Transformers Titans Return: Dreadnaut and Overlord by Hasbro

I’ve had a grueling week at work, but what better way to end it then with a new convertorobot. Yes, it’s nice to actually have some consistent Transformers content again because I really missed these guys. And with the Dinobots finally done, I am really anxious to start opening the rest of the Power of the Primes Terrorcons, but before that I thought I’d double back and hit some unfinished business with Titans Return. Let’s check out Overlord!

As with all the Titans Return Leader Class figures, Overlord comes in a big and chunky window box and packaged in his robot mode. My figure’s box got pretty beaten up, but I got a terrific deal on him, so I’m fine with that. I was a little late picking this one up because I was quick to buy Sky Shadow and so I was probably not as anxious to double-dip on a big Leader Class mold. Of course, Overlord is no mere repaint of Sky Shadow, there’s new stuff going on here, and while this figure does invoke a bit of a “been there, done that” feeling in me, there’s plenty new here to love. And since I’ve already reviewed Sky Shadow, you can expect a fair share of comparisons here. Overlord has two alt modes, so let’s start with the tank!

The tank mode is identical to Sky Shadow’s only with a fresh coat of paint… or to be more accurate newly colored plastic. I’ll confess the red and crimson deco looks a lot sharper to me than this white, blue, teal, and purple, but then I tend to find these colors to be more iconic, so it’s a bit of a toss-up as to which one is my favorite. Throw in the translucent yellow hatch and the twin Decepticon insignia straddling the gun and there’s no doubt who this tank is supposed to be! And it’s not that these colors don’t work for me. They’re certainly bright and easy on the eyes and really make the toy pop.

Beyond the deco, this little tank features some fantastic sculpted detail. You get panel lines and hatches, vents, compartments, and some molded treads with wheels on the bottom to help it roll into action. I also love that they sculpted the rifling inside the barrel of the cannon. The turret does not rotate nor does the gun elevate, but the hatch does open to give a place for Dreadnaut to sit. Moving on to the jet mode…

And here’s where the biggest changes in the alt modes come into play. Sky Shadow’s jet mode looked all super sci-fi and stealthy, whereas Overlords is clearly inspired by an SR-71 Blackbird. And I say inspired by, because this mold eschews the sexy curves and contours of the Blackbird for a more angular design, but the cylindrical pylons with pointed tips are unmistakable. Take away those, and I’m getting a strong Cobra Night Raven feel off the body, and that’s not a bad thing. And like the tank mode, the cockpit even opens to offer Dreadnaut a place to sit.

The deco here is still mostly black like Sky Shadow with the main departure being the white and purple on the pylons. The jet features some silver and teal panels on top to simulate stickers from the original G1 toy, but there are also some foil stickers here for the striping on the pylons, deco on the dorsal fins, and a panel at the back. Oh yeah, you can also take the cannon from Overlord’s tank mode and plug it into the back of the jet, so long as your happy having a cannon-less tank rolling around. Before we move on to the robot mode, let’s check out Overlord’s base mode!

I don’t expect much from these base modes, but this one isn’t too bad. I mean, yeah it looks like what it is: A jet standing on its end with the robot legs spread and a gun protruding where his junk should be. But hey, it’s got a tower with a little platform for a Titan Master to stand on and another little control area on the pylon and plenty of pegs to stand other Titan Masters. It’s not great, I’m never going to display it like this, but if I were a kid again playing with my toys, I’m sure I could get some fun out of this. Besides, the fact that it exists doesn’t hurt either of the other modes, so I can feel free to take it or leave it.

And that brings us to Overlord’s robot mode. As with Sky Shadow, the tank transforms into the legs and the jet into the upper half, and Oh boy, this sure is the Overlord I know and love. He’s big, he’s beautiful, and he’s got that great squared-off G1 design aesthetic. His iconic shoulder cones are right where they belong and the front half of his jet attaches to his arm to drive the homage home. Of course, if you prefer your robots more symmetrical and without giant jet kibble on their arm, you can always just leave it off or plug it into his back or even his front. Also, I absolutely love the ankles on this guy. They have such a great range of motion allowing his feet to be flat on the ground no matter what stance you put him in. Damn, he’s a fun figure to play around with!

Dreadnaut makes for a great head and fits into the larger helmet, while still allowing for full rotation at the neck. The silver paint on the face is gorgeous and the red eyes are sharp. The chest features all the right details, including the weapon systems in his lower torso, which in this case don’t actually deploy but rather are just there for show.

The chest hatches do, however, open, so you can power him up with extra Titan Masters. It’s a great nod back to the old Power Master gimmick in the original toy. It’s also cool that this gimmick carries over to the Power of the Primes Power Masters and even make a little more sense in that context. A word of caution, however, I found the Titan Masters are a bitch to get out once I put them in there.

As expected, the cannon for Overlord’s tank mode serves as a hand gun for his robot mode and he can hold it in either hand.

Certainly, having Sky Shadow first meant I wasn’t as anxious to pick up Overlord, but I’m sure glad that I eventually did. This mold is tons of fun to play with, and I was actually surprised at just how many changes Hasbro made to it, at least from the waist up. I’d even go so far as to say this is one of my favorite modern updates to an older figure I’ve seen, and that’s saying a lot because Hasbro has been killing it lately. It’s no secret that Titans Return has been one of my favorite modern Transformers lines of all time and Overlord is a perfect example of why. And since this is likely to be the last Titans Return review I ever publish, I’m glad to be going out on such a high point and with such a fantastic figure!

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Marvel Studios “First Ten Years” Red Skull by Hasbro

I’ve suspended my regular rotation of Marvel Legends reviews so I can get through some of these First Ten Years releases in a timely manner. Besides, I’m so far behind on the other stuff, a few more weeks won’t matter. I’ve already looked at the Civil War set with Cap and Crossbones, and Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy and today I’m opening up Red Skull from Captain America: The First Avenger.

Here’s the packaging and as you can see, Hasbro has branded these differently than the regular Legends releases. You still get a window box, but here it’s all squared off at the edges and features a spiffy new deco. I gotta be honest, Red Skull was one of my least favorite MCU villains. He looked great, but I felt like the movie just didn’t know what to do with him. That didn’t stop me from buying the Hot Toys version way back when, nor from picking up this one. And since this figure doubles as various Hydra soldiers, I’ll probably be picking up a couple more if they turn up at a decent price. Let’s check him out…

Red Skull’s costume had two very distinct looks in The First Avenger, as sometimes he wore a black leather trench coat over his uniform. Hasbro went sans trench coat for the obvious reason of making this body more versatile and I’m cool with that, especially since they did such a great job with his uniform. Not only does it look pretty damn screen accurate, but just about every detail on this costume is part of the actual sculpt.

The dark green tunic features sculpted piping and stitch lines along with sharp black and red stripes. The individual buttons running down the front are also part of the sculpt and painted in gold. They even sculpted the tiny Hydra emblem on his belt buckle and the patch on his left shoulder. The trousers have a slight military flare to them and the boots are painted in glossy black. Hasbro could have easily squeaked by with simple paint for a lot of these details, especially on the tunic, but they seem to be going full guns on these First Ten Year figures and Schmidt here is a great example of that.

The head sculpt is pretty solid. It’s a very different look from the comic versions we’ve had in the past. This one is clearly MCU through and through. I like the wash they used to pick out some of the details, and while the eyes look a little sloppy up close, they actually look fine with the figure in hand. And yeah, I would have liked a Hugo Weaving likeness, but I’ve read that Weaving wasn’t a fan of his work in the MCU and he may not have been willing to allow for the licensing.

The articulation here is excellent. The arms have rotating hinges at the shoulders, double hinges in the elbows, swivels in the biceps, and pegged hinges for the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and the ankles are both hinged and have lateral rockers. There’s a swivel in the waist, a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. All the joints on this guy feel great and he has the agility to go toe-to-toe with my First Avenger Captain America. And not to sound like an infomercial, but wait! There’s more!

Red Skull comes with a tactical harness and three additional heads to turn him into any one of three different MCU Hydra Soldier and I don’t have words to adequately express how cool an idea this is. The harness opens at one end where the shoulder strap meets the belt via a peg, which makes it pretty easy to put on and take off. It has a silver plate on the back and a beautiful Hydra emblem sculpted onto the belt buckle. Obviously, this doesn’t totally transform the uniform, but I think it adds just the right amount of combat gear to make it work as a rank-and-file soldier. Let’s check out the noggins! They’re all good, but let’s go from my favorite to least favorite.

My favorite is the fully enclosed mask. Yeah, it looks a little gimp masky, but I think it also looks as intimidating as all hell. The detail is a little soft, but it’s got all sorts of stitch marks and some nice silver paint on the goggles and the ribbed sections that reach up from the goggles and around the back of the head.

Next up is basically the same head gear, but with the lower mask removed to expose the soldier’s mouth and nose. Again, I dig the fully masked look more, but this would look really nice thrown into the mix with a couple of the masked ones.

And finally, there’s one that’s just more of a smooth helmet with cheek guards and goggles with red lenses and silver trim. The design on this one is fine, I just think it lacks the personality of the other ones. Also, the paint on this head isn’t terribly sharp between the exposed skin and the helmet, so your mileage may vary.

Of course, you can’t have a Hydra Soldier without a weapon, so Hasbro threw in a Tesseract-powered rifle along with an extra left hand to help him hold it. I like the design of the rifle a lot. It kind of looks like a German Heavy Machine Gun mixed with sci-fi tech, which is exactly what it’s supposed to be! Alas, the configuration of the grip and trigger doesn’t work very well with the right hand. He can grip it well enough, but his trigger finger won’t reach. But hey, at least that means he’s always practicing proper trigger-discipline. The extra left hand does a nice job of gripping the forward grip.

This is a great package and right now Red Skull is rivaling Crossbones as my favorite of the four First Ten Years figures that I’ve opened. The sculpt and paintwork are both excellent and I get warm and fuzzy feelings about adding another MCU villain to my Legends shelf. If I were to nitpick, I really would have loved to get a pistol and Cosmic Cube, but seeing as how Hasbro tossed in the ability to convert him to a Hydra Soldier, I’ll happily table those complaints. Indeed, I’m amazed that Hasbro didn’t release this as a two-pack. Either Red Skull and a Hydra Soldier or just an MCU Hydra two-pack like they did with the comic versions. Hell, they could still do that and I’ll happily lay down forty bucks for it, because I have a feeling it’s going to be a challenge to find a few more individual figures at a decent price.

Transformers “Power of the Primes:” Snarl by Hasbro

It’s been a hard fought battle, folks, but I finally got a full set of the Power of the Primes Dinobots and today I’m opening up the last one, which just happens to be Snarl. I never had his toy as a kid, and since Fansproject snubbed him when it came to their Lost Exo Realm Not-Dinobots, I don’t even have a third party version. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited to pop my Snarl cherry. Eww, that sounded all kinds of wrong.

I don’t have much new to say about the packaging. It looks good, I like that they used the Dino modes as the character art for these figures. I also really dig how the bubble insert has a picture of the toy in his Dino mode right in front of the figure packaged in his robot mode. I’d say that as a character Snarl has been my least favorite of the Dinobots, but that’s not something he should be ashamed of, because somebody had to come in last even in a group of awesome Dinosaur robots! Let’s start with his alt mode…

When I was a kid this was called a Stegosaurus. Have the dinosaur scientists changed this yet? It seems like they’re always telling me the dinosaurs I grew up learning about never existed or they changed the names or some such nonsense. Pfft… Science… am I right? Anyway like all the PotP Dinobots, Snarl has a fantastic alt mode that pays respects to the original toy. And while I think he tends to be the least photogenic of these Dinos, I still think Hasbro did a great job on him. There’s plenty of sculpted detail in his body, from vents and panel lines to various other ports and mechanisms. They even remembered to put the tiny spikes at the end of his stubby tail! It kind of sucks that they decided to stamp copyright bullshit all over the outside of one of his back plates, but whaddya gonna do, eh?

The coloring is also spot on. You get some gray and red plastic making up the bulk of his body, both of which do a nice job of matching the colors on the original toy. He also features clear plastic over gold and silver to mimic that rather distinctive effect that the original Dinobot toys had. OK, I actually don’t remember Snarl showing that off too much, but I like that they included it here to make him match the other figures better. Snarl also includes some matte gold, which isn’t as snazzy as the metallic gold on the original toy, but it looks fine. The deco is rounded out by some black plastic on the side panels and rear legs, and some tampos on his back. He looks a little more patchwork in design than some of the other Dinobots, but I still dig him.

Articulation in Dino mode features basic stuff. The back legs connect to the body with ball joints and have hinges about halfway down. The front legs just rotate at the body. There’s no articulation in Snarl’s jaw, but two of his back spikes can hinge down and have footpegs to allow some Titan or Prime Masters to ride on his back. Cool!

And you just know that I have to bring up the size and how diminutive these Dinobots are, so let’s do it! Here’s a shot of Snarl’s Dino mode next to Chromedome from Titans Return in his Auto mode and I just can’t accept this. I think this mold would have worked fine as a Voyager Class and I really wish Hasbro had gone that route. But I’ve said all this a bunch of times already, so let’s move on to the robot mode…

All of the PotP Deluxe Dinobots have had solid robot modes and Snarl carries on that tradition nicely. The front half of the Dino mode becomes the legs, with the front Dino legs on the sides and the head spit and tucked behind them. I like how the spine bits run up the front of his legs. Snarl advertises his combiner port in the center of his chest, but to be honest it works with the overall look just perfectly. He also features an Autobot insignia stamped in the middle. Easily the most distinctive thing about Snarl’s robot mode is the way his tail splits and arches up behind his head and shoulders like a crescent moon. The deco is largely in keeping with the alt mode deco. I dig the gold forearms and the way the colorful tampos on his Dino back wind up front and center on his robot legs. He also has a few more tampos on either side of his chest.

From the back things aren’t too bad. I’d say the most unsightly thing here are the halves of the Dino head that hang off the backs of his legs, but as far as kibble goes, it’s not awful. I should note that I really dig the proportions on this guy, and that’s been the case for all the Deluxe PotP Dinobots.

The head sculpt is excellent, although I’ll confess to not being all that attached to Snarl’s likeness in the cartoon or comics. He has a very human-looking face, painted with brilliant silver and two neatly painted red eyes. I also dig the horns that come up off his “helmet.” They go well with the spiked crescent behind his head.

One of my gripes about these Dinobots has been their weapons. We all know by now that Grimlock didn’t come with a gun or a sword, which was criminal. As for these Deluxe figures, Hasbro basically sculpted a single gun and a single sword, and gave two of the figures guns and two of them swords. Snarl’s sword is cast in clear plastic, but otherwise it’s the same as the one that came with Swoop. I like the design, but it looks kind of puny in his hand. I’m also not a big fan of the clear plastic. I’d rather they just gave us another red one, or even better painted them both silver. Of course, Snarl also comes with a Prime Armor piece, which I’m going to totally ignore.

Shall I bring up size one more time? Why not. Here he is in robot mode with Chromedome and while his tail crescent actually does make him a bit taller overall, he still looks so undersized to me and even kind of puny. Chromedome looks like he’d have a fair chance taking down Snarl in a fight, and that shouldn’t be the case.

I can’t stress enough how much I love these figures on their own. They really are great little modern updates to the original Dinobots, keeping the iconic aesthetics but adding articulation and play value. Just having them all together on the shelf is making me so happy because I never owned a full set of the original Dinobots, and these guys look amazing together. It’s only when I display them with other Transformers that I get bummed out because of how small they are. I’m not inherently against the idea of Dinobots as a combiner team. It kind of makes sense, but I can’t help but feel sacrifices were made in favor of that gimmick and if Hasbro hadn’t gone that route, maybe we could have had these as Voyager Class figures with Grimlock as a Leader Class. Man, that would have been so cool!  Oh yeah, and in case you’re wondering, I’m not going to be reviewing the combined form of these guys. I just really don’t care enough and I don’t think the end results warrant the effort. It’s possible some day I’ll invest in a Third-Party upgrade kit, and if that’s the case I’ll look at Volcanicus as a means of reviewing the kit, but for now I’m going to leave it at that.

Star Wars Black (The Force Awakens): Admiral Ackbar and First Order Officer by Hasbro

It’s weird to still have Toys R Us exclusives in play, what with the company folding this year. I didn’t get all emotional about TRU closing, because visiting the nearest one was a two-hour round trip and it was so poorly maintained that it was never worth the effort. Obviously, I’d rather they stayed open so people didn’t have to lose their jobs, but what can you do, eh? In any event, a few weeks back, I picked up this TRU Exclusive 2-pack on the cheap from Amazon, and I’m finally getting around to opening it up today. Let’s check out Admiral Ackbar and the First Order Officer!

The figures come in a window box that’s pretty typical of the Star Wars Black Series from the red backdrop behind the tray right down to the monochrome character art. You also get the silver foil TRU Exclusive sticker on the window, which may very well be the last one of these we see here at FFZ. I’ll also note that my box looks like it’s been punted around the backroom a couple of dozen times by disgruntled soon-to-be-ex-TRU employees. But that’s OK, I don’t save these packages and at the price I paid for this set, they could have just wrapped the figures in old newspapers for all I care. Let’s start with mah-boy Ackbar!

It’s kind of weird that we’re getting Ackbar from The Force Awakens before a Return of the Jedi version, but I’m sure that one will be coming down the pike soon enough. In this case we get the Mon Calamari Admiral in his Resistance uniform and while it’s kind of drab compared to the duds he was sporting in Jedi, it’s still a good look for him. His costume consists of a pea-soup colored tunic, which has a sculpted rank or ID badge on the left side of his chest. The plastic garment looks like it’s made to secure behind a sculpted front flap, which spills over his belt, concealing where the belt buckle would be. The rest of the outfit is rounded out with a pair of blue trousers and brown boots. I always thought it was weird that the Mon Calamari have giant fish heads and flipper arms, but normal feet. Indeed, Ackbar’s feet are kind of tiny, but he still stands just fine. There’s some really nice sculpted detail and texturing on his forearms and hands too.

But it’s the head sculpt that really sells this figure, as Hasbro did a beautiful job on him. That probably shouldn’t come as any surprise, because as much as I rag on the mediocrity and poor likenesses of the 6-inch Black Series, they almost always do a fine job on the alien portraits. Ackbar here is certainly no exception. They recaptured Ackbar’s fishy noggin in every little detail. I’m especially impressed by the ribbed area round his lower face and those tendril-like whiskers that hang down from his nose. And as fantastic as the sculpt is, the paintwork elevates it even more. The glossy finish on the red gives him a bit of a wet look and the gradient shades of red make for a pleasingly complex finish. The eyes are also perfect.

And if all that wasn’t enough, Ackbar even features an articulated jaw. I was not expecting this, but what a pleasant surprise! The hinge is really well hidden and I’m happy to say that adding this gimmick doesn’t take away from the head sculpt at all.

I’d like to think Ackbar was some kind of badass action hero in his younger days, but this is older Ackbar and as an Admiral, he doesn’t need to do much besides sit in a chair and bark orders. Still, he has decent articulation if you want to give him something more to do. Rotating hinges in his shoulders, elbows, and wrists allow him to do the standard, arms behind back pose that suits these officer-types so well. The legs are ball jointed in the hips, have double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and the ankles are both hinged and have lateral rockers. You get a ball joint in the torso, and the neck is ball jointed, but I don’t think there’s a hinge in there. As a matter of fact, I can’t get much movement out of his neck at all.

Ackbar does actually come with a blaster, and I’m always down with that. This one looks like it’s supposed to be an offshoot of the DH-17. I don’t know what happened to Ackbar’s little swagger stick. Maybe he just doesn’t use it anymore. Or maybe the Resistance is more of a rough-and-tumble kind of outfit that requires even the Admirals to be armed. Either way, I really dig the design of this little pistol and while Ackbar doesn’t really have a trigger finger on that flipper hand, he can hold the gun quite well. Alas, there’s nowhere to store it on his person. I would have liked a loop on the back of his belt to tuck it in there, so he could pull it out and repel boarders on the bridge of his Capital Ship. Whatever the case, Ackbar is a fantastic figure, and I would have been perfectly happy getting him as a single boxed figure. And that brings us to the First Order Officer…

Don’t ask me why, but I love getting figures of Imperial, or in this case First Order, Officers. Maybe I have a delusion that someday Hasbro will release an Imperial bridge as a playset and I can populate it with all sorts of top brass. I doubt that’s going to ever happen, but it won’t stop me from snapping up these officers every time I see them. I have no idea what this fellow’s actual rank is, but he’s wearing a sharp-looking uniform that looks like it’s a very dark charcoal in color with shiny black boots. I really love the sculpted tunic on this guy. It has flared shoulders and it’s belted with one of those wide belts with a big slab of belt buckle, which hasn’t changed much from the Imperial days. He has two sets of rods on his chest, which I’ve been told are some kind of security keys, and he has a sculpted band around his forearm with white edges. The outfit is rounded out by a holster on his right side.

For the head sculpt, Hasbro did a pretty decent job giving us Generic Officer Man. I actually think the sculpt itself is actually quite good. He’s got more than a bit of personality in there, from his pouty bottom lip to the little cleft mark in his chin. As usual the very basic paint lets the sculpt down. His eyebrows look extra cartoony and while his eyes are fairly neat and straight, they don’t lend a lot of realism to the portrait. My only other complaint would be that the skin tone is really pale.

Much like Ackbar’s jaw, the First Order Officer also hides a pleasant surprise and that’s his removable cap! Under the cap, he’s just got a buzz cut painted on with no actual sculpted detail on the hair. But that’s fine, because it means the cap fits the head so well that I didn’t even think it was removable. Besides, the military style cut suits him.

The articulation here is identical to what we saw with Ackbar, minus the hinged jaw of course! He can take some solid poses, but like Ackbar, I don’t anticipate these fellows seeing a lot of action, unless their ship gets boarded or Poe makes an attack run and they have to scuttle off to their escape pods.

The First Order Officer comes with a pistol, which fits nicely into his holster, and can be held in either hand. As with a lot of weapons in The Force Awakens, this one is a pretty unique and interesting design.

Originally I was going to pass on this two-pack, because I had no chance of finding it at a Toys R Us and other places online were selling it for around $45 and that was just more than I wanted to spend. I was ultimately able to pick it up on Amazon for $18 and even at that price I found myself really thinking over whether I actually needed it. In the end, I’m really glad I picked it up. It’s definitely worth it for Ackbar alone. He’s a fantastic figure, but the First Order Officer is no slouch either. And yes, I’ll happily buy another Ackbar when Hasbro gets around to doing a Return of the Jedi version!

Marvel Studios “First Ten Years” Ronan by Hasbro

In case you missed it, Hasbro is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe by going back and releasing some figures of characters they missed the first time around. A few weeks back I checked out the Captain America and Crossbones set from Civil War and today I’m turning my attention to Ronan from Guardians of the Galaxy. [Insert polarizing opinion about James Gunn controversy here].

The First Ten Years releases run the gamut from single packs to two-packs, and even some three packs. Whatever the case, they all come in window boxes, which have been re-branded to help them stand out from the regular Marvel Legends releases. The corners are all squared off and you get a new deco and Marvel Studios logo. Back when Hasbro was doing figures for the first Guardians film, I thought omitting Ronan figure was a huge oversight, and I’m extremely happy that Hasbro is rectifying that now. So let’s get this Kree accuser out of the box and check him out.

And wow, what an amazing sculpt this is! Ronan’s Kree battle armor gave the sculptors at Hasbro a rich canvas to work on and they did not disappoint. Every tiny facet of the armor is realized in full detail. His coat is sculpted as part of the torso and extends down past the waist as a separate soft plastic piece, which hangs around the legs, and it’s all pretty convincing as one garment, save for the cut for the waist swivel. The coat features a grid of segmented armor pieces, almost like scales, which forms a strip running straight down to between his legs. In other areas, some of the armor plates have cool vein-like wrinkles sculpted into them, suggestive of some kind of weird alien forging process.

I really dig the super-fine texturing showing in the lower part of the coat, also seen on some of the leg panels. It looks like some kind of micro-chain armor. There’s also some very fine ribbing in the joints around his underarms. Two strips hang down his back with, like two thin capes, each with an intricate pattern, like a techno-snakeskin. While the coloring here is fairly drab, you do get a nice mix of dark gray metal with some silver, as well as swipes of red forming a pattern on his chest that looks like war paint. Obviously, the MCU figures give Hasbro a lot more to work with when it comes to detail, and I think Ronan here may be one of their most intricate sculpts yet. Pair that with the excellent coloring and this is quite simply an amazing looking figure.

The portrait is no slouch either. Not only is this a solid likeness, but the glossy paint they used for his eyes give him a slight spark of life that I don’t recall ever seeing in a figure in this scale before. He does have some blue veins painted in on his face, which I don’t remember seeing on him in the film, and also the black warpaint around his eyes and mouth. And just in case you thought this review was going to be nothing but me gushing, here’s where we get into some problems…

The soft plastic hood is permanently attached to the head and so is the shoulder armor. Yup, when you turn Ronan’s head, his shoulders turn with it, and this is a terrible design. It’s not too bad if you just tweak his neck articulation, but if you want any significant amount of head turn, it just looks so awkward. I get it, the design features the hood running under the shoulder plates, but here’s where I would have been OK with some creative license on Hasbro’s part. They should have attached the shoulders to the torso via soft plastic connectors and just shaved a little bit off the hood. As things stand, his neck articulation is useless unless you want his shoulder armor levitating in mid air. What a shame.

As long as we’re on the subject of articulation, let’s run down the points. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have swivels in the thighs. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The torso features an ab-crunch hinge and a swivel in the waist, and lastly the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. It all sounds fine on paper, but in reality there are a few issues. . First off, the ab-crunch hinge on my figure is extremely loose. It will hold most positions, but it feels all floppy. Second, the lower half of his armor coat does inhibit the leg movement quite a bit. And finally, those shoulders don’t work well with his arms raised over his head. As great as this figure looks, I can’t say he’s all that much fun to play with. I was struggling just to come up with different poses for pictures.

Of course, Ronan comes with his hammer and it’s a decent enough accessory. It’s cast in gray plastic and there’s some nice swirly effects in the head. The shaft even has some sculpted detail. It even has the glowing purple Infinity Stone centered in its head. Ronan’s hands are sculpted so that he can hold it in either hand, or both.

I was terribly excited to get this figure in hand and even as I was checking him out in the box, I thought he couldn’t be anything else but a slam-dunk. And if I just planned on posing him on my shelf standing with his hammer by his side, then I suppose he turned out pretty great. But the moment I got him in hand and started fiddling about with him, the pangs of disappointment began to build. The design choices here definitely favor display over play, and I suppose that’s fine for a lot of collectors out there, but I like to get a little more out of these little plastic people, and so this release left me a little cold. Hopefully I’ll have better luck next week, as I keep the First Ten Years train rolling along with a review of another of these new Marvel Studios releases.

Transformers “Power of the Primes” Sludge by Hasbro

If you follow me on Twitter, then you know how hard it has been to find me some Power of the Primes toys. Indeed, the poor distribution in my area and the scalper prices I’ve been seeing online played a big part in me justifying a roll back to three reviews a week and killing off Transformers Thursday. Thankfully I managed to bust that log jam and pick up the remaining Dinobots as well as the rest of the Terrorcons. And while I’m not about to bring back Transformers Thursday, I’d say it’s a safe bet that you’ll be seeing Transformers reviews dominating Fridays for the next month or so. So, hooray for more Transformers reviews! I’m really excited to get to the Terrorcons, but I feel like I should take care of unfinished business with the Dinobots first, so today I’m opening up Sludge.

And here’s the in-packaged shot, showing off some pretty rad character art. I like the fact that they’ve been using the Dino Modes for the card art, even though the figure comes packaged in his robot mode. It also makes me happy that the Copyright Gods allowed Sludge to keep his name, unlike poor Slag… I mean, Slug. I’ve yet to see these guys in the wild and for the longest time they were selling for around $35 at my usual online sources, but just last week Amazon dropped them to regular retail and I jumped on them. Let’s start with Sludge’s alt mode…

So, I don’t even know what’s going on in the world of dinosaur taxonomy these days, but back when I was a kid this was called a Brontosaurus and since we all know dinosaurs are an invention of The Illuminati anyway, I’m sticking with that name. And he’s a pretty great looking little dinosaur. Hasbro went nuts with the sculpting on these Dinos, giving them all sorts of panel lines and and little vents. Sludge also has some open panels on his back plates that allows you to see into his inner workings, which is kind of neat. He also has some peg holes on the sides, just in case you want to weaponize him. Hasbro even slapped some stickers on him to recreate the circuitry behind the vents on his back.

I really dig the way Hasbro managed to recapture the deco of the original toys by using clear plastic over gold for part of the head. The tail and back legs are also clear with what looks to be silver painted in from the inside to create a similar effect, along with some gold circling the joint. The gray and red plastic looks pretty close to the original toy too. Throw in some black and gold paint, and you’ve got a deco that does the old G1 release proud.

The articulation is serviceable. The front legs are ball jointed where they meet the body, have hinges in the knees and swivels halfway between. The back legs only rotate at the body and there’s no tail articulation at all. The jaw will open a bit, and there’s a swivel at the neck, which is there for transformation purposes, but it can be used to make Sludge tilt his head from side to side. So far so good, but then we get to size…

All in all, if I were looking at this alt mode in a vacuum, I’d have very little nitpicks, but I keep coming back to how ridiculously small these guys are, even for Deluxe Classes. I’ve been a Transformers collector almost all my life and I’m willing to overlook a lot of scale issues, but it’s hard for me to overlook this one. Just check him out next to Generations Wheeljack. As Grimlock might say, “Dino not same size as car! Why Dino same size as car?” Actually, Sludge looks a little smaller than Wheeljack’s auto mode. In a perfect world, I think modern Dinobots should be Leader Class, but I would have happily accepted Voyager Class. These guys are supposed to be big and imposing, but here he just looks puny and pathetic. Oh well. Let’s transform him and check out his robot mode.

There’s nothing too complicated going on with the transformation here and the resulting bot is pretty damn good. The dino hind legs are a little kibbly on his lower legs, but I do like how the two halves of the tail fold to the back and serve as additional heel spurs. I think the biggest departure here from the Sludge design I’m used to seeing is the way the wings are lower down on his torso and not up over his shoulders. It’s not a big deal to me, and you can actually just swing those all the way back if you want to give him a cleaner look from the front. It’s worth noting that Sludge’s combiner port lands on his back, giving him a clean and distinctive torso design.

He’s not quite as tidy in the back, but there’s nothing here that’s too terrible. The dino neck and head hang down his back, forming a pretty copious backpack, but that was something I expected. The deco in robot mode is more or less the same as in his alt mode. There’s more black and red showing and I still think all the colors look great. It’s hard to imagine a Deluxe sized update to Sludge turning out better than this guy.

The head sculpt is quite solid too. Sludge always had a sad and derpy look to me, and this expression here carries that pretty nicely. The paint used for the face and eyes looks great. Here you can also make out the tiny Autobot insignia printed on his chest. Much like the alt mode, I’ve got no major  complaints with the robot mode, until we get to that ugly issue of size and scaling.

Here’s a size comparison with Generations Wheeljack in robot mode and this just doesn’t work for me at all. Wheeljack looks like he could probably take Sludge in a fight and that’s not right. Oh yeah, and I forgot to turn his forearms around in this photo… my bad.

Sludge comes with two accessories, a gun and his Prime Armor piece. You should know by now that I’m not going to waste any time on the Prime Armor piece, other than to say it looks like the same one we got with Swoop and Slug. The gun is also recycled and is the exact same one that came with Slug. I wouldn’t mind so much if Hasbro had given us guns with all of the Dinobots. I mean, come on, Hasbro. If you’re saving money packing in the same gun, just go ahead and arm all of them. On the plus side, I do really dig how Sludge can hold the gun with both hands.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, my feelings about Sludge are the same ones I had with Slug. He’s features a great sculpt, fantastic coloring, and has excellent robot and alt modes, but in the end he’s too small to interact with my other Transformers. Maybe I can have them fight Combiner Wars Devastator, but that’s about it. As an isolated team, I think the PotP versions of the first three Dinobots look great together, but I just can’t get past the scaling issues. Only Swoop escapes this problem, because I can get behind him being a little smaller. The saddest thing is that I think these molds are detailed enough where they could have worked as Voyager Class figures. Has anyone done up-scaled KO versions of these? Because that needs to happen. Next week, I’ll wrap up my look at these guys with Snarl!

Marvel Legends (Sasquatch Wave): X-23 by Hasbro

Welcome to another Marvel Monday! I’m used to posting these early in the morning right before I go to work, but now I’m posting them early in the morning right after getting home from work. Yeah, in case you missed the earlier disclaimer, I’ll be working nights on a project that will last until sometime in October and while I hope this will not effect content here, it’s certainly possible. But for now the show must go on and today the Wheel of Legends landed on the Sasquatch Wave for the second week in a row. Let’s check out Laura Kinney… X-23!!!

I have to say, this wave has been pretty great. In fact, there’s only one figure in this assortment that I wasn’t excited to get and I’m saving him for last. Oh, I mean… the totally random Wheel of Legends just hasn’t landed on him yet. Phew. Nice save on my part. Anyway, X-23 comes in a Deadpool branded package, which is a bit odd. In the past, Hasbro has changed up the branding on themed waves, and I’m not sure why they didn’t do that here, but I’m just going to throw the package out so it really doesn’t matter to me. A quick glance tells us there’s nothing in the way of accessories, but to make up for that, she does come with the giant Sasquatch torso Build-A-Figure part.

And here’s X-23 out of the package and the first thing I’ll say is how genuinely surprised I am that they didn’t go for Ms. Kinney in her Wolverine costume. Not that I’m complaining. I’m not a fan of that book, or Marvel’s bizarre insistence on replacing established characters. I am, however, a fan of her in the costume, so I wouldn’t mind getting that figure down the road. But, for now, we get X-23 in her X-Force Spec Ops outfit, which isn’t that far removed from what she’d been wearing before taking on the blue and yellow spandex. This is also fairly similar in design to the 4-inch figure we got a while back in the 2011 Marvel Universe line.

The bulk of the outfit is achieved through paint alone, although she does have some nice sculpted detail on her tall boots, including the straps that run up the sides, each with its own silver painted buckles. She also has a separately sculpted belt with the X-emblem on the buckle. The crop top is synonymous with several of her modern looks, but the gray bits really call out the X-Force look. The paint lines are overall pretty clean with a few minor flubs here and there. Unfortunately, there is a rather unsightly seam running up the side of her exposed midriff. Too bad they couldn’t have concealed this better.

I really dig this head sculpt a lot. It feels maybe a tad big for the body, but that might be because of the copious blowing hair. I’m not always a fan of the windblown look with sculpted hair, but I do like it here and I haven’t found too many poses where it gets in the way or looks out of place. The expression is pure rage with her teeth gritted as if she’s about to plunge her claws into someone, and I’m certainly cool with that. I will admit, I’m not a huge fan of the grey stripe on her mask, but that’s more an issue I have with the costume design than with the actual figure. All in all, really nice work here.

As with previous Wolverine figures, X-23’s claws are simply slotted into her hands, so they can be removed and added to allow for both display options. They’re pretty stiff and not too bendy, which is always a good thing. But what about her other claws?

Yeah, clearly the most obvious misstep here is that she doesn’t have her foot claws. I’m only mentioning it now, but it was the first thing I noticed when I took her out of the package. I hadn’t seen any reviews of this figure and since her feet are obscured by the Deadpool logo, I honestly expected them to be there. Even after I got her out of the package, I was looking in the tray to see if they had fallen out, but nope… she just doesn’t have them. Now, I’m not up on my X-23 funnybooks, so maybe there’s a reason for this in the official canon, but my guess is that Hasbro just didn’t include them on the figure for some inexplicable reason.

The articulation here is pretty good, but I have a few minor complaints. The arms feature those weird rotating shoulder hinges, which just don’t look all that natural. Otherwise, you have the regular rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists. The legs have ball jointed hips, swivels in the thighs and at the tops of the boots, and double hinges in the knees. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint under the chest and the neck has both a hinge and ball joint. Ms. Kinney is generally a pretty agile character, so the articulation here isn’t quite up to the task of all I’d like her to be able to do, but as far as the Legends line goes, it’s acceptable.

And so, X-23 takes her place as another really solid figure in a really solid assortment. I wouldn’t mind getting a few repaints out of this one, maybe Hasbro can whip up a striped top variant to take another $20 away from me. Whatever the case, I was happy to see them dig a little deeper here rather than go with a current comic that I’m just not into at all. Then again, I’m sure I’m going to buy the Laura Kinney Wolverine whenever they get around to it anyway. And that leaves just one more figure in this wave before I can build Sasquatch. But next week, I’ll be tossing randomness to the wind and taking a look at one of the Marvel Studio: First Ten Years figures!

Star Wars Black: Grand Moff Tarkin by Hasbro

The 6-inch Black Series is perpetually in danger of getting dropped by your’s truly. It seems like for every great figure, there are a handful of mediocre ones. It also seems like Hasbro continually squanders the opportunity to make use of the larger scale and produce figures that are genuinely better than what could be done in the 4-inch scale. But just as I’m about ready to call it quits, Hasbro goes and teases a new release that gets me all hot and bothered again. And yep, Tarkin is just that kind of figure. I pre-ordered him, which is something I rarely ever do with this line, and it felt like it took forever for him to finally arrive.

I’ve got nothing new to say about the packaging, so let me gush over Peter Cushing for a bit. There’s no doubt Star Wars introduced him to me, but as I got a little older, I would discover the films of his horror career and I became smitten with him as an actor. Darth Vader may have had the spotlight in merchandising, but let’s not forget that Tarken was holding his leash, making him one of the greatest bad asses of the entire Original Trilogy. When he featured prominently (and posthumously) in Rogue One, I was so delighted, it was easy for me to look past the blemishes in the CG. Yup, I really dig him and here he is in all his 6-inch action figure glory. Hopefully there isn’t any foul stench!

OK, I’ll concede that this is not the most exciting action figure around. It’s an old man in a uniform. Indeed, for as much as I adore having this figure in my collection, I have surprisingly little that I can actually say about it. The uniform has some nice texturing and stitch lines. I was expecting heavy reuse from the Director Krennic figure, and there’s definitely some here. The legs appear to be the same, as do the arms, albeit with new hands. The tunic looks like a re-sculpt, as there’s some added wrinkles to the area below the belt, among other minor differences. The belts are different too, and of course Krennic wears a blaster, whereas Tarkin does not.

The head sculpt is pretty solid, but I will admit that it looks better in hand than it does in photos. I also think it loses a little something when viewed from straight on, but give that head a little quarter turn and I think it’s a pretty impressive likeness. The paint is also much improved over what we’ve been seeing in this line in the past. In terms of human portraits, I’d say this is definitely a step in the right direction. On the downside, the tunic area on my figure has some paint inconsistencies with some splotches that make it look perpetually wet in some areas. It’s not a disaster, but it is noticeable enough that I may pick up a second Tarkin if I can find him for a good price.

The articulation here is pretty standard stuff for the Black Series. You get rotating hinges in his shoulders, elbows, wrists, and hips. He’s got double hinges in his knees, and his ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a ball joint in his waist and both a hinge and ball joint in his neck. The joints feel good and all have a fairly decent range of motion. But hey, this is Tarkin. You pretty much just need him to stand somewhere and gesture while he commands the people around him. Conveniently, Hasbro used a gun holding right hand for him, and while he doesn’t need it to hold a gun, the trigger finger works nicely for pointing. Normally, I would have liked it if Hasbro threw in a gun, but instead we got something a lot cooler.

Yup, Tarkin comes with the Interrogation Droid! This black plastic ball of pain comes mounted on a clear flight stand with a ball joint so you can adjust it’s positioning a bit. It features a great amount of sculpted detail and some silver and red paint apps. It also has its various instruments of torture deployed, including a rather chunky version of the syringe it was going to use on Princess Leia. As far as accessories go, this one is fantastic!

It’s possible not everyone is going to be as excited to get Tarkin as I am. There’s a fair amount of reuse and resculpt here, he’s a simple design, and he doesn’t exactly put the action in action figure. But as much as I love the character and the actor, I’d say this one was pretty high on my 6-inch Black Series Want List. Hasbro did a nice job on him and even stepped up the game by bundling him with the Interrogation Droid, and all in all he was well worth the wait. And yeah, I’m also pretty excited about the releases of General Veers and Admiral Piet. I’ll take as many top Imperial brass as I can get!

Marvel Legends (Sasquatch Wave): X-Force Deadpool by Hasbro

Before I get into Marvel Monday, I need to throw out the possibility of interruptions in my usual posts starting next week. I’m starting a mammoth project at work, which is going to be ongoing through to October, and I’m not sure yet if/how it will effect the time I have to spend on this blog. I do know that I will keep Marvel Mondays going whatever the cost, but there’s a possibility that I might have to drop to just two reviews a week if things get dicey. Hopefully that won’t happen, but I just wanted to give everyone a heads up in case it does. And with that out of the way… I have spun the Wheel of Legends and today’s figure is… X-Force Deadpool!

This is Wade’s second appearance in this wave and I reviewed the red-suited version of The Merc With A Mouth back in May. I also lamented how that figure was wanting for accessories. Well, that’s not the case here. Not only does this one come with Sasquatch’s noggin, but he also comes with a little arsenal of weapons. And not only is Hasbro stuffing two Deadpools in one wave here, but this one is also a double dip, because we got the first X-Force Deadpool in the modern Legends line way back in 2012. Not that I’m complaining because, quite frankly, that first one has not aged well. But is this one just a cash-grab repaint?

Um, sort of? Most of the buck is recycled from the modern Deadpool we got back in the Juggernaut Wave and repainted into the black and gray X-Force suit. The paint lines are sharp and the colors look great. The big differences in the body consist of the removal of the armor pieces from his fore arms and lower legs, and a new pair of feet. The articulation here is identical, so I won’t run through all that again, but keep in mind this one does not have the shoulder crunches like the Classic Deadpool from this wave.

Almost all his add-on gear is different. The belt appears to be a new sculpt, but the brace of pouches and holster on his right leg are reused from the Juggernaut Wave Deadpool. I like that the tiny belt buckle features the “X” symbol instead of his trademark Deadpool insignia. There’s some nice texturing and detail on the pouches and the individual button snaps and buckles are painted silver. It really sets the thigh piece apart from its previous appearance. The ankle cuffs do appear to be the same as the ones on the other Deadpool in this wave and this figure has an added collar piece around his neck.

The other big difference between this guy and Redpool from this wave is his shoulder rig. Gone is the cross strap, and now his scabbards are held on by a pair of shoulder straps.The scabbards run parallel to each other instead of crisscrossing. The scabbards are also longer to accommodate his longer katanas, which I’ll get to in a bit. That’s not to say the rig is new, it’s actually another piece that’s recycled from Juggernaut Wave Deadpool and I’m fine with that.

Also borrowed from Juggsy Deadpool is the headsculpt, which features the stitch lines that run down the sides of his face. There’s a nice hint of his facial features under the mask and it has the little sculpted point drooping on the back. And while this version doesn’t come with an unmasked head, you can use the one that came with Juggsy Deadpool as it fits just fine. *Taco not included. Let’s move on to accessories.

It’s nice that Deadpool comes with some guns this time, but I’m not really a fan of what we got. The rifle design is the same one that was included with Juggsy Deadpool and it’s pretty boring. It did get some coloring this time, but the odd choice of black and blue coloring makes it even more bizarre. It’s also cast in some super bendy plastic, which feels cheap.

The pistol is a decent enough sculpt, but it’s colored in blue with a red plug on the barrel making it look like a toy. I’m not too far behind in my Deadpool reading, but if the toyish looking gun is a comic reference, I don’t get it. Why not just cast it in gray or black plastic?

I am, however, happy to see the shorter straight swords from Classic Deadpool gone and replaced by the longer katanas that we got with Juggsy Deadpool. Sure, Hasbro has gotten some mileage out of these, but why not? They’re great swords. Some silver paint on the blades would have made them even better, but the gray plastic looks OK. I should note that Deadpool’s right hand is sculpted for the purpose of holding his guns, so that grip is pretty loose for the swords. He can hold it at certain angles, but it’s not uncommon for the sword to drop out of his hand.

As a mishmash of the last two Deadpool releases, X-Force Deadpool doesn’t really offer any new surprises, but I’m not going to hold it against him. Here’s a case where the recycling works well and creates a figure that has rendered my previous X-Force Wade totally obsolete. Sure, I would have liked some better choices in his firearms, but I guess they’re better than nothing, which is what we got last time. In the end, I think this is a fantastic figure and well worthy of joining my growing Deadpool-themed Legends shelf.

Star Wars Black: 4-LOM by Hasbro

I’m sure that I’m not alone when I say the Bounty Hunters from The Empire Strikes Back are one of the sub-groups that I’m the most excited to see completed in the 6-inch Black Series. Hasbro started out of the gate with a Boba Fett in the very first wave, but after that it took us a little while to get Bossk and IG-88. I wouldn’t have bet money on the next release being 4-LOM and yet here he is, the fourth Bounty Hunter from The Empire Strikes Back to hit this line.

4-LOM, or Zuckuss if you’re Kenner old school, comes in the typical Black Series packaging. Yeah, it’s kind of boring, but the black and red deco has grown on me over time. Like all the bit characters from Star Wars, 4-LOM has been retroactively credited with a backstory. In this case the package says a glitch allowed him to break out of his protocol droid programming and become a Bounty Hunter. Back in the day, I always just assumed he was a droid owned by Zuckuss to help him hunt bounties, and I tend to stick with that idea in my head canon.

Whatever the case, I always thought 4-LOM was a bad-ass looking droid. Sure, he’s sporting a design that is very close to the standard protocol droid, but there are some key differences. Plus, Hasbro really stepped up to the plate to point them out and even toss in some improvements over the two 6-inch Black Series C-3PO figures they have released so far. The legs look identical to me, as does the pelvis, but that’s where the parts recycling seems to end.

For starters, the arms are new and actually feature elbow articulation this time around. Yup, that was a pretty big sticking point with me on the previous 3PO body. Now, granted, there isn’t a huge range of motion in those joints, but the fact that it’s there, complete with little tracks for those hydraulics to slide on, really impresses the hell out of me. At the same time it makes me wonder why they invested the extra work into 4-LOM and not into a main character like 3PO. Sure, the hydraulic on my figure’s right arm seems to prefer bending instead of sliding in the track, but I still appreciate the effort. Apart from the added articulation, the arms look mostly the same, although there is new sculpting in the shoulders and the hands are now designed to hold a weapon. The rest of 4-LOM’s articulation is identical to the C-3PO figure and I’ll refer you back to that review for the details.

Also new are both the torso and the exposed midriff circuit area. 4-LOM still features the familiar protocol droid concentric circles design in the middle of his tummy, but he looks like he has two sets of chests. The coloring on the body is very simple, as it’s all done in a matte black with a lighter gray used for the midriff, and an orange rust wash to pick out the details. He also has a red stripe of paint slashed over the left side of his chest.

The head sculpt is quite a little masterpiece. I’ve always loved the idea that Industrial Automoton would just tweak a standard protocol droid body and slap a Gand head on it to make it more familiar to that species of clientele. The detail in the facial sculpt is absolutely superb and I love the translucent green plastic they used for the giant compound eyes. It’s still amazing to me that a line that still struggles with producing basic human likenesses can turn out something so good when it comes to the aliens and masked figures.

4-LOM comes with his rather distinctive, and rather long, blaster rifle. It has a very thin profile and features a folded bi-pod under the barrel, which cannot be articulated. I really dig how well 4-LOM can hold this thing and even the stock is a perfect fit to get him into a firing position where he’s aiming right down the barrel.

I don’t think I was expecting to enjoy 4-LOM nearly as much as I do, and yet I’ve been messing around with him ever since I opened him up. The extra articulation is certainly a welcome surprise, but beyond that everything about this figure just comes together so perfectly. That’s the thing with the 6-inch Black Series. There are so many figures that could be done better and mediocrity often rules the day, but when this line is good, it’s really really good! Now bring on Zuckuss and Dengar!