Golden Axe: Ax Battler and Red Dragon Mount by Storm Collectibles

To know me is to know that I was a SEGA kid. I reveled in my Master System when I was a teenager and the first purchase I made with my very first credit card when I was in college was a Genesis console. I drifted away from SEGA for a little while after that, but I was welcomed back home with my nearly fanatical love of the Dreamcast, which just celebrated it’s 21st birthday here in the US last week. 9.9.99 FOREVER!!! And yes, my love for SEGA still burns brightly today. So when a company like Storm Collectibles comes out of nowhere with an action figure set based on Golden Axe, you can be damn sure I’m going to be there to support them.

I don’t know how many of you toyhounds cross over into retro video gaming, so let me take a moment for some background. Golden Axe was a Sword-and-Sorcery themed beat-em-up, which I first played on the SEGA Genesis. Actually, it was the third cartridge that I bought for the console. And boy did I drop a lot of time into this game. Hell, I still play it fairly regularly on one of my many Genesis Collections. It’s pretty great to have it portable on Nintendo’s Switch too! Storm Collectibles is a company that has made its mark developing highly articulated, 6-inch scale action figures based on various video game properties, but most notably Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter. I passed on the figures from both of those franchises, because I’ve been burned so many times by other companies which have started lines but don’t see them through, and I didn’t want to start over again. And so it took the most unlikely of franchises, Golden Axe, to finally give me an opportunity to see what their figures are all about. So let’s check out the Barbarian, Ax Battler, and his Red Dragon mount!

The packaging is… well, fairly subpar. The figure set comes in a window box, which is pretty flimsy. Mine was actually torn in two places, and it came from a retailer that prides themselves on careful packaging and catering to the picky nature of collectors. There’s some grainy artwork on the front and back, and the window isn’t very useful because the contents are wrapped in so much plastic, that I couldn’t see anything until opening it. The picture I snapped looks better than it did in person, because I have since removed all that interior wrapping. About the only props I’ll give the presentation is the illustrated cardboard tray is a mock up of the character select screen in the game. Granted, I’m usually looking for an excuse to get rid of packaging so none of this really phases me, but it would have been cool to get some background copy on the character… Naw! I’m kidding. Golden Axe franchise has had about a half dozen games and spin-offs in its catalog, but none of the characters are anything more than avatars to let you beat the shit out of medieval assholes.

Freed of his package, Ax Battler is a fairly non-descript character, but very faithful to his video game counterpart. He’s a muscle-bound Barbarian in a pair of blue underwear and blue boots. There are silver buttons on the front of the boots, a silver belt running around the tops of the undies, and silver wrist bracers, but otherwise this dude is just a slab of musclebound meat. But, like I said, very faithful to the character’s appearance in the game. And for what is a pretty minimalist design, Storm did a wonderful job with the sculpt. His musculature is all very well defined, you get some veins running through his arms, and they even sculpted him with a permanent wedgie, which is probably why he’s so angry all the time.

The figure comes with two heads, one neutral and one angry, and while both are pretty good, I think I prefer the neutral one the most. And here’s where Storm probably got to exercise some creative license, because I’m not sure what source material they used to model the portrait. You sure don’t get that great a look at him in the game, as his head is just a collection of tiny pixels, so I’d guess they used the cover art from the Genesis cartridge case. Either way, I’m not complaining, because what we got is pretty good, albeit generic. He has a strong nose, high cheekbones, a jutting chin, and a determined, pouty lip. The eyes that are set deep under his prominent brow are painted very well, giving him a pretty realistic spark of life. The long hair is sculpted separately from the head, complete with some unkept strands that cover his forehead. He doesn’t look overly bright, but I’ve never seen anything in the game that suggested otherwise. All in all, a damn fine portrait for a figure in this scale.

The heads are mounted on ball joints, so swapping them out is pretty easy. The angry portrait is pretty good, but I don’t think it quite conveys the ferocity that I would have liked. He’s gritting his teeth, but it looks more like he’s forcing a smile while posing for a SEGA promotional picture. Or just smiling in a wind tunnel. The rest of the face just needed some more evidence of fury here. Maybe squint the eyes a bit, furl the brow more, and put some wrinkles in the nose. It’s always nice to get the option of a second portrait, and what we got here isn’t bad, but could be better. I think I’ll likely stick to the neutral portrait for display.

Ax Battler has articulation in spades, and this is one of those examples of how all that extra articulation can sometimes affect the look of the figure. Some of the joints here are a little ugly, particularly the fronts of the elbows, the backs of the knees, and the wrists in general. Still, I wouldn’t change anything because this is a crazy fun figure to pose and play around with. In addition to double hinges in the elbows and knees, he has ball joints in the hips, hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles, and even hinges in his feet. The shoulders are ball jointed and have lateral crunches, he has swivels in the biceps, and his wrists are on rotating hinges. There’s a ball joint under his big muffiny chest and his neck is ball jointed. All the points work quite well and offer up a satisfying range of motion, which is pretty ironic because the character animations in the game were pretty stiff!

As you’ve already seen in the pictures, Battler comes with a surprising four sets of hands. You get fists, accessory holding hands, relaxed hands, and grabby hands. Honestly, I was not expecting this man hands! Like the head, they are extremely easy to swap out, but with those exposed joints in the wrists, they sure should be!

Besides the passel of hands and an extra noggin, Ax Battler also comes with his trusty sword. Wait, what? Why isn’t he called Sword Battler? Always wondered that. Anyway, this is a really nice accessory with a beautiful painted silver finish on the blade, crossguard, and pommel. The grip is painted gold, and there’s a gold decorative fixture rising up from the crossguard and extending up for about a third of the blade. I love how the blade swells a little before coming to a point. The sword can be held securely in either of the accessory holding hands, but the grip isn’t long enough for him to go two-handed with it. There’s no scabbard or anywhere for him to stow it, but then again, this guy has his sword out pretty much all the time. All in all, they did a nice job recreating this weapon from the game cartridge’s cover art. OK, I’ve gone on long enough about Ax Battler, let’s move on to his Dragon Mount!

And that’s this beautiful red-scaled sunovabitch! At various points in the game, Ax Battler (or whoever you are playing) can hop onto different types of mounts and use them to move more quickly and deliver heavier attacks. At least until you get knocked off of it too many times and it runs off screen. It was kind of a fun play mechanic because whenever there was an empty mount on the screen, the game turned into a power-struggle to claim it and stay on it, which was easier said than done. The first mount you can acquire in the game is a really weird two-legged pink parrot-salamander-looking thing and part of me wishes they had attempted that figure because the design is so goddamn bizarre and totally unique to the game. But then I cast my peepers on this beauty and I knew they made the right decision. I mean, holy hell just look at him!

This is an absolutely beautiful sculpt with a scaled texture over most of the body and a smooth, ribbed strip running from his neck, down his belly, and to his tail. The fingers and toes are armed with hooked claws, there’s a stripe of ridges running down his back, from head to tail, and there’s some nice attention to detail in the muscles, particularly in the legs. He actually requires one bit of assembly when he comes out of the box, and that’s attaching the tail to the double-ball joint. It goes in pretty easy and can be removed again if you want to return him to the box for storage. The body is packed with articulation, mostly in the form of ball joints and rotating hinges. The arms and legs each have three points, and he even has hinges in his toes. The only disappointing thing about his articulation is that the legs attach to the body with only the means to rotate. I would have loved to see ball joints up there to give him a wider stance. Still, the balance on this guy is pretty nice, and he stands quite well on his own.

The head sculpt is a work of art, and it’s pretty damn cool that Storm got this much detail out of some pixels and whatever promotional art was available. The dragon sports two segmented horns sweeping backwards and up at the tips, and I really dig how they flow into the ridges over his deep set eyes. The dragon’s mouth is punctuated at the snout by a beak and an smaller horn jutting upward, while the jaws are studded with some impressive teeth and a giant tongue. And yes, the jaw is indeed hinged. The portrait is rounded out by the two fin-like fans that protrude backwards from the sides of his head. The coloring is also worthy of note. The bulk of the dragon is a mix of red and orange, with the two colors blended beautifully throughout the various features of the head.

The dragon comes equipped with his riding tackle, which is cast in soft plastic, painted brown, and textured to look like leather. The gear includes a saddle with stirrups coming off the sides, and a harness for the head, with reins for the rider to hold onto. One of the coolest things about this figure is that all the tackle is sculpted separately from the dragon itself, so you could theoretically take it all off if you wanted to make him the kind of dragon that prefers to guard treasure hoards, and doesn’t like to be ridden. Whether it could be reattached is another matter, and while I’m not going to attempt it on this figure, I may just keep an eye out for the set to turn up on sale or clearance to pick up a second. So how does the Ax Battler figure work as a rider?

Pretty damn well! There aren’t any tricks to attach him to the beast. You just sit him in the saddle, put his feet through the stirrups, and he can hold the reins in his accessory holding hands. He fits perfectly and stays on pretty well too. At least until one of Death Adder’s assholes comes along and knocks him off of it.

The Dragon Mount comes with an effect part to recreate the fireballs that he can spit in the game. It’s cast in translucent yellow and orange plastic and it looks good! There’s no special trick to attaching it to him. You just kind of shove it in his mouth and tighten his jaw around it.

As someone who has been collecting toys pretty hardcore for the better part of 25 years, it’s amazing to still be both surprised and impressed by a release like this. I never in a million years would have imagined that someone would release an action figure set of this quality based off a thirty-one year old video game beat-em-up. And yet here we are. Life is good. It’s an amazing time to be alive and collecting toys. I think Storm did an amazing job here and I’ll even say that at $59.99, I don’t think the price is too bad either. Especially not for something as niche as this set. And even more surprising, this was not a one-off release, as they have also produced a Skeleton Warrior 2-pack from the series, and I’ll be checking that out within the next week or so. As to whether there will be any more, who can tell? I think the Skeleton 2-pack will get a lot of traction well beyond fans of the game, and I can even see people picking this set up to integrate the dragon into their Mythic Legions collections. I would love to see the another two-pack featuring Gillus the Dwarf and the super hawt amazon Tyris Flare. Or maybe repaint the dragon into the other flavor dragon mount in the series and give him the appropriate fire stream effect part.

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.

Fate/Grand Order: Caster Nitocris “Super Premium” Figure by SEGA

I’ve recounted recently about how I’ve pulled back from buying Prize Figures, mostly because they were starting to get out of hand and I had no space to display them. All in all, I’ve been pretty well behaved on this newly imposed restriction, but I still had the odd pre-order pending here and there, and I decided to let most of them ride. I still dig these figures a lot, they look great, they’re inexpensive, and they come in handy for days like today where I don’t have a lot of time and need something quick and dirty to feed that content beast. So let’s check out this Caster Nitocris Super Premium Figure (SPM) from SEGA!

Nitocris hails from the Fate/Grand Order game, and I like to call this purchase a Consolation Prize Figure, because I really wanted to pick up Amakuni’s Scale Figure of her, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on that price, and so I satisfied myself with this figure instead. Yup, there’s more of that self control again. I’m not entirely hopeless. As with most of SEGA’s SPM figures, Nitocris comes in a very colorful and fully enclosed box, featuring some nice shots of the statue and a bit of English copy on the box to help you know what you’re looking at. Inside, the figure comes wrapped in plastic and requiring some minor assembly. Here you attach the head and the right arm at the elbow, plug in the support piece for her hair, and then plug the figure into the base. All told, she measures about 9-inches tall and now that she’s all set up, let’s have a look…

There’s something about chicks in Egyptian costume that does it for me, and this is indeed a very beautiful figure. Nitocris stands proudly with one leg in front of the other, her left hand resting on her hip, and her right hand clutching her staff. Her outfit doesn’t leave too much tot he imagination, and I ain’t complaining. She has a white top to cover her Upper Deltas and a sculpted blue sash to conceal her Lower Nile Valley. Her hips are covered in plastic pink “fabric” and the whole ensemble is held together by some sculpted beaded chains. She has some brown wraps on her forearms, and her plastform sandals have sculpted wraps that reach up to just under her knees.

Nitocris’ curvy figure is framed by her copious coif of cascading blue hair that balloons out in the middle and comes to an end with a chunky red ring. This hellacious waterfall of hair looks cool and distinctive from the front, but sadly covers her entirely from the rear view. Seriously, from behind she looks like just a big blob. Besides the excellent sculpted detail on this figure, I think the colors are probably what I dig the most. The combination of white, pink, and deep indigo blue all looks so lush and striking against mocha colored skin. But what really shines is the wonderful gold leaf paint they used. Just lovely!

The portrait is suitably adorable, as Nitocris features a pair of Anubis-like ears, large printed purple eyes, and some face paint on her cheeks. She has a cute pointed nose and her mouth is pressed into a grin. Her gold and blue gorget and headpiece both frame her portrait perfectly. And as if she didn’t have enough hair pouring down the back of her, she also has two bunches running down either side of her head and nearly reaching her hips.

Her ebony staff is quite striking and is permanently attached to her right hand. I also dig the loose bangles that hang on her wrists.

The base is a simple translucent disk with the game’s logo printed on it in vibrant blue lettering. It’s simple, functional, and doesn’t take away from the beauty of the figure.

And that’s it for this Wednesday’s admittedly brief review. It’s always a treat to take a look at a new Prize Figure, especially since I won’t be doing it all that frequently here any longer. If you’ve been kicking around with me on FFZ for a while then you probably already know that I’m a big fan of SEGA’s SPM figures. At around $20-25, they offer plenty of bang for the buck and Nitocris here is no exception to that. I’m not even a big fan of the game, but I do love me my Servants and this one in particular has been calling to me for a while. I pre-ordered this lady a little while back, but she’s been available on places like Amazon for a while, and to me this one makes for a nice alternative to those pricier Scale Figures. Now, if Max Factory should happen to release a Figma of her, well I’d probably have to come back for seconds.

Aliens Vs Predator Arcade: Chrysalis Alien by NECA

With only time for three reviews a week, my backlog continues to pile up and stretch way back into last year. One of the areas of my collection reviews that has suffered most is NECA, and I really feel like I need to throw them some extra love in the coming weeks. Way back in January I had a look at their Arachnoid Alien and Razor Claws Alien from Capcom’s 1994 Alien Vs. Predator arcade game. But there was one alien missing! At the time I couldn’t find the Chrysalis Alien anywhere, but just when I had given up all hope I spied him out of the corner of my eye while I was making a cat food run to Target. So let’s finish off this Xeno Trio and open him up today!

The packaging is right in line with what we saw last time. You get a collector friendly window box with a personalized portrait on the front. The interior tray is printed as a pixelated image to reference the video game… how cool is that? Yup, I love the colors and presentation here, but I simply do not have the space to line these boxes up on a shelf, so this box is going to have to go bye-bye once I get Mr. Chrysalis out of his tray.

If you read my previous review then you know I really liked Razor Claws and Arachnid, and yet it’s still easy for me to see why Chrysalis was the hardest to find. He really is that good! Even on a shelf of Xenos, his design stands out thanks to the armor-like carapace on his head and forearms. His body is a grayish-blue color with a nice black wash to bring out all that amazing detail in his exoskeleton. And despite the unique features, the rib-cage and the exposed ribbed panels on his legs and torso all perfectly evoke the Giger design that runs through every type of Xeno. This guy is also distinctive for not having some variation of those tubular protrusions coming off his back, instead it’s shrouded in two plates of reinforced exoskeleton. I find myself getting lost in this fella’s anatomy, turning the figure over in my hands, and marveling at the beautiful sculpting.

Chrysalis’ meat-hooks may not be as pronounced as Razor Claw’s, but he still features some sharp bone-colored claws, as well as raptor-like talons on his toes, and a scythe-shaped blade at the end of his long tail. Those bone-like guards on his forearms look to be perfect for deflecting Yautjan blades and his claws seem adept at ripping Predators and humans to shreds. His articulation includes the usual collection of rotating hinges, which make him an agile hunter, even if he can’t exactly roll up into a ball for the goofy spin-attack he employs in the game. His long tail includes a wire so it can be bent in various configurations, and while the tail can come in handy to support him in some extreme poses, he’s surprisingly well balanced on his own two feet. I didn’t have to use a stand for any of my shots.

The head sculpt is quite familiar, even if it is partially hidden under that impressive bone dome. The carapace features a raised crest running down the center like a spine and a mass on the front, which is probably perfect for ramming his pray. As always, he sports a toothy grimace, the jaw is articulated, and there is a secondary mouth in there that can be pulled out. I love all the sinews and details NECA sculpts into the Xeno mouths, and this fella is no different.

The Chrysalis Alien makes a fine addition to this amazing threesome of Aliens. It’s fun to just line them up on the shelf and explore all the little differences between them and see just how diverse Xenomorph anatomy can get. I’ve always been a fan of NECA’s video game figures, but since a number of them tend to be simple repaints, I have to pass them over because I can’t spare the space for repaints.  But here, it’s cool to see them craft three new Xenos around their appearances in this token-munching coin-op, and even cooler that they matched them up with three Predators from the game as well. And yes, I hope to be swinging back around to check out those Preds in the next week or so. Not to mention the human characters from the game as well.

Marvel Legends (Demogoblin Wave): Gamerverse Velocity Suit Spider-Man by Hasbro

It’s a new week and that means a new Marvel Monday, so I’m continuing to dip into the relatively new Demogoblin Wave of Marvel Legends. Last week I had a look at the Mark III Spider-Armor from the PS4 Spider-Man game, and since we got one more figure from the game in this assortment, I decided to open this one up next. Today we’re checking out the Velocity Suit!

Other than the snazzy white GamerVerse boxes, I’ll confess to not being all that excited about these figures. The prospect of giving Peter Parker 1,000 different suits like Tony Stark’s armor just doesn’t appeal to me, but I guess it makes sense as an incentive gimmick in a video game. Plus, having a bunch of different suits to make action figures out of probably had Hasbro licking their collective chops. Speaking of which, the Spider-Man game remains sealed on my shelf, because I just haven’t had the time to play it. And yes, I do see the irony in that since the majority of the country is under lock-down vacay, while I am just working more hours. Nonetheless, I wound up liking the Spider-Armor well enough, so here’s hoping I can find something to love here as well.

As the name suggests, the Velocity Suit gives Peter a speed boost. The figure doesn’t make use of any texturing, instead giving the suit a smooth and slick surface all around. That combined with the high gloss finish makes this one look as much, if not more, like armor than the previous figure. Maybe they were going with the idea that smooth means less friction and that leads to speed. Or more likely they didn’t put that much thought into it. The deco consists of a red and dark blue base, which is fairly familiar, but adds some light blue lines and integrate the spider emblem into their design. Virtually all these light blue painted lines on the suit are part of the sculpt, which is cool. Based on how they’re executed on the figure, I’m going to assume these channels glow on the suit in the game. Whatever the case, I have to confess that the high gloss paint looks great and goes a long way to sell me on a figure I don’t really care about.

The head sculpt strikes me as being very Stark-like in design, perhaps even more so than the last figure. There are even some faint panel lines that seem to form a mouth, although they are very subtle. The eyes feature more of the light blue piping around them. What else can I say, other than to admit it looks good.

As with the Mk III Spider-Armor, the articulation here lacks the shoulder crunches we see on most Legends Spider-Man figures, and that makes the figure feel a little more stiff than I’m used to my Spider-Man figures to be. But the rest of the articulation is there, making him fun to fiddle about with. Here too, we only get the hands that are attached to the figure, one right fist and one left thwippy hand. The only other noteworthy thing about the articulation is that the ab crunch doesn’t seem to have as wide a range as usual. I don’t know why, all the points are there, but this one looks a little stiff when posing.

I don’t imagine that it’s a coincidence that Hasbro chose these somewhat uninspired Spidey figures to be the first to get web effects included. The Mk III armor came with webbing to cover an adversary’s face. This one comes with a loop of webbing to tie up a foe and it’s pretty great. I usually keep effect parts bagged with the figures they came with, but I think I’ll be keeping these on hand to use with future Spidey figure shoots.

Conceptually, I just don’t give a crap about this figure. The idea of a go-faster suit for Spider-Man is just kind of stupid to me. Nonetheless, I can’t deny that it’s an attractive figure. The sculpted lines and the brilliant new-car finish really makes the red and blue pop splendidly. In the end, I bought these for the effect parts and BAF parts, and because I got them super cheap, but both this one and the MK III Armor managed to win me over in the end. I’ll certainly find a place for them on my Spider-Verse shelf, but they’ll probably be towards the back.

Marvel Legends (Demogoblin Wave): Gamerverse Mark III Spider-Armor by Hasbro

I’m likely going to start knocking off another wave of Legends from my backlog next week. In the meantime, I got the two GamerVerse figures from the Demogoblin Wave in the mail a few days back and they were within arm’s reach so I decided to have a look at one of those today. Let’s go ahead and do the Mark III Spider-Armor!

I’m assuming these are based on the PS4 Spider-Man game? Alas, my copy is still sealed on my shelf. I was pretty excited to play it at one point but then I watched my nephew playing an agonizing stretch as MJ in a stealth level and it was like getting doused in freezing water. Truth be told, if I was on lock-down like everyone else, I would probably have played it already, but all I got is loaded up with more work hours out of this whole pandemic mess. Ah well, I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually. I do know the game had a ton of unlockable suits because Spider-Man sure is known for his diverse catalog of costumes. Wait, what? Hey, whatever it takes to sell action figures, right?

Because Spider-Man suits are just like Stark Armor now? I guess that ties in with the MCU. Sorta. Anywho, this is indeed an armored suit and all things considered, it’s a pretty damn cool looking figure. The Mark III Spider-Armor preserves a bit of traditional underlying Spidey suit and just adds some armored bits to it. I dig the texture in the red parts, particularly on the chest and arm bracers. The bracers look like they have two web-shooters on each one and the tiny red diamonds on the knuckles look great. Spider-Man comes with his right hand sculpted into a fist and a thwippy left hand.

There are some subtle panel lines in the black areas, which give it an MCU vibe. The large shoulder pauldrons are an interesting choice, and I’m not sure I like the blue there and on the biceps. I feel like they should have gone either all red and black or all blue and black. Plus, the blue paint on mine has some scratches, which don’t look all that great. I do, however, think the spider emblem on the chest looks fabulous.

From the back, the Spider-Armor features a partial segmented spine, like we sometimes see in the Stark armors. He also has a little backpack, which looks like a jetpack? That’s weird. Maybe it’s also used for launching Spider-Drones.

The head is the most Stark-like feature of the whole suit. It’s smooth, with gears for neck bolts and the neck is segmented. It lacks the usual Stark armor mouth, but you do get a pair of stylized eyes, which look pretty bad-ass.

The articulation is standard stuff, meaning he’s very poseable. We don’t get the shoulder crunches we usually see in the regular Spider-Man figures, but I guess that armor has to limit agility, right? Instead, the arms get by with rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double-hinges in the elbows. The shoulder armor will overlap the shoulders to allow for some mobility there. The legs have ball joints in the hips, double-hinges in the knees, and swivels in the thighs. The ankles have both hinges and lateral rockers. There’s a waist swivel, an ab-crunch hinge under the chest, and the neck is both hinged and ball jointed.

There are no extra hands included, but hey… Web effect! Oh, long I’ve been asking Hasbro to start doing web effects! It seems like such a no-brainer! This one is meant to cover an opponent’s face and it fits quite well.

I was originally going to pass on this figure, as I wasn’t too keen on the concept, and I could probably live without building the Demogoblin. Luckily, it turned up for dirt cheap online and now that he’s in hand, I’m actually surprised how much I dig this figure. I’m still not a fan of taking the whole Stark Spidey suit thing to the extreme. We don’t need a Spider-Man House Party Protocol. But  as a concept figure I think this works great. Hell, I guess it even works as an extrapolation of the MCU Spider-Man. Either way, I’ll admit that it won me over in the end. Next week I’ll see if the same is true for the Velocity Suit Spider-Man.

Spyro The Dragon by NECA

Good morning Toyhounds, and welcome to FigureFan Zero’s 10 Year Anniversary. Yup, I’ve managed to crap out ten years of this bullshit, amounting to something like 2,400 reviews. I chewed on the idea of doing something special for the occasion, and I decided that I’d be better off just working on getting my normal content up and running again as best as I can, so I’ll spare you all me waxing poetic about the fact that my stupid toy blog has run for this long. Maybe I’ll get inspired to do something celebratory before the end of the month, but for now I’ll just shut up about it and get on with today’s review!

And so long as we’re talking anniversaries, let me point out that one of the many tough points about getting old is seeing games that I played as an adult getting re-released as HD remastered nostalgia. Case in point: Spyro The Dragon was released for the original Sony PlayStation in 1997 when I was 25. It was one of the first PSX games I played that felt like they nailed fluid platforming in a 3D world. On top of that, it felt like playing a cartoon, the musical score was breathtaking, and Spyro would take on the role of a Sony Mascot until, like a certain Bandicoot, the franchise eventually landed on all the platforms and ultimately Spyro got ground up by the Skylanders juggernaut. Well, one of the good things of games being re-released is we get a second chance at merch, and NECA has stepped up to the plate with a Spyro action figure.

Spyro comes in a big and beefy sealed clamshell, which means that unless you’re deft with a razor blade, the packaging really isn’t collector friendly. On the other hand, it also means when you make your first incision you will be rewarded with that heady smell of concentrated plastic. So good! The bubble inserts feature some colorful graphics and you do get a great look at the figure, well except for his feet. And before I start taking a look at the figure overall, we’re going to start there with…

FEET! Let’s talk about feet! A whole hell of a lot (maybe all) of these figures shipped with the feet assembled wrong, meaning the fronts are on the backs and the backs are on the fronts. Oh, NECA! Now, if you are intimately familiar with Spyro, you may know that he has four toes on his front paws and three on the backs. Apart from that, you’d really have to look hard to notice the mistake. Indeed, it almost kinda makes sense that the larger feet would be on the back legs and the smaller on the front, but if you look close you can see the diameter of the ankle on the foot doesn’t match that of the upper leg. Nonetheless, the feet on my figure are switched, and I’m not really sure if they ever actually corrected the mistake during production. Swapping the feet is supposed to be pretty easy by applying some heat, but I’m a firm believer in looking at figures the way they come to me, so I’ll be making that swap later on down the road. When I do get around to it, I’ll be happy to follow up this review with an addendum. OK, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the figure as a whole.

In terms of sculpt, NECA absolutely nailed Spyro’s adorable-with-attitude look. I love this character design so much, and a lot of that probably goes back to my fondness as a kid for a certain purple Disney dragon named Figment. Spyro’s skin is covered with a scaly texture and topped off with craggy scales, all of which are part of the sculpt. His chest is segmented with deep cuts, his tail terminates with a yellow swirl, and his wings have a slightly angular nature that reflects the mating of the HD look with the polygonal origins of the character.

That same angular nature applies to Spyro’s head sculpt, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how well the sculpting wizards at NECA captured Spyro’s portrait. His crooked brow hangs heavy over his large, perfectly printed eyes. His broad smile contributes to an overall mischievous visage, punctuated by two tiny nostrils. Meanwhile the top of his head is adorned with his two goat-like horns and a mowawk running down between them.

And the colors! Oh, the colors! The deep purple has some subtle gradations to show the darker purple of the craggy scales. It all pops so beautifully against the bright yellow of his belly and tail. But for me the real eye candy here is the yellow with orange shading in the wings and mohawk. It’s sumptuous and captures the coloring in the original art so perfectly.

The figure takes a bit of a hit in the articulation, and that’s not for lack of trying. The body itself has what appear to be ball joints in the neck, mid section, base of the tail, and three more in the tail itself. That allows for some nice subtle movements in the body and helps the figure go from standing to flying poses. The legs only rotating hinges where they connect to the body and no mid-point hinges. What’s more those upper leg joints are a bit restrictive. The ankle joints mostly just want to swivel. I suspect there are hinges up there too, but mine don’t want to move like that. I guess I’ll find out when I eventually swap the paws. Finally, you get rotating hinges at the base of the wings and a ball joint in the neck. Like I said, there’s plenty to work with here, but in the end, I found that there was only so much I could do with this little guy.

It’s never a good thing when a toy comes to me wrong right out of the box, and having to take the time to fix something I just paid for is never fun. But even with the assembly misstep (HA!), Spyro here has a lot going for him. NECA managed to nail both the sculpt and coloring and deliver a wonderful representation of this spunky little dragon in action figure form. The articulation is there in spirit, but he wasn’t quite as much fun to play around with as I hoped he would be. That’s not such a big deal when he looks so good on the shelf, but it’s still something I need to call out. I also wish that they had given us some kind of flight stand with him. A translucent post and base would have been really cool. A clip might not work as well to support his weight, but they could have put a peg hole in his belly and included a plug to cover it up for when he’s not in flight. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have this guy standing on the shelf next to my Bandicoots.

Aliens Vs Predator Arcade: Arachnoid Alien and Razor Claws Alien by NECA

My Toy Closet has become something like an archaeological dig these days. So much so that I’ve really pulled way back on what I’m buying and trying to take the time to unearth the unopened treasures that lie under the levels of cardboard strata. This past weekend I unearthed a particularly interesting box of NECA goodies, a lot of which center around Capcom’s 1994 beat-em-up classic, Aliens Vs. Predator. In an effort to clear out this box, I’m going to try to check some of this stuff out each week until I get to the end. There are eight figures in the series total and today I’m starting with two of the three Aliens released from the game.

And here’s Arachnoid and Razor Claws in their boxes. You’ll notice that Chrysalis Alien is unaccounted for and that’s because I haven’t been able to find him at Target, or online for a decent price. I may wind up over-paying for him at some point, but for now let’s just have a look at this gruesome duo. They come in collector-friendly window boxes, which I dig a lot more than the sealed clamshells. I’m going to start with Arachnid!

So, this guy reminds me a lot of the Xeno Warrior from Aliens, but with enough key differences to set him apart. I believe it’s a new sculpt, but I don’t own all the NECA Xenos, so I won’t stake my (admittedly next to worthless) reputation on that. As with all of NECA’s Aliens, there is some absolutely amazing detail work in this sculpt, which really brings out the Giger flavor in the design. Why he’s called an Arachnoid, I don’t know because there really aren’t any arachnid influences that I can see. He does have fairly typical arms and legs, the usual exposed rib-cage, and a pretty basic segmented tail. This fellow only has four of the stalks protruding from his back and he has bone-like loops hanging off his forearms. The coloring features a very pale blue with a black wash to pick out all that lovely detail.

The head sculpt features the usual elongated head. The cranium is overall pretty smooth, but it does feature a spiked ridge running down the center. The front half is blue, while the back half is decidedly cockroach colored. The mandibles are the usual mess of sinew webbing and the jaw opens to reveal the secondary mouth, which can extend out past the jaws.

I dig this guy a lot, but if you’re looking for something vastly different than the regular Xeno’s I don’t know if this one will scratch your itch. He’s definitely got a lot of unique stuff going on, but I really had to compare him to my Alien and Aliens Xenos to pick out all the differences. Still, I’m sure the die-hard fans out there will spot the differences a lot easier than me. The coloring adds to his distinctive look, and helps makes him stand out as a video game character. With all that having been said, he takes second place in this pair to my favorite…

 

 

Razor Claws is just so damn awesome on every level.  He features a completely different body sculpt, with a lot more sharp detail, particularly in the legs. The structure of the torso still shows off the rib-cage, but with an entirely unique structure. Of course, the biggest differences here are found int he giant razor clawed hands and the tail, which possesses a cycle-like blade at the end. This fellow still only has four tubes coming off his back, but these are longer and taper to points at the ends. He’s also missing those extra toes that the Arachnoid has, and he has pretty powerful looking talons jutting out from the front of his feet. The coloring here is also gorgeous. He has a reddish and almost pink finish and just like his comrade, the black wash brings out all the exquisite detail in the sculpt.

The head is also completely different, with a totally smooth cranium, tusk like horns protruding from his chin, and the same articulated jaw with the secondary mouth that extends outward. The cranial plate is somewhat translucent so you can just make out some of the detail that’s going on underneath it. Overall, it’s a simpler styled head than the Arachnoid, but my personal taste makes it my favorite of the two.

And I can say that pretty much about the entire figure. Not only does this Xeno look a lot more distinctive than his Arachnoid brother, but he also looks like an absolute killing machine. Between those shredding claws and that extra blade on his tail, this fellow looks like he’s just designed to leap on Colonial Marines and eviscerate them in a matter of seconds. Plus, there’s just something about the coloring that really does it for me.

I’m always looking to add some new Xenomorphs to my collection, so even if I wasn’t a fan of the quarter-munching arcade game, I would have still been all over these. But the fact that they are realistic interpretations of the 16-bit pixelated game characters makes them all the more sweeter. And even if you aren’t looking to collect all the Arcade figures, I think these fellas would be right at home in any NECA Aliens collection. They look fantastic together, and I just know I’m going to wind up dropping a lot of money to pick up the last one and complete the set. Next week, I hope to be back to check out the Predators in this line!

Overwatch Ultimates: Deluxe Reinhardt by Hasbro

It’s time once again to check in on Hasbro’s Overwatch Ultimates line! These are action figures based on a game that I have never played, probably never will play, and yet I collect them anyway, because… I have problems! Also, because I love the characters and art style, I’ve watched all the cinematics, but I really just don’t care for PvP first-person shooters. Today I’m checking out one of the big boys of the line, Reinhardt. Justice will be done!!!

Holy hell, look at this thing! I included a picture of McCree (a figure I shall be reviewing in the near future) in his package just for scale purposes. Yeah… Justice being done is nice an all, but I have no idea where I’m going to put this beast! Reinhardt comes in a ginormous window box, branded with the familiar white, orange, and gray Overwatch color palette and dwarfing even the two-pack packaging. Granted, a lot of the size here is to contain his mammoth shield, which is literally the size of this box’s entire front or back panel, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Everything is collector friendly, so let’s get Reinhardt out of the box…

If his size and full suit of powered armor doesn’t give it away, Reinhardt is a tank in Overwatch, capable of absorbing a lot of punishment to protect his teammates. His armor design strikes me as a cross between a Pacific Rim Jaeger, Cain from Robocop 2, and a suit of Baroque armor, and that is indeed a beautiful thing. It’s cast almost entirely in that bare gray plastic that Hasbro likes to use. Sometimes I’m not a fan of the swirly effect in this type of plastic, but I think it works well here. It’s appropriately shiny under the right lighting and uses some dark gray to mix things up a bit. The sculpt has some nice detail here and there, but most of the armor is smooth and simple to fit in with the toony Overwatch style. There are some minimal paint applications, including red striping on his massive shoulders, as well as an “08” stamped on the left one. There are some yellow and black accents on the front, as well as a large yellow thruster in his back to power his mighty charge attacks. There’s also a large lion head device pegged into his left forearm, and we’ll come back to that in a bit.

Reinhardt’s tiny helmeted head is nested between his giant pauldrons. It has a narrow Mandalorian-style “Y” for a visor, which is partially painted yellow, and you get a crown of industrial horns protruding from the top, which gives him something of a Gundam flavor to me. His noggin is certainly well protected in the center of all that armor plating.

The articulation here is pretty good for such a big armored figure. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, swivels in the biceps, single hinges in the elbows, and rotating hinges again in the wrists. Those giant shoulder pieces are also hinged. The legs have rotating hinges in the hips, double hinges in the knees, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. He can swivel at the waist, and his neck is ball jointed. All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by the range of motion in this guy, and how much fun he is to play around with.

Big warriors require big weapons, and so Reinhardt comes with his massive Rocket Hammer, a giant crusher propelled by three rocket thrusters in the back. This behemoth of a melee weapon is actually longer than Reinhardt is tall, and that’s really saying something! Both of his hands are sculpted to hold it, although it is a bit tough to get it into the space between his thumb and forefinger. But once it’s in he holds onto it for dear life. He can even hold it in both hands for a little added control to the swing. Of course, in addition to his charge and big hammer, Reinhardt has another signature skill in the game, and Hasbro has also recreated that in a very big way.

The shield! Yeah, this massive slab of translucent blue plastic is the real reason Reinhardt’s box is so damn big. The shield is supposed to be projected energy coming from the lion emblem on his left forearm. To pose the figure with the shield you just pop off the lion head, peg the shield into the arm, and peg the lion head onto the outside of the shield. I really dig the effect of this piece, it even has a faint honeycomb pattern etched into the plastic to recreate the look of an energy matrix. On the downside, I can’t think of any situation where I could possibly have the space to display him with the shield armed. Hasbro offers a bit of a solution with a couple of black discs that clip onto the edge of the shield and serve as a sort of stand. This way you can display the shield behind the figure if you like, although that’s going to require a lot of real estate on the shelf as well!

Reinhardt’s a big guy and he comes with a big price. $50-60, depending on where you get him. I was able to grab him off of Gamestop’s recent sale for $25, and you can’t beat that. Imagine how surprised I was when they didn’t cancel the order and actually shipped him! It’s easy to see where all the money went here, as this is a heavy figure and when you toss in the accessories, there’s a lot of plastic in this box! I also really dig how Hasbro was willing to release a high-priced behemoth like Reinhardt right out of the gate. It certainly shows they had confidence in their newly acquired license. Alas, I missed out on the SDCC Exclusive version, but I’m hoping it might turn up somewhere down the road at a price I’m willing to spend. In the meantime Hasbro’s Overwatch line continues to impress me and I’m happy to have this big guy on my shelf!

Fallout: Vault Girl Statue by ThinkGeek

Fallout and I parted ways with the release of Fallout 76, but at least I can always relive my glory days with the franchise, whether it be on Steam with the PC originals, or on the consoles with the newer games. And that brings me to ThinkGeek, which has been turning out some Fallout statues as part of their Modern Icons series. Last year I had a look at their very cool Nuka Cola Pin-up statue and I was so happy with it, I pre-ordered their Vault Girl. Well, she’s been out a while, and sitting on my Pile of Shame, so let’s get her open and check her out.

This roughly 1/10 Scale “limited” PVC statue comes in a fully enclosed box with an outer sleeve to protect it. The art is pretty nice, including some great concept art for the Vault Girl herself, and a blueprint-style background. Inside the box, the statue comes fully assembled between two clear plastic trays.

And here she is, looking… OK. I dig the composition quite a bit. Vault Girl is posing with her sledge hammer on her shoulder, her left arm reaching out with a thumbs up, while she offers a cheesecake wink and a grin. Despite her wearing the classic blue Vault-Tec jumpsuit, it’s form-fitting enough to show off her curves and add some sex appeal. The back of her suit shows that she’s from Vault 111, making this a Fallout 4 statue, as the protagonist from that game was revived from cryogenic sleep in Vault 111.

What I’m not as keen over is the quality of the paint. The shades of bright blue and yellow are well chosen, but pretty much all the yellow suffers from the darker base bleeding through. I guess you could argue it looks dirty and everything is dirty in the Fallout world, but I’m positive that’s not what they were going for here. There are also some splotches of gloss on the blue of the jumpsuit, which I presume is from spilled glue or primer. The skin-tone is all flat and lifeless, and shows scratching here and there. The boots are matte black and they did provide some black shading over the blue suit to give it some texture.

They did a nice job recreating the Custom Super Sledge, a rocket-propelled sledge hammer perfect for knocking down those Feral Ghouls and Rad Scorpions. The paint and detail are both solid and it looks like it came straight out of the game. It’s definitely one of the higher points of Vault Girls ensemble.

The portrait is a huge let down. I think a big part of that is a combination of the awkward wink and smile. Instead of cute, she just comes across to me as creepy. The paint isn’t particularly sloppy, maybe a little uneven around the lips, but it’s all so flat, particularly in that one open eye. It completely lacks the depth and charm of the previous statue’s portrait, and that’s a real shame.

I do think that the Pipboy turned out pretty nice. Considering how small it is, they were still able to get some details into the nobs and vents and other little details. It’s given a silver wash to make it look worn and weathered and the screen has a green monochrome image of the Vault Boy himself returning Vault Girl’s thumbs up.

The base is pretty fantastic. It’s a simple circular platform, with the vault gear icon encircling the number 111. Yeah, it looks like it reads 11, but I’m assuming her foot is on the middle 1. There’s some beautiful weathering here, which looks rather beyond what the rest of the statues coloring offers. As I mentioned at the beginning, this is a “limited edition” piece, and that much is stated on the bottom of the base. But similar to Nuka-Girl, there’s no statement of limitation and the piece isn’t numbered.

Ultimately, there’s some good things here and some not so good, but I think it’s safe to say I’m disappointed with this one. Every little thing about it feels like a major step down from Nuka-Girl. Specific call outs include the sub-par paint and a portrait that is certainly nothing to brag about. It’s kind of ironic that I got the better one on sale at $25, and pre-ordered this one at $45. Sure, it qualifies as a budget statue, but that’s still about five bucks more than Diamond Select charges for their Gallery statues, and those have been superior to this one in every way. And so much like me and the Fallout franchise, I think it’s time for ThinkGeek’s Modern Icons and I to part ways. This one is probably going back in her box, but at least I’ll always have Nuka-Girl!