The Real Ghostbusters: Ecto-1 and Figures by Hasbro

Like a lot of kids in the 80’s, I was a big fan of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. In fact, we would often patrol the school yard at recess looking to take the fight to the kids who liked that Filmation Ghostbusters and kick the shit out of them. Nah. I’m just kidding. There weren’t any kids that liked Filmation Ghostbusters. LOL! That joke would be less hypocritical if I didn’t secretly covet those Filmation Ghostbusters toys. Indeed, if they weren’t so stupid expensive now, I’d probably own some. But I digress. as a kid, I only owned one Real Ghostbusters figure, and that was Egon. My Dad bought him for me when we were at the store and I was profoundly disappointed when I opened him in the back of the car and realized that the beam didn’t come out of the wand, and he had to walk around with it sticking straight up into the air. I really wanted Real Ghostbusters figures, but I never asked for any more of these. I think I regretted that decision, because in my mind I never really let these go.

Fast forward to now, and Hasbro has released some pretty damn good copies of those Kenner figures, along with the Ecto-1, and I decided that I needed to revisit these. The Ecto-1 comes in a fully enclosed and colorful box, which I presume is pretty close to the original packaging. But… before I open up this baby, I should probably take a look at the figures first. And I opened these up a while ago, so I don’t have any packaged shots.

And boy don’t these just ooze charm like slime off of a free-floating, full-torso, vaporous apparition! I love the way these were individually stylized with completely different bodies. From Egon’s long and lanky form to Ray’s stocky frame, each character is so distinctive from each other. Nowadays, they would just stamp them out on the same body. And of course, the jumpsuits were individually colored to distinguish them from each other even more. Nice details include the cinched elastic on their wrist and ankle cuffs, the elbow pads, and the Ghostbusters logos stamped on their right shoulders. Likewise, the head sculpts are pretty good likenesses for their cartoon counterparts. Each of these figures have the standard five-points of articulation, and I absolutely love them!

The proton packs are cool, but I still say they would be so much better if you could just remove the proton streams. I know they’re toys for kids, but apparently it was even annoying enough to me as a kid to not want them because of it. I think I was probably a little too uptight about that, because as an adult I can move past it and still appreciate what they did here. There’s a decent amount of detail in the sculpts, and they simply peg onto the figures’ backs. Yes, the straps are sculpted on the figure, so they’re present even when the pack isn’t worn. The wands clip to the sides of the packs and can be slid onto each figures’ arm and gripped by their hand. Spin the beam’s handle behind the thrower and it wiggles all over the place. It’s fun!

Each figure comes with its own ghost. These are cast in translucent colored plastic and they’re pretty fun. These aren’t going to replace Mattel’s retro-style Real Ghostbusters as my favorites, but I think I actually like these better than Diamond Select’s Real Ghostbusters, which disappointed me so much that I never bothered reviewing them all. But wait… we’ve got a call coming in and the boys are going to need their ride! So let’s get the Ecto-1 out and set up!

There’s really not too much to set up. The Ghostbusters‘ ride comes out of the box assembled and almost ready to go. There are some stickers that need to be applied, but nothing too difficult. The most pressure comes from getting those three Ghostbusters emblems on the doors straight. The toy itself is satisfyingly large, but it also feels a lot like a plastic shell on wheels. Keep in mind, I never owned the original, so I may have been expecting too much because of the price point. But more on that later. From the research I’ve done, this seems to be an excellent copy of the original toy, with some improvements to the plastic and some areas of the design. And it sure is nice to see one of these looking all fresh and minty with no yellowing or cracks, and bright stickers!

Like the figures, I love the way the toy recreates the stylized look of the cartoon, especially with the way it exaggerates the swell near the back, giving it a cool and cartoony profile. In keeping with the original, there’s not a lot of detail to the roof, just some vague sculpted shapes depicting the equipment and instrument rack. The two light bars have tinted blue plastic for the actual lights. It almost looks like electronics have been gutted for the remake, but the Kenner toy didn’t have any either. That’s a shame, because for fifty bucks, this thing should have flashing lights and a siren!

There are some subtle changes to the front grill, but the ECTO-1 license plate sticker remains the same. The sculpting on the wheels is very well done, and this thing rolls along the floor great.

Busting out the figures, I find that the front seat accommodates a driver and passenger quite well. The doors close securely with the windows perpetually down. I’m guessing the Ecto-1 doesn’t have working air conditioning. There’s a nice bit of detail in the steering wheel and dash, and there’s some texturing on the seats. The back area can fit the other two Ghostbusters, so everyone can ride!

That back area also features a Ghost-Capture-Claw, not doubt developed by Egon, to hook ghosts. By shifting the exhaust pipe left or right, the rope can either be locked, or it will retract as you push the Ecto-1 along. There’s also a hook inside to hang the claw from when it’s not in use. The orange ghost is included!

There’s also a Gunner Seat that can be secured all the way inside the back or positioned so it’s facing out the back to fire at those pesky pursuing poltergeists.

The Gunner Seat can also be plugged into the top and swivel 360-degrees.

I was absolutely beside myself when the Ecto-1 arrived at my door. It was a Walmart Exclusive and I knew I had no hopes of finding it in the stores, so I dropped a pre-order with them online, crossed my fingers, and hoped that it wouldn’t get cancelled. Now, I’ll concede that when I first got it out of the box, I might have been hit with a wee bit of sticker shock. This was $50? Yes, it’s a nice, sizeable toy and it looks great, but Great Gozer is this thing over priced! Just compare this thing to the Ecto-1 from the Playmobil Ghostbusters line, which is admittedly smaller, but features a ton more detail and electronic lights and sounds. Don’t get me wrong, I have no regrets. Getting these toys has filled in that Ghostbusters-shaped hole in my childhood, and I’m happy to have these displayed on the shelf. Hasbro has also released some of those gimmicky ghost figures in this revival, but I think I’m going to rest easy with what I’ve got.

Marvel Legends (3 3/4-inch) Retro Collection: Wave One by Hasbro


As promised last Monday, I’m taking a break from my cruise through the Legends Tri-Sentinel Wave to have a look at Hasbro’s new Retro 3 3/4-inch figures. Because The Great Lord Galactus knows I really need another Marvel line to collect, right? Well, these are similar to the ReAction figures I collect, in that I bought them to keep carded. But, I did buy a four doubles out of the six for openers, so we will at least be getting a feel for a few of them out of the package and in hand.


And yes, technically, these are Marvel Legends, it says so right on the card, which seems really weird to me. It’s doubly confusing when you consider that Hasbro is already doing a sub-line of Retro-Carded 6-inch Marvel Legends. So what the hell are these? Well, they’re retro-style 5-POA figures designed with old 80’s Kenner-style figures in mind. It’s kind of a What if Kenner did Marvel? Hasbro really did their own thing with the presentation, since they probably didn’t want to copy the look of their competitor Mattel’s Secret Wars line from the 80’s, or the chunked out proportions of Toy Biz’s 90’s line. The first wave is comprised of six figures, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of rhyme or reason to the character selection here. As expected, these packages are not collector friendly, but at least the figures are set on trays inside the bubbles, which keeps them from rattling around in there. Also, I’ll note that these cards are made of some pretty sturdy and seemingly durable cardboard, and all the ones I bought online came unpunched, which is pretty cool. Let’s have a look at each one, starting with the two I didn’t get as openers.

Magneto represents the X-Men, and I thought him a strange choice for the first wave, but that doesn’t make him any less welcome. The card features the Uncanny X-Men logo at the top left with Magneto’s character art dominating most of the right side. Everything is just about perfect here, especially the coloring. The figure looks like a solid effort. He’s sporting his traditional red and purple costume, just as it’s depicted in the card art, and the paintwork seems pretty clean. Articulation for all of these figures conforms to the usual standard 5-POA, which includes a T-crotch, swivels in the shoulders, and a rotating head. I do find it interesting that they didn’t drive the Kenner homage all the way home by giving him a vinyl cape, but I’d certainly argue the sculpted plastic cape looks better.

I’ll show off the back of the card for Magneto and then leave it at that, since they’re all pretty much the same. You get a character card that can be clipped out and saved along with the figure. You also get a single sentence blurb about the character. I was hoping this was going to be a little more descriptive, but it’s just the same thing in multiple languages. The bottom third or so of the card is just jumbles of legalese. Man, I miss the days when toy packaging didn’t have to be littered with all this crap!

Next up is The Incredible Hulk, and this is the second of the two figures that I have yet to get an opener of, but I’m still looking. Hulk is bigger than the others, but not crazy big. He seems fairly size-appropriate, but best of all, they were able to do him without having to make a bigger card, or throw off the uniformity of the presentation. The Incredible Hulk logo features the brick pattern in the lettering, and the character art is fabulous. I also really dig the deep blue backdrop and the action lines fanning out to the borders. It’s exciting and colorful, and everything a comic book superhero action figure package should be! As for the figure, I think this is a really strong sculpt, especially the portrait. They did a nice job sculpting his muscles, and the vibrant purple paint on his pants looks snappy!

Third out of the gate is Captain America, and here’s where I start to have doubles to open! If pressed, I’d say this is probably my favorite card in the wave, or at least maybe tied for first. The character art is just fabulous, and I love that they have him throwing his shield right out of the card and into the viewers face! It’s exciting, and the star spangled deco is absolutely perfect! If I had one little gripe, it would be the color of the bubble’s backdrop. The blue matches Cap’s outfit and the figure sort of blends in a little too much. But that’s me really nit-picking.

Out of the package, Cap looks and feels great in hand. If you’ve handled any of those Funko ReAction figures, you’ll be happy to know that the quality of the plastic here is just so much better. And while Cap maintains a bit of a simple style to him, there’s still plenty of fresh sculpting to be found in the buccaneer boots, and flared gauntlets. The portrait looks great, and the paint lines are fairly sharp for a figure in this size and style. Cap happens to be the only figure in this wave that comes with an accessory, because…. well you can’t have Cap without his shield. The shield has a clip to attach it to either of his wrists and he looks good holding it. There’s a hole on his back, but no peg to attach the shield, which is a tad disappointing. Still, a great figure that will be sitting on my desk for a long time to come.

The fourth figure is a bit of an odd choice for this initial wave, and it’s Ms. Marvel herself, Carol Danvers, wearing her Warbird outfit. I really love the character art on the card, but I thought it was a little odd that they went with The Avengers logo and don’t actually refer to her as Ms. Marvel on the card. It’s kind of weird, but not a deal-breaker to me. I’ll concede that I would have preferred her red, blue, and gold outfit, but I dig this one too.

Out of the package, she’s looking fine! This figure relies a little more on paint than for her costume than the previous ones, but I think they did a fine job. The fronts of her boots are a little uneven, but the lightening bolt on her chest looks sharp! I also love that they sculpted her waist scarf as a separate piece and it’s worn by the figure, kind of like an accessory, but not really. The portrait here is really good as well, with her domino mask actually part of the sculpt.

The fifth and penultimate figure in the wave is Johnny Storm from The Fantastic Four, and this one had me super excited, because I can’t wait to hang a full set of Marvel’s first family in this retro-style on my wall. The card includes The Fantastic Four logo over the NY City-Scape with The Human Torch in full flame on! They even did his flamed “4” logo in the sky behind him. Excellent!

I didn’t think this would be an easy figure to do in this style, but Hasbro absolutely nailed it! Johnny is cast in translucent orange plastic with some yellow flames sculpted onto his legs, arms, and head. The effect is quite striking, especially when it’s properly lit up. Dare I say it? Hot damn, I love everything about this figure! Sue Storm is coming up in the third wave, and I do hope they finish up the Fantastic Four sooner rather than later!

Last, but certainly not least is your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, and if you haven’t guessed it Spidey is tied with Cap as my favorite figure in this wave. The card art features The Amazing Spider-Man logo set against the backdrop of the city with Spidey himself swinging right out of the card at you and framed by webbing.

Out of the package, this figure just pops like magic. The combination of blue and red is a feast for the eyes and the web pattern looks great. I also dig that they have his arms spread a bit and gave him two thwippy hands. Like Captain America, I just want to carry Spidey here around all day in my pocket at work, so he can have adventures on the desk when I’m bored to tears in meetings. I am really excited to see all of Spidey’s villains turn up in this series. Electro is actually part of Wave Two. Now bring on Gobby!

I’m really interested to see how this line does at retail, but I’m definitely hooked. I’m a sucker for the retro style, and there’s something to be said for these clean sculpts over the somewhat wonky results of the highly articulated Marvel Universe figures. I didn’t have time to dig out any of those to do comparisons, but it’s something I might look at doing in the future. Am I going to be buying doubles of this entire line. Nah, highly unlikely. I’ll mainly be collecting these to keep carded, pop into clamshells, and hang on the wall. But at about ten bucks a pop, I may go for doubles of the ones that I like the most! I already have a set of Wave Two, and maybe I’ll wrap up a look at these next week. Then again I’ve also got a new Marvel Hot Toys figure that I’d like to spend some time with. I guess we’ll see what I have time for!


Kenner Predators: Lasershot Predator by NECA

Even with a seemingly endless variety of Yautja hunters available, from the movies and comics and video games, to cast into plastic, NECA is still always looking for new material. They mined the old Kenner Toys line for their Aliens line, so it’s only natural they would do the same for Predator. And that’s exactly what they did here, plucking Lasershot Predator straight off the pegs of the 90’s and giving him a complete overhaul so that he will fit in with just about any modern NECA Predator on your shelf… Groovy!!!

The box is similar to what we’ve seen with NECA’s Ultimate releases. It seems like a fully enclosed box, but there’s actually a front flap that opens to reveal a window to show off the goods. It’s also an extra thick box to accommodate Lasershot’s significant stature and all the extra bits and bobs that come with him. I dig the artwork and its distinct 90’s flavor. The colors are great and the front panel mimics the old figure in a sort of clam-shell packaging. Of course, everything is collector friendly, which is great for me, because I do keep these figures in their boxes when I’m not displaying them. The box also exclaims that Lasershot features an Electronic LED Targeting Eye which I was damn excited to try out. Lasershot is known for his obsession with technology and his willingness to augment his own body to make himself the Ultimate Alien Hunter, so you know we’re in for a treat!

Many of the Kenner Pred designs were about as goofy as you can get, which makes NECA’s figure here all the more impressive. I think they managed to burn away almost all the gimmicky wackiness of the original figure, while leaving behind mostly just Yuatja badass. OK, maybe there’s still a little bit of campiness left in this guy, but I still love him. Probably the most distinctive thing about Lasershot is the purple skin, which includes a black wash to bring out the detail. Why purple? I don’t know. Maybe it has to do with all the augments he’s performed on himself. Combined with that lovely purple is his golden armor, most prominent on his lower legs, hips, forearms, and upper body. The armor trades the usual tribal flavor and trophies for what looks like ancient Yautja designs mixed with high tech improvements, and there is a ton of detail in this sculpt to reflect it. I’m particularly fond of the large blades attached to the lower legs and the organic curves of his shoulder weapons, which rests dormant on his back when not in use. He also has a skull sculpted into his belt, that’s very reminiscent of a T-800 Terminator. Lasershot is a lot to take in all at once, and the sculpt and coloring conspire to make him quite the work of art.

His portrait is no slouch either! Like any Yautja, he’s got a face only a mother would love. The purple skin is still prevalent here, and it really makes those teeth at the end of his mandibles, and the spikes around his cranium, stand out. He’s got one deep set piercing eyeball, and his other has been replaced with an artificial targeting system,nesting in a mess of grafted golden tech. A nest of brown dreadlocks spill out the back of his head, each one with a sculpted gold band. By now, NECA are pros at sculpting the uniquely hideous Predator head, and like the all the others, this one is just a marvel of tiny detail.

Lasershot comes with a bio-mask that can be worn over his head. It’s vaguely like your average Pred mask, but it has a lot more panel lines sculpted into it. The upper right side is also missing to accommodate his facial grafts. The bio mask is painted with a copper finish, which puts it at odds with the golden armor, but it still looks pretty good on him. Although, to be honest, I think I prefer him without the mask. NECA did too fine a job with that head sculpt for me to be covering it up.

The LED light advertised on the box is activated by pressing a disguised button on the top of Lasershot’s head, producing the familiar triple light targeting system we’ve seen in the films. The lights are nice and bright and can be seen fairly well even under normal lighting conditions. They can also be seen while he is wearing the bio-mask. Let’s move on to some of this guy’s weaponry.

The double cannon rig on his back can be slid up the track and angled over his shoulders. His left shoulder features the standard plasma-caster, while the right one is a harpoon launcher, complete with two optional heads. One is capture-claw and the other is just a nasty looking spike. You also get a rather thick, bendable tether to make it look like it’s been fired. The cable has a strong wire running through it, allowing it to be bent any way you like it, and it holds up really well too. The claw is good for grabbing hold of prey, while the other just looks like it would make short work of most anything.

Next up, Lasershot has an energy shield that deploys from his right gauntlet. There are two pieces that can peg into the hole there. The device looks like a pair of golden horns with a red crystal in the center. It’s actually got something of an Egyptian flavor to its design. The second piece features a translucent purple disc of energy, simulating that the shield is activated.

Finally, you get an interchangeable left hand, which is a larger claw with articulated fingers. The socket on my figure’s claw was too small, so I had to dremel it out a bit to get it to fit, but now it goes on and off easy-peasy. It looks like a nasty piece of business, and when combined with the energy shield, it gives Lasershot some nice options for close-quarter melee combat.

It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of NECA’s modernized Kenner Aliens, and now I can happily say that their magic works on Kenner’s Preds just as well. Lasershot is a great looking figure and lots of fun to mess around with. He also displays well going up against those Kenner Aliens or even with any of the other NECA Preds on my shelf. The addition of the LED targeting system is a particularly nice bonus, especially since at $27.99 it didn’t really drive up the cost of the figure that badly. Indeed, I’d love to them revisit the gimmick in some of their future Predators. I’ve been trying to be a little more selective about my Predator purchases, because of space limitations, but when I saw this guy on the shelf at Target he just had to come home with me, and I’m glad he did.

Kenner Aliens: Gorilla Alien by NECA

Yes, Gorilla Alien, my friends. What more of an introduction do you need to make you want to venture forward with today’s review? NECA went all the way back to Kenner’s Aliens figures from the 90’s and worked their magic with some of those wacky designs to bring us this spectacular wave. If you want the full preamble, I’ll refer you back to my look at the Mantis Alien from last month. On the other hand, if you’re like me and can’t wait to have a look at this bad boy, then let’s get started…

Oh, shit. I got a little ahead of myself and opened this guy up before taking the packaged shot. Well, can you blame me? I tried to put him back on his tray, but I have no idea how they had this huge figure folded up to fit in there. At least you can still enjoy that rad artwork and there’s still some lovely plastic fumes left for me to snort. Check out how they re-worked the NECA logo to match the old Kenner logo on the bottom right hand corner. Cool!

And just check this fellow out! Kenner’s line was all about coming up with different cross-species of Xenomorphs and the name of this guy says it all. Now, unlike the Mantis Alien, the host animal on which this Xenomorph is based isn’t quite as apparent. Nope, nothing really about this guy screams Gorilla to me, but that’s OK. He’s still a bigger, beefier Xeno, and he’s got plenty of unique design elements. Just check out those pronounced tubular nodes coming off of his forearms as well as a triple-spiked tail. Also, check out all the beautiful work they put into his claws! While the snazzy translucent green plastic of Mantis makes that figure stand out a little more, there’s no denying that this one is just as much a work of art.

Yup, no matter how many of NECA’s Xenos I open, I never tire of taking in all that incredible detail that they sculpt into these bodies. Every little element of HR Giger’s infamous bio-tech design comes alive in this plastic and all of it is picked out by sumptuous blue paint wash, which invokes the crazy colors of the original toy and comic, while still managing to stay grounded in the realism of NECA’s re-imagining. Damn, I just adore the coloring on this Xeno! In addition to the black and blue deco, you get some silver highlights here and there.

And of all that isn’t enough to make you Xeno-Fans cream your jeans, just check out the head on this sexy beast! Yes, I called him sexy, because look at it! The contours are beautiful and there’s a wonderful contrast between the smooth dome and the intricate bits of the lower head and jaw. I really dig how the head sweeps up at the end and crowns with four prongs, giving him a powerful, regal look. Naturally, the mouth opens up and you can pull out the secondary set of jaws within. All this is great stuff, but rather than rest on their laurels, NECA included a second dome, offering another display option. But before I swap them, let’s take this one off and see what’s going on under the hood.

Nightmare fuel! Removing the stock dome reveals a very ape-like skull with tubes protruding from its empty eye sockets. The skull stretches back the full length of the head and it is magnificently painted. By the way, did you know that NECA just released a life-size foam Xenomorph skull? It’s huge and almost $300, and I hate the fact that I would have nowhere to display it if I bought it. Anyway… the alternate dome is a clear, somewhat smokey plastic.

Popping it on gives you a nice homage to the Big Chap from the original Alien film. It’s a nice tease, as you can just barely make out the details inside. I should point out that while I stuck with the black dome for most of the pictures, that shouldn’t be taken as any indication that its my favorite of the two. Truth be told, I haven’t decided which one to display the figure with yet, and in the end I’ll probably just buy a second so I don’t have to decide.

The articulation here is everything I’ve come to expect out of my NECA Xenos. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and ankles. The legs are double jointed, there are swivels in the biceps and at the hips. There’s a ball joint in the chest and another in the neck. The tail is made of the usual bendy plastic, presumably with a wire in it so that it can hold whatever position you put it in. He’s a pretty well balanced figure and I was able to get him to hold a lot of neat poses, but you can always rely on using the tail to prop him up if you have to.

In case you’re still not convinced that you need this figure, NECA also threw in a facehugger painted to match this guy and a mini comic book showcasing this beast in action on the infested jungle planet of Zeevan.

I feel as if the Gorilla Alien is one of those cases where I could have just posted a bunch of pictures followed by the command, “BUY IT!” While I love gassing on about NECA’s beautiful Xenos, the truth is that with how beautiful this figure is, he practically reviews himself. Keep in mind, I was barely aware of Kenner’s Aliens toys back in the 90s, so nothing about my love for this figure is being driven by nostalgia. It’s all about the gorgeous workmanship that NECA put into him. And at about the price of one of Hasbro’s 6-inch Black Series figures, you’re getting a lot more craftsmanship for your toy buying dollars.

Kenner Aliens: Mantis Alien by NECA

As most toy collectors know, Kenner and the Alien franchise go way back to 1979 when Kenner attempted to produce a line of Star Wars-style figures for the original Alien move, but backed out due to some parental uproar over the large Big Chap figure they released. Fast forward to the 90’s, a Golden Era, where parents stopped caring about being outraged over R-Rated movie toys. Cartoony versions of RoboCops, Predators, and Aliens were all over the toy shelves and Kenner finally had their way with Aliens. Fast forward again to now and we find that NECA is incorporating some of those Kenner Aliens designs into their own insanely popular Aliens figures. And that brings us to today’s figure… The Mantis Alien!

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Kenner’s Aliens line debuted a little too late for me. I was off at college believing that learning was good and toys were dumb, little aware that in a few years I’d be plunging head first into buying toys again. The line took advantage of the idea that Xenomorphs could spring from all sorts of different hosts and the result was a delightfully diverse collection of Aliens cross-bred with various beasts. Exactly how a Xeno springs out of an insect, I have no idea. Even the mini-comic included in the package doesn’t divulge these answers. Maybe they’re from a species of giant Space Mantis? Either way, I’m not going to argue when the results are this amazing. As always, the Aliens figures come in sealed clamshells, but there’s a few things to point out here. First, it comes with a mini-comic and a Chest Burster. Second, the artwork on the insert is delightfully colorful. Finally, don’t let the size of the package fool you, because when this thing is unfolded in all its glory, it’s huge! And so without further ado, I’m going to razor this baby open, huff some glorious plastic fumes, and we’ll check this guy out.

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OK, I’m going to try really hard not to go into full on hyperbole mode here, but I am so absolutely gobsmacked by this figure that it’s going to be hard not to gush like crazy. I mean, I often refer to the wizards at NECA as fine craftsman, but holy hell if this figure isn’t an absolute work of art then I don’t know what is. I’m not one to get all weak in the knees at the sight of translucent plastic in my toys, but the marrying of regular plastic and the green translucent stuff on this figure is sheer poetry. It looks absolutely stunning in person. As for the design? Well it’s sheer nightmare fuel. Regular Xenos are bad enough, but this guy is just down right terrifying.

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Part of that comes from the fact that adding bug parts makes anything creepier. Look at the tail and stinger on this thing! The detail work in the sculpt is magnificent and when you couple that with the silver and black paint, the translucent plastic, and that brown sting, it’s just totally over the top.

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What also makes this Xeno all the more terrifying is that it’s elongated mantis arms and jumping legs means that if this thing wants you, you’re screwed. I imagine this guy is a quadruped, but he can also stand up on his haunches and use those extended arms to do some horrific damage. Standing up, we can also get a better look at his anatomy. The bulk of his body is comprised of that translucent plastic while the feet, forearms and undercarriage are fortified with silver Alien-style exoskeleton. The barbs on those claws are particularly fierce. This thing probably doesn’t even need to grab its pray, it can just embed them on those spiked mitts of his. And just when you think things weren’t bad enough… let’s check out that head sculpt…

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Sweet Jesus have mercy! He’s both breathtaking and hideous at the same time… even by Xenomorph standards. I have no words for how awesome this head is, but I’ll at least mention that I’m in love with that silver, barbed cranium. Also, check out those nasty teeth and black gums. And yes, if you were wondering, there is indeed a secondary mouth in there that extends out. And much to my delight, it’s cast in translucent plastic!

 

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I don’t even know where to begin when talking articulation. This thing is loaded with points. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, double rotating hinges in that first elbow, another rotating hinge at the next joint, another one at the wrist, and finally one more at the pincer. The legs have rotating hinges at the hips, double hinges at the first knee, rotating hinges at the next joint down, and finally another at the ankles. There’s a ball joint in the torso, another in the neck, the jaw is hinged, and the secondary mouth can be pulled out. I’d also like to point out that not once did I have to use a figure stand to get this fella to do what I wanted. He has a remarkable balance for such lanky design and his joints can hold his weight surprisingly well.

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As already mentioned, you get a couple of cool extras in the package. The first is a cool mini-comic that showcases the Mantis Alien battling some marines. The second is a little Chest Burster with a bendy tail and OMG, LOOK AT HIS ADORABLE LITTLE ARMS!!! He looks like he’s begging for a treat!

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Back when NECA revealed the first Kenner-style Aliens, I was almost tempted to take a pass. I have absolutely no nostalgia for the Kenner line. But knowing that it was NECA and seeing as how I already collect their Aliens line, I took the plunge and I’m so thankful that I did. The Mantis Alien is impressive in every imaginable way and he’s easily one of the most amazing looking figures that I’ve opened in recent memory. I’m seriously considering picking up a couple more of these simply because it’s not every day you can get a figure this awesome for about $22. And you know what else is awesome? He came with a friend. And hopefully next week I’ll be able to make the time to open up the Kenner-style Gorilla Alien!

Aliens: Space Marine Lt. Ripley (Kenner Version) by NECA

Kenner’s line of Aliens figures defies all sense and logic by its very existence. It was originally inspired by the planned cartoon series Aliens Operation, Yes, a cartoon based on an R-rated film franchise. The cartoon was scrapped, but the figures survived and came out under the name Aliens thus becoming a line of figures directly based on an R-rated movie that was at that point some six years old. Craziness! Nonetheless it was a fun and wildly creative line that was sadly released at a time when I had zero interest in collecting toys. Nonetheless, when NECA decided to celebrate Alien Day on 4/26 and release a Kenner-inspired repaint of their Aliens Lt Ripley figure, I was definitely on board.

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Ripley was exclusive to Toys R Us and GoHastings and sold out really fast online, but eventually came back into stock at TRU. The figure comes in NECA’s traditional sealed blister pack, and while the Aliens title up at the top is the same as what we saw with NECA’s Aliens line, the rest of the package art has been re-branded to reflect the Kenner animated look, complete with a brand new insert and a “cardback” that imitates the Kenner line. It’s a fun and colorful package and in this case I’m glad I wound up with two, because one of them is staying in the package and going right up on my wall.

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If you own NECA’s original release of Ripley from Aliens, then the sculpt should be instantly familiar to you. This is a straight repaint to the Kenner colors with the ammo strap reversed and an added neckerchief. Keep in mind, that’s not a criticism. For starters, the original release of this figure is both excellent and a tough item to get anywhere near the original price point. Secondly, it’s amazing how well this homage works with just a fresh coat of paint. When I look at it, I don’t see the repaint, just a fully realized Kenner-style figure.

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The new coloring includes the bright yellow shit-kickers, darker blue pants, the maroon top and tan neckerchief. The ammo strap is black with orange cartridges. The paint is all very clean, right down to the black watch on her left wrist. For a 90’s line, the coloring here isn’t as obnoxious as one might expect. In fact, the only thing that’s really out of the ordinary are her bright yellow boots and I still think they look great.

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The portrait on this figure was pretty solid to begin with and it not only still looks great, but I’m surprised how well it works on this homage. I particularly love what they did with the hair sculpt. On the downside, this figure uses flesh toned plastic, rather than paint, so you do get a bit of the waxy finish. Granted, it looks a lot more shiny under the studio lights than it does most of the time. Aw hell, she’s lugging a big gun around, running around hunting Xenomorphs, I’ve got to imagine Ripley’s going to be perspiring a bit.

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Speaking of running around, Ripley features some solid articulation. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees. The ankles are hinged and have lateral rockers, there’s a ball joint just above the waist, and another in the neck. Not bad!

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Ripley comes with one accessory and that’s her Smartgun. I don’t have a lot of the Colonial Marines figures, so this is my first encounter with this accessory and I like it a lot. It’s a beautifully intricate sculpt and while it looks like it would be unwieldy and difficult to work with, the truth is it’s got so many grab points that I was able to have a lot of fun with it.

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The only downside of this figure is that the availability was spotty at release because of quick sell outs leading to a run on Ebay and doubling the price of the figure. But now all that has settled down, and at the time I’m posting this Feature, Ripley is available on TRU’s website for the original $24.99. Obviously, this figure is aimed at the 90’s kids who have nostalgia for the original toy line, but I’m proof positive that the figure’s appeal can transcend that. Seeing as I don’t own the original release of Aliens Ripley, I’m very happy to have this mold on my shelf and the coloring just makes her all the more special.

Vintage Vault: Star Wars Hoth Rebels by Kenner, Part 3

It’s day three of vintage Kenner Star Wars goodness. In case you’re just joining us, these features were inspired by the fact that I got a box of some of my old Star Wars figures shipped down to my from my brother. I’ve been going through them and matching up weapons and cleaning them up. Some of them are in pretty poor shape, while others aren’t half bad at all. To kick things off, I decided to focus on figures from my absolute favorite scene in any of the Star Wars films: The Battle of Hoth. Today we’re going to check out the unsung heroes of that battle, Unnamed Rebel Commander and Unnamed Rebel Trooper!

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Oddly enough, I have no memory of actually getting these figures, which leads me to believe they came to me through one of two great Christmas winfalls of Star Wars figures. Yes, there were two Christmases where I gave “Santa” a list of figures I was missing and my poor parents had to go hunt them all down.

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The Rebel Commander is a really cool figure, but I don’t think I was all that keen on him back in the day. Nonetheless, he got used a lot. My Falcon spent a great deal of time marooned on Hoth and the Rebels took up using it as a base of operations. Rebel Commander set up shop in the back and became a permanent fixture. I remember that I eventually adopted the name Cliff for him because his mustache made me think he was Cliff Clavin from Cheers. Of course it wasn’t until much, much later that I learned John Ratzenberger actually played a Rebel on Hoth. Was this figure supposed to be Bren Derlin? If not, that was some crazy coincidence!

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And then there’s the Trooper. Man, I wanted to build a squad of these so bad. Even as a kid, I loved the idea of having troop builders, but my parents sure didn’t. Getting them to understand that I needed multiple Stormtroopers and Rebels for my battles never did fly. All my attempts were met with, “No, you have this guy already. Get someone you don’t have!” How the hell did they always know? Anyway, I was a tricky little snot and would ask my grandparents for figures that I wanted multiples of and every now and again it worked. Still, I don’t think I ever had more than one Rebel Trooper. Now that I have my own monies and a little something called Ebay, maybe I’ll grab another couple of these guys.

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It’s interesting to look at my old toys from a toy collector perspective. I never noticed until looking at these figures now that there was a wee bit of shared sculpting going on. The vests, the belt the pants, there’s a lot of similarities here with enough unique detail and paint to make it work wonderfully. At 9-years old I certainly never gave it a second thought. Of course, the Commander is smart enough to know that you’re less likely to be shot by wearing mostly white on an Ice Planet (they didn’t make him a Commander for nothing) while his poor Troopers in their tan vests are getting picked off by snipers left and right. In retrospect, I think it’s a bit odd that the Commander came with a backpack and the regular Trooper didn’t. Of course, Kenner remedied that with an accessory pack a little later on.

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While I probably didn’t give it much thought back in the day, I find the weapon choices for these two a bit odd. The Commander comes with the same carbine that Hoth Luke came with and the Rebel Trooper came with a pistol that would be recycled for many of the Bespin figures. It seems like the Troopers should have had the rifles and the handgun should have been given to the Commander. Of course, the flipside to that was Kenner giving the Snowtroopers giant rifles when they should have just had E-11 Blasters. There’s just no pleasing me, I guess.

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And that’s pretty much the extent of Kenner’s Hoth figures on the Rebel side. Yeah, they also did the other Medical Droid, RX-7, but sadly he wasn’t in the box. Maybe I’ll replace him later on down the road. Having this team of figures together again already has me on the hunt for one of the three Hoth Playsets because I’d really love to get these old friends up and on display somewhere. One thing’s for certain, getting this box of old figures has really kindled a fire under my somewhat misplaced love for Star Wars toys, so don’t be surprised to see more of it featured around here in the weeks ahead.

Vintage Vault: Star Wars Hoth Rebels by Kenner, Part 2

It’s Saturday, It’s July, I’m in Florida and it’s a thousand degrees here. What better way to cool off than by looking at more Hoth figures? Today I’m going to check out some more shivering members of the Rebel Alliance as they try to hide out from the Empire on another one of those delightful sci-fi planets that can only support one climate zone. So bundle up and set your thermostat for Kenner Vintage Goodness! I don’t even know what that means. Let’s just look at the figures…

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Yesterday, I looked at Han and Luke and their trusty Tauntaun. Today we’re going to check out Princess Leia and my favorite medical droid, 2-1B. I was originally going to wrap this up today by looking at four figures, but I went long and had to cut it down to two. Gassing on about nostalgia will do that to me. We’re going to start with 2-1B because I have a bewilderingly strong attachment to this figure. Get your blankys and milky babas, kiddies, it’s story time!

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It was a fine day in 1981 (maybe 1982) and I went along with my Dad downtown to Bloomfield Ave in NJ to do some shopping. When we were done with what he had to do he relented to my endless pleading and we went to Big Apple Toys. BAT was a two-story independent toy store back at a time when such things still existed. It wasn’t a huge place. It was right there on the downtown drag alongside a pharmacy and other assorted other storefronts. Once inside, my eyes were immediately drawn to a set of figures from The Empire Strikes Back! They were fanned out in a glass display counter, which was usually reserved for a big Smurf Village setup. Now, I’m sure I caught one or two ESB figures on the pegs prior to then, but this was the first time I’d seen so many and all spread out like that. It was amazing. I pushed my nose up against the glass as the saliva pooled up in the corner of my mouth. I explained to my Dad between heaves of excitement what this find meant and he saw where it was going. He said he’d buy me one. Gah! I had to choose. Which one? Which one? Yup, I went for 21-f’cking-B!

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Now, this was an odd choice to be sure. Truth be told, as vivid as this memory is, I cannot place it in proper context. Had I seen the movie yet? I just don’t know. I’m guessing not, because if I had why the hell would I pick 21-B? Well, I was always a big fan of the droids and I loved the look of this guy from the moment I saw him. Those two factors alone were enough to make me pick him out. Of course, every new Star Wars figure I got automatically evolved into one of the most important characters at playtime. 21-B became a permanent resident of the Falcon so he was always on hand to patch up the gang when they needed it. And they needed it a lot, because my Stormtroopers could actually hit what they were shooting at from time to time.

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From the Left: POTF2; Original; 30th Anniversary Collection

I still love this figure, even though there have been arguably better versions since. For the time, he was a really good treatment of the um… character? Did we even see his legs in the movie? The cool thing about 2-1B is that he was like a real robot because there was no way it was a suit. He had real robot arms and that clear section in the middle that said, “look, it’s not a robot suit!” But I think the real reason I like this figure so much is because he still remains so unique. He has a hose coming out of his face and plugged into his side and that clear middle is like nothing on any Star Wars figure before or since. He even came with a medical poking stick, that I like to pretend was actually some kind of laser gun. 2-1B is just plain awesome and in retrospect I don’t know how he ever escaped my marauding Sheltie. His thin limbs and that hose were just the kind of thing that she liked to tear into pieces.

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And that brings us to Princess Leia in her Hoth Outfit. I also remember the day I got her. I picked her off one of the pegs because she was one of the last Hoth figures I needed. I can remember feeling slightly embarrassed for buying her because she was a girl. That was my 9-year old mentality and it’s that kind of memory that probably keeps most brand managers from making a lot of female figures these days. This Leia is a pretty refreshing figure to look back on because  nowadays female action figures are usually all tits and ass, but here was a female figure that wasn’t sexualized at all. She’s demure, she’s got a feminine color palate, and she’s got a hint of curves under all that cold weather padding, but in the end it’s just another figure of one of our intrepid Rebel heroes. Ok, she has a tiny bit of a tushie on her, but hey, those Kenner designers had to have some fun, amiright?

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Vintage Collection Leia Vs The Kenner Original

As with Luke and Han, I really love the detail on this figure. Her entire outfit has a quilted sculpt and she has her little rank or ID bar or whatever the hell that thing is on the left side of her chest. I don’t think it’s really worth talking about likenesses here, but they did do a nice job sculpting her hair. The paint on mine is a little rough in a few spots. One of her eyebrows is partially rubbed off. One of the nice things about some of the Hoth figures is when the paint rubbed on their boots it just looked like snow. It’s also worth mentioning that Hoth Leia came with a blaster, but sadly I don’t have it anymore.

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And that adds two more figures to this Kenner Hoth Retrospective, and I’m not done yet. Tomorrow I’ll be back to wrap this up with a look at the Hoth Rebel Commander and the Hoth Rebel Trooper!

Vintage Vault: Star Wars Hoth Rebels by Kenner, Part 1

While it hasn’t been opened since April of last year, The Vintage Vault used to be a regular facet of FFZ. The moniker generally denotes a feature where I drag out something from the 70’s or 80’s. Traditionally, a lot of the source material was fueled by my late night drunken Ebay antics and it’s proven to be a fun way to pad things out when I’m low on new receivings. Well, I’m not really low on new stuff to look at now, but I did recently get a box shipped up to me from my brother in NJ which contained some old friends, including a bunch of Kenner’s Star Wars figures. I had actually written this stuff off as lost when I made the move from NJ to Florida back in 1995. Looks like the boxes never made it onto the truck and they were safe and sound all along. I’m going to parse this stuff out a little at a time and today we’re starting out with some figures based on my favorite part of all of Star Wars: The Battle of Hoth! Let’s check out Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in their Hoth Outfits and the Tauntaun!

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Why do I dig The Battle of Hoth so much? Because Hoth is the only real example of a pitched ground battle that we get in the Original Trilogy. There are trenches and battlements, artillery and iconic vehicles. It’s all so exciting and gritty and awesome. Plus, Luke getting lost and Han going to rescue him is a wonderful device to establish what close friends these two characters had become since the end of A New Hope. It’s just great story telling. Hoth was also a pretty big step for the Kenner Star Wars line because it further established the practice of selling multiple versions of a single character just because they changed their clothes. Sure, we already had Luke and X-Wing Luke, but now we had Hoth Luke, Hoth Han, Hoth Leia, and it went on and on. It was a beautiful way to milk parents for more money by making them by the same characters over and over again.

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Han Solo in his Hoth outfit is probably one of the most iconic figures in the line for me. That’s an odd thing to say, since I had been collecting Star Wars figures since the original 12. Nonetheless, as a kid I played with this figure a lot and often he was my “go to” Han. I don’t remember why that was the case, but maybe it was because the dog ate my original Han figure. My Sheltie had an addiction to chewing on Star Wars figures and I used to drive my parents nuts by having to replace them because they were decapitated or mangled in some way.

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Needless to say, I love everything about this figure. It recreates Han’s rugged Hoth gear quite well from the quilting on the leggings to the pockets on the jacket. The BLUE jacket. BECAUSE HAN’S HOTH JACKET WA BLUE, RIGHT? The way they did the hood with the goggles sculpted on top of his helmet was really cool too. I especially loved the fact that his right arm slightly bent like the one on the original Han figure. Someone at Kenner understood that Han should be perpetually holding his gun like he’s about to shoot from the hip. That’s awesome.

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And for the love of God, he’s got a functional holster! It’s a 3 ¾” action figure from 1980 with a functional holster!!! Granted, it didn’t quite work the way it was supposed to, but hey, it definitely held his pistol and that was good enough for me. Ahh, Hoth Han Solo… I love ya, buddy. You were a big part of why a ridiculously disproportionate number of my play scenarios involved fighting Imperials on really cold planets.

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Moving on to Hoth Luke and holy crap, this is still one great looking figure. I never had the attachment to this version of Luke like I did Hoth Han, but looking at him now, it’s hard for me to understand why that was the case. There’s a lot of companies these days trying to release dumbed down sculpts and trying to mimic the “retro” style, but look at this figure and tell me that this sculpt isn’t packed with detail. He’s got all the quilting on his sleeves and jacket, the bands wrapping his boots, the binoculars around his neck and equipment on his belt. I also dig that his goggles are down around his neck to differentiate him a bit from Han. This figure is downright awesome! Hell, even the scaling is right, as Luke is a little shorter than Han.

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The one thing I never quite understood about Hoth Luke was his gun. Kenner gave him a sort of carbine, unlike anything he ever used in the movie. It didn’t bother me so much as a kid, because I liked that it had a strap and you could sling it across his shoulder. I also thought it odd that they didn’t give him a lightsaber, since he made such prominent and memorable use of it in the Wampa Cave. Speaking of Wampas, I was really hoping the Wampa figure was going to be in this box somewhere, but no such luck. Dammit, I’m going to have to go buy a Kenner Wampa on Ebay now, aren’t I?

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And then there’s the Tauntaun. I can remember getting this figure and freaking out over how cool it was. Admittedly, that seems kind of silly now, but steeds weren’t a common thing in the original Kenner Star Wars line. We had a Dewback, but we never got a Bantha. Besides, Han and Luke riding the Tauntauns is such an iconic image that you just had to have one for the figures. Besides, it’s still a really admirable sculpt and a great looking toy. Mine is the original solid belly version and of course he’s missing his bit and reins, but otherwise in fairly good condition. At one point, I owned two of these, but the damn dog chewed the hands and feet off of one. I used to lay it somewhere in my battlefield and pretend it was dead and rotting. I was a messed up kid.

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The Tauntaun makes use of the trapped door gimmick so that the limited articulation figures could still mount him. It’s the same design used for the old Dewback. The saddle features sculpted fake legs on the sides to give you the illusion that the figure is straddling the beast. It’s not terribly convincing, but who cares? The figures still look great riding this thing.

And, I’m way over my limit, so I’ve got to break here. I’m a harsh editor. Tomorrow I’ll be back and we’ll check out some more of Kenner’s Rebel Alliance dressed in snuggly warm clothes.

Star Wars: Jabba the Hutt’s Musical Extravaganza, Part 3: Jabba’s Dancers!

Today I’m going to wrap up the weekend with a look at Jabba’s Dancers, but before we get to the ladies, there’s one more Special Edition band member to cover… Introducing, Rappertunie on the growdi!

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Unlike the rest of the figures in these features, Rappertunie was released later on in Hasbro’s Saga line and he was single carded with his instrument. While far more cartoony than Barquin and Doda, I still like this guy a lot. I think he fits the overall Star Wars creature aesthetic a lot more than Joh Yowza does. That may be because he was an actual puppet and not an awkward CGI model. At at a time when Hasbro was dishing out a lot of sub-par figures, this guy and his elaborate instrument felt like an amazing value. He’s also pretty benign to the whole “Jedi Rocks” scene. In fact, he’s probably the lowest profile member of the band. I’d say he needs a better agent, but his career was no doubt better off not being associated with that train wreck of a performance.

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The figure features the standard 5-points of articulation, although Rappertunie is designed with pretty much one thing in mind and that’s sitting on his instrument and playing it. Unless you happen to have a 3 3/4’” scale bean bag chair and rack of ribs. You could probably make something happen with that. Hasbro went all out on this Rappertunie’s sculpt and the paintwork is superb as well. The instrument looks like a glorious kind of steampunk invention and there’s a detachable hose running from the instrument to the base.

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And now we can move on to the dancing girls: Rystall, Greeata, and Lyn Me. These ladies were released as part of the Power of the Force 2 line in what was commonly referred to as a Cinema Scene pack. It was window boxed with the three figures standing against an illustrated backdrop from the film. I loved these packs and I’ve owned probably three or four of this one over the years. It’s just one of those items that come and go out of my collection over and over again because it’s so damn common and cheap. Let’s look at them each in turn.

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With bright red hair, purple spots, and elephant feet, Rystall is one crazy looking chick. Nonetheless, Rule 34 tells me that there is someone, somewhere whacking it to an image of her. And judging by the way Boba Fett was flirting with her in the movie, I’m guessing I just found that someone. Rystall features nice coloring and a decent sculpt. The spotting on her skin is neat and reminds me of the markings of a Trill. Wiki nonsense tells me that Rystall’s entire family was a slave owned by an official in the Black Sun organization until Lando set them free in a game of cards. Because no matter how big the Universe is and how insignificant the character, everyone in Star Wars has to be connected to another in some way, right?

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Next up is Greeata, the Rodian dancer. She easily has the best and most complex sculpt of the three dancers. Not only did Hasbro give her a really cool head sculpt, but they textured her entire body with creepy Rodian skin. They also did a particularly nice job with her outfit, or at least what little there is of it. In addition to the sash and bikini top, you get her bracelets, anklets, and necklace all impressively recreated for a figure from this time. You also have to love that mohawk that runs all the way down her back. Having read her backstory, I’m genuinely surprised to find that Greeata was not Greedo’s sister. That sounds like something the Expanded Universe couldn’t help itself from doing.

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Last of is Lyn Me who is the Twi’lek. This figure should have been my favorite of the bunch, because I have a thing for Twi’lek slave dancers. See above Rule 34. Unfortunately, she comes out at the bottom of the trio for me. She looks rather stocky and it’s really hard to get her to stand without bending her over a bit. I appreciate that the wraps that make up her costume are all part of the sculpt, but the paint is a little sloppy. The head sculpt is Ok, but I think it could have been better. Lyn Me had some sort of crush on Boba Fett and followed him to Tatooine. I wonder what she thought of him macking on Rystall?

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All in all, these dancers are pretty cool figures, although they’re fun factor is curtailed by the fact that their all a bit pre-posed. With their arms held straight and each one tossing their hip, there’s little you can do with them other than stand them in a line in your Jabba display in the manner in which they were packaged. Even the standard 5-points of articulation and added waist swivels don’t help that much. Still they serve as some decent window dressing.

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Of course, even after three days and ten figures, I’m still not done yet. Jabba was quite the patron of the arts and there are more musicians to cover. Rest assured I’ll be revisiting this series in the future, as I’ve yet to touch on the percussion section of Jabba’s orchestra and I’ll probably throw in the POTF2 Oola for good measure. I should be getting a couple of boxes of my old stuff shipped from my brother in a few weeks that may or may not contain a cornucopia of Star Wars figures. It’ll be kind of nice to see more Star Wars features around here.