Marvel Comics: Deadpool Sixth-Scale Figure (Exclusive) by Sideshow, Part 2

Yesterday, I kicked off my look at Sideshow’s Sixth-Scale Deadpool by checking out the figure, the portraits, and a plethora of hands. Today I’m wrapping it up with a look at all the other extra bits. I’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in and start with Deadpool’s trusty pistols…

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‘Pool’s automatics are beautiful little pieces right down to the steel finish and the custom painted ‘poolified grips. Sideshow is no stranger to producing top notch looking weaponry in this scale and these guns certainly continue that trend. The receivers do slide back and while it looks like the magazines are removable, I haven’t been able to get mine out and I don’t want to force the issue. Sooooo, maybe and maybe not. The weapons fit comfortably in the holsters and the magnetic retaining flaps keep them in place and the special gun hands are absolutely perfect for displaying these tools of death. Pistols are often the least impressive accessories with these types of figures, but I think these really shine and fit the figure the best.

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Next up are his twin Katana swords, which come in plastic scabbards and feature beautifully sculpted grips that match Deadpool’s red and black deco. The scabbards feature metal clips, which can be attached to the web harness on his back. The clips on these are super delicate and I’ve already had to reattach one. Fortunately, it’s not a breakage, just a clean detachment that was easy to fix. I would have preferred Sideshow had gone with magnets like they used to hold their Major Bludd figure’s backpack in place, but I suppose this works well enough. But yeah… magnets, Sideshow… magnets!

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The sword blades are plastic, but very pointy and sharp! The special sword hands work beautifully for these pieces, although they can also be used with the gun hands to angle the blades a bit more. And as long as we’re on the subject of blades…

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‘Pool also comes with a tanto knife with a sheath and a clip. You can really put this anywhere on the figure that there’s a strap to attach it to, but I think it was designed as a boot knife. It has a shiny plastic blade and there’s not a whole lot more to say about it. It’s just a nicely executed little bonus.

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Blades are all well and good, but sometimes when you need to dispatch bad guys you want to go all shooty on their asses and even your pistols aren’t enough. That’s when you pull out this big boy. I usually pride myself on my firearm knowledge, but I have no idea what this thing is and Sideshow identifies it only as an assault rifle. Whatever it is, it’s big, it’s got some beautiful weathering and it even has a detachable scope, because what fun is it to blow heads off when you can’t see them explode up close and personal?

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If shooting and slicing doesn’t do the job, Deadpool can fall back on making things go boom with his pair of custom grenades. You get two of these little hand painted jewels and they are absolutely adorable. And with little clips on each one, you can attach them to Deadpool’s rig in a myriad of places.

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We’re done with Deadpool’s arsenal, but there’s still a couple of extras to look at and to use them Deadpool will require his stand. The stand is pretty stand-ard (haha!) stuff with a crotch-cradle and a hexagonal base. The base has a printed graphic on it, which I notice some people are pretty nit-picky about, especially on the Hot Toys figures. I really don’t mind these at all. It looks great and supports the figure well. In this case, there are also three holes in the post behind the wire stand to accommodate wires for the speech bubbles.

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Yes, easily the most unique set of accessories included with the figure are the speech bubbles. You get one white and one yellow and they attach to the stand with the wires. You also get a sheet of stickers with phrases and whatnot. It’s a very cool idea, but I can’t imagine the stickers will survive all that many times being removed and reattached, so I’m not going to go nuts with them. Using dry-erase bubbles, in conjunction with the stickers might have been a better way to go. It’s a very novel concept and one which I appreciate a lot, but to be honest, I don’t know that I’ll get much use out of them. And that brings us to the last accessory…

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The exclusive Headpool from Deadpool Corps! This little guy is an amazing piece of sculpting and paint and a bonus which definitely made going through Sideshow for this figure very worthwhile. You have to get in real close to appreciate all the disgusting detail Sideshow invested in this head. Deadpool Corps was a damn great book and including the extra version of ‘Pool was a great idea. Like the speech bubbles, he connects to the base using a wire to help him hover. I also appreciate that the design allows you to display the figure with both speech bubbles and the Headpool all at the same time. Nice!

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If you can’t tell by the length of this piece, I really, really love this figure. Sideshow’s Deadpool is absolutely outstanding. I’ll confess that somewhere along the line after the release of the Deadpool movie trailer, I started wondering if I had done the right thing. You can’t tell me that there isn’t going to be a Hot Toys version of Deadpool based on the movie. Nonetheless, I’m glad I didn’t falter and that I let the pre-order ride, because in hand this figure is everything I wanted him to be and more. I love the modern and realistic costume design, the articulation is tight and the body suit isn’t too restrictive, and the accessories are fantastic. So how about that price? At $230, Sideshow have now officially positioned themselves at an equal footing in the market with Hot Toys. Indeed, Deadpool was actually twenty bucks more than my last Captain America figure from Hot Toys. And that’s with no likeness rights here and none of that extra work required to craft the actor’s likeness. On the other hand, Deadpool has a lot more accessories. Is it a trade off? Well, I always imagined the cost and effort that went into a figure’s likeness was a considerable sum, so I’m at a loss to see how the comparison works out. On the other hand, the quality and workmanship in this figure is at a premium and the number of extras is off the charts, so the value is certainly there. I could go back and forth on the cost issue forever, but in the end, I love the figure and have zero buyer’s remorse, and I guess that’s good enough for me. Now I just have to decide if Sideshow’s Punisher is worth the same price tag.

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Marvel Comics: Deadpool Sixth-Scale Figure (Exclusive) by Sideshow, Part 1

Deadpool. The Merc With A Mouth. El hombre que ama Chimichangas. He can be a polarizing character, but to me he’ll always be a favorite. I’ve probably re-read more of his comics than any other single character’s out there and that’s because to me they have staying power. If I have 15 minutes to kill, I’ll often crack open a Deadpool omnibus or grab a TPB and enjoy an ish. And don’t even get me started on Cable & Deadpool. I wept real tears when that run ended. Anywho, it’s a great time to be a Deadpool fan because we’ve got a film coming with a trailer that gives me nothing but confidence in the project. We also got this excellent figure from Sideshow Toys. I pre-ordered this guy back in November of 2014(!) and while it was a loooong wait, I’m excited to finally have him in hand. My schedule is a little tight this week, so I am going to be looking at Deadpool in two parts. Today we’ll check out the packaging and the figure and tomorrow the accessories. It seems only fair, since I found I have a lot to say about this guy.

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The figure comes in a shoebox style package that at first glance feels right at home on the shelf beside my myriad of Hot Toys boxes. It’s got some nice art that I’d be tempted to say is a little too artsy-fartsy for Deadpool if it didn’t look so damn great. If you netted the Exclusive from Sideshow, you’ll also see a silver sticker on the front stating the fact.

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Lift the box top and you get an illustrated cardboard insert and under that lies the figure packed neatly in foam cut-outs. The foam protects the figure nicely and under it is a tray that contains the bulk of ‘Pool’s accessories. There’s nothing wrong with this internal packaging style, but it feels just a tad lower rent than what I’m used to getting Hot Toys figures. Maybe I’m just a bigger fan of the molded plastic trays over the foam. I dunno. Either way, it’s just something that’s going to sit on my bookshelf, so let’s cast it aside and check out the figure.

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Sideshow has become masters of taking iconic character designs from comics or cartoons and making them look real. This was particularly evident in their GI JOE Cobra figures and Deadpool feels a lot like that same kind of treatment. While we now have a real movie Deadpool to compare, this version of Deadpool was conceptualized beforehand and still looks like he would be right at home strutting his stuff on the big screen. Indeed, I might even go so far as to say I like this version a little better than the design we’ve seen in the Deadpool trailer. But s’all good. I don’t want to knock anything in that trailer. One thing is clear, Sideshow spared no expenses pouches in executing this design and the result is a deliciously busy costume that is positively bristling with bits and bobs and just general detail.

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All told there’s about 20 beautifully crafted pouches covering our pal ‘Pool, each of which is clipped on and can be removed or readjusted to suit your taste. You also get Deadpool’s trademark belt buckle to help him look stylish and keep his pants up, but more importantly secure his two pistol holsters. The holsters feature retaining flaps with magnet latches, which are so much better than delicate snaps or buttons in this scale. Under the Liefeldesque web of straps and pouches, Deadpool sports a nicely tailored combat suit made of black and crimson fabric. The black bits feature a stitched quilted pattern and the suit is further reinforced with some plastic armor bits on the shoulders, knees, and forearms. If I had one nitpick on the costume it’s that my figure’s fly seems to prefer to stay exposed. But hey, that’s so Deadpool!

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Deadpool comes with two portraits, each of which are super easy to swap out, thanks to this rather odd neck post. Instead of just a regular exposed ball joint, there’s this cylinder that fits into the head. The noggin fits on smoothly and you don’t have to apply any force at all to get the head off. A single finger on the shoulder and a gentle tug will do the trick. On the flip-side, don’t try picking up your figure from the head only, as you’ll likely wind up with a catastrophe. The stock head is standard Deadpool, while the other features a goofier expression as if he’s trying to peer through the fourth wall. There are also some subtle differences in the configuration of his hood between the two portraits. The sculpt is pretty damn good on both, and while you’ll never be able to perfectly match sculpted fabric with real fabric, the heads still look great on the figure.

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If there’s one thing Sideshow has learned from Hot Toys, it’s that if you’re going to charge a lot for a figure, you’ve got to throw in a lot of hands. ‘Pool comes with no less than five different sets. You get the usual assortment of pedestrian meathooks, including fists, gun holding hands, and sword holding hands, but you also get some pretty cool and rather unique expressive hands to work with, which can be a lot of fun. Changing them out, on the other hand, is a bit of a chore. They’re a tight fit on the pegs and the plastic arm bracers tend to get in the way. Anyway, you can use the hands to relive great Deadpool moments, or make up your own…

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“Did you see that? I totally just sucker punched Kitty Pryde right in the gut!”

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“Peace! Haha… I’m still going to kill you!”

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“Hey Black Widow… Dat ass is fiiiiiiine!”

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“Gramps… Dude! Ya only got like six pouches on that outfit. You gotta get more pouches. It’s all about the pouches! I know a guy, I’ll hook you up!”

To be continued, tomorrow… Same ‘Pool Time, Same ‘Pool Channel!

GI JOE: Destro (Enemy Weapons Supplier) Sixth-Scale Figure by Sideshow, Part 1

I’ve been chomping at the bit to get to Destro here for a long time, so let me start out by chronicling the hold up. Destro sat on my pile of “To Open” stuff for a few weeks and then when I finally did open him I found he was missing some pieces. His vest wasn’t in the box and instead of getting his right “gun holding” hand, I got two of his right “suitcase holding” hands. I was worried because I didn’t want to have to return the whole figure just to get one with the missing parts. Also, since I waited so long to open him, Sideshow would have been within their rights to refuse me any kind of resolution. Thankfully, Sideshow’s customer service has always been impeccable and no less so in this case. After a few emails clarifying the problem they had replacement parts on their way to me in a couple of days and the box arrived just a few business days after that. This is exactly why I love doing business with them and the only time I ever order a Sideshow or Hot Toys figure from another e-tailer is when it’s the only way to go. And with that preamble out of the way, let’s get to the review!

Destro arrives in the wake of the bitter news that Sideshow has decided to put their GI JOE line on hiatus, and while that decision disappoints me greatly (I was hoping against hope we might see a Sixth-Scale Scrap Iron! I LOVE SCRAP IRON!!!), I’m mighty glad they got Destro out before pulling the plug. As usual with these guys, I’m going to do this feature in two parts. Today we’ll check out the outfit and the portraits and tomorrow I’ll wrap it up with a look at his accessories. Let’s start things off with a look at this glorious packaging…

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The box consists of the same brilliant design and deco that we saw with Cobra Commander and Baroness. It mimics the vintage Real American Hero card art beautifully right down to the animated explosive backgrounds on the side panels and the “COBRA ENEMY” stamp on the front panel. The rear panel also has a file card, again just like the old cardbacks. I love it! There’s also an excellent piece of character art inside the cardboard tray.

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The box has an opening front flap that’s held snugly down by a magnet. Open it up and you reveal a window showing off the figure inside with a blurb about Cobra on the reverse of the front flap. I do prefer the older style boxes, used for Crimson Guard and Zartan, where the box opened up to reveal two windows, one with the figure and one with the gear and had a detailed inventory of the figure’s accessories. I’m guessing they switched over to this style to cut costs, and it still looks fantastic, but it doesn’t offer quite the same premium level of presentation. In this case, the figure’s accessories are held in nesting clear plastic trays behind the figure. On the plus side, these boxes are a lot thinner than the older ones and make use of a better economy of space. Let’s get this bastard set up…

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Destro comes out of the box wearing his more Sunbow-styled head and his trench coat, so let’s start there. To set him up all you need to do is put on his arm bracers and his bling necklace. At least theoretically. My figure actually came out of the box with stuck elbow joints. I had to take his coat off, then remove his shirt so that I could find and finesse those elbow hinges without fear of breaking them. I’m still not sure why they were stuck, because the arms are molded in bare black plastic with no paint. It didn’t take much effort to get them working and then I had to put everything back on again. The bracers were a little tough to get on because the combination of the t-shirt sleeves and the coat cuffs don’t give you a lot of room to work with. On the other hand, once they’re on, they stay nice and snug. This is as good a time as any to point out that Destro’s torso is molded in black plastic as well as his arms, which is a tad disappointing. Had they done it in flesh, we would have had the option for the bare-chested look. Not a big deal, but it’s nice to have options.

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So, let’s talk outfit first. My initial reaction to the reveal of this figure’s outfit left me a bit tepid, but now that it’s in hand I’m totally in love with it. Most of my trepidation rested in the trench coat, which is made of a thick felt material. I think the big problem here is that it looks so much better in person than in photos. It’s got a rugged, almost oily texture that looks like it would work for back ally meetings as well keep Destro toasty warm during a secret arctic rendezvous. It’s pleated in the back and has a red liner and some red piping across his chest and across the back of the shoulders. The coolest thing about it is the collar, which can be folded down or worn up. I do think the faux pockets look a tad puffy, but then Sideshow isn’t quite up to Hot Toys standards with their outfit tailoring, but they’re getting better all the time. Under the coat, Destro sports high boots, a pair of standard black trousers and a grey long sleeved t-shirt. I wish the shirt were a tad longer because I have to hike his pants up a little higher than I would prefer in order to keep the shirt tucked when I articulate his arms. He has a standard belt and an integral pistol holster with two thigh straps. There are also a couple of ammo pouches to hold his extra magazines, but more on that later.

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Destro’s bracers are quite well done. The one on his left arm features three grenades and the right bracer has three rocket darts. The bracers themselves are sculpted to look like they fold closed when in fact they really just slip onto him. The grenades are highly detailed and nicely weathered. The rockets look as if they could be removable, but they are in fact glued into place.

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Before we get into the other outfit option, let’s talk portraits. The Sunbow-styled head gives Destro that more organic aesthetic to his mask. The Sunbow Destro had that weird thing going on where his mask was expressive as if it was painted onto his head. There are some black panel lines and some slightly exaggerated contours in his face to suggest that it is indeed a mask of some sort. Destro is wearing a grim expression with green eyes squinting, mouth downturned, and one eyebrow jutting up. He definitely looks pissed off, as if he showed up to buy a warehouse full of weapons and the seller just asked for more money. Don’t ya just hate that! I’ve seen some complaints about his “giraffe neck” but I’m not seeing a big problem with it. It does look rather elongated from the sides, but looking straight on its fine to me. This portrait is by far my favorite of the two, which is why you’ll see it on the figure for the bulk of this review.

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The alternate portrait is more angular and looks like an actual metal mask. If you look carefully into the eye sockets you can actually see his eyes sculpted and painted inside. I really like that effect, and I’m not totally hating on this head, but in the end I think it just looks too large and clunky on the figure to make it work for me.

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If you’re going for a more “realistic” Destro look, this head might be the ticket since the articulated organic metal one doesn’t make much sense in the real world. Honestly, if I were designing a live action movie Destro, this is exactly the kind of likeness I would go with. So, yes, I guess in a sense I do like what Sideshow tried to do here, but it’s just not the one that I’ll be using for display.

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And that brings us too his alternate outfit which removes the trench coat and gives him a vest. The vest is just puffy enough to make it look like it might have some bullet proofing in it, but ultimately it has a pretty trim fit. The zipper on the front is faked out and the vest actually goes over the head like a poncho and then the straps on the front secure it snugly with velcro. It’s a good effect and I think the tailoring on the vest is overall better than the trenchcoat. The only downside here is that it really shows off the rather lean body build that Sideshow used here. I think Destro should be bulkier than than the body used here and the trenchcoat adds a bit of that bulk to him. That having been said, deciding which look to go for is going to be really tough for me. They each have their merits. His trenchcoat is definitely great for conducting those blackmarket arms deals, whereas if he’s going to be sitting in the turret of a HISS Tank in battle, the vest is the way to go.

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Ok, I’m running ridiculously long today so I’m going to break here and when I come back tomorrow we’ll wrap up with a look at Destro’s weapons and accessories.

GI JOE: The Baroness (Intelligence Officer) Sixth-Scale Figure by Sideshow Toys, Part 2

Yesterday I checked out Sideshow’s Baroness figure and the two beautiful portraits, today we’re going to run down her inventory of goodies. Before getting into the hardware, let’s talk hands!

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If you read my look at Cobra Commander, you may recall how impressed I was that each of his extra hands came with its own post. Well, unfortunately that might have been a one-shot deal because Baroness’ hands all require you to share the two posts that come on the figure. You do get an extra pair of replacement posts in case you snap some, but swapping hands isn’t as simple this time around. Is it a big deal? Probably not. At no point did the posts feel like they were going to snap nor did they give me any trouble coming out or going back in. I just thought it was worth mentioning. The Baroness comes with a pair of fists attached and you get three additional pairs. Two are designed for holding her accessories and the last are in with the fingers straight out and together as if she is going to karate chop you.

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The biggest weapon in Baroness’ arsenal is her assault rifle, which features the “bullpup” configuration with the action behind the trigger housing. It’s a very modern looking weapon and I think it’s a good choice for her. The weapon features the usual superb sculpt that I expect out of Sideshow’s Sixth-Scale guns. The scope mount does not seem to be removable, however the silencer can be slipped off and the site can be flipped up. The magazine can be removed to expose the tiny painted bullet waiting to enter the chamber. An extra magazine would have been nice, but considering Baroness has a nice accessory load-out, I won’t complain. What I will gripe about is the lack of a shoulder strap for the rifle, only because it was pictured in some of the promo-pics. I’m sure I can cobble something together from some of my other Sixth-Scale weapons.

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Next up, The Baroness features a Sub-Machine pistol, which I believe is supposed to be a MAC-10, but my firearms expertise tends to lean more toward the WWII period and earlier so I could be wrong there. This weapon is a very simple, but realistic looking accessory. There’s no action or moving parts, but the magazine is removable and you get an extra mag as well. The two magazines can store in the pouches on Baroness belt just above the holster. God, I love that! The pistol itself fits snugly into the sculpted holster, and when I say snugly I do mean it! If you want to get the retaining strap to fasten the pistol needs to get pushed pretty far in and it is hard to get out afterwards.

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The final piece of Baroness’ arsenal is a nice, serviceable combat knife that fits into the scabbard on her right hip. There’s not much else to say about it, other than it fits really well into one of the extra hands.

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And lastly, you get the same figure stand with the red Cobra emblem on it. It’s the exact same stand that came with all the past Cobra releases in the line. Sideshow is now selling more elaborate stands for their Cobra figures with a raised and sculpted base with a drawer to fit extra accessories. It’s a cool idea, but I really like the simple elegance of the stock stands.

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Sideshow’s Real American Hero line continues to creep up in price and so The Baroness retailed at $179.99, the same price point as Cobra Commander. As I said last time, I was much more comfortable paying $159.99 for these figures, and while the $180 was pushing it for Cobra Commander, I have to say Baroness still feels like a solid value. Besides just being a drop-dead gorgeous figure, the costume is suitably complex and well-crafted and the selection of weapons and gear feels right. I also can’t deny the extra portrait adds a lot of value and I can’t stress enough about how the Sideshow Exclusive version has to be the way to go on this one, especially since she is still available on Sideshow’s site and most re-sellers are asking the same price for her anyway. Not to mention you earn points! Precious, precious points! So far, I haven’t regretted getting into this line and I’m really excited to see what else Sideshow can do with it. The next release will be Destro, sometime in the Summer, but in a week or so, I’ll be taking a step backwards to look at an older release that I just picked up… Zartan!

GI JOE: The Baroness (Intelligence Officer) Sixth-Scale Figure by Sideshow Toys, Part 1

Last month Sideshow Toys hit us with Joe fans with a one-two punch of Sixth-Scale Cobra awesomeness. I’ve already featured Cobra Commander and now it’s time to check out that sultry and exotic vixen of mayhem, The Baroness. As usual, I’m going to break down this feature into two parts. Today we’ll check out the packaging, the base figure, and the alternate portrait and tomorrow we’ll look at all the great stuff she comes with. To the packaging!

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If you read my look at Cobra Commander than you’ll be readily familiar with what to expect here. Baroness comes in a gorgeous retro-style box that captures everything that made the old Joe cardbacks so great. You get the character artwork set atop an animated explosive field and a filecard that is positively dripping with nostalgia.

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The front flap is secured with a magnet and opens to reveal the window and the figure inside. Baroness is packaged with her alternate, Sideshow exclusive head beside her and her extra bits fanned out around her. There’s a second tray under that one with the bulk of her weapons. If you lift out the plastic trays you are treated to some more excellent artwork on the cardboard underneath. All in all the packaging here fuses a wonderful style with a good economy of space and a convenient place to keep your extra pieces or store the figure when she’s not being displayed. But why would you not want to display her when she looks like this…

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Ooooh my! Out of the box, Baroness is indeed a stunning figure. Let’s kick things off with a look at the outfit, which manages to stride that line between iconic and modern update quite brilliantly. The shapely female buck is clad in a tight black cloth body suit that has a bit of sheen to it. It doesn’t simulate leather, but it looks good, and I like to think it’s some kind of secret bullet retardant fabric that’s been cooked up in Cobra Labs. Maybe it’s a special side project that Baroness convinced one of the lab geeks to make for her with the promise of certain… favors. Maybe I’m thinking too much about this. Her chest, back, and shoulder armor are all sculpted in plastic and held together with straps to make one rig. It fits the figure quite nicely and the sculpted front allows her to show off her lovely assets while also proudly and stylishly advertising her Cobra allegiance. Yes, kids, come work for Cobra… we have boobs! Baroness’ arms feature pleather bracers with sculpted Cobra styled guards and end in gloved hands. We’ll look at the hands more in depth tomorrow when we talk about accessories.

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Moving on down, The Baroness is sporting a complex belt rig with a low-slung sculpted Cobra emblem that is positioned in a rather obviously strategic place. The main belt is a V-Style configuration that rides up on her hips and includes a number of faux pouches with sculpted straps and painted buttons. The belt includes thigh straps as well as a holster for her Sub-Machine pistol and a sheath for her combat knife. The Baroness’ legs feature pleather boots with scalloped fronts that run all the way up her thighs. The fronts of her legs are covered with sculpted armor plates, each of which is held in place by nearly a half-dozen buckling straps. Yup, this figure has a lot of straps and buckles giving The Baroness that not-so-subtle whiff of S&M style that all the Cobra bad girls love to flaunt.

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The head that comes on the figure is absolutely fantastic. Baroness looks beautiful, seductive, and has the hint of a smirk as if she knows something you don’t… like maybe she just slipped a live grenade down your shorts. She has high arching eyebrows and clean paintwork for her eyes and lips. The rounded glasses are made of wire and do not have lenses. They also feel as if they are removable, but I don’t plan on risking it because they are made of very thin wire. The sculpted hair falls straight down to her shoulders and sweeps back. I find sculpted hair is tough to do at this price-point because you expect a certain degree of realism. I’d say Sideshow nailed it. Also, the plastic is very soft and it does not impede the head articulation at all.

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Of course, if you picked up this figure through Sideshow, you also get the exclusive extra head, which offers a more dynamic portrait and some minor differences. You just pop Baroness’ noggin off the ball joint post and push the other one on there. The exclusive head comes without her glasses on, but they are located in the tray of parts. This pair features smaller, rectangular frames and the arms slide into gaps above her ears and hair. The face itself is pretty much the same excellent sculpt as the regular head, but features the sculpted hair blowing off to the side. It’s both fabulous and frustrating at the same time, because I honestly can’t decide which head to display her with.

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And that’s where I’m going to break for today. I’ll be back tomorrow and we’ll start checking out all the extra goodies that come with this lovely figure!

GI JOE: Cobra Commander (The Dictator) by Sideshow Toys, Part 1

It seems like an eternity ago that I dropped pre-orders on Sideshow’s Cobra Commander and Baroness Sixth-Scale figures. Well, now they’re finally here and I’m beyond excited! Originally planned as a December release, The Commander got delayed a month and so he arrived at my doorstep last week along with the more punctual Baroness. I thought it would be a tough choice to decide which one of these figures to feature first, but in the end it was surprisingly easy… it simply had to be Cobra Commander. With two portraits and an assortment of gear, there’s a lot to talk about, so I’m going to take a look at the packaging and the base figure today and tomorrow we’ll check out the alternate portrait and all the extra goodies he comes with.

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If you read my features on Sideshow’s Crimson Guard and Major Bludd than you already know how much affection I have for the packaging used for this line and I was relieved to see that Sideshow hasn’t tampered with what is quite nearly perfection. The box features a classic Real American Hero deco complete with the “Cobra: The Enemy” stamp, old school file card, and the same vintage style card art that always got me begging my parents for a fiver whenever we passed an action figure aisle. This package is pure nostalgia and I love it!

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The front flap of the box is held in place by a magnet and opens to reveal the window. Cobra Commander comes packaged with his helmeted head on the figure and the hooded portrait beside him. Also surrounding him are his personal weapons. There’s an additional tray under that one, which holds the figure stand, staff, and his array of hands. I’ll note here how happy I am that Sideshow started packaging the stands differently. Previous figures had the wire post slipped through the hole in the base. Getting them separated was a precarious affair that always made me feel like I was going to snap the stand in half. Now the post comes completely separate from the stand and that’s a good thing. Last up, you get a baggie containing his folded cape. Also, behind the tray is some very cool character art. Let’s bust this guy out!

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Holy shit, I’m in love!!! There have been plenty of very cool designs of Cobra Commander over the years, but the original Sunbow version will always be my Cobra Commander. I’m happy to see that Sideshow mined that version the most for the inspiration for this figure. It’s certainly not an exact copy of the cartoon source material, but it borrows just enough from it and mixes it with a hearty dose of realism to create what I think Cobra Commander should have looked like in any live action Joe film. You get the regal overcoat with button down flap, classy dictator epaulettes, black leather gauntlets and boots, and naturally the red piping down the trousers. The entire outfit is punctuated with a belt and shoulder harness, strap down holster, dagger with scabbard, and sculpted Cobra belt buckle, which surely can only be purchased at the Gift Shop while exiting Cobra Island. The stitching on The Commander’s uniform is all nicely done and the outfit fits him quite well.

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Some initial shots of the helmeted head had me worried, but with the figure in hand, I think it came out nearly perfect. The off-white crest running down the top of the helmet matches the Sunbow style quite nicely as does the way the sides of the helmet flare out in a manner not unlike the helmet of a certain Sith Lord we all know and love. The face plate features a perfect mirror finish, which does not translate well in photography, but rest assured you can see yourself in it in the same manner that the animators of the original cartoon often depicted other characters reflected in it. Old bumper face has never looked better!

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YOU WANT HANDS???  Some of you may know by now that I’m not a real stickler about getting a ton of extra hands with my figures. If I need to swap them out to hold the gear, that’s fine, but I generally don’t consider a lot of swappable hands to be a necessity. The Commander here, however, may have won me over on this subject. Not only are all of these hands really useful, but Sideshow provided each one with their own peg. I can’t tell you how amazing that is, because it makes swapping the hands an absolute breeze. A big part of why I don’t use a lot of the extra hands for my Hot Toys figures is because it’s just too much of a pain to change them. With Cobra Commander, I can literally unplug his hands and plug in new ones without even having to pick up the figure. When you consider how much Hot Toys charges for their figures, I can’t believe they don’t do this. It’s the equivalent of getting an extra six posts in case you break one, as opposed to the two extras that come with your average Hot Toys figure.

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Ok, my hand rant is over. Besides the accessory specific hands, you also get the ubiquitous clenched fist hand for punctuating demands while on national television. You get the pointing finger hand for poking into Destro’s chest. You also get a pair of angry clutching hands, which can be used for everything from frightening children to grabbing for The Baroness’ boobs. These are great hands. There’s one more to talk about, but I’m going to save that for when we look at the accessories.

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Before breaking for the day, I’ll go ahead and give mention to the figure stand, which is identical to the ones that came with Major Bludd and the Crimson Guard figure. It’s a black disc with the Cobra emblem on it and a wire crotch-cradle. It’s simple enough enough so that it doesn’t detract from the figure, but the personalized Cobra emblem is a great embellishment and I’m happy to see that the stands for this collection remain uniform with each other. And that’s where I’ll wrap up today. Tomorrow we’ll check out The Commander’s accessories, as well as his extra noggin and his cloak.

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COOOOBRAAAAAAA!!!

GI JOE: Major Bludd (Mercenary) by Sideshow Toys, Part 1

I’ve more or less been out of the GI JOE scene for a while now. I still pick up a Hasbro figure now and again, but that’s about it… until Sideshow started doing Cobra figures, and that opened up a whole can of snakes worms. It all started with pre-ordering Cobra Commander, then picking up a Crimson Guard to hold me over, then pre-ordering Baroness and Destro, and now adding Major Sebastian Bludd to my collection. I was originally going to go for Zartan first, but he’s still available at a lot of e-tailers and Bludd’s limitation seems to be a lot stricter. I didn’t want to risk missing out on him, so I used my “Emergency Toy Fund,” an extra $200 that I keep squirreled away in case something comes along that I hadn’t planned on. Clearly, this release was one of those occasions. Plus, I had some Reward Points itching to be spent. Today we’ll check out the packaging and the figure itself and I’ll swing back tomorrow to look at the accessories and the Exclusive goodies.

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The packaging is in the same retro Real American Hero style that we saw when I featured The Crimson Guard, and that’s a very good thing because I love the presentation here. Besides tugging at my nostalgia strings by mimicking art from the vintage figure cards, the overall wow factor of the box design is a lot better than what I got out of my last couple of Hot Toys figures. The artwork is great and you even get a vintage style file card on the back. You also get a tiny glimpse of two other figures in the line, including Zartan (who will be next for me!) and that terrible, terrible Snake Eyes figure. I seriously think they must have farmed that sweater-wearing mofo out to another company… there can be no other explanation.

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The front flap is secured with a magnet and opens up, and here’s where there’s a little step back from the Crimson Guard’s package. That figure had two opening flaps, one which held the tray with all the weapons and accessories and another with the figure. You don’t get that with Major Bludd. You don’t even get an instruction sheet or anything. You do however get some additional bitchin artwork in the interior tray. The trays contain two layers of goodies. The top has the figure along with his helmet, extra hands, and his exclusive extra head. The next tray has the figure stand and everything else. Let’s get him out of his plastic prison and check him out…

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I was expecting the Major to require some advanced assembly, but he actually comes with his armor and belt rigs on and ready to go. The most involved thing you need to do is hang his five dog tags around his neck. Holy crap… he comes with his dog tag trophies! Each one is on a little chain and has tiny printing on it and some of them are spattered with blood. That’s some dark shit, Sideshow, I love it! You can actually just put them right over his head, but it’s easier if you pop off his mellon and put them directly on the neck post.

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Bludd’s helmet includes some optional padded stickers for the inside to make it fit better, but I don’t think they’re necessary. It fits great, although it is prone to falling off when I’m posing him. It’s absolutely fine for display purposes, although I may just use a tiny spot of blue tack to hold it in place. So long as we’re talking about his head, let’s check out his noggins.

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The stock head is a thing of beauty, and by that I mean it’s hideous and grizzled and a great likeness for the character’s traditional portrait. It’s missing that bizarre spark of life that Hot Toys somehow imbues into their head sculpts, but then again, this figure isn’t patterned off a real person anyway. And the last thing I want to do is disparage the work they’ve done here because it really is a fine sculpt. The creases in his face betray his battle hardened experience and the sculpted mustache is pretty convincing. The buzz cut hair doesn’t quite match the realism of the face, but I doubt I’ll ever display him without his helmet on, so that’s not a big issue for me. It’s worth noting that while the eye patch is permanently affixed to the head, the strap is an actual string. It does have a habit of sliding down over his good eye if you touch it and it’s certainly something to be weary of when handling the figure.

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The Sideshow Exclusive head features the Major sans patch and in all his ocular deformed glory. It’s a nasty mess under there with realistic looking scarring that makes the whole part of his head look a little puckered. The paintwork also makes it look just a little bit juicy around the wound. Gross! but it gives him a chance to use his targeting device, which I’m guessing somehow restores his sight in the bad eye? The device just clips on to the rim of his helmet. It looks good, but truth be told, I will probably never display him with this head. It’s always nice to have options, but I prefer Bludd in all his iconic eye-patched glory.

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Bludd’s outfit is especially well done. He’s got brown fatigues and some sturdy looking chest armor that fits over his torso in several pieces. It’s a tad bulky and I was worried it would give him too much of a turtle look, but happily that’s not the case. There’s also enough room to tuck the dog tags under the chest armor if you prefer it that way. The armor has a nice gun metal grey finish that matches the Major’s artificial arm. The tarnished Cobra beltbuckle really ties the whole ensemble together. A very nice touch!

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“Oi, Major Bludd, you look ‘armless!” Yes, Bludd sports his trademark artificial arm, which is sculpted beautifully and colored to match the same finish as his armor. Sideshow took a bit of a liberty here by making the arm a bit slighter than I remember it on the vintage action figure. I happen to love it because it accentuates the fact that it’s an artificial arm and not just armor. The arm features the same shoulder and elbow articulation as Bludd’s real arm but has the added bonus of individually articulated fingers! Each finger features FOUR hinges and the thumb is ball jointed and has a single hinge. Holy shit that’s amazing!

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Besides the crazy articulation on Bludd’s right hand, the figure spots a great amount of poseability. I’m not familiar enough with the core body used here to catalog them all, but there aren’t a lot of poses that I can’t get the Major to do. His joints are easy to work with and unlike a lot of my Hot Toys figures, there the outfit doesn’t restrict his movement at all. If I had one gripe it would be that some of his joints feel a little too loose, but then seeing as how he’s going to spend most of his time on a figure stand, that’s not a big deal. I guess I’d rather have his joints a little loose than too tight and restricted to work with. The truth is, he’s a fun figure to play around with and I can do so without damaging him.

Alrighty, I’ve gone pretty long already, so I’m going to break here for the day. Tomorrow I’ll be back to look at all the wonderful toys that the Major has in his arsenal.

GI JOE: Crimson Guard (Cobra Elite Trooper) by Sideshow Toys, Part 2

And I’m back to wrap up my look at Sideshow’s take on the Crimson Guard. Last time we looked at the amazing packaging and the figure. Today we’re going to start digging in on the extras.

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First off, you get a figure stand with the Cobra logo on the base and there are no big surprises here. It isn’t personalized to the Crimson Guard figure, so I’m guessing Sideshow is recycling this stand for other Cobra figures. The stand uses the standard wire crotch support that we’ve all seen before for figures in this scale. The prongs on this one are a little wide for my liking. It comes disassembled with the post under the base, and it was an absolute bitch to get the two pieces separated. I seriously thought I was going to break it in the process.

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Moving on to the guns, we’ll start small and work our way up. First off, you get an automatic pistol that fits very snugly into the holster on the figure’s left leg. The pistol features working action on the receiver and a removable clip with the exposed bullet painted so you can clearly see it ready to chamber when the clip is loaded and the receiver is open. I love that! The pistol is a bit light compared to some of my other sixth-scale firearms, but it’s executed incredibly well. But pistols will only get you so far when you have an entire force of meddling Joes coming at you, so you need something with a little more killing power. And for that, we look to the sub machine gun…

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Yes, the SMG. When the shit hits the fan and you need to spray and pray, no Crimson Guard would be complete without this trusty weapon. Once again, Sideshow did a really nice job with it. It has a folding stock and a shoulder strap with a working clip. There’s a detachable suppressor tube for the barrel and, of course, a removable magazine with a detailed and painted bullet at the top. You can even slide-adjust the scope on it! As much as I admire the work Sideshow put in on this piece, I’ll confess that I don’t think I’ll display it a lot. It’s one ugly piece of killing hardware and I tend to like my guns to have a little more traditional style to them. I seem to recall the Crimson Guard having a more traditional and iconic style of weapon…

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Aw, yeah… that’s better! The Siegie FAL rifle! This baby is close to what I remember my little Crimson Guard’s coming with so it’ll always be the iconic weapon of choice for these guys. The rifle includes a removable box magazine and a removable bayonet. The only problem with the bayonet is that it is delicate and once it’s attached it’s on there pretty good. I doubt I’ll ever risk removing it. Not that I’d want to. When you fire off that last round and the Joes are still coming at you it’s time to go hand-to-hand, and at that moment, your bayonet is your best friend.

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Of course, when you’ve got this many guns, you need to carry a lot of ammunition, so the Crimson Guard comes with his trusty and familiar backpack. I was really skeptical about how this thing was going to look. Not so much the backpack itself, but all the straps that hold it on. The original figures had the luxury of having backpacks that just pegged into the back. But in a more realistic sixth-scale figure, wouldn’t the straps wreck the look of the figure? Nope, because Sideshow made it so that the straps are almost all concealed. Remember that magnetic front flap on the uniform? Well, here’s where it really comes into play.

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You simply peel off the magnetic front flap. The straps pass through the epaulets in the shoulders and snap across his chest in two places. Then you just reattach the front flap and you’re good to go! I love the engineering of this.

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The backpack is sculpted in hard plastic with a Cobra emblem embossed on it. It opens up in the middle to reveal a whole supply of destructive goodies. You get two extra clips for the pistol, two extra clips for the SMG, and two grenades. Everything clips into a specific place.

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The final piece of gear is a magnetic grenade. It has a real magnet, so you can stick it on his waist for storage and easy access. When the shit hits the fan the Crimson Guard can just toss it at a VAMP or MOBOT and all his Joe troubles are history. It’s nothing special, but a cool little extra nonetheless.

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Virtually all my 1:6 scale figure experience has been with either Takara or Hot Toys so I had no idea what to expect from this guy. Needless to say I’m extremely pleased with how he turned out and I think he was well worth the $140. Sideshow really nailed the outfit, the poseability is a welcome treat when compared to some of the more restrictive Hot Toys figures and the array of weapons is superb. It’s good to know this guy will be guarding my shelf until Cobra Commander arrives at the end of this year.

GI JOE: Crimson Guard (Cobra Elite Trooper) by Sideshow Toys, Part 1

Sideshow has turned up the heat on GI JOE lately. They currently have Cobra Commander and Baroness up for pre-order and they’ve already shown off Destro. The reveals were enough to get me into this line and I thought I’d herald the pending arrival of my new figures by grabbing the Crimson Guard that they still had available on their site. These guys were always my favorite of the various Cobra legions just because they looked so badass. There’s a lot to talk about here, so I’m going to look at the packaging and the basic figure today and tomorrow I’ll be back to cover his gear.

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The packaging is… wow! Sideshow nailed the presentation here in every way possible. For starters, the deco is pure old school Real American Hero. The front has a great photo of the figure with the GI JOE logo and that great “Cobra Enemy” stamp that I always loved on the old packaging. The side panels show the figure with the classic vintage explosion backdrop and the back highlights the gear and features of the figure and even has a vintage style filecard. Awesome!

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The box is held together with a magnetic flap and opens up to reveal two windowed trays and some copy in the middle about the Crimson Guard. The left tray has all his gear and the right has the figure itself against the explosion backdrop. Everything about this package represents quality and ingenuity and it really trumps the plain jane presentation that I’ve been getting from the more expensive Hot Toys figures lately. Anyway, enough about the packaging, let’s open this guy up and see what he’s all about. COBRA!!!

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Out of the box Crimson Guard is one snazzy looking figure. Sideshow recreated the uniform in both cloth and pleather in all the right places. The tailoring is quite good and the tunic hits all the iconic points of the vintage uniform. You get the brass button down front panel, the gilded shoulder braid, epaulets, insignia medals on the left brest, and of course the giant silver Cobra emblem on the chest. He comes with high boots and a thigh holster rig for his sidearm. The Crimson Guard uniform probably wasn’t the easiest outfit to recreate, but I think Sideshow did a great job with it.

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One really cool thing about the uniform is the way the front panel is held on by magnets over the zipper-front jacket. It was a really ingenious idea and it really comes in handy when you’re outfitting this guy, but we’ll get to that tomorrow.

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The helmeted head looks pretty good as well. It’s hard plastic, but it does have a hollow feel that reminds me this isn’t a Hot Toys caliber figure, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. The color of the helmet matches the rest of the outfit perfectly. I really dig the shape of the mask and there’s a little bit of silver paint apps on the edges to simulate scraping of the metal. I’m still on the fence over whether or not the head is a little too big… maybe a smidge, but it still works for me.

The Crimson Guard uses Sideshow’s Prometheus 1.2 body. That means nothing to me, but he does feature 30 points of articulation and I am really happy with how poseable he is. I will concede the leg joints feel a tad funky and it’s hard to tell what’s going on with the knee joints underneath those trouser legs, but it’s not something that really intrudes on my enjoyment of the figure.

The figure comes with an array of extra hands, as is par for the course with most 1:6 scale figures. What I wasn’t expecting was extra feet. You get a second pair of “action feet” in case you want to tweak your poses even more.

I’m going to break there for today. Tomorrow we’ll load this guy up so he can go kill him some Joes!