TRON: Tron and Sark by Diamond Select Toys

In the past few weeks, I’ve taken a spin through the various figures based on the failed franchises that Diamond Select has raided from Disney’s dumpster. We saw figures from The Black Hole, we saw a figure of The Rocketeer, and now I’m checking out their figures from the original TRON. And yeah, TRON may have been a failed franchise, but I have an unending reservoir of love for it and it’s sequel. I can remember my poor parents hunting everywhere for those Tomy TRON figures and Lightcycles when I was a kid, and while I was beside myself with joy when I finally got them… Getting these DST figures as a kid would have been like a dream come true.

Here they are in their collector friendly window boxes, and like most of DST’s figures these Programs are about seven inches tall. The history and distribution behind these figures is a bit convoluted. I’m pretty sure that these are the same figures DST released as part of their Kingdom Hearts line, but I’ve never been a fan of those games, and so those passed me by. The pair I’m looking at today were available in different versions of this assortment. I found these at Walgreens, but there are other versions that include some effect parts. There was also a third figure, Flynn included in this assortment, and a red Infiltrator variant included with the others. Regular Flynn is supposed to be hard to find, but I managed to find one online just yesterday and I’ll probably review him to at some point. For now, let’s start with Tron.

He fights for the Users! I am still so smitten with the aesthetics of the original TRON, but I think it’s one of those things where you had to be there for it. The suits, which were lit up in post-production, are something that isn’t easy to translate into action figures. That’s probably why Tomy went with translucent colored plastic when they made their figures. It was a neat effect, but it didn’t really look like the characters on the screen. Here, DST has done a pretty fine job embracing the actual character designs. Tron features a body cast in pale gray with the piping and circuit patterns printed on in light blue. Sure, it lacks the vibrant lighting effect the Programs had on the screen, but it otherwise looks great. Some of the blue effects are part of the sculpt, but overall Tron’s body utilizes sculpted details sparingly. You get some rumpling and definition in the boots, he has his tubular arm bracers, which extend over the backs of his hands. and finally the armor pieces on his shoulders and biceps.

The portrait is a pretty solid likeness for Bruce Boxleitner. It’s a little over simplified, but I can definitely recognize him in there. I like the gray paint they used for his “skin,” although in some shots from the film it’s not much different from the pale gray of the suit. This is a case where it may not be 100% accurate, but it looks good on the figure. The helmet looks like it might be sculpted from a separate piece, which gives the whole head sculpt some appreciated depth, and it has more of those great blue piping and circuit patterns printed on it.

The articulation here is quite good, and I’m particularly pleased to see DST went with ball joints in the hips, rather than those weird lateral hinge and T-crotch they often favor. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, there are swivels in the biceps, and the elbows have double-hinges capable of very tight bends. The legs have swivels in the thighs, double-hinges in the knees, and the ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint just under the chest and another in the neck. The joints are all strong and serviceable, making Tron lots of fun to pose and play with.

Tron comes with two accessories: His Identity Disc and a plain black stand. The Disc has a peg which allows it to be stored on his back, like in the film. He can sort of hold the disc by sticking the edge between his thumb and index finger, but it’s certainly not a tight grasp. I had to make use of some blue-tack to keep it in place for many of these pictures. Let’s move on to Sark…

Sadly, I don’t have as much to say about Sark because I’ve already covered it all with Tron. But don’t let the fool you into thinking that I don’t love this guy. General to The Master Control Program, Sark was a great villain and a pretty damn cool character design. Pretty much everything I said about Tron’s body rings true for Sark, only he features a darker gray plastic and red piping and circuit patterns. His suit is also a little more bulky than Tron’s, which makes him look a little more imposing. Despite the different suit, the articulation remains identical.

While Tron’s portrait was solid, I think Sark’s is spectacular. David Warner is my boi. He just makes everything he appears in better, and the folks at DST did a wonderful job with his likeness on this figure. I’m also a big fan of Sark’s elaborate helmet. It’s like a hood with extra bits added to protect his noggin when he’s engaging in those crazy games. I really can’t say enough good things about how well this head sculpt turned out.

And like Tron, Sark comes with his Identity Disc, which can be pegged into his back for storage or sort of held in his hands if you have a little patience and don’t jostle the table he’s standing on too hard. He also has a plain black figure stand, which really isn’t necessary since these guys stand great on their own.

If you can’t tell, I absolutely love these figures. Maybe some of that comes from the fact that these are fulfilling a wish that I’ve had since I was a little kid, but I think a lot of credit has to go to Diamond Select for the work. These feel like a labor of love, because why else would they release them? I doubt these are going to be best sellers for them, because despite the big-budget sequel, I feel like TRON continues to languish in a sort of cult status. Sure there are other middle aged nerds like me who remember it and appreciate it and will want to own the toys, but I don’t think that will translate to big sales. And as I write this, I’m kind of talking myself into buying the other versions, if not just for the extra effect parts, but also just to show DST how much I appreciate these and how badly I want a second wave with Ram, Yori, and a Warrior. Oh man, I can’t imagine how good a Warrior would look in this line.

The Rocketeer by Diamond Select

The folks at Diamond Select have been busy raiding old Disney movie licenses for action figure fodder. Not long ago I checked out their offerings from the 1979 sci-fi flop, The Black Hole, and I’ve yet to getting around to their Tron figures. Well, now I’m back to have a look at their figure from the 1991 film The Rocketeer! To my knowledge, I believe this figure was actually released as part of the same case assortment as the two Black Hole figures. At least I got them all in one assortment from an online retailer.

I’d say the packaging is overcompensating for the film’s poor Box Office take, but then Diamond uses this over-sized presentation for all their Select figures. It looks nice, but it’s not collector friendly and when I’m done opening these, it feels like there’s usually a lot more trash to throw out than toy to keep. And if you decide to keep it sealed, DST made the dubious decision to package him without his helmet on. More on that in a bit! Despite not garnering the reception Disney had hoped, The Rocketeer seems to have come into its own lately with fans rediscovering just what a fun and charming movie it is, and that’s cool because we’re seeing some of that expressed through the collectible market. Funko had a couple of tries with both a 3 3/4-inch ReAction figure and a 6-inch Legacy figure. The ReAction figure was OK, but I never bothered with the Legacy release. Let’s see how DST did!

As you can see from the packaged shot, he comes out of the package without the helmet on, but I’m starting with the helmeted head, because that’s the look that I was most excited about. To me, the design of Cliff Secord’s costume is so iconic that it practically transcends the comic and film it’s based on. The retro Flash Gordon look of leather tunic and Art Deco hood ornament helmet is such a thing of beauty. And I think DST did a pretty solid job recreating the costume here. The trousers flare at the thighs in military fashion and his high boots look fine even though there isn’t a lot of detail to them. The tunic has a glossy brown finish to give it a leathery look and the chest piece is surrounded by sculpted buttons. If I have one complaint here it’s mostly with the odd jointing that DST uses. So let’s touch on that before moving on.

The legs use rotating hinges in the knees and ankles, which is fine, but I’ll never understand why they go with these lateral hinges in the hips. They just look weird. I’m not sure if there’s any articulation in the torso, but mine doesn’t want to move and I’m not going to force the issue. So that means no waist swivel, ball joint, or ab crunch. That’s pretty disappointing. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, and double-hinged elbows, which is fine, but the arms look a bit pinched and weird. Finally, the wrists and neck are pegged ball joints. You get a few sets of hands to swap out, including one pair without gloves. Some of the hand choices are odd. For example, there’s one that clearly looks like it’s meant to hold a gun.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. The helmet looks great. The big bug-like eyes and the segmented mouth grill are painted in black, while the rest of the helmet is painted over with a weathered brass finish. Of course, the design looks best in profile to show off that lovely back-swept fin.

And he’s not called The Rocketeer for nothing! DST did a wonderful job recreating the rocket pack, in all it’s curvaceous and bulbous glory. It’s got grills and rivets, and I can even make out the fan under the circular grill in the middle. There are some exposed cables sculpted above the thruster modules, and yes they even sculpted and painted the piece of chewing gum used to plug the leak in the film. The silver finish has a nice metallic sheen to it and gives way to a more functional gray down below, while the tips of the two tanks are painted bronze to match the helmet. Sadly, the pack is not removable.

On a downside, the un-helmeted Secord head is kind of embarrassing, and I’m not even talking about the likeness. The sculpt is really soft, the expression is strangely derpy, and the paint is really amateur, giving it a mannequin-like appearance. When I first saw this head I was instantly reminded of the Vault Dweller figure that Funko did for their short lived Fallout line. And I can’t say enough about how much that isn’t a complement. This just looks wooden and not at all befitting of a $25 collector figure. On their worst day Hasbro is turning out much better portraits than this in either their Marvel or Star Wars figures.

In addition to the hands and the extra head, you also get a replacement chest flap where it’s partially unbuttoned and hanging off. It’s not a bad bonus, I guess but I’d rather that cost went into a better portrait. It’s also the most likely reason we didn’t get some articulation in the torso.

And the figure also comes with the blueprints for the rocket pack, which is beautifully printed on a stiff piece of thin cardboard. This is a pretty cool addition and it’s a lot more high quality than I expected it to be.

The figure also comes with some excellent effect parts. First, you get two thrust pieces that plug into the rocket pack’s thruster cones. They’re cast in semi-translucent plastic with a yellow-orange tint to them.

And saving the best for last, you get this blast off effect piece that doubles as a display stand. The sculpting here is excellent with all the swirls of the rocket thrust mingling with a chalky smoke at the bottom. It also does a great job of holding the figure.

If I had to recap this review in one sentence, I’d say that I like this figure, but I don’t love it. Now, while I confess that I do enjoy the movie, I was originally going to pass on this figure. The fact that it was bundled in with The Black Hole releases was what made me concede to just order the case. There’s some good stuff here, to be sure, but DST has been doing their Select line for a long time, they should be on top of their game by now, and some aspects of this figure just doesn’t reflect that. I think I wound up paying about $24 for this guy, and while you definitely get quite a bit in the package to add value, I’d rather some of that just went into fine-tuning the figure itself.

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.┬áMoving 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 Gallery: Goblin Queen by Diamond Select

It’s Christmas week and that’s always a busy week for me, but I’m still going to try to get in three reviews this week, including one for Christmas morning. Since there are only two more Marvel Mondays this year, I decided to get one more non-Marvel Legends review in before we say goodbye to 2019, so let’s open up another one of Diamond Select’s wonderful Marvel Gallery statues. This time we’re checking out Madelyne Pryor… The Goblin Queen!

If you’re still unfamiliar with DST’s Marvel Gallery statues, please have a look through some of my past reviews, because these roughly 9-inch scale PVC figures are perfect for statue collectors on a budget. As always, they come in display boxes with windows on the top, front, and side panels to let in plenty of light and show off the goods inside. Everything is collector friendly and the statue comes fully assembled and ready to go!

And it’s no wonder why all those Goblins follow her around, because Maddie is smoking hawt! The composition features her standing atop an arcane-looking stony ground with plumes of semi-transparent smoke and a lone Goblin prostrate at her feet and huddled over some skulls. It’s definitely more of what I would call a museum pose, but the placement of her legs and the blowing of her cape do offer a whiff of possible action.

I’ll confess that I don’t recognize this precise costume from any books that I’ve read, but I’m going to assume it’s somewhat contemporary. And that’s fine because Maddie’s costumes tend to have a running theme and this one isn’t all that different from what we’ve seen in the past. She dons a pair of skin-tight leggings and a top that could only be considered modest if you find bare arms provocative. As is often the case, she’s showing off her mid-riff and more than a modicum of cleavage. Almost every facet of the costume is part of the sculpt, including the coiled wire around her arms, the fasteners for her cape.

I tend to think of Maddie wearing black, but here she has a very deep and beautiful metallic purple sheen to her outfit, with only the tattered cape being black. The coils on her arms are painted gold, as is the fastener for her cape. The lighter purple pattern running down her right leg appears to be a decal, which is the first time I remember seeing that used on one of these statues. It looks great, and hopefully it will be durable enough to last without chipping. The paint applications here are overall good. If I want to really nitpick, I could see a few minor areas for improvement in the lines between her skin and costume, but I’m talking very minor. To be fair I’ve seen far more expensive statues than this one with worse.

The portrait is quite lovely, with her pretty face shadowed by her luxurious coif of flowing red hair. You do have to get in and under her to really appreciate the work they did here, but I love the way the hair partially obscures it. The paint used for her lips and green eyes is sharp.

If there’s one area where these Gallery Statues sometimes come up short it’s the base designs, although that’s not the case here. The semi-transparent plumes of smoke make for a cool effect and the extra sculpt and paint that went into the goblin really takes this base above and beyond what we usually get. He’s got a ton of personality to him, and it’s clear that they poured just as much love into him as the rest of the piece. The skulls are a nice touch too!

DST has been killing it with the Marvel Gallery lately. Not only are the sculpts and paint on point, but I’m really digging the diverse character selection. I can’t think of all that much merch devoted to Maddie Pryor, and that makes this all the more of a welcome treat. It also makes for a nice consolation prize, because I was once considering picking up the Bowen version of The Gobln Queen, but by the time I decided to pull the trigger the prices had gone too rich for my blood. Meanwhile, this lovely little piece only set me back about $35 and you simply can’t beat that. The craftsmanship here is definitely on par with more expensive pieces I’ve seen. And that’s why despite the fact that I’ve run out of room to display these a long time ago, I’m still buying them, because I just can’t say no.

Marvel Gallery: Angela by Diamond Select

It was kind of a hectic weekend for me, so rather than my usual Monday Marvel Legends fare, I decided to go laid back and have a look at another one of Diamond Select’s Marvel Gallery statues. I have a few choices of statues to open, but since Angela doesn’t get a whole lot of merch love since joining the Marvel Universe, let’s go ahead and open her up. But first… the packaging!

As always, the statue comes in a collector friendly box with windows front, top, and on both side panels. And because the figure inside is enclosed in two clear plastic trays, the package itself works as a kind of display case, allowing you to see most of the ins and outs of what you’re getting. With so many statues these days coming in fully enclosed boxes, I like that DST is proud enough to show their pieces off. On the back panel you get a shot of the statue and a little blurb about Angela and how she fits into the Marvel Universe. If you’re new to this line, Angela is presented around the 9-inch scale and crafted from a durable PVC plastic.

Hey Aldrif… did it hurt when you fell from Heven? Angela comes out of the box all ready for display, and looking both fierce and fine. The warrioress stands upon a plot of alien-looking (Asgardian?) landscape with one leg drawn up and her foot resting on a blue crystal outcrop. She turns to her right and begins to draw her mighty blade, Xiphos, from its scabbard. It’s a beautiful pose with a tantalizing hint of the action that’s to come. This composition exudes nobility, power, and it’s got sex appeal in spades. Generally speaking, I’m happy with most of DST’s poses in this line, but this one really shines.

Every bit of Angela’s Heven Armor comes alive in the sculpt. From the segmented cuts of her thigh-high high-heeled gold boots, to her golden chest armor, and once again the segmented cuts of her armored sleeves, each of which terminate just below the scalloped pauldrons on her shoulders. She has a pair of sculpted bands encircling her left thigh and a pair of sculpted panties covered up by her wide belt and white sash. Both of these last articles are sculpted separately from the statue, which is somewhat unusual for this line, but I dig it. The belt rests on her hips, allowing the sash to trail down behind her left leg. The paintwork on the costume is beautifully executed, with a satin gold leaf and silver used for the armor pieces, and a warm and even shade used for the skin-tone. She even shows off a bit of metallic red for the bracer on her left wrist. I especially like the finish on the belt, which makes it look like worn leather with a weathered patina on the buckle and rivets.

 

Another piece of the costume that is sculpted separately from the statue is her psychically charged Ribbon. Yeah, I guess you could also just call it a scarf. This long, thin purple strip wraps around her neck and the two strands sweep down off of her shoulders. It’s cast in a fairly soft plastic, but holds it’s shape well enough. The red and gold ornamentation is sculpted down a channel in the center for the entire length of the piece.

As far as portraits go, this one is a total homerun. She’s strikingly beautiful with bright crimson paint used for her lips and eye makeup. Her pupil-less eyes are framed by the copious strands of red hair, which spill out from the top of her winged headband and down the sides of her face, while the rest spills out down her back and onto her shoulders. I could easily see this portrait rivaling that of a much more expensive statue. It really did turn out that well.

The last big attraction on the statue is Angel’s blade, Xiphos, The Sword of the Stars. It has an ornate gold cross-guard with a blue stone in the center, a simple scull-crushing pommel, and sculpted wrappings on the grip. Only a small section of the silver blade can be seen between the pommel and the throat of the wide scabbard.

The base is both interesting and understated, and that’s meant as a compliment. It provides just enough context without upstaging the figure itself. You get a little patch of rocks, painted brown with a black wash to give them some nice texture. Jutting out from each side of the cluster are blue crystalline structures, one of which provides the pedestal for Angela’s right foot. If you’ve read some of my previous Gallery statue reviews, you may remember that the bases on these statues rarely impress me, but this one came out damn nice, both in design and execution.

Angela is yet another fine example of why I simply cannot quit this line, despite having no room to display more statues. Granted, I’m far from a completest, but when DST continues to deliver quality and craftsmanship like this at such a reasonable price point, I find I just can’t say no. And with prices of collectible statues continuing to climb at an alarming rate (I’m looking at you, Kotobukiya!), it’s refreshing to be able to set something like piece on my shelf for about $40. What’s more, it’s nice to see DST continuing to dig a little deep for their character selection. I’m not really reading a lot of Marvel comics these days, because quite frankly they’re become so god-awful, but I did enjoy her introduction to the MU a little ways back in Guardians of the Galaxy. But hey, even if you’re just a fan of Spawn and McFarlane Comics, you might want to consider picking up this lovely statue. I’m very glad that I did!

Marvel Gallery: Dazzler by Diamond Select

Apparently this week is all about doubling-down. I started it with Marvel Monday and here we are back to Marvel content on Friday. Plus, I looked at a couple of the Diamond Select Real Ghostbusters on Wednesday, and here we are back to DST today. Honestly, I didn’t plan it like that, it just happened! Dazzler showed up at my door a few days ago, and since I also recently picked up a CGC graded copy of Dazzler #1, it seemed like I should bump her to the head of the stack. And so without further delay, let’s brush up on our 70’s vernacular, crank up the Bee Gees, and boogie on down!

And here she is in the package, can you dig it? Like all Marvel Gallery statues, Dazzler’s box has windows on the front, top and both side panels to let the light in and let you get a good look at what you’re getting. As always, I recommend picking up these statues at a comic shop whenever possible, that way you can scrutinize the piece and make sure you aren’t getting no jive-ass paint job. You also support your local comic shop while doing it and that’s groovy! Alas, there’s nowhere around me that sells them, so I have to take my chances online. Still, I am rarely disappointed in what I get. If you’re unfamiliar, these Gallery statues are roughly 9-inch scale and cast in durable PVC plastic.

Out of the box, Alison is looking totally fab. She stands with legs together, one knee slightly drawn up, her microphone in her left grasp and her right hand outstretched to display a bit of her mutant razzle-dazzle. I like the composition here a lot. It’s not quite a museum-style pose, it’s not terribly dynamic, but maybe just the best of both worlds. It definitely captures the essence of her character. Also, she also doesn’t require a lot of real estate to display. That’s pretty important to me, since I’m running out of space and probably shouldn’t be buying more statues.

Ms. Blaire’s threads consist of her classic costume, and that’s a very good thing, because this is undoubtedly my favorite look for Dazzler. She dons her radical pearlescent-white sleeveless pantsuit with a plunging collar up top and flared bottoms down below. It hugs her body showing off all her stellar curves. And finally, Dazzler swings onto the scene in a pair of skates with a crisscross pattern designed to emulate a disco ball. Nifty!

I’m happy to say that the paintwork on my statue is sound as a pound. No, the costume doesn’t require a lot of intricate paint, but it does have a nice sheen and it’s smooth and clean. Likewise, her skin-tone is even and warm. Other than the neat silver zipper line, you get some silver on her wrist bangles, bicep cuff, microphone skates, and the miniature disco ball that hangs around her neck. She also has a perfectly painted pearl choker.

The statue makes good use of some translucent plastic for her dazzle effect. It actually reminds me a bit of the pieces that were included with Hasbro’s Marvel Legends figure. It’s attached to her wrist, but looks like it’s suspended there. I think it would have been cool to do some kind of floating light effects behind her with wire or something, but that’s probably far beyond the scope of what is a budget line. Anyway, the wheels on her skates are also translucent blue plastic, which is a great touch and totally off the hook.

And check out the portrait! She’s a stone fox, man! Her face is painted with her trademark blue eye mask, which is sharp and has a subtle glittery finish to it. Alison’s pupil-less eyes have a silver sheen to match her costume, and her pink lipstick is a little understated. Finally her hair radical orange-blonde coif of hair flows nearly symmetrically behind her. I think I would have liked more of a yellow hue to her hair, but I’m still fine with what we got.

Our final stop on this statue is a look at the funkadelic base, I think DST did a great job designing this one. You get a blue platform with a couple of sculpted stage lights, a cluster of groovy gold and silver stars, and a partial mirror ball behind her feet. It’s not as elaborate as it could have been. I was thinking her balanced atop half a disco ball, but there’s something to be said for being understated. Either way, every bit of this base fits Dazzler to a tee.

There’s no doubt about it, Gallery Dazzler is one foxy mama, and it’s great to see DST continue to slip some not so prominent characters into their Gallery lineup. It’s a little risk taking like this that shows a company has confidence in their line. And it worked well enough on me, as I’m more likely to sit up and take notice of releases like Dazzler than I am the umpteenth version of an A-Lister. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this statue captures the character perfectly, delivers up a solid sculpt, and some classy paint. “The man” hit me up for about forty bones on this one, and if you ask me it’s money well spent, and the Gallery series continues to offer some of the best values on the statue market today. Catch ya on the flipside!

The Real Ghostbusters: Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore by Diamond Select

Welcome to the next stop on the “OMG, I gotta get through my backlog” Express! When Diamond Select launched their line of Ghostbusters figures, I didn’t bite. I was reasonably happy with my set from Matty Collector, and the reviews I was reading pointed out quite a few issues with the figures. Not to mention, I didn’t want to go through all that again. I was a little more tempted by their Ghostbusters 2 figures, but I still managed self control. When their Real Ghosbusters figures were announced, I decided I would be happy with my MEGO-style versions and sit those out as well. Then I saw the pictures and all bets were off. I just loved the look of these guys! They shipped in two waves, and today I’m going to check out Egon and Winston from the first wave. Nope, I didn’t get Slimer. Never been a big Slimer fan. I blame the cartoon’s unfortunate transition to Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters for that! He’s the goddamn Scrappy Doo of the Ghostbusters Universe.

These packages are so damn big, I only had space to shoot one of them. HA! Yeah, I normally sum up DST’s Select Series action figure packaging as “impressive but wasteful.” I mean, it’s impossible to hold this giant bubble and card in hand and not be impressed, by it’s sheer size and presence, but after you open this thing you’re left with a mammoth pile of cardboard and plastic. Now, in this case, wasteful might be a bit hasty, because between the figure, the accessories, and the huge diorama piece, packaging this size is mostly justified, although there’s still plenty of room to shrink it. Maybe if they could have made it collector friendly I would see the point, but even then I wouldn’t have room to save these big packages. Let me go grab a Lawn & Leaf-sized outdoor trash bag so I can open these and take out the trash, and then I’ll be back!

The genius of this line is that it recycles the bucks from DST’s regular movie line and as a result, these take the animated style and give them an injection of realism, sort of similar to what Hasbro did with the Star Wars: Rebels designs in their 6-inch Black Series. I realize that this is going to put off some collectors, others will call it a cheap cop out designed to recycle parts, but I firmly believe that this is the only way these figures were going to get made, and I love the results, so I’m not about to quibble. Suffice it to say from the neck down, Egon and Winston share the same body, with each repainted to reflect the color-coded jumpsuits from the cartoon. I don’t own the film-based figures, so a close comparison is out of the question, but the coloring looks nice and other touches include silver paint on the zippers, buckles, and boot eyelets, gray paint on the elbow pads, and some yellow and blue on the belt devices to give them that cartoony look. The paint quality is OK, but it does get sloppy in some areas, and there’s a lot of rubbing on the jumpsuits, particularly Winston’s, which makes them look dirty in some areas. Although, most of this is only subject to close inspection and doesn’t really effect them when displayed on the shelf. And don’t forget those fresh and sharp Ghostbusters logos on their left shoulders! They look fab!

I think the portraits are excellent, and this is where the line could easily have bottomed out. I can’t imagine it’s easy to take 2D cartoon models and make them look good in three dimensions of plastic. These character designs were never meant for that. And yet, DST did a wonderful job with both of them, by somehow taking all the personality and charm of the cartoon characters and inject that into a couple of plastic noggins. Egon especially, with his ridiculous hair and glasses probably posed the biggest challenge, but I have no complaints about how he turned out. I particularly love the eternally perplexed expression on his face. On the other hand, I’m not happy about the large paint chip on the left of Egon’s neck.

The proton packs are all new with a complete animated face-lift. I went back to a still from the cartoon to check it out and I’m happy to say it holds up to the scrutiny quite well. The components are chunkier and more colorful, and I dig the big gauge on the top. The wand also looks great, and follows the design from the cartoon to a tee. The pack is also actually held onto the figure by the shoulder straps and waist belt. It looks like it would be removable, but you would have to snip the waist belt to do it. Alas, the way the wand attaches to the pack is a huge fail. It clips on by the handle, and this doesn’t work at all. The clip is made of softer plastic to keep it from stressing and snapping off, but after attaching and removing the wand just a few times, the clip has stretched to the point where it doesn’t hold the wand securely any longer. Winston’s is a little better than Egon’s, but either one will pop off with normal handling of the figure. If you look closely, you can probably see the little gob of poster putty I’m using to hold Egon’s wand in place. I can’t even begin to articulate how frustrating and annoying this is when playing around with the figures, let alone taking photos of them. The choice of hose material they used is also very questionable. Winston’s made out OK so far, but Egon’s crimped in a few places right out of the package, and I’m sure that will continue to happen with all the figures through normal handling.

The articulation on these guys is overall decent, but DST makes some odd choices with their joint design, particularly in the hips. Instead of using a simple rotating ball joint, the legs are attached to a t-crotch with swivels and hinges. It works, but it just feels rather clunky. The rest of the legs feature double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and hinged pegs in the wrists. There’s a ball joint under the chest, but I can’t get much more than a swivel out of it, and finally the necks are ball jointed. All in all, it’s functional, but I would have preferred swivels in the biceps and double-hinges in the elbows. As it is, the range of motion in the elbows isn’t all that it could be. You also get three pairs of hands with each figure, two sets with gloves and one without. Two of these pairs are designed to work with the particle throwers and the third have tighter grips to hold the PKE Meters. I think the right hands designed for the throwers aren’t quite right to do the job. Also, I would have liked to have seen these jointed to hinge up and down instead of front and back.

Yup, each figure does indeed come with a PKE Meter and boy do I have mixed feelings about this thing. Like the packs, it does follow the design of the device from the cartoon splendidly, and it sports some excellent detail, but there had to be a better way to do the indicator arms at the top. Here they’re just made out of two spaghetti strands of plastic. They’re floppy and warped and always in the down state. Where’s the fun in that? Who wants their Ghostbusters to never be detecting any ghosts? Maybe articulated arms was too much to ask for given the design, but since they included the meter with both figures, they could have at least made one with the arms down and one with them up.

Each figure also comes with a Ghost Trap, and unfortunately I’m not really impressed with this piece either. The paint and sculpt are fine, but once again the hose they used is just terrible. Mine is crimped in three or four places and it’s already nearly pulled out of the trap itself. [Edit: It finally did pull out of the trap before I was finished shooting pictures for this review!] It is designed to attach to the Proton Pack with a tab, and while that sort of works, it means you’re going to have to coil up the hose to hang it somewhere and that’s just going to lead to more crimping. Also, wants it’s coiled up, it’s never going to lay flat again for when you want to deploy the trap. Why then use a plastic hose that can’t take being coiled and uncoiled. Hell, why not just use gray string? This was just a terrible idea. Also, the trap doesn’t even open. I might not be as picky about this if it weren’t for the fact that Mattel’s traps opened, and those were in scale with much smaller 5 1/2-inch figures. What the hell?

The final accessory in each box is the particle stream, which attaches to the tip of the particle thrower. Fun fact! The original wave of DST’s movie Ghostbusters didn’t come with the connection pieces for the streams, so there was no way to actually attach them to the wands. Holy shit, what an oversight! Thankfully, these figures do come with a tiny clear adapter to fit on the end of the wands and attach the streams to. I actually think these look pretty cool, and each one is colored differently.

DST is also including diorama pieces with these figures, so that you can build the Ghostbusters Firehouse. In this case, I got two floor pieces and a couple of pieces of sign. I doubt I’m going to invest in enough figures to complete this, since you have to buy movie figures as well. Still, it’s a cool idea and I remember seeing pictures of the rooftop of the Gozer Building, their last Build-A-Diorama, and I was suitably impressed. For now, I guess I can use these pieces as rubble!

I can’t say I’m sorry I bought these, but they do have enough issues for me to admit that I’m disappointed in them. The figures themselves look great, and I’m still excited to get them all set up and displayed on the shelf, but DST made some really poor choices in the accessories and the way they function. The crimping hoses, the wands that don’t stay connected, traps that don’t even open, and PKE Meters with warped and floppy detector arms. Ultimately these figures were a frustrating chore to play with and photograph. I actually had to take a break a few times and walk away because I was getting angry with them. And I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to get angry with toys. At least not when they’re well designed. I could nitpick the paint quality too, but I think I’ve made my point. Give me a couple of weeks to recoup and cleanse the palette with other things, and I’ll eventually come back to finish up looking at the team with Ray, Peter, and the Stay Puft Marshmallow man.

Femme Fatales: Lady Death by Diamond Select

I am excited to say that Brian Pulido just completed another wildly successful project on Kickstarter. Blasphemy Anthem needed something like $25k to fund it, and it wound up with $323k (for a comic book, folks!!!), proving yet again that Lady Death still has a significant fan-base with deep pockets. To celebrate, I thought I’d dip into my unopened stack of Diamond Select statues and check out their latest version of Lady Death.

Femme Fatales is where it all started! Out of this unassuming line of independent comic statues grew the now high profile and highly prolific DC and Marvel Gallery series. So, it’s good to see DST bringing this line back to its roots now and again. This is actually the second version of Lady Death to be released in this line, with the original going for some pretty crazy money these days. As always, the packaging is collector friendly and has plenty of windows to let the light in and allow you to see your new acquisition, even before opening it. If you are unfamiliar with these, they are roughly 9-inch scale PVC statues perfect for collectors on a budget.

And, WOW, what a statue!!! Lady Death stands with her right hip thrust slightly out to the side, holding a ball of flame in her right hand and with her left hand resting on her sword. Fans of more museum-style poses will definitely dig this one, and with the magical ball of flame in her hand, it still offers a bit of energy and a hint of action. Above all, I think it really captures the regal look of the character.

The figure’s costume is definitely one of the more impressive sculpts I’ve seen in the line. Let’s face it, a lot of the Gallery Statues deal with fairly simple comic character costumes, and the ornate nature of Lady Death’s skimpy outfit gives the sculptor a little something more to sink his skills into. Her black chest piece, for example has a delicate golden skeletal structure to mimic the wings of a bat. Tiny golden skulls decorate it, as well as serve as fixtures on the clasps holding up her stocking-like boots. She even has a tiny golden skull serving as a clasp to secure her cape. The armor plates on the backs of her forearms are studded with spikes, and there are some subtle wrinkles in her boots. They also did a particularly nice job with all her hellacious curves.

The paint on this piece is applied well, with sharp lines and very little bleeding or flubs. There’s a tiny bit of uneven line along her bikini bottom, but nothing I’m going to get upset about. I dig the high gloss coat used on the gloves and boots, the gold has a somewhat antiqued look to it, and the inside liner of her cape is a deep crimson. It wasn’t until closer scrutiny that I realized her top has a bit of a purple sheen to it. Her skin is chalky white with a hint of blue, and while it looks fine, I think the blue applied around the bottom of her breasts is a wee bit overstated. Yeah, I’m really looking hard to find anything to nitpick here. And as I’m often fond of observing with this line, I’ve seen far worse paint on much more expensive statues.

The portrait is beautiful and features some sharp paint for Lady Death’s ruby lips and black eyebrows. Her pupil-less eyes are framed by some immaculate eyeliner. They also did a wonderful job sculpting her hair. It frames her face perfectly casting a little shadow over her left eye and brow, and then cascades down about her shoulders. The expression is slightly stern, but not overdone.

Her sword is a thing of nightmarish beauty and extends from the base all the way up to her neck. It’s permanently attached to her left hand, but the tip simply rests on the base. The ornate golden cross-guard features a tiny skull in the middle, and the segmented grip is painted brown. The blade has a bit of a pitted and antiqued finish to it. The ball of blue flame is the least effective thing about the statue. It’s not easy to sculpt something like that in plastic and make it look convincing. I do dig how the tip of it snakes down around the body. It’s semi-transparent with some darker paint used on the tips of the mystical flame. It’s perfectly fine, but I think it could have been done better.

The bases in DST’s Gallery and Femme Fatales line don’t tend to impress me, but they really did a great job on this one. Lady D stands on a circular stone pattern with skulls and roses strewn about it. There are also some blue crystalline structures protruding from the sides and a pair of braziers burning at her feet.

Never forget where you came from! That’s good advice and I’m glad to see that DST’s statue line is taking it to heart. As I pointed out earlier, long before they secured the lucrative Marvel and DC licenses and transformed Femme Fatales into Gallery, characters like Pulido’s Lady Death were their bread and butter. It’s nice to see them returning to their roots. And it’s a testament to how great this line is, that no matter how hard I try I can’t seem to stop collecting it. Lack of display space be damned, I just can’t resist these pieces! Lady D set me back only $40 and that’s a damn fine value for this kind of craftsmanship.

DC Gallery: Batgirl Statue by Diamond Select

I’m always happy to be able to bring back DC Friday, even if it isn’t that often. It’s hard to believe that there was a time when I had enough DC related action figures and collectibles to keep it going as a regular thing. But between Mattel’s terrible distribution and DC Collectibles’ inability to stick with a line and scale, I’ve mainly been turning to Diamond Select Toys’ Gallery Statues for my DC fix these days. Let’s check out their new Batgirl!

Based on her 2014 makeover by Babs Tarr in Batgirl of Burnside, this statue comes in the typical Gallery style box, with windows on the top, front, and side panels and a purple and yellow deco to match Batgirl’s costume. The statue is suspended between two plastic trays, allowing you to see what you’re getting before you buy and open her. And as always, everything here is collector friendly, which is good for me because I don’t have the shelf space to display all of these, so I have them in their boxes and stacked in a corner.

There’s no assembly required, as Batgirl comes out of the box all ready for display, and what a nice piece this is! I should start by saying that I don’t find the pose anything terribly special, she’s simply striding across the rooftops with her arms out and hands balled into fists. Her hair splays out in the wind and her cape bellows off to the side behind her. It’s not bad at all, it hints at a nice bit of action, but it’s just not that unique or memorable to me.

Thankfully everything else about this statue is so well executed! Every detail about the costume is incorporated into the sculpt and that includes the tailored seams, pockets, and even the bat symbol on her chest. Even the lines of the black stripes on her legs are sculpted. The detail on her utility belt includes the little buckles and retaining straps on the pouches, and the sculpted laces on her boots are fully realized.

Equally impressive is the coloring here, which mostly relies on the purple, yellow, and black of her costume. Everything is done with a matte finish, and while this costume’s boots and gloves are often depicted as shiny in other recreations, I think the matte works fine too. For the most part the paint applications are sharp and clean, but there are a few exceptions, particularly between the yellow on her boots and the black of their soles. Still, it’s nothing that I haven’t seen before on far more expensive statues.

The portrait is pretty solid, although not terribly expressive. It’s a good likeness from the comic art and I’m extremely happy with how sharp the lines are on her mask, as well as the paint applications for her eyes and lips. The sculpted red hair is a bit muted, but I dig the way it spills out of the cowl and blows wildly around her.

The base appears to be an abstract of the city rooftops, perhaps scaled down to give her a sense of height? I’m not really sure what they were going for here. It’s not bad, though, and it offers her a good surface for her wide stance, as well as giving the statue stability.

Batgirl is another fine example of why it’s been impossible for me to quit DST’s Gallery series. You simply can’t beat the quality at this price point. And while my budget and available space often requires me to admire the bigger premium statues on the market from afar, I can collect this line all day without breaking the bank. Batgirl here cost just under $40, and I couldn’t be happier with how she turned out!