Marvel Legends (Man-Thing Wave): Elektra by Hasbro

Here I go once again, assuaging the hurt of Monday by opening up a new Marvel Legends action figure in a little thing that I like to call Marvel Monday. Also… I saw Black Panther last Thursday and it was amazing and I wish I was talking about that wave of figures, but rules are rules and I have to finish going through this wave before moving on to another. ARGGGGHHHH!

Sorry, Elektra, I’m not intentionally downplaying how amazing it is that we’re getting Legends figures based on the various Netflix MCU series, but that’s the conundrum with Marvel these days. So many great movies, so many great figures, so many great characters, so many great comics! Oh, wait. Scratch that last one. The current crop of Marvel comics are still garbage books largely written by hacks, but I have hopes that Marvel will turn that around eventually. Until then at least we have the movies and toys and a HUGE backlog of older and better comics! Anyway, let’s check out the last of the Netflix figures in this wave… Elektra!

This is Elektra as she appeared in Daredevil Season 2, which is a perfect place to start, because I felt she began to overstay her welcome a bit in The Defenders. But that’s a discussion for another day. Elektra here is a pretty fab example of a figure with some simple sculpting and paintwork that still gets the job done. I’m pretty sure the pelvis and abs are recycled from Jessica Jones, and if that’s the case it works just fine. You get the same sculpted pockets, belt loops, and a painted button in the front. The new upper body features a V-neck vest revealing a sculpted red turtleneck underneath it. Her bare arms are a tad lumpy. I get the sense they were avoiding the super skinny female arms they usually do and tried to give her some muscles. It looks OK at some angles, but from others, those elbows look kind of strange. Her outfit is capped off by a pair of red and black sculpted gloves. Again, it’s a simple buck with simple coloring, but I think she looks great.

Elektra features two heads, one masked and one un-masked, and both are pretty good likenesses to the lovely Élodie Yung. Although, it should be noted that this new face printing thing that Hasbro is doing looks fantastic with the figure in hand, but is not terribly flattering when you get up close with the camera. Also, Elektra avoids the ugly seam that Jessica has running down the middle of her neck. Thank God for that!

The masked head is probably my favorite of the two, mainly because the likeness is impressive enough to still be recognizable even when half her face is covered. It’s all in the eyes! My only nitpick here is that I seem to recall her mask just being her collar pulled up to hide the bottom half of her face. That’s obviously not the case here, but I’m not going to let that bother me. The hair sculpt seems more or less identical on either head, and that’s not a bad thing because it’s quite well done.

Obviously, Elektra is a figure that needs to be super-articulated, and while what’s here is good, I would have liked some changes. From the waist down, it’s all good. She has ball jointed hips, swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, and rockers and hinges in the ankles. A waist swivel would have been nice, but at least she has the ball joint under her chest, and her neck is both hinged and ball jointed. It’s the arms where I take some issue. She’s got rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, which seems to be pretty typical for the Marvel Legends ladies. I think bicep swivels and double hinges in the elbows would have gone a long way to make Elektra a little more flexible. With that having been said, she’s still plenty of fun to play with.

Elektra comes with her trademark Sai, which the series teased us with for I can’t remember how many episodes, before finally putting them into her hands. These are simple, but cool looking, weapons with a gray finish and black painted grips. She can hold them in either hand, but I really dig how her right hand is sculpted so you can pass the blade through her grip and have the fingers hooked over the guard. It’s a beautiful little touch that goes a long way.

I think Hasbro did a nice job with this figure, even if there are a few things I would have done differently with the articulation. She isn’t likely to blow anyone away with complexity of sculpt or paint, but what’s here is damn solid. A beefier selection of weapons would have been cool, or even an extra set of hands, but I have to imagine that actor licensing on the MCU figures cut into the costs for extras, so I won’t complain too much. Nor should I, because not too long ago I would have bet against us getting any Marvel Legends from the Netflix series and now we have four! I hope this little assortment isn’t the end, although I couldn’t help but notice Hasbro didn’t show off any more Netflix figures at Toy Fair this past weekend. But did you see those 10 Year Anniversary MCU figures! Holy hell, they look great!

Next time I’ll start dipping into the comic-based figures in this wave.

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Marvel Legends (Man-Thing Wave): Jessica Jones by Hasbro

I’ve got a double dose of the Mondays today, because it’s my first day back at work after a vacation that went by way too fast. It sucks, but at least I get to open a new Marvel Legends figure to brighten my day and I’ve only got a few days until Black Panther! For now, I’m still pressing on through the Marvel Netflix figures in this Man-Thing Wave and today I’m checking out the ever charming alcoholic-gumshoe-asskicker, Jessica Jones.

Here she is in the box, with the giant Man-Thing torso and the series logo down at the bottom. I’m still surprised they didn’t work the Netflix brand onto the front, but I guess that wasn’t part of the licensing. While the tray seems pretty full thanks to the BAF part, I can’t help but think a couple of extra hands could have easily fit in that upper left corner, and I’ll come back to that later on.

If ever there was a figure that I thought Hasbro could screw up, it would be this one, but boy was I wrong. The outfit, the likeness, everything here is spot on and very nearly perfect. I could just shut down the review now, but I’ve got to keep up my average word count, so I’ll elaborate. Jessica comes wearing her blue jeans, boots, black t-shirt, and black leather jacket. This is about as close to an iconic look for her Netflix version as you can get. Maybe they could have added her gray scarf, but apparently the Star Wars Black Series Jyn Erso scarf makes for a good substitute with a little modification. The paint on the jeans is very well done and shows off some faded areas and an overall convincing denim finish. They also have sculpted pockets, seams, belt loops, and a teeny tiny silver painted button on the front. The tops of the boots are actually free-floating pieces to allow for the usual ankle articulation.

The jacket is my favorite piece of her ensemble. It just looks magnificent, right down to the rumples in the sleeves and the silver paint on the zippers. Yes, it’s the usual soft plastic vest with sleeves sculpted on the arms, and the effect works really well. It’s also easily removable, but I think the jacket sleeves are too bulky to pass as the sleeves to her t-shirt. Still, it’s an option.

What really surprised me about this figure was how good the likeness is to actress Krysten Ritter. Sure, Hasbro has been doing a solid job with most of their MCU portraits, but this one is up there with the best of them. It has to be noted, however, that while the portrait looks excellent in hand, it really breaks down as you get in super close. This will be a recurring gripe with me about Hasbro’s new facial printing method, but to be honest, I’d much rather have a great looking likeness in hand then one that looks great when I’m all zoomed in. Unfortunately, there’s one big flaw in this figure that keeps it from closing in on true excellence and that’s the hideous molding seam that runs right up the middle of her neck. Really, Hasbro? Was there no way to move that to the side, where it would have been covered up by her hair?

There aren’t any real surprises in the articulation here. Jessica’s arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, but no bicep swivels. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and have thigh swivels. The ankles have both hinges and rockers. The torso features a ball joint under the chest, and the neck has both a hinge and ball joint. The figure is really good at high kicks, and like Daredevil, Hasbro has been delivering some bafflingly good balance on these figures.

Apart from her horribly scarred neck, the only other drawback here is a lack of extra hands. I like the fists. They make sense, as Jessica likes to hit things, but they’re rather limiting in what you could do with her. Some relaxed hands would have been cool. I would have also been happy with an accessory. I know, Hasbro isn’t going to give her a tiny bottle of whiskey, but maybe a laptop or a camera would have been cool. Without extra hands or accessories, I’ll confess that I felt a little strained just trying to come up with some different photos of her.

Nonetheless, I think Jessica Jones is another very solid figure in the Marvel Legends Netflix treatments and I’ll confess to be very surprised that this version of the character got a release. Not only is she a pretty ordinary looking person in street clothes, but I’ll bet the parents aren’t lining up to buy their kids action figures based on alcoholic private investigators. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I’m hoping that these figures are selling well, because I really need a Netflix Kingpin, Killgrave, and yes I’d even happily take an Iron Fist to round out my Defenders. I’ll also take this time to gripe about Hasbro sticking the comic version of Jessica Jones in that Amazon Exclusive Defenders four-pack, because I already have the Luke Cage from The Thunderbolts set, and I don’t really need the other Iron Fist and Daredevil. Anywho, next week I’ll wrap up the Netflix portion of this wave with a look at Elektra!

Marvel Legends (Man-Thing Wave): The Punisher by Hasbro

What better way to celebrate the beginning of a new week then by opening up some new Marvel toys and playing with them? Well, that’s how I roll here on every Marvel Monday. Even better, I’m starting a vacation today and to be frightfully honest, I’m anxious to get to the orgy of drinking and video games, so let’s jump right in and check out the second figure in the Marvel Legends Man-Thing Wave… Frank Castle, aka. The Punisher. In case you haven’t guessed, I’m doing all the Netflix figures first.

Frank comes straight off the screen from the Netflix Series. Well, not straight off. This is actually The Punisher from the second season of Daredevil and not the more recent Punisher series, hence the Daredevil logo on the front. He comes in the same style of window box we’ve been seeing for a while now. Oh, and see that silver pistol in the package? I already lost it, so we won’t be seeing it again. And the fact that it’s silver means my cat has probably already dragged it to one of his secret stashes of precious treasures.

The Punisher comes out of the box looking as iconic as can be. While I’ve actually been a fan of all live-action Punishers over the years (all for very different reasons) this one has become my hands down favorite. And while I can’t lie, I wish he donned his official costume more than he does, I can understand why they go the more subtle route. Anyway, Frank comes dressed all in black, which includes: Big honkin’ black combat boots, rugged black manly-man-pants, a black tactical vest, and a black trenchcoat. The only thing that breaks up the black on the costume is his trademark skull on the front of his vest, and it looks fabulous. We’ll take a closer look at that in a bit.

Hasbro did a nice job on the sculpt here, although because of all that black, it can be difficult to make out all those details. The coat uses the traditional trick of a soft-plastic vest with the sleeves sculpted as part of the arms. The effect is a little bit marred here by the fact that the sleeve holes are so large, but if you’re looking at the figure dead on, it really doesn’t show. Most of the sculpted detail on the rest of the figure comes from the rumpled material of the pants and sleeves. Oddly enough, it’s the boots that are the immediate stand out here. Not only are the laces individually detailed, but you get some heavy duty treads in the soles, perfect for curb-stomping the injustice out of criminals.

Because of the larger sleeve holes, the coat can be taken off pretty easily. I think the figure displays surprisingly well without the jacket, even know the jacket sleeves are still on his arm, they could pass as just sleeves from a bulky shirt if you don’t scrutinize it too closely. Either way, it’s worth doing, just to get a better look at some of the detail in the vest as well as the work of art that is his skull emblem. The image is printed using the new printing technique that Hasbro is currently embracing. Seriously, this came out looking great!

The portrait here is also mighty good, although I think it helps that Jon Bernthal is a very distinctive looking fellow. I’m really impressed with the subtle things like the shape of his nose, and the ears. Getting his haircut couldn’t have been easy, but I think they did a passable job there as well. I do wish they weren’t using such glossy plastic for the skin tone, though. Also, I’ll probably keep mentioning that the new printing technique for the faces look fantastic with the figure in hand, but tend to look blurry in close up shots. It can be a little vexing for people who enjoy photographing their figures, but I think the trade off is worthwhile since it looks so good to the naked eye.

Despite being a walking tank and overall pain sponge, The Punisher features some pretty solid articulation. The arms have swivels in the biceps, along with rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles are hinged and have rockers. The torso features a ball joint under the chest and the neck has both a ball joint and hinge.

If there’s one area this figure comes up a little light, it’s with the accessories. The Punisher needs guns. Lots of guns. Like a whole shit-load of guns. This guy comes with two… and I already lost one, and yeah that’s on me, but still. I feel like two guns aren’t enough, and yet with the Man-Thing BAF part in there, the package doesn’t feel light. It’s just that back in the day we used to get a lot of accessories with some figures. Remember how many guns Mystique came with? Oh well, at least the one I still have is a good one. It looks like an AR-15 with a rail-mounted scope and an under-slung grenade launcher. It’s a great looking rifle, and if I want to give him some more, I’ve got plenty other figures that I can borrow from.

I’m also glad that playing with The Punisher gave me an excuse to pull out Daredevil again, because I failed to mention what a wonderfully balanced figure he is. If some of the poses up top look a little stiff, it’s because I tried to do them without stands, so yeah that dude really can balance on one leg pretty spectacularly. Ah, but this is Frank’s review, Matt. You’ve already had your turn. But all I’ve got left to say is that so far, Hasbro is doing a really nice job delivering on the Marvel Netflix figures. Daredevil and The Punisher are both fantastic, and I’m anxious to start in with the ladies on the next Marvel Monday. Who will it be, Elektra or Jessica? Well I’ve got a week to decide.

 

 

 

Marvel Legends (Man-Thing Wave): Daredevil by Hasbro

It feels like forever ago that I wrapped up the Gladiator Hulk Wave of Marvel Legends, but I took a few detours afterwards and now I’m ready to jump back in to a new assortment. With Black Panther hitting theaters soon, I was really tempted to dig into the Okoye Wave, but then I thought it would be more fun to look at those figures after having seen the film. So let’s go back in time to last year and kick off the Man-Thing Wave with Daredevil from the Netflix Series!

While Man-Thing and a couple other figures may have little to do with it, this majority of this wave, four figures to be exact, belongs to the various Netflix Marvel series. And really, I can’t express enough how happy I am to see these versions of the characters getting immortalized in 6-inch plastic form, because now they can co-exist on my shelf alongside their MCU allies. I’m kicking things off with Daredevil because his was the first series, and he remains my favorite character among the Netflix Defenders. Plus, after already reviewing the Hot Toys version, I’m super curious to see how Hasbro’s smaller version turned out.

While it’s sometimes hard to tell on screen, The Daredevil suit offers plenty of opportunities for detail, and Hasbro really stepped up here. The black and red areas are clearly distinguished by sculpted lines and the texturing is quite well done. There’s a really great sense of layering that makes the suit look almost convincing enough to be made of separate pieces laid onto the buck. The scalloped motif on the forearms and lower legs look great and you get some nice sculpted detail in the boot laces and even the stitching in the gloves. Neat silver paint hits punctuate the various buckles and catches and I like the use of both matte and gloss black. It really looks like Hasbro did their research when sculpting this guy and poured a lot of love into him. Truth be told, I’d like to see a little less black used on the design, but that might be something the creative team is saving for Season 3.

The head sculpt is solid is a bit more of a mixed bag for me. I think the mask looks every bit as good as the rest of the costume. You get more of that great texturing on the neck as well as the exposed black mesh areas between the helmet. The contours of the mask and horns are fantastic and I really dig that they put the little slits in over the ears. They even used a little gloss for the eyes to reproduce the creepy reflective effect they give off in the show. If the portrait stumbles a bit, it’s in the lower half of Matt Murdock’s face. I really don’t see a lot of resemblance there and the paint lines between the skin and the mask on mine aren’t as crisp as I would have liked. Granted, it’s challenging enough to do a good likeness in this scale and price point, and I imagine it’s doubly so when just doing the bottom part of the face. Still, I think what we got is solid, and I don’t want to pick at it too much.

Daredevil includes a set of holsters for his batons, and it isn’t lost on me that these actually work better than the ones on the Hot Toys figure. There they were too snug to insert the batons, but here they fit great and are easily removed. The batons themselves can be connected together into one longer truncheon via a peg. You also get two pairs of hands: One set of fists and one set to hold the batons.

The articulation here is very good. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, have double hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and rockers. The arms have rotating hinges at the shoulders, hinged pegs at the wrists, swivels in the thighs, and double hinges in the elbows. The torso has a swivel at the waist, an ab crunch hinge under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. Oddly enough, the feet are actually pegged into the legs, which is something I don’t recall seeing too often on my Marvel Legends figures.

I’ve been hoping for a Legends Daredevil from the Netflix Series from the very beginning, and while I think there’s a little room for improvement in the face sculpt, the figure still turned out pretty great. The detail and paint on the suit alone really carries the day and the articulation makes him a lot of fun to play around with. A second set of batons with the cord attaching them would have been pretty cool, but as he is this is still a great figure to kick off the new wave with. When this assortment first hit, it looked like they were going to be really hard to get, but eventually things cooled down and I was able to get Daredevil, and the entire Netflix team, off of Amazon for around $15 a pop. Not bad at all.

Playmates Voltron: Legendary Defender… Let’s Form Voltron!

Happy Hump Day, Toyhounds! I’m checking in with a little bonus Wednesday content today so that I can wrap up my review of Playmates’ Voltron Legendary Defender Lions, because the Classic ’84 Lions have hit stores, and this Netflix set is really just old news now. Yesterday, I had a look at the Black Lion and today I’m finally putting these five kitties together to form Voltron… Dyna-Thrusters are go… Let’s go Voltron Force!!!

And here he is, and straightaway, I’m very impressed with the way he turned out. He’s big, he’s heavy, he looks mighty damn good, and he’s a surprisingly stable robot that can be played with like an action figure without worrying about him coming apart. I’ll talk more about the playability here in a bit when I get to articulation, because there are some caveats. He’s certainly not as well proportioned and streamlined as the Utlimate Voltron, but that’s to be expected considering this one is actually formed from the separate Lion toys. We’ve had more than a few combining Lion Voltrons over the years, and overall I’d rank this one up with some of the best of them. It’s always a question of the right amount of compromise between the Lion toys and the combined mode, and I think this one did just about everything right.

When it comes to transforming the Lions and putting him together, there’s nothing terribly complex, although there are some things that are really neat. I absolutely love the way the legs on the Green and Red Lions completely fold away. The front legs store inside their respective Lions’ bodies and the rear legs are hidden nicely too. The result is a very streamlined look to the arms, which is more than I would have expected considering the price point on those guys. If you have the electronics set to On, Black Lion will comment on every step of the assembly. It acknowledges which Lion is being plugged in and calls on the next Lion to join. Sure, it can get annoying, but it’s also really damn impressive. And if you get tired of hearing it, there’s always an OFF button. I had every intention of doing a video of the electronics, like I did with the Black Lion, but wrestling with this guy on camera proved to be way beyond my patience. When separating the Lions, the legs simply eject by pushing the buttons on the backs of the knees. The arms have to be pulled out, and sometimes that can require a lot of force.

As I discussed in the reviews of the individual Lions, the paint and coloring on these has been fairly good with little flubs here and there, and all that carries over to the Voltron mode as well. The various colored plastic of the torsos and limbs are all nice and shiny, and the silver and gold paint looks especially nice. It would have been really cool if they could have painted all the gray plastic in that snappy silver, but I get how that would have been expensive, and probably would have had rubbing issues when it came to the combining. Here’s hoping the gray on this one won’t yellow over time like the shitty plastic Mattel used on theirs. One thing I do find a little hard to excuse, however, is the lack of paint on Voltron’s face. It’s a key area of the figure and it’s not all that big a surface. I think it would have looked so much better had they painted it silver instead of leaving it that bare gray plastic, and I don’t see how it would have broken the bank. It’s a shame, yes, but not a deal-breaker, and I had the same issue with the Ultimate Voltron figure too.

So let’s talk articulation. There are some useful points here and some not-so-useful ones. If you’re talking playability, I’d say there’s a ton of fun to be had here, but in terms of poseability, then not so much. Voltron looks great standing there on the shelf, but as soon as I try to get him into some cool poses, I find out that he really is a lot more limiting than I had hoped. From the waist down, things are actually not bad. The hips offer the possibility of a wide stance, the knee ratchets are pretty strong, and you do have those swivels in the thighs. One thing to note while posing the legs is that the front legs on the Blue and Yellow Lions do not lock into place and since these serve as heel spurs, this can be good and bad and bad news. The good news is it lets you tweak them for stability in different poses. This helps since there are no ankle tilts. The bad news is, sometimes they will give way under the weight of a pose. In fairness, I had the same problem with Matty’s far more expensive Classic Voltron, so it’s not something that is unique to this toy.

The articulation in the arms is a lot more problematic. The shoulders do not articulate at the points where the Lions connect, but rather further into the chest where the Black Lion’s shoulders are. This can look awkward and throw off his symmetry on certain poses. But my big problem is in the elbow hinges, which are constantly at odds with the compacted hind legs of the Lions. You can’t bend the elbow far at all before it bumps up against these, and that’s disappointing, because it practically renders the whole joint useless. You can, however, get some decent lateral movement out of the shoulders. There’s no articulation in the torso, which is to be expected, but the lack of rotation in the neck really bothers me a lot.

As for his accessories, Voltron’s Shield plugs into the Green Lion so it can be worn on his shoulder. The Sword is completed from the two parts that came with the Red and Green Lions.  The Shield looks great, but I’m not at all a fan of this Sword. Part of that has to do with the design, as it’s really the one thing I think they screwed up when designing the Legendary Defender version of Voltron. Everything about this guy is so sexy, but that swrod was a swing and a miss. The toy version doesn’t help matters, as it just looks cheap and flimsy and the clear plastic blade is prone to showing scratches. He can, however, hold it quite well.

I also dig how you can attach the Red and Green Lions’ weapons to give some some added firepower.

It may sound like I’m coming down really hard on this figure, but the truth is I’m actually pretty happy with it. I think Playmates walked that fine line between creating some great Lion toys and making a solid looking combined mode, and that isn’t at all easy. Not to mention they did it in a way that allowed this set to be sold off the pegs in the local toy aisle, as opposed to as a more expensive adult collectible. In the end, I can’t emphasize enough the subtle difference between playability and poseability. This is a fun toy to play with, even with some of the limitations in articulation. He stays together very well and he’s just a gloriously hefty amalgamation of plastic robot lion goodness. But if you’re looking for a Voltron that can pull off some great poses on your shelf, than the Ultimate Voltron is definitely the direction to go. For me, having both really is the only answer.

Voltron: Legendary Black Lion by Playmates

I was hoping to have finished my look at Playmates’ Voltron: Legendary Defender Lions before the end of last year, but that didn’t pan out. Hope y’all didn’t think I forgot, because I didn’t. I just got side-tracked in the craziness that was 4th Quarter. But I recently started picking up some of Playmates’ Classic Voltron Lions and that proved to be just the ticket to motivate me to wrap up my look at these guys from the Netflix series. Fair is fair, I can’t start opening those until I’ve wrapped up my reviews of these kitties. So, let’s check out the Black Lion today, and tomorrow I’ll come back and have a look at Voltron himself. And in case you missed it, here are my reviews of the Yellow and Blue Lions, as well as Red and Green.

While the previous Legendary Lions came on huge carded bubbles, Black Lion comes in a window box, which offers a great look at the toy from multiple angles and also has a Try Me hole so you can fire off some of the electronic phrases & sounds. Personally, I wish all the Lions came packaged like this one. Technically, the package is collector friendly, but it would probably take a lot of patience and determination to get Black Lion out without mangling the tray. There are a lot of rubber bands and some zip ties holding him in place so a Blazing Sword, or razor comes in handy. The back of the package shows you a picture of the toy and also the proper way to connect all the Legendary Lions together to form Voltron.

Out of the box, I find this guy to be pretty damn impressive. Obviously, he’s the biggest Lion in this pride, and the stylish wings on his back give him an even larger appearance. As with the other Lions, the quality of the plastic here feels really good in hand, and thanks to both the size and the electronics, he has a nice heft to him. Playmates has been able to maintain a uniform aesthetic throughout the entire set, while still instilling a little bit of individuality to each of these big cats, and that’s certainly true of The Black Lion as well. I think they’ve done a nice job recreating the animated models in toy form. He features that same great mix of angles and curves that walks the fine line between paying homage to the originals and yet still managing to look fresh and new. The coloring on the toy is mostly achieved through the plastic, which is predominantly a mix of black and gray. The black has a nice sheen to it, whereas the gray is a bit more matte. The red plastic used for the wings looks great, and you get some snappy silver paint as well.

The majestic wings attach to the body with rotating hinges, so you have several options on how you want to display them. I kind of dig them straight up and back, but they look pretty cool when they’re angled too. The tail on this kitty isn’t as bendy as on the others, and it’s designed to stay so that it’s curving up and away from the body, which looks really good. Overall, the leg articulation is similar to the other Lions, although you lose a bit of it in the hind legs so that they can serve as Voltron’s hips. The rotation at the tops of the legs doesn’t any further forward than you can see above. Also the middle hinges in the hind legs are designed to only bend backwards. In the end, this guy isn’t quite as poseable as his peers, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had with him.

The head sculpt is very nicely done and gives this big cat a lot of personality. The paint is overall pretty solid, but there’s a little white slop on my Lion near the nose. I’m still satisfied with how he turned out. These are, after all toys, and not very expensive ones at that. Black Lion’s mouth will open, but you’ll see Voltron’s face peeking back at you, so it’s best to keep it closed.

As with the other Lions, this guy comes with a pilot sled that can be stored in a hatch in the belly. As I’ve said before, this gimmick doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but it doesn’t hurt the toy either, so I’m fine with it. There’s also a button on the side of the Lion that allows you to fire off some of the phrases and sounds, as well as light up his chest. Likewise, there’s an On/Off switch on his back in case you want him to be quiet. Here are some of the sounds and phrases he says…

There may be a few more in there, but after a while he started repeating, and I think you get the idea. The chest light isn’t all that apparent in the Lion mode, because it’s pointing at the ground and kind of hidden underneath him, but it’s mostly designed for the combined Voltron mode.

The Black Lion seems to be selling at most places for around $30. I paid $25 for mine, and it feels like a pretty good deal. Playmates did a beautiful job with this kitty and, like the others, he’d be a damn fun toy even if he didn’t combine with the others to for The Big Guy. Looking back, I remember being happy enough with the Ultimate Voltron that I was considering passing on this version. But now that I have a complete set, and I see how great they look all lined up, I can confidently say that I’m very happy that I decided to collect these. It’s also good to know that there are proper Voltron toys on the shelves for the kids to enjoy, because these would have blown my little mind back in the day. Come on back tomorrow morning and LET’S FORM VOLTRON!!!

Marvel Netflix: The Punisher 1:6 Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Welcome to the first Marvel Monday of 2018. I planned well enough as to end last year between waves of Marvel Legends so that I could get caught up on some other stuff before jumping into the next one. And what better way to kick off the new year by bringing in the heavy guns: Hot Toys and Frank Castle! While The Punisher has since had his own excellent series on Netflix, this figure is based on his appearance in Daredevil, Season 2. So, let’s jump right in and check out Hot Toys’ second release from the Netflix Marvel Universe! “One batch, two batch. Penny and Dime!”

The package is pretty uniform to what we got with Daredevil. The front of the sleeve has a shot of the figure and, like the Daredevil box, you also get some braille printed on the front. It’s the same old big window box under that illustrated sleeve with layered plastic trays holding the figure and accessories. And yes, I say this just about every time, but I feel like Hot Toys could put a little more something into these boxes. They look great, they get the job done, but they feel rather flimsy.

That’s especially a problem when Sideshow persists on shipping them in a mailer box with no extra packing or protection. Now, I’ve received dozens of figures from Sideshow without any problems, but this was the time my luck ran out and the mailer took some hits and it crunched the box. Thankfully, nothing inside was damaged. I really only keep these boxes to store accessories or in case, God help me, the day ever comes where I need to think about selling some, but it’s still annoying that a business that specializes in high end collectibles doesn’t understand the importance of keeping the boxes in good condition. If I order the same figure from another big online retailer, I pay less for shipping and get it sent to me packed within another box. In the end, it’s just a question of whether its worth the risk for Sideshow Reward Points and the ability to use Flex Pay. So far it has been, but a few more arriving like this one and I may have to rethink that.

Frank comes out of the box ready for action, wearing his tactical vest, complete with his trademark skull emblem, a black t-shirt, black trousers, and combat boots. There’s more wardrobe to come in the way of his leather jacket, but I thought we’d have a look at the figure this way before gearing him all up. Obviously, the arms feature regular jointing, as opposed to the seamless rubber-covered arms that Hot Toys sometimes uses. I’m OK, with this, mainly because I don’t plan on displaying him without his jacket on. Even still, it was probably the way to go, as many collectors (but not me) have had bad experiences with the durability of Hot Toys’ seamless bodies. It’s also worth noting that the boots are sculpted in two pieces to allow for ankle joints. This is something Hot Toys seems to be doing more frequently, and I’m very happy about that.

In terms of the outfit, I’d classify it as a case of simple perfection. There’s nothing here to really tax the tailors at Hot Toys, but what is here is all executed with precision. The stitching is all immaculate, the vest fits the figure perfectly and includes all sorts of nylon straps to hold it in place. I really love the way they executed the skull emblem on the vest. I was afraid they were going to make it too bold, but I think the uneven application came out really well. I’ll also happily note that Castle is one of the more playable Hot Toys figures I’ve had in a while. There’s no really fragile bits to the costume, the short sleeves allow for plenty of arm articulation (even if the elbows don’t bend quite far enough for my tastes), and the pants are loose enough so as not to impede leg articulation, but not so loose that they look baggy. It would have been cool to get some shotgun shells to put into the loops of his vest, but as we’ll see he doesn’t come with a shotgun, so they wouldn’t have made sense. Besides, I’m sure I can pick some up from one of the many sixth-scale figure armories out there.

The head sculpt is absolutely fantastic, and while that’s nothing new for Hot Toys, I think this is truly one of their best efforts. It probably didn’t hurt that Jon Bernthal is a pretty distinctive looking fellow, but I don’t want to take anything away from the wizards at Hot Toys who sculpt and paint these portraits. The likeness is certainly there, and the lifelike realism in the skin tone and the eyes is fantastic. I’m particularly impressed with the way they handled the transition of his haircut and the paint on his whiskers. The wound under his right eye was a really nice touch too. Some folks might have preferred a completely clean and undamaged portrait, but I think the cut adds to the character and personality of the piece. About the only thing to nitpick here is that with the clean shaven neck, the seam between the head and neck is extra obvious, but even Phicen’s best seamless bodies haven’t been able to crack that nut yet, so it’s easy to give it a pass.

Naturally, The Punisher comes with a full array of extra hands to assist with his punishing. These include a pair of fists, relaxed hands, slightly less relaxed hands, gun holding hands with trigger fingers, and enclosed finger gripping hands. They’re all pretty easy to swap in and out, and you also get an extra pair of posts in case something goes horribly wrong. Let’s move on to accessories!

Before I get Frank suited up with his jacket, let’s check out two of the smaller accessories. First up, he comes with this combat knife and sheath. These are pretty typical, but solid accessories. The enclosed gripping hands work really well for holding the knife. The craftsmanship on the sheath is particularly nice. The problem here is that I can’t really find anywhere to have him wear it. The sheath features a belt loop, and there really isn’t a good place that I can see on him to loop it through. I may wind up just shoving the knife into his boot and putting the sheath aside, or hunting down a tactical rig with a belt to put it on.

Next up, he comes with a S&W M327 Performance Center TRR8 revolver. This was the weapon that he brandished when he had Daredevil chained up on the roof. I love the design of this little guy. It’s such a distinctive design, especially with the scope rails on the top of the casing. In addition to the incredible detail of this piece, it’s fully articulated, so you can actually open the cylinder and see the tiny bullets in the chambers. On the downside, the pistol does not come with a holster or anywhere to place it on his person, so it’s probably going to have to spend most of its time in the box. Alright, let’s get Frank Castle fully suited up and check out the big guns.

The leather jacket is pretty easy to put on and it fits the figure beautifully. The stitching is perfect, and it has wires along the bottom so you can pose it billowing out behind him. It also has the extra effect of covering the jointing in his arms, if they bother you. Personally, this was always the way I was going to go for displaying him. It just looks great.

Next up is the Barrett MRAD Sniper Rifle, and again this is an absolutely gorgeous sculpt. It includes a removable magazine with the tiny painted bullets visible inside. It has a sliding scope, a folding stock, and working bolt action. But let’s face it, pistols and sniper rifles are seldom enough for Frank Castle. And when you need to really clear the bastards out of the room, that’s when you bring a minigun!

Say hello to six rotating barrels of 7.62mm hot justice! The M134 Minigun is what really drives the accessory score through the roof. This big beauty is full of detail, features a hand grip on the back and a grab bar on the top. The ammo belt is detachable and pegs securely into a slot in the side. This is what you might call an attention-getter. And for me, it really silences any cries about whether or not there should have been more guns packed into this box. I can pick up sixth-scale guns anywhere, but I think it would be hard to find something this cool to outfit him with. This is the baby that Frank’s going to be displayed with on my shelf.

One last accessory is the damaged version of Daredevil’s mask. It’s beautifully made and features the cracked plate on the front. I like it, but I probably would have preferred another gun in lieu of this piece. I doubt I’ll ever display him holding it, but I might just rest it on the stand between his feet. And speaking of stands…

Frank comes with the same basic stand as Daredevil did. It even has the same nameplate that reads Daredevil instead of The Punisher. I get it, they went for the Series title instead of character names, but I’ve never seen Hot Toys do that before so it feels a little out of place here. The surface of the base looks like wet pavement, and you get an illustrated cardboard standee to place behind the stand as a backdrop, which is pretty cool. The Punisher’s stand is also compatible with the extra diorama pieces that came with Daredevil.

While the Hot Toys Daredevil was a very solid figure that felt a little light for the price point, The Punisher here feels right on target. With an MSRP of $235, he was priced at only $5 more than Matt Murdock, but in addition to being a fantastic figure, this also feels like a more well-rounded package for the price. Sure, it’s true that you can almost never get enough guns with a Punisher figure, and I would have loved to have a few more, but we still got a nice selection of some pretty spectacular little firearms and the minigun is a damn fine showpiece for the collection. The pink Ruger would have made a nice exclusive bonus, but I have to remind myself that this release was based on Daredevil and not his own series. Regardless, I’m really impressed with the job Hot Toys did here and I am really satisfied with this purchase. Now bring on Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, please!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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