GI JOE Classified: Alley Viper by Hasbro

GI JOE Classified has been a dangerously expensive line for me to collect, because it’s full of so many darn troop builders! And troop building is one of those ultimate expressions of excess that I wished I could do as a kid. I can remember asking for another Cobra Trooper or Stormtrooper and being told, “No! You already have that one!” But, now I’m an adult with disposable income, and it’s only natural that I went kind of crazy with the Cobra Infantry and Battle Android Troopers, so I tried to restrain myself when it came to the Alley Viper. Three seemed like a good number, and that’s how many I wound up with… for now!

Truth be told, the original Alley Viper was first released during that Dark Age between when I was no longer getting toys to play with as a kid, and had not yet discovered buying toys to collect them as an adult. This guy first appeared on the shelves in 1989, which would have been the year before I went to college. As a result, I wasn’t even really aware that Cobra had an Urban Assault Trooper until I got back into collecting GI JOE around 1999 or so. And I’m all for getting to experience some Classified figures that I didn’t have as a kid! As always, the box is nice and colorful, his large array of weapons is laid out around him, and the character art even pictures a couple Alley Vipers to subliminally tell you to buy more than one!

Out of the package, it’s hard to first notice anything but the colors… Oh, the colors! The Alley Viper fatigues consists of an retina-sizzling orange and blue camo, with some black and brown thrown in just to keep things somewhat grounded. Love it or hate it, GI JOE Series Eight was knocking on the 1990’s door, ushering in an age of obnoxious toy colors. The Alley Vipers were billed as being brave, and let’s face it, you’d have to be to go into battle wearing this! Once we’re past the deco, I have to admire the attention to detail that went into the fatigues and gear. His vest is a veritable slab of pouches, which extends to his right shoulder. He’s got more pouches on his belt, sheathes for his knives on his right forearm and left shoulder, and a holster for his pistol on his right thigh. And then there’s that gorgeous blue shoulder pouch with the orange Cobra insignia! It’s a lot to take in all at once, and before you can process it all, he’s probably already killed you.

The Alley Viper’s head is encased in a form-fitting, open-faced helmet. with snake fangs emerging from the chin guard, and a textured blue mask beneath it, showing only his determined and hate-filled eyes. There’s a hinged visor, which can be lowered to shield his face, and has only a circular screen in the center for detail. I presume this is some type of imaging sensor that allows him to see, but it sure makes him look creepy and inhuman. The black embossed Cobra emblem at the forehead is a nice touch as well!

The black backpack pegs into the back of the figure and is a superb nod back to the original figure’s backpack. Like the Viper’s fatigues, there’s a crazy amount of detail in the sculpt. In addition to the Cobra emblem at the top, there are magazines sculpted into the sides, a cluster of grenades down at the bottom, more pouches, and what looks like a landmine in the center. The grapple gun, which I believe was sculpted into the original figure’s backpack, is even removable here.

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a dedicated grapple gun, or just a rifle that also has the ability to fire the hook, but I’m leaning toward the later, because it seems like a pretty big piece of kit to haul around just for those times when you need to grapple somewhere. Regardless, the rifle has a scope, as well as a ring at the muzzle to attach a string (not included). The hook is removable, and it also has a ring to attach the other end of the string (still not included). Let’s check out what else this guy’s got!

Well, any good Urban Commando needs some blades, and the Alley Viper comes with two identical knives that fit in the aforementioned sheathes. I’m a big fan of the one on his shoulder, as it’s well placed and stays put, because it’s secured to the vest. The one on his right forearm is a lot more floaty. It tends to swivel on his wrist, and slide as well. It is removable, and while it hasn’t annoyed me enough to do that yet, it’s nice to have it as an option. Knife accessories in this scale are seldom all that interesting, but I still enjoy getting them.

Next up is his pistol, which fits very well in his thigh holster, as well as in either hand. I really dig this design, as it’s not too sci-fi-y, but rather looks like a fairly credible real-world design. I’ve got nothing much else to say about it, other than it gets my stamp of approval.

Now we’re moving into the heavier hardware with this compact bullpup-style carbine. This is a nice update to the weapon that came with the original Alley Viper, complete with a scope, foregrip, and a crazy positioning of the magazine, which juts out the back at an angle. The weapon is cast entirely in black plastic, the sculpt is great, and while I personally am not a fan of the design, it’s still a great-looking weapon. I was thrilled to see that the magazine was removable too!

And finally, the Alley Viper comes with a more traditional rifle featuring a detachable magazine in front of the grip, just the way I like them. Like the previous carbine, this rifle is cast all in black plastic and has some wonderful detail in the sculpt. This is probably the gun I’ll have these guys carrying most of the time for display purposes. My only nitpick with the Alley Viper and his arsenal is there’s no way for him to carry everything, or even anywhere to attach any of his rifles, except for the grapple gun.

I’ve saved the Alley Viper’s most iconic piece of kit for last, and that’s his riot shield, and boy is it a beauty. This defensive shield shares the same orange and blue deco as the Viper’s fatigues, and has a bold and beautiful Cobra emblem sculpted into the top center. It attaches to the figure’s arm with a pair of straps, and even has a pivot, so it can be positioned in a variety of ways independent of how the figure is posed. It also has a sticker on the interior side, which I presume is a viewscreen, so the Viper can still see what’s happening when taking cover behind it. A lot more safe and secure than the slits in conventional riot shields!

As I mentioned at the start, the Alley Viper is my first Cobra troop builder in the Classified line based off a figure I did not own as a kid, and that makes him a real treat. I wasn’t sure how I would take to the crazy colors, but now that he’s in hand I have to admit that he’s got an unabashed beauty about him that I wouldn’t dare change. There’s a sublime variety of weaponry packed in with him, that makes it possible to kit out multiple figures with some variety, and that’s always a plus. But whatever weapons I give him, that beautiful shield will always be a must! Hasbro hit an absolute home run with this figure, and it’ll take some serious restraint to keep me from getting a few more!

Transformers Legacy: Dragstrip by Hasbro

Lately collecting Transformers for me has become a cycle of conflict. It goes something like this. Oh no, they’re doing him again. We just got him and I don’t need to buy another. Oh, but look at how much better he looks than the last one. Oh, and it’s actually been five to ten years since we last got him. Huh, seems like it was more recent. Oh, what the hell, I’ll buy him anyway because he really is a big improvement. Transformers is the only line I collect, where it feels like I’m constantly upgrading to a better version of an existing character, and yet I’m a sucker for convertorobots, so I usually do it.

And here we go again, because it’s Dragstrip! A character that last saw release in aptly named Combiner Wars back around 2015. And while it feels like that was just yesterday, it really was quite a while ago. As with Hasbro’s last crack at the Stunticons, Dragstrip and the other limbs are Deluxes, but this time it looks like Motormaster will be a Commander Class, which I think is the new Leader Class. That classification makes sense, since those figures have been getting smaller, but coming with more stuff. And, unlike the Combiner Wars version, this Motormaster will have a trailer. Anyway, we’ve seen the Legacy packaging before. I dig the deco, but I’ll continue to complain about the toy being exposed to the elements, not to mention the disgusting booger-mining fingers of children. Just put them in closed boxes, Hasbro. Let’s start with the alt-mode…

Nice! One of my many issues with CW Dragstrip was that the mold was obviously intended to double as Mirage. And so, while we did get an F-1 racer, it wasn’t really the Dragstrip I knew from the G1 toy or the Sunbow cartoon. This version fixes that very well, most notably giving him his distinctive double wheels on the front and the exposed engine on the back. The vehicle is very compact and boxy, and I absolutely love it. I particularly dig what they did with the front scoop, giving him what looks a bit like a cow-catcher on a locomotive, perfect for ramming Autobots off the road!

The colors here are also spectacular! Hasbro took the basic yellow and red stripes from the original toy, but added in some of the brownish-gold from the Sunbow animated model. Toss in the beautiful silver paint on the engine, and the black wheels, and you’ve got a striking color scheme, that manages to pay respects to both G1 versions that I love so much! The large Decepticon insignia on the front is a great touch as well!

Dragstrip comes with a pair of guns, which can be pegged into the holes on the top sides of the vehicle if you like to weaponize your racecars!

Transforming Dragstrip is just complex enough to be satisfying, but not annoying. The result is an absolutely stellar looking robot mode, which again pays respects to the character’s roots. Gone is the f’ugly combiner port chest, and in its place is the open cockpit with the silver exposed engine block, just like the toy and Sunbow versions. Other great call-outs are the spoilers making up the feet, and the position of the wheels, with the backs landing on his lower legs, and the double fronts on his shoulders. Here, Hasbro went with the Sunbow look of having the shoulder wheels line up front to back, rather than on top of each other like the toy. He even has the shoulder ridges, which remind me of the ridges armor sometimes had to prevent decapitation in battle. Even from the back, he’s pretty damn clean and tight.

The head sculpt is a welcome departure from whatever the hell it was that we got with the Combiner Wars figure. While, I eventually warmed up to that figure, I never stopped hating the portrait. Here, we get a very Sunbow looking head sculpt, featuring the bold red visor, red plates on the sides of the “helmet” as well as the little “ears” jutting out the sides.

The color scheme in robot mode is pretty much identical to the alt mode. It’s dominated by thes ame bright yellow and brown-gold accents. I do like how the red stripes land on his arms. Really, the only thing missing here is a little Decepticon insignia near his left shoulder. Indeed, there’s no faction symbol in this mode at all, but I suppose that can be easily fixed with a repro-sticker.

As we saw while looking at the alt-mode, Dragstrip comes with a pair of pistols, which can be combined into one gun, as well as wielded separately. It definitely references the Sunbow gun over the original toy’s, particularly with the inclusion of the scope. The guns look OK when combined, but it does give them two sets of grips, which is a bit weird. I will likely display him with just one pistol and set the other aside, or peg it into his back for storage. The black and purple deco on the guns is excellent!

Almost everything about CW Dragstrip felt like a compromise, whereas the Legacy version is 100% its own thing, and I absolutely love that! Hasbro executed this figure with style and precision, and apart from the bot mode missing a faction symbol, I can’t find anything bad to say about him! Indeed, it’s especially interesting how there’s virtually nothing about him that advertises the figure as doubling as a Combiner limb. No obvious ports or connectors, no extra parts, nothing! Only a tiny graphic on the box suggests he’s part of a Combiner team, and I suspect that’s because all the Combiner stuff will be found in Motormaster.

Star Wars Black Series (The Clone Wars): Cad Bane by Hasbro

I’ve never been a big fan of The Clone Wars. I’ve tried watching it a few times, but it just never clicked. I think a lot of it has to do with the goofy stylized look of the characters and the fact that it builds off the Prequels. Nonetheless, I became familiar with a lot of the new characters through osmosis and toy marketing, and it’s cool to see some of them bleeding over into other Star Wars media.

One of those characters is Cad Bane, although the figure I’m looking at today was released before his live action appearance on The Mandalorian. Cad tickles my fancy, because I’m a fan of Westerns in general and Clint Eastwood and John Wayne films in particular. It’s only natural that a character that marries The Old West and Star Wars would be right up my ally!

And boy did Hasbro do justice to this guy! The figure perfectly captures the essence of the intergalactic high plains drifter, with some excellent layering and wonderful attention to detail in the sculpt. For starters, the form-fitting trench coat is cast in soft plastic and has the sleeves sculpted as part of the arms. It cuts off at the waist in the front, but trails down to his ankles in the back. It’s a great design, as it not only seems practical in the way it gives him easy access to his guns, but it also doesn’t inhibit the figure’s hip movement. The jacket has a little texturing sculpted in, and I really dig the silver corners on the lapels and lower flaps, which look like reinforced steel tips. My only real complaint about the coat is that the arm holes are too large. At certain angles, it can ruin the effect that the arms are supposed to be sleeves.

As for the rest of the figure, Cad has a sculpted vest under his jacket with two rows of what I presume are power cartridges for his pistols, a satchel hanging on a shoulder strap, two low-slung pistol holsters, and some cool electro gauntlets on his forearms, which have assorted controls on them to access his flamethrower and all sorts of other fun gadgets. Finally, he has a pair of jets attached to the sides of his boots for when he has to skedaddle in a hurry, or head someone off at the pass! That’s western talk!!!

One look at the portrait, and there’s no mistaking that Cad is from Duros, with his bright blue skin, large red eyes, and absence of a nose. His squint and snarl are textbook Clint Eastwood, right off the poster for The Outlaw Josey Wales! He also has two breathing tubes attached to his cheeks, which connect to a control box behind his neck. His distinctive mug is topped off with a wide-brimmed hat, which is removable.

Bane comes with his trusty pair of LL-30 blaster pistols. These are great looking little accessories, especially if you like the smooth and simplified design of the older period Star Wars weapons. They fit perfectly in the holsters, and he has gun-toting hands so he can dual wield them. It would have been great to get his carbine too, but I could always find him something.

I tend to limit myself to only buying characters in the Star Wars shows and movies that I enjoy. These days, that’s The Original Trilogy, The Mandalorian, and Rogue One, but every now and then I have to make an exception. In this case, Cad Bane is not only a cool looking character, but Hasbro nailed this figure so well, that I couldn’t resist having him on the shelf. And now that he’s made an appearance in The Mandalorian, I do believe I’ll have him on display with that collection!

Marvel Legends (Colossus Wave): Shadowcat and Colossus by Hasbro

Well, it took me a little longer than I hoped to swing back and finish up this second Age of Apocalypse themed wave, but there’s an old saying when it comes to timeline-altering narratives: Better late than never! So, let’s wrap things up with a look at the last packaged figure, Shadowcat, and the Colossus Build-A-Figure!

It feels odd to be looking at the Earth-295 Shadowcat before our own version, but that’s more my fault than it is Hasbro’s. They have already released the Earth-616 Shadowcat in a three-figure boxed set with Meggan and Captain Britain, I just haven’t gotten around to opening that set yet. Maybe I’ll push that to the head of the line, and look at some multi-figure packs before diving into the next wave of figures. Either way, Kitty has some cool character art on her box, and they managed to squeeze Colossus’ torso in there with her. Let’s rip this package open and let the cat out of the bag!

Oh my, Yes! I do have a thing for many of the redesigns that the ladies got for Age of Apocalypse, and that goes doubly so for Shadowcat! She comes sporting a metallic blue bodysuit, segmented with cut lines to make it look like some kind of flexible armor, and ending at her chest. The sleeves are separate, with more segmented cuts, and terminate at her biceps, giving her a dystopian-chic bare shoulder look. Her hands are sculpted with fingerless gloves, and she has a pair of silver wrist bracers, which are meant to contain her retracted kitty claws. Her ensemble is finished off with a silver utility belt, complete with pouches and branded X-Men logo on the belt buckle! The belt and bracers are all separate pieces.

I think the portrait turned out great. Kitty looks a bit displeased, and while I’ll admit the expression falls short as you punch in close with the camera, it looks fine with the naked eye. The face printing is crisp and clear, They did an especially nice job painting the glimpse of teeth through her lips. The hair sculpt is also fantastic. It’s sculpted separately from the head to give it a clean hairline, and I love the way it hangs down over her right eye and sweeps back behind her left ear. She has a sculpted choker with a single red oval stone. The choker is painted to match her bodysuit, although this is one area where the paint could have been sharper.

Shadowcat’s articulation is standard stuff for the Legends ladies. The legs feature ball joints in the hips, swivels in the thighs and lower legs, double-hinged knees, and hinges with lateral rockers in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, with hinged pegs in the wrists. There’s no waist swivel, instead you get a ball joint under the chest, and a hinged ball joint in the neck. Kitty comes with two pairs of hands: One pair of fists, one right hand with splayed fingers, and one left accessory holding hand.

She also comes with a second set of wrist bracers that have her kitty claws extended. These are a bit thick, and look more like tendrils than claws, but overall, they’re a decent accessory and make for some nice poses. Let’s move on to the Build-A-Figure, Colossus!

Colossus is comprised of the standard six pieces: Four limbs, torso, and head. I suppose you can say it’s seven pieces if you count the ties for his mask, which connect to the head with a ball joint for some added articulation. Colossus’ AoA redesign represents some of the best and worst aspects of the character redesigns. Colossus has exchanged his one-piece for a pair of shorts and yellow suspenders, which means he’s showing a lot more of his metallic body. And boy the sculpting for all those metal sinews that make up his torso is absolutely fantastic! He’s also sporting a bunch of additional armored pieces, including guards for his knees and lower legs, elbows and forearms, and a giant piece of armor over his left shoulder. Why does Colossus need added armor? Because… Shut up it looks cool!

The colors on this figure are stellar. The mix of bright red armor, bright yellow suspenders, and the gorgeous silver finish of his skin all blend together as a feast for the eyes. You even get some pale red metallic paint hits on the studs of his shoulder armor. I think a lot about this design is just plain dumb, but I can’t hate on it, because it just looks so damn good!

The portrait is probably my favorite thing about the redesign. Piotr looks absolutely savage and just a little bit terrifying here. He’s got a pirate-style mask covering the upper half of his head. As mentioned

Colossus is sporting some excellent articulation for such a big, bulky guy! His arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinged elbows, swivels in the biceps, and hinged pegs in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double-hinged in the knees, have hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, and swivels in the thighs and lower legs. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab-crunch hinge in the torso, and a ball joint in the neck. You get two sets of hands here: One pair of fists and one pair of grapple hands.

I think Hasbro did a superb job bringing these two from comic page to plastic, and boy do they look great together. The detail on Colossus’ body is some of Hasbro’s best work, and Kitty is just all around gorgeous. But the colors are what really make these figures stand out to me. Even on a shelf full of colorful superheroes and mutants, this pair still manages to grab my eyes! Simply beautiful!

And that’s a wrap for the second Age of Apocalypse Wave. I’ve made it no secret that my enthusiasm for Marvel Legends has been wavering lately. I think most of Marvel’s current books are garbage, and I think I’ll be tapping out of the MCU movies after the next Doctor Strange. That leaves just cherry-picking the line for whatever classic characters they haven’t done yet. But when you add the price increase into the fold, well that’s just another nail in the coffin. With all that having been said, this Colossus Wave had me super excited, so there’s still hope. Not to mention, I have a huge backlog of figures still waiting to be opened and given the spotlight here!

Marvel Legends (Colossus Wave): Iceman and Legion by Hasbro

I’m continuing to cut a swath through the endless backlog of Marvel Legends figures that are piled up around here, and I’m more than halfway through the Age of Apocalypse-inspired Colossus Wave. I’m tackling this wave in pairs, so I can get through it a bit faster, and that brings us to Iceman and Legion!

I didn’t really pair these together for any reason, other than I had four figures left, and it seemed like I should do Shadowcat and Colossus together. Or, you could say that I was going for a blue theme today. The fact is, I came into these two figures with very different expectations. One I was pretty excited for, and the other… well let’s check that one out first.

Yup, Iceman was the figure that I was least excited about in this assortment. No offense to Bobby Drake, but I just didn’t think that it could possibly be all that drastically different than the last one we got from the Juggernaut Wave. But when I got this guy in hand, I quickly changed my tune. Maybe I was just expecting a quick rehash of the previous release, but this is anything but that. Yes, a lot of the sculpt appears to be recycled, but Hasbro cast off the smooshy and chalky white plastic for this vibrant translucent blue that is absolutely gorgeous and does a great job replicating an ice effect, especially with the white dusting around the chest and shoulders.

The portrait is all new, including a new collar of jagged ice. The facial features are a bit amorphous, but he has clearly defined white eyes, and more jagged ice-spikes in place of his coif of hair. I dig the look here a lot, as it leans into a harder Bobby from his severe environment.

There are no surprises in the articulation, although he does lack the swivels in the lower legs that we often see in the modern Legends line. I would have liked to see the shoulder crunches here, but that might have been a bit too ambitious for the translucent plastic. Whatever the case, he’s fun to pose, especially without the soft hinges I had in my previous Bobby Drake figure.

Iceman doesn’t come with much in the way of accessories, although you do get a pair of enlarged ice claws, which are pretty cool additions to a beautiful figure. Let’s move on to Legion…

I was profoundly disappointed that Legion wasn’t included in the first Age of Apocalypse Wave, considering he is the reason for the season so to speak. But patience prevailed and all was forgiven when he turned up in this second assortment. X-Men certainly has its share of memorable and sympathetic characters, but I developed a particular connection with Legion over the years. I was particularly struck by the way Bill Sienkiewicz portrayed him in the panels, and later having a friend develop Schizophrenia helped to hammer home the heartbreak I would eventually associate with David. Hasbro did some inspired parts recycling here by borrowing the legs and bare feet from Shang-Chi. I wouldn’t have guessed that would work as well as it did. I really dig the blue they used for his outfit, and the extra shading really makes the figure pop.

I do like this head sculpt a lot. Yes, it’s pretty tame in some respects, but there was no way Hasbro could have recreated some of the more memorable and trippy depictions we’ve seen in the comic panels. The unmistakable stack of hair looks great, and I dig that they added that one little cowlick jutting out of the front. The smirk and the squint work for me, although the eyes could have been painted a bit sharper.

The articulation here is identical to what we just saw with Iceman, and that includes the omission of swivels in the lower legs. Legion also comes with two pairs of hands: One pair relaxed and one pair balled up into fists. I wouldn’t have considered that necessary, but it’s always nice to have options!

What a great pair of figures! Iceman just all out surprised me! It’s not that the regular Iceman release was a bad figure, but I just appreciate how Hasbro went all out to make this one so distinctive. As for Legion, I’ve been looking forward to getting him on the shelf for a while now and he definitely lived up to my expectations. On the whole, this has been a really solid assortment of well-executed characters, and I’m looking forward to checking out the last two next week with Shadowcat and the Colossus Build-A-Figure!

Transformers Legacy: Skids by Hasbro

What’s this? A new main line of Transformers? Well, at least that’s my assumption, that Legacy will be replacing the Trilogy of Siege, Earthrise, and Kingdom as the new Generations line, and what better character to launch this Legacy series than… Oh, it’s Skids. Ok, then…

Well, I do like the art design! Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, I like it better than what we’ve been getting. The character art has been phenomenal, but some derivation of the boring black package with generic font Transformers running up the side has been with us for a while. This is colorful and trippy and while the Legacy logo doesn’t really scream Transformers brand to me, I can get behind this. Unfortunately, like the packaging we saw in my Buzzworthy Bumblebee review, Hasbro has stopped using plastic windows to save the planet and now leaves the toy exposed to the elements, as well as the sticky fingers of children. I would much rather they just use a completely enclosed box, but whatever. Let’s start with Skids alt mode.

Ah, the Honda City Turbo. It’s a car I never heard of before meeting Skids, and one that I haven’t heard of since. I should go on record here by saying that I’ve never been a fan of Skids. He was kind of a non-entity in the Sunbow cartoon. Indeed, off-hand I can only remember him being in two episodes: Quest for Survival and Triple Takeover. Both are great episodes, but certainly not because Skids happened to be in them. His toy was released too late to be part of the original Class of 84 Autobots, but too early to be included with the hot newness of the 1985 roster. I do distinctly remember finding him in Sears and my Dad saying, “oh, a new Transformer?” You want him? And I said nah, and wound up getting something else instead. At the time, there was just nothing about him that made him desirable to me and he was one of the only Autobots in the 1984-85 line up that I never owned.

Skids is a box on wheels, and certainly doesn’t share the stylish contours of the vintage Datsuns or sexy Lamborghinis. But with that being said, this is a fantastic new version of the original car form. Hasbro didn’t go too far off the page with this one, keeping the same midnight blue body and the same red and white striping on the sides. The front grill is gray with yellow headlamps, and there’s an Autobot emblem on the hood. The windshield and front windows are tinted blue, and you get lots of nice sculpted detail, including quad exhaust, a gas cap, and the screen on the front and back bumpers. The back is a little bland, but all in all, this is a nice alt mode for what it is.

Skids comes with a few weapons, and these can be attached using any of the three ports (one up top, and two on the sides), if you want to weaponize this mode.

Transforming Skids is pretty intuitive and the resulting robot looks surprisingly nice. The front bumper chest and door-wings has always been my favorite look for an Autobot, and Skids wears them quite well. Yeah, the chest is sharply squared off, and reminds me a bit of Armada Red Alert, but I ain’t hating it. The rest of the figure is nicely proportioned, and adds some more red to the deco, both down on his feet, and smack dab in the middle of his robot cod piece. And when viewed from behind, he’s all closed up and polished to a shine.

The head sculpt is very close to what I remember the original toy looking like, although I’m remembering him with yellow eyes instead of blue. The silver face paint looks sharp, and he wears a slight expression of disapproval on his lips, like he just saw that Spike’s report card and he got a C- in Algebra.

For an Autobot who’s primary function is a theoretician, Skids does come with a lot of weapons. You get two silver blasters, one is a stout single barrel pistol, and the other is a dual barreled gun, which can combine together to form a pretty formidable looking piece of hardware.

You also get what I think is supposed to be some kind of Energon Ax, which can also combine with the guns in a number of ways to make, well… I don’t know what. The ax replaces the rocket launcher that came with the original toy, and I’m cool with that!

The only reason I picked up Skids was because he was a new figure in a new line, and I was excited. But in reality, Legacy appears to just be an extension of what we’ve been getting in the War For Cybertron stuff, which is pretty much what I’m looking for in my Transformers anyway. Change the packaging all you want, Hasbro, but you’ve been batting a thousand with your Generations Transformers lately, and I don’t want to see that change. As for the figure itself, Skids if great! I’m legitimately surprised at how happy I am with this pick up, and he’s going to look fantastic on my Autobot shelf!

Buzzworthy Bumblebee: Origin Bumblebee by Hasbro

While I have been focusing exclusively on the Generations-style stuff, Hasbro has been maintaining a few different lines of their profitable change-o-bots, one of those being this Buzzworthy Bumblebee series. I don’t get it. At first, I thought this was a tie-in for some streaming cartoon directed at the younger Transformers fans, but apparently that’s not the case. So, yeah… I really don’t get it and the stupid name inexplicably makes me angry, so I’ve been largely ignoring it. That is until I saw they did a version of Bumblebee based on his Cybertronian appearance in the first episode of the More Than Meets The Eye mini-series.

Well, the packaging design is nice! We get a bright yellow box, with the Transformers logo in black, and some various shots of Bumblebee on the side. What I don’t like here is the lack of a plastic window over the toy. Yes, I understand it’s an environmental thing, but I don’t like the idea that kids can come along and stick boogers on my action figure. DAMN KIDS… STAY OUT OF THE TOY AISLE… YOU THINK TOYS ARE FOR KIDS? GO PLAY YOUR FORTCRAFTING APP!!! I would much rather Hasbro just used a completely enclosed box. If I’m willing to spend $200 on a Titan Class figure and not get to see it until I open it, I think I’d be OK taking a gamble on a $20 Deluxe Class, knowing a kid didn’t touch it with his peanut butter fingers. But, enough complaining… let’s start with the alt mode!

Wow, this is a pretty cool little representation of Bumblebee’s Cybertron mode in the Sunbow style and one that I would have loved to have as a kid. It’s sleek and smooth, with stubby wings and a single blue windshield. It kind of looks like what you would get if you took his Earth mode, removed the wheels and squished it. Come to think of it, it was pretty damn convenient that Cybertron’s alt modes each had a suitable Earth mode counterpart.

Yes, it certainly has a mess of seams from the transformation, but that doesn’t bother me too much. Some of them mix well with the existing panel lines in the sculpt, and to be fair, the network of seams signify that a decent amount of thought and engineering went into this little toy, rather than just go for a lazy shell-former. And while you can’t tell yet, I was particularly impressed that the hood section with the Autobot emblem actually becomes the chest in robot mode, rather than being entirely faked out. Overall, the toy locks together pretty well, and I couldn’t be more pleased!

There are three sockets on the vehicle to plug weapons into, but since I’m a fan of symmetry, I just plugged Bumblebee’s gun into the one on the top.

And here he is in robot mode, and I have to say the transformation is pretty clever, fairly intuitive, and not at all too finicky. As I’m sure I’ve said before, my favorite thing to do with new Transformers is to try to figure them out without looking at the instructions. I wasn’t sure that was going to work here, but I made it happen. And yes, we have a fair amount of ugly kibble on those lower legs. I’m not a fan of it, but I can certainly understand that it had to go somewhere, and to be fair, that’s pretty much all of it. He wears the vehicle roof on his back, like a lot of Autobot cars, and just like in the cartoon, the chest piece is stylized to have the VW windows we’re used to seeing on Bumblebee, despite him not taking on that alt mode yet.

The head sculpt is excellent! I think I actually like this one a bit more than the one we got on the War For Cybertron figure, although that one isn’t too bad either. Here we get a little smirk and a fatter, more stylized helmet. This one just screams a little more Sunbow style to me!

Bumblebee comes with a pistol and a jetpack. The jetpack was initially shown off in silver, and I would have preferred it, but what we got is just black plastic. I guess it matches his deco better.

And you also get some of the conductor rods that Bumblebee and Wheeljack were scavenging in the beginning of the first episode. These are a pretty cool bonus accessory, although honestly it doesn’t look like there is enough energy in them to last a quartrex.

In terms of size, in robot mode this figure comes up at almost the exact same height as the War For Cybertron Volkswagen version. His vehicle mode, on the other hand, is a wee bit bigger.

All in all, this is a fun little figure, and one that I didn’t think we’d ever see realized. Despite all the Bumblebee figures Hasbro produces, he’s gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to Cybertron alt modes, and I’m glad they chose this one when they finally got around to doing one. I passed this one up on the pegs a couple times, before eventually grabbing him one day when I couldn’t find anything else and didn’t want to go home empty handed. And I’m mighty glad I did!

Marvel Legends (Colossus Wave): Cyclops and Rogue by Hasbro

I’m in the process of making my way through the second Age of Apocalypse themed wave of Marvel Legends. So far I’ve checked out Magneto and Sabretooth, and today I’m doubling up with a look at Earth-295’s Cyclops and Rogue!

The figures feature some great character art on the side panels and the X-Men logo on the fronts. I think it would have been cool if they did a little more branding for Age of Apocalypse, but I throw these packages out anyway, so it’s no big deal. Each figure comes with one of Colossus’ limbs, and Rogue comes with an extra Colossus hand. Let’s start with Cyclops!

I think Cyclops’ AoA makeover is pretty fun. He’s no longer the clean-cut, straight-arrow, as his dystopian reality (and the glory of mid-90’s comic design) has taken its toll on him. The base figure here is quite simple, with generic blue buck, representing his sleeveless bodysuit. His arms are left bare, but he has some painted gloves to match his suit. The bulk of the new sculpting comes in his gold belt with shoulder armor strap, as well as the reinforced armor on his right glove, and a full armored sleeve on his left. The electric blue used for his suit is absolutely gorgeous and makes for a nice contrast with the gold used for his extra bits. I’m not usually a big fan of the type of gold plastic Hasbro used here, but they did add some scrapes and scuffs to the armor pieces, and I think it actually looks quite good.

The head sculpt is of course new, and like Magneto, Cyclops has trouble finding a barber in Earth-295. I’m actually getting a little bit of a Tommy Wiseau vibe off of this portrait, which is kind of awesome. The copious coif of brown hair is parted to the left to expose the additional gear attached to his visor, and the lone crimson lens covering his remaining eye, while it hangs over his missing peeper. A grim expression is chiseled into the exposed lower half of his face.

Cyclops features pretty standard articulation for this line. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, double-hinges in the elbows, and hinged pegs in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed in the hips, have swivels in the thighs and lower legs, double-hinges in the knees, and hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. You get a waist swivel and ab-crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. Cyclops comes equipped with a pair of fists, but sadly no other hands. Let’s move on to Rogue!

Wow, these colors! Despite her grim surroundings, Rogue went for some eye-assaulting colors on this outfit. You still get the usual yellow, but here it’s mixed with some dark green for her upper sleeves, reinforced panels on her hips and thighs, and electric green for the rest. She has a pair of yellow wrist bangles, and one wide yellow thigh strap on her right leg. We got a fair amount of new sculpting for this figure, mostly evident on her baggie upper sleeves, and her chunky yellow boots, complete with red oval fixtures on the fronts. Lastly, she has a loose green collar resting on her shoulders, with silver studs.

And then there’s the head sculpt. You know how some people say there are comics that are un-filmable? Well, this may be a case of a comic hairdo that’s un-sculptable. I’m sure Hasbro did their best, but this thing is just a mess. And it doesn’t help that they also had to give her a giraffe neck to make it work. The face itself is OK. She looks kind of gaunt next to the Earth-616 Rogue, but maybe it’s because she isn’t on a steady diet of Gambit’s gumbo.

Articulation here is in line with most of the Marvel ladies, which means you get rotating hinges in the elbows, instead of double-hinges and bicep swivels. You get a ball joint under the chest, instead of a waist swivel and ab-crunch hinge. And Rogue has swivels in the thighs, but not in the lower legs.

Unlike Cyclops, Rogue actually does come with a second set of hands, so you get fists, and the same style of splayed finger hands that we got with the previous Rogue.

Coming into this duo, I expected to like Rogue a lot, and not care for Scott Summers at all, but the truth turned out to be the opposite. I think Cyclops is a great looking figure with a style that really tickles my nostalgia for 90’s comic tropes. Rogue is by no means a terrible figure, but it’s just hard for me to get past that hair sculpt.

Transformers (Studio Series 86): Gnaw by Hasbro

Hasbro has been turning out some excellent figures from the original Transformers animated movie through their Studio Series. I’ve covered quite a few of these, but I’ve still got some catching up to do, so today I’m going to have a look at Gnaw the Sharkticon!

It was about five years ago when we last saw Gnaw on the pegs, and that release was a tiny Legends Class, whereas now Gnaw is getting a proper Deluxe Class treatment. As always, the character art for the Studio Series packaging looks great, although I’m still not a fan of the black and red deco with the Transformers logo running up the side in sterile typeface. Also, it looks like something was gnaw-ing at the top of this box, which is fine because I’m about to shred it open. One thing I dig here is the Quintesson faction symbol next to Gnaw’s name. I’ve never noticed Hasbro using that piece of art before and It looks pretty badass! I think I’ll break tradition here and start with Gnaw’s robot mode.

In robot mode, the Sharkticons are the oompa loompas of the scrapyards. They’re short and stocky, and they don’t look too dangerous when they’re solo, but get a pack together and they just overwhelm. Hasbro did a beautiful job here updating the original toy, which has a robot mode that has not aged well. Here we see some great proportions, nice sculpted detail and beautiful colors. Hasbro borrowed the mauve and blue, dark gray and off-white from the original toy and streamlined it to resemble the animated model a lot more. Still, I would have loved to see some silver paint in place of the chrome from the original toy. At least on the teeth!

From the back, this guy is pretty damn tight, with his back dominated by a slab of black, almost like a turtle shell, and his tiny beastly arms hanging off his shoulders. All the beast mode kibble here is well placed, looking like they were style choices, rather than just some random place to tuck them. Everything about this bot mode feels polished to a fine shine. And for such a stocky guy, there’s some great articulation here, right down to the ankle tilts to keep his feet flat on the ground.

The head is a great homage to the original toy’s noggin, sporting a very distinctive “helmet” and a broad face. There’s a lot more detail here and a very displeased expression. I like to imagine that the Sharkticons are just in bad moods all the time because they’re always hungry for more Energon. I also love how well protected this guy’s head is. It’s right in the middle off a perimeter of teeth! I think the only thing I would have changed here would be to get some bright crimson paint on those eyes.

The Sharkticon comes with two weapons for his robot mode. The first is a rather large blaster rifle, which is almost as long as he is tall. The second is a spiked flail, which forms his tail in his beast mode. And speaking of which, let’s check out that beast mode!

I really like what we got here, even if it feels like the emphasis was on the robot mode over this one. The transformation is pretty simple, and yet rather clever at the same time, and everything locks together to make a solid little eating machine. The legs are set pretty far back, but they do a nice job balancing him upright. The hip joints have a habit of dropping him every now and then, but for the most part he stays standing, even without using his tail as a support.

The face is spot on perfect to me, with it’s metallic green bug yes and it’s giant maw of teeth. The jaw is hinged so he can bite, although there isn’t a whole lot of room inside that mouth. On that note, the robot head is unfortunately right inside, albeit facing down. You don’t really see his face, and I suppose the back of the head just works as some kind of weird bulbous tongue. Still, I would have liked to have seen it fold up inside the body, rather than be hanging out there. My only other nitpick is the arms. They swivel at the shoulders and have hinges in the elbows, which isn’t bad, but the shoulders should have been ball jointed.

As mentioned, the flail weapon becomes the tail, and you can also plug the rifle into the Sharkticon’s side to give him some extra firepower.

And here’s a couple comparison shots of the new Gnaw with the previous release. I seem to recall liking the Legends Gnaw when it came out, and to be honest I still do. As a Legends Class toy, it’s a lot simpler, but I think it did a fine job for what it is. And I think it displays really well with the new release, as some sort of less developed version of the Quintessons’ attack dogs.

Also, in keeping with the past Studio Series releases, the package does include a little display backdrop. I really love these, but if I’m being honest with myself, I probably won’t keep them. It would just take up way too much space to display each figure on one of these, and I don’t really want a whole tote full of them taking up more space in the closets.

The 86 movie Transformers figures hit the shelves at a time where I was still watching the cartoon and still taking note of the toys, but I wasn’t really playing with or buying them anymore. As a result, I never owned the original, and I’m happy to see this guy get such an gnawesome treatment. I grabbed up three of them to match the number of the Legends Class version I have, and I think that’ll probably be enough, although if I can find them at a good deal, I won’t say no to a couple more.

Marvel Legends (Colossus Wave): Sabretooth by Hasbro

I had originally planned on tackling this second Age of Apocalypse-themed wave by doubling up each review, and that’s still the plan going forward. But I was at a loss for time last week, so I gave Magneto his own review, and now I’m doing the same for Sabretooth!

Magneto did not come with a BAF part, but Sabretooth comes with Colossus’ head and a second piece for the tie on his mask. I was surprised to see that this is the first time Sabretooth is getting the spotlight here on FFZ, as I never did get around to reviewing his release in the Apocalypse Wave, but I will bring in that figure for a comparison picture at the end.

Besides the new look, this Sabretooth is a helluva lot bulkier than the previous release. He’s a big boy with a decent mix of generic figure buck and some fresh sculpting for his costume. The torso, goin, and legs are all just standard muscle, cast in a light tan, which borderlines on orange. The boots and left gauntlet are dark brown, and all have some nice texturing to look like rough leather, and he has a simple belt to match. The right gauntlet has a matched hand, but the gauntlet sleeve is reinforced to look like metal, with heavy bolts and an extension to fortify the back of Sabretooth’s hand. The final piece of the costume includes a dark brown collar that extends out to his shoulders, and has silver bolts. Meanwhile, the arms are cast in flesh-tone plastic and have sculpted and painted hair, similar to what we’ve seen in some past Wolverine figures!

You get two head sculpts, and I really dig both of them a lot! It’s packed with personality. with a wonderful smirk, exposing just a hint of tooth. The eyes are deep set with big bushy eyebrows, and the well-detailed face is punctuated with a glorious butt-chin. The hair sculpt is also worthy of praise. It’s a separate sculpt, which gives it a clean hairline, parts around the ears, and there’s a plug in ponytail that can swivel.

The second portrait is all business, with his pupils gone, and his mouth drawn up into a big, toothy snarl. You also get a second ponytail to plug into the back of this head as well. That may seem like a no-brainer, but you never know with Hasbro these days. They could have opted to save a few pennies and only include one.

Articulation here is textbook for this bulkier Legends buck. That includes rotating hinges in the shoulders and hips, swivels in the biceps and thighs, hinged pegs for the wrists, hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, double hinges in the knees, and elbows, a waist swivel, an ab crunch hinge, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. Sabretooth also includes two pairs of hands: One pair of fists, and one pair relaxed. There aren’t any other accessories here, but I can’t say he’s really missing any.

I love this look for Sabretooth. It’s clean and tight and just the right mix of generic buck and new sculpt. I also think he looks great on the bigger, bulkier body. And while he still looks pretty damn tough, he appropriately lacks the savage and terrifying expression of the Earth-616 Sabretooth. So far, this Wave is hitting it’s mark two-for-two. Next week, I’ll double up with a look at a couple more!