Transformers (Studio Series 86) Sludge by Hasbro

How about we start the week with some Transformers, eh? Seems like a little while since I checked back in with Hasbro’s Change-o-Bots! With Hasbro’s reveal that Snarl is coming, it has occurred to me that I am not current on reviewing the previous giant metal dinosaur convertobots. I have checked out Grimlock and Slag (SLAG, I SAYS!), so let’s get caught up with the last of the original Dinobot trio and have a look at Sludge!

The packaging has changed a bit since Slag’s release. The window is gone and Sludge comes in a fully enclosed box with some fantastic character art on the front showing Sludge battling it out with some Sharkticons in his dinosaur mode. It’s kind of interesting that they went with the dino mode on the front, seeing as how the window boxes used to show off the figure in the robot mode. Either way, this works fine. Also worth mentioning is that Sludge does not come with a companion figure. Grimlock came with a semi-articulated Wheelie and Slag came with Daniel in his Exo-Suit. And that’s fine, because I didn’t particularly care for either of those figures and they quickly got pitched into the dreaded Tote of Forgotten Accessories. But naturally Hasbro used the plastic saved here to include swords for everybody, right? No! No, they didn’t. Let’s start with Sludge’s dino mode.

Naturally, Sludge’s alt mode is still a Brontosaurus, or whatever they call this type of dinosaur nowadays. Them science types have been up to a lot of revisionist history since I was in school. Straightaway, I’m going to say that I think Sludge has the best looking alt mode of any of the Studio Series Dinobots so far. They’ve all been good, but Grimlock had some proportion issues and Slag had a bit of a patchwork look to him, but Sludge here is mostly comprised of a really nice and well-rounded shell. He’s got a lot of dark gray with some silver panels making up his hump and tail, a little red showing near his hind legs, and some beautiful satin gold paint on his back, undercarriage and finally his head. Slag let me down a bit with that cream colored plastic they used for his cowl, but all the coloring on Sludge just looks fantastic. The panel lining on Sludge’s hide is especially nice, with all sorts of cybernetic bits and bobs. Almost every inch of this guy has some detail to take in.

The head sculpt is also superb. There’s so much personality in that snap-dragon of a head! I dig the narrow blue eyes, and the nasty looking serrated teeth. With the past Dinobots, I have lamented Hasbro abandoning the translucent yellow plastic of the G1 toys, but I honestly don’t miss it here. I think the satin gold used for the head and upper neck just looks so beautiful in its place. You also get a decent amount of articulation here with not only the hinged jaw and side to side rotation, but the ability for the head to look down. The legs rotate where they connect to the body and have hinges midway down, giving him just enough poseability that I would expect.

I guess if I had to nitpick something with Sludge’s dino mode, it would be the seam on his back can be a bit tough to keep closed, and even when it is closed up, it’s designed to still look like there’s a bit of a gap there. His belly hangs really low to the ground too because of his golden bot-mode toes being down there. But that’s not a big deal. There’s a compartment under there to store his weapon, since unlike Slag, it isn’t incorporated into his dino mode. And while I’m still nitpicking, last time I commented about how I thought Slag’s transformation was a bit needlessly complex. The original Dinobot designs had some elegant engineering, which I would argue could be modernized without messing with them all that much. Sludge here still feels like they went out of their way to make his transformation more complex. Now, I know that some people expect more complex engineering with the bigger and more expensive figures, so that’s not necessarily going to be a sticking point for a lot of people. And to be fair it isn’t really that big of one for me either. After a few goes, I was able to do the transformation without any difficulty.

Getting Sludge converted, reveals a robot mode that is as faithful as the previous two Studio Series Dinobot releases. Sludge is an absolute tank of a robot, very befitting of the original design. In fact, I’d say this one cleans up the best as far as modernizations go. The proportions are all smoothed out, and his wings are a more full and robust than the G1 toy. There’s some impressive packing going on in the lower legs, but I am glad they left the tail sections on the outside of the legs, as it beefs them up. Unfortunately, Sludge does still have the weird elbow hinges, where the hinges are all the way to the front. There’s something about that design that doesn’t sit right with me, but it’s certainly not a deal-breaker. The backside is just a solid slab of robot, with the dino head and neck hanging straight down. It looks very nice and finished, making for a solid and highly playable figure. As for the coloring, it’s all most of what we saw in the dinosaur mode, only with more red revealed in the torso. This is just a fantastic looking figure all the way around!

The portraits have been great in this group so far, and Sludge is no exception His “helmet” is black with the two little angled slats on each side and a large silver coffin-shaped plate on his forehead. The silver paint looks good, but mine has some wear on the forehead plate, giving him an unintentionally weathered look. His blue eyes came out really nice, and makes me wish there was some light piping on these. I also love the bold and crisp Autobot emblem stamped on his chest.

I’ve already established that there’s no sword, which continues to be a huge oversight by Hasbro, leaving third parties to pick up the slack. Sludge does, however, come with a gun and it’s pretty damn nice. It’s cast in black plastic with some gold paint on the barrel and ont he scope.

I’m pretty sure I said this last time, but it still confounds me that Takara never produced a full set of Masterpiece Dinobots. Grimlock’s MP figure went through a whole bunch of releases and seemed like he was always in demand. I can’t imagine that Slag and Sludge would have done any worse. Then Power of the Primes came along and gave us some nice looking versions, which were way too small and sacrificed way too much for what I thought was a terrible and unnecessary combiner mode. So, thank Primus for these Studio Series releases. Sludge marks the first time since G2 that we got a solid set of this trio from Hasbro based on the original designs, and I am extremely pleased with how they all came out. They are appropriately sized, look great in both modes, and having all three together on the shelf makes for an absolutely awesome display! Now bring on Snarl and Swoop!

Star Wars “The Mandalorian:” Slave-1 (#75312) by LEGO

Yeah, that’s right, the box may say Boba Fett’s Starship, but it’ll always be Slave-1 to me. Fight the power!!! Since I’ve been on a LEGO kick this year, I thought I’d take a break from the LEGO City Space stuff and switch over to The Mandalorian. These have been the only Star Wars sets I’ve been buying, not because the others don’t look good, but I have to try to set limitations where LEGO is concerned or I’ll be broke. I saw this set the last time I was at Target and the price seemed right, so let’s see what we got!

The set is a tad bigger than any I’ve built in a while, weighing in at 593 pieces, which come in four numbered bags. BUT… For some reason it only comes with one big instruction manual, whereas the last bunch I assembled had a booklet for each bag. Now, I’m not saying that has anything to do with anything, but I did find this build to be a little more challenging than any other recent LEGO experiences. So, I gotta call foul on that 9+ rating. I’m more than five times that age, and I had to backtrack a few times to see what went wrong. Needless to say, this was a pretty dense build with some neat stuff going on, and there were a few times where I honestly didn’t know why I was building something. I love that, because it creates a real gee-whiz moment when you place it on the model and see what’s going on. Anyway, in addition to Slave-1, the set builds two Minifigs, a Carbonite Prisoner, and a Transport Sled. As always, let’s start with the Minifigs!

The figs are Boba Fett and Mando, and these are pretty straightforward. Boba has his jetpack and Mando has a cape. Both have articulated range finders on their helmets, Boba comes with a blaster carbine, Mando has his spear, and there’s an extra blaster pistol if you want to give it to Mando. Only Boba comes with a jetpack, but Mando comes with a cape. Boba has a printed face, so you can display him with his helmet off if you want, whereas Mando just has a blank head under there, which feels kind of cheap. I know he rarely takes that bucket off his head, but he has in the show, so I think we should have had a printed face on there. But, it’s no biggie. I am particularly happy to have the Beskar Armor Mando, since the one I have that came with the AT-ST set is in his original armor. I also have to give props to the beautiful printing that makes up Boba Fett’s armor. It’s crisp and colorful and looks fantastic.

The Carbonite Prisoner is just a slab with a vent piece on the bottom and a sticker of a Gamorrean Guard. It’s OK, but the slab is really thin, which seems doubly out of place for a portly Gamorrean.

Here’s “Prisoners-With-Jobs-1” all assembled and looking pretty cool. So straightaway, if the size and cost of this set didn’t tip you off, don’t come into this one expecting a full scale model of Slave-1. It’s a substantial build, but as you can see, it’s scaled down a bit when compared to the Minifigs. The build is completely solid, which means the back doesn’t open up or anything beyond there being a sliding ramp with a slot to stow the Carbonite slab. And that’s fine, given it’s size. The fact that it is a solid build means the ship is pretty hefty and takes to being handled well. I ran into some difficulties assembling the side pieces, but I’m going to chalk that up to the way it was illustrated in the booklet and the few drinkys I had while building. As for aesthetics, I think it’s a good looking model, but I have two nitpicks. The canopy is a little flimsy the way it closes up and obviously doesn’t seal shut, and the guns on the tail boom are rather oversized. Neither are deal-breakers for me, especially given the size of the set.

There’s only room for one Minifig in the cockpit, and as you may have guessed, there’s no gyroscope articulation to the pilot seat. As a result, the Minifig is designed to sit in it as if it’s always in flight. There is, however, articulation in the wing stabilizers, and these will remain horizontal to the ground as the ship is maneuvered, just like the old Kenner toy, and that’s pretty cool. There are two cannon that fire red studs, and there’s a flip out handle hidden in the undercarriage to hold while you’re whooshing it around the room.

The Transport Sled is designed to move Slave-1 along the ground, but it can also be used to transport the Carbonite Prisoner, and it even doubles as a stand for displaying the ship at an angle, which is a really nice bonus.

Considering I recently paid a little extra for a pair of discontinued LEGO sets, this one actually felt like a decent deal at $40. Well, at least it felt like a decent deal by LEGO standards. Despite a few frustrations, I found the build to be very satisfying and while the ship is definitely scaled down, I think I’ll be content with it as my sole LEGO representation of Slave-1 in my collection. Especially since the bigger Slave-1 runs for hundreds of dollars. If you’re hankering to build something while you’re watching the next episode of Mando, and you want another cool little Star Wars ship for your LEGO shelves, you could do a lot worse than this one!

Star Wars “The Mandalorian:” Life-Size Grogu Figure by Sideshow

Sideshow ran a whole lot of good deals back around Christmas time, which is pretty dangerous for me. It’s a bad time of the year, and it doesn’t take much to make me dive into retail therapy to stave off holiday depression. One of those deals was Sideshow’s own life-size version of Grogu, which is probably one of the most expensive impulse buys I’ve ever made. Was it worth it? Well, let’s find out…

Baby Yoda comes in an enormous fully enclosed box with some nice wrap-around artwork from the show. I’m guessing this was released before the big name reveal, so the box refers to him merely as The Child, which Disney seemed to like better than Baby Yoda. The figure comes out of the box pretty much ready for display. You just have to peg him onto his base and pop his favorite shifter-knob into his right hand. While Grogu is pretty tiny on the show, a life-size version still puts him at just under 17-inches, which means he’s considerably bigger than Sideshow’s Sixth-Scale figures, which are about as big as my photo staging area can go. So give me a couple of minute to improvise something bigger and we’ll check him out!

Well, isn’t he just adorable! This little bugger comes clad in his fabric frock with a wooly-type material used for the collar and sleeve cuffs. It’s got that rough and shoddy tailoring like it does on the show, which makes me wonder why Mando hasn’t invested a little of that Beskar in a proper onesie. While Grogu is advertised as a figure, it would be more accurate to call him a statue, as the only articulation here is in the neck, and even that only allows for a little bit of tweaking. Hot Toys did put out a proper life-size Grogu figure with more articulation, and while I don’t own that figure, I will make a few comparison comments based on pictures that I’ve seen. The pose is about as simple as things get, with his arms more or less down at as his sides and his head looking upward. It’s perfectly in tune with what Grogu is usually doing in the show, so no complaints there. It is worth mentioning, that this is a piece that is best displayed below eye level, so he can be looking up at you.

Because Grogu’s frock covers most of him, the only real sculpt and paint are invested in the portrait and hands. In terms of sculpt, I think the head is spot on. The wide-eyed expression is designed to tug at heart strings and sell toys, and it definitely succeeds at both. The eyes are simply stunning, with a lot of complexity behind those lenses if you get up and personal. The downturned mouth suggests he was just chastised for eating lizard people’s babies. There’s a nice compromise between smooth skin and rumples and light creases, and the top of the head is graced with a field of white peach-fuzz hair, which is strangely satisfying to pet. The Hot Toys version had a little part in the lips to show some teeth, which is definitely a more complex sculpt, but I think I prefer the closed lips on this one for being a little less creepy.

A lot has been made about the rosy cheeks, and I can confirm that it looks a lot more obvious under studio lights than it does on display under normal lighting. Even the official Sideshow shots don’t really show you what you’re getting and that’s to the figure’s discredit. I’ve even seen people do comparisons between the actual prop and this portrait to show that the paint here is pretty much spot on to the physical prop, but a bit at variance as to how it looks on screen. Personally, I’m happy with the way the paint came out on this one, but I think the Hot Toys version comes a little closer, at least in the pictures. Whether that’s the case in hand, I can’t really say since I’ll never be able to make that direct comparison. I do think the ears on the Sideshow figure are painted better, as the Hot Toys’ version looks a little too glossy and fake to me.

The only accessory here is the shifter knob, which attaches to the right hand via a pretty strong magnet. This is a simple silver painted sphere with a blue stripe across the middle. It’s a nice touch, but it kind of gets lost in all the fabric when on display. It’s almost looks like Grogu is trying to hide that he has it.

If you’re wondering how much sculpt and paint is going on under that frock, it’s just the hands and feet. The fully realized feet are a nice feature, since you really can’t see them at all under the cloak when the figure is on display.

The base looks like it’s intended to be the deck of a ship, possibly the Razor Crest, and it looks good, but the cloak does cover most of the surface. Unlike most Sideshow statues, which use a metal rod to attach the figure, this has a simple foot peg, which is pretty charming, as it looks just like the kind of foot pegs used on playsets for the old Kenner Star Wars figures. I also like that the peg is on the base and not on the figure, so you can stand Grogu wherever you want without using the base. Either way, it does a good job of securing the figure, while making it easy to pick him up and put him back on it again.

The bottom of the base is fully illustrated with some colorful, stylized artwork. it always impresses me when Sideshow does this, as it will almost never be seen, but it adds a bit of value to the piece. The base does state that the figure is a Limited Edition, but it’s not hand numbered like the Premium Formats, and there’s no statement of limitation anywhere on the box or base, nor could I find one on the website.

Sideshow’s Grogu retails for $375 and at the time I’m publishing this review it’s still available to buy. I got him at $100 off and threw in $60 worth of reward points to knock it down to $215. That still makes it a pretty expensive impulse buy, but I was surprised at how delighted I was when he showed up and I got him out of the box. The Hot Toys version is probably the more desirable as it does have articulation and some might argue the better paint, but it’s also a lot more expensive, so I’m pretty satisfied with this guy on my shelf. One of my biggest pipe dreams has been to one day own a life-size Star Wars character, preferably R2 or 3PO, but I just haven’t been drunk enough to pull the trigger yet. At least now I can say I have one. As of now, Grogu is standing right by the light switch in my TV room, and I get to give him a pat on the head each night as I shut out the lights to go to bed.

Dungeons & Dragons: Ultimate Warduke by NECA

It’s crazy how you can go ages without any real D&D licensed toys and then all of the sudden, they’re dropping all over the place, like slimy guts out of a slain Beholder. Hasbro has been using the license to make figures based off the old 80’s cartoon and the upcoming film, Honor Among Thieves, but now NECA has stepped into the ring with the license to do modern versions of the old LJN Advanced Dungeons & Dragons figures. The first two releases are Warduke and Grimsword, and I’m starting my look at these today with Warduke!

To me, Warduke was the Boba Fett of the AD&D world: A mysterious masked warrior with waves of badassery wafting off of him. He was easily my favorite figure in the LJN line, and he would always be waging some epic battles with the heroic Strongheart. NECA’s version comes in their standard Ultimate style packaging. You get a window box with a flap covering the front and a mix of artwork and actual photos of the figure all around. And that’s a hell of a piece of character art on the front of the box! I’m really excited to check this guy out, so let’s just dive right in!

Even before I got him out of the box, I have to admit that I was in awe of this figure while still peeping at him through the window. NECA took the original toy design and just ran with it, turning everything up to the hyper-detailed and realistic max. I’m actually a bit speechless and not sure where to begin, because this figure looks absolutely stunning on just about every level. The network of belts and straps crisscrossing his torso are all sculpted separately, giving up a lot of depth to the figure in general. The yellow belt from the original figure is now painted in gold with a demon-head motif and a more pronounced brown furry sash dipping down between his legs. He has one buccaneer boot on the right foot with red oval stones and his left boot is fortified with a sculpted, spiked armored plate and straps. Warduke’s right side is far less heavily defended and showing a lot of skin, while his left arm and leg are clad in sculpted chainmail, with a gorgeous metallic blue finish. His right arm also has an armored bracer and gauntlet with individually sculpted straps, painted right down to the tiny silver buckles. The eclectic costume is rounded out by a spiked left shoulder guard and an amulet hanging around his neck, strung with what looks like golden fangs. Warduke may not be a fan of symmetry, but he sure knows how to look intimidating!

The mysterious helmeted head is painted in the same sumptuous metallic blue as the chain mail, with the exposed area inside the helmet left black and featureless, except for two piercing red eyes. The package suggests there is just a man under there, by as a kid my imagination went with something more dark and demonic. He has some red ornamental stones on the forehead and back of the helmet, as well as stubby horns on top. The wings on the helmet are a bit more refined than the ones on the original figure, and they’re even pretty damn sharp at the tips! Part of me would have liked to see a little more in the way of facial contours inside the helmet, but it almost looks like he’s meant to be wearing a mask under it, and that’s fine.

Warduke wears three blades on his person, carried in varying styles of scabbards and sheathes. The most notable being his broadsword, which resides in a scabbard across his back. The scabbard is smooth and without texture, but does have some sculpted straps and a copper painted throat and tip. The second largest is a blue scabbard with ornamental gold throat and tip, as well as some bands, and hangs off his belt by a real gold chain. He also has a sculpted red pouch hanging between this scabbard and the one for the larger sword. And finally, on his right hip he has a brown sheath with some black wraps, sculpted stitching along the edges, and a red diamond-shaped jewel with some ornamental beads hanging. The detail on all of these pieces is fantastic, and they contribute to his eclectic look. Campaigns in AD&D are always about improving your gear through loot, and all of this stuff certainly looks like it was acquired and added to his arsenal along the way.

The articulation here is pretty solid, with rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. The neck is ball jointed, and you get another ball joint down near the waist. The hips are ball jointed, allowing for a bit of swivel up there, and the ankles ensure his feet can stay flat on the ground in wider stances. The wrists are hinged pegs, allowing for the hands to be swapped out. You get two pairs of accessory holding hands, and a right hand with a pointing finger. I had no issues with any of the joints on this figure, and I think the range of motion is really good. The elbows can pull of 90-degrees, which is not bad for this type of joint, albeit double hinges would have been preferred. I think my only nitpick here would be that the arms hang a little far from the body, but I guess that gives him a readiness stance, which works for the character. OK, let’s look at the weapons, and we’ll start small and work our way up!

The brown sheath holds what looks like a miniature fachion. It has an angled blue hilt that matches the color of Warduke’s chainmail and helmet. The blade is painted silver and has some notable wear on the blade. I’m actually not sure if this is intentional or not, but it really looks great for weathering. The grip has some deep sculpted scrollwork patterns and two silver painted rivets.

The dagger is probably big enough to be considered a short sword. It has a long, thin blade, almost like a stiletto. The hilt is gold with some red painted jewels and not much of a guard. It’s not a perfect match for the broadsword, but the two do go together fairly well.

The broadsword is certainly an imposing piece of cutlery, with an extended grip that could work as a two-hander. The grip is painted brown and the guard and pommel are both gold, with a painted red jewel in the center of the guard. The blade thins near the blade and then swells out just a bit for the remainder of its double-edge. Unlike the smaller weapons, the silver finish on this blade is immaculate.

Of course, Warduke also comes with his rather iconic skull shield! It never occurred to me as a kid playing with the figure, that Warduke’s armor was designed with his left arm intended as his sword arm, and the shield carried in his right to protect his less-armored half. I don’t think I made that connection until I was a teenager studying arms and armor in my spare time. The shield looks amazing with a beautiful dark steel finish and a lumpiness to the sculpt that makes it look like it was forged with a bit of crudeness. It’s an absolutely intimidating piece with the horned skull and dark voids for eyes. The reverse side has a grab bar and a sculpted arm strap textured like leather with rivets holding it into place.

And finally, Warduke comes with a flame effect for his sword, which really elevates the display quality of what was an already amazing figure. The piece is cast in soft orange translucent plastic and it fits rather snugly around the sword. Because clearly this guy didn’t look badass enough without igniting his blade. I mean, holy shit!

I’m well aware that I tend to churn out pretty positive reviews on the stuff I look at here. What can I say? I don’t buy stuff that I don’t think I’m going to like, and as a result I’m not usually disappointed. But when I say that Warduke here is one of the best figures I’ve handled in a long while, I hope that comes across as genuine and not just some hyperbole. This figure is absolutely stunning to look at and loads of fun to play with, and while some would demand more in the way of articulation, I think this is a perfect blend of sculpt and poseability. But in the end, it’s the modernized design, the detail in the sculpt, and the quality of the paint that sells it so well. It is indeed the ultimate version of the character that I could have only dreamed of owning as a kid. And with so many excellent Mythic Legions figure reviews under my belt, I’m still willing to say that this is probably the best fantasy-themed figure I’ve ever looked at here. I’m anxious to check out Grimsword, and I can only hope that this line continues to cover as many of the LJN figures as possible.

G.I. JOE: Profit Director Destro Statue by Diamond Select

Oh, Diamond Select PVC Statues, why can’t I quit you? It’s probably because they almost always go on deep discount and become some of the best value statues out there. But it’s usually the Marvel and DC Galleries that trap me, and now they’re doing GI JOE. I’ve had my eye on Destro for a while and was about to pull the trigger, but when I found the Limited Edition variant version was going for even less, I decided to go for Pimp Daddy Destro instead of the regular flavor.

DST does a nice job with these boxes, giving you windows top, front, left, and right to let plenty of light in. Combine that with the figure being in a clear clamshell tray and these display pretty damn well in the box. The front has the GI JOE logo, along with the explosion background and “COBRA ENEMY” logo from the vintage toy packages. This one is a PX Exclusive, and I have no idea what that means, other than it’s limited to 3,000 pieces and has foil tape on the top flap to indicate such. But all in all, this is just a recolor of the regular retail release. Everything here is collector friendly, and Destro just requires his rocket blast part to be attached to his arm to get him ready for display!

Destro’s Pimp Daddy look will never replace his more iconic costume as my favorite, but I still like it a lot. His black costume is switched out for a maroon one with some bitchin leopard skin panels on his hips and the interior of his collar. Also, the head is gold instead of silver, the briefcase is gold instead of black, and while the original statue had him splashing through blue water, it’s now some kind of contaminated green sewage water. But putting aside the new coloring, I think the pose and composition of this statue is just absolutely fantastic in the way that it tells a story. Destro’s secret meeting place has been discovered by the JOEs, and he’s escaping through the sewers. JOE fire stirs up the water as he returns fire with one of his wrist rockets. But at least he secured the case with the payment! This piece just has so much energy, and it looks like it’s ripped straight off the cover of a comic book!

The sculpted detail is quite nice, with Destro himself being fairly ripped, and showing off some great muscle definition under his suit. Close scrutiny shows stitching in the pouches, clasps on his boots, and even tiny screws securing his holster, and his blinged out pistol which looks so good I would have sworn it was removable, even when it isn’t. The paintwork is also really sharp, with the gold having a quality satin finish, and there’s a bit of a wash on the holster.

The head sculpt is also admirable, with Destro pulling a face that reflects how displeased he is at being interrupted. This dude is clearly just having the worst day. There’s an intensity to his furled brow and wrinkled nose that combines perfectly with the piercing black and green eyes. You get the heavy bolted collar around the bottom of the mask, and his large red ruby hanging askew around his neck with sculpted gold chain. There’s a little overspray of red paint on the silver border of the necklace, which is the only real paint flub I can see on the statue.

The rocket effect is nicely done, with the translucent orange combustion effect tabbing into the arm. It explodes from the launcher and forms a serpentine trail of thrust behind the little gold rocket. This is an example of an effect part done extraordinarily well.

Another equally amazing effect is the translucent base of toxic green water. The sludge flows from a grate in the wall causing some ripples, and the splash effects of the JOE machine gun fire and Destro’s boot are beautifully done. You also get a severed Battle Android Trooper head, suggesting that the JOE team took care of Destro’s backup, which is another wonderful little touch to the base.

The piping is painted with a decrepit rust and there are sculpted brackets and bolts holding them to the wall. The wall itself features some great paintwork and more detailed sculpting, even to the back side, which will probably never be visible when this statue is displayed. DST uses the term PVC Diorama for their Gallery statues, which I always suspected was a way to get around licensing with Marvel and DC. Most of the time they really aren’t anything close to a diorama, but Destro here is the exception to the rule, and a lot of thought and effort went into this base.

The MSRP on this piece was $49.99, but playing the waiting game on most of DST’s Gallery Statues almost always pays off. In this case, I was able to get Pimp Daddy Destro for $25. It’s crazy that the limited release is currently selling for about $10 less than the regular retail release, but I’m chalking that up to there being a higher demand on the more iconic outfit version. Indeed, the Exclusive moniker tends to be the kiss of death for these statues on the secondary market, even with the Marvel and DC releases, which still strikes me as odd given the stricter limitations over the retail releases. Either way, I’m happy to add this one to my collection, and I like it enough that I will probably grab the regular version as well before moving on to The Baroness!

LEGO City: Lunar Roving Vehicle (#60348) by LEGO

I’m heading back into LEGO City today, or should I say out into LEGO City Space, with a look at another one of these NASA themed sets. LEGO’s goal here is to take some real concept vehicles from NASA and make them a little more toyetic and fun. Last time I checked out the Mars Research Shuttle, and now it’s time to go to the Moon with the Lunar Roving Vehicle… Let’s Go!

As the box claims, the Rover is based on the Artemis concept vehicle, but takes a lot of liberties with that design. This set is about the same size as the Shuttle, give or take a few pieces, but unlike the Shuttle set this one really just focuses on one vehicle. You get 275 bricks, which builds the Rover, a Mineral Deposit, and three Minifigs. As always, let’s start with the Minifigs!

You get two Astronauts and one Rover Pilot, and straightaway I like these better than what we got in the previous set. The Rover Pilot is great, with a blue jumpsuit and printed leather jacket. He has a ballcap and a cocky smirk on his face. There’s no hair piece, so the hat stays on, and none of these Minifigs have second face printings. The printing on the Astronaut suits is quite nice and both have shoulder harness pieces to attach their backpacks The backpacks are actual builds, which I like more than the one-piece on the EVA Suit from the last set. These are male and female figures, with the mail having a backpack with articulated spotlights and the female has a tool pack with a circular saw and as shovel, although you can switch them if you like.

The gold solar screen visors lift off to reveal their faces and, unlike the Pilot, these figures have hairpieces so you can take their helmets off completely. I dig all three of these Minifigs a lot!

The Rover is a fun build, but I’m a little iffy on the final model. It’s super clunky and looks absolutely nothing like the concept design that it’s based on. In fact, this thing is just plain ugly. The Rover rolls along on six sets of dual wheels, each of which can rotate 360-degrees, which makes for a spectacle of chaos when this thing is in motion, but it is interesting to see it roll. The cab has an upper and lower windshield, which looks good, there’s a blue lightbar on top, as well as an articulated radar dish. The back has a platform that drops down like a tailgate, which I guess can be used to haul cargo or samples, and it also has clips for tool storage. There are five stickers visible on the outside of the Rover, four are gold solar-panel type stickers on the side hatches, and the fifth is the space agency logo on the top.

The front of the vehicle has two articulated arms, one with a build in drill and the other with a clip that holds a metal detector-type device. The detector can be swapped out to be used by one of the Astronauts, and you can put the circular saw in this arm so the Rover can dig. I’m not a big fan of the way these arms are built, as they just look kind of awkward.

The vehicle opens on both sides, with the large circular ports leading into the cabin and the blue solar-panel-type hatches leading to an airlock compartment. It’s pretty tight quarters in the vehicle, but if you put on Astronaut in the airlock and one in the back of the cabin, you can load everyone onto the Rover. There’s no access from the airlock to the cabin, so that whole thing has to work with the power of your imagination! It also seems kind of odd that the side pieces with the solar panel stickers drop down rather than rise up to collect those rays!

The cabin has room for the Pilot to sit, with consoles on either side of him and joysticks to either steer the Rover or control the arms.

You get a Mineral Deposit, which is basically a big rock on a pedestal, along with a space agency flag to show those filthy Commies that it belongs to us! I really dig how they did this, with the rock opening to reveal translucent blue crystals inside, as well as a single crystal that can be removed as a sample. It’s a lot more interesting than the paltry little samples that came with the Shuttle set.

The Lunar Rover set is a fun and satisfying build with some excellent Minifigs and some promising play value, but it falls short of the Research Shuttle set, at least in my opinion. The Rover is pretty ugly, and that’s all you get, whereas the Research Shuttle looked awesome and came with a Rover and two Drones. I certainly don’t regret picking up this set, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to find it. It’s solid just not exceptional. It does, however, interact with the Lunar Base set, and I’ll be taking a look at that set in the not too distant fugure!

ALF (Alien Life Form) by NECA

I was quite the TV junkie as a teenager and ALF was a weekly sitcom that I never missed. It’s a show that absolutely oozed 80’s charm, and it’s crazy to think it spanned nearly the entire second half of the decade, clocked in at just over 100 episodes, and managed to welcome in the 90’s before going softly into the night. It premiered just as I was starting High School and went out just as I was headed off to College. Sure, there were shows that lasted longer, but this was a show about a goofy alien puppet given asylum by a suburban family. It was one of those lightning in a bottle scenarios, with ALF getting cross marketed into video games, comic books, a cartoon series, and his face graced countless t-shirts right alongside pop culture icons like the immortal Spuds Mackenzie. Kids watching ALF were learning how to give attitude and spouting off “NO PROBLEM!” before giving it up for “EAT MY SHORTS” and “DON’T HAVE A COW, MAN!” And by God, you know what? The show still holds up remarkably well today! I recently streamed some episodes, while partially hiding behind a pillow in anticipation of the awkward disappointment I was about to receive, but before I knew it, I was laughing my ass off. Back in the day, ALF got a pretty cool doll from Coleco and some simple toys based on the cartoon series, but did he ever get an ULTIMATE action figure? Not until now!

For the uninitiated, ALF’s real name was Gordon Shumway and he hailed from the planet Melmac. Crashing his spaceship into the Tanner family’s garage, he’s given shelter from nosey neighbors and FBI goons who wanted to cut him up for research. In return for saving his life, ALF made the Tanner’s lives a living hell by causing them non-stop grief and raising Willie Tanner’s blood pressure with his constant wisecracking. In reality, ALF was mostly a puppet, but every now and then he would be swapped out for an actor in a suit when the script called for him to be mobile. NECA put out an ALF puppet a year or so back, and I picked it up but never got around to checking it out here, but that’s a review for a different day. This ALF comes in the usual Ultimate-style box, which features a front flap that opens to reveal the figure through a window. There’s also some great fourth-wall breaking quotes scattered about the box. In addition to the figure, you get a lot of goodies, so let’s get Gordon out of the box and check him out!

It’s still kind of weird to me to see ALF’s complete body, because it was only occasionally shown on the TV show, and I never did get into the cartoon. He’s basically just a little brown, furry guy with huge feet. NECA did a nice job detailing all that fur in the sculpt, and while there are some inevitable breaks in the sculpt to allow for articulation, it doesn’t spoil the effect for me. I was a little taken aback when I turned him around. To my great shame, I did not remember that ALF has a tail, but there it is! It’s worth noting that like NECA’s Gremlins, ALF is a 6-inch figure, but not really 6-inch scale, since in reality he’s roughly the size of a small child. A small, fat, furry child. So don’t expect an in scale Willie Tanner figure to go with him. I guess they could do Brian Tanner, but I wouldn’t count on that either.

The head sculpt here is fantastic. The black eyes, the bulbous snout, the weirdly shaped ears, and the comb-over are all realized perfectly. I dig the wash that brings out the ribbing in his snout, and he’s even got his warts! Sure, NECA often gives us multiple heads with their Ultimate figures, but since ALF was a puppet he couldn’t emote all that much, so I think the single noggin is fine. You do get some articulation in the jaw, which is pretty cool!

The rest of the figure’s articulation is the usual assortment of rotating hinges that we’re used to seeing from NECA. They’re situated in his shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles, in the neck and in the torso. The hips are ball jointed, there are swivels in the biceps, and you get hinged pegs for the wrists, allowing you to swap out the assortment of hands. These include a pair of relaxed hands, a pair of pointing hands, and three additional accessory holding hands. ALF is loads of fun to play with, and I didn’t have any troubles with stuck joints, so ALF did not have to get a dip in the hot tub. Naturally, because this is a NECA figure, you get a bunch of fun accessories, so let’s check them out and learn a little more about ALF on the way!

The subject of snacks are a running theme with these accessories, because ALF was a little glutton. So first off you get a heaping bowl of popcorn and a Fusco, which is off-brand Pepsi. These are appropriate, as ALF was often seen watching TV on the sofa and eating and drinking before the doorbell rang and he got rushed out of the room to hide. And yeah… popcorn and soda is about as normal as ALF’s diet gets here.

Next up, we have a sack of Slimeballs, which was a popular snack on Melmac. It kind of looks like a sack of broccoli, but to be fair, I don’t remember these getting all that much screen time. In fact, I had forgotten they were a thing entirely.

And then you get the ultimate in Melmacian cuisine… the Cat Sandwich! Now, as a well known cat enthusiast, I do not endorse or approve of the act of eating cats, but I guess we have to respect alien cultures. This accessory is nothing less than inspired, as the poor kitty sits rather perturbed between two halves of a hoagie roll and presented on a red plate. It feels like sacrilege to nitpick this majestic piece, but if I were to make one little gripe, I don’t know why they didn’t paint the cat to look like the Tanner’s cat, Lucky. OK, that’s it for the food related items… let’s move on.

Willie’s HAM radio set was a major recurring plot point in the series, as ALF tried to use it to send messages back home. This is a beautifully detailed piece of kit with a wire connecting the main unit with the microphone, which rests on a stand. It’s a shame NECA didn’t provide a desk to put it on, but I’ll come back to that at the end.

Also included is a framed portrait of ALF’s girlfriend Rhonda. The back of the picture has an easel so it can stand up on its own. Rhonda had a much bigger role in the cartoon, but she looked a lot different.

And that brings us to some accessories of the clothing variety in the form of an obnoxious yellow shirt and sunglasses. The shirt is actually a nod to the shirt he wore in the cartoon. Yeah, I guess they believed in shirts but not pants on Melmac. The shirt fastens down the front with velcro it it looks great on him. Indeed, it looks better than the one shown off on the package photograph. Meanwhile, the sunglasses simply rest behind his ears and stay put pretty well down toward the edge of his snout.

I’ll always be grateful to NECA for digging up licenses like ALF. The series is available to stream, but you really don’t hear much about it these days. It hasn’t had any kind of revival apart from NECA’s merchandising, but I have imagine if it did get a remake it ALF would be some kind of CGI abomination, so I think it’s best to let it go. Either way, this is a super fun figure, and he displays well with some of NECA’s other Ultimate figures like ET or the Gremlins. Indeed, if you have some Gremlins, their accessories are interchangeable and really enhance the fun you can have with Gordon. It’ll be interesting to see if we get any other versions of ALF down the road, but as I hinted earlier, I’d love to see an accessory pack similar to the one NECA released for the Gremlins, notably with a desk and/or a sofa. I’d buy that in a heartbeat!

By figurefanzero Tagged ,

DC Multiverse (Rebirth): Batman and Superman by McFarlane

A little while back, I popped my cherry on McFarlane’s DC Multiverse line with a look at the Blue Beetle and Booster Gold two-pack, and now I’m going to start unloading on reviews for this line, because I bought a whole hell of a lot of them on various sales. Of course, this line is very Batman-heavy and otherwise pretty scattershot when it comes to the comic period and costumes, which can be infuriating when trying to build a team, but otherwise fun if you’re just looking at individual figures. And, coming into a line late in the game also has it’s ups and downs as well. Some figures have gone on deep discount, while others have gone up in value on the secondary market. Right now I’m still in the looking for good deals phase, but eventually I’ll probably hunt down some specific releases. With all that having been said, let’s have a look at Batman and Superman in their Rebirth costumes!

The packaging here is consistent with what we’ve been seeing in the line. I really dig how the bright blue interiors contrast with the black boxes. I’ve never really enjoyed how grimdark modern DC has become in the mainstream, so I think these packages stride the line nicely. Each figure comes with a collector card and a stand. Batman comes with the regular disk stand, while Superman actually comes with a clear flight stand. I bring these up now, because for the time being, I will not be removing the cards or stands from the boxes, as it damages the trays. Eventually, I will get short on space and have to pitch all these boxes, but for now I’m keeping the figures in them. Let’s start with Batman!

Cards on the table, I really loved the New 52 Batman costume, so I was a little apprehensive when Rebirth came along. Turned out that I really liked this one too. Maybe not loved, but it’s not bad at all. The dark gray suit looks great against the black of the boots, gauntlets, cape and cowl. The big change here is the brighter yellow belt and yellow outline around the chest symbol, both add a nice little pop. The suit has a few panel lines, but it doesn’t overdo it, and that sort of detail is mostly reserved for the boots and gauntlets. The serrated blades on the gauntlets are awesome, and I absolutely love how the bat symbol is sculpted and not just printed on. I’m not a huge fan of the bat-head knee guards, but they’re not too distracting. The cape is sculpted so that it stays fairly tight with the body and not fanning out too much. I do tend to prefer this to the dynamic, windblown effect, which I think is best saved for statues and not action figures. All in all, this is a great looking suit and McFarlane executed it beautifully for the figure.

The head sculpt, on the other hand, is nothing to get excited about. The lower half of the face is a pretty soft sculpt. So much so that my shitty camera took half a dozen shots to finally get somewhat focused on it. I do dig the cowl, as it gives me a bit of 89 Batman vibes, and the whited out eyes look fine. There’s nothing really bad here, but I just don’t find it exceptional.

The articulation is exactly what we saw with Beetle and Booster. Eventually, I’ll get to the same point as I did with Marvel Legends and just stop surveying the points of articulation on these. When it doesn’t change from figure to figure, it gets old to recount it all every time. But these bodies are still new to me, so let’s give it a rundown. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, double-hinged elbows, and ball hinges in the wrists. I really have no complaints about the arms at all, and I love how tight the elbows will go! The legs have rotating hinges in the hips, which offer a pretty nice range of motion going forward, back, and to the sides… but so very little swivel, it’s practically non existent.. The knees are double-hinged, the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers, and the feet are hinged for the toes. The one gripe I’ll keep coming back to in the legs is the lack of a thigh swivel. The neck is ball jointed with some nice range of motion, especially for Batman’s constricting cowls. Finally, you get ball joints under the chest and at the waist, which do a fairly decent job. This is a fun figure to pose and play with, even though the cape can make him a bit back heavy.

Batman comes with two accessories: His grapple gun and a batarang. His right hand is sculpted to hold either one, while the left is balled up in a fist. The grapple gun is pretty big and satisfying, with the grapple hook sculpted in place. Getting a string to swing the figure on would have been cool, but this looks good in his hand. There’s no obvious trigger, which I assume is part of Warner Brothers weird obsession with not allowing any guns or anything even remotely trigger-y. Quite frankly, I’m surprised McFarlane got away with this accessory at all.

The batarang is simple enough, but a pretty nice sculpt. It can be a little tough for him to hold it, but squeezing it between the fingers seems to work fairly well. If you’ve been around here a while, you may know that I’m not a huge Batman fanatic, and I’m not going to buying the majority of the ones released in DC Multiverse. But, I do indeed love this figure, and considering the insane number of Batman figures in this line, I’m glad I started out with this one. Let’s move on to Superman…

Unlike Batman, I’m always down for a new Superman figure, so I was really excited to get this one opened and check him out. Happily, he does not disappoint. Rebirth Superman’s costume didn’t stray too far from his New 52 look, and while I like it a lot, I still think it was a step down. I mainly miss the red boots here, as you now only get some red striping at the tops of blue boots. The cut lines in the suit have been toned down a bit, which is fine. I still like the red belt with the floating diamond buckle. And like Batman, I absolutely love that the chest shield is sculpted and not just printed on the figure. The coloring here is extremely nice, with the blue and red playing off each other brilliantly, and the glossy sheen on the chest shield is gorgeous. I do wish the striping under the knees were a little more vibrant, and I really would have preferred if the ball joints in the wrists were flesh colored and not blue. The cape is mostly tamed behind him, although there’s a little bit of flutter to his left side.

The head sculpt here is much sharper than Batman’s, but in fairness they had a lot more to work with. Overall, I like the portrait, but looking straight on there’s definitely an extra helping of jawline. I like the furled brow and intense gaze, which makes him look just a bit perturbed at the whatever injustice he is perceiving. I don’t like my Superman to be too angry, so this works for me. The cleft chin and the cowling are also wonderful little touches.

The articulation here is identical to Batman, so I won’t run through it all again. I will say how much I appreciate the upward range of motion in Superman’s head, which is perfect for flying poses. It’s ridiculous how many flight capable super hero action figures get this wrong. There are no accessories with Superman, unless you count the flight stand, which I suppose is a really nice bonus. And since he has nothing to hold, his hands are both sculpted as fists, which once again works great for those flight poses, or just punching villains.

I have to say, I’m having an absolute blast dipping my toe into McFarlane’s DC Multiverse. Rebirth Batman and Superman are both excellent figures, and I’ll wager they will reside on my desk within arm’s reach for a while before getting put up on the shelf. They are tons of fun to play around with and I couldn’t be happier with the way they turned out. I was able to pick this pair up for just $16 each, which is a helluva deal, and I’ve already got a few more Rebirth era figures to check out! Boy, does it feel great to be buying DC figures again!

G.I. JOE Classified: Zarana by Hasbro

I’m easily half a dozen figures behind on my GI JOE Classified reviews, so today I’m dipping back into that line to finally check out one that I’m pretty damn excited for! I never had Zarana as a kid, having to make do with just Zartan and the three Drednoks. I don’t ever even recall seeing her in the toy aisles then, because I’m sure I would have wound up getting her if I did. Then again, by 1986, I was starting to move away from toys a bit and more into video games, so maybe I was spending a little less time in the toy aisles. Either way, I’m happy to have her in Classified, so let’s see what we got!

Oh, dear… that character art! Not only is it totally out of style with the rest of the Classified packages, but it’s just awful. My guess is they were going for some kind of misguided Harley Quinn vibe, but it sure as shit doesn’t work for me. That’s OK, though, because I’m going to toss the package, and what I’m seeing through the window looks pretty damn nice!

Thankfully, this is another case of Hasbro sticking close to the vintage figure for the Classified design, and I love what they did here. The pink half-jacket and shoulder armor are superb modernizations of the original costume. The jacket has some fine detail for the silver studs and zipper, and it’s sculpted separately from the figure, so it looks like something she’s actually wearing. It extends down just far enough to cover the ball joint under her chest, and to show off the killer abs she’s sporting. The black sleeves are textured, and she has brown fingerless gloves. Her blue trousers have ribbed reinforcements on her inner thighs, and pink areas on the front where her leggings are exposed through tears in the thighs. This is a great little touch, as when I first saw the figure, I assumed those were just pink patches. Her boots have extended knee pads, and I really dig the silver spurs, they look fantastic! Final touches to the outfit include a sculpted brown belt, a brown sheath belted around her right thigh, and a lovely little sculpted silver chain hanging from her belt. This is an absolutely beautiful update, and I love the colors!

Zarana comes with one head and two swappable hairstyles. The one that comes on the figure in the package is the modern look, with a mix of orange, pink, and purple. I actually think it works pretty well for the character, but this is the only time you’ll see it in this review, because…

Yeah, that’s the stuff! The alternate coif is patterned after the original figure, and it’s the one that I’ll be using all the time. As for the face, I really do love it. Zarana offers up a mean snarl, which works well as a battle expression. The printing on this one really breaks down as you get in close, especially the eyebrows which can look a bit crusty, but it all looks fine with the figure in hand. And take note, she’s got her earrings, so this is based on the earlier of the two heads produced for the vintage figure. Not a bad choice, because I seem to remember the second head being a big step down from the first. I think this portrait turned out great, giving Zarana that level of bad girl hawtness she deserves.

Zarana comes with a few weapons, the first of which is a simple dagger. This one is a nod to the sheathed dagger that was sculpted on the vintage figure. The dagger itself has a black hilt and a nice silver painted blade. It kind of reminds me of a Fairbairn–Sykes style fighting knife from WWII. Very nice!

Next up, she has this beefier piece of cutlery that’s stored in her backpack. I think this design is original to the this Classified figure, because I don’t remember seeing reference to it in any past media or previous versions of the figure. It looks like someone looked at an electronic kitchen knife and said, let’s make that for the battlefield! And that’s a little bit genius. The grip looks like it’s off a sawed off shotgun, while the middle part looks like it houses the electronics. The blade is red, which I’m pretty sure isn’t meant to signify blood, but… it’s blood. Yup, blood! I didn’t think I was going to dig this accessory that much, but it’s totally won me over.

And lastly, Zarana has her rifle with a circular saw attachment, clearly evolving from the vintage figure’s pinwheel-ripper-rifle. I think this is a wonderful update, as I always assumed the original wasn’t an actual gun, but just a spinning-spur-cutter, and now she has the best of both worlds! The rifle looks like an original design, but very grounded in reality. There’s a rail running across the top, and the buzzsaw is an under-the-barrel attachment with a foregrip. I would have put some kind of finger guard behind that blade, because… YIKES! But, I’m pretty sure Zarana scoffs at safety regulations.

The magazine can be removed from the rifle, and this makes me happy every time I see it!

I was a little worried that whatever Classified figure I spotlighted after Stalker was going to have to be a let down, but that’s not the case here. Yes, Zarana is a simpler figure for sure, but she hits all the right points right on target! Like Stalker, I did not expect the final release to look as good as the solicitation photos, but I’m happy to be proven wrong. Zarana is another five outta five for me, and she looks great on display beside her brother in arms. If she’s any indication of how the Classified Drednoks are going to turn out, I can’t wait!