Star Wars “The Force Awakens:” Snowtrooper Officer 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Hot Toys and impulse buy aren’t usually words that go together, at least not for a working stiff like myself. But last week on Amazon, some Marketplace sellers have been blowing out some of their First Order troopers from The Force Awakens at prices that I just couldn’t refuse and before I knew it I was clicking away a large chunk of monies. The first one I went for was the Snowtrooper Officer, mainly because I dig the design so much and I was happy to see these guys turn up again in The Last Jedi on Crait (as Salt-troopers?), because it makes this review just a little less dated.

If this is your first trip to the Star Wars Hot Toys rodeo, you should know that the boxes all feature the same stark black-on-slightly-less-black decos so they do all match, but to me they aren’t very visually striking. Indeed, the only art here is a nice photo of the figure on the front panel. But what these boxes lack in artistic value and eye candy they make up for with overall construction. These shoe-boxes are very much like the higher quality boxes Hot Toys used to use for all their lines before moving to the flimsier window boxes in sleeves. And there’s something to be said for that when you’re paying a lot for a figure and want to store the extra pieces in something other than a Ziploc bag. You also get a really nice illustrated cardboard insert placed over the tray, something that Hot Toys also used to do. Inside the box, the figure comes on a single tray with all his extra bits flanking him on both sides.

The First Order Snowtrooper comes out of the package all bundled up and ready to hunt Resistance scum through the snowy tundras or clear out their icy hidey-holes. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the classic Imperial design is tough to beat, but I’ve really come to love the new First Order look, possibly even a wee bit more. Either way, the design makes for an interesting figure in this scale because of the mix of plastic armor and fabric. Indeed, I don’t think I really realized how much of this uniform was fabric until holding this figure in my hand. It’s just not something that I got a sense of with Hasbro’s 6-inch version, and it’s not like these guys were on screen all that much.

The underlying suit is beautifully tailored with some lovely quilting effects on the arms and legs, as well as immaculately stitched borders running down the front of the suit and the edges of the kama. He has a pair of knee pads attached with elastic straps and below that is all sculpted plastic leading down to the boots, with black paint applied to the sculpted straps. Moving up from there, he features a codpiece, armor sleeves on his forearms, and a chest and back-plate with the shoulder armor attached with flexible straps. The most striking thing about this figure for me is how shockingly bright all the white is. He’s like a walking advertisement for bleach. This is a figure that makes me want to scrub up before handling him, like I’m going into surgery, for fear of leaving a smudge on the fabric. I should also say how much I dig the contrast between the shiny armor pieces and the fabric of the rest of the uniform, both in texture and finish.

The black belt around his waist features two pouches, which are basically fabric wrapped around boxes to help them keep their form. They’re non-functional, and I’m not sure what he’s supposed to keep in there. Maybe rations or just extra power magazines for his blaster. The backpack features some great detailing on the sides, and attaches very simply by sliding it onto a triangular tab. It’s easy to take off, but it also holds on very securely. I’ll also note here that the predominantly fabric uniform makes this Snowy a lot of fun to play with. There’s still more restriction than I would like in the legs, but the arms have a lot more range than Hot Toys’ regular First Order Stormtrooper, which is a pleasant surprise.

The only thing that I can tell that sets this guy apart from the rank-and-file Snowies is his right shoulder pauldron. This piece of flexible plastic has a leather-like texture and is painted with a deep red finish. The head is easily removable, but it looks like the pauldron is attached to the armor pretty well. It may be possible to get it off if you want to convert him to a regular trooper, but that’s not something I’m going to risk messing with. I’m guessing this could be intentional so that Hot Toys could sell more of the Officer and Trooper two-packs.

As for the helmet itself, it’s a great piece of work. The nearly featureless, and totally flawless, smooth curves make it super creepy and intimidating to me. It features black markings running around the back to the sides, a narrow, visor, and two silver caps on the end of his breather units. Like all the armor pieces, the helmet features a super glossy finish.

As expected from any Hot Toys offering, the Snowtrooper comes with a hearty helping of hands, which are fairly easy to pop on and off. You get a pair of fists, a pair of relaxed hands, a pair of weapon holding hands, a single left hand with the fingers opened, and a pair of accessory holding hands. The accessory holding hands are designed to work with his binoculars. The binoculars were a nice surprise, as I didn’t know they were included. They’re satisfyingly large, beautifully detailed and have a hinge in the middle to fold them up. They’re also pretty rugged, making it easy for the trooper to hold them and I was happy to see that the articulation allows for him to hold them up to his face. Am I ever going to display him with these? Probably not. If I had more than one of these guys on my shelf? Then definitely.

His only other accessory is his blaster rifle, the E-11D, and this has got to be one of the sexiest weapons in the Star Wars Universe. One of my favorite things about the First Order design aesthetic is the addition of white paint to the Stormtroopers’ weapons. It really makes the designs pop and look so much more distinctive than those of their Imperial predecessors. This scoped blaster features a telescoping stock and a fold down grip under the muzzle. It’s a striking piece of futuristic military hardware. Unlike the binoculars it does have some delicate parts, but the articulated parts seem to allow for a little give to help minimize breaking.

Finally, the figure comes with a hexagonal stand that is identical to the type used for the previous First Order releases. The base features the First Order emblem and the front reads “Star Wars First Order Snowtrooper” so, no it does not denote this fellow’s rank. Attached to the base is a simple post and crotch cradle to help keep him vertical. It may not be flashy, but I really appreciate it’s simple design and the fact that it doesn’t take up much space on my shelf.

When it comes to Hot Toys, I tend to avoid the “Troop Builder” type figures, because it’s a dangerous road to go down. Even now, I find myself wanting to pick up a regular Snowtrooper to display next to this Officer and keep burning myself with cigarettes every time the thought comes up. But the truth is, one of the reasons I try to resist these is that the Troopers tend to be priced right in line with the regular Hot Toys releases, and I have a hard time swallowing that. Case in point, This Snowtrooper retails at $219 over at Sideshow. I’m not saying there isn’t a great amount of craftsmanship at work here, indeed he’s a gorgeous figure. But I’m taking into account that they didn’t have to sculpt and paint a likeness for his portrait, they don’t have to pay an actor for the likeness rights, and he doesn’t come with a whole lot of accessories. Also, they knew they were going to be able to sell at least one variation of this guy too. All that conspires to make me feel that Hot Toys could have snuck these in at under the $200 mark. Maybe that’s why some retailers are slashing prices. When this guy turned up on Amazon for $139.99, I didn’t even have to think about it. And yes, I will eventually get around to reviewing the First Order Stormtrooper that came with Finn. I just need to find the time to go into the storage and find his box.

 

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Doctor Stephen Strange 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Wasn’t it cool seeing Stephen Strange in Thor: Ragnarok? Not only was he a great little addition to that film, but his appearance makes my long overdue review of Hot Toys’ Sixth-Scale Doctor Strange figure a little less out-of-date. It also proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt how much I love the portrayal of Strange in the MCU while not really loving the Doctor Strange movie. Oh, I enjoyed it well enough, but it didn’t quite have the “Wow, I want to see this over and over again” feeling I get from most of the other MCU films. It was a solid origin story, but I felt that the Inception-style effects didn’t really fit, and they sure leaned heavy on that. Now with all that having been said, there were two things I did absolutely adore about the movie: The casting and the costume design. Benedict Cumberbatch was born to play the role of Stephen Strange, and seeing him in Ragnarok just cemented that feeling for me. Likewise, they really nailed his costume perfectly, probably better than any other MCU character to date. There was never any doubt for me that this character needed a space of honor on my Marvel Hot Toys shelves. Let’s check this guy out!

Hot Toys has not really been wowing me with their presentation lately, so it’s nice to see them change things up just a bit with this figure. At heart, it’s still the same old window box wrapped in an illustrated sleeve that we usually get, but they had some fun with this one. The sleeve is a trippy kaleidoscope of images from the film that reflects the infinite reaches of the various dimensions and plains of existence available to The Sorcerer Supreme. The center has a circle set in an angled square, which can be turned to unlock the sleeve and open it to reveal the window box inside. It’s a simple little gimmick, but it goes a long way to show me that Hot Toys wanted to deliver a little something extra for this release, and I can appreciate that. Inside the box, the figure comes on a standard molded plastic tray with his myriad of accessories laid out around him, and I have to say, this guy really does come with a lot of great stuff! Let’s start out with the base figure and a few of those accessories…

As I already mentioned, I think the movie nailed Strange’s costume design perfectly and that gave Hot Toys a lot to work with when tailoring the costume for this figure. The tunic features a finely crafted set of pleats on the front and it fits the figure perfectly, even when draped over the long-sleeved shirt and trousers. The stitching is immaculate and the combination of vibrant and darker blue material looks quite striking. The fabric arm bracers feature a Nepali flair, complete with fringe coming off the backs. As great as the costume looks, it’s also not terribly restrictive, making Doctor Strange a pretty fun figure to play with and pose. Everything about this costume is rich with love and attention to detail!

The boots include sculpted stitching, treads on the soles, and sculpted laces. They also include cloth wraps made of the same vibrant blue material as the tunic. You also get some braided Nepali loops and fringe. The boots are sculpted in one piece, which means the ankle hinges in the underlying body are completely hindered. Hot Toys still seems to be waffling back and forth over whether or not to put ankle joints in the boots. They did it with both Daredevil and The Punisher, but here they didn’t. I’m not too upset about that, because the added articulation would probably have messed up the cloth wraps over time, but it does mean that his feet won’t be flat on the ground in those wide stances.

The elaborate belt is a real showpiece on this figure and as much a part of the costume’s magnificence than anything else. It’s actually a network of belts! First, you get the wide belt, dare I call it a “Cumberbund?” This piece is made of a leather-like material with some excellent stitching and texture. On top of that you get two woven belts with sculpted plastic loops. There are two larger circular fixtures, one on the front, positioned near his left hip, and one on the back, and on the back, the belts terminate into a glorious fringe. Below all that are two narrower leather-like belts. I never thought I could get all worked up over belt designs, but these are just amazing and they all conspire to give Strange a smart and trim look.

The belt includes a few loops, which can be used to hang the included Sling Ring. I should say Sling Rings, plural, because you get two of them. It’s been a while since I saw the film, but I thought he only had one. At first, I considered maybe Hot Toys included an extra in case you lose one, but in the instructions, they show where to hang both on the belt. Either way, I’m only going to display him with one, and not in the spot where the instructions say to put it. I’m a rebel!

In addition to the Sling Rings, the Eye of Agamotto is also included to accessorize Strange’s wardrobe. You get two of these powerful amulets, one with the Eye open and one with it closed. Contrary to what was seen in the film, I’m opting to display him with the open Eye. Both pieces hang on red and black string and they each feature some beautiful sculpting as well as a nice mix of gold and copper paint. The opened Eye is painted with a vibrant metallic green to give it an almost ethereal glow.

And that brings us to the portrait and it’s pretty fantastic. Cumberbatch is certainly a distinctive looking fellow, and I have to imagine that makes it easier to sculpt a recognizable license. This makes two excellent Sixth-Scale Cumberbatch portraits on the market, the other being set atop Big Chief’s Sherlock Holmes figure. Of course, Hot Toys goes above and beyond by creating likenesses with a spark of life and I think they’ve done a bang up job with it here. As usual, the skin texturing and paint is very realistic and the paintwork they do for the eyes continues to astound me, even with so many of these figures on my shelves. Hot Toys hasn’t always been able to work their magic with facial hair, but in this case I think they nailed it. The goatee is both convincing and immaculate. The hair sculpt gives him those distinctive high bangs, and the paint showing the graying “wings” on the sides of his hair is spot on. I couldn’t have asked for a better portrait!

Of course, you can’t have Doctor Strange without his Cloak of Levitation and here’s another piece of the costume that Hot Toys went crazy on. The checkered lining looks both ornate and ancient at the same time, and the patchwork nature of the outside of the cloak matches the on screen costume beautifully. There’s also a generous wire running throughout that allows you to pose it as if it has a mind of its own. The only issue I had with the Cloak is the popped collar. It looked so crisp and perfect in Hot Toys’ official prototype shots and in person not so much. Now granted, the softer style allows the collar to be displayed up or folded down, as he wore both looks in the film, but since I’ll likely be displaying him with the collar up all of the time, I would have liked it to be a little more stiff. Maybe starch would help, but I doubt I’ll risk it. The cloak features some sculpted and painted ornamental plastic pieces just below the collar and it’s worn, quite securely, simply by folding it around the figure’s shoulders and neck.

All Hot Toys figures come with a collection of extra hands, but it’s hard to think of a character where they were more important than with Strange. Not only is the entire driving force of the movie centered on his hands, but hand gestures are the key to his powers, and so you get plenty of options here! The hand sockets can be a bit tight, and this is one instance where I found it useful to remove the wrist peg from the arm, then swap out the hand and put the peg back in. Also, the Sling Ring can easily be placed on the fingers of one of the left hands.

Strange also comes with a couple of sets of effect parts. Now, I’m not necessarily a huge fan of these with Hot Toys figures. No matter how well they’re done, I think that they tend to look rather fake when compared to the lifelike qualities of the figure. This was definitely the case with Scarlet Witch’s hex effects, and it’s more or less true here as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they include these, as they can be fun to play around with, but they still feel like better quality versions of something packed in with a Marvel Legends.

The first set consists of a pair of neon green rings and a mandala piece for the hand. The rings go over the forearm and the mandala has two grooves for his fingers. It doesn’t attach very firmly, instead it more or less hangs there, but I didn’t have any trouble with it staying on for the pictures. The sculpting on these pieces is quite nice, and given the right lighting, the plastic does give off a bit of a glow. Again, this is a cool bonus, but not something that really blows me away.

The other effect set includes these two large mandala shields, which have similar notches in the back for the fingers. These hold in place a lot better than the smaller green disk, and overall I like the look of these more. I’m not sure if it’s because they’re more iconic or because the coloring is better, but I think these look great. Will I display him with these? Probably not, but they’re nice to have.

Easily my favorite accessory in the box is The Codex Imperium. Not only do I have a thing for antique books, but the detail Hot Toys packed into this little Sixth-Scale edition is mind-blowing. It’s a real book with a working catch. It can be opened and the individual pages can be turned, all of which include tiny printing and illustrations. Talk about going above and beyond!

Hot Toys has been making a habit of including illustrated backdrops with some of their figures lately. We saw this most recently with Daredevil and The Punisher. Doctor Strange comes with a larger tri-fold backdrop. It looks nice, it works pretty well for pictures, but it’s not really big enough to frame the figure very well, especially not with Strange’s billowing cloak.

Also in the box is the same style of large stand that I last saw way back with Falcon from Winter Soldier. In fact, it’s the same stand with just a different graphic on the face and a different name plate on the front. Just like Falcon’s stand, it features a spring-loaded claw to grasp the figure around the waist, but instead of the flexible post, it comes with an acrylic one to simulate Strange levitating. This is a ton of fun to mess around with, and I appreciate the added value and gravitas that this stand brings to the table, but just like the Falcon stand, it’s too big for my display shelf, so Stephen will have to go on a generic stand for now.

If you can’t tell, I’m pretty smitten with this figure, and I’m probably not the only one. Not a lot of Hot Toys figures sell out quickly these days, but Doctor Strange is one that went to the dreaded Waitlist on Sideshow pretty damn fast. He’s also sold out at most major online retailers. And it’s easy to see why. At $235, Strange is easily one of the best values I’ve seen out of Hot Toys in a while. Between the over-the-top craftsmanship and detailing in the costume, to the generous helping of extras and the elaborate stand, this is one release that I didn’t have to scrutinize in order to see where the money went. Additionally, Marvel Studios nailed the outfit straight out of the gate, so it’s hard for me to imagine there will be a lot of changes for future appearances. And even if they do change up the costume, this is most certainly the iconic look for the character, and most definitely the one I wanted on my shelf.

Marvel Netflix: The Punisher 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Welcome to the first Marvel Monday of 2018. I planned well enough as to end last year between waves of Marvel Legends so that I could get caught up on some other stuff before jumping into the next one. And what better way to kick off the new year by bringing in the heavy guns: Hot Toys and Frank Castle! While The Punisher has since had his own excellent series on Netflix, this figure is based on his appearance in Daredevil, Season 2. So, let’s jump right in and check out Hot Toys’ second release from the Netflix Marvel Universe! “One batch, two batch. Penny and Dime!”

The package is pretty uniform to what we got with Daredevil. The front of the sleeve has a shot of the figure and, like the Daredevil box, you also get some braille printed on the front. It’s the same old big window box under that illustrated sleeve with layered plastic trays holding the figure and accessories. And yes, I say this just about every time, but I feel like Hot Toys could put a little more something into these boxes. They look great, they get the job done, but they feel rather flimsy.

That’s especially a problem when Sideshow persists on shipping them in a mailer box with no extra packing or protection. Now, I’ve received dozens of figures from Sideshow without any problems, but this was the time my luck ran out and the mailer took some hits and it crunched the box. Thankfully, nothing inside was damaged. I really only keep these boxes to store accessories or in case, God help me, the day ever comes where I need to think about selling some, but it’s still annoying that a business that specializes in high end collectibles doesn’t understand the importance of keeping the boxes in good condition. If I order the same figure from another big online retailer, I pay less for shipping and get it sent to me packed within another box. In the end, it’s just a question of whether its worth the risk for Sideshow Reward Points and the ability to use Flex Pay. So far it has been, but a few more arriving like this one and I may have to rethink that.

Frank comes out of the box ready for action, wearing his tactical vest, complete with his trademark skull emblem, a black t-shirt, black trousers, and combat boots. There’s more wardrobe to come in the way of his leather jacket, but I thought we’d have a look at the figure this way before gearing him all up. Obviously, the arms feature regular jointing, as opposed to the seamless rubber-covered arms that Hot Toys sometimes uses. I’m OK, with this, mainly because I don’t plan on displaying him without his jacket on. Even still, it was probably the way to go, as many collectors (but not me) have had bad experiences with the durability of Hot Toys’ seamless bodies. It’s also worth noting that the boots are sculpted in two pieces to allow for ankle joints. This is something Hot Toys seems to be doing more frequently, and I’m very happy about that.

In terms of the outfit, I’d classify it as a case of simple perfection. There’s nothing here to really tax the tailors at Hot Toys, but what is here is all executed with precision. The stitching is all immaculate, the vest fits the figure perfectly and includes all sorts of nylon straps to hold it in place. I really love the way they executed the skull emblem on the vest. I was afraid they were going to make it too bold, but I think the uneven application came out really well. I’ll also happily note that Castle is one of the more playable Hot Toys figures I’ve had in a while. There’s no really fragile bits to the costume, the short sleeves allow for plenty of arm articulation (even if the elbows don’t bend quite far enough for my tastes), and the pants are loose enough so as not to impede leg articulation, but not so loose that they look baggy. It would have been cool to get some shotgun shells to put into the loops of his vest, but as we’ll see he doesn’t come with a shotgun, so they wouldn’t have made sense. Besides, I’m sure I can pick some up from one of the many sixth-scale figure armories out there.

The head sculpt is absolutely fantastic, and while that’s nothing new for Hot Toys, I think this is truly one of their best efforts. It probably didn’t hurt that Jon Bernthal is a pretty distinctive looking fellow, but I don’t want to take anything away from the wizards at Hot Toys who sculpt and paint these portraits. The likeness is certainly there, and the lifelike realism in the skin tone and the eyes is fantastic. I’m particularly impressed with the way they handled the transition of his haircut and the paint on his whiskers. The wound under his right eye was a really nice touch too. Some folks might have preferred a completely clean and undamaged portrait, but I think the cut adds to the character and personality of the piece. About the only thing to nitpick here is that with the clean shaven neck, the seam between the head and neck is extra obvious, but even Phicen’s best seamless bodies haven’t been able to crack that nut yet, so it’s easy to give it a pass.

Naturally, The Punisher comes with a full array of extra hands to assist with his punishing. These include a pair of fists, relaxed hands, slightly less relaxed hands, gun holding hands with trigger fingers, and enclosed finger gripping hands. They’re all pretty easy to swap in and out, and you also get an extra pair of posts in case something goes horribly wrong. Let’s move on to accessories!

Before I get Frank suited up with his jacket, let’s check out two of the smaller accessories. First up, he comes with this combat knife and sheath. These are pretty typical, but solid accessories. The enclosed gripping hands work really well for holding the knife. The craftsmanship on the sheath is particularly nice. The problem here is that I can’t really find anywhere to have him wear it. The sheath features a belt loop, and there really isn’t a good place that I can see on him to loop it through. I may wind up just shoving the knife into his boot and putting the sheath aside, or hunting down a tactical rig with a belt to put it on.

Next up, he comes with a S&W M327 Performance Center TRR8 revolver. This was the weapon that he brandished when he had Daredevil chained up on the roof. I love the design of this little guy. It’s such a distinctive design, especially with the scope rails on the top of the casing. In addition to the incredible detail of this piece, it’s fully articulated, so you can actually open the cylinder and see the tiny bullets in the chambers. On the downside, the pistol does not come with a holster or anywhere to place it on his person, so it’s probably going to have to spend most of its time in the box. Alright, let’s get Frank Castle fully suited up and check out the big guns.

The leather jacket is pretty easy to put on and it fits the figure beautifully. The stitching is perfect, and it has wires along the bottom so you can pose it billowing out behind him. It also has the extra effect of covering the jointing in his arms, if they bother you. Personally, this was always the way I was going to go for displaying him. It just looks great.

Next up is the Barrett MRAD Sniper Rifle, and again this is an absolutely gorgeous sculpt. It includes a removable magazine with the tiny painted bullets visible inside. It has a sliding scope, a folding stock, and working bolt action. But let’s face it, pistols and sniper rifles are seldom enough for Frank Castle. And when you need to really clear the bastards out of the room, that’s when you bring a minigun!

Say hello to six rotating barrels of 7.62mm hot justice! The M134 Minigun is what really drives the accessory score through the roof. This big beauty is full of detail, features a hand grip on the back and a grab bar on the top. The ammo belt is detachable and pegs securely into a slot in the side. This is what you might call an attention-getter. And for me, it really silences any cries about whether or not there should have been more guns packed into this box. I can pick up sixth-scale guns anywhere, but I think it would be hard to find something this cool to outfit him with. This is the baby that Frank’s going to be displayed with on my shelf.

One last accessory is the damaged version of Daredevil’s mask. It’s beautifully made and features the cracked plate on the front. I like it, but I probably would have preferred another gun in lieu of this piece. I doubt I’ll ever display him holding it, but I might just rest it on the stand between his feet. And speaking of stands…

Frank comes with the same basic stand as Daredevil did. It even has the same nameplate that reads Daredevil instead of The Punisher. I get it, they went for the Series title instead of character names, but I’ve never seen Hot Toys do that before so it feels a little out of place here. The surface of the base looks like wet pavement, and you get an illustrated cardboard standee to place behind the stand as a backdrop, which is pretty cool. The Punisher’s stand is also compatible with the extra diorama pieces that came with Daredevil.

While the Hot Toys Daredevil was a very solid figure that felt a little light for the price point, The Punisher here feels right on target. With an MSRP of $235, he was priced at only $5 more than Matt Murdock, but in addition to being a fantastic figure, this also feels like a more well-rounded package for the price. Sure, it’s true that you can almost never get enough guns with a Punisher figure, and I would have loved to have a few more, but we still got a nice selection of some pretty spectacular little firearms and the minigun is a damn fine showpiece for the collection. The pink Ruger would have made a nice exclusive bonus, but I have to remind myself that this release was based on Daredevil and not his own series. Regardless, I’m really impressed with the job Hot Toys did here and I am really satisfied with this purchase. Now bring on Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, please!

FigureFan’s Disappointments 2017, Part 2

This is it, Toyhounds, the final day of my week of canned bullshit. It’s also the final five Biggest Disappointments of 2017. These are the things that I added to my collection and reviewed throughout the year that didn’t really live up to my hopes and dreams. These are in no particular order, so let’s get started…

Femme Fatales (Justice League Unlimited) Hawkgirl by Diamond Select: There was a lot of competition in this line for a spot on my Favorites list, but really only one that deserved to land among my Disappointments. I was really looking forward to getting the JLU version of Hawkgirl on my DC Gallery shelf, but when the statue showed up it was marred by some pretty poor paintwork, ugly seams in the arms, and just an overall lack of quality control. When I look at how amazing some of the Gallery statues have been this past year, it’s easy to forgive one bad one slipping by. But that doesn’t make me feel any better about laying out the cash for it.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Sixth-Scale Drax The Destroyer by Hot Toys: I have been called a Hot Toys sycophant. And yes, if sticking my tongue down their collective trousers would net me some extra Reward Points at Sideshow, I’d get right on that lickity split. So, it’s probably no surprise that never before has a Hot Toys figure appeared on my annual list of Disappointments, but I guess there really is a first time for everything. After a long series of delays, and the possibility that Hot Toys Drax might be a no-show, he finally showed up this year and he was a little wanting. The sculpt was solid enough, as was the likeness, but there’s just something about him that failed to impress. Toss in a faulty right arm on my figure that often pops out at the elbow joint and a price point that was too high for what came in the box (a common failing for Hot Toys in 2017), and I couldn’t help but dub him Drax The Disappointment. Oh, I’m still happy to have a complete Hot Toys Guardians team on my shelf, but Drax deserved more polish and a price tag around $20 lower.

DC Super-Villains: Johnny Quick and Atomica by DC Collectibles: For the most part, DC Collectible’s Super-Villains line has been pretty solid. Hell, I even liked their New 52 Captain Cold figure, and I kind of hate that character design. So when Johnny Quick showed up at my door with some terrible paint fading and an arm that pulled right out of the socket, it shouldn’t be any surprise to see him turn up here. And what a disappointment it was, because I really dig this design and I loved to hate him in the Forever Evil. But when you toss him in with a rather lackluster DeathStorm, it’s no wonder that I didn’t pursue the rest of the Crime Syndicate from this line.

Marvel Legends Warlock Build-A-Figure by Hasbro: What’s that, you say? You cry foul because I had a Marvel Legends figure on the list already? Well, you’re going to have to fight me, because here’s another one. I’m justifying this because 1) He’s a Build-A-Figure and 2) I really did review a shit ton of Marvel Legends in 2017, so you’re just going to have to let me have this one transgression. Warlock featured a decent sculpt and a pretty cool paint job, but he was not a character that I was interested in, and especially not as the BAF waiting as a reward for collecting an entire wave. Add that to the fact that the left arm of my Warlock simply will not stay in the socket, and you have a figure that I would have happily done without. Now that I think of it, this is the third figure on this list that had arm issues. Weird.

ThunderCats Classics Panthro by Mattel: Here’s the thing. I ran out of shit that disappointed me after nine, so I had to get cute with this last one. And that’s why after long deliberation, I decided to put a figure that I rated with excellent marks here on this list. Because no matter how great Panthro turned out (and he is a great figure),  he arrived to me heralded by a bitter chorus of disappointment. At the time I opened him, it seemed unlikely that ThunderCats Classics would continue. And shortly after we got word from Super7 that they were not able to secure the license and continue the series. And that was easily my number one biggest disappointment of 2017. It’s not Panthro’s fault, but he seemed like a good conduit to get this one on the list.

And that wraps up this week of so-called content. I’ll be back on Monday with the first Marvel Monday of the year and I hope to have Transformers Thursday and DC Friday on the books as well, along with whatever I wind up tucking into Tuesday. Have a great weekend!

Marvel Netflix: Daredevil 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

2017 has been a slow one for me with Hot Toys. I’ve only reviewed a couple this year (Finn from The Force Awakens and Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy), and I’ll probably only get to one or two more before the year turns over. That’s not to say I’m not still interested. I actually have two currently on pre-order now, and I’m still trying to crunch some numbers and see if I can swing a few more I’m eyeing up. It’s a tough line to budget responsibly and they sure aren’t getting any cheaper, but that’s part of what makes it so special when a new one shows up. Today’s figure is especially cool, because it’s Hot Toys’ first crack at a character from one of Marvel’s Netflix series: Matt Murdock as The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen! I just call him Daredevil. It’s coo. We tight like that.

Hot Toys presentation isn’t what it used to be. The days of magnet secured wraparounds and high quality boxes have given way to flimsier pedestrian window boxes in illustrated sleeves. Scaling back the presentation has been going on for a while now, so I’ve learned to temper my expectations. Granted, to me the boxes are mainly just a place to keep the extra bits, but when you’re paying a lot for a figure, it’s nice to get a little something special in the presentation. Now, with that having been said, Daredevil’s box is pretty attractive and they actually put his name in braille on the front, which I thought was a clever touch. Inside, the figure comes on a tray with his extras laid out in compartments around him. There’s also quite a few pieces for the stand, more than usual, but I’ll get to that towards the end of the review.

I was extremely pleased with the design of Murdock’s suit in the series. It pays respect to the comic while still giving it that realistic, tactical feel that these live action comic book adaptations need. And as usual, Hot Toys has done some pretty solid work reproducing the costume here in all its sixth-scale glory. The suit features a mix of red textured material with black and red reinforced plates on the chest and shoulders, as well as black reinforced patches on the elbows. You also get some strategically placed silver rivets. The trousers have hard plastic knee pads, and the boots feature sculpted laces and treads in the soles, and are sculpted in two pieces to allow for articulation in the ankles, which is something that I wish Hot Toys would standardize on all their figures.  The tailoring is spot on with some flawless stitching, but at this point I wouldn’t expect anything less.

The fit of the costume probably has a little more room in the crotch than the on screen counterpart, but that allows for a little more articulation in the hips. If you’ve been reading my Hot Toys reviews, you no doubt are aware that I spend very little time discussing the articulation on these figures. That’s partly because I have a hard time knowing what’s going on under the clothing, and partly because it’s not a crucial element for me. I’ve been collecting Hot Toys long enough to know not to expect a lot of useful articulation and I’m fine with that. In this case, the range of articulation is better than I expected, but still limited in areas like the shoulders and the hips. With all that having been said, when it comes to the costume, I’ve got almost no complaints here, in fact I only have one.

There are two holders for his batons on his left leg. These are cast in rubber, have some nice weathered paint, and are secured by two straps that warp around his leg. The idea is that you can put the two halves of the baton in here like a holster. It was only after a great deal of terrifying effort on my part that I was able to get them in. It was even scarier trying to get them out. So do they work? Yes, technically they do. But there’s no way I’m going to risk putting them in there again. At worst case, I’m afraid of tearing the holster off the suit trying to get them out. At best case, I fear the friction against the tight rubber tubes might rub the paint off of the batons. Now, in fairness, I will probably never display this figure without the batons in his hands, but come on, Hot Toys. This is an expensive figure, and everything on it should work perfectly. Especially when it’s something this simple.

The cowl is without a doubt my favorite thing about the costume in general, and this figure in particular. It’s beautifully sculpted and painted. I love the deep lines between the plates, the panel lines around the eyes, and the perfect shape of the horns. The eyes are also quite stunning and just a bit creepy. They use a transparent red plastic that shines beautifully under the right lighting. The underlying hood is textured and if I didn’t know better, would easily have me convinced that it’s not all one sculpted piece. OK, well technically it isn’t because the cowl does lift off so that you can switch out the two different lower face plates for the two expressions. The first face plate features a neutral expression and I think it offers a great likeness to Charlie Cox, or at least the lower half of his face. The shape of his lips is very distinctive, and the sculpt here captures that perfectly. Additionally, the sculpting and paint for his five-o-clock shadow, as well as the overall skin texturing is amazingly lifelike.

The other face plate features gritting teeth and some bloody battle damage. Before I got this figure, I was pretty sure I was going to instantly default to the neutral expression for my display. Now that I have it in hand, however, I may rethink that. It’s not that the first one isn’t great, but the second one is just so over-the-top amazing. The paintwork on the bloody wounds looks phenomenal, and I’m blown away by the sculpting and paint involved with his gritting teeth. Yup, I think this is the look I’ll wind up going for. I’ll also take this opportunity to say that I’m more than a little disappointed that we didn’t get an unmasked likeness. No, it’s not that common for Hot Toys to issue two separate head sculpts with their figures these days, and yes, I obviously knew going in that it wasn’t coming with one. But I feel like it may have been omitted just so that they could include it with a variant release later on down the road. I guess we’ll see. I just think being able to display him unmasked and with a sculpted cowl in his hand would have been really cool.

As always, Hot Toys includes plenty of hands. In his case, Daredevil includes three sets. You get one set of fists, one set of relaxed hands, and one set of baton-holding hands. The detail on these is all really nice. They feature textured black palms and finger tips with padded red backs, and reinforced black knuckles that look like they can do some serious damage. I found that popping the hands on and off was particularly effortless with this figure, which has not always been the case with my Hot Toys in the past.

In addition to the hands and extra face, Daredevil’s accessories are limited to the three different configurations of his baton. First, you get one with the two pieces fitted together. I find it odd that they included the extra piece, rather than just have the two halves connect, but I guess I shouldn’t complain about an extra accessory when the count in the box is already fairly low. The sculpting and paint on all of the batons are excellent. They’re sculpted in red textured plastic, with metallic silver paint on the ends.

The second version has the batons split into two. These are the ones that are also supposed to fit into the holster and gave me so much trouble. At least they fit perfectly into his hands.

The final version of the baton features a wire connecting them like a pair of nunchuks. All of these are great pieces, but I confess that having the only accessories being variations of essentially the same piece of equipment makes the extras on this figure feel even more wanting. It’s not that I think he needed much more to feel complete, but he definitely needed something more to fill out the price point.

While the figure feels light on accessories, it also feels like Hot Toys tried to make up for it with the stand. The basic stand features the usual crotch-cradle post and a base that’s made to look like a street, including asphalt and puddles of water. It also features the ubiquitous nameplate on the front, this time with not only the character’s name, but also a cityscape etched behind it. All in all, this stand feels like an embellished version of what we’ve been getting with most of the recent releases, and it’s a good one to go with if you’re like me and trying to squeeze him into an already crowded display case.

You also get two additional pieces, a riser and a sidewalk piece to put behind the base to create something a little more elaborate. There’s some really nice detail at work in the sidewalk piece. It includes not only a sewer set into the curb, but part of a crumbling brick wall, some broken pipes, and a bunch of broken glass. It doesn’t actually attach to the regular base, but rather just sits behind it, and the two look great together without needing all that much extra real estate on the shelf. However, if you want to go all out for your Daredevil display, you do get one more option.

This is an illustrated cardboard backdrop that tabs together and stands behind the display base. With dozens of Hot Toys releases under my belt, I never got anything like this before, and while it’s a simple bonus, it’s also a welcome one. I think this looks great, and if I had the shelf space, I’d definitely be using it, but as it is, I’m going to have to have a couple of figures behind Daredevil and this will just block them from view. Maybe someday when I inevitably have to expand my Sixth-Scale shelves, I’ll work out the space to utilize this piece.

I like this figure a lot, and it’s really cool to finally have a Netflix Marvel figure join my MCU shelf. They display wonderfully together and it makes me hope that somehow we might get to see Daredevil team up with some of the MCU characters on the big screen, or even the small screen for that matter. With all that having been said, the super tight baton holster is an annoying design flaw, and even with the elaborate stand options, I feel like this figure comes up a little light when it comes to value for dollar. But that seems to be an ongoing issue with Hot Toys as their prices continue to creep up. Daredevil set me back $230, while he feels like he would have been closer to $200 just a year or two ago. I get it that costs rise, and I have no idea what licensing costs them, but lately I worry about Hot Toys pricing themselves out of business, or more likely, pricing me out of collecting them. And with that having been said, Doctor Strange is due to show up at my door sometime next week, and Netflix’s Punisher won’t be far behind, so hopefully I can squeeze a few more Hot Toys reviews in before the end of the year.

And that’s a wrap for this Marvel Week. I should have things more or less back to normal next week, although I will be taking Thursday off for Thanksgiving. I’d like to say that this week got me caught up on my Marvel backlog, but truth be told it didn’t even make a dent in it, so I may have to do another one of these sooner or later. 

Guardians of the Galaxy: Drax the Destroyer 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Collecting Hot Toys is not a hobby for the impatient and this is not news to me. Figures can go up for pre-order eight months to a year before they’re expected to ship, and even then you can almost always expect delays. This can be frustrating when you’re buying figures that are tied to movies. It’s doubly so when you’re trying to complete a team from a movie. My first HT figures from the original Guardians of the Galaxy (Star-Lord and Gamora) arrived more than two years ago. Rocket and Groot showed up a few months later. And ever since, I’ve been waiting for the arrival of Drax the Destroyer. Well, the Guardians sequel has come and gone and finally this cardboard shipper turned up on my doorstep, almost a year since I pre-ordered him.

Granted, Drax’s road to release has a more troubled history than most, and I can’t say as I know any of the details. I’ve heard rumors that point to Hot Toys having issues with the likeness approval and for a while it looked like we might never get a Drax at all. Fortunately, all parties were eventually satisfied enough to ink a deal and the figure was produced, allowing us to finally complete our original MCU Guardians team.

Despite the long delay between figures, the presentation here is identical to the rest of the HT Guardians. I love the package art design on this series and they all look great when lined up on the shelf. Unfortunately, HT has really been skimping on some of their packages lately, and that trend hit the Guardians series big time. What we have here is basically a pretty flimsy window box with an illustrated sleeve around it. Granted, I just use the packaging to store the extra accessories, but it upsets me when Hot Toys takes away premium packaging while continuing to raise prices. It’s extra annoying when the figure in question is rather light on the accessories, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The tray inside the box is exactly what we’ve been getting all along. The figure is surrounded by his extra hands and weapons, and there’s a figure stand nested between his legs.

For the most part, Drax almost looks like he jumped right off the screen… almost. There’s something about the upper body that just doesn’t click with me. I’ve spent some time comparing him to screen caps (something I almost never have to bother doing with Hot Toys figures) and while some look pretty close, others look far off. In the end, I’m still undecided on the torso. From head on it looks fine, but if turned to profile it looks too thin. Either way, I’m certain that the arms needed to be beefier.

On the other hand, I think they did an amazing job on his raised “tattoos” Normally, there isn’t a whole lot of opportunity for detail on a shirt-less figure, but they really did a nice job here. Coupled with this raised detail, the speckled skin looks pretty close to the body paint used by Bautista in the film. Realistic skin tones has never been a problem for Hot Toys, even when it’s an alien color. Of course, the bare arms mean exposed joints, and that’s always a downer on these figures. The rotating hinges in the elbows really make this feel more like a run-of-the-mill action figure. Hot Toys did a beautiful job with the seamless elbows on their Hulk figure, but it probably wasn’t an option here because of the sculpted tatts. On the plus side, there’s virtually no restriction on Drax’s articulation, which makes him a lot more fun to play around with than most Hot Toys.

The portrait is excellent. If they really did invest all that extra lead time in the likeness, I think it paid off in spades. Once again the skin tone is spot on and the sculpted tatts look great. His eyes feature that eerie spark of life that I’m used to seeing in my Hot Toys figures. Alas, I think this is a character that really needed an extra portrait showing some emotion. If this were a Guardians Vol.2 version, I’d say a laughing portrait, but in this case, rage would have done nicely. Still, for someone like me, who tends to pose these figures in fairly subdued stances, this neutral portrait works fine in context with the rest of the team.

Drax’s outfit is pretty simple, as it amounts to just a pair of trousers and some boots, but HT packed a lot of detail into them. The trousers include all the detailed belts and straps and fixtures that really look fantastic. The boots are also very intricately designed right down to the sculpted treads on the soles. You also get a second pair of red trousers, which I was not expecting. I’m not sure that I’ll ever bother to change them out, but I love that they were included as a bonus.

Besides the change of pants, Drax comes up really light on the accessories. You do get the usual assortment of hands, in this case there are three pairs (fists, relaxed, knife-holding) and one specialized right hand. His knives look amazing. The hilts are beautifully sculpted and the blades feature some red inscriptions. These have a nice weight to them and the silver finish is quite striking. The boots have molded sheathes for his knives, but these are a real tight fit. Plus, for reasons I cannot explain, the blades are designed to detach from the grips, so when trying to remove the knives from his sheathes the handles often just pop off.

Drax also comes with the bazooka he had on the Kree Warship, The Dark Astor. They did a particularly nice job with the rusted finish on the tube, and even the areas that are black have a little wear and tear painted on, as well as a blue lens over the scope. Overall, this is a pretty nice sculpt, but it has no moving parts and it feels really light. The specialized right hand that I mentioned earlier is designed to hold this weapon and it does that quite well. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough range of motion in the elbow to get the shoulder rest onto his shoulder. He can still hold it very convincingly and even line up his eye with the scope.

The final stop on any of my Hot Toys reviews is always the stand. In this case it’s the exact same design we saw with the rest of the Guardians team with an illustrated base that looks like the deck plating of a space ship. My OCD give thanks to the Supreme Intelligence that they did change this up, because I like my bases to match.

So, here’s the thing: Drax is an excellent figure… by anyone else’s standards. But, I collect Hot Toys to be blown away and Drax here doesn’t quiiiiite make it to that “blow me away” level. I still can’t say I’m disappointed in him. I needed to complete my MCU Guardians and I’m very happy that I no longer have a Drax-shaped hole on my shelf. And to be fair, he looks fantastic with the rest of the team. I just feel that there are several opportunities for improvement here. If he were a one-off standalone figure, I might come down a lot harder on him in the end. I will, however, unequivocally declare that at $220, the value just isn’t here. Sure, Hot Toys releases at or under $200 are getting almost non-existent these days, but here’s one that should have been.

On an administrative note, I am now officially FOUR waves behind in Marvel Legends. I have the Warlock and Mantis waves stacked in the corner, I’m piecing together the Sandman wave, and the Spider-Man: Homecoming wave is hitting stores now. I don’t know what I’ll be jumping into next Marvel Monday, but I’ve got to start coming up with a plan to get all caught up! 

Star Wars “The Force Awakens:” Finn 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Nope, no Transformers Thursday this week. Sorry. I was hoping to get a little MP-36 action going today, but he was not in the budget this week. Probably not next week. Maybe I’ll get lucky and nab one in at the end of April or perhaps the prospects of the ridiculous orange plug will piss me off enough that I can save my money. For now, I happened to be re-organizing my sixth-scale shelves to make room for some new arrivals last week when it dawned on me that I had yet to review a couple of my Hot Toys figures from The Force Awakens. Let’s remedy that today by checking out Big Deal himself,  Finn!

I’ve already looked at Hot Toys Rey and BB-8 and the packaging here is very similar. Finn was available on his own or boxed with the First Order Riot Stormtrooper, which is the route I went. Other than this bigger box, I don’t think there was any real difference between the two releases of Finn. And don’t worry, I’ll be looking at the Riot Trooper on his own in the next week or so. But let me take a moment to declare what a testament it is to how much I loved the new characters in The Force Awakens, that I’m buying them as Hot Toys and not The Original Trilogy characters. Truth be told, the main reason is that collecting the OT Hot Toys is too big a plunge for me to take. First I’d be spending $220 on Luke Skywalker and next thing I know, I’m 20 figures deep and making five $60 Flex Pays on a Hot Toys Power Droid and wondering what happened. The smaller cast of The Force Awakens seems a lot more manageable. Especially since WE STILL HAVEN’T EVEN SEEN A HINT THAT POE DAMERON IS EVER COMING OUT. What? Oh yeah, let’s have a look at Finn…

In case you’ve never met a Resistance fighter before, this is what they look like. Well, some of them. Others look different. But this is most definitely FN-2187, better known to his new pals as Finn. As a character, I found Finn to be instantly likable and this figure captures him beautifully. It is, however, a pretty simple figure, especially once I discarded the nearly useless extra, which I’ll get to in a bit. Finn sports a pretty standard pair of space trousers, a t-shirt and, of course, Poe’s Resistance jacket.

And yes, Poe’s trusty jacket is easily the star of this otherwise pedestrian outfit. It’s a splendidly crafted garment with some immaculate stitching and it hits all the right points of the real thing. Some of those high points include the reinforced patch on the front of the right shoulder and the ribbed stripes that run down the outside of each sleeve. The material is a very pliable and a convincing substitute for leather. One of the other great things about this outfit is how it isn’t at all restrictive and there are no super delicate pieces, like buttons that can fall off. While a lot of Hot Toys sacrifice pose-ability for tightly crafted costumes, Finn feels like an honest-to-goodness action figure and he’s loads of fun to play around with.

I can remember some early reactions to this figure and people picking on the likeness. Honestly, I don’t know what there is to complain about. To me, this looks spot-on to actor John Boyega and features the usual crazy level of realistic detail both in sculpt and some sterling paintwork. The expression is fairly neutral, which I think is always the way to go unless we’re getting an extra head. The eyes have that eerie “I’m alive” look to them, and the sculpted hair looks fantastic. I think this one is a total home-run. I’ll also toss in here the fact that Finn comes with Hot Toys’ usual assortment of extra hands. These include fists, saber holding hands, gun holding hands, and relaxed hands.

Let’s kick off the accessories with mention of the electronic lightsaber, so we can never speak of it again. Yes, this is where my appreciation of the figure takes a momentary dive. This saber hilt is actually an integral part of a replacement arm, which has to be swapped out and doing so is an unbelievable pain in the ass. I did it once when I first got the figure and I’ll never do it again. Nope, not even for this review. Because of the sleeve, it’s impossible to see what you’re doing, and I’d say it probably took me a good twenty minutes to finally get it in there. It was a whole ordeal during which, I was constantly afraid that I was going to mess up the outfit or break the figure’s arm. Yes, it looks mighty pretty when it’s all lit up, but it’s still not worth the risk to me. And, I have to ask, is it really necessary to integrate the electronics into the whole arm? Couldn’t they have done it in just a hand? I mean, I have a pretty damn small LED on my key-ring that could have easily lit this saber up. Just saying…

Well, since the lit saber and arm is not my cup of tea, I’m happy to say Finn also comes with a regular lightsaber that can share the blade with the electronic one. This saber is the exact same accessory that came with Rey and it’s still a beautiful piece. The hilt is intricately detailed and the translucent blue blade just pegs right into the hilt. It may seem odd to include the saber with both Rey and Finn, but in fairness, this set is intended to recreate Finn’s battle with the Riot Stormtrooper on Takodana, and I can’t say as I mind having an extra.

Next up, Finn comes with the rather distinctive blaster that he borrowed off of Han Solo. I remember not being terribly fond of this design and back when I reviewed the 6-inch Black Finn, I actually speculated that it wouldn’t even appear in the movie. Boy, was I wrong, actually on both counts, because this weapon design has grown on me a lot. I like the clear piece on the end of the “scope” and the barrel kind of reminds me of the Rebel DH-17 Blaster just a bit. The weapon does not feature any moving parts, but it does come with a pretty cool carry strap.

And speaking of carrying things, how about a big bag of bombs? It’s the explosive payload that Finn toted to The Starkiller Base in order to blow the place up. This could have just as easily been an accessory included with the Han Solo figure, since he and Chewie were the ones planting the things, but I’m glad they gave Finn some more stuff. The satchel includes a retaining strap that pegs together at the buckle and there’s a mesh side so you can see what’s in it when it’s full. It’s also a pretty big bag, as you could probably fit twice as many bombs in it as comes with the set.

And lastly, Finn comes with a stand that features The Resistance logo as well as a name plate. It’s the same style of stand that came with Rey, complete with a crotch cradle on an adjustable post to keep Finn standing proud.

Finn is available by himself for $205, which is a decent value for a Hot Toys figure, as they usually start in the $220 range these days. I picked up mine in the two-pack with the Riot Trooper for $360, so if you want to split the two figures evenly down the mdidle that makes Finn $180 and that’s even sweeter. Although, it’s worth mentioning that as I write this Sideshow has thrown up the “Low Stock” warning on his product page. I’ll concede that Finn’s a somewhat basic figure, especially if you’re like me and choose to ignore the electronic saber gimmick, but I can’t say as there’s anything really missing from his collection of extras. Not to mention he is a damn solid figure in his own right, with a nicely tailored costume and a superb likeness. And all kidding aside, I really am shocked that we haven’t seen or heard anything about a Hot Toys Poe, because him in his X-Wing pilot suit would be a wonderful way to round out my Rey, Finn, and BB-8 display.

Star Wars “The Force Awakens:” Rey and BB-8 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Oh boy, it’s my first Star Wars figure from Hot Toys, something I swore I would never be doing because the last thing I need is to expand my Hot Toys collecting into a franchise as prolific as Star Wars. I had quite the internal struggle over whether or not I should do this, because it’s such a dangerous rabbit hole to fall into and up until now I’ve been able to resist it. Ultimately, I decided to go for some of The Force Awakens figures, because I really enjoy the movie a lot and I especially loved the new characters. And because it’s such a tight cast of characters, I reasoned that I didn’t have to worry as much about going in too deep. I’m pretty sure I don’t have to worry about Hot Toys making a Constable Zuvio, right? RIGHT??? Yeah, well let’s see how that works out. My plan for now is to just stick with the main heroes, and so today I’m checking out Rey and her little droid friend, BB-8. I probably should have broken this one up into at least two parts, so I’ll apologize in advance for how long today’s Feature is going to run. There’s just a whole lot to look at here.

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The figures come in box which is considerably wider than a regular HT box, but not quite as big as the two-packs that they’ve done. The top of the box lifts off to reveal an illustrated cardboard insert, and that lifts off to finally reveal the figures inside. The presentation is pretty minimalist, and everything about this package just screams functionality over flash. And that’s probably for the better because just look at the condition this thing came in from Sideshow. It irks me to no end that they continue to drop these $200+ collectibles into un-padded mailer boxes. mine has a nice ding on the front panel and a crunch to the lower left corner. There’s also all kinds of scratches and scarring, which obviously didn’t come from it’s time in transit. This was no exclusive incentive here, so apart from the reward points, I might as well have gone elsewhere. Of course, it’s more the principle than being pissed about box damage, as I only keep these boxes to have somewhere to put all those extra bits when I’m not using them. And believe me this set has a lot of extra bits. The number of extra hands alone for this figure has reached ridiculous proportions. So while the presentation here may not blow me away in the sense of art design or other flash, it’s hard not to be impressed when taking that first glimpse of the open tray and all its contents. Let’s start with Rey as she comes out of the box.

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As is often the case with Hot Toys’ figures, Rey looks like she just stepped off the screen wearing her desert garb. It’s not a flashy costume, not by any means, but the craftsmanship and tailoring that went into it are nonetheless amazing. In fact, it’s kind of neat to see how much loving detail they can put into an outfit as drab and simple as this one. The fabric is very light and hangs so naturally on the figure that it looks like the full size outfit was shrunk down to sixth scale. It consists of an underlying tunic, loose fitting pants that reach just below her knees, and a belted sash. She has cloth wraps on her arms, a sculpted plastic bracer on her left wrist and a pair of sculpted, textured boots. The fabric is tan and mostly ragged cut in a few areas to make it look weathered and worn from Jakku’s harsh climate.

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Little details on the costume include the plastic, medieval style belt and the cloth pouch on her right hip. It’s interesting how this whole outfit manages to invoke the look of Jedi robes. A little bit of fashion foreshadowing? Or maybe it was just a coincidence.

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The body they used here feels perfectly proportioned for Daisy Ridley. I don’t tend to talk about the articulation much with my Hot Toys figures, because a) I’m never really sure what’s going on beneath the costumes, and b) because those costumes are usually too restrictive to make use of that articulation. Rey, on the other hand, holds few secrets and even fewer restrictions. The articulation here is fantastic and the figure is loads of fun to play with thanks to the forgiving nature of the outfit. HT went for some of that realistic rubbery skin texture for her shoulders, and upper torso, but the rest consists of a lot of trusty action-figure-y hinges and swivels. Some may be put off that in extreme poses the pants don’t always cover the knee joints, but I’m fine with it. About the only thing here that feels restrictive are the ankles and that’s because her boots don’t allow for the full range of the ball joints.

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Hot Toys rarely goes astray with their portraits and I’m extremely happy with how close the likeness we got is to the beautiful Ms. Ridley. As always, the skin tone is so realistic it’s downright eerie, as is the paint on the lips and the slight flash of teeth. The expression is a nice compromise between being too neutral and too expressive. I think it works well for a lot of poses, although something a little more determined would have worked well here too. It’s worth noting that the exceptional skin tone carries forward to her shoulders and neck area.

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I’ve come down on both sides of the rooted vs sculpted hair argument, but in the case of Rey’s rather complex trinity of buns, I think there can be no doubt that sculpted hair was the way to go here. I particularly love the way they were still able to give her the two wisps of hair that fall down on either side of her face. Of course, Rey is more than just a pretty face. She’s a strong-willed and independent warrior, so let’s check out some of her weapons!

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Rey comes with her staff, which is a substantial piece of plastic for what it is, and features a lot of detailed sculpting. I don’t think we know a whole hell of a lot about this weapon, other than it’s a quarterstaff that she patched together out of the junk she scavenged. Actually, that’s probably all there really is to know about it. No need to over-complicate it, fans! She obviously knows how to use it pretty well in combat and it no doubt doubles nicely as a walking stick while traipsing through the dunes of Jakku. It has a cloth strap, which is secured to it by two metal clasps and she has a pair of hands dedicated to holding it.

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Next up is the little blaster pistol that Han gave to her in that lovely little scene outside the Falcon. While I personally felt that some of the weapon designs in TFA were a little foreign to Star Wars, I really like this little gun. It looks like something that Han either cobbled together or just had stowed away in the Falcon’s glove compartment. It’s like when you know you’re friend is in trouble so you slip her that old .38 you have under your mattress. No? That’s just me? OK, then.

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Finally, Rey comes with Luke’s lightsaber. OMG… SPOILERS!!! The hilt is beautifully recreated in this scale and it features a translucent blue blade, which can be easily removed so the weapon can be displayed either engaged or not. As great as the hilt looks, it’s hard to deny that the removable blade feels a lot like a Hasbro accessory. I know that sounds harsh, and I can’t think of anything they could have done differently, so it’s really fine. I know what you’re thinking… What about some LED’s dammit. This figure was ‘spensive!! No, there is no light up feature in the blade, but when I eventually get to looking at the Hot Toys’ Finn and Riot Trooper two-pack, you’ll see why I’m not upset over the lack of electronics here.

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Of course, she also comes with a fairly standard figure stand. The post features an adjustable wire crotch cradle and the hexagon base has the Rebel (or is that Resistance?) logo on it. The front edge features the Star Wars logo and both characters’ names. If there was nothing else to say about Rey, I think she still would be a very worthy purchase, but I’m not done yet. Hot Toys included everything you need to convert Rey to her Scavenger look from the beginning of the film.

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Yeah, I had no idea there were so many different elements to the costume change and once they’re all on, it almost feels like an entirely new figure. I dig the design of this costume so much. It feels like there’s a little Lawrence of Arabia and a little Wrath of Khan in there, and yet it still looks so undeniably Star Wars. The extras for this costume include her head wrap, goggles, cloth sash, cloth belt, backpack, and left shoulder armor. Not to mention an entire second collection of gloved hands. Getting everything on isn’t too bad, except for the head wrap, which I’ll get to in a bit…

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Because of the layered nature of the outfit, there are some additions that aren’t all that apparent once everything is on. The sash, for example is mostly obscured by the head wrap and backpack, but it’s great that, in the pursuit of accuracy, it’s still included. The cloth belt has snap fasteners and actually serves the purpose of securing the sash close to the figure’s body. The backpack is particularly noteworthy because of all the little bits and bobs it has on it. There are all sorts of canisters and tubes and now I really want a copy of the Visual Encyclopedia so I can know what all these things are supposed to be.

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The front left shoulder strap of the backpack also contains a canister on a short chain. The shoulder armor piece is sculpted in plastic to look like a heavier weave over a reinforced material. It also includes plenty of sculpted belts and buckles, but it is secured around the arm by a pair of elastic strings. It’s easy to slide on because the arm will actually detach at the bicep swivel, so you don’t have to slide it all the way up the arm and mess up the wrapping.

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As I said earlier, the head wrap, which is actually more of a hood, was a bit of a chore to get on, mainly because it’s a very tight fit and it needs to be positioned a certain way starting on the back of the figure’s head to get it to sit right. The other issue here is avoiding damage to those two wisps of plastic hair on either side of the figure’s head. They have a tendency to poke through the cloth, which doesn’t seem to damage the cloth any, but if they get caught, I imagine they would be easy to break off. Once on, there’s a very narrow slit for Rey’s eyes and the goggles simply go over this gap with the help of some elastic strings. The goggles feature some fine details and the eye lenses are tinted translucent green plastic.

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The other tough part is getting the material stretched down to hook under her chin if you want to display her with that beautiful portrait exposed. I would be a little cautious about doing this very often for fear of rubbing the gorgeous paint on the face. Still, the effort is certainly worth while here, because I think the figure looks outstanding in her Scavenger outfit, with or without the mask.

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Just put her staff in her hand and she’s all ready to go rummaging through downed Star Destroyers and AT-AT Walkers to earn herself another quarter portion. And with all these independent pieces of the costume, there are lots of great variations for display. The sad part is, that since I want to go with the look she had for the majority of the film, I don’t know how much use I’ll actually get out of the Scavenger outfit. I’ve never wanted to double up on a particular Hot Toys figure as much as I do right now, because it would be great to display her both ways. Luckily, I’m not that crazy.. yet. Oh, hey… let’s not forget about BB-8.

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I wasn’t expecting much from the BB-8 pack in. In fact, when I got the shipper box in the mail, I was at first taken aback by how large it was and only then remembered that the little droid was included. Oh, yeah! That’s where that other $65 went! I shouldn’t have underestimated him, because he’s actually a fantastic figure and he feels very high quality in hand. The antenna need to be pegged into the head, the head comes separate from the body, and it connects only via magnets, so you can position the patterns and compartments on the body any way you like. This becomes important when we get to the pair of attachments. There also a very simple light feature that’s turned on under the head and lights up his eye and sensor. The blue LED in the sensor is very bright, but the red one in the regular eye is barely noticeable to me.

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The figure features a shiny and smooth surface with some deep cut panel lines. The orange and silver paint looks very sharp and there’s just the right amount of weathering and sand build up on him for my tastes. He’s not filthy, but he’s not-straight-from-the-factory clean either.

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There are two compartment covers on BB-8’s body that can be removed in order to put on his attachments. I’m not totally sure what the first attachment is, but if I remember correctly it’s the receptacle he stored the data device, which held the map fragment.

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The second attachment is a little articulated arm. While these are great little extras, I will admit to being a little disappointed that he didn’t come with his “thumbs up” lighter. Seriously, Hot Toys, how did you drop the ball on that one?

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As you’ve already seen, BB-8 comes with a molded mound of sand with a concave area for him to rest in.  The sand piece is sculpted so that it will mate with Rey’s stand and you can display the two side by side, which works very well, especially if you’re going for the Scavenger Rey look. However, it’s worth noting that the stand isn’t absolutely necessary to display him.

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Yes, thanks to a free-rolling counter balance inside BB-8’s body, he does a pretty good job of righting himself when standing on a smooth surface. That’s not to say I would be entirely comfortable keeping this expensive little ball that way all the time. I’d rather have the peace of mind knowing that he’s not going to roll off the shelf, because if that happened I don’t think that even Rey could straighten his antenna again. And yes, he looks pretty good resting beside Sideshow’s R2 and 3PO.

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If you can’t tell, I absolutely love these figure, but before wrapping it up let’s do some bean counting and talk value. Or at least, as much as one can possibly talk about value in relation to Hot Toys prices. Rey and BB-8 retailed for about $290 and should still be available at a lot of retailers. Rey is also available alone at $225, which compared to a pretty bare bones release like Princess Leia at $209, still costs out pretty well when you throw in all the extra stuff for the Scavenger costume as well as the lightsaber, staff, and pistol. Of course, that means that BB-8 represents around $65. He’s a great looking piece, he’s weighty, he’s got electronics, and he’s got some attachments. Even at about half the size and complexity of Sideshow’s R2, he feels like a much more finely crafted product. That having been said, I don’t think even Hot Toys would try to get that price for him alone, and hence the bundle. As a result, I wouldn’t call this set a great value, certainly not when you compare it to the Finn and Riot Trooper set that I’ll be looking at in a couple of weeks, but it feels like a solid value as far as Hot Toys figures are concerned. I would have been thrilled with Rey even if I got her alone, but I have no regrets about picking up the bundle. Now, I keep wondering what’s the hold up with Poe? We haven’t even seen him yet. I keep checking, and while I’m there, hovering over the Buy It button for Kylo Ren. Maybe that’s their evil plan.

Avengers “Age of Ultron:” Scarlet Witch 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Captain America: Civil War has been blowing up the box office for a few weeks now (I did my part, seeing it twice in Imax and once on a regular screen), and while Hot Toys has plenty of pre-orders up for the Civil War versions of The Avengers, a few of the last Age of Ultron figures are still trickling out. In the case of AoU Scarlet Witch, I’ve actually had her on my shelf for a little while now, and it’s long past time I check her out.

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I already showed off the Hot Toys’ Age of Ultron packaging when I featured Hawkeye and Vision. This is the same deal only with a red deco and Wanda Maximoff’s lovely mug on the front of the box. It’s still basically a window box with an illustrated sleeve wrapped around it and while it looks attractive and certainly gets the job done, I can’t help but feel as if Hot Toys has been cutting costs in their package presentation while the prices of the figures continue to climb. All the goodies come on one tray and everything, as always, is collector friendly.

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Wanda comes more or less ready to go right out of the box. You do have to put on her two necklaces, which require popping off the head, but that’s easy-peasy. The hair required a little futzing, but all in all I was surprised how little I had to mess with it to get it where I wanted it. In fact, Wanda is a very simple figure, but the costume hits all the right points. The outfit consists of a thin black dress over a black and pink lacy slip, a red leather jacket, leather arm bracers, tattered black stockings, and some chunky boots. While this is about as far from any of Scarlet Witch’s comic designs you can get, I like this look a lot for the MCU version of the character and I was glad to see her wear something pretty similar for a good part of Civil War.

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The jacket is easily the most impressive of these sixth-scale garments. It’s beautifully tailored and textured and fits the figure perfectly. The coloring on it is also very nice, particularly the way it transitions to a darker color at the bottom. The costume design also does a good job of concealing most of the joints, preventing Hot Toys from having to go with seamless arms and legs. The stockings cover the knees, the bracers cover the wrist joints, and the jacket sleeves, well they cover the elbows most of the time, so long as your diligent about pulling them down while posing her. Still, with extreme elbow bends, you’re likely to see some hinge. If I were going to nitpick something it would be the boots. They look fine on their own, but if you compare them to say the sculpting on AoU Hawkeye’s boots, the detail here looks a lot more soft. It’s also worth mentioning here that while the boots don’t allow for lateral rockers, the rest of the costume is one of the least restrictive costumes I’ve seen on a Hot Toys figure in a long while. With no restrictions and very little fragility here, Wanda is a fun figure to play around with.

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I’ve got no complaints about the portrait. Hot Toys has worked their usual magic here. I will say that I find the likeness can go from spot on to just very good, depending on the lighting and angle, but even Hot Toys’ “very good” is usually better than everyone else’s best, so I’ll happily take it. The skin tones in the face are superb and the paintwork on the eyes is downright eerie. While some collectors still fight against rooted hair, I’m a fan of it in certain cases and this was one of them. Yes, there are some fly-away strands, but I don’t think this would have looked good with sculpted hair. I haven’t used any product or actually did any styling… I need to draw the line somewhere. While the arms and legs don’t feature the seamless rubbery”skin,” the neck and upper torso does, so you can get some articulation out of the lower neck despite no visible joint there. I do wish they made the charms on her longer necklace out of diecast, as it would have weighted them better. As it is, the longer necklace doesn’t really hang naturally.

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You know what time it is? It’s time in the Hot Toys feature where we talk about hands… lots of extra hands! Wanda comes with a total of eight, although in this case the count is weighted in favor of the right side. As many of you may know, I’m not an extra hands kind of guy, but in this case, the hands are actually a lot of fun, because some of them are very expressive and they tie in with her hex powers. The majority of the hands have red translucent finger tips to create the magic effect, and it works quite well. All of the hands come complete with all her sculpted rings. And that brings us to her other accessories…

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Effect Parts! If there’s one thing I’m usually even more ambivalent toward than extra hands it’s effect parts, but once again Hot Toys surprised me here, and in more ways than one. The hex magic effect parts that come with Scarlet Witch are both frustrating, and ultimately fun accessories. These are sculpted in clear plastic with a nice shade of red mixed throughout. They are designed with a very specific use in mind, to have the effect trailing behind the hands. The instructions sort of show how this is done, but not very well and the way the pieces are designed to fit the hands isn’t at all intuitive.

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However, with a little experimentation, I’ve found them to be pretty versatile and capable of creating some pretty neat poses. For people who like to have accessories that go in a proper way for a very specific look, these might prove more frustrating than their worth. But they had me playing around with Wanda a lot more than I usually do with a new Hot Toys arrival.

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Finally, Wanda comes with Ultron’s heart. It’s a decent enough accessory and it allows you to create a pretty cool moment in the film, but it’s nothing terribly special. At the prices we’re talking about, I would have preferred something metal and maybe with an LED.

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Scarlet Witch’s stand is patterned after the other Age of Ultron figures that I featured. The big difference here is that instead of a crotch cradle, it comes with a wire loop that hugs the figure’s waist, like a more traditional doll stand. The base is larger and more posh looking than the older Hot Toys stands, and I do appreciate that it offers a better sense of value. The only downside here is that it takes up more real estate on the shelf and doesn’t match the older Avengers figures.

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I could go on about how any sense of value is slipping away as Hot Toys’ prices continue to rise, but if I’m still buying them, then I guess I shouldn’t be complaining and in the end, I’m going to pay what I need to pay to get the characters I want. One thing I wish Hot Toys had done here was do a discounted bundle on Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, because I find that I wouldn’t mind having her brother on display with her, but there’s no way I would buy him on his own unless he hits some really deep discounts. And I can’t imagine that situation is out of the question. Of course, Hot Toys has already shown off their Civil War version of Wanda, and while it hasn’t made me regret picking up this figure (I’m big on getting first appearances), it has made me consider double-dipping on her.

And that should catch me up on my Marvel Hot Toys. I have Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy and Cap from Civil War on pre-order, but they aren’t due out until later in the year. I’d love to pick up Ultron, but I don’t think he’s going to be in my budget. Likely the next Hot Toys I’ll be featuring here on FFZ will be some of The Force Awakens offerings, which should be shipping sometime toward the end of the Summer. 

Ant-Man 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

I know, when I looked at Hot Toys’ Vision I promised I’d get to Scarlet Witch next, but then Ant-Man hit my stoop and no offense, Wanda, but I was just more excited to get to this figure and check him out, especially after seeing him in action again in Civil War. Of course, this is the outfit from the original movie, the one I prefer, and while no one knows what the future holds, for now it’ll be the definitive version of the MCU Scott Lang on my shelf. Let’s check him out…

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The package consists of the same window box with illustrated sleeve around it that we’ve been seeing out of the Hot Toys Marvel line for a little while now. It feels rather simple for a $200+ collectible, but it gets the job done. And in this case the artwork really blows me away. It’s very stylish and to me it just beautifully reflects the quirky nature of what we saw in the closing credits. I also really dig the wrap-around title. You can lift off the sleeve to peek at the figure through the window, or you can open up the top flap with the sleeve still on and slide out the tray. Ant-Man comes mostly ready to go right out of the box. You just have to insert the tubes of Pym Particles into the slots on his belt and pop in the batteries (or not, as we’ll see it doesn’t make much of a difference).

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Man, do I love this costume design! It’s so cool that it almost makes up for the fact that Hank Pym was excluded from the MCU Avengers, something I was very sore about in the beginning. But this movie was great, MCU Scott Lang is a lot of fun, and this suit is absolutely killer, so all has been forgiven. When he first encountered it, Scott referred to the suit as “some old motorcycle outfit” and it does indeed look just like that. It’s got a deliciously retro-charm to it that looks high tech, while still conveying that it’s an antique. And we all know that if you give Hot Toys a great design like this one, they’re going to do it proud. The entire suit is crafted out of a leather-like material, which mimics the on screen appearance perfectly. The silver piping is gorgeous as is the red textured material on the chest, back, and shoulders. This is such a perfect blend of great design and near perfect execution, that it’s instantly become one of my favorite Marvel Hot Toys figures in my collection.

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One little feature that I like a lot about the costume is the way they recreated the ribbing in the elbows and knees. While this was certainly part of the suit design, it serves a double purpose on the figure, where I’m not afraid to keep an elbow bent for fear of distorting the suit material. It can be a problem on figures like Avengers Black Widow or even the Age of Ultron Vision, but I don’t think it will be a problem here. On the downside, the suit is fairly restrictive of articulation. Now, if you’ve been reading my Hot Toys Features over the years, you may have noted that articulation is never a huge concern of mine with these figures. Sure, better range of motion is always better, but for the most part I like to tweak the poses now and then and leave it at that. Besides, just about every HT figure I’ve ever owned has come with a page in the instructions warning not to move certain appendages beyond a certain number of degrees. In the case of Ant-Man, the biggest let down in the restriction for me is in the hips and that’s because I’m afraid of pulling the stitching in that groin area. Bottom line, don’t expect any extreme action poses out of Scott.

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The helmet is a work of art in and of itself. Not only is the detail just superb, but the paint and weathering is right on target. The side arms that hold the mouth piece in place look particularly good and I really dig the bars that encircle the neck. The red plastic screens for the eyes even offer a pretty clear view of Scott’s eyes inside, which adds an extraordinary level of depth and realism to the portrait even when masked.

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From behind you can see the two thin wires that connect from the helmet to the small backpack. These pieces are designed to pull out of the helmet rather than allow themselves to be overly stressed. I think this was a good idea, because it wouldn’t take much to tear these pieces, however, it does mean having to reconnect them from time to time when manipulating the figure. That having been said, I found that I only had to do that a few times while shooting him.

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Of course, the coolest thing about the helmet is that Hot Toys went with an articulated helmet that allows for you to display the Scott Lang portrait without having to do a head swap. In fact, making the switch is incredibly easy. The face plate is held on by a magnet, so you just pluck it off and place it raised on the forehead. The arms that hold the mouthpiece rotate at the sides of the head and have ball joints where they connect to the mouth piece, so you just angle those downward. I’m not a big fan of swapping heads on these figures, so the ability to do it on the fly adds a lot of value to me. Plus, I think the likeness to Paul Rudd is one of their absolute best, so it would be a shame to hide it all the time.

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This figure has taken a lot of heat over its electronics feature, which is basically a light up mask. Some of that may be warranted, but I can’t get too worked up over it. The top plate of the helmet lifts up to reveal the battery compartment and on/off switch. Switching it on lights a panel in the forehead, which in turn shines through the eyes of the mask and out the sides. If you switch it on in anything close to a well lit room, it barely shows at all. Forget about getting it to show up on my studio staging area. The above picture was snapped with him on the display shelf, with the shelf lighting turned off and the room fairly dark and it looks fine to me. If the effect certainly isn’t blinding. I think it’s because they made it work with such a versatile head. Had they gone with an alternate masked portrait, like they did with Star-Lord, it would have certainly worked better. Me? I’ll take less effective lighting over the articulated mask any day. Let’s move on to the accessories…

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HANDS!!! Oh, you know it! If it’s a Hot Toys figure, you’re going to get a ton of hands. Scott comes with fists, relaxed hands, and hands that look like he’s about to do the patented Captain Kirk palm strike. The most important hand to me is the right hand with thumb poised over the shrinking button and this is the one he’ll likely always be displayed with. You also get a right hand designed to hold some of the teeny-tiny accessories he comes with…

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…in this little tray of goodies. It’s also a little tray of goodies that resists opening enough so that it explodes and throws the tiny goodies all over the room when it finally does open. I’ll start off with those little bombs, because they’re pretty much staying right there in the tray. Nice little pieces, but I’ve got no use for them.

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The vials of Pym Particles, all fit into the slots on his belt. You get two red and two blue. If I remember correctly it’s the red ones on the right to shrink and the blue ones on the left to enlarge.

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You also get the two discs that enlarge or shrink whatever they stick to. They’re super tiny, but Scott can hold them fairly convincingly in that one accessory-specific hand. I wish there was somewhere to attach these to the figure.

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Next up, you get tiny Ant-Man. And, yes, tiny Ant-Man is indeed tiny. He comes with his own little disc stand with indented spots for his feet, which hold him surprisingly well. Considering that I have no room on my Avengers shelf for the full size Ant-Man, this little guy will come in handy to stand in for him. For now, full size Scott will be hanging out with Falcon, Winter Soldier, and Captain America on the shelf below it.

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And of course, you get the figure stand. This is the same type that came with the Age of Ultron figures, so it’s bigger than the old standard and overall feels more impressive. I actually like that they called out Scott Lang’s name on the tag.

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I’ve never been truly disappointed by a Hot Toys figure, so when I say I really love HT’s Ant-Man, I have to qualify it by saying this is without a doubt one of my favorite Marvel figures on my shelf. In terms of overall execution, I’d say he’s tied right now with Star-Lord as my overall favorite. The suit is recreated flawlessly and they went all out with the intricacies of the helmet. I can understand some collectors wanting a better light show out of the electronics, especially when you’re paying extra for them, but the ability to unmask the figure so quickly and easily without a head swap makes that trade off totally worth it to me. Ant-Man retailed at $240, which about the middle ground for Hot Toys’ releases these days and I think he was worth every penny. He sold out rather quickly at Sideshow, but he’s still available at a number of secondary online retailers, some of which have already begun to crank up their prices. On the next Marvel Monday, we’ll check out Hot Toys Scarlet Witch… for reals this time!