Yup… FFZ Central is located about 35 miles from where Hurricane Ian landed in SW Florida and while all in all I made out pretty damn well (I have power!), there’s still no Internet and I have some post hurricane clean up and other shit to tend to. So it’s going to be a bit before I can rustle up some new content for the blog. Indeed, I’m going to be brief, since I’m uploading this with my phone and that network is pretty spotty at best. Right now, I’m hoping to have a new review up on either Wednesday or Friday of next week. I fully expect the Internet to be back before the end of this weekend, and that will give me some time to recoup and work on some content. To everyone hit hard by Ian, my prayers and thoughts are with you. -Dave
Monthly Archives: September 2022
Marvel Legends (Armadillo Wave): Doctor Strange by Hasbro
Yup, last week was another truncated week for content, and with a hurricane bearing down on my general location later this week, I’m not going to make any promises. But, I’m here today and it’s another Marvel Monday, and I’m pressing on with the Armadillo Wave of Marvel Legends!
Oh, look! It’s another Doctor Strange! When I saw this figure turn up in this wave, I truly knew what action figure fatigue felt like. We had the What If? version of him in the very last assortment I reviewed and here’s yet another version. Even if you’re only counting the MCU versions of the character, we’ve seen a handful of Stranges in recent years. I even skipped the Multiverse of Madness wave completely. Indeed, I was all ready to just skip reviewing this figure out of sheer boredom, but then I had a look at him, and I had to begrudgingly admit he’s the best Legends Strange we’ve had yet. But I’m still not going to spend a lot of time on him.
As the package suggests, this is Strange as he appeared in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and while his costume still hits most of the beats that it did since Strange was introduced in his own flick, it has been tweaked here and there to become what we’re looking at today, but it’s not so much all those nips and tucks to the costume that make this figure my favorite version so far, but rather the crisp and clean sculpt and coloring that makes it work so well. The blue plastic tunic is more refined, and I love the sculpted pleats that converge down the center of his chest. The network of belts are particularly well done here, with some excellent texturing and some sharp detail in the fixtures and the Sling Ring. Alas, the tunic has no slits in the sides and as such in severely inhibits his leg articulation, and thereby inhibits a lot of the fun of the figure.
The Cloak of Levitation looks great, but it’s pretty close to what we got in the First Ten Years Infinity War set. This one seems to be blowing a bit more to the left hand side, rather than being more centered. Still, it looks more like a new sculpt than a re-sculpt. It only has a lick of gold paint on the fixtures by the collar, and the sculpted tailoring on the back of the Cloak is a little soft, but I dig the texture work on the interior. The Cloak secures fairly well on the neck and shoulders and pegs into the figure’s back for a little extra stability. The red plastic of the cape really compliments the blue and brown of the rest of the costume. I will say, however, that it would have been nice to get just one Strange with a softgoods Cloak with a wire in it. The Cloak is practically its own character. It deserved softgoods at least once.
The portrait here is also the best we’ve seen, both in terms of Cumberbatch likeness and overall sculpt and execution. The figure from the original film was fine for the time, but looks a spot too generic to me now, and the First Ten Years box release is also good, but maybe a bit too much caricature in it, compared to his one. That’s it! This one is great, Hasbro… You can stop now! No more Cumberbatches… please!
You get a new Eye of Agamotto hanging around Strange’s neck. It looks nice, but I prefer the one that came with the last release. It was a little less chunky. Wait, didn’t this contain the Time Stone in the MCU? Did he still wear it in No Way Home? Was it just an empty shell? I can’t even remember. These movies are starting to blur together.
And now it’s time to bitch about hands again, because apparently I have a real hand fixation with this wave. Once again, we get a pretty useless set of accessory holding hands with Strange, and I’ll point out yet again that we didn’t get any splayed finger wall-crawling hands with Integrated Suit Spidey. Strange’s stock hands are OK for spellcasting, but if we’re getting a second pair, give him those two finger extended hands that he uses to trace his spells with, not hands for holding accessories he doesn’t come with. Alls I’m saying is Hasbro should have shifted that little bit of hand budget over Spider-Man’s way.
He does come with a set of hands that are permanently attached to some magic effect parts, and these are pretty cool. They’re a huge step up from the clumsy grab-bar we got on the magic discs bundled with the previous Stranges. I like the rough edges, and the sculpted inscriptions look really nice.
It’s a real tribute to how great this figure turned out, that I didn’t just post a couple of pictures and write: “Here’s another Marvel Legends MCU Doctor Strange. I can’t even. The End.” So, kudos for that, Hasbro. But I’m seriously done with buying Cumberbatch Stranges in the Marvel Legends line. It’s enough. You’ve given us the definitive version and I would appreciate not having any future BAF parts locked away behind any more Cumberbatch purchases. Thank You and Good Day!
Star Wars Black Series (The Mandalorian): Dark Trooper by Hasbro
So far, The Mandalorian has been the only Disney+ series that I think has been worthy of my time. Book of Boba Fett went nowhere fast, Obi-Wan was ludicrous and boring, and while I desperately want it to be good, I’m not holding out hope for Andor. So, it sure is nice to look back on that amazing ending to Mando Season 2 and know that if they try really hard, Disney is capable of producing some cool shit. Oh yeah… and we got to see some Dark Troopers!
Now, it’s only fair to say that I was not all that smitten with these guys on the screen. They looked a bit too much like rip-offs of the mechanical Cylons from the Battlestar Galactica reboot and the way they took to flight reminded me a little too much of either Iron Man or the Cybermen in Doctor Who‘s Series 8 finale. They just looked kind of cheesy flying around, and while that works for Doctor Who, it doesn’t so much in Star Wars. For some reason, I also LOL’d when they started punching the bulkhead repeatedly. Now, with all that having been said, these guys have grown on me a bit, and I suspected from the beginning that they were going to succeed for me a lot more as action figures, so let’s see if that’s true!
Well, I don’t know where to begin. First of all, the glossy black finish on this figure is absolutely gorgeous. It’s like a beautiful new car sheen, which probably doesn’t come across as well as it should in my pictures on account of how prone to fingerprints these are. And it’s good that the black finish is so impressive, because there isn’t a lot else here in terms of coloring. You get some silver paint on the joints and servos, and a subtle amount of dry-brushing on the feet to denote wear, but clearly these guys are meant to look fresh out of the factory and spoiling for a fight!
The next thing that I really love about this guy is the way the upper body armor is layered onto the figure. It makes for a more complex feel and appearance than if it were all just sculpted as one piece. The articulation here is every bit as good as your average Stormtrooper, so don’t let that bulky armor and those Protocol Droid-style disk-joints fool you into thinking this guy isn’t agile. It’s kind of a shame that the hydraulics in his abdomen don’t actually articulate with the figure, but they are in fact static, and the torso articulation is confined to a ball joint below the chest. Still, they look great! You get two sets of hands with this fella, one pair of fists, and a pair to interact with his gun. Oddly enough, his fists look really small and puny.
The helmet sculpt is great. It’s a nice homage to the original Dark Trooper design, but updated to work with the modern series. The red eye lenses are surprisingly vibrant amidst that sea of black, but man, it would have been cool if we could have had some light piping up in there!
The blaster design is OK, but the trusty old E-11 Blaster doesn’t have to worry about this design becoming my favorite. I like my Star Wars guns to have a firm and obvious design nod to real world vintage weapons, and this one just doesn’t do it. But it sure ain’t bad. There’s nowhere for the Trooper to store the weapon that I can see, but his gun-hands work well to carry it, with the left hand sculpted to cradle the weapon’s foregrip. It might have been interesting to see these Troopers designed with an integral blaster, like the Super Battle Droids, but maybe they can save that for an upgraded design.
In addition to the Blaster, you get a couple of jet effect parts to stick into his feet. These look fine, but I think I would have rather these guys had jetpacks, than just jet boots. Again, it’s a little too Iron Man-y on the screen, but it looks a lot more credible and fun as an action figure.
At $32, The Dark Trooper is priced a bit higher than your average Black Series figure, but he is a bit more complex than what we usually get. I will say that I expected him to be a bit bigger, as he isn’t really any bigger than the Death Troopers, which I included in a comparison shot. Still, I’m not complaining, because he’s a damn fine addition to my Imperial forces. I originally pre-ordered a pair of them, but I may wind up hunting down one more.
Marvel Legends (Armadillo Wave): Shriek by Hasbro
Yeah… I had to crap out of delivering new content last Friday, but it’s a brand new week and I’m optimistic about being back on track. And for today’s Marvel Monday, I’m pressing through with the Armadillo Wave and a look at crazy shouty person, Shriek!
Shriek continues to add to the Spider-Man flavor of the assortment, and because she’s on the petite side, she gets the Armadillo torso crammed into the package with her, and boy is it crowding her! I had heard that Shriek was going to appear in this wave before actually seeing the solicitation shots, and I’ll confess, this is not the version I had in mind. Give me the version on the Amazing Spider-Man #393 cover and I would have been a much happier person. But, let’s get her out of the package, have a look, and try not to hold that against her.
I’m assuming this is a recent look for Frances, because it smacks a bit of the OMG CUTESY look that Marvel seems to be going for these days, which is kind of at odds with the sultry and insane version of the character I prefer. That’s not to say it’s a huge departure in terms of costume. Her black and white body suit is familiar enough and it looks good, although I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the ample show of cleavage and solitary buccaneer boot. The paint lines are pretty clean, and while white paint over black plastic is usually a nightmare for Hasbro, it manages to look pretty clean and vibrant here. Nearly the entire costume is executed through paint, but you do get a belt and bangle on her left wrist, both of which are separately sculpted pieces.
The portrait is fine, but again I prefer her with the more voluminous 90’s headbanger hair. It would have also been cool to get a Cable-style effect part for her left eye. I think the blur effect from the halftone printing is a little more apparent here because of the black and white (and blue) contrast, but it really only starts to break down when you get in close. My biggest issue is she just looks too happy, cutesy and nice. If you’re going to give her a smile, at least give her a crazy smile. I obviously don’t know what’s going on with her in the current crop of comics, because I don’t read contemporary Marvel, but she definitely looks like she’s lost her edge. Obviously, it would have been nice to get a shouty head, but this is likely one of the cost-saving figures in the assortment, so that was never going to happen.
But what’s this??? Double-hinged elbows? Swivels in the biceps? ON A G-G-G-GIRL??? Yeah, we saw this on Captain Carter in The Watcher Wave, and I’m surprised to see it here again. I like it so much better than the rotating hinge elbow that we usually get on the ladies, and I hope to see it continue. Additionally, Shriek comes with three sets of hands! You get a pair of fists, a pair of splayed hands, and a pair of totally useless accessory holding hands. Really, Hasbro? You give Shriek a third pair of hands, but we don’t get the splayed crawling hands with Integrated Suit Spider-Man? This makes no sense to me. Oh well. The splayed finger hands here work well for focusing her sonic attack, or it would if she had a shouty face to go with them.
Despite what it probably sounds like, I don’t dislike this figure at all, it’s just not the version of the character I wanted. Indeed, everything about this figure is executed quite well, from the sculpt to the paint. Yes, I wish they omitted her third set of hands and a third set to Spider-Man from last week, but sometimes it’s tough to understand what the peeps at Hasbro are thinking. I’d like to think we might still get a more classic version of Shriek with a proper screaming head… maybe a Doom Maidens box-set? Eh, probably not, but you never know!
TRON Light Cycle (1st Generation) by Eaglemoss
I’m really pressed for time this week, so I was looking for something quick and easy to review, and Eaglemoss’ Light Cycle jumped right out at me. Indeed, back when I got this model I only opened it to inspect it for defects before popping it back in the box to later find a display space for it. As a result, I feel as if I’m really getting to see this for the first time as I’m spotlighting it here. It’s a bittersweet review, as Eaglemoss recently filed for bankruptcy and while reorganization is always possible, I have my doubts that they’ll rebound from it, and as a result, I believe this Light Cycle may be among the last batch of models they released before closing shop.
As always, these bigger models come in fully enclosed boxes made of pretty robust cardboard with the model encased in Styrofoam inside. The tape on the flap was pretty miffed when I got it, making me think someone else has been inside to take a peak, but everything looks new to me, so I’m not too bothered by it. I really love the design of the box, although it’s kind of sad that they noted this as a 1st Generation Light Cycle, as it makes me think they had plans to do the ones from TRON: Legacy as well. The model comes completely assembled, all you have to do is attach the post to the display base and you’re all set for the Game Grid! Sadly, there is no accompanying magazine.
So, make no mistake, this is an extremely simple model. It has no moving parts and no articulation at all. And heck, the designs from the first TRON film are so simple, that this piece doesn’t even showcase any intricate sculpting or detail. And yet I’m really a bit in awe of how beautiful this piece came out. The smooth surfaces and sleek curves mimic the computer generated on-screen vehicle absolutely perfectly. And boy is this still a dead sexy design! As much as I can appreciate the Legacy Light Cycle redesign, this original concept is just so iconic to me. The deco is a simple triple-play of sumptuous blue with black and gray. Everything has an even matte finish, and the paint is very near flawless on my model. It’s interesting to me that Eaglemoss went for the evil blue Light Cycle as their first offering, although I’m sure they were ready to cash in on the yellow, orange, and white repaints as follow ups. Still, it’s hard to argue with that beautiful blue when I look at it.
Eaglemoss models are usually a mix of plastic and diecast, and I’m assuming that’s still the case here, but the diecast isn’t really apparent to me. The model certainly has a quality feel to it, but it doesn’t have a really significant heft. That’s not so much a gripe as it just an observation. In terms of scale, this feels a little too big to go with the old Tomy figures, and a bit too small to go with Diamond’s recent TRON figures, but I’ll include a comparison shot with the later at the end.
The stand is the usual diecast base with a transparent post, which we see with all Eaglemoss models. In this case, the support is a platform with four posts to secure the vehicle and it works really well. And yes, the stand is required as the Light Cycle will not stay upright on its own.
In the end, I am blown away by the quality of this model. It looks absolutely amazing and as much as I love it, it also makes me a little sad, because I know the chances of getting the other colors are pretty much nil. If only they had this out last year, we might have at least seen one more, but I guess I should be happy we got this one. I believe the original retail price was $59.99, but I got mine when Eaglemoss was blowing stuff out of the Amazon store at half-off. I was actually surprised it applied to this one, because it was such a new release. Either way, it’s gorgeous, and I’m glad Eaglemoss got it out before they crumbled.
Marvel Legends (Armadillo Wave): Integrated Suit Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson by Hasbro
Welcome back to another Marvel Monday! This week, I’m kicking off a brand new wave, and by that I really mean an older wave that’s on my backlog pile. The Armadillo Wave is a smattering of Spider-Man based figures covering everything from the MCU films, comics, and even the GamerVerse! I’d say only about two-thirds of this assortment really interested me, but the Armadillo Build-A-Figure was enough to tip me over to getting the whole wave. Let’s start today with Spider-Man in his Integrated Suit as he appeared in No Way Home, and then J. Jonah Jameson!
I re-watched No Way Home a couple of weeks back and I still really dig that movie a lot. Indeed, as sad as I am to say it, right now these Sony-Disney efforts are about the only thing holding my attention toward the MCU these days. Integrated Suit Spider-Man does not come with any BAF parts, but I’m guessing Hasbro figured this one would be the most desirable one in the wave and that he’d have no problem selling on his own.
The Integrated Suit is basically a merged version of both the Iron-Spider and Upgraded Suit, and the design is definitely not one of my favorites. I tend to like my Spidey suits red and blue and vibrant, although the straight-up Iron-Spider Suit was spiffy enough to get my approval. This one takes the black and red from the upgraded Suit and adds some gold trim and a gold spider emblem on the chest and back, as well as gold web-shooters. The gold does spruce up the Upgraded Suit design, but I still think this whole design is just a mess. Of course, none of that is the figure’s fault, and to be fair, I think Hasbro did a pretty nice job with what they had to work with. The paint here is very sharp, and the texturing on the red parts of the suit looks fantastic. I do, however, think a little wash or panel lining in the web pattern would have looked nice.
You get only one portrait, which feels kind of cheap given the lack of a BAF part. Hasbro has enough Tom Holland heads by now that they really should have thrown one in here. And if not an unmasked head, than maybe a second masked head with squinting eyes.
The articulation is everything I expect from my Spidey Legends these days, which means it has all the usual points plus the shoulder crunches. You won’t get some of the extreme poses you will out of the more expensive imports, but I still had a whole bunch of fun playing around with this figure, and he’ll likely spend some time on my desk so I have something to fiddle around with on my down time.
You get two sets of hands: Fists and thwippy hands, and once again here the figure comes up short. With no BAF part and no extra head, the least Hasbro could have done was throw in the splayed finger hands we’ve seen with some previous Spidey Legends releases. I think this wave came out before the big price hike, but with Legends now approaching $30 each, I’m going to need more to get me to keep going even as a selective buyer.
Overall, I think this is a decent figure, it’s just based on a suit design that I’m not terrifically fond of. Still, if anything I think the design works better as a toy than on the big screen and Hasbro did a decent job making me like it a little more here. An extra head, another pair of hands, and a little linework on the web pattern, and I’d have no other complaints. Still, even with no BAF part, I’m glad I picked him up. Let’s move on to J.J. Jameson!
OK, so I absolutely lost my shit when I saw that post-credits stinger at the end of Far From Home with J.K. Simmons reprising his role as J. Jonah, and again in No Way Home. Say what you will about the Raimi Spider-Man movies, and I am most definitely still a fan, but Simmons as Jameson was pitch-perfect casting. It was inspired. Still, this figure is something of a consolation prize, because I would have much rather had younger, newspaperman Jameson from those films as a modern Legends figure. But hey, I’ll take what I can get, and I still think this figure is a real treat. This looks to be mostly a reuse of the business-suit body that we’ve seen in the past with characters like Agent Coulson and Chameleon, but the lack of tie puts it a lot closer to the Bruce Banner figure we got in the Age of Ultron 4-pack. The key difference is Jameson here has one button of the sports jacket buttoned. I don’t remember seeing that on a previous suited figure, so it may be some new sculpting there, or just recycled from a figure I missed. The suit is blue, the underlying shirt is white, and he’s got a freshly polished pair of black shoes. Yup, this was a pretty easy figure for Hasbro to knock out, and as such I don’t have a whole lot to say about it.
The two portraits are really spot on for a contemporary Simmons. And even without the full head of hair and the trademark silver wing tips, this is still J. Jonah through and through. The sculpt does a beautiful job of recreating every line in his face, both in the relatively calm portrait and the angry shouty one. And let’s be honest, who among us is going to display this figure without the shouty face?
You get two sets of hands, the first of which are relaxed hands. Well, I say relaxed hands, but they really aren’t. They’re actually more like flat karate chop hands, and they don’t really fit this figure unless you want to have Jameson doing the robot at the Daily Bugle’s annual Christmas party. And honestly, I just don’t think that’s his style. A pair of actual relaxed hands would have been more welcome here, and we all know Hasbro has done them before, so it’s odd they went with these instead.
Now, the second pair is more his type. You get a pointing finger on his right hand and a left hand that is clenched into a tight fist of righteous anger. Combine these with the shouty head, and you’ve got all you’ll ever need!
As I stand with one foot ready to step outside the Marvel Legends collecting circle, figures like these give me hope that maybe I’m not quite done yet. Jameson surely isn’t the most exciting figure around and he isn’t the version of Simmons/Jameson that I really wanted, BUT… I love him, and I love that Hasbro gave him to us. Likewise, the Integrated Suit ranks pretty far down on my list of Spider-Man’s MCU suits, and yet I can still find some fun and joy in this figure. Off the top of my head, I honestly couldn’t tell you what other figures are in this wave, so it’ll be a surprise when I dive into the box to get my next figure to review, but so far the assortment is off to a pretty OK start.
Masters of the Universe Origins: “Flying Fists” He-Man and “Terror Claws” Skeletor by Mattel
Holy crap, that title is a mouthful, innit? I’m overdue for visiting with the MOTU Origins line, and since I have relatively new versions of He-Man and Skeletor on my pile of figures to open, I decided to knock them both out today! These are both Deluxe figures, which means they cost a little more than the regular ones, and come on bigger cards, and lots more stuff!
And wow, don’t they look so good in the packages! The presentation here kind of reminds me of the old rack toys, only actually good and not at all crappy. The character art looks amazing, but Mattel could have just as easily let the bubble do all the talking, because there’s so much cool stuff packed in here. Exposition explosions tell us that He-Man swings his arms with awesome might, while Skeletor swings with fearsome fury! Which is better, YOU DECIDE!!! This is a line that constantly tempts me to get doubles to keep one sealed, because they look so good in package. Let’s check out He-Man first!
Flying Fists He-Man is basically regular He-Man with gorgeous vac-metal armor encasing his manly torso. His wrist bracers and belt are painted bright red, and he has white fringe around the tops of his boots. The armor has a beautiful mirror silver polish with gold trim around the arm holes and waist, and a red H emblazoned on the front. His back has a large bracket so he can store his preposterous weapon, and yes it does make him very back-heavy. And in keeping with the vintage gimmick, He-Man does indeed have arm swinging power, which is activated when you rotate him at the waist left or right with the help of a grooved wheel at the bottom of his back. This is an absolutely beautiful figure that really gives Battle Armor He-Man a run for his money.
You get two portraits with the figure, and that is awesome! I absolutely love how many options we now have for swapping heads between regular He-Man and all the other flavors. The one that comes on the figure is my favorite of the two, and I can easily see myself displaying this on my regular He-Man as well. I’m a bit conflicted on the other one. I really like the work they put into this, with the windblown hair and the open mouth, but I’m not sure the end result really conveys what they were going for. Still, a nice option!
Flying Fists He-Man introduces two new weapons to his arsenal, and these are some real Rube Goldberg kinda stuff! The weapon is sort of like a mace, but with a huge spinning wheel with three balls at the end of each arm. It looks absolutely ridiculous and it seems completely impractical. But, we’re talking about a world with a robot elephant as the fire marshal, so when you put it in the proper context, I’m sure this thing makes perfect sense. The shield is pretty out there too, but I like it a lot more. It’s got spinning blades on it, which seems like it would be good for offense and defense. Both of the weapons feature more of that gorgeous vac-metal finish, and as demonstrated earlier, the mace weapon can store on He-Man’s back. Laugh as I might, if I saw a He-Man coming at me with this shit, I would still run for my life.
He-Man also comes with his trusty power sword, and this is a fantastic accessory, because it isn’t the crappy half-sword that came with the original He-Man release, so you know this is getting handed off to my regular He-Man as soon as I’m done with this review! I can’t help but think it would have been cool if this got the vac-metal treatment too, but I’m still happy to have it. OK, let’s check out Skeletor…
As with He-Man, Skeletor uses a lot of the same parts we’re used to seeing on the character, but he also has some shiny new vac-metal plate armor. While He-Man got his whole torso covered, Skeletor only has his covering his upper chest, so he can still show off those washboard abs. The new armor has a skull fixed right in the middle and a gorgeous purple tint to it. My only complaint with this figure is that, apart from the chest armor, he looks kind of bland. I think I’m missing the wrist bracers, and I’m wondering if they omitted those so his Terror Claws would fit better. Naturally, he has the same arm-swinging play feature as He-Man, and he can also store his ridiculous new weapon the clip on his back.
Once again, you get two heads with the figure, and I absolutely love these. The regular one is just so expressive, even if I’m a bit unclear on what the expression is supposed to be. He kind of looks like Beast Man just brought him a dead rat as a present and he’s genuinely touched by the offering. But the second one is just pure money. Skeletor looks so damn happy here, like he’s so proud of his ridiculous new weapons and can’t wait to try them out. These are both great, and they will likely spend some time on my regular Skeletor figure.
Of the two figures, Skeletor seems to have made out better in the accessories department. I was surprised to see that they included his trusty Havoc Staff, considering how much else is here. I’m sure it didn’t break the bank for Mattel to throw this in there, but it’s a welcome bonus nonetheless.
Next up is the white snappy dragon thingy, which is roughly comparable to He-Man’s spinning mace. It makes me wonder why this didn’t get top billing for the figure over the Terror Claws, but it’s probably because they couldn’t think up a cool name for it. As I’m pretty sure I mentioned when reviewing the Classics version of this figure, it looks like Skeletor cut off Sky-Lynx’s head and turned it into a grabby arm. I totally dig it.
And finally, we have the main attraction, which are the Terror Claws. These clip onto Skeletor’s wrists and give him giant tearing appendages. And much like He-Man’s spinning mace, I find these hysterical to look at, but I’d pretty much shit myself if a skull-faced assailant came after me with them. I like the little sculpted detail added to them, and my one complaint would be that I wish they had added pegs for the hands to grip onto like they did with the dragon chomper weapon. They still stay put fairly well, but pegs would have been even better.
I think it’s safe to say that every time I open a new MOTU Origins figure, I am absolutely delighted with the purchase. These figures are just so damn fun, and I’m very happy to see that Mattel is going all out. For a line that I originally swore I would never collect, this feels like the absolute best values to be found in the current action figure market. I’m also thrilled that Mattel has been keeping the play gimmicks alive in these figures, which really sets them apart from the more collector-driven Classics line, where they were mostly omitted. Keep them coming, Mattel!!!
RoboCop: ED-209 (1:18 Scale Exquisite Mini) by Hiya Toys
A few weeks back, I checked out some of Hiya Toys 1:18 scale RoboCop figures, and as promised I’m back to have a look at their ED-209! As I mentioned last time, I was finally motivated to collect this line when Hiya revealed that they would be doing a Cain figure in this scale, and since NECA wasn’t stepping up to do it, I started picking up these figures for when that day finally arrived.
ED comes in a fully enclosed box, very similar to the one NECA’s figure came in, only this one is about half the size. You get a nice combination of toy pictures and movie scenes on the package, along with the RoboCop logo and the OCP logo as well! The package doesn’t make a big deal about it, but the toy does feature some electronic sounds. Inside the box, ED comes sammiched between two clear plastic trays. There’s no assembly required, and no additional accessories in the box.
And here he is out of the package and ready to serve! As with my RoboCop figure reviews, it seems only natural to make a lot of comparison’s to NECA’s offering, and I’ll be doing some more of that here. And once again, I’ll just throw out there how much I adore this whole design. RoboCop was a film that really needed its future concepts to have grounded designs to make it work, and that’s certainly the case here. ED-209 is menacing and terrifying and yet still looks like something that could be cooked up by some misguided robotics lab in the very near future. And that’s a pretty terrifying thought all by itself.
While scaled with the roughly 4-inch RoboCop figures, ED is big enough to give Hiya a little more plastic to work with, and they really went all out on the detail of this sculpt. The armor plating is mostly smooth and devoid of any panel lines, just like the on screen model, but it’s inside all the little nooks and crannies that the sculpt really shines. There are exposed gears and wires in the elbow joints, and taking in all the little mechanical bits and bobs that make up the legs is like sensory overload. I can practically see all the stop-motion effects from the film going to work when I look at this beauty of a toy. There’s also just a little bit of weathering added around the bolts, and a little dry-brushed abrasions on the toes, which I don’t remember seeing on my NECA version.
There are a few areas where NECA’s larger toy outclasses this one in terms of sculpt, and that’s mostly around the rocket launcher on the right arm, but without making a direct visual comparison, I doubt I would have noticed. On the other hand, I have to say the paintwork on HIYA’s has a slight edge thanks to some of those little flourishes.
The articulation here is certainly solid, although I did find NECA’s to be a bit more poseable, but again the difference is pretty slight. HIYA’s ED has problems turning very far to the left and right, because he doesn’t quite clear some of the wires. Still, all the toes here are still articulated, and he still has the ability to extend his legs out quite a bit to give him a considerable boost in height. The NECA version has a lot more weight to the upper body, which sometimes causes it to droop like ED is powering down, and that doesn’t seem like it will be an issue here. As for the electronics I mentioned earlier, they consist of a few sound clips of him walking and firing his guns, and the usual, “You have twenty seconds to comply.” The sound effects here are nowhere near as good as the ones on NECA’s ED. There are fewer clips and they sound pretty muffled on my toy. Maybe the batteries need to be replaced. In fairness, I didn’t even know there would be any electronics in this toy when I bought it, so I can’t complain.
HIYA’s ED-209 is the perfect companion for my Exquisite Mini RoboCops! This bruiser cost me $49.99 and I think that’s a pretty great deal considering how much quality and love went into making this guy. Sure, NECA’s ED-209 was only $60 when I bought him, but that was a while ago and their re-issue is just shy of $100, so… yeah. HIYA’s ED is also available as a battle damaged variant for the same price, which includes some brand new sculpting, or for ten bucks more you can get the battle damaged version with a battle damaged RoboCop, and that one might be too tempting for me to pass up. Either way, I’m happy to have this little guy on my shelf, and I’m anxious to see how Cain turns out. He’s due to ship in a couple of months, but I’ll believe that when I see it! And believe it or not, I’m not quite done with my RoboCop/ED-209 reviews. In a couple of weeks I’ll be back to have a look at the ReAction versions!
Marvel Gallery: GamerVerse Spider-Man by Diamond Select
Since I’m between waves of Marvel Legends, I thought I’d take this week’s Marvel Monday as an opportunity to check out another Marvel Gallery statue by Diamond Select. I’ve cut down on my buying of these statues quite a bit, not because I don’t like them, but rather they just take up a lot of space that I don’t have. And while I don’t mind storing action figures in boxes, it seems silly to buy statues and not have them on display. Still, every now and then one shows up at a price I can’t resist, and that was the case with this one!
As the name suggests, this statue is inspired by the Spider-Man PlayStation game, which I own but still have not gotten around to playing. Although, I do have a vacation coming up with nothing planned, so I may remedy that soon. As always, the packaging for this line is superb, with windows on the front, top, and both side panels, and the statue itself encased between two transparent trays. The box lets in plenty of light, and I do actually display most of these in the box, almost like it’s its own display case. On the back you get a picture of the statue and a little write-up about Spider-Man, just in case you’re considering purchasing the statue, but don’t know who he is. Let’s open up the box and see what we got!
Diamond’s Gallery statues tend to waffle between subdued museum-style poses, and those with a hint of action. Both have their merits, but I think the composition of this piece really shows the excitement that a good action pose can deliver. Spidey looks like he just landed on the roof of the cab and is instantly ready to fire off his web at an unseen foe. It could easily pass for cover art, and that’s a great compliment. Yes sir, I like this pose a lot!
One of the big features of the game is the ability to unlock a bunch of different suits, and pictured here is Spider-Man’s Advanced Suit, probably best distinguished by the large, white spider emblems on the front and back. This seems to be one of the most prominent suits featured in the game, as I see it merchandised a lot, and I like it enough to have plunked down the scratch for the Hot Toys release some time ago. I think it’s the colors that make it so appealing to me, as the white really compliments the bright blue and red of the rest of the suit. I especially like the return of this particular shade of blue dominating this costume. It’s far more appealing to me than the darker blue or black of some of Spidey’s MCU outings. Regardless, the colors are beautifully represented on this statue, and when mixed with the bright yellow of the cab roof, this statue is a feast for the eye!
Just about every detail of the suit is part of the sculpt, from the deep cuts in the web pattern to the puffed out reinforced seams. There’s a nice wash to bring out the webbing on the red portion of the suit, as well as add a little definition to the muscles, while the blue portions are left clean and slick. The figure does a splendid job of capturing Spider-Man’s physique, with the suit fitting him like a second skin. Overall, the paint lines are solid, but there is definitely some slop around the longer white spider legs on the front of the suit. The closer you get in, the more apparent it is, but it’s not something that is going to bother me while I’m admiring this piece on the shelf. It ain’t bad for a budget statue, and truth be told, I’ve seen worse on more expensive pieces.
The portrait is great, albeit not at all expressive. You don’t get any variance in the apertures of his eyes, nor do you get any hint of the contours of Peter’s face under the mask. Still, the portrait exudes a confidence, which I like. After all, isn’t that why Peter wears the mask? So his foes can’t see his fear! Either way, it came out really nice and I particular love the texture they gave to the eye pieces. Very nice!
Diamond often refers to these Gallery Statues as PVC Dioramas, but I think that has more to do with their licensing scope, as a lot of them have simple bases and are anything but dioramas. Here, it’s nice to see the phrase being applicable, as the top portion of the cab makes for a wonderful base, which not only tells a story, but frames Spider-Man in his home environment. The base incorporates just enough of the cab roof to sell it, and the Daily Bugle advertisement is just icing on the cake! It’s just absolutely perfect.
Diamond rarely disappoints me with their Gallery line, so when I say that I think this is one of the better ones, that’s meant as high praise. Sure, you have to keep in mind that these are budget statues, with MSRPs of about fifty bucks, but even taking that into consideration, I think these are a great value. Go back and read some of my old Kotobukiya reviews, and you’ll see that I rarely wrote one where I didn’t say they were some of the best values in statues out there. Well, now Koto’s statues retail for about twice what they used to, forcing me to pass that trophy along to Diamond Select and these Gallery Statues. This one just really captures the character perfectly, and the colors are just phenomenal. It also doesn’t hurt that I grabbed this one on sale for only thirty bucks!
Transformers Legacy: Knock-Out by Hasbro
Today I’m checking out another Transformer from the current Legacy line, and one that I actually bought entirely by mistake. This guy went up for pre-order along with some of the Legacy Stunticons, and I guess I just went Decpti-Car mad and slapped that pre-order button one too many times. But that’s OK, because ever since the Stunticons were first introduced, I’ve always had a thing for Decepticon cars and I’m always happy to add another to the collection.
So, it looks like Legacy is just drawing characters from all over the Transformers Universe? Or was that already widely known and I’m just now figuring it out? Either way, Knock-Out here is a reimagining of a character that was introduced in Transformers: Prime. I liked the show well enough, and I collected the toys, but the designs always struck me as being sort of like a weird cross between Animated and Bayformer. Oh yeah, and the package even states “Prime Universe” so my dumb ass has no excuses for buying him by mistake. Let’s open him up and start with the alt mode!
I’ll get to some comparison shots in a bit, but other than being a red car, this alt-mode doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the original toy. But that’s fine because I’m prepared to treat this figure as its own thing for now. This car is a little boxier and less streamlined, but it looks really nice. You get some clear windows, silver decos on the doors, and some gold bling on the wheels. The rather aggressive looking front bumper is a nice mix of dark gray and silver, the headlamps are blacked out, and the hood has some stylish grills sculpted into them. You also get a understated Decepticon emblem front and center. This car holds together well and rolls perfectly.
Alas, there’s one big QC issue on mine, and that’s this mess on the rear driver-side quarter panel. Yeesh! What the hell is this? It doesn’t come off, and it almost looks like spilled adhesive that has melted into the plastic surface. I’d like to blame the lack of a window on the box for this, but I’m pretty sure whatever this is happened at the factory and should have been caught. Yeah, there’s also some gold paint spray on the tire below it. Not cool, Hasbro! I’ll also throw out here that the plastic in general has a grain to it, almost like you get with 3D printing, but not nearly as bad. Very odd!
Knock-Out comes with a two-piece weapon, which can be plugged into the vehicle on the various ports. I went with what the package suggested and it’s not bad. It basically gives the car a long cannon on the hood and a smaller gun-blade-thingy on the side. I do enjoy weaponizing my Decepti-Cars, so I like it! OK, so how about them comparison shots?
Yup, Legacy Knock-Out is bigger and beefier, and I’d say even a bit more aggressive in his design. He looks like he’d be more at home trading paint with Autobots on the highway than his somewhat fragile looking predecessor. The silver deco on the doors pays homage to the original toy’s design, but I wish Hasbro had included the darker maroon coloring on the Legacy version, as I find it pretty distinctive, and it would have helped to drive home the homage a bit more. I didn’t think original Knock-Out had gold rims, and when I dug him out I saw that I remembered correctly. They do look nice, though! On to the robot mode!
Getting Legacy Knock-Out into and out of his robot mode sure is a lot easier than it is with his fidgety predecessor. Indeed, the robot mode here conforms pretty close to the tried and true designs of the Autobot Datsuns, Hound, or Jazz, with the hood making up the chest, the back of the car making up the feet, and the top of the car worn as a backpack. If you’re looking for anything clever or fresh here in terms of engineering or design, you won’t find it. But, if you like this design trope as much as I do, you’ll be happy to see it’s done quite well here. I especially love how the aggressive front bumper makes for a powerful and intimidating chest, and the way the front wheels are concealed inside the shoulders. The deco keeps a lot of the red from the auto mode and throws a lot of black and gray into the mix. You also get some nice, sharp looking silver on his abs. It’s a great looking robot mode!
The head sculpt definitely draws from Prime Knock-Out, and while it’s certainly a good sculpt, it does lose a lot of the personality of the Prime figure. The helmet is toned down a lot with the central comb not nearly as stylized. He’s got a nose now, which is worth noting because TF: Prime Transformers didn’t seem to ever have noses. It’s pretty obvious, this portrait is made to conform to the G1 style and sensibilities and I can dig that. I do wish they let him keep his smirk, though.
When assembled together, Knock-Out’s weapon is meant to pay respects to the original toy’s trident. To be honest, I was never a big fan of that weapon in the first place, and this one doesn’t do much for me either. It looks good, but the way he’s meant to hold it doesn’t make any sense. And the peg at the base of the shaft is too small for him to grasp tightly. You can split it up into two weapons, and that works better for me. I particularly like the rifle. The blade-thing works as a pistol, I guess, but I wish he could hold it like a dagger. I just don’t think a lot of thought went into this thing.
In the end, Knock-Out is an interesting figure, that is at best only inspired by the Knock-Out of Transformers: Prime. His design allegiances clearly lie with the G1 aesthetic, and I actually dig that very much. But fans that were hoping for something a lot more faithful to the source material may very well be disappointed with this guy. Now at the risk of pissing some people off, I’ll say that I was pretty shocked when I dug up Prime Knock-Out for this review and transformed him. I have very fond memories of these toys, but this is one that has not aged well, and I fear that may be the case with the rest of my Prime figures, most of which I haven’t laid hands on in a while. He’s kind of ugly and not very stable, and while Legacy Knock-Out is a lot more homogenized, and maybe even a little generic, I’d still say he looks better on the shelf and he’s a much more fun toy to play around with. I dig him!