Marvel Legends A-Force (SDCC 2017 Exclusive): Monica Rambeau by Hasbro

It’s Marvel Monday, and I was supposed to be checking out Nebula from the Mantis Wave of Marvel Legends today, but I’m preempting that AND THE WHOLE DAMN WEEK so I can check out the Marvel Legends San Diego Comic Con Exclusive A-Force set. Yes, that means Transformers Thursday and DC Friday will return next week. I’m pretty excited, because this is the first Marvel Legends SDCC Exclusive that I’ve been able to pick up since the Thunderbolts set way back when. Although, in fairness I haven’t tried very hard. There are six figures in the set, so I’ll be looking at these ladies every day this week up through Saturday and starting today with Monica Rambeau. But first, let’s take a look at the packaging!

Big! Colorful! Beautiful! Those three words sum up the presentation here. The figures come in an impressive box, which is big enough that it requires me to embiggen my little staging area to accommodate it. You get some lovely artwork on the front, along with the character portraits running down the side panels. There are some great expressions on the ladies. I’m particularly digging Elsa’s snarl. RAWR!! There is a foil sticker in the upper right hand corner showing this to be a Toys R Us Exclusive, where it was available online for a short while during the Convention. It does not, however, state anywhere on the box that it is an SDCC Exclusive. I’m just glad it wasn’t a Hasbro Toy Shop exclusive, because I doubt I would have been able to snag one. My luck there in past years hasn’t been so hot.

The back shows a collective photo of all the figures posed together on a cool rocky landscape. This shot reminds me of some of the great ads Hasbro used to run in their Marvel comic reprints. Of course, if you want to have a peep at the actual figures themselves, there’s a front flap that opens to reveal the inside tray, and the interior of the flap has character art and little blurbs about each character. The box itself is collector friendly and can be opened by slitting the tape on the top or bottom flaps, so you don’t have to feel bad about opening this baby up.

I’ll fess up now and proclaim that I purchased this set for the individual characters and not because I was a fan of the A-Force comic. Without getting bogged down in a rant about how much I hate the hot trash that Marvel is publishing these days, I tend to look at A-Force as an early symptom of what was to come. It only lasted a year before being discontinued due to dismal sales, and that’s saying a lot, because if you happen to look at what Marvel’s books are averaging in sales these days, you’ll see that it’s pretty dire. Anyway, if nothing else, I am grateful that the comic motivated Hasbro to release these figures, a few of which were sorely missing from the Legends line up. Plus, if you are going for an A-Force team, you can conveniently add the recently released Dazzler and Nico Minoru to this lineup. I’m starting today with Monica Rambeau, only because she is so overdue for a Legends figure, I didn’t think she should wait another day.

Whether you best know her as Pulsar, Spectrum, Captain Marvel, or just Monica, this is a character that is indeed well overdue for the Marvel Legends treatment. I’m pretty sure even Toy Biz never got around to immortalizing her in plastic. Maybe she had a HeroClix figure? Whatever the case she’s out now and I must say Hasbro did a great job with her. She’s built off the standard female buck, with sculpted sleeves on her arms to work with her jacket. Her starburst pattern is perfectly printed on her chest with the snappy inverse black and white coloring. And let me take a moment to say that the white plastic Hasbro used for the torso and gloves is absolutely gorgeous. It has a slight pearlescent sheen to it, but mostly it just looks so bright and snappy. I hope we see more of this stuff in future figures.

The sculpted jacket fits the figure well, cinching in at the waist and fanning out below until it reaches her knees. It’s fairly light and features a slit running up the back, so it doesn’t really impede her articulation much at all. There is some great looking texturing on it that makes it look even better than a regular comic figure. Indeed, there’s enough detail on it that it would look right at home on an MCU figure.

The portrait is excellent, and despite her hair band and hair style being similar to Misty Knight’s, this isn’t a recycled head sculpt. She’s pretty, she has a great, determined expression, and the paint applications for her eyes and lips are spot on perfect. The sculpting on the back of her hair is also especially well done. This is exactly the kind of effort you want to put into a premium exclusive set.

The articulation is exactly what I’ve come to expect from my Marvel Legends ladies. The legs feature ball jointed hips, double hinges in the knees, and swivel cuts in the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. There’s a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. As usual, it isn’t quite up to par with what we get from the dudes, but she’s still plenty fun and posable.

It would have been a shame to wait this long for a Monica Rambeau figure and have it come up lacking. Thankfully, that’s far from the case here. Everything about this figure is beautifully crafted, from the crisp paint lines and beautiful white plastic, to the first rate head sculpt. If I were pressed to suggest an improvement, I’d say toss in an extra set of hands, so she could have two fists and two energy casting hands. Actually, I will throw out one more gripe: Monica shouldn’t have been an exclusive release. A lot of the figures in here feel right for this set, but I’m hoping that Hasbro intends to release this character in a future wave, as they did with so many of the figures from last year’s SDCC Raft set, even if it is with a repainted costume.

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KanColle: Aircraft Carrier Zuikaku Kai Ni “Super Premium” Prize Figure by SEGA

It’s been a couple of weeks since I did an Anime Saturday, and while I don’t have a whole lot of time this weekend, I thought I’d stop in with a quick look at another figure from Kantai Collection. Last time, I checked out the Aircraft Carrier Shokaku, this time I’m opening up her sister ship, Zuikaku. There are a lot of similarities here, so I’m going to try to keep this brief. Or at least as brief as my obsession with KanColle will allow.

Zuikaku comes in an enclosed box, just like her sister ship, with the same basic deco and about the same level of assembly required. It’s not a huge box, but as a “Super Premium” release, she is a 9-inch scaled figure, so it isn’t tiny either. There are several bits to attach, her bow needs to be strung, and there’s a quiver of arrows that need to be removed from a sprue and have stickers applied to their feathers. Everything goes together simple and easy, although I do have to restring the back of my bow, as it turned out looking awkward.

And here she is all set up and looking spectacular! Because Zuikaku is another Shokaku Class Aircraft Carrier, her outfit and gear are virtually identical to that of her sister ship. In fact, the only notable difference are her hip weapons. Shokaku had AA guns mounted on those points, whereas Zuikaku has 12cm rocket launchers. If you want to hear a more detailed discussion of the design, I’d refer you back to that review.

When I reviewed Shokaku, I gushed a lot about how amazingly detailed the sculpt was, and the same goes for this Fleet Girl. This design has so much going on, between the outfit and the ship armor and armaments. It feels like it should be way too ambitious for a prize figure to pull off, and yet SEGA really did the designs proud. Not only is the sculpt magnificent, but the paint is there to back it up, right down to the little white stitching on her skirt.

Now as much as I loved her sister ship, I have to give the nod to Zuikaku here as being my favorite of the two. Part of that comes from the pose, which is a little more action orientated. She’s balancing on one foot with her left knee pulled up. She has both her bow and her shield are both on her left side, while she clutches at an arrow in her right. Once again, the carriers in Kantai Collection serve as archers and the arrows they shoot turn into aircraft squadrons.

But ultimately, it’s the portrait here that wins me over. I just think this one has more personality and I really dig the way her pony tails are splayed in the wind. Her shorter hair also allows for a much better look at her quiver. Shokaku’s was almost entirely obscured by her hair. As usual, the eyes are perfectly printed, and I really dig her determined expression.

The base is more or less identical. It’s a simple white hexagon with her name printed on it. These tend to take up a lot of room on the shelf, but they don’t feel over-sized for the figure.

SEGA’s “Super Premium” line of figures continues to blow me away. These feel a lot closer to the $100+ fully scaled figures you get from Triple-A companies, only at a fraction of the cost. Indeed, Zuikaku is currently on Amazon for less than $20 shipped if you have a Prime Membership. You can’t beat that! The plastic is a little softer, the skin tones, a bit more waxy, but all in all, I’ve been impressed by every one that I’ve added to my collection. On the next Anime Saturday, I’ll try to get back to check out another one of the Figmas that are piling up, if not next week, than the week after that for sure.

DC Comics Multiverse (Doomsday Wave): Superman Doomed by Mattel

It’s been pretty slow for me on the DC collecting front, so I’ve decided to continue running through a complete wave of Mattel’s Multiverse line while I’m waiting for some new statues to roll in. This is also helpful, since I just wrapped up another extra long work week and all I want to do is curl up in bed with a bottle of Jameson for at least 12 hours. Last time on DC Friday, I looked at DCTV’s Supergirl and was less than impressed. This time I’m checking out Superman from the 2014 story arc, Superman: Doomed. Will this figure be any good? Or will it be doomed to… ah f’ck it. Never mind the easy puns. let’s just check him out…

The packaging is the same we saw last time for Supergirl. It’s collector friendly, it gives you a good look at the figure inside, and my favorite thing about it is the character art and little bio blurb on the side panel. If I were saving these packages, I could line them all up on the shelf and no exactly who is who. As the package indicates, this is Superman infected by the virus he inhaled from Doomsday’s defeated body. I found it to be a pretty average story, although it was elevated by the fact that most of New 52’s Superman book before it was not my cup of tea. Look, I actually enjoyed several books from the New 52, but I thought Supes’ book was pretty lame. Doomed, on the other hand, well at least it presented something interesting.

So, at first glance, I like what I see. It’s a slightly beefier Superman in his New 52 outfit with some decent red and blue coloring. Some of the costume, like the boots and the belt are sculpted on, while the S-Shield is merely a tampo. This is one of the first times I can remember a New 52 Superman figure violating the New 52 art direction guide that the emblem should always be 3D and never just painted on. Seriously, that shit is printed in at least one of the comics! I’m pretty sure it was Justice League. At this point, however, I guess nobody cares anymore. Hey, at least the S-Shield is very printed very sharply, and the colors are bright and snappy. The figure does have a little bit of a cheap feel to it. It’s not junky per-say, but it feels more like those Total Heroes figures than it does a DC Universe Classics or Unlimited or All-Stars or whatever Mattel was last calling their DC collectors’ line. So far so good, pretty solid.

Of course from the waist upward, the figure takes on a more unique visage and exhibits some of those Doomsday characteristics from the virus. You get bumpy spikes in the arms and torso and those gray grasping monster hands. And that brings us to the head, which is pretty well done. I’m sure I’ve gone on record as saying that I’m not a huge fan of Doomsday’s design, but it looks pretty cool here when presented as a Kryptonian-Doomsday hybrid. Supes is sporting a wide grin with a mouthful of nasty teeth, more or those horn-bumps on his chin and jaw, and some wicked red demon eyes. Not too shabby. He’s still got his regular hair, more or less, but he also has little tufted ears. I like what they did here a lot.

Unfortunately, this figure’s articulation lets it down, and like Supergirl, it isn’t necessarily because the points aren’t there, rather there isn’t just a great range of motion to any of them. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, and swivels in the wrists and biceps. Those hinges in the elbows can’t do much and the lack of hinges in the wrists is disappointing. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips and swivels up there too, but again, there just isn’t a lot you can do with them. There are hinges in the knees and ankles and that’s all well and good, but again there’s very little range of motion in the knee hinges, and there are no ankle rockers. At least his torso fares well with a waist swivel and a decent ab crunch. Lastly, the neck is ball jointed. On paper, most of this sounds passable, but in hand, the figure just isn’t a lot of fun to pose.

I do like how he scales with Mattel’s earlier lines. Here he is alongside Mattel’s DC Universe “All Stars” New 52 Superman from 2012. He’s a little bit bigger, but then he is supposed to be, so I’d say it’s a pretty good match. You can also see that the Doomed version is missing the panel lines of the costume. That’s something I didn’t even notice until I put them side by side, and now I’m bummed out by it.

Overall, I like this figure better than the DCTV Supergirl, but I really need to qualify that. Supergirl had some great sculpting and paint in the costume, but fell short on everything else. Doomed Superman is a lot less ambitious. It aims lower and as a result doesn’t fail quite so badly. It’s also a comic based figure, which requires less in the way of realism, particularly in the portrait, and that was the Achilles Heel of that Supergirl figure. So, no… don’t take this as a ringing endorsement. This Superman is not a great figure, but I don’t think he’s terrible either.  If I ever get my DC Universe Classics collection set up on display again, I’ll have no qualms about putting him in there. Of course, keep in mind, that I picked up the figures in this wave for around $8 a pop, so I’m going to be a lot more forgiving when it comes to value. Plus, I’m one limb closer to building my Doomsday figure!

Transformers Titans Return: Legends Class Seaspray by Hasbro

Ever since the Generations line, Hasbro has been putting out some damn fine homages to the old G1 Minibots via their Legends Class figures. Personally, I’d like to see a few of these released as Deluxes, but I’m still happy to take what we get. Enter Seaspray! The last time we saw an official figure of this guy was back in the Reveal the Shield line of 2010. That was a pretty cool figure, but apart from the hovercraft alt mode, it didn’t make an attempt to recapture the glory of the G1 design. Perhaps as a result, Seaspray has received a fair bit of attention from the Third Party convertorobot makers. I never picked up any of those, so I’m anxious to see how Hasbro’s new official crack at the character turned out. Also, I command that everyone read this review out loud in Seaspray’s ridiculous gargling voice.

Oh, now he’s Seaspray. Last time he was Sea Spray. I gather that might have something to do with the copyright. Another interesting point is that the character art on the card shows him in his alt mode. Either I’m not very observant or this is the first time they’ve done this. Either way, it’s some pretty bitchin’ art of the little Minibot tearing through the waves. I dig it. And as long as we’re on the subject of his alt mode, let’s go ahead and start there…

This little blue, white, and yellow hovercraft is a great homage to the original toy and derives its deco almost entirely from colored plastic. Indeed, apart from the black painted windows and some tampo detailing on the top, it gets by with almost no paint at all. There’s also not a whole lot of sculpted detail present, but you do get some little doors on the sides that give a good idea of the intended scale here. I wouldn’t say it’s a terribly attractive alt mode, but it definitely works for what it is.

The box on the top is removable and since it forms Seaspray’s weapon in robot mode, I’m guessing that’s the purpose it serves here as well. What kind of weapon it is, I’m not sure. It looks like it could be some kind of heat gun, or maybe it opens up to reveal a rocket pack.

What does open up is Seaspray’s back area to reveal a pilot seat for a Titan Master. I’m still impressed that Hasbro has been able to engineer these little guys with room for the little bots. I put Convex in there, just because he’s mostly black and easier to see against Seaspray’s white compartment.

In terms of scale, Seaspray follows the standard G1 toy logic that if you’re a Minibot, you’re alt mode is the same size as all the other Minibots, whether you’re a giant hovercraft, an A-10 Warthog, or a compact sports car. Needless to say, I’m fine with this and I think Seaspray looks great next to the myriad of other Minibots that have been released in the Legends Class assortment.

Transforming Seaspray is a wee bit more complex than I expected, but it’s not terribly difficult. The resulting robot mode is a very solid homage to the original toy. He has a very squared off and boxy torso, which I happen to dig a lot. He still wears his propeller stalks on his shoulders with the props pointing behind him. He’s also got a pretty impressive amount of articulation for such a little guy. But let’s deal with a couple of the elephants in the room…

DEM FEETS! Seaspray is sporting some enormous feet. I mean, they’re big! How big are they? They’re so big they had to turn them sideways for him to fit in the package. That’s not a joke. Look at the in-package picture, they really did have to turn them sideways. These giant clodhoppers should bother me, but surprisingly they don’t. I think they go well with his big slab of a chest. What does irk me a little are his arms, which could have been a little bigger, especially in relation to his feet and chest. They’re not as bad as Bumblebee’s disproportionate meathooks, but I would have liked a little more bulk there.

The head is an interesting choice, as it favors the original toy over the Sunbow animation model. Instead of individual eyes, he’s just got a visor band running across the top of his mouth plate. It looks fine, but given a choice, I’ll almost always take Sunbow over the original toy. Also, check out those gorgeous tampos on his chest. That’s some quality work, Hasbro, and I hope we see more of it.

The weapon that I mentioned in his alt mode tabs into the slots behind his hands. It’s a rather unconventional looking weapon, but I like it a lot. Although if you pose him the right way with it, it almost looks like he’s carrying a pizza. In any event, it’s a treat to get it since so many of the other Legends Class Minibots don’t come with guns any more.

And in case you forgot what his predecessor looked like, here he is with Voyager Class Sea Spray. Oh yeah, and Seaspray will fit inside his bigger namesake’s cargo area, but it’s a mighty tight fit!

I thought Seaspray was going to be really tough to find, but Primus has been smiling down on me when it comes to Legends Class figures lately. Not only did I find Brawn really easily, but Seaspray here practically fell right into my lap as well. I really liked the previous Voyager version as its own figure, but it really wasn’t Seaspray to me, and that’s where this figure succeeds brilliantly, despite a few design choices that might rub people the wrong way. Even still, I’d proudly display him besides Brawn as two of the best Minibot updates so far, and I’d probably throw Powerglide and Cosmos in there as well. If you’ve got ten bucks burning a hole in your pocket and you love your Minibots, I can’t recommend him enough, but then I say that about almost all the Legends Class figures.

Articulated Icons (The Feudal Series): Deluxe White Ninja by The Fwoosh

If you’re an action figure fan and you’ve got Internet access, then surely you’ve heard of The Fwoosh. It’s a cornerstone site for news, reviews and everything you need to know about little plastic posable peoples. Seems like just the kind of folks who would be good at making action figures, right? Well, they did. They Kickstarted the Articulated Icons, a line of ninja-based action figures with an emphasis on articulation and accessories. At the time, I was really weighed down by Hot Toys Flex-Payments and some other Kickstarter commitments, so I couldn’t go as deep as I wanted. I did, however, pick up a few figures and we’ll look at one of those today.

Behold, the packaging for the Deluxe White Ninja! It’s not the most exciting name for a figure, but it certainly tells you what you’re getting. The figure comes in a collector friendly (and very professional looking) window box. There’s a tray for the figure and a baggie for a ton of accessories. I can’t remember when this Kickstarter officially ended, but I seem to recall it netted more than double its initial goal. I do remember the figures were estimated to ship in May 2016, and these just arrived on my doorstep earlier this month. Yup, that’s a long delay, but if patience is an issue for you, supporting Kickstarters probably isn’t something you want to be doing. So was it worth the wait? Let’s find out…

The basic figure is indeed a generic white-suited Ninja, and I don’t use the term generic in a negative way, because he’s supposed to be whatever you want him to be. Nameless solider? Hero? Enemy attached to a terrorist army that worships snakes? Like I said, whatever you want him to be. And as we’ll soon see, he has all the extra bits to help you customize him to your liking. The body features a standard ninja outfit… yeah, I’m sorry, but all my ninja knowledge comes from Saturday morning cartoons and Sunday afternoon kung-fu movies, so pardon me if I don’t even make an attempt at proper terminology here when it comes to his outfit and gear. The suit is very simple, with some sculpted wrinkles, wraps around the lower legs and a black belt. There are some minor cosmetic imperfections in the plastic, but overall this is a very solid buck, which scales quite well with Hasbro’s 6-inch Marvel line.

The articulation here is excellent, and since it’s a big showcase of the figure, let’s run down all the points. The legs feature ball jointed hips, swivels in the thighs and shins, double hinges knees, and ankles on balled hinges. The arms feature ball jointed shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinges in the elbows. The torso has a swivel in the waist, a swivel and hinge in the torso, and the neck has both a hinge and a ball joint. It’s a few tweaks away from Marvel Legends style articulation, and that’s a very good thing! For the most part, the joints on my figure feel great and behave just as they should. Although, the feet and hands can sometimes pop out unexpectedly. It’s not that unusual for the hands, as they are designed to be swapped out, but I’m not used to the feet doing it also! It’s also worth noting that the figure has two peg holes, one in the middle of his back and another in the middle of his belt. These not only work for accessories, but also fit a standard Tamashii stand, and that’s a wonderful little extra.

The figure comes with three different heads. First up is the stock head, followed by the balaclava head. Either of these are perfect for your generic ninja warriors, particularly if one of them is named Shadow of the Storm, or something similar. The heads pop on and off pretty easy. There are also two hood pieces, one up and one down, but I didn’t use them in any of my shots, because I wasn’t really happy with the way they looked.

Next up is the unmasked head, which is the epitome of the wise old Master Ninja. I really dig the sculpt on this one, as it sports a lot of personality. If you were lucky enough to get a bunch of these guys, this head is perfect for their leader or teacher. The paintwork on this head is also very solid.

You also get this amazing demon mask that can be worn over the head and it looks fantastic. The sculpt and paint are extremely well detailed and it fits the figure perfectly. There’s also a red scarf to go with it.

In addition to heads, you get a passel of hands. These include fists, accessory gripping hands, hands with splayed fingers, and karate chop hands. But enough about noggins and hands, let’s move on to the accessories, because there are a ton of them to talk about…

For starters, you get what constitutes my favorite look for this guy: A pair of swords and scabbards that peg into the back. These work in conjunction with a shoulder strap to make it look like it’s holding them on. The swords peg in easily and I haven’t had any issues with them falling out while messing around with him.

The swords draw from the scabbards very easily and he looks great wielding them. The black hilts feature some excellent sculpted detail and there’s a little gold paint where the blade meets the tsubas. The blades themselves are painted in a sharp looking silver and are made from pretty stiff plastic, so there’s no worries about these bending and warping if you’re careful with them. The accessory holding hands grip the blades very tightly.

Another optional load out for the ninja turns him into an archer. You get a quiver with sculpted arrows that plug into the back, a bow, and a single loose arrow, which he can hold between the fingers of his accessory holding hand. Indeed, the articulation is good enough so you can pose him knocking the arrow. The sculpted arrows in the quiver can be removed (all as one piece) and there’s even room in there to insert the loose arrow. If you ponied up for a bunch of these guys, you can have a squad of archers backing up your swordsmen as they charge into battle!

Ninjas and shuriken go together like peanut butter and jelly. At least that’s what the old movies tell me. The figure comes with three different types of throwing stars. I’ve only shown off two here, because the third is super tiny. Again, the fingers on the accessory holding hands have a split between the fingers, so you can slide the shuriken in there and it holds very well.

For the next two weapons, I’m going to have to dig deep into my vast reservoir of ninja weapon terminology. You get short sickle weapon thing, and chunky triangle throwing knife thing. OK, so even if I don’t know what they’re called, these are both really cool and unusual accessories and welcome additions to my ninja arsenal.

Oh, this next one is a sai! I knew that one from watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I usually see these used as a pair, so I’m a little surprised he only came with one, but considering all the other stuff included in the package, I’m not about to complain. Moving on to the pole arms…

I think this is called a Bo Staff? At least that’s another thing that I learned from TMNT. It’s a simple staff with a sculpted and painted wrapped grip in the middle.

And finally, you have this glaive, which is one of my favorite weapons in the package. The shaft is just a brown pole, but there’s a sculpted butt on the end, which is painted gold, and another gold socket sculpted between the blade and the pole. It’s loads of fun and looks really cool.

Before wrapping up, I have to mention that the Deluxe Ninja comes with this rooftop base. It includes several pegs so you can position the figure in a variety of positions. There are also pegs on the side, so you can connect several of these together to make a bigger display. Yeah, I’m really regretting not picking up at least three more of these. Why the hell didn’t I do that? Oh yeah, I was short on money at the time.

In case you can’t tell, I’m quite satisfied with the way this fellow came out and to answer my original question, Yes… he was absolutely worth the wait. My only quibble is the plastic used for the body could have been a little cleaner and more consistent, but even those issues are minor and you need to get in really close to notice them. Otherwise, the figure feels great in hand and is loads of fun to pose. Couple that with the insane number of accessories, heads and hands, and you’ve got oodles of ninja fun. I actually pledged the Kickstarter at the Basic Ninja level, so this Deluxe Ninja was one of my add-on items. He ran $50, which is certainly a premium price to pay for a 6-inch scale figure, but when you toss in the extras and the base, and then factor in that it was a Kickstarted series by a small company the price feels about right. That’s especially the case now if you see what these guys are going for on Ebay. In a week or so, I’ll come back to this line and check out the Basic Red Ninja that I also picked up.

Marvel Legends (Mantis Wave): Gamora by Hasbro

I’ve been doubling down on the last couple of Marvel Mondays, trying to tear my way through the backlog of Marvel Legends figures clogging up my home, but this week I’m pressed for time, so I’m back to just one. And that’s cool, because I want to be able to give Gamora, “The Most Dangerous Woman in the Universe,” her proper due. I thought Hasbro did a pretty average job on the Gamora from the first film, but from what I’m seeing in the package, I think this one from Guardians Vol. 2 is going to blow me away. “Hey you, with the pretty face… welcome to the human race!”

Gamora shares a slot with her sister Nebula as the “Daughters of Thanos” which is as solid a grouping as you can get in these shared packages. This wave I’ve been doing a lot of comparisons between the Vol. 2 figures with the ones from the original film, and I’ll certainly be doing some of that here as well. In fact, let’s just start out with a quick comparison shot…

Wow. I said it with Star-Lord, I said it with Rocket, and I’ll say it again here: What a difference a couple of years makes! It’s always a treat to see a company work hard to show improvements, and that’s certainly what Hasbro has been doing with Legends. Sure, it’s an entirely new costume and basically the same articulation, but besides that, everything about this figure is an improvement over the original. Just in the body types alone, the new Gamora is far more realistically proportioned. She doesn’t have those stick-thin legs and lanky arms, and the skin tone also looks much improved. It’s warmer and richer, and less plastic-y.

Now, I’ll confess, I prefer Gamora’s costume in the first movie to this one. The jacket she’s wearing here makes her look like she’s trying to be a Femme-Star-Lord and with Yondu along for the ride, there’s just too many people wearing dusters. That having been said, it still looks great, and Hasbro did a wonderful job recreating it here. You get some lovely detail to her arm wraps, textured panels on her jacket, and I really dig how they were able to do the cut-outs in the heels of her boots. The paint is also very solid. From the silver hits on her rings and the fixtures on her belt, to the blue liner of her jacket, it all looks so good. So, personal preferences about the costume aside, I think Hasbro done great here.

And let’s be honest, this portrait is the biggest improvement. The last figure’s head sculpt would have worked for a comic-based Gamora, but there wasn’t much of a likeness to Zoe Saldana. This time, Hasbro nailed it beautifully. The sculpt, the paint, the hair, it all looks spot on to me. When I look at this likeness and the Chris Pratt likeness on Star-Lord, it’s hard to believe this is the same company turning out those Star Wars Black figures.

The articulation holds no surprises, as it’s about the same as last time and pretty standard for most Marvel Legends ladies. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs and lower legs, there are double hinges in the knees, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a ball joint under the chest and the neck is both ball jointed and hinged.

And check this out… Hasbro included the collapsed sword and a place on her belt for her to wear it. Last time she just came with the extended sword.

And this figure includes the extended sword accessory as well. In fact, I think it’s exactly the same, which works fine. It’s cast in a gray plastic and covered with sculpted markings on the blade.

Gamora also comes with a pretty cool rifle, showing that she’s not just all about the swords this time. I really dig the gun designs in the Guardians movies and this one is no exception It’s an absolutely beautiful sculpt, packed with detail and features some pretty convincing metallic paint. I should also note that Gamora’s hands are each specifically designed to work with each weapon. The right includes a trigger finger for holding the gun, but it can also work with the sword for a looser grip. The left hand holds the sword a lot tighter, and it will work with the gun, but not as well.

Whatever team over at Hasbro has been working on these Guardians figures really needs to spread their love and knowledge over to the Star Wars Black side of the fence. Looking at these figures, I refuse to believe the same team is involved in both because the quality is so different. All I have to do is compare this Gamora to Hasbro’s own 6-inch Jyn Erso or Rey and wonder what the hell is going on over there and why they can’t do better. We’re dealing with the same scale, the same price point, and the same company. Anyway, Gamora rounds out the core team of my Vol. 2 Guardians quite nicely. Indeed, with the exception of Drax, each and every one of these figures have been a huge improvement over their predecessors. Next week, I’ll take a look at the other half of the “Daughters of Thanos,” Nebula!

 

DC Comics Multiverse (Doomsday Wave): Supergirl by Mattel

It’s hard to believe it, but this is my first DC Multiverse figure. I’ve been largely avoiding this line because I haven’t heard great things about it and I’m still, YES STILL!!! bitter about Mattel killing off DC Universe Classics only to seemingly re-brand it over and over again in slightly different scales and styles. But, a friend of mine was looking to unload a wave of these for stupid cheap and so I took them off his hands, mainly for the figure I’m looking at today and maybe to satiate my mild curiosity.

The packaging is pretty cool, especially when comparing it to the likes of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends. You get a collector friendly window box that shows the figure off nicely and some character art and a little bio on the side panel. The character selection for this wave is all over the place, but the “Collect & Connect” Doomsday figure is motivating enough to get them all. This version of Supergirl is from the TV Series. It’s a show I started watching as a guilty pleasure, but it’s grown on me a lot. It’s upbeat and good-natured, and I like to think of watching it as passive resistance against the asshole impostor that’s walking around in Superman’s costume in the DC movies.

This is clearly a tale of two figures. From the neck down she looks pretty damn great. I really dig the design of her costume in the series and Mattel did a nice job recreating it here. The S-shield is actually part of the sculpt, as is all the piping on the torso and arms. The belt is sculpted, the pleating on the skirt looks natural, and the boots have little wrinkles here and there. The cape falls pretty naturally and it doesn’t even throw off the balance of the figure too badly. The paint is also exceptional for an off-the-peg Mattel figure. The blue they used for her top is deep and goes really well with the somewhat subdued red of the skirt, cape, and boots. The gold paint they used for the belt and the trim on the S-Shield is quite striking and both it and the red piping on the suit are applied with care and precision. This is surprisingly great stuff! And then you get to the head sculpt.

Woof! What happened here? I mean, I’m not expecting great things, but how the hell was this even approved? Melissa Benoist is an aggressively cute young lady and this is… WHAT IS THIS?  It’s hard to tell what lets this portrait down more, the sculpt or the paint, but in the end it doesn’t matter. It looks like Supergirl got stung by an army of Kryptonite bees and her face is in the process of swelling up and she’s trying to smile it off and act like nothing happened. YOU DON’T SHRUG OFF A BEE ATTACK, MS. DANVERS!!! Also, those printed eyes are just laughable. I will admit, that this head does not photograph well. It does look a little better in hand. At the right angle with the light shining just right, I can kind of see a little of Ms. Benoist in there, but not enough of to save it. What a shame.

Following hot on the heels of that facial disappointment comes the articulation. Now, what’s here sounds decent on paper. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, with swivels in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, and hinges in both the knees and hips. The torso swivels at the waist, has an ab crunch in the chest, and a ball joint in the neck. There are some obvious bummers here, like no swivels or lateral rockers in the ankles and no hinges in the wrists, but there are a few more problems worth mentioning.

The range of motions in the elbows sucks, mainly because of the way they’re sculpted. She can’t even do a proper hands-on-hips heroic stance. She can barely get right angles out of those guns. Also, the ab crunch hinge is designed so that she can only bend backwards. That’s helpful when trying to put her into a flying pose, but forward movement would have been nice as well. Besides, the sculpted hair keeps her from looking up anyway, so she still can’t really do a very good flying pose.

I was particularly interested in the scaling on these figures, and surprised to find that they scale pretty well with the old DCUC line. On the other hand, they scale surprisingly poorly against Mattel’s more recent Movie Masters line. On the plus side, Mattel seems to be producing all the DCTV figures in this line, so at least those will all display well together.

With some potentially bright spots, this figure still ends up disappointing. I’m pleased to say that it isn’t the kind of junk that I was expecting it to be, but between the limited articulation and the disaster of a face, it’s not hitting the mark. I think Mattel is getting around $20 a pop for these, which feels like a lot. If I break down what I paid for this wave, she’d be more like $8, so I’m not complaining. I’d still like to pick up DC Collectibles’ version of DCTV’s Supergirl and see how it compares. In the meantime, I’ll probably be revisiting the rest of this wave on future DC Fridays when I have nothing better to look at.

Transformers Titans Return: Chasm and Quake by Hasbro

It’s Transformers Thursday again, and I’m continuing to work my way through the most recent wave of Deluxe Class Titans Return figures, and if you’re keeping score at home, I’m really enjoying this line a lot. Hell, in the last two weeks, I’ve opened some fabulous modern updates to Perceptor and Topspin and here we are today with an update to the G1 Targetmaster, Quake. No, he’s not a Targetmaster any more, but c’mon… It’s Quake! Quake’s back! Quake was one of the few G1 Headmasters that I actually owned. I’m excited!

Aaaand… he’s a repaint of Hardhead! Huh, well look at that. Yup, the repaints have been creeping into Titans Return little by little and Quake is actually one of two repainted figures in this wave. At least the repaint mania hasn’t reached the depths of Combiner Wars yet, where Hasbro practically pounded each mold into dust trying to sell it again and again. Suffice it to say, my excitement is tempered a bit, but I’m going to go ahead and pour a little extra golden, fortifying Jameson into my glass, check him out and see if he works. As usual, let’s start with his alt mode…

Well, I certainly do have some mixed feelings about the alt mode. On the one hand, Hardhead is a pretty distinctive tank design and this mold nailed it perfectly. As a result, when you repaint it, it’s going to be very obvious who it was originally intended to be. It’s tough, if not impossible to look at this guy and not see a Hardhead repaint. It doesn’t help that this is one of the few Deluxe Titans Return molds without ways to customize the weapons load out. Being able to mount the gun differently would have helped. And, of course, the original G1 Quake was a pretty conventional looking Earth tank, so this isn’t even close. But I’m happy to go with this as what he might have looked like before he got to Earth and scanned one of the local tanks.

With that having been said, this is still a great little futuristic tank design with plenty of sculpted detail, and I think the Quake deco looks phenomenal on it. The brownish-red, blue and gray go great together and those Decepticon insignia with the lightning bolts behind them really helps to sell the homage. Maybe this design is standard for tanks on Cybertron. Maybe Quake and Hardhead got onto the same line when they were handing out alt modes. Who knows? They’re toys, and I don’t need to overthink them. Especially when I’m being made agreeable by delicious booze.

If this little repaintpalooza hasn’t fully angered you yet, you should know that Quake’s little Titan Master buddy, Chasm, is very nearly a direct repaint of Hardhead’s Furos, but obviously with a different face sculpt attached to his back. This is one of the better, more detailed head robot molds and it looks pretty good in the new colors. I can’t tell if the their little heads are the same or not. Chasm’s face looks more angular to me, but it could just be an illusion from the lack of paint and the different color plastic. Either way, he can still sit in the cockpit of the tank, and the back of the cannon will also open up to give him a gunner chair. You also get a bunch of tiny foot pegs to load up more Titan Masters if you want. On to the robot mode…

As expected, the robot mode holds no surprises either. No remolded bits. It’s just a repainted Hardhead. Still, it’s amazing how a little paint can change up a figure and I’ll be honest, this is working for me. Once again, the paint scheme looks great, and Hasbro even managed to get the lightning bolt emblems visible on the front of his shoulders. I don’t remember that being the case on the original figure. This was a great looking figure when it was first released, and it still is.

Unlike the alt mode, Quake’s robot mode lets you mix things up a bit to make him look a little different than Hardhead. I’ve opted to leave the cannon pointing straight up. Yeah, it’s not much of a difference, but every little bit helps, and you can still angle it forward for when he needs that extra firepower. You also have the option to just remove the cannon altogether. An extra peg port on the arm would have been cool to attach it there, but nope.

At least the head sculpt is new and it’s pretty fantastic. I really dig the detail in the “helmet” and the yellow face and red eyes are perfectly painted. I’d say this is a perfect update to the original figure’s noggin.

Quake comes with the exact same gun as Hardhead, only this time it’s cast in gray plastic. It’s a cool gun. I got nothing else to say.

Quake repainted from Hardhead is going to work for some and for others, not so much. Would I rather have had a brand new mold? Of course, but we all know how the game works and Hasbro needs to get enough scratch out of their molds to make more. If these were more costly Voyager Class figures, I might have had a different and more critical opinion, but in this class assortment, I’m fine with what Hasbro did here. Quake doesn’t feel like a quick-and-dirty cash grab to me. He’s no Breakaway. Maybe it’s just me being made amiable by the whiskeys, but Quake genuinely looks like some care and love went into him and when all is said and done I like him.

Friday the 13th (The Final Chapter): Ultimate Jason Voorhees by NECA

NECA has been killing it (HA!) with their Ultimate line of action figures, each one curated from some of the most iconic horror, sci-fi, and action films of the 80’s. Among them has been their love letters to a personal favorite franchise of mine, Friday the 13th. This is Jason Voorhees’ third outing in the Ultimate line, preceded by versions from Part VI and Part III. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll refer you back to the first review if you want a little taste of how much these films have meant to me growing up. As for now, let’s dig right in!

I’ve reviewed at least a dozen of these Ultimate figures, and if you’ve been on board for any of them then you should be familiar with the packaging. You get a collector friendly window box with a front flap, poster art from the film on the front, and artwork on the side panels to identify the figure. As for the film, The Final Chapter was the fourth installment in the series, and there wasn’t an ounce of truth to the title. But I didn’t care. This one is one of my favorites. From the moment the title collided with Jason’s mask and exploded right in my face, I just knew this one isn’t f’cking around.

I was excited to get this version, as it’s probably my most iconic version of the scourge of Crystal Lake. As expected, this Jason shares a lot of parts with the Part VI figure, as that version wears the same outfit and just accessorizes with a belt of killing tools and some work gloves. With that having been said, the clothes on this version are painted with a gloss that makes him look wet and the pants don’t have the ragged edges around the ankle cuffs that the version from Part VI has. So, there are some changes here to make him unique, but the underlying body is mostly the same.

With the same body comes the same articulation. Jason sports rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. You also get a ball joint in the neck and swivel in the waist. That’s a lot of points for this lumbering killer, and probably far more than he needs. Then again, more is always better than less.

And that brings us to the noggins. Yes, you get two swappable heads with this figure, and both of them feature removable masks. One of the biggest improvements NECA made from that initial Part VI release was actually putting eye holes in the hockey mask, rather than just sculpting them and painting them black. The two masks that come with the figure are virtually identical, with just some natural variations in paint that are bound to happen. I’d dare say, the extra mask was really unnecessary, as one will fit over either head, but it’s still nice to have. And I can’t say enough good things about the masks. They are perfect little replicas of the one worn in the movie. The detail and paint are just off the charts and the way they fit the heads with actual straps is particularly nice.

The standard unmasked head is a work art as well. I mean, damn, just look at all that detail! The twisted flesh, the jumble of teeth, this is fantastic portrait just brimming with love and affection. What’s more the paint work really backs it up. You get some wonderful variations of brown, and just the right of that glossy wet look around the lips. Jason’s face might be a train-wreck, but NECA elevated it to a masterpiece in plastic.

The alternate head is designed with a gash that will fit one of the weapons to recreate Tommy’s “killing” blow at the end of the flick. He did it with Rob’s machete, but as you can see in the above shot, it works with the cleaver as well. This head sculpt features the mouth slightly more open and the left eye closed. Magnificent! And speaking of cleavers… let’s move on to the accessories!

NECA usually does a great job of including the more memorable weapons from the film. In this case, you also get an extra right hand with a different style grip. Here are the cleaver and butcher knife, both appropriately smeared with blood. It’s hard to pinpoint which kills were done with the knife, but I’m pretty sure he used it to stab Samantha through the bottom of the raft and later Teddy Bear got it right through the movie screen. Jason buried the cleaver right into Dead F’ck’s face, but not before…

Nailing his hand to the kitchen counter with this corkscrew! Why am I so pleased that I own a 7-inch scale bloody corkscrew murder weapon? I don’t know, but I think it’s awesome that this is one of the accessories. Knives and cleavers are all well and good, but NECA knows that when Jason gets creative, you’ve got to include that shit in the box! I might point out here, that the killing tool from one of the best kills in the film isn’t in the box. I’m talking about Paul getting the harpoon right in the worst spot imaginable. On the other hand, the Jason from Part III comes with a harpoon gun, so you can always borrow his. Mixing and matching accessories is one of the cool things about owning a bunch of these Jasons. Anyway, back to the accessories…

The bone saw! When Jason woke up at the hospital morgue, he must have felt like a kid in a candy store. So many great toys to choose from! First he cops a feel on a pretty nurse and then he uses the bone saw on morgue attendant, Axel’s neck before finishing the job by twisting his head all the way around. Let’s take a moment and give a thought for poor Axel. He loved his exercise videos and had one of the best swearing fits ever committed to film.

And that brings us to the Axe, which was used to pretty great effect as Sarah was running to escape through the front door of the cabin and Jason threw it right through the door and into her chest. I know Jason’s been perfecting his game up to this point, but even for him, that was an impressive throw. It’s worth noting that this axe is different than the one that came with Part III Jason.

And finally, we have Rob’s machete. Rob came up to Crystal Lake specifically to hunt Jason for killing his sister and he brought along his trusty machete. I like that it’s kind of ironic that the machete in this film belongs to someone else and Jason doesn’t really use it. It’s also fitting that it’s the weapon Tommy uses to strike that impressive blow right to the side of Jason’s face after his sister knocks his mask off.

Before wrapping things up, Jason does come with one final accessory and that’s his mother’s gravestone. We see this pretty early on as the carload of teenagers pulls over to check their map. It doesn’t really hold any other significance in the film, but it’s a really cool piece and I’m glad NECA included it. Especially since now we have gravestones for both Jason and his mom.

If you’re already collecting the many Jasons of this line, The Final Chapter Voorhees should not disappoint. It’s a great looking figure with solid articulation and a gaggle of extras to play around with. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a single Jason for your shelf and you’re not interested in grabbing them all, this one is a pretty good choice. It would be tough for me to pick a favorite of the bunch, but this one is definitely an iconic look. Ultimate Part IV Jason retails for between $20 and $25 depending where you buy him, and as always, that’s a damn good deal for what you’re getting. NECA has already hinted that they’re hard at work on the next one, and I hope they keep going until we get them all. And maybe an accessory pack, like they did with their Aliens and Predators lines.

Marvel Legends (Mantis Wave): Rocket Raccoon and Groot by Hasbro

Back again? Ready for a second helping of Marvel Monday? That’s what I like to hear!  Earlier today, I looked at Star-Lord from the Marvel Legends Mantis Wave and tonight I’m checking out Rocket Raccoon and Baby Groot! So, “Come a little bit closer,”and let’s kick this off…

First off, let’s deal with the obvious: Even with Mantis’ torso in there, this tray feels light.  On paper, it seems like there’s an awful lot of stuff in there, what with two figures, two weapons, an alternate head, and a BAF part, but when I’m looking at this much empty space in the package and a twenty dollar price tag, I have to think there was something else Hasbro could have crammed in there. Last time around, Rocket came with his rather large rifle, the extremely large Hadron Enforcer, and an even larger BAF Groot torso and head. I’m not sure what else Hasbro could have packed into this one (maybe the bomb with the death button?), but my first impressions are still that this package needed something more. That having been said, Rocket is an entirely new figure, but I’m still going to start off with a quick comparison shot of him beside the Rocket from the first movie.

Wow… what a difference a couple of years makes, eh? The new rocket is a little smaller, but this time Hasbro went all out and gave him full articulation. That’s crazy impressive for such a small figure. With rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and tail; ball joints in the hips, torso, and neck, and swivel cuts in the thighs, wrists, and ankles, this little trash panda has almost as much articulation as a regular sized Legends figure. I’m extremely impressed… you did good here, Hasbro!

Equally impressive is the new sculpt. I’d say the sculpted hair is about on par with the last Rocket, but the proportions on this figure look so much better to me, particularly around the neck, which isn’t so awkwardly thick. I’m still partial to Rocket’s orange jumpsuit, but this new blue outfit offers a little more room to shine when it comes to the sculpted detail and the paintwork is crisp and clean. Again, very impressive for such a tiny figure.

You get two heads, one neutral and one yelling. Both are excellent sculpts, but I’m a little partial to the open mouth one. The paintwork is really good, but it does have a weird halftone newsprint quality to it. It’s really only noticeable to me when I get in close with the camera. The yelling head has Rocket a little wall-eyed, but again, it’s tough to really notice under normal scrutiny.

Rocket comes with two different pistols, which are very detailed sculpts for such tiny pieces. They’re painted silver with a black wash that makes them look well used. They fit perfectly into his tiny little rodent hands. These aren’t as impressive as his rifle from the first movie, but they look great.

The other figure in the box is Baby Groot, and he’s more of an accessory than an actual figure. He’s a totally static piece, depicting him in his Ravager jumpsuit. It’s a solid effort for what it is, although mine is a googly eyed little bastard. I think it would have been cool if Hasbro had sculpted him to sit on Rocket’s shoulder, but he’s still a welcome addition to the package. He can also stand on his own surprisingly well.

Everything about Rocket makes him an impressive little figure and really shows the huge improvements that Hasbro can make over the course of just a couple of years. I’m still tempted to pick at the value here, because $20 is the going price of this set and there just isn’t a lot of plastic here. If it weren’t for all the added articulation to Rocket, I’d make that more of an issue, but truth be told, I’m fine with it. In the end, it’s not about what’s missing from the package, but what’s in it, and I think Hasbro went all out on this little guy.