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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Marvel Toybox: Thor by Disney

It’s Day Four of Marvel Week, and I got rather long winded yesterday, so I’m going to tone things down today with a simpler (and mercifully shorter!) review, but one that I’ve been rather excited to get to. You may remember a little thing called Disney Infinity. It was one of those Toys-To-Life things, which allowed you to collect figures and use them in a video game world. I freaking loved Disney Infinity! Seriously… just look at this shit!

This doesn’t even include the ones I bought at the end that I haven’t even opened yet. I collected a ton of the figures, I’ve spent time playing them all, and I’ve lost countless hours in the Toybox designing bullshit levels, and maybe a couple of good ones. Infinity had a good run with three different releases spanning dozens of figures and incorporating both Marvel and Star Wars before Disney finally pulled the plug. And now in a move that I never in a million years could have seen coming, Disney has introduced a series of articulated action figures based on those Infinity designs. HOLY SHIT, I AM SO ON BOARD FOR THIS!!!! Let’s check out the first figure in the Marvel Toybox lone… The Mighty Thor!

The packaging is about as basic as you can get. The figure comes in a large bubble on an unassuming card. It gives you a great look at what you’re getting, but there isn’t much else in the way of artwork of flashy presentation to tempt you. Seriously, Disney, for a company that is basically based on artwork, you kind of dropped the ball on this package design. But that’s OK. It just makes me not feel guilty about shredding it to get to my figure. The back of the package shows off four other figures in the Marvel Toybox series, including Hulk, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. And yes, there’s also a Star Wars Toybox Series, and I’ll be checking one of those figures out next week!

If you compare Toybox Thor to the original Infinity figure, you can see that Hasbro made some tweaks to Thor’s design, but this is still undoubtedly the same style. He’s lost a helmet, gained a beard, and the piping on his armor has changed from yellow to blue. With all that being said, I love what they did with the design and it’s hard to believe that I’m actually holding an articulated Infinity figure. The sculpted detail is kept to a minimum to preserve the simple animated look, but all the important stuff is still there, like the discs on his armor, the wraps on his boots, and all that chiseled Asgardian muscle. I also really dig the head sculpt. The coif of hair is cast in a separate piece of plastic, crowning his rather perturbed expression. He looks like someone just nicked his tankard of ale. The paint applications on the face are pretty clean too!

The rest of the coloring on the figure appears to be achieved mostly through colored plastic, but there are some paint applications as well. Overall, the paint is clean, but I should note that my figure had two rather unsightly paint drips on the right boot, but I was eventually able to get these off with some water and a Qtip. The cape is made of a fairly soft and pliable plastic and lifts easily away from the figure to allow for those wide stances.

Thor comes with one accessory, and yes it is Mjolnir. The mighty hammer is a solid chunk of plastic with a sculpted wrap grip, which can fit securely in The Thunder God’s right hand.

The articulation here is pretty good, but the stylized sculpt does restrict the range of motion on some of the points. Thor features rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees. The hips are ball jointed, the ankles are hinged, there’s a swivel in the waist, and the neck is ball jointed. The elbow and knees are somewhat limited, which can be a little frustrating. Also, the sculpted hair makes it so the head can only turn side to side a bit. Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had here. He’s just so solid and chunky and fun to play around with!

 

Wow, was this a pleasant surprise! These Toybox figures seemed to come out of nowhere, and I just recently discovered them because someone sent me a link. They appear to be Disney Store Exclusives, at least that’s where I found and ordered mine. They run $12.99 each, which feels about right for what you’re getting. I have no frame of reference for how well Disney’s exclusive toys sell, but I can promise you that I’ll be doing everything I can to support this line and keep it going. And as for now, I can see Thor will probably be residing on my desk for a little while, because I’m having a hard time putting him down.

Marvel Premier Collection: Gamora by Diamond Select

It’s Day Two of Marvel Week and today I thought we’d give the action figures a rest and open up a statue from Diamond Select’s Marvel Premier Collection. These are roughly Sixth-Scale resin statues, mostly based on modern appearances of the characters. I only own one other piece from this line, the Clayburn Moore sculpt of Spider-Gwen, and I was pretty happy with her. Picking up Gamora here seemed like a no-brainer, especially since I was able to get a pretty decent deal on her. Let’s check out the most dangerous woman in the Universe!

Gamora comes in a fully enclosed box with photos of the statue on all four panels and features the “Guardians of the Galaxy” logo and calls out that it was sculpted by the wonderful and prolific Jean St. Jean. The presentation here is very serviceable, but not all that appealing from an artistic standpoint. It feels like the box layout was thrown together pretty quickly. That’s not really a sticking point for me, as I just keep my statue boxes for the possibility of future storage, moving, or god forbid… resale. Inside the box, you get a colorful card showing the limitation as well as the number of the statue in the box. Gamora is wrapped in plastic and encased between two styrofoam bricks, and she comes fully assembled and all ready for display.

Standing about 12-inches tall, Gamora is based on her more recent look in the pages of Marvel Comics and wearing her white space space armor. Some fans refer to this as her “Stormtrooper Armor” and I think the comparison is fairly valid. It’s quite a departure from her more revealing classic outfits, but it still shows off her shapely curves, and I’ll confess to being a fan of this new look the very first time I saw it. The pose here is pretty conservative. Gamora stands on an alien landscape with a rather intimidating rifle cradled in her arms (What? No Sword?), and her long hair blowing in the breeze. The heel of her left foot is raised giving the piece just a little hint of anticipated action. Overall, I like what we got here, but then I tend favor “museum-style” poses in favor of the more dynamic stuff. It’s not that I don’t like action poses, but they tend to have a better chance of going wrong.

Every last detail on this statue is incorporated into the actual sculpt, and this is particularly apparent in the cut panel lines that run throughout the armor. There’s a nice sense of depth between the armor plates and the underlying black suit, and you also get some ribbed sections along the top of her back and underarms. The panel lines are neatly painted in black and you get some pale gray panels, as well as some crimson accents. I have no complaints about the quality of the paint on this piece. The lines are reasonably sharp, and there are no apparent flubs. What’s more, the application is even and there are no visible brush strokes. The whole suit gives me a strong Mass Effect vibe, which isn’t a bad thing as I happen to dig the aesthetics of those games… well three of them, at least.

I love the way the portrait came out. Her face is flawless and beautiful and even the painted patches around her eyes are part of the sculpt. I just adore the shape of her nose and the ridge leading down to her lips. No, I don’t have some creepy nose thing, I just appreciate how good it looks. The pupil-less white eyes are rather mesmerizing and they used a nice, rich red paint for her lips. The hair sculpt is good, albeit a bit on the chunky side. It looks like it was sculpted from a separate piece, which gives her a clean hairline. The downside to the hair blowing off to the side is it limits the options for display angles. She looks great from the front or turned a bit to her right, but it means that the right side of the statue is closed for business. Hey, most statues have an intended “sweet spot” for display, and I’d say this one has at least a few.

Gamora’s  rifle features a rather boxy and utilitarian design that emphasizes function over form. I can dig that as it makes it appear more like a legitimate piece of military hardware. The black and gray deco gives it a convincingly realistic finish, and it’s equipped with what looks like a magazine, but maybe it’s a battery pack, and a scope. Gamora practices poor trigger discipline, but then I’d kind of expect that from her. It’s what makes her so dangerous!

The rocky alien landscape they did for the base looks great. They packed all kinds of little details in the rocks and terrain and the brownish-orange paint gives it a hint of Mars. If you look closely enough, you can see that they sculpted panel lines on the bottoms of her boots. The alien landscape is placed on a raised, circular platform.

The bottom of the base features the declaration of limitation. In this case, mine is 153 of 3,000. I think that’s one of the lowest numbers I’ve ever gotten on one of these things!

The Marvel Premier Statues tend to have an MSRP of around $130, but Gamora is available on Amazon at the time I’m writing this for well under $100. I’m always glad to save money, but I would have been perfectly happy with this piece had I picked it up at full price. The modern costume might not be for everyone, but I can appreciate her new look, and the artistry and craftsmanship on display here are both excellent. Tomorrow, I’ll keep this Marvel Week rolling along and turn my attention back to Hasbro’s Legends line!

Marvel Comics: Quarter-Scale Deadpool by NECA

I know, yesterday was Marvel Monday, and that’s the day I set aside for all my Marvel Comics toy rambling, but sometimes I’ve got to make exceptions, and NECA’s amazing Quarter-Scale Deadpool seems like one of those times. While this is certainly not NECA’s first Marvel character in this enormous scale, previous efforts, like Iron Man and Captain America, have been grounded in the MCU. On the other hand, Wade Wilson here represents their first foray into the comic-based characters, and I was really excited to see what NECA would do with it. You think you can handle 18-inches of rock hard ‘Pool? Well, I know my little photo stage can’t, so pardon me while I go make some modifications to accommodate this beast of a figure.

The line is called EPIC MARVEL and Deadpool is appropriately Figure #00. The massive figure comes in a standard window box, much like previous releases, but this time it’s positively littered with art, quotes, and gags befitting The Merc With A Mouth. Before I even opened the figure, I had a great time looking over every square inch at the box to see all the creative stuff they plastered on it. Putting this much effort into the packaging art is love of the craft, plain and simple, and nobody does it quite like NECA. I have looked at several of NECA’s Quarter-Scale figures before, but if you’re new to this line and want a little help conceptualizing how big this figure really is, check out a shot of the box next to Hasbro’s 6-inch Marvel Legends Deadpool…

Yeah. It’s big! The package is collector friendly up to a point. You can get the figure out by clipping all those wire ties, but the accessories are all sealed to the sides of the cardboard tray with bubbles. This is unfortunate, because there’s a lot of great art on the inside of the tray too, and while some time, patience, and careful slicing with a razor can get these pieces out with minimal damage, it’s not really ideal for preserving the packaging. I tend to keep these figures in their boxes, so I spent a lot of time getting the accessories out. But now that he’s out, let’s start with the figure itself…

Sweet Chimichanga-Eatin’ Jesus… Just check him out! As I already mentioned, this design is based on the character’s comic book appearances, but clearly NECA had some artistic license when designing him, similar to what Sideshow did with their Sixth-Scale ‘Pool. The design here is absolutely superb and the way its conveyed in the sculpt is pure poetry. The suit itself is a mix of textured matte red plastic, some smooth black matte plastic, and some high gloss black paint on the shoulders. Frankly, I think the shoulders might have looked better left matte like the rest, but it still looks fine. There’s so much detail here that I’m just going to take us on a tour around Deadpool’s magnificent body and call out some of the highlights. Where better to start than with…

The crotch! It wouldn’t be Deadpool without a ton of pouches and he’s got a nice selection of these on his belt for storing his tchotchkes, Kleenix, Polaroids of Siryn sleeping, and Bea Arthur’s toenail clippings. There’s more sculpted detail on any one of these pouches than your average off-the-peg 3 3/4-inch action figure. All the eyelets and fasteners are painted in metallic silver, and you get a nice wash over the brown to make them look like rich Corinthian leather. He also has his signature Deadpool belt-buckle and some canister grenades. This shot also gives a nice view of the texturing on his uniform as well as his manly ‘Pool bulge.

If we come around a bit to check out his right thigh, we can see some more pouches and the holster for his sidearm. The sculpted straps look great, along with more silver painted fixtures. I like the brush marks on the panels of the holster itself, and the sculpted screw heads.

Just below his holster is a sheath for his knife. Again, nice job here on the sculpted screws and paint. It all looks really convincing.

Checking out Deadpool from the back shows off his impressive sword rig. The crossed scabbards hold his twin katanas as well as a sai. The sword rig is the one real complaint I have with this figure. It’s held on with two pegs and thick tabs that fit into recessed areas on his back. I found it a little tough to get it in all the way, especially with some fear of snapping those little pegs. It seems to work best on my figure when I put the bottom peg in first, then insert the top, and press the whole thing in as hard as I can. It seems to hold fine when he’s standing there on display, but when I’m playing around with him, it will tend to pop out again. To avoid frustration, I’ve found it best to take it off when messing around with him a lot.

And just to show you how much love and attention NECA put into this guy, check out the soles of his boots. God, I love this!

And here’s a shot of Deadpool’s handsome mug. The mask features some wonderful depth to the sculpt, from the texturing to the tiny rivets, and the recessed eye panels. You also get a very expressive look, with his one eye popped and the other eye squinting and his brow rumpled. Some might cry foul that there’s only one noggin in the box, but I can easily forgive that when I consider how many other goodies are included with the figure. But before I get to all the accessories, let’s do a run down on the articulation…

The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinges in the elbows. The legs feature rotating hinges in the hips, swivels in the thighs and double hinges in the knees. The ankles are hinged, have lateral rockers, and the feet are hinged about halfway to the toes. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is ball jointed. The joints on this guy feel fantastic and he’s a lot of fun to pose, although sometimes it feels like wrestling with a small child, because he’s just so damn big. He’s also extremely well balanced. I hardly have any trouble getting him to stay standing no matter what pose I put him in.

Deadpool comes with a total of seven different hands, most of which are tailored specifically for holding his various weapons. Although you do get this sweet left hand with his branded knuckles. Oh, Deadpool, don’t ever change. Let’s look at some guns…

‘Pools prolific arsenal of prodigious pew-pews includes a pistol, a sub-machine gun, and an assault rifle.

The pistol reminds me of RoboCop’s Auto 9, which was a modified Beretta 93R. I love the design of this thing and the sculpt is outrageous. It’s cast in black matte plastic and features some silver paint apps. It’s an entirely static piece, so there’s no working action or removable clip. It’s interesting that NECA went with a single distinctive pistol like this, rather than the usual twin automatics that we often seen Deadpool wielding. I’m actually glad they went this route as it just makes this version of the character all the more distinctive.

The sub-machine gun is another great looking weapon. Like the pistol, it’s cast in black plastic, and is static with no moving parts or removable clip. It does, however, have some great notations by Deadpool on one side and ‘Pool’s symbol stamped on the other. Oh yeah, there’s even a tiny Deadpool charm hanging off the back sling ring.

And the final entry for the guns is this assault rifle fitted with a scope and a grenade launcher. This sucker has a lot of character and includes some sculpted and painted tape on the stock, a couple of magazines taped together to one side and another pair of magazines, which are removable. All three of these weapons make for a strong statement, but sometimes you want to add a little personal touch to your killing, and that’s where the edged weapons come in handy…

‘Pool’s assortment of cutlery includes his twin katanas, a sai, and a fixed blade knife.

The sai is very simple, although it does have a cool sculpted wrap handle and I really love how it has that hole in his scabbard rig for storage.

The fixed-blade knife is a marvelous little piece. The detail on the grips is amazing. I do, however, find it to be a little diminutive for Deadpool. I doubt I will display him holding it very often, but it sure looks great in the sheath on his leg.

His katanas are really the showpiece here. They feature fully sculpted wrapped hilts with a red and black pattern, because Deadpool knows how important it is to accessorize. The tsubas are also fashioned to look like Deadpool’s iconic symbol. The blades are beautifully painted in metallic silver and feature some Japanese lettering sculpted right into the blades. These fit perfectly in the scabbards, are easy to draw, and he’s got a pair of hands that grip them splendidly.

Deadpool retails at $109 and I’ve got to say that’s a mighty good value for what you’re getting here. The figure alone is an absolute work of art and uses a full four pounds of plastic. Add to that plenty of great articulation and a ton of extras and it’s easy to see where all the money went in a release like this. It’s also easy to see where all the love went. Quarter-Pool feels like nothing less than a passion project, which granted is the case with a lot of NECA’s releases. With four of these Quarter-Scales already on my shelf, I have to be careful about how many I buy. Space is always a premium for me, but Deadpool here was an instant purchase the moment I saw him.

Marvel Premier Collection: Spider-Gwen by Diamond Select

With how many piles of Marvel Legends figures I have lying around this place and waiting to be opened, I really shouldn’t be taking any detours. Maybe in the future, I’ll start covering other Marvel stuff on different days, but for now, let’s take a brief hiatus from the Legends landslide and have a look at a new statue that landed at my door a few weeks back. This is my very first foray into DST’s Marvel Premier Collection, as I just could not resist another Spider-Gwen piece for my shelf. At the same time, I’ve been an admirer of Clayburn Moore’s work for a long time and while I have some figures he’s worked on, I really wanted one of his statues in my collection.

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This is a pretty sizable box, made all the more impressive by its width. And that’s understandable because the statue is pretty big. While the back of the box claims she’s 12-inches tall, she’s actually closer to 14-inches. She’s not quite Sixth Scale, as the base elevates her quite a bit, but between her height and the fact that her arms are stretched out in opposite directions, she has quite the presence. The box is fully enclosed with lots of pictures of the statue and features a sticker with the limitation on it. Inside the box, the resin cast statue comes wrapped in plastic and encased between two styrofoam bricks. The only assembly required is plugging the figure into the base via a metal post in the left foot.

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All set up, Gwen makes for an impressive display piece. Moore is an accomplished sculptor when it comes to the human form, particularly the ladies, and it certainly shows here. The composition is one of the things that drew me to this statue when I first saw it and I just love the balance of this piece. Gwen stands on the pedestal on her tip toes with her right leg drawn up. She’s bending forward and reaching out her right hand, ready to THWIP! and her left hand is stretched out behind her.

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Because Gwen’s costume is fairly simple, the bulk of the sculpted detail here comes in the definition of her muscles. It’s particularly well done in her thighs, back, and abdomen. You do get some sculpted detail in the web pattern cut-outs on her arms and under-arms. Of course, she’s got curves in all the right places, too!

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Likewise, Gwen’s outfit doesn’t require a whole lot of detailed paint work. It’s mostly black and white with turquoise used for her slippers and purple and turquoise used for the web patterns. The paint applications here are overall very good. The lines are fairly sharp and the white paint is very clean, even, and vibrant. The paint we get in the production piece is never as good as the promotional pics, but the work here is still solid.

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The portrait is pure Clayburn Moore. Once you know his work, it’s impossible not to spot it a mile away. I find that people tend to either love it or hate it, but I place him up there with J. Scott Campbell in terms of sheer distinctiveness of style. So, yeah, I’m a big fan. Here you get more of the web pattern inside her hood and her hair is blowing off to the side as she gazes upward and looks for a target for her the web she’s about to shoot. As with the costume, the paint here is pretty solid. I’d say the eyes could be a little more evenly applied, but the lips are sharp and I really like the warmth conveyed in her complexion.

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The base is a simple pedestal painted to look like cracked marble with a metallic purple middle and more painted webs to match Gwen’s costume. The statue is hand numbered on the bottom. Mine is 2,427 of 3,000. It’s by no means a strict limitation, and yet considerably less than that of DC Collectibles Cover Girls runs.

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As I said in the beginning, Gwen is my first foray into DST’s Marvel Premier Collection and I’m very pleased with how she turned out. This isn’t a very expansive line right now, but there are a few other pieces I’m interested in, particularly their 90’s Rogue and modern take on Gamora. Whether or not I can fit those in the budget next year, however, remains to be seen. The last thing I really need to do is to start collecting another line of statues. With that having been said, Diamond released Gwen with an MSRP of about $130, but I was able to pick mine up for a little under $100 and that felt like a solid deal. I feel as if she’s roughly comparable in quality to DCC’s cold cast porcelain offerings, although she is a lot bigger. Not the trick is to find a shelf for her to live on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ant-Man 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, we already had Marvel Monday, but I didn’t want to interrupt my progress getting through the stacks of Legends figures in the corner. So, I decided to double up on Marvel content this week, because I’m also starting to fall behind on featuring my Marvel Hot Toys. Vision just turned up at my door this past weekend, and I’m pretty excited to check him out. I really dig what they did with the character in the film, although had they managed to keep him a secret, it would have completely blown me away when I saw it. Seriously, when he emerged from the casket, I probably would have screamed like a girl and rabbit kicked the seat in front of me in sheer delight. On second thought, probably better that they spoiled it.

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I have very little to say about the box, other then it’s the same window box with a sleeve around it that we saw with Age of Ultron Hawkeye. You get the usual character art, in this case a great shot of Paul Bettany looking every bit the part, and I like that the deco matches the packages for the other figures in this series. So, yeah, it’s attractive and serviceable, but it doesn’t feel up to par with the kind of presentation that a $220 figure warrants.

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Vision comes out of the box and ready to go. This is a relatively simple, but beautiful figure through and through. The rubbery body suit looks similar to what Hot Toys did for Man of Steel Superman, a figure which I admired a lot, but couldn’t bring myself to buy because I despised the film so much. The suit fits Vision perfectly and it strikes a nice balance between allowing for a surprising amount of articulation and still being tight enough to show the anatomy of the figure beneath it. The stitching is well concealed and while it can require some adjusting after re-positioning the arms and legs, it’s easy to get back into it’s natural state.  You get some nice piping throughout the suit and the coloring, along with the different tones of red patterns, looks perfect to me. The texturing on the suit is also quite striking.

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In addition to the suit itself, you get the plastic gorget around the neck, along with the wrist bracers, all of which are cast in plastic and painted with some sumptuous gold and a vibrant, metallic shade of… I’m not sure what to call this… magenta? Either way it’s beautiful. The boots are similarly colored, although a little closer to maroon and since the feet peg into the legs, and the upper part of the boots are sleeves, they allow for a decent amount of articulation in the ankles.

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The cape… oh boy, am I torn on this cape! Taken on it’s own It think it looks great on the figure. it has an interesting, almost Art Deco pattern printed throughout and it’s pleated where it attaches to the figure so that it’s natural state is almost entirely collapsed behind the figure. Overall, I like it. On the other hand… as a recreation of the cape we saw Vision wearing in the film, it’s a complete failure. Now, I’m pretty sure that cape was CG, so I’m willing to cut Hot Toys some slack here, but given the price of this figure, I think they could have gone for a material more like silk, which would have better approximated the on screen look. With all that having been said, this cape features some wires running through the edges that does allow it to work with some dynamic poses.

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While I may take issue with the cape, I’ve got no such qualms about the portrait. I was really interested to see how this one was going to turn out, as Hot Toys have more or less nailed the human element and skin tones of their figure portraits, but here was something entirely different. I’m not sure whether this qualified as being easier or more difficult, but whatever the case I am very pleased with the result. This is most definitely Bettany in the make up. The sculpt is beautifully realized from the panel lining right down to the subtle texturing around the eyes. And those eyes definitely contain that eerie Hot Toys spark of life. As for the rest of the head, you get more of that gorgeous magenta paint along with some green to match the suit. I would have really liked to see a light up feature in the Infinity Stone. At a price like this, I think that was warranted.

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In terms of accessories, well… we aren’t talking a heck of a lot. You get the usual parade of hands… four pairs total. In this case it’s a pair of relaxed hands, a pair of splayed hands, a pair of fists, and a pair to hold Mjolnir… which conveniently brings us to the only other accessory…

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Mjolnir is most likely re-purposed from one of the recent Thor figures, presumably the most recent Age of Ultron release. I only own the original Avengers Thor release from way back when and it has some notable differences from the hammer that came with that figure. It’s still diecast and it still has the lanyard. The biggest differences are in the handle sculpt. I won’t say it’s better or worse, just different. I love that Hot Toys included Mjolnir with the figure, particularly because of the way it was used in the film. The early scene where they’re establishing the link between worthiness and being able to lift the hammer seems to be played for laughs, but then it cleverly comes back to establish trust in Vision later on. Brilliantly done and to be honest, I can’t think of any other accessories that could have been included here.

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Vision comes with the new(ish) type of stand that was introduced to the Marvel figures with Guardians of the Galaxy and Age of Ultron. These are bigger and classier looking than the old style, which is both good and bad. From a presentation standpoint, I feel these offer more value. They’re sturdier, have nicer name plates, and while some have balked at the stickers, I think they look fine. On the downside, these do take up more real estate on my shelves and my OCD doesn’t like that they don’t match the older figures. This one, however, has the nice bonus of offering a swap-out flight stand with waist grabber…

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This is similar to the one that came with my Winter Soldier Falcon figure only not quite as long. The stands are easy to swap out from the base and yet they hold very firm. Considering how light the accessories are with this figure, I’m glad Hot Toys decided to include this. It does help justify where some of the extra money went.

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I really am in love with this figure, even though the cape keeps it from being perfect. Granted, there have been third-party capes produced for Hot Toys figures before and here would be a great opportunity for another. Then again, I’m usually too much of a pussy to try even simple custom jobs on these figures, so I’m happy to leave it the way it is, because I truly don’t mind the way it looks on the figure, only that it doesn’t look screen accurate to the film. Everything else about Vision is beautifully crafted and he really pops on the shelf even when surrounded by his fellow Avengers. As for the price, Vision retails at $220, which is pretty much the low end of the spectrum for Hot Toys pricing these days. Unless your Quicksilver, in that case they knocked another ten off because he’s Quicksilver. I shouldn’t poke fun at it, because I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t considering him as a purchase, if nothing else as a companion piece ot the next Hot Toys figure I’ll be looking at… Age of Ultron Scarlet Witch. Hopefully next week…

Iron Man: Movie Masterpiece Diecast Mark III Armor (MMS 256 D07) 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

I’ve got more Hot Toys business to take care of before returning Marvel Mondays to its regularly scheduled parade of Marvel Legends figures. Actually, it might be a couple more weeks before I get back to Legends, which is fine because I’m at least a couple of waves behind and it’ll give me a chance to get caught up. Today, I’m looking at a figure that’s been on my shelf for a little while now, but I’ve only recently got the time to give its proper due. It’s Iron Man, a character that Hot Toys must thank god for every day because they’ve probably made enough money off of Tony Stark to buy themselves a small chain of islands.

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This is only my second figure in Hot Toys’ Diecast Series, the first being Robocop. The packaging here is very similar. You get a snazzy laminate top with line drawings of the armor. I really dig the art design on this package. In fact, I’d dare say it’s my favorite box out of any of my Hot Toys figures. The top three-quarters or so of the box lifts off to reveal the styrofoam cube that holds the goods quite securely. The sheer weight of the box is certainly impressive and this definitely feels like a package befitting of a $300 collectible. The original version of this figure came out in 2008 and was all plastic, so we can only assume that Hot Toys is going to be double dipping on as many of these armors as possible by upgrading them to diecast. After all, they couldn’t milk that House Party Protocol shit forever.

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Here it is, the armor that started it all. Well, sort of. The Mark I was the DIY monstrocity that Tony built in the cave, and the Mark II was the bare metal predecessor to this suit. But here’s the first armor worn by Tony Stark that bore the iconic red and gold in the MCU. While I was really partial to the Mark VII for a while, I always come back to this one as my favorite. I think it’s the lovely contours and less angular nature of the design that really does it for me. It’s not overly busy, it’s well proportioned, has clean lines, and the deco has just the right mix of red and gold in it for my liking. The base figure is stunning and it’s the paint that grabs my attention first. This is as close to a new car finish as one can imagine and the quality control here is stellar. There isn’t a blemish to be found on my figure’s paint to speak of and that in itself is rather impressive. In hand, the figure has a satisfying heft to it, even if most of what you’re touching when you handle the figure is plastic. About the only thing here to dispel the illusion that this is a shrunk down Mark III armor are the three screws visible on the back needed to access the battery compartments.

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There are plenty of little bells and whistles on the suit to enhance its display options. The chest piece and lower abdomen plate are removable to show off the beautiful detail under the armor. These are both held on by tabs and are pretty easy to remove and yet stay firmly in place when handling the figure. The flaps on the upper back are all articulated and can lift up. And the back of the lower legs are also hinged and can be opened to reveal all the mechanical intricacies of the suit’s inner workings. I can’t imagine actually displaying the figure with any of these opened, but it makes for a wonderful experience when handling the figure or showing it off to friends. Of course, these parts also demand extra care when playing around with the suit.

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The helmet looks outstanding and I really dig the exposed linkages around the “collar.” The faceplate is held on by magnets and can be removed to access the switch for the helmet lights. Of course, if you’d rather go with the Tony Stark open helmet look, this figure has you covered with an alternate head.

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It’s a simple ball joint pop-and-swap and very easy to do. The portrait here is excellent, but then again, Hot Toys has been doing enough Tony Starks at this point that their sculptors should be able to do his likeness in their sleep. This head also comes with a magnetic faceplate, which can be attached to the top so that it appears “flipped up.” While the visor is intended to sit on top of the helmet,  it can also be placed over the face for a closed helmet look, but it’s not a perfect fit and leaves a slight gap down near where the mouth is. Even with the tiny gap, though, I think it’s an acceptable option, particularly if you want to go from a closed to open look without bothering with the head swap. Of course, with the alternate head you won’t get the option for the eye lights.

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Speaking of lights, the Mark III has four separate light points on the figure: The Repulsor Beams in the palms, the Arc Reactor in the chest, and the eyes in the head. Each of these have their own independent battery compartment and on/off switch. The switches for the helmet and chest are concealed behind plates, while the ones for the hands are fairly well hidden under the forearms. The lights are pretty bright and visible even in a well lit studio. I also appreciate the fact that they were able to make the Repulsor Beams light up and still keep the swappable hands. There are a total of three pairs of hands. You get one set of fists (non-lit), one set with individually articulated fingers, and one set of open palm angled up to simulate him firing his Repulsors.

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The articulation on the figure is quite good, but it requires a lot of care. There are plates on the shoulders and hips that are attached to hinged flaps to keep them from hindering the limb movement, but it’s pretty important to work these out of the way manually as you pose the limbs. The care is not only to prevent paint scrapes, but to protect the potentially fragile hinges on the plates themselves. The result is that as satisfying as the articulation can be, moving each point can sometimes feel like an event in itself. The engineering, however, is designed to help as much as possible. The arms will pull away from the shoulders to allow for some clearance and the legs will actually pop completely off of the hip ball joints to avoid breakage. Of course even with all these points of articulation, it would still be physically impossible to get the suit into the iconic ground-pound pose. But fear not, because Hot Toys went above and beyond to accommodate by providing an extra lower torso that’s bent in a way to allow for the ground-pound. I love that they did this, but it’s quite a lot to go through and my personal results were a little lacking.

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Hmmmm. It’s close… but not quite. Now I’ll concede I have seen plenty of pictures of this figure in a perfect ground-pound. It’s definitely capable of it, but I just wasn’t willing to risk my figure to try to get a pose for a couple of shots. Indeed, I doubt I’d ever go through the trouble to try again. The process involves removing both plates from the front torso, then pushing a release button to wiggle off the top of the torso, so you’re basically pulling the figure into two halves. The first time I did it, it was a nerve-racking experience, because I just didn’t know how much force I was supposed to be exerting to get the figure apart. Next another release button detaches the lower torso. Now you pop in the new lower torso, put the two halves of the figure together, replace the front torso plates, and do some very scary extreme posing of the left hip to bring the knee up as high as it will go. Now, everything goes back on really easy, and a subsequent attempt at the process was less stressful because I knew what was going to happen, but there’s still the fear of damaging something when grasping the figure tightly enough to do all this. There are just so many moving parts on the figure and so much potential for breakage. In the end, I appreciate the effort, but I’m content to leave it at that.

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The rest of the figure’s accessories include optional display pieces featuring his various deployed weapon systems. You get the shoulder missile packs, the countermeasure systems on the hips, and arm rockets. The shoulder packs look great and are hinged for elevated targeting. The hip pieces are a nice touch, but it’s a rather subtle change. The shoulder packs are super easy to swap out, whereas the hip pieces can be a little stubborn to remove.

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The arm rockets are my favorite of the three weapon systems. I love the way they make the plates look like they actually shifted and the paintwork on the little rockets is beautiful.

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The figure comes with a very impressive stand. It’s designed to look like one of the alcoves in the Hall of Armor, complete with sculpted areas where the feet go. You get a very strong post with a waist grip that is spring-loaded and features foam to gently grasp the figure. The base even lights up. As magnificent as the stand is, I’m rather torn on it. It works great for a totally stiff, museum style pose, but it’s very singular in its intended purpose. If you want to go for something more exciting, the placement of the feet on the stand comes off looking awkward.

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The Diecast Series figures run right around the $300 point. This figure was actually $309. When you consider that the average Hot Toy figure is hitting the $220-250 mark these days, I don’t think the increase in price is all that bad for what you’re getting. Granted, I only have this one and Robocop, but keep in mind the $300 range is about as high end as I get, and both figures have left me more than satisfied. Indeed, both figures are absolute works of art and I’d consider them the finest pieces in my collection. And if there was ever a perfect example of why my Hot Toys Marvel collection is a rather eclectic collection of appearances, the Mark III here is it. There’s no way I can afford every release of every character and so I try to curate my favorite versions and appearances. That’s why I have a First Avenger Cap over an Avengers Cap and that’s why this is the first Iron Man armor I bought. That doesn’t mean I won’t be looking at the Civil War suit in the upcoming year and depending what my financials look like at the time, I’d be open to getting a Diecast Mark VII if and when Hot Toys ever gets around to it.

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

Marvel Legends has been totally dominating Marvel Mondays lately, so let’s go for something different today. I was really hoping to be looking at Hot Toys’ Scarlet Witch right around now, but they keep bumping her back and now it looks like March is Wanda’s new target date. So, let’s look at Hawkeye instead. This figure has been out for a little while now, but the fact that it took me this long to get to him shouldn’t be taken as an indicator of any lack of love for the character or Renner’s portrayal of him in Age of Ultron. He had a lot of great moments in the film and they were well deserved considering he spend so much of the first Avengers as a brain-washed Loki-lackey. It was nice to see him take the center stage for some of the new film and considering how expensive the first release has become on the secondary market, this is a release that really needed to be out there.

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While I’m no stranger to Marvel Hot Toys, this is my first HT figure from the Age of Ultron film, so the package design is new to me. The figure comes in a window box with an illustrated sleeve wrapped around it. I do prefer the shoebox style as they tended to be more durable and feel more like premium packaging. This isn’t bad, though, and honestly I really just keep the packaging as a place to hold all those extra bits that never make it to display. The front of the sleeve has a picture of Hawkeye in action with the Age of Ultron logo and points out that this figure is #289 of the Movie Masterpiece Series. There are a lot of goodies in this box, so let’s get started with a look at the figure itself.

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Hawkeye sported two costumes in Age of Ultron, one being close to his original Avengers look and the other being this snazzy new jacket. I like this look a lot, as it’s sort of a mix between a trench coat and a modern take on the medieval arming coats worn by archers in the old days. The tailoring on the new outfit is superb right down to the reinforced sleeves (complete with straps and buckles) and the T-shirt he wears under the jacket. The zipper is a bit big, something that Hot Toys still struggles with, but it’s mostly concealed under the flap, so it’s not an eyesore. The extra padding on the jacket looks great, as does the purple nods to the character’s comic costume. I was afraid that the bulky jacket would be puffy and restrictive, but it’s neither. It’s a beautiful form-fit for the figure and as far as costumes go, this is one of the least restrictive outfits that I’ve seen on a Hot Toys figure in a while.

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The back of the jacket has another zipper, which I find is best left undone to allow for a wider range of hip movement. Also, there’s a cool mesh liner that can be seen through the gap, which just furthers my respect for whoever tailored this thing. The jacket also features a plate to attach the quiver. The pants are also beautifully done, with knee pads and reinforced patches, and the boots exhibit some great sculpting, especially in the laces . While technically accessories, the speed-loaders are as much a part of the costume as anything else. These are magnetic pieces that adhere to the outside of the boots. They stay on quite well unless you bump them, but occasionally I had to re-position them while I was posing the figure.

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The portrait on the original Hot Toys Hawkeye was pretty damn good, and I think this one pushes the envelope a little further. As with all of Hot Toys’ portraits, they tend to have a certain sweet spot that really drives the likeness home, but I’m pretty satisfied with this one all across the board. The realism in the skin tone is downright eerie and I especially like the hint of five-o’clock shadow. Very nice.

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If you prefer your Hawkeye with shades, there is a pair included with the accessories and they fit the figure perfectly. I’m really tempted to go with these as my default display, but then I feel guilty covering up any part of the hard work they did on the face sculpt and paint. Moving on to the rest of the accessories…

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Holy crap, look at all this stuff! In addition to three sets of hands (What? Only six hands? Oh, Hot Toys, you’re slipping!) You get a regular bow, a collapsed bow, two pieces that make up the quiver, a crazy number of arrows and shafts, an assortment of three basic tips, and another assortment of Clint’s “special” arrow tips, which include the one he used on Scarlet Witch when she tried to fiddle with his brain. At first, I thought a lot of this stuff was extra, but by the time I was done filling the quiver, I was left with one arrow for the outside slot and one for Clint to knock into the bow, plus the specialty tips.

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It takes a while to load up the quiver, but the end result looks amazing. The instructions show you how to position everything and since all the tips are removable, you can customize them to your heart’s content. Twelve of the arrows are complete arrows, and eight are just shafts to fill out the quiver. Once the arrows are all loaded, the two halves go together with the help of magnets and some pegs. The entire thing then slots into the plate on the jacket making it very easy to attach and remove. All the complexity and effort that went into the quiver is one of the things that really make these figures shine. They could have just as easily just sculpted the quivers and arrows as one piece and had one or two be removable, but it wouldn’t have looked anywhere near this good.

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The collapsed bow is one of those neat extras that sadly I will probably never use. It’s a beautiful piece with loads of detail and a checkered purple and black finish. The folded parts of the bow are on actual hinges too, making it really feel like it could deploy into the full weapon.

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Of course, the full bow is the baby that he’ll be displayed with and it is indeed a sexy piece of kit. It has the same checkered finish as the collapsed bow and it’s strung with just enough slack and elasticity that I’m not afraid to pose him with it drawn. Although, it’s probably not recommended to keep it drawn for long periods of time. It also functions surprisingly well. While posing him I accidentally fired off more than a few arrows and they had quite some distance on them.

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The figure comes with relaxed hands attached, but I imagine that I’ll be keeping the ones designed to work with the bow on him most of the time. My only gripe here is that the fingers designed to draw the bow doesn’t have any spaces between the fingers. As a result, you have to knock the arrow into the string above or below the hand instead of between the fingers. This is easily fixed with a straight razor cut between the fingers, but I’m not sure I’m going to do anything that extreme.

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Naturally, Hawkeye comes with a figure stand. This is the first of my Hot Toys Avengers to not feature the traditional black oval stand. Instead, it’s more in style with what they used for the Guardians of the Galaxy figures. There’s a silver name plate with the AoU logo and an illustrated surface with the Avengers “A.” I like it, it offers a lot more room to display the figure, but I’d be lying if I said the different stands on the same shelf doesn’t annoy my OCD.

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Hawkeye was the last member of the core team that was missing from my Hot Toys Avengers shelf. I didn’t start collecting these beauties until a good deal of the original Avengers figures had already sold out, so being able to finally add Hawkeye to the team is a big deal for me. He’s a fantastic figure, which usually goes without saying when it comes to this line, but more importantly, he comes with a very satisfying collection of accessories, and that’s something that’s been missing from a lot of Hot Toys’ releases lately. When you take into account all those extra bits, plus the beautifully tailored outfit and solid likeness, the $219 price point actually feels reasonable. Or at least as reasonable as you can get in the high end action figure market. I’ve certainly paid more for less. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I spent around $110 worth of Reward Points, bringing him down to a $109 steal. Now hopefully in a couple weeks, I’ll be able to revisit Hot Toys’ Age of Ultron line with a look at Scarlet Witch, with Vision due to follow on in April.