Marvel Legends (Lizard Wave): Prowler by Hasbro

I didn’t think I’d make it today, but I’ve been squirreling away a little time here and there and chipping away at another Marvel Monday review. This one is going to be another quickie, but at least I’m trying to get back on the horse, right? And because today has to be quick-and-easy, I’m not doing the usual random grab into my Marvel Legends Backlog of Shame®. Instead, I’m picking a figure that I don’t have a hell of a lot to say about. And that lands us back in the Lizard Wave with Prowler.

It feels like I started reviewing this wave a lifetime ago, but I’m over the hump and there are just a few figures left before I can build my Lizard. And how about that Prowler, eh? Honestly, I got nothing. It doesn’t often happen where I find myself without any affinity toward a character at all, but I’m hard pressed to remember more than a few times that I ran across Prowler in my funnybook readings. And that’s crazy because he and Spidey go way back. I’m not doubting his pedigree, I just don’t have many feelings for him one way or the other. I’m guessing this is Hobie Brown’s Prowler as the costume is pretty classic.

Though classic it may be, this isn’t a costume that really grabs me, but that’s not to say that Hasbro didn’t do a decent job executing it. The costume is achieved mostly through a green buck with purple paint for the boots and gloves and yellow-green paint for the chest emblem. Original sculpting includes the gas cartridge bracers he wears on his wrists and ankles, as well as a simple waist belt. The ankle bracers are supposed to stay in place with friction, but they mainly wind up loose around his ankles.

The other big piece of original sculpting is the cape, which is rolled up to form a ring around his neck before cascading down his shoulders. It looks good, but it does weigh down the figure a bit. Lately I’m on a real rage against plastic capes on 6-inch scale figures.

The head sculpt is easily my favorite thing about this figure. The purple and black mask looks pretty damn cool with the narrow, deep set, pupil-less eyes and the subtle wrinkles that show the contours of his face beneath the mask. I get a major Spawn vibe off Prowler and that ain’t a bad thing at all.

A quick rundown on the articulation holds no surprises. Prowler’s arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, with swivels in the biceps and double hinges in the elbows. The legs have ball joints in the hips, double hinges in the knees, and swivels in at the thighs and the tops of the boots. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a waist swivel and an ab-crunch, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

Remember my motto, Legends is all about the Universe building! Does it matter that I don’t have a lot of love or even much familiarity with Prowler? Hell no. Am I happy to get another Spidey villain on my Legends shelves? Hell yeah! And who knows? Now that I have his figure on my shelf, maybe I’ll hunt through some of my back issues and look him up again.

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Grimm Fairy Tales: Sela Mathers (Snow White) Bishoujo Statue by Zenescope

Does anybody love Zenescope more than I do? I dunno, maybe. But the fact is that I love them a whole lot. When Marvel’s comics started seriously disappointing me, I started spreading my comic monies around to some of the indies and Zenescope took a lot of it. The only problem? Zenescope doesn’t have a lot of support in the way of merchandizing and that’s especially the case when it comes to statues and action figures. Well, obviously Zenescope saw the problem and answered it by Kickstarting a Bishoujo-style statue of their former leading lady, Sela Mathers as Snow White. If you’ve seen some of my Kotobukiya reviews, than you probably know what a Bishoujo Statue is. And it’s clear that Zenescope’s Kickstarter set out to imitate Koto’s Bishoujo formula as much as possible. So, how’d they do? Let’s find out…

Well, for starters I really dig the packaging! Sela comes in a colorful window box, and while it lacks the side and top windows that Koto employs on its boxes, this set up still looks nice. The statue itself is held between two clear plastic trays and you can get a pretty good look at her while she’s still boxed. And because everything is collector friendly, you can feel free to display her in or out of the box. As far as set up is concerned, Sela comes already mounted on the base, so all you have to do is put her sword in her hand and her glasses on her nose. Yeah, don’t forget the glasses. Mine were rattling around in the bottom of the tray after I opened her, and they’re probably pretty easy to lose when removing the statue for the first time. They do, however, slide into place pretty easily and stay on fairly well.

And here she is! I think the composition here is really close to perfect. It’s not only iconic for the character, but it succeeds in creating an image ripped from a cover page of the prolific comic. Sela assumes a wide stance with her left hip tossed to the side, her famous book of Grimm Fairy Tales clutched in her left arm and her right arm holding her sword behind her. If I were to nitpick anything here it would be that the book be positioned just a little lower so that it wasn’t obscuring the lower half of her face from certain angles. And that is indeed just a nitpick. Truth be told, I think they did a fantastic job designing this piece.

Equally impressive is the sculpting that not only defines Sela’s lovely form, but recreates her costume as Snow White. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing terribly intricate on display here, but what’s here does a fine job. The high heeled boots include sculpted laces running up the fronts, as well as some creasing here and there. The edges of her stockings are sculpted around her thighs, her short shorts feature some simple stitch lines as well as lacing on both hips of her shorts, the half-top has a sculpted, decorative border running around the top and the whole costume is rounded out by the bracers on her biceps and forearms. As for the coloring, it’s pretty solid, but some of the paintwork could have been sharper. The white paint on the all the lacing is fine, but there’s a little bit of slop along the gold border of her top. I’ll also note here that the skin tone has a bit of a waxy finish to it, which just just happens to be one of my pet peeves when it comes to PVC statues. It’s often one of those things that tends to separate more quality pieces from knock-offs. Does it bother me here? Yeah it kind of does. Is it enough to ruin the statue? Certainly not.

The portrait is every bit as good as the rest of the sculpting. It’s definitely Sela only filtered through the Bishoujo style. It works really well for the character and I think the likeness is close enough that even Grimm fans who aren’t into the Bishoujo aesthetic could overlook it and still enjoy this figure. The paintwork for the eyes and lips are both sharp and the glasses look great, even without any plastic for the lenses. The hair sculpt is extremely ambitious and for the most part I think it succeeds. However, it does break down a bit under close scrutiny, as some of the edges aren’t as sharp as they could have been and there’s a bit of what I presume is mold flashing here and there.

As mentioned, in her right hand, Sela holds her sword, Lysraseri, forged from four of the most powerful swords in all the Realms of Power. And this is indeed a beautiful recreation of the sword from the gold and silver finish, right down to the four gems in the hilt, representing the powers of Excalibur, Chrysaor, Mistilteinn, and Kusanagi. It also fits perfectly in her hand.

The book is also very well done. It has some gold decorations printed on the front as well as the title on both the front cover and the spine, with a bookmark peeking out the bottom of the pages. Unlike the sword, the book is permanently attached to the figure’s hand.

And our final stop on this figure is the base, which is a simple black disc. It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d expect to see on a Prize Figure, and even some of Koto’s own Bishoujo’s have gone with this utilitarian look. It’s functional, it works fine, and it doesn’t detract from the figure. There were also a number of bonuses added to the Kickstarter as Stretch Goals. As I recall, some were included free while others were Add On purchases. Here are some of the goodies that I got with her…

The coolest item was the Kickstarter Exclusive comic featuring the concept art on the cover. She also came with the same comic with a Sketch Cover, which I didn’t photograph because, well… it’s just a blank Sketch Cover.

The other bonuses included a Collector’s Pin with the same artwork on it, two metal Collector Cards, and a sticker.

The Buy In to get the Statue as part of the Kickstarter was $70 if you got in on the Early Bird pricing, which is right about average for a Kotobukiya Bishoujo figure, or at least it was until recently when those prices started jumping up. Is the quality here the same as on a Koto figure? Nope, not even close. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad figure. Indeed, for a first try, I think Sela turned out pretty well and while there were some production pictures during the course of the Kickstarter that made me a little worried, I’m quite pleased with the final product. Maybe I’m being a little extra forgiving because Zenescope figures are such rare occurrences, but what I do know is that if the teaser on the back of the box is true, I’ll be the first in line to pledge for a Robyn Hood Bishoujo.

Marvel Legends (Apocalypse Wave): Gladiator by Hasbro

Things are still pretty terrible with me and my family, but today I had a some time to myself and I decided I needed to treat myself to a little fun and since it’s Marvel Monday here I am for a quickie review. This will probably be the only one I get to this week, so thanks for bearing with me. Eventually I’ll get back on track…

Back in 2014, Hasbro released their Thanos Imperative set, an SDCC Exclusive which offered Legends scale versions of Black Bolt, Star Lord, Medusa, Blastaar, and of course Gladiator. I seem to recall it being pretty damn popular back then and the demand was great enough that I wasn’t able to get my hands on it. And now it sells for all the monies, so that was just one of those things I had to let go. Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of the story for some of those figures…

Because Hasbro has been pretty good about eventually getting these kinds of convention exclusive figures out to regular retail, and this boxed retail release of Gladiator as part of the Apocalypse Wave, leaves Blastaar as the only figure in the set that hasn’t been re-released one way or another. As is often the case, there are some changes in the paint, but since I don’t have the previous release, I’ll have to leave it up to you to hunt down some comparison shots. For now, let’s get him opened and check him out…

I don’t share a huge affinity for the character (other than the fact that he did once punch the USS Enterprise), but I do absolutely adore his design. Aesthetically, Gladiator is the epitome of everything I love about classic comic design, and this figure pulls it off pretty well, although I do have some notable nitpicks. The costume itself (minus the cape) is achieved entirely with paintwork and the mix bright red, dark blue, and yellow all conspire to make for an attractive deco. I can’t fault the lack of original sculpting, as the costume doesn’t really need it, but I will say the lines between the red and blue on my figure are really sloppy. It’s most noticeable on the thighs and chest, but really none of those lines are anywhere near as sharp as they could be. By contrast, the chest emblem and the belt are both remarkably crisp.

The cape looks great and includes the high collar and a sculpted tether that goes across the neck and connects with two large medallions. The yellow border shares some of the same rough paint lines as on the figure itself. And while the cape looks good in passive poses, it’s a little cumbersome when playing around with the figure. Part of this is because it’s pretty heavy, and part is because they chose to curl the left corner forward so that it could wrap around the leg. It’s times like this that I wish Hasbro would start experimenting with cloth capes and wires, because this is definitely a figure which could have benefited from it.

While I have nitpicks with the figure itself, the head sculpt is spot on. The details in the face are sharp and his determined expression is perfect. The sculpted hairline accentuates his pointed ears, and the plunging, dominant brow drives home the point that this is not someone you want to mess with unless you’re further up the Cosmic Marvel food chain. They also did a nice job with his magnificent mohawk.

The articulation is exactly what I expect from one of these beefier figures. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, the elbows are double hinged, and there are swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, the knees are double hinged, and there are swivels in both the thighs and lower legs. The ankles have hinges and lateral rockers, there’s a swivel in the waist, and an ab crunch hinge in the torso. Finally, the neck is both hinged and ball jointed, and it offers a nice range of motion so that he can look up for those flying poses.

And that’s all I got for today’s admittedly abbreviated review. Overall, Gladiator is another solid addition to my Legends shelves. Sure, I wish the paint was sharper in some areas, but the rough lines aren’t enough to ruin the figure for me. Yeah, he’s also a case where I’m really beginning to question whether or not Hasbro should be investing in some softgood capes, but I think that has the potential to go sideways, so maybe I should be careful what I wish for. And now that we have Gladiator in the Legends line, maybe it will break the logjam so we can get some more Shi’ar characters. Come on, Hasbro, Daddy wants a Marvel Legends Deathbird!

Hiatus…

Hey guys,

The long and short of today’s post is that I have to take a little time off. I don’t know how long, but right now I’m betting it will be at least a week. I hope it won’t be more. If you aren’t interested in the details, just know that it’s family stuff and please check back for new content soon. If you are interested in what’s going on, here it is…

The last month has been a challenge that keeps getting harder and harder. A couple months back my Dad was diagnosed with an aggressive and fast moving cancer in his hip. It quickly robbed him of his ability to walk. He took his first round of chemo last week and unfortunately, it tanked his white blood cell count putting him in the hospital this past Tuesday. He was running crazy high fevers and was in a really bad way. That night I spent nearly two hours holding his hand while he slipped in and out of a delusional state. It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life, because I love him so much. For the next few days he slipped in and out of high fevers as they isolated his infection and began treating him for it. Tonight he should be stable enough to move out of the ICU. But that just begins the real journey.

A week ago, when he finished his first round of chemo, he was optimistic and full of cheer. He had no noticeable side effects, and he was sure this was going to work. Now, his treatment has been side-lined. He’s lost at least a week of progress, and his pain just gets worse and worse. He can’t even turn over in his bed without serious pain. He has a long hard road ahead.

Now add to this mix the fact that my mother has dementia. She can still do things around the house. But she is continuing to lose her short term memory. She gets confused more easily and is getting to the point where she can’t be left home alone for very long. I have been juggling both of their care with work and it has felt like an impossible situation. Right now, I get up at 7am. Make my Mom lunch and drive over to her house. I make her coffee and breakfast and we head off to the hospital. She stays with my Dad while I go to work. After work, I drive back up to the hospital. Spend a little time with my Dad and then drive her back home. I get everything set up for her so she can watch TV for an hour or so before going to bed. I come home, chill a bit. Crash into bed and then start it all over again.

There are probably a hundred words that can describe how I feel right now. Some of the ones that come to mind are: Heart-broken, frustrated, exhausted, devastated, hopeless, and defeated. My only hope is to get my Dad home from the hospital and comfortable so that I can get some in-house care for them both.

Needless to say, this doesn’t leave me any time for this blog. And while that seems like a trivial thing when dealing with all of this, the truth is that this blog is therapy for me. It’s my lifeline when I’m drowning, and now I don’t even have that.

Right now, I’m just setting FFZ aside for this week. I’m not even going to try to do anything with it. Hell, I barely had time to type this. I hope to get something up maybe by the week of the 17th. Maybe sooner, maybe later.

Thanks,

Dave

By figurefanzero Tagged

Mythic Legions (Advent of Decay): Queen Urkzaa by The Four Horsemen

Today’s review falls into the better late than never category. I chipped away at it between hospital visits and family crisis, and managed to just wrap it up this evening. If there was ever a great example of how toys are therapy to help me get through impossible situations, this week has been it. So, what’s on today’s agenda? Orcs!!! The Orcs were a big part of previous waves of Mythic Legions, but they got the short stick when it comes to Advent of Decay. Hey, I get it. T4H had a lot of new races and factions to introduce, so it was only natural that some previous ones had to take the bench and sit most of this one out. That’s not to say the Orcs were completely absent from this assortment and today I’m checking out one of their few appearances in the Advent of Decay. And it’s none other than Queen Urkzaa, the ruler of the Orc Nation!

We’ve already seen these scantily clad female parts several times, not to mention in a variety of different skin colors, but here we’re seeing it in green for the first time. Urkzaa’s body is actually a pretty close match to the Demoness Xarria, as she shares a lot of that wonderfully crude and jagged armor that works so well with Orcs and Demons. The breast armor, the forearms, the knees, and the grieves are all the same. The waist armor is also the same, but here it lacks the hip armor and trades the front sash for a swatch of segmented plate. Urzkaa also borrows Herra Serpenspire’s bare feet. And here’s a fun fact, she’s one of the very few figures in the Mythic Legions line up to not come with any shoulder armor pieces.

Obviously, the Orcs don’t stand on ceremony, because despite being a Queen Urzkaa doesn’t cut a very regal appearance. Instead, she looks more like a savage warrior, and she even wears less than her fellow Orc generals and soldiers. T4H have used a few different shades of green to convey Orc flesh and I like that little hint of variety. Urzkaa’s skin leans a little toward the brighter side of green with some nice shading, and even some paint hits on her fingernails and toenails. The paint on the armor looks as great as ever. The gray wash mixes beautifully with the rough pitting in the sculpt to make it look well-worn and battle weathered. From the neck down, there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that Urzkaa is the ruler of the Orc Nation.

The portrait is all business! Urzkaa still manages to be a cutie even with those massive fangs growing up out of the bottom of her jaw. Some added ridges to her nose and brow gives her that not-quite-human appearance, and her almond shaped eyes are yellow and pupil-less. Is that a little mascara I see? The hair sculpt features two bundles of banded hair, each falling in front of one of her pointed ears. The rest of her hair is funneled through a headdress that I can only describe as a creature skull with an inverted jaw bone. It looks damned wicked!

As with her armor, when it comes to weapons, I guess Urzkaa believes less is more. In other words, she doesn’t come with a whole lot. She also doesn’t believe in carrying a shield. With that having been said, there are a couple of interesting blades in her arsenal. The first of which is the really cool Orc sword that was introduced in one of the earlier series. This design features a really distinctive hilt the handle and cross-guard made up of curved horns or teeth, I’m not sure which. The blade is that of a sweeping scimitar with a dark gray finish and a nasty clipped point that gives it a feel of a clever. The blade itself is littered with nicks and pitting to show that it’s seen plenty of action. T4H have used this blade very sparingly throughout the line so far, so getting it here is still a real treat.

The other piece we’ve seen before is the classic spear that goes all the way back to the original Kickstarter. If you’ve been around for my Mythic Legions reviews, then you know we’ve seen this one plenty of times. It’s possibly the least interesting of all the Mythic Legions arsenal, with a chunky shaft and the point all sculpted as one piece. This one has a brown rusty finish, which looks quite unbecoming of the Orc Queen, but it still looks good in her hands.

The final weapon included here is this grizzly looking bone cutlass. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time I’ve seen this weapon and it is a pretty evil looking piece of cutlery. It’s all sculpted from one piece of plastic and made to look like it’s constructed of fused bones, and the yellowed finish makes it look ancient.

I’m a little torn on this figure, mainly because of her bio. On the one hand, the figure itself looks amazing and I’m thrilled to be able to add her to my collection of Orcs. On the other hand, even for a savage race of warriors, as a Queen I think Urzkaa looks a bit too pedestrian. I would have liked a cape, maybe attached with those jagged shoulder pieces, or even some skull shoulders would have been cool. She’ll look great charging into battle with her fellow clan, but I feel like her design pales in comparison to the Goblin and Dwarf Kings, not to mention some of the more elaborate skeletons. I haven’t decided whether or not to toss out her bio and just consider her a female warrior, but either way I think she’s a fantastic figure.

Marvel Legends (Sauron Wave): Wolverine (Laura Kinney) by Hasbro

It’s time for another Marvel Monday and today is proof that I probably need to shake the box that holds my unopened Legends figures, because today’s random grab takes us back to the Sauron Wave! And I’m fine with that, as I’m rather excited to get the Sauron BAF assembled. But there was no cheating this week. Honest! So let’s go ahead and have a look at Wolverine!

And this is, of course, Laura Kinney as Wolverine coming hot (well, more like tepid) off the presses of another of Marvel’s sad and pointless gender-swaps. Then again, I’m one of those craaaaaazy people that believes strong female characters can sell books and don’t need to glom on to a male character’s identity to do it. But I will say that of all these recent identity-swaps, I actually didn’t mind this one so much. After all, Laura is one of those great characters that I just mentioned that doesn’t need to bogart Wolverine’s name to sell books. Not something I could say about Jane Foster or Riri Williams. Oh shit, my rant alarm is warning me that I’m getting dangerously close to going off topic, so let’s open this damn figure!

Whatever my feelings on the book, I sure as hell can’t deny that Laura looks amazing in the costume and this figure sells it big time! There isn’t a hell of a lot of new sculpting here from the neck down, as Hasbro lets the paint do the talking when it comes to the costume detail. There are, however, newly sculpted boots, which appear to be layered over the lower legs. It makes them a bit thicker, but not so much that it bothers me. The only other sculpted piece is the brown belt that hangs on her hips and sports the X-logo.

If you read my review of Bishop, than you know how much I love the yellow and blue deco of the 90’s X-Men costumes and those lovely colors are on full display here. The paint lines are pretty sharp, and the only nitpick I have here is the yellow paint on the arms and legs shows up darker than the the yellow paint on the torso because the blue is bleeding through. It’s not as bad as we’ve seen in the past, but still worth mentioning.

The figure comes with two heads, one masked and one unmasked. They’re both solid enough, but I can’t imagine not displaying her with the masked one. I love the classic design of the cowl and the way they sculpted her hair blowing off and to her left. It just looks amazing. Maybe if this figure shows up later on at a discount I’ll pick up a second to display both ways. The unmasked head looks fine on its own, but it’s hard for me to equate both as being the same person. The unmasked head just doesn’t look anything like the exposed part of the face on the masked head. But that’s OK, because I have another use for it…

It looks fantastic on the X-23 figure!

As with past Wolverine figures, the claws are slotted into the knuckles and they are removable, although I’m going to abstain from doing it. I removed one and found it really difficult to get back in. And unlike the X-23 figure from the Sasquatch Wave, this time Ms. Kinney is sporting her toe blades too! Now these blades tend to fall out pretty easily. In fact, I was positive I had lost them at least once.

The articulation here is standard stuff for our Legends ladies. I do like that they got the swivels in the lower legs, despite the sculpted boots. As for the rest, you get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips with double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint under her chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

Hasbro has been killing it with the X-Men figures lately, and Ms. Kinney as Wolverine is just another fine example of that. And nope, I don’t need to love the book to appreciate this figure. While the identity swaps are mostly cheap gimmickry, if anyone was going to take over Wolverine’s tiger stripes, it always should have been X-23 and I’m glad to have this figure on my Legends shelves. Besides, she just looks so damn good in those colors!

Transformers Siege: Megatron by Hasbro

I’m hanging on by a thread this week and I really didn’t think I was going to make it here today. But talking toys is like a soothing balm for all that ails me and so here I am, not at my best, but here nonetheless! Because the show must go on! Anywho… It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been back to look at the Transformers Siege line, and that just won’t do! So let’s go ahead and wrap up this week by opening Voyager Class Megatron! I think this is going to be an interesting ride!

I’ve said my piece about this packaging when I looked at Optimus Prime, so I won’t go on about it all again now. Suffice it to say, I dig it a lot. It’s evolved quite nicely since this style was introduced way back when for The Last Knight figures. Megatron comes in a collector friendly window box with some absolutely bitchin’ character art on the angled side panel, so what’s not to like? The imperious leader of the Decepticons comes packaged in his robot mode, but we’re going to start with his alt mode!

It’s probably not a surprise to anyone that the alt mode is a futuristic tank. Let me go off the rails for a moment and say that while the G1 version of Megatron’s robot mode will likely always be my favorite, I’ve never been a fan of the gun mode. Even as a kid, I thought it made for a crummy toy, and as for the cartoon, it always seemed a little emasculating for the mighty Decepticon leader to shrink down and be wielded by his subordinates like a common implement. The idea of Megs turning into a tank just works better on so many levels. So naturally, one of my favorite things Hasbro has ever done was find a way to make the G1 Megs robot mode work with a tank mode. And that’s probably why the Combiner Wars Leader Class Megatron (along with the help of DX9) remains my favorite version of the character to this day. Of course, I was happy to see them trying it again, this time at the more versatile Voyager Class size. OK, enough of that, on to the tank!

The Transformers designers sure love their H-type tank designs and this alt mode continues to prove that. As a result this tank looks like a bit like a cousin of Hardhead’s alt mode. This mobile gun platform is propelled by four sets of treaded pylons with wheels concealed beneath them to help it roll into the heat of battle. The body of the tank itself is pretty small, taking up slightly less volume than the copula, which is bisected by the massive cannon barrel. The gun itself cannot elevate, but the copula is capable of rotating left and right, adding a little bit of play and display value.

But make no mistake, this is not a sexy tank. It’s not even a photogenic tank. It is an ugly machine of war and that fits Megatron just fine. The surfaces are littered with seams and joints and hinges. There are some panel lines and sculpted hatches, vents, and compartments, but to me it all gets lost in a sort of jumbled mess, and surprisingly I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. As for the deco, it’s mostly comprised of gray and black plastic, with a little red, silver and yellow here and there. The cannon itself is easily the best aspect of this mode. It’s intricately detailed with silver and red paint hits to make it stand out. And surprisingly, the business end of the gun itself is not formed by Megs’ familiar fusion blaster, which makes for a nice surprise and a more distinctive design. Instead, it’s a combination of the fusion cannon in the back and a weird sword-gun weapon in the front, which is detached for transformation. All in all, this mode isn’t going to win any awards for aesthetics or ingenuity of design, but it works as a purely functional killing machine. And that’s a totally appropriate alt mode for Megatron. So how about that robot mode?

Well, there’s no doubt about it, this is G1 Megatron! Hasbro clearly designed this figure with the robot mode as a priority and then worked backwards. Sure, there are some bits of telltale kibble, and I’ll get to that in a bit, but so much of the homage is preserved that I’m fine overlooking the compromises that had to be made. Indeed, there are actually two pieces on the tops of his shoulders designed to fold back solely to mimic the hammer kibble from the original toy’s Walther PPK alt mode. Particular attention has been spent in designing the torso to resemble the Sunbow animation model and I absolutely love it. It’s basically the original toy torso, only boxier, beefier, and better proportioned. A few nitpicks? I wish the forearms filled in and the wrists would pivot, but those are some pretty small quibbles.

From the back, he looks nothing like Megatron, and that’s all because of his tank treads. Two of them fold up onto his back to form a fairly neat and tidy, albeit large, backpack. The lower legs, which aren’t too dissimilar from the G1 design when viewed from the front, really break down when viewed from the back, and those heel spurs don’t help either. So, yeah, the nearly pitch perfect homage does fall apart when the figure isn’t viewed from the front. And none of that really bothers me. What does bother me a lot is the choice to leave so much of the figure as just bare gray plastic. I thought it looked terrible when I first saw it, and while it’s growing on me a little, I still think it’s the deco, or lack thereof, is the figure’s biggest drawback. I can’t help but think how good this guy would have looked with the same sumptuous silver paint that Hasbro gave Combiner Wars Megatron. I also think that there’s a criminal lack of paint on his lower torso. It just looks terribly unfinished.

While the homage breaks down from the back, and the coloring is a sticking point with me, the portrait wins back plenty of points. I have to say, old bucket head never looked better. The “helmet” is perfect, the scowl on his face and red down-turned narrow eyes make him look tougher than a week-old Energon Cube. The face is painted silver, making it look superb in contrast to all that dull gray plastic. Megsy has a smattering of silver paint weathering splashed across his chest and arms, and a Decepticon logo printed on his chest.

Also winning back a lot of points is the nearly perfect fusion cannon. So many modern Megatron figures can’t seem to get this right, and yet I consider it crucial to any G1 homage. It was one of those “close, but no cigar” failings of the Combiner Wars Megatron that had to be fixed by a third-party company, and even that wasn’t a perfect fix. This one looks great and it’s positioned on the outer arm, to allow for really good poses and aiming. Hell, you can even peg it onto either arm, but we all know that the right arm is where it belongs, eh?

Megatron also comes with the previously mentioned combination rifle-sword weapon, which forms the front half of the tank mode’s main cannon. This piece can be discarded after transformation, or it can be retained as a weapon. I honestly didn’t think I’d have any use for it, as it’s not really something that I would expect Megatron to carry around. It is, however, surprisingly fun and versatile. I doubt I’ll display Megatron with it in robot mode, but it may wind up going to one of my other Decepticons.

In the end, this review has been quite the roller-coaster of opinion. I want to love this figure more than I do, and when I really dig deep, I realize that the only real sticking point for me is the coloring. I don’t mind the slab of tank kibble on his back, and I love just about everything else about the way the robot mode looks. This figure just feels like a great design with a piss-poor paint job. If Hasbro or Takara released this figure with a premium paint job like Combiner Wars Megsy had, I’d happily fork over the money to buy him again. As it is, the previous Leader Class Megatron with DX9 enhancements will remain my favorite. Nonetheless, I can’t deny this Megatron has everything else going for him, and the Siege versions of Megatron and Optimus Prime are easily the best pairing of these two mortal foes that we’ve had in a long time, if not ever.

Mythic Legions (Advent of Decay): Shadow Elf Warrior by The Four Horsemen

Obligations in my personal life are getting a bit crazy at the moment and that will be the case the next month or so. A tiny part of me is tempted to put FFZ on hiatus. Luckily, the other parts of me are reasoning that writing about toys is good therapy, so I’m pressing on with business as usual and opening another figure on this fine Mythic Legions Wednesday. I am, however, taking it easy today and going with a figure that will be pretty simple to cover, because he’s extremely similar to a figure we’ve looked at before!

Behold! The Shadow Elf Warrior! We’ve already established that there are many types of Elves in Mythoss and today we’re seeing a new kind! This fellow is kind of a Legion Builder in that he doesn’t have a character specific bio, but he does have some additional paint applications, just maybe not as much as a regular figure. Still, without looking back at my original invoice, I can’t remember if he was one of the budget figures or a regular release. Does he look familiar? He should, because he’s very nearly a straight repaint the Elf Legion Builder. The only different parts are the lower arms and lower legs, which eschew the full plate-mail armor of the previous figure with the lighter wrist bracers and leather-like boots. The rest of the figure is totally the same, even the optional shoulder armor pieces.

And yup, that even includes the head sculpt. Well, two of them to be precise. The Shadow Elf Warrior includes an open faced-helmet, showing off his inky blue skin, pupil-less eyes and long pointed ears. We’ve seen this face before with both caucasian and dark brown skin, and now we’re adding blue into the mix. I still love the contours of the helmet, which give it an organic, if not alien flavor.

The other head is the same helmet with a fully enclosed face plate that leaves just the ears exposed. This takes the same great design and just ups the cool factor by covering the face and making the portrait all the more mysterious. This head also adds a metallic blue stripe to the helmet, which I like, but it discounts the ability to make this the same character head with just the mask added. I also have to report that this particular head features the biggest paint flub I’ve had on any of my Mythic Legions figures. There’s a bit of blue chipped off the stripe and some blue splash on the mask’s left cheek. It’s disappointing, but this line still has a tremendous track record when it comes to nearly immaculate paintwork.

As the name suggests, the base coloring here is a bit subdued, but there’s plenty of flourishes to brighten things up. Much of the armor on the arms and legs is a deep brown with the cuirass and waist armor featuring a purple wash. t works well to make the armor look more like leather than plate and also contrasts nicely with the electric blue metallic paint used for the bracers and knee armor, which are clearly supposed to be plate. Similar blue is used for some of the accents on the upper legs, upper arms, exposed chain-mail, and pauldrons. Copper paint is meticulously applied to all the tiny sculpted rivets, as well as the buckles on each of the individual straps on the armor. The blue and copper mingle beautifully for the disc-shaped belt buckle, and all in all, this is another fine example of some rather unorthodox color choices turning out a striking figure.

This Elven Shadow Warrior doesn’t exactly come packed with a ton of accessories, although the extra head should count, I suppose. With that being said, he does come with the ubiquitous two-handed sword that we see over and over (and over!) again, and I’m still fine with that. Although, as much as I like it, I am starting to think that T4H maybe should have tossed one more two-handed sword design to offset the fatigue over this one being included so many times. I mean, if for some reason you don’t like this design, then you’re pretty much screwed! Personally, I think it works well with this figure, especially with the dark painted hilt, and as you can see, I like him wearing it with the belt over his shoulder and the sword slung across his back.

A shield is included, and we’ve seen this one before as well, probably most recently with the Myria Goldenbranch. I like this shield, and I don’t have a whole lot of them, so I certainly don’t mind getting it again, although I do wonder why T4H didn’t choose to include the Elf shield that they designed with more of the Elves. It’s a beautiful piece, and technically we haven’t even seen it here yet, because I haven’t yet opened the figure it comes with. I think this particular shield works well with the woodland Elves, but this Shadow Elf could have used something more exotic.

I’ve saved the best accessory for last, and that’s this large Elf axe. I don’t believe we’ve come across this one yet, and it is indeed a sexy piece of cutlery. Everything about is exotic, from the turned ebony handle to the sweeping curves of the silver blade. Even the butt of the shaft ends in a sharp bladed point. It’s large enough to be wielded with two hands, yet slender enough for one. I love this weapon!

Being more than a dozen figures into the Advent of Decay series, it’s expected to be encountering figures with lots of re-used parts. That is, after all, the very nature of this line. So, I’m fine with a figure like the Shadow Elf Warrior being more or less a repaint of a past figure, with just a few parts swapped. The new deco looks amazing and I’m continually impressed at how by just changing up the paint, T4H are able to transform parts from heavy full-plate armor to something that more resembles leather. I can happily stand this figure beside the Elf Legion Builder without the similar sculpts slapping me in the face. The axe is a great addition to the Elf arsenal, but I would have preferred the Elf shield be included instead of the round one we got. Either way, he’s another great figure to add to the collection!

Marvel Legends (Lizard Wave): Spider-Man Noir by Hasbro

Last week, I cheated on my Marvel Legends random draw, so I’m being good this week. I closed my eyes, rooted around the stack for a while and I came back with Spider-Man Noir from the Lizard Wave! This pleases me, because it’s been so long since I bought him, I had almost forgotten this figure existed! And while Spider-Verse figures don’t need to further justify their existence to me, this one has become a little more topical since we’ve seen the character portrayed in Into The Spider-Verse and even had a similar suit revealed for Spider-Man: Far From Home!

And just in case you needed any more indication of how far behind I am on my Legends, I reviewed my first figure in this wave, Gwenpool all the way back in April of last year. Spider-Punk followed in July, and here I am opening what is only my third figure from this wave. Needless to say all the amazing Legends reveals at Toy Fair this month had me weeping tears of joy and fear at the same time. I think I had convinced myself that the poor financial reportings would maybe cause Hasbro to pull back on the reigns a bit and slow down on production. Nope, seems like that’s not happening. And while it would have been nice to get a little breathing room to get caught up, I’m happy to see Legends is still a sure thing in their eyes.

And here he is! Another one of many gifts from Spider-Verse, a comic event that was not only really good, but practically made to sell action figures! Lots and lots and lots of action figures! I know, he had his own series first, but my first exposure to him was in Spider-Verse. As his name suggests, Spider-Man Noir is a darker version (both literally and figuratively) of Peter Parker, hailing from Earth-90214 and the pulpy squalor of The Great Depression.

Straightaway, Spidey makes use of pretty obviously recycled parts. The easiest mark is the jacket we’ve seen on figures like Nick Fury and Fantomex. Talk about getting a lot of years out of a garment! I didn’t think I was going to dig it here, but to be honest, I think it works out just fine and looks really good on the figure. What’s more the sculpted sleeves here work a lot better with it then the ones on the Fury figure. The other big call out for me was the Ghost Rider torso, which again is a good fit for the character design. As for coloring, well you obviously get a lot of black, along with some gray that’s so dark it almost might as well be black. Nonetheless, the change up between matte and glossy black go a long way to keep things interesting, and you get a little flash of silver paint on the belt buckle!

The head sculpt looks fantastic. I find the combination of aviator goggles, gimp mask, and featureless mouth all quite terrifying, and Hasbro did a beautiful job with it here. I especially dig the sculpted detail on the top of the hood and the subtle facial details that can be made out under the covering for the lower face. New sculpting also includes the turtleneck-style collar.

Accessories include twin pistols, one of which can be stored in the holster on his right hip. Why no left holster for the other gun? I don’t know, but since I can’t remember whether that was from the character design, I won’t come down on Hasbro too hard for it. These are pretty cool and distinctive sculpts and they fit well in his hands, although the trigger finger makes it easier to just have Spidey practicing proper trigger discipline.

No matter what Earth you’re on, most Parkers are agile little bugs and this figure reflects that pretty well. There are no surprises, so I won’t run down all the points, but as always the double hinges in the elbows and knees go a long way to making him a fun figure to play with. And this was another area where the jacket surprised me. I assumed it was going to put a real hamper on the poseability, but it really doesn’t. I think those were problems inherent to the Fury figure, especially in the arms.

It should come as no surprise that I really dig this figure. He’s a great representation of the character with some sensible parts recycling. And while he may not offer all the usual bright and snappy colors we’re used to seeing in a lot of our Marvel characters, that fact alone makes him stand out on the shelf. I’ve been looking forward to this Legends version ever since I got the 4-inch version back in 2016 and this one just blows that figure out of the way on every level. He also puts me one step closer to having to expand my Spider-Verse shelf.

Star Wars (Solo): “Mission on Vandor” 4-Pack by Hasbro

It’s been a stressful week for me and a couple of nights ago I crashed into my sofa, watched Solo for the first time in a little while, and enjoyed a wonderfully relaxing escape to a Galaxy Far, Far Away. It also reminded me that I have a whole bunch of figures from Solo waiting to be opened and reviewed. I was going to go with some of the 6-inch Black Series offerings, but it’s been so long since I checked out any of Hasbro’s 3 3/4-inch line, so let’s have a look at this Mission on Vandor 4-pack.

This set is very similar to the Rogue One Jedha Revolt 4-Pack. It’s the same size box and collects some characters from a specific sequence in the film. Here we get new versions of Han Solo and Qi’Ra, as well as an Imperial Range Trooper and Weazel, one of Enfys Nest’s gang. We’ll start out with Han and Qi’Ra.

Oddly enough, I don’t think Hasbro released a single carded Han figure for this movie. How crazy is that? There was one bundled with the speeder and one bundled with the Force Link 2.0 Reader. I never picked up that speeder, and while I had no interest in the Reader, I did get that Han figure loose on Ebay.

Anyway, this version of Han comes wearing his big furry coat and goggles, and it’s a pretty damn good looking little figure. The coat itself is a soft plastic vest layered over, what I imagine is a lot of re-use from the regular Han. The sculpted sleeves on the arms don’t quite match up all the way with the coat, but it’s close enough. The texturing on the coat is excellent and his gun belt is sculpted over it to hold it together. In addition to a functional holster, the gun belt also has a sculpted life-line and what I think is his Droid Caller on the other hip. The head sculpt is solid enough and the permanent goggles are decent enough for this scale. Nothing special, but not bad either.  The coloring is good, and I like the addition of the dirty boots.

No surprise, Han comes with his newly acquired DL-44 blaster pistol, which fits in his holster and can also be held in either hand. Although it’s intended for his right, as that one has a sculpted trigger finger.

Next up is Qi’ra in her Vandor duds, and while Han was a solid figure, this one actually impresses me on every level. The sculpt is fantastic, with little details like ribbing on the backs of her sleeves and on her collar. Her flared trousers feature tiny seam lines and little wrinkles, and her heels are even sculpted under the cuffs. The jacket is just part of the body sculpt, which works fine for this figure. Even the paint is so sharp and crisp. From the ultra thin line of her necklace, to the edging on her belt, the paint applications here are better than a lot of the 6-inch scale figures. Even the head sculpt is fantastic for this scale with more of that super sharp paint detailing.

Qi’ra comes with a very simple blaster pistol, which she can hold in either hand, and can also be stored in the holster on her right hip. I’d love to see Hasbro turn out this version of the character in the 6-inch Black Series, just to compare it to this one, because, setting articulation aside, I think this smaller one would hold up remarkably well.

The third figure is the Range Trooper, and this is the only figure in the box that was also available as a single carded release. I don’t have that version for comparison, but based on pictures I’ve seen, I don’t think there’s much difference. My guess is Hasbro gave him a single release because he’s a fodder for army builders. Either way, I think this is an excellent figure for the scale. They really packed a lot of detail into the sculpt, from the mechanics of his boots to the tiny stitch lines in his coat, to the textured fur collar and fringe on the sleeves and coat flaps. The red paint hits on the armor could have been a little sharper, but it’s not particularly bad either. I really dig how they got the same gold paint they used for the 6-inch Black Series version onto his tiny visor.

The Trooper comes with his standard blaster rifle. I actually don’t know what these blasters are called, but they’re very similar to the Stormtrooper E-11 rifles. It’s a decent sculpt, but the plastic on this one is really mushy. He can hold it in either hand, but there’s nowhere for him to carry it. That’s probably a fault of the costume design, because even the 6-inch version didn’t have a holster.

The final figure in the bunch is Weazel, one of Enfys Nest’s gang and of course played by Warwick Davis. This little guy also features some great detail in the sculpt, including a rather wide and complex system of belts, some ribbing on his outer sleeves, and a helmet that is somewhat tribal and similar in design to Nest’s but also includes a range finder like we see on the Mandalorian helmets. This was a great choice for including in a multi-pack like this one, as I’m not sure Hasbro would have risked putting him out there on a single card. Although, I’d be willing to bet he would still have sold well.

Weazel comes with two weapons. The first is this rocket launcher, which is cast in silver plastic and has a red painted rocket on the end. He can sort of hold it in firing position, but not as well as I would like. The design of the stock doesn’t really work with his arm, but I can get it to work fairly well. I really dig that they sculpted and painted two additional rockets hanging off his belt on his right hip.

He also has a small blaster pistol, which he can hold in either hand.

I realize that the 5-POA line is not popular with a lot of collectors, and I’ll freely admit that it isn’t a priority for me either. Nonetheless, collecting 3 3/4-inch Star Wars figures has been a part of my life since I was eight years old and I doubt I’ll ever be free of it. I don’t try to be a completist on these, but I do pick them up whenever I can find them, while I’m more likely to leave the super-articulated 3 3/4-inch figures on the pegs. Either way, this is a really nice assortment with some two cool variants, one brand new character, and an extra troop builder. I believe it retailed at around $30 originally, which is right in the ballpark of what these would cost together if they were single-carded. I picked up this set for $18 and that felt like a great deal!