Marvel Legends: Spider-Man and Mary Jane by Hasbro

I was really hoping to have time to bust out another Marvel Hot Toys review for this week’s Marvel Monday, but I got really busy with work and it didn’t pan out. So, let’s have a look at a stand-alone Marvel Legends set, I’ll try to hit the Hot Toys figure next Monday, and then we can dive into a new Wave. Sound good?

Oh boy, did I have a tough time getting this one at a decent price. I’m sure you’ve heard me say it over and over again, but there haven’t been any Toys R Us stores in my area for years, and as much as I’m into collecting, I don’t have the time or patience to drive an hour just to visit the nearest one. That puts me at the mercy of the InterWebs for my TRU Exclusives. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not so much. I missed out on this one a bunch of times before finally scoring, and it’s been sitting around forever waiting to be reviewed. I won’t dwell on the packaging, because it’s a typical Legends boxed 2-pack. It’s collector friendly, it shows off the figures quite well, you get character art on the sides and a TRU Exclusive sticker on the window. Let’s just kick off with a look at Spider-Man!

If you pick up enough of these two-packs, you should be used to seeing some recycling. It’s just how Hasbro tends to cost out some of the figures that would might not otherwise make it to the pegs. In the case of this set, Spider-Man is a repaint of the Spidey from the Hobgoblin Wave. And that’s not a bad thing, because the Pizza Spidey body was an excellent figure and pretty well received by fans, so if you missed out, here’s a chance to at least get a variant of it. This version features one of Peter’s fairly modern tech suits, hence the blue-green glow that’s sprayed onto his chest symbol and the eyes, which really make this suit stand out as being unique.

Now, I’m not going to lie, having the glowy bits there doesn’t make this one of my favorite looks for ‘Ol Web Head, but it’s still a pretty cool variant to own. I really dig the coloring on this figure. The red and blue really pop and the black webbing is very well defined. The quality of the paint application is overall pretty good. There are some flubs here and there that are evident when you get in real close, but nothing stands out when I’m just looking at figure in hand. One of the common complaints with the previous release was that the pegs for the hinges aren’t painted to match the suit, and that’s still the case here. It’s not something that really bothers me.

In addition to the regular masked head, you also get the unmasked Peter Parker portrait. It’s a fantastic sculpt and definitely something that’s been on my Legends wish list for a while. Previously, we’ve had the half-unmasked head, and the Ultimate Parker head, but this noggin is a great little bonus and I’ll likely be either displaying it on this figure all the time, or perhaps picking up one of the Vintage Carded Spider-Man figures and using it on that one.

The articulation here is pretty fantastic, thanks in part to those lateral shoulder crunches. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, pegged hinges in the wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The torso features a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, and double hinges in the knees. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. Of course, you also get the usual selection of hands to go with the figure, including “thwippy” hands, splayed finger hands, and fists.  Let’s move on to Ms. Mary Jane…

As solid a figure as Spidey is, I have to imagine that Mary Jane is the real draw of this box for most collectors. That was definitely the case for me. With how many Spider-Man themed Legends waves we’ve had, it’s hard to believe it took this long to get MJ. She actually saw a 4-inch Marvel Universe release a few years back. While MJ has become anything but the classic Girl Next Door in the comics, Hasbro went back to her roots for a pretty conventional look here. Rather than going for the swanky nightclub owner, MJ is slumming it here in her simple jeans and black t-shirt, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The paint for the outfit is fairly simple, although there’s some nice variation in the blue to create that worn blue jeans look. The waist of the jeans does feature some sculpted detail, like the belt loops and the button. The ensemble is rounded out by a pair of simple painted black shoes. This is an example of a very minimal amount of sculpting working quite well to create a band new look.

The portrait here really elevates the figure. The paint applications for the lips, eyes, and eyebrows is all precise and crisp, and I like the additional of the freckles. The hair is also excellent, not only in terms of sculpt, but the paint, which starts our a vibrant red at the top and darkens as it gets down to her shoulders. Hasbro has come a long way when it comes to creating pretty female portraits, and MJ here is a great example of that.

Despite being a normie in the Marvel Universe, MJ still features some solid articulation. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The torso features a ball joint under the chest and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. MJ features a fist on her left arm and one of those spell-slinging hands on her right arm. I really would have liked to get an extra set of hands for this one, but I suppose I can still be content with what we got.

MJ comes with one accessory, and that’s her purse. Oddly enough, this is a recolor of the satchel that came with The Hobgoblin from the Space Venom Wave. It’s a clever re-use, although the shoulder strap does look a tad big and bulky on MJ’s slighter buck.

The retail for this set was $39.99, which is standard for these two-packs and right on target when you consider the individual figures are about $19.99 each. I probably would have let this one go if I hadn’t eventually found it at regular retail price, but I’m glad that I ended up finding it. The Spider-Man certainly wasn’t a must-have for me, but it’s a solid variant and a great looking figure. Plus, the unmasked Parker head really sells it. A comic-based Mary Jane, on the other hand, is a figure I’ve wanted in this scale for a long time, so she made it worth the purchase all on her own.

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DC Multiverse (Steppenwolf Wave): Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman by Mattel

It’s the first DC Friday of 2018, but I’m still working on unfinished business from 2017. Remember that movie last year that was overall pretty fun, but everybody lost their shit over? No, not The Last Jedi. The other one. Yeah, Justice League! Well, at the tail end of 2017, I started reviewing the Justice League Wave of DC Multiverse, and now I’m picking up where I left off. Let’s double up today with Batman and Superman! Aw, hell, let’s throw Wonder Woman in there too and knock out the whole DC Trinity. Strap in kiddies, because like the movie, this is going to be a bumpy ride.

The figures come in the standard Multiverse packaging. It’s functional, it’s collector friendly, it has some nice shots of the characters from the movie on the front and side panel. It also notes that these are both part of the Steppenwolf Collect & Connect Wave, and I’ll have more to say about that at the end of the review! Let’s start with Superman…

Oh look, it’s 2013 all over again! I say that because I’m pretty sure this is just a re-dress of the Mattel’s Movie Masters Man of Steel figure that I reviewed almost five years ago! There are some obvious re-sculpted bits to update the costume, but it’s a real shame that Mattel couldn’t roll out a brand new figure for a huge summer blockbuster license. And while I didn’t buy any of the Batman V Superman figures, I wouldn’t be surprised if that Superman figure was the recycled connective tissue between these two. There’s some decent stuff here, like the texturing on the costume and the coloring is pretty good, but the real problem is that he looks like he’s pretty small and scrawny when lined up beside his fellow Justice League members. Yup, it’s almost like he’s from another line entirely. Funny how that works.

The old Movie Masters figure had a plastic cape, but here it’s been replaced with cloth. I’m generally in favor of soft-goods capes, but the execution here isn’t so great. For starters, there’s a huge disconnect between the sculpted plastic pieces of the cape that attach to his shoulders, and the actual cloth cape that cascades down his back. And like the figure, the cape feels rather undersized and a little cheap.

The head sculpt is different from the Movie Masters figure. I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse, but mainly just different. It’s not a bad sculpt in and of itself, but I can’t see much likeness to Cavill. At least they dumped the badly painted five-o-clock shadow from that older figure. The sculpt and paint here are both very basic, almost like it’s meant to be a comic version of Superman wearing the DCEU costume. Once again, Mattel needs to check out what Hasbro is doing with their MCU Marvel Legends figures and up their game accordingly.

The articulation is passable, but not great. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in both the knees and ankles. There’s a swivel in the waist and a ball joint in the neck. The lack of any kind of chest articulation is quite an oversight. I’d like to blame that on the fact that this is a recycled buck from five years ago, but Mattel was putting ab crunch hinges in their DC Universe Classics figures way before that.

Mattel, I know your’re capable of better than this. Your Justice League Aquaman and Mera figures were pretty damn good. But you’re licensing a major DC Comics summer blockbuster here. It’s f’cking Superman from a Justice League movie. Do you think you can at least try, instead of rummaging through a drawer to find an old figure you can dress up to save a couple of dollars? And Warner Brothers, why are you still licensing to these people when they clearly don’t give a shit half the time. I’m a bit angry now. Let’s move on to Batman…

Batman comes wearing his tactical bat suit and he looks pretty damn good. Is this another recycled figure? I honestly don’t know because I didn’t buy any of the BvS figures, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here and say Bats here is new. The suit features some excellent texturing and some pretty good attention to detail. You get all the reinforced armor plates, serrated edges on his gauntlets, and some sculpted straps and buckles. The varied deco also makes for a more interesting figure than if he were just all black. Here you get a matte pale blue under-suit with some glossy black bits, as well as some silver and copper for the armor. Overall, I’m really happy with the sculpt here.

Like Superman, Batman features a soft-goods cape, but this one uses a more leather-like material. It doesn’t match the sculpted shoulder attachments perfectly, but it’s a lot closer than the stuff they used on Supes’ cape. In fact, my only issue here is that the bottom edge came out of the package creased, so you can’t see the scalloped pattern because it’s folded up on itself.

While the suit is excellent, the head sculpt here is a little bit of a letdown. The cowl looks OK, but the exposed face is pretty soft. Also, I thought it was an odd choice to have him wearing the goggles. This feels like a head they should have used on a figure packed in with a Batmobile, rather than the main representation of the character in the wave.

Articulation here is almost identical to Superman. The big difference is that Batman actually has an ab crunch hinge, which is what makes me think that this is probably at least a new figure. It’s not a fantastic figure, but it’s got a lot of good stuff going for it, and here’s one where I feel like Mattel at least tried with a decent sculpt and a pretty solid deco. Moving on to our last stop… Wonder Woman.

Hooray, back to recycling! I’m not sure what’s worse, recycling a figure that’s so old that some people might not notice, or one that just came out a year or so ago. Yes, Diana here is a straight repack of the Toys R Us Exclusive from the Wonder Woman movie, and a figure that I reviewed last month.  The only difference is that she comes with a new sword and no shield. The advantage here is that I think this was an excellent figure, so if you missed out on her, here’s a chance to pick her up again without having to hunt re-sellers or hopelessly out-of-date Toys R Us stores.

At this point, I’ll just refer you back to the review that I linked above. But before wrapping up, there’s a picture of the two figures together. I actually like the head sculpt and paint on the previous release a little better, but this one looks fine. She also comes with her golden lasso.

And there you have it… Mattel’s idea of making the most out of netting a huge license like Justice League is to recycle two out of three figures. It’s lazy, it sucks, and it’s pushing me back toward not wanting to collect Multiverse anymore. Need I remind you, that they also have a line of BASIC Justice League figures, so these are the $20 ones aimed at collectors. Oh, but wait… there’s more! The Flash and Cyborg appear to have been woefully short packed in this assortment and both figures have been impossible for me to find, outside of scalpers asking twice as much on Amazon and Ebay. I enjoyed the movie well enough, I sure as hell ain’t paying a premium for DC Multiverse figures. And so, my Collect & Connect Steppenwolf is destined to remain in pieces, and my DCEU Justice League incomplete, unless those figures start turning up at my local brick-and-mortars. And there ain’t much chance of that.

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Grimlock by Hasbro

With this being my first week of regular content since the New Year, what better way to kick off 2018’s Transformers Thursdays with a look at the very highly anticipated new Voyager Class Grimlock? I actually got this guy in right around the turn of the year and I’ve been chomping at the bit to open him up ever since. I’m also just a wee bit nervous, because not everything I’ve been hearing about Grimmy has been good. Will PotP Grimlock be Bozo or King? I guess I’m about to find out!

This is the first boxed figure that I’m reviewing from PotP and as you can see it’s not much different from Combiner Wars or Titans Return. The character art is great, but I’m really ready for Hasbro to change up the packaging deco for the next Transformers line. I was never a big fan of this layout. It just feels bland and boring and generic, and it’s getting more than a little stale for me. But who cares about the box? I’m just going to trash it anyway. The figure comes packaged in his robot mode and as we’re about to see, that was a good choice on Hasbro’s part. Let’s jump right in to Grimlock’s alt mode.

Oh, boy. So, I knew I was going to be in for a rough ride here, but I’ll say straightaway that the T-Rex mode is at least instantly familiar. Unfortunately, It’s also a veritable symphony of good and bad execution, and the emphasis is leaning toward the bad. I’m tempted to say that I’d be fine with the main body if the legs didn’t seem to jut out so far to the point where they’re really awkward looking. Then again, I think a lot of that has to do with how wide the body is. He looks like he’s wearing a pair of big gold diapers, and they’re starting to sag. Let’s just say that the proportions on this T-Rex are a mess. I think he looks passable when viewed at a three-quarter turn, but looking at him dead on, or from above, or from either side makes me want to ball up my fists and scream, WHYYYY? And the answer I keep coming back to is simple: Because they made him a Combiner. That tail is chunky because that’s where the Combiner’s leg ports are. Those legs are so horribly misshapen because that’s where the Combiner’s shoulder ports are. I didn’t ask for Dinobot Combiners, but I’m not earnestly against the idea. But in this case, a lot was sacrificed in favor of a Dinobot Combiner gimmick, and I can’t say I’m very happy about it.

Proportions aside, assuming I’m able to overlook them, there’s some great stuff going on with this sculpt. There’s plenty of panel lines, vents, circuitry, and other doodads that really makes the detail come alive. I’d also argue that the head is spot on perfect, as are the tiny little arms, which are ball jointed into his body. It’s true that he’s really damn f’ugly from the top top down, but I’m surprised at how little that bothers me. The deco is also brilliant. Like the other PotP Dinobots, I really dig the mix of gray, red, and black plastic, along with those gold sections under clear plastic. Add in some foil stickers, and you get a deco that perfectly invokes the G1 Dinobot aesthetic, and matches Slug and Swoop pretty well. He scales fairly well with them too.

I do have some problems getting the seam running down his dino chest to close up all the way. Some silver paint for the arms and teeth would have been cool, but all in all, there’s some stuff to love on this T-Rex and just about all of it is from the chest and arms up. But I don’t think it balances out with the awkward, clunky proportions. Let’s move on to his robot mode.

And here is where the figure starts to shine a bit. The big barrel-shaped gold chest covered in clear plastic works for me, although I would have liked a little something between it and his pelvis. I think it’s called abs and Grimmy here just doesn’t have any. Regardless, I think the arms are great. They look powerful, I love the high shoulders, and while the diminished claws didn’t help him much in T-Rex mode, they look OK here on his wrists. It’s below the waist where things get a little dodgy. The legs could have used a bit more bulk to them. They look fine on their own, and I like the way the colorful foil stickers invoke that G1 spirit, but his lower half is a touch too scrawny for that powerful upper body. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a deal-breaker for me, but there’s room for improvement. Maybe he would have benefited from some actual feet.

The back of the figure advertises how the transformation doesn’t stray too far from the old G1 engineering. The T-Rex neck and head still flops down the center of the back, the chest opens up into “wings” and the tail, instead of folding up the sides of the legs, go to the back to serve as heel spurs. About the only thing out of place here is that giant hip plate, which is obvious Combiner kibble.

The head sculpt is simple, but wonderfully slavish to the G1 design. Here’s one thing that I wouldn’t have changed at all.

And just as things were getting better, Hasbro punches me right in the balls with the decision to not include any weapons. Nope, no weapons. No sword, no gun, nothing. It’s an omission so ridiculous, that I can scarcely believe it. You do get a couple of Combiner parts in there, and a power chip called the Dinobot Enigma. But if you want your Grimlock armed, you’re just going to have to steal the sword and gun from his fellow Dinobots.

The Combiner Parts double as Prime Armor and can attach to him at various points. The most useful place seems to be on his arms, as it gives him some claw-like thingies. They look OK and they’re probably fun for the kiddies. The Dinobot Enigma is basically like a Prime Master that doesn’t transform. Or maybe like a Dinobot Matrix? Either way it fits into any of the Prime Armor pieces you have. You can probably tell that I’m not at all vested in the Prime Armor power gimmick, although I do applaud that it’s a feature that actually requires kids to use their imaginations. And don’t you worry… I’ll be looking at some of them Prime Masters coming up real soon. Hey, before wrapping up, let’s take a quick look at him with the last Voyager Grimlock, from the Generations Fall of Cybertron line…

When it comes to the robot mode, I’ll take FOC Grimlock over this one in a heartbeat, but in fairness they are two pretty different looks. I like the deco on PotP Grimmy a little better, as it really does a splendid job matching the G1 aesthetic. But with that having been said, the proportions and overall sexiness of FOC Grimlock still impresses me. Not to mention he comes with a sword and a shield, which he’s probably going to have to learn how to share.

The T-Rex modes tell a very different story. I had really good memories of FOC Grimlock’s T-Rex mode, but dear god, it has not aged well. While PotP Grimlock looks bloated and ill-proportioned, the FOC version looks like a hollowed out husk of a T-Rex. As many problems as I have with this new Grimlock’s alt mode, I have to say it looks like a goddamn work of art beside the older FOC figure.

In the end, Grimlock here is disappointing, although the pretty decent robot mode helps keep him from being a total disaster. There’s a hint of greatness in his alt mode, at least in the top half, but when you get down to the legs, the whole thing just falls apart for me. It’s a real shame, because the original G1 Grimlock toy looked pretty damn great in both robot and T-Rex mode, so modernizing it should really just be a matter of adding articulation and cleaning up some of the proportions. And yet here we are with a modern update that looks worse because of the Combiner gimmick. Now, obviously, I won’t pass judgement on the Dinobots as a Combiner Team until I have all the figures to combine, but as things stand now, I’m not very happy with this trade off. Am I being too hard on this new Grimlock? I dunno. You tell me.

Mythic Legions All-Stars 2.0 Final Eight Revealed!

The Four Horsemen have finally revealed the lineup for their All-Stars 2.0 Pre-Order and it’s made me a very happy camper. These are eight previously offered figures that will be once again made available to collectors later this month.

The eight finalists were drawn by fan votes, but all that matters to me is that Carpathias made the cut. This popular and illusive vampire was one of the figures that I had to pull from my original Kickstarter Add Ons, because I ran out of money and running out of money is stupid and lame, and I really wanted him. Of course, he was also one of the figures that shot up in price on the secondary market, but then you could say that about a lot of the Mythic Legions figures. The fact that T4H added more vampires to the second Kickstarter made me want him all the more.

Anyway, the complete list consists of Vorgus Vermillius (The Blood Armor), Attila Leossyr, Bog Goblin, Carpathias, Attlus the Conqueror, the Standard Skeleton Legion Builder, Pixxus, and Jorund Runeshaper! It looks like T4H are also tacking on two extra figures as first time offerings, and teasing the possibility of adding on two additional Legion Builders as well.

I’m only missing two out of these eight, so in addition to Carpathias, I’ll likely be picking up the Bog Goblin as well, and probably one or two more Skeleton Legion Builders. Besides Carpathias, I suspect Pixxus will be the other offering most people are happy to see. He’s a beautiful figure and another that has skyrocketed on the second-hand market.

If you’re looking to pick up any of these figures to fill out your collection, or your looking to dive in to Mythic Legions for the first time, these figures will be going up for Pre-order on Friday, Jan. 19th at 3pm EST at StoreHorsemen.com. Pre-Orders will be open for three weeks. 

Star Wars Black (The Last Jedi): Maz Kanata by Hasbro

How about The Last Jedi, huh? It’s really bringing the fan community together! That was sarcasm. I’m honestly surprised at how polarizing it’s been, because personally, after two viewings I’m still pretty mixed on it. There were parts I loved, parts I hated. I didn’t like it nearly as much as The Force Awakens or Rogue One. Overall I didn’t find it to be all that enjoyable, and it was a really weird movie Still, it’s not worth losing my shit over by attacking other fans who didn’t love it and/or hate it enough. Apparently I’m in the minority on that one. What’s all this got to do with Maz Kanata? Well, she had a cameo in the new movie, and oddly enough Hasbro chose now to give her a figure, rather then back when she had a slightly bigger role in The Force Awakens. Let’s take a look…

There isn’t a lot to say about the packaging, as it hasn’t changed much this past year or so. Black box, monochrome art, red backing behind the tray. Maz is figure #49 and the copy on the back clearly places this figure from the period after her castle was destroyed in The Force Awakens. Strange, since she comes with the accessories seen in that movie instead of maybe the jetpack she wore in The Last Jedi. As much as I liked Maz in TFA, her cameo in The Last Jedi just didn’t work for me. I’d argue that it might have been worthwhile to keep her in the audiences’ minds for an appearance in the next movie, but I highly doubt the continuity in this trilogy is being planned that carefully.

But all context aside, this is a fantastic little sculpt! Her little vest and belt are sculpted from separate pieces and there’s some wonderful texturing on her shirt, as well as detail on her bracelets and boots. The excellent sculpt is backed up by some very nice coloring, including brown trousers, and a teal shirt. The gold and silver bracelets and some rather colorful paint applications on her boots make the figure’s deco quite striking. I just love everything they did here.

The head sculpt here is equally impressive, and continues to reinforce the fact that SWB’s sculpts and paint tends to excel with the aliens as much as it often fails with the human characters. They’ve managed to capture personality, as well as all little wrinkles, in her face and her skin has an almost metallic coppery sheen to it. It even looks like they added some gloss to her bottom lip. The paint on my figure’s eyes could have been a little more even, but I’ve definitely seen worse.

The hat and googles are also pretty damn neat. The goggles are pegged into the sides of her head, so you can actually slide them down over her eyes and they look great in either position. It’s a simple little gimmick, but I’m really happy Hasbro made the effort to do it.

While Maz may be small, she doesn’t lack in articulation. She has rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles, as well as ball joints in the hips and neck, and swivels at the thighs and the waist. There’s not much missing here then you’d find in a regular sized figure, except maybe a torso ball joint.

Maz comes with a few pretty cool accessories, the most notable being the old trunk that she kept Luke’s lightsaber in, and yes, she also comes with the lightsaber to put in it. I really dig the sculpting on this chest. The wood looks ancient and warped, the fixtures holding it together have a hammered metal finish and feature sculpted rivets. The only downside here is that the hinges are not really hinges, but just soft, bendy pieces of plastic, so I imagine that opening and closing it a lot will eventually cause them to stress and break. It’s just an all around great looking piece, but I’ll confess that it’s probably going to end up getting re-purposed to either my Mythic Legions or LJN Advanced Dungeons & Dragons collections. You can never have enough treasure chests in your fantasy action figure lines! The lightsaber hilt is the same old thing we’ve seen countless times in the 6-inch Black Series.

Maz also comes with an old DH-17 Blaster pistol, which feels more like a rifle when wielded by someone with her tiny stature. We’ve obviously seen this accessory before, but I have a soft spot for this design, so I’m always happy to get another.

I think Hasbro did a beautiful job on this little lady, but is she worth $20? Well, in fairness I got her on sale for $11, so I’m pretty happy. But I do think the value here feels a little better than that of the other small 6-inch Black Series figures like Yoda or the Jawa. Part of that comes from the sizable trunk accessory, but a lot of it also comes from the excellent articulation, as well as the top notch sculpt and paintwork. It would have been cool to get this figure back when The Force Awakens was out, but better late than never, I suppose! It’s just a shame that Hasbro never gave us more figures of some of the characters hanging out in Maz’s castle. Maybe later on down the road, they’ll fill in some of those spots.

Marvel Netflix: The Punisher 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Welcome to the first Marvel Monday of 2018. I planned well enough as to end last year between waves of Marvel Legends so that I could get caught up on some other stuff before jumping into the next one. And what better way to kick off the new year by bringing in the heavy guns: Hot Toys and Frank Castle! While The Punisher has since had his own excellent series on Netflix, this figure is based on his appearance in Daredevil, Season 2. So, let’s jump right in and check out Hot Toys’ second release from the Netflix Marvel Universe! “One batch, two batch. Penny and Dime!”

The package is pretty uniform to what we got with Daredevil. The front of the sleeve has a shot of the figure and, like the Daredevil box, you also get some braille printed on the front. It’s the same old big window box under that illustrated sleeve with layered plastic trays holding the figure and accessories. And yes, I say this just about every time, but I feel like Hot Toys could put a little more something into these boxes. They look great, they get the job done, but they feel rather flimsy.

That’s especially a problem when Sideshow persists on shipping them in a mailer box with no extra packing or protection. Now, I’ve received dozens of figures from Sideshow without any problems, but this was the time my luck ran out and the mailer took some hits and it crunched the box. Thankfully, nothing inside was damaged. I really only keep these boxes to store accessories or in case, God help me, the day ever comes where I need to think about selling some, but it’s still annoying that a business that specializes in high end collectibles doesn’t understand the importance of keeping the boxes in good condition. If I order the same figure from another big online retailer, I pay less for shipping and get it sent to me packed within another box. In the end, it’s just a question of whether its worth the risk for Sideshow Reward Points and the ability to use Flex Pay. So far it has been, but a few more arriving like this one and I may have to rethink that.

Frank comes out of the box ready for action, wearing his tactical vest, complete with his trademark skull emblem, a black t-shirt, black trousers, and combat boots. There’s more wardrobe to come in the way of his leather jacket, but I thought we’d have a look at the figure this way before gearing him all up. Obviously, the arms feature regular jointing, as opposed to the seamless rubber-covered arms that Hot Toys sometimes uses. I’m OK, with this, mainly because I don’t plan on displaying him without his jacket on. Even still, it was probably the way to go, as many collectors (but not me) have had bad experiences with the durability of Hot Toys’ seamless bodies. It’s also worth noting that the boots are sculpted in two pieces to allow for ankle joints. This is something Hot Toys seems to be doing more frequently, and I’m very happy about that.

In terms of the outfit, I’d classify it as a case of simple perfection. There’s nothing here to really tax the tailors at Hot Toys, but what is here is all executed with precision. The stitching is all immaculate, the vest fits the figure perfectly and includes all sorts of nylon straps to hold it in place. I really love the way they executed the skull emblem on the vest. I was afraid they were going to make it too bold, but I think the uneven application came out really well. I’ll also happily note that Castle is one of the more playable Hot Toys figures I’ve had in a while. There’s no really fragile bits to the costume, the short sleeves allow for plenty of arm articulation (even if the elbows don’t bend quite far enough for my tastes), and the pants are loose enough so as not to impede leg articulation, but not so loose that they look baggy. It would have been cool to get some shotgun shells to put into the loops of his vest, but as we’ll see he doesn’t come with a shotgun, so they wouldn’t have made sense. Besides, I’m sure I can pick some up from one of the many sixth-scale figure armories out there.

The head sculpt is absolutely fantastic, and while that’s nothing new for Hot Toys, I think this is truly one of their best efforts. It probably didn’t hurt that Jon Bernthal is a pretty distinctive looking fellow, but I don’t want to take anything away from the wizards at Hot Toys who sculpt and paint these portraits. The likeness is certainly there, and the lifelike realism in the skin tone and the eyes is fantastic. I’m particularly impressed with the way they handled the transition of his haircut and the paint on his whiskers. The wound under his right eye was a really nice touch too. Some folks might have preferred a completely clean and undamaged portrait, but I think the cut adds to the character and personality of the piece. About the only thing to nitpick here is that with the clean shaven neck, the seam between the head and neck is extra obvious, but even Phicen’s best seamless bodies haven’t been able to crack that nut yet, so it’s easy to give it a pass.

Naturally, The Punisher comes with a full array of extra hands to assist with his punishing. These include a pair of fists, relaxed hands, slightly less relaxed hands, gun holding hands with trigger fingers, and enclosed finger gripping hands. They’re all pretty easy to swap in and out, and you also get an extra pair of posts in case something goes horribly wrong. Let’s move on to accessories!

Before I get Frank suited up with his jacket, let’s check out two of the smaller accessories. First up, he comes with this combat knife and sheath. These are pretty typical, but solid accessories. The enclosed gripping hands work really well for holding the knife. The craftsmanship on the sheath is particularly nice. The problem here is that I can’t really find anywhere to have him wear it. The sheath features a belt loop, and there really isn’t a good place that I can see on him to loop it through. I may wind up just shoving the knife into his boot and putting the sheath aside, or hunting down a tactical rig with a belt to put it on.

Next up, he comes with a S&W M327 Performance Center TRR8 revolver. This was the weapon that he brandished when he had Daredevil chained up on the roof. I love the design of this little guy. It’s such a distinctive design, especially with the scope rails on the top of the casing. In addition to the incredible detail of this piece, it’s fully articulated, so you can actually open the cylinder and see the tiny bullets in the chambers. On the downside, the pistol does not come with a holster or anywhere to place it on his person, so it’s probably going to have to spend most of its time in the box. Alright, let’s get Frank Castle fully suited up and check out the big guns.

The leather jacket is pretty easy to put on and it fits the figure beautifully. The stitching is perfect, and it has wires along the bottom so you can pose it billowing out behind him. It also has the extra effect of covering the jointing in his arms, if they bother you. Personally, this was always the way I was going to go for displaying him. It just looks great.

Next up is the Barrett MRAD Sniper Rifle, and again this is an absolutely gorgeous sculpt. It includes a removable magazine with the tiny painted bullets visible inside. It has a sliding scope, a folding stock, and working bolt action. But let’s face it, pistols and sniper rifles are seldom enough for Frank Castle. And when you need to really clear the bastards out of the room, that’s when you bring a minigun!

Say hello to six rotating barrels of 7.62mm hot justice! The M134 Minigun is what really drives the accessory score through the roof. This big beauty is full of detail, features a hand grip on the back and a grab bar on the top. The ammo belt is detachable and pegs securely into a slot in the side. This is what you might call an attention-getter. And for me, it really silences any cries about whether or not there should have been more guns packed into this box. I can pick up sixth-scale guns anywhere, but I think it would be hard to find something this cool to outfit him with. This is the baby that Frank’s going to be displayed with on my shelf.

One last accessory is the damaged version of Daredevil’s mask. It’s beautifully made and features the cracked plate on the front. I like it, but I probably would have preferred another gun in lieu of this piece. I doubt I’ll ever display him holding it, but I might just rest it on the stand between his feet. And speaking of stands…

Frank comes with the same basic stand as Daredevil did. It even has the same nameplate that reads Daredevil instead of The Punisher. I get it, they went for the Series title instead of character names, but I’ve never seen Hot Toys do that before so it feels a little out of place here. The surface of the base looks like wet pavement, and you get an illustrated cardboard standee to place behind the stand as a backdrop, which is pretty cool. The Punisher’s stand is also compatible with the extra diorama pieces that came with Daredevil.

While the Hot Toys Daredevil was a very solid figure that felt a little light for the price point, The Punisher here feels right on target. With an MSRP of $235, he was priced at only $5 more than Matt Murdock, but in addition to being a fantastic figure, this also feels like a more well-rounded package for the price. Sure, it’s true that you can almost never get enough guns with a Punisher figure, and I would have loved to have a few more, but we still got a nice selection of some pretty spectacular little firearms and the minigun is a damn fine showpiece for the collection. The pink Ruger would have made a nice exclusive bonus, but I have to remind myself that this release was based on Daredevil and not his own series. Regardless, I’m really impressed with the job Hot Toys did here and I am really satisfied with this purchase. Now bring on Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, please!

FigureFan’s Disappointments 2017, Part 2

This is it, Toyhounds, the final day of my week of canned bullshit. It’s also the final five Biggest Disappointments of 2017. These are the things that I added to my collection and reviewed throughout the year that didn’t really live up to my hopes and dreams. These are in no particular order, so let’s get started…

Femme Fatales (Justice League Unlimited) Hawkgirl by Diamond Select: There was a lot of competition in this line for a spot on my Favorites list, but really only one that deserved to land among my Disappointments. I was really looking forward to getting the JLU version of Hawkgirl on my DC Gallery shelf, but when the statue showed up it was marred by some pretty poor paintwork, ugly seams in the arms, and just an overall lack of quality control. When I look at how amazing some of the Gallery statues have been this past year, it’s easy to forgive one bad one slipping by. But that doesn’t make me feel any better about laying out the cash for it.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Sixth-Scale Drax The Destroyer by Hot Toys: I have been called a Hot Toys sycophant. And yes, if sticking my tongue down their collective trousers would net me some extra Reward Points at Sideshow, I’d get right on that lickity split. So, it’s probably no surprise that never before has a Hot Toys figure appeared on my annual list of Disappointments, but I guess there really is a first time for everything. After a long series of delays, and the possibility that Hot Toys Drax might be a no-show, he finally showed up this year and he was a little wanting. The sculpt was solid enough, as was the likeness, but there’s just something about him that failed to impress. Toss in a faulty right arm on my figure that often pops out at the elbow joint and a price point that was too high for what came in the box (a common failing for Hot Toys in 2017), and I couldn’t help but dub him Drax The Disappointment. Oh, I’m still happy to have a complete Hot Toys Guardians team on my shelf, but Drax deserved more polish and a price tag around $20 lower.

DC Super-Villains: Johnny Quick and Atomica by DC Collectibles: For the most part, DC Collectible’s Super-Villains line has been pretty solid. Hell, I even liked their New 52 Captain Cold figure, and I kind of hate that character design. So when Johnny Quick showed up at my door with some terrible paint fading and an arm that pulled right out of the socket, it shouldn’t be any surprise to see him turn up here. And what a disappointment it was, because I really dig this design and I loved to hate him in the Forever Evil. But when you toss him in with a rather lackluster DeathStorm, it’s no wonder that I didn’t pursue the rest of the Crime Syndicate from this line.

Marvel Legends Warlock Build-A-Figure by Hasbro: What’s that, you say? You cry foul because I had a Marvel Legends figure on the list already? Well, you’re going to have to fight me, because here’s another one. I’m justifying this because 1) He’s a Build-A-Figure and 2) I really did review a shit ton of Marvel Legends in 2017, so you’re just going to have to let me have this one transgression. Warlock featured a decent sculpt and a pretty cool paint job, but he was not a character that I was interested in, and especially not as the BAF waiting as a reward for collecting an entire wave. Add that to the fact that the left arm of my Warlock simply will not stay in the socket, and you have a figure that I would have happily done without. Now that I think of it, this is the third figure on this list that had arm issues. Weird.

ThunderCats Classics Panthro by Mattel: Here’s the thing. I ran out of shit that disappointed me after nine, so I had to get cute with this last one. And that’s why after long deliberation, I decided to put a figure that I rated with excellent marks here on this list. Because no matter how great Panthro turned out (and he is a great figure),  he arrived to me heralded by a bitter chorus of disappointment. At the time I opened him, it seemed unlikely that ThunderCats Classics would continue. And shortly after we got word from Super7 that they were not able to secure the license and continue the series. And that was easily my number one biggest disappointment of 2017. It’s not Panthro’s fault, but he seemed like a good conduit to get this one on the list.

And that wraps up this week of so-called content. I’ll be back on Monday with the first Marvel Monday of the year and I hope to have Transformers Thursday and DC Friday on the books as well, along with whatever I wind up tucking into Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

FigureFan’s Disappointments 2017, Part 1

Well, I hope everyone has been enjoying my Ten Favorites of 2017. There were a lot of items that came close to making the cut, but I tried to be good and stick as close to the self-imposed confines of my list as possible. And now it’s time to embark on the flip-side and look at my Ten Biggiest Disappointments of the year. I’m happy to say this list was a also difficult to assemble, but not because it was hard to whittle down, but rather it was tough to come up with ten acquisitions that really didn’t live up to my expectations. And that’s a good thing! So let’s kick off today with the first five…

Marvel Legends Astral Projection Doctor Strange: Hey, remember this turd? Generally speaking, 2017 was another fantastic year for Hasbro’s Marvel Legends line, but when you put out a lot of figures, at least a few of them are inevitably going to be crap. And this Doctor Strange variant was the cream of the crap. But this isn’t so much a case of a poorly made figure, indeed it’s a great sculpt, but rather a bad idea. Not only is it just a rehash of the regular Doctor Strange figure (FROM THE SAME GODDAMN WAVE!) cast in milky translucent plastic, but it was an obligatory purchase if you wanted the head for your Dormammu Build-A-Figure. And that’s what really earns this figure a spot on my List of Shame. If you’re going to toss this in as an extra in a three-pack or something, do what you gotta do, but don’t make him mandatory to complete a BAF. That’s just mean.

Star Wars Black Series Jawa by Hasbro: Just a reminder, that a figure doesn’t have to be bad to be on this list, just disappointing. And to be fair, I could say that Star Wars Black as a whole has been disappointing this year. It’s not that the figures are terrible, and yes there have been some great ones, but in general this line seems content to be average. It doesn’t feel like the “Collector’s Line” we were promised, but rather just a new scale set up to make idiots like me buy the characters all over again. The Jawa for me was a prime example of that. There’s just nothing here that hasn’t been done as well, if not better at a smaller scale. No tailored softgoods, a plastic robe that renders half the articulation useless, and he can’t even hold his guns properly. Need more? Well, this figure is also too small to justify this price point, it was really hard for me to get one, and in the end, it just wasn’t worth all the effort. If it weren’t for me trying to fill the Early Bird stand with the Original Twelve, I wouldn’t have bothered.

DC Multiverse: “The Dark Knight Returns” Batman and Robin: I’ll admit, I kind of feel like cheating by listing Multiverse figures in with my Disappointments. Truth be told, I didn’t have high expectations from this line at the time. But I was looking forward to getting these DKR figures on my shelf, only to be flabbergasted at how sub-par they turned out. Yes, flabbergasted! My monocle popped right out of my eye, as I exclaimed, “My word, what rubbish!” It’s hard to believe this is the same company that delivered so many great DC action figures in the past. This pair should have been a slam dunk, instead, they feel more like knock-offs. So much so, that I still haven’t bothered to complete this wave to build my goddamn Doomsday. Maybe next year.

Transformers Titans Return Murk & Octone by Hasbro: Just to prove that Titans Return wasn’t entirely made up of rainbows and kittens, here’s one that made my Disappointments List. 2017 was a stellar year for Deluxe Class Transformers, but maybe no so great for the Voyager Class figures. Figures like Broadside and Blitzwing made for solid robot modes, but their alt modes ran from somewhat lacking to downright terrible. And yet it was still pretty easy to single out Octone as the worst of the bunch. I was really looking forward to getting this guy in my collection, and I’ll still admit the robot mode is fine, but neither of his alt modes worked for me at all. Also, I hate what they had to do to his name. It’s OK, Hasbro, you’re still way ahead of the game for 2017.

And I do believe I’ll break for the day and tally up how much money I spend on these less than stellar purchases, some of which I regret and some I’d probably still buy just to have them in my collection. Join me again tomorrow as I round out this List of Disappointments and wrap up this week of lists.

 

FigureFan’s Favorites 2017, Part 2

Welcome back to the Week of Insufferable Lists. I’m not really here this week, but my Life Model Decoy is right in the middle of laying out my Ten Favorite Acquisitions of 2017. Let’s jump right in with the final five. Again, these are in no particular order…

Mythic Legions Stone Troll by The Four Horsemen: Back when I blew my tax return on that original Mythic Legions kickstarter, I never could have guessed how big it would get. Now my Mythic Legions army is expansive and early next year, I’ll be dropping another 35 figures onto those shelves. But if I had to choose one figure that really illustrates how big and successful this line has been, it would be the huge Stone Troll. The sculpt and paintwork on this guy are amazing and it really illustrates how much more craftsmanship can go into a toy that isn’t destined for the shelves at Target or Walmart. My only regret is that I couldn’t budget the Forest Troll to go with him, but at least I take comfort in the fact that soon he’ll have a Cyclops buddy.

DC Bombshells Batwoman (Designer Series) by DC Collectibles: While I had to take a pass on collecting most of the DC Bombshell statues, I was happy to get the Bombshell figures as a more space-friendly alternative. The first wave was chock full of knockouts, so it wasn’t easy choosing one as a favorite. In the end, I went with Batwoman, because I love the pun, I love baseball, and this figure is just too much fun. Great sculpt, great articulation, and great accessories! But hell, I just as easily could have stuck Harley or Wonder Woman in this slot. These are some of DC Collectibles’ best work in years.

Lost Exo Realm (LER-04) Deluxe Severo by Fansproject: 2017 will likely be my last big hurrah with Third-Party Transformers and it was mostly spent tying up loose ends. It took me a long while to get around to picking up Severo and wrapping up my LER Dinobots, so long that I had almost lost interest. He sat for months waiting to be opened, but when I finally did it was love at first sight. Not only is he an imposing beast in either robot or dino modes, but he comes with so many extra weapons and a throne fit for a king.

DC Gallery (Batman: The Animated Series) Zatanna by Diamond Select: I’ve been generally pleased with Diamond’s line of budget statues based on Marvel and DC characters. So much so, that I knew I had to include something from this line on my list of favorites. There were several contendors, but in the end, I had to go with Zatanna. Not only do I love the character, but this statue is very nearly perfect. The sculpt is a spot on representation of her from the Batman Animated Series, the paint application is clean and precise, and the overall quality feels like something beyond a budget statue.

Zenescope’s Robyn Hood Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen: I purchased and reviewed all three of Phicen’s Zenescope figures in 2017, and I don’t think anyone really cared. That’s cool. Zenescope is a small comic book company, and most definitely a guilty pleasure of mine, so I can understand the lack of interest. I could have probably picked any one of these figures for this list solely based on the fact that it’s a miracle a company actually produced Zenescope merch, much less high end merch. And while I love all three of these ladies, the truth is that picking one was not even difficult. Liesel Van Helsing and Mercy Dante are both great figures, but Phicen just knocked it out of the park with Robyn Locksley.

And that’s going to do it for the good stuff. Come back tomorrow and we’ll start having a look at some of those purchases that sucker punched me in the nether regions with my first five Disappointments of 2017.

FigureFan’s Favorites 2017, Part 1

Welcome, Toyhounds, to the first part of my Favorites from 2017 and I’m not really here. In fact, I’m probably out on my patio smoking a cigar and getting caught up on my stack of comics. If you’re confused about why you’re reading some kind of canned bullshit and not an actual review, I’ll refer you back to yesterday’s post where I explain everything. If you’re up to speed, then we’re going to dive right in to my first five favorite additions to my collection from 2017. These are in no particular order, so let’s go…

DC “Designer Series” Frank Cho Wonder Woman Sixth-Scale Statue by DC Collectibles: There was never any doubt that I’d have a statue from DC Collectibles on my Favorites list this year, because I picked up some great ones. But which one to choose? I waited a long time to get a version of Adam Hughes Wonder Woman in my collection and she turned out great. Likewise both the Babs Tarr Batgirl and the Deluxe Harley Quinn Bombshell were superb releases. In the end, I went with Frank Cho’s Wonder Woman because it’s just such a wonderful representation of the character, and it is executed flawlessly. I love the costume design, the paintwork is nearly perfect, and I really dig the materials DCC is using for flesh tones on these pieces. Cho’s Wonder Woman is not only my favorite DC Statue pick up in 2017, she may very well be my favorite statue of all my collection.

Transformers “Titans Return” Jumpstarters by Hasbro: This is only the second item on my list, and I’m already cheating by giving one slot to two figures. But that’s OK, because I couldn’t break up the Titans Return Jumpstarters by showing preferential treatment to one and ignore the other. If I wanted to really cheat, I could have taken up a lot more spots on my Favorites List just from Titans Return alone, so getting me down to just two was quite the achievement of willpower. It’s no secret that I loved this line, and there were a lot of figures that could have landed on this list, but in the end I had to go with Topspin and Twin Twist as my favorites. Not only are these great figures, not only are they superb updates to their G1 toys, but the fact that we got official Jumpstarters from Hasbro still boggles my mind. These are so good, that I ended up selling off my far more expensive third party Jumpstarters.

Ghostbusters Firehouse by Playmobil: If you had told me a few years ago that we’d be getting a Ghostbusters Firehouse playset in 2017, I’d have called you a raving lunatic and poked out one of your eyes as a lesson not to f*ck with me. And yet here it is! What’s even more baffling is the fact that it came from Playmobil. Now, I may be a little biased, because PlaymoSpace and Playmobil Pirates were my jam growing up, but even if I wasn’t already sold on the brand, I probably would have jumped at this. With their track record for going nuts on parts and accessories, and their easy to customize figure buck, Playmobil turned out to be the perfect fit in this otherwise unthinkable union. Yes, I could have just as easily listed the Ecto-1 here, but c’mon… this is the freaking Firehouse! And Playmobil did a beautiful job with it. It’s almost a pity this set didn’t come out closer to Christmas, because it would have been a perfect review for Christmas Morning!

Epic Marvel Quarter Scale Deadpool by NECA: I’ve been trying to stay away from NECA’s Quarter Scale figures. They’re amazing figures and very reasonably priced, but I really don’t have the space for them. Nonetheless, there are some releases that are no-brainers, and when they first revealed Deadpool, I knew I had to make an exception. And I’m glad I did! This figure truly lives up to the name Epic. The sculpt is phenomenal, the accessory count is over-the-top, and despite being such a big figure, he is loads of fun to play with. NECA absolutely surpassed themselves with this figure and it is some of the best work I’ve seen out of anyone all year long.

Star Wars Rogue One TIE Striker by Hasbro: I’m probably as surprised as you are to see this on the list, but this toy just impressed the hell out of me. I wasn’t expecting much, and I didn’t even buy it until it hit deep clearance. Star Wars vehicles aren’t what they used to be, but this one feels like it belongs among the best of them. Sure, I could have done without the Nerf gimmick, but apart from that this is a quality toy and a cool design from what has become one of my favorite Star Wars movies of all time.

And that’s it for my First Five Favorites of 2017. Come on back tomorrow and I’ll wrap up my list of the good stuff!