#2012: Apocalypse

APOCALYPSE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The megalomaniacal mutant villain known as Apocalypse believes that total war between humans and mutants is inevitable. In order to weed out those he feels are weak and unsuitable for the coming conflict, he manipulates mutants into battling one another, calculating that with the help of the strongest and most ruthless survivors he can conquer the world and become ruler of all – both man and mutant!”

Introduced in the ’80s, as a foe for the recently launched X-spin-off X-Factor, Apocalypse has gone on to become one of the X-franchise’s most enduring foes.  Throughout the ’90s, he maintained a rather prominent place in at the center of a lot of conflicts and cross-overs, and also wound up as a big-bad for the ’90s X-Men: The Animated Series, and, by extension, got some pretty solid coverage from the toyline that ran alongside it.  He was actually among the very first figures released in the line, but due to evolution of the character’s design, he found himself up for a second figure quite quickly.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Apocalypse was released in Series 4 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, just two years after his initial figure debut.  Following Magneto, he was the second true remake of a Series 1 figure (Wolverine had also shown back up, but all of his figures up to this point were using unique designs, so it’s every so slightly different).  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation.  He’s actually quite a step-down on the articulation front when compared to his predecessor.  He got an all-new, much more bulked up sculpt, based on the steady changes to Apocalypse’s design since he’d first appeared in the ’80s.  This was very much the current Apocalypse design at the time, making him a more definitive take on the character than his prior release had been.  His sculpt is a fairly decent one, and definitely had a little more menace to it.  The head in particular really captured how Apocalypse looked in the comics at the time.  His color work was another marked change from the prior figure, and again befitted the changing design of the character.  This one, with his brighter blue accents, follows the lead of the cartoon design.  I do miss the black details, but overall, it’s a decent colorscheme, and certainly one that’s accurate to the character.  Apocalypse was packed with a spare set of arms, simulating his techno-shifting abilities. There’s a claw arm and a drill arm, both of which are pretty neat.  They swap out at the shoulders, which means that both they and the regular arms do have a slight tendency to pop out of place when you don’t want them to.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had a copy of this guy growing up, but it was a ways after getting the first one, who remained my favorite.  That one went missing, so I picked up this replacement during one of my splurges of 5-inch Marvel figures, about a year or two ago.  He’s an okay figure, and was certainly a more accurate figure at the time of his release.  Personally, though, I find that the changes make for a figure that’s just not as much fun to play with as the original was, so he’s always been second gear to me.

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#2011: Starman

STARMAN

JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED (MATTEL)

Starman created the Cosmic Rod which collects stellar energy and allows him to fly and manipulate gravity on Earth and beyond.”

So, yeah, you know the guy mentioned in that bio?  It’s not the guy shown here.  The bio is very definitely talking about original Earth-bound Starman Ted Knight (not to be confused with the actor), who operated as a member of the JSA in the ’40s.  This here would be Starman #4, Prince Gavyn of the planet Kranaltine.  He was introduced in the ’80s, just before Crisis and is yet another only vaguely related character in the Starman mythos.  Also, for reasons that never quite made sense, he was the version of the character chosen to appear on Justice League Unlimited.  Hey, I’m certainly not complaining.  Though he never spoke once on the show, he somehow managed to get a whopping two figures in the toy line, the second of which I’m looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This version of Starman was released at the tail end of the Justice League Unlimited line, after the line had left retail and moved to Matty Collector.  He was sold in a three-pack with Animal Man and Adam Strange.  His placement in this particular set is rather baffling, since I don’t believe he’s ever had much interaction with either of those characters, and he’d already gotten a figure, meaning he was hardly at the top of anyone’s list at the end of the line when character slots were all the more precious.  Further more, he’s not even based on his show appearance, but is instead based on the character’s second, all-blue get-up from the comics.  An odd choice to say the least.  The figure stands 4 1/2 inches tall and he has 5 points of articulation.  He’s the exact same sculpt as his previous figure, which is fairly sensible, since the costumes where really just palette swaps, and he *is* the same guy.  One small tweak, though, was that by this point in the line, the molding error on the base body’s leg had been repaired, meaning that he no longer leans to one side.  His head sculpt also remains one of my favorite in the line, and looks just as nice here as it did the first time around.  His paintwork is, of course, the main breaking point.  Rather than the red of the original figure, this one’s molded in blue, and drops the yellow and black detailing on the legs, resulting in an even more streamlined appearance.  It’s sufficiently distinct from the prior figure, and is still nice and striking.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted when I reviewed Animal Man, by the time of this set’s release, I’d pretty much abandoned collecting JLU, so I didn’t get it new.  I picked him up alongside Animal Man two summers ago when I made a stop at Factory Antique Mall while on a road trip.  He’s not much different from the first figure, but I loved that one, and I quite like this one too.  Now I guess I need to track down an Adam Strange to finish out the set…

#2010: Senate Commandos

SENATE COMMANDO CAPTAIN & SENATE COMMANDO

STAR WARS: CLONE WARS (HASBRO)

“A Senate Commando captain and his elite commando team confront suspicious arrivals to the Senate building. The captain and troopers rush to the platform where Cad Bane has landed without permission. They are prepared for a fight if necessary, but are taken by surprise when Bane springs his trap.”

In the break in movies between Revenge of the Sith and The Force Awakens, the Star Wars franchise didn’t go on hiatus as it had between Jedi and Phantom Menace.  Instead, it was kept going by a multimedia affair, the two most obvious being, of course, the toys, and the animated series Clone Wars.  Clone Wars took a lot of concepts, designs, and characters from the prequels and put them to new use.  Or, honestly, just put them to use period.  One such example were the Senate Guards, precursors to the Imperial Royal Guard.  In the movies, they didn’t do much more than stand in the background of scenes and remind you that one day they’d be putting on all red attire and serving the forces of evil.  The show, on the other hand, reworked them into the Senate Commandos, and even gave them a few focus episodes.  They made their way into the toyline, of course, but they aren’t among the easiest items to track down.  I managed to snag a set, though, and I’m reviewing it today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Released as a Target-exclusive two-pack in 2010, the Senate Commandos paired off with a complimentary Cad Bane and IG-86 two-pack, both based on the first season episode “Hostage Crisis,” which was one of the focus episodes for the commandos.  While the other pack was straight re-releases, both figures in this pairing were only available here.  Following the 2010/2011 re-branding of the Clone Wars line, these figures were part of the “Galactic Battle Game” concept that Hasbro was attempting to introduce into the line.  To facilitate this, the set includes two stands, a card with stats for each character, and a die chance cube with various symbols on it, presumably meant for use in playing the game.

SENATE COMMANDO CAPTAIN

First up, the ranking officer, the Senate Commando Captain.  Though un-named here, if he is indeed meant to be the commanding officer from “Hostage Crisis”, that would make him the ill-fated Captain Jayfon.  Yes, he had a name, because this is Star Wars.  Everyone has a name, just ask Elan Sleazbaggeno.  I suppose Jayfon should count himself lucky that he wasn’t named “Guardo” or something.  Anyway, this figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation.  He’s based on the streamlined design of the guards from the show.  Because of the more limited nature of the animation early in the run, the Guards could not keep their usual flowing cloaks.  For the sake of making things easier, their distinctive helmets and color-scheme were moved onto the standard Clone Trooper model.  The figure follows suit, being built on the basic Clone Trooper body from the line.  Fortunately, that’s one of the best molds the line produced, meaning this guy’s already starting ahead.    The forearms, legs, and pelvis are from the original base Clone Trooper, and the upper torso is from Rex, allowing for use of the smaller neck-peg for their heads.  The upper arms first showed up on Captain Argus in 2009, and since it’s supposed to be the same armor, they were sensibly re-used here.  It’s all topped off with a new head, which is a definite improvement to the removable helmet on the Argus figure.  It’s accurate to the source material, and sits nicely on the body.  For the most part, Jayfon is just molded in the appropriate shade of blue (which, it should be noted, is a different shade than was used for Argus; this one is technically more accurate), with black accent work.  As the captain, though, he needs some appropriate denotation, which the white accenting provides.  It’s more extensive than what we saw on Argus, though this is true to the show in both characters’ cases.  Whatever the case, it adds a very nice little pop to the figure.  Jayfon is packed with a small Clone-style blaster rifle.

SENATE COMMANDO

Okay, the Captain may have had a name, but the basic grunts really didn’t get them.  I guess this guy’s just an army builder. Crazy concept.  Like Jayfon, he stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 24 points of articulation.  For the most part, his construction is the same as the Captain’s, but he does get a unique head, this time with the shorter head-fin that the basic grunts sported.  It’s not a huge difference, but it’s true to the show and it makes it even easier to differentiate the two.  His paintwork is also a bit simpler, as he drops the white accent work.  It means he doesn’t pop as much as the Captain, but that’s appropriate for a rank and file trooper.  Lastly, the Commado swaps out the small blaster for a larger clone-style rifle, which is certainly nice for variety’s sake.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Though not impossibly hard to find when released, the fact that this set shipped alongside a total re-pack set, and the two figures contained there-in never got re-issues meant that it never hung around anywhere for very long.  I was, rather foolishly, trying to convince myself I didn’t need to keep collecting Clone Wars figures at the time, and passed on them the one time I saw them.  I’ve regretted it ever since, especially after their price got pretty high on the after market.  Fortunately, I was able to get one when a very large collection of Star Wars figures was traded in to All Time Toys.  They still weren’t cheap, but they were a much better deal than they would have been elsewhere.  I really do like this set a lot.  The Captain’s the real star, but the basic commando is no slouch either.  It’s really criminal that the standard commando never got a single carded re-release, because I’d really love to have a whole squad.  Alas, that’s not financial feasible at the moment.

As noted above, I grabbed this set from my friends at All Time Toys.  While they only got one of these in, there was a whole lot more in that collection, and they can be found on their website and their eBay storefront.

#2009: Iron Man

IRON MAN

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Hey, remember when Hasbro was trying to get a 12-inch-scale line of Marvel Legends up and running?  Pepperidge Farm The North The Figure in Question remembers.  Sadly, it seems it was not to be.  Despite getting a big push at their launch in 2016, and putting out some really solid releases going into 2018, the line never seemed to secure its footing.  Well, I guess now I can go back and look at a few odd figures here and there that I missed.  Chief among them, Iron Man, the subject of today’s review!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Iron Man was a 2016 release for the line.  Though he didn’t arrive at stores quite at the same time as Cap and Spidey, he wasn’t too far behind.  He also seemed to be a slightly more popular release, since he didn’t seem to hand around as much as some others.  More than some of the others in this line, Iron Man’s design seen here is an amalgam of many different appearances.  He’s clearly getting a lot of movie influence, but there are also some definite traces of Tony’s more recent comics armors cropping up in there.  In this respect, he pairs off quite nicely with the similarly designed Captain America and Thor figures.  The figure stands just shy of 12 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  His sculpt is unique to him, and unlike a lot of the figures in this line, it doesn’t really seem to have any common ancestry with one of the 6-inch sculpts.  It’s appropriately cleaner and sleeker than the Cap sculpt was.  I appreciate that, unlike a lot of larger-scale Iron Men, he doesn’t feel too hollow or light-weight.  The sculpt manages to check-off most of the usual Iron Man armor elements, with hard line-work and technical details weaved throughout.  As with all of the other larger Legends I’ve looked at, you can really see Hasbro’s sculptors taking advantage of the larger canvas presented to them by this scale.  Perhaps my favorite piece of the whole figure is the arc reactor, whose handling is totally a “larger canvas” situation.  It’s a fully sculpted, three dimensional item, topped off with a clear piece over top.  There’s pretty much no way to cost-effectively do this sort of thing on a smaller figure, but it sure looks really nice here.  The figure maneuvers itself away from being too movie-inspired largely by way of the suit’s proportions, which definitely err more on the side of comic book idealized proportions.  The prospect of an actual person in the suit is a little diminished, but it’s also in keeping with the general style of the rest of this line’s figures.  I particularly like the clean silhouette this figure gives his design.  He’s a lot less segmented than the smaller figures have been.  His paintwork is actually pretty minor.  The reds are all molded, with everything else painted on top.  I do quite like the hue of gold they’ve chosen (it properly reads as yellow when lit), and I dig the energy effects on the mini-reactors on his forearms.  Iron Man is packed with an extra Tony Stark head (the clearest example of “this isn’t a movie figure” in the box), plus two sets of hands (with fists and repulsor blast posing), and a pair of repulsor blast effects.  Compared to figures like Cap, Panther, and especially Wolverine, that’s kind of light, but it’s about the same as what Spidey got.  My figure lacks the second fist and repulsor blast, due to the circumstances of how I got him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I very favorably reviewed Cap when he came out.  Why didn’t I grab this guy?  I honestly don’t know.  I saw him when he was new, and thought about getting him.  However, I was about to move, and finances weren’t really certain, and then I didn’t see him again for a while.  I kind of forgot about him to be honest.  Last year, I ended up picking up several other figures from the line, and I’ve had them up on the shelf, with sort of this Iron Man-shaped hole.  So, when this guy was traded into All Time Toys loose, only missing two accessories, I went ahead and grabbed him.  He’s not the centerpiece of the line or anything, and the later figures definitely out-paced him, but he’s still a fine figure.  It’s a shame Hasbro couldn’t really find the market for these.

#2008: Carrion & Scarlet Spider

CARRION & SCARLET SPIDER

MARVEL MINIMATES

Something new and something old.  Not an uncommon theme when it comes to Minimates, especially Marvel, where there’s a definite need to refresh some looks every so often, so as to both make them available for a newer audience and update some things to fit in a little better with more recent releases.  And hey, if a new character comes along for the ride, that’s not so bad either, is it?  So, with that in mind, let’s look at Carrion (the new) and Scarlet Spider (the old).

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Carrion and Scarlet Spider were part of the second to last TRU assortment of Marvel Minimates, Series 24.  The assortment was a sort of a mixed bag, with each set being a somewhat contained theme.

CARRION

He’s not the most well-known of Spider-Man’s foes, but Malcolm McBride, the second incarnation of Carrion, is a sensible choice for a Minimate, especially given his pack-mate.  The original Carrion (who had more or less the same appearance as this figure) was a defective clone of Miles Warren, better known as the Jackal, the mastermind behind the infamous “Clone Saga.”  Malcolm was also a prominent player in “Maximum Carnage,” meaning this figure fits right in with the Maximum Carnage-themed Series 76, so he’s just all around a pretty sensible choice.  Carrion is built using seven sculpted add-on pieces for his hood, pouch, loincloth, and two pieces each for the wraps on his arms.  The upper and lower arm wraps are re-used from Heihachi and and Jack Skellington, respectively, and the pouch is Kim Bauer’s purse from 24, because Carrion is super down for taking fashion advice from the similarly accessorized Green Goblin.  The hood and loincloth both appear to be new pieces, and they work well enough, though the hood is a little restricting to the head movement.  Carrion’s paintwork is clean and sharp, though perhaps not the most eye-catching look.  Pale yellow and purple isn’t a particularly appealing palette, but it’s accurate to the character’s comic appearance, so one can hardly fault DST for that.  The linework is actually quite nice on this figure, and does a solid job of capturing that early ’90s style of illustration.  For accessories, Carrion is somewhat on the light side, with only a flight stand and a basic display stand.

SCARLET SPIDER

Carrion’s great and all, but the main reason for most people to buy this set is Ben Reilly, aka the Scarlet Spider.  He wasn’t a stranger to Minimates, with his Spider-Man costume cropping up first back in Series 10.  A proper Scarlet Spider followed in 2007, as an FYE exclusive of all things.  A decade later, he finally got an update.  Despite his predecessor making use of no add-ons, this Ben Reilly has six of them, for his hood, belt, webshooters, and ankle pouches.  All of the pieces are re-used from elsewhere, and they for the most part do their job pretty much perfectly.  The only slightly off parts are the ankle pouches, which are actually knife sheaths with nothing in them.  There exist non-sheath ankle straps, so why these parts were used is anyone’s guess.  Ultimately, though, they sell the look well enough, so I can’t complain too much about their use.  Scarlet Spider’s paintwork is actually quite impressive.  In the comics, he was frequently shaded in a very dynamic fashion, and that’s the look this particular figure tries to capture, at least on the figure’s mask.  It’s a cool looking effect, and the sort of thing that really only works on a Minimate.  Scarlet Spider is packed with an alternate head and hair for an unmasked Ben Reilly (the first proper Ben Reilly head we’ve ever gotten), a webline, and a clear display stand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After a bit of a hiatus from Minimates, I picked this set up last year, at the very beginning of Toys R Us’s shut-down process.  It was actually a set I was looking for, which I was only able to find once TRU started pushing things out from their warehouses.  Carrion wasn’t really going to be at the top of anyone’s list, but it’s always nice to get a new character, and DST did a respectable job of translating him to ‘mate form.  Scarlet Spider was in desperate need of an update, and this figure really delivered well on that.  He takes every aspect of the old figure and makes it better, and results in a generally far more enjoyable figure.

#2007: Autobot Jazz

AUTOBOT JAZZ

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

Autobot Jazz brings all he’s got to defeat the Decepticons”

Sometimes, the time is really right.  For review #2007, I’m jumping back to the year 2007.  2007 was a weird time.  We had two Marvel movies, which isn’t that odd these days, but they were neither one an MCU entry (because the MCU didn’t exist yet).  But before Marvel could re-brand their film franchises, another one was just starting up.  That July saw the release of the first of the oft-reviled Michael Bay Transformers films.  I was never a huge Transformers fan, but I was still in the audience opening weekend, and I still came out…less than satisfied.  In fact, I think a good argument could be made that the film scared me off the franchise for a bit.  Needless to say, I generally avoid Bay-inspired figures, though I’ve made my first exception for the subject of today’s review, one of my personal favorite Autobots, the aptly named Autobot Jazz!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Jazz is a Deluxe Class offering from Hasbro’s Transformers: Studio Series, where he is numbered figure 10, and hit shelves in July of last year.  Given his demise during the first film, Jazz has been less lucky with releases since the original 2007 line.  This figure marks his first domestic release since all the way back in 2010, which is a pretty big deal.  In his Robot mode, the figure stands a little over 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 19 practical points of articulation.  Size-wise, he’s just a little bit taller than Bumblebee.  Given the scaling and price-point, Jazz is a fairly respectable recreation of his robot mode from the movie.  Not all of the details match up 100%, but the general proportions are there, and the robot specific parts are pretty much spot on.  It’s really the remaining elements of the car form that are slightly throwing off the look, and mostly limited to the arms.  Ultimately, it’s just down to needing a little bit of compromise to actually make things work at this scale and in order to maintain transformability.  While Jazz’s original alt mode was a Porsche, for the 2007 movie, it was changed to a Pontiac Solstice, which is still a reasonably sporty model, though it’s decidedly less distinctive.  Whatever the case, this figure maintains its accuracy by giving him the proper alt mode.  The transformation between the two forms is a little less tricky than the Bumblebee, but still a little more fiddly than the Siege figures I’ve been getting.  Overall, though, it was less frustrating than I was anticipating.  The end result is a pretty decent little car, though, like Bumblebee, he’s got a tendency to pop apart at the seams from time to time.  But, as is the usual case, I was more in this one for the robot mode.  Jazz is packed with his crescent cannon, which he can either hold in his left hand, or his hands can flip into the forearm to allow it to attach directly to the wrist.  It’s a nice little feature.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jazz was an impulse buy.  Well, he was as close to an impulse buy as I ever really get.  I saw him at Walmart on my way home from work and passed.  Later that same evening, I was out to dinner with Super Awesome Fiancee, and passed by the Walmart again, at which point I caved and went back for him.  Though I’ve never really cared for most of the Bay film designs, Jazz is one of the few I didn’t hate, and his death in the film was perhaps one of my biggest complaints about it.  This guy makes for a pretty decent toy, and I’m glad I went back for him.

#2006: Bizarro

BIZARRO

DC COMICS MULTIVERSE (MATTEL)

You know, it would be really clever to write this whole review in Bizarro speak, wouldn’t it?  Well, clever as it may be, that seems like way more energy than I have to put into a Monday review.  I know, making things easy for myself seems to run counter to my whole brand, but consider this: I did the backwards speak gimmick for my first Bizarro review, meaning that doing it again would be a retread, so, in a way, this is the less traversed and therefore more difficult path.  Yeah, that’s what I’m going with…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bizarro is a Walgreens-exclusive release for the DC Comics Multiverse line.  He started cropping up in the last couple of months, though he was originally shown alongside the figures that made up the “Lex Luthor Series.”  The majority of those figures are modeled on the characters’ “Rebirth” appearances, but Bizarro here is actually a much more classically inspired figure, which was a kind of nice change.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Bizarro, understandably, re-uses the body introduced with the Rebirth Superman figure from the Clayface Series.  It shares a more common ancestry with the old DCUC body than the body used for Ray, meaning it’s just not quite as refined.  It’s still a definite improvement on the old body, though it feels a little more piecemeal and uneven.  I think the pelvis and hips are the part that really throw the whole thing off.  Bizarro gets a new head sculpt, which is a pretty respectable piece.  It’s appropriately squared off and blocky, and the detailing on the hair in particular is quite nice.  Bizarro trades out Superman’s sculpted cape for a cloth piece that connects around the neck.  On a standard figure, it would be a little goofy, but for Bizarro it actually works to the design’s favor.  His paintwork is overall pretty clean.  The colors are nice and bright, and his skin has a nice textured look about it which works really well.  Bizarro is pretty decently accessorized.  He’s got two sets of hands, in fists and flat flying poses, as well as his signature “Bizarro No. 1” placard.  And, if you want an alternate look, well hey, he has one of those too!  You can give him his Kent Clark guise from the comics by adding a pair of glasses, a tie, and a rather raddy-looking jacket.  As a bonus to this look, the use of a cloth cape means that it can fit under the jacket and stick out like it does in the comics.  It’s a fun extra look and adds a real unique touch to this release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was moderately interested in this figure when he was shown off, but wasn’t 100% sold on it.  After picking up and being quite impressed by Ray, I found this guy while out on a day trip with my parents and my brother, and was actually pretty happy to do so.  While he’s not quite as strong as Ray, he’s still a lot better than Mattel’s output has been for a good long while.  I am again frustrated that they managed to improve things just before losing the license.  But hey, at least I got this cool Bizarro figure.

#2005: Cyber-Link Batman & Cyber-Link Superman

CYBER-LINK SUPERMAN & CYBER-LINK BATMAN

SUPERMAN: MAN OF STEEL (KENNER)

“The Man of Steel teams up with the Dark Knight to form the ultimate crime-fighting team!”

After a rash of success with their various Bat-themed lines, in 1995, Kenner tried to expand their DC reach, giving a dedicated line to DC’s other big hero, Superman.  Superman: Man of Steel was not a smash success like its counterpart Legends of Batman, but did manage to get two regular assortments, plus some deluxe figures, and even a few multi-packs.  In an attempt to get a little bit of synergy from the two lines, Kenner decided to team up the lead characters, as they had been so many times in the comics, releasing the pack as part of Superman’s line to give it a slight boost.  Today, I’m looking at that set.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Cyber-Link Superman and Cyber-Link Batman were the only set offered up in the second round of Multi-Packs from Kenner’s MoS line.  After the poor performance of the “Superman & foe” layout of the first assortment, this one was a push from Kenner for a better selling product.  Despite their propensity for just dropping these sorts of variants without much explanation or thought, these two actually got a backstory.  “Cyber-Link” was an Elseworlds concept, an alternate universe where Batman was a Metropolis resident and he and Superman were a crime-fighting duo.  Trace elements of Kryptonite within the Earth’s atmosphere necessitated the use of the Cyber-Link suits seen here.  All of this was explained in the 11-page Christopher Priest-penned comic included with this set.  It’s a surprising amount of backstory for something that seems kind of straightforward, but I guess they were trying to inject a little bit more of Legends of Batman into Man of Steel.

SUPERMAN

He’s the star of the line and the star of the set, so I guess he gets to go first.  The ninth out of nine Superman figures, this one didn’t exactly cover new ground, but was interesting in his lack of a specific purpose like we had seen with the prior variants.  It’s definitely a different sort of design for the character, a departure from his classic look.  He’s even sporting the mullet still, further removing him from the Superman we all knew.  Of course, in light of things like the New 52, I guess the design doesn’t feel quite so out there anymore.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Yay for waist joints!  Despite his non-standard nature, the sculpt for this figure is actually pretty decent.  The pre-posing that would plague Total Justice was starting to settle in, but it doesn’t seem quite as bad here.  It’s got sort of a dynamic “just about to leap into action” look about it.  He also doesn’t have any trouble staying standing, which is nothing short of a miracle with most of these figures.  His head, despite the dated hairstyle, is a good take on Superman, and the removable cape is quite nice, and further supports the dynamic stance.  Superman’s paintwork doesn’t stray too far from his classic colors, though the blue and yellow are kind of metallic, and there’s quite a bit of black.  There are also a number of sculpted lines that just sort of get ignored here, though they would be more emphasized on later uses of the mold.  Superman included no accessories, though his hand looks like it was supposed to hold something at some point.

BATMAN

Man, how often is it Batman that plays second fiddle?  Obviously, this was his first figure in this line, though he was hardly lacking on figures from his own lines.  Batman’s design here isn’t quite as foreign as Superman’s, but that may be partly because he’d just had a more fluid design up to this point.  He’s a little more on the armored side, and some of his color elements have been moved around a bit, but otherwise he’s going to pass the squint test.  The figure, like his Kryptonian counterpart, stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Batman’s sculpt was unique to him, and is an okay offering, though I don’t think it’s quite as strong as Superman’s.  The posing seems a bit more extreme, and the proportions a bit less balanced.  He also has a little more trouble staying standing, though he still doesn’t face plant nearly as often as some of these guys.  I do kind of like that little sneer to his expression; it’s unique for a Batman figure.  His paint/color work is about on par with Superman.  It’s just slight variations on the usual colors, and some of the sculpted elements are kind of ignored, but the overall work is solid.  Like his packmate, he includes no accessories, but still looks like he’s supposed to be holding something.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had none of the Man of Steel two-packs growing up.  In fact, I didn’t have anything from the line beyond several Series 1 figures.  However, my obsessive toy-nerdiness meant that I gazed upon their photos many a time on the back of the package and on Raving Toy Maniac’s old archive page, so they’ve always been in the back of my mind.  A loose set ended up traded into All Time Toys alongside a larger collection of ’90s toys, and since there’s not a huge market for these guys, I felt compelled to save them from hanging around the store for forever.  Superman’s my favorite of the two, but I kind of dig both of them, and all their crazy ’90s glory.

As noted above, I got these from All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2004: Speeder Bike (w/ Luke Skywalker in Endor Gear)

SPEEDER BIKE (W/ LUKE SKYWALKER IN ENDOR GEAR)

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the first of three versions of the Imperial Speeder Bike released by Kenner in their Power of the Force II line.  The vehicle’s mold was first introduced in the vintage Return of the Jedi line, and was then re-packaged in the ’90s, with one of three different pilots.  I’ve already looked at the one with Leia.  Today, I look at her brother Luke, alongside his own Speeder.

THE VEHICLE ITSELF

The speeder bikes in these sets were all identical, meaning this one is exactly the same as the one I looked at alongside Leia two weeks ago.  I liked it then, and I still like it now.  I imagine I’ll still like it when I get around to the third variant of this set.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like the Leia figure included with the last one, this one has an Endor variant of Luke Skywalker.  Luke spends a little bit less of his time in this gear, but it’s still a fairly distinctive appearance for the character.  Like Leia, it had previously appeared in the vintage line, but this was the first we saw of it in this re-launch.  It would also be our only Endor Luke for a little while, as figures of him from Jedi tended to go for his, well, Jedi appearance.  As such, this figure’s sculpt would remain completely unique to him.  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.   Check out those sweet knee joints!  That was a pretty huge deal.  Luke’s head is rather similar to the Endor Rebel trooper, not only with the same helmet, but also a rather similar facial structure.  This Luke’s sculpt was notable for not including his outer vest; he was not the only version of Luke to omit it in this line, but he was the first one.  Like his sister, Luke has a removable rubber poncho piece.  This one’s not quite as nice.  It isn’t very well fitted to the figure, making him look really pudgy.  It also lacks the nice, subtle paintwork, meaning it’s just a lot of unpainted tan plastic.  This guy was packed with a variant of the green lightsaber included with the basic RotJ Luke, though this one was wider than that one so that his slightly enlarged grip can still hold it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As a kid, I only had one Speeder Bike, and it was this one.  I was definitely a Luke kid, so I needed to have another version of him, and the Endor one was one of my favorites.  That being said, I remember the actual figure didn’t get a ton of use; instead he was robbed of his poncho and speeder, which I gave to my standard Jedi Luke.  Looking back at this figure, I kind of remember why that was the case.  He’s not a bad figure, but he’s not as strong a figure as the Leia.

#2003: Professor X

PROFESSOR X

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Professor Charles Xavier, better known as Professor X, is a highly gifted telepath and scientific genius who develops the Cerebro device to aid in the ability to control and manipulate psionic abilities.”

Professor X is a character that doesn’t seem outwardly like he’d make for a lot of really good action figures, but he sure does have quite a few.  I guess naming the team after yourself is a good way to make yourself essential to a line-up.  It helps that toy companies have actually gotten pretty decent at squeezing some cool concepts out of his figures.  Despite their usual knack for adding interesting touches to their figures, the original Toy Biz Marvel Legends Xavier, is one of his less thrilling toy entries, not doing much to move past his “bald guy in a suit sitting in a wheelchair.”  He was also released 14 years ago, so it seems like a good time for an update, especially with all these X-Men Legends we’ve been getting lately!  Fortunately, Hasbro was more than happy to deliver that update.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Professor X is the second figure in the third series of the Legendary Riders sub-line of Marvel Legends.  The “rider” tag seems like a *little* bit more of a stretch for Xavier, but becomes more sensible when you take into account that Hasbro’s gone with the ’90s hoverchair version of the character.  The actual basic figure on his own stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation.  He’s built on the basic suited body, which is a sensible choice for Xavier, what with him tending to be a guy in a suit and all.  I’ll admit, I’m still hoping to see his tactical jumpsuit from the ’90s, but there’s no denying this is the more distinctive look, and it’s a lot of re-use, which I’m sure Hasbro was fond of.  Xavier has a new head and hands, both of which are well tailored to the body.  The head’s perhaps a little more on the cartoony side than I was expecting, especially given the general Jim Lee-inspired nature of this figure and the others he’s meant to go with.  With that said, after getting him in hand, I don’t mind the appearance so much, though I can understand why it’s not for everyone.  I do really like the new hands, though, and they’re just pure classic Xavier poses.  Xavier’s suit is green, a new color for this mold, with a stylish blue and black striped tie, just like he used to sport on the animated series.  But enough about the main figure.  Though he may be the title item, he’s not the main selling point here.  No, that would be his hoverchair.  Introduced in the ’90s as a more hi-tech replacement for the wheelchair in which he’d spent three decades, the hoverchair was really only at the forefront of the comics during the ’90s.  Of course, the X-Men were at the height of their popularity, and they got a cartoon, meaning the chair is the go-to look for Xavier for a whole bunch of fans.  It’s also got a little bit of that “one that got away” thing going for it; Toy Biz’s Xavier was originally supposed to have its own version, but it was cut from the release when they decided to offer Galactus as a Build-A-Figure.  In the 14 years since, we’ve been patiently waiting to finally see it show up in this scale.  Hasbro previously offered up this design at a smaller scale as part of their Marvel Universe line, but since he was offered as a standard figure, the chair was rather downsized and compressed.  This time, a focus has been placed on making the chair as accurately proportioned as possible.  It’s split down the middle in the package, but assembles easily enough, and stays together once assembled.  The sculpt is cleanly defined, with a nice, mechanized fixture appearance on the outside, and a nice stitched-leather looking interior.  Additionally, the armrests slide open, in a similar fashion to the old TB 5-inch figure, giving us a view of a pair of hidden consoles.  In order to simulate his hovering, the chair has a little exhaust effect piece that plugs into the bottom, keeping it stably held aloft.  Xavier slides into the chair without much fuss, and can be easily removed, so you’ve got your options.  The figure and the chair is a pretty impressive package already, but this set also includes a few more extras.  There’s always a threat of Xavier’s legs getting cold in a big metal chair like this, so to fight off that cold, he’s got himself a blanket.  It’s something that always accompanied the chair in the comics, and in this case it slips over Xavier’s legs to help hold him in place when in the chair.  Also included is Xavier’s Cerebro helmet, along with a clip-on effect piece for added dynamics.  Lastly, following the “accent another figure” trend that Hasbro’s gotten so into recently, there’s also a head included for Xavier’s long-time foe, Amahl Farouk, better known as the Shadow King.  It’s designed to fit the body of the recent Kingpin BaF, and it’s a pretty pitch-perfect fit.  It captures his design well, and I really dig those removable glasses.  I do sort of wish I had an extra Kingpin figure now, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been waiting for this figure for 14 years.  I still have the TB figure, but only because I bought him to finish my Galactus.  He’s never stayed up on the shelf, and he certainly hasn’t had a spot with all the Hasbro figures.  I’ve always been partial to the hoverchair look, and I was definitely looking to see it done proper justice.  I’m happy to say this release undeniably does it that justice.  He’ll be a nice centerpiece for the ever growing ’90s X-Men figures to be sure.  Throw in a pretty sweet Shadow King head, and you’ve got another winning set.

Like yesterday’s Deadpool, this set was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  He’s currently out of stock, but they’ll be getting him back in soon. And, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.