GI JOE Classified: Duke by Hasbro

At some point my Classified Snake Eyes may actually ship out and arrive, but until then I’m now down to opening my last GI JOE Classified figure from the initial assortment. I started with Scarlett because she was one of my more anticipated, but Duke was easily the second, so I saved him for last.

Once again, the packaging for this series has been first rate. It’s colorful, it’s collector friendly, you get plenty of great artwork, and even some details about the character expressed through creative use of iconography. I wish I had the room to keep all these boxes, but sadly I do not, so let’s tear this open and see what Sgt. Hauser is all about.

So far, Classified has been a mix of old and new, with Duke’s design falling a little more in line with the familiar. He’s sporting a beige shirt, similar to his rather iconic look from the original Real American Hero figure and the Sunbow cartoon. It’s got an open collar, some black trim on the shoulders, and his medal pinned to the right side of his chest. Duke has one piece of elbow armor on his left arm, which is admittedly kind of weird. His sleeves are sculpted to be rolled up to his elbows, making it look like Duke is ready to get down to business. And that business is punching in Cobra fangs. The trousers have sculpted pockets, some reinforced patches, and he’s got gold and silver armor on his knees and shins, which have some light blue accents. Yeah, the gold armor thing is kind of an odd ongoing style choice with these figures. I don’t hate it, but I could probably have done without it too. It felt a little more natural on Scarlett, but here it feels like something they just tacked on to give him more of a sci-fi flavor.

Duke’s uniform also features some pieces that are sculpted separately from the actual figure. These include his belt, pistol holster, and bandoleer strap. These are each cast in green plastic with sculpted pouches and some nice detailing. The belt has a silver buckle, and the chest strap has some fixtures sculpted up near his left shoulder, similar to what we saw on Roadblock. Overall I do like the look of his uniform, even with the armor pieces. When I look at him my mind still goes back to the Duke design that I knew and loved as a kid, plus there’s enough new elements to keep him fresh for a new generation of collectors. Personally, I just would have added an American flag patch to his shoulder.

Likewise, the portrait here is quite reminiscent of the Duke of old. I’m not going to lie, I would have loved if we got something with a little more resemblance to 80’s Sunbow Duke, but I still think that this is a great head sculpt for the character. The blonde hair is sculpted into a short regulation-style coif, his eyes are blue, and his chiseled features include a jawline that goes on for miles, a cleft chin, and a mouth that is pressed together and sealed with determination. I also really dig the scar over his right eyebrow. This portrait has a ton of personality and it works fine for me as the Duke Hauser of the current era.

Duke is sporting some excellent articulation, which results in just a couple of drawbacks. The shoulders have rotating hinges set into some rather limited lateral crunches. The elbows are double-hinged, and he has swivels in his biceps. The wrists are odd in that they’re pegged and can be removed, but he only comes with one set of hands. His torso sports a swivel at the waist, and an ab-crunch similar to what we see in the Marvel Legends line. His legs are set on two ball joints up in the hips, with double-hinged knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers and the head is on both a hinge and a swivel. Besides the weird wrists, my only other gripe here is that the shoulders look odd at certain poses, like balls separated from their sockets. Sometimes it feels like Hasbro is experimenting with different articulation systems with this line and have yet to settle on a standard.

In terms of gear, Duke comes with a backpack, which is very reminiscent of the one that came with the original figure, and pegs right into his back. Unfortunately it has a habit of popping off on my figure. It might have helped if they had put a hole through the shoulder strap and have it line up with the hole in his back. The backpack is a very detailed sculpt with pouches and even two canteens, all cast in green plastic. There is also an entrenching tool (shovel!) in the middle of the pack, which is painted in a dark gray.

Duke comes with a set of binoculars, which can peg into the back left hole in his belt. This accessory is sculpted all in dark gray plastic and there isn’t a whole hell of a lot else I can say about it. It’s likely an homage to the more traditional binoculars that came with the original figure and could hang around his neck.

Next up is his pistol, which fits into his holster and can be held in either hand. It’s sculpted to look like a futuristic automatic with a gold slide. Hasbro seems to be content with giving all of these JOEs futuristic style weapons and quite frankly I’m fine with that. I grew up watching them fire laser guns in the cartoon, and the series cast off realism pretty early on in the game.

And finally, Duke comes with his rifle, which is clearly supposed to be some kind of laser gun because of the blue emitter at the muzzle. Happily, this weapon is also designed to look like it has ties to a realistic weapon with some AR-15 characteristics, so I’m OK with that. The level of detail is really nice. It has a skeletal style stock, a scope, a detailed magazine, and a foregrip. Like the pistol, the upper areas of this weapon are painted gold. I really appreciate that the figure’s articulation lets him draw the scope up to his eye for aiming poses. Very nice.

With Duke, Classified continues to toe that line between new and old. So far Destro is clearly the one figure that got the least amount of makeover, but Duke here isn’t all that much different to what I’m used to. And with four of these figures on my shelf I can safely say that I really like what we’ve got so far. Given my druthers, I would have preferred direct updates to the Real American Hero figures, or even realistic takes on the Sunbow designs, but I’ll still happily take these instead. They look great on display and are fun to play around with. Indeed, all the Classified JOEs have been residents of my desk since I got them. And I’ve had a blast fiddling about with them on my downtime. Hopefully I’ll be able to put Snake Eyes in the spotlight, if he ever does turn up.

Fate/Grand Order: Caster Nitocris “Super Premium” Figure by SEGA

I’ve recounted recently about how I’ve pulled back from buying Prize Figures, mostly because they were starting to get out of hand and I had no space to display them. All in all, I’ve been pretty well behaved on this newly imposed restriction, but I still had the odd pre-order pending here and there, and I decided to let most of them ride. I still dig these figures a lot, they look great, they’re inexpensive, and they come in handy for days like today where I don’t have a lot of time and need something quick and dirty to feed that content beast. So let’s check out this Caster Nitocris Super Premium Figure (SPM) from SEGA!

Nitocris hails from the Fate/Grand Order game, and I like to call this purchase a Consolation Prize Figure, because I really wanted to pick up Amakuni’s Scale Figure of her, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on that price, and so I satisfied myself with this figure instead. Yup, there’s more of that self control again. I’m not entirely hopeless. As with most of SEGA’s SPM figures, Nitocris comes in a very colorful and fully enclosed box, featuring some nice shots of the statue and a bit of English copy on the box to help you know what you’re looking at. Inside, the figure comes wrapped in plastic and requiring some minor assembly. Here you attach the head and the right arm at the elbow, plug in the support piece for her hair, and then plug the figure into the base. All told, she measures about 9-inches tall and now that she’s all set up, let’s have a look…

There’s something about chicks in Egyptian costume that does it for me, and this is indeed a very beautiful figure. Nitocris stands proudly with one leg in front of the other, her left hand resting on her hip, and her right hand clutching her staff. Her outfit doesn’t leave too much tot he imagination, and I ain’t complaining. She has a white top to cover her Upper Deltas and a sculpted blue sash to conceal her Lower Nile Valley. Her hips are covered in plastic pink “fabric” and the whole ensemble is held together by some sculpted beaded chains. She has some brown wraps on her forearms, and her plastform sandals have sculpted wraps that reach up to just under her knees.

Nitocris’ curvy figure is framed by her copious coif of cascading blue hair that balloons out in the middle and comes to an end with a chunky red ring. This hellacious waterfall of hair looks cool and distinctive from the front, but sadly covers her entirely from the rear view. Seriously, from behind she looks like just a big blob. Besides the excellent sculpted detail on this figure, I think the colors are probably what I dig the most. The combination of white, pink, and deep indigo blue all looks so lush and striking against mocha colored skin. But what really shines is the wonderful gold leaf paint they used. Just lovely!

The portrait is suitably adorable, as Nitocris features a pair of Anubis-like ears, large printed purple eyes, and some face paint on her cheeks. She has a cute pointed nose and her mouth is pressed into a grin. Her gold and blue gorget and headpiece both frame her portrait perfectly. And as if she didn’t have enough hair pouring down the back of her, she also has two bunches running down either side of her head and nearly reaching her hips.

Her ebony staff is quite striking and is permanently attached to her right hand. I also dig the loose bangles that hang on her wrists.

The base is a simple translucent disk with the game’s logo printed on it in vibrant blue lettering. It’s simple, functional, and doesn’t take away from the beauty of the figure.

And that’s it for this Wednesday’s admittedly brief review. It’s always a treat to take a look at a new Prize Figure, especially since I won’t be doing it all that frequently here any longer. If you’ve been kicking around with me on FFZ for a while then you probably already know that I’m a big fan of SEGA’s SPM figures. At around $20-25, they offer plenty of bang for the buck and Nitocris here is no exception to that. I’m not even a big fan of the game, but I do love me my Servants and this one in particular has been calling to me for a while. I pre-ordered this lady a little while back, but she’s been available on places like Amazon for a while, and to me this one makes for a nice alternative to those pricier Scale Figures. Now, if Max Factory should happen to release a Figma of her, well I’d probably have to come back for seconds.

Marvel Legends (Banner Hulk Wave): Union Jack by Hasbro

Hooray, it’s time to open the final figure in this very old and weirdly random wave of characters from both the funnybooks and the MCU. And after last week’s downer of a review, I’m glad to have one more to open so I don’t have to end things on a negative note. Sorry, Rock Python, but you kind of sucked! This time, it’s Union Jack giving us team building fans one more for The Invaders and another for MI-13! Don’t screw this one up, Hasbro!

Eh, it would be really hard for Hasbro to screw this one up, as they even did a fine job on Union Jack back in 2008. The blurb on the back of this package doesn’t say specifically, but I’m going to assume that this is Joseph Chapman, rather than one of the Falsworths, as the costume looks fairly modern. Sure, why not? Let’s go with that. And just a reminder, I’m not going to be reviewing the Endgame Hulk Build-A-Figure because I gave all those parts away. That’s all I got about the packaging, so let’s dive in and take a look!

The corporate directive with the comic-based figures in this wave seemed to be “Use as little new sculpting as possible!!!” as that’s what we get with Union Jack. Not a problem, though, since this is a costume that works well when it’s just painted onto a buck. Yes, most of the costume is just a giant um… union jack, painted onto his torso. The only tripping point would be how painting on a dark plastic body often turns out to be a train-wreck of bleed through. Thankfully, that isn’t the case here. It’s not perfect, the white isn’t as vibrant as it could be, but it’s not too bad and the red looks really good.

Jack includes some extra pieces to round out his costume, which include red cuffs on his wrists and ankles, and a bitchin utility belt. The brown military-style belt features some sculpted pouches, a working holster on the right hip and a working sheath on the left hip. The ankle cuffs are a pain in the arse, as they’re only held up by friction and often slide down to the ankle hinge, as can be seen in a lot of these photos.

The head sculpt is simple, but it’s exactly what it needs to be. The hood has some subtle sculpted stitching seams and you can just about make out the details of his face underneath it. The paintwork on his exposed eyes is particularly sharp. The sculpted concentric rings around the eye holes are a nice touch too!

Articulation is pretty important for a character like Union Jack, and Hasbro delivered with this nimble buck. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double-hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinges in the knees, swivels at both the thighs and lower legs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The torso sports an ab-crunch hinge, a swivel at the waist, and the neck is ball jointed and hinged. I think the lateral crunches we sometimes see in the shoulders would have been good for this character, but I don’t think it would have worked well with the flag pattern on the torso.

Union Jack comes with two weapons: A revolver and a fighting knife, both of which are cast in a really cheap looking silver plastic. At least they painted the grips black. It’s too bad because the sculpts aren’t bad, but the pistol is a huge step down from the excellent one that came with the 2008 version of Union Jack. Too bad I don’t still have mine. Of the two accessories included here, I think the knife fares a bit better.

Next to Loki, Union Jack was probably my most anticipated figure in this wave. I love the character, I love the teams he hangs out with, love the costume, and despite some sub-par weapons, I think he turned out great. This is the epitome of a simple but fun figure. For a lot of folks, this release may be overshadowed by the MCU figures in this assortment, and those were pretty damn good, but Union Jack is a stand-out figure for me.

And that puts this long overdue wave to bed! For next week’s Marvel Monday, I’m going to kick things back to something more current and topical and start tackling the Black Widow movie wave!

Transformers Earthrise: Optimus Prime and Trailer by Hasbro

One of the gripes I have with collecting Transformers is the frequency in which Hasbro releases new figures of the same old characters. Sure, it’s nice to get updates, but it frequently renders my existing figures obsolete and I wind up selling them off to make room for the new and improved versions. It’s not a big deal when these figures are five or six or even ten years apart, but when it happens within the space of a year, it can be a little annoying. Case in point, we just got a kick ass Optimus Prime figure in Siege last year and here we are getting a new one in Earthrise. Ah well, at least that one was a Voyager and this one is a Leader Class right? RIGHT???

Well, technically. If you’ve been picking up the Leader Class figures lately, you are no doubt aware that the trend is to use that price point to release Voyager-sized figures with extra parts that incorporate into their alt mode. And that’s the case with Earhtrise Prime here. He’s a Voyager sized figure, but he comes with his trailer and that bumps him up to the higher price assortment. So did we really need another Voyager Class Prime this soon? Especially when the last figure was so damn good? Let’s have a look. I’ll note here that I was tempted to make this primarily a comparison review, but then I decided Earthrise Prime deserves his own time in the spotlight, so I’ll first take a look at him on his own and then come back to the comparisons at the end. Let’s start with the alt mode.

I gotta say, this cab looks GREAT and it’s classic G1-inspired Prime through and through. You get the usual panel seams on the sides, but the cab is so detailed with panel lines that it serves to downplay those seams. From the front we get a big slab of glorious Freightliner, complete with silver paint on the grill and bumper and some translucent blue plastic used over the windshields and the headlamps, and again for the windows on the sides. The smokestacks are short (obviously for safety reasons) but they look fine, the gasoline drums on the sides are painted silver, and you get some weapon ports on each side to mount guns. I dig the sculpted vents on top of the hitch-up and overall the red and blue plastic they used looks superb.

The trailer is a huge draw here and it’s none too shabby. Sure, it’s basically a gray plastic box on wheels, but to me Prime always feels incomplete when all we get is a cab. This trailer pegs into the cab, allowing for a pivot at the junction. At first it felt a tad undersized for the cab, but after messing around with it for just a short while, I found that not to be a big problem. It does, after all, look great hooked up and all decked out with that familiar striping and the Autobot emblem emblazoned into the sides. The tailgate sports some nice sculpted detail and drops open to form a ramp and allow access to the interior. The trailer also has a set of swing down legs so it can rest when Prime transforms, because unfortunately this toy trailer does not magically disappear and reappear like it often did in the Sunbow cartoon.

And yes, there is enough room to roll your average Deluxe Class car into that trailer, even if it is a bit snug. Some of the older Basic and Scout Class cars would make for a better fit. The trailer also transforms, but I’ll come back to that in a bit. Let’s move on to robot mode…

Transforming this figure is satisfying without being too fiddly, and I was genuinely impressed with the way the engineering packs and unpacks many of the panels that make up the cab. When all is said and done, you get an absolutely amazing robot mode. Prime has a poetically trim profile, which keeps all his truck kibble in check. When viewed from the front, I have absolutely no complaints. His stout barrel chest is comprised of the actual windshield piece from the truck, while his abdomen with the grill is a fake-out in order to give it that tapered look. All those great looking panel lines and tiny rivets in the sculpt come across in the robot mode as well. The backside isn’t quite as polished, but it ain’t too shabby either. I love the way the cab wheels are stored on his lower back, even if it isn’t something I’m used to seeing on my G1-style Primes, and the gas tanks look great on the backs of his upper legs. I dig the way the lower legs fill in, but I do wish those panels were blue instead of gray.

Most of the coloring from the cab mode carries forward and that red and blue plastic still looks great here in robot mode, as does the gray plastic. The silver paint is sharp and appears not only on the grill and smokestacks, but also on the lower leg vents, forearms, and some neat trim around his windows and wipers. The deco is rounded out by an Autobot emblem printed on his left shoulder.

The head sculpt is very similar to what we got with Siege Prime. My only gripe here is that the eyes can be tough to see with the naked eye, possibly because the brow ridge is a little too prominent. Fortunately, the heads can be swapped, and in the end I may wind up doing just that.

Prime comes with a new version of his Buster Rifle, which is a little beefier than the Siege version. It’s mostly black but does have some gray pegs, one as a grip and another coming out of the side. Prime’s hands are hinged at the figures, forming a peg-hole when closed so he can hold the rifle in either hand. The rifle can fold up in the middle and the side peg allows it to be stored on Prime’s back when not in use.

The figure’s chest can also open to reveal a removable Matrix. I love the amount of detail they sculpted into the Matrix Chamber and it’s all painted over with that lovely silver paint. The Matrix itself is a solid piece with a gold housing and a translucent blue center.

Transforming the trailer is very similar in design to the old G1-version. It splits in the middle and opens to reveal a few possibilities for play and display, although there isn’t a lot going on in here. There’s a repair drone, but no Roller or consoles or anything else. To be fair, in this mode, the trailer is pretty underwhelming. There is some nice sculpted detail throughout the interior and some peg holes to place weapons or store blast effects, but I would have liked something more. Even the repair drone lacks any paint and there isn’t a lot of detail on him. As a result, the open trailer serves best as a repair bay. It can be opened horizontal to lay a damaged Autobot down and have the drone work on him in robot mode, or they can drive up there and get serviced in their alt mode. The only issue here is that since the struts on the trailer just fold down, they don’t support the sides like the swing-out struts on the original toy did.

You can also stand it up and use it as a repair gantry, and I think this mode works best for the bigger figures, like Prime. It’s not the most exciting execution of the transforming trailer gimmick, but it’s not bad either. OK, let’s wrap up with some comparisons between Earthrise Prime and Siege Prime.

Now in fairness, comparing the two cab modes mostly comes down to preferences in style. Technically Siege is supposed to be Prime’s Cybertronian mode, but come on, it’s really just an Earth truck that looks like it’s been modified a bit for battle. The translucent blue plastic covering Siege Prime’s grill, the four cannon-looking ports on his bumper, and the slab that covers his roof lend him a wee bit of a sci-fi flavor, but it’s still just a tweaked Freightliner FL86 that somehow inexplicably evolved on another planet. I don’t dislike it, but I do like the look of Earthrise Prime’s cab infinitely more. It’s just so so clean looking and pretty. Both cabs are scaled exactly the same, but sadly Siege Prime doesn’t have a socket to allow him to pull Earthrise Prime’s trailer. You can kind of fake it, but it’s not meant to be compatible.

Choosing a favorite in robot mode isn’t quite as clean cut for me. Both are fantastic looking figures, and scrutinizing them together, I find there are things I would pick and choose from each figure to make an Ultimate Prime! When it comes to Siege Prime, I dig the sculpted circuit patterns behind his windshield, and his pelvic piece is more streamlined. I also like the fact that his legs are more blue on the insides, and he has the lights on the roof painted yellow. I guess the slab on his back also makes it look cleaner than his successor. As for Earthrise Prime, well he doesn’t have all that f’ugly and annoying kibble hanging off his arms, and that’s a HUGE improvement for me. I also think his chest looks overall cleaner. From behind, the gas tanks on the backs of his legs look cool and his lower legs fill out better than his predecessors. It’s a really hard choice, but I gotta go with Earthrise Prime for the win here.

If it weren’t for the trailer, I would have easily passed on this Prime, but only because the previous one came out so recently and I really dig its robot mode. With that having been said, I’m glad I didn’t skip him because I think this figure turned out fantastic. It’s almost like a Mini-Masterpiece Prime. The engineering is great, and both his robot and alt modes are absolutely brilliant. I think the only real crime here is that Hasbro sold me a Voyager Class Prime a year ago, which is basically already obsolete. Sure, the alt modes are different, but not different enough for me to care about hanging on to the Siege version. And yet, as much as I do love the trailer, it doesn’t feel like there’s enough there to properly elevate this Voyager Class to a Leader Class price point. Maybe some more paint applications inside the trailer would have helped. I’ll also mention the fact that this figure was extremely difficult for me to find. I had just about given up on getting him, when I just so happened to spot him at Target and snatched him up!

Best Prime Hasbro has put out in ages? Yup! Without a doubt!

GI JOE Classified: Roadblock by Hasbro

If you needed proof of how excited I am about Hasbro’s new 6-inch GI JOE Classified series, you need only look to the fact that I’m turning in my third Classified review in as many weeks. Hey, that’s pretty good for me! So far, I’ve checked out Scarlett and Destro, I’m still waiting on my Snake Eyes to show up, and today I’m opening up Roadblock! Out of my way you Cobra punk… I’m gonna kick Destro in the junk!

Have I told you how much I love the packaging? Yeah? Well here we go again! Literally, the only thing I would change here is to put the red, white, and blue back into the lines in the GI JOE logo. Otherwise, you get some bitchin’ character art on the front and right side panel, some specialty icons on the left side panel, and a great piece of artwork on the back teasing some classic JOE vehicles and some more characters. The packaging is collector friendly, and like the Star Wars Black Series, the figures are numbered based on release.

While Classified Roadblock is clearly a new design, it looks like Hasbro drew inspiration from the Real American Hero 1986 (v2) figure. Gone is his original camo tank top and instead we get a green tactical vest. It’s not the spitting image of the RAH design, but clearly the three red flaps, the left shoulder pad, the right pocket, and the knife and scabbard are all nods to that outfit. It’s true that the first version figure will always be my Roadblock, but with that having been said, I still dig this look a lot!

The vest is molded in soft plastic and worn over the buck, which gives him some appropriate levels of bulk. There are some excellent details in the vest’s sculpt, including what looks like a socket wrench on his right shoulder. I like that the colors are muted, with the exception of the gold, and the star on his pocket was a nice touch. Additionally, he has sculpted brown trousers with plenty of pouches and nice texturing. And finally some gold armor on his boots and left knee. That big gold knee-pad is really the only thing here I don’t care for. It’s not so much that it seems out of place, but that it’s so adhoc the way he just has the one. I know that by 1986, most JOEs just wore whatever crazy shit they wanted, but the one lone knee-pad seems contrary to military uniform design. But that’s just me nitpicking.

Roadblock has a sweet lion tattoo on his upper left arm and he’s got a pair of red and green gloves sculpted onto his hands. Overall, the paint detail on my figure is pretty sharp.

Hasbro has been doing a solid job with the portraits in this line, and I’m happy to say that Roadblock is no exception. He’s easily recognizable by me and I especially like the sculpting on his beard and mustache. Yeah, he does have a seam line running across his bald head, but it’s really faint and hard to notice with the naked eye.

The articulation here is quite similar to Hasbro’s Marvel Legends line. Indeed, the big departure comes in the torso where there are two ball joints: One in the waist and one again under the torso.

In addition to a little knife for the scabbard in his vest, Roadblock’s main accessory is his giant um… gun. Yeah, this giant laser(?) gun would not have been my first choice as a weapon. Hasbro’s got a ton of really good machine guns in this scale. Hell, they should have just pulled the one last seen with Crossbones in the Marvel Legends Thunderbolts SDCC set. I’m not saying this is a bad looking gun. It’s got plenty of detail, a nice silver finish, and some blue and red paint applications. If you’re a fan of that wacky sci-fi shit that eventually permeated the Real American Hero line, then this might be right up your alley.

The translucent blue plastic near the beam emitter is cool and the magazine (or in this case battery(?) is removable. He can hold it from the regular grip and trigger, but there are handles on the top so that he can also wield it like a chaingun, and I think that looks more credible, considering it’s taller than he is!

I’ll confess that my first thoughts upon seeing this figure teased was that he looked kind of generic. But once I got him in hand and started messing around with him, I found myself quickly impressed. Is he exactly what I would have asked for? Nah. I would have preferred the original RAH look and a conventional machine gun. But, this line is proving to be full of surprises and I’m willing to let my preconceptions go when presented with a fun and great looking figure like this one. Next week… Duke!

Marvel Legends (Banner Hulk Wave): Rock Python by Hasbro

It’s another Marvel Monday and I’ve got only two figures left to open in the Banner Hulk Wave before I can put this assortment to bed. This one has been something of an eclectic mix of characters from both the MCU and the pages of the funnybooks. And while there have been some strong figures in this wave, it’s had a few lows as well. And so, the good news is that today I’m expanding my Serpent Society team by one more member with Rock Python! The bad news, is this one of those lows I was talking about.

Here he is in the package, and I feel like I need to toss out there how much I love building teams in Marvel Legends and how much I appreciate Hasbro working their way through The Serpent Society. It’s a rich collection of costumed characters that should make for great action figure fodder. But with that being said, Rock Python’s suit isn’t one of my favorite designs in the comics, and I don’t think it translated all that well into an action figure. Also, I gave that Hulk arm to my nephew so I won’t be reviewing the Endgame Hulk BAF.

Straightaway, it’s obvious that Rock Python is another one of those budget-saving figures. Here you get a newly sculpted belt and head, and that’s it. The rest of the costume is accomplished through paint applications, and that’s fine. This is one of those characters that doesn’t require a whole lot of fresh sculpt to make him work. And I’m a lot more forgiving of Hasbro going the cheaper route with a guy like this than I am with Loki. And before getting too deep into my gripes with this figure, I’ll point out that I really like the coloring here. The pale blue and dark purple look great together. The paint lines around the tops of the boots and gloves are pretty sharp, and the segmented silver belt is decent enough. Alas, that’s kind of where my generosity ends.

The painted snake emblem on my figure’s chest is really rough with the paint chipping off and the darker blue showing though underneath. I’m not usually this critical of little paint blemishes, but since this makes up the bulk of the costume, it’s kind of a big deal. It comes across as looking dirty, or like this figure has been rattling around in a bin for a few years. Also, what were they thinking with that snake emblem? It looks like some kind of cutesy snake emoji, not an emblem to strike fear in the hearts of your Ophidiophobic enemies. I was tempted to flip back through some floppies to see if they really recreated it accurately, but then I honestly couldn’t think of the last book I read where Rock Python made an appearance. [Edit: Ok, I found some panels with him and yeah, Hasbro pretty much got it right. WHY SO CUTE???]

Moving on to the portrait, it’s just bad, or at least the helmet is. The lower half of the face is a pretty decent sculpt. There are some nice details in the facial lines, and I like M’Gula’s snarling expression, but I just can’t get behind that helmet. The eyes aren’t convincing and the whole thing just reminds me of a penis. A blue penis. With little painted eyes. Also, what’s with all the mold flashing on my figure? It’s hanging off the jawline and on the bottom surface of the helmet. This has been turning up on a number of my Legends figures lately, but it’s especially problematic here.

I’m going to pass on running through the articulation details, because I just can’t get motivated enough to do it where this figure is concerned. Also, there just isn’t anything we haven’t seen before in Marvel Legends. Instead, I’ll take the time to point out how tight and gummy the joints are on my figure. The swivels feel like they’re going to twist off and the hinges take a scary amount of effort to move. Conversely, the ab-crunch hinge is all loosey-goosey. I can flip his torso back and forth by grabbing him at the legs and shaking him back and forth.

I promise, I did not get out of the wrong side of the bed this morning. Nor did I burn my toast or get stuck in traffic on my way to work. Indeed, I didn’t sit down to write this review in any kind of a bad mood. Nope, this figure just left me cold. It’s not all Hasbro’s fault. Sure the paint is rough and the joints are janky, sure there’s ugly mold flashing, but ultimately, I just don’t dig this costume. The colors are nice, I’ll give you that, but when you look at some of the cool, deliciously goofy, or just bat-shit crazy costumes on display in The Serpent Society, this one just comes off as dopey. And not at all in the good way. But don’t get me wrong, Hasbro. I bought this figure so you would keep making Serpent Society figures. There’s a ton of great material waiting to be exploited and I want them all. But most of all, I really want you to start producing some of them snake ladies. Next week, I’ll wrap up this wave with a look at Union Jack!

Aliens Vs Predator Arcade: Chrysalis Alien by NECA

With only time for three reviews a week, my backlog continues to pile up and stretch way back into last year. One of the areas of my collection reviews that has suffered most is NECA, and I really feel like I need to throw them some extra love in the coming weeks. Way back in January I had a look at their Arachnoid Alien and Razor Claws Alien from Capcom’s 1994 Alien Vs. Predator arcade game. But there was one alien missing! At the time I couldn’t find the Chrysalis Alien anywhere, but just when I had given up all hope I spied him out of the corner of my eye while I was making a cat food run to Target. So let’s finish off this Xeno Trio and open him up today!

The packaging is right in line with what we saw last time. You get a collector friendly window box with a personalized portrait on the front. The interior tray is printed as a pixelated image to reference the video game… how cool is that? Yup, I love the colors and presentation here, but I simply do not have the space to line these boxes up on a shelf, so this box is going to have to go bye-bye once I get Mr. Chrysalis out of his tray.

If you read my previous review then you know I really liked Razor Claws and Arachnid, and yet it’s still easy for me to see why Chrysalis was the hardest to find. He really is that good! Even on a shelf of Xenos, his design stands out thanks to the armor-like carapace on his head and forearms. His body is a grayish-blue color with a nice black wash to bring out all that amazing detail in his exoskeleton. And despite the unique features, the rib-cage and the exposed ribbed panels on his legs and torso all perfectly evoke the Giger design that runs through every type of Xeno. This guy is also distinctive for not having some variation of those tubular protrusions coming off his back, instead it’s shrouded in two plates of reinforced exoskeleton. I find myself getting lost in this fella’s anatomy, turning the figure over in my hands, and marveling at the beautiful sculpting.

Chrysalis’ meat-hooks may not be as pronounced as Razor Claw’s, but he still features some sharp bone-colored claws, as well as raptor-like talons on his toes, and a scythe-shaped blade at the end of his long tail. Those bone-like guards on his forearms look to be perfect for deflecting Yautjan blades and his claws seem adept at ripping Predators and humans to shreds. His articulation includes the usual collection of rotating hinges, which make him an agile hunter, even if he can’t exactly roll up into a ball for the goofy spin-attack he employs in the game. His long tail includes a wire so it can be bent in various configurations, and while the tail can come in handy to support him in some extreme poses, he’s surprisingly well balanced on his own two feet. I didn’t have to use a stand for any of my shots.

The head sculpt is quite familiar, even if it is partially hidden under that impressive bone dome. The carapace features a raised crest running down the center like a spine and a mass on the front, which is probably perfect for ramming his pray. As always, he sports a toothy grimace, the jaw is articulated, and there is a secondary mouth in there that can be pulled out. I love all the sinews and details NECA sculpts into the Xeno mouths, and this fella is no different.

The Chrysalis Alien makes a fine addition to this amazing threesome of Aliens. It’s fun to just line them up on the shelf and explore all the little differences between them and see just how diverse Xenomorph anatomy can get. I’ve always been a fan of NECA’s video game figures, but since a number of them tend to be simple repaints, I have to pass them over because I can’t spare the space for repaints.  But here, it’s cool to see them craft three new Xenos around their appearances in this token-munching coin-op, and even cooler that they matched them up with three Predators from the game as well. And yes, I hope to be swinging back around to check out those Preds in the next week or so. Not to mention the human characters from the game as well.

GI JOE Classified: Destro by Hasbro

GI JOE is back in the toy aisles, sporting some new designs and a six-inch scale! Last week I checked out Scarlett and this week I was originally going to open up Duke or Roadblock, but then Cobra’s Weapons Supplier showed up at my door and I just had to push Destro to the front of the line. Sorry guys, you’ll get your turn.

Once again, the packaging kicks ass. We get some wonderful colors and artwork, which separates these boxes from the boring presentation of Hasbro’s 6-inch Star Wars line by leaps and bounds. Destro’s character art is freaking amazing, and I really dig the way it wraps around the corner of the box. Plus you get the iconography on the side panel showing the characters specialties. Destro’s appears to be all about making weapons and money!

And here he is freed from his box and ready to supply you with all your terrorist needs! While Scarlett was a complete modern redesign, Destro is more of a touch up, as he retains everything about his Real American Hero look that makes him so iconic. The black suit includes sculpted combat boots, knee-pads, and some reinforced patches on his chest, back, and shoulders. Destro has a metallic gray belt with some red accents, metallic gray bracers on his forearms, and red rockets mounted on his right arm. Oh man, I’m glad Hasbro kept those! Finally, he has a red holster on his right hip, which is attached to his belt, wrapping around his right thigh with a molded pouch. I love this look so much and I’m so happy that Hasbro didn’t mess with it.

But what makes this figure truly iconic is his portrait. The silver metal mask is a combination of organic curves and chiseled features with some subtle panel lining on top. It extends down to the base of his neck, where it is secured with a ring of bolts. His chest is exposed, and he flaunts his high collar with a red interior that’s evocative of a cobra’s hood. The look is tied together by his amulet and chain, which is sculpted as a separate piece and hung around his neck. Yup, that’s my Destro!!!

The articulation here is Marvel Legends through and through. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinged knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The arms have rotating hinges at the shoulders and wrists, the elbows are double-hinged, and there are swivels at the biceps. He has a swivel at the waist, an ab-crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is ball jointed and hinged. The joints all feel great and he is loads of fun to play with.

As for accessories, Destro comes with two guns and a briefcase. I was a little surprised he didn’t get a backpack, but what we got is still plenty good. His primary sidearm is very reminiscent of the weapon he carried during the RAH years. It has a long barrel, a scope, and a decidedly sci-fi feel to it. It sports some excellent detail and feature some red paint applications to give it some character and match it to his outfit. Destro has two trigger finger hands, so he can wield the weapon in either one, and it also fits in his holster.

His second weapon is a much smaller gold pistol, no doubt to be kept hidden as a back-up. Again, it has a strong sci-fi element to its design, and Hasbro packed a lot of detail into it’s sculpt.

Finally, Destro comes with a Cobra-branded briefcase. The Cobra emblem is sculpted into both sides, but only painted on one. Open it up and there’s a computer on one side and a bunch of money on the other. The computer side is pretty well detailed, but sadly they didn’t print any details on the money. His gold pistol can also fit inside the case.. The only downside of this case is that the hinge is just bendy plastic, so it will likely stress and probably break after a lot of opening and closing.

While Scarlett represented a complete modern redesign of her character, Destro here is just a touch-up. And a refreshing one at that! I can’t tell you how happy I am to see Destro appear sporting the design I’ve known and loved since I was a small child. It also sends a clear message that Hasbro is not looking to ignore the RAH roots. Indeed, Destro here is everything I could have hoped for in this line. He’s damn near perfection. We’ve also had some new revelations this past week, namely Gung-Ho and Cobra Commander, and I really like what I’m seeing. It feels great to want to shout YO JOE!!!! again!

Marvel Legends (Banner Hulk Wave): Loki by Hasbro

After a brief detour to check out Klaue from Black Panther, I’m back to working my way through the Banner Hulk Wave. And with four figures under my belt, I’m more than halfway done! And here’s where the character selection in this wave really starts to descend into a free-for-all. There’s no theme or anything, just a semi-random assortment of characters here. Today we are having a look at The God of Mischief… Loki… And it’s a very classic comic version!

Even if you take into account how far behind I am in my reviews of this line, it still took a long time for Hasbro to get a comic-based Loki figure out of Modern Legends. I mean, I’ve got at least two MCU versions of him (only one of which I’ve reviewed) as well as the female Loki from the A-Force set on my shelf at this point. Nonetheless, he’s finally here and about as classic a version of Loki as anyone could ask for. Even the packaging window cannot contain the magnificence of those horns! And just a reminder, that Hulk leg went to my nephew, so I won’t likely be reviewing the BAF in this wave. I guess that makes me a good uncle, and a bad toy blog host.

Yup! For all the fans who discovered Marvel through the movies, and you’re just into Marvel Legends for the MCU stuff, Loki here is going to be like a bucket of cold water. He’s pure comic cheese from the early days but if you’re looking for some Jack Kirby goodness, there’s a lot to love here. On the other side, Hasbro played it pretty of lazy with this figure. There’s absolutely no character-specific sculpting to be found on the body, instead his costume is achieved nearly entirely by paint and colored plastic. His boots and gauntlets are yellow, his body suit is green, and the gold scales that make up his undies and run up through the center of his torso, are all painted on. Now with that having been said, the coloring on this figure is absolutely gorgeous. The green and yellow go so well together and the gold gives it that extra little pop.

You do get two separate pieces of fresh sculpting: His plain band of a belt and his starburst-like gorget, as final accent to the body. So, clearly this is one of the wave’s budget figures, and I’ll be the first to admit that the paintwork looks fine, but this is Loki, dammit! He really deserved more original sculpting. We’ve seen Hasbro’s sculpted scale mail on figures like Green Goblin, and I think that sort of thing would have looked great if applied here. I must be misremembering him wearing a cape with this costume, but to be fair this one is even way before my time, but it was still a design that I can remember seeing now and then in my childhood. Since this is a basic buck, there are no surprises in the articulation, so I won’t run down all the points, but I will point out that this body features the swivels in both the thighs and tops of the boots.

The head sculpt gets major props from me for Loki’s maniacal grimace and overall devilish expression. Hasbro does enjoy injecting their comic villains with tons of character and Loki is another great example of that. He looks absolutely deranged! His form-fitting cowl features his trademark horns, protruding proudly from his forehead and curling upwards. Meanwhile, his golden locks spill out the back in a long ponytail. The only downside here is I worry about those horns getting all warped. With over 300 Marvel Legends figures, I wind up having to rotate a lot of them in and out of display, which means Loki here will spend part of his life in bagged in a storage tote. Needless to say I have to make sure he resides at the top of the heap to keep those horns from going all wonky while in storage.

The God of Mischief comes with one accessory and that’s his sword. Yup, while the modern Loki favors daggers and throwing knives, old school Loki wielded a more conventional blade. It’s a great looking weapon with a yellow hilt, an extended grip, and a cross-guard that kind of resembles a bird stretching out it’s wings. The guard reaches up the blade just a bit and has a green gem or stone painted on it. The broad blade is painted silver. I thought this looked familiar, and a little searching reminded me that it’s a repaint of the sword that was included with Angela as part of the Titus Wave.

After all this waiting for a classic Loki, I find myself a little underwhelmed with this figure. He’s not a bad figure, quite the contrary, I think he looks great. But a figure as important as Loki should have had more attention. It’s doubtful that Hasbro will take a second crack at this version of him any time soon, and I think that they should shy away from using A-Lister characters as the budget figures in a wave. But with that having been said, I still dig him a lot and he looks fantastic displayed alongside the 80th Anniversary Thor.

GI JOE Classified: Scarlett by Hasbro

Folks, I can’t tell you how great it feels to be sitting down to review a brand new GI JOE figure from Hasbro. I have been a strong proponent for Hasbro to apply this once great franchise to their now tried-and-true 6-inch scale figure formula. I’ve been hoping against hope that we’d see familiar classic Real American Hero characters mixed with the accessories and play-ability of SIGMA SIX. Finally Hasbro listened and we have the new GI JOE Classified series. The first wave consists of Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock, and Snake Eyes, and I’m kicking things off with a look at Scarlett. Did this line seem like it’s going to be all that I hoped it would be? Not exactly. Is she a great figure? Well, at the risk of spoiling the review… Heck, yeah!

For starters, Hasbro gets major props for this packaging, and since this is the first time seeing it, I’ll spend a little while with it. It’s a simple window box similar to their Star Wars Black Series, only now infused with some amazing colors and artwork. We get an original character portrait on the front and the GI JOE logo and character name at the bottom. My only complaint here is that the three bars after the logo aren’t in red, white and blue.

The left side panel shows that these figures are numbered and also introduces this cool iconography for the characters, which suggest their specialties, with some being more obvious than others. The right side panel has a beautiful montage of Scarlett in action. Saving the best for last, the back panel has a gorgeous piece of art showing off characters and vehicles and giving us a glimpse at what some other characters will look like in this line. I love how iconic the vehicles look, and I can only hope that we’re going to get a Trouble Bubble or RAM Cycle down the road. But that’s me getting way ahead of myself, because here we are at the very first wave. Let’s have a look at Scarlett…

I’m not going to lie, I was hoping for a straight up RAH revival that took the basic look of the originals and just infused them with more detail and tons of accessories. That’s not what we got here. Instead Scarlett’s design takes the broad strokes of the character and than goes off in its own direction. The result is a figure that is both familiar and different. This approach is likely to vary from character to character. With Scarlett, I was only fairly satisfied with what I saw in the original solicitation pictures, but with the figure in hand, I’m absolutely in love with it. Her outfit is a mix of tactical suit and armor. I can get a whiff of her old yellow-cream-colored tactical onesie, boots, and gauntlet in the yellow armor here. Her red shoulder pad has migrated to her left and evolved into a full on armor piece, but hey, she still has her row of shuriken-like weapons on her left gauntlet. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I feel like Hasbro might have retained an element or two from their Overwatch figures. Damn, I really need to finish reviewing those some day!

I do like the body sculpt here. Hasbro uses some subtle textures on the underlying suit for some areas, while others are smooth with quilted panel lines. The armor pieces feature various panels and raised areas, and the detail on her gloves is quite nice. She has a belt that hangs on her hips with a gold buckle and a sculpted pouch on her left hip. She also has a separate shoulder strap that supports the quiver on her back and a functional knife sheath on the front. About the only thing on the uniform I don’t care for is the left shoulder piece. The star looks great, but this piece pops up too awkwardly for my taste. I wish it cupped her shoulder more closely. As for the colors… she’s certainly a flashy figure and there are a lot of colors on her, far more than I’m used to seeing on Hasbro’s other 6-inch lines. The gold and yellow are vibrant, while the red and blue add a nice kick. It’s pleasing to look at, but I’d like to see this figure repainted with a more subdued color palate. And if I know Hasbro, I’ll probably get it.

The head sculpt is a total winner. She’s cute, with a confident expression. The hair is especially nice as it partially covers her right eye and spills out the back in a ponytail. I could have stood it to be more red than orange, but I’m not going to split hairs. HA! I really dig the printed facial features and the freckles are a nice touch. She even has little earrings, which I’d like to think are tracking devices or micro-explosives or some other kind of cool spy gear.

For articulation, we do get a few new surprises. Her ball jointed hips appear to be anchored with dog-bone-style joints giving them a little extra range of movement. Otherwise the legs follow the Marvel Legends model with swivels in the thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. Being a girl, Hasbro doesn’t believe Scarlett should have double-hinges in the elbows, so instead she gets rotating hinges in the elbows and no bicep swivels. Boo! Her wrists are on rotating hinges, and she only comes with the one set of hands. She has two ball joints in the torso, one in the waist and another under her chest. Nice! And finally her neck is ball jointed. It’s not a huge departure from what Hasbro’s been delivering, but there are some improvements.

Scarlett comes with four accessories and three of them are knives. I don’t usually associate Scarlett with packing a lot of blades, but knives are cool! Knives come in handy in a fight. I like knives! The smallest of the three fits into the sheath across her chest. It has a curved sculpted grip and something like a drop-point blade. It’s cast entirely in black plastic and she can hold it well in either hand.

The other two are a matched set and oddly enough these fit into the top of her quiver. These pieces of cutlery have similar handles and bigger, more imposing blades with saw-backs. They’re also sculpted entirely in black and I’m tempted to take a silver sharpie to their blades to give them a little more oomph. Maybe Hasbro blew the budget on the figure’s paint operations and didn’t have anything left for the knives. Or maybe they’re intentionally black so they don’t glint off the moonlight in night missions.

And finally we have Scarlett’s trusty crossbow pistol. It’s a chunky and detailed sculpt that breaks down into two pieces. And like the knives it’s also cast all in black plastic either for tactical reasons or to keep costs down… you decide!!! I like that it’s stout and not all frail and bendy. The two pieces do come apart sometimes, and I’m tempted to use a spot of glue to keep them together as I really don’t see any reason to ever separate them. There are no loose bolts to load into it, but she does have some sculpted bolts coming out the bottom of her quiver.

Scarlett’s new design is likely to make her a divisive figure, but she did manage to win me over and I’m hoping she will have the same success with other collectors. Her outfit is not what I was hoping for, but she is an absolutely fantastic figure showing off some great sculpting, quality paint applications, and fun articulation. I do wish the accessories rose to meet the days of SIGMA SIX, instead we get a decent assortment, but nothing mind-blowing. I’m still waiting on my Snake Eyes, which has been bumped back time and again by Hasbro’s own Pulse Shop. Indeed, I had all these figures pre-ordered on Pulse, but wound up cancelling them when they showed up on Amazon with that Fast & Free Prime Shipping. In the end, I wound up getting them in hand from Amazon probably a solid week before they would have ever even shipped from Hasbro. And that, Hasbro, is why when my Free Premier Membership with Pulse expires, I won’t be renewing it with a paid one. In any event, I’ll be back next week with a look at another one of these new JOES!