Transformers “Prime Wars Trilogy” Punch and Counterpunch by Hasbro

I’m supposed to be opening up another Terrorcon today, but then this fellow landed in my mailbox and I thought I’d bump him up to the front of the line. By 1987, I was 15 and I was already already getting out of buying Transformers. It was that strange time in my life where I felt I was too old to be buying toys to play with, and had yet to discover the joy of buying toys to collect them. As a result, a lot of the later and more gimmicky G1 releases passed me by. One of those was the very clever double agent known as Punch and Counterpunch. This character got a release a little while back thanks to a clever reuse of the the Classics Sideswipe-Sunstreaker mold, and now he’s getting a brand new, and all original, update thanks to this Amazon exclusive.

Exclusives often mean premium packaging, and that’s certainly the case here. Punch-Counterpunch comes in a collector friendly box with some bitchin’ artwork and a front flap that opens to reveal the figure through a window. He comes packaged in his robot mode as Punch with that weird Prime Armor Zodiac Wheel illustrated behind him on the tray. Before getting started, I should point out that this figure left the factory with a pretty serious QC issue, that being the shoulder joints assembled wrong. It doesn’t effect the figure in robot mode, but it does hinder the transformation. Thankfully, there’s a very helpful review on Amazon that explains how to do the fix. It’s quick and easy and doesn’t even require any tools. And with that behind us, let’s start with the auto mode!

Punch-Counterpunch is a snappy blue sportscar not too dissimilar from the original G1 toy only with all the curves and contours of a modern vehicle. I love the styling on this car and you get some nice sculpting in the form of hood vents as well as details to the front and back bumpers. The rear window is stickered silver, but the windshield and side windows are clear plastic, as are the headlamps. Some extra paint hits include the red wheels, silver vents just behind the front wheels, silver and black on the front grill, and red on the tail lights. The auto mode facilitates Punch-Counterpunch’s murky allegiances by forgoing any faction symbols.

There’s a peg port on the top of the car, so you can plug in his yellow gun, or you can attach the included Prime Armor. Using the Prime Armor isn’t my first choice, but I do like that they sculpted boosters on it. Moving on, let’s check out Punch!

Oh, man! Punch’s robot mode takes the squat and boxy G1 design and polishes it up to a fine shine. The proportions are great and the car kibble is neatly confined to being folded up into his lower legs or tucked off the back of his shoulders. He doesn’t have any actual feet per-say, but he stands fine and I don’t even mind the gaps that are in his legs below his knees. The sculpted detail on his chest looks great and really invokes the designs on the original toy. As for the coloring, the blue and yellow makes for a beautiful combo, and overall this update matches the deco of the original toy quite well, right down to the red hands and the silver and red paint hits on his upper legs. Gone is the original toy’s rub sign and instead, Punch proudly wears the Autobot insignia in the center of his chest.

From behind he looks pretty clean too, although here he’s displaying almost all blue, which is a little hint about his alter-ego. The two halves of the car front on his shoulders are more pronounced from this angle, but I don’t think they look bad at all. And because the backs of his legs are the fronts of Counterpunch’s legs, they look finished as well. All in all, this is a great looking robot, which is all the more impressive when you consider that he’s something of a Triple-Changer.

The head sculpt is also a very nice homage to that of the original figure’s noggin, albeit it’s a lot more stylized here. He still has the black top to his “helmet,” but the antenna are a lot more pronounced. His silver mouth plate looks great and he has a set of narrow aqua-colored eyes. The top portion of the “helmet” is hinged so that it reveals the eyes on this side of the head while obscuring the ones on the other. As a result, it does have a habit of flopping down sometimes, but it’s not a big deal.

Punch comes with a yellow pistol, which we already saw mounted on top of his car mode. It’s all yellow and matches his chest. I like the design of this thing and it has some nice sculpted detail going for it. I seem to recall the original toy having a double-barreled gun, so some of the purists out there may scoff at this design. So let’s transform Punch into Counterpunch and send him into Decepticon territory.

Changing Punch into Counterpunch is super easy. Punch’s back becomes Counterpunch’s front. Just re-position the shoulders so the front quarter-panels of the car are flared out, rotate out his fists so the blue ones are showing, and flip the “helmet” up on his head to reveal his eyes and cover Punch’s. Finally, you flip up the panel revealing his Decepticon insignia and he’s all ready to go. Just like Punch, Counterpunch is a fantastic update to the original G1 figure and there’s nothing going on here that would really suggest he’s hiding a completely different robot mode. The shoulders can get in the way of the arm articulation a bit, but they look great, especially with those red mag wheels facing front and center. I also love how they faked out his windshield on his chest while the real one is folded up into his legs.

While Punch’s deco featured a combination of blue and orange, Counterpunch is mostly blue, with just a bit of orange poking out. He’s also got some really nice purple paint on the panels of his lower legs. From behind, Counterpunch is just as clean as his counterpart. I also like to add the Prime Armor piece to his back because it’s sculpted to look like a jetpack, while also hiding a lot of the orange of Punch’s torso. It’s nice to finally have a use for one of these Prime Armor pieces, since the gimmick doesn’t do a lot for me.

Counterpunch’s head sculpt is pretty damn distinctive with a silver chin showing through his chunky armored blue face and a pair of red eyes peeping out from under his black “helmet.”

I think it would have been cool to get an extra gun for Counterpunch to use, but alas he has to make due with Punch’s yellow blaster. It seems like a bad idea, as it’s a pretty distinctive looking gun and I would think at some point one of the Decepticons would be in a battle and say, “Heeeeey, isn’t that Autobot using Counterpunch’s gun? And where the hell is Counterpunch anyway?” 

In addition to the Prime Armor piece, you also get a Prime Master named Prima. I like the silver and translucent blue deco on this little bot, but to be honest, if I’m not getting a Pretender Shell, than I really haven’t got a lot of use for these Prime Masters, other than maybe populating one of my Titan Class cities.

Despite not having a whole lot of attachment to the character, Punch-Counterpunch turned out to be a really amazing figure. The robot modes are engineered beautifully and with an equally great alt mode, it doesn’t feel like anything was sacrificed for this rather unique gimmick. Indeed, I’d dare say that I rank this figure among my top five or so recent Deluxes and that’s saying a lot! This release was an exclusive to Amazon and at $25, he was a bit more than your average Deluxe Class Transformer these days, but not so much so that it felt like I overpaid. Sure, the QC issue is inexcusable, but I’d be more critical of the shoulder problem if it weren’t so easy to fix. Currently, Punch-Counterpunch is sold out on Amazon, but they do have an option to notify interested buyers when he becomes available again.

Advertisements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marvel Gallery: Gwenpool (Unmasked) by Diamond Select

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marvel Legends: Mr. Fantastic by Hasbro

Welcome friends… It’s DC Friday and… oh. Sorry about that. Force of habit. DC Friday is still on hiatus and just to rub a little salt in the wound, I’m checking out a Marvel Legends figure on DC’s turf. I’m not trying to be a dick about the fact that DC doesn’t have a comparable action figure line, honest! If they did, DC Friday would still be going strong. As for today… well, I happened to find Mr. Fantastic while running into Walgreens for a frozen pizza and I really want to open him up without cutting into my already over-booked Marvel Monday slots. And like I said, it’s not like I have any new DC stuff to look at here yet. The DC Multiverse pegs in my area are all still full of the Wonder Woman movie wave. And unlike Marvel Legends, the recent DC Multiverse releases sell for scalper prices on Amazon. Maybe I’ll pick up one of the many DC statues on my want list, but for now let’s thank to Reed Richards for stretching his way in to save the day!

If you’re keeping score at home, Mr. Fantastic is the third member of Marvel’s First Family to get an exclusive Walgreens release in the Legends line, right behind Sue Storm and her brother Johnny. And now that we finally saw some production shots of The Thing, we know Hasbro and Walgreens are riding this one to the end. Unless, you wanna give us The Amazing Bag-Man, Hasbro, because I’ll happily take that figure too! To say I love The Fantastic Four would be an understatement of epic proportions. It’s one of a handful of comics that I’ve been reading since I was a kid, it’s one of my overall favorite Marvel Comics series of all time, and well… I miss it a lot. I’m misting up a little right now. These figures do help, though.

As far as the body goes, Reed is more or less exactly what I was expecting: A painted costume on a generic buck. That’s not a knock on the figure, as it fits the bill perfectly. The blue matches the shade used for Sue Storm pretty closely, but it might be a shade darker here. Naturally, you get black paint for the boots, gloves, and belt. The “4” emblem is printed neatly on his chest, and you get more black around the collar. There isn’t really any unique sculpting needed to make Reed stand out, and the costume looks… well… fantastic.

The head sculpt is also a winner. The definition in the facial features is very well done, his eyes are straight and sharp, and I really dig the one raised eyebrow suggesting that he was fascinated by something while doing the science. The sculpted hair features a few stray licks over his forehead and his trademark gray wings look spot on. My figure does have a birthmark just off to the side and below his left eye. It’s actually a flub in the paint, but I’m choosing to call it a birthmark, dammit! I think this is an all around excellent likeness to the character that I know and love. And sometimes hate to love. And other times love to hate.

The articulation holds few surprises for a modern Legends figure. The legs have ball joints in the hips, double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, as well as both hinges and rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, there are swivels in the biceps, and double hinges in the knees. The torso features a waste swivel as well as an ab crunch hinge. The hinge is placed a little awkwardly, and while I don’t think it would have worked on any other character, it gives Reed a very little bit of an elongated look that fits his special abilities. Lastly, he has both a hinge and ball joint in the neck.

Reed does come with one accessory and holy crap, it’s The Nullifier! I remember bitching about getting Phlish instead of The Nullifier back when Nova came out. Now I can’t remember why I was so hell bent on getting this little lump of gray plastic. But hey… Nullifier!

Of course, the big draw in the package are the swap out stretchy arms. When I heard that the FF were going to be Walgreens exclusives, I was really worried about Hasbro cheaping out on these and I honestly wasn’t expecting to get any stretchy parts with Reed. Oh boy, am I glad to be wrong on that one. The regular arms just pull right out at the shoulders and the stretchy arms pop right in, easy-peasy. They do have a bit of bend-ability to them, but nothing too crazy. They do, however, make the figure loads of fun. I bought every version of Reed that Hasbro put out in the 4-inch Marvel Universe line, but it’s so cool to finally get him with some stretchy parts.

Seeing just the three of the Fantastic Four assembled on my Legends shelf gives me the warm and fuzzies. It’s not lost on me how many things about these figures feels like a miracle. The fact that we’re getting toys at all with the comic having been cancelled is one thing, but actually getting them as Walgreens exclusives is also pretty crazy. But frankly, this whole Walgreens partnership has been working out wonderfully for me. I have some chance of finding Target Exclusives, almost no chance at Walmart Exclusives, zero chance at Toys R Us Exclusives, but I’ve never had a problem finding any of the Walgreens ones, and I don’t even have to hunt. Indeed, the one right around the corner has been a goldmine for all kinds of Marvel Legends waves.

Marvel Legends: Spider-Man and Mary Jane by Hasbro

I was really hoping to have time to bust out another Marvel Hot Toys review for this week’s Marvel Monday, but I got really busy with work and it didn’t pan out. So, let’s have a look at a stand-alone Marvel Legends set, I’ll try to hit the Hot Toys figure next Monday, and then we can dive into a new Wave. Sound good?

Oh boy, did I have a tough time getting this one at a decent price. I’m sure you’ve heard me say it over and over again, but there haven’t been any Toys R Us stores in my area for years, and as much as I’m into collecting, I don’t have the time or patience to drive an hour just to visit the nearest one. That puts me at the mercy of the InterWebs for my TRU Exclusives. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes not so much. I missed out on this one a bunch of times before finally scoring, and it’s been sitting around forever waiting to be reviewed. I won’t dwell on the packaging, because it’s a typical Legends boxed 2-pack. It’s collector friendly, it shows off the figures quite well, you get character art on the sides and a TRU Exclusive sticker on the window. Let’s just kick off with a look at Spider-Man!

If you pick up enough of these two-packs, you should be used to seeing some recycling. It’s just how Hasbro tends to cost out some of the figures that would might not otherwise make it to the pegs. In the case of this set, Spider-Man is a repaint of the Spidey from the Hobgoblin Wave. And that’s not a bad thing, because the Pizza Spidey body was an excellent figure and pretty well received by fans, so if you missed out, here’s a chance to at least get a variant of it. This version features one of Peter’s fairly modern tech suits, hence the blue-green glow that’s sprayed onto his chest symbol and the eyes, which really make this suit stand out as being unique.

Now, I’m not going to lie, having the glowy bits there doesn’t make this one of my favorite looks for ‘Ol Web Head, but it’s still a pretty cool variant to own. I really dig the coloring on this figure. The red and blue really pop and the black webbing is very well defined. The quality of the paint application is overall pretty good. There are some flubs here and there that are evident when you get in real close, but nothing stands out when I’m just looking at figure in hand. One of the common complaints with the previous release was that the pegs for the hinges aren’t painted to match the suit, and that’s still the case here. It’s not something that really bothers me.

In addition to the regular masked head, you also get the unmasked Peter Parker portrait. It’s a fantastic sculpt and definitely something that’s been on my Legends wish list for a while. Previously, we’ve had the half-unmasked head, and the Ultimate Parker head, but this noggin is a great little bonus and I’ll likely be either displaying it on this figure all the time, or perhaps picking up one of the Vintage Carded Spider-Man figures and using it on that one.

The articulation here is pretty fantastic, thanks in part to those lateral shoulder crunches. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, pegged hinges in the wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The torso features a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, and double hinges in the knees. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. Of course, you also get the usual selection of hands to go with the figure, including “thwippy” hands, splayed finger hands, and fists.  Let’s move on to Ms. Mary Jane…

As solid a figure as Spidey is, I have to imagine that Mary Jane is the real draw of this box for most collectors. That was definitely the case for me. With how many Spider-Man themed Legends waves we’ve had, it’s hard to believe it took this long to get MJ. She actually saw a 4-inch Marvel Universe release a few years back. While MJ has become anything but the classic Girl Next Door in the comics, Hasbro went back to her roots for a pretty conventional look here. Rather than going for the swanky nightclub owner, MJ is slumming it here in her simple jeans and black t-shirt, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The paint for the outfit is fairly simple, although there’s some nice variation in the blue to create that worn blue jeans look. The waist of the jeans does feature some sculpted detail, like the belt loops and the button. The ensemble is rounded out by a pair of simple painted black shoes. This is an example of a very minimal amount of sculpting working quite well to create a band new look.

The portrait here really elevates the figure. The paint applications for the lips, eyes, and eyebrows is all precise and crisp, and I like the additional of the freckles. The hair is also excellent, not only in terms of sculpt, but the paint, which starts our a vibrant red at the top and darkens as it gets down to her shoulders. Hasbro has come a long way when it comes to creating pretty female portraits, and MJ here is a great example of that.

Despite being a normie in the Marvel Universe, MJ still features some solid articulation. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The torso features a ball joint under the chest and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. MJ features a fist on her left arm and one of those spell-slinging hands on her right arm. I really would have liked to get an extra set of hands for this one, but I suppose I can still be content with what we got.

MJ comes with one accessory, and that’s her purse. Oddly enough, this is a recolor of the satchel that came with The Hobgoblin from the Space Venom Wave. It’s a clever re-use, although the shoulder strap does look a tad big and bulky on MJ’s slighter buck.

The retail for this set was $39.99, which is standard for these two-packs and right on target when you consider the individual figures are about $19.99 each. I probably would have let this one go if I hadn’t eventually found it at regular retail price, but I’m glad that I ended up finding it. The Spider-Man certainly wasn’t a must-have for me, but it’s a solid variant and a great looking figure. Plus, the unmasked Parker head really sells it. A comic-based Mary Jane, on the other hand, is a figure I’ve wanted in this scale for a long time, so she made it worth the purchase all on her own.

DC Multiverse (Steppenwolf Wave): Mera by Mattel

Welcome back, friends, to a second helping of Multiverse on this DC Friday. Christmas may not be until Monday, but around here every day is a good day to open toys! Earlier this morning I checked out the Justice League version of Aquaman and found him to be quite good! And now I’m spending tonight with his bride to be, Mera. That sounded creepy, what I meant to say is I’ll be reviewing her action figure. Despite a lot of fanfare about her casting, Mera was barely in the Justice League movie, but she sure has been playing a big part in the Aquaman Rebirth comic and I dig her a lot in it. Needless to say I was happy, albeit surprised, to see her get a DCEU release in this lineup.

I took the packaged shots when I thought I was going to review Aquaman and Mera together, but in the end I decided they each needed their own review. But here’s one more look at the figures in their window boxes. While it doesn’t state it anywhere on the box, Mera is actually an Amazon Exclusive. And while she doesn’t come with a Collect & Connect part for Steppenwolf, she does come with some extras to make up for that. There’s not much else to say about the packaging, other than for some reason Mera has more disclaimer information on the front of her box, and she has some lovely pictures of her from the movie on the front and side panels.

As good as Aquaman’s figure was, Mera is even better in every respect. In fact, Mera is so good, that she actually feels like she’s from an entirely different line. For starters, the detail on her sculpted armor is sharper and crisper than that of Arthur’s. The underlying emerald green suit is etched with fine lines and textures, all punctuated by golden interlacing lines. The mix of emerald and gold paint is rather stunning and when combined with the intricate patterns in the sculpt, the armor has a bit of a reptilian flavor to it. It really is quite simply a work of art on exhibit in a line that rarely seems to care.

The head sculpt is pretty solid. It’s certainly not a spot on likeness to the actress, but I can see a little something of her in there. I think the contours of her face feel more like stylized than realistic, and she looks a little too pouty, but overall I still like it a lot. She’s pretty and the skin tone for her face as well as neck and chest is extremely well done. The paint for the eyebrows and lips is fairly precise, although the eyes on mine aren’t perfectly straight, it’s something I didn’t really notice until taking some close up shots. It looks as if the hair may be sculpted in a separate piece, and the gold tiara is part of the hair sculpt.

And then we move on to what really floors me. Mera’s articulation is actually better than Aquaman’s. Considering how I’m used to seeing reduced articulation in my 6-inch ladies, this is a welcome treat. Mera features all the same points as Arthur, but adds thigh swivels and an ab crunch. The fact that Mattel was able to put an ab crunch in Mera and not compromise the sculpt or her shapely form, means there’s no excuse for Aquaman missing one. The same could be said for the thigh swivels as well. I can’t explain the decision making here, but I’m happy that Mera got the extra poseability.

Even when it comes to the the accessories, Mera offers more. For starters, she comes with an extra pair of hands sculpted with water effect parts. These look great and they’re a lot of fun to play around with.

And finally, she comes with this spear. Like Aquaman’s trident, it’s just a simple sculpt, and it’s cast in silver plastic with no paint applications. There’s a barb and a partial hook toward one end, giving it a little more of a harpoon vibe. It’s not bad, but it feels too basic to really feel like it belongs with such a great looking figure.

After going through a solid wave of Wonder Woman figures, I’m pleased to see that DC Multiverse looks to be continuing that streak. Aquaman was really good, but Mera here just blows me away for a figure in this line. It just goes to show that they can still bring the A-Game when they want to. But maybe it’s a little unfortunate that they wait to do it on a figure that’s an online exclusive and probably a more limited release. Mera’s price on Amazon has been fluctuating all over the place. I picked her up when she was around $15, but she’s dropped as low as $11 a few times this week. Either way, she’s well worth the money!

Marvel Legends: Medusa (Walgreens Exclusive) by Hasbro!

Hey, it’s one of those rare times on Marvel Monday when I’m between waves of Marvel Legends and I actually get to look at something other than Marvel Legends figures. So let’s look at a Marvel Legends figure! Because, thanks to Walgreens and their copious number of exclusives, I now have  Legends figures to interject between waves of Marvel Legends! MARVEL LEGENDS!!! These things are invading my home by the truckload, but don’t ever stop, Hasbro. Just keep them coming. Like sweet, sweet cocaine. You keep selling, I’ll keep buying. Also, today’s review is going to be super quick because I’ve been pretty much working non-stop all weekend.

Here’s Medusa in the package and it is appropriately branded for The Inhumans. I made a vow to get through this review without once mentioning how awful The Inhumans TV Series was. But seriously, did you see that mess? Holy shit! I’m so glad they cancelled a proper MCU-based movie for that steaming pile of garbage. Maybe Disney will let a few more phases go buy before they pretend the show never happened and green-light the movie again. Or now that they own The Fantastic Four, they can just work them into that movie. What? The toy? Oh yeah… Anyway, this is actually the first one of these exclusives that I’ve seen with a sticker denoting it as such. Is that a big deal? Not to me, because this package is about to get shredded into compost. Seriously, I’m an animal when I open these things.

From the neck down, Medusa is about as straightforward a figure as they come, as virtually her entire costume is achieved through paint, and not even much of that! You get the standard shapely female buck, cast in purple plastic with metallic purple paint applications for her boots, gloves, and the collar round her neck. She features the spell/power-casting hands, and the only original sculpting here is the belt that hangs on her hips. Now keep in mind, I’m not really complaining, the costume works perfectly for the character.

Of course, there’s plenty of new sculpting for the head, and that’s thanks to the cascade of hair that flows down her back. She’s got a pretty face with neatly painted eyes and lips. The metallic purple mask on mine is a little uneven, which is obvious on close ups, but it’s hard to tell with the figure in hand. The hair sculpt is especially well done, and that’s a good thing, since it is Medusa’s defining feature. There’s a lot of definition to the groups of strands, and I really dig the way it flows and swirls all the way to the ground.

Articulation here is the same as we’ve seen dozens of times over with this female buck. It includes rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs have ball jointed hips, double hinges in the knees, hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, and swivels in the thighs. There’s a ball joint under the chest and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. Obviously the mane of hair takes its toll on the neck articulation, but it mostly just restricts her from looking up. Some of the early pictures I saw of the figure worried me that she would always be looking down, but I’m happy to see that’s not the case it all.

It would be fair to say that I’m not blown away by this figure, but she’s certainly a fine treatment of the character. I’m not sure if Hasbro sold the idea to Walgreens back before the TV series hit, but whatever the case, it’s nice to get a solid comic version of Medusa, especially with Black Bolt following close on her heels as part of the MCU Black Panther wave. It’s a big plus too that these exclusives seem to be pretty easy to get. Indeed, the Walgreens around the corner always has plenty on the shelf. I may have to hunt down regular Legends releases, but these exclusives are never a problem.

DC Multiverse (Ares Wave): Wonder Woman by Mattel

Welcome back to another one-two punch of DC Friday content. It’s a strange thing to still be talking about a wave of Multiverse figures after wrapping up the Collect & Connect figure, but in this case, Toys R Us had two exclusive releases, which weren’t necessary to build Ares, but did give him some extra accessories. This morning, I had a look at Menalippe and this evening I’m checking out Wonder Woman.

As with Menalippe, there’s no specific TRU branding on the package, which is weird, because TRU loves to stick their foil Exclusive stickers on everything. The only other thing notable here is that this figure is added to the back of the box, where she wasn’t pictured on either of the four wide release versions. Makes sense. Target and Walmart don’t want packages advertising figures you can only get somewhere else.

And here she is, Wonder Woman in all her cloakless glory, and she is a damn nice figure. Yes, I still find it really odd that the cloaked version was the regular retail release and the more iconic one was an exclusive. This is mostly the same figure I looked at last week, obviously minus the cloak and with re-sculpted head and arms to remove the hood and sleeves. I don’t own the Superman V Batman WW figure, but I think it’s very likely that this is more or less the same one with a new (and better) head sculpt. I’m also all but certain that the Justice League version, which I have yet to open, will also be a repack.

The sculpting and paint on her outfit is fantastic. So much so, that it’s hard to believe this is a Multiverse figure. Yeah, I’ve said that about several figures in this wave, but it’s worth repeating here as well. Her outfit features sculpted lines, including some battle scarring, and a leather-like texture on the skirt. The gold, red, and blue all have a bit of a metallic sheen to them, and it’s great to see this outfit in all its vibrant glory and without it being shot through a depressing filter or overly saturated.

Her gold and silver bracers include some sculpted panel lines and she has brown wraps for her hands, while her red and gold boots feature sculpted straps and some more scrapes from battle. Everything about this costume really shines!

Except maybe the shoulder rigging, which I’m still very torn on, and is permanently attached to her back. It was a little less bothersome on the cloaked figure because it was partially concealed, and it looked less bulky with the big cloak over it. But here it does get in the way of my enjoyment of the outfit. At least it serves a purpose, with a pegged loop on the right hip for her lasso and an enclosed loop on her left hip for The Godkiller. I guess I just wish it fit the figure a little more snugly.

The head sculpt is also excellent. There’s definitely some Gal Gadot in there, but I’m willing to be forgiving because it is generally a very good looking portrait. She’s pretty, the paint is applied with precision, and her the detail in her hair is very well done. The fact that part of the hair is sculpted to spill over her right shoulder doesn’t even hinder the neck articulation as bad as I thought it might. As far as 6-inch scale portraits go, it’s not up to Hasbro’s MCU standards, but I’d say it’s better than some of the Star Wars Black Series in my collection.

Wonder Woman sports some excellent articulation, but nothing we really haven’t already seen in this wave. Her arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, and swivels in the wrists and elbows. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips, hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. The torso features a swivel in the waist and she has a ball joint in the neck. The only thing really missing would be some lateral rockers for those ankles.

Both the sword and lasso are the exact same accessories that came with Cloaked Wonder Woman, so I won’t spend much time on them here. The lasso is sculpted in a coiled configuration and the sword is still a great looking sculpt and nicely painted. It would be nice if Mattel would toss in a piece of gold string to double as an uncoiled lasso, but I suppose that shouldn’t be too hard for me to find.

The new accessory is the shield and it’s a fantastic piece. This is definitely the more ornate version that she had in her own movie, as opposed to the blander one she carried in Batman V Superman. It features some sculpted geometric patterns, which make it look more Art Deco than Greek to me, but I don’t care, because it just looks fabulous. The shield itself is dark gray with bronze paint on the sculpted lines. The back of the shield features two soft plastic straps, which slide over the figure’s arm. I couldn’t really get her to grip the second one, but it works just fine without it in her hand. And speaking of shields…

Wonder Woman comes with a shield for Ares too, and it is an absolute work of art. I mean, just look at this thing! It’s got some insane sculpted detail decorating the front and a beautiful silver-blue finish, which matches the painted parts of his armor. It works the same way as Wonder Woman’s shield, with two straps on the back that slide over his arm. I’m definitely going to have to give his flaming swords to another figure, because there’s just no way I’m not going to always display him with this shield and his sword.

While I’ve enjoyed this assortment from the beginning, I have to say that this particular figure is a total home run. It’s a great sculpt, beautifully painted, and she’s lots of fun to play with. The only downside here is that it really should have been the wider release instead of the cloaked one. There are no Toys R Us stores near here and I wasn’t able to get her through their website. Nope, I had to hunt her down through a secondary seller. I didn’t get beat up too badly on the price, as she was just a couple of bucks more than she would have been at retail. But even with that having been said, this Gal is worth hunting down. On the next couple of DC Fridays, I’m going to switch gears to some DC Collectibles figures and then I’ll come back to Mattel to check out their DC Multiverse Justice League movie figures.

Star Wars Black: First Order Stormtrooper (Amazon Exclusive) by Hasbro

While I’m saving my pile of 3 3/4-inch Star Wars toys for the week leading up to Episode Eight, I’m still trying to get through the rest of this stuff beforehand. And that’s not an easy feat, because it keeps rolling in. Today’s release reminded me how surprised I was to see that Hasbro didn’t reissue the First Order Stormtrooper as part of the 6-inch Black Series figures for The Last Jedi. Nope, instead we got a regular Stormtrooper and the Stormtrooper Executioner, which was OK, but nothing really special. Yes, there’s still plenty of time, but maybe it had something to do with Amazon offering this pretty cool exclusive version with a whole bunch of extra gear.

Behold, the Amazon Exclusive First Order Stormtrooper and his snazzy packaging! The box features a bowed front with pictures of three different flavors of Stormtroopers: Regular, Riot Control, and Heavy Gunner. Based on the size of the box, you might be inclined to believe that all three are in here, but nope. You get one Stormtrooper and all the gear to make any of the three you want. The back of the package features another piece of monochrome art with a closer look at everyone’s favorite space-faring thugs. The graphics are actually on a sleeve, which lifts off to reveal…

Some windows, which feature a very familiar Imperial pattern, and a First Order emblem. These are actually folded flaps secured by velcro, which open to reveal the figure on his tray, flanked by all his goodies. I don’t tend to save the packaging for my Black Series figures, but I think I’ll make an exception here. It looks so nice, it’s totally collector friendly, and it’ll give me a place to keep all this stuff. Let’s start off by looking at the regular Stormtrooper.

There aren’t a lot of surprises here, and despite a few minor differences in paint, he appears to be the same figure we’ve been getting all along. That’s not a bad thing, because this was always a pretty solid release. The plastic has a nice shiny finish to it, although the black paint could have been sharper in a few areas. I’m still surprised how I’ve taken to this design since it was first revealed. My first knee jerk reaction was that Disney shouldn’t have messed with such an iconic design, but it’s really grown on me over the last few years.

Articulation is identical to what we saw with previous First Order Stormies. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinged knees, swivels at the tops of the thighs, and the ankles feature both hinges and lateral rockers. The torso has a ball joint under the chest armor and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. I have no real issues with the points here, except for the elbows, where the sculpt doesn’t allow for enough of a bend. Some double hinges would have been nice there, but Hasbro seems to save those for the Marvel Legends and not the Black Series. I can’t imagine why, but I wish they would reconsider.

He comes with the same blaster and pistol that we saw with the regular release of this figure for The Force Awakens. Both weapons have a tab on the side, which can plug into the slot on his leg for storage. They’re both great sculpts and feature white and black decos to match the armor, and with a little silver trim on the scope. Before we move on to the rest of the gear, here’s a quick picture of him alongside the regular release Stormtrooper and the Riot Control Stormtrooper.

Which one is which? Don’t ask me. I’ve already mixed them all up. The biggest difference in the paint that I can see is on the belt. There’s a black dash painted on the box that is second to the left on two of them, but third to the left on the other. Let’s move on to the accessories and start by kitting him out as the Riot Control Stormtrooper

This guy, made famous in The Force Awakens by FN-2199, is equipped with his electrified baton and riot shield. The shield is basically the same one that came with the Riot Control Stormtrooper that was packed with Poe Dameron in his Resistance jacket. It features two soft straps, one to go around the forearm and the other can be grasped in the Stormie’s hand. It can take a little work to get him to hold it right, but once it’s in position it looks great. The baton, on the other hand is a new sculpt and where the previous one was just a static piece, this one has articulated tongs that can be turned around to make it look like it’s activated. I was pleasantly surprised that they produced an entirely new piece for this set. Now let’s go for the Heavy Gunner!

Oh boy, do I love the way this guy looks. The equipment includes a heavy artillery vest, which fastens around his torso and fits the figure perfectly. There’s also an ammo pouch, which you can clip to the vest, and a backpack that plugs into a peg on the back of the vest’s straps. Of course, he isn’t a Heavy Gunner without a big gun, so you also get his Mega-Blaster.

This is a pretty damn big gun with the same white and black deco as the smaller weapons. It also has a hinged grab-bar on the side. I love the look of this thing, but I do wish he could hold it better. His right hand seems to be sculpted pretty well for it, but it’s so bulky that it’s hard to get it into the crook of his arm. It also doesn’t help that the figure doesn’t have a lot of range of motion in those elbows. Now, I’m not saying he can’t hold it. I’ve been able to get some pretty good poses of him ready for action, but it isn’t as comfy a fit as I would have liked. Fortunately, he really doesn’t have to hold it…

Because it comes with this mount and stability bar, both of which peg into the bottom of the weapon. OK, so if we’re to assume the Hot Toys version is accurate, the stand is actually supposed to fold up under the gun when it’s not in use, but I can forgive Hasbro for going this route for the 6-inch figure.

You also get one final piece of equipment, and that’s a pair of binoculars. These are surprisingly nice, with a very detailed sculpt and a hinge that lets them fold up in the middle. Unfortunately, it’s pretty tough to get him to hold them like he’s using them.

If you can’t tell, I’m very pleased with this set. I’m always happy to add another Stormtrooper to my collection, and the versatility that comes with swapping out all this gear makes this figure a lot of fun. It’s even more fun if you already own a few First Order Stormies to borrow some of the gear. The Amazon Exclusive Stormtrooper retails at about $35. I’m OK with that price, but if you break it down the extra $15 seems a little steep, even with all these accessories in the package. At least you do get some nice premium packaging to store it all in and to date, this is the only way to get a Heavy Gunner Stormtrooper in the 6-inch Scale.

Star Wars Toybox: Rey by Disney

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

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

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

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

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

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

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