Athena Sixth-Scale Figure (Deluxe Edition) by Phicen/TBLeague

I didn’t set out to start collecting Phicen figures. The gateway purchases for me were their Zenescope figures and I had no intention of going any further. But I was so impressed with them, it lead to another and another, and now it seems like I’m pre-ordering these ladies on a regular basis. That wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t revealing what seems like a new figure every month. And today’s figure is a bit of a milestone, as its my first Phicen figure that’s not based off of a comic book property. Nope, Athena is just an original design based loosely (OH, SO LOOSELY!!) on the Greek warrior goddess, Athena. Oh yeah, and I should note that while Phicen is now officially known as TBLeague, I still tend to use the two names interchangeably.

Athena comes in what has become standard packaging for TBLeague figures, which consists of a shoebox with a tri-fold cover that connects to the sides of the box with magnets. Both the box and cover are made of sturdy, durable cardboard, and as I point out almost every time I review a Phicen, the packaging here feels vastly more premium than the packaging used for most of the Hot Toys or Sideshow figures in my collection. The tri-fold cover features some excellent artwork on the front and sides, and the back panel of the box has shots of the figure itself.

Inside, Athena comes nestled in a foam tray with all of her accessories laid out around her, with a second tray and more goodies under that one. And let me tell you, this figure required a lot more futzing than any of the previous Phicens I’ve purchased. As usual, you have to attach the head, which is no big deal. But beyond that, the figure comes wearing only her boots, top, and skirt. All the individual armor pieces have to be attached and that amounts to 11 pieces, not counting the helmet. The majority of these pieces are secured with elastic straps, and while some will just slide on, others require you to work with teeny fasteners. And yes, some of these pieces feel delicate, and don’t forget you’re dealing with a soft-skinned figure that does not react well to being poked and prodded. I’ll admit it, setting her up was quite the chore.

But, I’m happy to say that it’s all worth it, because once Athena is all kitted out, she looks absolutely stunning. Originally, I wanted to shoot her as I added the various pieces of armor, but it was so much work getting it all onto her, I have no plans to take any of it off again, so let’s just start at her feet and work our way up. The calf-high boots are made of a leather-like material reinforced with sculpted gold pieces on the heels and toes. The shin armor are made of somewhat pliable plastic and simply clip on. They hold on surprisingly well too! The knee armor is held on with actual straps, and while they have a habit of slipping around when bending her at the knees, they’re not too bothersome.

The skirt consists of individual strips of brown leather-like material hanging down to cover her front and back nether-regions. On top of that goes a separate belt made of the same material, with ornate gold discs, like mini shields, on the front and back, as well as larger hip plates and some golden chains that hang down over her thighs. I really dig all the little etching on the individual discs and there’s a cool sculpted pattern that makes them look like they’ve actually been hammered out of metal. Athena’s arms feature a pair of bicep rings, plus some mesh sleeves, which are totally optional, and I keep waffling back and forth over whether to keep them or not. In the promo pics, the flaps that extend over her hands are supposed to loop around one of her fingers, but there’s no actual hole to do this, and I’m a little afraid that if I try to make one it’ll tear.

Her chest covering consists of two strategically placed leather-like straps that cover her “nipular” areas and criss-cross just before looping around her neck, while the other ends pass under her arms and across her back. The shoulder armor pieces were the hardest to get onto her. These are held on by elastic straps with tiny buckles and a snap that attached them to the shoulder. Getting anything to slip all the way up a Phicen’s arm is tough, because the realistic skin offers a lot of resistance, and these had to go all the way up to the top. I tried unfastening them and fastening them in place, but that proved to always result in the armor piece unsnapping from the strap, so I had to do it the hard way. Finally, there’s the gorget, which curves up to encircle her neck and has a few ornamental chains that hang down betwixt her bosoms. That’s right, I SAID BETWIXT HER BOSOMS! Anyway, despite the fact that all this armor is worn by the figure like real armor, the bulk of it stays put quite well, and didn’t cause a lot of problems when I messed around with her.

The head sculpt is extremely pretty and I have to give credit to Phicen for how far they’ve come with their portraits. It’s hard to compare this head to a Hot Toys sculpt, because it’s not based on any famous actress’ likeness, but the realism is pretty damn good. The contours of the face are smooth and elegant. I love the glossy paint used for her lips, as it looks realistically wet. The paint for the eyes is extremely close to capturing that surreal spark of life that Hot Toys grants it’s figures. Athena sports a long mane of golden rooted hair, and while it’s common to get some flyaway strands, this gal’s coif isn’t too hard to manage, and you don’t have to be a professional hairdresser to make it look good. Her tiara is a separate piece and when Athena goes into battle, it can be swapped out in favor of her helmet.

The helmet goes on very easily, thanks to the slightly pliable plastic used for the cheek guards. The hardest part is getting her hair to sit right under it, but just bunching it all up and pulling it to the back seems to do the trick. The sculpted decorations on this piece are beautifully done, with raised scroll-work on the cheek guards, a decoration that kind of resembles an upside down Fleur De Lis. The dome has a hammered finish similar to some of the rest of the armor pieces, and the crest sweeps up majestically in the front. Probably my favorite aspect about the helmet is the figure seated under the crest. It’s a half-woman, half-animal (possibly winged) sitting on her hind legs and pushing up with her arms. It really adds to the timeless fantasy design of this figure.

Athena comes with a handful of cool accessories, as well as three pairs of hands. The hands include a relaxed pair, a pair with two of her fingers pointing, and a pair designed to hold her accessories. The first of these is her sword, which comes in a scabbard. The scabbard is molded plastic and features some gold decorations and a chain to hang it from the belt, but I couldn’t find any specific place to put it, so I wound up just looping it around the belt before putting it on her and having it hang down behind her legs. It looks good, but it’s a little awkward when posing her. I would have rather just had a clip on the belt to attach it to.

The sword itself is beautiful but it strikes me as more medieval in design than Greco-Roman. It has a cruciform hilt with a rather large pommel and straight cross guard. The blade is made of die-cast metal, giving the weapon a nice heft, and it tapers pretty sharply to the point, giving it a late medieval flavor. It also has a snazzy mirror polish to it. Part of me wishes that they had given her a more appropriately designed sword, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me and it is a fantastic looking piece.

The shield, on the other hand, reels it back in with a more solid Greek design. It’s round with a familiar Greek pattern running around the edge, sculpted bolts reinforcing the next ring, and a beautiful sculpted relief of Medusa’s face framed by a fury of snakes. The shield is molded in plastic and has a sumptuous gold finish that matches the rest of Athena’s armor pieces. On the flip side, the shield includes an elastic strap to go over the arm and a grab bar. Getting her fingers around the grab bar can be a chore, but once it’s on there she holds the shield very securely. I’ve also found that the relaxed hand offers enough support to hold the shield in poses where the elbow is bent.

Next up is Athena’s battle standard, which is secured to a spear. The spear itself has a silver spike butt cap and a broad bladed tip. There’s a ribbed grip up near the tip with gold painted rings where the flag secures to the shaft. The flag is made of a semi-stiff cloth material that shows off the gold sun emblem and gold borders. Now, I’m no expert on the standards used by the Greeks, but like the sword, this accessory looks a bit more medieval to me. Whatever the case, she looks great holding it.

And last, but certainly not least, Phicen has been pretty generous with bundling some truly impressive diorama pieces in with their figures, and in this case Athena comes with a huge antique column, which can be used as a display stand. This is a hefty and beautifully crafted piece with some realistic weathering and some blue and gold paint around the decorations. It also stands almost as tall as the figure herself. The top surface is studded with pegs, yes Phicen equips these figures with peg holes in the feet so they can be secured onto a base or stand just like most 3 3/4-inch and 6-inch scale figures. The problem is that to display Athena on this stand, I’m now looking at a required 24-inches of clearance on my shelf, and I don’t really have anyplace right now to accommodate her.

Fortunately, the column looks pretty good when tumbled onto its side as well, and I may wind up just displaying Athena reclining on it or climbing on top of it.

While I was originally content to stick with just the comic-based figures, TBLeague’s original designs have been getting better and better and I just got to the point where I couldn’t resist any longer. And I’m certainly glad I didn’t, because Athena is a stunning figure with some beautifully designed armor strategically designed to show off the Phicen body. Sure, some aspects of the design aren’t exactly seated in any sense of historical accuracy, even if some promotional materials are suggesting that it is supposed to be the Goddess of Wisdom and War. There are certainly hints of Greco-Roman design here, but I wholeheartedly believe that this figure is best enjoyed as a fantasy figure straight out of one of those old Pepla (Sword-and-Sandal) flicks, and that perhaps her name is just given in reverence to the mythological Goddess. Regardless, Athena retailed for $170, and considering the craftsmanship and extras, I think the value is certainly there, especially in a market where even the less revered companies are putting out sixth-scale figures in the $200+ range.

Marvel Legends (Sasquatch Wave): Cable by Hasbro

Hello, Toyhounds, and welcome to another installment of Marvel Monday. The day where I try to ease the pain of the worst day of the week by opening up a new Marvel Legends figure. I know, I’m supposed to be randomizing my Marvel Legends reviews, but this time I’m sticking with the Sasquatch Wave because after lamenting Deadpool’s lack of accessories last week, now I think I found where they all went. Let’s take a look at Cable!

Of course, the politics of business are keeping us from getting figures based on Deadpool 2, but that hasn’t stopped Hasbro from cashing in with another wave of comic-inspired Deadpool figures. You may remember that we got a more modern version of Cable back in the Juggernaut Wave, but now Hasbro’s coming at us with a more classic version and I couldn’t be happier!

Cable may be from the future, but this figure looks like he jumped straight out of the comic panels of the past! The same pages that I used to flip through in college while waiting for class to start. Ah, the 90’s! I was an adult off on my own for the first time and yet clinging to the youth I left behind me with comics. As you can see, Cable is a beast of a figure, thanks in part to the large buck, but even more so to the ridiculously (I mean that in a good way) bulky gear that’s strapped to him. Most of that stuff is on his torso, but that doesn’t mean Hasbro skimped on him below the belt. The boots alone feature some wonderful attention to detail from the sculpted laces, and all the little lines of stitching to the thick treaded soles. Cable’s trousers also include sculpted knee pads and of course a brace of pouches strapped to each of his thighs. They even sculpted in his back pockets.

Cable sports a heavy-duty belt with a great weathered leather look to it, and guess what? More pouches!!! They come in all different sizes, flanking the manly and industrial looking belt-buckle. His blue shirt is dominated by the two gigantic shoulder pads and straps. The shoulder pads are sculpted in brown plastic and have a padded look, while the straps themselves are green with more pouches front and back. Seriously, how does he even get to those ones on his back? His right shoulder pad features a strap of grenade rounds, each painted gold, and the left strap has a row of brown leather pouches that look like they’re probably for extra magazines. If he were a videogame boss, these would be the targets to aim for! His hands feature large gauntlets and his mechanical left arm has a nice coat of metallic silver paint.

The portrait here is killer. Cable features a shock of white hair, which is molded separately from the head to give it that extra little bit of dimension. His teeth are clenched in his best patented Cable Battle Grimace™ his right eye is pupil-less and scarred and his left eye has an effect part to show it shining. I was not sure how well that eye piece was going to work for me in person, but now that I have the figure, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It’s just perfect. Of course, Cable is also sporting the giant communication device attached to the left side of his head and he also has the high padded collar with that giant X-branded travel pillow hanging off of it.

Now, as it is there’s enough extra plastic and tooling here to put a strain on the cost of this wave, but I haven’t even got to the extras yet, and as I said earlier, this is probably where all of Deadpool’s guns went. For starters, Cable comes with his stupid-big pulse rifle. This thing is so obnoxious and ridiculous that he can’t even fit the stock against the inside of his shoulder. I mean, this figure ain’t no wimp and the gun is still too big for him. Keep in mind, that isn’t a complaint, because this gun is a celebration of everything that was EXTREME about 90’s comics.

So, yeah… the pulse rifle is just a big hunk of sci-fi killing hardware. It’s cast in a dark blue plastic and has some nice detailing on it, as well as some sculpted scrapes. The hand grip and trigger guard look almost comically small compared to the rest of the weapon, and the shoulder stock is just a massive slab of plastic. It also has a hole on the side so it can peg onto Cable’s back for carrying.

If the Giga-Pulse Rifle is a little too overstated for your tastes, Cable comes with two smaller weapons, both of which are designed with a nice sci-fi flare, but still manage to keep a bit of realistic flavor. The first is kind of like a gatling-handgun. It’s not a petite gun by any means, but he can wield it a lot more comfortably than the rifle.

The next weapon in Cable’s arsenal is a double-barreled handgun. I really dig the design on this one, as the back half looks a bit like the old 19th century black powder pistols. I’m not sure if Hasbro got these ideas from any particular comic, but if they’re original designs my hats off to them, because they’re both pretty cool. Cable also has a loop on his belt that works like a cross-draw holster for this gun, but it’s the most awkward holster I’ve ever seen. Maybe it’s not the holster, but just how bulky Cable is with all his gear. It looks like it would be hard to draw the weapon when the shit hits the fan. Still, at least with this holster, the back peg for the rifle and one free gun hand, Cable is capable of carrying all his weapons at once. Which brings me to one nitpick. I really wish they had given him a gun-holding left hand instead of the open hand.

Oh yeah… the articulation here holds no surprises. The arms have rotating hinges at the shoulders and wrists, double-hinged elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinged knees, and swivels in the thighs and tops of the boots. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a waist swivel and an ab crunch hinge, while the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. Of course, despite all the usual points, Cable’s bulk and extra gear makes him a little less agile than your average Legends figure. Indeed, he feels more like a Masters of the Universe figure, but I still find him to be loads of fun to play with.

Next to Domino, Cable was my most anticipated figure in this wave and I have to say he does not disappoint. The sculpt is fantastic and the weapons are plentiful. Sorry, Deadpool, but it looks like Cable got all your extras. Now, I will admit that I would have been just as happy if Hasbro had given us his blue-and-yellow costume, like we got in the 4-inch Marvel Universe line, but here’s hoping that Hasbro delivers that one at some point down the road. In the meantime, I promise next week to detour out of the Sasquatch Wave and hit one of the others that I’m woefully behind on.

Ash Vs Evil Dead: Asylum Ash and Demon Spawn by NECA

Did you ever get a letter from a dead person? I mean, like someone mails you a letter, then dies and it turns up after the fact? No, me neither. But that must be a similar feeling to the one I got when my last wave of NECA’s Ash Vs Evil Dead figures arrived. I pre-ordered them back when the series was going strong and they sat in my Pile of Loot at the retailer for a while. Ultimately I shipped, not remembering everything that was in there, and when I opened the box this last weekend I was like… “Oooooh!” Yeah. It was kind of depressing to see these appear after the show ended. I’ll refrain from running on about how much this series meant to me. I did that a little bit back in this review, and if I do it again now I’ll just get all weepy, so let’s move on to the figures…

This second wave of AvED figures consists of a new version of Ash from the Asylum in Season 2, a grown up Demon Spawn (remember, we got the kiddie versions in this three pack), and Henrietta who made a return appearance at the end of Season 2 (and who I’ll be reviewing separately next week). The packaging consists of standard window boxes, which share the same cool deco as the packages from the first wave. They are collector friendly and look great all lined up on the shelf, but sadly I won’t be able to keep these figures boxed because of space limitations, so I’m just going to tear right into them. Let’s start with Ashy-Slashy.

The Kenward County Asylum was the setting for Episodes 7 and 8 of the second season, where Ash woke up as a patient and was made to believe that he was really crazy and that the last thirty years of his life had been a delusion. At first, I was a little disappointed they were going this route, it is a bit of a cliche, but they really sold it to me thanks in no part to some absolutely fantastic acting on behalf of Bruce Campbell and Dana DeLorenzo, not to mention the addition of an adorable possessed Ash puppet. Anyway, this version of Ash is from Episode 8, where he’s fashioned himself a new set of battle fatigues from the remains of a straight jacket. The sleeves are nearly ripped off, it’s loaded with cuts and tears, and he’s got a series of belts around his torso holding it together. It’s a great look for him and it makes him appear as if he’s been stalking the halls of the Asylum and fighting its inhabitants for years. It really fits with the confused and dream-like flavor of the episodes.

The detail here is every bit as good as I expect from NECA, even when they’re turning out another version of Ash and in a one-off outfit to boot. Their passion for the source material comes out in all the meticulous details. Besides all the little sculpted buckles, wrinkles and stitching, the paint her is pretty phenomenal. The jacket itself is yellowed and filthy, like it’s been drenched in piss and OH MY GOD, I JUST REMINDED MYSELF OF THE SCENE WITH KELLY AND THE BEDPAN. Also sculpted into the torso is the rig of black straps that Ash uses to secure the sheath for his boomstick that’s slung diagonally across his back.

Of course, Ash’s right arm terminates in his iconic chainsaw, which obviously allowed NECA to reuse the one they used for the original Ash… and the Bloody Ash… oh, and the Ultimate Ash. OK, so it’s been recycled a few times. It’s still great. I really dig all the detail in the attachment on his stump, and the chainsaw includes the grab bar and some great looking teeth on the belt. The only thing missing is a tiny Ashy Slashy puppet to attach to his right stump. Well, at least NECA did a full-sized version.

You also get two different head sculpts, which means not counting the bloody Ash variant, I have a total of six different Ash heads just from the TV series, as two came with Hero Ash and two came with Value Stop Ash. And yes, they’re all interchangeable between the three figures, which is really damn cool. In the case of Asylum Ash, you get a really nice portrait with Ash smirking and another with a more grim, downturned mouth. They also feature his miffed crazy hair.

The articulation here is the same as we’ve seen on previous Ash figures and that means lots of rotating hinges. You get them in the ankles, knees, hips, wrists, two sets in each elbow, and the shoulders. There’s a ball joint hidden in the chest under the straight jacket and the neck is ball jointed.

In addition to the chainsaw arm and extra head, Ash comes with his trusty Boomstick, and yup, it’s the same one that came with Hero Ash. It’s still a solid sculpt and his left hand is sculpted to hold it pretty well. It can also be carried in the sheath on his back. If I was going to limit myself to just a single Ash figure from the series, I’d say Hero Ash is still my favorite, but this one comes in at a close second. But hell, they’re all good and I consider them all essential for my collection. I can never have too many Ash figures, NECA, so keep them coming. And I’m really glad they snuck this version in before the end of the series, because it represents what I consider to be two really standout episodes. Let’s move on to the Demon Spawn…

I don’t have nearly as much to say about this guy, as he is a pretty simple figure, but that’s not to say he’s not good. One of my pet peeves for lines like this is sometimes you just get a bunch of versions of the hero and no one for them to fight. But NECA’s been good about doing the creatures in this one, as this is the third version of the Demon Spawn. Unlike the kiddies, this fella has an ashen colored skin, making him look a bit like he’s made out of stone. That effect is furthered by some of the subtle sculpted cracks and fissures in his skin. The only other detail sculpted into the body is the black patch that covers his demon spawn junk. And as much as it troubles me to have to admit this, it’s a thong. Ewwww.

To make up for the simple body design, Demon Spawn comes with not one, but TWO extra heads. These are all superbly detailed and consist of creepy smile, open mouth snarl, and wide open “I’m going to swallow your soul” mouth. The vacant black voids that make up his eye sockets look great and they have cracked fissures in the skin running all around them. The mouths are also all very well done and display some truly nasty teeth.

The Demon Spawn is also a surprisingly fun figure to play around with, thanks to a few extra points of articulation. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, and double rotating hinges in the elbows. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips, double rotating hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The torso has both an ab crunch hinge and a ball joint under the chest and the neck is ball jointed at the base and where it attaches to the head. Not bad at all! I really expected this figure to just be a throwaway to pad out the wave, but I’m having a blast with him.

Once again, NECA has worked their magic and added a couple of excellent figures to this short-lived, but much appreciated, series. My only complaints are the obvious omissions of the other mainstay characters, Kelly, Pablo, and Ruby. I can’t say that I’m surprised we didn’t get them, but part of me was still holding out hope. With the series now dead and buried, I’d say it’s a safe bet that this line is done as well. But I’m thankful for what we got, and that I have one more figure to check out, so come on back next Friday and I’ll open up Henrietta the Deadite!