Marvel Legends A-Force (SDCC 2017 Exclusive): Elsa Bloodstone by Hasbro

If you’re here expecting Anime Saturday, then you’re in good company among the ranks of pissed off DC and Transformers readers that got their content bumped this week because of my marathon review of the Marvel Legends A-Force set. Sorry about that. I’m something like FIVE waves of Legends behind and I didn’t want to get in any deeper. But now, the end is near and so I face the final curtain. Just one more A-Force figure to look at before things can return to normal around these parts. Let’s check out, Elsa Bloodstone!

If you were after this set because you’re a fan of the A-Force book, then you’ll no doubt know who Elsa is, but either way I highly recommend checking out her 2001 debut book, Bloodstone. She was a fun, sassy, and rough-and-tumble monster hunter, before the lunatics and wet blankets running Marvel these days got a hold of her. I seem to remember her in the short-lived run of Fearless Defenders a few years back as well, which was not terrible, but not one that I would go out of my way to recommend, aside from some solid art and pretty good action. Where was I? Oh, right… the figure….

Elsa Bloodstone is a bad ass and this figure does a nice job of capturing that. Her costume is mostly painted onto the buck, with orange pants, an orange top, and an exposed mid-riff. Her black painted boots do feature sculpting on her feet and have additional pieces over her knees to make them more stylish, and to give her additional padding for when she knees wolfmen in the nards. She has a belt and holster with a thigh strap, which is lifted from the Misty Knight figure, this time cast in a darker plastic, and with silver painted buckles. Hmm… there’s something else here that seems awfully familiar.

Her arms feature sculpted sleeves to go with her jacket, which is… Oh, Hasbro, you didn’t? It was one thing to use the same cape in the same box for Loki and Sif, but now you’ve recycled Monica’s jacket? You’ve gone too far this time! Actually, it’s a pretty sensible move and truth be told it looks fine. This time around, it’s cast in a muddy green-gray plastic, with black painted lapels, and a brown liner. I still really dig all the texturing on this plastic garment and I’m not terribly displeased about seeing it again. It suits the character.

The head sculpt is very solid. Elsa sports a pretty face, with a serious, although not too severe, expression. Her eyebrows, eyes, and lips are all perfectly painted, and she even has her Bloodstone choker painted on around her neck. But the real showpiece of this portrait is her bitchin’ red hair and ridiculously awesome ponytail. I’d say that’s about the most epic hair we’re going to see in the Legends line, at least until Medusa makes her appearance.

The articulation here is very close to what we got with Monica Rambeau, which makes sense, because Elsa shares her arms. What is unfortunately missing are lateral rockers in the ankles. Now, I’m not a hundred percent sure that they aren’t in there, but if they are, they won’t budge on mine at all. It’s not a deal breaker for me, but it does make it a little harder to balance her on those wide stance poses.

Accessories! Four out of the six A-Force ladies came with nothing. Sif came with a sword. Elsa, on the other hand, hit the jackpot, with not one, not two, but three accessories… and they’re all guns. For starters, she has a cool revolver that fits into her holster. I’m pretty sure that this is the same one that came with Misty Knight a while back, only this time painted a lot more sensibly.

She also comes with a pair of identical shotguns, and these aren’t the usual sawed off boomsticks I’m used to seeing people in movies and comics dual wielding. Nope, these are full-on over-and-under shotguns, which look pretty ridiculous when she’s holding them both, because they’re just so goddamn long. Otherwise, they are extremely cool accessories and one of them may wind up getting re-purposed to another figure, I just haven’t decided to whom yet.

Unlike Monica and She-Hulk, I’d classify Elsa Bloodstone, along with Singularity, as the most Exclusive-friendly figure in this batch. By that I mean that I can’t imagine she’s a “must-have” for anybody, but she is a cool character, I’m damn glad she got a figure, and this set was a great way to get her out there. She just isn’t someone that I could see getting a slot in one of the regular retail waves. She also turned out to rank surprisingly high as one of my favorites in this box, and another reason I’m so very glad I was able to pick up this set.

Yup, this is a solid box of figures, through and through. About the only one in the batch I couldn’t see myself buying separately would have been Singularity, and that’s just because I don’t care about the character, not because she’s a bad figure. She-Hulk could have been tweaked a bit to be a better release, but apart from that I’d say the other four figures in the set are all fantastic, even with there being parts sharing within the set itself. I was able to get this set off of Toys R Us when it first went up at around $120 and that puts it right at twenty bucks a figure, which is regular retail for Legends these days. Sure, I wind up finding a lot of them for less, but I’m not going to quibble where an exclusive is concerned.

Marvel Legends A-Force (SDCC 2017 Exclusive): Lady Sif by Hasbro

What’s this? Marvel content on a DC Friday? I know, blasphemous! But it’s Day Five of my Marvel Legends SDCC Exclusive A-Force reviews, and I can’t stop now. I’ve already checked out Monica Rambeau, She-Hulk, Singularity, and Loki and today I’m turning my attention to one of the fiercest fighters of Asgard and occasional love interest of everyone’s favorite Thunder God. It’s Lady Sif! There are only two figures left in the box, so let’s go…

Yes, with both Sif and Loki included in the A-Force set, the Asgardians are well represented. I’ll confess, Sif’s inclusion in certainly buoyed my determination to pick up this set. To my knowledge, this is her first appearance as a Legends scale figure, although we did get a 3 3/4-inch release of the MCU version from Hasbro a while back. I never picked up any of those figures, so this is the first time she’s gracing my collection of little plastic Marvel peoples. Remember how Agents of SHIELD paraded Sif out when they needed to get a ratings boost? That was adorable. It still didn’t make me want to watch it.

But forget about the MCU for now, because this figure is ripped straight from the comic panels, and I love it! She sports her crimson and white battle gear, which consists of a surprising amount of sculpting. It actually took me a bit to recognize that those segmented armor thigh-high boots are borrowed from Angela. It’s pretty obvious when the two figures are together, but the red and white deco really makes them look distinctive on this figure. The segmented armor on the fore arms are also borrowed from Angela, this time painted white, and they include wrist and elbow pieces to add a little bit more individuality to Sif’s outfit, and make them look like full fledged gauntlets.

The belt and “skirt” are brand new and hang on the figure’s hips, much like Lady Loki’s. Sif’s belt features a loop so she can wear her sword on her hip. The torso features more of that lovely crimson plastic with some razor sharp white patterns running across her abs and chest. For a figure that borrows so heavily from another, I think Hasbro did an amazing job making Sif feel unique and the colors just look fantastic. But wait, Sif isn’t done raiding other figures’ wardrobes yet…

What’s this? Using the same cape on two different figures in the same boxed set? Yup, it’s a repaint of Lady Loki’s cape! Hasbro, you cheeky bastards! But I’m going to let it slide, because it happens to look great on both ladies. I think it fits Sif a little better, but I’m going to chalk that up to the styling of Loki’s hair. The cape and hair combined, made her look a little hunched, and I’m only really seeing that when I have these two side by side. Of course, the cape is also easily removable, for when Sif needs to be unencumbered for swordplay. Speaking of which, her articulation is right no par with Loki’s, including the always welcome thigh and bicep swivels.

Most of the head sculpts in this box have been great, and Lady Sif does nothing to buck that trend. The paint on the eyebrows and lips is sharp, and while the eyes aren’t quite perfect, they’re still pretty damn good. Her long hair has more of a windblown look to it than Loki’s, which gives her a little more range of motion in her neck articulation. Lastly, her head piece is sculpted independently of her face, which certainly makes it look better than if the whole head were one piece. Yeah, there is a little bit of mold flashing along her jawline, but I can always clean that up.

Up until now, there haven’t really been any accessories accompanying the ladies in this set, but Lady Sif would be naked without her trusty sword. It’s a very simple and utilitarian design with a straight crossguard and round pommel. The blade and hilt are painted silver and the grip is painted red. I actually expected this piece to be a repaint of Valkyrie’s sword, but it’s a totally different sculpt. Sif’s grips are designed so that she can wield it in her left or right hands, and if you try hard enough, she can even wield it dual handed.

By the Gods, I love this figure. Sure, she uses a fair bit of recycled parts, but its sensibly done and the red and white coloring makes her pop on the shelf, even among the throngs of costumed heroes. What’s more, with a sword in her hand, she’s incredibly fun to play with and she looks great battling it out with Thor by her side, or in the company of her fellow femme fatales, Valkyrie and Angela. It’s nice to see my Asgardian ranks growing, even before the Ragnarok figures start to hit. The only thing here to make me sad is that I’m now down to my very last A-Force figure, and so tomorrow I’ll be wrapping things up with a look at Elsa Bloodstone!

Marvel Legends A-Force (SDCC 2017 Exclusive): Loki by Hasbro

Sorry, change-o-bot fans, if you didn’t know it already, I’m bumping all regular content this week so that I can get through a review of all six figures in Hasbro’s Marvel Legends A-Force set, which was released through Toys R Us during San Diego Comic Con. It’s Day Four, I’m over the hump, and I can’t think of a better way to introduce today’s figure then with a couple of licks from The Kinks… Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand, Why she walks like a woman and talks like a man, Oh my Loki, lo lo lo lo Loki….

…Well, we drank horns of mead and danced all night, Under Mjolnir’s electric light… Ok, enough with The Kinks, I made my point. Yes, this figure represents Loki’s return in female form after the events of Ragnarok and also as she appeared in the A-Force book. It’s also a bit of foreshadowing to the present landscape, where half of Marvel’s main characters have been turned into women… but don’t get me started. Anywho… It’s kind of crazy that in the five years since Marvel Legends returned, this is the first comic version of Loki we get. Well, at least there will be an MCU version in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok wave. In the meantime, I ain’t complaining, so let’s check her out.

Hello, God of Mischief! Lady Loki looks absolutely stunning, thanks to a deft mix of paint and a bit of original sculpting. She’s built on one of the better female bucks and includes those extra touches like bicep and thigh swivels, missing from the standard Legends femme bodies. Alas, she’s still got those rotating hinges in the hips, but I guess you can’t have everything. The boots are painted in a pale brown, while the rest of the outfit is metallic green with a striking fish-scale armor pattern printed on the thighs, biceps and torso.

Original sculpted bits include the belt and sash, which hangs on her hips and sculpted boot tops, which simply hang around the knees. The boot tops are kind of clever in that they add a unique look to what was otherwise just paint, but they can get a bit floppy when posing her. They’re kind of similar to the ones on the recent Rogue figure. Lastly, we get a cape with sculpted fur shoulders, which is easily removable. The paintwork on the belt and sash is especially nice and includes some gold discs placed over the brown belt, and a brown border on the sash. What a great looking costume!

And that brings us to the portrait, and it is simply fabulous. She’s beautiful, the paint applications for her eyes and lips are perfect and her hair looks amazing, complete with gold adornments throughout. Her horned crest is sculpted as a separate piece and really looks like it could be removed, even though it’s permanently attached. The hair does inhibit her neck articulation quite a bit, but that’s pretty unavoidable with sculpted hair like this.

If you had asked me how badly I wanted a Lady Loki in my Marvel Legends collection, I’d say it was pretty far down on my list. Hell, I still haven’t gotten around to picking up the Kotobukiya Bishoujo statue of her, but that’s mostly down to how damn expensive it’s been. Nonetheless, having this figure in hand and seeing how fantastic she turned out, I’ve become an easy convert. Indeed, I’d say so far this is my favorite figure in the A-Force box. Yeah, I still love Monica finally getting a figure, but in terms of sheer wow factor, Hasbro really outdid themselves with this busty Asgardian trickster. It’s also a version of the character that feels appropriate for a Con Exclusive box. By no means essential, but she sure is nice to have. After all, It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, Except for Loki. Lo lo lo lo Loki. Verily!

Marvel Legends A-Force (SDCC 2017 Exclusive): Singularity by Hasbro

Welcome back to the first theme week I’ve done in a long while. It’s day three of my look at Hasbro’s SDCC 2017 Marvel Legends A-Force set. It’s also Wednesday and this is usually my day off from bloggery. So, let’s compromise with a look at the one figure in the box that I decided warranted the least attention: Singularity!

For starters, I should qualify that I have no affinity for this character. I encountered her in my early readings of A-Force before I dropped the book and I can’t recall running across her since. In fairness, she appeared right about the time the “Powers That Be” running Marvel Comics went insane and I decided to channel more of my comic dollars into publishers like DC and Zenescope, as well as going back to older Marvel books I’d missed.

That having been said, this is a pretty cool looking, albeit simple, figure. As her name suggests, this character is literally a sentient singularity and she kind of looks like a nebula pressed into human form. The figure uses a beautiful mix of translucent blue and purple plastic with sparkly glitter mixed throughout and the effect is damn near spectacular, especially given some bright lighting. Given her size, I’m tempted to say she’s built off of the Nico Minoru buck, but that figure had so much unique sculpting, I’m not sure how much of it they could have reused, other than maybe the upper legs, arms, and lower torso. Either way, she’s a smaller figure that is evocative of a teenage girl.

I’ve had my share of translucent figures, but none have looked quite this good, and I’d say that’s because of the gradations of blue and purple in the plastic. Also, while translucent plastic isn’t the best at holding sculpted detail, the portrait is still pretty damn good. They even did some halftone printing on her face and the eyes are painted in white.

The articulation is standard female buck stuff. I’m not running through it on each of the figures this week, unless there’s something vastly different, so I’ll refer you back to Monday’s Monica Rambeau review. The only real difference here is that she has swivel cuts in her lower legs. I will say that my Singularity has a few issues. The ankle hinges are stuck, which is odd because there’s no paint on the figure, and that’s usually the cause. I’m sure I can boil them free, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Also, the swivel cut on my figure’s lower left leg is a little loose. This is normally the kind of thing you get when you try to force a stuck swivel that won’t twist. In this case, however, it came out of the box like that. It’s not a big deal, just a bit of a gap between the two parts of the leg.

As I’ve said many times over the years, I don’t need to be in love with a character to enjoy an action figure, and Singularity here is a great example of that. I also think that she’s the first figure I’ve looked at in this set that truly feels right as an exclusive. Monica and She-Hulk are characters that should be available in normal waves, not through some difficult to get Comic Con set. Whereas I’d argue that Singularity here isn’t as essential to a collection. Although, if you happen to love the character, I guess you would be inclined to feel different. Either way, Singularity is a cool figure. She’s not one that I would consider a “must have,” but I wouldn’t have minded picking up to get a BAF part, and I certainly don’t mind getting her in this set.

Marvel Legends A-Force (SDCC 2017 Exclusive): She-Hulk by Hasbro

That’s right, folks, it’s all Marvel Legends, all week as I break down the San Diego Comic Con Exclusive A-Force box set figure by figure. Yesterday, I kicked things off with a look at the packaging and a review of Monica Rambeau, today I’m checking out Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk.

If you’re trying to figure out the order I’m going in, I’m started with the two figures that I think were most overdue. Before this set Monica Rambeau had yet to have a Marvel Legends figure, and as for Shulkie here, this is her first appearance in the modern Legends reboot. But…

We were teased with her all the way back in the 2013 Hit Monkey Wave on the Red She-Hulk package, which was supposed to be part of a shared slot. Even the name on the package is “Hulkettes.” These days, the shared-slot figures are both included in the assortment case, but back then they were running variants, and it wasn’t uncommon for one of those variants to never come out. Such was the fate of Jennifer Walters. But here we are, four years later, and we finally got her. Is this a case where it was worth the wait? Did we get an entirely new figure? Mmm… Yes and no.

Shulkie borrows quite a bit from Red, which really comes as no surprise as this is a very specific, taller female buck. The legs, lower torso, and most of the arms are pulled from the older figure, with the chest, hands, and obviously the head being different and/or new sculpts. As a result, from the neck down, this figure actually uses less original sculpting than Red She-Hulk, as a matter of fact, there’s absolutely none at all. The costume is achieved entirely by paint, and that’s fine because it actually looks quite good. The white paint over green plastic should have been problematic, but instead it’s bright and clean with absolutely no bleed through. The metallic purple used for her one-piece is quite vibrant as well. There are a few little chips and scratches on the white paint of her belt, but nothing worth getting upset over.

Unfortunately, the new head sculpt isn’t the hit I was hoping for. It almost looks like they went back to the forbidden well that is the old Madam Hydra head and did some reworking on it. I’m not saying that’s the case, but this one does indeed remind me of that figure, and that’s not a good thing. It’s facial structure is too severe to really work as Jennifer Walters, and the eye paint is uneven making her left eye look smaller or like it’s about to slide off her face. Granted, the paint thing might just be an issue with my particular figure. Keep in mind, none of this is terribly noticeable at casual glance, but it all rears its head under scrutiny. The hair also looks off, like it’s way too high in the front. I’m not going to say this portrait is terrible, but after coming off the wonderful Monica head, this one feels like a drop.

I’m not going to run down all the points of articulation, since it’s almost all identical to Monica. Suffice it to say, the older, ball jointed hips are a bummer. These are a pain in the ass to work with and they feel a little dated. Jennifer may be a powerhouse, but she’s also a pretty limber gal, and her figure just feels a little too stiff.

Waiting so long for She-Hulk turns out to be one of those good and bad scenarios. An all new body would have been most welcome, especially since the hip articulation on this one hasn’t aged well. On the other hand, the 2013 She-Hulk would have been a very different look, and I’m much happier to get Jennifer in this more traditional costume. You could argue that we could have had both, but who knows whether Hasbro would have released this figure if they had also released the previous one. For all my pissing and moaning, the truth is that I still like this figure well enough, but I think Hasbro could have done a much better job on the head sculpt and paint. A-Force Shulkie is not the homerun that Monica Rambeau is, but I’m still happy to have her.

Marvel Legends A-Force (SDCC 2017 Exclusive): Monica Rambeau by Hasbro

It’s Marvel Monday, and I was supposed to be checking out Nebula from the Mantis Wave of Marvel Legends today, but I’m preempting that AND THE WHOLE DAMN WEEK so I can check out the Marvel Legends San Diego Comic Con Exclusive A-Force set. Yes, that means Transformers Thursday and DC Friday will return next week. I’m pretty excited, because this is the first Marvel Legends SDCC Exclusive that I’ve been able to pick up since the Thunderbolts set way back when. Although, in fairness I haven’t tried very hard. There are six figures in the set, so I’ll be looking at these ladies every day this week up through Saturday and starting today with Monica Rambeau. But first, let’s take a look at the packaging!

Big! Colorful! Beautiful! Those three words sum up the presentation here. The figures come in an impressive box, which is big enough that it requires me to embiggen my little staging area to accommodate it. You get some lovely artwork on the front, along with the character portraits running down the side panels. There are some great expressions on the ladies. I’m particularly digging Elsa’s snarl. RAWR!! There is a foil sticker in the upper right hand corner showing this to be a Toys R Us Exclusive, where it was available online for a short while during the Convention. It does not, however, state anywhere on the box that it is an SDCC Exclusive. I’m just glad it wasn’t a Hasbro Toy Shop exclusive, because I doubt I would have been able to snag one. My luck there in past years hasn’t been so hot.

The back shows a collective photo of all the figures posed together on a cool rocky landscape. This shot reminds me of some of the great ads Hasbro used to run in their Marvel comic reprints. Of course, if you want to have a peep at the actual figures themselves, there’s a front flap that opens to reveal the inside tray, and the interior of the flap has character art and little blurbs about each character. The box itself is collector friendly and can be opened by slitting the tape on the top or bottom flaps, so you don’t have to feel bad about opening this baby up.

I’ll fess up now and proclaim that I purchased this set for the individual characters and not because I was a fan of the A-Force comic. Without getting bogged down in a rant about how much I hate the hot trash that Marvel is publishing these days, I tend to look at A-Force as an early symptom of what was to come. It only lasted a year before being discontinued due to dismal sales, and that’s saying a lot, because if you happen to look at what Marvel’s books are averaging in sales these days, you’ll see that it’s pretty dire. Anyway, if nothing else, I am grateful that the comic motivated Hasbro to release these figures, a few of which were sorely missing from the Legends line up. Plus, if you are going for an A-Force team, you can conveniently add the recently released Dazzler and Nico Minoru to this lineup. I’m starting today with Monica Rambeau, only because she is so overdue for a Legends figure, I didn’t think she should wait another day.

Whether you best know her as Pulsar, Spectrum, Captain Marvel, or just Monica, this is a character that is indeed well overdue for the Marvel Legends treatment. I’m pretty sure even Toy Biz never got around to immortalizing her in plastic. Maybe she had a HeroClix figure? Whatever the case she’s out now and I must say Hasbro did a great job with her. She’s built off the standard female buck, with sculpted sleeves on her arms to work with her jacket. Her starburst pattern is perfectly printed on her chest with the snappy inverse black and white coloring. And let me take a moment to say that the white plastic Hasbro used for the torso and gloves is absolutely gorgeous. It has a slight pearlescent sheen to it, but mostly it just looks so bright and snappy. I hope we see more of this stuff in future figures.

The sculpted jacket fits the figure well, cinching in at the waist and fanning out below until it reaches her knees. It’s fairly light and features a slit running up the back, so it doesn’t really impede her articulation much at all. There is some great looking texturing on it that makes it look even better than a regular comic figure. Indeed, there’s enough detail on it that it would look right at home on an MCU figure.

The portrait is excellent, and despite her hair band and hair style being similar to Misty Knight’s, this isn’t a recycled head sculpt. She’s pretty, she has a great, determined expression, and the paint applications for her eyes and lips are spot on perfect. The sculpting on the back of her hair is also especially well done. This is exactly the kind of effort you want to put into a premium exclusive set.

The articulation is exactly what I’ve come to expect from my Marvel Legends ladies. The legs feature ball jointed hips, double hinges in the knees, and swivel cuts in the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. There’s a ball joint under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed. As usual, it isn’t quite up to par with what we get from the dudes, but she’s still plenty fun and posable.

It would have been a shame to wait this long for a Monica Rambeau figure and have it come up lacking. Thankfully, that’s far from the case here. Everything about this figure is beautifully crafted, from the crisp paint lines and beautiful white plastic, to the first rate head sculpt. If I were pressed to suggest an improvement, I’d say toss in an extra set of hands, so she could have two fists and two energy casting hands. Actually, I will throw out one more gripe: Monica shouldn’t have been an exclusive release. A lot of the figures in here feel right for this set, but I’m hoping that Hasbro intends to release this character in a future wave, as they did with so many of the figures from last year’s SDCC Raft set, even if it is with a repainted costume.

10 Random Thoughts About This Year’s SDCC

(Mostly Toy Related)

1. Holy Shit, USA Network is doing a prequel movie to Burn Notice with Sam Axe as the main character!!!

2. I saw nothing that made me want to get a Club Eternia Subscription for 2011. Sorry Matty. The core characters are drying up.

3. GI JOE will be getting a lot more of my money over the next couple of months then I had previously thought. Nearly all the figures are homeruns and most of the vehicles look great too.

4. Star Wars will be getting a lot more of my money over the next couple of months then I had previously thought. Those vintage style figures are sucking me back in.

5. The Transformers were treated like Hasbro’s red headed stepchild. Nothing new or interesting and I was totally unimpressed by the teaser clip from the new series.

6. Based on the new trailer, the next season of Weeds has a good chance of redeeming itself from the mediocrity of the last season.

7. I probably have ZERO chance of ever owning that amazing classic Tron figure. This makes me sad.

8. The Star Wars and GI JOE dioramas shown off by Hasbro made me wish I had a huge garage and mad skillz with paper mache.

9. With the possible exception of the TRU Exclusive Mego-style figures, I probably won’t be buying any more of Mattel’s Ghostbusters figures. Oh, and the idea of needing a subscription for this line is laughable.

10. As much as I tell myself I’m done with Marvel Universe, I think I have to have those Galactus and Sentinal figures.

And that’s really all I came away with based on the news feeds we’ve been getting. On a side note, I did make a trek up to Toys R Us this morning and found all kinds of great stuff, including some of the new Transformers. I could have easily dropped $150 without even thinking about it, but luckily I was able to restrain myself and just pick up a few things.

I should have a couple of new posts up tomorrow.