Transformers (Studio Series 86) Rumble by Hasbro

My schedule is really tight this week, and I wasn’t sure I was going to make it back here at all after Monday, but I was hankering to open up a new toy, and I just managed to squeeze in enough time this afternoon to shoot Studio Series Rumble. I haven’t really been collecting any of the Core Class figures, but I absolutely had to grab Rumble to see how well he would go with my Earthrise Soundwave!

Good God, I hate this packaging! Either go with a fully enclosed box, or go back to plastic windows, Hasbro! It’s bad enough that I have to risk getting a robot with boogers and candy residue stuck on it, but in a moment you’ll see my new reason to hate this packaging. So, I had this guy on pre-order through an online retailer, but I just so happened to stumble upon Rumble at the store while doing some food shopping. This was the only one they had and the box was smashed, but I decided I would get him anyway and cancel the pre-order later. Then I got home and opened him…

And this is what I saw! Now I’m going to assume that one of his Thruster Guns wasn’t actually stolen, but rather it just fell out of the sleeve and right out of the package BECAUSE IT HAS NO GODDAMN WINDOW TO KEEP THE SHIT IN IT!!! Now, this is not a huge deal, because I do still have the pre-order in place, but still… this is some serious bullshit. If having plastic windows on packaging means the world has to drown in its own seas of chemical soup so I can get my toys with all their accessories, then so be it! But this shit has got to stop, Hasbro. If you aren’t going to enclose the box, you need to secure the accessories better. Anyway, let’s get Rumble clipped off the backing and check him out.

I should take this opportunity to point out how much I absolutely love Rumble in the Sunbow cartoon. He had more personality than a lot of the other Decepticons, and a spectacular Napoleon complex to make up for his small size. On that note, it’s with the highest of praise that I say how great this little figure turned out. The sculpt is fantastic, particularly the circuitry on his chest that mimics the original toy very nicely. You also get a surprisingly diverse color palate for such a small figure. In addition to the two-tone blue and purple plastic, you get some off-white for the feet, some metallic purple accents, and even some red and yellow panels in the legs. The head sculpt is also just about perfect. I don’t know why, but I love how puffy his cheeks look. It’s like he’s pondering on something stupid to say. You want me to nitpick something? OK, I wish the feet were painted silver. Maybe I’ll try out a Sharpie on them, since I’ll eventually have two of these little buggers. Articulation is surprisingly good too, although the lack of elbows is a little disappointing.

If you are lucky enough to get both Thruster Guns, they can be worn on his back, or pegged to his forearms, just like the original G1 figure. Like the feet, I would have loved to see these painted silver, but with all the rest of the coloring on the figure, I can see why that didn’t cost out.

Of course, you also get the attachable pile drivers, which are absolutely fantastic. To put them on, you just fold in Rumble’s fists and socket them in. The pistons don’t actually move, but boy does he look great with these things equipped.

The transformation here is about what I expected. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it does make for a decent cassette tape, and thank Primus for that! He doesn’t turn into a data chip or a PDA, or a chunky disk. It gives me a little sadistic pleasure that a lot of kids are going to have no idea what the hell this is supposed to be. Meanwhile I’m still over here using one of these ancient beauties to load Zaxxon on my Atari 400 computer!

And his cassette mode does indeed fit into Earthrise Soundwave. It’s a tad snug, but it works! Let’s check out some comparison shots with the other recent cassette releases!

I think Rumble is a huge improvement over Eject, as far as cassette to robots go. I don’t want to hate on Eject, because I actually like his translucent blue parts a lot, but these two don’t really match up all that well.

And here’s Soundwave’s menagerie when you pair up Rumble with Earthrise Leaserbeak and Ravage. Laserbeak still impresses the hell out of me, and he looks great next to Rumble. Ravage? Eh. There’s some impressive engineering going on there, but I honestly like the original G1 toy better than this update.

Rumble is without a doubt the breakout hit of the year for me. OK, maybe he’s not the best Transformers figure I got this year, but he certainly is the best official toy treatment of the guy since his original G1 release. And I’d dare say that he’s made me a lot happier than some of the more bigger and more expensive bots I got recently. He’s ridiculously fun to play with, and he looks amazing beside Big Daddy Soundwave. It’s too bad the experience had to be dampened by Hasbro’s shit packaging, but hopefully the next one I get will have all the parts in there. Lesson learned, if you are buying him at the store, check in there for the guns!

Marvel Gallery: The Wasp by Diamond Select

Try as I might, I continue to find Diamond’s Marvel and DC Gallery statues to be mostly irresistible, especially when they go on sale and dip below the $30 mark. As I showed in one of my Toy Tours, I’ve found a spot to display these in their boxes up on a high shelf in my Comic Office and so I can’t really use lack of space as an excuse to take a pass anymore. Still, I do try to be more selective in which ones I buy. I’ve had my eye on The Wasp here for a little while, and when she hit that magic price point, I went ahead and picked her up.

This is a pretty big package for a fairly cheap statue. As always, the goods come in a collector friendly box with the statue surrounded on four sides by generously sized windows: Top, front, and sides to let in plenty of light and show off the figure inside. It’s a good deal if you’re buying it at your local comic shop, so you can check out the paint quality. Alas, I’ve never seen these in a store and I get all my DST Gallery statues online. Fortunately, I haven’t had too many issues with the paint. The back of the box has a little blurb about The Wasp and calls out that this piece was sculpted by the great Jean St. Jean. Unlike most of these figures, Wasp does require just a bit of assembly. Her wings come separated from her body and you have to peg them into slots. They go in easy and she’s all ready for display!

Hands down, what I like about this statue the most is the choice to go with the classic costume and the wonderful way it’s been sculpted and painted. Janet has had a number of wardrobe changes over the years, and truth be told, I do like most of them, but the retro-stylings here will probably always be my favorite. The red dress features flared shoulders, a very short skirt, and a neckline that plunges all the way to her belt, but since it’s worn over a black bodysuit it manages to titilate and be modest at the same time. The red boots and gloves are also sculpted with some nice detail, as is the blue “W” situated just above her chest. The dress, boots, and gloves all have a glossy finish, which contrasts quite nicely with the matte finish of the black suit. You get some very nice sculpted wrinkles in the dress, as well as some rather well defined contours of her body showing through.

Unfortunately, the portrait is pretty average. I’m not going to say it’s bad for a statue in this price range, but I will say it falls short of what we got with a lot of the previous ladies in this series. It’s a little too full-faced for me, as I tend to like Janet a bit more on the pixie side, as it suits her alter ego. I’d say she’s more of a handsome woman, than a pretty one, and that’s what’s known as a backhanded compliment. Oops, I probably shouldn’t say backhand around Janet. Still, when it comes to the portrait, I may be letting her more modern interpretations color my view of what is clearly a very classic version of the character. The paint is overall OK, but her left eye is drifting a bit. I’ve certainly seen worse on far more expensive pieces. I do like her blue headphones and microphone, and her antenna are a little on the chunky side to keep them from being too fragile.

The wings are cast in tinted clear plastic and feature a rather pretty gradation from clear to green to blue at the tips, and with black spots near the top edges. You also get some sculpted membrane running throughout. Like the antenna, they’re a little thick, but that’s obviously to make them less fragile, and I think they look great.

As for the pose, well it’s a homerun! Wasp is captured in mid flight with her left leg drawn up and her right foot just grazing the base. Her body arches as she turns to face an unseen adversary, while she powers up her Wasp Sting with her right hand. The effect is a translucent yellow sphere with some crackling energy around it, and I think it looks pretty convincing. This is a perfect pose for showing off the character with a lot of excitement and energy.

The base is pretty elaborate and very nicely detailed. One of my nitpicks with this series has been the fact that DST calls these dioramas, but most of them just have generic bases. I’ve always thought that was just a licensing thing, but here the figure actually lives up to the name with a pretty cool base that tells a story. The ground is shattered, a street signpost hangs at an angle, water and smoke rise up between the cracks in the pavement. It’s all exceptionally well done and speaks of a desparate battle being waged. My only gripe is that it doesn’t really take advantage of Wasp’s diminished size. Indeed, the scaling actually makes her look bigger than a normal person. It seems like a rather large (no pun intended) oversight or a missed opportunity, but it’s not enough to ruin the statue for me.

As much as I dig The Wasp, the character is only represented in my collection by a handful of Hasbro and Toy Biz figures, so it’s nice to have something a little more substantial and waspy to enjoy. At one point I waffled on getting one of Sideshow’s statues of her, but the decision was made for me when that particular piece sold out. Even at the MSRP of about $45, I think this is a pretty well-executed piece. The portrait is definitely not as nice as the original solicitation photos, but the only reason I make a point of that again is because the female portraits in this line have been generally exceptional. That’s especially the case when you look back at Rogue, Emma Frost, or Madelyne Pryor. But I have certainly passed on far pricier statues that have looked worse. I grabbed Ms. Van Dyne for $25 on Amazon and I’m mighty happy with that deal. She’s big and beautiful and generates a big buzz for a little money.

Masters of the Universe: She-Ra Sixth-Scale Figure by Mondo

Mondo has been turning out some Sixth-Scale figures based on the Masters of the Universe license, and while the reaction to some of these has been hit and miss among fans, I’ve been enjoying them from afar. But, then they announced She-Ra, and she looked absolutely gorgeous, and I figured, What the hell? Let’s see what these are all about… because I need another expensive line to collect like I need a hole in my head. The made-to-order formula, that has become so popular among smaller collector toy companies, was the rule of the day here, and so I dropped a pre-order. For some reason I didn’t think she was going to be shipping so soon, but here she is, so let’s take a look!

The packaging is extremely well done, both in terms of presentation and quality. When I drop more than $200 on an action figure I like to get it in a premium package, and that is absolutely the case here. You get what appears to be a fully enclosed box, but there’s actually a magnetic flap that opens to reveal a window front panel. The front and back panels have some very nice artwork and the inside of the flap has a picture of the figure itself. Inside, She-Ra comes on a clear plastic tray, with several layers to house all of her accessories and extras. There are a lot of different display options with this figure, so let’s just start with how she comes straight out of the box.

And here she is out of the box and looking drop dead gorgeous! In a lot of ways, Mondo She-Ra looks like an upscaled premium 7-inch action figure, and I don’t mean that as any kind of slight. It’s just that most of my Sixth-Scale figures feature tailored costumes or seamless joints, or something to set them apart from their smaller cousins and justify the high price tag. Here we get a mostly plastic costume (we’ll get to the cloth cape in a bit!), and articulation that is pretty similar to what we’ve seen in some of the more articulated, higher end six or seven inch figures. As a result, She-Ra feels more like a figure that I can play around with, rather than something I’m just going to tweak the pose on every now and then.

Her white dress is cast in soft plastic and has a decent layered effect to make it look like the figure is actually wearing it. I did find the asymmetrical nature of her top rather interesting. Her right breast covering is smooth while the left is scalloped. I’m not sure where Mondo took that particular design cue from, but I think I would have preferred they had gone with one or the other. And I’m not just bringing it up as an excuse to talk about She-Ra’s boobs… honest! Of course, the creamy white dress is complimented by the gold accents, which make for an absolutely exquisite deco. The gold paint that Mondo used here is quite striking, with something of a satin finish. In addition to the gold piping on the dress, you get the large floral motif on the front of her torso, and the golden shoulders, grieves and boots. There are sculpted brown straps “holding” the grieves in place and and some copper paint applications to give the gold armor a little more of a dynamic look. I have absolutely no complaints about the the quality of the paint and coloring on this figure. It’s all top notch stuff!

The belt is removable and can be replaced with a second belt design. It’s pretty cool, but I like the one that came on the figure much, much better, so this piece is going back into the box! They are both made of soft pliable plastic and tab together in the back. I found that this one was tough to get secured properly, whereas the first seems to fit and stay put just fine. Yet another reason to cast this one aside.

The portrait is just about flawless, and clearly favors a toyetic/animated look over any kind of realism, which means we get some very clean but also very basic paint, including red lips, blue eyes, and a hint of purple eyeshadow. An argument can be made that this simple style works better on a smaller figure. I think it’s fine, but it does contribute to the feeling of this being an upscaled figure. Her blonde hair is sculpted to fall about her shoulders and splits so that the bulk of it falls behind her and you still get some curls over the fronts of her shoulders. The stock tiara and headdress also has a simple, animated style to it, with a red jewel in the middle. I get a strong Filmation style vibe out of this one and I do dig it a lot. And you get a total of three headdress options here.

Each of the tiaras peg into holes where her temples are, as well as slotting in above her forehead. It’s very easy to swap them out, but it also means that you can’t display her without them because there are two gaping holes in the sides of her head. This second version is a bit more angular, and sports more detail, and also has a bit of that copper paint that can be seen on her boots. I’m really torn over which of the two I like best. Right now I’m leaning toward this one, as I think it suits Mondo’s take on the character perfectly, but the Filmation style ain’t bad either!

There is a third option, which is clearly inspired by the vintage toy, also includes a hair piece, creating some bangs that hang below the head band. This is an interesting look, and the bangs really transforms the portrait a lot. But despite being closest to the original design, it’s a bit far from the She-Ra that I’m most familiar with. As with the original toy’s headpiece, this mimics the tiara doubling as a mask with eyeholes if you turn it upside down, but that option really doesn’t work with this figure. I doubt I’ll display this one very much, but I’m sure there are some She-Ra purists out there who will favor this look.

She-Ra comes with a red cloth cape with some gold trim, and some very strong wires running through the edges to allow it to be posed in a variety of ways. It attaches to the figure with wire clips, which I think are meant to go on the gaps in the shoulder armor and the shoulder straps, but I couldn’t make this work, so I attached them on the shoulder straps themselves and that seems to do the trick. The clips make for a secure connection and the bright red cloth really pops next to the white and gold deco of the figure. All in all the cape completes She-Ra’s ensemble perfectly, and I’m hoping the red dye in the cape doesn’t transfer to the back of her white costume. At this point, I have to say that if I were basing my take on this figure strictly on aesthetics alone, all I would be doing is gushing, because this is such a gorgeous piece! Between sculpt, paint, and display options, there’s really not much to complain about. But, unfortunately, things are about to take a downturn…

The articulation here looks fine on paper, but it’s problematic in execution. The hips are ball jointed and seem to have a generous range, but the plastic skirt puts the kibosh on that. The knees are double hinged, but when I tried to flex them to their limit, I started getting stress marks on my figure’s lower right knee joint. I wasn’t even coming close to the extreme range, so I’m thinking maybe it was because the joint wasn’t aligned properly. I’m not sure if this is a flaw in my particular figure, or the design in general. The ankles are hinged ball joints, but don’t allow for any significant lateral movement, which means they can’t stay flat at wide stances, and that’s unacceptable for a figure at this scale and price point. The neck has a generous ball joint and there’s a ball joint in the waist, which will pop out if exercised too greatly. Not ideal, but I guess it’s better than breaking it. It took some force to get the two halves of She-Ra together again, but I was able to do it. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, and hinged pegs for the wrists, which allow you to swap out hands, of which there are three sets: Fists, relaxed hands, and accessory holding hands. Unfortunately, a lot of the joints are very weak, particularly the elbows, knees, and ankles, and that leads to problems with posing. A lot of the posed pictures I took were snapped just seconds before She-Ra took a tumble because her ankle joints gave out. What a shame! Let’s move on to accessories…

Naturally, She-Ra comes with her Power Sword, and not just one but two! She comes with a traditional silver version, as well as a gold version with a golden scabbard. The silver version looks great and very faithful to the Filmation style. It features some gray paint apps on the grips and the center of the blade, a pale blue stone centered between the guards, and overall an even satin finish. I also appreciate that the sword is cast in some pretty stiff plastic, so there’s no worries about warping or bending. Her gripping hand holds on quite well and it looks as iconic as ever in her grasp.

She also comes with her golden shield, which is a remarkably well-made and substantial piece, but unfortunately a little too substantial. The shield is so thick and heavy that She-Ra’s elbow joint really isn’t up to the task to keep it raised and at the ready. The shield is attached to She-Ra’s arm by passing the forearm through the two plastic straps, but her left gripping hand is designed to hold the sword and not grip the wide strap. Mondo’s official photos show them using the fist, but that slips through the strap way too easily. As a result, I tend to find the relaxed hand is best, but that’s not really ideal either. This thing is constantly causing her elbow to droop and the shield just slides off onto the floor. I may eventually use some poster putty to get it to stay put, which is really something I shouldn’t have to do on a $250 figure. I really wish Mondo had equipped her with a wider grip left hand designed to work with the shield better. With all that having been said, the floral motif looks great and matches the decorations on her armor perfectly.

The gold sword has a beautifully sculpted scabbard, complete with sculpted brown wraps and a unicorn head at the tip. As far as I know this is an original Mondo design, and while I love the style, it’s really thick and comes across as being outlandishly large for She-Ra to carry. The scabbard is designed to clip onto her back strap and be worn under the cape and utilize a special hair piece with a hole in the hair sculpt for the hilt to pass through. Unfortunately, my figure came with two of the same hair pieces, rather than the normal one and the one that works with the sword. I contacted Mondo about the issue and they said they would send me out a replacement, but I have no yet received confirmation that it has shipped and it’s been over a week now, so I’m reasonably miffed about that. I was going to hold off on the review until it arrived, but then I thought better to just showcase the figure as it came, flaws and all and do an update when (or if) the replacement part arrives. So, for now, I can’t show her wearing the sword.

Out of the scabbard, the gold Power Sword looks nice. It’s not a drastically different design than her regular one, and I do like how it matches her armor and shield so perfectly. The way the blade narrows ever so slightly in the middle and then swells near the point gives it a distinctive look while not straying too far from the original design. Overall, it’s a very cool bonus item that adds value to the package and serves to make this version of She-Ra all the more unique. And while on the subject of swords, I really wish Mondo had included a right hand that was designed to hold the sword straight up above her head, so she could better do her iconic pose.

The final accessory is the Battle Axe Hairbrush, which is a direct homage to Mattel’s MOTU Classics release. I thought this was an absolutely brilliant way to incorporate the hairbrush that came with the original doll into an action figure accessory, and I’m glad to see that the idea is being kept alive. This is a slick design, with some stylish organic curves and a substantial axe blade. The hairbrush portion is now a spiked backstrap, which looks like it could do some vicious damage to any one of Hordak’s minions.

The final accessory, if you want to call it that, is the Kowl figure, which is absolutely fantastic! He’s big and colorful, and even has articulation at the shoulders. Sure, it’s just rotation, but that was a lot more than I was expecting. He stands really well on his own, and I can’t say enough things about how great this sculpt looks. It really captures all the charm of the character as he appeared in the Filmation cartoon, rather than the vintage action figure. There are a number of accessories in this box that I probably will never get any use out of, but Kowl will certainly get put beside She-Ra as a companion display piece.

Finally, She-Ra comes with a black figure stand, which looks like it’s positively guaranteed to ruin the figure. The post uses a wire loop to grab the figure around the waist and hold her up. So, yeah… tight black wire rubbing on the white plastic dress is a recipe for disaster. It’s not a huge loss, since the stand is pretty ugly. The base has a weird design that doesn’t make much sense unless you flip it over and see that it’s a rather ornate Mondo logo. Why the hell put all the detail on the bottom of the base where you’ll never see it? For the price of the figure I think we should have received a stand that looked a lot better, not to mention was designed to do no harm to the figure itself. But, since the ankle joints aren’t going to support She-Ra, I’ve substituted a generic Hot Toys style stand, which uses a crotch-cradle. I use these for my Phicen/TB League figures, and it works pretty well here.

I was going to do a comparison shot of Mondo She-Ra with Mattel’s 2016 SDCC Sixth-Scale She-Ra, but then I realized I hadn’t reviewed that figure yet, so maybe I’ll use this as an excuse to go back to it and then do comparison shots in that review. All in all, I can’t say I regret buying Mondo She-Ra. To be clear, she is an absolutely gorgeous figure and is going to look fantastic on display with my other MotU toys and collectibles. On the other hand, there’s a lot about this figure that disappoints me. From the questionable jointing to the missing hair piece, and a terrible figure stand, it feels like Mondo stumbled on the easy stuff. If the figure were under $200, I could be a lot more forgiving, but at $250 this kind of stuff is just not OK. And so She-Ra is both my first Mondo Sixth-Scale purchase and my last. In the meantime, if Mondo does wind up sending me the missing hair piece, I’ll do an addendum to this review and some more pictures.

G. I. JOE Classified: Serpentor and Air Chariot by Hasbro

As someone who started playing with the Real American Hero toys back when the line was first released, I don’t think anything suitably prepared me for the bat-shit crazy rollercoaster that would envelop the toyline by 1986, when Serpentor arrived to take over the reigns of Cobra. Sure, Cobra Commander was portrayed as a buffoon in the Sunbow cartoon, but he sure looked the part of a serious terrorist leader in his smartly cut military uniform and terror mask. Silly snake lisp or not, he looked like a dude that you could take seriously. Then he got replaced by a freaking zombie-clone-military genius in a carnival snake suit, and somehow it all made sense. I’m sure part of it had to do with a bunch of Cobra agents getting so tired of being bested because of Cobra Commander’s hairbrained schemes, that they didn’t think they could do any worse. But a lot of it had to do with the way Serpentor was portrayed. Yes, he looked ridiculous in that suit, but he was so goddamn terrifying, that nobody was going to call him out on it. This was an undead warrior who could summon snakes and throw them like javelins. He was prone to rage, and not like the little tantrums that Cobra Commander had. When Cobra Commander got upset, he usually threw a chair into a TV monitor. When Serpentor got pissed, he seemed capable of twisting someone’s head off. And that’s why I love him and why I’m so excited to see him appear in the Classified line!

Unfortunately, Serpentor was released as a Pulse Exclusive, which I think was a pretty shitty idea on Hasbro’s part. Everyone was going to want this guy, and getting in on the pre-order was exactly the kind of white-knuckle affair that has been trying my toy collector patience as of late. Just the fact that he’s going for twice the retail price since selling out is proof positive that Hasbro needs to rethink its distribution strategy. But, with all that having been said… Boy did Hasbro go all out on the packaging here. There’s a corner-slipcase that slides off to reveal what looks like the Cobra Lab that engineered this big baddie, as well as the garage where his Air Chariot was built. Open up the slick hybrid DNA-Cobra Insignia and you reveal the figure and some cases containing his accessories. Pull out the entire tray and you reveal the unassembled Air Chariot. It’s some absolutely wonderful presentation that looks like a Convention Exclusive, and the character art absolutely kicks ass. Let’s start with a look at the figure first, and then we’ll check out the Air Chariot. Buckle in, Snakelings, this will be a long one!

And… Wow, what a gorgeous figure! I’m pleased to report that Classified Serpentor doesn’t deviate from his original vintage toy design. Indeed, this is a pitch-perfect update, which captures all the beautiful eccentricity of the snake suit we first saw way back when, only with a lot more detail and realism added to the sculpt. The scaly copper suit features a golden snake belly running up the chest, and a similar motif down on the boots. Green armor plates are added to the knees and thighs, as well as scaled green fingerless gauntlets on his forearms. His belt is a snake wrapped around his waist, with the centered snake’s head looking out with the most adorable little expression, which I will have to admit is kind of unintentionally hilarious. DOES ANYONE ELSE FEEL LIKE A HAVING A LITTLE CHORTLE WHEN THEY GAZE UPON MY CUTESY SNAKE FACE BELTBUCKLE??? SIR, NO SIR! Similar green snakes touch tails at the center of his chest and coil under his arms, and up around the tops of his shoulders. The ensemble is punctuated with a green cloth cape, complete with a quilted scale pattern. Classified Serpentor definitely takes this ridiculous design and absolutely owns it. This guy looks like the worst combination of crazy and terrifying, just like a proper undead snake emperor should be. As far as the suit is concerned, Hasbro nailed it and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Hasbro did something rather interesting with the portrait, which I didn’t know about until opening the figure. He comes out of the box with a fixed cobra headdress, which prevents any neck articulation, as it essentially fuses his head to his upper back. I’m not sure this was entirely necessary, as I think the alternative that we’ll see in a bit is every bit as good, but I guess it’s nice to have options. Either way, the sculpt is fabulous with some lovely detail in the Cobra hood, and the way the snake’s mouth opens to frame Serpentor’s face. And what a face it is! Serpentor looks like he’s eternally cross with whoever happens to be in front of him. He has a dour scowl on his face and narrowing red eyes. Hot damn, this is an impressive sculpt, only brought down a few pegs by the pudgy snake fangs that dangle in front of his brow. Yeah, those could have been done better, but that’s literally the only thing I can find to nitpick with this figure so far.

To swap heads, the cobra hood and top of the snake head comes off as one piece and gets replaced as two. Thus, Serpentor’s head is no longer attached to the hood and can articulate freely. Again, I think this looks fine, and I can’t imagine ever again bothering with the other pieces. The face sculpt is the same, and to be honest, had Hasbro not included the fixed style headdress, I wouldn’t have missed it at all. All things being equal, I would rather have had a shouty angry face to swap out instead of the fused snake hood. Onward to the accessories!

First off, Serpentor comes with his extendable blades on his right arm, although they aren’t actually extendable, but rather create the illusion with two different pieces: One with blades retracted, and one with them extended. These simply tab into a slot in the arm. I remember my original figure having a sculpted silver thing on that arm, but I’m not sure I knew that’s what it was. It’s a cool weapon, but even the retracted piece is a bit cumbersome. I would have liked to have had a plain plug to pop into the socket as well.

Hey, remember in the cartoon when Serpentor would grab one of the snakes off his shoulder, make a javelin out of it and impale his enemies with it? Well, here you get one of those snake javelins! Can you imagine working at a place where your boss throws living snake harpoons at you when you don’t perform effectively? Yeah, no thanks!

Next up is this rather regal looking Cobra scepter. Because wearing an entire snake suit doesn’t quite drive the point home enough, right? This comes across as a bit much to me, and I may wind up giving it to Cobra Commander. It is a nice piece, though. I appreciate that Hasbro even painted the rubies at the base of the shaft.

How about a short sword? This bitchin piece of cutlery has a funky, futuristic-style silver blade and a gold hilt with yet another Cobra head sculpted on it. I love the fact that Serpentor carries a sword around instead of a gun, no doubt a callback to all that historic warrior blood he’s gut pumping through his undead veins. I kind of get a little bit of a Roman Gladius vibe off of it. Pity he doesn’t have a scabbard or a loop or something to carry it. OK, so we got a snake javelin, a snake scepter, a snake-hilted sword… what’s left?

An goddamned snake, that’s what! This is kind of weird accessory, since it doesn’t seem like it’s really made to interact with Serpentor, so I guess you just put it by him. Maybe it’s a pet? Or a distant relative? Maybe it’s transformed Cobra Commander? It’s a damn fine sculpt and I sure don’t mind getting it in the box, but it might have been cooler to have it sculpted so that it could wrap around his arm or neck, or allow him to wear it in some way. But hey… Bonus snake! And that wraps up Serpentor’s plethora of accessories, so let’s move on to his rather iconic vehicle, The Air Chariot!

Part of me was not absolutely sure that we were going to get this vehicle when Serpentor was first teased, especially since we didn’t get Zartan’s Swamp Skier, and boy am I still bitter about that! But it’s hard to stay mad when I’m holding this absolute work of toy art in my hands! The Air Chariot is big and beefy and absolutely packed with detail, and a few cool little features. The bulk of the toy is cast in gold plastic, but you do get some beautiful gold and copper paint applications to pick out the detail and make it shine. There are some panel lines and hatches sculpted in the hull, and the bolted panels on the wings give it a bit of a retro WWII vibe. I also love the hazard warnings and other practical markings that really harken back to the stickers on the original RAH vehicles. All it’s missing is a couple dozen NOT A STEP signs. These little touches give this crazy design a grounded sense of realism that sells it wonderfully. The massive guns can articulate indepentently of one another, and can also be removed and wielded by The Cobra Emperor himself, should the Air Chariot get shot down and Serpentor has to make a last stand.

Some fun features include three retractable landing gear, and a VTOL engine that can spin, but only by flicking it. It doesn’t have a trigger mechanism or anything like that. The cobra’s mouth even opens to reveal a gun and folding fangs. I think the only thing missing is a clear flight stand. I don’t want to complain too much, because I really am absolutely in love with this toy, but not including a stand similar to what Hasbro gave to the Star Wars Black Series Speeder Bikes feels like a huge oversight.

Serpentor can mount his Chariot by using the foot pegs and grasping the steering column. It’s a perfect fit, and I imagine that he would stay put, even if I were to whoosh it around the room making pew pew noises and shouting THIS, I COMMAND! But I’m a 50yo dude, and I would never do that, so I can’t say for sure, riiight?

At $80, I confess that I balked at the price a little, even when I slammed that pre-order down, but from the moment I took this out of the shipping box I have been beyond impressed with what we got. From the first class packaging and presentation to the superb figure and the intricate detail on the Air Chariot, this set is an absolute winner and well worth the price to me. And seeing how well Hasbro executed the Air Chariot makes me excited for future prospects of the Trouble Bubble and perhaps the FANG. After coming off the high of reviewing Tomax and Xamot, and now this, I have to say that GI JOE Classified has been one of the most consistently impressive toy lines of this year. I’d say only Super7’s Ultimate ThunderCats have been given Classified a run for its money, and that may not be a fair comparison, since one is designed for retail and one is not. Which brings me back to the Pulse Exclusive thing. Hasbro, you gotta fix that and make Serpentor available as a wide release through online retailers. A figure this great, and a character this important, shouldn’t be hard to get.

Marvel Legends (X-Men): Mojo by Hasbro

Welcome to another Marvel Monday! I’m still meandering about and having a look at some one-offs and multipacks before starting in on a new wave of Marvel Legends. This week, I thought I’d keep the X-Men love rolling along with a look at the Deluxe Mojo release. So grab your favorite carbonated beverage, have a seat, and whatever you do, don’t touch that dial! We don’t want to tank the ratings!

I love Mojo! Or to be more accurate, I love all the backstory that surrounds him and the Mojoverse. It’s just the kind of batshit crazy sci-fi and on-the-nose satire that I love to find in my funnybooks! So naturally I was excited to the Grand Poobah of The Spineless Ones drop into the new Marvel Legends! This is the regular retail release of Mojo, but it was preceded by a multipack, which I believe Hasbro was calling an SDCC Exclusive. That set came with Longshot, Dazzler, and a Baby Wolverine. I was close to pulling the trigger on that release, but the Dazzler looked a lot like the retro-packaged release I already have, the Wolvie wasn’t really impressive, and I decided to just gamble on Longshot getting a release later on down the road, because… C’MON, HASBRO, YOU HAVE TO!!! Honestly, if it had included Spiral, I probably would have jumped at it, but now we know we’re getting her as a retro-carded release. Anyway… Mojo comes in a fully enclosed box with all his pieces wrapped in tissue paper. Yes, there is assembly required on this one, making me wonder if he wasn’t originally designed to be a BAF, like the old Toybiz version. The upper body and belly come in two pieces, the chair is three pieces, and you get two heads, two cables, and two sets of hands. Actually, a couple of the pieces are pretty large, so I doubt it really would have worked as a Build-A-Figure. Well, let’s slap this slug together and see what he’s all about!

First impressions? Mojo is a big, satisfying figure, but the sculpt is a mixed bag and Mojo himself looks really bland and in desperate need of more paint apps. Where’s the sickly slime? Where are the bumps and pustules? It’s just a lot of smooth skin. Couldn’t even paint them nipples, Hasbro? All in all, the deco is so simple, he looks more like an animated version. Actually scratch that, because I re-watched Mojoverse from the X-Men animated series while I was opening him, and the cartoon version really had more detail than this figure. The deco comes up especially short when compared to the delightfully gross look of the old Toybiz Legends release. You get a little bit of reddish shading around the bottom edge where his body meets the chair, and a little more around the shoulders and elbows, but that’s really it. What a shame!

The chair, on the other hand features some pretty nice detail, even if it is mostly just left as bare gray plastic. A little wash would have been nice, but all we get is some blue and red paint hits for some of the simulated lights I really dig the exposed nest of wires at the back of the chair, and the rather gross machine elements that intrude their way into Mojo’s flesh on the sides. It’s also cool how his skin is pressed in where the clamps secure him to the chair. The chair rests on four clear plastic bumps to give it the illusion that the spider legs are holding it up. Each of the legs are articulated with rotating hinges where they meet the body and at two other points, but they clearly aren’t up to the task of supporting the weight of Mojo and the chair. And that’s fine, the effect still looks good. You also get two grabber arms coming out of the front with the same rotating hinges to pose them. One has a partially closed claw, which is good for grabbing onto X-Men arms and legs, while the other is open. The hoses that connect to the back of the chair and into Mojo’s shoulders hold fairly well, but they did pop out a few times when I was posing him. The scorpion-like tail that arches up over the chair with its brace of weapons is rigid and not poseable.

The two portraits are pretty good. I especially like the detail in the cybernetic hair and all the little probes and wires coming down to hold his eyes open. This first head is my favorite of the two, as it has his mouth open and his tongue licking out between his agape jaws. It’s an excellent sculpt, and while the paint here is a little better than the rest of the body, I still feel like it needed more. There’s a splash of gloss around the mouth to give it a bit of slimy look, but the figure needed a lot more of that to keep it from looking so flat. The tongue and teeth really could have used a gloss coat too. The few scattered pimples on his neck, just serve to remind me how little else there is in the way of body detail.

The second head just features a big toothy, dementated grin. It’s still an excellent sculpt, but let down a little by the sloppy paint lines between gums and teeth. Everything else here is just as good as the first head, but I doubt I’ll display this one much at all. The other one is just so much more dynamic and expressive. I should note that I found it exceedingly difficult to get this head onto the ball joint. I had to use a lot of force to get it on, which is all the more reason for me not to swap them out very often.

Mojo’s articulation includes rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps. double hinges in the elbows, and pegged hinges in the wrists. You get two sets of hands, one are sort of open-grabby hands, the other set includes a right pointing hand, and a somewhat closed grasp that can be used to hold a figure. The upper body is on a ball jointed stalk, and the neck is set on a kind of dog bone ball joint. He attaches to the chair via three pegs, a strong central one and two smaller ones, so he is incapable of turning his body in the chair. Overall, I have no gripes with the articulation. He can do pretty much everything I want him to.

In the end, I like this figure a lot, but I don’t love it. At $55, there’s a lot of plastic here, two excellent portraits, and a lot of good articulation. But the paint apps are severely lacking. I’m totally fine with the chair, but Mojo himself needed some more detail in the body. Ideally, I would have liked to see more sculpted detail, but I really think that a decent paint job alone could have remedied the blandness that I’m seeing. It’s worth noting that the SDCC Exclusive got a bit more paint on the body, and that would really piss me off if it wasn’t executed in such a half-assed manner. The SDCC deco basically just amounts to some gray spots, and I’m it’s kind of a toss up to me, whether it actually looks better or worse than this retail release. In terms of larger Deluxe figures, this one is passable, but not nearly as impressive as the MODOK release.

J. Scott Campbell’s Fairytale Fantasies: Red Riding Hood by Sideshow

I’ve been working on getting caught up on showcasing the Fairytale Fantasy statue collaboration between J. Scott Campbell and Sideshow, when a brand new release hit my doorstep and I decided to bump her to the head of the line. This time we’re checking out Red Riding Hood! If you’re not familiar with this series feel free to get caught up by checking out The Little Mermaid and Tinkerbell, but basically these are polystone statues based on J. Scott Campbell’s take on famous ladies from timeless fairy tales! And while Red Riding Hood here will be the third statue I’ve covered here, I still need to double back to check out both Alice from Wonderland and Cinderella!

Red comes in the biggest box yet. I mean, I was seriously not expecting a box this big. I imagine that’s because the scale has been a little varied here. The Little Mermaid is only partially showing above the surface of the water, making her a bit on the small side and Tinkerbell is a small subject to begin with. But Red here is a full Sixth-Scale statue, measuring about 19-inches if you include the base and branches. Needless to say, this box is plenty big. It feature some really classy designs, as well as the actual art that inspired the statue on the front panel. Red was available in a Standard Edition and a Sideshow Exclusive, which is the one we’ll be looking at today! This edition was limited to 2,000 pieces and hand numbered on the box and the bottom of the base. Mine is number 704! Assembling the statue is pretty simple. She pegs into the base, her arms are attached by magnets, and the tree components of the display attach to the base by magnets as well. Let’s have a look!

Well, this is not the little Red Riding Hood that I remember seeing illustrated in my storybooks when I was a kid. If it were, I might have hit puberty a little earlier. Here Red cuts quite the shapely figure wearing a black and white corset, skimpy skirt, high black boots, and indeed a red hood with a short cape. She also comes equipped with a trusty crossbow and a basket of special goodies. I do love the pose here, as it’s fairly neutral while still evoking a bit of a story. While tracking through the snowy woods to Grandma’s house, she suddenly stops in response to a twig breaking, or perhaps a distant wolfy growl, (or maybe spotting the giant wolf tracks in the snow!) and readies her weapon for the first sign of trouble. All the while, the sinister woods snake around her like spindly claws waiting to strike. Wow!

As always, JSC knows how to bring the sex appeal with his art and the wizards at Sideshow have done a beautiful job recreating it in polystone. Red’s outfit is not overly complex, but it does show some lovely flourishes, like the sculpted red laces in the corset, and the red bow that secures her cape around her neck. You get sculpted ruffled finery around the top edges of her bodice and a sense of simple elegance to the buccaneer style boots and gloves. The short cape and skirt are sculpted to lick up behind her, agitated perhaps by the wind, or from a sudden turn as she investigates a noise. Not only does it add a little energy to the pose, but it also gives you a little glimpse of Red Riding Hiney. The colors are great and have a soft matte finish, with some shading to the red garment and some soft, worm tones to Red’s skin.

Red’s portrait is JSC perfection, and boy I don’t say that lightly. His distinctive style is not easy to replicate in three-dimensions, and while Sideshow seems to have it nailed down, I can think of a few other producers who have missed the mark over the years. But here, it’s unmistakable in Red’s large almond-shaped blue eyes, her perfectly parted lips, and her shapely little nose. Her high cheeks have a warm rosy complexion, and the way her hair falls about her face is poetry in motion. I could stare at this beauty for hours!

The crossbow is a nice piece of kit, with a traditional wood-style stock and a metal crosspiece. The design has a few flourishes, but for the most part it emphasizes function over flair. The weapon is clocked with a bolt ready to fly. And I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s a silver tip.

Red’s left hand grips her basket of goodies, which has a beautifully sculpted weave pattern and a red cover to conceal its contents. Well, most of the contents. She does have a brace of bolts for her crossbow peeking out. What else could be in there? Caltrops? Holy Water? Crude sulfur grenades? I guess we’ll never know.

Moving down to the base, we get a simple disk pedestal holding a slice of snow-covered terrain, and dominated by two large wolf prints. Is the wolf hunting her, or is she the one hunting the wolf? The white-blue snow is disturbed by the claw-like tree branches, which sprout up as if to encompass her in their grasp. I absolutely love the way these are designed, with one low and reaching up, and the other snaking it’s way as if ready to grab her from behind. Perhaps they’re evil spirits of the forest come to life, but mostly I think they’re simply the artist’s license to add a further sense of danger and dread to the piece. The bottom of the base is fully illustrated and hand-numbered, and I hope you’ll forgive me for not photographing it, but this statue is heavy, and I don’t want to disassemble her to get the shot.

The Sideshow Exclusive release comes with a metal art card and stand. This is similar to what was issued with the Tinkerbell Exclusive, but that card was more concept art and this one looks more like a finished piece. I wasn’t able to get a metal card with The Little Mermaid, and as for Alice in Wonderland, I opted to get a signed statue over the card, so right now only two of my Fairytale Fantasies have the metal cards to display with them. I did, however, pick up this art as a signed print.

Red is still available through Sideshow at $340 for the regular edition, but with the Exclusive priced at only $10 more, why wouldn’t you? The prices on these have been creeping up since the initial two releases, but I didn’t mind so much with Red because she is absolutely huge compared to the other two releases I’ve showcased here. Besides, I can’t get enough of J. Scott Campbell’s art and I’m happy to see someone making premium statues that really do his unique style justice. And with Red finally under my belt, I’ll make an effort to take a look at Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland before the end of the year, so I can be all caught up. The newest release, The Evil Queen is already up for pre-order and expected to ship sometimes next year!

Star Wars Micro Galaxy Squadron: Jango Fett’s Slave-1 by Jazwares

While I’ve only gotten around to checking out the Micro Galaxy Squadron X-Wing and TIE Fighter here on FFZ so far, I have been picking up Jazware’s tiny Star Wars ships here and there, and now I’m trying to find the time to open some of them. This Attack of the Clones version of Slave-1 came in most recently, so I decided to bump it to the head of the line! As a rule, I don’t really buy any Prequel stuff, because I’m not into the movies at all, but I was having a tough time finding the Empire Strikes Back version of Slave-1, so I settled for this one for now. And that’s fine, because if there’s one thing I do like about Attack of the Clones, it was Jango Fett.

The package calls this Jango Fett’s Starship, because Disney is still enforcing the absolutely f*cking ridiculous practice of no longer referring to this ship by name. Please note in the title that I am, because “Prisoners-With-Jobs-1” is too long to type. Seriously, Disney made a joke out of how stupid it was to be afraid to say the word SLAVE in one of their Marvel movies, and now they are literally afraid to do that very thing. Welcome to Clown World… You can’t make this shit up. Anyway, the box is really nice with some snappy foil in the deco and a space scene printed on the tray backing. The window shows off the toy beautifully and everything is collector friendly. I especially love how the tiny figures are enclosed in their own separate tray and bubble, as it’s nice to have a place to keep them even if you don’t want to keep the entire package. Let’s free this Slave-1 and check him out!

These ships continue to impress me with the intricacies of each sculpt, as Slave-1 features all the panel lines, vents, cables, and other bits and bobs that I would expect to find in the larger 3 3/4-inch scaled vehicle. The plastic used here is pretty light, but it still holds the details of the sculpt very well. A good part of the ship is just bare gray plastic with a light wash, but you do get some instances of paintwork, including the dark blue, green, and yellow trim in all the right places. There isn’t as much convincing weathering on this ship as there was on the X-Wing, but Slave-1 looked a lot less battered in Attack of the Clones than it did later on under Boba Fett’s stewardship, so I’m thinking what’s here is appropriate.

Jazwares went absolutely nuts detailing the ship’s undercarriage! Here you get the thrusters painted in a sort of mustard color and lots more panels, compartments, and whatnot sculpted into the plastic. For a part of the ship you aren’t going to see most of the time, I’m really impressed with what they did here.

They also made an opening hatch to show where the seismic charges are deployed. I like that they thought to include this feature, but the execution is pretty piss-poor. There’s no paint on the charge at all, so it kind of just looks like another part of the ship’s machinery. I really think the charge should have been painted, or better yet, actually have one that could be removed from the compartment. And while we’re on the subject of paint, it feels like the whole bottom of the ship should have been painted darker gray. I’ll come back to that idea again in a bit.

The gyro scoping gimmick found in the original Kenner Slave-1 is recaptured here, so as you maneuver the ship from its horizontal landing posture to its vertical flight mode, the “wings” will remain parallel to the ground. The two laser cannon at the end of the ship’s tail can be rotated 360-degrees independently of one another. Let’s take a quick look at the figures and how they can interact with the ship!

The set includes Jango Fett in his armor and young Boba, and I am sincerely blown away by how much attention to detail Jazwares has been able to pack into some of these tiny figures, and I think this pair is especially nice. Even when you punch in this close, most of the paint and details hold up, which is beyond impressive. You could randomly hand me that young Boba Fett figure and I’d know exactly who its supposed to be, and that’s quite an accomplishment when dealing with figures so tiny that the Macro mode on my shitty camera can barely lock on to them. As usual, these figures only have articulation in their hips and shoulders, to allow them to either stand or sit in their vehicle. You’ll notice that Jango’s jetpack is slightly askew. I’m pretty sure it’s meant to come off, but I can’t budge it without applying more force than I’m willing to give it.

Like previous 3 3/4-inch Slave-1 toys, the cockpit opens and the pilot seat orients itself with the “wings” as the ship is moved. Amazingly, there are three seats in this tiny ship, with the pilot riding in the front and two passengers in the back. The seat designs are genius, as the arm rests act as clips to hold the figures in place and they do that very well! The interior of the cockpit has a lot of detail, including the segmented deck plating and even the contours of the seats. Like the bottom of the ship, I would have loved to see the interior cabin painted a darker gray, or at least the platform and seats.

The cargo compartment also opens up and there’s a loading ramp and a hatch that opens and tucks into the top area to hold it open. This whole design is better implemented than some of the 3 3/4-inch versions we’ve had in the past. The cargo compartment contains a hinged weapons rack with sculpted grenades and guns. There’s a peg hole in the center and I can’t help but think that if I could get Jango’s jetpack off, it might be meant to peg in there, or perhaps that’s for a feature used in the ESB release. And once again, some darker gray paint on these areas would have gone a long way! I should note that there are no electronic features on this ship, and I’m fine with that.

There’s no doubt about it that Jazwares is pouring some wonderful design elements into these tiny ships. I absolutely love everything they did with this version of Slave-1, and with the exception of the rather cheap looking seismic charge hatch, the features here go above and beyond what I was expecting. Indeed, the only nitpicks I have are how much more could have been done with some added paint to the interior and undercarriage. My customizing skills aren’t the greatest, but even I would be tempted to pick up another one of these if it goes on sale, and add a little matte gray finish to the interior. In the meantime, I’m still on the hunt for the ESB version of Slave-1!

Marvel Legends (X-Men): Excalibur Set by Hasbro

I’m between waves of Marvel Legends, and I’ve given more than enough time to HasLab Galactus, so I thought I’d knock out a look at some of the multi-packs and one-off Legends releases populating my backlog. I do have a couple of new waves to get to soon, as I did finally decide to complete The Controller Wave and The Bonebreaker Wave, so I’ll likely be jumping into one of those in December. Today, let’s have a look at this wonderful Excalibur three-pack, featuring Meggan, Shadowcat and Captain Britain… oh, and Lockheed too!

I was pretty damn excited when this set got revealed, but it finally shipped and arrived right before I was preparing to move, so it got lost in the shuffle, and I found it in a box after I was moved and unpacking. So, don’t misconstrue the fact that I’m only getting around to opening it now as any kind of disinterest. Indeed, I remember talking in the Comments Section of the last Legends Captain Britain review about how cool it would be to finally get Meggan in this line. And holy shit, that was almost six years ago! The window box is colorful and shows off the figure well, even if some of the character art doesn’t reflect the actual versions of the costumes in the box. Either way, the presentation looks so good, I will be returning to the package for display after I’m done! Let’s start with Captain Britain!

Rule Britannia! As mentioned, we last saw Captain Britain in Legends as part of the Abomination Wave back in 2017. It was a different costume, and I’m still a bit torn on which one I dig more. These are both excellent figures, but I’m leaning toward the earlier release just a bit. This costume is a bit cleaner and simpler, with the red, white, and blue pattern confined to his upper body and terminating to all white at the gauntlets and down to the knees. The bold red X on the chest looks nice and sharp, and his blue boots have some cool sculpted flares where they meet the knees. The paint quality here is excellent, but you do get the mismatched red pins showing on the inside of his elbow joints, which is a big bummer to a lot of collectors, but I can’t get too worked up about it.

There are two heads to choose from, with the main difference being the beard. The mask here is more of a hood and cowl, rather than the helmet that we got on the last Brian Braddock figure, and while I find the previous style more familiar, I actually like the look of this hood quite a bit, especially the rather prominent chin guard, and the way his facial features can be seen through the top of the mask. It definitely gave the sculptor a little more to work with. All in all, this is a great portrait!

The bearded head has some issues with the beard itself, where the paint looks like it was rubbed off on the mustache. It also looks like he has crumbs in the beard. It’s definitely a QC fail, but luckily I don’t have any attachment to the bearded Braddock. I’m guessing this is a modern thing, maybe from X-Men Gold? This head will not be getting a lot of display time.

As with his last release, Brian is built on one of the larger Legends bucks, making him an absolute bruiser. You get all the usual points of articulation, and the joints are all solid and strong, making him loads of fun to pose and play with. He also comes with two sets of hands, which include fists and his sword holding hands. And that leads us to…

Excalibur! This is a really nicely sculpted sword with some inlay patterns in the blade, a ribbed black grip, and a disk pommel. I would have really liked to see the blade painted silver to give it a little extra pop, but the bare gray plastic works well enough. The grip is extended to allow for two-handed use, but I think it looks just fine in one hand. OK, let’s move on to Meggan!

Even six years ago, Legends was turning out a lot of varied characters, but I don’t think I ever really expected Meggan to get the figure treatment, but all bets have been off long since then, and now I don’t think character is truly off the table! I dig the more mystical flavor of her powers and I’m always going to love a fellow Doctor Who fan! Meggan uses a pretty standard female buck and gets by with paint for her costume details. The hunter green bodysuit with black deco looks great, and the paint lines are even used to complete the bare shoulder look. Likewise, we get paintwork extending the her anklecuffs down the tops of her feet and between her toes. I think the bare feet are new sculpts, as I can only remember seeing some male figures sans shoes.

The portrait just oozes character… and hair! I think this is the first Marvel Legends figure to actually have dimples, which is a worthwhile achievement for Meggan. Overall, I like her smile and the way it even translates to her eyes, but I suppose a case could be made that the expression straddles that line between delighted and crazy. The flowing copious coif of hair isn’t quite enough to make Medusa jealous, but there is a lot of it. Luckily it hovers up off the shoulders a bit so as not to impede the neck articulation too badly at all. The hair is also positioned so as to showcase her cute pointed ears.

Meggan has the standard female Legends articulation, which means we trade bicep swivels and double hinged elbows for rotating hinges in the elbows. It’s never a good trade, but it is what it is. She does not have any accessories, but she does come with two sets of hands, which includes fists and the mystical spell-slinging splayed-finger hands that we have seen many times over, and they work well with her character. All in all, the joints here feel good, and while her hair is composed of a great deal of plastic, I was surprised at how little difficulty was involved in getting her to stand up… at least in neutral postures. Moving on to our last stop… it’s Shadowcat!

We last saw Kitty Pryde in Legends way back in 2016 as part of the absolutely smashing Juggernaut Wave and wearing her traditional black and yellow X-Men suit. Here we get her as Shadowcat in her Excalibur garb, or at least a fairly close approximation of it. The costume is mostly vibrant blue, with a slightly lighter shade of blue used for her tights and sash. We get some new sculpting here in the poofy-sleeved top, complete with stylish popped collar. We’ve certainly seen the belt sash more than a few times, but it works pretty well for the costume. One thing i am glad to see here is that Shadowcat is a little more reasonably sized than her Kitty Pryde release, which was rather tall.

I am very pleased with the portrait here! She’s pretty and is offering a beaming smile, as if she’s about to tell the readers that some of the content of this issue may be offensive to natives of Alpha Centauri. The mask is part of the face sculpt, which is always nice as it adds a little depth. The hair could have been a bit more curly, but I’m really nitpicking now. The hair rides a little bit over her shoulders, but it still gets in the way of neck articulation a little bit.

Shadowcat’s articulation is right in line with Meggan’s, and yup that means that we get the rotating hinges in the elbows instead of the better articulation that the dudes get. Hasbro appears to be chainging this up a bit with some recent releases, and I’m hoping that they will eventually phase out their terrible practice of articulation discrimination. You get the same two styles of hands here as we saw with Meggan, so fists and splayed finger hands.

Shadowcat comes with Lockheed, and he’s a cool little sculpt cast in soft plastic. The tail is coiled a bit, and I assume that’s intended to wrap around her neck so he can sit on her shoulder, just like the Kitty Pryde figure. Unfortunately, Shadowcat has more hair and less shoulder, so it doesn’t work quite as well. Still, there are some fun ways to display the two.

Wow, is this a wonderful little set! I remember pre-ordering this one the moment it went live, and it’s one of those instances where it paid off. The set sold quite well, and while you can still get a number of the other X-Men multipacks at or below retail, this one seems to be only available now at higher prices on the second-hand market, or sellers are piecing out the individual figures. Yes, there are some costume inconsistencies, but I’m still thrilled to have this trio on my shelf! I am a bit surprised and disappointed that we haven’t had Rachel Summers turn up in a wave since this release, but here’s hoping that happens sooner rather than later.

G.I. JOE Classified: Tomax and Xamot by Hasbro

Hasbro’s Classified GI JOE line continues to fire on all cylinders and churn out some absolutely fantastic figures. Sure, Cobra seems to be getting the most attention, but when the figures are this great, I’m not going to complain. Today, I’m checking out the Crimson Guard Commanders: Tomax and Xamot!

It’s incomprehensible to me why Hasbro didn’t release these guys in a two-pack. I would have been really pissed if I was able to get one and had to hunt for the other. But, as luck would have it, the online distribution for the Twins was plentiful and I was able to get the pair without any troubles. Although, I found it a little vexing that Xamot did arrive a few days before Tomax. I think it would have been cool if they mirrored the boxes to match the figures, but I can understand why they wouldn’t want to redesign the box for just one release. Anyway, it’s hard for me to put my finger on why I was so infatuated with The Crimson Twins back in the day. Maybe it was because I was introduced to them in the Sunbow cartoon before I actually got the figures, but I remember endlessly bugging my parents about them, and when I finally got them, they were the main actors involved in every single Cobra mission for a long while. I just dig everything about them!

And boy did Hasbro hit a homerun with these Classified versions! I’ve commented many times about how Hasbro has maneuvered Classified to be more and more in line with the original character designs, and in this case, they unswervingly followed the vintage Real American Hero figure aesthetics when crafting these modern 6-inch versions. Naturally, the figures are mirror images of each other, with Tomax having the shoulder and neck guard on his right side, and the red sash on his right shoulder. For his brother, these are switched up to the left shoulder… and so on. The symmetrical parts of the figure are mostly identical, but you do get sheathed daggers on each figure’s opposite hip and leg. The uniforms are deep blue, which looks great with the crimson sash and accents on the legs and belt. A lot of the silver is cast in silver plastic, and while this is pretty light plastic, it looks fine and matches the silver on the boots and thigh guards quite well. The bodies contain the usual Classified points of articulation, and the shoulder armor is flexible so as not to inhibit the range of motion in those shoulders.

I expected Hasbro to just mirror the head sculpts as well, but there are some subtle differences, which make for a very nice surprise. Indeed, most of the mirrored effect is found in the way they part their hair. The key difference is the jagged scar sculpted onto Xamot’s left cheek. I haven’t gone back to look, but I am clearly misremembering that it was Tomax that had the scar on his right cheek. Whatever the case, the portraits here are excellent, and I really dig their evil smirks.

Each Twin comes with a pair of matched Kris (serpentine bladed) Daggers, with one sheathed on the hip and the other on the leg. These have black hilts with painted silver blades and round pommels. The twins have dual gun hands, but they can hold the daggers fairly well, especially if you tuck the guard between two of the fingers. Generally speaking, the cutlery doesn’t impress me all that much in the Classified line. Knives and daggers are pretty small at this scale, and there’s only so much you can do with them. That having been said, I love these!

Instead of the oversized blaster pistols included with the vintage figures, each Classified Twin also comes with a sub-machine gun, which is the biggest departure from the originals. These are cast in black plastic, and have removable magazines and silencers. I’d argue that Hasbro should have given us both options, but even though they didn’t, I’m still happy with these more realisitc weapons. They look great wielding them! Alas, we didn’t get the Skyhook included with the original figures, and that does seem like a rather big omission.

Classified has been blowing me away with each and every release lately, and the Crimson Guard Commanders are yet another example of that. These figures are exactly what I’m looking for in this line: 6-inch scale versions of the RAH designs, and boy do they deliver on that! The articulation gives them pretty much everything they need to show off their circus-style acrobatics, and while I would have liked to see the RAH weapons included as a bonus, I’m not going to complain about their omission. It would have been a shame to have these guys and not have some Crimson Guard for them to command, but thankfully Hasbro made sure their troops shipped at the same time as they did, and I’ll be checking them out next week!

Star Wars Black Series (The Mandalorian): New Republic Security Droid by Hasbro

Today is sort of Friday for me, as I have the next three days off. I plan on sleeping, boozing, and playing some video games, but for now I’m stopping in to check out a new Star Wars Black Series figure from The Mandalorian! It’s the New Republic Security Droid! And the title already told you that! So, let’s go!!!

These fellas were first seen in the season one episode, The Prisoner… Have we seen them since? I honestly can’t remember, but I do hope we see these Droids again in some sort of prominent capacity. Indeed, the entire episode’s character roster has been woefully underserved by the Black Series, or even the Vintage Collection for that matter. All we got so far is Zero, and I still have to get around to reviewing him. Anyway, I don’t have a lot to say about the packaging, except to note how much space there is for stuff I would have liked to see included. But let’s put a pin in that for a moment.

I really dig this design a lot! It’s distinctive, and yet has a flavor that certainly fits the Star Wars Universe. The design is trim enough to look like they would be fairly agile in combat, and yet the design still looks sturdy enough to endure a fight. The reinforced chest armor perhaps shields his CPU and important bits, while he also has a fairly beefy groinular region, perhaps to protect his other important bits. The limbs are thin, but not quite spindly, and the joints are slightly evocative of the familiar Imperial Security Droid design, with the same type of jointing and fairly similar feet and hands. The sculpting here is pretty sharp and a nice mix of angular and rounded features. Most of the Droid’s chassis is left as bare matte plastic, while you get some nice silver-gray paint in the compartment around the neck. He has two New Republic insignia, one on left side of his chest, and the other toward the bottom of his recessed backpack, and some additional matching orange panels. There’s a stray spot of silver dry brush on his chest, which I assume is a flub, but it actually looks like a bit of weathering and I would have liked to see more of that.

The head is a no-nonsense, functional design. You get a slab of gray with a yellow visual sensor across the top. These guys clearly aren’t designed with personality in mind, but simply to substitute for organics in battle. I find it interesting that the Imperial Security Droid’s portrait has a lot more expressive personality over this New Republic fighter, but that’s probably because we were first introduced to the K2 Droid in Rogue One as a character we were supposed to like and relate to, whereas these fellas were technically the bad guys of the episode. He has one stubby antenna protruding from the top of his head.

The articulation here is excellent, with all the usual points you would expect to see in a human character. There isn’t quite as much lateral movement in the shoulders as I would like and his elbows can only do about a 90-degrees bend, but all in all I’m very pleased with what we got. The joints are strong and not at all gummy, and he’s surprisingly fun to pose!

You get one accessory here, and that’s the DH-17 style Blaster. The weapon is cast in black plastic and has a silver painted muzzle. The sculpt is a little soft, but there’s still plenty of detail to be seen. The right hand is designed to hold the gun, and includes a trigger finger, while the left hand is designed to cradle or steady the weapon. And herein comes my main complaint with this figure… I think there should have been more in the box, namely a battle damaged head and chest plate.

I was very happy to see this figure released, but at about $25, the price seemed really steep. A little patience turned them up at $15 a pop at an online retailer, and that made me grab three. It’s very cool to finally get some army-builder soldiers for the good guys, and the fact that they’re Droids sweetens the pot! These guys are surprisingly fun to play around with and pose, and they are sturdy and well balanced. With some battle damaged parts, I would have jumped at the retail price, but thankfully the deal allowed me to build a little squad of these New Republic Clankers. If they turn up again at that price, I may grab a couple more, and I wouldn’t mind seeing a Vintage Collection release to add to my carded 3 3/4-inch Mandalorian collection.