Star Wars Black: Princess Leia (A New Hope) by Hasbro

One of the things that’s had me most excited about the 6-inch Black Series was getting all of the original 12 vintage figures in this new format. Well, Hasbro showed off the remaining releases at Toy Fair last week and collectors who are willing to double dip will even be able to get them on vintage style cardbacks. They look great, but I don’t have the money or space to buy all these figures again just so I can tear them open or hang them on the wall. As it is, I already have totes full of the carded Vintage Collection 3 3/4-inch figures that I hardly ever see. Anywho, with the original version of Princess Leia now in my collection, my 6-inch heroes from A New Hope are complete and all I’m waiting on is the Jawa, Death Squad Commander, and Tusken Raider to complete the Twelve… pretty cool!

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This figure has had its share of controversy as many Princess Leia figures have had to suffer ever since the day Power of the Force 2 unleashed the dreaded “Monkey-Face Leia” on our collections. It’s safe to say that some of the early shots of this one didn’t look so good. I made a decision that, once in hand, if I thought this this one sucked really bad, I wasn’t going to review it out of respect to the late Carrie Fisher. The fact that you’re reading this means that wasn’t the case. Now, I’m not going to tell you she’s fantastic, but… well, let’s just go ahead and dive in.

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For starters, there’s very little sculpted detail visible on this figure, and that’s because of her softgoods outfit. Gown? Is that the right word? Maybe? I’m going to call it a gown. From the neck down all you can really see are her hands and boots, and the belt which cinches the gown to the figure. And yes, the belt and gown are both removable and she has a fully painted white outfit and boots underneath. The gown is easily my favorite part of this figure. I’m glad they didn’t go for a complete sculpt here. The fabric fits the figure very well, the stitching is pretty good with just a few stray threads here and there, and there are some areas, like the neck collar, where it’s actually quite impressive. The material is very thin and it’s slit a bit up the sides to not interfere with articulation too badly.

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They also included the hood, which is another check I’ll add to this figure’s plus column. It doesn’t fit flush with her back when it’s down, but that’s to be expected with the lack of weight that an outfit in this scale exhibits. Overall, I think it looks better down than Obi-Wan’s hood does.

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And then there’s the portrait. So, I was expecting the worst and I don’t think that’s what I got. No, it’s not very good either. At some point I’m sure there was some Carrie Fisher in there, but I think most of it got lost in the transition from prototype to final product. And the fact that it got the bare bones minimum effort when it came to the paint doesn’t help either. My guess is this will be another Black Series figure that someone paints up really nice and shows that it could have worked in the right hands, but clearly those hands aren’t working in Hasbro’s factories. I’d say that this portrait might have been acceptable on a 3 3/4-inch figure, but not so much in a 6-inch “collector’s line.” I seem to say that a lot when reviewing these figures. On a more positive note, I think the hair sculpt is pretty good.

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The underlying articulation is right in line with what we’ve seen from many 6-inch Black Series figures. I couldn’t quite get her to hunch down to R2’s level to feed him the Death Star Plans, but I was able to fake it by getting her down on one knee.

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Leia comes with two accessories and they’re both guns! And why not? Princess Leia is an ass kicker. The first thing we see her do is take out a Stormtrooper with this first weapon. Yes, it’s her “Defender” sporting blaster, which she carried on the Tantive IV right before getting captured. This design is one of my favorite weapons in the film.

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Hasbro also threw in an E-11 Stormtrooper blaster, which she used later on during the escape from The Death Star. We’ve seen plenty of these guns released in the Black Series, but I’m always happy to get another! Now, before wrapping up there’s just one more thing to look at, and that’s scale. Consistency of scale has been a challenge with this line, and Princess Leia is one of the biggest (literally) examples of that.

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Here are all the 6-inch Black Series Leias together. Back when I looked at Leia in the Boushh disguise I was notably irked about how badly they flubbed the scale on that figure. She’s a giant compared to the original Slave Leia release. Here we can see that they reined things in a bit and scaled this figure almost perfectly with her bikini-clad counterpart. Sure it just makes Boushh Leia look all the more freakishly tall, but at least they didn’t compound the error by doing it again. Which likeness do you think is the best? Granted, none of them are ideal, but I think I’d go with Slave Leia followed by this one.

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It’s never a ringing endorsement to have to say a figure could have been worse, but that’s what I’m thinking here. The truth is, given my ever deflating expectations for the 6-inch Black Series, I found this version of Princess Leia to be perfectly passable, and yes that’s intended as a left-handed compliment. From the neck down, I’m extremely happy with the way she turned out and I think this is some of the best use of softgoods that the line has seen to date. And while the portrait is far from being on point, I don’t think it’s all that much worse than some of the other likenesses we’ve had here. Indeed, comparing it to some of the larger and far more expensive Princess Leia releases in the past sort of puts things in a better perspective. Word is that the re-issue in the vintage-style packaging got a face lift, both in paint and sculpt, and the prospect of that might tempt me to try my luck with another.

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Marvel Legends (Abomination Wave): Eel and Abomination Build-A-Figure by Hasbro

Here we go… it’s time to wrap up the Abomination Wave with a look at the last packaged figure, Eel, and then I’m going to stick around and put together The Abomination Build-A-Figure. I’m doubling up today, partly because I’m falling so far behind in opening my Legends figures, but also because I don’t have a whole lell of a lot to say about Marvel’s Eel.

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Now I don’t want to piss all over The Eel. His alias (two characters have held the name) is not without some pedigree, with the original incarnation going all the way back to the 60’s in the pages of Strange Tales, where else? Throughout the decades, he’s served any number of teams from the Thunderbolts to the Serpent Society and he’s appeared in a number of relatively recent Marvel event books from Civil War to Original Sin. The blurb on the back makes it sound like he has an innate power to conduct electricity, but as far as I knew, he’s just a dude in a special suit. But hey, I’m no Eel expert.

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Based on the costume, this is most likely Eddie Lavell, as opposed to Leopold Stryke who had a simpler deco on his mask. Obviously Eel is the budget-saving figure in the Wave. Although when you consider that Wonder Man and Cap got by with mostly painted bucks and Iron Skull was a repainted Mark 42 Armor, it feels like Hasbro did a lot of budgeting in this assortment. Nonetheless, for me Eel is the one figure that really smacks of being easy-peasy-cheap-and-breezy. The buck features zero original sculpting and it’s possible that we’ve even seen that masked head before. If not, then that’s the only original sculpting on this figure. Even the electro-effect hands came from Electro.

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Still, I have to say I love what Hasbro does with these masked head sculpts. You can really see a lot of cool details in the facial features underneath. In this case, the chin and the nose are hinted at, and it looks like he’s snarling. The pupil-less yellow eyes are a nice touch.

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With that having been said, the coloring is somewhat attractive and the paint is clean. With the almost neon splashes of purple and blue, he looks like my Freshman Year Trapper Keeper from 1986. Articulation is standard for the line and he has a pair of regular fists if those effect-part hands aren’t to your taste.

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Personally, I really like the effect hands, and as you may know, I’m generally not really into effect parts, but these are fun and add a little something extra to a figure that really needed it. In the end, I’m going to have to surprise even myself and say I kind of like this figure. Eel is well done for what he is, and if this is the worst I have to buy to get a BAF part, I’m OK with that. And speaking of BAF parts, let’s move on to Abomination.

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Yup, this is about as simple as a Buid-A-Figure can get. Six parts consisting of two arms, two legs, a body, and a head. Everything goes together super easy.

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Like The Enchantress from the Dormammu Wave, Abomination was originally released as part of last year’s SDCC Exclusive Raft set. Wait, wasn’t Dormammu previously released as an SDCC Exclusive too? Wow, Hasbro is making a habit of this. And yet still no retail release of Magick. BOO!!! Anyway, the sculpting on the two figures is identical with this version only being set apart by a brand new paint job. The sculpt is genuinely superb. I feel like Hasbro could have cheaped out here and reused parts from the Ultimate Green Goblin BAF, but this looks all new to me and I really like it.

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The detail in the craggy skin is phenomenal as are all the disgusting warts and bumps scattered about his body. The scales and ridges on his shoulders and back are also excellent. You get pretty standard Legends articulation here, with the only real cut being single hinges in the knees, as opposed to doubles.

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The head sculpt doesn’t disappoint either. I do have one tiny nitpick and that’s the seam that runs above his eyebrows is a little obvious. If this were a high end figure, I’d say that was a legitimate gripe, but here I think it’s entirely forgivable, especially when every other thing about the portrait is so damn good.

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As for the paint job, I think it’s terrific. It’s far more dynamic than what we saw on the Exclusive version. You get gradations of green starting mostly dark on the extremities and back and lightening up on the chest and face. I’m kind of torn on it. On the one hand, I think it looks a lot more interesting, and ironically more like a premium figure, than the SDCC version. On the other hand, I think I’d have to say the Exclusive is more accurate to most of the comic art I’ve seen. I definitely prefer this one, with my only issue being the paint on his shorts looks really flat compared to the rest of the figure.

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And there we have it, another Wave of Marvel Legends in the bag. While this assortment tends to get crapped on, I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. The Abomination, Wonder Man, and Captain Britain are all characters that I’m very happy to have on my shelf. The MCU version of Scarlet Witch was long overdue, and the rest are just solid universe builders. Of course, I seem to be in the minority on that opinion, because with the exception of Scarlet Witch, Amazon was blowing these figures out for as little as eight bucks a pop at one time. But hey, more for me. On the next Marvel Monday, I’ll be taking a break to look at some Marvel goodness from a line that I haven’t shown in a long while, and then I’m going way back to check out some Spidey villains before moving on to the Space Venom Wave. Oh boy, am I behind!!!

Transformers Titans Return: Fortress Maximus by Hasbro, Part 2

So, if you were here yesterday you witnessed a middle aged man practically brought to tears of joy by the magical thing that is a giant toy robot. I checked out Fort Max’s robot mode as well as his Titan Master and his Titan Master’s Titan Master. Today it’s time to check out the alt modes, and I’m going to start things off with his Battle Station Mode. Once again, I’m going to apologize for the quality of these pictures, but I had to get really creative with the lighting and backdrop in order to snap pictures of this beast.

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So here’s the Battle Station. I love this mode and I don’t care that it’s basically just Fort Max lying on his back with his arms over his head. It’s cool, dammit! This thing is probably intended as a land vehicle, but I’d like to think of it as an ocean faring vessel, but it could really even work as a space ship if you want. It’s all up to your imagination. The legs form two forward pontoons with two massive dual-cannon gun emplacements, while the arms form landing strips for aircraft. Yeah, the upper legs and pelvis are just connective tissue.

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Cerebros forms a Command Tower in the middle of this behemoth, with Emissary free to stand on top and shout, “I’M KING OF THE WORLD!” Now, I realize this is Titans Return and Fort Max is designed to be manned by the tiny Titan Masters. Indeed, there are foot pegs all over this thing and these little bots certainly give Fort Max’s alt modes an incredible sense of scale. But I’m going a different route here because how often do I get to say, LET’S BUST OUT THE MINI-CONS!!! 

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Yeah, if you thought I could resist the opportunity to load up Fort Max with Mini-Cons the moment I transformed him, then you just don’t know me at all. Let’s take a quick tour!

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The front pontoons are probably not the best place for Mini-Cons to gather, as I imagine the blasts from those cannons are pretty fierce. But I’ve got a couple doing maintenance checks on the left pylon. I know what you’re saying. Stormcloud is a speedboat, what does he know about fixing cannons? Well, he’s taking some engineering extension courses from Powerlinx Blackout. Just go with me on that one. Meanwhile the other pontoon is being used as a makeshift helipad… Haha, see what I did there? Makeshift is using it as a helipad! OMGWTFLOL!!! Anyway, it’s worth mentioning here that the right foot on my figure does not lock into position like it should. I had to use a little blue-tack to hold it in place. That’s disappointing, but I guess not catastrophic. I wonder if this is a common issue or I just got lucky. Moving on to the middle…

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There’s not much to do in this middle section. It’s just a place for the Mini-Cons to hold their adorable little Mini-Con meetings. I’ve got Blackout chilling and watching the skies with his AA-gun arms while Payload drones on about whatever Mini-Con’s drone on about. Probably how much it sucks to carry Sky Blast on his back all the time.

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Over here, Waterlog is being lowered into the water by one of the cranes. Dammit, I can’t remember his name. Meanwhile, Sky Blast is standing by on his launch pad.

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The runways are loaded with Mini-Con jets waiting to fly their sorties in case Starscream and company happen to show up.

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And finally, I’ve got Waterlog’s twin… um, Other Waterlog, standing by to launch out of the bay in the back.

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There’s a lot of fun to be had here with the Battle Station mode, and yes there’s an entirely other mode to play with. Insert G1 transforming sound here.

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Now the City Mode is just as awesome and it looks great, but in fairness it offers more or less the same play areas as the Battle Station mode, just in a slightly different configuration, so there’s not a whole lot to be said about this mode that hasn’t already been said.

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The central Command Tower is still there, although now the back of it is facing forward. It looks good, and I dig the way the little Autobot emblem can be seen near the top. This time, I’m using the top of the tower as a launchpad for Sky Blast. There’s some room here and there for other Mini-Cons to congregate, but there’s not a lot of areas here that are specifically designated to interact with figures. You can open up the translucent compartment to have access to a little room in there and maybe use it as a prison.

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At the front ground level of the city we have a couple of garages, which work really well for the Mini-Con cars. This is probably the biggest difference between the two modes. The Battle Station didn’t have a lot of places for the cars to live, whereas here they do. I wish the main ramp wasn’t so steep, though.

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The box hanging off Fort Max’s leg serves as a gunner station with Cerebros’ gun attached to it. You can also detach this and use it as a tank, but it’s a bitch to get off.

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The two front runways from the Battle Station are here, just separated from each other. They still serve as runways for my Mini-Con jets to launch from. You also get the two large gun emplacements on the sides with room for more launching areas or helipads or whatever you want. Like I said, we’ve seen most of this in the last mode, so there isn’t a lot new to talk about here. It’s still a great looking city, certainly a lot better looking than Metroplex’s city mode and, if I happened to choose this mode to talk about first, it would have been the Battle Station getting the shorter end of the stick when discussing the various features. As always, there are some different configurations you can play around with, but most of them are just going to be slight variations on what we’ve already seen. I should also note that while I get the most fun out of using Mini-Cons with the alt modes, Fort Max is still big enough to interact with the Deluxes and the tiny Titan Masters really give him an even grander sense of scale.

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In case you didn’t notice, I’m impressed with Fortress Maximus and I’ve been having too much fun playing around with him. And finally getting him is all the sweeter for me since I never owned the original G1 toy. The closest I came was owning the Car Robots Brave Maximus, which I wound up selling off when the prices for him were going through the roof and I needed money to feed my video game addiction. I’ve felt bad about that decision for a long time, but now that I finally have a modern update of the old mold, I’m at peace with it. This guy looks amazing standing next to Metroplex and I can’t even imagine how cool they’re both going to look when displayed with the Titan Class Trypticon. Now I’ve got some major re-arranging to do as I try to make a new shelf for my Titans!

Transformers Titans Return: Fortress Maximus by Hasbro, Part 1

Well, I’ve been saving this big bot for a while now and with Toy Fair getting my toy collecting juices flowing (I’m talking about you, Trypticon… Lotion and tissues were involved!), I thought this week would be a good time to open him up. In order to give Fort Max his due, I’m going to take a couple days to look at him and that means no DC Friday tomorrow. Sorry, but it takes me a long time, and some serious DIY bullshit, to rig up my sad little photo stage so that it’s big enough to shoot something like this. So, while I’m on the subject, let me apologize in advance for the lighting in this review. My set up is designed mostly for figures in the 4-inch to the 12-inch range, so I had to just do the best I could and I can’t say I’m terribly pleased with the results. Anyway, today I’m going to check out the packaging and his robot mode and tomorrow I’ll have a look at his two alt modes. And with that out of the way, I think I would be remiss if I didn’t state what most of us have been thinking ever since this toy was first shown… OMFG, FORTRESS MAXIMUS GOT A MODERN UPDATE AND HE’S ABSOLUTELY FREAKING HUGE!!!!

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Hell yeah, he is! This isn’t so much a love letter from Hasbro as it is a giant, heavy package of sex in plastic transforming robot form. The last time I saw a Transformer this big he was in a Generations box and his name was Metroplex. Well, the deco may be different, but the box is right about the same size as we saw with Metro. Alas, the artwork here is landscape, whereas Metro’s was landscape on one side and portrait on the other. Why does that make any difference? Because I have Metro displayed standing on top of his box and I use the box itself to store other Transformers. Yeah, I can still do that here, but the artwork just won’t be orientated right. It’s fine, I’m about to start mixing up my Transformers display anyhow and see if I can find a shelf for these two Titans. Besides, here we have another Transformers figure clocking in at over 2-feet tall and I’m complaining about the box, so I’ll just shut the hell up now so we can open it and see what’s inside…

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Fort Max is built using some parts shared with Metroplex, so there are going to be some general similarities here. The first of which is how he comes in the box with one arm detached. Unlike Metroplex, Fort Max’s arm actually detaches again, so if you want to store him in the box, that’s do-able this time. Mercifully, Hasbro used the regular string to secure him (with the exception of two invisible elastic bands), so getting him off the cardboard tray is as easy as snip, snip, snip.

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Also included in the box is a folded instruction sheet, a profile card, and a glorious foil sheet of stickers! STICKERS!!! I love putting on stickers. At least for the first five or ten minutes and then I’m ready to be done with it. It doesn’t help that putting stickers on Fort Max is like trying to dress a large fussy child for church. If this is going to be anything like it was with Metroplex, I’ll start with him standing on the table and soon have him across my lap, over my shoulder, and just all over the place. Well, wish me luck. I’m off to sticker him up, and after a lot of teeth grinding and a few expletives, I’ll be back to try to get this review rolling…

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Aaaand back! The stickers didn’t seem as bad as with Metroplex and I think they go a long way to spice up the look of the toy. There are a few strips I left off, which I may decide to put on later. But before looking at the big bot, let’s check out his Titan Masters. Yes, Fort Max has not one, but two Titan Masters. Yo mama so fat even her Titan Master has a Titan Master! Seriously, this is like one of those Russian nesting dolls. I’m going to start small and work my way up!

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First, you have Emissary, feel free to call him Spike if you want, and I don’t have a whole lot to say about this tiny bot. He’s basically similar to your average Titan Masters, featuring the same level of articulation with ball joints in the shoulders and neck and hinges in the hips and knees of his fused legs. He’s molded in the same dark gray, light gray, and blue plastics as the big guy himself and he does have some paint on his face, which really goes a long way to make these little bots look better. Like the Titan Masters we got in the first wave of Deluxe’s this one just feels a bit more premium than what we’ve been getting since.

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And in case you were wondering, he is indeed compatible with the other figures in the line. Here he is with Hot Rod standing in for Firedrive. Of course, Emissary is intended to transform into the head for…

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Cerebros, who transforms into Fort Max’s head. This guy is roughly Deluxe-sized and he’s a damn cool looking robot. He’s got great proportions and a nice boxy G1 look that I just love to death. His chest is a silver grill that conceals some lights and a speaker. Connecting Emissary’s head mode to him causes his chest to light up, fires off some start up noises and he says his name in a cool synthesized voice. Pressing the head down again will activate some firing sounds. The deco uses most of the colored plastics used on Fort Max himself and yet Cerebros manages to look rather distinctive.

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I particularly dig how he has a shroud on his back to cover up the Fort Max face. Having a giant face on your back may be alright if your a tiny Titan Master, but I don’t think it would have been very excusable for this guy. The articulation here is pretty much spot on for a Deluxe-sized figure too. He’s a very solid figure and loads of fun to play with all on his own.

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The head sculpt is fantastic. He’s got a rounded black “helmet,” a prominent mouth plate, and a blue visor. And yup, you can pop any Titan Master you want on there if you want to change out his noggin.

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Cerebros has a gun, which is stored in Fort Max’s clear chest compartment when you take him out of the box. It also has room to seat a Titan Master, but I’ll get to that tomorrow when we look at the alt modes! Transforming Cerebros into Fort Max’s head isn’t much more sophisticated than transforming the little Titan Masters. You fold his arms in front of him, fold the legs up to the sides, and flip up the face shield. Doing this activates the familiar G1 transforming sound and with him in his head mode and plugging the noggin into Fort Max’s body makes the ancient Titan speak his name. And with that, we can finally have a look at Fort Max himself!

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Ooooh YEAH! If this doesn’t get you hard, there’s something wrong with you. Or maybe that’s the other way around. Either way, I’ll confess that by reusing parts, I was afraid this guy was going to come off as a Metroplex masquerading as Fort Max, but it doesn’t at all. Yes, if I look carefully I can see some of the same features in the forearms and lower legs, and the hands are the same, but if I didn’t already know about parts sharing, I’m not sure I would have identified it until I stood the two together and really scrutinized them. Nope, when I look at this beauty all I see is a fantastic modern update to the Fort Max toy I wanted so badly as a kid. I think the thing that strikes me as most immediately impressive is how great one of these Titans looks with some color. No offense, Metro, I still love you, but the blue, red, and gray plastic, coupled with some lovely silver paint apps all looks so damn good here, and it really picks out all that wonderful sculpted detail in the mold. And there are a ton of details! This guy just wears it well.

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The back shows off more of those amazing details. It also shows the two ramps that drop behind his arms. These are easily the only awkward thing about the robot design, as I guess you could call them base mode kibble. They don’t really get in the way much when I’m posing him, but they can look a little awkward when his arms are up. That having been said, the original G1 mold had them too, so who am I to complain?

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In fact, if I were to complain about anything it would be that Max is rather light on the ordinance, at least as far as the Hasbro release is concerned. Metroplex came sporting a massive shoulder cannon and a pair of hand guns, which could mount on his shoulders. Max has knee guns. And that’s pretty much it. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some knee guns, and I get that they were going for an exclusive enticement with the sword, but I would have really liked his rifle, and I kind of miss the flip out hip cannons that the original toy had. At least, you can take Cerebros’ gun and mount it to various ports on Max, including his left shoulder, which looks pretty good. OK, that’s enough griping… that’s really all I’ve got for the griping.

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Cerebros forms a truly fantastic head sculpt. Max looks quite the noble bad ass and if you press the button on his chest his eyes will light up and he’ll make all sorts of battle noises, powering up noises, and he’ll even utter “Autobots” and “Decepticons” from time to time. Fort Max is not much of a conversationalist, and I always thought it odd, at least in the Sunbow cartoon, that the bigger the robots got, the dumber they sounded. In addition to the great head, you can really see some of the amazing sculpted detail in this closeup. From panel lines to gears, to sculpted turrets, they really decked him out. I dig the translucent plastic they used for his chest compartment too. This toy just looks so amazing!

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There’s no doubt that Max is happiest when he’s standing at attention. He’s quite stable that way and, like Metroplex, I know I can stand him on the shelf like that and not worry about him toppling over. Of course, there’s also plenty of articulation to play with too. Max features some heavy ratcheting joints, similar to what we saw with Metro, and the arms can hold whatever pose I put them in and the legs do a pretty good job of holding Max’s substantial bulk if you don’t get too crazy.

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With that having been said, I’m pretty pleased with some of the wide stances and action poses I’m able to get out of him. It does take some work, finding that sweet spot where he will balance. And if you give him too wide a stance, his legs are inclined to slide outwards and do the splits. I wouldn’t be comfortable posing him like this for a long period of time, but it does make him surprisingly fun for such a large and bulky figure, let alone one that transforms into two alt modes.

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If any part of Fortress Maximus isn’t totally blowing my brain out the side of my skull, it’s just because Metroplex came first and stole some of his thunder. But that shouldn’t take anything away from him. In fact, and I’m going to get a little sappy here, playing around with this figure really made me feel like a kid again. There’s something about a toy like this that is just so grand and so magical that it personifies that perfect Christmas morning or that especially amazing birthday. It literally fills me with joy to know that there are companies out there like Hasbro that are willing to take risks and say, “Who cares if kids these days just want Apple Watches and tablets and XboxStationWiiUs? We’re going to make a goddamn giant robot and we’re going to convince retailers who are already crazy stingy about their retail space to put it on their shelves. Not only that, but we’re also going to do it again at the end of the year with a giant robot dinosaur.” It makes me want to stand up and applaud. Now, I have absolutely zero insider information when it comes to my hobby. I’m just a guy that runs a silly toy blog. I don’t go to Toy Fairs and talk to Hasbro reps, and I don’t own any of their stock. But I’m willing to bet that they know that this thing is aimed at us collectors and they do it anyway. It’s something that Mattel had to set up a subsidiary mail order company called Matty Collector to do. It’s really something special and a little part of me has to believe that somewhere out there a kid actually asked for this for Christmas, got it, and had the time of his life opening it.

And with that, I’m going to break today so I can come back tomorrow and look at his alt modes.

Kenner Aliens: Mantis Alien by NECA

As most toy collectors know, Kenner and the Alien franchise go way back to 1979 when Kenner attempted to produce a line of Star Wars-style figures for the original Alien move, but backed out due to some parental uproar over the large Big Chap figure they released. Fast forward to the 90’s, a Golden Era, where parents stopped caring about being outraged over R-Rated movie toys. Cartoony versions of RoboCops, Predators, and Aliens were all over the toy shelves and Kenner finally had their way with Aliens. Fast forward again to now and we find that NECA is incorporating some of those Kenner Aliens designs into their own insanely popular Aliens figures. And that brings us to today’s figure… The Mantis Alien!

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Kenner’s Aliens line debuted a little too late for me. I was off at college believing that learning was good and toys were dumb, little aware that in a few years I’d be plunging head first into buying toys again. The line took advantage of the idea that Xenomorphs could spring from all sorts of different hosts and the result was a delightfully diverse collection of Aliens cross-bred with various beasts. Exactly how a Xeno springs out of an insect, I have no idea. Even the mini-comic included in the package doesn’t divulge these answers. Maybe they’re from a species of giant Space Mantis? Either way, I’m not going to argue when the results are this amazing. As always, the Aliens figures come in sealed clamshells, but there’s a few things to point out here. First, it comes with a mini-comic and a Chest Burster. Second, the artwork on the insert is delightfully colorful. Finally, don’t let the size of the package fool you, because when this thing is unfolded in all its glory, it’s huge! And so without further ado, I’m going to razor this baby open, huff some glorious plastic fumes, and we’ll check this guy out.

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OK, I’m going to try really hard not to go into full on hyperbole mode here, but I am so absolutely gobsmacked by this figure that it’s going to be hard not to gush like crazy. I mean, I often refer to the wizards at NECA as fine craftsman, but holy hell if this figure isn’t an absolute work of art then I don’t know what is. I’m not one to get all weak in the knees at the sight of translucent plastic in my toys, but the marrying of regular plastic and the green translucent stuff on this figure is sheer poetry. It looks absolutely stunning in person. As for the design? Well it’s sheer nightmare fuel. Regular Xenos are bad enough, but this guy is just down right terrifying.

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Part of that comes from the fact that adding bug parts makes anything creepier. Look at the tail and stinger on this thing! The detail work in the sculpt is magnificent and when you couple that with the silver and black paint, the translucent plastic, and that brown sting, it’s just totally over the top.

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What also makes this Xeno all the more terrifying is that it’s elongated mantis arms and jumping legs means that if this thing wants you, you’re screwed. I imagine this guy is a quadruped, but he can also stand up on his haunches and use those extended arms to do some horrific damage. Standing up, we can also get a better look at his anatomy. The bulk of his body is comprised of that translucent plastic while the feet, forearms and undercarriage are fortified with silver Alien-style exoskeleton. The barbs on those claws are particularly fierce. This thing probably doesn’t even need to grab its pray, it can just embed them on those spiked mitts of his. And just when you think things weren’t bad enough… let’s check out that head sculpt…

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Sweet Jesus have mercy! He’s both breathtaking and hideous at the same time… even by Xenomorph standards. I have no words for how awesome this head is, but I’ll at least mention that I’m in love with that silver, barbed cranium. Also, check out those nasty teeth and black gums. And yes, if you were wondering, there is indeed a secondary mouth in there that extends out. And much to my delight, it’s cast in translucent plastic!

 

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I don’t even know where to begin when talking articulation. This thing is loaded with points. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, double rotating hinges in that first elbow, another rotating hinge at the next joint, another one at the wrist, and finally one more at the pincer. The legs have rotating hinges at the hips, double hinges at the first knee, rotating hinges at the next joint down, and finally another at the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the torso, another in the neck, the jaw is hinged, and the secondary mouth can be pulled out. I’d also like to point out that not once did I have to use a figure stand to get this fella to do what I wanted. He has a remarkable balance for such lanky design and his joints can hold his weight surprisingly well.

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As already mentioned, you get a couple of cool extras in the package. The first is a cool mini-comic that showcases the Mantis Alien battling some marines. The second is a little Chest Burster with a bendy tail and OMG, LOOK AT HIS ADORABLE LITTLE ARMS!!! He looks like he’s begging for a treat!

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Back when NECA revealed the first Kenner-style Aliens, I was almost tempted to take a pass. I have absolutely no nostalgia for the Kenner line. But knowing that it was NECA and seeing as how I already collect their Aliens line, I took the plunge and I’m so thankful that I did. The Mantis Alien is impressive in every imaginable way and he’s easily one of the most amazing looking figures that I’ve opened in recent memory. I’m seriously considering picking up a couple more of these simply because it’s not every day you can get a figure this awesome for about $22. And you know what else is awesome? He came with a friend. And hopefully next week I’ll be able to make the time to open up the Kenner-style Gorilla Alien!

Marvel Legends (Abomination Wave): Wonder Man and Captain Britain by Hasbro

Yesiree, folks, I’m doubling up on another Marvel Monday so I can try to get caught up with opening Legends figures before we hit the middle of the year. I’m about a wave and a half behind when it comes to opening what I’ve got, but I still need to pick up the Sandman Wave and the Guardians of the Galaxy v2 Wave is starting to hit stores along with the second X-Men Wave. Jeepers! Anyway, today I’m checking out the last two heroes from the Abomination Wave and these happen to be two characters I’m very happy about getting on my shelf: Wonder Man and Captain Britain!

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There’s no doubt that this wave feels like a collection of odds and ends and this pair continues to drive that point home. Not that I’m complaining. So far, this wave has given me the MCU version of Scarlet Witch and some pretty cool and obscure variants of Captain America and Red Skull. Simon Williams’ release in the modern Legends line feels rather overdue, especially since his brother, Eric hit the line a couple years back as part of the Ultron Wave, so let’s start with Wonder Man!

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To be honest, there isn’t a hell of a lot to say about this guy. As expected this is a pretty basic figure, and when it comes to original sculpting there isn’t a lot to be found here. With the exception of the wrist bracers, everything else below the neck is achieved through a painted buck. That’s not to say it doesn’t work splendidly. The paint is pretty clean and sharp and the black and red deco of his costume looks fantastic.

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Of course, the head sculpt is new and I really dig it. The red paint apps for the eyes look fantastic and the facial details are well defined. I’d definitely rank this among the better portraits in the modern Legends line, and that’s saying a lot because there have been some great ones!

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Wonder Man comes with a pair of charged ionic energy fists, which can be used in conjunction with the energy effect parts. Yup, we’ve seen these before, now cast in translucent purple. The effect parts fit a little loosely on his wrists, but they still look pretty rad when combined with the ionized fists.

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Ultimately, I’ve got no complaints with this figure. He’s just a great example of how Hasbro is able to do justice to a character without having to go nuts with brand new tooling. And that’s not a little thing, because cost saving figures like these are a big part of how Hasbro is able to churn out so many figures and even hit on some of the characters that aren’t exactly A-Listers. Moving on to Captain Britain…

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Brian Braddock sports his Union Jack-inspired costume and actually features a lot more sculpted detail than I was expecting. He’s built on one of the beefier modern Legends bucks and includes sculpted wraps on his forearms, boots with three sets of buckles running up the fronts, and a wide belt. The coloring on this figure is superb. The white is very clean and the combination of red and metallic blue really makes the figure pop. Toss in a little gold on the buckles and the printed crests on his shoulders and you’ve got a damned great looking figure.

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The head sculpt also shines on this guy.I really like how they sculpted and painted the eyes even though they are set pretty deep in the mask.

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The articulation on both Captain Britain and Wonder Man are both identical. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs and tops of the boots, and double hinges in the knees. The ankles have hinges and lateral rockers, the waists have swivels, there are ab crunches in the chests, and the necks are both hinged and ball jointed.

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Prior to these figures, I only owned these characters as part of Hasbro’s 3 3/4-inch Marvel lines. Captain Britain was part of the Captain America: The First Avenger line and Wonder Man was released through Marvel Universe as a completely ionized energy version. Although I think they did a regular version too. Needless to say, I’m thrilled to get these 6-inch versions for my Legends shelf. Now, the only question is with Captain Britain done and Marvel’s recent interest in giving the X-Men their proper due, does this mean I may be able to start putting together the Excalibur Team? I sure do hope so! Next week, I’ll wrap up this wave with a look at Eel and The Abomination Build-A-Figure!

Star Wars Black: Obi-Wan Kenobi (A New Hope) by Hasbro

Sorry, folks. No DC Friday this week. I’ve still got a whole case of 6-inch Star Wars Black figures to go through and I need to start chipping away at them before more arrive. So today I’m opening a figure that I am pretty excited about finally getting. It’s Obi-Wan Kenobi from Episode IV: A New Hope!

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Obi-Wan got something of a pre-release back at last year’s SDCC with some snazzy packaging and exclusive extra bits. The regular retail packaging offers no surprises, it’s just the same old stuff. It’s collector friendly and the side panel features the figure’s name and number. I have only saved the boxes for a handful of these figures and alas, Obi-Wan’s box is destined for the bin. You’ll note that the figure comes packaged with his cloak on, but I’m going to start with it off.

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Sculpted robes often pose problems in terms of a figure’s overlook and articulation, but here I think Hasbro did a reasonably nice job on both counts. There’s a good amount of detail in the outfit itself including lots of folds and wrinkles. There’s also a very subtle texturing to drive home the appearance of cloth. The belt sculpted belt features the pouch on his right hip and a hook to hang his lightsaber hilt. Unfortunately, the blade doesn’t seem to want to come out of my lightsaber hilt, so that hook isn’t doing me a lot of good.

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Loose sleeves like these are particularly tricky for sculptors because they should look considerably different whether the character has his arms at his sides or raised in an action pose. Here, Hasbro went for a compromise by putting the wrists right in the middle. They look fine with the arms down, but rather unnatural with the arms up. I guess I’m OK with this, as I doubt I’ll be displaying him in an action pose. I do really like how the wrists are set fairly deep into the sleeve, as it makes the plastic garment more convincing.

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I think the portrait here is passable in general and maybe better than average for this line. It really varies wildly based on the angle, distance and lighting. And yes, that’s a left-handed compliment. I would have liked the detail to be a little sharper and the paint is the same sub-par stuff we’ve been seeing for the bulk of these releases. I’d argue that the likeness is certainly there, but is this really much better than they could do in a 3 3/4-inch figure? I don’t think so. In the case of this figure, let’s just say the closer in you get, the less it works, but I guess I’m fairly satisfied.

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As for articulation, there’s certainly a good amount of it here. By Episode IV, Obi-Wan’s days of somersaulting ridiculously all over the place were over (thank God!), so I’m not requiring a whole lot from this figure. His arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in the waist and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. Below the belt, the plastic robes are slit up the sides so as not to completely hinder the leg movement.

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The softgoods cloak fits the figure very well and it looks great on him with the exception of the hood, which doesn’t fit close to the back when its down. That’s understandable, as at this scale there’s no weight to the fabric to let gravity do its job. If I futz with it enough, I can get it to look acceptable. I may look into using a small pin to keep it under control. It does, however,  look pretty great with the hood up over his head. You can also pull it further down over his head to hide his face for when he needs to scare off Tusken Raiders. The stitching is neat and I can’t imagine that I’ll be displaying the figure without this on most of the time. This is exactly the sort of thing that was sorely missing from the Jedi Knight Luke figure a few waves back.

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I’ve already mentioned the lightsaber accessory and how my blade doesn’t want to detach. Otherwise, this is a pretty great little piece and the sculpt and paintwork on the hilt are both exceptionally good. In fact, I’d say this is arguably the best looking lightsaber hilt this line has produced.

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In the end, Obi-Wan turned out to be a pretty solid figure. He represents the usual ups and downs that characterize most of these 6-inch Black Series releases. The sculpt is overall pretty good, the cloth robe is a great, albeit in this case essential, addition, and if Hasbro could just invest a little more in the paint quality on these figures, they could really raise the bar a couple of notches.

Mythic Legions (Covenant of Shadows): Gorthokk by The Four Horsemen

In case you were wondering, that loud sucking sound is the veritable money vacuum that is the new Mythic Legion Kickstarter going on right now. As I write this they’re closing in on the $400,000 mark against the $140k they needed to fund this thing, and they still have 12 to go! And I can say with all honesty, that I’m doing my part as my pledge grows with each new stretch goal that’s revealed. It’s only natural that all this excitement has me hankering to open some new Mythic Legions figures, and luckily the Wave 1.75 figures hit my doorstep a week or so ago.

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I’ll admit, I was really tempted to start with the mammoth Deluxe Stone Troll, but I’m going to save him for later and instead start with one of the regular figures. Here, you see Gorthokk in all his packaged glory. Despite being a Wave 1.75 “Covenant of Shadows” figure, there’s nothing new about the packaging. It’s attractive and serviceable and, as always, collector friendly. The blurb on the bubble insert tells us that Gorthokk is a Cavern Orc, sometimes called Shadow Orcs, and these are the worst of the worst of them!

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The new variety of Orc is distinguished by his gorgeous dark skin and some splattered mud (or blood?) on his chest and face. As a late release in the line, he’s comprised entirely of parts that we’ve seen before, and yet somehow manages to still look like a fresh figure. That’s the beauty of this line’s inventory of swappable parts. The boots and gauntlet are the same ones we’ve typically seen on the previous Orc releases. They’re jagged and clunky and have that rough and primitive flavor about them. The waist, hip, and groin armor are all pulled from the regular knights of the line and the bare chest and arms we’ve seen on a few different releases.

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As is often the case, the figure comes with optional shoulder armor, and these are the standard Orc pieces that match the jagged look of the gauntlets and boots. They simply peg into the holes on the back of the figure and displaying him with one, both, or none offers some nice variety. The paintwork on all the armor pieces is superb. The shoulders, gauntlets, and boots have an enchanted blue sheen to them, while the rest of the armor features a deep, rich rusted brown. The individual rivets are all neatly painted, as are some of the decorative inserts. All of it is properly weathered.

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Gorthokk comes with two heads, helmeted and un-helmeted, which was a fantastic surprise, as I purchased this figure assuming it only came with one. He comes packaged with the un-helmeted head and it looks great with the new darker deco. It’s very sinister and brimming with personality. The creases in his face give him a ton of personality and I love the upward jutting tusks and those beady yellow eyes. I can just imagine those peepers coming out of the dark at me.

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The helmeted head has a deco that matches the rusty brown and metallic blue of his armor. Once again, the paint on this piece is just exquisite, especially the weathering on the cheek plates. The comb on the top looks aggressive and it features a nasty nick from a sword or axe attack. I really wish I picked up a couple more of these, two of them with the helmet and shoulders flanking the one without would look amazing. But then I remember, oh yeah, I don’t have all the money in the world. Let’s move on to weapons!

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Up until now, we’ve been seeing repaints of the same handful of weapons, but Gorthokk breaks that tradition with a couple that are new to me. I’m sure these were released in the original Weapons Packs, which I would have loved to pick up, but I decided from the beginning to funnel all my available budget into the actual figures and take whatever accessories come my way with them. The new sword has a rough looking blade, which is like a cross between a scimitar and the Uruk-Hai blades we saw in the Lord of the Rings films. The hilt has more of an Fantasy Eastern Barbarian flavor and the sculpted wear and tear in the blade is just phenomenal.

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The hand axe is another great little sculpt with the primitive blade fastened to a curved and blackened bone. It’s a refreshingly unique looking weapon considering previous Orcs have been coming with the same conventional style of swords as some of the heroes of the line. I think this piece really suits the more savage nature of the Shadow Orc.

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You also get this standard cruciform sword, which is a great piece, but feels out of place with this guy, and will likely be doled out to one of my other figures. Maybe it’s a trophy he took off a slain enemy. And as always, you get the standard brown sword belt, actually in this case I got two of them, which can be worn on the hip or as a cross-strap on the shoulder. The scimitar is a tight fit when passing it through the loop, but it will go through with a little patience.

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Gorthokk brings my Orc forces to four, and that feels like a good number for now. They’ll be getting some reinforcements of the female Orc variety next year when The Advent of Decay figures ship. Don’t get me wrong, if these figures were swinging on the pegs down at Target or Toys R Us, I’d have a lot more Orcs than I do now, and I’m still hoping that one day Store Horsemen might have a permanent page devoted to these guys where I can pick up a few here and there as my budget allows. As a Pre-Order, Gorthokk set me back $33 and while that may seem like a premium for a 6-inch action figure these days, the quality and workmanship here make it worth every penny. I keep reminding myself that when I factor in shipping, I was paying more than that to have the average Masters of the Universe Classics figure from Matty. I still love my MOTUC collection, but comparing the two lines hardly seems fair.

Marvel Legends (Abomination Wave): “Secret War” Captain America and Iron Skull by Hasbro

Welcome to another Marvel Monday, folks, and as promised I’m tackling two figures from the Marvel Legends Abomination Wave today, and both are interesting choices on Hasbro’s part. We’ve got Cap in a one-off costume that is pulled from a Bendis comic that’s got to be about almost a decade old by now and Red Skull donning a stolen suit of Iron Man’s armor, which I believe appeared in the animated series, Avengers Assemble.

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Both figures come in packages branded “Captain America” and I’ve seen a lot of confusion and tepid reactions to these figures. While I’ll admit that I wasn’t jonesing to get a figure of Cap in this uniform and I don’t watch the Avengers Assemble cartoon, I’m actually really happy to be getting this pair. Cap is one of my favorite Marvel characters, so I welcome any and all variants of him, and as we’ll soon see Iron Skull is not only a cool idea, but he’s just plain bad ass. Let’s check out Cap first…

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Obviously, a super-special top secret mission for SHIELD deserves a super-special new outfit, and that was the case with most of the heroes appearing in this book. Cap’s outfit is pretty rad, in that it preserves his love for the red, white, and blue, while still presenting something different. The bulk of the costume is a very dark blue with a large white band around the middle of each arm, two white vertical stripes flanking both sides of his abs, and a white pin stripe running down the middle of his chest and the front of each of his legs. He’s got a large silver star emblazoned on his chest and an American flag tampo’ed on his left shoulder. The whole ensemble is tied together with some silver knee pads and a silver belt.

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In terms of fresh sculpting, we get some fabulous buccaneer boots and flared gauntlets, with red striping. I really dig these, as they add a significant touch of classic to what is otherwise a brand new look. I also like the silver stripes on the joints of his fingers.

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The head sculpt features a very distinctive hood with red and white pin stripes running from front to back and some damn cool wings painted on the side that almost look like sickles. And as long as we’re on the subject of paint, the quality of application here is pretty solid. There’s a little bleed through evident in some areas of the white, but overall it isn’t too bad. It’s also nice to see that they painted the pins in the elbows to match the white.

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The articulation here holds no surprises. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinged elbows. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels at both the thighs and the tops of the boots, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a swivel at the waist, an ab crunch in the torso, and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. The joints all feel great and he’s tons of fun to pose.

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You get two accessories with Cap, although they are designed to go together. First, you get a pretty standard shield. It’s got both a peg and a clip, so he can wear it on his back or equip it on his wrist.

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The other accessory is an extra right hand and effect part that you can peg the shield into and give him a throwing effect. I didn’t have high hopes for this thing when I first saw pictures of it, but in hand, I’ve found it to be lots of fun. Moving on to Iron Skull…

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The idea of Red Skull getting a hold of one of Stark’s armors just tickles me in all the right ways, so I’m not going to jump on board with the haters screaming that this is just an excuse to re-use and re-sell an Iron Man body. This is the Mark 43 figure, to be specific, which was the same as the Mark 42. And damn, does it look great here. It’s been given a properly eeeevil black finish with some bitchin red panel lines. Seriously, I love this thing.

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The head sculpt here is absolutely fantastic. It retains that creepy, yet super-stylized look that I love so much. It also features some fantastic paint. It’s too bad I’ll probably almost never use it, because the figure also comes with…

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THIS! It’s the helmet with a Red Skull motif and oh my god, I love it so much! Seriously, while collectors everywhere scream, WTF, HASBRO? over this figure, I’m just loving it to pieces.

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I’m not going to go over the articulation, as I’ve already looked at this body not once, but twice. I will say that while it’s overall decent, there are some things that bug me about it, like the restricted range of motion in the ankles.

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I was pretty happy about getting these figures ever since they were first revealed and I’m just as happy to have them in hand. They’re both nice nods to very specific aspects of the Marvel extended universe and that’s exactly the kind of thing I like to get in my action figure collection. The remarkably prolific nature of Legends has made this line all about universe building for me these days, and that’s what these figures are all about.