Figma “Fate/Stay Night” Archer (Reissue) by Max Factory

What’s this? Two Anime Saturdays in a row? Well, I can’t promise this will go on, but after looking at the Figma version of Tohsaka Rin from Fate/Stay Night last week, I was mighty anxious to finally open up her Servant, Archer. I had this one on pre-order since it was first announced and it came in a couple of weeks ago. So let’s burn up one of our Command Seals and check this figure out!

I don’t have much new to say about the packaging. It’s typical Figma fare with a window on the front, some shots of the figure on the sides and back, and this compact little box is totally collector friendly. The figure number, in this case #223, is prominently indicated on the front. You’ll note I never pay much attention to the numbering on these figures and that’s because I try to be pretty selective about the ones I buy. Anyway, the box looks great when lined up on the shelf alongside the other Fate figures. As many of you probably know, I don’t tend to keep a lot of my figure packages, but I do keep all my Figma boxes so I have someplace to keep all that extra stuff. Although, as always, they include a branded Figma ziploc bag for the accessories.

Here he is free of all his protective plastic wrap and I’m happy to say he looks outstanding. I’ve had a thing for crimson trench coats ever since first seeing Trigun a couple decades ago and while Archer isn’t exactly wearing a trench coat, it has the same effect with the billowing skirt that fans out behind his legs. The crimson garment is continued up top with a sort of quarter-jacket over his shoulders and sleeves secured by what looks like a large silver clip on the back. There are also a pair of beautifully sculpted white ribbon ties, which are meant to help hold the two halves of the jacket together on the front. The underlying armor looks great, particularly the silver lining tracing around his chest and back. The belt and armor points on the backs of his sleeves are also painted with a nice silver, as are the armor pieces on his ankles and the toes of his boots. You get some cool straps around his legs, all painted pale blue.

The skirt is cast in two pieces of plastic, each one secured in the back with ball joints. This method allows them to articulate like they’re blowing in the wind or reacting to his movements. It also helps keep them out of the way of the leg articulation. Chances are if you have enough Figmas, you’ve seen this before. It always works really well, and I can’t emphasize that enough. Archer has one of those costumes that really wasn’t made to translate well off screen, but they did a beautiful job with it here.

Archer includes two different portraits, which is one less than I’m used to getting with my Figmas. You get one rather stoic or serious face and one shouty action face. I’m not going to gripe about the lack of a third portrait, as these two represent the sum of Archer’s emotional states. Unlike the usual Figma face-swaps, Archer’s hair is part of each face, so you don’t have to remove the front of the hair to change the face out. This makes it a little simpler, but still not too much different. Both faces are great. He’s got a slightly darker and yellow skin tone than usual, which is appropriate for the character. His eyes and eyebrows are perfectly printed and the open mouth looks particularly good.

And with swappable faces also come swappable hands. Archer includes a pair of fists and a pair of splayed finger hands. He actually comes with one more splayed finger hand, which is very slightly different and rather puzzling to me. He has a right hand with two fingers pointing. This hand can be used either as a gesture or to hold his arrow. And finally you get two accessory holding hands. So let’s talk accessories!

First off, Archer includes the twin swords, Kanshou and Bakuya and these are superb! They have sweeping cutlass-like blades and each one sports the Yin & Yang symbols on the hilt. Bakuya has a beautifully painted silver blade, but I especially love the honeycomb pattern on Kanshou’s dark blade. These fit snugly into the accessory holding hands and it’s nice to get some Figma swords that don’t feel ridiculously fragile… I’m looking at you SAO Figmas… ALL OF YOU! Yes, having a chunkier design makes all the difference.

Of course, Archer also comes with his bow, which is elegantly shaped, quite long, and all black. The accessory itself is great, but getting it into his hand was a frustrating affair. The grip doesn’t leave any space between his thumb and forefinger and the plastic used for the hand isn’t very pliable. Thankfully the thin guard plate can be un-pegged from the bow so as not to damage it and I was eventually able to get the weapon into his hand. Getting it out again was just as much the ordeal. It would have been helpful if the bow split into two halves, so you could put one in through the top of his grip and one through the bottom, and then peg them together.

Finally, Archer includes Caladbolg, the sword that he re-purposed as a ridiculously powerful arrow. This is an absolutely gorgeous piece of work from it’s ornate blue and gold hilt to it’s cork-screw silver blade. Max Factory knows how to produce some amazing looking weapons and this is another great example of that. The sword will fit comfortably into either of Archer’s gripping hands, but it’s really meant to accompany his bow.

Firing a giant and powerful sword out of a bow may look and sound great in an anime series, but recreating it practically here is a bit of a different story. The hand that is intended to knock the sword into the bow doesn’t hold it quite as well as I would have hoped, but I was able to make it work with a little effort.

Even a few issues interacting with some of the accessories, couldn’t make me love this figure any less. It seemed like it took forever for Archer to get his original release, and while I was watching it closely for a while, I must have moved on to other things because he eventually got released, sold out, and I didn’t know it until it was too late and he was selling for stupid money. I think that was like three years ago. I had this reissue pre-ordered as soon as I got wind of it and now that he’s in hand, I can stop beating myself up for letting the first release get away. I’ll confess that it’s getting harder for me to drop $65 on Figmas these days with so much else competing for my dollars, but I never seem to regret it once I get them in hand.

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Predator: Jungle Extraction Dutch by NECA

The sci-fi/action classic Predator turned thirty this year and NECA (who else?) was on the scene with an impressive wave of action figures to celebrate the film’s anniversary. Included in the assortment were no less than four versions of Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer (five if you count the convention exclusive!). Sadly, I didn’t have the budget or space to go all in on this wave, seriously even I have to draw the line somewhere, but I did grab two of the four retail release Dutch figures when they went up for pre-order, and I’m finally getting around to open one of these today!

The packaging isn’t quite as snazzy as NECA’s Ultimate figures, but it’s still plenty nice. Dutch comes in a collector friendly window box that shows off the figure beautifully, has a great shot of him on the back, and features 30th Anniversary logos on the side panels as well as the figure’s name. In this case “Jungle Extraction” version depicts Dutch early in the film and at the beginning of the mission to rescue the “Cabinet Minister” from the guerrilla camp. The figure and gear are laid out on a clear plastic tray with a printed insert showing the jungle viewed through the Predator’s thermavision.

Aliens and Predators may be NECA’s bread and butter, but Arnold Schwarzenegger is their jam, and this figure shows it. Dutch comes sporting his full fatigues, which include camo pants, a long-sleeved, button-down shirt, and a tactical vest. The open vest on the collar is sculpted to look like the shirt is actually a separate piece and you can see a bit of his darker green t-shirt peaking out. As I would expect from NECA, every little pocket, rumple, and stitch is meticulously detailed on this outfit, from the edges on his collar and the grenades on his vest, down to the laces on his boots.

Dutch’s outfit includes a functional holster for his sidearm and sheath for his combat knife, as well as a scabbard for his machete. The holster has a retaining strap, as well as a sculpted pouch for an extra magazine. The knife sheath has a sculpted pouch for a sharpening rod. The detail on these is uncanny, right down to the stitching along the edges.

As for the portrait, well like I said earlier, NECA knows Arnold. They’ve sculpted him young and old, and everything in between and so naturally this is a great likeness. I’m not usually a big fan of this glossy, unpainted plastic for the head sculpts, but I don’t mind it so much here. It looks like he’s sweating his ass off, and that’s appropriate for the jungle setting. Otherwise, there’s plenty of detail in the facial features, as well as his stubble, and yes they even sculpted the cigar into his mouth. Lovely! The paint on the hairline is nice and clean and the camo striping on his face looks great.

The articulation is the usual NECA fare with rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. There’s a ball joint in the waist and another in the neck. I would have liked a little more range of motion in those elbows, but what we got is still plenty good.

As for weapons, let’s start small and work our way up. He comes with two knives, the smaller combat knife and the larger machete type. Both are beautifully sculpted with detailed hilts and silver painted blades. Neither of his hands are really designed to hold them, but I was actually surprised at how well they each looked in his gun hand with the trigger finger over the guard. Yes, they’re rather loose in his grip, but it works.

Next up, Dutch comes with his Desert Eagle. I just re-watched my Blu-Ray of Predator a few days ago and was surprised to find that Dutch never actually drew his sidearm at all in the film. He eventually loses it after he’s forced to take a swim. This is a pretty good sculpt, with both black and gray paint.

And last, but certainly not least is the AR-15 fitted with an M203 grenade launcher. Just like NECA knows their way around Arnold, they also know their way around weaponry and as a result this is a beautiful scaled recreation of the weapon carried by Dutch in the film. It has a bit of weathering to the finish and it includes a soft plastic carry strap so you can sling it over his shoulder.

Dutch set me back about $25, which is a little more than usual for a regular NECA release, but a lot of retailers were really pushing to sell these as a complete assortment and goosing the price on the individuals just a tad. That’s OK. Considering all the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into this figure, I’m perfectly happy with what I paid. You simply can’t go wrong picking up 80’s inspired action figures from the wizards at NECA and when the subject is Arnold Schwarzenegger, you know you’re going to be in for a treat. Indeed, I’m even starting to eye up the other two Dutch figures that I left on the table. But now I’m getting ahead of myself. In a week or so, I’ll double back and take a look at the Jungle Patrol Dutch!

Transformers Titans Return: Flameout and Twin Twist by Hasbro

I was supposed to be going back to Voltron content this week on Transformers Thursday, but then I stumbled across Top Spin and all bets were off! Finally, my Neo-Jumpstarters are complete and I couldn’t wait to start gushing about this Titans Return update to the other half of my favorite Transformers Duo! So, sorry Voltron, maybe next week.

Here’s a quick peep at Twin Twist in the package before I savage it to get at him. I won’t bore you with more tales about how I loved the G1 Jumpstarters and about how I was ostracized on the playgrounds because of it. Don’t worry, the subsequent therapy did wonders for me and I can now admit in public again that I am and have always been Pro-Jumpstarter. Also, I can’t believe that I neglected to mention the bio on the back when I reviewed Topspin, but these fellas’ Titan Masters give them some pretty cool powers. Freezeout gives Topspin the ability to freeze his foes in whatever mode they are in. Flameout overloads his foes transformation mechanisms triggering a “mode-switching meltdown.” Yeah, I don’t usually bother with the bios on these figures, but that’s some rad shit! Anyway, let’s start with Twin Twist’s alt mode…

Yup, Twin Twist retains his good old drill tank mode, which does a fairly good job of hiding that it’s a remold of Topspin’s Cybertron fighter mode. Well, apart from the back, which is mostly identical from the top, although from the back you can see that Topspin’s quad thrusters have been removed. The cockpit and surrounding area are the same, but Twin Twist trades in the angled wings for a pair of tank treads and the twin pylons on the front for drills.

Twin Twist’s deco is basically a palate swap of his Jumpstarter bro, although instead of white those parts are more gray. The intakes on his back are now painted yellow and framed in red, which looks quite nice. The silver paint used for the drills looks great too. Honestly, I have to confess to liking Topspin’s alt mode a little more, but that was the case with the originals as well. I mean one is an alien starfighter and the other is a drill tank. I don’t know what we were smoking in the 80’s to formulate such a love affair with drill tanks. They turned up in every goddamn cartoon property I can think of. I think 12-year old me would be heartbroken to find out that even as far in the future as the year 2017, nobody gives a shit about drill tanks. Seriously, they never even come up in conversation.

Because giant drills aren’t always useful in a shooting war, Twin Twist sports a couple of guns, which can be fitted in two different locations on the tank mode. You can attach them above the treads, which is where I prefer them, or lower on the treads. I like the fact that you can elevate the guns to lob shells at the enemies. It makes this alt mode feel a little more tank like.

Flameout, Twin Twist’s Titan Master, is cast all in one color plastic, but he does have a painted visor, which is pretty cool. Of course, he can sit inside Twin Twist’s cockpit and looks damn fine doing it. Twin Twist’s transformation is nearly identical to Topspin’s. Nope, no instant jump transformation here. Let’s check out his robot mode!

So, once again we can see that Twin Twist shares a lot with Topspin. In fact from the front the only evident differences in the mold from the neck down are in the upper arms. And that’s fine because it carries on the tradition of the original toys. Of course, the Twin Twist mold trades in the shoulder wings for shoulder treads. They’re certainly not as elegant, although I think they add some nice bulk to him from the side, and don’t look too bad from the front. The palate swap also does a nice job of distinguishing them apart and I especially like the yellow and red paint operations showing on Twin Twist, along with that silver painted hatch on his chest. I get just a hint of Gundam RX-78-2 off of this deco. Just a whiff.

From the back, those shoulder treads are a lot more unsightly to me and the crisscrossed cockpit and drills don’t look quite as refined as Topspin’s pylons. Still, plenty of Transformers aren’t going to win any prizes when viewed from the back, so I’ll cut Twin Twist here a little slack. At least his lower legs fill in with back plates.

The head sculpt is pure poetry. It’s everything I loved about the original, including a stout bucket head, a classically noble Autobot face, a nice clean silver paint job and some perfect blue eyes. Flameout, you make a fine head and you’ve got nothing to apologize for… except maybe your name.

Twin Twist’s guns are identical molds to those carried by his brother Topspin. I love these designs, although the hollow-sided nature of many of the Titans Return guns continues to irk me just a bit. And yes, you can still combine them into one big gun for when you need to deal…

QUAD DAMAGE, bitches!!!!

And so, I finally have my Titans Return Jumpstarters and I am a very happy little robot collector. I love these guys and I imagine they will be Wreckin’ and Rulin’ my desk for quite a while before they finally make the journey to the display case. They really are that much fun. And if you’re wondering why I did comparisons to the Mech Ideas Not-Jumpstarters in my Topspin review but not here, it’s because I already sold those third-party figures off. They were not bad little bots, but this is an instance where I think the cheaper, official ones are just that much better.

Star Wars Black: Grand Admiral Thrawn by Hasbro

I’ll be honest, when Disney announced that they were wiping the slate clean when it came to the bulk of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, I didn’t shed many tears. I read a lot of those books in my teenage years and early 20’s, but I only ever really took to certain parts of it. Nevertheless, I was certainly happy to see that Grand Admiral Thrawn survived the purge and was forever cemented into canon with his appearances on Star Wars Rebels. Did Heir to the Empire ever happen? Who cares… Thrawn is alive and kicking and he got a 6-inch Black Series figure!

Indeed, in that sense I suppose we can consider this figure a continuation of the realistically-styled versions of the Rebels crew that we’ve been getting peppered throughout the Black Series. Whatever the case, Thrawn was first released as an SDCC Exclusive with a whole bunch of extras and some spiffy packaging. That stuff was neat and all, but I’m perfectly happy having picked up his vanilla retail release… well, mostly perfectly happy. Let’s check him out!

Here he is and don’t he look damn spiffy! The special white version of the Imperial uniform was finally seen on the big screen in Rogue One, and boy did it look grand. Yes, pun intended! Here Thrawn is sporting the form fitting white tunic with with gold epaulets, the rank insignia on the left of his chest, and what are those, pens? tucked into his tunic one either side. He has some additional adornment on his collar, the puffed out military-style pants, and black matte boots. The wide belt includes a functional holster for his sidearm. All that is great, but here’s where I’ve got to give some serious props to Hasbro…

This figure appears to share next to no parts with Director Krennic, and that’s a big deal to me. While Hasbro is able to share parts in their 6-inch Marvel Legends line all the time, the Black Series affords a lot fewer opportunities. If there was ever a figure (besides Astromech droids) where it would have been understandable to share a buck, it would have been here. And yet, apart from maybe the boots (but I don’t think so), these are two totally unique figures. Just putting the two figures beside each other shows that Krennic is built on a shorter buck, none of the sculpted wrinkles in the pants line up, and there are significant differences all around the uniform. That’s pretty damn cool!

Overall, I think the portrait here is pretty good, although the paint does tend to break down a bit the closer you get. There are some excellent details in the sculpted facial features, particularly in the angular cheeks and around the nose. The hairline is also painted very neatly and overall, he has an appropriately stern look on his face. The eyebrows are a bit overstated for my taste, the eyes look fine, but the purple paint on the lips is sloppy and I could have done without it entirely. It looks a bit like he’s been hitting the Spice too hard. Oh wait, wrong franchise. Still, all in all, not bad.

Thrawn’s articulation is right in line with what I’ve come to expect from the Black Series. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have ball jointed hips, double hinged knees, swivels up under the tunic, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a swivel in the chest and both a ball joint and swivel in the neck. Not bad for an Imperial Officer.

While the SDCC Exclusive release was flush with extra goodies, this retail release includes only one, and that’s his sidearm. This is a really cool and unique blaster design and it fits perfectly in his holster. But come on, Hasbro? Not even a Ysalamiri to keep The Force at bay? I’m perfectly fine without the entirety of his art collection, but there was certainly room in that package for something else.

Well, lack of accessories no withstanding, I really do love this figure. Thrawn looks great, and the fact that he’s an all new figure was a welcome surprise. I’m all about getting as many Imperials as I can, so I’m hoping that some Imperial Officers can’t be far behind. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eye open every now and then for the SDCC version. I doubt it’ll ever turn up for what I’d be willing to pay, but it never hurts to look around.

Marvel Gallery: Phoenix by Diamond Select

It’s that magical time for Marvel Monday, when I’m between waves of Marvel Legends and I can take a brief moment to look at something else Marvel-related before diving into another Legends Wave and chipping away at my huge backlog. And as it so happens, I just got in one of the latest releases in Diamond Select’s Marvel Gallery series of 9-inch scale PCV statues. Let’s have a look at Jean Grey!

DST has done a great job streamlining the package for this line while still giving each one a bit of character. Jean comes in a collector-friendly window box with windows on the front, top, and side panels, allowing you to get a great look at the piece you’re buying. Provided, of course, that you aren’t picking them up online, like I have to. The box deco is blue with some green speckles of energy and the X-Men logo under the window and above her name. Diamond has been calling these “PVC Dioramas,” but they’re really just statues with specialized bases. I can’t help but wonder if that has something to do with licensing issues.

And with Jean out of her box, I find myself suitably impressed! Jean stands with her right toe suspended in the center of a fiery phoenix and her left leg bent up at the knee. She turns at the waist toward her beholder with her right arm out behind her and her left arm reaching forward. The composition here really resonates a lot of energy, while still retaining something of a cheesecake pose, which would have been right at home in Kotobukiya’s Bishoujo line.

All the details of Phoenix’s costume are incorporated as part of the sculpt. Her boots and gauntlets are thicker, making them actually look like they’re worn over the suit. Even the plunging black triangle on her chest with the phoenix emblem are separate sculpts. The belt also features the two tied off loose ends fluttering behind her. Beyond that, you get some lovely muscle definition sculpted into her skin tight suit.

The paint on the costume is damn near flawless. The suit features a striking metallic green finish, the triangular cut-out is in matte black, and the rest of the costume is kitted out in a yellowish-gold with a nice shimmer to it. Very nice!

The portrait is clean and beautiful, but like the pose, it leans toward the previously mentioned Bishoujo camp. It’s not that she’s had an anime makeover, but rather her smiling expression makes this look more like a glamour art commission one might get done at a comic convention. I actually love it, but some might have hoped for something a little more serious and in character. Either way, the paint applications for the eyes and lips are all crisp and fairly precise. The only issue I have is that the mascara under her left eye is a little lower than the right, but I’m really nitpicking here. The hair sculpt is absolutely extraordinary.

The fiery phoenix base is cast in a translucent orange and yellow plastic. and works beautifully. I love the balance of the piece and how it looks like Jean is almost defying gravity. I’ve really been warming up to statue designers using unconventional bases like this.

I have to give major props to DST for this beautiful statue. The quality on this piece is exceptional and I’m ever impressed that they can deliver something that looks this good in what is basically a budget line. I pre-ordered this one when it was first solicited at $45 and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. Indeed, she’s so good, she can definitely hang with some of the more expensive statues in my collection. It’ll be back to Legends next week, and with the Blu-Ray release of Spider-Man: Homecoming coming in just a few weeks, I thought I might as well hit that wave next.

Star Trek Mega Bloks: Transporter Room by Mattel

There’s brand new Star Trek on tonight, folks, and if that isn’t cause for some special Sunday content, then I don’t know what is! I’m trying to be optimistic about Discovery, but the truth is right now I’m bracing for the worst, but hoping for the best. Either way, I’m excited! Meanwhile, I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek this weekend and I’ve been saving another one of Mattel’s Mega Bloks Star Trek sets for just the right occasion. This time it’s the The Transporter Room… Energize!

The set comes in a typical enclosed box, albeit with some sexy angled edges and I really like what they did with the presentation for this series. You get a very Classic looking Star Trek deco and logo with the 50th Anniversary insignia and some artwork featuring the completed set, which is so close to what it looks like it might as well be an actual photo. There’s also a little window in the bottom corner that displays Spock, one of the three Micro Figures included with the set.

Inside the box you get a large full-color instruction booklet and a heaping helping of unnumbered bags of bricks. Unnumbered? Yup! Mega Bloks ain’t going to coddle you like LEGO does, so you might as well just dump all those bags into a bin and mix them up, because with these builds you have to hunt through every last brick at every step of the build. In total the set includes 321 pieces. Let’s start with the Micro Figures!

The Micro Figures come already built and include Mirror Universe Kirk and Spock, although technically, I guess this is really our Universe Kirk dressed in the Mirror Universe outfit. You also get a materializing Micro Figure. I’m pretty sure that’s Kirk too, but he can pass for anyone. Also, if you take the sash off of him, he can pass for someone from our Universe as well. All of the Star Trek Micro Figures have been pretty impressive. They have decent likenesses for the scale and a surprising degree of articulation. All three figures come with gold figure bases and Spock and Kirk come with phasers. And now… on to the build!!!

Once the set is complete, you get this long strip, which works as an alternate display option. It kind of reminds me of a Classic version of the Regula-1 Transporter Room from Wrath of Khan. I think it would stand in nicely for a TOS Starbase Transporter. The control console is even built on a swivel, so you can orientate it to this configuration without having to remove it.

I’ll also point out that the set comes with back panels that have the emblem of the Terran Empire’s Imperial Starfleet printed on them, but they also provide enough to build the regular Universe Transporter and that’s the one that I went for. Oh yeah, these panels also glow in the dark, which is pretty damn cool. When you’re ready to turn it this thing into the Enterprise Transporter Room, all you do is roll it up!

And there you go! I think this thing looks really great. Granted, the layout of the pads is not accurate to the Enterprise Transporter. It has the right number of pads, but they aren’t configured in a circle like they should be. Still, I’m happy with the way it turned out and if you wanted to buy two of these, you might be able to build a more accurate one with the combined pieces. I found this build to be a lot less frustrating than the D7 Battlecruiser, although there is a little bit of repetition in building each of those triangular pad sections. Also, the top Transporter discs do not attach all that well to the support beams, so it’s not uncommon for those to fall off when handling the set. Unlike the Klingon ship, I’m happy to report that I wasn’t missing any pieces this time. Oh, and that one top piece on the right wall does fit correctly, I just didn’t snap it down properly.

The Transporter console is comprised of specially printed bricks, and I think it looks great. Probably the one thing that Mega Bloks can laud over LEGO is that they don’t use stickers, and that’s a wonderful thing. The platform in front of the console even has pegs for a Micro Figure to stand in front of it. I also like the star chart that hangs on the wall. It’s a nice touch!

The pads are re-purposed figure stands, cast in silver instead of gold, which is pretty clever, although the center one only has a single peg. I’m not really sure why they did that, but it’s no big deal. I think the materializing Micro Figure looks great displayed on one of the pads.

This set retailed at just under $40 originally, which is the same price as the D7 Battlecruiser, but with about thirty fewer pieces. On the other hand, this set had two more Micro Figures, so I guess it all balances out. I picked up mine for just under $15 when Amazon was running them on sale, and I’m pretty sure that they’re still running specials on these sets. I think they did a beautiful job with it and I appreciate the fact that they took the opportunity to pay homage to a specific episode, rather than just throw a generic set out there. There are only two more Classic Trek Mega Bloks sets left for me to pick up: The Bridge and The USS Enterprise. The Bridge is a sure thing, but the Enterprise? Well, at 3,000+ pieces, we’ll see how crazy I feel.

Figma “Fate/Stay Night” Tohsaka Rin 2.0 by Max Factory

It feels like a long while since I stopped in with some Anime Saturday love, but I have the day off and I made a big pot of coffee and I feel like putting on some Fate/Stay Night and opening up a Figma so let’s do this!

Yup, I love me some Fate/Stay Night. It was one of the first anime series that I purchased on Blu-Ray. It’s a go-to series for me when I want to lay around and binge watch something. And it’s also one of those cases where I kick myself for not getting on board with the Figmas in the beginning, because some of those have become stupid expensive. Luckily, Max Factory has been putting out reissues and different versions of the characters and I’ve been picking up a lot of them. Previously, I checked out Caster from Fate/Stay Extra, today I’m having a look at Tohsaka Rin from Fate/Stay Night. The packaging is typical Figma fare, so I’m not going to dwell on it. Instead, let’s open her up and get down to it!

The first Figma release of Rin had her in her crimson pullover with the crucifix on the front. This one has her wearing a more traditional school outfit with a brown vest and poufy white blouse. I tend to prefer the former look a little more, but this outfit definitely allows for more details and perhaps a more interesting looking figure. There’s some particularly nice detail in her neck tie, which includes some beautifully painted gold borders and tiny crosses. She also has some red border striping on her collar and again on her sleeves. Her skirt is dark blue, and features some strategically placed slits so as not to hamper her hip articulation. One might be tempted to gripe about the lack of paint on her buttons, but they are actually brown on screen, so it isn’t a question of being frugal with the paint, but rather being show accurate.

I’ve always liked Rin’s hair style and the figure pulls it off quite well. The pigtails are on ball joints, so they can be positioned to hang down over the front of her shoulders, or sweep back so they’re out of the way. The back of her hair is also hinged to help accommodate the standard Figma figure stand, which pegs into her back as usual. The stock portrait features Rin smiling with large blue perfectly printed eyes. And as usual, she includes alternate faces, which are easily swapped out by removing the front of the hair piece. The extra faces include…

The shouty, “I’m going to kill you, Shiruo!” face. This is one that I’m likely to use the most, as I’m probably going to display her casting a spell.

And the the third and final choice is sad Rin face, which is wonderfully expressive, but I doubt I’ll use it much, because I don’t want my action figures to be sad.

Rin also comes with an alternative front hair piece, which includes her glasses attached to it. This piece works and looks great, and I love that they included it. It isn’t easy to do good looking glasses for figures in this scale, but this is a case where they nailed it perfectly.

And since this is a Figma, Rin also includes a passel of extra hands, which come in handy (HA!) for all your different posing needs. She has a pair of fists, a pair of pointing hands, a pair of splayed hands, a pair with her fingers together. She also comes with a single item holding hand, which doesn’t really serve any purpose here, since she doesn’t come with anything to hold.

Of course, no matter which pair of hands you’re using or if you’re mixing and matching, all of the right hands include her Command Seals printed on the back.

Also included is a swap out lower left arm. This one has the sleeve rolled up and includes magic effects printed on it. Pretty cool!

And here’s a first for me and Figma… Rin also has a pair of swap out feet, just in case you want her wearing slippers. Yup. Why not? These are actually a bitch to get on and off, so I doubt I’ll be using them much.

Lastly, Rin comes with a very cool set of magical effect parts. The circular ring plugs into either of her pointing fingers, and the directed part of the blast plugs into the other side of the ring’s center. The whole thing is cast in a vibrant red. It’s a fantastic looking effect, and it will most likely be the way I’ll display her the most.

I’ve had my eye on Rin 2.0 for a while and I’ve been waiting for her price to hit that sweet spot to make me pull the trigger. Of course, that’s a dangerous game with Figmas. If you wait too long you’ll find yourself paying for it later or doing without and hoping for a re-release down the road. In the case of this gal, I grabbed her at just under fifty bucks. That’s not an unreasonable sum for Figmas these days, as they tend to hit retail at between sixty and seventy, depending on how complex they are. Rin is a pretty simple figure, but she’s incredibly well done, and it feels like she came with just enough stuff to make me happy. Although, I would have happily traded the slipper feet for a tea set. I’m happy to say that I was also able to pick up her Servant, Archer, and I’ll do my best to find the time to check him out next Saturday.

Femme Fatales “Hack/Slash:” Cassie Hack (NYCC 2015 Exclusive Edition) by Diamond Select

You’ve probably already surmised something is up by the title of today’s feature, so let me just come out and declare that DC Fridays are going on hiatus. I’ve got some great DC related stuff pre-ordered and coming soon, but with DC Icons almost dead, and DC Multiverse too depressing for me to keep reviewing, my DC merch is pretty much relegated to statues these days. It breaks my heart because DC is absolutely killing it with their comics lately and I’m reading most of their current books. Sooo, I’m opening up Fridays as an “Anything Goes” slot once again, but as new DC stuff comes in, it’ll get shunted to the front of the line every Friday. Promise!

With that all having been said, I’m keeping things comic-themed today and checking out Diamond Select’s Exclusive Edition of the Femme Fatales Cassie Hack statue from Image Comics’ Hack/Slash! Phew, that was a mouthful! And yes, if by some chance this looks familiar, it may be because I reviewed the standard version a couple years back. If you’re down for some great horror-comedy-action funnybooks, you’d be well-served to check out Hack/Slash by Tim Seeley, which should still be available in TPB format. There’s hardly any merchandising surrounding this series, so it should come as no surprise that I was willing to double dip on the Exclusive.

The packaging is more or less identical, even to the point where the photos on the back of the box are of the retail release and not this Exclusive. You do get a sticker on the front window declaring this an “Action Figure Xpress Exclusive”. There’s also a piece of foil tape on the top denoting it is a NYCC Exclusive and that mine is number 669 of 1,000. Dammit… soooo close to 666! Anyway, it looks like I’m going in from the bottom to get Cassie out! There isn’t a lot of set up involved here. After freeing her from betwixt two clear plastic trays one finds that she comes permanently attached to her base, but you do have to put her accessories in her hands.

Here she is, and ain’t she to die for? In my review of the original retail release, I bemoaned the fact that this Exclusive was the more colorful edition and that I preferred it to the two. That opinion still holds strong today. Indeed, if I had known how easy and affordable this statue would be to eventually get, I would have waited, but more on that later. There is no new sculpting here, so we’re dealing with just a straight repaint, and even those changed areas are somewhat limited. The blue and gray gloves have been changed to red and gray, her gray skirt is now black with red squares, and her socks are now black with red decorations.

So, the repaint is not entirely extensive, but I think it does a lot to elevate the original release. I’m not saying they should have put Cassie in some inappropriately bright colors, but the gray used for the skirt just seemed drab and boring for a statue. Overall, the quality of the paint application is pretty good here, especially for a budget line like this one.

The portrait still looks great, and features Cassie’s hair cascading down and covering half of her face. She’s very pretty and I love the delicate curve of her nose into her more prominent upper lip. The paint for her eyes and lips is applied sharply, and yes… she’s wearing gray lipstick!

Her accessories include Vlad’s mask and her nail-studded baseball bat. It’s a shame they couldn’t do Vlad as a companion piece, but that really isn’t within the scope of this line, at least not back then. Nonetheless, as I’m sure I said when reviewing the retail release, it was crucial they make his presence felt somewhere and including the mask was a pretty good way to do it. I was hoping they would have added some writing to the bat for the Exclusive, like “Kiss It,” but both the bat and the mask are exactly the same as the original retail release.

Also identical is the hatchet-inspired stand and I really do love this thing. It’s fun, creative, and perfectly fits the theme.

Generally speaking, these roughly 9-inch scale PVC statues retail for just under $45, which is not too shabby for statue collectors on a budget. There have been some ups and downs in terms of overall quality, but I’ve been a fan and supporter of DST’s Femme Fatales long before it grew into the DC and Marvel Gallery lines and Cassie here is a good example why. Now here’s the kicker: The limited run Exclusive is actually selling for about half the price of the regular retail release right now on Amazon, which is where I picked up mine. And so for a cool $15, I was able to get the preferred version that I thought would be difficult and expensive to find. Who knew? I’m sure as hell not going to complain about owning both versions. Especially since no other companies seem interested in doing anything with the license.

Transformers Titans Return: Hazard and Blitzwing by Hasbro

Howdy, folks! It’s Transformers Thursday again and as promised I’m here to check out the second of the new Titans Returns Voyager Class Triple Changers! A couple weeks back, I looked at Octone and the feeling was overall one of Meh. I felt he had a really solid robot mode, but I was split on his two alt modes. Here’s hoping that Blitzwing can break the trend, because he’s one of my favorite Triple Changers and I really need a solid version of this guy represented on my shelves. Let’s have a look!

And here’s the packages shot. It’s worth noting that this is the second time we got a Voyager Class Blitzwing in the last four years. The Generations one came close to getting the job done, but ultimately stumbled so badly on the little things (like functional shoulder tabs) that it incurred all my rage. I’m hoping against hope that this one sets things right. I’m going to start with his robot mode.

Well, alright! This is a Blitzwing I can get behind and is overall a solid recreation/compromise of the G1 toy and Sunbow cartoon design. The torso sells it to me the most, which was one of the issues I had with the Generations figure and the exposed cockpit on the chest. This is just a slab of purple, boxy goodness. There’s plenty of sculpted detail, especially in the pelvis, while the upper chest features the faked-out partial nosecone with yellow segmented sections on the sides, flanked by red panels and triangles. The lower legs are pretty free of kibble, just the jet tail fins folded neatly on the sides, although feel free to fold them down to face the front and mimic the G1 toy’s look a little more closely. The arms are pretty complex as the tank treads are folded up into them. They’re not as streamlined as I might have preferred, but they’re not really anything I’m going to complain about either.

The back ain’t too shabby. He features the tank cupola on his back. You can leave the cannon barrel in place to simulate the G1 look, but I think it extends a little too far up, so I opt to remove it. The official transformation suggests his wings should be folded up, but I prefer to leave them out, which mimics the look of the original a little better to me. Little heel spurs help keep him standing up.

The Titan Master Hazard forms Blitzwing’s head and I really love the sculpt here. I would have been OK if they went for for a silver face to match the Sunbow look, but I’m also fine with the purple toy-inspired face. My only complaint on the head is that the yellow paint around the “helmet” is a little splotchy on mine. I can’t remember the last time I had a gripe with the paint on a Transformers figure. Oh, and have a look at that Decepticon sticker on his chest. It’s already starting to peel at the edges. That makes me sad.

Blitzwing comes with a standard gun for a Titan Master to sit in, but in this case it can be combined with the tank cannon to form a long rifle. It looks like a suitable weapon to use for his “Long Bomb” strategy!

And he also comes with his rather unique looking sword. I like the design, but it feels a little on the small side, but not bad. So, all in all, I think Blitzwing is a pretty fantastic robot, but then I could say the same thing about all the other Titans Return Triple Changers. The real proof is in the alt modes. Let’s have a look at Blitzwing’s jet mode…

The transformation from robot to jet mode isn’t too bad and I’m really digging the results. From the top he’s appropriately purple with most of his tan bits relegated to the undercarriage. As with the robot mode, you get some really nice sculpted detail, including panel lines, flaps, and all that jet jazz. And then you’ve got the foil stickers on the wings. So, in a perfect world, these look amazing. The foil is reminiscent of the old toy, the red arrows have been streamlined a bit, but they’re still there as are the Decepticon emblems, proudly displayed on each wing. Practically, however, these stickers are problematic. I had to smooth mine out straight out of the box to get the air bubbles and folds out of them. They look great now, but I don’t expect them to last the test of time, especially when they’re positioned so closely to hinged plates. This was an issue with Octone and Broadside, and here we go again. I realize it’s to help re-purpose the molds, but they worry me. OK, enough about the stickers…

Let’s talk kibble! If you expect a Transformers jet to not be packing some major kibble on its undercarriage, well you haven’t been in this convertorobot game for long, have you, son? In this case, I think Blitzwing’s jet makes good use of it. Obviously, you have a giant upside down tank cupola, but it not only provides the molded landing gear to rest the jet on, but also a nice big under slung cannon. The robot arms are also tabbed away fairly well under the wings. I mean, sure I can tell there are tank treads there, but it’s nowhere near as bad as Octone’s, “Look at me! I’m a plane with two halves of a truck cab under my armpits!” Nope, from top to bottom, I am totally fine with this jet mode.

The jet also has a couple of options for Titan Masters. Despite the compact size of the canopy, you can indeed fit a Titan Master in there, although the method of getting him in there is a little unorthodox. You can also attach one of Blitzwing’s guns to the back of the jet to make a gunning seat for another Titan Master. So far, so good. You haven’t disappointed me yet. Shall we go for three out of three? Let’s have a look at that tank mode!

Ok, so obviously the jet was what I like to call the priority mode and this is what I’d call the compromise mode. There’s plenty to pick at here. The front of the tank is showing some major jet ass, the back side armor plates are obviously folded jet wings. The treads don’t lock into the body well at all, leaving gaps in the middle where they’re unsupported. I’ve found that slotting the folded wing tips into the sides makes them a bit more stable, even if they do angle out a little more.

To make matters worse, almost every facet of this “tank” feels like its at odds with another. And therein lies my biggest issue. I’d actually be OK with the way this thing looks if it locked together into a decent toy, but sadly it does not. And I’ve got to call foul when the robot and jet modes on the box look like actual product images and the tank mode looks like a 3D computer model downplaying the tank’s flaws.

As for play value, the turret does at least turn and there’s a place for Hazard to sit at the top of the cupola, which even provides a clear shield for him so Autobots can’t snipe him while he’s riding his f’ugly tank. They can still laugh, though. It can’t shield him from that. And yet even with all that scorn heaped upon it, I’d still say this is a better compromise mode than either Broadside’s jet or Octone’s cargo plane. Is it better than Astrotrain’s train mode? Well, if we’re talking keeping in spirit with the G1 original, I’d say Yes. If we’re going strictly based on its merits as an alt mode, than definitely not.

And so, the pattern I’m seeing with these Titans Return Triple Changers continues to hold true. We’ve had some great robot modes, each with one very solid alt mode, and one not so solid alt mode. And yet, I still dig Blitzwing a lot, even with his hideous and phoned in tank mode. In fact, I’ll just go ahead and say that I think he’s the most successful of all the Titans Return G1-based Triple Changers and a worthy replacement for the Generations one. Next week, I’ll be steering Transformers Thursday back to Voltron to check out the Legendary Red and Green Lions!

Game of Thrones: Sandor “The Hound” Clegane Sixth-Scale Figure by Threezero

I am certainly no stranger to Game of Thrones merch. I’ve looked at most of Funko’s Legacy Collection figures and even delved into the lowest corners of Fleabottom with some of their shitty 3 3/4-inch figures. But today will be my first trip to the higher end of Westeros with a look at one of Threezero’s sixth-scale figures. I’ve been tempted by these in the past, but I did not want to commit to the investment of going all in, and so I was waiting for just the right character to come along. That character was indeed Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound. I should note that I’m still considering Jamie Lannister, but if Threezero ever decides to give us Jorah Mormont, Sir Davos, or (ohplease, ohplease, ohplease) Bronn, I would jump on any one of those immediately.

Clegane comes in what at first appears to be a fully enclosed box, but is actually a very tight sleeve over a window box. This presentation is a bit minimalist, but also feels really classy and artsy. The outer sleeve is comprised of textured yellow cardboard with embossed crests (which sadly barely show up on my picture), the Game of Thrones logo, and the character’s name on the front and back.

Remove that snug fitting sleeve and you reveal the window box. The box inside has the character name and crests printed on the side panels as well as the back panel. The figure inside is cradled in a clear plastic tray. Overall, this sleeve and window box is similar to what we’ve been getting from Hot Toys and about on par with the presentation there. Some may be looking for something a little more premium when dropping nearly $200 on an action figure, but it looks nice and gets the job done, so I’m happy. I should also point out that I’m looking at the standard version of the figure. There was an Exclusive, which included Clegane’s trademark Hound Head helmet. I thought about chasing after that one, but in the end, I realized that everything that made Clegane an interesting character comes after he practically discards that helmet, and I didn’t really need it. The Hound comes out of the box almost ready to go. You just have to attach his sword scabbards to his belt and shoulder strap, and place his katar dagger and his smaller knife into their respective sheathes.

I’m a fairly prolific collector of Hot Toys and Sideshow figures, but this is my first figure from Threezero, and I have to say Clegane here impresses right out of the box. Everything about this figure reflects quality, careful attention to detail, and just overall fine craftsmanship one should expect from a high end figure. There are a few hiccups here that I’ll be mentioning, but relatively minor ones. I was pleasantly surprised by both the ratchet joints in the underlying body and how posable this big fellow is. As a rule, I don’t expect a whole lot of articulation from my Sixth-Scale figures, often because the costumes are restrictive and I’m afraid to test their limits. I tend to put these figures in fairly conservative poses on the shelf and maybe change them up once every month or so. Clegane, on the other hand, really begs to be fiddled with, even under all that heavy armor. And since I mentioned armor, let’s take a quick spin around his outfit.

The execution of the plate armor on his shoulders and arms is spectacular. These pieces are painted to look exactly like well-worn steel plate with scrapes and scratches and weathering so real that it actually surprised me when I touched it and feel plastic. The segmented plates are molded to look like separate pieces, complete with the faux rivets “holding” them together and the underlying material is totally convincing as chain mail, even though it’s simulated. I particularly dig the dents in the shoulder pieces and the detail poured into those gauntlets. The illusion of realism created by the paint here is simply a triumph.

The Hound also features a heavy mail overcoat, which feels like rubber to the touch, but it looks like a reinforced coat of leather with an intricate system of hammered rivets. The waist belt has some beautiful attention to detail in the scroll work patterns and includes a looped sheath to hold his stag-handled knife on his right hip.

On his left hip, his belt features a leather-like “frog” to pass the smaller sword scabbard through, which it holds in place very well. I’ll confess I was a little nervous getting it all the way in there as it’s a very snug fit, but a little patience got it in there without incident. The “frog” features an aged leather look and features brass painted fixtures. I love the attention to detail on the sword hilt. It features a ribbed grip and more of that great weathered finish on the pommel and crossguard. His shoulder strap includes a sheath for his katar, which he wears just to the front of his armpit. This shot shows off the “chain mail” material under the armor plates a little better and more of the amazing finish on those armor pieces. The look of the gear on this figure is just amazing.

From behind, you can see more of the riveted gorget he wears around his neck as well as the greatsword that is slung across his back. There’s some more lovely attention to detail on the hilt here. The finish on the grips looks like real, polished wood and the pommel resembles a studded club. I know, I’m gushing a lot about the paint, but I can’t overstate how well Threezero has been able to simulate different materials with painted plastic. Just look at the worn leather look of the scabbard. Very impressive!

The trousers feature a rough-looking material that resembles calfskin. The boots feature sculpted belts and buckles and more riveted plates. These are all sculpted from one piece, but they look like they’re actually secured together by real belts. The mud and weathering on the lower parts of the boots is especially well done, and the silver paint on the buckles and rivets is meticulous.

And that brings us to the portrait, which I think is excellent, even if it isn’t up to Hot Toys standards. That is in no way meant as a slight on this figure, because let’s face it, Hot Toys remains more or less untouchable when it comes to recreating lifelike portraits and reproducing the likenesses of actors. Now, I think the likeness here is spot on to Rory McCann in his burned makeup. What it lacks a bit is the uncanny lifelessness that we see in Hot Toys’ work. The skin texturing is looks a little more plastic, the whisker sculpt and paint is a little less convincing, and details like the part between the lips is a little too soft. But even with all that being said, I have to still applaud what Threezero has done here. This is great work and certainly worthy competition for what Sideshow is currently putting out.

Clegane also features rooted hair, which I realize is a thing that still gives some collectors pause, but in this case I think it was the only way to go. I can’t see this working with a sculpted plastic coif. The toughest thing about rooted hair on figures is getting it styled right, but in the case of Clegane, his is generally an unkempt mess and that look certainly works here and I did next to no futzing with it for any of these pictures.

Before taking a closer look at some of The Hound’s arsenal, let’s talk hands. Clegane does not come with a large collection of hands, instead you just get two pairs: One relaxed set, and one weapon-holding set. These hands can be tough to swap out. They use the same standard hinged pegs that I’m used to seeing with Hot Toys or Sideshow figures, but these are designed to pull out at the wrist before pulling out of the hand. At that point, I’m left with trying to work the other peg out of the hand and that can be easier said then done. It’s a mighty tight fit and I worry about snapping them, especially since there aren’t any extras in the box. I was able to get the relaxed hands swapped to the weapon holding hands without any disasters happening, but I’d be inclined to not swap the hands very often. OK, let’s talk weapons!

The two smaller weapons don’t fit all that great in his hands. The knife, which I imagine is reserved for dispatching chickens, is very loose in the grip, but I was able to get him to hold it fairly convincingly. The katar has the opposite problem, where the knuckles are a little too broad for it to fit comfortably. I was still able to get it in there, but it’s a very tight fit. Here’s an example of where Threezero might have considered adding extra hands specifically for these weapons, especially since their competitors usually toss in at least three or four sets with their figures.

Both of the swords draw very easily from their scabbards and they each feature beautiful blades with just the right amount of weathering and surface rust. They’re made of fairly stiff plastic, so you don’t have to worry about them warping. On the downside, the feel pretty delicate, so a modicum of care is recommended, especially when fitting them into the hands. The fingers are hard rubbery plastic, so you just need to part the thumb a bit to get the grip into the hand, but I could easily see the swords snapping if not handled carefully. I think die-cast blades on the swords would have really enhanced this figure. I don’t think they could have looked much better, but it would have given them a better feel and made them not so fragile.

I also would have liked a tighter fit on the grip, as both weapons tend to float loosely in each hand. I was almost always able to find a sweet spot that would support the sword for most any pose I wanted, but it’s odd that these hands feel like they weren’t designed with these swords in mind.

A few issues with the hands, not withstanding, I do need to sideline all my gushing and get one more gripe to get out of the way. Clegane doesn’t come with a figure stand. Now, I’ll confess that I knew that going in, and I have a decent supply of generic Sixth-Scale figure stands so that I can give him one. But to me, when I’m blowing nearly $200 on an action figure, I don’t think a stand is too much to ask for. It doesn’t have to be anything special. I don’t even need it to be personalized with the characters name. Just give me something so that I can display this amazing figure without worrying about him taking a shelf dive! Clegane has a solid balance to him, but who in their right mind is going to stand him on a display shelf without some kind of support.

But hey, I certainly don’t want to end this review on a downer, because I really am very happy with this purchase. The best praise I can give him is that he had me seriously considering picking up Jamie, and I still am. He’s not perfect, but a few tweaks with the hands and and he would have been pretty close. So how many chickens did Clegane set me back? Well, thanks to a bunch of Rewards Points at Sideshow, I got him for just a smidge over $100, but his full retail clocks in at just under $200 and as of now he’s sold out and converted to Wait List status. Now, I’ve made a lot of comparisons to him and Hot Toys and Sideshow figures, but let’s remember that neither of those companies put many figures out for under $200 these days. Still, it would be safe to say that Threezero is at least in the same neighborhood. And while the portrait isn’t quite to where Hot Toys is at these days, the costume and body are certainly rivaling some of their efforts. And that’s high praise, indeed!

By figurefanzero