ThunderCats Classics: Wilykit and Wilykat (SDCC Exclusive) by Mattel

Yes, folks, I’m sort of cheating on this fine Anime Saturday morning. Obviously this day is set aside for figures based on proper anime, but today I’m bending the rules so I can finally look at this set based on the Thundercats cartoon, which at least counts as animation, and a tenuous hook on which to hang today’s Feature. I was so excited for this set when it was first revealed. I cursed it for being a convention exclusive, but I vowed I would pay whatever price was needed. In the end, I was able to get it off of the soon to be defunct Matty Collector site with little difficulty and since then it’s been sitting in the corner silently mocking me. I should be cherishing this Feature, but I’m more in a mind of just wanting to get it over with…

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Of course, the reason for my onset of Thundercats induced depression is because the line may already be dead. With Matty Collector going under at the end of the year and transferring their licenses to indie toy company, Super7, it seems unlikely (albeit not impossible) that Thundercats Classics will survive the switch. That means that after two false starts from Bandai, the dream of getting a full set of Thundercats figures based on the classic cartoon may still be only just that… a dream. With that rousing introduction out of the way, I’m going to try as hard as I can to not let any of the behind-the-scenes politics to cloud my opinions on these Thunder Kittens.

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The packaging for this set sure is nice. I don’t know whether it was ever really an SDCC exclusive, few things are these days, but the presentation sure points to it being something special. The set comes in an illustrated black shipper box with the Eye of Thundera logo and the figures’ names below it.
Inside, you get a fantastic looking window box that shows off the figures and their accessories beautifully. The back and side panels feature some rather pretty character art, and the whole thing unfolds into an illustrated display stage with The Cat’s Lair in the background. Getting the figures and all the accessories out can be a pain, thanks to those terrible plastic ties that all these companies seem to be using now. Also, you’ll want to be super careful opening up the stage, which serves as a storage for the hoverboard display stands. Ultimately, Matty went all out for the presentation here and I absolutely respect and appreciate that.

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And here are WilyKit and WilyKat out of the package. The figures themselves are special for being really the first time we’re getting proper figures of the Thunder Kittens. I believe LJN originally released them as static PVC figurines. They later got better releases, but still felt a little wanting. Even the 2011 reboot figures were rather insubstantial in the 3 3/4-inch scale and not released at all into Bandai’s 6-inch scale. The sculpts on these kittens are pretty solid. They do a nice job capturing both the character portraits as well as the classic costumes. Kat features his two-tone brown belted tunic and buccaneer boots. Kit features her ragged-cut dress and spats. Both figures have places on their belts where you can peg in the coiled versions of their weapons. Overall, there’s a very nice balance here between detail and adhering to the simple animated look.

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The articulation here is identical on both figures, and it’s safe to say these are the best articulated versions of the kittens we’ve yet to see. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees. The ankles are hinged, the waists and wrists have swivels, and the necks are ball jointed. Hinges in the wrists would have been nice and the tunic and dress do inhibit the hip movement a bit, but otherwise I really have no complaints when it comes to the pose-ability here.

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Unfortunately, the paint quality runs hot and cold. Most of the paint on these are fine, but there are some flubs that have no business being on a pair of $60 figures in this scale. Oddly enough these mostly appear on my Kat, while Kit has escaped largely unscathed. The biggest offender is on my Wilykat’s face, where there’s a large glob of paint on his left cheek just beside his nose. There’s also a lot of paint chipping on his right arm just below his wrist bracer. Some of the lines could also be sharper.

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Each of the kittens come with some extra hands. These are all pretty standard with the exception of the one sculpted with an effects part for Kat’s smoke bombs. The sculpt and paint on this piece are fantastic, but if memory serves, the purpose was to throw these and have them burst into a smokescreen, so why would they already be smoking in his hand? Am I missing something?

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You also get deployed versions of each kittens weapon. Kat comes with his whip and Kit comes with her pink lasso. It’s worth pointing out that on the back of the box, it mentions Wilykit having a hypnotic flute as one of her weapons. It’s not included with the figure, but then unless I’m mis-remembering the flute was something they introduced in the 2011 reboot. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve watched my original Thundercats DVDs, so I could be entirely off base on that one. Either way, it probably shouldn’t have been mentioned on the box.

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The hoverboards are nice pieces, but the paint on these could have been better. Again, the issue seems to mostly affect Kat’s board and not Kit’s. Kat’s board just looks dirty on the top surface with all sorts of scratches and stray paint marks, and the edging lines aren’t really that sharp. Someone at the factory really had it out for WilyKat that day. If this set were a regular release that I had picked up through a regular retailer, I would have demanded an exchange for another one.

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The clear stands secure pretty well to the bottoms of the boards and they hold them beautifully thanks to a pretty strong ball joint. Each stand features a sculpted Eye of Thundera. The figures attach to the boards via standard foot pegs and they look great riding them.

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Finally, we have the stage, which folds out from the packaging. Even better, it can be folded back together so the figure can be returned to the packaging without any issues. I absolutely love when companies do this sort of thing and in this case it goes a long way to help justify the price point here. The artwork is beautiful and the figures look fantastic displayed on it. It’ll look fantastic at the back of a shelf with the kittens on the stage and whatever other figures we manage to get posed standing in front of it.

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Also, if you’re wondering, the kittens scale pretty well with Bandai’s first pair of Thundercats Classics, Lion-O and Tygra.

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If I set aside all the ill will I’m feeling toward Matty and their Thundercats Classics right now, this set really only suffers from some piss-poor paint QC, and I’m willing to concede that issue might be isolated to my particular set. If the paint on my Wilykit figure and board wasn’t such an issue, I’d be free to gush on about how much I adore these figures, the accessories, and the overall presentation. Even if we never do wind up with a complete set of Classics out of this line, it’s nice to finally have decent figures of the Thunder Kittens and knowing that I’ll at least have some of the core team to display them with. Indeed, I’m smitten enough with this set that I’m seriously considering rolling the dice on better paint and picking up a second one. And just because there aren’t enough Uncle Buck references in Thundercats action figure reviews…

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“Hey Wilykat… Here’s a quarter. Go downtown and have a rat gnaw that thing off your face.”

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DC Universe Classics: Swamp Thing by Mattel

Yes, with Club Infinite Earths dead, I’m looking backwards and working on slowly completing my DCUC collection with maybe two figures a month. Swamp Thing was a special stand-alone release drummed up as a San Diego Comic Con exclusive for 2012 and later offered on the Matty Collector website. I really wanted to pick him up at the time, but funds are usually tight around SDCC time and I had to make some tough choices, one of which included taking a pass on him. Luckily, a couple of months ago BBTS got hold of some of Matty’s unsold stock (hey, not all of it went to Big Lots!) and cleared them out at half price. A winner is me!

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The fact that this guy was a special exclusive release is evident by the conspicuously awesome packaging. It doesn’t actually say SDCC Exclusive anywhere, but just take one look at this presentation and you’ll know that this was a special release. I believe the only difference between this and the one sold at the Con was the inclusion of some Un-Men figures in the Con version.  The huge outer box is printed with a swamp motif and the DC Universe logo. The front of the box has gaps cut between the vegetation, so you can see Swamp Thing peering out at you from within as if to warn you not to bring your evil here. There’s also a color pamphlet made to look like Alec Holland’s diary.

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Inside you get a giant Swamp Thing head that’s made of some kind of crappy bio-degradable material. It feels like old newspapers and you can actually wear the front as a mask if you’re insane, or just tight on cash this Halloween. It also attracts cat hair like nobody’s business! Ok… so, Matty, my hobby includes amassing a collection of as much plastic as I possibly can before I die, and you’re business involves producing as much plastic as you possibly can sell. Is this one bio-degradable package going to help negate any of that? I get it, Swamp Thing is all about protecting the environment, I’m just busting balls a little.

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Anyway, open up the head, which is hinged on the bottom,  and we finally get to the goods! The inside tray, made out of the same material, holds the Swamp Thing figure and a display stand.

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Out of the package and Swamp Thing looks spectacular! We’ll get to the rubber skin in a minute, because the first thing that struck me about Swamp Thing when I get him out is how freaking huge he is. DCUC has never been a stickler for proper scale, but I guess since this guy was a special release they were able to go apeshit with his size. And boy did they! He’s a full third taller than your average DCUC figure.

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And yes, the figure is covered with a rubbery vegetation skin that feels just a little creepy and looks amazing. When I first saw this figure in hand, I realized there was no other way that they could have done him such justice. For starters, the portrait is just absolutely stunning for a figure in this scale. They captured his noble bad-assery without any compromise, right down to his grim mouth, piercing eyes, and heavy brow. As far as head sculpts go, this is just fabulous stuff!

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Of course, the detail over all of the skin is just as impressive. Besides a rough mossy texture, you get some really cool painted and sculpted bits, there are vines snaking all around his body like exposed veins, flowers sprouting on his chest, fungus growing here and there, and what appear to be some kind of turnips growing on the back of his shoulders. This guy is a veritable walking salad bar.

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Swamp Thing features only four exposed joints. His head is on a regular ball joint, his shoulders are on rotating hinges, and his hips are ball jointed and will pop off, rather than break, if you stress them too far. The rest of the joints lie hidden under the rubbery skin and include hinged knees and ankles and, surprisingly enough, the ab crunch hinge. The biggest compromise comes in the absence of any swivels. He’s not the most poseable figure out there, but you can still do plenty with him and I think the trade-off for the skin was a good one.

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Also included in the package is a very nice environment figure stand. It’s a swampy patch of land with a couple of trees and the remnants of a skeleton partially concealed. There’s one peg that fits into the peg hole on Swampy’s right foot and holds him there quite well. The sculpt and paintwork on this piece goes way beyond anything I’m used to seeing out of Mattel on any level. Yes, that’s a left-handed compliment, but I meant it with all due respects.

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I was extremely happy to get a second crack at this figure from a retailer (I’ve been kind of burned out on hunting figures on Ebay lately) and the fact that it was half price was just the icing on the cake. Had my budget not been bursting last Summer, I would have been happy to have paid $30 for him because he really is that fantastic and he’s definitely going to be a highlight of my DCUC shelves. I’d dare say that even if you aren’t a DCUC collector but still a fan of this character, this is a fine stand-alone piece for your shelf. Mattel did a beautiful job on this guy, and I’m only hoping that the rubber skin stands the test of time.

Doctor Who: Ace by Character Options

The Classic side of Character Options’ Doctor Who line has slowed down a bit, and now it’s all but confirmed that the line will likely end with this year. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for something big for the 50th Anniversary and the news that the line was being shit-canned was not that something I was hoping for. Nonetheless, there have still been some important releases this year and a few more to come. Certainly one of the biggest holes in the collection for many fans has been Ace, spunky young companion to the 7th Doctor. To me, Ace’s relationship with The Doctor was very similar to Leela’s. Both ladies were prone to violence and despite The Doctor’s frequent cries of “No more Janus Thorn/Nitro-9,” Ace and Leela allowed The Doctor to remain conveniently detached from the violence that sometimes needed to be done. Well, we’ve already had several figures based on Leela, and now it’s time for Ace to get her due. And the cool thing is that this version of Ace is like several figures in one!

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The packaging is fairly similar to the style used for Peri, Leela, and some of the other recent companions and two-packs. Ace was on the show in the 80’s, but the packaging still has a very Classic Who feel to it, and I’m talking more like the 70’s. Technically, Ace was billed as a 2013 San Diego Comic Con Exclusive, but as is often the case with these releases, there’s nothing on the package to signify that and she was readily available for purchase at various retailers after the Con. She comes in a sealed blister pack with a printed insert. The front shows off the figure wearing her jacket and with all her accessories and extra limbs arranged around her. The reverse side of the insert has a little backstory. Obviously, this package is not collector friendly and you’re going to need a trusty pair of scissors to get Ace out of there.

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So, let’s start with Ace as she comes out of the package and wearing her signature leather jacket… the very reason this figure could not have been an easy one to make. Besides having her adopted name beautifully painted on the back, the figure recreates her habit of collecting patches, pins, and badges and affixing them to her jacket. CO did an incredible job reproducing them in all their tiny colorful glory. The jacket itself is actually a vest with the sleeves sculpted onto her arms. We’ve seen this done plenty of times by the likes of Hasbro and Mattel, but in this case it actually serves a purpose in making the jacket removable… but more on that in a little bit. The jacket remained constant through various other little tweaks and bobs to Ace’s ensemble so it’s awesome that they were able to get it this right. Besides the jacket, you get a soft plastic skirt, black matte painted leggings, and glossy black boots.

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The likeness is serviceable but not exceptional. Ace’s portrait is not one of CO’s slam dunks, as they have done some really great head sculpts over the years, but she’s definitely not bad either and the likeness definitely looks better in person. I’m not sure that Sophie Aldred was all that easy to sculpt, so I’m willing to give some leeway here. They definitely got her cheeks right and I like that her little pony tail is a separate sculpted piece. She is definitely a lot better than the Jo Grant and some of the Sarah Janes. Overall, I approve. Holy shit, I definitely used the word definitely way too many times in this paragraph!

To take off Ace’s jacket, you pull off her arms, remove the jacket vest and pop on her white sleeved arms. If you have the Jo Grant figure, than you’ve likely already done this sort of thing. It’s easy to do and it really does transform her into a mostly new figure. Again, the paintwork on her T-shirt is really phenomenal. It’s crisp and colorful. I really dig this option, but my guess is most collectors will want to display her with the jacket.

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Ace’s articulation varies a bit depending on which arms you attach. With her jacketed arms on, she has ball joints in the shoulders, swivel cuts in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The t-shirt arms do away with the wrist swivels. The bicep swivels are there, but mine appear to be stuck and I’m not about to force it. The rest of the figure stays the same, with universal movement in the hips, swivels in the thighs, hinges in the knees, and a rotating head.

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Accessories! Ace comes with some cool gear! For starters, she has a backpack that can be worn and actually store some of her stuff. The back comes off so you can fill it with her three silver canisters of Nitro-9 explosives and there’s a slot on the top to slide in her baseball bat. The baseball bat is a nice addition since The Doctor energized it using The Hand of Omega and turned it into a Dalek busting bludgeon. You also get an RPG launcher with detachable grenade. That’s a lot of cool stuff, especially for a Doctor Who figure!

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Ace retails for around $20. It’s a fair amount of money to pay for a single 5” action figure, but it has been the going rate for the single figure exclusives in the past. Plus, Ace really is like two figures in one and comes with a lot of stuff, so I think the value is there. I may even get a second to display her with and without jacket. I was originally surprised that CO gave away so much with one figure, as they are the king of tweaks and repacks, but with the line ending, I’m guessing they wanted to get her all out in one shot.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back to check out a two-pack that I finally broke down and purchased to go with her.

Marvel Legends: Thunderbolts (2013 SDCC Exclusive) by Hasbro, Part 3

And we are on our final leg of the Thunderbolts Trifecta today, folks. Let’s put this baby to bed with a look at the last two figures in the set: Moonstone and Crossbones. Ladies first!

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We can get through Moonstone pretty quickly because we’ve seen a lot of her before. Yes, here’s an example of how the folks at Hasbro can be real wizards of recycling when they want to be. Moonstone not only shares the same body as Satana, but she’s got the same face sculpt too. Nonetheless, the new pearlescent plastic bodysuit and a newly sculpted blonde hair piece, along with some other tweaks, and this figure totally succeeds on her own.

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I absolutely adore the color plastic used for her and the gold paint apps look striking, right down to the Thunderbolts tramp stamp above her shapely hinder. All the nice things I said about this female buck yesterday apply here and I won’t bother going on about the articulation again because it’s all the same. She’s a really solid figure with great joints that just beg to be played with. There are no weak and flimsy leg hinges and the inclusion of the swivel bicep on a female figure is always a very welcome treat. But it shouldn’t be. It should be standard. Once again, I love this new body and I hope to see more of it in the future.

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The face used for Moonstone is just as beautiful as it was on Satana. The new hair coupled with the less-satanic looking makeup and the painted silver mask work wonderfully for the character.  Hasbro also swapped out Satana’s oogity-boogity hands with a pair of more sensible punching fists. That’s about all I’ve got to say about her, but don’t take my brevity as anything other than a ringing endorsement for this figure.

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Next up, we have Crossbones. Have I called Hasbro Wizards of Recycling yet? Well, it applies here too. What we’re getting here is a repaint and minor re-sculpt of their last Crossbones figure. The one released before Legends went away. I’m very happy to see this guy in the set because the last time he was released I had already signed off on Hasbro’s Legends line on account of most of them sucked ass. Yes, that was true, but it also resulted in me missing out on some decent figures along the way and Crossbones was one of those good ones. The sculpting on this guy is exceptionally good, particularly the hair and veins on his beefy arms and the detail on his vest. I absolutely love his combat knife. Too bad it doesn’t come out of the sheath. Anyway, apart from less paint wash and a few minor variations, the big change here is the giant crossed bones painted on his vest and the Thunderbolts logo. I approve.

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Crossbones sports a healthy amount of articulation for such a big guy. The head is ball jointed and includes the extra hinge. His arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows, and have swivels at the biceps. He also has swivels in his forearms, which is handy for getting him to grip his weapon. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees and have swivels in the thighs. His ankles are hinged and he has hinges in the middle of his feet. I suspect there’s a ab crunch hinge under that vest of his, but it doesn’t offer a lot of movement. He can also swivel at the waist.

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But wait… the recycling isn’t done yet. Hasbro dipped into the GI Joe: Sigma Six line to provide Crossbones with a very cool chaingun. This massive piece of ordinance features an ammo belt that clips in and a windup feature that spins the barrel. I knew this was coming as part of the set, but I wasn’t entirely convinced it would work. Now that it’s in hand, I’ll concede that it fits in pretty well with the figure and Crossbones looks absolutely bitchin’ while wielding it. I’m more than a little surprised he can stand with it. The inclusion of the machine gun is another great thing about this set. There’s just no way we could have gotten a Crossbones with that weapon in any other format.

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And that’s the final two figures in the set. Moonstone is likely to be one of the figures that pisses off fans because of her exclusivity. I know I’ve been anxious to get the character on my shelf for a while so she’s another reason why I needed to buy this set. She may have been better suited to a retail release. As for Crossbones, the original release has really gone up in price on the second-hand market, so he alone was very nearly worth the price of admission.

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So, speaking of price… The Thunderbolts set was $89.99 but it was a smidge over $100 by the time I got done with S&H from HTS. That works out to be $20 a figure and I think that’s a pretty good deal for five exclusive and, in at least a couple of cases, very niche characters. I know I’ve paid that a couple times for regular retail Marvel Legends releases just because the distribution is so shitty in my area. So, yeah… I have no complaints, other than the box being too fragile and inconvenient for me to bother keeping. The only other Hasbro con exclusive that I wanted was the Deadpool Corps Taco Truck, but I’m not willing to pay a premium for it, so I’m willing to let that one go.

Marvel Legends: Thunderbolts (2013 SDCC Exclusive) by Hasbro, Part 2

Welcome to the second part of this Thunderbolts Trifecta! Yesterday we checked out the packaging and Luke Cage, today we’re pushing on with Ghost and Judith Chambers. Let’s start with Ms. Chambers. Wait… who? Exactly. I’m guessing that Hasbro didn’t have the rights to the name Satana, because even being the Marvel Comics whore that I am, I had no idea who Judith Chambers was when she was first announced as part of this set. It wasn’t until the figure was first showed that it became obvious that we were dealing with The Devil’s Daughter herself.

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Satana certainly is easy on the eyes. She dons her skintight black outfit with vertical cut out to showcase all her evil goodies. The costume is achieved entirely from the deco as opposed to original sculpting. What we’re dealing with is essentially a black buck with some flesh paint. That’s not a complaint, mind you, I really like this female buck, for reasons we’ll get to in a bit, and the figure works great right down to her spooky, “I’m gonna hex you up” fingers. The ensemble is all tied together with an excellent sculpted cape, which is removable if you pop the head off. I can’t place Satana’s body as a re-use, so maybe it’s one of their new ones? Either way, I’d like to see it used more often in the future.

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The head sculpt is quite good. I was a little worried about Hasbro’s female head sculpting skills after the pinch-face debacle with poor Viper, but Satana is quite beautiful and sports some pretty solid paintwork. The hair is soft plastic so as not to inhibit the neck articulation too badly.

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Speaking of articulation, I’m happy to say that Satana uses a female buck that is a vast improvement from the likes of Madam Masque, Viper, and Hope Summers. Those were all fine figures, but they lacked some POA’s that I consider rather crucial. Satana has a ball joint in the neck, but no hinge. The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders and hinged at the elbows. There are swivels in the biceps and her wrists have hinges and swivels. Her legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinged at the knees, and feature swivels in the thighs and hinges in the ankles. She has no waist articulation, but she does have a ball joint just below her bosom. The points are all really solid on this figure making her lots of fun to pose.

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Next up is Ghost. Ghost is an awesome character that I’d love to see a lot more of. Truth be told, he’s one of the main deciding points on me buying this set and I can still hardly believe we have a figure of him. There was virtually no chance that we were ever going to see him as a stand-alone release and quite frankly I think his existence justifies this set, even if he is built off the old Bucky body.

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Ghost is cast entirely in translucent plastic, which was a no brainer for this figure. I know some people lose their shit over translucent figures. I’m not one of those people, but even I can see the beauty in it when it’s used appropriately and that is certainly the case here. That’s not to say there aren’t any paint apps. Hasbro used some smoky paintwork for his hands and feet, the torso harness is painted, as are the filters on his gasmask. He has gold painted Thunderbolts logos on his shoulders, and best of all he has two creepy red eyes that work wonderfully with the clear plastic.

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Ghost also comes with a cool little surprise: Two heads! You can swap them out just by popping them off the ball joint. Yes it’s cool, but it’s also frustrating because they’re both fantastic and I can’t decide which one I want to display him with. Yes, these are First World problems. I am aware.

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Articulation! Yes, Ghost is built off of an older Bucky figure, but the articulation isn’t much at odds with what we’ve been getting. The head is ball jointed with no hinge. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders, double hinges in the elbows and swivels in the biceps and gloves. The legs have ball joints in the hips, double hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs and hinged ankles. Ghost can swivel at the waist and has an ab crunch hinge. Lovely!

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Satana and Ghost are exactly the kind of figures that I look for in an Exclusive set. To most they aren’t “must own” releases, so if you don’t want to invest the time or expense in hunting these down you’re collection isn’t going to suffer any major holes for it. On the other hand, I can’t help but get excited about being able to put these characters on my shelf. Hasbro did a wonderful job bringing these two characters to plastic and they are definitely great reasons to pick up the set. I can’t say I’m all that familiar with Satana as a character, but her figure certainly looks great. Getting a figure of Ghost, on the other hand, is a very welcome treat. Tomorrow, we’ll wrap this up with a look at Moonstone and Crossbones!

Marvel Legends: Thunderbolts (2013 SDCC Exclusive) by Hasbro, Part 1

There weren’t a lot of Exclusives that I wanted from this year’s San Diego Comic Con, and I suppose that’s a good thing because I got shut out of most of them anyway. Sure, there’s always Ebay for the ones that I missed but the premium prices are probably a good indicator that I didn’t really want a lot of them that badly after all. Fortunately, Hasbro’s Thunderbolts set, which was high on my list, lasted for about two hours on Hasbro Toy Shop the day the exclusives went up for sale and I was able to snag one. The set doesn’t exactly include the A-listers of the Thunderbolts’ roster, instead it’s post-Siege, but it does have some very cool figures of characters we may never have gotten otherwise. Today we’re going to look at the packaging and Luke Cage, tomorrow we’ll check out Ghost and Judith Chambers, and on Wednesday we’ll look at Moonstone and Crossbones. Let’s do it…

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Packaging and presentation is usually a big deal for Con Exclusives and this set is certainly no different. With five Legends scale figures packed into one set, a big box was inevitable, but it wasn’t until this set was in hand that I truly appreciated how big this box was going to be. The figures are arranged in a vertical tray and presented in a box that is designed to look like Thunderbolts Tower. It’s a cool, if not obvious, design and includes the SDCC emblem on the bottom corner.

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The back of the box has a big panel of artwork featuring all the characters along with “Marvel’s Thunderbolts” and “Justice, like lightning…”

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The front flap is rounded and opens up to reveal a window showing the figures and another panel of character art. The rounded front of the box will likely be an issue for mint-in-box collectors as it seems pretty susceptible to being crunched. My set was fairly well packed and it still showed up in pretty rough condition for a collectible. It’s not just the front, but in general the edges of this massive box haven’t weathered well at all. The interior tray is also quite flimsy and requires careful removal of the figures if you’re planning on keeping it all together. I usually do save the packaging on my SDCC Exclusives, but in this case, I’ll likely deep six this beast of a box. The size alone will make it difficult to store, but when you toss in how fragile it is, I’m willing to give up on it now and save myself the grief.

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Kicking things off with Luke Cage, he is probably the least interesting figure in this set, but a welcome addition to my collection nonetheless. He comes sporting his modern look with his yellow top and Thunderbolts emblems on the shoulders, sculpted wrist bracers and heavy boots. A friend and fellow Legends collector clued me in on the fact that Cage is built off the body used for the recent Hyperion release, a figure that I have yet to pick up. It certainly explains the cape holes in Cage’s back. It seems like Hasbro could have been bros and plugged those unsightly things, but whatever. I think the body works well for Cage and while I know some people take issue with the proportions on this figure, I’m pretty happy with him.

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Early photos of the set had him sporting a huge noggin, but thankfully it was fixed for the release. Again, I know some collectors are still grousing about it being too big, but at this point I think we’re splitting hairs. This is a pretty heavily muscled buck and it needed a suitably sized head. The sculpt itself is pretty good, although it’s worth pointing out that he has a dent in the side of his head that appears to be part of the molding process and not unique to my figure. That would probably explain the angry expression. “Sweet Christmas, someone kicked me in the head!” The paint is ok, but not exceptional. There’s a stray bit of black on his jaw and he the paint for the beard doesn’t quite match up to the sculpt. It looks fine so long as you don’t scrutinize it too closely.

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The articulation on this figure is standard for the line and yet still so satisfying and fun to play around with. The neck features both a hinge and a ball joint. The arms have ball joints in the shoulders, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips, double hinges in the knees, hinges and rockers in the ankles, and swivels in the thighs and boots. He can swivel at the waist and has an ab crunch in the torso.

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Luke Cage is a solid figure, but for me he’s not the most exciting release around. He also won’t satisfy fans looking for a mainstay version of the character for their shelves. But this is an exclusive set, so he should be a niche figure rather than the definitive Legends Luke Cage. Either way, he is definitely not one of the figures that made me shell out $90 for the set. Tomorrow, we’ll start getting into the good stuff with a look at Ghost and Judith Chambers.

DC Universe Classics: Wonder Twins (2009 SDCC Exclusive) 2-Pack by Mattel

Ok, I’m cheating a little, as today’s feature was not part of Matty Collector’s Cyber Monday Sale. It was, however, a Matty “warehouse find” that I picked up by way of the fine folks at Big Bad Toy Store a couple of weeks back. And since I had this one last day hanging out there, I decided to include this set to round out the week. I tried like hell to pick this set up when it was first offered back in ’09, but I got shut out, and I wasn’t even after the super exclusive Gleek accessory. The Twins are cool, but I hate that goddamn jabbering space monkey.

The packaging! Oh, the packaging!! For a guy that takes numerous trips to the dumpster each week with shredded action figure packages, you’d think I wouldn’t care, but I do. I especially care when a company goes to extremes like this one. I’ll confess the presentation of this set is a huge reason why I just wouldn’t let it go and kept hoping to pick it up one day. Now that I have it in hand, I have to say that the presentation doesn’t disappoint.


The Twins come in a standard white Matty mailer box. Inside, there’s a beautiful package with a semi-transparent wrap-around sleeve (Note: The sleeve comes with an opaque film to protect it, which I’ve opted not to peel off at this time!). The sleeve has the DC Universe logos and each of the Twins’ emblems superimposed over the figures.  When you take off the sleeve, you have access to both figures in their trays. But before you take them out, you get to try out the package’s electronic gimmick. Nay, gimmick is too cheap a word for the glorious electronic engineering of this package. Fold the package together so that the Twins connect their knuckles and then sit back and watch the show. LEDs light up around each of the figures and you hear that familiar Hanna-Barbera sound effect followed by:

“Wonder Twin powers activate!”

Zan: “Form of water!”

Jayna: “Shape of an Eagle!”

Zan: “Let’s go save those kids!”

Jayna: “I’m with you Wonder Brother!”

Glorious! With the box opened in this fashion, the back of it displays a great montage of the Twins. Unfortunately, it was photo-bombed by Gleek. Get out of my beautiful piece of Wonder Twins art, you fucking monkey!!!

With a little careful clipping of those pesky invisible rubber bands, each figure can be removed from their tray and then returned to the package, which is a great thing, because I plan on keeping them in the box and in the mailer. Maybe someday when I get more space for my vast DCUC collection, I’ll actually display the Twins with the rest of my figures, but for now, they’ll be staying nestled in their glorious package. But enough about the box, I suppose we should check out the figures themselves.

Let’s start with the head sculpts. Both Zan and Jayna have obviously sipped from the same Kool-Aid as DCUC’s Mary Batson and Stargirl, because they have the same creepy, vacant, cheesy, wax museum smiles. Personally, I think it works fine for these characters. Maybe Mattel could have toned it down a bit, but I prefer having cheesy smiles on the Twins over some kind of serious or neutral expressions, it just suits the characters better. Besides the smiles, I think the likenesses on both figures make them look a lot older than they should. What I’m seeing may be a result of going from very simple 70’s Hanna-Barbera art to 3D “realistic” figures, but a lot of their youth was lost in the transition and you can see it based on the character art from the packaging.


I think Zan’s likeness holds the best out of the two, although It’s worth noting that my Zan figure has an annoying nick in the plastic to his right cheek, which makes me wonder if these “warehouse finds” were actually customer service returns. As for Jayna, well there’s no nice way of saying it, Mattel really screwed the pooch on her likeness. Her face is flat and nowhere near the shape of the character art and her hair style looks like she styled it to mimic a Smurf hat. I don’t mind admitting that I grew up having quite the crush on Jayna. It’s still easy to see why when looking at the original art, but the face on her figure just ain’t cutting it. It’s hard to believe this is a Four Horsemen effort, but I guess everyone has their bad days.

Both Zan and Jayna are pretty standard DCUC figures built on the regular male and female bucks. As a result, both figures are too big, but Zan is way too big. Granted, scale has always been an issue with DCUC, so it’s not a problem unique to this set, but one that’s still worth noting. Their boots, gauntlets, belts, and collars are sculpted but the rest of their costumes are all paintwork. The bodies are cast in purple plastic, which looks fine on Jayna, but curiously cheap and rough on Zan. The tampos on their chests are nice and crisp, and the rest of the paintwork is up to par for the line.

Both figures feature the same points of articulation, all standard to the DCUC line. You get ball joints in the necks and shoulders; the arms have swivels in the biceps and wrists, and hinges in the elbows. The legs have the usual universal joints at the hips, swivels in the thighs, and hinges in the knees and ankles. They each also have the ubiquitous DCUC ab crunch hinge.


Each figure comes with an example of them in one of their alternate forms. Jayna comes with a really cool eagle, complete with articulated wings. Zan comes with a bucket of water with his face sculpted into the water. It was a cool selection because eagle Jayna can actually grip the handle on bucket of water Zan.

If it seems like I spent as much, if not more, time on the packaging as the figures, that’s certainly intentional. This set is a lot about the presentation and when you get down to it, the figures themselves are just flawed DCUC treatments of a pair of characters that most collectors are either going to love or hate (Hey, at least they didn’t do a Wendy and Marvin set, but then if they did I’d probably buy that too). I can’t say the set is disappointing, because I knew a lot about the issues going into it, but I can say I’m disappointed that Mattel didn’t put more effort into the likenesses, and maybe selected a more appropriate body for Zan.

As far as value goes, I got the set for $55 shipped and I’m perfectly fine with that, particularly since I had no interest in ponying up the money for a bagged Gleek that doesn’t even fit in the packaging. Considering that some of the DCUC two-packs that aren’t exclusives go for more than that these days, the price of this set was certainly reasonable and I’m happy to finally have it in my collection.

Masters of the Universe Classics: Captain Glenn (Queen Marlena) and Cringer by Mattel

2011 was a rough year for me and SDCC exclusives. There wasn’t a lot that I wanted and I still got skunked out of most of it. Who would have thought that old Matty would have come through to deliver the most painless way to score a Con exclusive? And yet on August 1st, after a long night of merriment at the local pub, I came home, sat down at my computer around 11pm, and was able to order Queen Marlena and Cringer without a bit of bother. Unlikely? Yeah. Cool? Definitely. It was certainly a breath of fresh air compared to the experiences on some other webstores… Yeah, I’m looking at you Hasbro!

Now, based on the packaging you can argue that this release isn’t really an SDCC exclusive. The one sold at the Con was packaged as Queen Marlena, whereas the one sold on Matty afterwards is packaged as Captain Glenn. I understand that if you’re a MOC collector, this is a huge deal, but I’m not, so once I tore her out of the package, all things became equal. Either way, I’m a happy camper. Glenn comes in the standard white mailer box and carded on the now all too familiar MOTUC card. The figure looks really nice in the package and the back panel has the ubiquitous bio as well as pictures of other figures in the line. I think it was a brilliant idea on Matty’s part to make this release two figures in one. Queen Marlena is a nice figure for collectors looking to complete the Eternian Royal Family, but she ain’t all that exciting. Give her the ability to turn into her younger, galaxy-hopping space adventuress persona, and now you’re talking! Anywho, when you open up the package you’re greeted with a whole lot of stuff.

Considering the nature of this figure, I’m actually going to start by listing her accessories, because you get a lot of stuff packaged onto this unassuming little card. Most of it is either on the figure or stuffed under the bottom insert. If you strip Marlena down to her base figure, you’re left with her royal robe, her astronaut vest, astronaut helmet in two pieces, gun belt with holster, extra head, laser pistol, laser rifle, sword, and staff. That’s the kind of assortment I expect to get with a 1:6 scale figure, and I didn’t even mention Cringer yet!

Let’s start with Captain Glenn. The figure looks great with a space suit that’s not too bulky and yet fairly convincing. The only thing odd is that she’s not wearing gloves, but I can certainly let that slide. She has a definite retro-thing going on with the huge fishbowl style helmet and low slung gun belt. The back of the helmet has a panel that hangs down her back with some instruments sculpted into it. The Glenn head sulpt is ok, but maybe a bit too angular. There’s a defintie difference in the faces between the two heads and the Glenn one is not my favorite of the two. She also looks a bit too much like Teela.

Glenn’s accessories make her a bit of a walking arsenal. The gunbelt fits on so nicely and secures so well it looks like it’s not even meant to come off. The pistol is a great little sculpt and fits snugly into the holster. The rifle is pretty big and also features a really cool and unique sculpt, complete with a scope. Too bad she didn’t encounter Skeletor when first crash landing on Eternia. She probably could have killed him without breaking a sweat.

To convert Glenn to Queen Marlena, you basically remove everything from the figure, including the head. Then you pop on the new head, put on her rubbery, plastic robe and stitch it up the back. As I mentioned earlier, the Marlena head is my favorite of the two. The hair is a bit more poofy and she’s wearing her crown, but the face just looks more natural and attractive and less stern and angular. The fasteners on her robe are just tabs that fit into sockets and they work amazingly well. Once you get them lined up and fastened properly you’re left with just a seam in the back and the robe is pretty snug and looks very natural. Of course, it also cripples the figure’s articulation from the waist down. You still have full movement in the arms and head, but that’s it. As Marlena, the figure is fairly simple, but very faithful to her character design and should appease both Filmation and comic fans alike.

As Queen, Marlena comes with her staff and a sword. The staff is nicely sculpted and rounds out her queenly ensemble very nicely. The sword is the same one that was packaged with Battleground Teela, which is cool because I really like it. It’s a nice, no-nonsense, functional looking weapon. I’m not sure how often the Queen of Eternia needs to go around sticking swords into people, but I’ll never scoff at an extra accessory.

And speaking of extra accessories, let’s not forget Cringer! For what is essentially a bonus item, Cringer is an amazing piece. The sculpt features every bit of love and detail that T4H put into their main attraction figures. He’s the spitting image of the Filmation design, right down to his “Oh shit, we’re gonna die” expression and his one snaggle tooth. The paint apps are argueably better than the ones on my full Battle Cat and no detail has been spared. If you turn him over, you can see even the pads on his paws have been sculpted and painted. Of course, Cringer is mostly just a statue, but he does have swivel cuts in his neck and the base of his tail.

As I mentioned up top, Glenn/Marlena was very easy to purchase from Matty Collector after the Con. If you somehow missed her on Matty, you should still be able to get her from a third-party dealer without getting your wallet raped too badly. But even if you are paying a bit extra, there’s enough stuff in this package to make the inflated price tag well worth it. It’s not often I can say this about the MOTUC series, but at $37 shipped, I’d actually consider this figure a decent value.

Doctor Who: River Song with The Pandorica Chair by Character Options

In addition to satisfying the Classic Whovians with their Leela figure, CO also delivered on a modern companion at the SDCC this year. Alas, no, not Rory, but the enigmatic River Song. Yes, we’ve had a River figure before, way back from her debut episode Silence in the Library, but she’s been back on the show quite a bit since and a new figure was certainly overdue. Much to some collectors’ chagrin, CO decided that instead of her being a single carded release, she would be bundled with the chair from The Pandorica. So is the set worthwhile? Let’s take a look…

The set comes in a nice window box with the 11th Doctor’s logo and a blue swirly spacey-waycey deco. The Pandorica chair and base takes up a good portion of the package with River standing off beside it. I like the overall packaging, but it’s kind of an odd display since the chair seems out of place without its walls (more on that later) and it’s just empty with River standing next to it. I don’t suppose I should complain, because CO could have just as easily repacked another 11th Doctor figure in the chair and charged us another $10. So, yeah, I’ll shut up now. I’ve been saving a lot of the packaging from my Doctor Who sets, but I’m not compelled to keep this one.

Let’s start off with River, as there’s a lot to like and a few things to dislike about the figure. From the neck down I’ll say she’s pretty darn marvelous. She’s sculpted with the garb she wore throughout most of The Pandorica Opens and The Big Bang episodes, and it’s a great choice, as it’s a sort of generic space swashbuckling outfit. She has a sculpted jacket, a belt with some pouches, and a working holster on her leg. While I still wouldn’t mind getting a River in her “church” fatigues from The Time of Angels, I think if there’s a chance we only get one River figure, than this is the one I would want.

It’s the head sculpt that’s really caused a lot of fuss. I think the likeness is ok, although some have taken issue over her smiling quite so much. I don’t have a big problem with it. The likeness is there, the paint is clean, and hey, she tends to smile a lot on the show, so no biggie. And then there’s the hair. CO opted to sculpt the hair separately from the head, so what you get is a sort of hair helmet effect. I’m hoping they did this to make it easier to produce some variants, but it does create an unfortunate gap between head and hairline. I do think the figure looks better in hand than it did in the initial photos, but there’s no doubt that this method of sculpt isn’t optimal.

What is pretty optimal is the articulation. As with Leela, River has the additional lateral movement in the shoulders, which is new to the Doctor Who figure line. She also keeps the sturdier and better designed swivel/hinge joints in the hips that give her legs a good range of movement. Other articulation includes swivel cuts in the neck, biceps, wrists, and above the boots; And hinges in the elbows and knees. She also comes with her blaster gun.

And then there’s the Pandorica chair, a piece that I’m still pretty mixed on. The chair itself is nicely done and includes articulated restraints for the wrists and torso and shoulders that will fit many Doctor Who figures. The problem is that it looks very incomplete without the walls. As it turns out the walls that were issued with each figure in the wave based on The Pandorica Opens work with this piece, so if you want it complete you have to buy those figures too. Problem is, it wasn’t exactly a “must-own” assortment of figures, but rather a wave stacked with variants and re-issues. The original release of the figures came with walls that doubled as CD holders for CDs with audio adventures. CO has since re-released the wave without the CDs and with walls that are simply sculpted plastic. Either way, you really need at least a few of these walls to make your Pandorica chair complete, and even then, they aren’t designed to open or slide apart or anything.

No doubt, I would have preferred to get River as a single carded figure. The Pandorica chair is ok, but I didn’t feel that it was missing from my collection, and since I don’t have the walls for it, it’s even less relevant. It’s probably the only piece in my Doctor Who collection that will be relegated to a box in the bottomless pit of my toy closet rather than be displayed. On the other hand, the whole set was only about $30, so it could have been worse. If you weren’t able to pick this up, you shouldn’t pay a premium for it. I think we’ll be seeing River again in some variant or another, and possibly bundled with something (or someone) better. On the other hand, if you did pick up the Pandorica wave and have the walls, than the value of this set increases quite a bit.

Doctor Who: Leela by Character Options

Character Options kept us waiting a long time to find out what the big Doctor Who Classics reveal was going to be at the SDCC this year. Turned out I wasn’t disappointed as it was everybody’s favorite sexy savage and my favorite companion of all time, Leela. Not only was she tops on my list of figures I wanted to be produced, but she comes to us introducing a brand new level of articulation for the Doctor Who line.

There are two important things worth noting about the packaging. First off, it’s brand new and obviously designed expressly for Classics figures. You get the retro-style logo, which fits much better than the 2005 logo that CO has been using on the Classics stuff. Some may note that the packaging bears a passing resemblance to the cardbacks used by DAPOL on their craptacular Doctor Who figures from way back when. The other thing worth noting is that Leela isn’t a two-pack. It’s been some time since we’ve seen a newly sculpted Classics figure released without a repack figure or something else packed in to inflate the price. Could all of this point to a new strategy or push for the Classics line? Well, I can hope. Apart from all that, the figure still comes sealed in a clamshell with an illustrated insert inside. The back panel of the insert features a brief synopsis of the episode, The Face of Evil. Overall, the presentation here is really nice, although it’s worth noting that there is no indication anywhere that this release is an SDCC Exclusive.

I wasn’t sure about this sculpt when I saw the first pictures. Now that I have the figure in hand, I think it’s much better than I gave it credit for. It’s not quite one hundred percent percent Louise Jameson to me, but it’s close enough. Of course, I’m talking about the face here, the rest of the body and outfit is totally on target. There have been a lot of QC issues reported with this figure, particularly where the paint is concerned. Mine is overall decent, but Leela does have a couple of scratches on her arms and legs. I’m still deciding whether or not they’re even worth fixing. Either way, she isn’t up to the QC standards I’ve seen in most of my Doctor Who figures, and that’s a shame.

As mentioned, Leela features brand new articulation, which results in a lot of good, and a little bit of bad. On the bad side, CO went with a new style of ball joint for the hips. Nice idea, in theory, but I pulled one of her legs off just trying to remove her from the package, and I know that I wasn’t alone. Sure, they’re ball joints and they just pop right back on, but having them come off while posing her is more than a little annoying. Considering the old style hip joints gave us better articulation than these new ball joints, I don’t think this was a worthy or even logical trade off at all.

On the other hand, the new hinge/pin ball joint used for the shoulders, is much better than the standard swivel we’ve been getting in the past. You can debate whether Leela or River Song is the first to introduce this, but Leela’s the first of the two I’m looking at so it’s new to me. The introduction of lateral movement to the shoulders in the Doctor Who line is a most welcome addition to the line’s articulation. Leela also features swivel cuts in the neck, waist, biceps, wrists, and just above the boots. She also has hinged elbows and knees. It’s worth noting, however, that her sculpted hair does interfere with her neck articulation.

As a fierce warrior, Leela certainly loved her weapons and CO packed her with a mini arsenal. She comes with a crossbow with an arrow, a Tesh gun, and of course her trusty knife. What? No Janus Thorn? Probably too small to sculpt. [Actually, on closer examination, I’m pretty sure it’s sculpted in a pouch on her belt. – FF] The crossbow is nicely sculpted, although it seems rather oversized compared to the one she carried in the episode. The arrow is also kind of useless and easy to lose. The gun, on the other hand, is pretty spot on and a very welcome accessory. Her knife if good too, and it fits nicely into the sheath on her belt.

Leela the action figure has about 25 years of my anticipation to live up to, so it’s only understandable that she may fall a little short. Unfortunately, the QC issues with the figure’s hip joints and scarring to the flesh paint are issues that make the figure feel a bit more like a custom than a professionally finished product. I applaud the addition of the lateral arm movement in the shoulder hips, but CO really needs to deepsix these new ball joints in the hips and go back to the solid swivel and hinge system they’ve been using. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… and definitely don’t replace it with something worse. Knowing CO, I’m betting she’ll turn up again in a repack of some sort, so there’s always a good chance they’ll clean up some of the QC issues on a later release. Until then, I’m still happy to finally have a Leela figure in my collection, flaws and all.