FigureFan’s Disappointments 2017, Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Masters of the Universe Classics: Point Dread and the Talon Fighter by Mattel

Merry Christmas, friends! Well, it’s actually Christmas Eve for me as I’m writing this, and yes I’m bumping Marvel Monday this week for some special Christmas content. Last year I attempted to recreate the magic of Christmas past by opening up a truly epic playset, Castle Grayskull, and it was a wonderful experiment in recapturing my youth. It brought me back to those Christmas mornings as a kid sitting under the tree and unwrapping that giant toy that I begged for all year long like the insufferable little shit that I was. This year, I’m doing it again with the only playset that could possibly match Castle Grayskull… Yes, it’s the MOTUC version of SNAKE MOUNTAIN!!! Oh, wait… that never came out. Bummer. OK, so I don’t have anything quite as grandiose as Grayskull, but once again, I have been saving an MOTUC toy all year for this occasion. And if you know me, then you know that it took every scrap of my nearly non-existent willpower to let this thing sit unopened for a year. Keep in mind, I have to really stretch the limits of my little photo staging area for these bigger toys, so I’ll apologize in advance for the quality of the pictures. Now… Let’s check out The Talon Fighter and Point Dread!

The long and fully enclosed box is none the worse for wear after having spent an entire year unopened in my closet. Despite it’s lack of height, it’s still an impressively sized box measuring just a bit longer across than the Grayskull box. You get that same amazing vintage-style artwork that I’ve come to know and love from the Masters Classics boxed toys. He-Man and Teela are cruising along while Duncan looks like he’s chasing after them and yelling, “Have my daughter home at a reasonable hour!!!” There’s also some trouble rising in the background as Skeletor and his goons approach to ruin He-Man and Teela’s date. I originally abstained from buying the Talon Fighter because I knew I had nowhere to put it. Naturally when Matty put it up on clearance, I decided I would somehow make it work. The collector part of my brain told me that cheaper things take up less room, and Collector Brain would never lie to me!

The reverse side of the box has a panel of line drawings showing all sorts of figures and other goodies from the MOTUC series. If you grew up in the 80’s these monochrome panels were on most big playsets. It’s all an effort to recreate that vintage charm, and it succeeds brilliantly. Opening the box reveals lots of parts and cardboard, telling me that there is some assembly required here. Point Dread comes in two parts, with one stacking on the other. There’s also a beam that attaches to the top for the Talon Fighter to rest on. The Talon Fighter itself requires you to attach the wings, the radar dish, and the four guns. You also get to choose a sticker for the viewscreen inside the ship. There’s nothing too complex here, but unfortunately the wings aren’t meant to come off again, so unless you’re willing to risk some damage to the clips, this baby isn’t going back into the box.

And here’s what you get when everything is all set up. While it’s no Grayskull, the combined size of the Talon Fighter and Point Dread is still pretty impressive. Just look at how the whole thing towers above Teela. Oh, did I mention the set also includes a Filmation version of Teela? You know that one annoying relative that shows up every Christmas and almost ruins everything? Well, let’s just call her Teela.

So, this version of Teela has become infamous from the scorn that she has attracted, so I was really curious as to whether she could really be that bad. And yes… she really is that bad. With something like 125 Masters Classic figures in my collection, I’d only consider a few to be sub par, and this one is easily in the runner up for the worst of them all. I don’t know what happened here, but it’s like a perfect storm of bad design. From the bulky top to the granny panties on the bottom, the outfit just doesn’t work. There’s even hideous mold lines running down the arms. About the only thing that I can give a pass to here are the boots, they look fine. That’s probably because they borrow from the original figure.

And the head! The nose and mouth are so weirdly shaped and the paint is so basic and flat. Maybe if this figure was released at the beginning of the line, I could understand, but Matty and The Four Horsemen had something like a hundred figures under their belt by the time this Teela came out.

It doesn’t help that the original Teela is such a great figure and easily one of my favorite in the entire line. And yes, I realize that this Teela is supposed to look simpler because she’s based on the animation model, but that doesn’t help excuse any of this. If I had to say something nice about this new Teela, it would be that the paint is overall pretty good. They used the usual gold leaf for her armor and it really pops next to all that white.

Teela does come with some accessories to help assuage the suck. One of them is an alternate helmeted head, but unfortunately it’s built off the same sculpt, so it really doesn’t improve anything. The blue helmet is similar to the kind her father and the Eternian Royal Guard wear. It also has a removable visor. I want to love that they included this for when she’s piloting the Talon Fighter, but this figure is so ugly, she won’t be allowed in the Talon Fighter. Well, maybe just today… but only because it’s Christmas.

The other accessories are a sword and a shield, both of which are new sculpts and they both look great. OK, that’s enough about Teela. She’s the turd in our holiday punch bowl and it’s best to just ignore her and move on to the main event… Point Dread! We’ll start at the bottom and work our way up.

Point Dread is not only the resting place and remote outpost for the Talon Fighter, but depending on which fiction you happen to follow, it can be a surprisingly weird place. Sometimes it was depicted as magically appearing under the Talon Fighter when it landed, other times it was a fixed location that only appeared every twenty years. It’s also the place Skeletor cooked up Teela by magically cloning The Sorceress in an attempt to make an Evil Sorceress. HOLY SHIT! For the purposes of this review, let’s just say that Point Dread is a small fortified outpost that gives the Talon Fighter a place to rest its weary bird feet. The little playset is comprised of two pieces, the top of which can be attached to Castle Grayskull, and I’ll circle back to that at the end.

From the outside, it shares all the iconic charm of Grayskull’s green stonework architecture. It uses the same eerie colored plastic with a nice wash and some dry brushing to bring out the look of the stones. It’s sculpted out of proportion, with the size of the stairs getting smaller toward the top to make it look bigger. The stairs do, however, give you a cool place to give your figures some action poses. You also get a little window near the base with a sculpted wooden shudder over it. Let’s turn it around and have a look inside.

As a playset, there’s not a lot going on in here. There’s a sculpted wooden floor, which features some really nice woodgrain detail as well as sculpted nails. There’s a window that the occupant can look out of, and there’s a computer system with a sticker on the screen showing a Saturn-like planet. The computer features that lovely retro-tech styling that I love so much in my swords-and-sorcery-and-tech fantasies. It not only has all sorts of sculpted controls, buttons, and dials, but it features some wonderful paint applications that really bring the whole thing to life. On the downside, it’s scaled way too small for the MOTUC figures to really work with it. Maybe if it came with a chair it would work better, but as it is, even Teela has to bend way over to get to the controls. In all honesty, as a standalone playset, Point Dread doesn’t offer much other than a little cubby for your Masters figures to check their emails, tweet a little, and maybe engage in some naughty net surfing. Or they can just look at a picture of space.

But what Point Dread lacks as a compelling playset it easily makes up for as a posh way to display your Talon Fighter, thanks to the rotating crossbeam that rests on top of the structure. This platform has foot pegs for the fighter’s birdy feet and they lock into place securely so there’s no worries about it falling off and crashing. When you’re ready for the Talon Fighter to take off, you just press a switch on the bottom of the platform, and it releases the craft for flight operations.

And what a great looking fighter this is! Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s clunky and it’s clearly designed by someone who was more concerned with satisfying their bird fetish than applying actual aerodynamics. But this is Eternia, where a vehicle can be all those things as well as be downright awesome. And when I first had this thing in hand, I was indeed in awe of it. Sure, there are some companies out there experimenting with 6-inch scale vehicles. Diamond Select has done some for Batman, NECA did one for their Predators, and even Hasbro has delivered some for Star Wars Black. But it’s still a new and rare enough experience that it’s hard to approximate just how big a 6-inch scale vehicle is until I’m holding it my hand and trying to find somewhere to display the damn thing. And let’s keep in mind, the Talon Fighter is designed to hold two figures!

And besides being big, this thing is a work of art. From the chunky, back-swept feathered wings and taloned claw landing gear, to the sweeping curves of the bird’s hooked beak as the nose of the vehicle, this is a sculpt that celebrates the very weird and wonderful spirit of Masters of the Universe. And the coloring… oh, the coloring. I love the way the sumptuous golden yellow of the bird’s beak gradually gives way to the fiery orange on the top. Couple that with the maroon wings and the brilliant metallic blue that makes up the guns, canopy, and radar dish, and you’ve got a deco that is as appropriately flamboyant as the design.

The back portion of the craft beautifully blends the glory of Eternian tech with the fighter’s avian art deco design. You get two large thrusters and two smaller ones in the middle. The sculpt includes vents, tubes, cables, what appear to be some rotating handles for shut-off valves, and even the individual bolts are part of the sculpt. Applications of red, black, and silver paint all help pick out some of the details.

The cockpit canopy features clear plastic windows all around and the framework includes sculpted rivets and a sculpted non-functioning escape hatch at the top. There are also highlights of a deeper and more metallic blue paint used to pick out some of the details as well as some beautiful silver paint used on the triangular vent sections on the sides. Finally, there’s a beefy radar dish on the top of the canopy, which can rotate 360-degrees.

Inside, the cockpit displays more of that great Eternian tech design. The main console features an array of buttons and switches in all different colors as well as a dual-handled flight stick protruding out from under it. The central viewscreen on the console is a sticker. You get three choices to customize your Talon Fighter, including a goofy shot of Orko. I went with the generic radar display graphic. The left and right of the pilot seat is flanked by more consoles and still more colored buttons and switches. There are also some gauges to the right. I love that Mattel went with actual sculpted instruments for the bulk of the controls here, rather than cop out with just stickers.

That’s not to say there aren’t some stickered panels. The back seat features two stickered consoles to the left and right, showing all sorts of gauges and readouts, and even what appears to be an intercom system.

On the back of the rear seat there’s more sculpted and painted details, which include some tools and emergency equipment. Included here is a medical kit, a fire extinguisher, an axe and some wrenches.

What’s really impressive about this vehicle is how roomy it is. Lately I’ve found myself having to squeeze some 3 3/4-inch figures into their vehicles from one of those other toy lines from that other big company, but this big fella can accommodate two Masters Classics figures and still give them plenty of room to move around. That’s no small feat for figures as big, buff, and bulky as these guys, but just look at He-Man in the back seat. He’s got room to spread out, stretch his legs and enjoy a first class flying experience. Teela has so much room, I’d bet you could squeeze two chicks in the back as long as they weren’t opposed to things getting cozy. The pilot seat is just as spacious and your average MOTUC figure can sit and hold the control sticks perfectly. And now that we’ve looked at this big bird inside and out, how about joining it with Castle Grayskull.

Just when I thought Castle Grayskull couldn’t get any more impressive, I go and add this to it. And boy was this a lot of fun to shoot in my tiny studio. I had to reposition my overhead light all the way to the ceiling, and it was still bumping the top of the Talon Fighter. Next I had to switch out the table I shoot on for something a lot lower. Needless to say, this set up is freaking huge!

The top part of Point Dread fits over the right tower and while the union isn’t exactly seamless, I think it looks pretty natural. The connection is extremely solid and you hear a big scary snap when it’s locked into place. What’s scarier is separating the two again. In fact, it’s so scary, I don’t know that I’m going to be doing this too many times for fear of cracking the castle wall. Granted, the Talon Fighter looks pretty awkward sitting up there. It either looks way too big or makes Grayskull look a lot smaller. But I really don’t care. I just think it’s awesome that they were able to make this work so well with the castle.

And this is what Christmas used to be all about: Waiting all year for that one special big toy and experiencing the joy of opening it up on Christmas morning. Of course it’s getting harder and harder to do, because they don’t make big and satisfying toys like this much anymore. But Point Dread and the Talon Fighter did not disappoint, even if the Teela figure was a little like getting coal in the stocking. And for all the shit everyone used to give Matty, I’m grateful to them for allowing me to celebrate two Christmases in a row now with some truly amazing Masters of the Universe Classics. I still have some pretty cool toys and figures to open from this line, but I doubt I’ll be waiting until next Christmas to do it. But fear not, I have some other ideas for Christmas 2018.

And that’s a wrap for me this Christmas. I’m going to be taking a couple days off from bloggery and I hope to be back with new content on Thursday and Friday and by then I should have sorted out what next week is going to look like. For now, I’m off to have dinner with my folks, exchange some gifts, and come home and watch Doctor Who. But before heading out I want to offer my sincerest and most heartfelt wishes to you all. I hope your holiday is restful and full of joy. Cherish your families, don’t sweat the small stuff, and I hope you get to enjoy some toys! 

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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Tuskador by Mattel

It’s 2017 and the self-proclaimed King of Collectors is dead. Or, wait… Matty wasn’t the King, the collectors were King. But Matty wore a crown. Who was the freaking King again? I’m so confused, but I suppose in the end it was all bullshit. Matty is no more, but I still have a HUGE pile of figures (and even some vehicles) from them waiting to be featured, so you’ll still be getting a lot of Masters Classics content coming your way here this year. Today, I decided to open Tuskador, because…

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Well, just look at this beast! I had no idea who this was when his name turned up on my billing email and even then I was clueless. But when I felt the heft of his mailer box and gazed upon him in the package for the first time, I knew that it was love at first sight! The packaging may look standard, but trust me it’s much bigger than what we get for the usual MOTUC figures. Turns out Tuskador is one of the Galactic Protectors from the New Adventures series, and that’s cool because I’ve been really enjoying what Masters Classics has been doing with these goofy space bastards.  And speaking of New Adventures, did I mention that I had to buy a new Flogg because my old Flogg’s crotch spontaneously exploded when he was sitting in a tote in the closet? That’s craziness! But enough about Flogg’s crotch… let’s open this guy up and check him out!

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OH. MY. GAWD. As we saw in the packaged shot, the figure comes with the tusks off and you have two different pairs to choose from. I started with the big’uns and HOLY CRAP LOOK AT THESE GODDAMN THINGS! They are both awesome and ridiculous at the same time, which pretty much describes half the Masters Classics line. Let’s call it Awediculous. And yes, I realize that the placement of them basically makes them nipple-tusks. I’m starting with this big pair because, to be honest, I can’t even get a closer look at the figure with these mammoth (That’s right, have a pachyderm pun, free of charge!) tusks in the way. There’s no bio on the package, but a little research tells me that Tuskador is a trader and sort of a supply officer for the Galactic Protectors. How the hell is he going to walk through some marketplace or fly a spaceship with these things coming off of him? It only makes sense that he can switch them out. Anyway, I’m just calling these his battle tusks. It’s sort of like his Sunday best, only in this case he puts them on before a fight so he can gore Evil Space Mutants with them. They’re glorious, but I’m going to swap them out now so we can get on with looking at the figure.

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That’s better. The tusks simply peg right into the sockets on his armor, and both feature a beautiful pearlescent finish. They swap out really easily and they can rotate where they attach so you can tweak them a bit. These smaller tusks are still suitably large, but at least the figure is more manageable with them on. And what a great looking figure he is! He’s built using some parts from the Ram Man buck, most notably the arms and upper torso, but he actually stands notably taller than Rammy. The torso and legs are cast in two different shades of blue plastic, and feature lots of great sculpted detail, including panel lines, and some amazing treads on his boots. He also features a pair of metallic gold knee pads. There are also some very subtle touches of metallic blue paint on his pants and boots.

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Of course, the real draw here is the gold armor that makes up the top third of the figure. The gold paint is beautiful and once again, the attention to detail here is just great. You get these powerful looking shoulders, panel lines, sculpted rivets on the plating, hoses, and this big circular contraption on the back, which I’m going to assume is some kind of cooling unit to keep him from dying under all that apparatus. It’s a lot of technology just to get a guy to wear some tusks, but in the crazy sci-fi-fantasy world of New Adventures, it all makes perfect sense. Despite being a bulkier figure, Tuskador features all the articulation we’ve come to expect from the regular size figures.

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Buried deep under all those armor plates and support systems is a little open area showing Tuskador’s head. The mouth is obscured by additional hoses and a mouthpiece that’s sculpted to look a bit like a mechanical elephant’s trunk. It looks like there’s an amazing face sculpt under there, and thankfully, the helmet is removable to allow us a better look!

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Yup, that is one great portrait, especially for a figure that keeps the head covered up most of the time. The facial features are sharp and packed with personality. I particularly love the detail in his blue arming cap. It reminds me of a WWII tanker’s helmet.

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As if having a huge pair of tusks strapped to his chest isn’t enough, Tuskador comes with a rifle that he can wear on his belt. The sculpt is pretty cool, as it looks like a cross between a laser rifle, sub-machine gun and blunderbuss. Unfortunately, it’s all sculpted in an off white plastic and doesn’t feature any additional paint apps. In this case, I’m willing to give it a pass, because they sure put a hell of a lot of extra work into this figure.

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It’s fitting that Tuskador is the last new figure I will receive from Matty, because this figure happens to represent everything I have loved about this line. It’s a character I didn’t know or care about until I got the figure in hand, at which point I don’t know how my collection ever existed without him. He’s crazy, he’s ridiculous, he’s beautiful, and he’s gloriously fun, and as I said earlier, that pretty much sums up this entire line. And there’s no point for me to serve up a sappy farewell to MOTUC here, because I still have one more new figure to look at, and after that I can turn my attention backwards to some of the older figures that I picked up late in the game and still need to be featured on FFZ.

ThunderCats Classics: Pumyra by Mattel

Cheetara is dead! She was killed alongside Tygra when the two ‘Cats stole a Sky Cutter to escape Mutant custody and it was shot down causing them to burn to death in the wreckage. You could smell the burning cat hair all the way to the Berbil Village. The humanity! But after a long period of mourning, Pymyra stepped up to take Cheetara’s place. This is the sort of sick and twisted canon I have to come up with in my head to justify why certain characters are missing from my ThunderCats team, because Matty screwed us all over. So let’s check out Pumyra, also known as NOT-EFFING-CHEETARA!

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The packaging comes in a black mailer box with some minimalist artwork, serving as only a teaser of what lies within. I’ve said my piece about this packaging, but it stands repeating. It’s gorgeous, it’s collector friendly, it feels premium, and it sickens me that I won’t have dozens of these lined up on my shelf. In fact my only gripe here is that the character art on the back is pretty bad. Pumyra looks less like a ThunderCat and more like something Buffy would poke with a wooden stake.

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Fortunately, the figure fares somewhat better than the box art. Overall, she’s a pretty solid recreation of her counterpart on the Classic cartoon. Her outfit consists of that same slinky brown dress with the sides cut out. It’s funny how I distinctly remember that seeming really risque for a kid’s cartoon back then, meanwhile Cheetara’s cat-boobs were practically busting out all the time. The dress is sculpted directly onto the buck, instead of layered onto it. This feels a little cheaper than what Mattel often did with the female MOTUC characters, but in the end it looks fine. They did a particularly nice job with the ThunderCat emblem on her chest. She also has a sculpted pouch on the right side of her skirt and a belt that can be removed by un-tabbing it where the tails hang down. Also, I’m pretty sure the belt is supposed to also be her weapon, buy I’ll come back to that. The ensemble is rounded out by a pair of boots and a ribbed shoulder pad… ribbed for her pleasure… and protection… of her shoulder.

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The portrait here is where my admiration for this figure begins to waver. There’s something about it, and it’s hard to put my finger on exactly what that is. I think it’s the shape of her face. It’s possibly too elongated and the contours are exaggerated. I’m not sure, but something feels off. I do, however, like the way they painted her eyes. It’s very distinctive and the paintwork is pretty clean. Also distinctive is Pumyra’s coif, which is pretty well sculpted, albeit with the white paint application being rather heavy handed. I’m not prepared to write this portrait off as a total miss, but to me it’s just not nearly as good as the Lion-O or Jackalman.

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The articulation here doesn’t hold any surprises. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed at the hips with swivels set right up at the hip joint. The knees are hinged, and the ankles feature both hinges and rockers. She has a swivel in the waist and her neck is ball jointed. As usual, the skirt impedes the range of motion in the hips.

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For accessories, Pumyra comes with her projectile-tossing whipcord, which again… I think it’s supposed to be her belt. In any event, I’m going with that and removing the belt when I display her with the whipcord readied. This is a pretty cool weapon with some sculpted and painted projectiles in loaded up and ready to launch.

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She also comes with a throwing star, which is a pretty basic piece and not terribly remarkable. To handle these weapons, Pumyra comes with a total of four hands, one pair of which is designed to hold the weapons in either hand. She also has a right fist and a left hand with her fingers reaching out.

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And then you get this thing. It’s like a big amulet on a stand or a wand of some kind. Seriously, what is it? I have no idea. I have a feeling it’s there to mock me for not knowing my Season 2 ThunderCats stories better. And yet, I know many of the First Season stories by heart. Go figure…

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Pumyra is the first figure in this line that I feel isn’t a home run. She’s not fantastic, she’s not terrible, she’s a solid OK. And I swear to Jaga that I’m not just saying that because she isn’t Cheetara. Not to be a devil’s advocate, but it made sense from a business standpoint for Matty to not give up all the core ‘Cats in the first sub, but once the whole thing collapsed after just the one year, it backfired on us fans when we have Pumyra and not Cheetara in our collections. Do I sound bitter? Good, because I still am.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Castle Grayskull by Mattel, Part 2

Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m spending this morning on the living room floor, under the tree, in my footie pajamas with a cup of cocoa! Not really. I don’t have a Christmas tree, I’m actually wearing sweatpants and an old T-shirt from a Journey concert, and I’m having an Irish Coffee with extra Jameson to infuse myself with good cheer for the day ahead. But, I might as well be a kid again, because it’s Christmas morning and I’m opening up one of the coolest playsets ever. OK, technically I opened the box a few days ago and checked out the exterior yesterday, but Christmas Eve is all about peaking, right? And today’s the day I get to open up Castle Grayskull and really start playing with it.

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When you first open this sucker up, you’re met with a massive interior and a lot of parts. Parts in bags, parts in cardboard, parts in other bags stuffed in cardboard. There’s a lot here to process, and a giant sheet of instructions to tell you where everything goes and how everything works. The first thing to do is put the three floor pieces down, which locks the playset in this open position and gives you a place for figures to stand, and maybe even a place to park a vehicle, but I’ll come back to that later. There’s so many things to look at here, I’m just going to start on the ground floor and work my way up. But first…

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These are pieces that I’m not using. One is a decorative point for the top of the castle and the other is a carry handle, just like the original playset had. I like these, but word is once you put them on, they can be really hard to get off again and I don’t want to risk breaking anything trying to take them off. Why would I want to take them off again? Because Grayskull won’t fit back in the box with these in place and I want to hang onto that option at least until I can find some place to actually display this thing. That may be never, so for now these pieces are being set aside. Now, back to the ground floor…

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Naturally, you have the inside of the jawbridge, which can be opened by sticking a sword in a slot and triggering the mechanism. Next to it, there are a couple of places where you can clip shields to hang them on the wall. The set even comes with one to get you started. There’s another, similar set up on the other wall. This one has a sword behind it. The shields look really good on the wall, but if you’ve had them clipped onto your figures’ wrists for a while, it may stretch them out too much for them to stay put here. Also, to the right here you can see that backdoor we saw yesterday from the outside. It’s sculpted to look like it’s reinforced on the inside with a plate of steel.

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Also down here is this horrible little dungeon with a sticker showing more horrible things locked away under it. For a bunch of good guys, the Masters don’t seem to be very humane to their prisoners. Sure, you can argue that they’re all monsters down there. But let’s face it, this is Eternia, and that sticker might as well be a picture of any Eternian’s family album. The cell door opens and closes and you also get some chains for the prisoners. One of these sets of chains is designed to peg into somewhere… anyone happen to know where that might be, cause I sure don’t!

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Also down here is this nifty training device. I love the sculpted detail on this thing, especially the ornamental head and the giant hand that’s designed to smack you when you’re trying to hit it. Also check out some of those hack marks in the wood. This is such a beautiful piece!

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You also get a handful of weapons, including an axe, a mace, and two laser pistols. Now would be a good time to dig out that weapons rack, because it looks fantastic in the corner, and you shouldn’t just leave weapons lying around.

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You can climb to the second floor via the ladder or just take the elevator. The lift features pegs for a figures’ feet and it holds strong enough to carry the weight of a figure without sliding back down. At least for now. The second level features more of those lovely sculpted floors.

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A little further on is this spiffy computer bank with a scanner screen. One of my favorite things about MOTU has always been the melding of fantasy and science fiction, so there’s just something about seeing high tech stuff like this in a medieval style castle really does it for me.

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Speaking of which, the next point of interest on our tour is this crazy space armor. It’s a static piece that just pegs into the floor and makes for quite the conversation piece. It’s also positioned next to another hi-tech computer bank. Or that might be Grayskull’s central AC unit. Moving on…

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Behold… The Throne of Grayskull. This is a regal chair, indeed. I love the gold paint used on it and the two blue orbs. The starburst on the back looks great too. There’s a lot going on in this picture, so let me break it all down. First off, that sword on the wall up there is removable and you can replace it with most other swords. There are two battle standards that hang down on either side of the throne, and if you look to the right you can see the secret door that leads out to the ledge on the exterior. That’s clearly the “Oh, shit!” door, used to bugger off when the rest of Grayskull’s defenses fail. Oh, yeah… and speaking of defenses, you see that horribly garish rug beside the throne?

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Turn the throne and it activates the trap door. I used Tri-Klops to demonstrate, but only now am I realizing that I should have put Trap Jaw down the Trap Door. It would have been poetic. Anyway, I love this thing! It’s very design counts on your enemy besting all your defenses, finding his way into an impenetrable fortress, fighting his way through all your Men-At-Arms, confronting you as you sit on the throne, and then standing there and monologueing like an idiot for long enough for you to activate the trap. How unlikely is that to work? Oh, wait, we’re talking about Skeletor here. Never mind, it’ll work. Unfortunately, when it does work all it does is drop him down a floor and makes him ride the elevator back up again. That’s probably what the “Oh, shit!” door is for.

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The rooftop level is accessible by the elevator. Here you can admire the flag or open up that little door to reveal whatever the hell this thing is. Seriously, what is it? Anyone know? The instructions are failing me on this one.

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Finally, our last stop on the tour is a mounted laser gun for fending off attacks from Snake Mountain. And if all that isn’t cool enough, back on the ground floor, there’s room to park the Wind Raider!

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Well, sort of. The circular slot is designed to take the Wind Raider’s stand. And while this beautiful craft does technically fit, it’s a tight squeeze and it eats up a lot of real estate. It also kind of looks like a big albatross and probably cooks anyone locked in the dungeon when it takes off. To be honest, I’d probably be more likely to park it a little further out and off the floor pieces.

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The Sky Sled, on the other hand, is compatible with the same stand and it fits a lot better. hell, even if you want to do away with the stand, there’s plenty of room to tuck this vehicle in here without compromising all your play room. And speaking of playing… this set really starts to shine when you load it up with figures.

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In case you haven’t guessed by now, I am absolutely in love with Castle Grayskull. In fact, I love it so much that I almost feel bad that I waited until it was on clearance to buy it. Grayskull originally debuted at $300, which in itself is a huge chunk of change, but that sum inflated even more when you added tax and Matty’s crazy idea of a reasonable shipping rate. When all was said and done, I think it cost around $360 to get this thing shipped out. Back then I couldn’t fit it into the budget, and I cried myself to sleep many a nights (when I was drinking) over the fact that I would never own it. Then last year, Matty blew this beauty out at $150 with free shipping and that made it practically an impulse buy. No regrets!

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And thus ends the chronicling of my magical Christmas morning with Castle Grayskull. I really did feel like a kid again while I was setting this up and getting out all my figures to put in it, and hopefully I was able to convey some of that in my ramblings. To me, this is a big part of what Christmas is all about. Remembering happy times of Christmas Past and feeling young at heart again. As to the other part, I’m about to head out to spend the rest of Christmas with my family, eat a lot of great food, come home get drunk and watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special. And that, my friends, is my formula for a perfect Christmas.

Whatever constitutes your Perfect Christmas, I hope you all get it. Have a happy and safe holiday and I’ll see you on tomorrow for Marvel Monday!