DC Gallery: Catwoman by Diamond Select

How about a DC Friday for old time’s sake? Once upon a time I could fuel DC Friday every week with a seemingly unending offering of figures from Mattel and DC Collectibles, not to mention there were statues galore! Well, DC Collectibles killed off their Icons line, Mattel just lost the license to Spin Master, and I’m trying to not buy as many statues these days, because I’m all out of room to display them. Nonetheless, Diamond Select’s DC and Marvel Gallery series continues to be tough to resist. And their new version of Catwoman was an impossible temptation! So let’s take a look at this feline temptress!

For the unacquainted, DST’s various Gallery series are a budget line of roughly 9-inch scale PVC statues that grew out of their old Femme Fatales series. They later branched out to DC Animated Series statues before ultimately embracing all of Marvel and DC. The statue comes in a box with windows on the front, sides, and top panels, which offer enough visibility that you could just about get away with displaying these in the package. That works for me, because I ran out of shelves long ago, and now I display most of these as a wall of the stacked boxes. While the DC Gallery’s previous versions of Catwoman have been based on her animated appearances, this one is drawn from her more modern comic look. Of course, everything here is collector friendly, and Catwoman comes out of the box all assembled and ready for display!

And this is a case where the composition and overall style had me mashing the pre-order button the moment I saw pictures in the solicitation. Sure, when it comes to Catwoman I’m an easy mark, but having her perched on the giant Egyptian-styled cat-head turned my head in a big way. She sits on the top of the statue with one leg bent under her and the other dangling down, while leaning slightly forward on her hands, both clutching at the statue in a very cat-like manner. I’d like to imagine that she just crept her way into the skylight of the Egyptian Wing at the Gotham Museum of Antiquities, pounced down onto the head of this giant statue and is now sizing up the various lasers and security cameras that stand between her and whatever coveted bauble she happens to be after. There’s something to be said when the composition can send my mind to working up context for the figure and that’s exactly what happened here.

Despite being a fairly modern look, Catwoman’s costume gets by with a fairly low amount of detail, and that is in no way a slight against the sculpt. Her body suit relies on some neatly sculpted stitch lines and it’s smooth contours accentuate her curves and muscle tone in all the right places. The finish looks black, with just the right amount of gloss to make it look like leather, and under the right light it can give off a purple sheen. The front of the suit features a silver zipper, which is pulled down just enough to show off her kittens, and that low plunge is balanced out by a high collar.

And while the suit itself is simple, that’s not to say there isn’t some great detail to be found. The boots in particular are wonderfully done, with sculpted laces running part of the way up and interlaced through the eyelets. The excellent sculpt is finished off with a high gloss black to differentiate them from the rest of the suit, and the same finish is used on Catwoman’s gloves.

Her brown whip, which doubles as her belt, is coiled around her and sculpted with a very fine braided pattern. It loops around her waist four times, held in place by a silver belt-buckle, and terminates with the segmented grip protruding from behind her right hip.

And that brings us to the portrait, and DST did a fine job on it! I love the way the mouth is sculpted with the lips slightly apart to show off her pearly whites, her nose is perfect, and while I don’t really associate this likeness with any one artist, I still think she looks great. The cowl is sculpted with the same stitch lines we see in her suit, and the paint lines between the cowl and her skin are clean and sharp, even around the chin strap. One of the things that particularly impresses me here are the lenses in her goggles. They’re remarkably clear for a piece in this price range, showing off her green eyes. Hell I think the lenses here look every bit as good as the ones on DC Collectibles’ second Cover Girl Catwoman statues, which retailed at more than twice the price.

And that brings us to the base, which not only compliments the figure beautifully, but really elevates the whole statue. The Egyptian cat head features a large loop earring in each ear, some geometric patterns around the base, and a Egyptian eye motif on the collar. It’s all sprayed in a gold finish, which has just the right amount of sheen to it. It’s quite simply marvelous!

With over two dozen of these Gallery statues in my collection, I usually only have the space to have a handful on display at any one time. So it’s quite the compliment to say that this one is going to be immediately taking up one of those spaces, and bumping someone back into their box. I just haven’t decided which one yet. This is a piece that I was super excited to get from the moment it was revealed, and now that it’s in hand, I’m happy to say she does not disappoint. Toss in the fact that she was only $44 and it’s hard not to love and appreciate what DST has been doing with this line. Every time I think I’m out, they release a beauty like this one to pull me back in!

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Marvel Gallery: Savage Land Rogue by Diamond Select

This week is one of those rare Marvel Mondays where I stray from Marvel Legends and look for some Marvel lovin’ elsewhere. And the only reason I’m doing that is because I’ve had this Marvel Gallery Rogue from Diamond Select sitting around and waiting to be opened for a couple of weeks now. So even though it’s going to put me further behind, we’ll set aside Legends for the day and have a look at this statue instead!

For the unfamiliar, Marvel (and DC!) Gallery grew out of Diamond’s Femme Fatale line of 9-inch scale PVC statues. The name may have changed but the packaging has stayed more or less the same. Rogue comes in a colorful box with windows on the front, side panels, and the top. And for some reason, DST persists on referring to these as Dioramas, which I suspect is some kind of licensing stipulation. Either way, everything is collector friendly and the statue comes nestled between two plastic trays. There’s no assembly required and she comes right out of the box all ready for your shelf.

And… WOW! Rogue stalks the wastes of The Savage Land with her spear at the ready and wearing the remnants of her X-Men costume, which happens to be torn away in all the right places. Yup, the bulk of the body sculpt here is just skin, but DST did a fine job not only with Rogue’s shapely form, but also with the subtle hints of musculature here and there. As for the costume, she features a dainty pair of green boots, a ragged green bikini bottom partially covered with leaves, and the top half of her yellow X-Men outfit with a green shredded undergarment peeking out beneath it. Short green gloves and some yellow wraps on her thigh and bicep beautifully round out this lovely make-shift costume.

They also put in some nice work on the crude dagger, which she wears on her belt. It’s got sculpted wrappings around the hilt and a makeshift brown sheath hooked onto her loose belt.

The composition is a nice mix of museum-style and cheesecake. She has one leg drawn up at the knee, with her left toes resting on the raised rock of the base and in her hands she holds a spear, ready for action. I like the pose a lot, it looks like someone just snapped a shot of her stalking the land in search of her prey. There’s a hint of imminent action, but overall this piece casts aside a strong sense of energy and just lets Rogue’s majestic and sexy form do all the talking.

And that brings me to the portrait, which is strong and overall quite well done. There’s no playful side glance here, Rogue’s gaze is straight on, maybe looking over toward the horizon, and her slightly narrowed eyes and tight lips dominate what is a confident and powerful likeness. Her coif of brown hair casts off to the side slightly, with the iconic white highlights and a green strip tied around her hairline. The sculpted bone necklace is a great touch too!

The paint here is overall pretty good, but it does show a few rough patches. The lines between skin and clothing are not all as crisp as they could be. There are a few areas around her mid-riff where the sculpted lines of the jagged top are flesh colored where they should be green. These are issues that would surely irk a perfectionist, but I think they’re well within the expectations of a budget statue line like this one. The skin tone is quite smooth and warm throughout, although it does have a bit of a glossy sheen to it, which is most noticeable to me on her face. Normally, this is something that bugs me, but hey, it’s pretty damn humid in The Savage Land, and Rogue is probably sweating buckets. On a QC note, my statue has a few scrapes in the flesh paint, the most notable of which is on her right shoulder and is clearly visible in the pictures. In the past, I’ve had some luck cleaning up these sorts of marks out with a magic eraser to smooth out the paint, but I probably won’t bother here and just write it off on dirt from the inhospitable environment.

The base is fairly simple, but it does the job of not only holding up Rogue, but also giving us a slice of her environment. It consists of a lump of pouris brown rock with a shock of vegetation growing out of the side. It looks good and it doesn’t take up too much real estate on the shelf, and those are two of the highest compliments that I can pay to any statue base.

Rogue here is exactly the reason I keep coming back to Diamond’s Gallery statues, despite the fact that I ran out of display room for these four or five statues back. Normally, I pick these up on Amazon after they’ve been released, but I actually pre-ordered this one back when it was first solicited. Sure, it means running the risk of paying more than I have to, but it only took one look at this figure to make me certain I wanted her in my collection. And with a retail of $40, Diamond’s Gallery statues continue to be some of the best values I’ve found in the collectible statue market. Or at least that’s the case now that Kotobukiya has been hiking up the prices on their Bishoujos. Sure, a few minor QC issues are bound to rear their ugly heads, and for that reason, I always recommend picking these up from a comic shop where you can inspect what you’re getting, but even though I got mine sight-unseen, I’m still perfectly pleased with the one I got.

Marvel Gallery: X-23 as Wolverine (SDCC Exclusive) by Diamond Select

It feels like forever since I reviewed a statue here. That’s probably because I’ve been cutting waaaay back on buying these things as my available display space becomes more and more tight. I don’t have a problem with putting action figures away, because I can always take them out and play around with them, but if you can’t display a statue, then what’s the point of buying it, eh? And since there’s a nice sense of balance to beginning and ending the week with Marvel content… let’s check out Diamond Select’s new Marvel Gallery release of X-23 as Wolverine.

I’ve been an avid fan of both the Marvel and DC Gallery lines, even way back when they were part of the Femme Fatale’s line. These are roughly 9-inch scale PVC budget pieces, which seldom disappoint. As always, the statue comes in a collector friendly window box, with windows on the front, top, and side panels to let in plenty of light. The figure itself comes suspended between two plastic trays and displays fairly well in the box.

Diamond produced two versions of this statue, the regular retail features Ms. Kinney wearing her mask, whereas this unmaksed PX Previews Exclusive was available at San Diego Comic Con and afterwards at select retailers. The box itself denotes that it is an exclusive along with the addition of the “Unmasked” call-out at the bottom. There’s also a piece of silver tape over the top flap stating this release is limited to 4,000. Not exactly a strict limitation, but I presume it’s at least less than the production quantity of the masked retail version. There’s no assembly required here, so let’s get her out and see how she turned out! And just to put cards on the table, I’m not a fan of this book, but I sure do love the way X-23 looks in the Wolverine costume!

Diamond has been all over the place with the poses for this series lately. Sometimes you get something exciting and dynamic, other times you get something more reserved. X-23 here certainly leans toward that later with what I would consider to be very museum-style composition. Ms. Kinney stands with her right hip thrust to the side, her right arm down by her side, her left arm held up at the elbow, and both hands balled into fists and popping her her claws. The skin-tight suit shows her shapely form from all angles beautifully, and every bit of detail in the suit is incorporated into the sculpt. That last bit is a big deal for me, as with the fairly low price point of this line, I would have expected them to squeak by with just paint lines to make up the bulk of the costume. Other details include the belt, complete with signature “X” belt buckle, and the flared tops to her boots.

Budget statues tend to succeed or fail based on the quality of the paint applications, and I’m happy to say that the paint work on this piece is overwhelmingly good. The yellow is bright and vibrant, and the blue is deep with a beautiful high-gloss metallic finish. The belt is painted matte brown with a gold frame for the belt buckle and a black “X” on a red field. The paint lines for the costume itself are all pretty sharp. There are just a few very minor areas where slight improvements could be made. Indeed, the biggest flaw on my statue’s costume is a little blue showing through on the yellow trim at the top of her left boot, and even that isn’t so bad.

The portrait here is solid, but maybe a bit unremarkable. Ms. Kinney is certainly pretty and she’s sporting a serene expression with just a hint of a smirk, like she’s about to dive into some action. I think the expression works OK with the very reserved nature of the figure’s pose, but I tend to expect a little more emotion out of X-23. The hair also looks pretty tame from the front, although it does fan out at the back, which is about as much energy as the composition here is putting out. The paint on the facial features is overall solid, but there’s an area on her top lip that could have been sharper.

I really dig the base they designed for her. It’s basically a sloping black oval with a raised “X.” The “X” features a gold border around translucent red plastic, which would look particularly nice when displayed on a light up platform. There are also a couple of scratches etched across the “X.” Oddly enough, Diamond continues to call these “PVC Dioramas” on the boxes, and while every now and then they do something that could be called a diorama base, most of the ones I’ve picked up lately are more stylized stands like this one. There’s nothing diorama-like about it, but I suspect the label is a way to get around licensing and what Diamond is allowed and not allowed to do. I can’t think of any other reason for it.

In the end, I really like how this piece turned out. Granted, it’s not the most exciting of poses, but then it wasn’t meant to be, so I think a lot of the appeal here will come down to personal taste in that regard. I do like some energy in my statues, but at the same time I find that more classic poses like this one are easier to display with other releases. They take up less space and usually look great together. I debated hard over whether to go for the masked or unmasked when I set about to pre-ordering and I ultimately went with the unmasked Exclusive, because I figured the regular release would be more readily available later on down the road should I decide to get both. Besides, at $45 the Exclusive was only five bucks more. Either way, it’s pretty cool to be able to get a statue like this for under $50, especially when they turn out this good.

Marvel Gallery: Gwenpool (Unmasked) by Diamond Select

Since I’m swimming in Marvel Legends, I didn’t want to take up Marvel Monday with a non-Legends item, so I thought I’d end the week by checking out my new Marvel Gallery statue. If you aren’t familiar with these pieces, the Gallery line grew out of DST’s Femme Fatales series. These are roughly 9-inch scale PVC statues, and DST has been pumping out a lot of characters from both the Marvel and DC Universes. A couple of Marvel Mondays back, I reviewed Marvel Legends Gwenpool and lamented the fact that they didn’t include an unmasked head, but when I found out that DST released an exclusive unmasked version of their Gallery statue, I decided to go ahead and add it to the collection. The unmasked version was a GameStop Exclusive, and to be honest, I don’t get why GameStop is getting exclusives on this comic book stuff. Although the last time I was in one, it looked like the toys and collectibles were beginning to overtake the games. Either way, I actually picked this one up online through Think Geek.

UH OH… This is the first time I bought anything from Think Geek’s website and that giant crunch to the corner of the box signifies that this will also be the last. They threw the statue in a box, dropped an airbag in it, and kicked it (possibly literally) out the door. The shipping box was perfect, but the statue box got crunched because there was insufficient packing. Can’t blame this one on the courier. I suppose it’s possible it was like that before they shipped it, but I’d consider that scenario even worse. Look, I’m not a real stickler about the condition of packaging. If I get a damaged Marvel Legends box from Amazon, I’m not going to cry about it. It’s a toy and it’s the cost of (usually) getting the item below retail cost. But when you’re a company that specializes in selling collectibles, like Think Geek is, you have to do better than this if you want me to do business with you.

Anywho, the packaging is exactly what you would expect from DST’s prolific Gallery series. The statue comes in a window box with windows on the front, top, and both sides to let in plenty of light, and Gwen is suspended inside between two clear plastic trays. As always everything is collector friendly. The box itself has a yellow and pink pokadot deco with a pink interior to tie it into the character. In the past, DST’s exclusive declarations have been pretty understated. Sometimes the retail exclusives have a sticker, while the convention exclusives just have a piece of foil tape with the limitation. In this case, the GameStop Exclusive is called out on the box itself, both front and back, and “Unmasked” has been under her name. Otherwise the deco and presentation is the same, and I’m still not sure why DST has started calling these “Dioramas” but it’s not really important. Let’s get Ms. Poole out of the box and check her out!

Gwenpool strikes a rather dynamic pose as she stands up on her toes, legs bent, as if she’s running towards a fight… and naturally, she stops to take a selfie, because that’s what all the young “hip” Marvel heroes (and anti-heroes) do these days. Most of the time it annoys me to no end, but here it just seems to fit the character well enough to not bother me. The pose does a wonderful job of accentuating Gwen’s curvy form, especially with the way her back is arched. What’s more, this is a pose that doesn’t rely on any specific “sweet spot” and looks great from a number of angles.

As is always the case with DST’s Gallery statues, every detail of the costume is part of the sculpt, even the lines where the pink and white meet. A lot of companies would have been content with just using paint, and that’s something I really enjoy about DST’s work on this line. You also get some particularly fine sculpting for her muscles and cool little details like the treads on her sneakers. I do wish they had added some vertical cuts to show off her knitted socks and distinguish them from the smooth shin guards. Oddly enough that’s something Hasbro did on their 6-inch Legends figure, but was omitted on this statue.

The quality of the paint application is pretty solid. The pink is smooth, as are the flesh tones in her legs. The brown leather on her belts and pouches have a rich, brown leathery look to them and the tiny buttons and buckles are all neatly painted bronze. Rather than being pure white, the white is a bit more of an eggshell color and has a little gloss to the finish, whereas the pink is matte, making for a subtle, but attractive contrast. They did a particularly nice job painting the laces on her sneakers. Overall, some of the lines could have been sharper, but there’s certainly nothing here that’s unacceptable for a statue in this price range. Quite the contrary, I’ve seen worse paint on more expensive pieces.

The portrait is certainly on point and again, most of the paint here is sharp and clean, particularly on her open eye and lips. I like that they didn’t go overboard on the smile. Yeah, Gwenpool is often depicted grimacing like a psycho, but I think what they did here works better with the context. The sculpted hair is a little thick, but I think it looks OK, and the way it frames her face gives it a nice sense of depth. The pink highlights in her hair look good, but I think the blonde could have been more blonde. Aside from that, my only real nitpick here is the winking eye, which from certain angles looks like she got punched and it’s swollen shut. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to display the statue where it isn’t all that prominent.

The cell phone in her left hand is pretty simple, as it’s got a pink case and a black screen. It’s a shame that DST didn’t run off a sticker with Gwen’s face to put on the screen, but it’s no big deal, since the screen won’t be visible with the way I’m going to display her. Her right hand is clutching her katana, and while the statue does come holding it, the sword is a separate piece. The hilt sculpt and paint are both very well done. I should compare and see if this piece was reused from the Lady Deadpool Gallery statue.

For the base, DST went for a semi-transparent pink “G” done in a block letter style. This works fine, although I do prefer displaying the statue from an angle that has the “G” slightly askew. If memory serves, this isn’t the base that they were going with when they first solicited the statue, but I’m fine with it.

If you’ve been kicking around FFZ for a while, you probably already know that I absolutely adore DST’s Gallery series, and Gwenpool here is a perfect example of why. This line is all about quality work and good value, and after adding over two dozen of these to my collection, I’ve only been let down by a couple. Unfortunately, I’ve had to reel myself back in a bit, because my collection of these has been getting out of hand and quite frankly I ran out of space to display them a long time ago. Gwen here set me back $40 for the Exclusive, and about $10 of that was shipping, so I certainly can’t complain about the price. I would only recommend that if you’re in the market for her, you hit up some GameStops and try to find her on the shelf. Not only will you be able to check the paint, but you can avoid having Think Geek send you one with a crunched box. She is up on Amazon right now, but at around $55 she’s going for a premium.

FigureFan’s Disappointments 2017, Part 2

This is it, Toyhounds, the final day of my week of canned bullshit. It’s also the final five Biggest Disappointments of 2017. These are the things that I added to my collection and reviewed throughout the year that didn’t really live up to my hopes and dreams. These are in no particular order, so let’s get started…

Femme Fatales (Justice League Unlimited) Hawkgirl by Diamond Select: There was a lot of competition in this line for a spot on my Favorites list, but really only one that deserved to land among my Disappointments. I was really looking forward to getting the JLU version of Hawkgirl on my DC Gallery shelf, but when the statue showed up it was marred by some pretty poor paintwork, ugly seams in the arms, and just an overall lack of quality control. When I look at how amazing some of the Gallery statues have been this past year, it’s easy to forgive one bad one slipping by. But that doesn’t make me feel any better about laying out the cash for it.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Sixth-Scale Drax The Destroyer by Hot Toys: I have been called a Hot Toys sycophant. And yes, if sticking my tongue down their collective trousers would net me some extra Reward Points at Sideshow, I’d get right on that lickity split. So, it’s probably no surprise that never before has a Hot Toys figure appeared on my annual list of Disappointments, but I guess there really is a first time for everything. After a long series of delays, and the possibility that Hot Toys Drax might be a no-show, he finally showed up this year and he was a little wanting. The sculpt was solid enough, as was the likeness, but there’s just something about him that failed to impress. Toss in a faulty right arm on my figure that often pops out at the elbow joint and a price point that was too high for what came in the box (a common failing for Hot Toys in 2017), and I couldn’t help but dub him Drax The Disappointment. Oh, I’m still happy to have a complete Hot Toys Guardians team on my shelf, but Drax deserved more polish and a price tag around $20 lower.

DC Super-Villains: Johnny Quick and Atomica by DC Collectibles: For the most part, DC Collectible’s Super-Villains line has been pretty solid. Hell, I even liked their New 52 Captain Cold figure, and I kind of hate that character design. So when Johnny Quick showed up at my door with some terrible paint fading and an arm that pulled right out of the socket, it shouldn’t be any surprise to see him turn up here. And what a disappointment it was, because I really dig this design and I loved to hate him in the Forever Evil. But when you toss him in with a rather lackluster DeathStorm, it’s no wonder that I didn’t pursue the rest of the Crime Syndicate from this line.

Marvel Legends Warlock Build-A-Figure by Hasbro: What’s that, you say? You cry foul because I had a Marvel Legends figure on the list already? Well, you’re going to have to fight me, because here’s another one. I’m justifying this because 1) He’s a Build-A-Figure and 2) I really did review a shit ton of Marvel Legends in 2017, so you’re just going to have to let me have this one transgression. Warlock featured a decent sculpt and a pretty cool paint job, but he was not a character that I was interested in, and especially not as the BAF waiting as a reward for collecting an entire wave. Add that to the fact that the left arm of my Warlock simply will not stay in the socket, and you have a figure that I would have happily done without. Now that I think of it, this is the third figure on this list that had arm issues. Weird.

ThunderCats Classics Panthro by Mattel: Here’s the thing. I ran out of shit that disappointed me after nine, so I had to get cute with this last one. And that’s why after long deliberation, I decided to put a figure that I rated with excellent marks here on this list. Because no matter how great Panthro turned out (and he is a great figure),  he arrived to me heralded by a bitter chorus of disappointment. At the time I opened him, it seemed unlikely that ThunderCats Classics would continue. And shortly after we got word from Super7 that they were not able to secure the license and continue the series. And that was easily my number one biggest disappointment of 2017. It’s not Panthro’s fault, but he seemed like a good conduit to get this one on the list.

And that wraps up this week of so-called content. I’ll be back on Monday with the first Marvel Monday of the year and I hope to have Transformers Thursday and DC Friday on the books as well, along with whatever I wind up tucking into Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

FigureFan’s Favorites 2017, Part 2

Welcome back to the Week of Insufferable Lists. I’m not really here this week, but my Life Model Decoy is right in the middle of laying out my Ten Favorite Acquisitions of 2017. Let’s jump right in with the final five. Again, these are in no particular order…

Mythic Legions Stone Troll by The Four Horsemen: Back when I blew my tax return on that original Mythic Legions kickstarter, I never could have guessed how big it would get. Now my Mythic Legions army is expansive and early next year, I’ll be dropping another 35 figures onto those shelves. But if I had to choose one figure that really illustrates how big and successful this line has been, it would be the huge Stone Troll. The sculpt and paintwork on this guy are amazing and it really illustrates how much more craftsmanship can go into a toy that isn’t destined for the shelves at Target or Walmart. My only regret is that I couldn’t budget the Forest Troll to go with him, but at least I take comfort in the fact that soon he’ll have a Cyclops buddy.

DC Bombshells Batwoman (Designer Series) by DC Collectibles: While I had to take a pass on collecting most of the DC Bombshell statues, I was happy to get the Bombshell figures as a more space-friendly alternative. The first wave was chock full of knockouts, so it wasn’t easy choosing one as a favorite. In the end, I went with Batwoman, because I love the pun, I love baseball, and this figure is just too much fun. Great sculpt, great articulation, and great accessories! But hell, I just as easily could have stuck Harley or Wonder Woman in this slot. These are some of DC Collectibles’ best work in years.

Lost Exo Realm (LER-04) Deluxe Severo by Fansproject: 2017 will likely be my last big hurrah with Third-Party Transformers and it was mostly spent tying up loose ends. It took me a long while to get around to picking up Severo and wrapping up my LER Dinobots, so long that I had almost lost interest. He sat for months waiting to be opened, but when I finally did it was love at first sight. Not only is he an imposing beast in either robot or dino modes, but he comes with so many extra weapons and a throne fit for a king.

DC Gallery (Batman: The Animated Series) Zatanna by Diamond Select: I’ve been generally pleased with Diamond’s line of budget statues based on Marvel and DC characters. So much so, that I knew I had to include something from this line on my list of favorites. There were several contendors, but in the end, I had to go with Zatanna. Not only do I love the character, but this statue is very nearly perfect. The sculpt is a spot on representation of her from the Batman Animated Series, the paint application is clean and precise, and the overall quality feels like something beyond a budget statue.

Zenescope’s Robyn Hood Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen: I purchased and reviewed all three of Phicen’s Zenescope figures in 2017, and I don’t think anyone really cared. That’s cool. Zenescope is a small comic book company, and most definitely a guilty pleasure of mine, so I can understand the lack of interest. I could have probably picked any one of these figures for this list solely based on the fact that it’s a miracle a company actually produced Zenescope merch, much less high end merch. And while I love all three of these ladies, the truth is that picking one was not even difficult. Liesel Van Helsing and Mercy Dante are both great figures, but Phicen just knocked it out of the park with Robyn Locksley.

And that’s going to do it for the good stuff. Come back tomorrow and we’ll start having a look at some of those purchases that sucker punched me in the nether regions with my first five Disappointments of 2017.

Marvel Premier Collection: Gamora by Diamond Select

It’s Day Two of Marvel Week and today I thought we’d give the action figures a rest and open up a statue from Diamond Select’s Marvel Premier Collection. These are roughly Sixth-Scale resin statues, mostly based on modern appearances of the characters. I only own one other piece from this line, the Clayburn Moore sculpt of Spider-Gwen, and I was pretty happy with her. Picking up Gamora here seemed like a no-brainer, especially since I was able to get a pretty decent deal on her. Let’s check out the most dangerous woman in the Universe!

Gamora comes in a fully enclosed box with photos of the statue on all four panels and features the “Guardians of the Galaxy” logo and calls out that it was sculpted by the wonderful and prolific Jean St. Jean. The presentation here is very serviceable, but not all that appealing from an artistic standpoint. It feels like the box layout was thrown together pretty quickly. That’s not really a sticking point for me, as I just keep my statue boxes for the possibility of future storage, moving, or god forbid… resale. Inside the box, you get a colorful card showing the limitation as well as the number of the statue in the box. Gamora is wrapped in plastic and encased between two styrofoam bricks, and she comes fully assembled and all ready for display.

Standing about 12-inches tall, Gamora is based on her more recent look in the pages of Marvel Comics and wearing her white space space armor. Some fans refer to this as her “Stormtrooper Armor” and I think the comparison is fairly valid. It’s quite a departure from her more revealing classic outfits, but it still shows off her shapely curves, and I’ll confess to being a fan of this new look the very first time I saw it. The pose here is pretty conservative. Gamora stands on an alien landscape with a rather intimidating rifle cradled in her arms (What? No Sword?), and her long hair blowing in the breeze. The heel of her left foot is raised giving the piece just a little hint of anticipated action. Overall, I like what we got here, but then I tend favor “museum-style” poses in favor of the more dynamic stuff. It’s not that I don’t like action poses, but they tend to have a better chance of going wrong.

Every last detail on this statue is incorporated into the actual sculpt, and this is particularly apparent in the cut panel lines that run throughout the armor. There’s a nice sense of depth between the armor plates and the underlying black suit, and you also get some ribbed sections along the top of her back and underarms. The panel lines are neatly painted in black and you get some pale gray panels, as well as some crimson accents. I have no complaints about the quality of the paint on this piece. The lines are reasonably sharp, and there are no apparent flubs. What’s more, the application is even and there are no visible brush strokes. The whole suit gives me a strong Mass Effect vibe, which isn’t a bad thing as I happen to dig the aesthetics of those games… well three of them, at least.

I love the way the portrait came out. Her face is flawless and beautiful and even the painted patches around her eyes are part of the sculpt. I just adore the shape of her nose and the ridge leading down to her lips. No, I don’t have some creepy nose thing, I just appreciate how good it looks. The pupil-less white eyes are rather mesmerizing and they used a nice, rich red paint for her lips. The hair sculpt is good, albeit a bit on the chunky side. It looks like it was sculpted from a separate piece, which gives her a clean hairline. The downside to the hair blowing off to the side is it limits the options for display angles. She looks great from the front or turned a bit to her right, but it means that the right side of the statue is closed for business. Hey, most statues have an intended “sweet spot” for display, and I’d say this one has at least a few.

Gamora’s  rifle features a rather boxy and utilitarian design that emphasizes function over form. I can dig that as it makes it appear more like a legitimate piece of military hardware. The black and gray deco gives it a convincingly realistic finish, and it’s equipped with what looks like a magazine, but maybe it’s a battery pack, and a scope. Gamora practices poor trigger discipline, but then I’d kind of expect that from her. It’s what makes her so dangerous!

The rocky alien landscape they did for the base looks great. They packed all kinds of little details in the rocks and terrain and the brownish-orange paint gives it a hint of Mars. If you look closely enough, you can see that they sculpted panel lines on the bottoms of her boots. The alien landscape is placed on a raised, circular platform.

The bottom of the base features the declaration of limitation. In this case, mine is 153 of 3,000. I think that’s one of the lowest numbers I’ve ever gotten on one of these things!

The Marvel Premier Statues tend to have an MSRP of around $130, but Gamora is available on Amazon at the time I’m writing this for well under $100. I’m always glad to save money, but I would have been perfectly happy with this piece had I picked it up at full price. The modern costume might not be for everyone, but I can appreciate her new look, and the artistry and craftsmanship on display here are both excellent. Tomorrow, I’ll keep this Marvel Week rolling along and turn my attention back to Hasbro’s Legends line!

DC Gallery (Justice League Unlimited): Huntress by Diamond Select

If you’re keeping track, I last visited with DC Gallery, Diamond’s plucky line of comic-based statues, back in September with JLU Hawkgirl and I was disappointed. But before that Black Canary and Zatanna blew me away. Will today be the day that the DC Gallery restores its good name? Let’s find out and open up Helena Bertinelli based on her appearance as The Huntress in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon.

The DC (and Marvel) Gallery statues evolved from DST’s old Femme Fatales line, and the packaging hasn’t changed much since those days. But hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You get a collector friendly window box with windows on the front, top, and both side panels. This offers a great opportunity to scrutinize the piece you’re buying, assuming you actually get them at a brick-and-mortar shop. The back panel features a blurb about the character and you get a nice JLU logo on the front. The statue comes encased in a plastic tray and there’s no assembly required.

DST has managed to do some pretty fun poses with these statues, and The Huntress here is no exception. She’s staged sitting on the edge of a cylindrical light fixture with one knee drawn up. Her right hand crosses her chest and wrests on her left arm, which in turn is raised with her signature crossbow at the ready. She turns slightly, waiting for her prey to arrive, and clearly she means business. The composition here is a nice compromise between a staged cover-style pose, while still offering a whiff of action. I love it!

There’s more than the usual amount of sculpting invested in Huntress’ costume. Because of the simple nature of the source art, these animated statues don’t always offer a lot of opportunity for sculpted detail, but there’s a lot going on with this one. Indeed every detail, from the purple bands on her boots and gloves, to the tummy-exposing cut out, to the white stripes on her cape, is incorporated as part of the sculpt. She also features pouches on her belt and arm bands, and a holster for her crossbow. The crossbow is cocked and ready to go. Even the shoulder-hugging cape falls naturally and looks great.

It’s the paint that has been an issue on a few of my DST statues. It was particularly bad on their Lady Deadpool and not so hot on their Hawkgirl. Fortunately, The Huntress is here to set things right again. The quality of application here is fantastic. The lines that separate her boots from her skin could have been a tad sharper, there’s a tiny bit of slop where she makes contact with the light fixture, but I only point those out because I’m really looking for something to complain about. One of the pitfalls of some of these pieces has been scratching and rubbing showing up on large, featureless surfaces that are painted gray or black. I’m happy to say that’s not the case here.

If I had to nitpick anything else, I’d say the face is a little too triangular. When I compare it to the cartoon, I think it tapers too sharply toward the chin to be one hundred percent faithful to her look on the show. At the same time, it’s not bad at all, I’m just saying they didn’t nail it quite as perfectly as they did with Zatanna or Wonder Woman. With that having been said, the mask and the hair both look great, and the facial features are painted with the same care as the rest of the statue.

As usual, our last stop is the base and what we have here is certainly functional and well executed. I’m just not really sure what it’s supposed to be. I know she’s sitting on a light, but it’s not like any light I recall seeing. I’m guessing it’s supposed to be on a rooftop.

And so, The Huntress takes her rightful place alongside Black Canary and Zatanna as another shining example of how great this line can be when it’s firing on all cylinders. The three cornerstones of any statue will always be the pose, the sculpt, and the paint, and this lady hits them all with style. Indeed, at about forty bucks, I’m surprised at seeing this level of quality in what is essentially a budget line. If you want some nice representation of these characters, and don’t have a lot of money to blow, DC Gallery remains an excellent alternative to the more expensive DC Collectibles stuff.

Star Trek “The Wrath of Khan:” Khan Collector Figure by Diamond Select

If you follow me on Twitter than you know that I’ve had a lot of Star Trek on the brain lately, and it’s all because of CBS’ new series Discovery. Now, it’s not what you might think. You see, I hate the show. In fact, I’m not sure hate is even a strong enough word. But in a way I’m almost thankful for it, because it’s gotten me so worked up about Star Trek that I’ve been back into watching one or two episodes a night of everything from The Original Series to Voyager and I’ve been falling in love all over again. I’m not sure how much of any of that really factors into today’s review, because truth be told DST’s Khan Noonian Singh just popped up in my Amazon Recommendations for a crazy good price, so I bought him. Probably would have happened anyway.

If you’re not familiar with these Trek Select releases, they fall somewhere between action figures and statues, and favor swappable parts over articulation. In fact, Khan here actually has less articulation than the Original Series Kirk and Spock sets that were released earlier. I reviewed the Kirk set over four years ago and it left me a little befuddled. To be honest, I bought this one mainly for the Movie Era Captain’s Chair. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk packaging… I have been pretty critical of DST’s action figure packaging in the past, particularly with their Muppets line, because it’s so big and wasteful. Here, I think it’s totally warranted because there’s a whole lot of stuff in this box and I don’t think they could have crammed it into a smaller bubble. The cardback features a wrap-around with a picture of Khan on the side panel and the Star Trek 50th Anniversary logo running up the front. The back of the card has a satisfying and lengthy piece of background copy and shows some of the other figures in this line. Also, check out the picture of the Reliant on the bubble insert. That sure looks like it might be a painted prototype of a Starship Legends Defiant. WHERE IS MY STARSHIP LEGENDS DEFIANT, DIAMOND???

Did I mention I bought this mainly for the chair? Well, the chair is quite nice. The deck piece is made out of very sturdy plastic with slots to plug in the chair and the railing. It features a textured deck plate, which looks great, and a rather unfortunate footprint and peg to show you where to put Khan’s foot, which doesn’t look so great. The chair doesn’t swivel, but it does feature two hinged armrests with painted controls panels. DST has been including some cardboard pieces with some of their sets, most notably the Kirk with Engineering section in this line and their Seven of Nine Femme Fatales statue. It would have been cool to get a standee showing the back of the bridge behind the chair, but alas, it was not to be. I guess we might as well take a look at the Khan figure too. I’ll start him off in his standing pose.

We’ve got to start somewhere, so here he is proffering, “I make you a counter-proposal, I will agree to your terms, if…” and pointing his finger in the air. Overall, I think this is a really solid sculpt, but I’ll talk about it more at the end, when I do some comparisons with DST’s actual Khan figure from 2007 or so. For now I just want to run through all the different combinations of poses and parts!

Here I simply swapped out the calm head for the angrier portrait and traded his left pointing hand for a fist. Not a huge difference, but it does change up the scene a little bit. I’m a bigger fan of the calmer face over this one, although I think it’s passable. Let’s try swapping out both arms and going back to the calmer portrait…

Now this look I dig a lot. The folded arms are first thing we’ve seen that an articulated action figure would not have been able to do, and I think this pose looks great. Chances are I’m going to be giving the chair to Kirk, but if I do wind up displaying Khan, this is most likely the look I’ll be going for. Now let’s pop the legs off at the waist and get him seated in the chair…

He fits into the chair pretty well, but considering he was sculpted specifically to sit in it, I think it could have been a bit of a better fit. He has a right arm that is made specifically to rest atop the armrest and his left arm looks pretty good resting the elbow with his fist clenched in anticipation. He looks pretty good in the chair, but displaying him this way shows just what a bad design choice that footprint and peg in the deck-plate was. The footprint is totally unnecessary and it would have been much better to just put the peg in the foot and a less unsightly hole in the deck.

Swapping out the head and left hand and rotating the arm up at the shoulder offers a couple different gestures and expressions. I think both of these look pretty good.

You can also go with the crossed arms while he’s in the chair. Not bad at all. And so while clearly not an action figure, I was able to get at least seven fairly unique display options out of him with the parts provided. I’ve got to admit, it’s kind of fun seeing what you can do, but not so much fun that I’m a big advocate of this concept. As I mentioned earlier, the Kirk and Spock figures had full articulation in their arms, but were static below the waist. Here, the only purposeful articulation is in the ball jointed neck, while the rest are just rotating cuts as a byproduct of the parts swapping.

So, here’s a shot of this guy with the original, and fully articulated, DST Khan figure. In terms of sculpt and paintwork, I think the new one is an improvement on just about every level, but then again we’re talking about a difference of ten years. The tunic on the new one properly reflects the wear and tear a lot better, the glove is more screen accurate, as is his wrist communicator and delta necklace. The flesh tones on the chest of the older figure are not painted very well at all, whereas the new one is much improved.

The portraits are overall better and more detailed too, although they work for me from some angles and not so well from others. I think the calm expression head is far more successful than the angry one. The features are much sharper on the new sculpts, both in the facial features and hair. I also really appreciate the better attention to paint in the face, even if it is a little heavy handed around the eyes. But again, nearly ten years separate these figures, so these improvements aren’t so much a triumph of craftsmanship, but more an expected march of improvements.

And while this version of Khan scales slightly bigger than the original DST Wrath of Khan figures, the chair does indeed make for a good fit with those previous releases. Indeed, I think the articulated Khan actually fits a bit better in the chair than the one designed for it. And since the command chairs in the Reliant and Enterprise were basically the same, I’m happy to pop Admiral Kirk in there.

Back when I reviewed the original Kirk set, I came away saying I didn’t really understand its purpose and that still applies here. And it must be repeated that I did buy this mainly for the chair and also because it was on deep discount at Amazon. I’m glad I bought it, the chair was definitely worth the thirteen bucks I paid, and the Khan figure has its charms too. But if you want an actual Khan figure, the original release can still be had for surprisingly low prices if you hunt around on Ebay. Sadly, that’s more than can be said about the rest of the crew!

The Muppets: Animal by Diamond Select

I last visited with Diamond Select’s Muppets line back in May of last year when I reviewed the entire first wave. I liked what I got, but after that, I got cold feet and assumed a watch and wait posture toward this line. There were some delays and whispered rumors that the line might not be doing well, especially in light of the unending comparisons to the Palisades line. I was nervous about tossing more money at a second wave only to see it be the last. Yeah, I know, that’s backward logic. I should have supported it, but that didn’t go so well for me with the DC Icons line. Either way, we’re now several waves in, the line seems to be going strong and I’m paying for my procrastination by having to hunt down figures like Statler and Waldorf at scalper prices. Meanwhile, let’s check out another of my favorite Muppets and drummer for Electric Mayhem… Animal!

I’m still torn on the packaging for this line. In typical Diamond Select fashion, the package is absolutely huge and absolutely not collector friendly. It makes quite a statement in terms of presentation, it has some great character art on the side panel, and it shows off everything you’re getting in the package perfectly. On the other hand, it’s crazy to see how much trash it creates after you’ve opened it and how long it takes to take off all those twisty-ties.  And if you are a MOSC collector (or retail store, for that matter), these take up a lot of space on the shelf. But these figures have been so much fun, I couldn’t imagine not opening them, so let me get a fresh garbage bag and get Animal free of his plastic and cardboard prison.

When it comes down to sculpt, DST seems to really know their way around The Muppets, and Animal here is no exception. All his crazy personality is beautifully captured here in plastic. His outfit consists of a hip and trendy red and yellow half-jacket with a pair of ragged cut pants tied at the waist. Call it Muppet Chic. The ensemble is topped off with his spiked collar and a real chain leash hanging down off it, long enough to touch the ground when he’s standing. The lanky proportions of the arms and legs are spot on, and it’s surprising how well he can stand on his own.

The coloring is really good and the quality of paint is fairly solid. His skin tone is just the right shade of orange, and while he doesn’t quite sport the same level of foam texture that the other company was able to achieve, it’s still impressive for this smaller scale. I really like the glossy finish used for his jacket that gives it a vinyl sheen. The paint application for his rope belt could have been a little cleaner, but I’m not going to make a fuss over it.

The head sculpt is definitely a winner. From the bushy eyebrows and crazy eyes to the sculpted fur that covers his face, this is undoubtedly the Animal that I know and love. The hinged jaw was a particularly nice treat, complete with painted tongue and adorable underbite. There’s a little slop of white paint around the teeth, but overall the paintwork on the portrait is respectable and clean.

The articulation in this line has had its ups and downs, depending on the shape of the individual character. Ironically, the characters with the lankier arms and legs seem to do better and so Animal feels like he has more posing options than say Fozzie Bear. The points basically consist of a passel of rotating hinges. You get them in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees. There are hinges in the ankles, and the hips and neck are ball jointed. A modicum of care is recommended when posing these figures, although Animal isn’t anywhere near as delicate feeling as Kermit. Animal’s hands feature holes in the grips designed expressly for holding his drumsticks.

And that brings us to the drums! As great as Animal is, it’s the nine piece drum set that really makes this set shine. You get a bass drum, a tom tom, floor tom, snare, three cymbals, a bass pedal, and a drum throne for animal to sit on. The detail in the set is great, and I really dig the gradient yellow-orange-red deco on the drums. The bass drum also features the artwork for Dr. Teeth’s Electric Mayhem. There have been quite a few different pieces of art to grace Animal’s bass throughout the years, but I think this one was a fine choice for the set. I imagine it would be pretty easy to print off the other Electric Mayhem logos so you could swap them out on your display.

The only downside of the drum set is that the posts are rather frail and some of the pieces easily topple over. It would have been nice if DST could have used metal for the bases to help them stand, but we’re already getting quite a lot of stuff in this package, so I can understand why that might be cost prohibitive. Eventually, I’m going to just cut a piece of poster board and use blue tack to secure the pieces down.

I really dig the importance that DST is placing in the accessories and set pieces for their Muppets line, and I think Animal and his drum ensemble is a great example of this line at its best. There probably aren’t going to be a lot of times where I call out DST over Palisades when it comes to The Muppets, but honestly DST’s drum set outshines what was included with Palisade’s version even if it is done at a smaller scale.

If I was wavering a bit after the first Series of figures, Animal here has put me back on track to believing in this line. I’m absolutely delighted with the way this set came out, and as importantly, I’m thrilled to see that DST is committed to getting all of Electric Mayhem out within the next couple of waves. My dedication to collecting The Muppets has been rekindled, so don’t be surprised to see a bunch more Muppet Mayhem in the coming weeks!