Star Trek Mega Bloks: Transporter Room by Mattel

There’s brand new Star Trek on tonight, folks, and if that isn’t cause for some special Sunday content, then I don’t know what is! I’m trying to be optimistic about Discovery, but the truth is right now I’m bracing for the worst, but hoping for the best. Either way, I’m excited! Meanwhile, I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek this weekend and I’ve been saving another one of Mattel’s Mega Bloks Star Trek sets for just the right occasion. This time it’s the The Transporter Room… Energize!

The set comes in a typical enclosed box, albeit with some sexy angled edges and I really like what they did with the presentation for this series. You get a very Classic looking Star Trek deco and logo with the 50th Anniversary insignia and some artwork featuring the completed set, which is so close to what it looks like it might as well be an actual photo. There’s also a little window in the bottom corner that displays Spock, one of the three Micro Figures included with the set.

Inside the box you get a large full-color instruction booklet and a heaping helping of unnumbered bags of bricks. Unnumbered? Yup! Mega Bloks ain’t going to coddle you like LEGO does, so you might as well just dump all those bags into a bin and mix them up, because with these builds you have to hunt through every last brick at every step of the build. In total the set includes 321 pieces. Let’s start with the Micro Figures!

The Micro Figures come already built and include Mirror Universe Kirk and Spock, although technically, I guess this is really our Universe Kirk dressed in the Mirror Universe outfit. You also get a materializing Micro Figure. I’m pretty sure that’s Kirk too, but he can pass for anyone. Also, if you take the sash off of him, he can pass for someone from our Universe as well. All of the Star Trek Micro Figures have been pretty impressive. They have decent likenesses for the scale and a surprising degree of articulation. All three figures come with gold figure bases and Spock and Kirk come with phasers. And now… on to the build!!!

Once the set is complete, you get this long strip, which works as an alternate display option. It kind of reminds me of a Classic version of the Regula-1 Transporter Room from Wrath of Khan. I think it would stand in nicely for a TOS Starbase Transporter. The control console is even built on a swivel, so you can orientate it to this configuration without having to remove it.

I’ll also point out that the set comes with back panels that have the emblem of the Terran Empire’s Imperial Starfleet printed on them, but they also provide enough to build the regular Universe Transporter and that’s the one that I went for. Oh yeah, these panels also glow in the dark, which is pretty damn cool. When you’re ready to turn it this thing into the Enterprise Transporter Room, all you do is roll it up!

And there you go! I think this thing looks really great. Granted, the layout of the pads is not accurate to the Enterprise Transporter. It has the right number of pads, but they aren’t configured in a circle like they should be. Still, I’m happy with the way it turned out and if you wanted to buy two of these, you might be able to build a more accurate one with the combined pieces. I found this build to be a lot less frustrating than the D7 Battlecruiser, although there is a little bit of repetition in building each of those triangular pad sections. Also, the top Transporter discs do not attach all that well to the support beams, so it’s not uncommon for those to fall off when handling the set. Unlike the Klingon ship, I’m happy to report that I wasn’t missing any pieces this time. Oh, and that one top piece on the right wall does fit correctly, I just didn’t snap it down properly.

The Transporter console is comprised of specially printed bricks, and I think it looks great. Probably the one thing that Mega Bloks can laud over LEGO is that they don’t use stickers, and that’s a wonderful thing. The platform in front of the console even has pegs for a Micro Figure to stand in front of it. I also like the star chart that hangs on the wall. It’s a nice touch!

The pads are re-purposed figure stands, cast in silver instead of gold, which is pretty clever, although the center one only has a single peg. I’m not really sure why they did that, but it’s no big deal. I think the materializing Micro Figure looks great displayed on one of the pads.

This set retailed at just under $40 originally, which is the same price as the D7 Battlecruiser, but with about thirty fewer pieces. On the other hand, this set had two more Micro Figures, so I guess it all balances out. I picked up mine for just under $15 when Amazon was running them on sale, and I’m pretty sure that they’re still running specials on these sets. I think they did a beautiful job with it and I appreciate the fact that they took the opportunity to pay homage to a specific episode, rather than just throw a generic set out there. There are only two more Classic Trek Mega Bloks sets left for me to pick up: The Bridge and The USS Enterprise. The Bridge is a sure thing, but the Enterprise? Well, at 3,000+ pieces, we’ll see how crazy I feel.

Advertisements

Star Trek Mega Bloks: Klingon D7 Battlecruiser by Mattel

It’s been a while since I looked at any building sets, so I thought I’d mix things up today and check out another one of the Mega Bloks Star Trek sets. I built and reviewed a couple of the smaller sets way back in July of last year and since then I almost forgot these things even existed. Then I got a friendly Recommendations email from Amazon telling me they were blowing out the Klingon D7 Battlecruiser, which reminded me of the old Klingon saying: “Today is a good day to buy!” Seriously, this was a deal that would have made a Ferengi blush!

The set comes in a mostly enclosed box with fancy angled edges, and a tiny window to show the included Micro Figure and a nice illustration of the finished build firing its disruptors. This whole union between Mega Bloks and the original Star Trek series is so random and weird, but also delightful and miraculous at the same time. I’ve only seen these sets in a brick and mortar store once, but seeing any Star Trek merch on the shelf gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling, especially since it was the 50th Anniversary of the show and no one seemed to care. I keep meaning to pick up the Bridge and Transporter sets, and maybe building this one will encourage me to finally do just that.

The box contains about six bags of pieces, none of which are numbered. You also get a loose base plate, and a large and colorful instruction manual with shots of Kirk, Spock, and Uhura on the front. All together there are 351 pieces which builds the ship and the display stand. I found this to be a fairly challenging build, and I attribute that to two things. First, since the bags aren’t numbered like in LEGO sets, you have to dump all of them out, which makes for a lot more pieces to search through. Second, 99% of the pieces in the set are either gray or light gray, so sorting by color won’t help much. There are also a surprisingly large number of smaller pieces used, and hardly any specialty pieces. I’d say the build was overall pretty enjoyable, but with a modicum of frustration every now and then.

And here she is all built, measuring about twelve inches from the front of the bridge to the back of the warp nacelles, and ready to earn honor and glory for The Empire! I’ll start out by saying how cool it is that they included a buildable stand and how much I love what they did with it. It includes a rotating base so you can display the ship anyway you want. It also has a nameplate with the ship’s designation, and you get a Klingon battle flag and a little Captain Kor to stand in front of it. Obviously, the Micro Figure is not in scale with the ship, but it’s a really cool way to display the completed model. Plus, the Micro Figures in this series have all been excellent. Kor comes with a a little hand disruptor and a shoulder strap to carry it in. On the downside, my set was missing one of the clear support poles that hold the ship up. It still works with just three, but I think it stinks when they leave parts out. In the past, Mega Bloks has made it easy to automatically report missing pieces and they will ship them out, but in this case their system doesn’t even recognize the model number of this set. Let’s take a closer look at the D7 itself, and to do that I’m going to take it off of the stand. But I’m going to have to empty out a shot glass first…

Overall, I think this is a great looking rendition of the famous Klingon warship, and the fact that it does use so few specialized parts makes it all the more impressive. It’s really well proportioned and the two-tone gray blocks fit the color scheme of the ship perfectly. The disruptor effect parts are pretty cool, but you can obviously remove them if you’d rather not have your D7 perpetually firing.

I was a little worried about the integrity of the boom, but it’s reinforced quite well at both ends, and I’ve been handling the ship a lot without it detaching. I particularly love the engineering behind the way the wings attach, allowing for them to angle downward ever so slightly and yet still not be floppy. All in all, this is a very sturdy model and it’ll stand up perfectly to being wooshed around the room.

One thing Mega Bloks has been doing better than LEGO is their use of printed bricks over stickers. The D7 uses them pretty sparingly. You get the Imperial emblem on the one wing, a few blocks with Klingon script, the impulse glow on the back, and the windows and torpedo tube on the bridge module. They even accounted for using translucent green blocks on the back of the warp engines. Nice touch!

I really dig how the spaces betwen the bricks look like windows on the sides of the bridge module. It’s probably not intentional, but a cool incidental effect anyway. Also, I just noticed that I put one of the bricks with the rows of windows upside down and they’re slightly out of alignment. At least that’s an easy fix.

Overall, I’d rate this set pretty highly, especially if all things were equal and I wasn’t missing a goddamn piece. The original MSRP was $40 and if I compare that to one of LEGO’s licensed $40 sets, I find that on average, this one includes a couple dozen more pieces. Sure, the quality isn’t as good as LEGO, but it’s not really bad either. Also, I doubt LEGO could have done much better with the design at the same piece count. What’s also not bad is the price this thing is going for now on Amazon. I picked mine up for about $11 and as I write this it actually dropped down to $10, so I picked up a second one. Now if only the 3,000+ piece Enterprise would drop too, because I’d really love to pick up that thing!

DC Comics Multiverse (Doomsday Wave): Dark Knight Returns Batman and Robin by Mattel

So, if you haven’t guessed by now, I’ve been using Mattel’s ho-hum Multiverse line as filler for DC Fridays as I await some better stuff to come in. I should have something next week for sure. In the meantime, I’ve picked up a couple waves of these figures for stupid cheap and I’ve been trudging through the Doomsday Wave. Today I’m doubling up with a look at both Batman and Robin from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. I was actually looking forward to these figures and hoping they would be the breakouts of the wave. Turns out those were lofty and unfulfilled hopes. Let’s have a look…

The figures come in window boxes and are collector friendly. They’re not ugly, they’re not great, they just are. Sometimes I’m sad about tossing packaging, but in this case, I don’t really care. There’s some nice character art on the side panels, and you get a little blurb about each character too. Let’s start with Batman…

So, my first thought here is that the figure looks drab and unfinished and I proscribe that to the lack of paint. I suppose you could argue that they’re going for a comic look here and the art in this particular book sure isn’t cheery. In fairness, they did attempt to add a little color diversity here and there. You get the dark gray of the armor pieces, with the lighter gray and blue of the underlying suit peeking out. Then you get the blue of the cape and cowl, and the bright yellow of the utility belt. And yet still, there’s something about the coloring on this figure that looks cheap.

The sculpt itself is passable. I like that the chest armor is soft plastic wrapped around the buck. It adds to the bulk of the figure and also gives it a unique matte finish to contrast with the rest of the plastic. There are some little cinches and rumples sculpted in too. You get some panel lines in the armor rings, some nice ribbing and texturing on the fists, including reinforced plates on the knuckles, and best of all, you get those crazy spikes on the soles of his boots. Again, I think a lot of the reason this figure falls flat for me is the lack of paint. I’ll also point out that mine came out of the package with the right shoulder cape attachment warped so it looks like it’s pulled up.

The head sculpt isn’t terrible. It fits the style of the art. There’s some nice depth between the face and the cowl. But the paint on my figure is all chipped around the upper lip, exposing the gray plastic under it like some kind of unfortunate case of necro-herpes. For a figure with an MSRP of about $20, that level of quality control just isn’t here.

Articulation here is quite limited. That’s been a gripe of mine for the first two figures in this wave and it looks like that isn’t going to change. Once again, the problem isn’t with the points, but with the range of motion in those points. The elbows in particular have are laughably limited. In the case of this figure, I’m maybe willing to be a bit more forgiving, because he is wearing bulky armor, but it still means that this figure isn’t much fun to play with. Also, there’s a waist swivel in there, but mine is locked tight with the torso slightly turned to the right.

Batman comes with his EMP gun and it’s a pretty sorry excuse for an accessory. Maybe this would have been OK for a 3 3/4-inch scale weapon, but come on, Mattel. This is just embarrassing. I’ve had enough of this guy… let’s move on to Robin.

 

We’re still focused on TDKR here, so this is of course, Carrie Kelly. I like the scaling here, especially when you display her next to Batman, because she’s appropriately tiny. From the neck down, the sculpt isn’t half bad. Mattel actually did a decent job with the classic Robin outfit. It’s not overly encumbered with detail, but it definitely gets the job done and adheres to the art style reasonably well. I even like the coloring here. The bright red, yellow, and green really make this figure pop splendidly. Well, look at that, I had some nice things to say!

For a while I was a little torn on the head sculpt. At certain angles it doesn’t look too bad, but in the end I have to come down against it. The glasses look way too large and blocky and having them just painted over green doesn’t work for me. At this point, I realize it’s asking way too much to have clear green plastic and sculpted eyes behind them (although even Funko’s Pop! Vinyl managed to do it), but it doesn’t change the fact that what we got here looks kind of awkward. And speaking of awkward, the bottom part of the face and lips does not look like anything like a child to me.

Like Batman, the articulation here sucks. Again, on paper this figure should have all it needs to work, but none of those points offer any real range of motion, except the shoulders. The hips are confined by the tunic, the elbows can barely make 90-degrees, and the ankle hinges are all but useless. I pick these figures up, fiddle with them for a few moments, get frustrated, and put them back down again.

Robin comes with her slingshot accessory, which is a good thought, but executed pretty hamhandedly. The rubber band looks like a chewed stretched piece of caramel. She can hold the slingshot in her right hand or it can get tucked into the loop on her belt, where it looks like an oversized albatross.

Goddammit, Mattel! After one disappointment (Supergirl) and one meh (Superman Doomed), I’ve was hoping to finally hit a couple of Multiverse figures that I actually liked and instead I got these. They look and feel cheap, they have horrible articulation, and Mattel should be ashamed of themselves for asking $20 a pop for these. Keep in mind, I paid eight bucks for each of these and I’m still not satisfied. These are giant leaps backwards from the days of DC Universe Classics, a line that Mattel killed many years back so that they could, what… work on developing this garbage? OK, I still have two more figures in this wave to review before I can put together Doomsday, but I feel like I’m really bumming out DC Fridays with this crap, so next week I’m going determined to cleanse the pallet with something decent.

DC Comics Multiverse (Doomsday Wave): Superman Doomed by Mattel

It’s been pretty slow for me on the DC collecting front, so I’ve decided to continue running through a complete wave of Mattel’s Multiverse line while I’m waiting for some new statues to roll in. This is also helpful, since I just wrapped up another extra long work week and all I want to do is curl up in bed with a bottle of Jameson for at least 12 hours. Last time on DC Friday, I looked at DCTV’s Supergirl and was less than impressed. This time I’m checking out Superman from the 2014 story arc, Superman: Doomed. Will this figure be any good? Or will it be doomed to… ah f’ck it. Never mind the easy puns. let’s just check him out…

The packaging is the same we saw last time for Supergirl. It’s collector friendly, it gives you a good look at the figure inside, and my favorite thing about it is the character art and little bio blurb on the side panel. If I were saving these packages, I could line them all up on the shelf and no exactly who is who. As the package indicates, this is Superman infected by the virus he inhaled from Doomsday’s defeated body. I found it to be a pretty average story, although it was elevated by the fact that most of New 52’s Superman book before it was not my cup of tea. Look, I actually enjoyed several books from the New 52, but I thought Supes’ book was pretty lame. Doomed, on the other hand, well at least it presented something interesting.

So, at first glance, I like what I see. It’s a slightly beefier Superman in his New 52 outfit with some decent red and blue coloring. Some of the costume, like the boots and the belt are sculpted on, while the S-Shield is merely a tampo. This is one of the first times I can remember a New 52 Superman figure violating the New 52 art direction guide that the emblem should always be 3D and never just painted on. Seriously, that shit is printed in at least one of the comics! I’m pretty sure it was Justice League. At this point, however, I guess nobody cares anymore. Hey, at least the S-Shield is very printed very sharply, and the colors are bright and snappy. The figure does have a little bit of a cheap feel to it. It’s not junky per-say, but it feels more like those Total Heroes figures than it does a DC Universe Classics or Unlimited or All-Stars or whatever Mattel was last calling their DC collectors’ line. So far so good, pretty solid.

Of course from the waist upward, the figure takes on a more unique visage and exhibits some of those Doomsday characteristics from the virus. You get bumpy spikes in the arms and torso and those gray grasping monster hands. And that brings us to the head, which is pretty well done. I’m sure I’ve gone on record as saying that I’m not a huge fan of Doomsday’s design, but it looks pretty cool here when presented as a Kryptonian-Doomsday hybrid. Supes is sporting a wide grin with a mouthful of nasty teeth, more or those horn-bumps on his chin and jaw, and some wicked red demon eyes. Not too shabby. He’s still got his regular hair, more or less, but he also has little tufted ears. I like what they did here a lot.

Unfortunately, this figure’s articulation lets it down, and like Supergirl, it isn’t necessarily because the points aren’t there, rather there isn’t just a great range of motion to any of them. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, and swivels in the wrists and biceps. Those hinges in the elbows can’t do much and the lack of hinges in the wrists is disappointing. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips and swivels up there too, but again, there just isn’t a lot you can do with them. There are hinges in the knees and ankles and that’s all well and good, but again there’s very little range of motion in the knee hinges, and there are no ankle rockers. At least his torso fares well with a waist swivel and a decent ab crunch. Lastly, the neck is ball jointed. On paper, most of this sounds passable, but in hand, the figure just isn’t a lot of fun to pose.

I do like how he scales with Mattel’s earlier lines. Here he is alongside Mattel’s DC Universe “All Stars” New 52 Superman from 2012. He’s a little bit bigger, but then he is supposed to be, so I’d say it’s a pretty good match. You can also see that the Doomed version is missing the panel lines of the costume. That’s something I didn’t even notice until I put them side by side, and now I’m bummed out by it.

Overall, I like this figure better than the DCTV Supergirl, but I really need to qualify that. Supergirl had some great sculpting and paint in the costume, but fell short on everything else. Doomed Superman is a lot less ambitious. It aims lower and as a result doesn’t fail quite so badly. It’s also a comic based figure, which requires less in the way of realism, particularly in the portrait, and that was the Achilles Heel of that Supergirl figure. So, no… don’t take this as a ringing endorsement. This Superman is not a great figure, but I don’t think he’s terrible either.  If I ever get my DC Universe Classics collection set up on display again, I’ll have no qualms about putting him in there. Of course, keep in mind, that I picked up the figures in this wave for around $8 a pop, so I’m going to be a lot more forgiving when it comes to value. Plus, I’m one limb closer to building my Doomsday figure!

DC Comics Multiverse (Doomsday Wave): Supergirl by Mattel

It’s hard to believe it, but this is my first DC Multiverse figure. I’ve been largely avoiding this line because I haven’t heard great things about it and I’m still, YES STILL!!! bitter about Mattel killing off DC Universe Classics only to seemingly re-brand it over and over again in slightly different scales and styles. But, a friend of mine was looking to unload a wave of these for stupid cheap and so I took them off his hands, mainly for the figure I’m looking at today and maybe to satiate my mild curiosity.

The packaging is pretty cool, especially when comparing it to the likes of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends. You get a collector friendly window box that shows the figure off nicely and some character art and a little bio on the side panel. The character selection for this wave is all over the place, but the “Collect & Connect” Doomsday figure is motivating enough to get them all. This version of Supergirl is from the TV Series. It’s a show I started watching as a guilty pleasure, but it’s grown on me a lot. It’s upbeat and good-natured, and I like to think of watching it as passive resistance against the asshole impostor that’s walking around in Superman’s costume in the DC movies.

This is clearly a tale of two figures. From the neck down she looks pretty damn great. I really dig the design of her costume in the series and Mattel did a nice job recreating it here. The S-shield is actually part of the sculpt, as is all the piping on the torso and arms. The belt is sculpted, the pleating on the skirt looks natural, and the boots have little wrinkles here and there. The cape falls pretty naturally and it doesn’t even throw off the balance of the figure too badly. The paint is also exceptional for an off-the-peg Mattel figure. The blue they used for her top is deep and goes really well with the somewhat subdued red of the skirt, cape, and boots. The gold paint they used for the belt and the trim on the S-Shield is quite striking and both it and the red piping on the suit are applied with care and precision. This is surprisingly great stuff! And then you get to the head sculpt.

Woof! What happened here? I mean, I’m not expecting great things, but how the hell was this even approved? Melissa Benoist is an aggressively cute young lady and this is… WHAT IS THIS?  It’s hard to tell what lets this portrait down more, the sculpt or the paint, but in the end it doesn’t matter. It looks like Supergirl got stung by an army of Kryptonite bees and her face is in the process of swelling up and she’s trying to smile it off and act like nothing happened. YOU DON’T SHRUG OFF A BEE ATTACK, MS. DANVERS!!! Also, those printed eyes are just laughable. I will admit, that this head does not photograph well. It does look a little better in hand. At the right angle with the light shining just right, I can kind of see a little of Ms. Benoist in there, but not enough of to save it. What a shame.

Following hot on the heels of that facial disappointment comes the articulation. Now, what’s here sounds decent on paper. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, with swivels in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, and hinges in both the knees and hips. The torso swivels at the waist, has an ab crunch in the chest, and a ball joint in the neck. There are some obvious bummers here, like no swivels or lateral rockers in the ankles and no hinges in the wrists, but there are a few more problems worth mentioning.

The range of motions in the elbows sucks, mainly because of the way they’re sculpted. She can’t even do a proper hands-on-hips heroic stance. She can barely get right angles out of those guns. Also, the ab crunch hinge is designed so that she can only bend backwards. That’s helpful when trying to put her into a flying pose, but forward movement would have been nice as well. Besides, the sculpted hair keeps her from looking up anyway, so she still can’t really do a very good flying pose.

I was particularly interested in the scaling on these figures, and surprised to find that they scale pretty well with the old DCUC line. On the other hand, they scale surprisingly poorly against Mattel’s more recent Movie Masters line. On the plus side, Mattel seems to be producing all the DCTV figures in this line, so at least those will all display well together.

With some potentially bright spots, this figure still ends up disappointing. I’m pleased to say that it isn’t the kind of junk that I was expecting it to be, but between the limited articulation and the disaster of a face, it’s not hitting the mark. I think Mattel is getting around $20 a pop for these, which feels like a lot. If I break down what I paid for this wave, she’d be more like $8, so I’m not complaining. I’d still like to pick up DC Collectibles’ version of DCTV’s Supergirl and see how it compares. In the meantime, I’ll probably be revisiting the rest of this wave on future DC Fridays when I have nothing better to look at.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Clamp Champ by Mattel

Yes, folks, I still have Masters Classics figures sitting around and waiting to be opened. I’m actually rationing these out as a way to get my MOTUC fix until Super7 can get their thing up and running. Today, I’m opening up Clamp Champ! Poor Clamp Champ missed out on being in both the Filmation series and the 200x reboot. His figure was released too late in the vintage line to make an appearance in the former, and the later series was cancelled before he could swoop in and take over for the doomed Man-At-Arms. On the flip-side, as far as I know he’s the only character of color to get a vintage toy release, and as such he’s certainly worthy our respect and attention.

After all this time, there’s not much more that can be said about this iconic packaging. Clamp Champ is an older release, so he does have a bio on the back of the card. His tag line on the bubble insert proclaims him the “Heroic Master of Capture!” I think they missed the opportunity to call him “Heroic Champ of the Clamp!” Give me a minute to rip open this package and we’ll see what he’s all about.

Clampy gets by with a buck that’s a straight up re-use of He-Man’s body only with a fresh coat of paint. Apart from the dark skin tone, his furry diaper and boot fringe have been recolored red, his boots are black, and his belt and bracers are silver. Nonetheless, he still manages to look rather distinctive thanks to his cool chest armor, which packs a lot of sculpted detail and a two-tone blue and silver deco. I’m a big fan of the whole techno-meets-fantasy vibe that I get off of this figure and I’ve got to say, Matty did a beautiful job recreating that armor.

The back of the armor also sports a black backpack. What is it? Maybe a power generator for his weapon? I don’t know. I think it would have been a good idea to put a hole there so he could wear his accessory on his back, but Matty decided to remain true to the vintage figure and I can respect that.

I dig the head sculpt on this guy a lot. Even though Champ didn’t appear in the Filmation cartoon, I think this head fits that style pretty well. But where does this guy get his name from?

From this big-ass clamp! I should note that Clampy feels like a bit of a cheat, because most of Eternia’s heroes and villains get their names from some kind of horrific defect or mutation. As such, you would expect Clamp Champ to have this thing grafted onto his arm, or just have a giant mutated claw. Nope, it’s just something he carries around with him and refers to as “The Techno Clamp”® The bio exclaims that Clamp Champ “surprises his enemies with his clamping action,” but that would have to be a pretty good trick, because how could they not see this giant clamp coming their way? Even Skeletor’s minions aren’t that clueless!

And to be fair, this big accessory is really more of a claw than a clamp, but Claw Champ isn’t quite as catchy. The original toy had a lever-control gimmick, and while this new version has a faux-lever sculpted on it, you have to pull out the claws manually. It’s still capable of grabbing enemies and I really like the little detailed paint apps that Matty did on its instrumentation.

Now this piece looks more like a clamp, but I have no idea what practical purpose it can serve, as he just holds it. Obviously, he can make a living with these ridiculous tools, otherwise he’d be unemployed and they’d call him Clamp Tramp. They’d probably also call him that if he slept around a lot.

In the end, I find myself in the odd position of not really digging Clamp Champ’s weapon all that much, but liking the figure quite a bit. The armor and the deco really works for me, but the clamp itself just reminds me of the goofy over-sized accessories that Hasbro is packing with Star Wars figures these days. It’s not terribly practical, but I suppose I’ll let him keep it. Otherwise it’ll be too hard to explain to people why he’s called Clamp Champ.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Horde Wraith by Mattel

So, two things: First, there’s obviously no Transformers Thursday this week. Next week is looking good, though. Second, I’m crazy pressed for time today, so my apologies if today feels a little abbreviated. Today, I’m going back to the waning days of Matty Collector, with what I’m pretty sure was the last MOTUC figure they released: The Horde Wraith! With so many delays toward the end, I just got a big box of figures all at once, so it’s hard for me to tell what order they were intended. Granted, I still have plenty of older figures and other goodies from Masters Classics to open, but after sitting around since last year, I thought it was time to open this guy up. So let’s do it!

I’m fairly well versed on my Horde lore, but I actually have no memory of this fellow at all. My sources tell me he’s from the 200x reboot and I think it’s long past time I pulled out my DVD’s and gave that series a re-watch, because so much of it has slipped my mind. Here’s one time when I really miss the bios that used to be on the backs of the cards, but his tag-line on the front, “Sorcerer for The Evil Horde,” is all I need (I’d like to believe it says that on his business cards). Besides, do I really need an official backstory to enjoy a figure like this? No, sir. I do not.

Especially when the figure looks like this guy! The Horde Wraith could easily be Shadow Weaver’s more evil-er granddaddy. He’s a foreboding, cloaked slab of wickedness that floats around thanks to a translucent stand provided in the package. His gray robes don’t sport a lot of sculpted detail, and that gives him something of an animated feel. They do, however have some really nice ragged edges on the bottom and on the sleeves. He also has some arm bands with sculpted sickle-like patterns, cool wrist bracers with diamonds, and blue claw-like hands, which makes me think that Horde Wraith may be an evil Trollan on steroids. Dammit, that should have been the tag-line on the package, “Evil Trollan on Steroids.” Damn, my lack of customizing skills!

The true star of this outfit is the black cape and shoulder piece. The front features a sash that drops down with a sculpted Horde emblem at the top. The shoulders themselves are textured and the whole ensemble has a red border. The lapse in QC that has touched some of these final figures rears its ugly head with a few tiny paint flubs, but nothing too bad. On the back, a tattered cape cascades down, almost to the end of his robes.

The portrait, for lack of a better term, is just a hood with a dark, featureless face buried in it and two yellow eyes peering out. Here the paint work is pretty spot on, right down to the subtle red outline around those eyes. The hood is sculpted as part of the head.

The articulation here is more limited than usual, only because Horde Wraith does not have any legs. Everything else is close to what we normally get in our MOTUC figures. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulder and elbows, and swivels in the wrists and biceps. There’s a swivel in the waist and an ab crunch hinge in the chest. The neck is ball jointed. The stand works really well to support him, but it gave me a hell of a time getting it in there. I had to use so much force, I was afraid I would snap it. I don’t believe that I will risk pulling it out again.

In addition to the stand, Horde Wraith comes with a staff with what looks like a Horde crossbow stuck on the end. I’m not sure whether its intended to be functional or not, but maybe he can shoot some kind of magic missiles from that baby. The staff is a very nice sculpt, but it’s very thin and prone to warping. Also, he has a hell of a time holding it properly. It looks like the cut-outs in the small axe blade are meant to loop his fingers through. That helps a bit, but it doesn’t take much to knock it out of his hands.

The Horde Wraith is a great design and I think he’s an excellent way to end the MOTUC line. I don’t know if a lot of collectors were jonesing after this dude, but if so I’m hoping he lived up to their expectations. As for me? I absolutely love this figure, even though I know nothing about the character. Hell, I don’t even know if he is a single character or if The Horde has a whole army of these spooky spell-slingers. I do know that he’s exactly the sort of thing that I would have doodled on my Trapper Keeper back in school, while dreaming up AD&D campaigns during math class, and that he’s very welcome in my Evil Horde display.

ThunderCats Classics: Panthro by Mattel

Well folks, I’ve put this off long enough. It’s time to open my very last figure in Matty’s ill-fated ThunderCats series. I was saving this review for after Toy Fair because I was really hoping that Super7 would have some good news for us, but obviously that wasn’t the case. I didn’t hear anybody ask them about the license, and they sure weren’t volunteering any information. I’m going to be an eternal optimist and take that as a sign of hope. If negotiations were still underway, they may have been limited in what they could discuss, whereas if all bets were off, I’m hoping they just would have come out and told us that, rather than keep us hanging in a state of misplaced hope. Anyway, let’s look at Panthro…

tccpant3

tccpant4

As always, the figure comes in an illustrated black mailer box. Inside that is this fantastic window box, which shows the figure off beautifully. There’s a trap door on the bottom so you can easily pull out the tray. The back panel has colorful character art and a bio. This package is a little less collector friendly than the others, because one of Panthro’s accessories is behind a bubble on the tray backing, but with a little patience and a blade, you can still get it off without hurting anything. I’m holding onto these packages for now, but who knows if Super7 will keep this package design if they ever do secure the rights.

tccpant8

Out of the package, we can quickly see that Panthro sucks and is yet another example of why I’m glad this line died. Well, that’s what I want to say, but I can’t, because in all honesty he’s excellent and quite possibly the best figure in this little collection. Granted, from the neck down there’s not a lot of original sculpted detail, but what’s here is totally faithful to the character design. Plus, they did make the effort to put in little touches like the ring just above his left elbow, the cuff on his right wrist, and the ties on the back of his lower leggings. I also love the proportions on this figure, the buck is just perfect.

tccpant9

Panthro’s harness tabs together at the back and looks great on him. One of the spikes behind the left shoulder is a little bent from being in the package, but it’s nothing that I’m going to get worked up about. There’s some nice texturing on the belt and the Eye of Thunderra is crisp. The rest of the coloring here is also spot on! If I had to gripe about something it would be that the plastic looks a little rough in some areas. There’s some mold flashing here and there and some visible seams.

tccpant10

I’ve got absolutely no quibbles with the head sculpt. While I could argue that the portraits on some of these figures have been just a smidge off here and there, Panthro’s hits the mark perfectly. From his broad nose and pointy ears, this is the Panthro I grew up with and really admired. He was strong, an agile fighter, and a wiz with technology and mechanics. A veritable Cat of all Trades.

tccpant12

tccpant5

tccpant7

Panthro comes with a bevy of accessories, the least interesting of which is an extra right hand with a tighter grip, which seems unnecessary, but why argue over an extra accessory, eh? His nun-chucks are fantastic and connect with a real chain. They feature the adorable little cat claws sculpted into the ends and he can hold them really well.

tccpant13

tccpant14

He also comes with a pair of nun-chucks that recreates a spinning effect. You plug the blue spinney effect part into the extra red chuk and it looks pretty good. I’m tempted to say I’d rather have had a pair that he could clip on the back of his belt, but this is still pretty damn neat. And we’re not done yet, because he comes with two more little goodies.

tccpant17

The Key of Thunderra! It was an artifact so important that they named an episode after it. It was a thoughtful item to include with Panthro, since he was the one that found it in that episode. No, it doesn’t do much, but he can hold it in his hand and say, “Look what I found! Let’s use it to get Lion-O out of that damn book!”

tccpant15

tccpant16

Panthro also comes with the Thundrometer, which he used to locate Thundrillium, the fuel for his precious Thundertank. I like this accessory a lot and he looks great holding it.

tccpant11

tccpant1

Panthro is about as perfect a figure as I can imagine. He looks great, he has all the right accessories, and he is loads of fun to play with. And of course, he represents the final installment in this line unless it gets a stay of execution from Super7. I really like what they’re doing with the new Masters of the Universe Classics figures, but I’m not a big fan of their “you can pre-order every figure in the wave or none at all” business model. On the other hand, I’m jonesing for more ThunderCats so badly, that I’d probably be perfectly fine with that strategy should the licensing ever work out. In fact, there’s really no characters that I can think of that I wouldn’t happily buy in figure form. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to be content with these my complete set of 2011 ThunderCats from Bandai.

DC Universe Signature Series: Superboy by Mattel

It’s been over three years since a DC Signature Series figure last appeared here on FFZ. This line was Matty’s noble attempt to keep DC Universe Classics going as a subscription line after it was pulled from the toy aisles for reasons that still don’t make any sense to me, but that’s an issue that I’ve tackled here before and I won’t go into it again now. Anyway, the subscription didn’t get enough support to go forward in 2014, but Matty still released a handful of figures that were already far along in production. One of those was Connor Kent and he was offered up as part of Matty’s going out of business sale at the end of last year.

sigsboy2

While the figures were designed to fit right in with DC Universe Classics, the presentation got a complete overhaul. And, boy, the packaging for this line was great. You get a collector friendly window box with character art on the side panel so you can identify the figure if you have the boxes all lined up on the shelf. The back panel features another piece of character art and a blurb about the character.

sigsboy4

Superboy features a nice balance between simple buck and unique sculpting. The upper body is just a muscled buck with the black, short sleeved T-shirt painted on and the red S-Shield stamped in the middle. It looks great, and the size really fits the younger, albeit still buffed out, character.

sigsboy5

From the waist down, we get sculpted jeans with a simple belt. There are plenty of rumples in the jeans, and I dig how the actual seams on the upper legs are lined up to match the sculpted seams of the jeans on the lower legs. The jeans end in cuffs, left outside of his black boots. Again, there’s nothing outrageous about the sculpt here, but everything works so well. It’s just a great, simple, and clean looking figure.

sigsboy3

sigsboy6

The portrait is notably more mature than the last Superboy we got in the DC Universe Classics series. It’s also a bit more stylized than I’m used to seeing in this line. With all that having been said, I still like it and I think it works well. The head sculpts in this line were usually solid efforts, and Connor here is no different.

sigsboy12

sigsboy7

sigsboy9

The articulation here reaches back to the DCUC line and really scratches that nostalgic itch. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have that funky DCUC style hips, the knees and ankles are hinged, and there are swivels in the thighs. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso and a ball joint on the neck.

sigsboy8

sigsboy11

sigsboy14

sigsboy13

sigsboy1

Connor was one of those figures that fell under my radar. I remember being disappointed at not getting him when the 2014 subscription failed, but somehow I missed him when Matty initially put him up for sale. Lucky for me they had some stock left over at the end, and I was able to drop him into my cart along with the short list of MOTUC figures that I still needed, making my Signature Collection now complete. The only problem with getting a figure like this one is that now I want to hit Ebay and hunt down the elusive DCUC figures that I’m still missing.