FigureFan’s Disappointments of 2012, Part 1

Ok, we’ve seen my favorites, and now it’s time to check out the turds floating in last year’s punchbowl. Again, this was tough, because I try to avoid buying things that look like they will be crap. So maybe the word turd is a little harsh in some cases. Almost nothing on this list is total crap, but everything here definitely disappointed me in some way.

TMNT Classics: Donatello by Playmates… The Classic Turtles are great figures, but they got upstaged on my “Favorites List” by the smaller modern guys in a major way. Nonetheless, Donatello represents here for one reason and one reason only, because of his mad eyes. Ok, I suppose that’s two reasons. The point is that by giving him wonky eyes, Playmates not only ruined the figure, but seriously marred the entire set. How can anyone appreciate their team of turtles on the shelf when Donny is standing there in the back looking like he got kicked in the head one too many times. It’s a crazy example of how one brush stroke can mar an otherwise excellent toy.

DC Universe All Stars: Superboy Prime… Besides turning out as a terrible looking figure, Superboy Prime earns Mattel a Disappointment Award for doing the bait-and-switch. The final product saw major changes from the pre-release images, and while that is bound to happen from time to time, the changes here made a great looking promo figure turn into a terrible release. Even worse, with hardly any brick-and-mortar stores actually carrying the DCU All Stars, I had to buy the figure online, so my disappointment wasn’t realized until I got the thing in hand and it was too late. It’s not often that I can say I regret buying a DCUC figure, but I certainly regret picking up Superboy Prime.

Marvel Legends: Extremis Iron Man… Because I only allowed each toyline to appear once in each list, this slot was a tight race between Extremis Iron Man and Future Foundation Spider-Man. In fairness, on its own this Iron Man is a fairly competent figure, but as soon as you put him up against some of the other figures in Hasbro’s new Marvel Legends line he comes up wanting. He’s too small, not terribly well articulated, and overall underwhelming. I kind of get the feeling that he was just here to fill a slot in a quick and dirty manner (that’s what she said?). And to keep the comparisons rolling, his paint and sculpting don’t even live up to many of the older, smaller and cheaper 3 ¾” Iron Man 2 figures. At least Hasbro released him in two versions, so that the crappy Stealth variant would make the regular one look better.

Duke Nukem by NECA… You’ve got to hand it to NECA, in an effort to be as accurate to the game as possible; they obviously wanted to capture the disappointment of Duke Nukem Forever in action figure form. And they did! NECA’s Duke features a solid enough sculpt, but the articulation is downright weird and the paintwork, particularly on the flesh tones, leaves a lot to be desired. And then there are the accessories. Sure, kudos for the cigar, which I promptly lost, but how can Duke come with just a handgun? Where’s his arsenal? And, no, the fact that he has feet doesn’t count as a “Mighty Boot” accessory. Duke should have come with a cool assortment of weapons, instead all he came with was disappointment.

Avengers: “Sword Spike” Thor… While most of Hasbro’s 3 ¾” Avengers figures were disappointments, this version of Thor earns a place on this list because he represented the ultimate in toy company hubris and laziness. Hasbro took what was essentially the exact same figure from the previous year, cut out most of its articulation, gave him a new shitty weapon and put him on an Avengers card. They even kept the same name, which in the new context made no sense because he now came with a halberd and not a sword. To add insult to injury, a lot of stores had this figure hanging just a few pegs away from the better articulated Thor-branded figure… on clearance! It’s the retail equivalent of Hasbro unzipping their pants, pulling out their Mjolnir and slapping us in the face with it.
Ok, that’s enough disappointment for one day. I’m going to take some Topamax and gin to level out my mood and I’ll be back tomorrow with the final five.

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Duke Nukem: Pig Cop by Resaurus

One of the coolest things I picked up at the Toy Show from a bunch of weeks back was this carded Duke Nukem Pig Cop figure from the now defunct Ohio based company, Resaurus. I ordered the entire lot of these from Resaurus back in the day and alas, only one of them survived the ensuing years, so when I saw this guy sitting there on a dealer table for ten bucks, I couldn’t resist.

I know I’ve waxed nostalgic about Resaurus before, but it’s been a while and seeing this packaging again after 15 years really takes me back. Ok, so their product wasn’t exactly durable. Case in point: Only one of my Duke Nukem figures, the Duke himself, still survives intact. One by one, my Duke figures broke or shattered in some horrible way. But, fragility aside, I really liked what Resaurus did as a company. They grabbed some really solid video game licenses (including Quake, Street Fighter, Sonic the Hedgehog and Crash Bandicoot) and created a destination website that really brought gamers and collectors together. They had lively forums and involved the consumer in the development and production process. It was all very cool.

Anyway, the figure comes on a huge bubble and a generic card. There’s an insert in the bubble with the figure’s name and some character artwork. The back of the card shows all the figures available in the line, plus screencaps of them in the game. I’ll concede the presentation here is a little dated, but considering we’re talking about toys based on a mid-90’s highly pixelated First Person Shooter, I think the packaging has some charm. Since I’ve already owned this figure and I know what he’s all about, I really hemmed and hawed over whether or not to open this guy or just hang him on my wall. In the end, I decided to tear him open. Probably no big surprise there!

Oh, I get it! It’s a cop and it’s a pig! I’ll take this opportunity to point out that FigureFan Zero supports the efforts and sacrifices of our local police force and in no way condones using the “pig” epithet toward police officers. Only filthy hippies do that! Disclaimer aside, yes, Duke’s main cannon fodder in the game were pig cops and this is one of them in figure form. Let’s bust him open and see what we’ve got…

There’s no doubt about it, Pig Cop features a really nice sculpt. Even after 15 years of advancements in toy design, this figure still exhibits a beautiful array of detail and texture work. Piggy’s head is amazing, with all the hair sculpted onto his face and a great prominent brow to frame his evil red eyes. The portrait is nicely rounded out with his trademark mohawk, drooping ears and big flat nose. And then there’s the mouth. One of my favorite things about this figure, and there’s a lot to love, is his hinged mouth. Open it up and you get a great look at the texturing on his tongue and his big bottom tusks. For a character that is basically a mindless grunt, Resaurus poured a lot of love and attention into Pig Cop’s portrait.

Pig Cop’s hunched half-pig, half-man body is made up of a sculpted uniform with a separate rubbery plastic flak jacket over the body. He’s got little bent pig legs that end in hooves, a set of burly arms with claws and an adorable little piggy tail. The flak jacket is removable, but I’m content to leave it on to avoid any tearing. The jacket is packed with great little touches including lots of texturing and “LARD” (har, har) printed on the front and back. It’s also loaded with battle damage from scrapes to bullet holes and an array of ammo pouches across the front.

For a figure of this vintage, Pig Cop has solid articulation. Out of the package, I had to force just about every one of his joints to get them to move for the first time. I was pretty sure something was going to go wrong, but happily he survived the process. The head features the aforementioned articulated jaw, and will swivel at the neck side to side, and thanks to the break in the Mohawk sculpt, it can move without hindrance. The arms rotate at the shoulders and feature swivel cuts in both the biceps and the wrists. Sure, hinged elbows would have been cool, but what’s here works ok. Lastly, his legs feature “T” jointed hips and the figure can swivel at the waist.


Pig Cop comes with three accessories. You get a gas mask, a riot shotgun, and a PR-24 nightstick with a knife taped to the end of it. The gas mask features the best detail of all the accessories and is a cool piece as it simply fits right over the figure’s snout and stays on remarkably well. The shotgun is pretty generic and features a soft sculpt. The weathered metal paint helps it along a little bit, but it’s nothing special. The figure can hold it in his left hand remarkably well. Last up is the PR-24, which has a little peg in the side so you can peg it into the figure’s left claw. The combat knife taped to the end of it gives it a little more character than the shotgun, but it still feels like just a placeholder.

 


Ultimately, Resaurus took a wonderfully unique approach to this figure. The Pig Cops in Duke Nukem 3D were goofy, cartoony cannon fodder, but what Resaurus produced here is a very cool, sinister looking bastard. In fact, the level of detail here makes him look more akin to modern video game creature designs, including those found in the unbelievably shitty ill-fated sequel so many years later. I can happily display him alongside the original Resaurus Duke, but I honestly think he looks better standing beside NECA’s recent Duke Nukem Forever offering. That says a lot for how the figure’s design has held up over the last decade and a half. I’ll also admit that having him has made me more anxious to hunt down a new Battle Lord and Octabrain. But for the time being, hopefully I can hang on to this guy for a while without him falling to pieces.

Duke Nukem Forever: Duke Nukem by NECA

The last thing I want to do here is recount the tortured and well known history behind Duke Nukem Forever. Suffice it to say the game lingered in development limbo for nearly 20 years before finally shipping last year. The final product was not only disappointing but it was easily one of the worst games I’ve played in a long while. It was poorly designed, occasionally broken and just no fun. But worst of all the gimmicky gameplay seemed to entirely miss the point of what Duke Nukem was all about: Blasting the shit out of stuff. You could argue that the developers tried to reinvent the game for a new age, but the point is that Duke Nukem should do what he does best, shoot things and make quips. A old school style shooter in the mold of Serious Sam or something like that could have been a fun nostalgic romp, not the crap we wound up with.

Nonetheless, I love Duke Nukem. He’s an important part of my gaming youth. I even read his funny books. I was on board way back when the now defunct Resaurus was making Duke Nukem figures and so it was only natural that I would get around to buying NECA’s recent treatment. Let’s check him out.
If you’ve picked up any of NECA’s recent releases, then you know what to expect from the packaging. Duke comes in a compact clamshell with a printed insert. I like this packaging as you can easily razor along the back to get at the figure and then you can return him to the package without it looking like it was ever opened. They obviously had a lot of fun when writing the copy for the package and it shows. It even recommends you take him out with you for adventures like some kind of strange My Buddy doll. There’s no need to take Duke seriously and NECA certainly doesn’t.
The sculpt here is pretty good. Its a more realistic looking Duke than we’ve ever seen, which is a reflection of the better (and yet still dated) graphics from the recent game. The figure does have a bit of a hunched over look, but its nothing to get too upset about and in a sense I guess it stresses his whole ‘roided out gorilla look. The sunglasses are sculpted onto his face, but they’re done so well that they really do look like they could be removed. Speaking of his face, Duke sports a great little over confident smirk that suits the character really well. There’s not much to say about his outfit. He’s wearing a red wife-beater, fingerless gloves, blue jeans and boots. Its all nicely detailed right down to his iconic belt buckle. The ammo straps are sculpted as separate pieces and hang loose down near his belt to allow for his torso articulation. The flesh paint features a bit of a wash to give him a slightly dirty look, which I think looks rather good.
So let’s talk articulation. Duke has some seriously weird ass articulation. He’s quite poseable, but NECA devised some truly and inexplicably awkward designs for his joints. His neck is ball jointed, which is normal enough, although he has very little up and down movement. His shoulders are ball jointed, but might as well just be swivels because he has very little lateral movment. But then he’s got an additional pin joint just under the shoulder, which seems redundant. The figure would have been better served with a swivel cut here. The rest of the arms are pretty standard with hinged elbows and swivel wrists. His legs have normal movement at the hips with the addition of another oddly placed pin joint that gives his legs lateral movement. You then have double hinged knees and swivels in the ankles. Lastly, Duke can swivel at the waist and has an ab crunch in the torso.  I have no idea what happened here, particularly with the shoulders and the hips, but it seems like NECA went out of their way to needlessly reinvent some very conventional points of articulation. Like I said… weird.
I can’t say that NECA has ever been heavy handed in the accessories department, and Duke here is par for the course. You get an automatic pistol and a cigar. That’s it. It feels woefully light, considering Duke should be a one-man walking arsenal. Where are the trademark weapons from the game? Where’s the Devastator? The Shrink Ray is even mentioned in one of the quips on the package, but its nowhere to be found. How about a friggin Pipe Bomb or combat knife? You don’t even get his Boomstick. Resaurus’ figure came with a bunch of cool accessories, here you get bupkis and that’s almost as disappointing as the game. I’ll admit the cigar is a cool little accessory and he can even hold it quite well, but the lack of an alternate head with the ability to hold it in his mouth seems like a missed opportunity.
Duke originally retailed for around $15-17 and you can still grab him at most Toys R Us stores for around that price. I got him on clearance through an e-tailer for $10 shipped, so I’m going to cut him some slack. It really is generally a nice sculpt and the articulation is perfectly serviceable albeit oddly designed, but ultimately the lack of accessories hurts this figure a lot. If you’re really jonesing for a Duke figure I suppose this one ain’t bad, but you might be better off hunting down the old Resaurus version. It may be a much simpler sculpt, but its as a toy its a lot more fun.