Marvel Legends: Storm and Thunderbird by Hasbro

After a brief Thanksgiving hiatus, I’m back for another Marvel Monday! I ended last Monday’s review lamenting that I couldn’t find the Storm/Thunderbird set, and wouldn’t you know it, I not only found it, but got a decent Black Friday deal on it too! So as long as we’re still in an X-Men kinda vibe, let’s go ahead and check this one out!

The packaging features the same design as the Rogue/Pyro set from last week, and that’s not a bad thing. The box is pretty compact and gives you a great look at the figures inside, while also providing some sumptuous character art on the back and side panels. There’s a bunch of goodies on the tray, but they are all for Storm! You get nothing, Thunderbird!!!  I’d love to keep these boxes, but I need the space for figures, so as usual I’m just going to tear it up. And once again, it’s ladies first! Actually, scratch that… let me get Thunderbird out of the way…

So, I really wanted to like this figure. He has some good stuff going for him. For starters, I really dig the design of his costume and Hasbro did a nice job bringing it to life in plastic. The red and blue look absolutely gorgeous together, and while the bulk of the costume is achieved through the paint, there is a good amount of newly sculpted bits as well. You get sculpted red fringe pieces for the sleeves and the tops of his boots. The sleeves work fine, however, the boot pieces are held on by friction and we all know how well that works. They are constantly sliding down around his ankles. And the fact that they’re located right on a swivel means that I probably won’t try to glue them. The rest of the sculpted pieces are his belt and wrist cuffs, all of which are cast in gold plastic. These look fine and don’t create any issues.

The head sculpt is certainly solid. Hasbro did a great job with the facial features and I always love when the mask is part of the sculpt and not just painted on. The hair is sculpted to fall over the head band a bit, and his hair has a dynamic look as it blows a bit off to the side. The paintwork on the head, however, is pretty spotty. The flesh tone of the face bleeds through the mask, there’s some black spots on the head band, and the paint lines between the hair and the head band are rough. There’s even a huge splotch of red paint on his hair. I don’t know that any of these paint issues by themselves would ruin the figure for me, but when I add them to the list, things aren’t looking good for Thunderbird.

Unfortunately, the spotty quality of paint application isn’t confined to the head. Of course, the figure uses a blue buck painted red, and while there thankfully isn’t a lot of bleed through showing on the red on the front of the figure, the back has quite a bit. And while I’m griping about the paint, some of those lines could have been neater. And, yes, the inner pins on the knees aren’t painted to match the red areas. Granted, I don’t complain about that on the Spider-Man figures, so I won’t hold it against Thunderbird. But, added to the paint and the boot fringe, is everything about the arms. They look kind of awkward when hanging at his sides, and the elbow hinges on my figure are all sorts of soft and gummy. Ultimately, I plan on getting him into a halfway decent pose and then leaving him on the shelf. He’s just no fun at all. Thankfully, we can now move on to the star of this box!

We’ve had a couple of Storms in modern Legends already, and I’m ashamed to say that I have yet to open or review any of them. Although in fairness, one of those is retro-carded and I may never open her. But here we get the classic, original costume, and a figure that I’m sure a lot of collectors were happy to finally see revealed. I know I was! Storm comes out of the box with her more dynamic look, but for starters, I’ve swapped her out to something more neutral. And oh boy, what a fantastic figure! Every aspect of her costume is sculpted onto the figure, from her thigh-high boots with the oval cut-outs at the tops. to her revealing top with the ring holding the two pieces together in the center of her midriff, and the arm bracers. The distinctive cape is sculpted as a separate piece and fits snugly around her neck. I really dig the high gloss finish on the black costume bits, which contrasts nicely with the more matte finish of her brown skin. And while the yellow paint lines for the border on the cape could have been sharper, it’s not terrible.

You get two portraits with the figure, the first is the more neutral expression and it is quite lovely. The paint on her lips and pupil-less eyes is pretty sharp and the headpiece is sculpted separately from the face giving little gaps and making it look more convincing as something that’s actually being worn by the figure. The copious coif of white hair offers a bit of space around the neck, so as not to impede articulation too much.

The second portrait is part of her more dynamic look, and wow is this a great addition to the box. Her expression has turned from calm to stormy, and I don’t need a meteorologist to tell me that bad weather is coming! In addition to the expression, her hair is now wild all around her head, as the imaginary winds begin whipping up to a frenzy.

In addition to the extra head, you also get a more dynamic cape, depicting her all powered up and raining on The Brotherhood’s parade. And if that’s not enough, you also get three sets of hands, which include fists and the female spell/power hands that we’ve seen many times over. So how about the third pair?

These are the lightning shooting hands that are on the figure in the box and they look great! I can’t overstate how cool it is that Hasbro included the alternate parts to really transform this figure from a normal stance to full-on power wielding poses. It makes me wish that this figure was single-packed so I could get a second one and display her both ways. Who knows? Maybe these sets will turn up on clearance, but I doubt it.

I really wish I liked Thunderbird more, because he’s the only thing holding this release back from being a total homerun of a set. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have him on my shelf, especially when I can display him next to this Rogue and a few more of the Classic X-Men, but he’s just got a few too many annoyances to make him a great figure. On the flipside, Storm is just about perfect. Indeed, if I were to nitpick anything on her, it would be the style of elbow hinges they used, which I’m not all that fond of. But even that can’t hold this back from being an absolutely fantastic release. Who knows? Maybe I will get around to opening that Retro-Carded one someday, but now I’m doubly excited to swing back around and open up the mohawk-version as well.

Marvel Legends: Rogue and Pyro by Hasbro

It’s another Marvel Monday and Thanksgiving week to boot! Obviously, I’m thankful to Hasbro for giving us so many amazing Marvel Legends figures, even if this line is becoming almost impossible to keep up with! Today I’m digging into one of the recent two-packs with Rogue and Pyro! So allow me to pour myself a tall glass of Jameson’s patented holiday cheer and let’s get to it!

The packaging here is just lovely, and it makes me sad that I don’t have the room to keep these boxes. You get some wonderful character art on the side panels and the back, and a big window in the front that lets you get a good look at the stuffing inside. It’s a fairly compact box, and that coupled with the number of extras, makes it look like a well-rounded package of goodies! Where to begin? Well as Rogue would say… it’s ladies first, sugah!

Cards on the table, I was really hoping the next Legends Rogue we got was her Savage Lands look, but I think deep down inside, I knew better. Instead we get one of her more modern costumes, which I think is… OK. It’s not my favorite look for her, but she’s done a lot worse over the years. And to be fair, this figure is so well executed, that it’s hard for me not to get behind the choice to go with this look. Particularly clever is the way the belt piece is sculpted to include the short skirt, making it look like it’s all part of the torso, when it’s just a nicely done fake out. With the exception of some sculpted boot tops around the knees, the rest of the costume gets by with white trim painted onto the rather striking green buck. Yeah, the coloring here is just gorgeous and despite the fact that some of those white paint lines could have been sharper, the color combo is what really sells this figure to me. A sculpted white scarf cascades down Rogue’s back to complete the ensemble. Maybe they overdid it a bit with the X-branding on this costume design, but heck, I don’t mind.

Since I’m squeezing two figures in today, I’m not going to run down all the articulation points. Besides, there’s nothing new here. The only thing really worth mentioning is that the skirt does inhibit her range of motion in the hips just a tad. I will also point out that Rogue comes with two pairs of hands: Fists, and those sort of spell-slinging, psychic power type hands.

The portrait is solid enough, but there’s something about it that keeps it from being great, and it’s just hard to put my figure on what exactly that is. The paint is pretty sharp, and she’s got a cute expression going on between her smirk and her eyes, but I vastly prefer the portrait from that classic Jim Lee figure. The hair sculpt here isn’t one of Hasbro’s best either. It looks a little more like putty than hair, and the white is kind of splotchy. I do, however, dig the ponytail. I don’t know, maybe I’m being too hard on this one. She does come with an alternate head, so how’s that one?

Well, I’m not entirely sure what expression they were going for here. At some angles it looks like anger, in others it just looks like she’s showing off her pearly whites. Come to think of it, it’s actually a bit saucy! In terms of the face, I’d say this is a lateral move over the other regular head. It’s not better, not worse, just another option. They did re-sculpt the hair to give it a more dynamic look, but it doesn’t help the complaints I had about it on the previous portrait.

I like this figure well enough. It’s a cool look for Rogue, and I think the fact that I nitpicked her a bit just goes to show you what a great line Legends is, and how expectations run high. I have no doubt that there are collectors out there for whom this is the Rogue they were waiting for, and that’s what makes the prolific nature of this line so great. And make no mistake, I am by no means unhappy about adding this one to my collection.

No offense to Rogue, but they could have bundled anyone with Pyro and I still would have bought this set. Once the onslaught of X-Men (no pun intended) starting hitting Legends, I kept hoping that Pyro would be in the next wave, and then the next, and so on. I’m kind of surprised that he wasn’t a regular release, but either way I ain’t complaining because this is an outstanding figure. Pyro’s flame retardant suit is almost entirely painted onto the bright and beautiful yellow plastic of the buck. We get a deep maroon for the boots, and a muted orange-tan for the upper sleeves and torso. The paint lines are crisp and everything about the coloring here is just gorgeous.

Pyro’s flamethrower rig is molded as part of the shoulders and chest piece, which fits around his neck and rests on his shoulders. It’s all cast in soft maroon plastic to match the color of the boots, and there’s a big yellow diamond painted on the chest. There’s some sculpted detail in the backpack, and the two flexible hoses snake their way down his arms and attach to the cuffs on his wrists with the nozzles positioned under his wrists. The hoses work well and are flexible enough so as not to impede the range of movement in his arms. And speaking of articulation, Pyro’s got it in all the usual places, and even includes those extra swivels down in his lower legs.

The standard head sculpt makes for a great portrait, with his orange mask sculpted as well as painted on. His prominent and expressive brow frames his bug-like red eyes, and the part in the mask advertises his sharp nose, jutting chin, and wide, beaming grin. The shock of blonde hair juts upward, like a flame on a match. This is just another one of those Legends portraits that oozes personality, and really brings the character to life.

As with Rogue, Pyro comes with an alternate head, which simply features a different expression. Here, Pyro’s grin blooms into a full on kinda yellow toothy, psychotic grin. I’m just going to go ahead and characterize these heads as Before He Sets You on Fire, and After He Sets You on Fire. It’s a close call as to which one I’ll use most for display, but right now I’m leaning toward the second one.

Pyro comes with two fire effect parts, and here’s the only part about the figure that leaves me disappointed. These effect parts are meant to fit around the fists, but even if I didn’t recognize them as recycled parts, it’s easy to tell that they were clearly not designed for this figure. They don’t work well with the nozzles and tend to fall off pretty easily. I really wish Hasbro could have given us something that did work with those nozzles, like a jet stream of flame. Yeah, I realize that we got TWO extra portraits in this box, so maybe asking for brand new effect parts is a lot, but even still, these effect parts just don’t work that well.

No doubt, this is a solid set of figures. I like the Rogue well enough, but I didn’t feel like my collection was incomplete without her. She’s a decent figure, but she isn’t going to replace the bomber jacketed Jim Lee version on my main X-Men shelf. And so, she’ll be relegated to that “other versions” shelf, which is constantly in danger of getting taken down to make room for other figures. Pyro on the other hand, was the “must have” in this box, and despite a swing and a miss with the flame effects, the figure itself is a homerun. He’ll be taking up a place of honor on my Brotherhood shelf. Either way, this box was a welcome pick up, and now I can go back to trying to hunt down the Storm/Thunderbird two-pack.

Transformers Earthrise: Runamuck by Hasbro

Ever since I first laid eyes on The Stunticons in the old Sunbow Transformers cartoon, I have been fascinated with Decepticon cars. I can’t tell you why, maybe it’s just because they went against the grain. Maybe it’s because they were able to take the battle to the roads, and I loved getting my G1 Transformers into demolition derby style skirmishes. And all in all, considering some of the crazy shit I’ve seen on the internet, having a Decepticon car fetish is nothing to be ashamed of.

Enter The Battlechargers, Runabout and Runamuck! These Decpticon twins transformed into black (Runabout) and white (Runamuck) sportscars and looked damn sexy doing it. The original G1 toys actually auto-transformed from car to robot when you pulled them back and let them go. C’mon sing it with me! “Nobody jumps into action faster than Battlechargers!” YEAH!!! This made for fun toys but, as often was the case with the G1 toys, not terribly great action figures. As a result, I’m really excited to see these guys get modern Deluxe Class updates. Runamuck released first, so let’s check him out.

Runamuck’s alt mode is a white sports sedan with some gold trim and smoked translucent windows. It’s got a lot of seams, and sometimes it’s tough to keep them all locked in tight, but I think he still manages to look pretty good. I like the rather sharp angles on this car, and the white plastic Hasbro used isn’t that cheap swirly stuff. It actually looks and feels great in hand. The roof is actually painted over the clear plastic, but it matches fairly well and there’s a bold Decepticon emblem proudly emblazoned on top. Other than that and the gold trim, you don’t get a lot more in the way of paint apps. There are some red taillights, but that’s about it. It would have been nice to see some more painted detail on the front, but I still like what we got.

Runamuck has very low clearance in his undercarriage, so it’s important to get him all buttoned down right if you want him to roll smoothly, but he’s definitely capable of it. There’s a peg hole on the roof so you can plug Runamuck’s gun into it and weaponize his car mode. I’m never a huge fan of doing this, but it’s not so bad here. All in all, I’d say this car does a great job of updating the original toy, while still being fairly true to it. Runamuck has a pretty interesting transformation, and taking him from car to robot goes really quick once you know what you’re doing. Although not as quick as the original spring-loaded figure!

The robot design loosely follows the old toy, with the hood becoming his feet and lower legs, but mostly Hasbro looked to the Sunbow design for inspiration, and that’s a very good thing, although I only remember him appearing in one or two episodes. And I’ve got to say, this Earthrise version is a thing of beauty! He’s got a stocky and rugged appearance for a bot that comes out of a sportscar. The hood on the lower legs, the spoilers on the forearms, and the tail of the car rising up behind his head make him look well armored. And yes, the car roof chest piece is faked out. From an engineering standpoint, I don’t mind this at all, but it would be more impressive if the real car windshield wasn’t peeking out the bottom of his backpack. Yeah, I’m nitpicking… it’s fine!

Runamuck maintains the deco of his alt mode, that is to say he’s still white with a little gold trim and smoked translucent plastic. Some gold around his shoulders to mimic the IDW look would have been cool, but I still dig the uniformity of the white. And once again, this plastic feels great and has a dense, almost chalky look that screams quality. Is he perfect? Not quite. He’s got some serious hollow leg syndrome going on from the back, and the hinges that peg into the lower legs don’t always stay put. But these are minor complaints.

The head sculpt is certainly distinctive with his rather simple “helmet” and his protruding mouth plate. The fact that his entire head is white to match his body makes his narrow blue eyes stand out quite a bit.

We’ve already seen Runamuck weapon plugged into his car mode, but here it is once again. It’s a compact little blaster that he can hold in either hand, mounted on his forearms, or even worn as a shoulder cannon. Runamuck actually has several useful ports if you want to load him up with Weaponizer parts or Targetmasters or whatever you got lying around.

It may seem odd, but I’m not kidding when I say that Runamuck is contender for one of my Transformers of the Year. And that sure is saying something, because we got a ton of fantastic convertorobots from Hasbro this year. My only gripe is that I would have preferred Hasbro released Runamuck in a two-pack with Runabout so that I wouldn’t have to suffer having one without the other. Then again, that would have probably made it an exclusive, and I’ve had enough with chasing exclusives this year. Hopefully the wait for Runabout won’t be too long!

Marvel Legends (Deluxe Riders): The Punisher and Motorcycle by Hasbro

Hasbro is continuing to pepper us with releases in their Marvel Legends Deluxe Riders series. These pair Legends figures with modest-sized vehicles (in most cases motorcycles or scooters) and they’ve even used this price point to get us Professor X in his wheelchair. With display space always at a premium, I haven’t been all in on these, but there have been some that I simply cannot resist. And yup, Frank Castle and his Hog was one of those cases. The Punisher first debuted in the modern Legends line way back in 2012, sharing a “Marvel Knights” slot with a Blade figure, which I don’t believe was ever released. We later got the Netflix version of Castle, and a retro-carded release, the later of which I never got around to reviewing. Oh yeah, last year we got Frank Castle in The War Machine Armor as well! So, it’s not like he hasn’t had his share of releases, but I still feel like it was time for a new one.

I don’t have much to say about the packaging, other than it consists of an elongated window box that gives you a great look at the contents. There’s just some minor assembly required, as you have to pop on the handlebars. You get The Punisher logo on the front and a shot of the toy in action on the back. It is collector friendly, which is always nice if you want to keep it, but as for me… this baby is about to get shredded. Let’s start with the figure!

If you’re looking for a nice, basic, no-frills Punisher, you’ve come to the right place. Frank sports a pair of textured black pants, and a black T-shirt with his iconic emblem emblazoned on the front. There’s a shoulder rig and a thigh strap with magazines, both sculpted separately in soft black plastic. The vigilante ensemble is rounded out by the sculpted finger-less gloves on his hands and a a pair of black shit-kicker boots. There’s nothing outrageous about the sculpting here, but sometimes simplicity gets the job done, and I think that’s certainly the case here. Articulation holds no surprises, and since I have a motorcycle to look at, I’ll skip running through all the points.

You get two portraits with the figure, and they’re both excellent. He comes out of the box with the beat-up head. Gritting his teeth with vengeful rage, this Castle has seen better days. He’s got several cuts being held together by bandages, each featuring some wonderful detail. The sheer will and determination on this particular portrait is absolutely fantastic and it suits the character so well. It’s just another example of Hasbro killing it with their Legends head sculpts, and while it uses paint instead of the half-tone printing for the facial details, everything is still nice and sharp.

The alternate head is decidedly less beat-up, but still as determined as ever to kick ass. Hasbro really made it tough this time to decide which head to display on the figure, as they are both so damn good. As much as I dig the extra work on the beat-up head, there’s something about the way they did his mouth here that is amazingly expressive. Both heads also have a touch of pink around the eyes, and with the bandage missing, I can really appreciate the structure of the nose here, which clearly looks like it’s been broken countless times.

And finally, you also get Frank’s Viking-style helmet from the recent Punisher Kill Krew. I’ll confess that I haven’t read this series because, well it’s a Marvel Comic in 2019, how good could it be? But I’ll tell ya the cover art of #1, which I believe was the work of Tony Moore, made me stop and take notice. It looks so unbelievably out of place for a modern Marvel Comic, and by that it means it looks pretty damn fantastic. Like a throwback to better days. I can’t imagine how Frank Castle is depicted in this age of touchy-feely Marvel garbage, but I’m tempted to subject myself to it just out of morbid curiosity. In any event, the helmet looks great and can be worn over either head. Personally, I think it could have used some weathering, but I like the finish a lot.

Frank also comes with a bunch of tools of his trade, and I’ll just knock these out in no particular order. When it comes to making a statement, there’s nothing like tuning someone up Sammy Sosa style with some ballpark lumber. This bat is pretty simple and cast in a very pale cream-colored plastic. Like the helmet, this accessory looks way too fresh and new for my tastes. I would have loved to see it worn and splintered. Maybe some gaffer tape around the grip. A little crimson staining, and hell while you’re at it sculpt a tooth embedded into it. OK, that last suggestion is probably a bit much for an action figure sold at Target, but it would have been damn cool to see.

What’s that? You say you want to hit and cut people at the same time? Well, son, then you need a machete! Like the bat, this is accessory is nothing special, but I’m not going to say no to a machete. It’s got a brown grip and a silver blade and it looks way too clean to have been in Frank’s possession for too long. Maybe he just bought it after his old one broke.

Sometimes people run, and you don’t want to have to chase after them with a melee weapon. And that brings us to the pew-pews. First up we have this awesome pistol-gripped double-barreled shotgun. A holster on his back for this thing would have been cool, but I’ll surely take it anyway.

And Frank’s arsenal is rounded out with a pair of sub-machine guns. The first is an absolutely beautiful example of the iconic Israeli Uzi from Uziel Gal. I think this is the best example I have of this weapon in this scale, and Frank may have to give this one up to my GI JOE Classified Snake Eyes.  The sculpted detail on this piece is exquisite and it’s definitely a great reason for picking up this figure. I believe the other gun is a TEC-9, which I can recognize, but I’m less familiar with. Not that it diminishes the fact that it’s a great looking weapon. Because he’s The Punisher, both left and right hands are sculpted with trigger fingers so he can dual wield with ease.

And that brings us to the motorcycle! Now, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve skipped a few of the previous motorcycle releases, particularly the one with Wolverine, so I’m not sure if this is new or a repack, but either way it’s a great looking bike! If you’re looking for flashy colors and lots of paint applications, look elsewhere, because this thing is blacker than the dark pit where the last vestiges of Frank Castle’s mercy hides. There are, however, a few minor flourishes of red, as well as a customized license plate, which reads PNSH-616. It makes me laugh to think Castle actually went into the New York City DMV and applied for that plate. The clear plastic headlamp on the front looks great and there’s a small Punisher emblem in the speedometer, personalizing the middle of the handlebars. There’s plenty of detail in the engine, the wheels roll well, and thanks to the flip down kickstand, Castle can be displayed riding it without worrying about it toppling over. What’s more he fits on it perfectly and his gun hands grip the handlebars and stay put. I think my only nitpick here is I would have liked a bracket or scabbard for him to be able to store some of his weapons.

I’m happy to see that Hasbro is keeping this Deluxe Riders assortment around. I’ll admit that the line is in danger of causing motorcycle fatigue, but it’s hard to deny that are extremely fun packs. This figure happens to be my favorite release of Castle in the modern line so far, and when you throw him on this bitchin’ chopper, it just sweetens the pot all the more. Not to mention the bevy of weapons, an extra head and a helmet too! I want to say I paid around $35 for all these goodies, and it was well worth the price of admission. Not to mention that this bike can probably be repurposed for any number of other 6-inch figure lines, even with the personal flourishes.

Marvel Legends (Strong Guy Wave): Pirate Deadpool by Hasbro

Hey folks, sorry that this week got off track. I’ve made it no secret that Q4 is my crazy season for work, and on Sunday I found out that I had to head to a remote location and help them sort their shit out. Actually, it wasn’t that remote, but far enough that they offered to put me up in a hotel for a few days rather than do the commute. So the work has been grueling, but the room service and mini-bar has made up for it. I wish I could tell you that this was going to be the exception to the rule, but as we head further into Q4, it’s possible that my posting schedule will become more erratic. So today, I’m going ahead with the Marvel Monday review that I had almost ready for earlier in the week, and I’ll just hope things fall back in line for next week’s schedule! I was supposed to be sticking to exclusives and multi-packs for the next month or so, but then Pirate Deadpool here hit my doorstep and all bets were off. Because Pirate. And Deadpool. So, we’ll put a pin in all that other stuff and get back to it next week. I was just too excited to tear open this figure that I had to bump him to the front of the line.

If you need some sense of reference, this figure is based off of Daniel Way’s issue of Deadpool Vol 2 #14 from 2009. This one was published back when I was still reading Marvel, before they began their downward spiral into terrible stories for the sake of virtue signaling, but I have no recollection of actually reading it. To be fair, I was half a drunk back in those days, so it’s likely that’s why I have no memory of it. That’s OK. I don’t need a reason to have a Pirate Deadpool figure. So avast ya bilge-sucking land lubbers. Let’s free this scurvy dog from his packaging and see if he be shipshape.

To be fair, I was already in love with this figure before I even opened the package. Deadpool cuts a regal jib with his red pirating great coat, the top of which is part of the buck, while the bottom half is cast in soft plastic and worn like a skirt. The illusion works well, making it look like one plastic garment. There’s some white frilly finery encircling his midsection and gold painted fringe and buttons as well as a golden DP crest to the right of his chest. His arms have black paint up on the shoulders and biceps, and he has one sculpted gauntlet on his left hand, no doubt made of rich Corinthian leather for those lonely nights when he can’t get out to crack Jenny’s teacup and he needs to keelhaul his hornswaggle. If ya know what I mean.

In addition to his majestic naval coat, he’s got a black baldric worn over his right shoulder, and a tattered black cape with a white cravat in the center. The only thing that disappoints me with this costume is the way they did the two flintlocks that are stuffed into his belt. These are just sculpted as part of the belt, and while the grips are convincing, the barrels lack any real depth to make them look like actual accessories. Still, it isn’t a deal breaker for me.

The portrait features Deadpool’s normal mask with a white scarf tied around his head and a tattered black tri-cornered pirate hat, with the Jolly Roger printed on it. And of course, there’s one eye popped in the traditional Deadpool fashion. Sadly the hat is not removable, as I would have loved to have used one of the earlier unmasked Deadpool heads on this figure with the hat on top. Everything looks great, and it’s cool that Hasbro broke out some pearlescent paint just to do his eyeballs.

Deadpool comes with three weapons, the first of which is a proper flintlock pistol painted brown and silver. He can hold it in either hand, although the right hand’s trigger finger doesn’t work all that well with it, so ‘Pool has to practice proper trigger discipline, which is probably somewhat uncharacteristic for him. The flintlock is a great little piece, but it only drives home how fake the two on his belt look.

Captain Wade also comes with a pair of swords, one of which is a traditional pirate cutlass with a gold hilt and a silver blade. The other is his trademark katana sword. Both of these can be slid through loops in the belt to be worn under his coat. Or you can use one of the loops to hold his pistol. Most likely I’ll have him wearing his pistol and cutlass.

I have no frame of reference as to whether or not the general collecting populace is sick of Deadpool, but if I’m speaking for myself, that would be a negative. I’m always up for another Wade Wilson figure, especially when it’s something creative and fun like this one. It also makes me wish somebody out there would kickstart a line of 6-inch pirate figures, because I’d be all over that shit. Either way, this is another great addition to my Deadpool shelf and a super fun figure as well!

“ARRRR. When it comes to booty, X marks the spot!”

Transformers Earthrise: Smokescreen and Bluestreak by Hasbro

When Hasbro transitioned from the Cybertron modes of Siege to the Earth modes of Earthrise, I didn’t expect we’d be getting redos of a lot of the same characters. And yet, here we are! It was just back in May that I reviewed the Siege versions of these fellas, and here we are checking out their Earth modes. Am I complaining? Nah. Let’s check out some Datsuns!

The Siege versions of Smokescreen and Bluestreak released as exclusives and each in special packaging. This pair features the normal packages, but Bluestreak was a Walgreens Exclusive, whereas I picked up Smokescreen off of Amazon. They come in the always fantastic Earthrise Deluxe window boxes, with the usual bitchin’ character art. They are packaged in their robot modes, but I’ll start with the alt modes.

Here’s Bluestreak and no, these guys aren’t really Datsuns, but close enough for me. Indeed, this is a great looking little sportscar with a decidedly vintage vibe. Bluestreak retains the same gray and black deco as his previous alt mode, with the black portions having more of a matte finish this time around, and a much bolder Autobot insignia stamped on his hood. He’s got translucent windows and head lamps, a raised hood, a low spoiler, quad exhaust, and silver mag wheels. The panels on mine don’t lock together quite as seamlessly as I would like, but that might be user error. Although, I did give him a good once over to make sure everything looked like it was where it belonged.

Here’s a quick look at the Cybertron and Earth modes together, and I really dig the evolution at work here. The Earthrise version has basically grown a cabin for its human driver and passenger and the wheels have gotten a bit smaller. The Cybertron version actually looks like a concept car that grew out of the 80’s Datsun design and I can dig that!

Just like Siege Streak, the Earthrise version comes with three weapons: A rifle and two shoulder cannons. The shoulder cannons can mount into the hood and the rifle can mount on the roof. These are all fresh sculpts with the shoulder cannons being a lot smaller than what we saw for Siege, while the rifle is a lot closer to Bluestreak’s original G1 weapon. The tabs used for the shoulder cannon are the same for both figures, so you can mix and match if you like.

Transforming these guys is very similar, but there are some key differences in the robot modes. I liked Siege Bluestreak’s bot mode well enough, but the Earthrise version tweaks it to near perfection. Obviously the chest is completely different, as it’s formed from the front of the car. But to me the biggest improvement is in the legs. Earthrise Streak’s legs look better filled out and the lower legs and feet are better defined. Besides the more familiar aesthetics of the Earth mode, I just think this robot looks much more polished and proportioned. I absolutely love it! From the deco standpoint, there isn’t a huge difference. You still get the black and gray from the car mode with some red added in the lower legs and elbows. Earthrise Streak’s lower legs are now all gray, as are his shoulders, and there’s more black in his chest.

I was surprised to see a brand new head sculpt here, and while it’s excellent, I think any question of which one is better will come down to a matter of personal preference. Siege Streak’s “helmet” is more detailed and his “wings” are more pronounced. If I had to pick one, I think I’d side with the Earthrise head, just because it’s more stylized. But either way, they’re both fantastic. If you can’t tell, I really dig this figure a lot. My only real gripe centers around the inner panels on his lower legs. These flip down to fill in the legs a bit, and one of these refuses to stay on when I’m transforming him. Maybe not a big deal, and to be fair I could remove both and not really effect the figure much, but worth mentioning nonetheless. Let’s move on to Smokescreen!

As expected, Smokescreen is mostly a repaint with the major difference of the car mode being the apron on the front. While I’m fine with Bluestreak’s colors, Smokescreen’s red, white and blue deco really brings this excellent auto mode to life. The colors are vibrant, and while I would have preferred more of a glossy finish on both of these vehicles, I have to admit there’s something about the rich, satin finish on Smokescreen that really works for me. The wheels are less flashy here, as they are all black with just the blue clips showing, but otherwise I just love everything about this sportscar. The paint lines are clean, he’s got a bold Autobot emblem stamped on his hood and the racing numbers “80” on either door. The windows are now tinted, as are his head lamps.

And here are some comparison shots of the Siege and Earthrise modes. The deco is pretty damn close, with the Earthrise version adding some red to the roof, the white side stripes straightening out, and the small panel of Cybertronian lettering on the Siege mode giving way to the larger Earth digits on the doors.

Smokescreen comes with the same rifle and shoulder cannons as Bluestreak, only this time they are molded in blue plastic, and once again these can be attached to the car mode to weaponize it. They can also be swapped out with the Siege weapons if you like.

Smokescreen’s transformation is identical to Bluestreak’s, although I don’t have the same problem with the leg panel popping off. The flashy deco really serves to make Smokescreen stand out over his Datsun Bro, as does the addition of the apron on the chest. I can’t stress enough how impressed I am with the way these robot modes turned out. And yet the transformations are so simple and intuitive. It makes me wonder why Hasbro wasn’t able to do this back when they did the Datsuns in the Classics line. The improvement is like night and day.

And here’s a look at Smokescreen’s new noggin, which is a huge departure from what we got with Siege. The face is now white and all smoothed over, with the “helmet” also going for a simpler look. The new portrait really embraces Smokescreen’s look in the old Sunbow cartoon. I also dig the green eyes!

At first I wasn’t all that keen on re-buying these Autobots again so soon, but now that I have them in hand, I’m glad I did because it’s hard to imagine we’ll ever get better versions of Smokescreen and Bluestreak in a Deluxe Class figure. What’s more, I’m actually happy to have them represented in both the Siege and Earthrise lines. How often do we get to display the Cybertron and Earth modes of a Transformer beside each other in what is more or less the same line and the sane continuity! So where’s Prowl? Well, he just hit my doorstep yesterday as part of an Amazon Exclusive two-pack with Ironhide. And I should get around to checking that out next week!

Star Wars Black Series: Endor Luke and Leia by Hasbro

If you’ve been reading my Black Series reviews for a while, you may know that I’ve been back and forth on whether to keep collecting this line. Some of the figures are great, but a lot of them have felt somewhat flat and average. Well, based on the figures that have been showing up this week, I think Hasbro may be turning things around. That’s good news for the line, bad news for my wallet. Just as I was about to quit… they pull me back in! Let’s check out Luke and Leia in their Endor fatigues! Both of these figures were offered recently in a Pulse Exclusive boxed set, but I sat that one out and went for picking them up individually. These figures follow an Endor trend with Han Solo, Teebo, and Admiral Ackbar also released in similar packages.

And here’s the new packaging! Goodbye boring black and red boxes and hello new hotness! OK, so they’re still mostly black with monochrome character art, but the splash of color makes all the difference. Also, it looks like they abandoned the numbering on the package. The boxes adopt an angled side panel to showcase the new character art and if you put these two together, the art actually connects, which I have to admit is cool, even though I’m still not keeping the boxes. So let me shred these open and check out the figures. Ladies first!

Princess Leia comes out of the package wearing her camouflage poncho and looking fabulous! One of my ongoing gripes with the SWBS is how infrequently it makes use of softgoods, so it’s nice to see this figure get a cloth costume. Although it would have been embarrassing if they didn’t since even the original Kenner figure gave Leia a cloth poncho. The tailoring is absolutely superb and I really dig the cloth they used. It just looks and feels like quality. The front of the poncho is belted with a black plastic utility belt, which includes a working holster and a sculpted pouch, as well as a little silver paint on the buckle. The back of the poncho is left to hang free like a cape. It also has a hood, which is stitched in the down position. It looks like you could probably pull the stitch so she can wear it up, but I’m not going to mess with it.

The likeness here is excellent! Not perfect, but pretty on point. Boy, we’ve come a long way in a short time, since that first release of Leia from A New Hope! The sculptors have often not been kind to Carrie’s likeness, but this one is pretty damn solid. The printed facial features look great and they did a wonderful job on her hair. The removable helmet fits great and features a chin strap, which pegs into the side.

The belt pegs together behind the pouch, so it’s pretty easy to take the poncho off the figure without too much fuss. You can then re-attach the belt once the poncho is off. Under the cloth, Leia has a sculpted tunic with the sleeves rolled up and a lot of detail, including pockets on the sleeves and what I presume is a rank or ID badge on her chest. She’s got high boots and yellow stripes running up the sides of her blue-gray trousers. The included pistol features the rather distinctive long barrel, a design that The Princess seems to favor. Her right hand is sculpted with a trigger finger, but she can hold the gun in either hand.

Articulation holds a few surprises. The princess has rotating hinges in her shoulders, elbows, knees, and wrists. Ball joints in her hips, swivels in her thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in her ankles. There’s a ball joint in her waist, and most interesting is the two ball joints in her neck, one at the base and one at the top. I’d like to think the added neck articulation is there if you want her to mount a speeder bike, but I might be giving Hasbro too much credit there. Let’s move on to Luke!

Everything I said about Leia’s poncho remains true for Luke’s. The camo is a bit more brown and the green is a lot less vibrant than his sister’s, but the tailoring is still top notch and it fits well. It too is belted in the front and the back is left to hang like a cape, and the hood is stitched in the down position. The quality and texture of the fabric is the same as Leia’s and absolutely top notch. Once again, Hasbro did a fine job here.

The portrait here is not bad. Maybe not a home run, but pretty solid. It’s definitely a whole lot better than what we got with the last Return of the Jedi Luke. The helmet sculpt is almost identical to Leia’s, just a bit bigger and it has a little more weathering brushed on it. Once again, it has a chin strap that pegs into the side.

Luke’s sculpted black belt is simpler than Leia’s as it has no pouch or holster, but then Luke doesn’t come with a blaster anyway. He does come with his lightsaber, which is the standard hilt with translucent blade that pegs into it. The sculpt and paintwork on the hilt look great, but there’s no hook to hang it on the belt. , You can kind of thrust it up through the bottom of the belt and it stays put.

Remove the belt and you can take off the poncho to reveal Luke wearing his black Jedi outfit. It’s not as impressive as what’s under Leia’s softgoods, but it looks fine and is an easy favorite to replace that last Return of the Jedi Luke. Indeed, I may pick up a second one of these for that purpose. I’m also curious to see if the head will swap with that figure, but I haven’t dug it out to give it a go yet.

The figures fit great on the Black Series speeder bike. Hasbro even had the forethought to put the peg holes at the front of Leia’s feet to better work with the pegs on the bike’s foot pedals. I’m glad that I picked up a couple of these, but I think it’s well past time that they reissued the Scout Trooper/Speeder Bike pack. Yeah, I know we’re getting one from The Mandalorian, but I’d like a couple more of the Return of the Jedi versions now. Maybe I should have just bought that PulseCon set because it included one.

It’s nice to see Endor finally getting some love beyond the Scout Troopers and speeder bikes, and that goes double for how great these figures turned out. These are easily some of my favorite Black Series releases in a while. Or at least my favorites from The Original Trilogy. I’ll be checking out Endor Han and Teebo soon, and hopefully we’ll see some more Ewoks, because this Leia really needs a Wicket to go with her. And some Rebel Commandos? That would be nice.

Marvel Legends: Hellfire Club Boxed Set by Hasbro, Part 2

On the last Marvel Monday, I ran over my word and picture count while gushing over the first two figures in the Hellfire Club Exclusive boxed set, so today I’m back to wrap things up with a look at the ladies: Emma Frost, Jean Grey and, thanks to a head-swap, Selene Gallio! But before hitting the figures, let’s have a look at one last bonus in the packaging…

I mentioned this last time, but neglected to show it. Probably because I didn’t want to make anyone else feel bad, but my set came with a handwritten invitation to join The Hellfire Club. This beautiful document was neatly folded into an envelope with a facsimile wax seal (it’s only printed) and tucked into the reverse of the portrait that covers the tray. Look at that! It’s signed by all four of The Inner Circle. I haven’t replied yet, but I plan on accepting. I am, however, a little apprehensive about the initiation. OK, on with the figures!

Emma Frost once again graces the Marvel Legends line! We last saw her as a Walgreens Exclusive in her black Dark Reign outfit. Here she’s the White Queen, donning a more traditional outfit and looking damn fine. Her costume is dominated by a flowing white cape with sculpted fur shoulders and a shimmering blue stone clasp securing it around her neck. The cape affords her a bit of modesty, as underneath it she’s wearing her underwear and a white corset, along with a pair of thigh high high-heeled boots, and gloves, which go all the way past her elbows. We sure didn’t have any action figures like this when I was a kid! Hell, we didn’t even get a Slave Leia until Power of the Force 2.

The bulk of the sculpted detail in this costume went into her corset and they did a very nice job on it indeed! It actually looks like it’s sculpted separately from the figure, as the bottom half hangs down and there’s a clear delineation between the top of the corset and the top of her chest. You also get some sculpted stitching and lacing running up the front, as well as defined edges. It’s a very nice piece of work as opposed to having just painted it onto the figure. The top edges of the gloves also have sculpted borders and I’m surprised at how well the figure stands, despite having high-heels. All aspects of the white costume look bright and clean and pop nicely against her skin.

I’ve spent some time trying to decide whether this portrait is the same sculpt as the alternate head that came with Walgreens Emma Frost, and I’m pretty sure that it is. The hair looks identical and the facial structure the same. The reason it’s tough to tell is because the paint here is so much better. In fact, it’s shocking how much better it is over a figure that was released only about a year ago. This portrait includes her straight hair that hangs just above her shoulders and some very sharp paint on her lips, eyes, and eye shadow. My figure has a slight speck under her right eye, which I do not believe is intentional, but it does look like a tiny mole, so I don’t have a problem with it.

The articulation here is everything I expect from the Legends ladies, which means we get rotating hinges in the elbows as opposed to double-hinges and bicep swivels. I’ve been hoping that Hasbro would start promoting equal articulation for the gals by now, but I doubt that’s ever going to happen. Otherwise, the arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and hinged pegs for the hands. Emma has an optional pair of fists as well. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the ankles. There may be rockers in those ankles, but I can’t get them to budge. The neck is both hinged and ball jointed. I’m really happy to have this figure in my collection, since the Dark Reign version, while a nice figure and a worthy stand in, wasn’t iconic to me. Moving on to Jean Grey!

Oh my! Corrupted Jean Grey may by another reason why these figures were an online exclusive, because I really couldn’t see kinky Jean Grey hanging on a peg in the aisles at Target or Walmart. [Then again, I have since been reminded that the Black Queen served as a Toys R Us Exclusive in Hasbro’s previous Legends line a little while ago.] Although it would have been a good opportunity for a Build-A-Torture Rack accessory! If you were with me last time, you know that Shaw and Pierce were straight repaints of the same body from the neck down, and that’s largely the case with Emma and Jean here, as we go from White Queen to Black Queen. However, Hasbro did use a few accessories to distinguish these gals. The most obvious change is in the capes, which are completely different. Jean’s is a little shorter and is sculpted with a rather dramatic wind-blown look. She also has a sculpted rose, which looks like it’s meant to serve as a clasp. Less dramatic, but no less outrageous is her spiked collar! Everything else on the body itself is identical and I think this outfit looks fantastic in either black or white.

The portrait appears to be entirely new and I like it a lot. Jean has her hair up in a bit of a bun to show off that spike collar, and she’s got some red eye shadow to match the color of her hair. As with Emma, the paint applications on the face are crisp and clear and look fantastic.

While Emma came up light on the accessories, Jean comes with a whip and a third pair of hands, so that she can hold it. Yup! Just in case the outfit didn’t drive home the BDSM theme here! The whip is recycled from the Black Cat figure (from the Ultimate Green Goblin Wave), meaning it has that kind of goofy claw on the end of it. Not that I would tell Jean it looks goofy, because I imagine that it hurts a lot.

And that brings us to Selene Gallio, which is simply an optional head for the Jean Grey figure. It’s really cool that Hasbro tossed this one in as an extra and I think the portrait has a lot of character, but it feels a little more like a caricature when compared to the Emma and Jean head. Maybe that’s just because they were going for a specific expression here. She’s got purple eye shadow to match her purple lip gloss and as with the other ladies, the paint is executed flawlessly here. It’s a shame that this body isn’t available as a single packaged figure, because I sure wouldn’t mind having another to display as Selene, but between the two, I’ll likely keep the Jean head on the figure for display. For the record, it actually works pretty well on the Dark Reign Emma Frost body, and since this will be my go-to Emma Frost for Legends, that’s a pretty good option. And while we’re on the subject, you can swap the two Walgreens Frost heads with this Emma, but the skin tone doesn’t match. But with this beautiful noggin, why would you want to?

Wow, what a great set! This box went for $79.99 on Hasbro Pulse, which puts it at $20 a figure. Not bad, even with all the recycling, as the packaging adds a lot to the value here, and as I’m sure I’ve said numerous times, there was no way these figures were going to get a regular retail release. Sure, I have no doubt that adult collectors drive this line, but they don’t carry that “Adult Collectible” moniker and are still considered toys. Kids were probably not going to be too keen on a pair of dudes in 18th Century dress, and I doubt the parents would be up for getting the kids Emma Frost in her undies and Dominatrix Jean Grey. I was glad to see this one stuck around on the site a little while, at least long enough for me to order one with no trouble. Obviously, it has since sold out and seems to be selling for around double on Ebay, although it’s possible to find the individual figures listed there as well.

Marvel Legends: Hellfire Club Boxed Set by Hasbro, Part 1

As I may have mentioned last week, I’m stepping away from doing consecutive reviews of particular Marvel Legends waves in order to get to some multipacks, exclusives, and older figures. That’ll probably be the case through to the end of the year, but who knows? Maybe I’ll work at least one more complete wave and Build-A-Figure in before the end of the year. For now, I’m kicking this madness off on this glorious Marvel Monday with a look at the Exclusive Hellfire Club 4-Figure set that was released through Hasbro’s online Pulse store! The set includes The Inner Circle of The Club: Sebastian Shaw, Donald Pierce, Jean Gray (or Selene Gallio if you prefer), and Emma Frost. I originally planned to check out the whole set today, but I ran a little long, so instead we’ll look at the packaging along with Shaw and Pierce, and some accessories, and next week we’ll check out the ladies.

Hasbro has been well known for their elaborate Marvel Legends boxed sets, many of which released as San Diego Comic Con Exclusives. But with no Comic Cons happening, they’ve been seeking other routes for these impressive sets. I think this one was referred to as a PulseCon Exclusive, but whatever the case, it became available to Premium Members of Hasbro Pulse first and then to everyone else later. Now, I have had some terrible experience with Pulse this year. Most of what I pre-order shows up through Amazon Prime first and cheaper, so I wind up cancelling the Pulse pre-orders. I’ve also been shut out on a lot of pre-orders because they sell out so fast. Well, this time I was able to get in and get out without too much bother, but it has since sold out. The packaging here may be their best yet, as it not only relies on a special box, but also multiple cool components of presentation. On the outside, it cuts all the class of the prestigious and exclusive club that it represents. There’s an embossed iron gate on the front to keep the riff-raff out and an impressive gold and crimson foil H-seal in the middle. The back panel of the box features framed portraits of the figures inside.

Break the velcro seal and the front opens to reveal an illustrated portrait of the Inner Circle and it is a magnificent piece of art! The back of this card has an envelope that contains a facsimile letter. The obverse sides of the flaps have portraits of each of the four characters, and finally we get to the tray of figures, presented with a backdrop showing the luxury of the Hellfire Club’s parlor. I’ve managed to pick up nearly all of the modern Legends SDCC Exclusive sets, and none has really come close to how polished the presentation is here. Hasbro just put a ton of love into this one and it shows. So, let’s dig in and we’ll start out with a look at Sebastian Shaw!

Don’t judge me, but I sure do dig me some fancy 18th Century formalwear. Seriously, if it were socially acceptable to dress like this today, I’d be down for it! I’d also go by the name Martin Chuzzlewit and carry a silk hanky and a tin of snuff around with me. And who would have thought we’d get a beautiful example of this historic wardrobe with a Marvel Legends figure! Sebastian’s sculpted apparel includes a navy blue gentleman’s jacket with vest, all sculpted in soft plastic as one piece, with the sleeves sculpted onto the arms. The sculpt is great, the vest isn’t too bulky even if the arms are, and the jacket includes a stylish tail that extends down the backs of the legs. The vest is red with a textured pattern, and the jacket includes brass painted buttons and a flared collar. The jacket sleeves have exposed ruffles that would make Jon Pertwee proud. Superb! His gray culottes end just above his calves to expose his white socks (no doubt silk!) and his buckled shoes. Considering how limited the uses for this body must be, it’s nice to see Hasbro put so much work into it. It’s the perfect outfit for sitting in overstuffed chairs by the fire, sipping brandy, and discussing how you’re going to exert your wealth and power to control the world government.

Hasbro also did an admirable job on Mr. Shaw’s portrait, complete with a vintage-style ponytail, tied with a ribbon, impressive mutton chops, and a devastating widow’s peak. High arched eyebrows and a broad, smug grin, completes the head sculpt nicely. As has often been the case with the Legends villains, this likeness is just brimming with personality. Shaw has an affable face, and those are the villains that you have to watch out for!

Despite his stuffy outfit, Pierce still enjoys all the usual points of articulation I expect out of my Legends dudes. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double-hinged knees, swivels in the thighs and the tops of the socks, and the ankles have hinges and lateral rockers. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, double-hinges in the elbows, swivels in the biceps, and hinged pegs in the wrists. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab-crunch hinge buried up inside that coat, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. What a great figure! You might say that its so nice, Hasbro used it twice! In the same boxed set!

Donald Pierce is a straight repaint of Shaw from the neck down. And while it may seem rather cheeky to recycle a whole body in the same set, I honestly don’t mind it here. This costume is so well done and in fairness it works just fine for both characters. It probably doesn’t hurt that since both figures are brand new to me, it doesn’t feel as much like a rehash. I’m not even sure if that makes sense or it’s just that HasBRO kool-ade that I coif working its magic. Now, I will say that I wish Hasbro had added some tiny bit of sculpting trickery to set them apart, like maybe change up the cravat. But I’m still OK with what we got. Pierce’s outfit is decked out in more earthy tones with a brown jacket and slightly green culottes, while his vest is a green. He has the same cravat as his colleague as well as the same shoes.

And once again we see a portrait just brimming with personality. The facial features are wonderfully detailed, the eyes are a striking blue and he has a broad and somewhat imposing smile. While Shaw came across as more congenial to me, Pierce looks to be hiding malice, and not really hiding it too well. The articulation is obviously identical to what we saw with Shaw, but before moving wrapping this up for the day, we can check out some of the gents’ accessories.

For starters, you get a pair of fists, which can be used for either Shaw or Pierce, but I’m going to go ahead and give those to Shaw, because Pierce comes with his very own and very specific replacement cyborg hands! And might I say that there’s nothing quite as cool looking as a bloke in fancy dress sporting a pair of cybernetic meat hooks. The right hand is sculpted as a gun-holding hand and the other is kind of a graspy hand. But wait? Gun holding hand? Guns??? Yup, let’s check out the guns!

These both look familiar, so I’m pretty sure we’ve seen them before and both are very sci-fi designs. No doubt these are the best technology money can buy! The pistol works best with Pierce’s Cyborg hand and Shaw can hold the rifle quite well. Are they shining examples of 6-inch scale weaponry? Nah, not really. They’re cast in black plastic with no paint applications and the sculpts are a little soft. But I’m never going to complain about getting some extra guns in with my action figures.

You also get the Hellfire Book, which is a really cool little sculpt. It’s molded so that it’s perpetually open so that the members can peruse it’s page. The binding has a nice leather-like texture to it and there’s raised letterings sculpted into it. The front cover also bears the Hellfire H-insignia. Yup, the same one that’s on the front of this boxed set. Inside the book there are some charts and squiggly lines to denote text. I’ve been a book collector nearly all my life, so I can really appreciate getting such a cool little book in this scale. Sure Boss Fight Studios has done it better and in a much smaller scale, but this little plastic tome is still really neat.

And finally, you get both Wolverine’s mask and Magneto’s helmet as trophies. These are beautiful little accessories, and I wish there was a little shelf above that fireplace on the backdrop where you could display them. I don’t have anything else to say about these pieces, except that they’re welcome bonuses. And with that, I’m going to break for today. I’m also going to reserve any final judgements on this set until next Monday when I review the other two figures, but so far I’m digging this set more than most of the recent Legends Comic Con Exclusives. In my mind, exclusives should be comprised of figures that were never likely to make it to the toy aisles, and I think that fits these two fancy gents to a tee. Sure, Hasbro has amazed me with the obscurity or downright bizarre nature of some of the characters they’ve sent to the pegs at my local Walmart or Target, but I think these fellows would have been pushing it. Come on back next Monday and we’ll wrap it up with a look at Emma and Jean… and Selene!

G.I. JOE (Retro Collection) AWE Striker and Crankcase by Hasbro

The love that GI JOE has been getting these days is causing my heart to swell, and I’ve been doing my part to support the return of the Real American Hero in every way possible. Case in point, I probably have five or six AWE Strikers in storage and yet I simply could not resist picking up another one when I saw it on the shelf. I was also surprised to see that I had never reviewed any of the pass releases here, so this one got pushed to the head of the line.

The original Real American Hero line had some of my favorite package art, and that’s really saying something, because the 80’s had a ton of toy lines with great looking packages. But the GI JOE stuff felt so iconic to me, even back then, and the action scenes on the front of the boxes and cards always made me want to play with the toys. This 2020 release of the AWE Striker mimics the original 1985 box quite well. From the artwork and window for the figure on the front to the filecard on the back, Hasbro nailed it.

The box even feels like it’s made out of the heavier corrugate stock they used to use as opposed to the flimsy cardboard employed now. My only complaint is that Crankcase’s filecard is multi-lingual and rather abbreviated. Inside the box, the vehicle comes wrapped in plastic and in need of some assembly and it even includes a sticker sheet! But before I put it together, let’s have a look at the figure.

Crankcase is styled to fit right in with the modern JOES introduced in the 25th Anniversary Collection, meaning that they are a bit bigger than the vintage JOEs and a little better proportioned. I’m thrilled they went this way because I don’t think they plan on releasing a lot of figures in the Retro line and so these toys can just slide right into my existing collection. Heck, Crankcase even comes with the same style of personalized stand that we got with those 25th Anniversary figures! I’m happy to say that this new figure’s design sticks close with the ’85 version of Crankcase. He has the same green top, with sleeves rolled up, black gloves, khaki trousers, and brown boots. He also has brown web gear, which is removable, although the gun sculpted in the holster is not. And that’s the only shame about this figure: He doesn’t come with any weapons.

He does have a removable helmet and an excellent head sculpt. The detail is great and his orange hair color matches that of his predecessor. The only big difference is this version has a beard, where I’m pretty sure ’85 Crankcase just had a mustache. OK, let’s move on to the AWE Striker…

The required assembly is quite simple. You just have to snap on the roll cage, attach the wheels, and pop on the cannon, antennae, and a hose. Then slap on the stickers and she’s good to go! It’s hard for me to think of a more versatile and fun vehicle for the JOEs. Oh, there were plenty of vehicles that I liked more, but you’d be hard pressed to pick a better all-purpose way to get your JOEs into trouble.

It’s been a long time since I played with the original toy, but this one looks like the spitting image of what I remembered. Is it the same mold? That I couldn’t tell you, but it is date stamped 1985 on the undercarriage. I can say that it looks nearly identical to the 25th Anniversary release, with the most notable change being the color of the seats. [Sadly, I don’t have easy access to that vehicle right now, but I do plan on digging it out of storage in the near future and I will update with comparison shots when I do!] Either way, I cannot overstate how impressed I am with the detail on this vehicle. For what is a rather small and inexpensive toy, the designers went absolutely crazy making sure every little bit was crafted with a sense of purpose and realism.

For starters, the AWE Striker has a working suspension, which you can test just by pushing down on the chassis. The front wheels do turn, as does the steering wheel, but they are not linked together. The front ramming bar has two headlamps with clear plastic on the fronts, there are mesh running boards on the sides for JOEs to ride on, and the engine cover can be removed to show a very detailed engine under it. That’s a nice touch if you want to have your JOEs performing maintenance or have it blown off by a direct hit from a Cobra weapon.

 

The cabin has sculpted padding in the seats, a static shifter, and the passenger side has a targeting camera which connects to the cannon on top with a hose. The cannon cannot only rotate, but also pivot up and down a bit, and I can’t say enough how happy I am that Hasbro resisted putting a giant missile into this weapon. Indeed, there are no play gimmicks, no bells or whistles, no lights, just pure 100% fun!

The AWE Striker set me back $24.99 at Walmart and I think that’s a great value. The craftsmanship on display here is top notch and with a figure included, you’ve got everything you need to go on some adventures in the backyard. You’re even better off if you can dig out three 25th Anniversary figures and load this puppy up! Sadly, this vehicle sold out damn fast on Walmart’s site and my store hasn’t restocked. I was smart enough to pick up two of the HISS Tanks (review coming soon!), but I really wish I had grabbed one more of these as well!