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 (Sugar Man Wave): Dark Beast and Sugar Man Build-A-Figure by Hasbro

Well, it was a bit of a reach but I managed to get through an entire wave of double-features! And that brings me to the final packaged figure in this Age of Apocalypse themed assortment… Dark Beast! So let’s have a look at him and then we’ll put together the Suger Man Build-A-Figure and put this awesome assortment to bed!

Here’s one final shot of the packaging with that wonderful David Nakayama character art on the side panels. Dark Beast is a big boi and so despite Sugar Man being made up of an unprecedented number of pieces, Beast still doesn’t come with a BAF part. He does, however come with Sugar Man’s hammer. OK, I guess that’s kind of a BAF part.

Beast is probably my favorite alternate-timeline character from Age of Apocalypse. Missing out on Xavier’s kind teachings, he lives up to his name by leading horrific experiments in the name of Apocalypse! He’s almost the complete opposite of the McCoy we all know and love, possessing all of his intelligence and none of his ethics and nobility, and that makes him all the more terrifying to me. If you were expecting a straight repaint of the Beast body from the Caliban Wave, prepare to be a little surprised, as this figure represents Beast after he got rejuvenated by Mr. Sinister and given some new legs. So the pelvis and the legs down to the swivel cut below the knees are segmented cybernetic legs and the rest of the body is borrowed from the previous Beast. You even get the extra hands too! The coloring is all around fantastic. Beast’s body is dark gray with a black wash to bring out some of that wonderfully sculpted hair and texture. Meanwhile the legs have a deep metallic blue sheen.

The other dramatic difference here is the new head sculpt, which is both awesome and bad-ass. He looks to be every bit of the bastard that he is. Complete with a sadistic grin, and a coif that would make Logan proud! He also has braided bands on his hair and some rings in his pointed ears, which frame his face and make him look a lot more savage. This head sculpt alone has rocketed Dark Beast up to my favorite figure in this wave. Sorry, Weapon-X and Jean, you guy shave been overthrown. At least you got to bask in the glory of being my favorites for a week.

Despite some new parts in the legs, the articulation here is identical to the previous Beast, so I won’t go into details, other than to point out that with the shoulder crunches and the hinges in the feet, he’s one of the most articulated figures we’ve seen in Legends since the Toy Biz days. He’s just loads of fun to play around with and the extra fist and flat hand-stand hand add a lot of possibilities. And with all seven of the packaged figures out of the way, that brings us to this guy…

That’s it. That’s the review. They should have sent a poet, because I have no words… but I’ll try. It’s no secret that I love the Build-A-Figures, and there have been some truly spectacular ones going all the way back to Terrax. But they don’t often get character designs this imaginative to work with. I honestly don’t know what’s more impressive, the amazing work that Hasbro put into Sugar Man, or the fact that he exists at all. If you ever had cause to doubt that Hasbro was committed to this line… like if the 10,000 figures a year they release (minor exaggeration) isn’t enough proof, something like this should do it. Sugar Man is horrible, twisted, and almost certainly too demented-looking to grace the modern Big Box toy aisles. And yet here he is! In terms of construction, this is the most complex and atypical BAF we’ve seen in the modern line. As such it reminds me a lot of Toy BIz’s M.O.D.O.K. BAF. Sure, I could take this opportunity to ponder on why we got Sugar Man before M.O.D.O.K., but then I don’t want to question any aspect that went into the decision to make this guy. In terms of pure weirdness, if you’re going to top Sugar Man, Hasbro, you have to do an Egg Fu BAF. YOU HAVE TO!!!

Sugar Man’s hunched body is mostly obscured by his giant head. Indeed, from the front he just looks like a giant head on legs. The legs are puny by comparison, and while they’re fully articulated in every normal way, I didn’t find a lot of that articulation too value added. I was able to tweak them to help him stand, but that was about it. Other than his blue trousers, the only other element to his costume is a black belt and black suspenders. The belt has some crude silver buckles, and there are some colorful novelty buttons sculpted onto the right suspender. There’s also a loop for him to store his hammer. It’s tough to get it in and out of there, but I still think it’s a nice touch. Sugar Man’s four arms feature four unique hands. One is pointing, one is grasping, one is balled into a fist, and one is designed to hold the hammer. Each of these connect to the torso with rotating hinges, allowing for all the usual articulation in each appendage.

As for the portrait? I mean holy hell what can I say about this nightmare? His giant mouth is lined with jagged teeth and comes equipped with a lewd tongue that snakes out and looks absolutely disgusting. He’s got a broad nose, bushy eyebrows, two squinting red eyes and a bushy tuft of hair on the top. Hasbro did an absolutely fantastic job modeling this nasty piece of work in 3D plastic.

As already mentioned, Sugar Man comes with his Hammer, which is a Mjolnir looking implement with SUGAR sculpted into one side. He can hold it well in his lower right hand, but the bicep swivel isn’t up to the task of supporting its weight so it tends to flop if I don’t have the arm positioned right.

Wow, this wave was a treat and a half. Hasbro introduced some great new characters as well as alternate versions of some we got before. It’s been a while since I purchased an entire wave of Marvel Legends in one shot instead of hunting them down individually, but that’s exactly what I did here. I was just really eager to get my hands on all of these figures and put together the BAF, so it was nice to not have to hunt for a change. And this is the last regular Legends figures that I’m going to feature on Marvel Monday for a little while. Rather than dig into another wave, I’m going to check out some boxed sets and exclusives for the next few weeks.

Marvel Legends (Sugar Man Wave): Sunfire and X-Man by Hasbro

It’s another Marvel Monday and I’m continuing my cruise through the Age of Apocalypse themed Sugar Man Wave of Marvel Legends. I’ve been taking this assortment in pairs and today brings us to the fifth and sixth figures: Sunfire and X-Man! I had a crazy work schedule this weekend and I’m really pressed for time. Can I hammer out a brief double review today and still do these figures justice? Yes, I believe I can!

Here’s a quick look at the boys in their packaging and take note that each one comes with a pair of arms for Sugar Man, because he’s a four-arm-having sonovabitch! I’ll also once again point out that David Nakayama is doing the spine art for this wave. I’ve been a big fan of his work ever since I discovered his cover work for Zenescope Comics, and it’s awesome to see him contributing art for Marvel Legends! Let’s dig in! And I’m going to start things off with Sunfire!

We last saw Sunfire about three years ago as part of the Warlock Wave. That was a great figure and I am a huge fan of his classic costume. But here we have alternate reality Sunfire after having gone nuclear to halt Apocalypse’s attack on Japan. It bought some time to evacuate and left him in horrific shape, but boy does it make for a cool look. And you know what else is cool? Translucent figures!!! Yeah, I love me some translucent plastic and Sunfire is made of it from head to toe. I think this is more or less the same body used for the previous figure, albeit with different hands. At least it maintains the lateral crunches in the shoulders. The body is cast in a lovely clear yellow plastic with some orange highlights and black accents to make up the details of the suit. He has some flame effects sculpted into his forearms, while his right hand is balled up into a fist and his left looks like it’s about to unleash some major power. Absolutely awesome!

The head sculpt, if you can call it that, is a mask nestled in a mantle of fire. The mask itself is white with the red circle in the center representing the Land of the Rising Sun. The two slits for eyes bleed forth in red-orange flame, making him look like an avenging spirit. The sculpted flame around the mask has a bit more orange to it than the rest of the body and it just looks amazing.

The articulation is pretty much identical to what we saw in the previous release. I think this body is borrowed from one of the Spider-Man releases. In addition to the previously mentioned shoulder crunches, the arms also feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows and knees, swivels in the biceps, waist, thighs, and lower legs, hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and both a hinge and ball joint in the neck. Needless to say he’s as much fun to play with as he is good looking! Moving on to X-Man!

As expected, this figure is based off of his appearance in his self-titled book from the Age of Apocalypse and that’s a very good thing, because I can’t stand what Marvel has done with Nate’s design in recent years. Here we get the classic Jim Lee X-Men colors of yellow and blue only with an emphasis on the blue. The yellow is relegated to trim and some abbreviated striping, as well as his belt. It all looks fantastic and that yellow really pops beautifully against the blue.

Nate features a short jacket, which tapers at the waist and features some serious lapels! It’s molded as a soft plastic vest with the sleeves sculpted as part of the arms. You get some additional new sculpting at his collar and the belt is a separate piece fitted snug around his waist. Take away the shoulder crunches, and X-Man features the exact same articulation as Sunfire.

Hasbro did a beautiful job with this portrait, but that should come as no surprise since they really nailed Cable both times they’ve done him. Nate has a grim expression as a beautiful effect part explodes from his left eye. His shock of brown and white hair parts in the middle and frames his face around the eyes. Simply superb!

Both of today’s figures are fairly simple, with some flourishes of brilliance. For Sunfire, it’s a cross between the lovely translucent plastic and the amazing head sculpt that wins me over. As for X-Man? Well, a snazzy jacket, bitchin eye, and that wonderful one-two punch of yellow and blue carries that figure beautifully. This pair are two more great additions to what has turned out to be a super fun wave of figures. And I’ve still got one more to open, so next Monday we’ll have a look at Dark Beast and then we’ll build the Sugar Man Build-A-Figure!

Star Wars: The Mandalorian “Vintage Collection” Imperial Troop Transport by Hasbro

Feels like it’s been a while since I checked out a Star Wars vehicle, and I’ve got quite a stack of them from the Vintage Collection, piling up in the corner and waiting to be opened. One of the ones that had me the most excited was the Imperial Troop Transport from The Mandalorian. Of all the fan service that Disney could have packed into that series, who would have guessed that one of the biggest would be a nod back to an old Kenner toy? And this is after the Troop Transport got a previous nod (and toy) in the Rebels 3 3/4-inch line. The ITT has become one popular little vehicle. I never owned the original toy when I was a kid, but my best friend did and I loved playing with it, despite it’s boxy and impractical design it somehow quickly became iconic to me.

And boy does this thing look great in the vintage packaging! Mine arrived a little rough around the corners, but hey… IT’S VINTAGE!!! Getting beaten up in shipping gives it character! You get shots of the toy in action on the front and back panels as well as some close up shots on the side panels. The ITT comes nearly fully assembled, so you can get a pretty good idea of the vehicle’s size before you even open the box. And yes, that means it can go back into the box for storage, which is always a HUGE plus for me with these Vintage Collection releases. It’s also worth noting that there are no electronic features, so if you like pretty lights and sounds, you’re out of luck. On the other hand it also means you don’t have to have any batteries handy, either. I really think they missed an opportunity at packing in a Remnant Stormtrooper with this vehicle, but I’ll have more to say on that later. For now, let’s open this baby up and check her out!

Based on its appearance toward the end of The Mandalorian Season One, the Imperial Troop Transport takes the old Kenner design and peppers it with realism. And rather than beat around the bush, let me just toss out the best and worst things about the ITT right away: It’s got some amazing detail and it’s too small. Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is quite as nice a piece as the Rogue One Hover Tank, but that vehicle is damn hard to beat when it comes to its weathered paint scheme and its great attention to even the tiniest details. The Transport comes pretty damn close, though. For starters, the sculpt is packed with all sorts of little hatches, panel lines, vents, piping, and everything the design needed to make it look like a real vehicle. Coupled with the greasy and grimy paint weathering, this cool deco goes a long way to convince me that this is a relic of the old Empire that’s been dragged back into service by the locals to try to maintain a scrap of power and bully the population. Much like the grubby Stormtrooper armor worn by the Remnant, this thing has seen better days, and it seems like the days of Imperial disciplined maintenance are a thing of the past.

There aren’t a ton of features on the outside. There are a pair of blaster cannon protruding from slits in the cheeks of the cab, and there’s a turret on the top that can rotate. That’s pretty much it. The vehicle does have some concealed wheels on the bottom, so it will roll, even though it’s intended to hover. It’s a shame they couldn’t have done something similar to the old Kenner Landspeeder and made them a little springy to improve the hover effect, as the simple engineering on that toy still impresses me and I think that would have been a cool feature here. If you flip the vehicle over you can check out all the amazing detail packed into an area you that you are likely never going to actually see, and that’s pretty cool! There are a series of vents, which I presume are repulse engines of some kind and a bunch of other bits and bobs.

The back of the vehicle opens up to reveal the interior and allow the Stromtroopers to burst out with E-11’s blazing. It seems like it would have made more sense to have the back drop down like a tailgate, giving the troops a ramp to descend, but I guess this design affords the disembarking troops some protection from strafing fighters.

The interior is also accessible from the top, which lifts off to reveal more amazing detail. The deck plates are fully sculpted and there’s a section over the cab that reveals some of the inner machinations of the vehicle. I suppose this could serve as a service hatch. There are some other features inside that we’ll check out in a bit. As a stand alone model of the Troop Transport seen in the series, I have no complaints at all, as this thing is absolutely gorgeous. But at this point, I’m going to grab a bunch of Stormies and we’re going to see how things go down hill once we start playing with it.

The cockpit opens up via the two side doors and… Wow is it cramped in here! It took some doing just to get the Stormtroopers seated in a reasonably convincing manner. There’s a ton of great detail in the cabin, but it’s tough to appreciate it because of the crazy tight quarters. I really wish the top piece that came off included the top of the cab as well. That way I could position the drivers better and maybe even get their hands on the steering yokes. I could also get to see all the work that went into sculpting this area. Such a simple change would have made a huge difference. I do like how there’s a window between the cab and the back compartment, and they did a great job detailing the interior of the doors.

The ITT is most known for the human pockets on the sides, which betrayed the true purpose of the toy being to hold figures. As a kid, I couldn’t imagine anyone owning SIX Stormtroopers to fill it up! I mean, holy smokes were some parents made of money??? But now I’m all grown up and I can buy as many Stormtroopers as I want. Who thought it was a good idea to have troops exposed in these side-pockets, rather than ride inside the armored transport is beyond me. I imagine this thing pulling up to deploy with six corpses slumped in the compartments. But I do like how they incorporated it into the show and had the troops pouring out of it. I think I actually said out loud, “Cool! So that’s how that works!” My cats were confused and unimpressed. Only two of these compartments open up, which is INCREDIBLY cheap for a toy that costs this much. How does seventy dollars buy me only two opening hatches? The doorways leading inside from each side pocket are also very small, which would be forgivable if you climbed up some stairs to get out through it, but the way it is you really have to use your imagination to make it work. And I’ll tell ya… imagination is made for $20 Troop Transports. Not ones that cost this much, Dammit!

There’s a hatch on the top that opens so you can have a Stormtrooper poke his head out, maybe as a spotter or something.  Unfortunately, doing so really shows off the limitations of that turret. The opened hatch blocks its line of fire, and while we’re on the subject notice how if they started firing that thing it would head-shot all the Stormtroopers on the sides of the vehicle! It all harkens back to the running theme of this review… the ITT is too damn small.

As we saw, the back opens up to allow troops to disembark, but the hatch is so low they can’t even stand up under it. It’s hard to believe stumbling out of this thing at a low crouch is an ideal way to enter the heat of battle. And what you’re seeing is also the same clearance as exists inside the vehicle with the top closed. That means the Stormies can’t even stand up in this thing when it’s buttoned up. So let’s go inside and have a better look.

There are some cool ideas going on in here. Firstly, there’s a weapons rack for your Stormy’s guns. I wasn’t really able to make it work very well. Also, the toy is $70, could you not fill the rack with some guns to pad out the value??? There are folding seats inside, which is a neat, but it’s so tight inside that there’s barely room for two occupants to sit opposite each other. It works better if you stagger. The seats are also so low that they have to sit awkwardly or with their legs all the way out. Needless to say, a Stormtrooper can’t stand in here with the top on and so the whole thing just feels very limiting and not a lot of fun. Now, I understand that Hasbro frequently down scales ships to make them work, but the ITT isn’t an example where that should have been necessary. I feel like if this thing were 10% bigger it would have made all the difference in the world. And considering that it has no electronics, no pack in figures, and not a lot of play features, it seems like they should have been able to make it bigger within the price point.

I suppose the Imperial Troop Transport makes a worthy display piece if you want to throw some troops on it and display it on your shelf. But if you’re hoping to have any fun playing around with it, you may want to keep those hopes in check. It’s clear Hasbro put a lot of love and craftsmanship into the sculpt and paint, but then they stumbled at the finish line by under scaling it so much. And I honestly can’t see where all the money went with this toy. Hell, the Rogue One Tank was overpriced too, but at least it had a lot more complexity to it. Keep in mind, I only paid $50 for my Troop Transport, and it still feels like too much. When I had a hankering to review a Star Wars vehicle today, I probably should have gone for the Black Series 6-inch Scale Snowspeeder. It was a much more impressive toy, and I kind of feel bad that I bumped this one ahead of the line.

Marvel Legends (Sugar Man Wave): Weapon X and Jean Grey by Hasbro

After crapping out at the end of last week due to the sickness, I’m back just in time for another Marvel Monday. Last week, I started going through the Age of Apocalypse themed Sugar Man Wave with Morph and Wild Child, and I’m going to once again double down with another pair from this assortment. And it seems only appropriate to pair up the happy alternate reality couple of Jean Grey and Weapon X.

Here’s another look at the packaging with that wonderful David Nakayama artwork on the side panels. Also check out how poor Jean is just crammed into the side of the tray to make room for the two giant Sugar Man BAF parts! Well, that’s rude!!! She really looks like she needs some room to breathe, so let’s start with her and get her out of there.

Egads this is a fun look for Ms. Grey, although how Xavier’s untimely death extended 80’s fashion into the 90’s is beyond me! Maybe it’s like how Kirk’s dad dying in JJ-Trek added all that chrome to the Enterprise bridge architecture. Hey, I’m no alternate history expert. Either way, Jean is rocking a black, blue, and red bodysuit, which relies mainly on paint for detail, at least below the chest. The top does sport some sculpted lines where it meets her skin. The bulk of the new sculpting is found in the other component of her costume: A half-jacket with some righteous shoulder pads and full sleeves. Diva Jean is definitely tickling my fancy! And even if the fashion doesn’t make a lot of sense, it gives Jean a bitchin hardcore look that certainly serves the timeline well. I think the colors work well together and the paint lines are pretty clean throughout. And I ain’t hating how the blue patch on her bottom highlights her butt! What? I might as well say it, since she knows I was thinking it anyway!

And this portrait… Wow! I dig it! She’s super pretty and I love the shock of short red hair style that Pat Benetar would no doubt approve of! The paint work on her eyes and lips are sharp, and she’s got a blue tattoo that bisects her left eye, travels down her cheek and then arches up over her eyebrow to terminate in a sharp point on her forehead.

The articulation here is pretty standard female Legends stuff. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinged knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. There’s no waist swivel, but you do get a ball joint under the chest, and the neck has both a hinge and a ball joint. Jean features the spell-slinger style hands that work pretty well for her telepathic powers. Moving on to Wolv… I mean Weapon X!!!

Just when you thought we were going to be done with Logan releases for a while, NOPE! But that’s OK, because this is a pretty damn great look for him. Weapon X is built on the usual short and buff Wolverine body we’ve seen many times before, and that’s great because it means he has the lateral crunches in the shoulders. Here he’s decked out in a black suit with red stripes across his chest. The deco kind of matches Jean’s and isn’t that just adorable that these two lovebirds accessorize together! You do get some original sculpting in the yellow belt, which hangs around the waist and features an X-logo on the buckle. Logan also has some striping painted on his arms to simulate them hairy guns.

His right hand features claws which can be removed if you want to display them non-popped. Sure, it leaves holes in the knuckles, but they’re not very conspicuous. I would exercise caution, as my figure’s middle claw fell off as I was taking him out of the package and it had to engage the cats to keep them from carrying it off as a prize. The middle claw seems a bit loose in general, but I jammed it back in there and it hasn’t fallen out again since. The glove is black with red striping to match the rest of his suit.

And on the left arm, we have the stump from where Cyclops obliterated his other hand. The arm is capped off with a silver cannister with the three claws popped through it. These aren’t removable, but he does come with a second stump with no claws if you want to swap them out.

And that brings us to the portrait, and holy hell is it amazing! Clearly, the sculptors understood the challenge this figure presented. We have to take a character who is full of pure bad-tempered rage in this Universe and now depict him as he is in an everything-is-shit timeline where he’s especially filled with pure bad-tempered rage. Yup, goal achieved. I mean, maybe he’s a little happier here because he’s getting a little something off of Jean, but they did not hold back with this sculpt and it is glorious! The wrinkled up face, the bare teeth, the wild hair, the dusting of whiskers, I love everything they’ve done here. It’s primal and powerful, and it makes the Caliban Wave Weapon X look like a bad tempered puppy in comparison.

The rest of the figure features all the great articulation I’ve come to expect from this familiar buck, so I won’t recount it again. I will just say that no matter how many times I open up a new Legends Wolverine figure, I still find them hard to put down. This guy is going to be on my desk for a while.

I still have two more figures to look at in this assortment, but I’ll call it right now that Jean and Weapon X are going to be tough to beat as my current favorites of the wave. I can also tell that my big complaint at the end of this run is going to be why we didn’t get an Age of Apocalypse Cyclops in this assortment, because it really does seem like it should have been a no-brainer. Either way, I’m having a lot of fun with this wave and I’m looking forward to next Monday when I tear into another pair!

Transformers Earthrise: Grapple by Hasbro

It’s been a long run, but I’m finally getting to where I’m almost caught up with my Earthrise reviews, and have just a handful of Siege figures left to look at! And speaking of long runs, can you believe it’s been nine long years since Hasbro last delivered naïve but well-meaning Autobot engineer Grapple to the toy aisles. That Reveal the Shield figure shared a mold with Inferno and was a really solid figure and a rather unique style. Well here we are, nearly a decade later, and we’ve got something that seems a lot closer to the original G1 toy!

What else is there to say about the packaging, other than it’s awesome. Grapple comes boxed in his robot mode and surrounded by some amazing artwork. And this time, Hasbro just slapped Autobot onto his name to get around copyright issues, rather than calling him SOLAR STORM Grap-PEL. What the heck was that all about? Why not just call him Fred? Anywho, let’s get him out of the box and we’ll start with his alt mode.

As always, Grapple is an orange construction crane, and not a bad looking one at that. Sure, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of convertorobots will be able to see most of what’s going on here. He wears his arms on the vehicle’s back and you can even see his head tucked in at the base of the crane, but turned around and pretending that you don’t notice it! Of course, none of these things bother me, as I’d much rather deal with some obviousness than unnecessary panels that complicate the transformation and wind up as unwanted kibble on the robot mode. I mean, come on, I bought this, I know what it is, it ain’t fooling me! There is some nice detail scattered here and there like sparing panel lines, and the non-functioning stabilizers on the sides painted silver.

As for the deco, the bulk of the crane gets by with a lot of orange plastic. You do get some black on the wheels and a little more scattered about the body, and a little silver paint. There are also some black and orange hazard stripes. The cab gets the most flourish with some blue tinted windows, roof lights, and headlamps, and some silver on the bumper and grill. Grapple also wears his Autobot symbol proudly on the front of the cab. All in all, I’d say this is a really nice looking truck. It does feel like it may not have as much in the way of detail or paint applications as some of the other Earthrise figures, but that’s just my impression and I don’t think it hurts the toy at all.

The crane is fully articulated in that it can rotate, raise and lower, and it can extend outward a bit. The hook on the end is also hinged. There’s a clip on the side for one of his robot hand attachments, and to be honest, it kind of just looks like a hydraulic or something, so I’m fine with leaving it on there. Of course, you can take it off if it bothers you.

There are plenty of ports on Grapple’s alt mode available if you want to weaponize him with his rifle. Some attachments look better than others, but I’m not a big fan of any of them. Your mileage may vary, depending on how badly you want your crane truck to be armed with a giant rifle.

You can also attach his claw to the front of the crane, which gives it a bit of an intimidating look. Hey, it’s always cool to have different play options! So, the vehicle mode is solid, let’s see how the robot mode turned out…

Transforming Grapple is refreshingly simple and very similar to his original G1 toy. There are absolutely no surprises here, but I can’t argue with how great the robot mode looks. He’s tall and lean compared to the squat chonk of Solar Storm Grappel. And while he lacks that certain hyper-realistic detail the previous figure had, I like the smooth and clean robot mode that’s presented here. I think it toes the line between updated toy and cartoon homage quite nicely. And I’ll always have a soft spot for Autobots that wear the front of their vehicle mode on their chest. IT just always feels so right!  What’s more, Grappel’s crane collapses down and hugs close to his back to keep it from being too in the way. The wheel placement on the outside of ankles and above the hips is fantastic, and there are some very nice details sculpted on the lower legs. The coloring in robot mode is more or less the same as his vehicle mode, and this figure just proves that you don’t need a whole lot of paint operations to make it look good.

As expected, Grapple’s head is nestled inside the box that houses the crane’s main hinge. This has always reminded me of those ridges you sometimes see on the shoulders of armor to keep a rival from getting  clean sword stroke at the neck. So, Decepticons, if you’re going to try to decapitate Grapple, you better think again! The “helmet” is exactly as I remember it from the cartoon, including the two bumps coming off the top at opposing angles. The head does turn independently of the box it’s mounted in, so Grapple may not have the best peripheral vision. The face sculpt is excellent and I love the silver paint, but Grapple looks a lot more dour than I remember him being. Although, I guess the expression does have a certain, “GOD, YOU”RE SUCH A DICK, OPTIMUS. WELL, FINE, I’LL GO BUILD MY TOWER BY MYSELF… OR MAYBE WITH SOME DECPTICONS… THEN WE’LL SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT!” kind of look to it.

Grapple comes with a couple of replacement attachments for his hands. You just fold in the hand and that exposes a port to plug these into. One is his big claw that we saw attached to the crane earlier. I’m thinking he can shoot this like some kind of grappling hook. Or maybe it just shoots a mega-death-ray. Whichever the case it looks pretty cool.

The other is this nozzle, which I don’t remember him having in the cartoon, but it’s been a while. I was thinking this looks more like a repurposed firehose nozzle from the inevitable Inferno repaint/remold. You can equip them both if you don’t want poor Grapple to have any hands at all.

And finally he comes with a pretty cool looking rifle. This is one of my favorite Autobot weapons in a while, and a pretty impressive piece of hardware for someone who would rather be off building things with the enemy instead of fighting.

I can’t say I was terribly excited to get my hands on Grapple, but now that I’ve been playing with him, I’m surprised at how much I dig him. I never disliked Grapple, but he was never up there on my list of favorites. But this toy is excellent. I’d say it has a very solid alt mode, a fantastic and fun robot mode, and a quick-and-easy transformation connecting the two. And while I don’t mind a little complexity in my change-a-bot engineering, these days I find simplicity to me more appealing, especially when it can deliver a toy this great.

Marvel Legends (Sugar Man Wave): Wild Child and Morph by Hasbro

It’s time to start a brand new wave of Marvel Legends, and rather than going back to one of the older ones in my backlog, I’m once again going for a more recent assortment. This one is based largely on The Age of Apocalypse, and more X-Men is never a bad thing, right? I’m really tight for time today, but I’m still going to try to tackle two figures from this wave because I’m really far behind on these and I want to sprint a little to get back in the race. I’ll probably try to double up a few more times with this wave if possible. Today I’m checking out Morph and Wild Child, and as always, let’s start with the packaging!

The boxes have the Age of Apocalypse logo on the top panel and some wonderful artwork on the side panels by David Nakayama. I don’t usually call out the artists for these packages, but I’m a big fan of Mr. Nakayama’s cover work with Zenescope Comics, so it’s really cool to see his work turn up here. In addition to the character art, you get Apocalypse mean mugging you from the top of the side panels. Great stuff! Imma gonna tear open Morph first!

Egads, this guy used to piss me off in the X-Men animated series. Besides being an asshole, I could never get that stupid laugh of his out of my head. Of course, this here is the comic version who got a new lease on life during the Age of Apocalypse. As expected, this is a fairly simple figure, making use of mostly paint for the costume. The blue and black deco is really dark and it takes some good lighting to bring out the differences. He does feature some new sculpting for his gauntlets and those righteous buccaneer boots, and the addition of that bright yellow throws a much needed zing into the color mix.

The cape is a new piece and I like it a lot. It not only hangs around his neck, but also plugs into the hole in his back. There’s a really wide neck hole and it’s studded with giant sculpted rivets. It’s a distinctive looking addition to his costume and the purple adds yet another layer of color. I think my only gripe with this figure so far is that maybe fists weren’t the right choice for his hands. Or rather, maybe an additional set of hands that were not fists.

The head sculpt is excellent and conveys lots of personality, while also driving home the comic relief nature of the character. Appropriately enough, it looks kind of like a lump of clay waiting to be molded into something else. And that brings me to another little complaint. Maybe Hasbro should have included some kind of shape-shifting piece with this figure. I don’t know, maybe another head or an arm or something similar to what they did with Mystique a little while back. Actually, an homage to his animated series portrait would have been a cool nod back! With that having been said, I like his little smirk and the fact that he has one eye popped a little bit.

I wish I had more to say about this guy, but that’s all I got. Don’t get me wrong, I like this figure a lot. The coloring is really nice and Hasbro did a wonderful job with the portrait. Yup everything that’s here is great, and he’s undoubtedly a fine addition to my X-Men line up. But I think Hasbro missed an opportunity to toss in a few extras to showcase his Mutant abilities, especially since they got by without a whole heck of a lot of new sculpting here. OK… let’s move on to Wild Child!

Like Morph, Wild Child gets by with very little sculpted detail on his body, other than the usual musculature that comes along with this Spider-Man body. Yeah, I originally thought this body was going to be too big, and maybe they should have used one of the smaller teen bodies, but in hand I’m actually fairly pleased with how it came out. I think the addition of the rather large, and newly sculpted, clawed hands and feet help make the proportions of the body look more lankier. I would have liked some added texture, maybe at least on lower legs and forearms. Still, it’s nice to get those extra lateral crunches in the shoulders that come with this body. In addition to the hands and feet, the collar is a new sculpt, and it’s funny how I’m just now noticing that it’s similar to the collar on Morph’s cape. Weird.

The head sculpt is undoubtedly the star of this show. It’s absolutely fantastic. Some points of particular note include the open mouth displaying his fangs with the tongue sculpted inside, the mutton chops coming off of his jawline, and the wild hair that’s mostly swept back, but includes those fly away strands that fall over his eyes. And the wide pupil-less eyes with the red coloring around the edges of the skin are just so creepy. I’m a huge admirer of some of the portraits Hasbro turns out for this line, so when I say this one ranks far up at the top, it really means something!

Wild Child also comes with a chain that can be clipped to the back of his collar. It’s sculpted in a rather dynamic coiled manner making it almost like an effect part. You can come up with some pretty cool poses of him wielding it and it’s definitely a nice addition to the figure.

And that’s a solid two figures to start out this assortment and I’m really happy to welcome these two characters to my X-Men Legends shelves. Wild Child has come a long way since the Toy Biz days when he was relegated to being a mere static accessory to the 1998 release of Sabretooth, but in fairness that wasn’t one of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends. I seem to recall Toy Biz did a mail-away ToyFair Exclusive figure of the Age of Apocalypse Morph back in the day, but I never had it and again, I don’t think it was part of their Marvel Legends line, so these are both first for my collection! Next week, we’ll dig further into what is shaping up to be a very interesting assortment!

Ghostbusters: Plasma Series Spengler’s Neutrona Wand by Hasbro

Today’s review comes with a bit of a disclaimer. I jumped on buying this Neutrona Wand as soon as I watched a few videos on it and saw it in action. The build looked good, the electronics looked good, and most of all, it came with an adapter to allow a hose to go into the handle. People speculated that this was to allow it to hook up to DIY Proton Packs, but I saw it as concrete fact that Hasbro would be releasing an official pack to go with it. Will they? Who knows? But it seemed like a worthy gamble. Anyway, the disclaimer in front of this review comes in the fact that my Wand does not work, so I’m really just going to be taking a quick look at this thing before shipping it back to the retailer. I was going to skip it altogether, but then I suppose pointing out the fact that it doesn’t work is an important part of a review. So, let’s do it!

The Wand comes in a fully enclosed box made to look like an old equipment locker. It has a cardboard band around it with the branding, and interestingly enough it’s just branded for Ghostbusters and not the new movie, while the Wand itself is most definitely depicted as it will appear in the new movie. Indeed, I’m assuming the box is supposed to be the Wand’s housing when they find it in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. It’s a nice presentation even if it is just a cardboard box. The Wand is held inside by corrugate filler and comes out of the box all assembled and ready for display. There is a display stand that requires assembly, and I won’t be showcasing that here, as I unfortunately never got that far with this piece. Instead, I’m using just an generic acrylic display stand to showcase it for the review.

Opening the box, the first thing I noticed was how cool the Wand looks. But upon actually taking it out, it struck me how light it was. And maybe that’s a testament to the great job they did on the aesthetics. It may not look like plastic, but it sure feels like it. I’m not saying that the build quality is cheap or insubstantial, but it feels even a bit lighter than a plastic Wand of this size with electronics in it should feel. If I was Hasbro making this, I probably would have put a couple of metal slugs in it to give it some heft. But maybe once the initial shock of the weight wore off quickly, and I began to appreciate how good it looks. I can honestly say that without picking it up or taking a really close look, I could believe that this is an actual prop. There are a few giveaways, but most of it really does look that good. It’s big, but it doesn’t feel oversized, and it definitely feels comfortable in the hand. The pictures depict the wand extended, but the front piece does telescope into the cylinder. I’m not sure if that’s something new seen in the new movie, but it does feel a tad gimmicky. It’s also kind of cheap that it extends with a push of a lever, but has to be retracted manually. I probably wouldn’t mind it so much if mine actually worked and I could see some of the light show on display in that part of the Wand.

The details on display here make this a real work of art. It does indeed look like it’s been cobbled together from old pieces of lab equipment. There are abrasions on the black paint, and some parts even have traces of the original manufacturers etched into them. In some areas the black paint looks like it’s bubbled up in from overheating, the edges are all rubbed down to what is supposed to be the bare metal, the knobs are textured for grip, intentionally sloppy weld marks can be seen where other pieces were joined together. The tubes and wires look convincing, there are warning labels, and best of all, the toggle switches feel great and feature a satisfying snap when you flick them. They feel as authentic as everything else looks. I can imagine it’s pretty damn satisfying to flick them and have this thing come alive as a result, but right now I can only dream.

Even the bottom of the Wand, which I expected to see littered with Hasbro’s licensing shit and legalese and an obvious battery cover, doesn’t break the fourth wall of this prop-toy. On the contrary, it has a metal guide for sliding it onto the Proton Pack, and a hook to hang it on the belt with a carabiner clip. The battery pack is actually a rod that slides into the handle and is completely hidden thanks to some clever design.

The fake gaffer tape that’s wrapped around the barrel is probably the biggest drawback to the piece, as it’s clearly molded plastic, although it does a fair job of trying to look convincing. I suppose if you wanted to you could wrap it in real tape. The forearm grip, on the other hand, is also plastic rather than real wood, but between the excellent sculpt, paint, and weathering, it sure looks real wood that has maybe been coated in lacquer. A couple of the orange buttons look a little cheap and out of place, but I’m really reaching for things to complain about.

And that’s as far as I can take this review. I tried two sets of brand new batteries and got absolutely nothing out of the toy either time. No lights, no sounds, it was just dead. I even watched some videos to see if I was doing something wrong, because the one small folded sheet of multi-lingual instructions that came with it are pretty piss-poor for such a pricey collectible. But nope. This thing was sadly dead on arrival. I was hoping to exchange it with the retailer, but they promptly informed me that they sold out. After a lot of bother, I was finally given the option of keeping it for a $30 credit (It cost $110) or returning it for a refund. I opted to return it. If it shows up again for sale at the same price, I may very well try my luck again. Hell, if they had offered me half off I might have kept it. It really does look that nice. But I feel like every time I looked at it, I would be annoyed at the fact that it doesn’t work. Hopefully, my problems were isolated ones. It would be a shame if Hasbro went through all the trouble to make this look so nice only to have widespread problems with the electronics.

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.

GI JOE Classified: Cobra Commander by Hasbro

After the frustrating hunt that was the Cobra Island exclusives, it feels like I’m suddenly getting hit with a whole bunch of great figures from the new GI JOE Classified series. I just reviewed Gung Ho last week, finally found a Baroness at Target, and got my pre-ordered Arctic Storm Shadow. But I don’t think I was anticipating any figure more than old Bumper Face himself! Let’s take a look at Cobra Commander!  “…Wasssss once a man…” Holy shit, that still creeps me out every time I think about it.

That’s right, fans of the hooded serpent will be disappointed, but that’s OK, because I’m sure we’ll get that variant eventually. I’ve always liked both looks, but you only have to look to the Sideshow Cobra Commander that I have to realize that when given both options, I do prefer the helmet and chrome face shield. Maybe they could have tossed in a hooded head with this one, as I think the hood would look fine on this body. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s a shot of him in the package, and everything looks as great as ever. Hasbro continues to number these, and Cobra Commander ranks in as Figure Number 6, but the actual system for numbering them doesn’t always make a lot of sense.

The box features some really nice wrap-around art, which surprisingly gets a lot of the coloring on the figure completely wrong. In the artwork, the silver trim on the figure is replaced by gold. That’s really odd, considering this is an original design, but whatever. I also really dig his skill icons. The puppet icon is hilarious, but what the hell is the lightning bolt brain supposed to be? Mind control, maybe?

Classified Cobra Commander looks regal as all hell, and I love that! While I may waffle between hood and helmet sometimes, I was never a fan of Battle Armor Commander. To me The Commander is all about puffing himself up on pomp and circumstance and shouting at his troops from as far away from the battlefield as possible. And boy does this figure design fit that bill perfectly. Yeah, I’ll admit that I was worried about what we were going to get for Cobra Commander, because a couple of the designs choices have strayed a little too far from the Real American Hero originals than I would like. Turns out I worried for nothing, because this guy looks amazing.

Our Leader sports a dress uniform with a very spiffy tunic, complete with silver lined front flap and two rows of buttons that may or may not be painted to look like serpent eyes. I’m going to just give Hasbro the credit and say that’s intentional.The shoulder area has a snake scale texture to it, as does the panels on the sides of the tunic, and the red stripes running down the sides of his trouser and disappearing into his high boots. The Cobra insignia is printed in red on his chest and partially covered by a gold ornamental chain. His forearms have silver bordered bracers, each with their own Cobra insignia as well. This is a snappy uniform and I absolutely love it. My only gripe is that I wish the blue were a tad lighter. Based on leaked pictures, it seems like we may be getting a brighter repaint, but I guess I’ll have to wait and see. The Commander has a double belt and shoulder strap, which connects to a left pauldron, which also secures his half-cape. The pauldron sports some silver paint and there’s a golden Cobra fixture holding it in place, while the cape is black on the outside with a painted red liner. The belts all have a snake-skin pattern to them. Nice!

The helmet is very form fitting and I dig how the sides are separate from the face shield. The silver “mohawk” is there as well as some black cut-outs above the ears and a silver border painted along the bottom edge. The helmet looks great, but the paint on mine is a little disappointing here, as there’s a bit of silver slop on the side. I do like the finish they used for the shield quite a bit. It’s obviously not a mirror polish, but it does have a nice luster to it.

I won’t run through all the articulation here, because it’s pretty much identical to the Classified male figures we’ve seen so far, and that means it’s very good. The lower part of the tunic does inhibit his leg movement a bit at the hips, but not terribly so. Cobra Commander comes with two sets of hands. These are a right accessory holding hand, a right pointing finger, a left grasping hand, and a left fist. I’m always grateful for extra hands, but I believe it was a rather big omission to not give him a left accessory holding hand when he comes with two accessories. I would have much rather had that than the fist. So, let’s talk about those accessories!

First up, Cobra Commander comes with a bitchin’ sword with a gold cobra-head hilt. I love the hilt, but the blade is super funky. I’m sure Hasbro was going for something highly stylized, futuristic, and cool, but I would have preferred a standard saber. This thing just looks so crazy and impractical that it took me a little while to decide which side is supposed to be the edge. It also doesn’t fit very well in the included scabbard. The scabbard actually has a slit cut in it to allow the blade to protrude out, but I think the idea is that part of the blade is meant to protrude out the top. I’ve tried it in the scabbard both ways, and concluded that the best way to go has the snake head facing forward. I don’t want to come down too hard on this piece. It’s still pretty cool, but I would have gone in a different direction with the blade.

Next up is his pistol, and holy shit this thing is all sorts of awesome. It’s basically a silver-plated flintlock with an over-the-top snake motif going on. It’s obviously a far cry from his old iconic hair dryer pistol, but as impractical and crazy as this thing looks, I think it perfectly suits the Commander. I can picture him firing off his one shot at a battle and then shouting to his troops to finish the job. while he retreats to the safety of his command center. Ugh, the lack of a second accessory hand is killing me here. I want to pose him holding his sword aloft and firing this thing. Maybe I can rig something up with one of the Snake Eyes hands. Also, notice he doesn’t have a holster for this gun. Another disappointing omission.

Clearly, I’ve had a few nitpicks here, but all those issues have just been things that I think could have made this excellent figure so much better. OK, so the one accessory hand is a pretty big gaffe on Hasbro’s part, but I don’t want to let those things detract from how much I love this Cobra Commander! The dress uniform characterizes him perfectly and it looks damn sharp. The accessories are crazy in almost every good way, and he looks fantastic standing next to Destro and barking orders. The only downside is now more than ever I want to get a second Cobra Trooper to display behind him. COBRA!!!