Imperial Guardian Sixth-Scale Figure by TBLeague/Phicen

I’m a day late today, but this week has been kicking my ass at work and that’s going to be a running theme as we get deeper into Q4. I’m going to do my best to stay committed to three reviews a week, but I may be shuffling them around a bit as to when they actually go live. So let’s get to it with another look at a TBLeague sixth-scale figure! Yes, folks, TBLeague is continuing to stoke their furnaces with my hard-earned dollars with a seemingly never ending stream of their boxed figure releases. This time I’m opening up one of their more recent concept figures, The Imperial Guardian! What Empire is this battle maiden guarding? I guess that’s up to you, but I have a feeling she’s going to look great doing it.

The packaging and presentation is pretty typical fare for TBLeague these days. The open shoebox is made of sturdy cardboard and features a tri-fold cover which connects to the sides with magnets. From an artistic standpoint, it’s not one of their flashier boxes, but as always it relies entirely on pictures of the figure to do the talking. A good number of TBL’s releases these days are based on indie comic characters, but as I mentioned above, this one is a purely a concept figure with no fiction (at least none that I’m aware of) to back it up. A little blurb about this original character on the back of the box would have been welcome, but judging by the poor quality translation in the care and instruction manual, I can understand why they didn’t. Inside the figure comes nestled in foam with her head, armor pieces, and accessories positioned around the body. A second foam tray under that holds her rather long spear. Let’s get her all set up and check her out.

There’s a lot to love here, but I think what attracted me to this figure the most is the bit of Jean D’Arc vibe I’m getting off of her. TBLeague’s concept figures tend to flirt with the historical, but in the end they do their own thing. Fair warning, this figure requires a bit of work to get her ready for display, as the only armor she’s wearing when she comes out of the box is her chest piece and corset. Everything else has to be put on, and while most of it is pretty straightforward, it took me a while to get the armored skirt on and laced up. There’s a lot of excess string, but I will likely wind up trimming that down. Possibly one of the most notable things about this figure is the fact that she isn’t showing much skin. Indeed, you get a glimpse of thigh between her skirt and leg armor, but that’s it. It’s unusual for a TBLeague release to be covering so much, since these are built around the seamless body and the outfits are usually skimpy to show off that seamless bod. So, where TBL usually uses it to great effect, in this case, she could have easily gotten away with a regular jointed body as the outfit covers almost everything. As a result, collectors who are into this line for the skin and more outlandish costumes, may be a little tepid on this release.

But that’s not to say this isn’t an absolutely fantastic looking figure. The Guardian is wearing a red long-sleeved top and pleated skirt with the armor worn on top of that. The individual armor pieces are all cast in plastic, but the sculpt and paint make them totally convincing as actual metal armor. Heck, removing these pieces from the tray, I was tricked into expecting them to have a lot more weight than they do. Each of these pieces is painted with a weathered copper finish. There are sculpted rivets and some interlocking plates, as well as some general pitting. The armor corset is softer and more flexible to allow her freedom of movement in that region. She has leather-like bracers on her forearms under the armor pieces there and stockings, which extend up past her grieves and can be seen behind the knee armor. The straps and buckles on her chest armor are sculpted, but the others are all working buckles and straps that actually hold on the armor pieces. I dig the combination of the copper armor with the red skirt, as well as the bits of red cloth that show between the armor pieces. She also has a decorative pair of red cords that run from her right shoulder and across her chest.

The head sculpt features very short rooted hair, which stays in place and looks fantastic. I actually thought this head was recycled from their Zenescope Mercy Dante figure, and while they are indeed quite similar (and the hair is nearly identical), this one is still entirely new. I’m pretty sure I say this every time, but when it comes to portraits, TBL has really upped their game in the last few years. The paint is superb and realistic. The eyes have that spark of life, which is often elusive to all sixth-scale figure producers except Hot Toys. The paint used for the lips is a deep glossy red, and the skin tone is a little pale, but quite lifelike with a rosy hue to the cheeks.

While it’s a shame to cover up that beautiful portrait, the final piece to the armor is a tight fitting and fully enclosed helmet with an adjustable visor. Getting the helmet onto her noggin is a scary prospect, as it is extremely tight fitting, and I worry about messing up the hair or scratching the paint on her head. The ears in particular make it tough to get on, but with a little partience and care I was able to do it. Although I will probably need to use a pencil to tuck the hair on the right side of her face into the helmet the rest of the way, I could probably leave it as is and it will still look fine. The helmet shares the same coppery metal finish as the rest of the armor and features a hinged visor and a hinged face plate, each of which are independent of each other. There’s also a bright red plume that spills out the back like a long ponytail, which looks quite striking.

Closing the visor reveals a pretty non-nonsense helmet design. If you look closely, you can see that the visor doesn’t really line up with her eyes. If I take another crack at adjusting it, I might be able to fix this, but I really don’t want to rub it on the head any more than I am doing, so I will likely leave it like this. Take away the studio lights, and you can’t really see in there well enough to know that it’s not aligned with her eyes anyway. Since I don’t want to be putting the helmet on and removing it a lot, I will likely display this figure with the helmet on and the visor up, as that gives me the best of both worlds. Because the armor pieces took up most of the room in the tray, there are sadly not a lot of other accessories included with this figure. You do get three pairs of hands, which include fists, accessory holding hands, and relaxed hands, and these are all very nice sculpts with some detailed work on the armor. The only other accessory included is her long spear. Nope, you don’t even get a stand, so I had to dig into my box of generic sixth-scale figure stands.

The spear is a nice enough piece, and it even includes a grizzly coat of blood on the tip, showing that the Imperial Guard is not a ceremonial position, but a skilled warrior. I really like the design of the blade, as it’s practically a short sword mounted on a pole. The shaft is smooth and it terminates in a pointed cap that looks like it could do some damage as well. The spear works well in her accessory hands, and she looks great holding it! Still, I really feel like this figure needed a sword and scabbard. Sure, I could borrow one from another figure, but I’d rather not deprive one of my other TBL ladies of their weapons. I also think a red ribbon, streamer, or standard is called for on the spear. Heck, I could probably fix that myself, even with my non-existent DIY skills.

 

As a basic figure, the Imperial Guardian set me back about $160 and she is indeed a very beautiful figure for that price. TBL has managed to keep the cost of their figures locked in for a while now, and I maintain that these offerings continue to be among the best value in the sixth-scale market these days. Everything that’s here is expertly crafted and looks absolutely amazing, but to be honest, I felt like the accessories needed to be padded out a bit more to make this figure feel complete. This would have been an excellent opportunity for TBL to offer a Deluxe version (as they frequently do) with maybe a sword, scabbard, and shield, or perhaps just a sword and some kind of battle standard. As it is, I think the extra armor pieces just took up most of the budget. Still, a great figure with some opportunities to bulk her out if you’re game for a little sixth-scale accessory hunting on Ebay.

Star Wars “The Mandalorian” Remnant Stormtrooper Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

It’s well known that Hot Toys are pricey, so it’s not a line of figures that I tend to look at for picking up multiple variants or repaints. So, when I picked up the Stormtrooper a little while ago, I hadn’t planned on picking up any more. But it only took one drunken night of browsing Sideshow’s website along with some Reward Points and a Gift Card burning a hole in my pocket to get me to pull the trigger on this variant Stormtrooper. Drunk or no, I reasoned that I was already all in for the other Hot Toys figures from The Mandalorian, so there was no point in stopping now.

I make it no secret that Hot Toys packaging doesn’t impress me and nowhere is that more feeling stronger than when it comes to their Star Wars line. These boring boxes feature no flare of presentation or craftsmanship. It’s just a receptacle to get the figure to me. OK, so they splurged and added a colorful, illustrated wraparound band to this one, but it feels like a cheap afterthought. But hey, I should be thankful because I don’t have the space to keep all these boxes anyway, so I only keep the ones that feel like something special, and those are few and far between. Inside the box, the Remnant Stormtrooper lays on a tray with his extra hands and accessories around him.

To some, this may just be a dirty Stormtrooper, but I really dig what these guys represent. I can’t believe anyone bothering to read this review hasn’t watched at least the first season of The Mandalorian yet, but just in case… The series takes place after the events of The Return of the Jedi and recognizes that Galactic Empires, even defeated ones, don’t go away overnight. And that’s a pretty insightful concept for Star Wars. The galaxy is replete with planets where the local remnants of Imperial rule grasp desperately for a hold on their now baseless power. The Stormtroopers may still be at their posts, but as evidenced by their degraded armor, they’ve seen better days. As a result we have the Remnant Stormtrooper! After the unexplained, magical appearance of The First Order in the Sequel Trilogy, I found the world of The Mandalorian a lot more believable and interesting. And I just love the idea of a splintered Empire with Moffs and their Stormtroopers going it alone. The Empire ain’t sending any more replacement armor and the pomp and circumstance of inspections are a thing of the past. Hot Toys did a beautiful job taking their bright and shining galactic enforcers and making them slum it.

A good deal of this review will be making comparisons to the previous Hot Toys Stormtrooper, which I reviewed early last year, and I’ll have some comparison photos at the end. To be honest, I was expecting a straight repaint, but instead Hot Toys gave us what is practically a brand new figure. The biggest differences can be found in the abdominal armor, which is completely new, and the belt, which is now made entirely of plastic, where the previous one was plastic and cloth. Overall, the armor detail on this figure is a lot sharper in places, particularly on the detail in the back plate, but I think it would be safe to say that the majority of this armor is different, subtle in some ways and obvious in others. Is one better than the other? I guess it’s a matter of preference. The previous one looks more classic to me, and while I haven’t scrutinized any screen shots, I’m guessing these changes are made to reflect actual changes in the costumes for The Mandalorian series.

As has been the case with Hot Toys troopers, the underlying body is wearing a black body suit and the armor pieces are worn on top of that, rather than being sculpted as part of the body. Exceptions include the boots and helmet. Even the body suit is different, with the previous release being mostly plain cloth and this one having more of a quilted texture, which feels more in tune with the sharper detail on the armor. Either way, I’m always happy to see cloth as opposed to vinyl used for the suit, but unfortunately it only opens up the range of articulation a little bit. There is a nice range of motion in the arms, but not so much in the legs, and it’s hard to tell what exactly is holding it back.

The helmet also varies a bit from the previous Stormy, particularly around the chin and the vents on the cheeks. The helmet also feels like it sits a little higher off the shoulder, which would probably make it compatible with a pauldron if you happen to have one and want to make him an officer. Another notable difference is in the goggles, which were tinted green on the previous figure and here appear to be just black. And now is as good a time as any to discuss the weathering, which is really well done. All of it is achieved through paint, despite the fact that many of the chips look convincing enough that I thought I would be able to actually feel them on the armor. The chipping is particularly heavy on the helmet, perhaps because it gets thrown around a lot, and on the left shoulder. There’s also some yellowing around the edges of most of the armor pieces, and some splotches of general dirt and what looks like pitting from rust. It all looks great, but I’d be curious to see if the weathering is identical from figure to figure. Not that I’m planning on picking up a second, but that would probably be a deal breaker to have two or more with the exact same chipping patterns.

The last Stormtrooper was pretty light on the accessories, so I wasn’t disappointed to see this one is too. You do get the usual passel of extra hands, including fists, relaxed hands, weapon holding hands, and the like. These are very easy to swap out, which is always welcome, although positioning the arms can sometimes cause the forearm armor to shift forward and knock the hands off their pegs. It’s not a big deal and I’m happier to have them pop off now and then as opposed to being so hard to pop off that I’m afraid I’ll snap something.

And of course, you can’t have a Stormtrooper without his trusty E-11 Blaster. This looks like it’s borrowed directly from the previous Stormtrooper, and that’s fine because it’s an absolutely beautiful little blaster. The attention to detail is fantastic as always, and the folding stock is articulated, albeit rather fragile. Unfortunately, the Remnant Stormy does not come with a holster for the weapon, like the regular release did. I’m not sure if this was omitted for canonical reasons or just because Hot Toys didn’t want to toss it in, but seeing as how they don’t usually cheap out, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Much to my surprise, this box did contain one additional weapon, and that’s the SE-14 Light Repeating Blaster Pistol. This was a great little bonus, as I’ve never had a nice version of it for any of my figures. The sculpt lacks the complexity of the E-11 Blaster, but it’s still an excellent little piece, which he may wind up sharing with the other Stormtrooper. And not to sound ungrateful, but the inclusion of the pistol makes me wish even more that they had given him a holster so that he could carry both.

As always, our last stop on these reviews is the figure stand, and this one is both generic and functional. They did actually print Remnant Stormtrooper on the name plate, which I was happy to see, although I was surprised that they did not brand it with the series name.

The Remnant Stormtrooper probably isn’t a must-have, even for people who are going to be collecting other Hot Toys from The Mandalorian. Once again, if I wasn’t made extra impulsive by a bottle of Jameson, I probably wouldn’t have made this purchase. But ultimately, I’m very glad that I did. While this could have been a cheap-and-quick cash grab, Hot Toys put a lot of work into this release and the result makes for a distinctive looking figure, even when he’s standing right next to the vanilla Stormtrooper. And as I mentioned at the outset of this review, the whole concept of the fragmentation of the Remnant Empire is easily one of my favorite concepts introduced in the franchise and this fellow represents it well. I think this figure retails for just a tad over $200, but by the time I was done throwing coupon codes and reward points at him, I stole him for about $90. Well worth it if you ask me!

Star Wars “The Empire Strikes Back” 40th Anniversary Boba Fett Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

It surprises even me that I’ve been able to go this long without adding a Hot Toys Boba Fett to my collection. Sure, I do have a Sideshow Fett, but that’s a review for another time. Truth be told, I try to be very selective about which Original Trilogy characters I pick up as Hot Toys, because otherwise it can be a damned slippery (and expensive) slope to fall down. Up until now I’ve been able to resist the parade of pricey Bobas that have been released, but then this fellow came out of left field and I found him to be totally irresistible. So what’s different about him? Well for one he’s got a bright, beautiful, and totally inaccurate Kenner-inspired deco. And secondly, the packaging is absolutely killer! And hell, it’s goddamn Boba Fett!!! Even with his mug plastered on every kind of conceivable merchandising over the decades, even with countless action figure releases, I’ve never once had a case of The Fett Fatigue. It seemed only right that he should be honored in my collection by Hot Toys. At least until I get up enough of the crazies to get a Life Size one!

And here’s that delectable packaging, and boy is that rare for Hot Toys these days. Every now and then they produce some nice packaging for a Deluxe, like they did for Doctor Strange or for Jyn Erso, but for the most part the figures ship in glorified flimsy window boxes with even flimsier sleeves over them. The artwork is usually nice, but that’s about it. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t even justify keeping most of the boxes any longer. Fett here does come in a window box, but it’s made of sturdier stuff and is designed to be reminiscent of the kind of packaging Kenner used for their old 12-inch figures. Of course, this spectacular presentation is in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back. The artwork of Fett on the front looks like it was ripped right off the old Kenner box and everything else falls in line too. It’s got the starfield, the silver borders, everything that used to get me excited when I tore off the wrapping paper on Christmas morning and saw it peeking out. Not only am I keeping this box, but it’s very likely that I will display the figure in it.

Boba doesn’t require too much set up to get him ready for display. You do have to attach his jetpack, which is a little challenging, as it hooks onto the tiny clips on his back. MAGNETS, HOT TOYS! You’ve used them before, why not now? You also have to insert his little tools into his leg pouches, but that’s really it. I am assuming this figure is a straight repaint of Hot Toys’ previous Boba from The Empire Strikes Back, but I don’t have that figure to compare, so I’ll just have to stick with that assumption. And so despite being a mere recolored variant, he’s an entirely new figure to me! And boy does he look great! The brighter intensified colors really invoke that old vintage Kenner magic and it looks quite stunning on a figure this realistically detailed. The jumpsuit has all the usual immaculate tailoring that I’ve come to expect from Hot Toys, and I’m particularly in love with how the chest armor is actually made up of separate pieces of plastic and independently attached to the vest. It may seem like a small touch, but it makes these pieces shift realistically in a way that I’ve yet to really see on a Fett figure before. The weathering on the armor has taken a step back in exchange for this color scheme. You still get some pock marks and dents, but even these are painted in a brighter silver to make the figure pop. Interestingly, they went for a more subdued paint job for the body of the jetpack, instead of the deco on Kenner’s old 12-inch figure, but I do like how the silver thrusters and the bright red rocket makes it pop.

Some beautiful touches include the tattered cape that cascades off the back of his left shoulder, the Wookie braids coiled on his right shoulder, the leather pouches on his belt, a hard-shell pistol holster positioned just behind his right hip, and I already mentioned the little tools that fit into the pockets on his lower legs. There’s also some wonderful detail on his gauntlets. If I’m nitpicking, my only real gripe would be that his arms seem a little too thin and it feels like they could have wrapped them to fill out the sleeves a little better, but even that is only something I tend to notice when I’m posing him in certain ways. Beefing out the arms a little bit would also make the bracers more snug. The right gauntlet has a piece of tubing tha ttucks up into the sleeve of his jumpsuit, and the left one has the flamethrower, rocket, and other bits and bobs.

By now Hot Toys must know their way around Fett’s helmet backwards and forwards, so it doesn’t surprise me that it looks this good. The vintage coloring gives the helmet a gray finish with no weathering on the red paint around the high gloss visor. Despite the giant dent in the dome, and some traces of light weathering on the cheeks, the deco gives the helmet something approaching a new look, that we seldom get to see. Although the stripes on the left side of the dome are still painted in a faded manner. The range finder is articulated, and the post is made of firm plastic so it won’t bend or warp. It will, however, no doubt break pretty easily so a modicum of care is needed when positioning it.

The jumpsuit isn’t terribly restrictive, making Fett a little more fun to play around with than a lot of other Hot Toys. The arms have a great range of motion, although those elbow joints feel a little loose. The codpiece does inhibit his hip movement a bit, but not terribly so, allowing for some action poses. And speaking of action, Boba isn’t exactly laden down with accessories, but he does come with everything he should, and that includes a number of sets of hands. The hands are very easy to work with, although there are some very fragile bits on those gauntlets, so again care is recommended when changing these out. You get relaxed hands, fists, a right gun hand, and a left hand designed for cradling his carbine. And speaking of which, he comes with both his pistol and his iconic carbine.

The pistol is very simple with a maroon grip, trigger guard, and frame, and the rest painted silver. Most of the fine detail is seen in the muzzle. He can hold it pretty well, but it’s clear that the gun hand was intended more for the carbine than this little guy, so it isn’t a perfect fit. Still, I never associate this pistol with The Fett, but it’s cool that he has a little bit of insurance in case he needs it.

Ah, now this is a lot more like it! The EE-3 carbine is a little work of art, with loads of detail. It’s got glyphs laid into the stock, a scope suspended above the barrel with two brackets, and a carry strap. I love how convincing this weapon is, which isn’t surprising as it’s infamously based off of an old Webley & Scott flare gun. It’s not fancy or flashy, it’s just a great utilitarian design. Just the kind of trusty tool that a bounty hunter would carry. The finish has some light weathering on it, presumably because Fett takes good care of his weapons! It takes a little effort to get his gun hand wrapped around it, but once it’s on it’s a perfect fit.

Our last stop on these Hot Toys review is inevitably the stand, and Boba comes with a pretty standard one. The gray base is meant to look like the deck of a spaceship and he has a nameplate on the front. Because it’s not like people aren’t going to know who he is, right? I’m guessing this base is recycled from the regular release. It would have been cool to get something special for this Vintage Color release, but it looks fine and it certainly does the job of holding him up.

Hot Toys figures aren’t usually impulse buys for me, but when I saw this guy go up for pre-order, there was nothing that was going to stop me from slamming on that button. I do try to go a little easier when it comes to Star Wars Hot Toys, because with so many iconic characters, things can get out of hand pretty quickly. But with that having been said, it seemed like sacrilege to have a Hot Toys collection without a character as iconic as Boba Fett represented. And this release allowed me to add him to the collection in a truly special manner. In many ways, these colors actually feel more accurate to me, because I’ve had them engraved in my brain from such a young age. I’m not sure that this figure is for everybody, but I think he’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something nostalgic and special!

Sinful Suzi Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen/TBLeague

TBLeague and I have a great relationship. They keep making Sixth-Scale figures based on sexy independent comic characters and I keep buying them! They released quite a bit of characters licensed from the likes of Brian Pulido’s Chaos! (now Coffin) Comics as well as Zenescope, and now they’re turning their attention to the work of Joseph Michael Linsner. He’s probably best known for Dawn, and Yes! TBLeague has released a figure of her as well, but today we’re having a look at Sinful Suzi, who first appeared seven years ago in Image Comics’ Sin Boldly!

TBLeague continues to offer some of the better packaging I’ve seen in the Sixth-Scale market. While even the big boys like Hot Toys tend to cheap out with flimsy window boxes these days, TBL is giving us sturdy shoebox-style packaging with tri-fold covers that secure with magnets and inside the figure is nestled in a foam cutout with the head packaged off of the figure. The front panel of the box has some colorful artwork by Linsner and the side and back panels have pictures of the actual figure. In this case you also get a separate parcel of Styrofoam, bundled inside the shipping box, with the diorama base. TBL usually does this with Deluxe versions of their figures, but I think this was the only version of Suzi available. The figure comes with the body wrapped in plastic, and I had to take her boots and sleeves off to carefully slice it all away and remove it. I do recommend leaving the wrap around her ankle joints, as it fills in the joint and makes it look more natural under the boot.

Obviously, Suzi is built on Phicen’s incredible super-flexible seamless body, consisting of a stainless steel skeleton wrapped in a fleshy rubber coating. The only visible jointing on the body is at the wrists, ankles, and neck, and all but the last are concealed by the outfit. Suzi’s body features a chalky white complexion, very similar to the one they used for Lady Death. Even with well over a dozen of these figures on my shelf, I still marvel at how well these bodies work, and I’ve yet to have one tear or break down on me. Fingers crossed!

Sinful Suzi’s outfit is pretty standard seductress leather demon attire. She’s got thigh high boots, which feature sculpting on the toes to resemble hooves, and I think that’s a great little touch. These are also painted with a bit of electric blue coloring. Her arms have sleeves that run up to her biceps, which have hand extensions. I think these are supposed to hook through one of her fingers on her relaxed hands, but the hole is so small it doesn’t work so well. The rest of her outfit is supposed to be a leather one-piece, and here’s where things disappoint. The top of the outfit is made of cloth, rather than the whole thing made of the faux-leather, although it hooks onto a leather piece that goes around her neck. It looks OK, I guess, but the disparity in material kind of stands out to me. it just feels like corners were cut.

The head sculpt, on the other hand? Well, no corners were cut here, as it looks simply (or is that sinfully?) fabulous! The paintwork on her eyes and lips is exceptionally well done. The eyes are almost cat like with narrow pupils, and she has some hot orange coloring between the tops of her eyes and her immaculate eyebrows. The lips are a deep crimson with a glossy wet finish. The features are soft and beautiful, and they gave her a fairly neutral expression, which is fine as it works for a myriad of poses. I wouldn’t have minded something with a smirk. It’s a shame that TBLeague never offers multiple portraits with their figures, although that would really jack up the price, I’m sure. Suzi’s demon horns are sculpted as part of the head and they look pretty natural jutting up from above her forehead. The electric blue hair really makes the whole portrait pop, although it can be a bit of a pill to get under control. I haven’t broken out the gel yet, but I may eventually as there are quite a few misbehaving strands. I do love how it’s parted to partially cover one horn and fully expose the other.

The seamless body boasts something like 28 points of articulation, and thanks to her skimpy and completely non-restrictive outfit, Suzi is a lot of fun to pose. As always, these figures articulate in remarkably realistic ways and I’m always impressed by some of the more subtle movements available, particularly in the torso, shoulders, and neck. The skin is pretty resilient, and while it’s always a good idea to show a modicum of care to prevent tearing, truth be told, both the skin and skeleton can handle some pretty wide ranges of motion. I think the biggest no-no is posing the arms straight up, as it will really stress the skin under the arm, but beyond that, she’s just all sorts of fun! I should also note that her balance is amazing. I will often edit out stands in some of my dramatic poses, but I didn’t have to do that once for this review. Impressive, considering she’s wearing high heels!

Suzi comes up pretty light in the accessories department, but she does come with three sets of hands, and her trademark trident. Honestly, I can’t really think of anything else they could have included with her, so I can’t really complain. Well, one nitpick is that her accessory holding hands are a bit loose with her trident. I’m sure TBLeague just used remolds of existing hands, hence the problem. Truth be told, she can still hold the trident fairly well, but it will slip every now and again. The trident itself isn’t all that exciting. It’s just a thin piece of plastic, but she would certainly be incomplete without it!

And then there’s the base, and it is a very cool piece! This diorama style base features a suburban hellscape with the red brick steps to a front porch and a sculpted doormat that says Sinful Suzi Welcome to HELL! Awesome! There are a couple tiny horns protruding from the back corners and there’s a peg where you can attach a demon skull onto the bottom step. In the past, these diorama bases often came with no way to secure the figure to it, making them awesome showpieces, but a pretty risky way to display your $150 figures. Sadly, as a result, most of my bases are packed away in storage. For the last couple releases I’ve purchased, TBL has been remedying that by adding a support stand that screws into the base, and I couldn’t be happier. In this case, the support is on a bendable rod with a ratcheting clip to gently grab the figure and it works great!

And since the skull is removable, it makes for a cool extra accessory. The sculpting and paint on this piece are both excellent. IT’s got little fangs and demon horns, and it looks like someone bashed in the back of his head when he was alive.

Oh yeah, if you turn the base around you’ve got this nasty bastard peering out at you from behind a sewer grate. This is such a wonderfully ridiculous extra bit of detail on a part of the base that you are probably never going to see. I really appreciate that kind of work!

All in all, I think Suzi turned out pretty well, even if I do wish her outfit had been made out of all of the same material. There’s nothing terribly crazy or new here when it comes to TBLeague’s releases, and I’ll bet this was a pretty quick-and-easy figure for them to produce. But that being said, she looks great and she’s tons of fun to play around with. The bundled base also goes a long way to drive up the figure’s value, as it was included without adding anything to the price point (about $159) of TBL’s regular releases. As a character, she’s probably a deep cut, even for a lot of comic fans, but given Suzi’s pinup qualities, I’m not sure you really need to be familiar with the comics to appreciate this figure. And she sure looks right at home on the shelf and hanging out with the likes of Purgatori, Vampirella, and Lady Death.

Avengers Endgame: Thanos Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

Since I’m between waves of Marvel Legends, I’m going to divert my attention elsewhere on this Marvel Monday, and shift the spotlight to Hot Toys! Wow, it’s been a while since I reviewed a Hot Toys Marvel figure. I still have a few more Marvel Hot Toys to review, a few on pre-order, but my confidence in the future of the MCU has been waning, and I have a feeling that my days of collecting Hot Toys Marvel may be drawing to a close. It makes me a little sad, but my wallet very happy. Speaking of which, let’s take a look at The Mad Titan himself, who recently snapped his fingers and made half my toy budget for the month disappear! I passed on Hot Toys Thanos twice before. The Guardians of the Galaxy version with the throne looked great, but it was also a little small and I didn’t have the scratch for it back then. It was a shame because it’s the only Hot Toys release from that film that I didn’t buy. Next came the Infinity War version, and that was an easy pass because his costume was just so boring that I couldn’t justify the price tag. This armored up Endgame one was obviously the one I was waiting for!

Big Boi’s come in Big Boxes! If you’ve been with me for some previous Hot Toys reviews, you may know that I don’t think much of their packaging. They usually have pretty artwork, but the cardboard is super flimsy and they’re little more than window boxes with sleeves around them. I just think the price I’m paying warrants something a little more impressive. Hell, I don’t even keep most of these boxes anymore, because they take up too much space for what they are. That’s pretty much true for Thanos here, but I will admit the size itself is impressive! Thankfully, Thanos comes out of the box with most of his armor on and pretty much ready to go!

And here he is looking absolutely superb! Thanos not only towers above my other Hot Toys (well, except for The Hulk), but he’s also a hefty mo-fo with a lot of girth. Everything about this guy feels substantial. The figure depicts past Thanos who followed The Avengers back to future Earth in full battle gear. Yes, this could also pass for Thanos in the very beginning of Infinity War, and I’ll come back to that idea eventually. Hot Toys did a beautiful job on his armor, which is comprised of golden plastic plates over more flexible and textured black plastic. I was happy to see that it’s not sculpted as part of the figure itself, but an actual suit. I’m not sure if they did this to reuse the previous Thanos body, or just to be awesome, but it adds so much to the figure’s complexity. He even has cloth pants under his leg armor. The gold plate pieces are exquisitely painted, giving off a look that is so convincing, it’s almost surprising to touch it and feel that it’s just lightweight plastic. These pieces feature some panel lines, as well as a number of nicks and scrapes acquired in past battles, giving the suit a very lived in look. There are also some tarnished spots in the paint to make it look well weathered. Hot Toys didn’t go too nuts with these effects, as they sure wanted to sell a proper battle damaged version of this figure too, but what’s here is just enough to make it look like the armor has been well used. I also really dig the copper colored pieces on his chest, just to mix things up a bit.

Despite being worn, the bulk of the armor is permanently attached to the figure, but the right arm bracer can come off. The left can’t, but more on that later. The bicep pieces are held on by the straps and friction and they stay in place quite well. There’s a decent amount of clearance in the shoulders, so the arms can be posed without me being too worried about scraping or breaking these pieces. But as with most Hot Toys, you just don’t want to try to get the arms raised much higher than the shoulders. The arms are covered with a rubbery skin, quite similar to what we saw on The Hulk. It looks great, but I’m not terribly keen on how the skin folds at the elbows when the arms are flexed. It just looks a bit too much like what it is, rubber covering an articualted arm. I think I might have preferred that they went with regular exposed elbow joints here. Then again, if he’s in a pose with his arms fairly straight, it does look much better with the seamless joints. It’s a compromise. And while on the subject of articulation, I’ll give credit to the ratcheting joints they designed for him. This is a hefty figure, but he has no troubles standing on his own and his joints tend to stay where you put them. You can use Thanos’ joints to tweak some cool poses, but nothing too extreme. Of course, that’s usually the case for most Hot Toys.

I’m not sure if the regular portrait is recycled from the Infinity War figure, but whatever the case, it’s everything I would expect from Hot Toys these days. Seeing as how they have all but perfected capturing actor likenesses with remarkable realism, a CG version of Josh Brolin is probably no great shakes for them. Still, I don’t want to take away from how amazing it turned out. The purple skin tone looks great and matches the arms perfectly. If you get in really close you can make out all sorts of little creases and natural looking textures in the skin. His well-defined facial features are recreated flawlessly here as is his giant ball sack of a chin. The deep set eyes also have that wonderful spark of life that only the best paint in the industry can convey. Of course, you do get the visible jointing between the head and neck, but it’s mostly apparent when the portrait is viewed from the back or side, and it’s to be expected. The head is attached via a balljoint, and it is easily popped off to swap it out with the second portrait.

Here we have angry and defiant Thanos, and it is a powerful portrait indeed. Thanos bears his titanic teeth in a grimace of rage. I often imagine that it’s far more difficult to convey emotion in these portraits, but you wouldn’t know it from how well this turned out. The sculpting and paint on his teeth is truly amazing. It’s going to be a tough call to decide which portrait to display on the figure regularly. Chances are it will be the first, but only because I plan on displaying him in a fairly neutral position. Nevertheless, I’ll likely be changing it up fairly often. Hot Toys really needs to follow in the path of NECA Toys and release some kind of display method for extra heads. I usually just wind up resting them on the display stands.

Thanos also comes with his helmet, which fits easily onto either portrait. I was very afraid that this was going to be a tight fit and would risk damaging the paint every time I wanted to put it on or remove it, but I’m happy to say that’s not the case. It looks like a form-fitting piece, but it doesn’t feel like it’s rubbing much when it goes on. Heck, it fits so well that I could be convinced it was part of the head sculpt if I didn’t know better. Once again, the gold paint here is exquisite and the weathering is especially well done, with lots of little scrapes and some pitting. The helmet presents another dilemma on whether to display with it on or not. Right now, I have the figure holding the helmet in his left hand. And that brings me to hands!

You can’t buy a Hot Toys figure and not expect to get a bunch of hands. Thanos comes with no less than four sets. You get fists, relaxed hands, graspy hands, and accessory holding hands. These attach via some pretty chunky ball joints, and they are a real breeze to get on and off. I have my share of Hot Toys figures that don’t get their hands changed out often because they are difficult to get off, or I’m afraid I’m going to snap the wrist pegs, but the benefit of having a big figure like this is the hands are a lot easier to work with. The fists work really well with the more expressive portrait.

Thanos’ big accessory is his double-bladed sword, and it is indeed an intimidating weapon! When held vertically it’s taller than the figure and Hot Toys did a great job with this design. The blades have deeply etched designs on the flats of the blade and if you look really closely you can not only see a faint damascus pattern in the blade, but also the marks on the edges where it has been sharpened. That level of detail really blows me away.

As amazing as the sword looks, it’s rather deceptive when picked up, mainly because it’s so incredibly light. I really feel like they should have done something to beef this up a big, particularly with how tight the grip is. Maybe they could have made the the framing pieces on the backs of the blades die-cast. Unlike everything else about this figure, I felt like I needed to be super cautious when putting the sword into his hand. Indeed, I’ll likely leave the hand attached to the sword from now on. It feels like a good idea would have been to have the sword split apart in the middle of the grip, so you could pass one end through the top of his hand and the other through the bottom and peg them together.

The last accessory included in the box is the Infinity Gauntlet, which is something of an anachronism, since this version of Thanos never had it. Nonetheless, Hot Toys had it made for the Infinity War Thanos, and it’s cool that they threw it into the box here, as it can transform this version of Thanos into the one from the beginning of Infinity War, so long as you’re willing to overlook the fact that all the Infinity Stones are present. Accurate or not, I will be displaying him with the Gauntlet, just because it looks so damn cool. This piece is attached by pulling the left arm off at the joint where the bracer starts and plugging in the Gauntlet. Like everything with this figure, it goes on easy-peasy. There is a light up feature included, but it’s disappointingly dim. Maybe the batteries I got aren’t at full strength, but it really wasn’t worth the effort of showing it off. In addition to rotating at the arm, the gauntlet has a ball joint at the wrist, which also allows you to pull off the fist and replace it with an articulated Gauntlet.

The articulation here includes double hings in the fingers and a rotation in the thumb. It’s not quite good enough to get his fingers into a snapping position, but I like the added articulation a lot. In the case of both Gauntlets, the gold finish is quite luxurious and it’s given a deeper and richer finish than the armor, making it look newer. The sculpted details look great, as do the individual Stones. And since the electronics are in the lower portion of the Gauntlet, the articulated hand shares the same light up feature as the fist.

Finally, Thanos comes with a figure stand, which is similar to the regular Hot Toys bases, only a lot bigger. And yet it feels like it’s not quite big enough. In a moderate stance, Thanos’ feet hang over the edges of the stand. But it still works just fine. The base has a colorful image of the Avengers logo disappearing into dust and the logo proper closer to the front. The base has a nameplate on the front as well. I like the way it looks a lot, but I’m a little surprised they didn’t go for some kind of diorama base like they did for The Hulk.

Sometimes patience pays off and that was certainly the case here. I really wanted a Hot Toys Thanos in my collection, but the Infinity War outfit just didn’t do anything for me, especially not at such a titanic price. This guy, however checks all the boxes. He’s huge and imposing and he comes all decked out in his battle gear. Plus, the inclusion of the Infinity Gauntlet was a wonderful bonus. He’s a commanding presence on my shelf, and I had to rework a whole bunch of my Hot Toys collection to find room for him. Still, he was worth the effort, as well as the $415 price tag! With the exception of the Marvel Hot Toys that I have on pre-order, this could very well be the last MCU figure I purchase, so it was pretty cool that it was such a great figure!

Female Mercenary Heart King Sixth-Scale Figure by Very Cool Toys

With all the Hot Toys and TBLeague figures waiting for their turn at the review table, I probably shouldn’t be going off on tangents like this one. But, I picked up a couple of figures from Very Cool Toys to see what they were all about and as long as I had them accessible, I thought I’d take a look at one before finding a space for her up on the shelf. Very Cool seems to specialize in pseudo-military-style figures, usually ladies, many of which appear to be based on characters or skins in Wefire, a shooter from the Chinese megacorporation, Tancent Games.

Suffice it to say I know absolutely nothing about these games, but a retailer I deal with was having a sale and the figures looked pretty cool, or maybe they looked… VERY cool! . I didn’t know what to expect, but when they arrived I was fairly impressed by the packaging. It appears to be an enclosed box, but it’s actually more like a box in a slipcase with a little strip of ribbon to help pull it out. The slipcase is illustrated on all sides, has a picture of the figure on the front, and a lot of Chinese writing on the back. The spine simply identifies the figure as NO.VC-TJ-04 which sure is catchy. Indeed, the only reason I know that she’s called Female Mercenary Heart King is because that was the name of the listing on the site where I purchased her.

Heart King requires a fair amount of work to get her all kitted out and ready for action. Basically she comes out of the box wearing her basic clothing, and all her gear is placed around her in the foam trays. It took some doing to get everything on her, but I don’t mind. It gives me some quality time with the figure before she’s ready for display. First off, let’s talk about the body, which is a hybred of the seamless stuff we usually see from Phicen/TBLeague and a regular jointed figure. OK, actually nothing on the figure is seamless, but she does make use of a silicone covered torso, which mean’s the exposed skin is squishy and has more of a life-like look and texture. The limbs are all jointed and the costume does its best to cover these joints. So, the swivels in her biceps usually line up with her sleeves, and the jointing in her elbows are covered by sleeves and elbow pads. Similarly, the joints in her knees, which tend to show through the super tight pleather pants, are concealed by soft cloth sleeves and armor pads. In the end, the arm joints do tend to show from time to time, but it’s not too unsightly.

Her uniform consists of the yellow-orange pants, a white sports-bra kind of thing, and a crop-top jacket that matches her pants. I like the color they went with here, as it really does look like something a character in a video game might be wearing. There’s a shoulder patch on each of her jacket sleeves to give it a little bit of a military vibe. Her brown pleather boots sip up the sides and have pretty high heels, which demonstrate the figure’s balance quite well. I never had to rely on a stand for her when shooting the pictures, which is impressive. The tailoring on the clothing is all very well done. The stitching is neat and and everything fits the figure perfectly. The only downside is that the super tight pants inhibit her hip movment a lot. It’s hard to get anything resembling a wide stance out of her without fear of popping that stitching, so I”m not even going to try! The sleeves have a cool honeycomb pattern on them, she has a pair of matching WeFire bracelets, and her fingerless gloves are sculpted and painted onto her hands.

The attention to detail on her gear is also quite nice. She has a trio of magazine pouches strapped ot her left thigh, which holds in place by friction and doesn’t show any sign of slipping. Her right thigh has a hard plastic holster, which pegs into the plate that’s strapped to her leg. Again, this holds in place perfectly. There’s even a retaining strap for her pistol. Her backpack attachces to her shoulder rig, and can be removed while leaving the shoulder rig in place. There are straps with working buckles holding the top flap down and non functional pouches on the sides. And finally, she has a studded belt, which is worn loose on her hips and does it’s best to conceal the straps of her G-string peeking out of her pants.

I really dig the head sculpt here. It’s a great compromise between realism and stylized game character. The skin texture is good, albeit far from Hot Toys or Sideshow quality. The paint used on the eyes and lips, however isn’t too far off. The sculpted red hair features some fine detail and it’s sculpted from a separate piece of plastic to allow it to hang over the head and give it some depth while framing her face. The head is ball jointed, but it is an absolute chore to get it off and back on again. Fortunately the only time I had to do that was to put on her dog tag and choker.

As a Mercenary, this lady comes with some essential Tools of the Trade. First off, she has her trusty automatic pistol, and this is a fantastic piece. The detail is absolutely exquisite, from the brown checkered grips to the silver painted trigger. Even more impressive is that the slide actually works and the magazine is removable. They even painted the bullets that can be seen in the top of the magazine. This scaled pistol is every bit as good as any that I got with my Hot Toys or Sideshow figures, and that’s no small boast! The figure comes with two sets of hands, one relaxed set and one for working with the accessories.

Next up we get a couple of canister grenades. These are fun with a cartoony skull-and-crossbones printed on the side of each. They have clips to attach to her belt and actual rings to pull before she throws them!

And finally, our Mercenary comes with an AK-47, which is another beautiful piece of work. The stock and foregrip are painted brown and the rest has a blued finish. The action on this thing actually works thanks to a rather tight spring inside the receiver. The sites can be flipped up and the magazine is removable. Actually, she comes with two magazines for the rifle. The detail is impecable, right down to the paddle to eject the magazine and the fire selector.

I have to say that I’m fairly impressed with the way this figure turned out, especially for a figure that is priced at around $140-150. Very Cool didn’t skimp on anything. The costume tailoring is great, the attention to detail in the gear is solid, and the weapons are absolutely fantastic. And this is all coming from someone who has absolutely no connection to the character or game that the figure is pulled from. I’m not sure that she’ll spend a whole lot of time displayed on my shelf right now, but if I can clear off a corner somewhere, I may actually wind up putting her in with my Resident Evil Sith-Scale figures. I think she would fit in perfectly. I’ve got another one of these ladies to check out, and I hope to get back to her in a week or so.

Court of the Dead: Kier (First Sword of Death) Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen/TBLeague

If you were poking around here yesterday, you may have caught an unfinished preview of today’s review, because I had it scheduled for the wrong day and it published before I completed it. So, here’s the real deal with the rest of the pictures and a nice edit to fix all my drunken typos. Enjoy!  

TBLeague has made a nice niche for themselves creating sixth-scale figures based on indie comic characters, as well as some really cool original concept figures. But never did I expect them to ink a deal with Sideshow Collectibles to create sixth-scale figures based on The Court of the Dead. I mean, that’s crazy. Sideshow makes sixth-scale figures. Why wouldn’t they make these themselves? Well, to be honest, I’m glad it went down this way. The designs work well with the Phicen Seamless Body and the retail cost is most certainly a good bit cheaper than if Sideshow had done them. Today I’m checking out the first release in this line. It’s the Bane of Heaven… Kier!

Here’s a quick look at the packaging, which includes a sturdy box with a tri-fold magnet lid. There is some work to be done before Kier is ready for display. It mostly involves putting on her armor pieces, so let me get her set up and we’ll have a look! But before getting to the goodies, how about some of that backstory? The Court of the Dead is the brainchild of artist Tom Gilliland and initially presented by Sideshow as a series of Premium Format statues. I have to respect the confidence it takes to do a wholly original line of PF Statues. These statues are expensive and they take up a lot of display space. I feel like a lot of people who invest in these pieces do so because of their fondness for a specific character. But Sidshow went in guns blazing by creating a universe and character backstories, and it must have paid off because they’ve released a lot of product in this line. Personally, I loved the designs, but couldn’t commit to the flagship statues. Nonetheless, when TBLeague announced the figures, I was immediately on board.

Outcast from the Heavens and raised by Death, Kier is the Valkyrie of the Dead and also known as Death’s First Sword. Oh yeah… and she is absolutely stunning. Built on one of the large busted Phicen Seamless Bodies, Kier features a rather distinctive blue-gray colored skin with blood stains on her forearms and lower legs. These stains start out with ragged red streaks and get darker until becoming black on her saturated hands and feet. Her armor pieces consist of grieves for her lower legs, a sleeve for her right forearm, pauldrons on her shoulders, and a breastplate. Meanwhile her lower modesty is covered by a sash that hangs down from a belt. Each of the armor pieces are intricately sculpted with some cool Giger-esque patterns and painted to look like ancient bronze. I particularly dig the curved blade protruding from her armor sleeve. The shoulder pieces are attached by clear rubber bands, which make them a pain in the ass to get on, but once they are they seem to stay attached by magic. She also has rather ornate wrist and bicep cuffs on her left arm.

Also part of her armor is the gorget she wears around her neck. It’s a cool piece, but it doesn’t fit as flush against her skin as I would like. Some of this is caused by the cape that ties around her neck and runs out under the gorget. Her cape is made from a heavy fabric with a brown exterior that looks to be spattered with mud. The interior has some sewn patterns that invoke themes of blood and bone. There’s a wire running through the bottom edge of the cape so that it can be shaped into different positions.

Her head sculpt is rather attractive for a Valkyrie of the Dead. The facial features are soft and smooth, but still very well defined. She bares a rather stern and determined expression, which I suppose fits an undead harvester of souls. The paint used for the eyes is much simpler than we usually get, but that’s probably because they weren’t going for that traditional spark of life that we usually get. These are just little gray pools. The eyebrows are sharp and crisp as are the gray lines that spill from her bottom lip and follow down her chin. I’m particularly impressed by the sculpting of the hairline as it looks extraordinarily realistic. This is the first TBLeague figure I’ve seen with sculpted hair, instead of their traditionally rooted coifs, and I have to say they did a damn fine job on it. The texture of the hair is very sharp as are the braids that protrude down her back, each one sculpted with ornamental hair ties painted silver.

And while it’s a shame to cover up that pretty face, Kier comes with a mask, which is perhaps best characterized in her own words, “I have two faces, that which I was given and that which I made. My true face is the one I carved with my own two hands… And if you see it, chances are you’re on your last rattle.” And it does indeed cut a fearsome visage. The mask is brilliantly held on by magnets, which make it so easy to put on and take off without fear of rubbing paint or scratching the plastic of Kier’s pretty face. The mask itself features a realistic bone finish with the Spirit Faction symbol carved into the forehead, two gnarled horns rising from the top… well, make that one and a half, and the jaw bones hanging down from the sides like a pair of grizzly earrings. The mask is formed to fit Kier’s face, perfectly lining up with her eyes and nose.

In addition to a number of different sets of hands, and an extra set of feet, Kier comes with a skull partially engulfed in translucent mystical energy. Maybe one of the souls she is harvesting? This is a horrifically realistic sculpt, all brown and gnarled and with the jawbone missing. The translucent blue plastic swirls off of it to the side and has a beautiful glow when presented in the right lighting. The top of the skull is sculpted with five finger holes, which can be used in conjunction with one of Kier’s graspy hands to make it look like she’s poked her fingers directly into the bone.

Next up, Kier has her impressive two-handed sword. I’ll confess I was a little surprised to find the blade was made of plastic, since a lot of TBLeague’s figures come with metal bladed weapons, but given the extreme length of it, they probably made the right choice from a standpoint of weight and balance. Regardless, the hilt is intricately sculpted with a bird carving as the pommel and a gnarled tangle for a crossguard. The hilt is finished with the same rich patina as Kier’s armor.

Finally, this figure comes with a diorama style base, which is akin to the ones that come with TBLeague’s Deluxe figures. It consists of a circular pedestal with jagged slate pouring up from it. The pedestal is adorned with skulls and skull medallions, and there are more skulls and bones strewn around the rocky terrain, giving you a little slice of the dark dimension on which to display the figure. And if you’ve read any of my Deluxe TBLeague reviews, you probably know what’s coming next. Yeah, there is unfortunately no way to secure the figure to the stand. No pegs or peg holes in her feet, no magnets, and no post to secure her to. Now, I had absolutely no problem getting her to stand on the display in a variety of different poses, but there’s just no way I’m going to display her like that all the time and run the risk of an inevitable shelf dive. As a result, the stand makes for some good photo ops, but it’s not something I’m going to use to display her regularly, and that’s a shame because they did put some nice work into this piece.

Kier set me back about $170, which is right in line with TBLeague’s Deluxe figures, and I have to say that’s a hell of a value. Doubly so when you can rarely ever touch a Hot Toys or Sideshow figure for under $225 these days. And most of those don’t come with big diorama-style display bases. TBLeague did an amazing job owning this design and she is going to look fantastic displayed alongside some of my other TBLeague horror gals, like Vampirella, Purgatori, and Lady Death. Not to mention I’ve already had the second of TBLeague’s Court of the Dead figures arrive, so I hope to be checking her out in a few weeks.

Captain Marvel (Deluxe) Sixth-Scale Figure by Hot Toys

I’m really trying to commit to getting some of these Marvel Hot Toys figures reviewed on Marvel Mondays, but these take a lot more time than Legends reviews. Nonetheless, I was off this past weekend and a new Hot Toy arrived, so I thought I’d sneak this review into the mix for today. It was waaaaay back in February of 2019 that Hot Toys opened pre-orders for their Captain Marvel figure. I hit that pre-order button the day she went up and she just hit my doorstep this past Friday. Fifteen months later! Now, Hot Toys collecting has never been a game for those who lack patience, but that turn-around time was pretty ridiculous! Today I’ll be checking out the Deluxe version, which means there are a couple of extra accessories over the regular release.

The box art is very attractive, complete with a lenticular type front panel on the sleeve and shimmery letters. But it’s still just a flimsy window box with an equally flimsy sleeve. I’m sorry, but these figures are expensive and I don’t think the presentation is all it can be. And with rare exceptions, like Doctor Strange, it hasn’t been for a long while. Nonetheless, the figure comes in a plastic tray with a ton of extra bits and effect parts scattered around it. I should note that the February pre-order date meant that I bought this figure about a month before the Captain Marvel movie came out. And while I certainly didn’t hate the movie, I did think it was fairly disappointing. On a few occasions in the past, I’ve come out of Marvel movies buying the accompanying Hot Toys figures on my phone while walking to the car. Here, it kind of put a damper on this purchase. Still, in the end I absolutely loved the look of the costume, so I wasn’t about to cancel it. Besides, I wasn’t all that smitten with the Doctor Strange movie, and that remains one of my favorite Marvel Hot Toys figures in my collection. And in the end, when this figure showed up, I was still every bit as excited to check her out as I always am.

Carol comes out of the box with some plastic protectors her costume, but once that’s all removed she’s all ready to go! And damn, she does indeed look marvelous! The costume designers did such a beautiful job faithfully recreating her comic costume for the film, and likewise the wizards at Hot Toys did an equally impressive job creating it for this figure. The underlying suit is comprised of a super thin rubbery material, similar to what’s on my original Avengers Black Widow figure. But it’s also reinforced with plastic armor on the torso, shoulders, forearms, knees, and boots. What’s particularly impressive is how seamlessly they coexist, particularly the torso piece. It’s genuinely tough to tell where the armor ends and the flexible suit begins.

I just can’t say enough good things about how well the coloring on the costume turned out. It’s just pure eye candy. The blue and red have a sumptuously satin finish that pairs so well with the gold piping and trim. And I particularly love how the starburst on her chest turned out. Likewise, the stitching is immaculate and the suit is tailored so well that it looks like it’s practically painted onto the figure. And yes, that means it does hinder the articulation big time! I can get a decent range of motion out of her shoulders and elbows, but below the waist is limited because of how tight things are in the groin area. Even wide stances make me worried that I’m going to pop those stitches. When I get a figure like this, I tend to refer back to the official photos to see what the possibilities are and even those photos don’t go too far when it comes to dynamic leg movement.

While I’d be willing to say the costume is perfect, I can’t be quite that generous when it comes to the portrait. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s a beautiful portrait and I can see a lot of Brie Larson in there, but I don’t think it’s one of their strongest likenesses. At some angles it’s great, but at others it’s a bit harder to see. I wasn’t all that satisfied with Ms. Larson in the role (although she grew on me a bit in Endgame), so this is one figure where I’m willing to be more forgiving on the likeness, maybe because it’s not as important to me. With all that having been said, the paintwork is as good as ever and the level of realism in the skin tone and the eyes is superb. As for the decision to go with sculpted hair, I think maybe they should have gone with rooted hair here. It’s kind of weird to stand her beside my other Marvel Hot Toys ladies, all of which have rooted hair, and see her plastic coif. Then again, I’ll likely be displaying her quite often with her masked head, which we’ll get to in a bit.

As a Hot Toys figure, you just know Carol comes with a lot of hands! Here you get fists, relaxed hands, a left STOP hand, and some gesturing hands. These are switched out in the usual manner by popping them off the ball joint, but since there’s a light up feature in her arms, the posts are fixed into the forearms. As a result, I find myself being extra careful swapping the hands. If the posts snap here, you’re pretty much shit out of luck. Each of the hands feature sculpted and painted red finger-less gloves with gold piping to match her forearm bracers.

And as mentioned earlier, in addition to the extra hands, you get an extra head. Using this one involves also swapping out the neck post from the bare neck to the covered one that goes with the mask. Her sculpted cowl covers all but the lower part of her face. There are all sorts of cut panel lines in the cowl as well as more of that pretty red and blue to match the rest of the uniform. Her mohawk sprouts from the top and is beautifully sculpted. And now it’s time to turn down the lights a little bit so we can enjoy some of the light up features, this figure has to offer.

The head features a swap-out mohawk, which is molded in translucent yellow plastic, and an electronic box inside the head, powered with three cell batteries. One of Hot Toys’ biggest stumbling blocks over the years has been making the electronic features of their figures more accessible. Here, it’s not too bad. Buy lifting off the head you get access to the on/off switch on the back of the box. A remote control would have been better, but I like that it can be done without even picking up the figure or taking her off her stand. The light up effect in the mohawk is very bright and it looks great, but it’s the eyes that really sell it here for me.

Carol also features a light up feature in her arms, which works in conjunction with a number of effect parts and a pair of arm bracers cast in brighter plastic to make them look like they’re channeling energy. Again, accessing the feature here isn’t too bad, and since you’ve got to swap out the fists anyway you’ll have access to the on/off buttons. First off, she has a pair of translucent fists, which light up brilliantly.

These can also be used with translucent blue energy effects that fit over the bracers. I’m not terribly impressed by these. The sculpts actually make them look more like foliage than energy. They kind of remind me of bigger versions of the effect parts you might find with a Marvel Legends figure. I doubt I will get much use out of these.

A much nicer effect are these energy fireballs, which snap on in place of the fists. I love the swirling sculpt on these and they’re cast in a mix of clear and yellow plastic, and if you look closely you can see that they sculpted the translucent blue fists in the center of them.  These are easily my favorite effect parts that come with the figure, and I think they look cool enough even without the lights, that I would consider sometimes displaying her with these on.

Finally, she comes with two huge mega-beams, which also attach in place of fists. I only attached one for the photos because the two of them make her top heavy and I’m not too keen on these either. The light up feature on these works well, but they’re kind of ridiculous. They’re basically hollow tubes of blasting energy. I don’t recall these being listed in the solicitation pictures so they were a total surprise to me. They definitely add value to the box, because they use a hell of a lot of plastic, but I just don’t think the effect works all that well. OK, let’s turn the lights back up and check out the accessories that are exclusive to the Deluxe version.

The first of the two Deluxe accessories is her leather bomber jacket, which fits right over her costume and is surprisingly easy to put on. The only thing to watch out for here is her sculpted hair, as the ends can be a little sharp and I can imagine it damaging the jacket if you aren’t careful, especially when turning her head. I also remove her arm bracers when she’s wearing the jacket, as it just makes it easier to put on. The jacket is a beautiful little garment and tailored to fit perfectly. It’s got soft elastic material around the lower edge and the wrist cuffs, a large patch on the back, a name patch on the front left of her chest, and an American flag patch on the left shoulder. I think this looks fabulous on the figure, and I’ll likely be displaying her with it when I’m using the unmasked head.

The other Deluxe accessory is Goose the Flerken! To know me is to know that I’m a cat lover and I’m very happy that Goose got a figure of his own. It’s an adorable little static figure that features some great attention to detail, like the collar and name tag, and some good coloring, but Hot Toys had better not quit their day job of sculpting human likenesses. The painted details on the face here look almost cartoonish and I get no sense of realism from any aspect of this little guy. I’m still happy to display him with the figure, but if you’re considering getting the Deluxe for Goose, I’d take this into consideration before spending a lot.

And our last stop on this review is the figure stand. The base remains the same seven-sided platform that Hot Toys has been using for Marvel for a little while now. The surface has a colorful illustration of the movie logo along with the starburst from Carol’s chest piece. I’m usually fine with them leaving the base plain black, but I’ll confess I do like the colors here a lot. The name plate also stands out, and they go with the name Carol Danvers instead of as Spider-Man would say, her made-up name. Instead of the usual plastic post and crotch-cradle, the stand here is a thick flexible tube with a clamp that grabs the figure’s waist. It can be adjusted up or down so that she can be displayed standing or hovering.

While I’ve had some nitpicks along the way, I have to say I’m extremely pleased with how this figure turned out. And despite not being a huge fan of the movie, I’m still just as excited as ever to put Captain Marvel on my shelf. This is just one of those figures that pops out at me even among all the other colorful Marvel characters in my Hot Toys display. And at about $260, this figure feels like one of the better values I’ve had in a Hot Toys lately. Besides the amazing work they did on the costume, you get a second portrait, light up effects in the head and arms, four sets of effect parts, the bomber jacket, and a Flerken. And yeah, Goose didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped, but if I remember correctly, they the Jones figure that got bundled with Aliens Ripley didn’t turn out so hot either. Maybe Hot Toys just has problems with cats.

Miss Jones (Netflix Jessica Jones) Sixth-Scale Figure by Toys Works

I can hardly afford it because of my backlog, but I decided it was time to start mixing up Marvel Mondays with something other than Marvel Legends, and today I’m venturing into uncharted territory. Much like that illicit underground third-party Not-Transformers market (which is so underground you can buy them on just about any reputable online toy retailer) the Sixth-Scale action figure market also has its own copyright-bending thing going on. These rebel companies, seated in their secret hideouts deep in the East, turn out figures that are clearly based on popular franchises, with likenesses of famous actors. And it’s not all about raping other people’s copyrights for a quick buck. Nah, in a lot of cases, like today’s review, it’s about getting figures into the hands of collectors, that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Oh, and yeah… it’s also about raping other peoples’ copyrights for a quick buck. Hot Toys stepped up and gave us Netflix versions of The Punisher and Daredevil, but sadly they stopped there. And that brings us to Toys Works’ Miss Jones, a figure that steps up to fill a slot that Hot Toys failed to. Let’s take a look at Not-Jessica!

The box is suggestive of some tough times ahead. It’s totally utilitarian and in some ways rather humorous with it’s curious translations. The artwork is pretty faint, so much so that it’s hard to make out. The bottom of the front panel shows a cluttered desk and the back is a monochrome illustration of Miss Jones with her camera. The bulk of the box is a crossword puzzle of words, including gems like eye infidelity and woman lifestyle other odd throwaways include frustration, talking, and hat. All things that instantly come to mind when thinking about the Jessica Jones Netflix series! Only not at all. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, because once upon a time you’d be lucky to get a bootleg figure like this wrapped like a fish in old Chinese newspapers. Suffice it to say, the box here is totally serviceable and nothing more. The figure comes ready for display, so let’s check her out.

Jessica dons her trademark outfit, consisting of a pair of faded blue jeans, a tan T-shirt, black leather jacket, gray scarf, and black boots. The costume fits the figure very well and avoids that puffy look that we sometimes get with sixth-scale costumes when not done by Hot Toys or Sideshow (I’m looking at you, Big Chief!). Starting below the waist, the jeans feature immaculate white stitching, belt loops, and functional pockets! There are even tiny silver rivets on the back pockets. The boot feet, include sculpted laces up the sides, silver painted buckles, and even sculpted treads on the soles.

Above the waist, the shirt is snug enough to show off that she has an anatomically correct chest (more on that in a bit!), and it’s sleeveless like a tank-top, although It’s intended to be a full shirt. The leather jacket is nicely tailored with more of that tight stitching. The zipper is just painted on, and I’m fine with that. The lapels on the collar tend to jut out a bit, but not too bad. I may be tempted to pin these down at some point. The scarf is a loop of gray cloth and she also has a finger-less cloth glove on her left hand, which I discarded because it didn’t fit right. So all in all the outfit is solid enough, but it just lacks that extra filter of realism that the Sixth-Scale big dogs manages to achieve. It looks like well-made action figure clothes and not shrunken down real people clothes that we get from the experts.

The portrait is nothing special, but considering the source, I’m not totally hating it either. It’s obviously far from a dead ringer for Kristen Ritter, but there’s enough in there, at least from certain angles, that with the context of the outfit it manages to get by. It’s far from what I’m used to seeing in this scale, but much better than I would have expected from a third-party sculpt. Likewise, the paint is pretty good too. The eyes have a little of that spark of life and the eyebrows and lips are neatly painted and not overstated. The rooted hair falls naturally around the face, but it requires a lot of futzing to get it under control, and even then I’m not always successful. I’ll concede that I’m not doing this portrait any favors shooting under bright studio lights, but in hand and on the shelf, it looks a bit better.

The body isn’t a Phicen-style, at least not completely. The torso does feature the silicone-type skin, which means it does feel like real skin and it’s all sorts of squishy. The arms and legs, however, are hard plastic and feature what appear to be double-hinges in the knees and elbows, rotating hinges in the shoulders, and possibly ball joints or rotating hinges in the hips. With a costume like this, the figure doesn’t lose anything by going jointed rather than seamless. The body-type suits the character quite nicely and she scales pretty well next to my Hot Toys Daredevil. The wrists consist of the usual pegs and she has a total of three sets of hands to choose from.

Toy Works did not exactly weigh this figure down with a plethora of accessories. Indeed, she only comes with two: A satchel and a camera. The satchel is quite nice and features a canvas-like material and working straps. It fits over her shoulder and looks great on the figure.

The camera is just a hunk of sculpted plastic, but it looks good and features some printing on it to add detail to the sculpt. Her hands don’t seem to be made expressly for it, but they do work with it. One thing to note, the wrist pegs aren’t all that secure and sometimes they pop out when I’m trying to get her to hold stuff.

The biggest omission when it comes to accessories is booze. Fortunately, there are plenty of options online for Sixth-Scale liquor and beer bottles, so I was able to set her up with some libations. Just keep in mind that they aren’t included with the figure. A stand, however, is included and it’s the generic crotch-cradle type that Hot Toys used to use. There’s no branding on it at all.

With the Marvel Netflix Universe either done or in limbo, it didn’t seem likely that we were going to get a proper Jessica Jones from Hot Toys, so I was more than willing to take a chance with Toys Works’ version. On the one hand, I’m OK with what I got, but I don’t think I’ll be doing this again, unless I’m really desperate to put a particular neglected character on my shelf. The weakest thing here is easily the portrait, but it’s still fairly tolerable to me. Still, here’s a lesson as to why license approval is so important with those official figures. In the end, this one reminds me a lot of the early Sideshow stuff. At the time, those figures were amazing, but they haven’t aged well among the current competition. Miss Jones is almost there, but not quite.

Anck Su Namun (Princess of Egypt) Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen/TBLeague 

I rarely make New Year’s Resolutions, but I am going to do my best to make 2020 the year I (try really hard to) get caught up on my Sixth-Scale figure reviews. Sure I could say that about Mythic Legions or Marvel Legends, but this category actually seems doable. I have a few Hot Toys on my shelf still waiting their turn, a bunch on pre-order, but right now I’m most hopelessly behind on my TBLeague figures. A big part of the problem is that these are more affordable than Hot Toys and the sense of quality and value I get from these releases continues to be through the roof so I’ve been buying quite a few of them. And despite a common concern, I have yet to have any of the silicone bodies tear or break down on me so there’s been nothing to discourage me from keeping at it. At least not yet. And with that preamble out of the way, let’s check out Anck Su Namun, The Princess of Egypt!

TBLeague butters its bread by securing the largely overlooked (and conveniently inexpensive) licenses from a number of indie comic companies as well as the occasional concept figure. I would have guessed this one was a concept figure, if not for the ARH Comix. ARH published the wonderful Arhian The Headhuntress and one of my favorite comics of all time Arkhalla Queen of Vampires. But in this case I’ve never seen or heard about ARH publishing a comic with Anck. Was it her own book? Was she a supporting character in another? Even ARH’s website, which admittedly doesn’t seem to have been updated in over a year, holds no answers. But it doesn’t matter, I’m content calling her a concept version of a historical figure. Whatever the case, I happen to have a thing for Ancient Egypt and scantily clad ladies and this figure covers both of those areas of interest quite nicely. As always, the box is very high quality cardboard with a tri-fold lid that secures to the sides with magnets. The figure and accessories rest in a series of foam trays. The illustrations on the box let photos of the figure do the talking, and overall the presentation here never fails to impress me, especially considering the flimsy window boxes and sleeves that Hot Toys has been using lately. Happily there isn’t a lot of set up required here, so let’s get the Princess out of her sarcophagus and check her out!

Now this is a Dynasty that I can get behind, and I sure don’t need any comic book tie-in to sell me on Anck because she’s a real knock out. Her outfit consists of a black cloth skirt, which is made from a light, stretchy material, and totally form fitting. There aren’t any slits up the sides so this skirt does tend to impede the range of motion in her hips. I can still get some fairly wide stances out of her, and she can sit just fine, but anything too extreme isn’t possible. On the upside, it really shows off her nice backside! Above the skirt she has a sculpted plastic belt and sash, all fashioned as one piece and painted gold with some black and silver trim. I’ve got to say the gold and silver paint they used on all of the costume pieces is so sumptuous! The belt itself has a weave pattern sculpted into it, while the sash has some raised hieroglyphs. There’s also a scarab disc in the center of her waist where the belt meets the sash. The sash hangs on her hips and stays put most of the time, but will occasionally ride up when I’m posing her.

Traveling further up to her chest, I have absolutely no idea what to call this bra-rig-thing. It’s basically a black leather strap that goes under her chest with two other straps rising up with the Ancient Egyptian equivalent of pasties. This costume piece ties behind her back and it holds on amazingly well. In reality I can’t see this thing working, but here it’s almost like magic! The cross strap features a sculpted gold bird and scarab motif, while the pasties are sculpted to look like intricately detailed gold coins. Anck is also big on the accessorizing, and these points of flair include  golden anklets and wrist bracers, both sets of which are designed to conceal the seams on her wrists and ankles, two gold armbands with sculpted white birds, and she even has a removable ring on her left hand! Speaking of hands, she comes with a bunch of them, from gesturing hands to grippy ones designed to hold her weapons. She also comes with two pairs of feet, one set is flat for standing and the other with arches for when she’s sitting.

The portrait is very good and shows that TBLeauge is always working on upping their head-sculpts. The eyes are quite stunning with a nice level of realism to the paint and the Egyptian-style mascara is crisp and precise. The paint on the lips is also superb with just enough gloss to give them that slightly wet look. And still, the real showpiece here is her hair. She has a fairly typical coif of straight black hair, but layered on top of that is a cobra-headed headdress, which sports two braids coming down the front and ending in gold rings. Down the back is a full brace of braids all ending in golden rods. This ensemble is actually pegged straight into the top of the head and it looks fabulous! And like the rest of her body, Anck’s pretty neck is adorned with even more finery. She has a wide, segmented black and gold colar with a bird sculpted on the front. Above that she has a necklace of gold and silver beads, and above that she has a wide golden choker.

As always, the articulation on the Phicen Seamless Bodies goes above and beyond in replicating the movements of the human body. The silicone skin has a warm and even tone and feels eerily real, while the stainless steel skeleton beneath it offers up silky smooth movement and plenty of hidden surprises. TBLeague has started including instruction sheets with these figures showing you what the safe and acceptable movements are, and I find that they tend to be a little conservative in limiting what they allow. The truth is that if you’re careful these bodies are capable of a lot of extreme movements. On the flipside, it’s not a good idea to leave these figures in those kinds of poses for too long, so I tend to go with very traditional museum-style displays unless I’m planning on changing them up every couple of weeks or so. At the risk of jinxing myself, I’ve yet to have any of these bodies tear on me or degrade, and that’s with about 20 of them in my collection, the oldest being from several years ago. And with the body and costume covered, let’s move on to her accessories.

For starters, she comes with this wicked sickle-bladed sword. At first I thought it was going to be a repack of one that came with a previous release, but it’s completely new. The blade has a mirror finish and the sculpted grip features a gold painted guard and a scarab sculpted onto the pommel. She can comfortably wield it in either or both hands.

Next up, she has a dagger, which features a simple black grip and also a mirror finish on the blade. She doesn’t come with a sheath or scabbard for these blades, but the dagger looks pretty good tucked into her sash. I just have to remember to be careful tucking it in there because Phicen skin and sharp pointy things don’t usually get along too well.

And finally, Anck comes with a pair of Sai, which is a really weird pair of weapons to include with an Egyptian Princess, but she still looks bad ass when wielding them. Still, I doubt these are going to spend a lot of time out of the box. I’d rather go with the more-Egyptian themed weapons. And while that wraps up Anck’s weapons, we still have a display base and decorative piece to look at.

The display base is a raised circular platform sculpted to look like an ancient pillar. There are hieroglyphs sculpted into the sides and golden discs with raised scarabs encircling the base. It’s a fantastic looking piece and these always makes me wonder how TBLeague can throw in extras like this, while still keeping the costs well under $200. The only downside of these bases is that there’s no way to secure the figure, which makes me unlikely to ever display her standing on it for fear of her taking a shelf dive. I suppose you can use a stand and put it on top of it, but that tends to look unsightly. She does, however, look pretty fine sitting on it.

And finally Anck comes with a golden cat sculpture, which is both beautiful and quite hefty. Again, how do they pack this much stuff in while not approaching the prices of many other Sixth-Scale figures out there? I don’t know, but I’m not about to question it.

Anck Su Namun is yet another fantastic figure from TBLeague. The detail and craftsmanship on the costume and accessories just goes to show how much these guys care about producing visually stunning figures that pair so well with the Phicen bodies. What’s more she’s been so much fun to play around with. When I first started dabbling around with this line, I was so apprehensive about handling them, but the more experience I get, the more I realize that these figures have a lot to offer so long as you show a modicum of care when handling them. The Egyptian Princess set me back about $160 and while she’s still hanging around at some retailers, she’s also starting to creep up in price at places like Ebay. I’m happy to add her to my collection, and I was even happier to see that TBLeague followed her up with a Cleopatra figure. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to show her off here soon.