Doctor Who (The Abominable Snowmen): The 2nd Doctor & TARDIS by Character Options

Much like the good Doctor himself, Character Options’ 5 1/2-inch Doctor Who action figure line continues to defy death. Despite being more-or-less cancelled a while back, CO manages to let a slow drip of releases trickle out each year. Sure, many of these are repacks and repaints, but some are new! I’ve been picking up a lot of these sets over the last year or so, but with how bad the show has been these last two series, I wasn’t too eager to start opening them. Luckily, when I was recently on vacation I got a couple new Classic Who Blu-Ray palate cleansers and now I’m psyched up and ready to start tackling some of these!

Today I’m checking out the latest release, which is The Second Doctor and TARDIS from the 1967 serial, The Abominable Snowmen. CO teased this one, along with a prototype of The Yeti a long while back, and while I’m sad to say there’s no Yeti in here, I’m glad to see The Doctor figure finally made it out! If you’ve picked up any of the MANY of these Doctor and TARDIS releases, you should know what to expect. The goods come in a window box with the toys positioned against a printed background, making for a wonderful display if you are inclined to leave it sealed. Sadly, my box got a bumped corner while making its way across The Pond. Character Options shipped it fast, but put no packing in the box whatsoever.

Yup, while most of the recent releases have been widely available online, this one is a Character Online Exclusive, so I had to go right to the source to get it. The back of the package has a copious amount of copy about the story, which sadly remains one of the lost ones. About the only thing I don’t like about the packaging is that it’s branded for the current series. I’m not a fan of the logo, and I think one of the Classic logos would have been a lot more appropriate here. If you haven’t experienced this story, The Abominable Snowmen is currently available as an audio track drama, there are some pretty cool fan recreations online, and I’ve enjoyed the story at least a couple of times through the novelization. OK, let’s get this open! And if you stick with me until the end, I’m going to do a little bonus comparison and bonus mini-review of the last Second Doctor and TARDIS release from The War Games!

The TARDIS lands in The Himalayas in Tibet (Not India, Victoria!!!), and before going out on his expedition, The Doctor dons a mighty fur coat, which later leads to Jamie mistaking him as a Great Hairy Beastie! This coat has become something of an iconic look for The Second Doctor, probably because he wore a variation of it in The Five Doctors, which makes this figure a double treat! And what a great figure it is! The sculpting on the coat is absolutely magnificent. The texturing is brilliantly done, and the darker patches are not only painted in, but part of the sculpt as well. The wooly garment is cast in soft plastic and attached over a standard Second Doctor figure, resulting in some nice depth, while also making it look appropriately bulky. You can see his collar and tie peeking out from the top, while his checkered trousers protrude from the bottom to his brown shoes. The sleeves are sculpted as part of the new arms and match the coat perfectly. The sculpted string that ties the coat closed is a little understated. I may actually tie a real string around it for better statement.

Character Options has delivered some great portraits of Patrick Troughton in this line, and this one is another cracker! Actually, they may be all the same sculpt! His facial details are nice and sharp, as is the sculpted hair. It’s the usual serious expression that we’ve seen in the past, and while I’d love to see a smiling portrait for The Second Doctor, I realize that CO is dependent on recycling parts to keep the cost of these sets low.

The articulation here harkens back to the older figures in the line, which mainly means that the shoulders simply rotate and do not have any lateral movement. In fairness, I don’t think CO has turned out anyof the older Doctors with the updated articulation, and I’m not sure how well that would have worked with the fur coat anyway. In addition to those rotating shoulders, the arms have bicep swivels and elbow hinges which can do a full 90-degrees, which is impressive with the bulk of the coat. His wrists swivel, and I love how the hands are half obscured by the sleeves. The legs are the normal t-crotch, thigh swivels, and hinged knees, but with the coat going all the way down to the knees, the hip articulation is rendered inert. At least the knees allow him to go into a walking pose. The Doctor doesn’t come with any accessories, and while I understand that the only thing making these possible is CO doing them on the cheap, I can’t help but wish they had included the sacred Ghanta in there. Ok, let’s move on to the TARDIS!

I was extremely excited to get this TARDIS, because it’s the Error TARDIS that was used when the BBC crew rebuilt the doors on the prop and put the sign on the right door instead of the left. It appeared that way for a bunch of stories, and as such it makes this an extremely unique addition to my fleet of CO TARDISes. As we’ll see in the comparison shots in a bit, this is just a redress of The War Games TARDIS, which includes the flat roof. Although this one does omit the handle and simply has the keyhole. After watching a lot of modern Who, it’s sometimes shocking to see just how battered the old Type-40 often was in Classic Who. I actually liked it better that way. It made the TARDIS look appropriately ancient and well-traveled.

So naturally, it’s the deco that really makes this one sing to me! The distressed paint job is fantastic and really hammers home the decrepid look of some of those early TARDIS props. It appears to use a white wash in with the blue to give it that look and I just love it. Each window has two of the six panes frosted, and the POLICE BOX signs are appropriately faded stickers. As usual, the back of the TARDIS features the rather unsightly speaker. These piercings have been included on the TARDIS releases that were gutted of the electronics, but here we see the triumphant return of the lights and sounds! With the help of three AAA batteries, the roof lamp will flash yellow and the glorious wease of the engines will sound when you either pick up or put down the toy. It sounds great and, I gotta tell you, I still smile from ear to ear like a kid whenever I activate it. I simply couldn’t have imagined owning a toy like this back in the day.

Once upon a time, CO used to use printed inserts inside these TARDIS toys to show the interior, and I really wish they still did that. It would probably be pretty simple to print out an image, at least for someone with more time and motivation than me! As it is, the interior is completely unfinished. I may be content with just putting some black construction paper in there. As usual, the right door is spring loaded and will lock open, and uses a button on the floor to slam it closed. OK, let’s bring in The War Games set for some comparisons!

We get the same basic sculpt, but different coats and arm sculpts. The new release has a touch of blue in his collar, and the trousers and shoes are different colors. For the life of me, I can’t tell if the head sculpts are the same or not. They look different, but I’m possibly attributing that to the dramatic variations in the paint. The War Games release has a much more heavy handed paint job. It’s not bad, but I definitely prefer the newer release, as it just looks more natural to me. Either way, both are excellent figures.

As I mentioned, the TARDISes are the same sculpt, with the exception of the handle appearing on this one, and the older one missing the light in the roof lamp. The War Games TARDIS has a darker and more uniform paint job. Interestingly, the front POLICE BOX sign is black lettering on a white background, but that’s inverted for the other three sides. I never noticed that before getting this toy in hand. These signs are still well worn, but much easier to read than the ones on the newer release. Obviously, the PULL TO OPEN sign is back where it belongs on the left door, and it is printed with white letters on a blue backdrop with a much neater presentation. And, as I mentioned earlier, the speaker is still there despite no electronics, and the battery door is glued shut.

Any Classic Who set that Character Options releases is an instant buy for me, and The Abominable Snowmen set is an absolute treat. I had all but given up on this ever seeing the light of day. Yes, I wish it came with the Yeti we saw a while back, but getting the Error TARDIS ain’t too shabby. Besides, I would not put it past CO to re-release this Doctor with The Yeti at some point down the road, and I will happily throw my money at it if they did. Who knows? Maybe even with Victoria or Jamie. Hey, CO just revealed that we’re finally getting Ian Chesterton, so anything is possible! And with that note, I really enjoyed reviewing this release, so I’m going to make it a habit to start working some of the Doctor Who sets that I picked up over the last year or so back into my normal rotation!

Fighter Woman Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen/TBLeague


I’ve had an uncanny amount of ambition lately to start rolling through my tremendous backlog of Sixth-Scale figures. A lot of that backlog includes TBLeague’s work, so I thought I’d dig deep and have a look at one of their lovely ladies from a few years back. It’s Fighter Woman!

If the name doesn’t give it away, Fighter Woman is one of TBLeague’s original concept releases. They’ve been doing more and more of these and fewer and fewer of the licensed ones. I don’t know if they ran out of indie comic properties to mine, or maybe they just realized that there was more profit in doing their own thing and not having to pay license fees for other people’s characters. Whatever the case, their original figures tend to be pretty amazing, so I’m fine with that. Fighter Woman comes in a heavy duty box with a tri-fold cover that connects to the sides with magnets. There’s a fair bit of prep work to get her gear and armor on, so let me get to it and we’ll have a look. And in the interest of brevity, let’s just call her Fi from now on!

And all that set-up is worthwhile, because Fi is quite breathtaking! She’s got a whole Battle Princess with an Eastern flavor thing going on, and I’m not sure where to begin. Her highly decorated armor consists of a sumptuous gold and deep maroon motif. The boots have sculpted laces with golden accents, the grieves have some intricate scrollwork patterned plates on the front with textured, simulated leather wrapping around her calves. The grieves terminate just above her knees, where they are fitted with some metallic purple stones. Her forearm bracers and bicep bands are matched to her grieves, with some extended points, which would make for some particularly nasty elbow smashes.

An intricate armored belt hangs on her hips, with a bejeweled fixture in the center, making up what looks like a dagger pointing down away from her exposed belly button. Hey, there’s no vital organs in that midriff area, right? At least part of her upper body is encased in a tight fitting breastplate, which inverts the color balance of the rest of her armor in favor of more of that deep maroon and reserving the gold to just the trim. Another purple jewel is placed in the center, and I dig how the top of the piece flares up on the outer edge of each of her breasts. Two pieces of shoulder armor, held on by elastic straps, complete Fi’s armor ensemble, and these were the most time-consuming pieces to get on.

The final element to Fi’s costume is the long crimson skirt, or half-cape, with two rows of some rather ostentatious gold fringe. The fact that this costume is so gorgeous, makes up for the fact that it’s not in the least bit tactically sound. But that’s to be expected in the realm of female fantasy warriors, and doubly so when they’re based off of one these lovely Phicen seamless bodies. What’s the point with going seamless if you aren’t going to show it off, right? And besides looking dead sexy, there’s nothing here to restrict the incredible articulation that you get when you take a stainless steel skeleton and wrap it in fleshy silicone.

Despite being a somewhat older figure, TBLeague was still making huge strides in their head game when Fi was released. There’s a nice spark of life in the eyes, thanks to some incredible paintwork. The lips and eyebrows are nice and sharp too. The skin tone is soft and realistic and it’s a good match for the silicone used for the body. Fi is sporting rooted red hair, which isn’t too difficult to keep under control. She has a necklace made out of several gold rings with a purple stone pendant to match the ornamental stones in her armor, as well as some more purple stones in her earrings. The final touch is a rather ornate tiara that fits snug around her head.

Fi comes with two fantasty-style weapons, the first of which is a double-bladed implement of death. Yeah, I don’t know what to call this thing, but it’s basically two curved blades connected with a central grip. The blades are silver with a bit of a wavy flame motif going on, while the grip connecting them is gold. The blades are plastic, but still pretty sturdy and this is a pretty fun weapon to pose her with. I can picture her pulling off some rather picturesque dance-like moves while swinging this around at her foes!

The other weapon is a rather beefy falchion, and boy do I dig this piece of cutlery! The blade has a nice satin finish with an exaggerated clipped point and a poetic curve to the edge. The hilt features something like a pistol grip, which is delightfully unusual, there’s a reinforced section where the blade meets the hilt, and a backstrap, all of which is finished off in more of that sumptuous gold. The grip allows for both single or double-handed use, and to be honest, either way looks pretty good. Like the previous weapon, the blade is plastic, and while I do miss the days when Phicen employed metal in their blades, this thing would be way too heavy for her to hold if it wasn’t cast in plastic.

It’s sometimes the case that people buy these boxed figures with hopes of re-purposing the body, so I should caution buyers that the cape does have a habit of staining her lovely skin, up near the hips. Fabric dye transferring color is just one of those things you have to accept when dealing with these silicone bodies. In this case, it’s only an issue if you plan on re-dressing the body in something, well let’s say less modest. On the other hand, the staining is completely obscured by the skirt, so if you plan on keeping her in her armor, there’s no need to worry!

About the only gripe I have here is that TBLeague is still inconsistent with whether or not they include a stand with their figures, and Fighter Woman here didn’t come with one. Sure, she stands just fine on her own, but who wants to risk a shelf-dive on a $160 figure? Not me! Luckily, I have a decent supply of generic sixth-scale stands. Beyond that, it was love at first sight for me and Fighter Woman, and this is just one of those figures that proves TBLeague doesn’t need to lay out money for licensing fees. They’re obviously quite adept at cooking up their own designs. The sculpted armor pieces look phenomenal and the gold and maroon deco makes this figure really pop on the shelf.

Imperial Guardian Sixth-Scale Figure by TBLeague/Phicen

I’m a day late today, but this week has been kicking my ass at work and that’s going to be a running theme as we get deeper into Q4. I’m going to do my best to stay committed to three reviews a week, but I may be shuffling them around a bit as to when they actually go live. So let’s get to it with another look at a TBLeague sixth-scale figure! Yes, folks, TBLeague is continuing to stoke their furnaces with my hard-earned dollars with a seemingly never ending stream of their boxed figure releases. This time I’m opening up one of their more recent concept figures, The Imperial Guardian! What Empire is this battle maiden guarding? I guess that’s up to you, but I have a feeling she’s going to look great doing it.

The packaging and presentation is pretty typical fare for TBLeague these days. The open shoebox is made of sturdy cardboard and features a tri-fold cover which connects to the sides with magnets. From an artistic standpoint, it’s not one of their flashier boxes, but as always it relies entirely on pictures of the figure to do the talking. A good number of TBL’s releases these days are based on indie comic characters, but as I mentioned above, this one is a purely a concept figure with no fiction (at least none that I’m aware of) to back it up. A little blurb about this original character on the back of the box would have been welcome, but judging by the poor quality translation in the care and instruction manual, I can understand why they didn’t. Inside the figure comes nestled in foam with her head, armor pieces, and accessories positioned around the body. A second foam tray under that holds her rather long spear. Let’s get her all set up and check her out.

There’s a lot to love here, but I think what attracted me to this figure the most is the bit of Jean D’Arc vibe I’m getting off of her. TBLeague’s concept figures tend to flirt with the historical, but in the end they do their own thing. Fair warning, this figure requires a bit of work to get her ready for display, as the only armor she’s wearing when she comes out of the box is her chest piece and corset. Everything else has to be put on, and while most of it is pretty straightforward, it took me a while to get the armored skirt on and laced up. There’s a lot of excess string, but I will likely wind up trimming that down. Possibly one of the most notable things about this figure is the fact that she isn’t showing much skin. Indeed, you get a glimpse of thigh between her skirt and leg armor, but that’s it. It’s unusual for a TBLeague release to be covering so much, since these are built around the seamless body and the outfits are usually skimpy to show off that seamless bod. So, where TBL usually uses it to great effect, in this case, she could have easily gotten away with a regular jointed body as the outfit covers almost everything. As a result, collectors who are into this line for the skin and more outlandish costumes, may be a little tepid on this release.

But that’s not to say this isn’t an absolutely fantastic looking figure. The Guardian is wearing a red long-sleeved top and pleated skirt with the armor worn on top of that. The individual armor pieces are all cast in plastic, but the sculpt and paint make them totally convincing as actual metal armor. Heck, removing these pieces from the tray, I was tricked into expecting them to have a lot more weight than they do. Each of these pieces is painted with a weathered copper finish. There are sculpted rivets and some interlocking plates, as well as some general pitting. The armor corset is softer and more flexible to allow her freedom of movement in that region. She has leather-like bracers on her forearms under the armor pieces there and stockings, which extend up past her grieves and can be seen behind the knee armor. The straps and buckles on her chest armor are sculpted, but the others are all working buckles and straps that actually hold on the armor pieces. I dig the combination of the copper armor with the red skirt, as well as the bits of red cloth that show between the armor pieces. She also has a decorative pair of red cords that run from her right shoulder and across her chest.

The head sculpt features very short rooted hair, which stays in place and looks fantastic. I actually thought this head was recycled from their Zenescope Mercy Dante figure, and while they are indeed quite similar (and the hair is nearly identical), this one is still entirely new. I’m pretty sure I say this every time, but when it comes to portraits, TBL has really upped their game in the last few years. The paint is superb and realistic. The eyes have that spark of life, which is often elusive to all sixth-scale figure producers except Hot Toys. The paint used for the lips is a deep glossy red, and the skin tone is a little pale, but quite lifelike with a rosy hue to the cheeks.

While it’s a shame to cover up that beautiful portrait, the final piece to the armor is a tight fitting and fully enclosed helmet with an adjustable visor. Getting the helmet onto her noggin is a scary prospect, as it is extremely tight fitting, and I worry about messing up the hair or scratching the paint on her head. The ears in particular make it tough to get on, but with a little partience and care I was able to do it. Although I will probably need to use a pencil to tuck the hair on the right side of her face into the helmet the rest of the way, I could probably leave it as is and it will still look fine. The helmet shares the same coppery metal finish as the rest of the armor and features a hinged visor and a hinged face plate, each of which are independent of each other. There’s also a bright red plume that spills out the back like a long ponytail, which looks quite striking.

Closing the visor reveals a pretty non-nonsense helmet design. If you look closely, you can see that the visor doesn’t really line up with her eyes. If I take another crack at adjusting it, I might be able to fix this, but I really don’t want to rub it on the head any more than I am doing, so I will likely leave it like this. Take away the studio lights, and you can’t really see in there well enough to know that it’s not aligned with her eyes anyway. Since I don’t want to be putting the helmet on and removing it a lot, I will likely display this figure with the helmet on and the visor up, as that gives me the best of both worlds. Because the armor pieces took up most of the room in the tray, there are sadly not a lot of other accessories included with this figure. You do get three pairs of hands, which include fists, accessory holding hands, and relaxed hands, and these are all very nice sculpts with some detailed work on the armor. The only other accessory included is her long spear. Nope, you don’t even get a stand, so I had to dig into my box of generic sixth-scale figure stands.

The spear is a nice enough piece, and it even includes a grizzly coat of blood on the tip, showing that the Imperial Guard is not a ceremonial position, but a skilled warrior. I really like the design of the blade, as it’s practically a short sword mounted on a pole. The shaft is smooth and it terminates in a pointed cap that looks like it could do some damage as well. The spear works well in her accessory hands, and she looks great holding it! Still, I really feel like this figure needed a sword and scabbard. Sure, I could borrow one from another figure, but I’d rather not deprive one of my other TBL ladies of their weapons. I also think a red ribbon, streamer, or standard is called for on the spear. Heck, I could probably fix that myself, even with my non-existent DIY skills.

 

As a basic figure, the Imperial Guardian set me back about $160 and she is indeed a very beautiful figure for that price. TBL has managed to keep the cost of their figures locked in for a while now, and I maintain that these offerings continue to be among the best value in the sixth-scale market these days. Everything that’s here is expertly crafted and looks absolutely amazing, but to be honest, I felt like the accessories needed to be padded out a bit more to make this figure feel complete. This would have been an excellent opportunity for TBL to offer a Deluxe version (as they frequently do) with maybe a sword, scabbard, and shield, or perhaps just a sword and some kind of battle standard. As it is, I think the extra armor pieces just took up most of the budget. Still, a great figure with some opportunities to bulk her out if you’re game for a little sixth-scale accessory hunting on Ebay.

Female Mercenary Heart King Sixth-Scale Figure by Very Cool Toys

With all the Hot Toys and TBLeague figures waiting for their turn at the review table, I probably shouldn’t be going off on tangents like this one. But, I picked up a couple of figures from Very Cool Toys to see what they were all about and as long as I had them accessible, I thought I’d take a look at one before finding a space for her up on the shelf. Very Cool seems to specialize in pseudo-military-style figures, usually ladies, many of which appear to be based on characters or skins in Wefire, a shooter from the Chinese megacorporation, Tancent Games.

Suffice it to say I know absolutely nothing about these games, but a retailer I deal with was having a sale and the figures looked pretty cool, or maybe they looked… VERY cool! . I didn’t know what to expect, but when they arrived I was fairly impressed by the packaging. It appears to be an enclosed box, but it’s actually more like a box in a slipcase with a little strip of ribbon to help pull it out. The slipcase is illustrated on all sides, has a picture of the figure on the front, and a lot of Chinese writing on the back. The spine simply identifies the figure as NO.VC-TJ-04 which sure is catchy. Indeed, the only reason I know that she’s called Female Mercenary Heart King is because that was the name of the listing on the site where I purchased her.

Heart King requires a fair amount of work to get her all kitted out and ready for action. Basically she comes out of the box wearing her basic clothing, and all her gear is placed around her in the foam trays. It took some doing to get everything on her, but I don’t mind. It gives me some quality time with the figure before she’s ready for display. First off, let’s talk about the body, which is a hybred of the seamless stuff we usually see from Phicen/TBLeague and a regular jointed figure. OK, actually nothing on the figure is seamless, but she does make use of a silicone covered torso, which mean’s the exposed skin is squishy and has more of a life-like look and texture. The limbs are all jointed and the costume does its best to cover these joints. So, the swivels in her biceps usually line up with her sleeves, and the jointing in her elbows are covered by sleeves and elbow pads. Similarly, the joints in her knees, which tend to show through the super tight pleather pants, are concealed by soft cloth sleeves and armor pads. In the end, the arm joints do tend to show from time to time, but it’s not too unsightly.

Her uniform consists of the yellow-orange pants, a white sports-bra kind of thing, and a crop-top jacket that matches her pants. I like the color they went with here, as it really does look like something a character in a video game might be wearing. There’s a shoulder patch on each of her jacket sleeves to give it a little bit of a military vibe. Her brown pleather boots sip up the sides and have pretty high heels, which demonstrate the figure’s balance quite well. I never had to rely on a stand for her when shooting the pictures, which is impressive. The tailoring on the clothing is all very well done. The stitching is neat and and everything fits the figure perfectly. The only downside is that the super tight pants inhibit her hip movment a lot. It’s hard to get anything resembling a wide stance out of her without fear of popping that stitching, so I”m not even going to try! The sleeves have a cool honeycomb pattern on them, she has a pair of matching WeFire bracelets, and her fingerless gloves are sculpted and painted onto her hands.

The attention to detail on her gear is also quite nice. She has a trio of magazine pouches strapped ot her left thigh, which holds in place by friction and doesn’t show any sign of slipping. Her right thigh has a hard plastic holster, which pegs into the plate that’s strapped to her leg. Again, this holds in place perfectly. There’s even a retaining strap for her pistol. Her backpack attachces to her shoulder rig, and can be removed while leaving the shoulder rig in place. There are straps with working buckles holding the top flap down and non functional pouches on the sides. And finally, she has a studded belt, which is worn loose on her hips and does it’s best to conceal the straps of her G-string peeking out of her pants.

I really dig the head sculpt here. It’s a great compromise between realism and stylized game character. The skin texture is good, albeit far from Hot Toys or Sideshow quality. The paint used on the eyes and lips, however isn’t too far off. The sculpted red hair features some fine detail and it’s sculpted from a separate piece of plastic to allow it to hang over the head and give it some depth while framing her face. The head is ball jointed, but it is an absolute chore to get it off and back on again. Fortunately the only time I had to do that was to put on her dog tag and choker.

As a Mercenary, this lady comes with some essential Tools of the Trade. First off, she has her trusty automatic pistol, and this is a fantastic piece. The detail is absolutely exquisite, from the brown checkered grips to the silver painted trigger. Even more impressive is that the slide actually works and the magazine is removable. They even painted the bullets that can be seen in the top of the magazine. This scaled pistol is every bit as good as any that I got with my Hot Toys or Sideshow figures, and that’s no small boast! The figure comes with two sets of hands, one relaxed set and one for working with the accessories.

Next up we get a couple of canister grenades. These are fun with a cartoony skull-and-crossbones printed on the side of each. They have clips to attach to her belt and actual rings to pull before she throws them!

And finally, our Mercenary comes with an AK-47, which is another beautiful piece of work. The stock and foregrip are painted brown and the rest has a blued finish. The action on this thing actually works thanks to a rather tight spring inside the receiver. The sites can be flipped up and the magazine is removable. Actually, she comes with two magazines for the rifle. The detail is impecable, right down to the paddle to eject the magazine and the fire selector.

I have to say that I’m fairly impressed with the way this figure turned out, especially for a figure that is priced at around $140-150. Very Cool didn’t skimp on anything. The costume tailoring is great, the attention to detail in the gear is solid, and the weapons are absolutely fantastic. And this is all coming from someone who has absolutely no connection to the character or game that the figure is pulled from. I’m not sure that she’ll spend a whole lot of time displayed on my shelf right now, but if I can clear off a corner somewhere, I may actually wind up putting her in with my Resident Evil Sith-Scale figures. I think she would fit in perfectly. I’ve got another one of these ladies to check out, and I hope to get back to her in a week or so.

Fate/Grand Order: Caster Nitocris “Super Premium” Figure by SEGA

I’ve recounted recently about how I’ve pulled back from buying Prize Figures, mostly because they were starting to get out of hand and I had no space to display them. All in all, I’ve been pretty well behaved on this newly imposed restriction, but I still had the odd pre-order pending here and there, and I decided to let most of them ride. I still dig these figures a lot, they look great, they’re inexpensive, and they come in handy for days like today where I don’t have a lot of time and need something quick and dirty to feed that content beast. So let’s check out this Caster Nitocris Super Premium Figure (SPM) from SEGA!

Nitocris hails from the Fate/Grand Order game, and I like to call this purchase a Consolation Prize Figure, because I really wanted to pick up Amakuni’s Scale Figure of her, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on that price, and so I satisfied myself with this figure instead. Yup, there’s more of that self control again. I’m not entirely hopeless. As with most of SEGA’s SPM figures, Nitocris comes in a very colorful and fully enclosed box, featuring some nice shots of the statue and a bit of English copy on the box to help you know what you’re looking at. Inside, the figure comes wrapped in plastic and requiring some minor assembly. Here you attach the head and the right arm at the elbow, plug in the support piece for her hair, and then plug the figure into the base. All told, she measures about 9-inches tall and now that she’s all set up, let’s have a look…

There’s something about chicks in Egyptian costume that does it for me, and this is indeed a very beautiful figure. Nitocris stands proudly with one leg in front of the other, her left hand resting on her hip, and her right hand clutching her staff. Her outfit doesn’t leave too much tot he imagination, and I ain’t complaining. She has a white top to cover her Upper Deltas and a sculpted blue sash to conceal her Lower Nile Valley. Her hips are covered in plastic pink “fabric” and the whole ensemble is held together by some sculpted beaded chains. She has some brown wraps on her forearms, and her plastform sandals have sculpted wraps that reach up to just under her knees.

Nitocris’ curvy figure is framed by her copious coif of cascading blue hair that balloons out in the middle and comes to an end with a chunky red ring. This hellacious waterfall of hair looks cool and distinctive from the front, but sadly covers her entirely from the rear view. Seriously, from behind she looks like just a big blob. Besides the excellent sculpted detail on this figure, I think the colors are probably what I dig the most. The combination of white, pink, and deep indigo blue all looks so lush and striking against mocha colored skin. But what really shines is the wonderful gold leaf paint they used. Just lovely!

The portrait is suitably adorable, as Nitocris features a pair of Anubis-like ears, large printed purple eyes, and some face paint on her cheeks. She has a cute pointed nose and her mouth is pressed into a grin. Her gold and blue gorget and headpiece both frame her portrait perfectly. And as if she didn’t have enough hair pouring down the back of her, she also has two bunches running down either side of her head and nearly reaching her hips.

Her ebony staff is quite striking and is permanently attached to her right hand. I also dig the loose bangles that hang on her wrists.

The base is a simple translucent disk with the game’s logo printed on it in vibrant blue lettering. It’s simple, functional, and doesn’t take away from the beauty of the figure.

And that’s it for this Wednesday’s admittedly brief review. It’s always a treat to take a look at a new Prize Figure, especially since I won’t be doing it all that frequently here any longer. If you’ve been kicking around with me on FFZ for a while then you probably already know that I’m a big fan of SEGA’s SPM figures. At around $20-25, they offer plenty of bang for the buck and Nitocris here is no exception to that. I’m not even a big fan of the game, but I do love me my Servants and this one in particular has been calling to me for a while. I pre-ordered this lady a little while back, but she’s been available on places like Amazon for a while, and to me this one makes for a nice alternative to those pricier Scale Figures. Now, if Max Factory should happen to release a Figma of her, well I’d probably have to come back for seconds.

One Piece “Treasure Cruise World Journey, Vol. 1:” Luffy, Nami, and Roronoa Zoro by Banpresto

I’ve come to face the sad fact that I’m going to have to give up buying prize figures. Yeah, it sucks, but space continues to grow tight and I refuse to rent a storage to throw toys into. Eventually something has to give and I’ve ultimately decided to make one of those cuts here. Now that doesn’t mean these will be the last prize figures I review here, because I still have a bunch left to open. It also doesn’t mean I won’t make the occasional exception and buy something that I can’t live without, but the casual buying stops here. No, really. I mean it!!! I know that’s a bummer way to start a review, but let’s press on and check out three fantastic figures from my favorite of guilty pleasures, One Piece!

Mosey on aboard, Pilgrim, and bring along, all your hopes and dreams, Pardner! It’s One Piece meets Wild West? Yes, please! That’s what World Journey Vol. 1 is all about. Banpresto has been delivering on some wonderful fresh takes on the One Piece crew and this one is just right up my ally. As usual, these figures are roughly 9-inch scale and come in fully enclosed boxes, which are very colorful and are confident enough to let pictures of the figures themselves do the talking. These are imports, but there’s enough English copy on the boxes to help you know what you’re getting. Each figure requires a little bit of simple assembly to get them ready for display. Let’s start with Luffy!

Our favorite rubber pirate comes donning his Old West duds and looking damn great! Luffy stands with confidence with his left hand resting on his gun belt and his right hand reaching for the brim of his hat. The figure gets his rather lanky proportions down quite well and the details in his outfit are exceptional for a figure in this price range. His cowboy boots feature scrollwork patterns, and I really dig how they’re sculpted so the jeans disappear into the tops of the boots. That really gives the figure some fabulous depth. The jeans show sculpted rumples and wrinkles, he’s got a red billowy sash tied to the back of his belt and a leather-like vest on top of his pale green shirt. The vest has sculpted buttons set in a zigzag pattern and frills hanging off the pockets. His shirt sleeves are cuffed just above his wrists and he’s wearing a pair of work gloves.

Luffy’s primary belt has a big gold belt buckle and his secondary gun belt hangs low on his hips with a holster attached to a sculpted thigh strap and a row of cartridges. The holster has two buckles and you can see his shootin’ iron protruding from the top and ready for a quick draw. I’d love to see this gun out of the holster, because with the way the grip is configured it almost looks like some kind of hybrid between a six-shooter and an old fashioned pirate pistol.

No matter what he’s wearing, it’s easy to recognize Luffy in this head sculpt. His saucer-like eyes and his broad slit of a mouth give it away. His neck is wrapped in a red scarf and his black hair  spills down out of his brown cowboy hat. I think they did a fantastic job transforming one of my favorite pirates into a cowpoke and Luffy looks like he was made for the role. I should note here that all three of the figures came with bases that attach to the feet, but the one I got with Luffy was sadly cracked. Fortunately, he doesn’t need it to stand. Next up… Roronoa Zoro!

The infamous swordsman sets aside his three katanas in exchange for a trusty lever-action rifle. He stands proudly with his right hand on his hip and his left hand cradling his rifle on his shoulder. Like Luffy, there’s some amazing detail work on this figure’s costume. The boots have sculpted brass-painted tips, his blue jeans are accompanied by a pair of black chaps, and just a little bit of his vest can be seen underneath the billowing duster. The flaps of the duster have individually painted gold clasps, while the sleeves feature reinforced elbow pads and the sleeves disappear into a pair of brown gauntlets. And the top half of his outfit is obscured by a red poncho-like garment.

Roanoa’s portrait is excellent. He’s expression exudes confidence as he peers out from his good eye. His green hair can be seen disappearing into his cowboy hat and he looks like he’s just itching for a fight. I know if I saw him enter the Saloon, I’d clear out the back lickity-split!

I love the detail they put into his rifle. The stock has a brass band sculpted around it along with a couple of plates stamped with X’s. There’s a sculpted saddle ring and sights. The stock and foregrip are painted in a deep brown finish and the rest of the weapon is in gun metal gray. And now that we’ve looked at The Good and The Bad, let’s check out The Beautiful…

Nami rounds out this trio of Straw Hat Plains Drifters looking as dead sexy as ever! She was actually the figure in this series that caught my eye first, which I’m sure is a surprise to no one. She may be dressed as a cowgirl, but she’s leaning forward, advertising her pirate booty, both aft and stern, while bringing her six-shooter up to the ready (practicing poor trigger discipline, I might add!) and offering an alluring wink. Down below, her outfit consists of high brown boots with scrollwork patterns, etched on the sides, and a pleated blue skirt, which leaves little to the imagination, Up above she’s got a glossy black top holding up her cowpokes and a sculpted red blouse open at the top and tied at the bottom. She has a full glove sculpted onto her shootin’ hand and a finger-less glove on her left.

Banpresto has become experts at sculpting the portraits of pretty much the entire Straw Hat crew, but I think they probably know Nami best of all. They always manage to capture her whimsy and spunk, no matter what outfit she happens to be in. I really dig the wild sculpt to her orange hair and the way her cowboy hat is perched almost on the back of her head.

I was already trying to swear off Prize Figures when this trio went up for pre-order, and even a whole wagon full of willpower wouldn’t have been able to stop me from buying these once I saw them. I’m a sucker for everything Old West, from history to fiction. I love shooting my old-timey single-actions revolvers and lever guns, and I scarcely let a weekend go by without having a Western playing on the TV. So naturally when you mash that up with One Piece, one of my biggest guilty pleasures, it’s money already spent. But thankfully not a whole lot, because these beauties set me back only $22 each and for the amount of detail and care that went into their design and execution, I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. My only sadness is they didn’t work Usopp into this line.

One Piece: “Grandista” Grandline Lady Nami by Banpresto

Once upon a time there was a thing around these parts called Anime Saturday, wherein I would devote the day to opening new prize figures, scaled figures, Figmas or any sort of anime figures I happened to acquire. Well, I’ve kind of taken a few steps back from collecting these sorts of things these days, mostly because of limited space. But that’s not to say a few pre-orders haven’t slipped through this embargo. And maybe I do have a short stack of these figures in the corner of the closet left to be opened. Whatever the case, I had a little time this morning and I figured, what the hell… let’s do an Anime Saturday (on a Wednesday!) for old time’s sake. Besides, it feels like forever since I gave Nami some loving!

As you may know, I adore One Piece and I love Banpresto’s One Piece prize figures. They’re cheap, they’re beautiful, and they scratch that nasty itch for One Piece merch. Today I’m checking out Nami from Banpresto’s Grandista line. And since Nami is a lady that needs no introduction around here, let’s jump straight to the packaging. She comes in a colorful box with photos of the figure all around and both Eastern and Western lingo printed on the box. And don’t forget that hologram sticker proving that this is not some shoddy bootleg. Inside, she’s wrapped in plastic and comes in two halves, so you’ve got some simple assembly ahead of you. A lot of the the Nami figures I’ve looked at recently have featured some kind of new spin on the character, so it’s kind of refreshing that this figure takes us back to basics.

With Nami’s two halves plugged together, there are two things that immediately struck me as interesting about this figure. First, she’s really big. Most of the Banpresto prize figures I get are around 7 to 9-inch scale, whereas Nami here tops out at about 11-inches. Second, there’s no base and, quite miraculously, she doesn’t need one, as she stands just fine on her own, even in those high heels. Other than those two points, this figure holds few surprises. It features Nami wearing her trademark blue jeans, blue and white bikini top, and high-heeled orange sandals. This is traditional Nami through-and-through with her weight tossed to her left hip and her left hand resting on her fine backside.

The paint and sculpt here are both excellent. The jeans are wrinkled in all the right spots and have those double rings cut out of the hips. The stitching around the pockets and belt loops is all sculpted in place and they are fastened with a simple silver snap right under her belly button. The blue of the jeans contrasts nicely with the orange of her hair and shoes, and her skin is a warm and smooth without too much of a waxy finish, as we sometimes get in these cheaper figures. I think my only nitpick would be they went a little heavy with the shading around her lower midriff.

And all the necessary Nami-detail points are hit along the way. Her tattoo is neatly printed on her left shoulder, and she has both her Log Pose and a loose bangle around her left wrist. But that’s not surprising. Banpresto has been doing Nami for a while now, so they know her backwards and forwards.

The portrait is also as classic as you can get. She has a broad smile, with just a hint of mischief and her large eyes are perfectly printed. The hair sculpt flows down her back with the rest of it framing her face and partially covering her forehead.

Yup, today was a quickie, but there’s not much more to say about this lovely lady. If you’re up for a very traditional Nami figure, than it’s hard to beat this new one from Banpresto. At about eleven inches, she really stands out among her peers. The sculpt and coloring are both fab, and the quality of plastic is top notch. I think she’s also a perfect pick up if you just want that one excellent representation of the character on your shelf. Sure, there are plenty of scaled figures that outshine this offering, but when you’re talking around $200 versus the $25 this one cost, I think the value can’t be beat. And I gotta say it felt good to open one of these again! I’ll try not to wait as long before I do it again.

Cowgirl Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen/TB League

It’s a brand new year, and boy am I ready for that! One of my many little resolutions for 2020 around these parts is to start digging into my Sixth-Scale figures and get caught up before all the pre-orders that were delayed last year start piling up in about a month. Yeah, that’s like a year’s worth of Hot Toys that all got bumped. So, this week I had a perusal through a stack of boxes looking for something to open and review, and I decided to go with one of TB League’s (formerly Phicen) offerings. This little lady was released last year and marries two of my favorite things… Lovely Phicen figures and The Old West! Giddyup, Cowgirls!

Yee-Haw! Here’s the part of the review where I gush over TBL’s packaging and lament that we don’t get the same quality out of Hot Toys’ more expensive figures. Seriously, the presentation is really solid with a durable cardboard shoebox and an illustrated tri-fold magnetic cover. Ok, so the artwork here isn’t anything special, but these boxes feel so much better than the flimsy window boxes that Hot Toys has been using for a lot of their releases these days. Remove the top and you get your figure and all her accessories nestled in a foam tray. And as with all TB League releases, this lovely cowpoke’s head comes separate from her body. It’s creepy, but I think they do that so it can be wrapped in plastic better. TBL is known for mining their source material from Indie (read cheaper to acquire) licenses, but this little lady is one of their concept figures, or at least I’m 99.9% sure she isn’t based on any specific license or property. But hey, if there’s a comic somewhere with Cowgirl in it, I’ll jump on board. There’s a little bit of set up required here, but nothing too bad, so let’s check her out and see how The West was fun.

Cowgirl is the result of a painstakingly researched pursuit of authenticity. The creators of this figure really wanted to capture all the historical details of your average late 19th Century hawt blonde gunfighter absolutely perfectly, and it shows! From the leather studded top that does little more than hold her large doggies in place to the leather panties that protects her modesty south of the border, she looks like she jumped straight out of the history books! Yeah, I’m funning with ya, but if you weren’t expecting something like this outfit out of a TBL female gunfighter, than you need to revisit some of my other reviews and acquaint yourself with the copious T&A of their previous releases. Apart from her skimpy top and bottom, Cowgirl sports a pair of long black leather leggings with knee-pads and some nice fringe coming off the sides. Each of these leggings hooks to her panties similar to a garderbelt. The outfit is rounded out by a dual-holstered gunbelt, a pair of boots, complete with spurs, fingerless gloves sculpted onto the hands, and a felt fedora to top off her pretty head.

And speaking of pretty heads, TBL has been getting better and better with their portraits, and I have to say I like this one very much. She sure is purdy and the rooted blonde hair falls naturally about her head. The paint quality on the eyes and lips are both quite lifelike, even if the eyebrows and overall skin texture don’t quite meet that uncanny realism we see in those top-tier Sixth-Scale figure producers. There isn’t a lot of expressiveness in the face to support some of the more action-packed poses, but I still like what we got here a lot, it’s quality work. Indeed, I have a feeling that the customizing community of Phicen collectors will be happy to add this head to their collection. The hat holds it’s shape well and fits her head nicely. It stays on quite well too. I’m always happy to see an actual felt hat in this scale, rather than a plastic one.

The skimpy outfit does it’s job in allowing the Seamless Phicen Body to strut it’s stuff. I’ve lost track of what body type they’re up to, and to be honest I could never really keep them straight anyway. Suffice it to say the soft plastic skin surrounds a stainless steel skeleton that offers what is probably the most realistic human articulation available in the action figure market today. And without actually seeing where all those joints are, it’s fun to discover all the crazy little nuances that are locked away in her articulation. Likewise, this is an extremely well balanced figure (insert joke about her being top-heavy here), and I found her able to hold her own without needing a stand. Which is good, because she doesn’t come with one. Not that I would trust her to stand on the shelf for long periods of time without one. Thankfully inexpensive stands for figures in this scale can be had pretty easily.

And as great as the body is, that’s not to say the craftsmanship and detail in the outfit take a backseat. The stitching and studs on the leather (well, leather-like substance) look great, along with a little bit of weathering, and that big red stone in the middle. And while my Cowgirl does suffer the occasional nip-slip when posing, the top piece of her wardrobe does a good job at rustling those doggies. The gunbelt features a silver painted buckle and a string of sculpted cartridges running around its length. The holsters fit the guns very well, although they tend to slide to the front from time to time. Another thing to watch for when posing Cowgirl are the clips for her leggings. These will sometimes come un-clipped with leg movement and have to be re-clipped. Finally, the sculpted boots include some lovely decorative work around the tops, silver studs across the fronts, silver medallions on the sides, and working spurs!

Moving on to accessories, and here’s where the figure takes a couple of hits, and I’m talking about her shootin’ irons. Make no mistake, these are incredibly detailed revolvers with silver finish and brown painted grips. The detail and level of articulation on these are quite impressive. The hammers can be cocked back, the chambers spin, and they can even flip out for loading or be removed from the guns entirely. What’s my gripe? Well, they’re obviously modern pistols and not age-appropriate single-actions. It really feels like the folks at TBL just re-purposed some guns from another figure set. And I get it, I don’t really know the intent behind this character. Taking the outfit into consideration, maybe she isn’t supposed to be from the past. Maybe she’s some kind of sexy cowboy-themed bounty hunter or vigilante, and if so that’s fair enough. But, I’ll still be looking for some more authentic pistols for her online. Naturally, Cowgirl comes with a pair of trigger finger hands and these work very well with the pistols.

And as impressive as the articulation on these guns is, it may be a little too much. The action on these is extremely delicate and the chambers are held in only by friction, so it’s not uncommon for the chamber and the retaining pin to fall out when I’m posing the figure. Indeed, one of them even disappeared somewhere on the floor of my studio while I was taking pictures for  this review. The hunt for it continues. It’s a race against time to find the little shiny things before my cats do. But all the more reason for me to hunt down some new guns for her.

Fortunately, she does come with a rifle that better suits her presumed time period, and that’s this beautiful lever-action. Now, I’m a real sucker for lever actions. I own four of the real deals, so this accessory is near and dear to my heart, even if it doesn’t seem to be based on any specific firearm that I can recall. The sculpted detail here is just packed with character, from the wood-grain patterns in the stock and forearm to the screws, barrel bands, and bolts holding the receiver together. Even the coloring is beautiful, with a lush brown for the wooden pieces and a convincing gun metal gray for the rest. This accessory features no articulation, and considering the troubles I had with the pistols, maybe that’s for the best. I sling or maybe even a scabbard to carry it on her back would have been cool, but either way it’s plenty cool.

You do get a few other extras in the box, the first of which is a rope, which while simple enough doesn’t go unappreciated. I’ve even tied mine into a noose for he to hold.

The final accessory is a combat knife and sheath, but it suffers the same issue as the guns. With it’s black segmented grip and sawback edge, It looks like a modern survival knife and not something someone would be carrying around in The Old West. I would have loved to have seen a beefy Bowie knife included here or maybe a Civil War era sword-bayonet, but no such luck. Hey, extras are always nice, but I doubt I’m going to display this piece with her. Nonetheless, she does come with a tight grip right hand that holds it very well.

Most of the TBL figures I’ve purchased lately have been Deluxes, which means they often come with elaborate bases or some kind of set piece prop, but Cowgirl bucks that trend. The plus side of that is she was a little cheaper, around $149 if I remember correctly. The downside is, I think they could have done something cool like a saloon door or a wagon wheel or something to display her with. As she stands, I think she’s a pretty cool figure. I love the outrageous costume, the portrait is great, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop being impressed by Phicen’s seamless bodies. My biggest gripes here come in the accessories, and maybe that’s more my personal preference. A couple of single action six-shooters and a big Bowie knife would have been perfect for her, but maybe I’ll be able to supply those things somewhere down the road. As it is, she’s certainly a nice break from the fantasy and medieval style warrior women we’ve been seeing from TBL lately. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but Cowgirl adds a little spicy variety to my shelf.

One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Perhona (Code: B) by Banpresto

In case you missed it, I’m a little bit smitten with Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship series of roughly 9-inch scale One Piece ladies. I came for the first releases of Nami and Boa Hancock and stayed for the rest. And since it’s been so very long since I last did an Anime Saturday feature, and because I have so many of these piling up, let’s open up a new figure in this series. Yeah, I know it’s Wednesday, but things are so discombobulated on my end, who cares anymore? Oh, hey… it’s Perhona! The Ghost Princess!

As always, these figures come in fully enclosed boxes with some lovely shots of the figure inside and the CRANEKING logo. The package is fairly bi-lingual in that it bears the line’s mission statement in English on two of the panels. Perhona comes wrapped in plastic and requiring a little simple assembly before she’s ready for display.

And here she is, standing with a wide stance, her left hip thrust to the side, her left hand tucked behind her and her right hand tugging on her top. She’s sporting one of the more interesting outfits in this series, and that’s really saying something! Starting at the bottom, Perhona’s showing off a pair of glossy black high-heeled boots, with the toes pointed slightly inward. The boots end just above her ankles giving way to what I can only describe as some kind of kinky latex stockings laced up the side, with pink stockings peeking out the tops and secured with sculpted garter belts. Wow! The platforms on her heels are gray and she’s got a red ribbon tied around her right ankle.

As we go higher, she’s sporting a super-short black mini-skirt with a wide pink padded strip running around the top and a brown ammo belt fanning some cartridges just below her exposed mid-riff. Up top, she has a cropped sailor uniform blouse, gray with a red collar and a big black bow up front. The ensemble is punctuated by a pair of long, glossy black fingerless gloves, with exposed elbows. The result of this costume is a peculiar mix of cutesy fun, dark sailor scout, and BDSM Dominatrix.

Oh yeah, Perhona also sports a rather unique looking flintlock rifle, slung over her right shoulder. I really love what they did with this piece. The stock feature a sculpted wood-grain pattern with the barrel and fixtures painted gold. There’s even a beautiful scroll-work motif sculpted into the panels on the sides.

And that brings us to the portrait, and this is where I have to confess that Perhona’s eyes creep the hell out of me. Those giant perfectly round pools of inky black look like they were made to suck the souls right out of people. What’s even more disturbing is the contrast between those eyes and her large coif of bright pink hair. It flows down her back in giant locks and spills down each side of her face in braided pigtails with black bows on the ends. Finally, a black and gray cap is crookedly perched on here head.

It’s worth noting that the coloring and paintwork on this figure are quite good. From the mix of dark glossy black to matte black to the warm skin tones and the cotton candy pink of her hair, there are a lot of contrasts here and it certainly makes for a very unique looking figure. She even has her little pink bat tatt on her left shoulder.

I didn’t set out to collect this line. I originally just wanted Nami and Boa Hancock. Then I decided I would just cherry-pick the ones that I really liked, but so far that’s been all of them. Perhona is a great example of that because her character doesn’t do a lot for me, and I already mentioned that her eyes creep me the hell out. But I still dig this figure a lot and I’m mighty glad I added her to the lineup. And at about $25 a pop, this line still feels like it offers a decent value for the money.

Transformers: Masterpiece Ratchet (MP-30) by Takara

Folks, I’ve been a bad MP Transformers collector. After a long run of scarfing up each of the releases, I hit a wall. My last MP purchase was Ironhide, and I reviewed him over two years ago! I love this line, so I could only attribute me falling off by the rising prices. I thought Ironhide was well worth the extra bucks, but $90 for a repaint? That’s considerably more than each of the three Datsuns set me back. And I didn’t want to skip Ratchet and go for Inferno, because that would be cheating. Ultimately, it was a renewed sense of urgency that got me back on track. Ratchet was selling out at a few places, and I worried that if I didn’t buy him now, I’d regret it later. Even better, I sold off a couple of Third-Party Go-Bots that I didn’t need in my collection and that more than paid for him. And so here we go!

It’s been a long time, but the packaging hasn’t changed. Ratchet comes the same kind of collector friendly enclosed box as Ironhide did, which is bigger than the previous MP Autobot cars. You get plenty of pictures of the toy in its various modes, but you don’t get a lot of English copy. All in all, I dig these boxes a lot. They aren’t flashy, but they are classy, and they’re made of heavy stock, so they store well. I actually keep my MP Collection boxed for the time being and they look great all lined up on the shelf.

Inside, the figure and goodies come on clear plastic trays, and it’s easy to see where the extra money went. Not only is Ratchet a big boy, but he comes with a whole bunch of accessories. You also get folded instructions, a character card and a set of stickers with two optional layouts. Yup, stickers! I went with the Autobot crosses because I just think it looked neat, but I’ll come back to the stickers in a bit. Ratchet comes packaged in his alt mode, so let’s start there!

It’s common knowledge that the early 80’s was the pinnacle of Japanese van design and nothing illustrates that better than the Nissan Cherry Vanette. And I’m not ashamed to say that after 35 years, it was only recently that the MP Collection taught me the make and model Ratchet and Ironhide’s alt modes. And yes, in van mode, Ratchet is just a straight recolor of Ironhide with a lightbar added to the top. He’s nearly entirely white, with a red stripe running along each side, blue windows, chromed out bumpers and matte silver wheels. All in all, it’s not a bad looking van, but there are a hell of a lot of seams breaking up the sides.

I’m not a huge fan of the exposed robot face behind the windshield. OK, it’s a cute nod back to the original toy, but probably not one that needed to be so in my face every time I look at it. Also, it serves no purpose at all, which makes me even more sorry that they added it. Does it ruin the van mode? Nah, not really, but it’s worth picking at all the same. You do get a nice Autobot emblem right on the front of the van, and while there are stickers for the auto mode, I’ve chosen to leave them off for now.

Initially, I thought the lightbar would prevent Ratchet from catching a ride in MP Optimus Prime’s trailer, but it’s spring-loaded and you can push it down to roll him inside. It does sometimes get caught when trying to get him out and a few times, I’ve had to pop open the trailer, rather than risk scratching it.

Finally, like Ironhide, there’s a flip up socket on the top of Ratchet’s van mode, which can be used to insert any of the weapons that are designed to be held in his hands. And who doesn’t love a weaponized ambulance, eh?

As expected, the transformation is identical to Ironhide and if you want to share my wonder at experiencing it for the first time then dip back into my Ironhide review. Sadly, the magic is old hat now, but I can still appreciate what Takara’s teams of convertorobot engineers have pulled off here. This shouldn’t work. You shouldn’t be able to get that much robot into that little van. Hell, they couldn’t even come close with the original toy. And yet here it is. Ratchet’s resulting robot mode is almost identical to Ironhide. Takara changed up their pelvic plates, but from the neck down the only other difference is the coloring. And that’s a good thing, because I absolutely loved this robot mode on Ironhide and it looks just as fabulous here on the Autobots’ Chief Medic. From the front, everything looks so impossibly clean and boxy and every other ideal that a G1-designed Transformer should strive to be. The legs are nearly devoid of any van evidence at all and I dig the little armor plates that land on his hips. The front windshield of the van is worn perfectly as the chest, and it impresses me to no end that there aren’t even any wheels visible from the front.

Turn him around and things aren’t quite as polished. There are a lot of exposed screw holes and for the money involved, it would have been cool if Takara had plugged these, or at least offered plugs for us to do it ourselves, like TFC did with their set of Not-Aerialbot figures. You do get a smidgen of van kibble from the back, notably the chrome bumpers on his heels, the windows on the backs of his forearms and his wheel butt… WHEEL BUTT!!! I’ve been in forums where fans complained about this stuff and I was amazed. Hey, complain about whatever you like, that’s your right, but I think this figure is a great achievement of design. He’s also a hefty, solid bot and so much fun to play with!

Obviously we got a brand new head sculpt, and it captures all the character of Ratchet from the Sunbow cartoon. I love the rounded “helmet” and the giant wings over his eyes. The eyes themselves are a bright and beautiful shade of blue, and the rest of the face is finished off in a pleasing matte gray. And if you want to add a little variety to your display options…

He also comes with a second face plate, this time offering a delightful smile. And as long as we’re focusing in on the head and shoulders, I’ll toss out there now that I’m not a big fan of the stickers for the shoulders. To be fair, they look pretty good, and I understand why Takara had to do it. Apparently there were trademark issues concerning the use of the Red Cross. Personally, I would have been fine if they just printed the ones I used on there and been done with it, but I guess some collectors were looking for something more traditional. I just hope they stay on well and don’t yellow over time. But, enough about that… let’s look at some accessories!

Ratchet comes with a boat load of accessories. Or in this case, a sled load. Like Ironhide, Rachet includes a plastic base, which is an homage to the sled that was made up of the bottom part of the original toy’s van mode. This isn’t a direct copy, there’s no treads on the bottom and it isn’t involved at all in the transformation. It is, however, a place to store all those accessories in a way that nods back to the original. For a medic, Ratchet comes with a lot of guns, so let’s start with those first!

A number of the accessories are recycled from Ironhide, the first of which are the twin laser guns. I love these things! They have a nice satin gray finish and fit perfectly into Ratchet’s hands with a tab to secure them into the palms. Getting them out can be a little tricky, but he looks great wielding them.

Next up is what I think is called a Static Laser. It’s instantly recognizable as the gun that was positioned on the front of the original toy’s sled, and I used it to demonstrate the way Ratchet’s mode can be weaponized. It’s got a chrome finish and a white handle. It’s a very distinctive design, but probably not one that I’m going to display him with a whole lot.

Next up is the last recycled accessory from Ironhide ant that’s the missile launcher that plugs into his back. I can remember Ironhide shooting this thing off while flying in the Sunbow cartoon, but I don’t recall Ratchet ever using it. Still, it’s a logical accessory to recycle seeing as a similar piece was included with the G1 vans and I dig it quite a bit. The launcher has a satin gray finish and the missile is chromed out. It can come out of the launcher, but it doesn’t actually fire. Moving on to the new stuff…

Ratchet has one new gun and it’s this little pistol. It’s a cool design, but I really don’t have much else to say about it.

Like Ironhide, Ratchet could retract his hand and deploy various tools. In this case he comes with what is either an arc welder or a cutting torch… or why not both? To attach it you just flip his hand back into his arm and tab it into the spot where the hand used to be. It’s a useful tool for when he needs to do a weld on one of his wounded cameras or cut human survivors out of fallen debris. I don’t know why, but I always loved when the Transformers made use of these types of gizmos.

Ratchet can also produce a repair beam from his forearm. This just plugs right into the peg hole on either of his arms. There’s also an effect part that pegs into the end of the emitter and you get an illustrated cardboard insert that can be slipped in behind the windshield on his chest to produce vital signs. I’ll likely be displaying him with this all the time!

And finally, Ratchet comes with some wrenches, two regular and one magna-wrench.

I collect a lot of toys and other shit, so naturally my budget has its limitations. So throwing $90 at what is mostly a repaint of Ironhide certainly gave me pause. It was my love of Ratchet that finally got me to knuckle down and take the plunge, and I think the fact that it took so long for me to do it worked to my advantage. Two years after getting Ironhide made picking up Ratchet a lot more of a fresh experience and it made me fall in love with this mold all over again. I’m still in awe of how they made this toy work, and it’s a tribute to its intuitive engineering that even after a long while away from this mold, I was able to transform Ratchet without using the instructions. And it makes me happy to finally have the two Autobot vans together at last. If anything, I came away from this review with a renewed passion for the MP line.