Star Wars Black: Luke Skywalker’s X-34 Landspeeder by Hasbro

I usually take Wednesdays off from toy bloggery, but I’ve got a dicey weekend ahead of me what with Death Storm Irma targeting my city. At this point FFZ could very well go dark at any time, so I figured I might as well post while I can. And so today I’m dropping by to check out another piece of fallout from Force Friday II, this time coming at us from the 6-inch Black Series. And it’s another vehicle! After how many of those Tie Fighters lingered around at deep discounts, I’m a little surprised that Hasbro is releasing more 6-inch scale vehicles, and yet we not only got this one, but also Rey’s Jakku Speeder from The Force Awakens. Let’s have a look!

The box is pretty big and features the artsy-fartsy monochrome look that Hasbro has been doing with their Black Series boxed items for some time now. It’s not terribly flashy, but I like it. You get some schematic-like drawings of the vehicle as well as some photos on the back. There’s a little window to let you look at the included Luke Skywalker figure. If you’re looking for something with a little more premium presentation, you can always try to hunt down the SDCC Exclusive version, but be prepared to pay a chunk of change for it. Everything here seems pretty collector friendly, but my box was shipped with next to no packing from Amazon and beaten to hell by the US Post Office, so I won’t be keeping this box. There’s a little bit of simple assembly required: The top engine needs to be plugged into the back, the windshield needs to be clipped on, and the stand has to be pegged in underneath.

And here she is all ready to go, and I have to say that I like what Hasbro did here a lot. The Speeder seems to be fairly accurately scaled for the 6-inch Black Series figures. It’s possibly just a smidge on the small side, but I’ll get more into that when I get to the figures interacting with it. It’s not terribly hefty, but it is an extremely solid toy. The sculpt looks pretty spot on, although I’ll confess that I probably have the original vintage Kenner toy more firmly etched into my memory, rather than the actual prop from the film. Either way, even after all this time, I consider this to be a great looking vehicle. The design is fairly practical and beautifully retro-futuristic, and above all it has that “used future” look that makes the Star Wars Universe such a visually interesting place.

The stand is a simple clear piece that pegs in under the vehicle and gives it that hovering effect while still offering stability. The Speeder is actually rock solid when resting on the stand, which is great, although I’m surprised how much I do miss the bouncy effect of the old Kenner toy and it’s concealed springy wheels.

The vehicle’s deco gets by with a lot of bare brown plastic, but also features some solid paintwork. Now, to be fair, this is one of those pieces that really straddles the line between toy and collectible. With the size and price point, I don’t feel this is aimed at kids. On the other hand, the paintwork is firmly planted in the toy camp. The weathering, for example, looks neat and gives the Speeder some character, but it’s very deliberate and somewhat heavy handed, so people looking for a high end replica style piece are probably going to be disappointed. On the other hand, I have a feeling we’re going to see some truly spectacular custom paint jobs on this vehicle. And so, with first impressions out of the way, let’s take a closer look at some of the points of interest.

The passenger side engine is missing it’s cover, so you can see all the wires and inner mechanisms. I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen Star Wars and I still can’t remember whether this was always like that or was it inflicted by the Sand People’s scavenging after ambushing Luke. Either way, it’s a great distinctive feature that was overlooked on pretty much every version I’ve ever owned of this vehicle.

There’s some pretty nice sculpted detailing on the back of the vehicle. You practically have to pick the thing up or get down to eye level to even really see these things. I hunted for my Visual Dictionary to see what these things are, but I had no luck.

The back features two opening hatches, one is a storage locker, which can hold Luke’s binoculars or his lightsaber hilt, but not much else. The other hatch reveals part of the Speeder’s inner workings.

This exposed section of engine on the hood is particularly well done and the paint apps for the different wires are very well done. Here you can also get a close up look at the weathering on the side. Yeah, it’s just splotches of silver paint to make it look like the finish has worn off. Not bad, but not terribly convincing either.

The dented front end, on the other hand, is extremely well done. Even the silver dry brushing here is much better than the rest of the weathering on the Speeder. It actually looks like Luke struck a Ronto while driving home after a night of coiffing a dozen Blue Russians at the Cantina. Dude lives on a desert planet. How many things are there to collide with?

One of the most impressive details on the Speeder lies under the hood. The detailing on this engine is absolutely superb. Here is also one of the differences between this retail release and the SDCC Exclusive. The Con release had a button that would spin the turbine inside, this one does not. I’ve got to be honest, as far as exclusive features go, that’s pretty weak. I can’t say as I feel cheated out of anything for going with the retail version.

And finally, as we come around to the passenger side, you can see a clip that holds the rifle included with Luke. And speaking of which, let’s have a look at that figure.

So, this is basically a slightly better version of the single release of “Farmboy Luke” figure, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time on him. The figures are identical from the neck down, or close enough if you allow for some minor natural paint variations. The tunic is supposed to be crafted in better quality material, but I can’t see a big difference. I kind of like the old one a bit more because it has a little more yellowing to it to signify some wear.

The portrait is the biggest difference. The new one is loads better, but still not good. I like that the waxy skin tone is gone and the hair sculpt is tons better, but the caterpillar eyebrows and fish lips don’t are not welcome here. It’s arguably a little closer in likeness, but still not there yet. With that having been said, I’m ready to retire the old one in favor of this one.

The accessories include the same belt, binoculars, and lightsaber that we got with the last figure. New accessories include the hat with sculpted goggles, the aforementioned rifle, and the poncho. The poncho works about as well as I could expect from a garment in this scale that’s supposed to hang loose. It’s a good try and it actually looks and feels like a well tailored piece, but this has never been my “go to” look for Farmboy Luke. And with that out of the way, let’s see how the figure interacts with the vehicle…

Luke fits into the Landspeeder perfectly. He’s got plenty of room and he’s pretty easy to pose either gripping the wheel or putting one hand on the shifter. Even though the first version of this figure came out well before the vehicle was released, it looks like he was made to drive it. And that’s going to be the case for most Black Series figures that aren’t unnaturally bulked up. I’ve got no complaints here at all. So, how about using figures to create other movie scenes?


Much to my surprise, 3PO fits in the passenger seat almost perfectly. Seriously, the only issue here is that he has no elbow joints, so he’s going to be fighting Luke for control of the armrest. He’s not even difficult to get in there. What about R2?

So, R2 is a bit of a compromise. There’s a peg hole on the back that is supposed to fit the sensor in the back of his head and hold him in place. It doesn’t work at all. Not only is it too loose a fit, but it’s not even in the right place. As far as the intended design goes, this feature is a total fail. However, R2 can rest pretty well on the back without it, especially if you position his legs down a bit to stabilize him and keep him from rolling around. How about Obi-Wan?

Well, technically he fits, but you really have to work it to get him in there because of his molded robes, and even then, he doesn’t fit well at all. He pops up a lot higher than Luke and he looks awkward and uncomfortable. I’ve already ordered a second Obi-Wan figure and I’m going to cut off his lower robes, which should make him fit perfectly, but I’ll report back on that with an update to this review when it happens. How about 3PO riding on the back.

To the contrary of what a lot of people have said, this actually works. It’s not perfect, but it’s not too bad either. The trick is angling his legs down into the compartment behind the seats and then turning him at the waist to face forward.

While there’s some room for improvement here, I’m overall very pleased with the way the Landspeeder turned out. The biggest flaw to me is the incompatibility with Obi-Wan. He’s a figure that everyone is going to want to stick in there, so the fact that he doesn’t fit well is disappointing. I shouldn’t have to buy another one and modify it, but I’m glad that it’s an option, as I plan on displaying this vehicle with the extra Luke driving, Obi-Wan in the passenger seat, the droids in the back, and a Sandtrooper off to the side. Now, as happy as I am with it, I’m not quite as happy with the $60 price tag, but a lot of that has to do with the included figure. With SWB figures going for about $20 these days, that brings the vehicle price down to $40, which isn’t all that bad. I just wish they had done Luke right the first time, rather than bundling him with this vehicle to try to beef up the value. With that having been said, I’m satisfied enough that I’ll likely be picking up Rey’s Speeder eventually, although I may wait to see if it price drops.

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Star Wars “The Last Jedi:” Poe Dameron, Paige Tico, Rose Tico, and First Order Stormtrooper by Hasbro

Last weekend was Force Friday II, an event where retailers launch the new toys for the upcoming Episode 8: The Last Jedi, and my job requires that I partake, as a planner, coordinator, and executor. But as a buyer I was trying to sit most of this one out. I ordered the 6-inch Black Series figures that I wanted online, and I planned on abstaining from the 3 3/4-inch offerings completely. And after publicly boasting about my awesome willpower, I folded exactly one day later and bought four of these little buggers. Also, because I have even less willpower, I wound up opening them in the car while I was waiting for my order of Chinese Food to be ready, so I don’t even have any packaged shots. Jeez, I’m a real pathetic specimen. But that’s OK, let’s just borrow the official Hasbro pictures to have a look at the packaging…

The presentation here is white, clean, and snappy! The Star Wars logo is in red and you get a red swipe with the character’s name along with some great character art striping the card to the right of the bubble. The bubble shows off the figure and accessories quite nicely, and there’s an insert that calls out the Force Link gimmick, which uses a chip to identify the figure and play sound clips out of a glove-like accessory (sold separately!). Unfortunately, the back of the cards are a f’ugly multi-lingual soup with a mix of warnings and copyright information. I really miss the days of “Collect Them All.” Anyway, I dig what Hasbro has done here. The packages are fresh and original, and it’s a shame I already tore them to shreds. On a side note, just about every one of these cards came out of the cases all bent to hell. I’m not sure if that’s the norm, but it’s certainly enough to vex the MOSC collectors. Let’s start with Poe Dameron…

I wanted to start with Poe, because he’s the main reason I bought these. When I saw him on the peg and realized he was so much better than the garbage Happy Meal toy of a figure that we got for The Force Awakens, I decided to buy him to replace the old one. That quickly descended into, well, if I’m buying one I might as well buy a few more. So, this is essentially an apology do-over figure of Poe in his X-Wing Pilot outfit and from the neck down, it’s actually the exact same sculpt that we got last time. And that’s fine, because my issue with the previous figure was from the neck up.

Here’s a quick shot of them standing side by side and it’s easy to see what a monumental difference the better noggin makes, but I’ll come back to that in a bit. While the mold is clearly the same, the texturing on the flight suit looks a lot more pronounced on the new figure. Otherwise, there are just some minor variations in the coloring and the paint lines on the new figure are a lot cleaner. You still get the functional holster on the right hip and the teeny tiny blaster pistol, which he can hold in either hand.

And gone is the cartoonish blob of a head with the sculpted helmet and ugly painted yellow visor. In its place we get this fully sculpted head, which is not a bad likeness of Oscar Isaacs for this scale and price point. The facial features are really well defined and the paint is sharp and clean. The helmet is a little work of art by itself and includes a translucent yellow visor and crisply painted markings and insignia. What’s more the helmet fits perfectly and doesn’t look oversized at all. Jeepers, Hasbro, how did you manage to make a sculpted-on helmet look bigger than the one that comes off? That flies against all logic!

Poe features the standard five points of articulation, which includes a standard t-crotch, rotation in the shoulders, and a ball jointed neck. He also includes two additional points of rotation in his gauntlets. This is a great little figure and having it in hand just begs the question, why couldn’t Hasbro do this last time? Either way, I’m re-purposing the old Poe as a standard X-Wing Pilot, so he won’t go to waste. And hopefully I won’t lose the gun this time! Let’s move on to Paige Tico…

Paige and her sister Rose represent that magical time before a Star Wars film is released when you have action figures of characters that you know very little about. Case in point: When I was a kid, I proffered that Squid Head was a heroic Rebel spy integral to victory over the empire! Aaaaand then I saw Return of the Jedi and realized I may have overstepped a bit. We do know that Paige is a “Resistance Gunner” and seeing as she’s wearing a flight suit, I can surmise she’ll be manning a turret on some kind of fighter. I really dig the look of her flight suit, it’s similar to Poe’s, but has even more of a WWII flavor to me. You get lots of lovely little details like the rumples in the legs and the belts and buckles on the back of the ribbed vest. The paint is a little rough on the chest apparatus, but intentional or not, I think that gives it a nice weathered look.

As with Poe, Paige features a fully sculpted head with a wearable helmet. I’ve only seen a few stills of the actress, but I think the likeness is decent enough for the scale. The flight hood looks especially good, almost like you could take it off. The helmet features a translucent yellow visor and fits the figure perfectly. The markings on this one are fantastic, including a checkered pattern, blue stripe, and some insignia on the side.

Paige gets one more extra and that’s the breathing mask that hangs off her chest apparatus. This piece has pegs that fit into the sides of the helmet and it works surprisingly well for a figure in this smaller scale.  If and when Paige gets a 6-inch Black Series figure, I’m interested to see if they can really improve all that much on this one, beyond the articulation of course.

Paige has the same articulation as Poe, minus the gauntlet swivels. She also comes with a blaster pistol, which she can hold in either hand. The only downside is that she has no holster to store it in. How the hell am I not going to lose that? I might as well just give it to my cat right now. Moving on to Paige’s sister…

Rose Tico is another mystery character. Other than being Paige’s sibling we’re told that she is a Resistance Technician, I’m assuming means mechanic and I think has a lot of potential for a really cool character. With that having been said, Rose is not one of the more exciting figures in this wave, as she’s basically just wearing overalls. That’s not to say she isn’t a great looking figure. As with Poe and Paige, there’s a ton of great detail in this sculpt, from rumples and wrinkles to the sculpted pockets and the hood. She also has some sharp printing on the right of her chest and her sleeve.

The head sculpt seems like a fair likeness to what I’ve seen of the actress. They definitely got her hair looking close. Again, the printed Aurebesh lettering on her chest is a great touch.

Standard 5-POA applies, making Rose’s articulation identical to that of her sister. She comes with what I think is supposed to be some kind of spanner or diagnostic probe. It pegs into her belt and can be held in either hand. She also includes a rather large blaster rifle, so I’m assuming we’re going to get to see her do some fighting when Episode 8 hits. And that brings me to the last figure of the day, the First Order Stormtrooper.

I was expecting a repack of the exact same figure that was released in The Force Awakens line, but this Stormy appears to be all new. The biggest differences include a wider stance to the legs and a glossy sheen to the armor, where TFA version was more matte.

Here they are side by side, with the new release on the left. Overall, I’d say I prefer this one, although the new leg stance can make him a bit more difficult to stand, especially if you don’t have his feet planted in that one intended sweet spot. I’d also say that the details are a little sharper on the new one and the paint is a little cleaner.

The new version includes both the blaster rifle and pistol that came with the previous release and you can still peg either one into his leg.

The Last Jedi figures are retailing for $7.99 a pop in most places, and I think that’s a pretty good price for what you’re getting. In the past, Hasbro has touted these 5-POA figures as having the best possible sculpts, but this is the first wave in a while where I believe that’s true. Plus, I thought the days of decent action figures under $10 were a thing of the past, but even with the 5-POA standard, I really enjoy these a lot. I haven’t even touched on the gimmick that makes them talk, but I don’t think I’d pick up one of those gadgets unless they were discounted down to almost nothing. Oh, and yes, this means I’m back on the 3 3/4-inch Star Wars bandwagon and I’ll be checking out some more of these soon.

Marvel Legends (Warlock Wave): Colossus by Hasbro

Welcome back my friends, Marvel Legends never ends.

Waves keep coming out like crazy. Come and buy, come and buy!

Yeah, I got a little Emerson Lake & Palmer playing in the background. I’m also dragging ass today, folks, as I’m on seven straight days of work and I’ve got three more to go. I can’t tell you all how tempting it was to close down FFZ for September, but I’m trying my best to stick it out. Today, I’m all set to take a look at my fifth figure in the X-Men themed Warlock Wave and I’ve got quite a heavy hitter lined up for today. It’s Colossus, and since I got this guy loose from a buddy online, I’m going to forgo the usual packaged shot and jump right in to talk about the figure.

And he’s just gorgeous! Colossus is not only a great character in the comics, but he really got thrust into the mainstream limelight recently, with his splendid portrayal in the Deadpool film. Yes, even normies can easily recognize this guy now. This figure is also a little contrary to this wave’s Dazzler, which I looked at last week. While Hasbro had the magnificent balls to give us a very classic Allison Blaire, they went more recent and less iconic with Piotr. As most of you know, I’m reading very little of Marvel’s current crop of books, but I’m still pretty sure that this costume doesn’t line up with the current issues of either X-Men Gold or Astonishing X-Men. To be honest, I’m a bit at a loss as to where they pulled it from. I have no doubt someone out there can set me straight.

With that having been said, this is not one of my favorite looks for Colossus, but let me just come out and say that it doesn’t stop this figure from being totally amazing. Indeed, I like this one so much, it may be winning me over to this costume. The whole maroon and yellow-orange deco is fine, but I don’t get the big black cut out in the middle. I do, however, dig the powerful looking arm bracers with the ribbed cut-outs and the segmented portions on the front and back of the boots. The paintwork on the costume is pretty sharp, the paint looks great and the subtle orange trim to the boots are pretty cool. Of course, the best thing here is that wonderful blued steel finish Hasbro used for Colossus’ skin. That with the sculpted segmented lines and muscles make this figure a sight to behold.

And let’s not stop there, because just look at this head sculpt! It’s so sharp and clean and features such beautiful contours to the facial structure. This is an absolutely epic portrait that elevates a figure that already had a lot going for it. Of course, the head also features that same great steel paint finish, with some very nice and subtle shadowing and a pair of white piercing eyes. How could you possibly top this? How about with a second head?

Yes, Colossus includes an alternate bearded portrait and I have absolutely no idea what books this one is pulled from. I’m really striking out with my comic knowledge today. But that’s not stopping me from loving it. I really dig the squared off chiseled look of the beard and the angular up-swept hair style. The rest of the face falls in line with the original as just being all around fantastic. It pains me that one of these noggins is going to end up rattling around in an accessory bag unless I buy a second Colossus to display it on. And don’t think I’m not crazy enough to do it.

The articulation here is exactly what I would have expected from a beefy modern Legends buck.  Piotr’s arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, single hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the knees. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. The joints are all rock solid on this guy and with one hand sculpted in a fist, and the other grasping, there’s a lot to work with when posing him.

I’ll be totally honest, I would have been a lot more excited to get Colossus had he been done in the classic look, and part of me is still disappointed that Hasbro didn’t go in that direction. In fact, I’m actually considering picking up DST’s Marvel Select version to stand in until Hasbro comes back around to him. However, once in hand, this figure has really won me over, and that was no small feat. The colors are sumptuous and whichever portrait I end up displaying him with, he’s going to look great. Nice job, Hasbro!

And just a quick administrative note, I’m not doing a double feature today, because I just don’t have time, but I may try to make up for later on in the week. 

Femme Fatales (Justice League Unlimited): Hawkgirl by Diamond Select

Folks, my available content for DC Fridays continues to run scarce. Don’t take that as an indictment against DC Comics, on the contrary I’m reading more DC books than ever right now! But, with no really cohesive or worthwhile DC action figure line, I’m falling back to mostly statues. I can see a time coming where I may have to start rotating other content into Fridays, but we’re not there yet. Thankfully, the fine folks at Diamond are continuing to pump out the PVC statue love for DC in their wildly prolific Gallery/Femme Fatale line. And it so happens that I was lucky enough to have another of their Justice League Unlimited statues hit my doorstep just in time for DC Friday. Let’s open up the Bruce Timm style Hawkgirl!

Hawgirl is a 2016 release, which explains why the box still says Femme Fatales as opposed to the newer DC Animated Gallery branding, but they’re all really part of the same series, all scaled at roughly 9-inches, and are meant to display together. The box is identical to what we’ve been seeing all along, with windows on the front, top, and side panels to let the light in and see what you’re getting. In this case, that didn’t help me, because I got her online, but more on that in a bit. The box features the Justice League Unlimited logo and everything is collector friendly. Hawgirl does require a bit of assembly, as her wings need to be pegged into her back and her foot has to be pegged into the base. Getting her pegged into the base was a little tricky, as I had to bend her legs out to make the pegs fit. That’s not uncommon with statues, and it’s a lot less nerve-racking with a budget piece like this one.

All set up, Hawgirl charges up a rocky base with her wings trailing behind her. She’s clearly about to have at some unfortunate villain with the full fury of her mace. I dig what they did here with the composition. It’s a lot more energetic than most of the other Femme Fatales, but it still fits in fine with the overall theme. The sculpt reflects the animated style beautifully and they really nailed her stylized proportions. As an animated statue, there isn’t a whole lot of sculpted detail, but all the paint lines are incorporated into the sculpt.

If you’ve been with me through any of my previous looks at this line, you may recall me saying how important the paint quality is on these animated style statues. With limited sculpted details, clean and well-applied paint is absolutely crucial to carry the day and make for a presentable display piece. Unfortunately, that’s a bit of an issue with this one. Hawkgirl is a textbook example of a statue that looks totally acceptable from a fair viewing distance, but begins to fall apart under close scrutiny. The most egregious issues are the seams where the arms connect to the shoulders. These were obviously intended to be covered by paint, but the paint either wasn’t thick enough, or it cracked after being painted and the result is an eyesore on some fairly prominent parts of the figure, particularly the right arm. There’s also some unsightly white rubbing along the top of her left thigh where it meets her red hawk-undies. I’ve seen the same issues on pictures of the statue from other people’s collections, so I know it isn’t an isolated incident.

The portrait is fairly good. I’ll be honest and say that this style has been hit or miss with me and Hawkgirl, as she sometimes looks really silly as if her eyes are on the sides of her head like an actual bird. It’s not something specific to the statue, but the animation model as well. In the cartoon, the animators could force perspectives on her and most of the time it worked, but in this case when you’re doing a fully realized 3D statue of a 2D design, you can’t rely on that as a crutch. I think it works fine in profile and when viewed at a slight turn, but dead on straight she looks pretty ridiculous. Again, not a fault of the sculpt, but rather the source material. With that having been said, the lips are painted quite nicely, the eyes aren’t too bad, but my statue has some rubbing and scuffing on the right side of her mask. It’s also worth mentioning here that the flesh tone looks fine on her face, but has some rubbing on the arms, which just make her look dirty.

The mace is recreated pretty nicely here. Oddly enough, it’s sculpted as a separate piece and fitted into her hands. You can’t really remove it, but it does rattle around in there a little and you can turn it so that the lanyard can face different directions. The matte gray paint on the head of mine also has some scuffing and rubbing, but nothing too bad. Surprisingly, the painted wings on my statue are quite smooth and even.

The base is a giant rock, which in the context of the figure looks fine, but by itself it looks like a giant lump of chocolate, or perhaps something else.

I’ve been a huge cheerleader for this line and many of the statues have offered some really impressive value for the dollar, but there has been an occasional disappointment here and there. Lady Deadpool was one, and now Hawkgirl is another. There’s nothing terrible here, but there are just enough issues to bug me. And yes, I realize this is a budget line. Hawkgirl’s MSRP is around $40 and I picked up mine for considerably less, but after some stellar releases like Zatanna, Black Canary, and Medusa, I guess my expectations have been buoyed. Still, my track record on this line has been pretty damn good, and I’m not going to let a few flubs on Hawkgirl dissuade me from continuing to collect it.

Voltron: Legendary Blue and Yellow Lions by Playmates

I warned you all it was coming! Voltron has invaded Transformers Thursday and he ain’t gonna leave quietly. Well, truth be told, I have some new Transformers figures on their way to me, but they haven’t arrived yet so I needed filler! Still, after how much fun I had with the Ultimate Voltron, I thought I might as well check out Playmates’ Legendary, combining lions. Today I’m checking out Lance’s Blue Lion and Hunk’s Yellow Lion!

The lions come carded, which is pretty surprising as these are fairly good sized toys and larger than you’re average Voyager Class Transformers figure. The packaging lets you see lions very well and while the card look generic on the front, the backs are actually personalized for each lion. They also advertise the Netflix series, which, if you haven’t seen it, you should check out, because it’s surprisingly great. As attractive as the packages are, the downside is that they’re not collector friendly. Inside, you get the lion, a rather large weapon with projectiles, and a very tiny pilot with sled. Let’s open them up and let them loose!

I really love the look of these guys and I think they match the animated models quite well. They’ve got just the right mix of organic curves and squared off edges, making this an aesthetic that I can really get behind. They also compromise very little in favor of their ability to transform. The coloring is also very flashy, with base colors achieved through colored plastic and both the yellow and blue looking suitably bright and glossy. They also each have some red, white, and silver paint apps in all the necessary places. In a lot of ways, I’d say these cats can stand up to Matty Collector’s more expensive classic lions.

Another thing I really dig is that this pair are slightly different in size. Hunk’s lion is slightly larger and bulkier than Lance’s and each of the lion’s head sculpts are unique. I’m interested to see how the scaling difference effects Voltron, since they both form his legs, but I’m sure it’ll work out fine.

The articulation on these cats also stacks up quite nicely. The front legs feature ratcheting joints at the “shoulders,” “elbows” and “ankles.” The back legs have the same with an extra added ratchet between the “knee” and “ankle.” The tails are made of a bendy material and the jaws are springloaded and can open and close. That last bit, is a little disappointing, as it means you can’t display them with the mouths open. Also, there’s no articulation in the middles and the only articulation in the necks allow for the heads to move up and down.

Each lion comes with a teeny tiny pilot in sled. These go a long way to demonstrate the enormous scale of the lions and they can fit into opening compartments in their bellies. Honestly, I could have done without these. The shots of these on the package show them having paint apps on the little pilots, but that didn’t carry over to the actual toys. Once they’re in the lions, I doubt I’ll ever take them out again.

And speaking of features I could have done without, each lion also comes with a ridiculously oversized weapon that can mount on their backs. Hunk’s is an “armored disk launcher” and boy does this thing look stupid. It also doesn’t really match the cannon that Hunk could summon in the cartoon. It clips onto the lion’s back and it comes with four translucent blue disks. I’ll grant it this, it does shoot quite well! Obviously, I don’t need to use if I don’t want to, it just clips on and off, but it’s a whole lot of plastic invested in something I don’t plan on using a lot.

Lance’s lion features an ice beam, which translates into shooting a translucent blue missile. I actually don’t mind this thing as much as Hunk’s. The twin blades that reach out over the lion’s head looks kind of cool and once again, it shoots really well. Hey, I know these are toys, and I’m sure kids will have endless fun shooting these things off.

I’m not sure what the original MSRP on these lions are, but I picked mine up off of Amazon for about fifteen bucks a piece and it’s hard to argue with that. These figures are made really well and look great. Overall, the quality is loads better than what I was expecting. It goes without saying that I’ll be picking up the rest of the Legendary Lions, but next Thursday, I hope to be back to looking at an actual Transformer and then I’ll just alternate for the rest of the month.

Star Trek Mega Bloks: Klingon D7 Battlecruiser by Mattel

It’s been a while since I looked at any building sets, so I thought I’d mix things up today and check out another one of the Mega Bloks Star Trek sets. I built and reviewed a couple of the smaller sets way back in July of last year and since then I almost forgot these things even existed. Then I got a friendly Recommendations email from Amazon telling me they were blowing out the Klingon D7 Battlecruiser, which reminded me of the old Klingon saying: “Today is a good day to buy!” Seriously, this was a deal that would have made a Ferengi blush!

The set comes in a mostly enclosed box with fancy angled edges, and a tiny window to show the included Micro Figure and a nice illustration of the finished build firing its disruptors. This whole union between Mega Bloks and the original Star Trek series is so random and weird, but also delightful and miraculous at the same time. I’ve only seen these sets in a brick and mortar store once, but seeing any Star Trek merch on the shelf gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling, especially since it was the 50th Anniversary of the show and no one seemed to care. I keep meaning to pick up the Bridge and Transporter sets, and maybe building this one will encourage me to finally do just that.

The box contains about six bags of pieces, none of which are numbered. You also get a loose base plate, and a large and colorful instruction manual with shots of Kirk, Spock, and Uhura on the front. All together there are 351 pieces which builds the ship and the display stand. I found this to be a fairly challenging build, and I attribute that to two things. First, since the bags aren’t numbered like in LEGO sets, you have to dump all of them out, which makes for a lot more pieces to search through. Second, 99% of the pieces in the set are either gray or light gray, so sorting by color won’t help much. There are also a surprisingly large number of smaller pieces used, and hardly any specialty pieces. I’d say the build was overall pretty enjoyable, but with a modicum of frustration every now and then.

And here she is all built, measuring about twelve inches from the front of the bridge to the back of the warp nacelles, and ready to earn honor and glory for The Empire! I’ll start out by saying how cool it is that they included a buildable stand and how much I love what they did with it. It includes a rotating base so you can display the ship anyway you want. It also has a nameplate with the ship’s designation, and you get a Klingon battle flag and a little Captain Kor to stand in front of it. Obviously, the Micro Figure is not in scale with the ship, but it’s a really cool way to display the completed model. Plus, the Micro Figures in this series have all been excellent. Kor comes with a a little hand disruptor and a shoulder strap to carry it in. On the downside, my set was missing one of the clear support poles that hold the ship up. It still works with just three, but I think it stinks when they leave parts out. In the past, Mega Bloks has made it easy to automatically report missing pieces and they will ship them out, but in this case their system doesn’t even recognize the model number of this set. Let’s take a closer look at the D7 itself, and to do that I’m going to take it off of the stand. But I’m going to have to empty out a shot glass first…

Overall, I think this is a great looking rendition of the famous Klingon warship, and the fact that it does use so few specialized parts makes it all the more impressive. It’s really well proportioned and the two-tone gray blocks fit the color scheme of the ship perfectly. The disruptor effect parts are pretty cool, but you can obviously remove them if you’d rather not have your D7 perpetually firing.

I was a little worried about the integrity of the boom, but it’s reinforced quite well at both ends, and I’ve been handling the ship a lot without it detaching. I particularly love the engineering behind the way the wings attach, allowing for them to angle downward ever so slightly and yet still not be floppy. All in all, this is a very sturdy model and it’ll stand up perfectly to being wooshed around the room.

One thing Mega Bloks has been doing better than LEGO is their use of printed bricks over stickers. The D7 uses them pretty sparingly. You get the Imperial emblem on the one wing, a few blocks with Klingon script, the impulse glow on the back, and the windows and torpedo tube on the bridge module. They even accounted for using translucent green blocks on the back of the warp engines. Nice touch!

I really dig how the spaces betwen the bricks look like windows on the sides of the bridge module. It’s probably not intentional, but a cool incidental effect anyway. Also, I just noticed that I put one of the bricks with the rows of windows upside down and they’re slightly out of alignment. At least that’s an easy fix.

Overall, I’d rate this set pretty highly, especially if all things were equal and I wasn’t missing a goddamn piece. The original MSRP was $40 and if I compare that to one of LEGO’s licensed $40 sets, I find that on average, this one includes a couple dozen more pieces. Sure, the quality isn’t as good as LEGO, but it’s not really bad either. Also, I doubt LEGO could have done much better with the design at the same piece count. What’s also not bad is the price this thing is going for now on Amazon. I picked mine up for about $11 and as I write this it actually dropped down to $10, so I picked up a second one. Now if only the 3,000+ piece Enterprise would drop too, because I’d really love to pick up that thing!

Marvel Legends (Warlock Wave): Dazzler by Hasbro

A place… where nobody dared to go… the love that we came to know… they called it Xaaaaanadu! As a child of the 70’s and 80’s, I can remember one of the first lightning bolts of puberty hitting me while catching a bit of Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu on the family’s new-fangled wood-grain cable box. Ever since then there’s just something about hot disco blondes singing on roller-skates that does it for me. When you mix that up with comic books it’s even better. And therein lies my love affair with Alison Blaire. OK, so she was more Farah Fawcett than Olivia, but close enough. This is one of the figures in the wave that I picked up loose online, so let’s forgo the usual packaged shot and jump right in to the figure.

And this is indeed classic Dazzler, before she went through all her weird permutations and ended up as a Punk Edgelord in Marvel’s current mess of horrible books. Can I express how stupid I think it is for Dazzler as a character to evolve to match different contemporary music styles? I think it took away so much potential for some girl-out-of-time charm. She should always be fighting villains with the righteous power of disco at her back! Regardless, this is the Dazzler I always dreamed to get as a figure, but never thought we would and she is absolutely glorious! Sporting a stylish white jumpsuit with flared out cuffs on the pants, a high popped collar, a low-cut front and a back cut so low, it isn’t even there. The white costume has a nice sheen to it and the skin tones are smooth, warm, and even.

And roller-skates! The skates are cast in gray plastic with blue wheels and toe stops. Interestingly enough, Dazzler is not my first comic book figure on wheels, that honor goes to DC Collectibles’ Roller-Derby Harley Quinn. Now, as much as I love this Dazzler figure, I have to give the nod to DCC for doing the skates better. Not only do the wheels on Harley’s skates roll, but the skates peg into her feet and can be removed. Still, these aren’t too shabby either, and she’s less likely to roll of the shelf, which is a good thing.

The portrait looks great, thanks in part to the beautiful blue face paint surrounding her eyes. The hair is sculpted as a separate piece, which gives it a lot of depth and features a pair of hoop earrings buried in there. She also sports a disco ball style necklace. On the downside, mold flashing strikes again! I’ve been seeing it on a number of my Legends figures lately, but thankfully it’s pretty easy to clean up.

The articulation here is pretty good. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have swivels in the thighs. There are rotating hinges buried up in her bell bottoms and she has a ball joint under her chest. Finally, her neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

As we’ve already seen, Dazzler comes with a microphone, which fits into her right hand. It’s a simple little sculpt cast in the same gray plastic as her skates.

Alison also comes with an effect part and it’s the same damned hex effect we’ve seen only a thousand times so far. This time it’s rainbow colored and yeah, I guess it works well enough, although I’m not sure I’m going to display her with it a lot.

When Hasbro brought back Marvel Legends, I never anticipated it would last this long, let alone get us figures of characters like Dazzler. She had to be an extreme risk on Hasbro’s part, and I hope to hell she performed well for them. I’d point out that I don’t see any of her hanging around in my area, but then all the Legends pegs here are usually picked dry or packed with figures from a bunch of waves back. Either way, she’s a great treatment of the character, and I hope Hasbro continues to take these kinds of risks when filling up their waves!

Marvel Legends (Warlock Wave): Shatterstar by Hasbro

It’s just another Marvel Monday, and that’s my fun day! At least this one is, because I have the day off and I’m spending the morning drinking coffee and opening up some action figures. Today I’m checking out my third figure in this wave, Shatterstar, and I’ll be back later tonight with a look at Dazzler!

A lot of this wave I wound up buying loose from a buddy online, but Shatterstar was pretty easy to find, so here’s a packaged shot. I was a big fan of X-Force way back when even to the point of buying some of the Toy Biz figures at a time before I got back into buying toys and was only really collecting Playmates Star Trek figures. I never even opened any of those X-Force figures. I just hung them on my wall and admired them in all their garishly colored beauty. Shatterstar was one of my favorites, so naturally I’m thrilled to see him turn up in this wave.

And here we are, Shatterstar in all his 90’s comic design glory. Giant shoulder pad? Check! Bitchin’ half cape? Got it! Meaty, extra-thick, pointless thigh strap? Of course! Pouches? Um… sorta? He’s got a nice brace of pouches running around his sculpted belt, but honestly, there’s plenty of room for more. All these wonderful 90’s trappings feature original sculpted parts and are tied together with a pair of buccaneer gauntlets and some truly epic flared boots. The underlying, mostly white, buck features wide black stripes down the outer legs and his star pattern printed in black and partially obscured by his mega-shoulder-pad. All the original sculpting looks great. I love the little folds and rumples in his cape and the shoulder pad and belt have a worn leathery look to them. Even the belt buckle is painted silver. When all is said and done, this is a great looking figure!

And the portrait is no slouch either. The facial features are well designed, and he has the star tatt over his left eye. It’s a little tough to see the eyes when looking straight at him because that padded half-helmet sits low and casts a shadow over his peepers. Nonetheless, I love how the top-less helmet looks like it’s sculpted from an entirely separate piece. It matches the weathered leather look of the belt and shoulder pad, almost like an old timey rugby helmet. Also the hair looks great, complete with his trademark snaking ponytail and the twin braided pigtails that hang down the front, which must have been all the rage back on MojoWorld.

The articulation here is superb. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivel cuts in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed in the hips, have double hinges in the knees, as well as swivels in the upper thighs and hidden under the boots. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. The torso features an ab crunch hinge, a waist swivel, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. The only issue I have here is the hips on my figure are really loose. Going to have to address that with a little floor polish.

Shatterstar includes his distinctive swords, and I have always loved these things! They’re both cast in the same matte gray plastic. Some paint apps on the hilts would have been cool, but they still look fine. One features a twin blade and the other a single blade. Both have those kick-ass spiked knuckle guards.

While I haven’t encountered Shatterstar in my funnybook readings in a very long time, the nostalgia I have for this character makes him a most welcome addition to my X-Force roster. Everything on this figure just comes together perfectly and I’ve had him on my desk for quite a few days so that I could play around with him on my down time. I’m still pretty early into this wave, but it’s possible that Shatterstar could turn out to be my favorite in this assortment, but he’s going to have some stiff competition. Come on back tonight and we’ll have a look at Dazzler!

DC Comics: Wonder Girl Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

It’s DC Friday again, and also the start of a four day weekend for me. I can’t think of a better way to kick it off than by opening up a brand new Bishoujo statue from Kotobukiya. And oh, look! I happen to have Cassie Sandsmark, aka Wonder Girl, ready to join her fellow Teen Titans Bishoujos!

There isn’t much new for me to say about the presentation here. Wonder Girl comes in a mostly white window box with some of that lovely artwork by Shunya Yamashita. The statue itself comes encased between two clear plastic trays and the package is totally collector friendly. While Cassie comes attached to her base, there is a little bit of assembly required, as her golden lasso must be pegged into both sides of each of her fists. If you own the first Bishoujo Wonder Woman, you know how this works. Although, I’ll confess I had a little trouble getting mine to tab in and I eventually had to shave a little of the tabs to make them fit.

With that out of the way, here she is all set up and looking fantastic. Wonder Girl assumes a wide stance with her chest puffed out and her hands clutching the coils of her golden lasso, which snakes around behind her. All I can say is I really dig the composition here, she’s heroic and flirty, and just an all around perfect fusion of the character and the spirit of the Bishoujo line.

As mentioned, this is Cassandra Sandsmark as Wonder Girl, decked out in the modern costume and boy did Koto go all out on what could have been a fairly pedestrian outfit. The cut off t-shirt features a raised eagle emblem sculpted onto the front of it as well as sculpted borders around the neckline and sleeveless shoulders. The jeans feature a sculpted belt with a “WW” emblem belt buckle, sculpted star patches on the thighs, and flared cuffs mostly concealing her high-heeled boots. Details include little rumples in the shirt and jeans, stitch marks, belt loops, and studs on the pockets.

The coloring here also goes a long way to make this figure pop. The blue on the jeans features some gradations making them look faded in some area and contrasts beautifully with the bright red star patches and the silver luster of the belt buckle and studs. Likewise the sumptuous gold leaf paint compliments the bright red of her shirt perfectly. And as always the skin tone is warm and smooth.

The portrait is classic Bishoujo bliss. Cassie features a broad smirk as her sandy hair dances wildly around her, exposing some metallic red star earrings. Her eyes, eyebrows, and lips are all perfectly painted.

The base is worthy of a lot of praise, not only for its creativity of design, but also for its economy of shelf space. I’ve got over three dozen of these Bishoujos, and some of the larger disc bases can contribute to some pretty bad shelf congestion. Here, you just get three metallic red stars, which take up only as much room as they need to present the figure.

If you can’t tell, I’m totally in love with this statue! With Koto’s Bishoujo line beginning to double dip on some characters like Wonder Woman and Harley Quinn, it’s nice to see that they’re still willing to mine the roster for previously unreleased characters as well. Wonder Girl was a great choice for the line, and I’m actually more than a bit surprised they didn’t get around to her sooner. Indeed, I still wouldn’t mind seeing Donna Troy get the treatment. I picked up this lady for about $40 shipped, which in these days of Bishoujo prices creeping ever upward, is a damn good deal for such a high quality work of art.

Ultimate Voltron by Playmates

I know, it’s Transformers Thursday, but I’m waiting on some new figures to roll in. So, in the meantime, I feel as if today’s subject matter isn’t too far a field. It feels like a lot of my spare time has involved Voltron lately. I’ve been watching a lot of Legendary Defender on Netflix (started back at the beginning) and I’ve also been selling off my MattyCollector Voltron because the shitty gray plastic on one of the lions started yellowing horrifically and I don’t even want to look at it anymore. And surprisingly enough, even with one bum lion, those toys are proving to have been a damn good investment. Also, I truly believe in the ancient Zen teachings, which tell us when one Voltron Door closes, another one opens.

Behold, the Ultimate Voltron. I saw this thing in the stores many times and thought it looked neat, but it wasn’t something I wanted to blow a lot of money on, but when a deal came my way, I couldn’t resist. This is not the one that actually splits into the separate lions, it’s more of a big (about 14-inches tall) action figure, and as we’ll soon see that has its charms. Besides, I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future, a number of Transformers Thursdays are taken up by reviewing some Voltron lions. Still, giving the moniker Ultimate Voltron to one that doesn’t separate seems a bit like empty boasting. Can this truly be an Ultimate Voltron… well perhaps the name Excellent Compromise Voltron would be more accurate, but probably would have gotten some of Playmates marketing people fired. But before pressing on, let me stress that this figure is a toy. Yes, a lot of what I review here are technically toys, but some of them really straddle that Toy/Collectible line. I’d argue that Marvel Legends and most of the DC figures I look at are aimed more at collectors than kids. This Voltron, on the other hand is 100% Toy and is most definitely aimed at kids. As a result, I’m happy to know there’s still enough joy in my middle aged, dark pit of an alcohol soaked heart that I can get this much enjoyment out of something targeted squarely at the kiddies.

The box is a dominated by a huge window that not only shows you exactly what you’re getting, but also lets you try it out by reaching into the glory hole and pressing your finger to Voltron’s… eh, let me end that metaphor before it goes any further. Suffice it to say, this is an attractive package that mostly lets the toy inside do the talking (literally!) and is still more or less collector friendly, once you snip a bunch of zip-ties and get the Legendary Defender free from his tray.

Once free from the box, all you have to do is plug in his wings and he’s all set to go. So the compromise I was talking about earlier should be very obvious. This Voltron does not separate into his lions, but he is perfectly proportioned after his animated Netflix counterpart. I’d be lion lyin’ if I said that I didn’t prefer the old 80’s design over this one, but with that having been said, this new Voltron really has grown on me tremendously. I’ll even go so far as to say that I like the wings on this modern update better than the “V” back panels on the original. This design eschews the boxy goodness of old for a sleek, sexy, curvy, and ultimately more organic form and there’s certainly something to be said for it. I’m prepared to say it’s not better, not worse, just different, and that’s cool.

Perfect proportions aside, the other trade off here is that this Voltron is a flat out action figure with all the articulation to back it up, so let’s run down those all of those points. The shoulders feature ratcheting rotation as well as ratcheting lateral hinges, followed by ratcheting hinges in the elbows and swivels in the biceps. The hips feature ratcheting rotation as well as ratcheting lateral hinges. Voltron has a fair amount of heft to him, and those ratchet joints in the hips do a nice job of supporting him in wide stances. The knees feature ratchet hinges, and there are swivels in the thighs. The ankle articulation is especially cool. Not only are there strong ratchets up in the ankles and lateral rockers in the feet, but there are also hinges in the middle of the feet. There is no torso articulation, but the head can rotate as well as look up. The wings are attached with rotating hinges, giving them a great amount of posability.

With the selling points of proportions and articulation out of the way, let’s talk a little about sculpt and paint. The overall sculpt follows the animation model quite nicely. In an effort to follow the animation style, Voltron is not overburdened with sculpted detail, and I think that was a good choice. One thing that surprised me is that the sculpt actually portrays battle damage. The most obvious example of this are the scrapes across his abdomen, but the more I scrutinize the figure, the more little dings and scrapes I can make out. Some of them are rather subtle, and that’s because there’s no corresponding paint to make them stand out. I can see the damage being an issue of contention with some fans. It doesn’t really bother me, on the contrary, I think it gives him character.

The paint and coloring are both suitably bright and glossy. I love the vibrant shades of blue, yellow, green, and red that they used for the lions, and the silver paint looks fantastic. Some of the paint lines could have been sharper, especially the gold panels on his chest, but this is where I remind myself that this is a toy and not a collectors’ item. I do, however, wish they had chosen to use some of that lovely silver paint on the parts that they left bare gray plastic. The collar around the neck and Voltron’s face itself would have looked so much better if they were painted. I think it would have really elevated the look of the whole toy.

One of the big draws for the kids will no doubt be the electronic lights and SFX features on this figure. Collectors may find it a little less endearing, but there’s an On/Off switch on his back if you’d rather not accidentally fire them off whenever you’re handling him. The lights include the translucent blue wedge in his chest, as well as the panels on the sides of his face and his eyes. As for the sounds… I’ll let Mr. Voltron do the talking…

 

As far as electronics go, it’s pretty cool stuff and the dialogue seems to be all sampled directly from the show.

There’s another play gimmick, that I’m more or less ignoring and that’s the missile that fires out of the green lion arm’s mouth. There’s a button on the side of the arm. Press it once to spring the mouth open and press it again to fire the missile. It’s fairly harmless as far as play gimmicks go. You could, I suppose argue, that they curtailed some articulation in the wrist to make it work, but there isn’t wrist articulation in the red lion arm either.

Finally, Voltron comes with his sword. The new sword is probably my least favorite thing about the new Voltron design, but then the original Blazing Sword was a masterpiece. In any event, this one is cast in a relatively soft plastic and features the translucent blade. He can hold it quite firmly in his right hand. Yes, it’s also worth mentioning here that the shield on his left shoulder does not come off.

I seem to recall this Ultimate Voltron hitting the shelves at around forty or fifty bucks, which is probably why I didn’t consider picking him up. Lately he’s been reduced to $28 at most retailers around here, and thanks to a little bit of funds I had rattling around on a gift card, I was able to pick him up for twenty. While I would still argue whether or not this fellow should have been called Ultimate, I think he’s a fantastic toy. He’s fun to pose and he looks quite majestic on the shelf. He’s also sturdy as all hell and can probably take quite a beating, which makes him a terrific toy for the kids. And at the new price point, I think he’s definitely worth checking out. If they had a figure like this out of the original Voltron back in the 80’s I probably would have never put it down.

By figurefanzero