The Real Ghostbusters: Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore by Diamond Select

Welcome to the next stop on the “OMG, I gotta get through my backlog” Express! When Diamond Select launched their line of Ghostbusters figures, I didn’t bite. I was reasonably happy with my set from Matty Collector, and the reviews I was reading pointed out quite a few issues with the figures. Not to mention, I didn’t want to go through all that again. I was a little more tempted by their Ghostbusters 2 figures, but I still managed self control. When their Real Ghosbusters figures were announced, I decided I would be happy with my MEGO-style versions and sit those out as well. Then I saw the pictures and all bets were off. I just loved the look of these guys! They shipped in two waves, and today I’m going to check out Egon and Winston from the first wave. Nope, I didn’t get Slimer. Never been a big Slimer fan. I blame the cartoon’s unfortunate transition to Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters for that! He’s the goddamn Scrappy Doo of the Ghostbusters Universe.

These packages are so damn big, I only had space to shoot one of them. HA! Yeah, I normally sum up DST’s Select Series action figure packaging as “impressive but wasteful.” I mean, it’s impossible to hold this giant bubble and card in hand and not be impressed, by it’s sheer size and presence, but after you open this thing you’re left with a mammoth pile of cardboard and plastic. Now, in this case, wasteful might be a bit hasty, because between the figure, the accessories, and the huge diorama piece, packaging this size is mostly justified, although there’s still plenty of room to shrink it. Maybe if they could have made it collector friendly I would see the point, but even then I wouldn’t have room to save these big packages. Let me go grab a Lawn & Leaf-sized outdoor trash bag so I can open these and take out the trash, and then I’ll be back!

The genius of this line is that it recycles the bucks from DST’s regular movie line and as a result, these take the animated style and give them an injection of realism, sort of similar to what Hasbro did with the Star Wars: Rebels designs in their 6-inch Black Series. I realize that this is going to put off some collectors, others will call it a cheap cop out designed to recycle parts, but I firmly believe that this is the only way these figures were going to get made, and I love the results, so I’m not about to quibble. Suffice it to say from the neck down, Egon and Winston share the same body, with each repainted to reflect the color-coded jumpsuits from the cartoon. I don’t own the film-based figures, so a close comparison is out of the question, but the coloring looks nice and other touches include silver paint on the zippers, buckles, and boot eyelets, gray paint on the elbow pads, and some yellow and blue on the belt devices to give them that cartoony look. The paint quality is OK, but it does get sloppy in some areas, and there’s a lot of rubbing on the jumpsuits, particularly Winston’s, which makes them look dirty in some areas. Although, most of this is only subject to close inspection and doesn’t really effect them when displayed on the shelf. And don’t forget those fresh and sharp Ghostbusters logos on their left shoulders! They look fab!

I think the portraits are excellent, and this is where the line could easily have bottomed out. I can’t imagine it’s easy to take 2D cartoon models and make them look good in three dimensions of plastic. These character designs were never meant for that. And yet, DST did a wonderful job with both of them, by somehow taking all the personality and charm of the cartoon characters and inject that into a couple of plastic noggins. Egon especially, with his ridiculous hair and glasses probably posed the biggest challenge, but I have no complaints about how he turned out. I particularly love the eternally perplexed expression on his face. On the other hand, I’m not happy about the large paint chip on the left of Egon’s neck.

The proton packs are all new with a complete animated face-lift. I went back to a still from the cartoon to check it out and I’m happy to say it holds up to the scrutiny quite well. The components are chunkier and more colorful, and I dig the big gauge on the top. The wand also looks great, and follows the design from the cartoon to a tee. The pack is also actually held onto the figure by the shoulder straps and waist belt. It looks like it would be removable, but you would have to snip the waist belt to do it. Alas, the way the wand attaches to the pack is a huge fail. It clips on by the handle, and this doesn’t work at all. The clip is made of softer plastic to keep it from stressing and snapping off, but after attaching and removing the wand just a few times, the clip has stretched to the point where it doesn’t hold the wand securely any longer. Winston’s is a little better than Egon’s, but either one will pop off with normal handling of the figure. If you look closely, you can probably see the little gob of poster putty I’m using to hold Egon’s wand in place. I can’t even begin to articulate how frustrating and annoying this is when playing around with the figures, let alone taking photos of them. The choice of hose material they used is also very questionable. Winston’s made out OK so far, but Egon’s crimped in a few places right out of the package, and I’m sure that will continue to happen with all the figures through normal handling.

The articulation on these guys is overall decent, but DST makes some odd choices with their joint design, particularly in the hips. Instead of using a simple rotating ball joint, the legs are attached to a t-crotch with swivels and hinges. It works, but it just feels rather clunky. The rest of the legs feature double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and hinged pegs in the wrists. There’s a ball joint under the chest, but I can’t get much more than a swivel out of it, and finally the necks are ball jointed. All in all, it’s functional, but I would have preferred swivels in the biceps and double-hinges in the elbows. As it is, the range of motion in the elbows isn’t all that it could be. You also get three pairs of hands with each figure, two sets with gloves and one without. Two of these pairs are designed to work with the particle throwers and the third have tighter grips to hold the PKE Meters. I think the right hands designed for the throwers aren’t quite right to do the job. Also, I would have liked to have seen these jointed to hinge up and down instead of front and back.

Yup, each figure does indeed come with a PKE Meter and boy do I have mixed feelings about this thing. Like the packs, it does follow the design of the device from the cartoon splendidly, and it sports some excellent detail, but there had to be a better way to do the indicator arms at the top. Here they’re just made out of two spaghetti strands of plastic. They’re floppy and warped and always in the down state. Where’s the fun in that? Who wants their Ghostbusters to never be detecting any ghosts? Maybe articulated arms was too much to ask for given the design, but since they included the meter with both figures, they could have at least made one with the arms down and one with them up.

Each figure also comes with a Ghost Trap, and unfortunately I’m not really impressed with this piece either. The paint and sculpt are fine, but once again the hose they used is just terrible. Mine is crimped in three or four places and it’s already nearly pulled out of the trap itself. [Edit: It finally did pull out of the trap before I was finished shooting pictures for this review!] It is designed to attach to the Proton Pack with a tab, and while that sort of works, it means you’re going to have to coil up the hose to hang it somewhere and that’s just going to lead to more crimping. Also, wants it’s coiled up, it’s never going to lay flat again for when you want to deploy the trap. Why then use a plastic hose that can’t take being coiled and uncoiled. Hell, why not just use gray string? This was just a terrible idea. Also, the trap doesn’t even open. I might not be as picky about this if it weren’t for the fact that Mattel’s traps opened, and those were in scale with much smaller 5 1/2-inch figures. What the hell?

The final accessory in each box is the particle stream, which attaches to the tip of the particle thrower. Fun fact! The original wave of DST’s movie Ghostbusters didn’t come with the connection pieces for the streams, so there was no way to actually attach them to the wands. Holy shit, what an oversight! Thankfully, these figures do come with a tiny clear adapter to fit on the end of the wands and attach the streams to. I actually think these look pretty cool, and each one is colored differently.

DST is also including diorama pieces with these figures, so that you can build the Ghostbusters Firehouse. In this case, I got two floor pieces and a couple of pieces of sign. I doubt I’m going to invest in enough figures to complete this, since you have to buy movie figures as well. Still, it’s a cool idea and I remember seeing pictures of the rooftop of the Gozer Building, their last Build-A-Diorama, and I was suitably impressed. For now, I guess I can use these pieces as rubble!

I can’t say I’m sorry I bought these, but they do have enough issues for me to admit that I’m disappointed in them. The figures themselves look great, and I’m still excited to get them all set up and displayed on the shelf, but DST made some really poor choices in the accessories and the way they function. The crimping hoses, the wands that don’t stay connected, traps that don’t even open, and PKE Meters with warped and floppy detector arms. Ultimately these figures were a frustrating chore to play with and photograph. I actually had to take a break a few times and walk away because I was getting angry with them. And I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to get angry with toys. At least not when they’re well designed. I could nitpick the paint quality too, but I think I’ve made my point. Give me a couple of weeks to recoup and cleanse the palette with other things, and I’ll eventually come back to finish up looking at the team with Ray, Peter, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow man.

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Marvel Legends (Kingpin Wave): Night Thrasher by Hasbro

It’s another Marvel Monday, and I’m getting more and more comfortable about being back into the swing of things after my hiatus. Do I feel like I’m starting to make any progress at my ridiculous backlog of unopened Marvel Legends? Nah, not a chance. It’s like a digging a hole in the sand! Who knows, maybe I’ll do a few Legends-only weeks to give myself a leg up. In the meantime, and after a slight miscalculation last week, I’m here today with the actual penultimate figure in the Kingpin Wave. For reals this time! It’s Night Thrasher!

Dwayne Taylor showed up in the pages of Marvel comics during the waning days of my career as a teenage comic reader. In 1989, I was getting ready to go to college and trading in my boxes of comics for boxes of textbooks. Not literally, mind you. I just packed them away and put them in the attic. But, needless to say most of my encounters with Night Thrasher have been after the fact, when I got heavy back into comics in my thirties. As a result, Night Thrasher sits right up there with Silver Sable and Puma as one of the figures I was most excited about in this wave.

The design of Night Thrasher’s suit lends itself to a simple figure. The buck is mostly smooth, with chiseled, angular muscles sculpted into the chest, exaggerated elbow and knee pads, heavy treaded boots, and not much else in the way of detail. He does don a wide red belt, sculpted as a separate piece and worn tightly around the waist, and a red sash tied around his right leg, which is held up by friction. I really dig the subtle mix of gloss and matte black on this figure, with matte being used for the upper legs and hands, and the rest gleaming like polished ebony armor. That plus the red accessories make him pop rather nicely.

The head sculpt consists of a tight-fitting red and black helmet and mask with an open visor for his eyes. I don’t have a lot more to say about it, other than it’s pretty intimidating. TMNT’s Casey Jones or DC’s Guardian would certainly give their vigilante stamp of approval to this headgear.

Thrasher has a pair of holes on his back to secure his backpack, which is really just a shield-shaped slab of plastic designed to hold his accessories, the first of which is his pair of batons!

Yup, we’ve seen these before, particularly with Daredevil, Mockingbird. and even Hellcat! These weapons sure do get around! They are cast in black plastic and he can hold one in each hand. They’re not bad, and they definitely suit him, but I would have liked something fresh and new. When not in use, these batons can attach to the clips on either side of the backpack.

And, as always, these batons can peg together to form a longer pole-arm.

The really cool new accessory here is the skateboard. It’s cast all in black plastic with fully sculpted trucks, working wheels, and there’s a crazy amount of weathering in the sculpt. It can be hard to see without the right light, but there’s a ton of scrapes and scratches to show that this board has seen some serious action, was probably used as a shield more than a couple times, and quite probably connected with more than one villains’ jaw over the years. I will concede that it feels a bit small, or perhaps more accurately, he sometimes looks like an adult riding a kids skateboard. Also, there’s no way to attach him to it, so it’ll take a modicum of patience if you want to display him riding it, but it’s certainly not impossible.

The articulation here is pretty standard stuff. 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. There is a swivel in the waist, an ab-crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is hinged and ball jointed. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double-hinges in the elbows. His chunky armor does restrict some range of movement, but he’s still a pretty agile fellow.

Night Thrasher may be damn simple, but he’s also loads of fun. And as I’m playing around with him, I can’t help but think that this is sort of what a modern 6-inch GI JOE figure from Hasbro would feel like. Nope, I’m never going to let that dream die! The accessories are cool enough, even if I would have liked some new batons, and you can’t go wrong with a skateboard! It just adds plenty of fun to the mix. Now, can we get some more New Warriors, Hasbro? Please and thank you!

By figurefanzero

Femme Fatales: Lady Death by Diamond Select

I am excited to say that Brian Pulido just completed another wildly successful project on Kickstarter. Blasphemy Anthem needed something like $25k to fund it, and it wound up with $323k (for a comic book, folks!!!), proving yet again that Lady Death still has a significant fan-base with deep pockets. To celebrate, I thought I’d dip into my unopened stack of Diamond Select statues and check out their latest version of Lady Death.

Femme Fatales is where it all started! Out of this unassuming line of independent comic statues grew the now high profile and highly prolific DC and Marvel Gallery series. So, it’s good to see DST bringing this line back to its roots now and again. This is actually the second version of Lady Death to be released in this line, with the original going for some pretty crazy money these days. As always, the packaging is collector friendly and has plenty of windows to let the light in and allow you to see your new acquisition, even before opening it. If you are unfamiliar with these, they are roughly 9-inch scale PVC statues perfect for collectors on a budget.

And, WOW, what a statue!!! Lady Death stands with her right hip thrust slightly out to the side, holding a ball of flame in her right hand and with her left hand resting on her sword. Fans of more museum-style poses will definitely dig this one, and with the magical ball of flame in her hand, it still offers a bit of energy and a hint of action. Above all, I think it really captures the regal look of the character.

The figure’s costume is definitely one of the more impressive sculpts I’ve seen in the line. Let’s face it, a lot of the Gallery Statues deal with fairly simple comic character costumes, and the ornate nature of Lady Death’s skimpy outfit gives the sculptor a little something more to sink his skills into. Her black chest piece, for example has a delicate golden skeletal structure to mimic the wings of a bat. Tiny golden skulls decorate it, as well as serve as fixtures on the clasps holding up her stocking-like boots. She even has a tiny golden skull serving as a clasp to secure her cape. The armor plates on the backs of her forearms are studded with spikes, and there are some subtle wrinkles in her boots. They also did a particularly nice job with all her hellacious curves.

The paint on this piece is applied well, with sharp lines and very little bleeding or flubs. There’s a tiny bit of uneven line along her bikini bottom, but nothing I’m going to get upset about. I dig the high gloss coat used on the gloves and boots, the gold has a somewhat antiqued look to it, and the inside liner of her cape is a deep crimson. It wasn’t until closer scrutiny that I realized her top has a bit of a purple sheen to it. Her skin is chalky white with a hint of blue, and while it looks fine, I think the blue applied around the bottom of her breasts is a wee bit overstated. Yeah, I’m really looking hard to find anything to nitpick here. And as I’m often fond of observing with this line, I’ve seen far worse paint on much more expensive statues.

The portrait is beautiful and features some sharp paint for Lady Death’s ruby lips and black eyebrows. Her pupil-less eyes are framed by some immaculate eyeliner. They also did a wonderful job sculpting her hair. It frames her face perfectly casting a little shadow over her left eye and brow, and then cascades down about her shoulders. The expression is slightly stern, but not overdone.

Her sword is a thing of nightmarish beauty and extends from the base all the way up to her neck. It’s permanently attached to her left hand, but the tip simply rests on the base. The ornate golden cross-guard features a tiny skull in the middle, and the segmented grip is painted brown. The blade has a bit of a pitted and antiqued finish to it. The ball of blue flame is the least effective thing about the statue. It’s not easy to sculpt something like that in plastic and make it look convincing. I do dig how the tip of it snakes down around the body. It’s semi-transparent with some darker paint used on the tips of the mystical flame. It’s perfectly fine, but I think it could have been done better.

The bases in DST’s Gallery and Femme Fatales line don’t tend to impress me, but they really did a great job on this one. Lady D stands on a circular stone pattern with skulls and roses strewn about it. There are also some blue crystalline structures protruding from the sides and a pair of braziers burning at her feet.

Never forget where you came from! That’s good advice and I’m glad to see that DST’s statue line is taking it to heart. As I pointed out earlier, long before they secured the lucrative Marvel and DC licenses and transformed Femme Fatales into Gallery, characters like Pulido’s Lady Death were their bread and butter. It’s nice to see them returning to their roots. And it’s a testament to how great this line is, that no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to stop collecting it. Lack of display space be damned, I just can’t resist these pieces! Lady D set me back only $40 and that’s a damn fine value for this kind of craftsmanship.

Star Wars Black: Imperial Jumptrooper by Hasbro

Gamestop is not a company that I enjoy doing business with, and that’s a rant for another time. But even I have to get off my high horse for a $5 action figure clearance sale. Yes, even though I know full well that they’re going to take my order then cancel most of it later when they find they didn’t have enough inventory to fill it all. I’m convinced that it’s all just a big come-on to get you on the site to maybe buy a few things at full price. In this case, I ordered about ten figures, and four of the ten were cancelled with the excuse “Item not available.” And a 60% success rate is a lot better than I usually do at these sales. But still, it’s a pretty shitty way to run a business. One of the figures I ordered that actually got fulfilled was the Imperial Jumptrooper, so let’s check him out today!

This guy was supposedly a Gamestop Exclusive, although there’s no indication of that on the package. You can, however, tell it was exclusive to somewhere because there’s no number on the side panel. I had little hope of ever finding this guy in the store, since I try to avoid going in there, and when I do I find it to be pretty terribly stocked. Nonetheless, this wasn’t a figure that I wanted badly enough to go on their site and pay full price plus shipping. My last experience with the Jumptroopers was the 3 3/4-inch figures that were tied to the Force Unleashed game. Those were pretty cool. This one isn’t the same design, but rather it’s based on the look from Star Wars: Rebels. And I guess the older ones aren’t even official canon anymore, but screw that. I have proof it existed! You can’t take away my figures, Disney!!!

Unlike the previous Jumptrooper, this one features a heavy reuse of the regular Imperial Stormtrooper armor. Indeed, most of the body is just recycled from the Black Series Stormtrooper. The big differences include the elongated shoulder pauldrons, and the new helmet. This one also has unpainted lateral hinges in the ankles. Boo! I’m a big fan of the Black Series Stormtrooper, and most everything I dig about that figure can be said about this guy as well. The articulation is solid, albeit appropriately limited for a guy wearing armor. The sculpting is pretty convincing as pieces of armor over an underlying black bodysuit, at least it is for this scale, and the functional holster is a very welcome treat. The orange paint on the left pauldron adds a splash of color to the armor and includes an Imperial insignia stamped on it, as well as the right shoulder.

You can’t have a Jumptrooper without a jetpack, and to be honest, I find this one to be a little understated. I mean, in fairness I guess Boba Fett’s wasn’t that big either. This one has a tank on the top, which I presume is for oxygen, as it has two hoses leading from it and going into the helmet. The pack is mostly white and has minimalist detail, which I guess matches the design of the armor pretty well. The pack itself attaches to the figure simply by pegging into the back, and features a little red and black paint, including some scorch marks around the jet exhaust ports.

The new helmet instantly reminds me of some of the Imperial pilot helmets, like the TIE Pilot or the AT-AT Driver. It still retains a lot of the regular Stormtrooper helmet features, but here the eyes are a continuous visor, the breather tubes protrude from the front, and there’s a crest running up the top of the helmet. The side vents are neatly painted blue, and you get some gray and orange paint on the top. It’s a pretty cool variant that incorporates a number of different Imperial design tropes.

While he may be a specialist, the Jumptroooper still comes with the regular old E-11 Blaster. It’s an excellent sculpt, albeit the plastic is rather soft. Rather than just cast in black plastic, it has a bit of a gunmetal finish to it. He can hold it in his right hand, and it fits into the holster quite well. I don’t mind so much getting this weapon included, as it is the mainstay of the Imperial army, but I still feel like these elites should have been given some kind of special weapon as well.

There is a figure stand included, and this was a big disappointment, mainly because I expected it to be something it wasn’t. As a figure stand itself, it’s perfectly functional. The foot slips into it, and it does a decent job holding him up. I probably wouldn’t mind having a pack of these to prevent some of those action-figure-avalanches in my displays. But when I saw this in the package, I assumed it was going to be some kind of flight stand, with a second piece concealed at the bottom of the box. Obviously, that wasn’t the case and so it feels like a major missed opportunity here.

And as a jetpack trooper, this guy is a little underwhelming to play around with. The regular Stormtrooper armor makes him not terribly agile for those flying poses, which makes me think that maybe Jumptroopers should have more unique armor designed for them to maneuver in the air. Another big missed opportunity here is the lack of any jet blast effect parts to draw attention to that jetpack and really make him look like he’s blasting into action.

Does it sound like I’m down on this figure? Well, maybe. To be honest, I liked the design of the Force Unleashed Jumptrooper a lot better than this one, and I’m kind of sad to know that we’ll never get that one in the 6-inch Black Series. This figure is perfectly serviceable, but it also feels rather lazy. Sure, a lot of that has to do with the design from the show and it isn’t the figure’s fault, but there are also too many missed opportunities for extras. I suppose it’s a good Exclusive release, because I wouldn’t have felt left out if I was never able to get him. As a $5 clearance figure, I’m perfectly happy to have him, but ultimately I am coming away very underwhelmed by this guy.

Marvel Legends (Kingpin Wave): Puma by Hasbro

Last week I made a terrible mistake! I thought that Puma here was the last figure I needed to open in order to build Kingpin. Of course, after opening him up I reached for my baggie of BAF parts for this wave, only to find I was missing a leg. I looked everywhere, and right when I was convinced I lost it, the back of the package revealed the answer… I still have one more figure to open after this one in order to build Fisk. And there’s even one more figure after that, albeit one that doesn’t contain a BAF part. And so Fisk will have to wait at least a couple more weeks for his time in the spotlight. In the meantime, let’s check out The Puma!

Before we get started, can I say how much I love the presentation here. I’m sure it’s not intentional, but it looks like Puma is stomping on Wilson Fisk’s dismembered torso. It’s amazing! OK, on to Puma… while he appears to be another dude in a kooky costume, Puma is a pretty interesting character, and one that was introduced in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man when I was about 12 years old and at the height of my childhood Marvel reading. Thomas Firehart is a wealthy businessman, one-time owner of The Daily Bugle, accomplished martial artist, and… oh yeah, capable of transforming himself into a Werepuma thanks to generations of careful genetic calculations. In retrospect Fireheart reminds me of a Native American T’Challa and the significance of that has only served to increase Puma’s street cred in my mind over the years. And while Puma has been immortalized in plastic through lines like the Superhero Squad and Heroclix, I can’t recall him getting an actual action figure before, which makes this release all the more of a welcome treat!

I do believe this is the modern look for the character, as I definitely remember him with shaggy shoulders and a blue and red chest piece. This wave has been heavy with modern redesigns, but Puma is the only example in this assortment of a modern look that I actually dig. The costume is much more muted, consisting of a brown and mustard colored top and trousers, which is achieved only through paint on the buck. It’s got something of a brown-costumed Wolverine thing going on, and that ain’t a bad thing. New sculpting for the figure’s costume includes the gold belt, which is attached snugly around the waist, and a pair of gold bands around the lower legs, each of which end in sculpted hair. These pieces are also held on by friction, but they stay put quite well. The costume is rounded out by a gold band on Puma’s left bicep, with two ceremonial feathers coming off the back, and a toothy necklace that rests on his shoulders. Of course, you also get new sculpting for the hands and feet.

Another thing I really dig about this look is how the proportions feel a bit wonky and lend credibility to his animal transformation. The arms seem unnaturally longer, although that may just be an illusion caused by those big grasping claws. The muscles seem extra bulbous too, particularly in the biceps. He has tufts of sculpted hair coming off his forearms, some textured hair on his arms, and those rings of fur on his ankles also reinforce the uncanny look of his profile.

And that brings us to the portrait, which is an absolutely fantastic sculpt. Puma is captured in mid roar with his mouth open wide and showcasing his fangs. He’s got a broad cat-like nose, beady eyes, and pointed ears, along with furry sideburns. His sculpted hair is coiffed close to his skull and there are a pair of ceremonial feathers jutting down off the back. Everything about this head sculpt conveys fierce animal rage, and I love it! If I had one complaint, I think the head should have been a wee bit bigger.

Obviously, I demand my Puma men be agile, and thanks to Legends basic articulation standards, he does quite well in this category. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double-hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the waist, double-hinged in the knees, and have swivels at the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso swivels at the waist, has an ab-crunch hinge, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

So far, Puma is my favorite figure in this wave. No, that may not seem like high praise, since Silver Sable is the only other figure here that I really liked. But this guy turned out great! Add to the fact that this is his first release in the Legends line, and that makes him a long overdue character to add to my shelf! The only bad thing here? He’s reminding me how badly I want a Tigra figure in the new Legends line. Let’s go, Hasbro. Make it happen!

Mythic Legions: Carpathias by The Four Horsemen

Oh boy, do I miss Mythic Legions Wednesdays! The whole hiatus thing really threw a monkey-wrench into my progress through the Advent of Decay series. And as long as that’s the case, today I’m going to skip back in time to the original Mythic Legions Kickstarter to check out a figure that I passed on the first time around and have been regretting it ever since… The Vampire Carpathias!

Cutting figures from the first Kickstarter to meet my budget was a sad thing. But that should be obvious seeing as I had to let Carpathias go. Of all the figures that had to be culled for the sake of budget, I think this guy hit the hardest. And it only got worse when Advent of Decay came a long and gave us even more vampires. Fortunately, we got a second chance at some of those figures with the All-Stars pre-order and I was finally able to remedy that terrible mistake. Let’s check him out!

Like many of the armored warriors of the initial assortment, Carpathias’ armor mixes up the body parts we first saw used on Sir Gideon and Gorgo. In this case, his arms, torso, and gorget are Gorgo’s, and the legs, belt, hip armor, and lower sash are from Geoffrey. And just so that the top half isn’t all from one figure and the bottom from another, Carpathias wears Sir Geoffrey’s shoulder armor. In addition to the simple kit-bashing, the armor is given a fresh coat of paint with a black base and lovely purple accents, and the two make for an absolutely gorgeous deco. The whole thing is topped off with some meticulous silver paint detailing on the buckles and rivets. I can’t express how much I love the look of this armor. They should have sent a poet. A vampire poet. I just don’t have the right words.

And that brings us to this goddamn glorious head sculpt. The vampires of Mythoss are a loving nod back to The Nosferatu, only a lot uglier. The bald pate is flanked by two super long and pointed ears. The brow ridge is a crinkled knot, the eyes are milky and without pupils, the nose is straight off a bat, and the mouth is gruesomely distorted to make room for those yellowed central fangs. I think I’m safe in declaring that this work of art is my favorite depiction of a vampire ever.

Despite Carpathias’ unholy heritage, his weapons are actually pretty standard stuff. He comes with the standard cruciform-style broadsword we’ve seen issued with many of the knights and a stout dagger with a nearly matching wheel pommel. Both weapons have silver blades and hilts, with black grips. Of course, you also get the ubiquitous brown sword belt. These are all great looking weapons, and I’m a big fan of their generic utilitarian design.

Carpathias also comes with the spear we’ve seen so many times before. This one is painted all in silver. Unlike the sword and dagger, this one is growing a little less welcome these days. It’s a decent enough weapon, but we’ve seen it so many times, and I really prefer when they paint the shaft brown.

There were times when I considered paying scalper prices for this guy on Ebay, and those urges got even stronger once I got the vampires from Advent of Decay. Luckily T4H did the All-Stars sale and I was able to get him without dropping all that extra cash. Although now that I have him in hand, I think it still would have been money well spent. The Vampire faction has become one of my favorite races of Mythoss and Carpathias looks damn nice when flanked by a couple of the Vampire Legion Builders or conferring on courtly matters with Lucretia. And I’m happy to report that I still have one more Vampire from Advent of Decay to open. It probably won’t be the next one I review, but it’ll be coming up eventually!

Star Wars “The Force Awakens:” Captain Phasma 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

The Force Awakens, eh? How topical is that? Well, they did just drop a sorta-trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, so I guess that’s something. Anyway, today’s review may feel like I’m digging all the way down to the bottom of my backlog, but in reality I just got this figure a few months back. A certain e-tailer was tossing out large credit incentives to help them unload their unsold Hot Toys stock, and this one was just too good to pass up because it basically reduced the figure to $75. I know, that’s not a ringing endorsement to start the review with, but fair is fair. And I don’t mind stating ahead of time that without the incentive, I wouldn’t have otherwise bought Phasma. But am I glad I did? Let’s find out…

Here’s the box, and it’s so bare bones and completely uninteresting, that I’m not going to spend any time on it. If you’ve picked up any of Hot Toys’ Star Wars figures, then you know what to expect from the presentation here. And so, with a package not worth talking about, I’ll take the time here to explain that I decided to dredge up Phasma to review today because I had fun looking at the Stormtrooper a few weeks back, and while the new trailer for The Rise of Skywalker did nothing for me, I did re-watch Solo and The Force Awakens recently and had a good time doing it. OK, let’s check out the figure!

Like the recent Hot Toys Stormtrooper, Captain Phasma is an incredibly simple release, but she makes up for that by looking so damn good! Let’s face it, on the big screen, Phasma failed as a character, but as a high end action figure? It’s the perfect canvas for that sublime chromed out First Order Stormtrooper armor. Yes, she’s so good, I can forget that she was another non-character in a cool outfit. The figure body is appropriately taller than the First Order Stormtrooper (which I promise I will get around to reviewing some day), and dressed in a pleather undersuit, which looks great peeking out between those armor plates, but really cramps the figure’s articulation something fierce. I also dig how it’s ribbed around the arms and neck. It’s quite reminiscent of the old Cylons from Classic Battlestar Galactica and that’s why I love it so much. The armor itself is worn in pieces over the bodysuit and for the most part these pieces are held fast by friction. Each of these pieces sport an absolutely dazzling reflective finish along with some moderate rust effects to give the suit a weathered and well-worn look.

In addition to her suit of armor, Phasma’s other fashion accessory is her flowing cape. This garment fastens together around the neck and is easily added or removed simply by popping the head. You can certainly display her without it, but the spacing between the helmet and the shoulders looks awkward to me when she isn’t wearing it. This is especially the case from behind where you get a glimpse of extra neck, and the zipper to the bodysuit as well. The cape is odd in that it looks refined and finished on the interior liner and ratty on the outside. After doing some research it looks to be accurate, but I didn’t get that sense from my memory of the film. It also has a tailored red stripe running down the edge. The cape is worn in a lopsided fashion to cover more of her left side and leave her gun hip unencumbered.

The helmet sculpt looks great and features a lot of the pitting and rusty speckling as seen on the rest of the armor. I like the recessed textured screen that makes up the “mouth” and the visor is dark and foreboding.

As if attempting to beef up the contents a bit, Hot Toys loaded Phasma up with hands, and I have to say that a lot of these just seem pointless. She has relaxed hands, slightly more relaxed hands, fists, and hands to interact with her weapon. Sure they all serve their different purposes, but outside of this review, I doubt I’ll ever swap them out. She’s destined to be holding her rifle all the time. Another reason I’m less than enthusiastic about changing them is the fact that the pegs come out in the hands each time, requiring me to grab some pliers to get them out. It just isn’t worth all that fussing to me.

As we’ve already seen, the only other accessory in the box is her customized F-11D Blaster rifle, and I am absolutely in love with how this weapon turned out. The details are so sharp and the platinum finish with black trim is drop-dead gorgeous to me. It includes a scope, a telescoping stock, and a swing down grip under the barrel. The accessory is also magnetized so it can be worn on her right hip without the need for a holster. The gun works quite well in her weapon-holding hand and she looks great wielding it!

Our last stop is the ubiquitous figure stand and, like the packaging, there’s no surprises here. It’s a typical hexagonal stand with a crotch-cradle post. The surface of the base features the First Order emblem and the front panel says “Star Wars” and “Captain Phasma.” It does it’s job, and that’s about it.

Are you looking for that one great Hot Toys figure that shows what the company can do and really feels like solid value for your money? Well, Captain Phasma probably ain’t it. Oh, she’s a great looking figure, and I honestly can’t complain about any must-have accessories that have been left out. But in the end, I just can’t see the value here. This figure retailed for over $250 and there’s precious little in the box to account for that price tag. There’s no likeness rights, no complex and realistic portrait, no die-cast parts, and accessories that amount to a pile of hands and a gun. It’s hard not to look at some of my Marvel figures that cost less and came with so much more. It’s no wonder this figure hung around long enough to need credit incentives to get rid of her. I don’t know, maybe the chrome and weathering technique on the armor was some kind of crazy expensive process, but I think this was just an example of Hot Toys getting greedy to sell a figure of a character that a lot of people wanted even before they saw the movie. But, I like her well enough and I was able to pick up a TBLeague Phicen figure with the credit, so I consider this purchase a win-win!

Marvel Legends (Kingpin Wave): Red Goblin by Hasbro

Happy Marvel Monday, folks! By the time you read this, I thought I may already be dead! But right now it looks like Hurricane Dorian is going to take a hard right and steer away from my position here in SW Florida. And thank God for that! I had a fear that I might have had to use unopened Marvel Legends from my backlog in place of sandbags to keep the flood waters out. But for now, let’s assume I’m going to survive, and we’ll have a look at another figure from the Kingpin Wave. Oh, look! It’s Red Goblin. Sonovabitch!!!

Even with all the waves of modern Legends that I’ve completed, I don’t think I’ve ever been this dejected about having to buy a figure for a BAF part. I can remember finding Red Gobby here on the peg and seeing Kingpin’s leg and being so happy, and then reminding myself that I’m about to fork over $20 to take this figure home. So let’s get this over with.

OK, it’s Norman Osborne merged with Carnage. Interesting idea, I guess. But, what a goddamn mess of a design. It looks like something I might have doodled on my Trapper Keeper when I was 14 years old and hopped up on root beer and pixie stix. Now keep in mind, I did not hate this design in the comic. I just think it’s something that does not translate well to action figure form, and it’s so hard for me to put my finger on exactly why it doesn’t work for me.

I think a big part is just the way the buck is painted. It looked all sorts of cool and sinister on the page, but here it strikes me as just a guy wearing a crimson leotard with the black markings painted on it. Then you have the giant, unposeable tail tacked on the back. I honestly forgot that he even had that and to revisit some of the panels to remind myself.

The tendrils don’t really work for me either. At least the mess of ones rising from his back are removable, as that piece just pegs into the hole. But you still have the permanent ones coming off his forearms and lower legs. Again, I’m just writing this off to working OK on paper and not in plastic. Also, at first I thought his feet were just lifted directly from the Symbiote Spidey in this wave, but I was surprised to see that they are actually different sculpts.

And the cherry on top of this mess is the portrait. Again, it’s tough for me to put my finger on exactly what happened here. I think a big part of it is his set of bushy skunk eyebrows. I did not come away from that comic thinking he had big tufts of fur above his eyes, but that’s exactly what’s portrayed here. I feel like the eyes should have been more narrow and the pupils smaller. I guess they did a good job on his mouth, and I do dig how it’s soft plastic and can sort of open and close.

Red Gobby comes with one accessory, and that’s his Carnage pumkin bomb. He can actually hold it fairly well in his right claw, but that’s about all I have to say on the matter.

This one is a swing and a miss for me. I’m not sure whether to blame Hasbro or just the design, but whatever the case, I wasn’t keen on this guy when I bought him and I’m no more fond of him now that I’ve got him opened up and spent some time with him. But hey, I’ve got another Kingpin part, and that means next Monday I’m going to wrap up this wave by opening Puma and cobbling me together a Fisk BAF.