Star Wars Black: Deluxe Imperial Probe Droid by Hasbro

If anyone was expecting me to do a Star Wars review on May the 4th, well then you shouldn’t underestimate the power of Marvel Monday. Bump Marvel Legends? In its moment of triumph? I think you overestimate my backlog! That was just never going to happen. I was actually trying to push for getting today’s review out on Wednesday, but this has been one those hell weeks at work, so it turned out to be a two-review kind of week. Plus, and to be quite honest, it’s been so hard for me to summon up a lot of enthusiasm for Star Wars these days. I’m not throwing in the towel, I’m still buying some of the toys, but after The Last Jedi and Rise of Skywalker I think I need to give it some time to replenish my batteries. I think that’s best illustrated in the lack of Star Wars content lately, and the giant stack of unopened Black Series figures in the Toy Closet. Maybe I need to get to work on some Star Wars Hot Toys reviews to get my excitement up again. Either way, the Black Series Deluxe Probe Droid wound up on my doorstep this week and I decided I would push it to the head of the line.

This is indeed one of the line’s Deluxe offerings, which means it comes in a bigger box and retails for around thirty bucks. Hasbro is tying this release into their 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, and I have to say I love the addition of the old school logo on the box. Otherwise, the packaging gives you a good look at the figure and it is collector friendly. And that’s good, because I may actually keep this box. In addition to the figure, you get a stand which consists of a Hoth-style base and a clear plastic rod.

Free of his packaging and on the prowl, the Probe Droid looks quite spectacular! It’s crazy to think how iconic this droid has become considering what a tiny part he played in the film. He flew around on Hoth a bit, he fired off some shots at our heroes, and then he got toasted. He wasn’t very consequential and yet he’s become something of a droid star. It’s hard for me to come up with something equivalent in the new films, but I guess we’d have to wait a few decades to see whether any of the new designs take root and enjoy this kind of a legacy. And when I say we, I mean y’all because I don’t know that I have a few decades left in me. Nonetheless, over the decades I’ve had at least a couple of figures of this droid, most notably the original Kenner release that came in the Turret and Probot playset and the Power of the Force 2 version. Both were great figures. I can remember playing with the Kenner version long after the family dog had chewed it’s arms down to misshapen nubs. I used to just pretend he got mauled by the Wampa and barely escaped with his central processor intact.

I think it’s safe to say that Hasbro outdid themselves with this sculpt. There are plenty of panel lines, compartments, tanks, and little bits and bobs incorporated into the droid’s body. Look closely and you can see tiny sculpted rivets and pock marks, which suggest that these guys are collected by their Imperial masters, or they return to base on their own after their hunt so they could be re-used over and over again. I especially love all the spider-like eyes that litter it’s head. These shiny black soul-less orbs come in all shapes and sizes and are obviously designed to gather all sorts of information in a 360-degree spread as the droid makes its way across its hunting grounds. Between the head and body there’s a boxy blaster, which can swivel left and right to target interlopers. The dual antenna on the head can also raise and lower, although they don’t retract as far as they did in the film.

I wasn’t expecting a lot in terms of paint on this fellow. The droid is mostly just a gun-metal gray achieved through the color of the plastic. Still, Hasbro surprised me with some nice flourishes of paint. Most notably there’s a copious amount of silver dry brushing to give the droid a weathered look. Scuffs are scattered about the body and head and I feel it’s not overdone. There’s also some red paint here and there to pick out some of the panels and tubes on the body. Finally, there’s a fair amount of brown, which looks like it could be a combination of rust and dirty oil smeared in patches here and there. I think Hasbro could have gotten away with a much flatter deco on this toy, but they stepped up and did some fine work. It has a real used look to it.

In addition to the rotating head, the five mismatched legs feature quite a bit of articulation. Each leg can rotate where it connects to the body and some have as many as five hinges to them. These hinges are pretty sturdy and keep the legs in place no matter what configuration I put them in. The sculpts are good with sculpted hydraulics and an array of different types of claws and utensils, probably designed to take samplings of minerals, pick through ship wreckage, or whatever the droid happens to be investigating. The full articulation in the legs allow for a seemingly endless variety of display options for posing. I particularly like how they can be swept back as if he’s traveling quickly.

The figure stand is both simple and elegant. It’s just a clear rod and a base, but it works perfectly. I certainly don’t need anything more complicated than that. Although if I am going to gripe a bit. I think for the $30 price tag, Hasbro should have put a sound chip in this guy. The probe transmissions are so iconic and sound so cool, it’s a shame they couldn’t have made that work. I mean, I’ve had novelty key chains with sound effects that cost me next to nothing.

It’s funny. I began this review lamenting my bad case of Star Wars fatigue, but clearly it can’t be all that bad if I can drone on with affection over a Probe Droid that had about five minutes of screen time. But then this fellow is just another great example of how some of those robot and ship designs captured my imagination as a child. Not to mention why I’m still spending money on this shit when I’m pushing fifty. Either way, I think Hasbro did a fine job with this one and I’ll happily put him on the Hoth corner of my Black Series shelves. He looks great, he’s got a lot of articulation, and he’s just loads of fun to play with. I was actually going to wait on this one for a sale, and I did manage to grab it at a bit of a discount, but ultimately I’m pleased I didn’t wait.

Marvel Legends (Demogoblin Wave): Shang-Chi by Hasbro

I like to think I possess a pretty solid familiarity with the Marvel Universe. I’m sure no expert, but with close to 40 years of funnybook reading under my belt, I’ve picked up a few things, got to know a few characters, and generally know my away around the Marvel neighborhood. And yet Marvel Legends runs so deep that even Hasbro has summoned a few characters here and there that I know little about. Shang-Chi is one of those characters. Apart from running into him in Shadowland and Spider-Island, I wouldn’t know him hardly at all. And he’s getting his own MCU film. Wow.

Now if Shang-Chi is your boi, I’m not bashing him. I was surprised to see that he’s got a substantial number of books and appearances under his belt. I was also pleased to see that there’s a tie-in with Sax Rohmer’s old novels. Alls I’m saying is, I don’t really know the guy, but based on the package, I take it he’s The Master of Kung Fu. Cool. This is the third figure from the Demogoblin Wave that I’m opening, and I’m still thinking maybe I should have sat this wave out. The two GamerVerse Spider-Man figures turned out pretty nice, but I don’t know that I really needed them. And now here comes Shang-Chi. Well, let’s open him up.

There’s certainly not a whole lot to say about his costume. Shang-Chi’s got a pair of red trousers with orange and yellow ankle cuffs, a black belt around his waist, and other than that he’s just showing a whole lot of skin and muscle. The coloring on the pants is nice, the sculpted muscles look great, His nipples awkwardly get by on paint alone, rather than sculpt, and I think those are newly sculpted feet, but I wonder why they lack peg holes. He’s undoubtedly a nice looking figure, but I tend to think more generic martial artist or maybe GI JOE, more than I think Marvel Comics. But that’s just my own ignorance talking. Either way, I think Hasbro’s got about 90% of their GI JOE Classified Quick Kick figure right here.

The head sculpt is also quite nice. The definition in the facial features is sharp, and I dig his determined expression. A shouty head would have been nice for action poses, but what’s here is still plenty good. Of course, the most notable thing about the head sculpt is the wild headband that snakes off his head and blows in the wind. Now, I think this thing looks great, but I really think Hasbro should have made an option available where the headband isn’t quite so animated. Either a second one to peg into the back of the head or a whole different head. Maybe that’s asking a lot.

The articulation here is fantastic, and that’s pretty much required for a martial artist figure. Shang-Chi sports those wonderful shoulder crunches, which we usually see on Spider-Man figures. He also has regular rotating hinges in the shoulders, the elbows are double-hinged, the biceps have swivels, and the wrists are pegged hinges. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a waist swivel, an ab-crunch hinge under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball-jointed. All the joints feel nice and solid.

And as you’ve already seen in the pictures, Shang-Chi comes with a whole passel of hands. The last time I saw anything close to this many hands in a Legends release was back in the All-Father Wave and the white costumed Iron Fist. You get a pair of fists, a pair of chopping hands, a pair of accessory holding hands, a pair of “I’m gonna hit you with the palm of my” hands, and a pair of graspy hands. The assortment of hands here is no joke.

Shang also comes with a pair of nun-chuks. One is straight and the other has one chuck bent at a 90-degree angle. They have ornate gold ends and a sculpted gold chain. I’m not a huge fan of the plastic they used for the gold parts. It just looks kind of cheap. Also, I’m not sure how many times I’ll be able to flex the chain without it snapping. So far there haven’t been any stress marks, so that’s a good sign.

Going in to this review, I sure didn’t think I needed a Shang-Chi figure, but coming out of this review I’m happy to have one. Even with knowing next to nothing about this character, I can’t deny that this is an unbelievably fun figure to play around with. The articulation and extra hands go a long way, and I found him to be almost impossible to put down. He’s still standing on my desk so I can fiddle about with him on my downtime. After sucking down two contrived unlock-able suit video game Spider-Man figures, Shang-Chi turned out to be just the palate cleanser that I needed!

The Black Hole Figures by Diamond Select, Part 2

Seemingly out of nowhere, Diamond Select decided to toss out some figures from Disney’s old and oft forgotten sci-fi ditty, The Black Hole. And this pleased me to no end! A couple of days ago I checked out the V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B. two-pack and today I’m going to open one of the coolest evil robots to ever hit the big screen… Maximilian!

I showed off the packaging for these figures last time, but here it is again, in case you’re just joining us. DST is infamous for large, wasteful, and ultimately not collector-friendly packages. Although honestly in this case, Maximilian is so big, I guess the package size is more or less justified. The artwork features the rather distinctive logo of the title, and the computerized grid pattern used in the opening credits. I do believe that was the longest computer animated sequence generated for a film up to that time. And as long as we’re talking about the film, I can’t overestimate how awesome I thought Maximilian was, and that opinion holds true even after my most recent viewings. The imposing, silent robot was terrifying to behold and made even more so by the fact that Dr. Reinhardt didn’t seem to have complete control over him. One of my favorite little nuggets of dialogue in the film was when Reinhardt begs Kate to protect him from his pet killer robot. I never thought the old MEGO figure did Maximilian justice.

Now this figure? This does him justice! Maximilian’s casing is a lot simpler than V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B. with minimal panel lines and lots of smooth surfaces. He’s also built like a linebacker with broad shoulders and a stout barrel chest. His deep crimson coloring makes him look all the more sinister, and there are some spots of silver dry brushing here and there to recreate some weathering. Like his smaller co-stars, Maximilian is a hovering robot and so a stand is pretty essential to this figure. In this case we get a chunky black post on a very large disc. It isn’t as dynamic as the articulated stands we saw last time, but it’s far better suited to the task of holding the figure up. His “legs” are something like anti-grav stabilizers, and include articulated flaps to help control his movement. These “legs” are also articulated at the hips so that they can move outward, but the design of the arms kind of inhibits the ability to use those points.

Maximilian’s head is just a giant grim bucket. There’s no attempt to reproduce a face, instead he just has a red visor for eyes. The piece is translucent red plastic and if you catch the light right it can produce a bit of a glowing effect. I do kind of wish they had included some light piping with this guy. There’s actually a second head, but I’ll save that for last. For now, let’s have a better look at those arms!

The design of Maximilian’s arms is so damn unique! Each shoulder projects three separate arms, which hang down together like they’re on a carousel. By rotating, Maximilian can select a different arm to face forward, or he can deploy all three of them at once like a robotic spider. Four of these arms have the same sculpted beam emitters on the ends, while the remaining two are fitted with powerful silver claws, but I’ll come back to those in a moment.

Diamond included some effect parts for the beam arms, but I don’t think they’re all that effective. If you collect Star Wars figures, than you’ll no doubt recognize these as being similar to the Force Lightning pieces Hasbro sometimes includes with their figures. They just kind of hang off the arms and I guess they look OK, but they’re certainly nothing special.

Maximilian comes with two sets of attachments for his closed claw arms. One set with the claws spread open like blades, and another with a spinning effect. I really dig the regular blades, and I’ll likely display him with at least the left one of these attached. The spinning blade effect is a decent enough try, but it doesn’t quite work for me.

One last bonus accessory for Maximilian is the one I mentioned earlier: A spare head. This one has Dr. Reinhardt’s eyes visible through the visor. It’s a reference to the bat-shit crazy ending where the Cygnus gets dragged into the titular Black Hole and Maximilian and Reinhardt are fused together. With the Doctor trapped inside his creation he’s deposited in a bizarre hellscape, where we only get a small glimpse of his fate. It’s such a strange ending for what was otherwise a fairly grounded sci-fi flick. Not to mention very uncharacteristic for a Disney film. But then, this film is an all around strange bird indeed!

Before wrapping up, Maximilian’s package includes the parts needed to complete the diorama pieces that came with B.O.B. and V.I.N.CENT. It’s a simple piece of deck with a railing and a cardboard backdrop. A nice bonus, to be sure and while it’s too small for Maximilian, the other robots look quite nice displayed on it. There are also some connector pieces so if you somehow should find yourself with two, you can attach them together.

Maximilian isn’t as intricate or complex a design as the other robots, but he’s still a big, imposing, and all around fantastic figure. Hell, all of these are fantastic figures. I don’t know what possessed DST to gamble on a release of these robots featured in a mostly forgotten film from over 40 years ago (FORTY YEARS!!! HOLY HELL, I’M SO OLD!!!) but I’m so very glad they did and I hope it pays off. I’m sure this line going any further would be too much to hope for, but if we were to get one more wave like this, I’d love to see a Sentinel Robot and S.T.A.R. They were both great designs and would make for really impressive figures in this scale.

The Black Hole Figures by Diamond Select, Part 1

I was only eight years old when my parents took me to see Disney’s The Black Hole, as a result the only thing I remembered about it was being bored to tears whenever the robots weren’t on screen. Revisiting it as a teenager and adult allowed me to find more value in it, but it’s still a really strange movie with some serious tonal problems. Like one minute the robots are fun and goofy, and the next we find out that the crew of the Cygnus have been lobotomized and are now zombie slaves suffering a state of living death. Anthony Perkins’ character gets disemboweled by a robot with a weed whacker, and the movie ends in a terrifying robotic retelling of Dante’s Inferno. HOLY SHIT, DISNEY!!! I was legit surprised to find the film available and unedited on Disney+ and I re-watched it for the first time in probably 10 years.

Despite all the dark shit, the movie got toys. But hey, it was PG and plenty of R-rated movies got toys in the 80’s, so that’s not so weird. I only had the robots from the 3 3/4-inch line, and I basically integrated them into my Buck Rogers or Star Wars figures when playing with them. For whatever reason, I have a lot of nostalgia for those figures, and I guess, to some extent, the movie as well. So when Diamond revealed they were making some Black Hole figures, I sure as hell jumped on board. The releases consist of the good robots, V.I.N.CENT and B.O.B. (hereafter spelled without the periods) in a two-pack, and the evil robot Maximilian. These are Diamond Select releases, so naturally they come in ridiculously huge boxes. They look magnificent, but they aren’t collector friendly and they seem kind of wasteful. I’m always amazed at how much trash is left over after opening Diamond Select figures. I’m breaking this review up into two parts, today we’ll start with the two-pack and Friday I’ll check out Maximilian.

Here he is… but first, the stand! Yeah, it’s a weird place to start, but it’s kind of necessary for a hovering robot figure. The clear stand is a multi-hinged, multi-rod ratcheting affair that pegs into his back and really isn’t equipped to handle the weight of this solid ball of plastic. I wound up taking it down to just one rod and two hinges and it seems to get the job done. The base is rather small and has a foot peg on it, so I presume it was repurposed from another figure, which may be why the stand isn’t really optimal for these guys.

With that out of the way, I have to say this is a magnificent little sculpt that’s just packed with lovely little details and a bunch of interchangeable parts. I think VINCENT is one of those “love it, or hate it” robot designs. I’m sure a big part of why I love it so much is because I was introduced to it as a kid. Also, he had the same box-of-gimmicks kind of design that made me love R2-D2 so much. About the only thing that slightly disappointed me when I started playing with this figure was that his head cannot extend all the way up to reveal that his “face” is actually the central band of a sphere. For some reason, I always thought that scene in the movie was cool. But that’s OK. He can still close up his head completely and turn it 360-degrees when it’s open.

The tiny printing on all the panels looks really nice, and the paint is solid enough. The finish on this figure actually looks more like metal than the actual movie prop did. I do wish they used some kind of lenticular sticker for the CRT screen in his belly, but it still looks fine. Let’s start checking out all of the extras!

Yeah, VINCENT comes with a bevy of extra bits for all sorts of different display options. First off, you can replace his anti-grav emitters or “legs” so that they are retracted. Popping these on and closing up his head makes it look like he’s shut down. It’s a cool option, but probably one I’m not going to use a lot since these are extended whenever he’s hovering, and that’s how I’ll be displaying him. Not to worry, though, I went with the least exciting attachments first!

Next, he has a pair of front claw arms concealed behind flip out panels. Open the panels and you can see the retracted claws inside. These can be replaced with extended arms. And since the extended arms just peg into sockets, you can also swivel them 360-degrees.

VINCENT also has arms that are meant to extend outward from his shoulders. The giveaway here is that the closed panels are actually supposed to be the retracted claws. You just pop off these panels and plug in the extended arms. Once again, these peg in so you can swivel the orientation of the claw. With all four arms extended, VINCENT changes from a seemingly useless ball to a handy guy to have around!

The two red panels on his lower front, beside the arm panels are his retracted laser guns. Like the shoulder arms, these simply pop off and you can replace them with the extended guns. These extended pieces are partially translucent with the red tube in the center and look pretty damn neat. And thanks to the way the stand plugs into his back you can recreate his barrel roll shooting trick from when he was going up against STAR in the marksmanship competition!

And finally, the central panel opens up to plug in the drill he used to f’ck up Maximillan. Ironically, this isn’t a terribly exciting accessory, but I always thought it was poetic justice that Maximilian got gutted the same way he gutted Anthony Perkins’ character. Dr. Reinhardt even foreshadowed it. David and Goliath indeed! And that’s it for VINCENT, but wow, what a lot of cool stuff. There was clearly a ton of love poured into this little figure, and I respect Diamond for going above on beyond for a figure that probably no other company would have risked making. I mean, this is a pretty niche robot, but they certainly did him justice. Moving on to BOB!

And don’t worry, I don’t have nearly as much to say about BOB. He’s supposed to be an earlier model of the same robot design as VINCENT, only he was built in Houston so naturally his voice has a Texan twang in the film. BOB’s been kicking around the Cygnus for a long while and getting abused by Dr Reinhardt’s other robots, so he’s all beat to shit. And Diamond did a really nice job recreating that here. Unlike VINCENT, BOB is mostly cast in one solid piece of plastic, so he’s a lot heavier.

It’s still possible to make out what he looked like when he was in better shape and you can see the various differences in design, like the circular display in his belly. He’s also got fewer compartments and his designation is printed down at the bottom of his body as opposed to up by his head. Unlike VINCENT, BOB’s head appears to be ball jointed so he can turn it as well as get a little up and down movement. The “helmet” has more of a stepped design as opposed to VINCENT’s rounded dome. BOB is missing one of his anti-grav balls, as well as both of his arm hatches, and his right claw arm is stuck in the extended position. The extended arm is ball jointed so you can get a little extra movement out of it. The weathering on this guy is absolutely fantastic, as is all the dents. Alas, VINCENT’s parts don’t work with BOB’s, so he’s really just there for display.

The VINCENT-BOB 2-pack comes with some diorama pieces, but I’ll save that for Part 2, because you need to have pieces that come with Maximilian to finish it. So I’ll just finish off Part 1 by saying how thrilled I am that Diamond Select came out of nowhere and made these figures. The merits of the film may be questionable, but I will forever love these robot designs. Plus, I think they are extremely well suited to being toys. That’s especially apparent here, because besides the great sculpt, paint, and detailing, DST went overboard giving VINCENT all kinds of fun attachments. BOB may not be nearly as fun to play around with, the fact that he’s included with VINCENT makes him most welcome, even if you just want to think of him as an overblown accessory. I really do love these guys, and I’m looking forward to getting Maximilian open so I can check him out in a few days.

Marvel Legends (Demogoblin Wave): Gamerverse Velocity Suit Spider-Man by Hasbro

It’s a new week and that means a new Marvel Monday, so I’m continuing to dip into the relatively new Demogoblin Wave of Marvel Legends. Last week I had a look at the Mark III Spider-Armor from the PS4 Spider-Man game, and since we got one more figure from the game in this assortment, I decided to open this one up next. Today we’re checking out the Velocity Suit!

Other than the snazzy white GamerVerse boxes, I’ll confess to not being all that excited about these figures. The prospect of giving Peter Parker 1,000 different suits like Tony Stark’s armor just doesn’t appeal to me, but I guess it makes sense as an incentive gimmick in a video game. Plus, having a bunch of different suits to make action figures out of probably had Hasbro licking their collective chops. Speaking of which, the Spider-Man game remains sealed on my shelf, because I just haven’t had the time to play it. And yes, I do see the irony in that since the majority of the country is under lock-down vacay, while I am just working more hours. Nonetheless, I wound up liking the Spider-Armor well enough, so here’s hoping I can find something to love here as well.

As the name suggests, the Velocity Suit gives Peter a speed boost. The figure doesn’t make use of any texturing, instead giving the suit a smooth and slick surface all around. That combined with the high gloss finish makes this one look as much, if not more, like armor than the previous figure. Maybe they were going with the idea that smooth means less friction and that leads to speed. Or more likely they didn’t put that much thought into it. The deco consists of a red and dark blue base, which is fairly familiar, but adds some light blue lines and integrate the spider emblem into their design. Virtually all these light blue painted lines on the suit are part of the sculpt, which is cool. Based on how they’re executed on the figure, I’m going to assume these channels glow on the suit in the game. Whatever the case, I have to confess that the high gloss paint looks great and goes a long way to sell me on a figure I don’t really care about.

The head sculpt strikes me as being very Stark-like in design, perhaps even more so than the last figure. There are even some faint panel lines that seem to form a mouth, although they are very subtle. The eyes feature more of the light blue piping around them. What else can I say, other than to admit it looks good.

As with the Mk III Spider-Armor, the articulation here lacks the shoulder crunches we see on most Legends Spider-Man figures, and that makes the figure feel a little more stiff than I’m used to my Spider-Man figures to be. But the rest of the articulation is there, making him fun to fiddle about with. Here too, we only get the hands that are attached to the figure, one right fist and one left thwippy hand. The only other noteworthy thing about the articulation is that the ab crunch doesn’t seem to have as wide a range as usual. I don’t know why, all the points are there, but this one looks a little stiff when posing.

I don’t imagine that it’s a coincidence that Hasbro chose these somewhat uninspired Spidey figures to be the first to get web effects included. The Mk III armor came with webbing to cover an adversary’s face. This one comes with a loop of webbing to tie up a foe and it’s pretty great. I usually keep effect parts bagged with the figures they came with, but I think I’ll be keeping these on hand to use with future Spidey figure shoots.

Conceptually, I just don’t give a crap about this figure. The idea of a go-faster suit for Spider-Man is just kind of stupid to me. Nonetheless, I can’t deny that it’s an attractive figure. The sculpted lines and the brilliant new-car finish really makes the red and blue pop splendidly. In the end, I bought these for the effect parts and BAF parts, and because I got them super cheap, but both this one and the MK III Armor managed to win me over in the end. I’ll certainly find a place for them on my Spider-Verse shelf, but they’ll probably be towards the back.

Cover Girls of the DC Universe (Series 3): Catwoman by DC Collectibles

Well, this feels good. Not only did I make it back for three reviews in one week, it’s the second week in a row that I achieved this time management miracle! Plus, I’m tossing out a little homage to the old DC Friday content I used to churn out on a regular basis. It’s been a ball buster of a week and I felt like a little statue therapy today, so I’ve decided to open up another one of the Cover Girls of the DC Universe! And it’s Catwoman! Meow!

This release is from the most recent and third series of cold-cast porcelain Cover Girl statues, based on the art of Joelle Jones. I was away from these gals for a while, but a few months back I picked up the Mera statue and now I’m back with Selina Kyle. Although I still maintain that these two acquisitions were anomalies and I’m I’m not back to seriously collecting this line. I just don’t have the space for them. Anywho, Catwoman comes in a fully enclosed box with plenty of shots of the statue. And while she conforms to the same (roughly 9-inch scale) of the other ladies, the box here is a lot more compact because of the nature of the pose. Inside, she comes sandwiched between two styrofoam trays and the only assembly required is pegging the figure into the base via tow metal posts.

Straight away I’ll say that I love the composition for this piece. The vast majority of the Cover Girls have been fairly conservative, and very vertical, museum style poses. There’s nothing wrong with that. I love it. They all look great when displayed together. But if it weren’t for this release trying something different, I probably wouldn’t have taken notice and ultimately purchased her. Here, Selina sits atop a safe in a very cat-like pose, her hands resting in front of her and one leg drawn up on top of the safe. Overall, the pose is very reminiscent to me of the one Diamond recently did for their Marvel Gallery Black Cat. I don’t know which one came first, but this one instantly reminded me of her Marvel counterpart.

I love the simple look they went for with her costume. The skin tight catsuit features only some sculpted wrinkles and stitch lines in the way of details. Well, that and the silver ring zipper, which is surprisingly zipped all the way up to her chin. Yup, you’ll have to look elsewhere for your kitty cleavage fix. Her knee-high boots are each sculpted with three buckling straps and chunky high heeled wedges. Finally, her whip is sculpted coiled around her waist and snaking down the back of the safe like a kitty cat tail. The paintwork on the costume is also quite lovely with a mix of black and purple to depict the light reflecting off of it. Additionally, the zipper and boot buckles are all sharply painted with a crisp silver.

The portrait is just full of character. Selina stares ahead with her perfect green eyes and a cocky smirk on her lips. Her face is framed by the sculpted snug hood and her goggles are worn up on her forehead. The goggle rims and strap are painted silver to match the zipper on the costume and the lenses in the goggles are tinted red plastic. The headgear is topped off by two perfect little cat ears. I’ve got zero things to nitpick with the portrait. I was really sold on it based off the solicitation photos and I think this is one of those somewhat uncommon examples where the production piece came out just as good.

The safe is an extremely simple piece. It’s got a black matte metal finish to it and a raised door on the front. The door features two sculpted hinges, rivets running around the edges, a handle, and a giant combination dial the front. Diamond went a step further with their Black Cat piece, by having the safe door open, but I think this works just fine. The safe is detailed enough to look good, but it doesn’t upstage the figure itself. One of the odd things about this piece is that the base is sculpted with Joelle Jone’s signature. I don’t think any of the Cover Girls statues has done this in the past, and it further makes this statue feel like a stand-alone release to me.

DC Collectibles is still limiting these pieces, this time to 5,000 each. They are hand-numbered on the bottom of the base. I purchased mine quite a while after it was released, but still got a fairly low number, #468.

Catwoman tends to be something of a focus in my collection, so this may have been an inevitable purchase. Truth be told, I like the Cover Girls series a lot, but I truly have no place left to display these gals and I’m not keen on getting to the point where I’m cycling statues in and out of display because I have too many. Yeah, I already do that with my Gallery Statues from Diamond, but those are just so damn good for the money, sometimes I can’t resist them. Nonetheless, I think it was the distinctive composition mixed with the alluring portrait that made me bite on this one. I believe the MSRP on these pieces are up around $125, but they tend to list closer to the $100 mark. I think I paid $75 for this one as part of a holiday sale. Yup, she really has been waiting around to be opened for a while. But I will say that she was money well spent.

Transformers “Earthrise:” Wheeljack by Hasbro

Work is still very crazy for me, but last week I actually hit my goal of three reviews, let’s see if I can make lightning strike twice this week, eh? Despite still having a whole bunch of unopened Siege figures, today I’m revisiting the Earthrise series with another Deluxe Class figure from that initial wave. It’s my personal favorite absent-minded Autobot scientist, and the Dinobot-Daddy himself… Wheeljack!

The box art is looking as smashing as ever! As the name suggests, the second chapter in the War For Cybertron series gets us a bunch of G1-inspired characters in their more familiar Earth modes. It feels like it’s been almost ten years since Wheeljack got a release in Hasbro’s main Transformers line, and I think he’s long overdue. As usual, the figure comes packaged in his robot mode, we’re going to start with a look at his auto mode.

Originally, Wheeljack transformed into a Lancia Stratos, and Hasbro stuck to that design pretty damn closely for this figure. It’s just as sexy as ever, with the sloping hood, futuristic horseshoe canopy, shuttered back window, and wide spoiler that sits up nice and high. This is an auto design that holds up beautifully and wouldn’t have needed a lot of tweaks to make it look like a Cybertron vehicle, had Hasbro included him in Siege. I also really dig the way they put two sockets in the back, so you can plug in some blast effect parts to look like rocket thrust. There is absolutely nothing I dislike about this mold. It locks together well, rolls smoothly, and it’s just an absolute home run.

The coloring is really great too. The base plastic is a little off-white, maybe eggshell? Either way, it’s adorned with a similar style of red and green deco that the original toy featured and the wheels are also painted red. In addition to the Autobot insignia on the roof, Wheeljack is positively littered with markings from the bold 638 stamped on his doors to the Aerobolt on his spoiler, and all sorts of other stamps and sponsor advertisements. Some of it is even in Cybertronian. The deco perfectly captures the feel of the vintage toy without being a straight copy.

There’s a peg hole on the roof so you can weaponize Wheeljack’s auto mode with his gun/missile launcher. Unlike some of the weaponized vehicle looks, I think this one works well. The weapon is small enough that it looks like it could have appeared from an opening hatch, rather than look like something that was just stuck onto it.

Transforming Wheeljack isn’t too difficult, it’s not too simple, indeed it feels just right for a Deluxe Class toy. But the engineering also holds my one gripe about this figure. The lower portion of the windshield splits into two little plates. When transforming him into robot mode, these fold into his legs just behind and under the knees. The problem is these pop off every time I transform him, and by that I mean EVERY TIME I TRANSFORM HIM! Half the time, they go flying onto the floor and it’s a mad rush to recover them before the cats do. I feel like this could have been handled better, especially since the rest of the engineering is perfectly fine. And it’s hard to argue with how great the results are.  From the canopy chest to the big split-hood feet, the robot mode preserves everything I remember and love about the original G1 design. It even manages to do some clever stuff like use the spoiler to make those angled panels behind his shoulders, where they were separate pieces on the old toy. Hell, this guy even looks great from the back, and that’s not something I can say about a lot of Transformers these days.

The head sculpt is as quirky and distinctive as ever. He’s got those big ear panels, which I can practically see lighting up as he talks. He’s got the three-pronged crown coming off the top of his domed “helmet.” And his nose disappears into the segmented mouth plate. The blue eyes are painted on, so no light-piping, but they look fine.

Wheeljack’s weapon can serve as either a handgun or a shoulder cannon. It kind of looks like the one that came with the original toy, although that toy came with two of them, one for each shoulder. I don’t recall the original figure coming with a handgun either, but that always made sense to me because he was a scientist. Sure, I would have loved to get a second weapon so I could mount one on each shoulder, but he looks fine with just one.

I was, and still am, a big fan of the Generations Wheeljack figure from around 2011. Of course, it was more stylized than this release and took a lot more liberties with the auto mode. And while that figure will always have a special place in my heart, I think this Earthrise Wheeljack trounces all over it. This version is certainly more faithful to the original toy, a lot less fiddly to transform, and has superb robot and auto modes. He definitely carries on all the love that I lavished on Hoist and I’m hoping that Earthrise continues to impress as I keep opening these toys.

Marvel Legends (Demogoblin Wave): Gamerverse Mark III Spider-Armor by Hasbro

I’m likely going to start knocking off another wave of Legends from my backlog next week. In the meantime, I got the two GamerVerse figures from the Demogoblin Wave in the mail a few days back and they were within arm’s reach so I decided to have a look at one of those today. Let’s go ahead and do the Mark III Spider-Armor!

I’m assuming these are based on the PS4 Spider-Man game? Alas, my copy is still sealed on my shelf. I was pretty excited to play it at one point but then I watched my nephew playing an agonizing stretch as MJ in a stealth level and it was like getting doused in freezing water. Truth be told, if I was on lock-down like everyone else, I would probably have played it already, but all I got is loaded up with more work hours out of this whole pandemic mess. Ah well, I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually. I do know the game had a ton of unlockable suits because Spider-Man sure is known for his diverse catalog of costumes. Wait, what? Hey, whatever it takes to sell action figures, right?

Because Spider-Man suits are just like Stark Armor now? I guess that ties in with the MCU. Sorta. Anywho, this is indeed an armored suit and all things considered, it’s a pretty damn cool looking figure. The Mark III Spider-Armor preserves a bit of traditional underlying Spidey suit and just adds some armored bits to it. I dig the texture in the red parts, particularly on the chest and arm bracers. The bracers look like they have two web-shooters on each one and the tiny red diamonds on the knuckles look great. Spider-Man comes with his right hand sculpted into a fist and a thwippy left hand.

There are some subtle panel lines in the black areas, which give it an MCU vibe. The large shoulder pauldrons are an interesting choice, and I’m not sure I like the blue there and on the biceps. I feel like they should have gone either all red and black or all blue and black. Plus, the blue paint on mine has some scratches, which don’t look all that great. I do, however, think the spider emblem on the chest looks fabulous.

From the back, the Spider-Armor features a partial segmented spine, like we sometimes see in the Stark armors. He also has a little backpack, which looks like a jetpack? That’s weird. Maybe it’s also used for launching Spider-Drones.

The head is the most Stark-like feature of the whole suit. It’s smooth, with gears for neck bolts and the neck is segmented. It lacks the usual Stark armor mouth, but you do get a pair of stylized eyes, which look pretty bad-ass.

The articulation is standard stuff, meaning he’s very poseable. We don’t get the shoulder crunches we usually see in the regular Spider-Man figures, but I guess that armor has to limit agility, right? Instead, the arms get by with rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double-hinges in the elbows. The shoulder armor will overlap the shoulders to allow for some mobility there. The legs have ball joints in the hips, double-hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a waist swivel, an ab-crunch hinge under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

There are no extra hands included, but hey… Web effect! Oh, long I’ve been asking Hasbro to start doing web effects! It seems like such a no-brainer! This one is meant to cover an opponent’s face and it fits quite well.

I was originally going to pass on this figure, as I wasn’t too keen on the concept, and I could probably live without building the Demogoblin. Luckily, it turned up for dirt cheap online and now that he’s in hand, I’m actually surprised how much I dig this figure. I’m still not a fan of taking the whole Stark Spidey suit thing to the extreme. We don’t need a Spider-Man House Party Protocol. But  as a concept figure I think this works great. Hell, I guess it even works as an extrapolation of the MCU Spider-Man. Either way, I’ll admit that it won me over in the end. Next week I’ll see if the same is true for the Velocity Suit Spider-Man.

Grimm Fairy Tales: Robyn Hood Bishoujo Statue by Zenescope

How about that comic industry, eh folks? Woof! With the Covid Virus closing comic shops, Diamond shutting down distribution indefinitely, and a lot of Marvel’s creators at war with their own customers on social media (well that last bit is nothing new), I’m not sure how this is going to come out. But that’s why I’m glad to have companies like Zenescope. Sure I used to buy their stuff at my (not so) Local Comic Shop, but these days I get most of it online and direct from the company. Same thing with Alterna, and I’d love to see other publishers work up similar online stores. At least it seems to me to be the way the industry is going. The only downside of smaller comic companies like Zenescope is the lack of merchandise. I like to be able to buy action figures and statues of my funny book stars and there hasn’t been a whole lot of that for Zenescope. Still, there was a temporary partnership with Phicen to make some Sixth-Scale figures, and now we’re getting the second in a series of Kickstarted Bishoujo-style statues. The first one was Sela Mathers, this time it’s Robyn Locksley! Next to her pal Liesel Van Helsing, Robyn has been my favorite character in Zenescope’s stable. She’s had some great limited series and even had an ongoing book for a while. From the golden early days of Pat Shand to the newer stuff by Chuck Dixon and Ben Meares her funny books seldom disappoint, and I was thrilled to see she was the subject of this new Bishoujo.

The box is similar to the Sela statue and obviously inspired by Kotobukiya’s Bishoujo line. The big difference is that there’s only one window here, on the front panel, so not as much light gets in to show off the goods. But chances are you aren’t eyeing this up in a store. And on the other hand, less windows made room for more character art, which we get on the front and side panels. The Grimm Universe logo is on the top panel, and the back panel gives us a blurb about Robyn as well as a teaser that Liesel is coming up next. Everything is collector friendly and there’s no assembly required. The statue is roughly 1/7th scale, which puts her right in line with Koto’s ladies and it’s cast in a similar sort of PVC plastic.

Out of the box, Robyn is looking mighty snappy and the pose really captures the character beautifully. Robyn is depicted in mid stride with her trusty compound bow drawn, as she targets an unseen adversary, probably one of The Cabal’s goons. The composition strikes a perfect balance between action and a measured pose and it offers a few choice angles for display.

The attention to detail in her costume is well executed and nearly all the details are part of the sculpt, including the reinforced bands on her high boots, the lines separating the leather and camouflage of her pants and top, and even the finger-less gloves. Even the cross strap that secures her quiver is sculpted separately from the figure. The quiver is a simple box with several arrows peeking out the top. I’ve always loved the design of Robyn’s bow and it’s recreated quite nicely here with all the sexy curves and complex network of pulleys and cables. If I had one nitpick, I wish they had used actual string for the bow because the plastic cables look rather chunky, especially in relation to the arrow shaft. Still, I could see why they wouldn’t want to go that way and if nothing else, making them plastic will certainly mean more durability.

The portrait is pretty faithful to the Bishoujo aesthetic with maybe a little bit of cupie doll thrown in. Robyn sports one green eye and her trademark scar is shown transecting her pupil-less left eye. It would have been cool if they did some kind of foil or gold leaf paint for her mystic eye, even if it was offered as a more limited exclusive. Oooh, they should have done that on the B&W one. That would have looked pretty rad. Either way, I think they did a great job on her facial details and I really dig the way her hair sculpt came out. Sela had some minor issues with mold flashing on the hair, but I’m not seeing any of that here. Of course her hair is capped off with her hood drawn up over her head, but not pulled so far forward that it obscures her face.

The paint and coloring here certainly gets the job done. I dig the use of metallic paint for the blue leather parts of her costume and the emerald green finish on the bow and quiver is quite striking. The camo portions of her outfit are painted neatly, although I would have preferred these had a matte finish. Add in the bright yellow coloring of the hair and ruby red lips, and you’ve got a deco that pops quite nicely. The skin tone isn’t as warm and soft as I’m used to seeing in Koto’s pieces, but it’s serviceable. I’ll also note that the applications are all crisp, with really no slop or uneven lines worth noting.

As with the Sela statue, the base here is just a black disk and I’m fine with that. It’s serviceable, but there’s nothing really else to say about it.

There were a whole slew of Add Ons and Stretch Goals that came as part of the Kickstarter. The project hit $92,000 so that means a lot of extra freebies were unlocked and I added some extra money to my pledge to get some other goodies. First off are these two beautiful art prints by two personal favorites of mine: Paul Green and Jamie Tyndall. I can never get enough of these two artists, and I’ll confess to having a ridiculous number of Tyndall’s framed art scattered through my home, a lot of which is signed.

Next up, there were three Exclusive comic covers of Robyn Hood: Outlaw #6 in my box. The first is by Jason Cardy and it’s the art on which the statue is based. The second is a gorgeous piece of work by another one of my favs, Mike Krome, which was limited to 200 copies. Finally, the third is the line drawing of the same piece of art with an added background. I believe one of these was an Add On and the other two were Stretch Goals.

There were also two stickers in the box, based on the Jason Cardy and Mike Krome art from the previously mentioned comic covers. These were each Stretch Goal bonuses.

And finally, I got four metal cards. I adore these things, but I don’t buy a lot of them individually. I do, however accumulate them as bonuses or incentives. These are all beautiful, but I have to call particular attention to the one based off of Billy Tucci’s cover of Robyn Hood #1. I also have a CGC graded copy of that comic hanging on my wall.

The Kickstarter was originally scheduled to deliver in September of last year, so yeah… things ran about eight months late, as my box just arrived last week. But after backing my share of Kickstarters, I’ve come to expect that. And it’s easy to overlook delays when such a wonderful box of joy ultimately arrives on my doorstep. I’ll say the same thing I said when I reviewed the Sela statue… these are not in the same league as Koto’s statues, but there’s no shame in that. Koto’s work is top-tier and they’ve been doing it forever. And with that said, I’m quite pleased with the way Robyn came out. I got mine with Early Bird pricing for $70 and that’s more than fair. And I’m obviously not alone in that assessment, because this project was funded in under four hours. It makes me happy to know that with successes like that, the line will continue, and I anxiously await the campaign for Liesel Van Helsing!

Marvel Legends (Wendigo Wave): Wendigo Build-A-Figure by Hasbro

Marvel Monday is spilling over to Wednesday this week, folks, as I’m back to cobble together another Build-A-Figure after finally opening all the figures in the Wendigo Wave. And what a wave it was! Guardian, Nightcrawler, X-Force Wolverine, Boom-Boom, Mr SInister, and No Legs… er, I mean… Cannonball! And borrowing a piece that came with each of these figures allows me to build the Wendigo! It’s kind of like a big white furry Voltron! And he’s not only a giant snowbeast, but also a cautionary tale about what not to do when you get peckish out in the Canadian wilderness. This guy is pretty simple to build and comprised of the usual six pieces: Head, body, arms, and legs. And I’ll form the tail!!! Nope, tail is already attached.

And once he’s popped together he is one beautiful beast! Wendigo does borrow some parts that Hasbro used on the Sasquatch Build-A-Figure, which certainly makes sense as they are both giant, lumbering, shaggy behemoths. And to be fair, Hasbro utilized a lot of new sculpting that they probably could have gotten away without doing. The furry groinular area, for example, is sculpted to hang down at more of a point than we saw with Sasquatch, and there are other subtle re-touches beyond what’s used to cover their junk. The entire body is sculpted with some light hair texture, but it gets particularly heavy around his lower legs, forearms, and his shoulders and back. Also, unlike Sasquatch, Wendigo’s got a long curving tail, which for some reason I find extremely unnerving. It’s part monkey, part cat, all horror! As expected, a lot of the coloring on this beast is white, but there are some hits of blue here and there, which break up what would be an otherwise monotone figure. He also has some gray on his hands and feet.

The head sculpt is pure nightmare fuel. I mean, holy shit! If I saw this thing in real life I’m pretty sure I’d piss my pants. I’m not even ashamed to admit it. The somewhat ape-like face features what looks like a normal head of human hair with his two pointed ears piercing through it on the sides. There’s some additional shag sculpted onto his cheeks and chin and it looks absolutely fantastic. The deep-set beady red eyes are darkened around the sockets and under his broad nose is a gaping maw filled with horrific looking yellow teeth, some of which are stained with blood.

Articulation here is identical to what we saw with Sasquatch, so I’ll just refer you back to that review. I will say that while the articulation is excellent, my figure has some trouble staying together and that’s not something that I usually find with these BAF’s. The biggest offender is the head, which will pop out pretty regularly. The arms, come second. They don’t come out all the time when I’m posing him, but it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot holding them in place and it doesn’t take much for them to pop out.

Besides being an excellent enemy for my Hulk or Wolverine to go up against, this figure is plenty versatile as just a big abominable snow creature. I can easily see using him with my Mythic Legions, or hell if I want to really make him seem big I can have some of my arctic GI JOE‘s fight him. Either way, he’s a beautiful BAF and a very nice bonus for collecting a damn fine assortment of figures. And that’s another wave of Legends in the bag. Next week, I’ll probably take a look at an exclusive or a one-off or something before diving into another wave. And who knows? I might even have time to come back and sneak in a third review this week on Friday.