? I guess with the Suit of Sorrows re-design that just looks so damn good. Medieval history is one of my passions, and I love reading about The Templars so it should come as no surprise that I love the look of this guy. Obviously The Order of St. Dumas bogarted the design from The Order of Solomon and the idea of seeing this white surcoat with the red cross in a modern urban setting just sings to me.

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The detail in the outfit is exceptional. I love the dirty, ragged, and ancient look of the coat with the chainmail exposed underneath it. You also get a bevy of straps, buckles, and pouches all of which seem to be the key ingredient in making a costume look edgy and modern. I really dig the spiked armor on his forearms, complete with sculpted straps to secure them to his arms. What’s more, every little detail on this figure is painted from the tiniest buckles to the weathering on the armor pieces.

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From the back, you can see Azrael’s cape, which is basically a row of strips with reinforced points at the ends. There are additional sculpted strips running across and bolted into place to hold the rather unconventional design together. The entire ensemble is cast in fairly heavy plastic, but it’s still pliable and definitely suits the figure.

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The portrait is partially concealed under a sculpted hood, which floats freely so as not to inhibit the head articulation too badly. The underlying head features a sculpted mask that gives me a hockey mask vibe and adds to the delightfully anachronistic flavor of this entire costume.

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On paper, the articulation here is excellent, in practice it runs up against the sculpt a bit. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hips. The knees are double hinged, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint just under the chest, and another in the neck. There’s a good range of motion in the legs, but the arms aren’t going to go much above the shoulders. Generally speaking, Azrael wants to be hunched over most of the time, so getting him to look straight ahead can be challenging. With all that having been said, his joints are all solid and he’s still plenty of fun to play with.

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Azrael comes with one accessory, and as you might expect it is indeed The Sword of Sin. This is a beefy and vicious looking sword with sword-breaker notches stacked near the hilt and a chunky grip.

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Even if I never get around to playing Arkham Knight, I’m still enjoying these figures a lot. I find the designs are so much better than what we’re seeing come out of the DC Cinematic Universe and I’m absolutely in love with what they did with Azrael here. Even if I didn’t follow or collect comic book figures (a scenario impossible for me to even imagine!) I’d still love to have this guy on my shelf as a stand alone piece. DC Collectibles took a fantastic design, poured on the love through some excellent sculpting and paintwork, and delivered an outstanding figure.

Prometheus: Engineer (Pressure Suit and Chair Suit) by NECA

Trailers are up for Alien: Covenant and I’m mighty excited, because it’s looking very much the sequel to the grossly underappreciated, Prometheus. Yeah, Prometheus is what one would call a derisive film. It generated a lot of curiosity and excitement leading up to its release and then a lot of those feelings gave way to scorn. I imagine a lot of that comes from how problematic some people found it to place the film in the context of the Alien universe. It wasn’t a film that connected the dots for you and the marketers didn’t seem to know what to do with it. Nonetheless, I found Prometheus to be a stunningly gorgeous film and I’m a huge fan. Believe me, folks, the full extent of my unpopular film opinions would blind you all! But, hey, I’m not here to talk about movies, I’m here to talk about action figures!

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NECA (who else?) produced an unfortunately short-lived series of figures based on Prometheus and I’ve had a bunch of them sitting around waiting to be opened for a few years now. Why open them now? Because NECA just announced that the other figures they designed for the film will finally be getting a release later this year and I’m pretty damn excited about that. As you can see, the figures come in the standard sealed clamshells that NECA has been using for their Alien line. Both figures are based on the imposing and god-like Engineers, one in a Pressure Suit and the other in the infamous Chair Suit that hearkens back to the original Alien. Let’s start with that one!

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Hot damn, look at this guy! One of the most intriguing, compelling, and enigmatic things in Alien, the Space Jockey finally gets a proper action figure. Of course, this guy also appeared in Prometheus, mostly as a hologram and later a decapitated mess. I’ve wanted a figure of this fellow since forever and NECA really delivered on this sculpt. The armored suit is loaded with beautiful lines and that wonderful intricately detailed exo-skeletal look. I can’t help but think the feet are assembled in reverse on mine, although I’ve seen two others that are the same, so maybe it’s an optical illusion or maybe a running flub.

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The “rib cage” chest piece and numerous hoses really drive home the shared heritage of this Engineer’s technology and Xenomorph anatomy. The entire figure is painted with a rich metallic wash that looks almost too good to be plastic.

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I particularly love the curvature of his back and the recessed spinal channel. It looks almost as if it’s designed to mesh with the giant astrogation chair.

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The portrait is spectacular. I love all the crags and pitting on the helmet, in contrast with the smooth eyes. It looks like a chitinous shell. The elephant truck protuberance from the mouth hangs down and disappears into gab behind the “rib cage.”

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Despite being about five years old, the articulation here is up to par with NECA’s modern offerings. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. There are swivels in the biceps, a ball joint at the waist, and a ball joint in the neck. With that all having been said, the range of motion in the hips is rather limited by the sculpt and the arms aren’t exactly super pose-able either. He isn’t going to be doing any convincing action poses, but he does lumber and look intimidating pretty damn well. Moving on to the second figure of the day…

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The other Engineer dons the Pressure Suit that we saw toward the end of the film when David released the Engineer from his cryo-chamber and he went berserk. It’s a completely different sculpt from the Chair Suit figure and it is an incredible recreation of what we saw on screen. The Pressure Suit features every bit as much detail as the previous figure, cast in an ivory colored plastic and given a lovely wash to give it a wet look.

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Again, there’s some great sculpting that carries on the rib cage motif in the chest and there are circular ports all over the suit that look like they are meant to hook up to support tubing. Just check out all that detail in his back. It looks less like a twenty dollar action figure and more like a piece of scrimshaw artwork. Simply gorgeous!

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In contrast to the hyper detailing of the suit, the portrait is smooth and simple and quite a nice likeness for the character in the film. He has a wonderfully and deceptively serene expression, not at all like someone who’s about to tear an android in half. There’s very little paint on the pale, bald head to speak of, but I love what they did with the eyes and the red shadowing around them.

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The articulation on this figure is almost identical to the Space Jockey. The only thing missing here are the swivels in the biceps. Also like the previous figure, the range of motion here is on the shallow side. I would have definitely liked to see some more movement in the hips, but what we got is still somewhat serviceable.

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After having these figures sitting around for a while, it’s great to finally get them open and now I can find a place for them on my NECA Alien shelf. They’re both absolute works of art and (probably thanks to the general unpopular opinions on the film) are still widely available at decent prices. I’ve got quite a few more Prometheus figures to open and look at, but I’m going to be saving those until we get closer to NECA’s release of the so-called Lost Wave!

Marvel Super Heroes: Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum (#76060) by LEGO

I know, last week I promised to finish off the Doctor Strange Wave of Marvel Legends today, but then I realized that I’ve had this LEGO set built for a couple of weeks now and decided to take a detour. Sorry! Rest assured, Marvel Monday will return to its regularly scheduled Legends content next week! 

After a whole year of not building any LEGO sets, I’m happy to be jumping back into the saddle again. LEGO used to be my consolation prize when I went toy hunting for figures and didn’t find anything new. But, now I seldom go out toy hunting anymore… it’s almost all done online, hence there has not been a lot of LEGO coming into the house. I’ll confess, I miss it, but when I’m shopping online there’s almost always a dozen other things on my Want List that take precedent over brick sets. This set, however, was sent to me from a buddy of mine a few weeks before Christmas and I had a great time building it, but it’s time to break it down soon, so let’s check it out! But before we do, I should forewarn you that my cat was all up in my business the whole time I was building this thing, so apologies for the higher than usual amount of cat hair in the snaps!

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The set comes in a long, narrow box with the Marvel Super Heroes branding. It contains three numbered bags, containing 358 pieces, including a loose base plate. You also get a sticker sheet, two instruction manuals, and a small box containing Strange’s Cloak of Levitation. When you’re all done with the build, you get three Minifigs and the Sanctum Sanctorum playset. Let’s start with the Minifigs!

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The set includes three Minifigs, which include Doctor Strange himself, Karl Mordo, and The Ancient One. It’s a decent selection of characters, and I’m still shocked that we got a Minifig of The Ancient One, but as far as play value goes, you’re limited to having these figs sparring with each other, because there’s really no villain here. At least not yet!

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With that having been said, Steven Strange is a fantastic little figure and he will proudly take up residence among my other Marvel Minifigs. The Cloak of Levitation is comprised of both a collar and cape, and was an absolute bitch to get on. Strange features two printed faces and a couple of very cool magic effect parts.

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Mordo also features two printed faces and he comes with his staff.

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And finally, The Ancient One. She features just one printed face, which is to be expected since she doesn’t have a hair piece. She comes with a pair of mystical fan weapons, which are damn cool.  Moving on to the Sanctum Sanctorum…

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So, there’s good and there’s bad here. The good is that this is a wonderfully detailed set with some interesting play features. It’s also a pretty fun set to build, and apart from the bookcases, there isn’t a lot of redundancy here. I do feel, however, that those instruction manuals are spread pretty damn thin just to make the build seem more substantial. Let’s take a tour…

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To the extreme left of the Sanctum there’s a treasure chest and a bookcase. The bookcase features some books on the bottom shelf, a top hat on the second shelf, and a mystical crystal on the third. The top features a lamp and a chain. That black lever thing is supposed to be used to levitate the Cloak of Levitation. Honestly, it was such a pain in the ass to get the Cloak on the Minifig, I’m not going to bother taking it off to try this out. It’s kind of an eyesore for what is a pretty mediocre gimmick, and it requires you to display your Strange Minifig without his Cloak, and who wants to do that?

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The chest opens up to reveal a couple of large keys and a gemstone. You also get a pile of letters on the floor. Most of the scattered ephemera in this set feature stickers.

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Moving on to the center of the Sanctum, there’s a large circular window and two transparent lever platforms to simulate the Minifigs dueling while levitating, which is pretty nifty.

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The table in the middle has a pair of lit candles and some more letters stacked up. One contains the WiFi code and the other is a mysterious letter from Stark Industries!

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A little further to the right and we have another bookcase, this time with two shelves of books and a skull on the center shelf. There’s a bottle beside it and another on the top. You also get a pile of ancient books and maps. A couple of these are printed and are re-used from other sets. I’m pretty sure I have a few of those pirate maps already. The two books use stickers and one is The Codex Imperium!

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And then we get to the Cthulhu-inspired Portal Beast and it undoubtedly the star of this set. It’s a great looking construct and thanks to some gears, you can rotate a wheel in the back and make the four big tentacles squirm all over the place! The ramp leading up to The Portal features a large sticker with some runes and magical markings.

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As you can see, a lot of the brick count in this set falls more into placed accessories than a meaningful build and that may disappoint some. The treasure chest and its contents, the various books and papers, all of these are just pieces that are placed around to add to the room’s clutter. Granted, it does mean you can easily customize the hell out of this set, but in the end I felt all the extra accessories made the build feel a little insubstantial. It also felt like this set should have been bigger. As far as I know, this is the only set we’re getting from Doctor Strange, and as a solitary set piece, I wish there was more to it. As it is, it feels way too narrow and confining.

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I like this set well enough. It was pretty fun to build and the Minifigs are excellent, although I would have liked at least one bad guy, like Kaecilius to be included. The set retails for around $30, which seems OK as far as LEGO pricing is concerned. But with that having been said, I would have been happier paying a lot more for a bigger set. As it is, this one feels a little too confining and it doesn’t live up to the very name Sanctum Sanctorum. I can only imagine what LEGO could have done with this set in the $50-60 range.

Femme Fatales (DC Animated Series): Zatanna by Diamond Select

What’s this? Two DC Fridays in a row? I’m actually getting back on track! Today I’m checking out another one of Diamond Select’s DC Animated Statues. And yes, I know that these aren’t being released under the Femme Fatales moniker any longer, but in the interest of preserving my personal cataloging system, I’m going to keep calling them that. Or in this case, maybe I should call it, SELATAF EMMEF!!!

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Because it’s Zatanna! Boy, I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this release. It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of DC’s buxom spell-slinger and if there’s Zatanna merch out there, then I tend to buy it. And Bruce Timm’s Zatanna? All the better! She comes in the same style window box we’ve been seeing all along with this line of 9-inch scale PVC Statues, now branded as the DC Animated Gallery series. Although I was surprised at just how much wider this box is than any previous releases, in order to accommodate Zatanna’s stance. You get windows all around to let in plenty of light offering a great look at the figure in the box. Inside, the statue comes encased between two plastic trays and there’s no assembly required, so let’s open her up and get her out!

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Ah, isn’t she just lovely! Zatanna stands atop the stage in her abbreviated magician’s black tuxedo jacket with purple lapels, purple short-shorts, and a lavender corset, looking like she just stepped off the screen of Batman: The Animated Series. She’s also amazing her audience by holding aloft the bat that she just pulled out of her hat. The sculptor did a wonderful job capturing all her curves and supplying her with a pair of legs that just won’t quit. This is indeed the Bruce Timm animated style converted flawlessly to the third dimension. Of course, as I always mention when look at this line, these more simplistic animated sculpts require solid paint work to back them up, so how did we do here?

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Well, the quality of paint in this line has very rarely been terrible, but it hasn’t always been as tight as it could be. When you’re dealing with budget statues, it just goes with the territory, but that can be a nerve-wracking situation when you have to buy these online and sight unseen like I do. If there was one character in this line I really wanted to be perfect, it was this one, and I’m happy to say, Zatanna is pretty close to it. Mine has some very minor rubbing on the surface of the back of her hair, but apart from that the paint here is very sharp, the white is clean, and the skin tone is smooth. In fact, I’d say that the paint here is rivaled only by my Talia Al Ghul as the best in this collection.

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The portrait is also superb. Zatanna is offering her best, beaming smile and again, the paint on her facial features is just about flawless. I love this look for the character so much, especially after being less than thrilled enduring the many years of her New 52 make-over.

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The bat and the top hat are both simple sculpts, but great additions to the statues composition. The simple eyes and smiley face they painted on the bat are just adorable.

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I’ll confess the base here threw me for a bit, but then I realized that the shells in the front are supposed to be stage lights and the bubbles in the back are just theatrical effects. If you look really closely, you can see the seams for the trap door she’s standing on with the gray hinges on the back and the handle on the front. They probably could have designed this to be a little more obvious, but once I put two and two together, I’m fine with what they did here.

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I was apprehensive about picking this one up, because I think my expectations were running higher than this budget line could possibly produce. But now that she’s in hand, I’m so very happy to say that Zatanna turned out to be everything I wanted her to be. Indeed, I think the quality on this piece rivals some of DST’s own Premium Collection statues, which are much more limited and tend to run about two or three times the retail price. To say that I’m satisfied with what I got here for forty bucks would be quite the understatement. This line has always been decent, but here’s an example of it flat out amazing me.

Mythic Legions: Jorund Runeshaper by The Four Horsemen

Mythic Legions news dropped late last week from the T4H, announcing that the new Kickstarter for Advent of Decay (previously known as Wave 2.0) would be going live at the end of the month. They also let it be known that the last of the pre-ordered figures, including the Trolls, have arrived at their warehouse and would be shipping out in a couple of weeks. Seems like a good time to look at the last figure I have waiting to be opened. And it seemed appropriate to do one last Mythic Legions Wednesday before I re-work my posting schedule for the year (yet again!), bringing myself to four weekday updates, and taking Wednesdays off.

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Jorund Runeshaper is one of the figures I passed on while trying to budget out my initial Kickstarter Add Ons. He was also one of the ones that was hard for me to let go, because I wanted a lot of dwarves. Well, late last year, T4H put up some of their remaining stock up for pre-order, I had a second crack at this guy, and naturally I took it! I’ve got nothing new to say about the packaging, so let’s get him out!

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This is my fourth Dwarf, but if this is your first look at one of these, you should know that they share the upper body and arms with the armored humans of the line, and only the legs are shorter and dwarf-specific. Jorund’s bio indicates that he’s a rather atypical Dwarf in that he’s a master of the mystic arts and I’d like to think that’s reflected in his spectacular, and obviously enchanted, armor. Indeed, with the metallic blue, gold, green, and purple deco, this is one of the most visually striking suits of armor in the entire line, and that’s saying a lot! The quality of paint that T4H uses on these figures continue to amaze me as does the precision of application. Every tiny sculpted rivet on this suit is painted and the emerald green and gold look superb against the blue. It’s absolutely gorgeous!

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As always, the shoulder pieces are optional, although in this case they’re required if you want him wearing his cloth cape. Personally, I prefer him with the cape and shoulders, but when I get to articulation, I’ll talk about some of the drawbacks of using them. The cape is made of very soft material and I’d stress caution when taking it on and off, because the fabric is thin at the tops of the holes and it looks like it wouldn’t take much to tear it.

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I was expecting this portrait to be a straight repaint of Thord Ironjaw, but I was pleasantly surprised. The face looks the same, but the sculpt of the beard and mustache and bushy eyebrows are all new. The head gear is also new, with a smooth, rounded helmet and a crest above his forehead. The wings are repaints of the ones we originally saw worn by Sir Gideon Heavensbrand and they look quite nice here.

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And then there’s the neck. Like all the Mythic Legion figures, Jorund’s head is on a ball joint, which is usually fine, but the shoulders and the head sculpt here are all at odds with each other. If you want the shoulders on, you’re going to sacrifice almost all neck articulation. Trying to move the head results in it popping off or the wings popping out. Take the shoulders (and cape) off, and the problem is solved. There’s one other way to solve the problem…

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Jorund comes with an alternate helmeted head. This is the same sculpt we’ve seen a few times in the past, now painted to match the armor. It looks great on the figure, but I think it robs him of a lot of his character. Besides, when he puts that helmet on, where the hell does all that beard go? Hey, I love options and I’m always happy to see T4H throwing bonuses like this in the package. I honestly didn’t even expect it to be in there. But I honestly doubt I’ll get much use out of it. I just love the regular portrait on this figure way too much.

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In addition to the extra helmet, shoulders, cape, and ubiquitous brown belt, Jorund comes with some weapons that we’ve seen before. First off you get the single handed sword with matching dagger. These feature disc pommels and are among my favorite weapons sculpts in the line. They’re just great, serviceable, no-nonsense weapons, and they each have purple painted grips to match his helmet deco.

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You also get the spear we’ve seen many times before, painted all in silver. The spears seem a little much for these little guys, so I think that one is going to go to one of my other figures and I’ll let Jorund get by with his matching blades.

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And so we have another amazing figure from Mythic Legions. I can’t put into words how glad I am to have had a second crack at this guy for my collection. He’s a gorgeous figure and that enchanting deco on his armor will serve to brighten up my little band of Dwarves while they’re out adventuring together. And it can’t hurt for them to have someone skilled in the arcane arts along for the ride. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have a some new Mythic Legions figures to check out, including a big ass Troll. You can probably also expect to hear me plugging the T4H’s new Kickstarter quite a bit towards the end of the month.

Marvel Legends (Dormammu Wave): Iron Fist by Hasbro

Iron Fist is the next character to get the spotlight from Marvel’s Netflix endeavors and I’m pretty excited about what I’ve seen so far. It seems only natural to keep him in the spotlight on the toy aisles to, and so Hasbro dropped Iron Fist into this Doctor Strange Wave. The mystical connection is certainly there, but I could think of a few more appropriate figures that they could have slotted into this wave. I would have particularly loved a wide release of Magick. But then I think… hey, it’s Iron Fist… he’s cool!

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There’s no actual Doctor Strange branding on the package and Iron Fist actually gets his own logo down at the bottom. If you’re getting a twinge of Deja Vous from this release, it’s because we just saw Iron Fist (in his white outfit) about a year ago in the Allfather Wave. But don’t roll your eyes just yet, because…

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If you were grumbling about getting a straight repaint of the last Iron Fist, you should be pleasantly surprised, because this one is all new. I liked the last release a lot, it’s an incredibly fun figure, but it did use that carry-over body from Hasbro’s old Legends line, which included those terrible ball hips, but I’ll get back to those when I talk articulation. This body sculpt strikes me as more fluid and natural, and less like one of those pose-able artist’s anatomy dolls. It’s just a lean, mean kung-fu-fighting machine.

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Of course, the costume is achieved mostly through a painted buck, and even with that having been said, the paint is minimal. You get a mostly green body with yellow painted boots and his emblem printed on his chest. The fists and wraps are new sculpts and the belt is sculpted as a separate piece.

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The previous Iron Fist head was passable, but this one is excellent. Granted, it’s a very different style. The exposed lower half of the face features some sharp detail and the mask looks great and features the long, loose ties streaming off the back.

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This is the Pizza Spidey buck, so the articulation is both familiar and excellent. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps and about halfway through the forearms. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinged knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The torso features a swivel at the waist, an ab crunch hinge, and those wonderful lateral crunches in the shoulders. The head has both a hinge and a ball joint.

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While this version of Iron Fist doesn’t include the plethora of extra hands the last release had, you do get a pair of glowing fists, achieved through translucent yellow plastic. You also get two translucent yellow effect parts, which can be used over either pairs of fists to give him flaming fists of fury!

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So, some may cry foul at getting another Iron Fist so soon, but it’s hard for me to argue when the figure is this good. And, boy is he good! Throw in the fact that I relate to his green costume a lot more than his white one, and this figure is actually a very welcome variant-slash-do-over. Next Monday I’m going to wrap this wave up with a look at both variants of the MCU Doctor Strange and follow it up with Dormammu himself!

And now is as good a time as any to declare that my new posting schedule is not working out so well, so next month I’ll be changing it up, hopefully for the last time, and going to a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday rotation. Yes, it’s only adding one more Feature a week, but I’m afraid I was going to fall too far behind if I continued with just three. Hopefully this will be the happy compromise I’m looking for I have been getting a lot more time in on my backlog of video games and comics, and I think the one day off in the middle of the week will be enough to keep that going.

And no, I haven’t forgotten about the occasional Anime Saturdays, I’ll have another one of those ready for the end of this week. 

Arkham Knight: Batgirl and Oracle by DC Collectibles

It’s a familiar story to most collectors. A figure comes out, you procrastinate picking it up, and next thing you know it’s going for all the monies and you missed your shot. One of those instances for me was the Oracle figure that DC Direct released in their Birds of Prey set over ten years ago. Well, when I got wind that DC Collectibles was taking a shot at the character from the Arkham video game series, I wasn’t hesitating this time and pre-ordered this set the moment it was solicited. For a while I forgot it was coming, but here it is!

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So far, I’ve only played the first two Arkham games and Knight is still confined to my sad pile of games waiting to be played. Nonetheless, I like the aesthetics in the series and I’ve been starting to collect some of DCC’s Arkham figures, so you’ll likely start seeing some of these featured here from time to time. This set comes in a sizable window box, which gives you a great look at both Barbara Gordon figures and all the accessories. It’s a little roomier than it needs to be, but it also feels like something special. It’s also collector friendly, which is great because I tend to keep these multi-figure sets from DCC in the box, as they display really nicely. Let’s start off with Batgirl…

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The Arkham Knight version isn’t a huge departure from the New 52 look. The black body suit is still very tactical in appearance with sculpted panel lines and ribbed sections under the arms and between the thighs. Here, her boots, gauntlets, belt, and bat symbol are all painted with a snappy gold instead of the traditional yellow, making for a very sharp looking suit. She retains the scalloped boot tops from the New 52 look, but her belt is far more intricate and ornate. It almost looks like it’s sculpted to look like a ring of laurel leaves. You also get some tiny painted snaps and fasteners near her shoulders. I like the look of this suit a lot and DCC did a fine job executing it here.

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The cape is soft and pliable, with a scalloped bottom edge. It features a painted gold finish on the interior and a thin gold border running around the outside. It’s just the right length and weight so that it doesn’t throw off the balance of the figure too badly. Even in some precarious action poses, she does not tend to topple backwards. That’s a good thing, because she doesn’t have peg holes in her feet to accommodate a traditional DC Collectibles figure stand.

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Where this figure stumbles a bit (just a bit) is in the portrait. It’s certainly not bad, but I fell like there’s something a little off about it. The plastic used for the skin is soft, and the face is pretty, but the green eyes are a little dead and the face is a little too full and rounded. On it’s own, I would probably be OK with it, but she’s going to be sharing a display case with the New 52 Batgirl that DCC put out just a few years back, and the inevitable comparisons are just not that favorable. On the other hand, the sculpt work on the cowl and hair are both fantastic. Maybe I’m just being picky, because this was a somewhat pricey set.

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The articulation here is slightly better than what I’ve come to expect from the modern DCC figures. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinged knees, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the ankles. There’s a ball joint just under the chest and another in the neck. The addition of thigh swivels is a very welcome treat. To help with those action poses, Batgirl includes no less than three pairs of hands. The fists are attached with the other options being open hands and gripping hands. I love that the open hands have the interior gripping parts of the gloves painted black.

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Batgirl comes with a batarang. It’s a static piece with no hinge in the middle like we’ve seen on some of DCC’s other batarang accessories. This is also pretty big accessory, so big I wonder where she would possibly keep it. It sure as hell isn’t going anywhere in that utility belt! Still, I dig that it’s substantial, she can hold it very well, and it’s a very nice sculpt along with some silver paint on the edges.  Let’s move on to Oracle…

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Oracle comes out of the box seated in her wheelchair, which is a completely separate piece, but obviously integral to displaying the figure. DCC did an impressive job with the chair’s sculpt and paint. The parts that are supposed to be metal have a metallic gray finish with orange trim. The cushions are off white with a matching orange paint. All four wheels are designed to roll. There are no pegs or tabs to secure the figure in the chair, she just sits right in it.

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The sculpt and paint on this figure are both excellent. She’s wearing yellow shorts and a lavender and yellow jacket with a grey and pink striped shirt peaking through the top. The outfit is rounded out with some finger-less gloves, yellow sneakers, and white socks. The detail in the clothing goes above and beyond for DCC. For a company that’s used to doing either spandex costumes or panel-lined armor, they really went all out with the little details on Oracle’s civvies, right down to the little buttons pinned to her jacket. The paint is pretty clean too, with one glaring exception: Mine has a glob of yellow paint on her left shoulder. It’s not a big deal for me, but had I been able to buy her at a store, I could have picked out a better one.

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The portrait here is solid work. It’s not easy to do glasses in this scale and make them look good, but DCC pulled it off here with aplomb. That having been said, the I would have appreciated it if the two portraits matched a little closer. Apart from the red hair, the likenesses on these two figures don’t do a lot to suggest that they’re the same person.

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All of Oracle’s articulation is in her upper body. There are rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists; She also has ball joints below her chest and in her neck. My only nitpick with Oracle is that I wish she sat a little straighter on the wheelchair. The way she’s pre-posed has her perpetually leaning forward, which actually would work fine if there was a computer desk to put her in front of. I am able to get her seated back further and looking fine, even if her feet aren’t quite touching the foot rests.

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Oracle comes with a few nifty accessories, the biggest of which is her backpack. This piece is designed to hang off the back of the chair and it fits quite nicely. It has a trendy pink camo deco along with a peace sign painted on the back. There are a number of sculpted books and whatnot peeking out of the open pouches and there’s a pouch for her water bottle. The bottle is even removable. I am a little surprised that they didn’t include a laptop with her.

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Oracle also comes with a pair of stylish headphones, which are not designed to fit onto her head, but rather just hang off the back of the chair.

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I like this set a lot and both figures are quite solid. Best of all, Oracle’s design is versatile enough so that I don’t mind her standing in with my comic based figures. Speaking of which, it’s a shame that DC Collectibles hasn’t done a modern comic version of Black Canary because posing Batgirl in her place alongside Oracle and Huntress makes for a nice picture, but granted doesn’t make any sense, leaving me one Bird of Prey short. These figures set me back fifty bucks, which sounds about right when you figure about $20-22 a figure and then factor in the wheelchair as a very large accessory. It’s always possible this set will drop in price eventually, as many of DCC’s Arkham video game figures do, but this was a case where I wasn’t willing to take that risk and with the figures in hand, I’m glad I didn’t.