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. Moving on to BOB!

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

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

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

Star Wars Toybox: Rey by Disney

In case you missed it, Disney has introduced a new line of articulated action figures based on the character designs from the now defunct Disney Infinity video game. I loved Infinity, and holy crap, did I blow a lot of time and money on it! Even with the online features shut off, I’m still afraid to fire it up again, or I’ll lose myself in that damn Toybox creating levels or just wandering around as any one of those dozens of damn figures I bought. Well, last week I looked at Thor from the Marvel Toybox and today I’m checking out Rey from Star Wars.

As you can no doubt tell, the packaging goes for utility over flash. The only real artwork is the character portrait on the side panel insert. Otherwise, it’s just a big bubble on a boring card that lets you see the figure you’re buying. Rey is #2. in the Star Wars Toybox series, I think #1 is Kylo Ren, but don’t worry, even though I’m doing them out of order, I’ll get to them all eventually. The packaging is not at all collector friendly, but there’s really no reason I’d want to keep it anyway, so let me shred this thing to pieces and we’ll have a look at Rey.

Like her Infinity counterpart, this figure features Rey in her Jakku outfit from The Force Awakens. I think they did a wonderful job capturing the Infinity style, while also embellishing it a bit for the larger scale and incorporating the articulation. To keep with the animated style, the sculpted detail is kept to a minimum, while still producing a great looking figure. The belt and outer layer of the robes are cast in a separate piece of softer plastic and worn over the figure, which gives her outfit some extra depth. Other sculpted detail includes the arm wraps, the pouch worn on the back of her hip and some simple boots. The coloring is mostly found in the plastic, although there is some paintwork as well. For the most part the paint application is neatly done, although there’s a little bit of slop between the flesh tones of her legs and the brown of her boots.

The head sculpt is also pretty damn close to her Infinity counterpart, a lot closer in this case than Thor was to his. Her hair includes the sculpted triple-buns and the paint applications for her eyes, eyebrows, and lips are all sharp and precise. She looks both adorable and fierce at the same time.

The articulation includes rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees. She has ball jointed hips and hinges in the ankles. There’s a swivel in the waist and a ball joint in the neck. While the points are all the same, the range of motion feels a little bit better here than on Thor, because the sculpt here isn’t as much of a hindrance. Although, the loop that her robes make under the belt on her left hip does get in the way of that leg a bit. Even with some restrictions, she’s a hell of a lot of fun to play with.

Rey comes with Luke’s lightsaber with the blade permanently ignited. Her right hand is designed to hold it, while her left hand is sculpted for Force casting. I like the lightsaber a lot, but I’ll confess to being a bit disappointed that she didn’t come with her staff as well. It doesn’t seem like it would have been that big a deal to sculpt one for her, and since she uses a lot less plastic than Thor, it probably should have costed out at this price point. But then what the hell do i know?

As with Thor, Rey sells for $12.99 and appears to be exclusive to the Disney Store and their website. Thor sold me on the Marvel Toybox line instantly, and now Rey has done the same for this Star Wars Toybox series. I just wish they had more figures to show. The only other figures for the Star Wars Toybox right now are Kylo Ren and a First Order Stormtrooper. It feels like we needed Finn in there to even things out. Nonetheless, I’ll be grabbing more of these, so they’ll all be turning up here eventually.

Marvel Toybox: Thor by Disney

It’s Day Four of Marvel Week, and I got rather long winded yesterday, so I’m going to tone things down today with a simpler (and mercifully shorter!) review, but one that I’ve been rather excited to get to. You may remember a little thing called Disney Infinity. It was one of those Toys-To-Life things, which allowed you to collect figures and use them in a video game world. I freaking loved Disney Infinity! Seriously… just look at this shit!

This doesn’t even include the ones I bought at the end that I haven’t even opened yet. I collected a ton of the figures, I’ve spent time playing them all, and I’ve lost countless hours in the Toybox designing bullshit levels, and maybe a couple of good ones. Infinity had a good run with three different releases spanning dozens of figures and incorporating both Marvel and Star Wars before Disney finally pulled the plug. And now in a move that I never in a million years could have seen coming, Disney has introduced a series of articulated action figures based on those Infinity designs. HOLY SHIT, I AM SO ON BOARD FOR THIS!!!! Let’s check out the first figure in the Marvel Toybox lone… The Mighty Thor!

The packaging is about as basic as you can get. The figure comes in a large bubble on an unassuming card. It gives you a great look at what you’re getting, but there isn’t much else in the way of artwork of flashy presentation to tempt you. Seriously, Disney, for a company that is basically based on artwork, you kind of dropped the ball on this package design. But that’s OK. It just makes me not feel guilty about shredding it to get to my figure. The back of the package shows off four other figures in the Marvel Toybox series, including Hulk, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. And yes, there’s also a Star Wars Toybox Series, and I’ll be checking one of those figures out next week!

If you compare Toybox Thor to the original Infinity figure, you can see that Hasbro made some tweaks to Thor’s design, but this is still undoubtedly the same style. He’s lost a helmet, gained a beard, and the piping on his armor has changed from yellow to blue. With all that being said, I love what they did with the design and it’s hard to believe that I’m actually holding an articulated Infinity figure. The sculpted detail is kept to a minimum to preserve the simple animated look, but all the important stuff is still there, like the discs on his armor, the wraps on his boots, and all that chiseled Asgardian muscle. I also really dig the head sculpt. The coif of hair is cast in a separate piece of plastic, crowning his rather perturbed expression. He looks like someone just nicked his tankard of ale. The paint applications on the face are pretty clean too!

The rest of the coloring on the figure appears to be achieved mostly through colored plastic, but there are some paint applications as well. Overall, the paint is clean, but I should note that my figure had two rather unsightly paint drips on the right boot, but I was eventually able to get these off with some water and a Qtip. The cape is made of a fairly soft and pliable plastic and lifts easily away from the figure to allow for those wide stances.

Thor comes with one accessory, and yes it is Mjolnir. The mighty hammer is a solid chunk of plastic with a sculpted wrap grip, which can fit securely in The Thunder God’s right hand.

The articulation here is pretty good, but the stylized sculpt does restrict the range of motion on some of the points. Thor features rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees. The hips are ball jointed, the ankles are hinged, there’s a swivel in the waist, and the neck is ball jointed. The elbow and knees are somewhat limited, which can be a little frustrating. Also, the sculpted hair makes it so the head can only turn side to side a bit. Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. He’s just so solid and chunky and fun to play around with!

 

Wow, was this a pleasant surprise! These Toybox figures seemed to come out of nowhere, and I just recently discovered them because someone sent me a link. They appear to be Disney Store Exclusives, at least that’s where I found and ordered mine. They run $12.99 each, which feels about right for what you’re getting. I have no frame of reference for how well Disney’s exclusive toys sell, but I can promise you that I’ll be doing everything I can to support this line and keep it going. And as for now, I can see Thor will probably be residing on my desk for a little while, because I’m having a hard time putting him down.

Lego Minifigs Series Crapshoot… DISNEY EDITION!!! #1

It’s been a long time since I featured any LEGO here on FFZ. I did a Minifig Crapshoot back in March, but you’d have to go back to last year for the last LEGO set I built. It’s nothing personal, LEGO, I love you. But you’re expensive and I mostly used to buy you when I went hunting other toys at the store and came up empty handed. I don’t go toy hunting much anymore, and that’s why I haven’t picked up much LEGO lately. I’ll have to remedy that next year.

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Ah, but it’s Christmastime. A time when devious retailers put out boxes of blind bagged Minifigs near the registers and I can’t help myself. I spotted these the other day when I was buying cat food for my son (it’s OK, he’s a cat), and tossed four of them into the basket. And yes… they’re the first series of Disney Minifigs! I didn’t try to feel these out in the package, I suck at that and it ruins the fun. I did, however, live tweet this out yesterday, so if you follow me on The Twitters, the suspense has already been ruined. And the first figure is…

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Alice from Alice in Wonderland. I’ll confess, I had no idea who she was until I saw the bottle with “Drink Me” on it. She’s cool and I’m happy I got her. The skirt is a new piece to me. I’ve never had a Minifig with it before. Now I really want a Cheshire Cat, but I’ll concede that the odds were against me. I felt as if I’d be more likely to get another Alice than a Cheshire Cat. Nonetheless, I pressed on. And the second figure is…

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Ariel from The Little Mermaid. I was pretty happy with this one, not only because it’s such a unique little figure, but now I have the power to turn any one of my Minifigs into a mermaid. Mermaid Captain America. Mermaid Lone Ranger. Everyone gets to be a Mermaid! Besides being a cool little figure, she comes with a clam that can be displayed closed or open with a pearl in it. Nice! Moving on…

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YES! I scored big with the Cheshire Cat in bag #3. This one is a very simple build: Head, torso, legs, tailpiece, but it’s all about the sculpt and paint on that head. Fabulous! One more figure… what was it going to be???

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ARGGGHHHH! Another Cheshire Cat! I rarely ever look at four random Minifigs without getting a set of doubles in the mix. Now I have to start troop building Cheshire Cats.

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All in all, I thought this was an OK assortment, doubles not withstanding. Part of me kind of wishes I had picked up four of the regular blind bagged Minifgs, because I think they would have had more appeal. I enjoy a number of Disney properties, but straight up “classic” Disney films aren’t really my wheelhouse. Then again, the only reason I bought these was because they were there right by the check out. It was an impulse buy, so I can’t really second guess myself.

The Muppets (Wave 1) by Diamond Select, Part III: Fozzie and Scooter

Alrighty, folks, here we are at the final stop in this Midweek Mini Muppet Marathon. You might even say, “we’re moving right along!” Time to open up the last figures of the first wave: Fozzie and Scooter!

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Here’s a quick look at the package. This time around we get two fully realized figures in one pack. I’ve said all I have to say, so let me just sympathize with how hard character selection for this wave must have been. With basically just four main characters, I think they did pretty well, although I’m still surprised that Ms Piggy didn’t make the cut. I was even more surprised that she didn’t make the cut for wave two. Again, here’s hoping this line has some staying power! Let’s start off with Fozzie…

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Ahhhhhhahhhh. Waka Waka! I love Fozzie Bear, he was easily my most anticipated figure in this wave, and I’m happy to say he turned out fantastic. Approaching 4-inches tall, he’s easily the biggest figure of the wave, not only in height, but also in girth. Since his costume consists entirely of his poka-dotted neckerchief (a separate piece) his bare bear body is supplied with some nice sculpted fur and a brownish-orange coat of paint. The head sculpt is as spot on as you can get. This is without a doubt the Fozzie Bear that I know and love. Apart from some scratches on his nose, the paint on the face is solid. Articulation consists of rotating hinges all around: The shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and ankles. He’s capped off with a ball jointed neck. The sculpt does restrict some range of motion and the way his hips are designed, he can’t really sit down. But why would he? He’s a stand-up comedian. Eh? Waka Waka!

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Scooter weighs in a little closer to Kermit in height, putting him around 3 1/2-inches. He’s one of the most complex designs in this wave, both because of his costume and the nature of his peepers. His eyes are appropriately part of his glasses, but there’s very little holding his glasses on. In fact, thanks to the warning from Scott’s review on the Action Figure Blues podcast, I was careful to keep the transparent rubberband that holds them on. It’s a temporary (and not ideal) thing for now, as I might get the courage to dab a little glue on them.

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Considering this is the most intricate paint job on any figures in this wave, I’d say it’s fair but not exceptional. There’s some slop to the striping on his sneakers and some of the yellow piping on the jacket could be sharper. Again, these closeup shots don’t do these figures any favors and all in all he looks good in hand. I do really dig the metallic green they used for his jacket and The Muppet Show logo on the back looks great. Scooter’s articulation again consists of rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, ankles, and neck. The hips have rotate and have lateral hinges.

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With both Fozzie and Scooter taking up most of the plastic real estate in this package, it’s understandable that the accessories are a lot smaller, but what we get here is still plenty good and fairly character specific. Fozzie comes with his hat, which is only an accessory because it’s removable. No clever magnets here like with the Palisades figures, and while it does sit on his head fairly well, I used a blob of blue tack to keep it there. You also get a rubber chicken and his Groucho Marx glasses, both of which are perfect accessories for him, but no telephone pole for the infamous Telephone Pole Bit.

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Scooter’s accessories are a little less personal. He comes with a clap board and a bullhorn. Considering Scooter was more of a stage hand most of the time, I’m not sure that these Director’s tools fit him, but I’ll go with it. Besides, they’re more of those great universe building accessories that will be nice to have as the pot grows bigger with subsequent waves.

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If I had to pick a favorite pack in this first wave, I’d probably go with this one. Besides my love of Fozzie and general fondness for Scooter, the mix of two figures and a handful of decent accessories feels right. But when you put all three releases together, then everything feels right, so I’m not going to quibble over what came in which pack. DST seems to be working well with the challenges that the different shapes and sizes of these characters offer and the accessories are diverse and fun. If I had one thing I’d like to see improved in future waves it would be a little more polish on the paint. I think this series is off to a strong start and the next wave, due out sometime this Summer, looks like it’ll be fantastic. Animal with his drums? Beaker and Professor Bunsen Honeydew? And Waldorf and Statler? Oh, yes, please. Give me some of that!

The Muppets (Wave 1) by Diamond Select, Part II: Kermit with Robin and Bean Bunny

In case you missed yesterday, I’m smack in the middle of a Muppets Trifecta as I look through the first wave of Diamond Select’s new Muppets figures. I went really long yesterday, which often happens when I introduced myself to a brand new line, so let’s jump right in and check out Kermit and friends!

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I had a lot to say about the packaging yesterday, so let’s just take a quick look and move on. It looks great and it gives you a clear look at the figures and accessories inside. The large character portrait on the side panel is nice to be able to identify who is in the package if you have them all lined up on a shelf. But, great presentation aside, it’s not at all collector friendly and takes up way too much room for my taste. It’s also really wasteful. When I was all done opening this set it was crazy how big the pile of cardboard and plastic was in relation to the actual toys that came in it. But enough said about that, let’s start off with Kermit…

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At about 3 1/2-inches tall, Kermit is just a smidgen taller than Gonzo. And like Gonzo, DST did a really nice job with this sculpt. Granted, there isn’t as much to work with here. There’s no outfit, no elaborate coloring. Just a green frog and as we all know, it ain’t easy being green. The head sculpt is spot on, with the mouth open to show the painted tongue and throat inside. The best detail for me here are the little creases that appear at the sides of his mouth that showed on the real life Muppet when he opened his mouth. There’s a little bit of slop around the eyes where the white meets the body. It stands out a bit on close up photos, but it’s not too bad when viewed with the figure in hand.

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I was really curious to see how they were going to make him work with his spindly arms and legs while still maintaining articulation and not being ridiculously fragile. As it turns out, they did a really nice job. Kermit sports rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. He also has a rotating hinge in the neck, which allows him to look up and down, where Gonzo really couldn’t. I was honestly terrified when I first got the figure out and started to work his joints. They are certainly fragile and the left hip joint on mine wouldn’t move until I gave it some prolonged gentile coaxing. I think the most amazing thing about this figure is that while the joints are tiny and some feel loose in hand, he can still stand surprisingly well on his own. Seriously, just look up there at the balance on this guy. Half the time, I didn’t even have to put any effort into it at all.

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Robin, Kermit’s nephew, measures in at only 2-inches tall. He’s a very simple figure with the only articulation being the swivels in his elbows and hips. He’s a lot tougher to stand than Kermit is, but he will stand. I’m not sure, but I might have preferred him sculpted in a seated position. That was the way he was almost always seen on the show and I think he would have made a more stable display piece that way. Still, all in all, he’s not bad.

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And that brings us to Bean Bunny. I had absolutely no idea who he was until I did a little research to discover the character premiered in 1986 and was a little after my time. I won’t hold that against him as he is a cool little guy, even if his black, soulless eyes give me the creeps. At about 2-inches tall, this is a really impressive little sculpt and features quite a lot of paintwork for such a tiny piece. He also sports an impressive about of articulation, especially considering I expected him to be a static piece like Camilla. With ball joints in the shoulders, swivels at the hips, and a head that turns, he made out a lot better than Robin. With Kermit and his two chums, this pack really feels like a better action figure value than Gonzo and Camilla… let’s see how it stacks up with the accessories…

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My guess is that DST had their doubts about Kermit’s uncanny ability to stand because a lot of what you get in this pack are things for Kermit to sit on. The largest one is the director’s chair and it’s a great piece to give him a little height if you want to display him alongside any 5 or 6-inch scale special guest star figures. Additionally, you get a little stool and a log for Kermit to plant his green ass on, especially when he feels like plucking away at a string instrument.

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And hey, speaking of instruments… you just happen to get a couple: A banjo and a guitar. These are great for any time he wants to bust out Rainbow Connection. These are fairly simple sculpts and fairly simply painted, but welcome additions nonetheless and I could see these getting passed around my Muppets figures quite a bit.

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While there were some things about the Gonzo set that left me a little cold, Kermit brings it all back home for me. This is a great set with some thoughtful accessories and combining it with Gonzo and his stuff begins to hint at how much potential this line is going to have as it continues to grow. And while I still can’t quite figure out what sort of black magic DST used to get Kermit to articulate and stand so wonderfully, I’m glad they were able to do it. He’s a fantastic little figure that gives me nothing but high hopes for The Muppets future.

Tomorrow, I’ll wrap up this Trilogy with a look at Fozzie Bear and Scooter!

The Muppets (Wave 1) by Diamond Select, Part I: Grover and Camilla

“It’s The Muppet Show, with our very special guest…” Growing up hearing those words meant about 25 minutes of sheer bliss was about to be unleashed on our household. I was about seven years old when The Muppet Show was in full stride, right around 1979 and let me tell you, it was event programming in my house. It truly was great family television, because there was something for everyone. My brother and I watched it for the Muppets craziness and my parents watched it for the guest stars and musical numbers. My father would even pop popcorn. It was a magic time and produced many wonderful family memories. And while I would have killed for some actual Muppet puppets as a kid, the only Muppet toys I ever had were those little figures from Fischer-Price with the big white sticks coming out of their backs. As if to pour salt into the wound, Palisades introduced their epic line just a year or two before I got back into toy collecting and I missed out on that. When Diamond Select announced their new line, I was pretty excited and instantly sold. I’m going to be looking at all of Wave 1 over the next three days and just to warn you, today will get a little long-winded. Let’s start with Gonzo and Camilla…

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Diamond Select has been doing figures for a long time, but apart from one of their Classic Star Trek sets with Kirk and Khan, I’ve never actually bought any. Yeah, that even surprised me. I’ve come close to picking up some of their Marvel Select figures and some Universal Monsters, but never got around to pulling the trigger. As such, this packaging is a new experience to me. It certainly is impressively HUGE for what are in this case some pretty small figures. The figures and accessories come spread out in a tray under a giant bubble, allowing you to see everything you’re getting. Also… Disney? I honestly had no idea that Disney owned The Muppets now, but I guess I should have because they own everything. A folded illustrated cardboard spine offers some great pictures of Gonzo and Camilla, so you could line these up on a shelf and know exactly who is in which package. Of course, none of this amazing presentation makes much sense when you have to destroy it to get to the figures. Nothing here is collector friendly, and all of the packages seemed to be pretty rough just from being on the shelf at the store. All this plastic and cardboard seems rather wasteful for something that I’m betting most people are just going to throw out. And considering all the accessories, keeping these mint-in-package makes even less sense to me than doing it with their Marvel figures. But hey, to each their own.

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As I already mentioned, these are pretty small figures, with Gonzo measuring about 3 1/2-inches tall. If I were buying these without any foreknowledge, I probably would have been surprised when I got them. Diamond Select’s figures are usually sizable and the $21 price tag can cause sticker shock if not for all the extras in the package. Yes, I consider Camilla more of an extra than an actual figure, but more on her in a bit. Now, with all that having been said, I think the scale works for a couple of reasons. One, it does allow for more accessories, especially some of the big stuff coming in the second assortment, like Animal’s drums and Statler and Waldorf’s balcony. And who knows? Is a playset or two too much to hope for? Secondly, it will allow for bigger characters, like Sweetums, without having to break the bank. Finally, and this applies more to DST than us the consumer, it would make no sense for DST to adhere to the Palisades scale because then collectors would just be cherry-picking what Palisades didn’t get around to doing, instead of starting over. With all that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to little Gonzo.

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The sculpt here is pretty spot on, with Gonzo sporting his trademark tuxedo, complete with bow tie and flower on the lapel. Gonzo adopts many different outfits, but this is the one I would call his standard look. I couldn’t have asked for more out of the portrait, at least not in this scale. His mouth is partially open. which I suspect will be the consistent look for all the Muppets throughout this line. The eyes are on point and while the wispy hairs that protrude from the real Muppet’s head are a lot heavier handed here in plastic, they still convey the look just fine for my tastes. What’s also cool is that Gonzo’s tiny body manages to employ a good deal of articulation. Rotating hinges are the running theme here, as they appear in his shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. The hips are ball jointed, the wrists swivel, and there’s even a waist swivel buried under that tuxedo jacket. The neck is ball jointed, but really only allows for rotation, which is easily the most disappointing thing about the figure’s articulation. Yup, as far as the sculpt goes, I’m pretty happy with what we got.

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The paint on my figure is pretty solid, at least to the naked eye. Keep in mind, Gonzo is shorter than your standard Star Wars figure and closeup shots of figures this small don’t usually do the paint any favors. That having been said, my figure only has a couple of nagging issues, like a weird yellow smudge on the back of his head and the fact that the purple along his mouth could be sharper where it meets the blue fur. Yeah, I’m nitpicking, especially when I’ve heard horror stories from some other collectors about horrible paint on some of these figures. Maybe I got lucky. Bottom line: The sculpt is great, the paint is solid. I like this figure a lot and he’s pretty fun to play with.

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Camilla, as I already mentioned feels more like an accessory than a figure.  I was hoping for a little articulation here, like swivels in the feet and a rotating head, but she’s a totally static piece. The sculpt is good, and again the paint looks fine with the figure in hand. Except the eyebrows. I don’t know where they were going with that blue paint. There’s nothing really wrong with her as far as non-poseable plastic chickens go, but despite her name being on the package, she feels more like a piece of window dressing. And that brings us to… accessories!

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Gonzo comes with a rather odd mix of accessories, and by that I mean that only a few feel like they really belong to him. Now, I get the feeling this line is going to treat accessories (as much as the characters) as universe building blocks. You only need look at the packages to realize that. And as such, there’s stuff in this packet that becomes a lot more fun when you heap it all together with the others. For example, you get a coffee mug and a box of popcorn. I don’t remember Gonzo being a coffee afficiando, but that mug will look nice on Kermit’s desk while he’s working out the scheduling for the acts. And the popcorn? Well, it is a theater, so it makes sense, just not so much with Gonzo.

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Well, now we’re talking… It’s Gonzo’s horn! At the end of the opening song and dance before every episode Gonzo would pop out of the sign, blow his horn and some different unexpected hilarity would ensue. To me, no other accessory better characterizes Gonzo, so this one was a great choice. Can he hold it? Mmmm, sort of, but it’s not like it feels the figure was meant to.

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The final mixed pair of accessories are the easel and studio light. The easel comes complete with a cardboard poster showing Gonzo’s Daredevil Stunt Spectacular. This is a cool little display piece and I could see future figures coming with different posters to display with it. And then you have the studio light. A great accessory for that universe building I was talking about earlier, just not something specific to Gonzo. I could easily see DST repacking a couple more of these in with other figures and I don’t know that I would mind it that much. It’s an extremely well done piece and they will look great scattered about a shelf that is gradually being converted into The Muppet’s Theater.

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I have a confession to make… I went with Gonzo first because this pack was the least impressive one to me, so it’s going to be all up hill from here. Not to say that I don’t like this set, I do! Gonzo is the man!!! But of the three releases, it feels like this one has the least amount of value on its own. It feels like you’re really only getting one figure and some of the accessories are a little random. However, taken as a group with the entire wave and the value here goes way up and offers a hint of all the fun stuff that I’ll be amassing for my Muppets, assuming that this line does well. And that’s why I remain a little apprehensive here. On the one hand I’m crazy excited about putting together a huge collection of characters. Hell, just the idea of completing Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem is making me giddy. But for that the line has to succeed and so I’m going to be 100% all in. Which is exactly how pissed I’ll be if this line fizzles after just a few waves.

Come on back tomorrow, and we’ll check out Kermit & Co.!

Disney Infinity 2.0: More Marvel Figures, Part 2!

I gotta be honest here, with the extra content I did this weekend and with the pressures of Christmas Week upon me, Monday kind of snuck up on me and kicked me in the nuts. As a result, I’ll be staying true to Marvel Monday, but I won’t be opening another Legends figure today, because I just don’t have time. Instead, I’m going to take a quick look at the remaining Marvel figures in my Disney Infinity 2.0 collection, something I was intending to do over the weekend before I went all Star Wars crazy.

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I have packaged shots this time, because I found all of these swinging on the pegs in one shot at Target and they were only $5.50 each. The only figure I didn’t buy was Green Goblin, because I just don’t like the look of him. He’s not the Gobby I know and love so I didn’t feel I needed him. At least not until my OCD kicks in and the agony of realizing that there’s JUST ONE FIGURE IN THIS SERIES THAT I DON’T HAVE becomes unbearable. Anyway, the packages are attractive, but simple. Each figure also comes with a character card, which I believe can be used in the PC version.

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Oh yeah, they also had the Power Disc blind bags for $1.50 each, so I bought a heaping handful of them. It was only after I had opened a bunch that I realized none of them were Marvel 2.0 discs. They were all 1.0 discs. Meh, you can still use them in the 2.0 and 3.0 Toy Boxes. I did get one RAREZ in there, but also a bunch of doubles. F’ck these things. OK, let’s start off with the two figures from Guardians of the Galaxy….

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It’s Yondu, and ain’t he just adorable? This figure draws pretty heavily from the movie and I can even see a little bit of Michael Rooker in there. This figure ranks pretty high on my list and I think they did a beautiful job on him. I particularly love all the details in his outfit. His boots look great, he’s got a little dagger on his sleeve and he’s got his flying arrow poised and ready to be unleashed. The blue paint used for his skin is mighty pretty too.

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Next up is Ronan. It’s a crying shame we didn’t get a movie version of Ronan from either Hasbro’s Marvel Legends or Hot Toys. I can’t really say this one invokes a lot of sentiment from the movie design either, but maybe a little. Either way, it’s another of my favorites. He’s a beefier figure than most and I love the stance. He’s standing defiant with his hammer and ready to judge me with that adorable little Disney-fied face of his. Awwww. The paint on this guy is great too!

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Moving away from Guardians and into the Ultimate Spider-Man Playset comes Iron Fist. He’s cool. I dig him. But I just don’t feel like he’s anything special. The pose is decent, his iconic costume is conveyed in the sculpt and paint, but he just feels a wee bit bland. Still, I bet he’s fun to play in the game.

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Finally, the last figure that I needed in The Avengers series: Falcon! This guy is obviously more comic based than movie, although his movie costume can be unlocked in the game. I was a little cool on this one until I got him out of the package and saw his gorgeous translucent red wings. Very snazzy. I also dig his pose a lot. He just looks a tad out of place with the other Avengers, which do feel more influenced by the Cinematic Universe.

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Alas, I haven’t had a chance to play as any of these characters yet. But with how much time I’m spending in the 3.0 Toy Box, I’ll definitely be swapping these guys onto my Infinity Platform to take them for a spin. I do still have a little bit of unfinished business with my Infinity 1.0 and 2.0 Collections and I’ll try to swing back next weekend with a look at the rest of the collection, so I can finally get into checking out the 3.0 Star Wars stuff. Of course, 3.0 also has some new Marvel figures as well as a brand new Marvel Playset coming too!

And yeah… next Monday I’ll pick up where I left off with the Hulkbuster Wave of Marvel Legends.