G.I. JOE Classified: Baroness & Cobra COIL by Hasbro


Last week, Hasbro got some more of their now infamous Target Exclusive Cobra Island figures back up for order/pre-order. At first, it seemed like another shit-show, but over the course of about 48 hours they seemed to fix things. By the end, I managed to get everything I was missing, and it dawned on me that while I scored a Baroness the first time around, I had not yet featured her here, so let’s resolve that today with a look at this magnificent set!

This set is similar to the Deluxe Riders that Hasbro has been putting out in the Marvel Legends line, as most of those included a motorcycle. I’ve gushed on and on about how much I love the Classified packaging, and it looks even better in this bigger format. You get some great character art, a big map on the back panel, and the window shows off the figure, the bike, and all the extra goodies. Let’s start with The Baroness!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it seems like Hasbro is taking a page from Sideshow’s book when it comes to designing their Cobra figures. Zartan and Major Bludd both had similarities to those Sixth-Scale figures, and now Baroness does to. And boy, that sure ain’t a bad thing! Like her original vintage figure, Baroness is reinforced with some sleek black armor to protect her in the never ending fight against the JOEs. Her legs are entire encased in the stuff, from her pointed-toe boots to the pointed, scalloped pieces that run up to her thighs. She has a breast plate, arm bracers, and asymmetrical shoulder pieces, with the left one being a serpent head!

In-between all that shiny armor, you can see her textured body suit with reinforced patches in all the high-friction areas. There’s some great Cobra branding on her outfit, consisting of embossed red Cobra emblems on her chest plate, her arm bracers, and her belt buckle. Baroness is sporting a crisscrossed gun belt with holsters on the back to hold her pistols out at angles. I’d like to think that this is a callback to the Sienna Miller Baroness from the Rise of Cobra film, as that Baroness also carried her guns this way. Finally, The Queen of Cobra has a sheath for her combat knife secured to her left thigh.

The head sculpt is quite good, although I’m not sure that I would rank this one as one of Classified’s best, but seeing as how good some of this line’s portraits are, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. The likeness certainly suits the character, and I love the little part in her lips. The printing for her facial features looks great, and I think the glasses here are quite an achievement. It’s got to be so hard to do glasses in this scale, but these turned out great. The lenses are fairly clear and I like the gold accents at the corners of the frames. I think these are supposed to be removable, but mine are stuck pretty good. Unless I score a second Baroness, I’m not about to try to force them out. The hair sculpt is pretty simple, it’s straight and cascades down her back.

As for articulation, everything is fine here, except for the rotating hinges in the elbows, which can’t quite do a 90-degree bend. It’s hard to tell if that’s because of the sculpt or the joints aren’t cut right, but I definitely wanted a better range of motion there. Everything else here is fine, and what you would expect to see in a Hasbro 6-inch figure these days. Baroness is loads of fun to play with, and she’s fairly well balanced, despite her rather small feet.

As for weapons, Baroness comes with a cool little black combat knife with a golden Cobra protruding from the pommel. It’s an exceptional bit of sculpt for such a tiny weapon. Part of me continues to wish Hasbro would paint the blades on these silver, but then having a matte black blade makes sense in a lot of combat situations where stealth is warranted. Despite having only gun-hands, Baroness can hold this little piece of cutlery surprisingly well.

Her matched set of golden pistols are certainly distinctive! No doubt, these were a birthday present from Pimp Daddy Destro. I really dig these, as the designs aren’t too crazy and they basically just look like legit automatic pistols, albeit all blinged out. I could definitely see her fighting her way to a Rattler with these after an operation went sour.

And then there’s this thing. I wouldn’t have any idea what it was if there wasn’t a picture of her on the box firing a laser out of it, so yeah… Laser Snake Gun! I honestly love this thing. Yeah, it’s balls-out weird and totally impractical, but the sculpt and paint on are just so damn good. It coils around her arm and she holds it right at the base of the Cobra’s head. I’m guessing she just squeezes it to fire. I can imagine the scene now. She pulls this thing out and Flash sees it, laughs, and shouts “What the hell are you going to do with that?” right before she uses it to burn a hole through Beachhead’s torso and he screams, “SWEET LASER JESUS!!!” Yeah, I put a lot of thought into it. OK, let’s check out the bike!

The Cobra COIL is a callback to the COBRA Coils, which were Cobra’s elite motorcycle drivers, and this thing is one sexy ride quite befitting its sexy driver. It even outclasses the Deluxe Riders Black Widow motorcycle by a long mile. The red and black bike looks sleek and mean, with it’s aggressively placed front wheel, tinted green windshield, and silver detailed engine. There’s a textured seat, Cobra emblem’s embossed near the handlebars, side mounted machine guns, and a folding kickstand to keep it upright.

You don’t get a whole lot of detail in the instruments, just some green fluorescent paint, but the handlebars are ball jointed to allow them to more easily fit the Baroness’ grip. Oh yeah, and she also comes with a swap out motorcycle helmet head, which is such a wonderful bonus! The colors, build, and overall quality of this bike is excellent for a pack-in vehicle!

And The Baroness rides it pretty well. There are pegs on the foot pedals for Baroness’ feet, but I find it better not to bother with them.

The side-mounted weapons on the motorcycle can also be removed and used as rifles, which is pretty damn cool.

To be honest, at first I thought this was a strange mash-up, as I never really associate Baroness riding a superbike, but Hasbro really sold the idea with this set. She looks simply amazing on the COIL with her bitchin armor and her helmet on, and I would not be opposed to seeing this bike re-released in a more traditional blue and black with a male Cobra COILS update.

As amazing as this figure and bike turned out, it’s obviously been a sore spot for collectors. Maybe if the figure alone got a separate wide release without the motorcycle and helmet, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But making The Baroness a retail exclusive was a terrible idea, and scalpers just poured salt in the wound by buying them all up and asking crazy prices on Ebay. And even after the recent online re-stock, this set is selling for up to $100, which is more than double. I was lucky enough to get mine at cost the first time around, but I probably would have gone $20 over the MSRP, I had to and I’m not proud to admit that, but heck… It really is a fantastic set.

Masters of the Universe Origins: “Rise of Evil 2-Pack by Mattel

Exclusives can be a pain in the ass, or they can be proof that patience pays off. In the case of today’s Rise of Evil 2-Pack, it turned out to be all about patience. This set, featuring Keldor and Kronis, the original forms of Skeletor and Trap-Jaw, is another Target Exclusive that has been infamously difficult to find. After weeks of having no luck, I came very close to grabbing it from a scalper on Ebay. I actually had it in my cart, and I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger. My desire to own it wasn’t stronger than my disgust for the people buying them up to profit on it. Two weeks later, I found six of them sitting on the shelf. Go figure!

Still, if Mattel is going to insist on doing exclusives, I’ll concede that this is probably a good pick for it. Some may argue that Keldor and Kronis are essentials, but I wouldn’t really agree. They are definitely great figures to have, but essential? Nah. Also, I think Mattel probably completely underestimated the demand on this one. Let’s start with Kronis!

The Evil Criminal from Another Dimension represents Trap-Jaw before getting all messed up and undergoing a body-horror style repair by Tri-Klops, or at least I think that’s how the 200x lore went. The figure recycles Trap-Jaw’s torso, pelvis, and legs all with the same coloring, including those neon green patches on his thigh armor. The left arm no longer has the bolt on the shoulder and he has his normal right arm, both of which include the standard Eternian wrist cuffs, here colored in pale gray. The chest harness is different, as it now has a strap that goes across his chest and secures in the front, but it’s definitely similar to the one Trap-Jaw uses to hold on his artificial limb.

The head sculpt definitely fits the look of psychopathic space pirate. He looks demented and like someone who probably has a lot of problems running around in his noodle. The slack-jawed expression includes a wall of white teeth and an look that suggests he’s rather displeased with me and quite possibly wants to do unpleasant things to my intestines. The close-fitting helmet is similar to what he would wear as Trap-Jaw, right down to the loop at the top for zip-lining. String not included! I’ll note here that my figure is a bit of a bobble head. The neck connection is just loose, making poor Kronis’ head wobble around.

Kronis comes with one accessory, and that’s his cool looking laser rifle. The rifle has two grips, but Kronis only has one grippy hand, as the left is the standard open hand we see with a lot of these figures. I really wish Mattel had added a second grippy hand like they did with Clamp Champ, but he can still hold the rifle fairly well and rest it on his open hand for some decent poses. Moving on to Keldor!

OK, so Kronis was pretty neat, but Keldor is really where it’s at with this set. This guy looks absolutely amazing. He features a very standard pale blue Origins buck with purple boots and wrist cuffs, and a black pelvic piece. The shoulder armor and belt are recycled from regular Skeletor, but cast in a darker purple, which matches his darker purple boots. We also get a few paint hits on the chest piece, including the neon green emblem and the mauve stone in the middle of his crossed bones. Wow, this all looks so good!

Keldor also comes with a cape, which is held on by a plastic chain that goes around the front of his neck. It looks great from the front, but it’s not terribly flattering from the back, as it just puffs out and makes him look like a grape.

The portrait is nothing short of fantastic. Keldor was quite the dashing fellow before the magic acid mishap. He definitely has all the stylings of a villain, with that mustache, widow’s peak, and pointy beard, but the broad grin makes him look like he would be a charismatic adversary. I think this is one of the best head sculpts to come out of Origins so far!

Keldor comes with both his sword and the Havoc Staff. The sword is finished on both sides, unlike the half-sword that came with the original Skeletor release. It’s also painted with a neon green glow toward the point.

The Havok Staff is the same sculpt, but the dark purple transitions to a translucent neon green as it gets to the ram head at the top. This makes for a cool effect, and not a bad stand-in for Skeletor’s staff.

And finally, Keldor comes with a brand new Skeletor head, which is a huge improvement over the one we got on the original Origins release. I love the sculpt, and the paint is just about perfect. He also has some flashy red jewels for eyes. It’s almost a shame that the hood is darker than the armor on the original release, because I would use this as my regular Skeletor head in a heartbeat if the colors matched up.

But in all honesty, this figure could easily stand in as your Origins Skeletor, providing you don’t mind him having regular feet and not those webbed monster feet. I just love everything about this guy! He looks like a premium quality release compared to regular Skeletor.

No doubt about it, this is a great set! Keldor definitely nudges out Kronis as the star for me, but Kronis is no slouch either. And while I’m glad I didn’t have to pay extra, I probably would have been OK with spending more if I had to. This 2-pack is a release that I would have expected to come much later in Origins‘ lifespan, but it’s cool that Mattel is investing in some deep cuts fairly early on. It makes me wonder what other goodies they have in store for us!

Spider-Man and Mary Jane Maquette (Exclusive) by Sideshow

It’s been a week, but I’m back and ready for action… and something a little different for this Marvel Monday! When Sideshow solicited their new maquette based on J Scott Campbell’s cover for The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1, I may have sprained my button pushing finger on that pre-order button. And then the waiting came. And I mean WAITING! My pre-order was placed in November of 2019, and about a year and a half later this statue finally showed up. I’ll concede that my patience has been wearing thin with Sideshow and pre-orders these days. When I first got into this game, it seemed like six months was the standard, and now over a year is not uncommon. With the exception of a Must-Have piece like this, I’m going to start rolling my dice and trying my luck with buying after release. But I digress! Let’s get to the goods!

You can dig around in FFZ’s past to find that my love for J Scott Campbell’s work runs deep, and I’m always happy to see him turn his talents to Marvel characters. I probably have at least a half-dozen of his Mary Jane covers, all signed, but sadly I don’t have the cover of Renew Your Vows #1 that this work is based on. I do, however, have it as a signed 7×11 art print, and I’m pretty content with that. Still, the front of the box also has a recreation of the art for reference, along with a rap-around red brick deco of the NY apartment, which looks quite nice! The box is absolutely huge, clocking in at close to Premium Format proportions, while the statue itself measures only about 12-inches tall, making the figures close to sixth-scale. The boxes large size comes from the fact that this statue comes spread out in a lot of pieces. Yes, there’s assembly required, but it’s all done with one connecting rod and a lot of magnets. In the end, I had not troubles fitting anything together.

And here is the piece all set up and I am absolutely in love. The composition sees MJ reclining on a comfy purple armchair, propped up on a couple of blue pillows, with one leg out and the other folded back under it. Meanwhile, Peter squats on the back of the chair, unmasked but still in his Spidey outfit. Their arms are intertwined, framing MJ’s face in the center. I was especially curious to see how they were going to engineer that web of arms, and the execution was quite clever, and the connections are for the most part fairly seamless. Spidey is secured to the chair with a peg, but MJ simply rests in molded indentations in the chair, and yet it still feels solid, even when I was transporting it from the studio to the display shelf. It is a satisfyingly heavy piece, mainly because the sofa is a solid block of polyresin.

The attention to detail in the costumes aligns perfectly with the art. MJ is wearing a long t-shirt, cut-off jean shorts, and a pair of Spider-Man themed knee socks, while Spidey dons his classic blue and red suit. Every detail, including the web pattern is incorporated into the sculpt and the paint lines are immaculate. They did a nice job applying some blue shading to MJ’s white top, and I really like the gradient colors in the chair. Indeed, everything about the colors here just pop like crazy! I’m particularly in love with the vibrant blue used on Spidey’s outfit.

Both portraits are a real triumph and a credit to the sculptor, Steve Schumacher. He also did the Abby Chase Premium Format, and I also own his Domino Premium Format Figure. It always amazes me when someone can take the very distinctive art stylings of Campbell’s and translate it so perfectly to three-dimensions. I love Peter’s wide, beaming grin. It’s almost smug in knowing that he has indeed hit the jackpot. Meanwhile, MJ is just looking as gorgeous as she always does when JSC sets to drawing her. The paint application on both portraits is just about flawless.

There’s no actual base for this piece, the chair serves alone in that capacity, and I think that was a great idea. It sits slightly off the ground on four stubby legs, and remains perfectly stable with no wobble to worry about. I do, however, recommend displaying this one toward the back of the shelf, as MJ’s one leg does reach out pretty far in front and it would be a shame to catch it on your arm when walking by. The bottom of the chair has an illustrated finish, along with the hand-numbered statement of limitation. Yeah, I really should have snapped a picture of that before putting this thing together, but I was just too excited to do it. Mine is number 244 of the 1200 piece Exclusive run. So before wrapping, up let’s take a look at what makes this the Exclusive!

The Exclusive includes the little stuffed tiger that’s depicted in the original art. It’s an adorable little fellow and it’s designed to just sit right between MJ’s rump and the chair’s arm. Lucky bastard! This tiger really hit the jackpot! In reference to the cover art, the absence of the tiger is a bit conspicuous, so I’m not sure it was the best incentive for exclusive. I would have probably rather the tiger be included with the standard edition and we got a metal art card with the Exclusive, but then the Exclusive is still available at Sideshow, so anyone jumping on this even after release will be able to get it.

It’s tough for a collectible to live up to a year and a half’s worth of anticipation, but this maquette managed to pull it off. The paint and sculpt are both absolutely sterling, and the quality control is positively above reproach. I don’t think there was a single month in all that time where I didn’t find myself on Sideshow’s site and drooling over the pictures. And on the positive side, the $525 price tag is a lot easier to swallow when amortized over eighteen months. It’s great to have another killer piece for my ever expanding J Scott Campbell display.

Marvel Legends: Hellfire Club Boxed Set by Hasbro, Part 2

On the last Marvel Monday, I ran over my word and picture count while gushing over the first two figures in the Hellfire Club Exclusive boxed set, so today I’m back to wrap things up with a look at the ladies: Emma Frost, Jean Grey and, thanks to a head-swap, Selene Gallio! But before hitting the figures, let’s have a look at one last bonus in the packaging…

I mentioned this last time, but neglected to show it. Probably because I didn’t want to make anyone else feel bad, but my set came with a handwritten invitation to join The Hellfire Club. This beautiful document was neatly folded into an envelope with a facsimile wax seal (it’s only printed) and tucked into the reverse of the portrait that covers the tray. Look at that! It’s signed by all four of The Inner Circle. I haven’t replied yet, but I plan on accepting. I am, however, a little apprehensive about the initiation. OK, on with the figures!

Emma Frost once again graces the Marvel Legends line! We last saw her as a Walgreens Exclusive in her black Dark Reign outfit. Here she’s the White Queen, donning a more traditional outfit and looking damn fine. Her costume is dominated by a flowing white cape with sculpted fur shoulders and a shimmering blue stone clasp securing it around her neck. The cape affords her a bit of modesty, as underneath it she’s wearing her underwear and a white corset, along with a pair of thigh high high-heeled boots, and gloves, which go all the way past her elbows. We sure didn’t have any action figures like this when I was a kid! Hell, we didn’t even get a Slave Leia until Power of the Force 2.

The bulk of the sculpted detail in this costume went into her corset and they did a very nice job on it indeed! It actually looks like it’s sculpted separately from the figure, as the bottom half hangs down and there’s a clear delineation between the top of the corset and the top of her chest. You also get some sculpted stitching and lacing running up the front, as well as defined edges. It’s a very nice piece of work as opposed to having just painted it onto the figure. The top edges of the gloves also have sculpted borders and I’m surprised at how well the figure stands, despite having high-heels. All aspects of the white costume look bright and clean and pop nicely against her skin.

I’ve spent some time trying to decide whether this portrait is the same sculpt as the alternate head that came with Walgreens Emma Frost, and I’m pretty sure that it is. The hair looks identical and the facial structure the same. The reason it’s tough to tell is because the paint here is so much better. In fact, it’s shocking how much better it is over a figure that was released only about a year ago. This portrait includes her straight hair that hangs just above her shoulders and some very sharp paint on her lips, eyes, and eye shadow. My figure has a slight speck under her right eye, which I do not believe is intentional, but it does look like a tiny mole, so I don’t have a problem with it.

The articulation here is everything I expect from the Legends ladies, which means we get rotating hinges in the elbows as opposed to double-hinges and bicep swivels. I’ve been hoping that Hasbro would start promoting equal articulation for the gals by now, but I doubt that’s ever going to happen. Otherwise, the arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and hinged pegs for the hands. Emma has an optional pair of fists as well. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the ankles. There may be rockers in those ankles, but I can’t get them to budge. The neck is both hinged and ball jointed. I’m really happy to have this figure in my collection, since the Dark Reign version, while a nice figure and a worthy stand in, wasn’t iconic to me. Moving on to Jean Grey!

Oh my! Corrupted Jean Grey may by another reason why these figures were an online exclusive, because I really couldn’t see kinky Jean Grey hanging on a peg in the aisles at Target or Walmart. [Then again, I have since been reminded that the Black Queen served as a Toys R Us Exclusive in Hasbro’s previous Legends line a little while ago.] Although it would have been a good opportunity for a Build-A-Torture Rack accessory! If you were with me last time, you know that Shaw and Pierce were straight repaints of the same body from the neck down, and that’s largely the case with Emma and Jean here, as we go from White Queen to Black Queen. However, Hasbro did use a few accessories to distinguish these gals. The most obvious change is in the capes, which are completely different. Jean’s is a little shorter and is sculpted with a rather dramatic wind-blown look. She also has a sculpted rose, which looks like it’s meant to serve as a clasp. Less dramatic, but no less outrageous is her spiked collar! Everything else on the body itself is identical and I think this outfit looks fantastic in either black or white.

The portrait appears to be entirely new and I like it a lot. Jean has her hair up in a bit of a bun to show off that spike collar, and she’s got some red eye shadow to match the color of her hair. As with Emma, the paint applications on the face are crisp and clear and look fantastic.

While Emma came up light on the accessories, Jean comes with a whip and a third pair of hands, so that she can hold it. Yup! Just in case the outfit didn’t drive home the BDSM theme here! The whip is recycled from the Black Cat figure (from the Ultimate Green Goblin Wave), meaning it has that kind of goofy claw on the end of it. Not that I would tell Jean it looks goofy, because I imagine that it hurts a lot.

And that brings us to Selene Gallio, which is simply an optional head for the Jean Grey figure. It’s really cool that Hasbro tossed this one in as an extra and I think the portrait has a lot of character, but it feels a little more like a caricature when compared to the Emma and Jean head. Maybe that’s just because they were going for a specific expression here. She’s got purple eye shadow to match her purple lip gloss and as with the other ladies, the paint is executed flawlessly here. It’s a shame that this body isn’t available as a single packaged figure, because I sure wouldn’t mind having another to display as Selene, but between the two, I’ll likely keep the Jean head on the figure for display. For the record, it actually works pretty well on the Dark Reign Emma Frost body, and since this will be my go-to Emma Frost for Legends, that’s a pretty good option. And while we’re on the subject, you can swap the two Walgreens Frost heads with this Emma, but the skin tone doesn’t match. But with this beautiful noggin, why would you want to?

Wow, what a great set! This box went for $79.99 on Hasbro Pulse, which puts it at $20 a figure. Not bad, even with all the recycling, as the packaging adds a lot to the value here, and as I’m sure I’ve said numerous times, there was no way these figures were going to get a regular retail release. Sure, I have no doubt that adult collectors drive this line, but they don’t carry that “Adult Collectible” moniker and are still considered toys. Kids were probably not going to be too keen on a pair of dudes in 18th Century dress, and I doubt the parents would be up for getting the kids Emma Frost in her undies and Dominatrix Jean Grey. I was glad to see this one stuck around on the site a little while, at least long enough for me to order one with no trouble. Obviously, it has since sold out and seems to be selling for around double on Ebay, although it’s possible to find the individual figures listed there as well.

Marvel Legends: Hellfire Club Boxed Set by Hasbro, Part 1

As I may have mentioned last week, I’m stepping away from doing consecutive reviews of particular Marvel Legends waves in order to get to some multipacks, exclusives, and older figures. That’ll probably be the case through to the end of the year, but who knows? Maybe I’ll work at least one more complete wave and Build-A-Figure in before the end of the year. For now, I’m kicking this madness off on this glorious Marvel Monday with a look at the Exclusive Hellfire Club 4-Figure set that was released through Hasbro’s online Pulse store! The set includes The Inner Circle of The Club: Sebastian Shaw, Donald Pierce, Jean Gray (or Selene Gallio if you prefer), and Emma Frost. I originally planned to check out the whole set today, but I ran a little long, so instead we’ll look at the packaging along with Shaw and Pierce, and some accessories, and next week we’ll check out the ladies.

Hasbro has been well known for their elaborate Marvel Legends boxed sets, many of which released as San Diego Comic Con Exclusives. But with no Comic Cons happening, they’ve been seeking other routes for these impressive sets. I think this one was referred to as a PulseCon Exclusive, but whatever the case, it became available to Premium Members of Hasbro Pulse first and then to everyone else later. Now, I have had some terrible experience with Pulse this year. Most of what I pre-order shows up through Amazon Prime first and cheaper, so I wind up cancelling the Pulse pre-orders. I’ve also been shut out on a lot of pre-orders because they sell out so fast. Well, this time I was able to get in and get out without too much bother, but it has since sold out. The packaging here may be their best yet, as it not only relies on a special box, but also multiple cool components of presentation. On the outside, it cuts all the class of the prestigious and exclusive club that it represents. There’s an embossed iron gate on the front to keep the riff-raff out and an impressive gold and crimson foil H-seal in the middle. The back panel of the box features framed portraits of the figures inside.

Break the velcro seal and the front opens to reveal an illustrated portrait of the Inner Circle and it is a magnificent piece of art! The back of this card has an envelope that contains a facsimile letter. The obverse sides of the flaps have portraits of each of the four characters, and finally we get to the tray of figures, presented with a backdrop showing the luxury of the Hellfire Club’s parlor. I’ve managed to pick up nearly all of the modern Legends SDCC Exclusive sets, and none has really come close to how polished the presentation is here. Hasbro just put a ton of love into this one and it shows. So, let’s dig in and we’ll start out with a look at Sebastian Shaw!

Don’t judge me, but I sure do dig me some fancy 18th Century formalwear. Seriously, if it were socially acceptable to dress like this today, I’d be down for it! I’d also go by the name Martin Chuzzlewit and carry a silk hanky and a tin of snuff around with me. And who would have thought we’d get a beautiful example of this historic wardrobe with a Marvel Legends figure! Sebastian’s sculpted apparel includes a navy blue gentleman’s jacket with vest, all sculpted in soft plastic as one piece, with the sleeves sculpted onto the arms. The sculpt is great, the vest isn’t too bulky even if the arms are, and the jacket includes a stylish tail that extends down the backs of the legs. The vest is red with a textured pattern, and the jacket includes brass painted buttons and a flared collar. The jacket sleeves have exposed ruffles that would make Jon Pertwee proud. Superb! His gray culottes end just above his calves to expose his white socks (no doubt silk!) and his buckled shoes. Considering how limited the uses for this body must be, it’s nice to see Hasbro put so much work into it. It’s the perfect outfit for sitting in overstuffed chairs by the fire, sipping brandy, and discussing how you’re going to exert your wealth and power to control the world government.

Hasbro also did an admirable job on Mr. Shaw’s portrait, complete with a vintage-style ponytail, tied with a ribbon, impressive mutton chops, and a devastating widow’s peak. High arched eyebrows and a broad, smug grin, completes the head sculpt nicely. As has often been the case with the Legends villains, this likeness is just brimming with personality. Shaw has an affable face, and those are the villains that you have to watch out for!

Despite his stuffy outfit, Pierce still enjoys all the usual points of articulation I expect out of my Legends dudes. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinged knees, swivels in the thighs and the tops of the socks, and the ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, double-hinges in the elbows, swivels in the biceps, and hinged pegs in the wrists. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab-crunch hinge buried up inside that coat, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. What a great figure! You might say that its so nice, Hasbro used it twice! In the same boxed set!

Donald Pierce is a straight repaint of Shaw from the neck down. And while it may seem rather cheeky to recycle a whole body in the same set, I honestly don’t mind it here. This costume is so well done and in fairness it works just fine for both characters. It probably doesn’t hurt that since both figures are brand new to me, it doesn’t feel as much like a rehash. I’m not even sure if that makes sense or it’s just that HasBRO kool-ade that I coif working its magic. Now, I will say that I wish Hasbro had added some tiny bit of sculpting trickery to set them apart, like maybe change up the cravat. But I’m still OK with what we got. Pierce’s outfit is decked out in more earthy tones with a brown jacket and slightly green culottes, while his vest is a green. He has the same cravat as his colleague as well as the same shoes.

And once again we see a portrait just brimming with personality. The facial features are wonderfully detailed, the eyes are a striking blue and he has a broad and somewhat imposing smile. While Shaw came across as more congenial to me, Pierce looks to be hiding malice, and not really hiding it too well. The articulation is obviously identical to what we saw with Shaw, but before moving wrapping this up for the day, we can check out some of the gents’ accessories.

For starters, you get a pair of fists, which can be used for either Shaw or Pierce, but I’m going to go ahead and give those to Shaw, because Pierce comes with his very own and very specific replacement cyborg hands! And might I say that there’s nothing quite as cool looking as a bloke in fancy dress sporting a pair of cybernetic meat hooks. The right hand is sculpted as a gun-holding hand and the other is kind of a graspy hand. But wait? Gun holding hand? Guns??? Yup, let’s check out the guns!

These both look familiar, so I’m pretty sure we’ve seen them before and both are very sci-fi designs. No doubt these are the best technology money can buy! The pistol works best with Pierce’s Cyborg hand and Shaw can hold the rifle quite well. Are they shining examples of 6-inch scale weaponry? Nah, not really. They’re cast in black plastic with no paint applications and the sculpts are a little soft. But I’m never going to complain about getting some extra guns in with my action figures.

You also get the Hellfire Book, which is a really cool little sculpt. It’s molded so that it’s perpetually open so that the members can peruse it’s page. The binding has a nice leather-like texture to it and there’s raised letterings sculpted into it. The front cover also bears the Hellfire H-insignia. Yup, the same one that’s on the front of this boxed set. Inside the book there are some charts and squiggly lines to denote text. I’ve been a book collector nearly all my life, so I can really appreciate getting such a cool little book in this scale. Sure Boss Fight Studios has done it better and in a much smaller scale, but this little plastic tome is still really neat.

And finally, you get both Wolverine’s mask and Magneto’s helmet as trophies. These are beautiful little accessories, and I wish there was a little shelf above that fireplace on the backdrop where you could display them. I don’t have anything else to say about these pieces, except that they’re welcome bonuses. And with that, I’m going to break for today. I’m also going to reserve any final judgements on this set until next Monday when I review the other two figures, but so far I’m digging this set more than most of the recent Legends Comic Con Exclusives. In my mind, exclusives should be comprised of figures that were never likely to make it to the toy aisles, and I think that fits these two fancy gents to a tee. Sure, Hasbro has amazed me with the obscurity or downright bizarre nature of some of the characters they’ve sent to the pegs at my local Walmart or Target, but I think these fellows would have been pushing it. Come on back next Monday and we’ll wrap it up with a look at Emma and Jean… and Selene!

G.I. JOE (Retro Collection) AWE Striker and Crankcase by Hasbro

The love that GI JOE has been getting these days is causing my heart to swell, and I’ve been doing my part to support the return of the Real American Hero in every way possible. Case in point, I probably have five or six AWE Strikers in storage and yet I simply could not resist picking up another one when I saw it on the shelf. I was also surprised to see that I had never reviewed any of the pass releases here, so this one got pushed to the head of the line.

The original Real American Hero line had some of my favorite package art, and that’s really saying something, because the 80’s had a ton of toy lines with great looking packages. But the GI JOE stuff felt so iconic to me, even back then, and the action scenes on the front of the boxes and cards always made me want to play with the toys. This 2020 release of the AWE Striker mimics the original 1985 box quite well. From the artwork and window for the figure on the front to the filecard on the back, Hasbro nailed it.

The box even feels like it’s made out of the heavier corrugate stock they used to use as opposed to the flimsy cardboard employed now. My only complaint is that Crankcase’s filecard is multi-lingual and rather abbreviated. Inside the box, the vehicle comes wrapped in plastic and in need of some assembly and it even includes a sticker sheet! But before I put it together, let’s have a look at the figure.

Crankcase is styled to fit right in with the modern JOES introduced in the 25th Anniversary Collection, meaning that they are a bit bigger than the vintage JOEs and a little better proportioned. I’m thrilled they went this way because I don’t think they plan on releasing a lot of figures in the Retro line and so these toys can just slide right into my existing collection. Heck, Crankcase even comes with the same style of personalized stand that we got with those 25th Anniversary figures! I’m happy to say that this new figure’s design sticks close with the ’85 version of Crankcase. He has the same green top, with sleeves rolled up, black gloves, khaki trousers, and brown boots. He also has brown web gear, which is removable, although the gun sculpted in the holster is not. And that’s the only shame about this figure: He doesn’t come with any weapons.

He does have a removable helmet and an excellent head sculpt. The detail is great and his orange hair color matches that of his predecessor. The only big difference is this version has a beard, where I’m pretty sure ’85 Crankcase just had a mustache. OK, let’s move on to the AWE Striker…

The required assembly is quite simple. You just have to snap on the roll cage, attach the wheels, and pop on the cannon, antennae, and a hose. Then slap on the stickers and she’s good to go! It’s hard for me to think of a more versatile and fun vehicle for the JOEs. Oh, there were plenty of vehicles that I liked more, but you’d be hard pressed to pick a better all-purpose way to get your JOEs into trouble.

It’s been a long time since I played with the original toy, but this one looks like the spitting image of what I remembered. Is it the same mold? That I couldn’t tell you, but it is date stamped 1985 on the undercarriage. I can say that it looks nearly identical to the 25th Anniversary release, with the most notable change being the color of the seats. [Sadly, I don’t have easy access to that vehicle right now, but I do plan on digging it out of storage in the near future and I will update with comparison shots when I do!] Either way, I cannot overstate how impressed I am with the detail on this vehicle. For what is a rather small and inexpensive toy, the designers went absolutely crazy making sure every little bit was crafted with a sense of purpose and realism.

For starters, the AWE Striker has a working suspension, which you can test just by pushing down on the chassis. The front wheels do turn, as does the steering wheel, but they are not linked together. The front ramming bar has two headlamps with clear plastic on the fronts, there are mesh running boards on the sides for JOEs to ride on, and the engine cover can be removed to show a very detailed engine under it. That’s a nice touch if you want to have your JOEs performing maintenance or have it blown off by a direct hit from a Cobra weapon.

 

The cabin has sculpted padding in the seats, a static shifter, and the passenger side has a targeting camera which connects to the cannon on top with a hose. The cannon cannot only rotate, but also pivot up and down a bit, and I can’t say enough how happy I am that Hasbro resisted putting a giant missile into this weapon. Indeed, there are no play gimmicks, no bells or whistles, no lights, just pure 100% fun!

The AWE Striker set me back $24.99 at Walmart and I think that’s a great value. The craftsmanship on display here is top notch and with a figure included, you’ve got everything you need to go on some adventures in the backyard. You’re even better off if you can dig out three 25th Anniversary figures and load this puppy up! Sadly, this vehicle sold out damn fast on Walmart’s site and my store hasn’t restocked. I was smart enough to pick up two of the HISS Tanks (review coming soon!), but I really wish I had grabbed one more of these as well!

Marvel Legends: Nimrod, Psylocke, and Fantomex by Hasbro

After detouring for a couple of Marvel Mondays, this week I’m back to looking at Marvel Legends. And yeah, I Know I said I was going to start digging into the Sugar Man Wave, but before I get into that, I thought I’d tear into this new three-figure set that hit my doorstep from Amazon last week. And I hope you aren’t all X-Men’ed out because… IT’S MORE X-MEN!!!

This rather large boxed set comes to us as an Amazon Exclusive, and these days I find those are the best kinds of exclusives. Not only was I able to pre-order it without a headache, but did you forget to pre-order? Well, no worries, it’s still up on the site, at least is at the time I’m writing this. The presentation is pretty snappy, with a silver box and a crisp and clean gold X-logo to brand it up. I wouldn’t mind returning these figures to the box for display, and I probably will for a while. That is until the Toy Closet gets too cluttered and I have to start taking extreme measures by culling boxes again. I’ll also throw out there that this is a damn heavy box, as it contains a lot of plastic! Let’s have a look at the figures, and I’ll start with Fantomex first!

We last saw Fantomex waaaaay back in Wave 2 of Modern Legends as part of the Anim Zola Wave. Holy hell, that was eight years and what seems like about a million figures ago! I actually expected a repack, which goes to show you how much I wanted Nimrod, but upon closer inspection I was pleased to see that this is an updated figure. Did we really need a second attempt at Fantomex after all this time? Are there not other characters without figures patiently waiting for their turn? Yeah, but I will say that I’ve always loved Fantomex’s costume. He just looks so bad-ass. But, honestly this one perplexes me a bit. It would have made more sense to just repack him, but let’s dig out the original and do a quick comparison!

At first glance they look quite similar, but a closer inspection shows that they are entirely different figures. I think the older figure still holds up quite well, but this new release has a better build and is slightly better proportioned. Hell, just getting rid of those prehistoric ball joints in the hips is a big improvement. I thought the jackets were the same, but it looks like the older one is sculpted to look like it’s blowing to the right a bit, while the newer one hangs down straight. Otherwise, the two plastic garments are nearly identical. The gunbelt is new, and that makes sense, since the guns are also new. The new figure has a smaller belt buckle, and thigh straps to hold the holsters in place. The older figure has sculpted straps just above the knees, whereas the new one does not. On the downside, the tops of the boots on the new figure are separate pieces and held on by friction. And when I say “held on” I’m being generous, because they are constantly sliding down to his ankles. The old figure had these sculpted on and it was much better. Finally, the gauntlets on the newer figure are flared much more dramatically at the elbows. I think this looks better, but it does interfere with the elbow hinges a bit. Both figures have balance issues, but I think the new one is slightly better. All in all, I’d say the new version is the better figure, but there are still some compromises going on here.

The head sculpt is definitely an improvement over the old one. The noggin is a little bigger to better fit the body, and the sculpting and paint are both tremendous improvements. The eyes on the new figure are look absolutely fantastic. The black striping is a little different, and this new head shows a little less of the facial features under the mask. I really love what they did here.

As I already mentioned, new Fantomex gets new guns, and these are pretty great little sculpts. They’re a little bigger and beefier than the old guns, and they look a little less sci-fi and a little more credible as real world automatics. They’re cast all in gray plastic, with no paint operations, but they have lots of great detail to make them stand out. Also a huge improvement is how well the new figure can hold his guns. The old figure could barely hold his and he couldn’t hold them straight at all. So, chalk that up as another win for new Fantomex!

This figure also comes with some really cool effect parts for his guns. You get a pair of blast effects and a pair of smoke effects, which simply peg into the ends of the muzzles. These are tiny, and hopefully I can keep from losing them, because they are probably some of my favorite effect parts I’ve seen in the Legends line so far.  All in all, this is an excellent update to what was already a pretty good figure. And while I’m not sure I really needed to pay out for a second release of the character, I’m not terribly put out by it either. And that brings us to Psylocke!

Psylocke is another double dip, but at least she’s a variant as she comes in her Uncanny X-Force costume. Sure, we just got her a couple of years back as part of the Apocalypse Wave, and I’m ashamed that I can’t post a link to that review, because I haven’t opened her yet and that entire wave is part of my backlog. I’ll get to that wave eventually! Either way, it’s nice to have this version to go with Fantomex. Plus the Apocalypse Wave Psylocke tends to go for a good chunk of change these days, so for some this may be Consolation Prize Psylocke! Like the previous release, this figure relies almost exclusively on paint to detail her costume, but it works just fine. The sash is actually a newly sculpted piece, now white and with an X-Force logo in the center.

The head sculpt looks new to me, but it’s close enough to the original that it may just be from variances in the molding process and paint. It’s also worth pointing out that the skintone on the new figure is a bit paler than the last one, but that may also be due to coloring variation as opposed to being intentional. Either way, the new figure looks great. The paint applied for her eyes and lips is nice and sharp, and I dig the purple they used for her hair.

X-Force Psylocke comes with the same effect parts as the previous release, although the coloring on these new ones is overall a lot nicer. She also comes with a swappable right fist, which works a little better with the blast part, but isn’t really necessary, as it will work well enough with the accessory holding hand too. All of these look great, but I’m extremely partial to the Katana. She just looks fantastic wielding it. It may seem like I’m running through this figure rather quickly, despite not having reviewed the original yet, but it’ll happen. Plus, I still have the main attraction from this three-pack to cover, so let’s have a look at Nimrod!

I gotta say, I absolutely love the design of the character. He’s got a sort of Bruce Timm stylized look to him that is so bizarre and unique when presented among the regular looking characters. It’s like because he hails from the future, he actually looks out of context in the present. Same goes for how smooth and nearly featureless his body is, making him look sterile and super advanced. It’s just brilliant and it’s even better when presented as this giant slab of an action figure! The entire body is comprised of some lovely pearlescent white plastic that gives him a cool sheen, disturbed only by the pink pin-striping and the translucent pink triangle embedded in his chest and showing off just a hint of some finely sculpted circuitry. From behind, Nimrod shows off some red paint accents and his translucent pink wings, which peg into his back, making him look all the more impressive.

Nimrod’s head is barely a head, but more like a bump coming out of his torso with a face in it. The silver face is framed with some red paint, and otherwise just sports white eyes, a black slit for a mouth, and some black grills in his cheeks. Elegant, simple, and just a tad creepy.

And if you want to go for something a little more classic looking, Nimrod comes with a swappable head with a red face. At first glance it looked fairly similar to the standard head, but it is actually a completely new sculpt, and I think I’m actually partial to it. It has a little more personality and adds a bit more color to the figure.

In terms of articulation, he does indeed feel like a Build-A-FIgure, in that he has all the right points, but being a chunky boi, some of these points don’t offer  quite as much range of motion. The exception would be in the shoulders’ rotating hinges and the fact that the shoulder armor is happily quite flexible. As a result, I was surprised at the amount of movement I could get out of the arms. There are swivels in the biceps, and the elbows are only single-hinged, but you can get a full 90-degree flex out of them. The hands are on hinged pegs. I believe that’s a ball joint in the torso, but mine only wants to swivel, and it snaps back each time I swivel it. I’m not sure what’s going on in there, but I’m not going to risk forcing it, just in case something is stuck. The legs appear to have rotating hinges in the hips, but there’s really very little range in them. The knees are double-hinged, and thus quite good and the ankles have a little bit of movement in a hinge, but not much.

In addition to the extra head, Nimrod comes with two sets of hands, fists and open, and two blast effect parts that plug into the open hands and look pretty sweet.

Marvel Legends never ceases to surprise and amaze me. I mean, it’s been clear that Hasbro has pulled out all the stops with this line a long time ago, but still… getting a set like this is just so magical and I think it really demonstrates what a strong following this line has. It’s an $80 set, which is probably why it wound up as an online exclusive, I’m not sure the Walmarts and Targets would want to take up this much real estate on a planogram for a set this expensive, and populated by characters that your average normie isn’t going to recognize. But while the set may seem pricey, it costs out fairly well at $20 each for Psylocke and Fantomex, that leaves $40 for Nimrod. OK, so Hasbro’s repacks of Build-A-Figures usually run out at the $30 price point, but since this is an entirely new figure, that’s probably where the extra ten bucks comes into play. Either way, it’s a fantastic set and three solid additions to my ever growing Legends collection.

Masters of the Universe Origins: He-Man and Skeletor by Mattel

If you’ve been with me for a good part of my decade long journey here on FFZ, you probably know that I went deep into Masters of the Universe Classics. I braved the horrors of a hundred ordering days. I dealt with site crashes and instant sell outs. I coughed up confiscatory shipping rates. And I have no regrets. It was all worth it. I have a beautiful MOTUC collection, which takes up a lot of space. I love these figures and I will die with these figures. But when they started with the Filmation versions, I declared that there was no way in hell I was doing it all over again with a brand new line. I drew my line in the Eternian sand and said I bought my last He-Mans. My willpower held. And when Super7 announced the Vintage style figures, I again held fast. Yeah, I bought a bunch of those Super7 ReAction figures, but that’s a story for another time. When Mattel re-launched the He-Mans yet again with Origins, I was confident my resolve would continue to be firm.

Hey, look! I bought new He-Mans figures! Well, there was only so much my willpower could take! So, here’s the thing. I never owned any MOTU figures as a kid. My parents were big into my investing in the toy lines I already collected. So, if I asked for a He-Man I would get, “Why don’t you get another GI JOE or Transformer and build up one of those collections?” It was sound advice, and to be fair my best friend at the time had everything MOTU put out, so I could always play with them over there. As a result, those old toys have something of a mystical attraction to me. It’s why I nearly caved and collected Super7’s vintage line, and it’s certainly why I gave in and started buying Origins. So what is this line all about? Well, it recreates the vintage figures with added articulation. Hense the tag line, Modern Posing, Retro Play! The figures come on vintage style cards, which are totally not collector friendly and meant to be torn open in the car while you’re driving home from the store. Yeah, just kidding about that. Don’t do that. You’ll crash and die. Let’s kick things off with He-Man!

Here’s the most powerful Man in the Universe and I think he looks great! He is not simply a copy of the vintage figure with added articulation, but he’s close enough to really invoke the feel of the originals. The body type is mostly unchanged with He-Man being as burly as ever, but now that he has working knees he isn’t stuck in that squat pose. As a result, the figure is ever so slightly taller than the originals, but really presented in the same scale. The sculpted muscles look great, and they should, because we’re going to be seeing them again and again in future figures. He still has the rubbery-plastic chest harness, which clips on in the back, and includes a loop so he can wear a weapon on his back. The rest of the outfit includes the sculpted belt and brown furry barbarian diaper, which looks nearly identical to the original figure. The boots have the sculpted wraps and fur fringe at the top, only now that fringe is painted yellow. He has sculpted wrist bracers to match his belt, which is probably the biggest departure from the old figure. In hand, I absolutely love the feel of this figure, the colors pop, the proportions are great, and it just begs to be played with.

The head sculpt is a merging of old and new. He has the angry barbarian expression, gritting his teeth as if he plans to dine on your entrails. It’s very unlike what I’ve become used to seeing as He-Man, but still very faithful to the original. The hair is a longer coif than he originally had, and it’s cast in a separate piece of plastic to give it some depth as it hangs down over his forehead and frames his face. I do kind of wish they had gone for a closer recreation of the vintage look, but that’s not to say I don’t dig this portrait, and I suppose it goes a long way to make this it’s own figure. I’m fine with that.

He-Man comes with the same weapons load out as he originally had. That includes one half of the Power Sword, a shield, and a double-bladed battle axe. The axe and shield are both fantastic. The shield actually has both a grab bar for He-Man to slide his hand through and a clip to attach it securely to his arm. The sword, It’s the sword that I have some mixed emotions about. They followed through on the old gimmick that he and Skeletor would each have half of the Power Sword and they could be pegged together. I think that’s a great concept, but it means that half the sword looks like crap. It would have been great if Mattel could have ponied up for a completely finished sword as well.

As for the articulation, He-Man is now loaded up with rotating hinges. He’s got them in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. He’s got swivels at the tops of his boots and his waist, and a ball joint in the neck. Plus, the jointing system is modular, so you can pull him apart and swap parts, at least that’s the theory, I don’t plan on trying it with my figures. The result is all the nostalgic aesthetics of the original toys with some added playability. It’s truly a match made in heaven! Let’s move on and check out Skeletor!

MYAHHHH!!! Just like the good old days, Skeletor makes use of the same basic buck as He-Man, with just a few obvious differences. The forearms lack He-Man’s wrist bracers, and the lower legs and feet are completely different. And that’s where that modular construction comes in handy for Hasbro and no doubt does a lot to help keep the cost of these figures down. The belt and barbarian diaper are still there, but partially concealed under the new belt and loin cloth that’s attached around the waist. Skeletor also has his iconic chest armor with attached shoulders, and the sculpted crossbones on the front. Like He-Man’s this attaches together in the back, but unlike He-Man’s it does not have a loop for his weapon. You can still, slide it into the straps and it works just fine. Overall, I think the figure looks great, the colors are vibrant, but his webbed feet are a tad small! And since the bodies are the same, we get the exact same articulation as we saw with He-Man.

As with He-Man, Mattel went in a new direction for the head sculpt, and therein lies the biggest bone I have to pick with Skeletor! I really would have liked something closer to the vintage head. I’m not hating this, but I’m just not loving it either. It looks so much more primitive than the original head, particularly the way the teeth are done. And I’m just not sure about those red eyes. This would be a great opportunity to do a running change. Or maybe give him a better head in a Battle Armor version, so I can swap it out.

Skeletor comes with two weapons, one of which is the half of the Power Sword, which I’ve really already discussed. It’s a great gimmick, it gave my buddy and I lots of play value as kids, with Skeletor trying to unite the two halves. But it makes for a f’ugly half of an accessory. It would have been so cool if Mattel could have included full versions of both swords in the package. But hey, I’ve already been over this.

The other accessory is his infamous Havok Staff, and this is a magnificent looking piece!. It’s molded in pretty stiff plastic and the detail on the ram’s head is great. I also dig how he can now hold it in both hands thanks to that added articulation!

In case you can’t tell, I’m absolutely in love with the idea behind this line, and at a $14.99 price point, Mattel has managed to keep these pretty inexpensive, especially when I’m used to paying $20 for Hasbro’s 6-inch figures and Deluxe Transformers. I was a more than a little concerned that these were made a Walmart Exclusive, and I still think that’s a bad idea, but I was surprised to find that even my shitty Walmart that never gets any good toys (INCLUDING THEIR OWN EXCLUSIVES!!!) actually stocked these, so I was able to get this pair as well as Prince Adam and the Sky Sled and Battle Cat too! Of course, these have all since sold out and no re-stocks have arrived since, but I’ve managed to pre-order the rest on the website, so hopefully that goes well. How deep will I go here? I’m trying to tell myself to stick to the core characters and not go All-In, but I think a lot of that will have to do with their availability. If I see a new MOTU Origins figure on the peg, it isn’t likely that I’m going to leave it there, but maybe I can keep myself from buying a bunch online. We’ll see! In the meantime, these two have been permanent residents of my desk and have been battling it out a little bit every day!

Transformers Siege: Starscream, Skywarp, and Thundercracker by Hasbro

It’s a fine testament to how far behind I am in my reviews that I just managed to assemble my trio of Decepticon Seekers from Transformers: Earthrise and I still haven’t reviewed the ones from Siege yet. This was a fact that came to light as I sat down to start writing the review of the newer figures. So, fair is fair. Today I’ll finally get around to taking a look at the three Decepticon Seekers from Siege! Of course, Siege features the Transformers in their original Cybertronian modes, and in this case the Seekers are based off of the Tetra Jet design that was introduced in the Sunbow cartoon and has since been more or less accepted as the official original alt forms of the Seekers. It’s a cool design, but since it was designed for a cartoon and without the restraints of practical toy design, these have been rather difficult to reproduce in action figure form. Hasbro approached something like it (but not really) with their figures based off the Fall of Cybertron figures. Third party designer Impossible Toys had a crack at it and managed to produce some really nice jet modes, but with some pretty janky robot modes. And here we are now back to Hasbro with something of a compromise.

And just to complicate things, the packaging and distribution of these figures varied. Starscream and Thundercracker were regular Voyager Class releases and as such they come in typical Siege style packaging. As always, these boxes look great, feature some amazing artwork and allow you to get a good look at the figure in robot mode before opening. Much to the chagrin of some collectors, Skywarp was offered later as an exclusive and has since been a bit tough to get a hold of at a reasonable price. He was also packaged differently, this time in boxed set called The Phantomstrike Squadron, and came with three little Weapon Masters figures. All three of the Seekers feature the exact same mold, except for some variations in the head, so let’s just take a look at Starscream’s alt mode first and then check out the different decos found on his comrades.

This is not a dead ringer for the Sunbow Tetrajet design and I’m not faulting Hasbro for that, because of the clear challenge that stems from working with the design. As we will soon see Hasbro clearly made some sacrifices to the jet mode to preserve the robot mode. Still, I’d say that this captures the spirit of that original Tetra Jet , and it’s likely as close as we’re going to get without interjecting insane Masterpiece levels of panel-shifting transformations. This design de-emphasizes equality of the jet’s four points by diminishing the wings and extending the snout, for lack of a better term. The result is something that evokes the basic design of the Colonial Viper from Battlestar Galactica more than the original Tetra Jet, especially with the three thrusters in the back, but I still dig it. It totally works for me as a Cybertron design in that it’s different enough to look like an alien vehicle, and yet it’s still similar to the Earth design that the Seekers later adopted.

On the downside, this alt mode is almost as much kibble as it is jet, with the bulk of the robot body hanging out in the undercarriage and the chest piece rather awkwardly on display from the back. The undercarriage junk doesn’t bother me so much. To be fair, the down-swept wings do conceal some of it and it does provide a nice platform for the jet to rest on. And because this is an alien design, who’s to say that’s not what it’s supposed to look like. Besides, Primus knows we’ve had plenty of regular jet modes over the years with as much robot undercarriage as these toys. But as much as I’ll defend that stuff, the chest piece on the back bugs me a lot, just because it’s so painfully obvious what it is, I’ve tried to tell myself that the two intake fans don’t look out of place there, and that the faked out cockpit could be some kind of generator, but it’s just impossible for me not see it for what it really is. Starscream also has a pair of guns that peg in under his wings.

Starscream’s coloring is similar to what we’re used to seeing on him in his Earth mode. The jet is mostly bare gray plastic with some red and blue painted trim. There’s also some darker gray around the cockpit and vents and the yellow cockpit looks great. He also has Decepticon emblems on each side near the back. The jet also includes Siege’s signature weathered look with some dirty markings scattered around the hull. It’s used sparingly here and I think it’s pretty effective. Finally, I have to compliment Hasbro on the detail in the panel lines on this toy. Siege has been all about they hyper-detail and that’s definitely still the case here. I just love how busy the sculpt is, especially on a design that’s relatively simple like this one. Let’s take a quick look at the decos for the other two Seekers!

No surprises here! Thundercracker remains true to form with his mostly blue colored plastic, and he shares the same red paint accents as Starscream has along the edges of his wings and near the sides of his cockpit. The cockpit frame itself is black, as is the blunt nose of the craft. He has the same yellow cockpit and Decepticon insignia, although his are a little muted against his the blue hull. Finally, Thundercrackers weathering is achieved through silver paint, which I think looks more like chipping and abrasions in his finish than Starscream’s dirt. It’s a bit over the top, but I don’t hate it. Like Starscream, I think the deco looks fantastic. Onward to Skywarp!

Skywarp adds the most color to the mix, making his deco a little atypical. His wing. Rather than being mostly black, it’s reserved for his wing area, with the snout of the jet being painted silver and the tip purple. You get more purple trim on the wings and around the sides near the yellow canopy, and more silver in the grills. It’s a striking deco that looks amazing, even if I’m used to seeing more black in my Skywarps. Like Thundercracker, SKywarp has a bunch of silver painted abrasions and wear, showing that he’s seen some action in his day.

OK, so now that we’ve checked out the alt modes, let’s turn back to Starscream and have a look at his robot mode!

Transforming these guys isn’t too bad, and there’s actually some pretty clever stuff going on, like the way the nose of the jet splits to become the familiar shoulder intakes. Indeed, the only gripe I have about the transformation is that the friction hinges that hold the chest piece on isn’t up to the task and I’ve yet to be able to transform Starscream without it falling off. The others are a little better, but it still probably pops off at least half of the time. Once transformed we get a very familiar G1 Seeker robot mode, which makes me appreciate the alt mode a lot more. I’m just all kinds of impressed they were able to get this robot mode out of that Tetra Jet. The proportions are great and even the articulation is solid and fun. Sure, we already know the cockpit chest is a feake-out, but I don’t have a problem with that. Indeed, my only real complaint here is that the unfinished side of the wings face forward, but Hasbro even tried to pretty them up by stamping Decepticon insignia on them and giving them a little painted trim. From behind he’s mostly a wall of wings, but a nicely finished one. Even his lower legs fill in!

The portrait is superb. I love the detail work that went into the “helmet,” the flashy silver paint used for the face, and the glaring red light-piping in the eyes. And once again, I have to call out how amazing all the panel lines are in the mold itself. Even the transparent cockpit in the chest features etched circuit-like patterns, and is flanked by those awesome looking fans. I also really dig how he’s got thrusters emerging from the middle of his feet, even though these aren’t really part of his Tetra Jet mode.

The deco continues to carry Starscream’s iconic colors, with more red and blue showing up in the robot mode. Some might argue that the weathering looks a little overdone here, and I’d be inclined to agree. It doesn’t ruin the figure for me at all, but I would have liked if they had toned it back on the legs a bit. I actually don’t mind the silver wear on his torso at all.

Starscream’s wing guns can be attached to the pegs in his shoulders or forearms. He can even hold them like regular guns if you want. There should be a configuration that pleases everyone, but I prefer them on the shoulders so he can aim them straight down his arm like he did in the Sunbow cartoon. In short, this is a great looking figure with some cool engineering and he’s loads of fun to play with. Let’s take a quick look at the other decos…

In robot mode, Thundercracker’s color scheme holds no surprises. He’s still mostly blue with some black trim and bare gray plastic making up the frame of his torso. The weathering here is all silver and he’s got a lot of it on his lower legs. I like to think that’s just Autobot blood that’s splashed all over him while he was kicking the shit out of one of them. Yeah, that got dark! G1 Thundercracker was the first Decepticon jet I owned as a kid, and the only one I had for a long while, so while his deco is probably the more boring of the three, he’ll always have a special place in my heart. So, other than the fact that this figure looks great, is there anything else to say?

Well, yeah. Thundercracker actually got his own unique portrait! The “helmet” is the same as on the other two figures, but Hasbro gave Thundercracker a big energon-eating grin. Or maybe it’s more of a smirk. Either way, I think it would have better suited Starscream, as he tended to have the most personality of the three. Curious that Hasbro decided to give it to Thundercracker.

And that brings us to Skywarp! While his deco stood out a bit in his Tetra Jet mode, as a robot everything falls more or less into place where I expected it. You basically take Thundercracker’s color palate and swap blue for black and black for purple. The only other real difference is that the fans in his chest are black as well. I’ve always been partial to Skywarp’s coloring, there’s nothing quite so striking as that sinister Decepticon blend of black and purple and it looks as great as ever here. Once again, there’s plenty of silver paint splattered around his lower legs, and I wouldn’t have minded if Hasbro held back on that a bit. And before we wrap things up, let’s take a look at Skywarp’s Weapon Masters!

Because why should Soundwave and Blaster be the only ones to have little robot pets? I’m not sure why Hasbro decided to give Skywarp these guys, but maybe it was just so they could get it to fit into a certain price point assortment. Either way these little guys from right to left are Fracas, Terror-Daxtyl, and Shrute. Each of these transform into a different weapon and each comes with some effect parts. And yes, I just realized that I didn’t take enough time to contemplate what a f’cking metal name Terror-Daxtyl really is. Sorry. I’ve been a little mixed on the Weapon Master figures. I like the idea of having little robots to interact with the bigger ones, but the weapons they turn into are often mixed bags. Let’s take a look…

Terror-Daxtyl transforms into an axe, which always brings me back to the eternal question: How much must it suck to be a robot that transforms into something you hit things with!?! It’s kind of a crazy idea, but he does make for a decent looking axe and the effect part is pretty impressive.

Both Fracas and Shrute transform into double-barrel blasters and while the molds are each different the engineering here is exactly the same. They’re a bit chunky but they work just fine. Shrute has a pair of bulbous yellow blast effects and Fracas has thinner blue electricity effect pieces.

Oh boy, I really dig these guys! I was perfectly content to keep the Fall of Cybertron versions as my Cybertronian Seekers, and while I still like those figures quite a bit, the Siege Seekers have quickly supplanted them and become my new favorites. Oh, there’s more than a few points worth picking at with these figures, particularly when it comes to the alt modes, but overall I think Hasbro made the necessary compromises in all the right places. We get some solid re-imaginings of the Tetra Jet designs while producing three superb robot modes, all of which manage to capture everything I love about the iconic G1 Seekers that I loved as a kid. It’ll be fun to do some side by side comparisons when I get around to looking at the Earthrise Seekers, and hopefully that won’t be too far off!

Marvel Comics: Domino (Exclusive) Premium Format by Sideshow

Yeah, another week of abbreviated content. I didn’t make it back on Wednesday because of real life craziness, but at least I did double up for Marvel Monday. And to make up for it a bit more, I’m tackling a big one to end off the week! Sideshow’s delectable quarter-scale Premium Format figures are the bane of my existence. They’re so big and expensive, and yet they’re so damn pretty. I shouldn’t buy them, but I always want to. I’ve only reviewed one of these beauties before, and that was the Batman Returns Catwoman I won from one of Sideshow’s contests about three years ago. Yup, people actually win those! Free is great, but as any good drug dealer knows, it’s that first free hit that hooks you. Since then I’ve picked up a few more but haven’t gotten around to reviewing them, mainly because it takes a lot of effort to gerry-rig my little photo stage to handle them. Anyway, I’d like to remedy that by starting to review some of these, and what better place to start than the one I got in this week! I’m like a kid on Christmas morning!

It’s Domino! A character that I’ve been in love with ever since lucky Neena Thurman first graced the pages of Marvel Comics. Hell, X-Force #11 from 1992 was one of the first comics I ever got CGC graded. When Sideshow solicited this one, I knew I had to have it, but not just because it’s Domino, but because the composition is so amazing. But I’m getting ahead of myself. As always the statue comes in a box massive enough to house the 20-inch tall statue and plenty of Styrofoam to protect it. The box is made up to look like a giant slot machine and has some cool touches, like X-Men stickers ripped off one side and the machine’s marquee branded after Domino herself. There’s a silver foil sticker on the bottom left corner of the front panel to denote that this one is a Sideshow Exclusive, limited to 1,000 pieces.

Inside the Styrofoam, it looks like something that’s been cocooned by spiders. As expected, there is some unwrapping and assembly required here, and this phase tends to be the most stressful of the un-boxing. Are all the parts going to be OK? Is everything going to fit together properly? In this case I’m happy to say, Yes and Yes. Assembly includes attaching the figure to the base with a key tab that protrudes from her butt. Next up, the hands (each holding a gun) gets attached and held by magnets. The slot machine arm keys into the side and attaches to the toe of Domino’s boot with a magnet, and finally the head attaches by magnet as well. When all is said and done, this is a very solid and pretty heavy piece all ready for display. I’ll also note here that there is no mixed-media in this figure, so the entire costume is part of the sculpt.

And what a display it is! Domino sits playfully on top of a leaning X-Men-themed slot machine with her legs crossed and one foot resting on the arm. She leans back to support herself with her right hand, still holding a pistol, while she draws the pistol in her left hand up near her neck and points it to the ceiling. I don’t think Sideshow has ever managed to have the base upstage the figure itself in one of these Premium Formats, this might be pretty close. In truth, they both just complicate each other tremendously well. I tend to waffle between preferring classic museum style poses and something more dynamic and action-y, but this one introduces a whole new ballgame. It’s wildly creative, it’s deliciously meta, and it understands the character so well.

Of course, this is a pretty modern look for Domino, which really just means that her traditional black cat suit is enhanced with a lot more detail and a more tactical look to it. And while we already have a Domino for the films and I wouldn’t take any of that away from the glorious Zazie Beetz, I do think that this version of Domino has a realistic quality to her, which would have worked fine for the big screen. The bulk of the suit is a delightful mix of black and blue, which comes out beautifully under the studio lights, and is enhanced with patches of exposed ribbed blue “material,” presumably to add a little flexibility. Again, it’s all sculpted, but I have no quarrel with the decision because the end results are quite spectacular. Everything from the zipper track to the stitch lines, and the subtle wrinkles here and there make for a very convincing garment, even if it is all polyresin.

The suit is covered with tactical gear, all held on by sculpted segmented belts. Her inventory includes all sorts of pouches, slots for extra magazines, empty shoulder holsters under each arm, and a futuristic looking gun strapped to her right thigh. The gun is a great example of all the detail that went into the sculpt. The hard-molded style holster is textured and features sculpted rivets that simulate holding it together. There’s a sculpted retaining strap locking the weapon into place and the weapon itself is just brimming with detail. The twin pistols in her hands enjoy all that same great attention to detail. The X-branded belt buckle breaks up the blues and blacks with a bright red glossy background.

The standard portrait is superb. Domino sports her trademark pixie cut and offers a sideways glance and a knowing smirk. It’s like she’s thinking, “My luck is going to hold out, but yours is about to change.” I love the pale coloring they used for her rather unusual skin tone and the iconic spot around her left eye is crisp. For that matter all the paint work on the face is sharp and crisp. The sculpt for her hair is intricate and almost looks like it’s layered. The hair color follows the same pattern as her suit, being black with some blue-purple highlights. The only thing that sucks about this portrait is that the Sideshow Exclusive comes with a second, and that’s going to make for some tough decisions…

The Exclusive head features longer hair, the left side of which is blowing off to the side a bit. The head is turned to face her gun and her lips are pursed. It looks fine just like this, but it’s intended to be displayed with the addition of one extra piece.

 

Add the smoke effect to the gun barrel and now she looks like she’s blowing the barrel of her pistol after having fired it. I love the way this turned out and it’s creating quite the conundrum on which look to go for. The pixie cut from the standard head is more Domino to me, but the Exclusive looks so good. Luckily they are easy to swap, so I may just wind up doing that every couple of weeks.

And that brings us to the base, which is usually not something I need to spend a lot of time on when discussing statues, but here’s the exception to that rule. This is just amazing from both a composition standpoint as well as execution. It offers an on the nose nod to Domino’s mutant power, but it has a lot of fun with it too.

Sideshow went above and beyond with the detail in the bullet-ridden one-armed bandit. It has a steel sheen to the sides and back and the sculpted bullet holes look quite realistic. The back of the unit has all the vents and bits that you would expect to find on something like this. The coloring on the upper and lower marquee are beautifully illustrated. It would have been cool if SIdeshow added some lights to this base, but I don’t think that’s something they ever do in the Premium Formats. I particularly love the bullet holes in the plastic screens that cover the top marquee and the rollers. The later of which look convincing enough that I’d swear I could pull the lever and watch them spin.

Finally, the Days of Future Cash slot-machine rests on top a pile of Deadpool-branded tokens with spent bullet casings peppered generously throughout. Under this pile of loot is a simple black circular base. Lift it up and you get a little Domino artwork along with the limitation of the statue. Mine is hand-numbered 208/1000.

It’s s funny thing buying these Premium Formats. I always go into the purchase with sweaty, nervous palms and yet I’ve yet to be disappointed with one of these pieces when they arrive. And that’s saying a lot because they sure ain’t cheap. At $585 ($570 for the regular edition), I fear these statues are creeping past my budget right when I’m starting to get into them. But it’s easy to see where the money went, as Domino makes for an impressive presence on the shelf, and I can’t find anything on the piece to even nitpick about. The sculpt, paint, and overall design came together so beautifully. I’m certainly glad I didn’t pass this one oup.