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.

Marvel Legends: The Punisher War Machine by Hasbro

I was going to keep pressing on with the Wendigo Wave this week, and I probably still will next Marvel Monday, but for today I decided to take this detour and have a look at another one-off Exclusive. It’s Frank Castle wearing the Punisher-branded War Machine armor! I want to say this one was exclusive to Gamestop, but I grabbed it off of Amazon, so I wasn’t really paying attention. It’s a figure that I was not going to go crazy hunting down, but when it popped up in my recommendations at just a few bucks over retail, I took a bite.

The package is pretty much the same old stuff, but I particularly love the deco on this one. The art on the side panels looks great and the War Machine logo on the bottom front panel with The Punisher spray painted over it is just plain awesome. There’s not much of a blurb on the back, but the figure references The Punisher #218-220 where he adopted the War machine armor after Rhodey was killed in Civil War II. As a concept in the comics, the idea really tickled me, and as a device to sell a repaint of a figure, well it works for that too. But in all honesty, I don’t think you even need to be familiar with the circumstances to get a kick out of this one.

And yes, this is a repaint, but a repaint of one of the few Marvel Legends figures I don’t own. Yeah, I was shocked too, but apparently War Machine Mk III came in a two-pack with that garishly colored “Disco” Iron Man and I couldn’t see clear to dropping $40 on it. Hey, looks like sometimes I do exercise self control. Go me! Anyway, at least that means this figure is new to me, and it turns out that it’s pretty damn good! The Mark III armor looks a lot beefier than the previous Legends War Machine from the Hulkbuster Wave and I dig that. The bulk of the figure is cast in a dark gray with a little speckling to give it a pretty convincing metal look. Indeed, both the sculpt and coloring of the plastic conspire to make this figure look heavier and more substantial than it actually is… a lot like armor! Some basic paint apps on the body include silver brushed weathering, which looks quite effective, some silver accents, and bright blue paint hits to signify the blasters on his gauntlets. And then you’ve got the new stuff for The Punisher deco!

Yeah, this stuff looks great! It not only includes his iconic skull emblem on the chest, but also some kill counts in the form of tiny Punisher logos. He also retains the “000” on the right bicep. The head hasn’t changed as much, retaining the silver face plate and blue eyes. On the downside, repainting an MCU suit means that this guy doesn’t quite match the suit we saw in the comics, which had more of an organic design to it, particularly in the legs. But when the end result looks this good, I can live with that.

The figure comes with a fair number of accessories to mix and match. First off, he has twin machine guns, which can tab in under his forearms with hinged drop-down magazines. These can also be stored by tabbing them into his hips. Instead of popping out of the armor, I presume he just touches his forearms to his hips and they attach and equip. It’s a cool concept, but I’m not really in love with the designs of these things. They barely look like guns at all.

There are notches behind his shoulders for his other accessories, the shoulder cannon and the baton. There’s a cannon barrel that plugs in on the left shoulder to make it look like the cannon is retracted and just pointing up, while the right shoulder takes a piece that looks like the hilt of his baton where it is supposed to be stored.

By replacing the left shoulder piece with the fully articulated cannon, it can look like it’s been deployed for action. The cannon features a bright blue paint app on the edge of the barrel and it can rotate left and right.

As for the baton, you just pull out the partial baton piece and use the full one in either of his hands. Yes, there are two accessory-holding hands to replace the fists. The baton may seem silly when considering the awesome arsenal of the War Machine armor, but I like it. It’s one of Punisher’s trademarks and it’s addition helps drive home that this is indeed Frank Castle in the suit.

And just to try it out, the Castle head from my Retro Wave Punisher does fit, sort of. It doesn’t actually lock down and secure, but it looks fine balanced on that ball joint if you’re going for an unmasked look. I think it works great.

For a figure that I was content to skip, I found this one to be a really pleasant surprise. Maybe a lot of that has to do with the fact that I don’t own the original War Machine version of this sculpt, but I also think that it’s just a great idea and a fun figure, regardless. Sure, a few of the attachments could have used some refinement, but now I’m just nitpicking. Indeed, I like this figure so much, I may just circle back and pick up that original one in the two-pack.

Marvel Legends: Emma Frost (Walgreens Exclusive) by Hasbro

Folks, I’m really trying to get back to a regular three-post rotation for content each week, but it hasn’t been easy. I almost had it last week, but stuff came up and I just didn’t have the time. Maybe this week will be different. In the meantime, it’s another Monday, and that means time to open another Marvel Legends. And today I am once again forgoing random chance and taking a look at a figure that was just pitched at my porch by an Amazon delivery driver. It’s the Walgreens Exclusive Emma Frost!

No, that’s no mistake. I had to go to Amazon to get this figure, which is unusual because my Walgreens has been pretty good at getting their exclusives on the shelves. I’m not sure if I missed this one, or just didn’t get lucky, but when I saw her turn up on Amazon at a sort of reasonable price, I gave up on my luck changing and jumped at the chance. Hasbro’s last crack at Frost wasn’t exactly a 10 out of 10, but I still would have been happy to have found her at a price that wouldn’t have prohibited me eating for a week.

And yes, this new release is sort of a consolation prize, because she isn’t Emma in her traditional white costume. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Dark Reign, and I can’t deny the appeal of the black costume, but seeing as how this is currently my only Emma Frost on my Legends shelf, it’s not the iconic look I would have preferred. In terms of sculpting, this is one of those figures that relies heavily on paint to create the costume. Her black one-piece is all paint, with skin-tone recreating the split down the middle. Likewise, her sleeves are painted to be cropped short, and even her thigh-high stockings are painted with some gray lines running across them. She has high-heels, which I’m sure we’ve seen before, and there are separate pieces that hang around her wrists and ankles to create the illusion of the tops of her boots and gloves.

From the neck down the only other new stuff we get is a wide belt, a pair of shoulder armor, and her jacket-cape-thingy. I do really dig the slight billowing effect of her cape, and the sculpted stitch lines are a great touch. She also features red branded X’s on her shoulders, which I don’t really remember from the art, but I like them all the same. With that having been said, everything looks pretty good, although there’s fair amount of black paint spray around her chest. At least the silver buckle and eyelets on her belt are neatly painted.

The head sculpt here is absolutely fantastic. She’s very pretty and the paintwork is a heck of a lot more crisp and clean than some of those lines on her costume. The metallic blue lipstick is a nice touch too. The blonde hair is sculpted as a separate piece of plastic, which gives it that lovely degree of depth. It partially hides her right ear and the left side of her face.

The articulation here follows the usual Legends gal pattern. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows. The wrists are on rotating pins, allowing you to swap the hands between fists and the open magic-casting hands we’ve seen plenty of times before. The legs have ball jointed hips, double-hinges in the knees, swivels at the tops of her stockings, and ankles with both hinges and lateral rockers. And yes, it is a royal paint in the butt to get her to stand with those heels, but hey who needs practical when they look that good, eh? Finally, Emma has a ball joint under her chest and a hinged ball joint in her neck.

And in case you thought I forgot, Emma does come with a second head sculpt featuring her shorter cropped hair and metallic red lipstick. It’s every bit as good as the other head, possibly even a tad better, but you know what? It’s also like a big F*CK YOU to me, because now I have a perfectly iconic Emma Frost head without an iconic body to put it on.

Does it sound like I’m a little angry at this figure? Eh, I’m really not. It’s a great looking figure and certainly not a bad addition to my Legends line-up, but it isn’t the Emma Frost I wanted. Hell, I don’t even have any Dark X-Men to display her with on the shelf. Hey, Hasbro! There’s a great idea for an Amazon Exclusive. Do a Dark X-Men six-pack like you did with A-Force and Alpha-Flight to go along with this Emma. Hell, most of them would just be repaints anyway, and dopes like me will buy it. Anyway, Consolation Prize Emma set me back $28 on Amazon with that lovely free Prime shipping. So, yeah, I had to pay a premium for her, but at least I didn’t get too beaten up. Now if only Danni Moonstar would drop a couple of bucks, I’d bite the bullet and pick her up as well.

Marvel Legends: The Grandmaster and The Collector by Hasbro

In addition to the non-stop torrential rush of Marvel Legends waves, Hasbro has also been cranking up the multi-pack releases. And I’m just talking the normal retail stuff. To make matters even more challenging for the collectors’ wallets,  they’ve also included a lavishly packaged two-pack for SDCC this year. Pulled straight from the MCU flicks Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor: Ragnarok comes The Collector and The Grandmaster!

The snazzy packaging looks like a drum with windows on each side to show the figures. It actually opens up too, so both figures can be displayed side-by-side in half-tubes. Flip it around and you get the poster art from each flick on the back panels. This is some really nice packaging, but mine was fairly worn even by the time it got to me, and I don’t think it’s going to be easy to store, so I’ll likely be getting rid of it, like I do most of my Legends packaging. Let’s start with The Grandmaster first!

Grandmaster is sort of the non-essential figure here, since he was issued at retail with a different head, and in a two-pack with Korg, a set that still sits unopened on my Pile of Shame. I will get around to it eventually, but this will be my first experience with the Grandmaster figure. Let me say straightaway, that while this is a great looking figure, it isn’t all that much fun to play around with. A lot of that has to do with his lavish golden robe, which is sculpted in soft plastic, is fairly form-fitting, and thereby limits the articulation in the legs and torso quite a bit. This might have been a really good time to try some soft-goods, especially since Hasbro recently cranked out a golden cloth robe for a certain guy over in the Star Wars Black Series department. Indeed, pretty soon I’ll be checking out a Black Series figure with some outstanding cloth robes! Now that I think of it, cloth robes would have been a great idea for this particular SDCC release, to further set it apart from the retail figure. Now, with all that having been said, the robe still looks nice, it’s sculpted with a faint texture, and it pegs together right where the sculpted red belt is meant to be tied. I also really dig how it bunches up on the floor behind him.

Under the plastic robe, he dons a pair of leisure pants, which have an otherworldly purple-platinum sheen and a long sleeve shirt, which is blue and red with a wide red cummerbund worn at the waist. His eccentric outfit is finished off with a pair of funky gold sandals. Grandmaster sports a sculpted ring on his right hand, and painted-blue nail polish on his fingers and toes.

The Jeff Goldblum likeness is pretty solid, especially from certain angles. As mentioned earlier, the head sculpt is the primary exclusive thing about this figure. Here he’s smiling, whereas the retail version has a more neutral expression. Your personal preferences may vary, but I really dig this portrait and I think it captures a lot of the madcap personality of the character. As usual the half-tone printing for the facial features does a fine job for the detail in the eyes and mouth.

The Grandmaster comes with a couple of cool accessories. The first is his infamous Melt Stick, which is cast in gold plastic and can be held in his right hand and cradled in the left. This is a simple, but fun accessory, providing you aren’t the one being melted by it.

The second accessory is the pile of melted goo. Is it supposed to be Carlo? That I’m not sure, but I kind of hope it is. Yeah, it’s just a lump of plastic bubbles, but fun nonetheless. Let’s move on to Grandmaster’s brother, The Collector!

Taneleer Tivan is the true exclusive figure of the set, as for now he has not been made available at regular retail. He’s also one of the MCU characters that has been most sorely missing from my collection. Benicio Del Toro’s weirdly eccentric performance fit Guardians of the Galaxy like a glove and made The Collector, even with his brief screen time, a truly memorable character. And Hasbro sure did a nice job with this figure. The outfit includes some great detail in the sculpt, particularly in the torso, where the texture and patchwork nature pays homage to a 19th Century waistcoat, complete with strings of sculpted beads reminiscent of the chains on a fob watch. His sculpted furry cape pegs into the back and is worn over the shoulders and plunges behind his neck. I think the sculpted sleeve on the left arm is supposed to be part of the cape, as the speckled pattern matches the interior of the cape. You can take off the cape, but it looks kind of funny since the sleeve remains.

As with his brother, The Collector’s portrait turned out great. It’s a fine likeness for Del Toro and I particularly love the high hair, which is again sculpted as a separate piece from the head. You also get a second head sculpt with The Collector wearing his special goggles.

One final accessory in the box is The Orb that housed The Infinity Stone of Power. It’s a simple little ball packed with a lot of tiny detail. The only downside here is The Collector’s hands really aren’t designed to hold it all that well. I can make it work, but it’s a careful balancing act. It might have been better to give him an extra hand with The Orb sculpted into it, or an extra hand with a peg in the palm and a peg-hole on The Orb.

It may irk some to have to buy a second Grandmaster just to get their hands on The Collector, but I get how the business works and sometimes Hasbro has to get some extra money out of a figure in order to make producing another one more cost effective. Truth be told, I would have much rather had The Collector in a box with some of his menagerie, similar to what Hasbro did in the 3 3/4-inch scale for another SDCC Exclusive. Maybe throw in Cosmo and Carina. I would have paid extra for that. But I’m still really pleased they finally got this figure out and that it was pretty easy to get off of Pulse. Maybe not essential for all Legends collectors, but to me that’s what Exclusives should be all about.

Fallout: Vault Girl Statue by ThinkGeek

Fallout and I parted ways with the release of Fallout 76, but at least I can always relive my glory days with the franchise, whether it be on Steam with the PC originals, or on the consoles with the newer games. And that brings me to ThinkGeek, which has been turning out some Fallout statues as part of their Modern Icons series. Last year I had a look at their very cool Nuka Cola Pin-up statue and I was so happy with it, I pre-ordered their Vault Girl. Well, she’s been out a while, and sitting on my Pile of Shame, so let’s get her open and check her out.

This roughly 1/10 Scale “limited” PVC statue comes in a fully enclosed box with an outer sleeve to protect it. The art is pretty nice, including some great concept art for the Vault Girl herself, and a blueprint-style background. Inside the box, the statue comes fully assembled between two clear plastic trays.

And here she is, looking… OK. I dig the composition quite a bit. Vault Girl is posing with her sledge hammer on her shoulder, her left arm reaching out with a thumbs up, while she offers a cheesecake wink and a grin. Despite her wearing the classic blue Vault-Tec jumpsuit, it’s form-fitting enough to show off her curves and add some sex appeal. The back of her suit shows that she’s from Vault 111, making this a Fallout 4 statue, as the protagonist from that game was revived from cryogenic sleep in Vault 111.

What I’m not as keen over is the quality of the paint. The shades of bright blue and yellow are well chosen, but pretty much all the yellow suffers from the darker base bleeding through. I guess you could argue it looks dirty and everything is dirty in the Fallout world, but I’m positive that’s not what they were going for here. There are also some splotches of gloss on the blue of the jumpsuit, which I presume is from spilled glue or primer. The skin-tone is all flat and lifeless, and shows scratching here and there. The boots are matte black and they did provide some black shading over the blue suit to give it some texture.

They did a nice job recreating the Custom Super Sledge, a rocket-propelled sledge hammer perfect for knocking down those Feral Ghouls and Rad Scorpions. The paint and detail are both solid and it looks like it came straight out of the game. It’s definitely one of the higher points of Vault Girls ensemble.

The portrait is a huge let down. I think a big part of that is a combination of the awkward wink and smile. Instead of cute, she just comes across to me as creepy. The paint isn’t particularly sloppy, maybe a little uneven around the lips, but it’s all so flat, particularly in that one open eye. It completely lacks the depth and charm of the previous statue’s portrait, and that’s a real shame.

I do think that the Pipboy turned out pretty nice. Considering how small it is, they were still able to get some details into the nobs and vents and other little details. It’s given a silver wash to make it look worn and weathered and the screen has a green monochrome image of the Vault Boy himself returning Vault Girl’s thumbs up.

The base is pretty fantastic. It’s a simple circular platform, with the vault gear icon encircling the number 111. Yeah, it looks like it reads 11, but I’m assuming her foot is on the middle 1. There’s some beautiful weathering here, which looks rather beyond what the rest of the statues coloring offers. As I mentioned at the beginning, this is a “limited edition” piece, and that much is stated on the bottom of the base. But similar to Nuka-Girl, there’s no statement of limitation and the piece isn’t numbered.

Ultimately, there’s some good things here and some not so good, but I think it’s safe to say I’m disappointed with this one. Every little thing about it feels like a major step down from Nuka-Girl. Specific call outs include the sub-par paint and a portrait that is certainly nothing to brag about. It’s kind of ironic that I got the better one on sale at $25, and pre-ordered this one at $45. Sure, it qualifies as a budget statue, but that’s still about five bucks more than Diamond Select charges for their Gallery statues, and those have been superior to this one in every way. And so much like me and the Fallout franchise, I think it’s time for ThinkGeek’s Modern Icons and I to part ways. This one is probably going back in her box, but at least I’ll always have Nuka-Girl!

Star Wars Black: Imperial Jumptrooper by Hasbro

Gamestop is not a company that I enjoy doing business with, and that’s a rant for another time. But even I have to get off my high horse for a $5 action figure clearance sale. Yes, even though I know full well that they’re going to take my order then cancel most of it later when they find they didn’t have enough inventory to fill it all. I’m convinced that it’s all just a big come-on to get you on the site to maybe buy a few things at full price. In this case, I ordered about ten figures, and four of the ten were cancelled with the excuse “Item not available.” And a 60% success rate is a lot better than I usually do at these sales. But still, it’s a pretty shitty way to run a business. One of the figures I ordered that actually got fulfilled was the Imperial Jumptrooper, so let’s check him out today!

This guy was supposedly a Gamestop Exclusive, although there’s no indication of that on the package. You can, however, tell it was exclusive to somewhere because there’s no number on the side panel. I had little hope of ever finding this guy in the store, since I try to avoid going in there, and when I do I find it to be pretty terribly stocked. Nonetheless, this wasn’t a figure that I wanted badly enough to go on their site and pay full price plus shipping. My last experience with the Jumptroopers was the 3 3/4-inch figures that were tied to the Force Unleashed game. Those were pretty cool. This one isn’t the same design, but rather it’s based on the look from Star Wars: Rebels. And I guess the older ones aren’t even official canon anymore, but screw that. I have proof it existed! You can’t take away my figures, Disney!!!

Unlike the previous Jumptrooper, this one features a heavy reuse of the regular Imperial Stormtrooper armor. Indeed, most of the body is just recycled from the Black Series Stormtrooper. The big differences include the elongated shoulder pauldrons, and the new helmet. This one also has unpainted lateral hinges in the ankles. Boo! I’m a big fan of the Black Series Stormtrooper, and most everything I dig about that figure can be said about this guy as well. The articulation is solid, albeit appropriately limited for a guy wearing armor. The sculpting is pretty convincing as pieces of armor over an underlying black bodysuit, at least it is for this scale, and the functional holster is a very welcome treat. The orange paint on the left pauldron adds a splash of color to the armor and includes an Imperial insignia stamped on it, as well as the right shoulder.

You can’t have a Jumptrooper without a jetpack, and to be honest, I find this one to be a little understated. I mean, in fairness I guess Boba Fett’s wasn’t that big either. This one has a tank on the top, which I presume is for oxygen, as it has two hoses leading from it and going into the helmet. The pack is mostly white and has minimalist detail, which I guess matches the design of the armor pretty well. The pack itself attaches to the figure simply by pegging into the back, and features a little red and black paint, including some scorch marks around the jet exhaust ports.

The new helmet instantly reminds me of some of the Imperial pilot helmets, like the TIE Pilot or the AT-AT Driver. It still retains a lot of the regular Stormtrooper helmet features, but here the eyes are a continuous visor, the breather tubes protrude from the front, and there’s a crest running up the top of the helmet. The side vents are neatly painted blue, and you get some gray and orange paint on the top. It’s a pretty cool variant that incorporates a number of different Imperial design tropes.

While he may be a specialist, the Jumptroooper still comes with the regular old E-11 Blaster. It’s an excellent sculpt, albeit the plastic is rather soft. Rather than just cast in black plastic, it has a bit of a gunmetal finish to it. He can hold it in his right hand, and it fits into the holster quite well. I don’t mind so much getting this weapon included, as it is the mainstay of the Imperial army, but I still feel like these elites should have been given some kind of special weapon as well.

There is a figure stand included, and this was a big disappointment, mainly because I expected it to be something it wasn’t. As a figure stand itself, it’s perfectly functional. The foot slips into it, and it does a decent job holding him up. I probably wouldn’t mind having a pack of these to prevent some of those action-figure-avalanches in my displays. But when I saw this in the package, I assumed it was going to be some kind of flight stand, with a second piece concealed at the bottom of the box. Obviously, that wasn’t the case and so it feels like a major missed opportunity here.

And as a jetpack trooper, this guy is a little underwhelming to play around with. The regular Stormtrooper armor makes him not terribly agile for those flying poses, which makes me think that maybe Jumptroopers should have more unique armor designed for them to maneuver in the air. Another big missed opportunity here is the lack of any jet blast effect parts to draw attention to that jetpack and really make him look like he’s blasting into action.

Does it sound like I’m down on this figure? Well, maybe. To be honest, I liked the design of the Force Unleashed Jumptrooper a lot better than this one, and I’m kind of sad to know that we’ll never get that one in the 6-inch Black Series. This figure is perfectly serviceable, but it also feels rather lazy. Sure, a lot of that has to do with the design from the show and it isn’t the figure’s fault, but there are also too many missed opportunities for extras. I suppose it’s a good Exclusive release, because I wouldn’t have felt left out if I was never able to get him. As a $5 clearance figure, I’m perfectly happy to have him, but ultimately I am coming away very underwhelmed by this guy.