#1830: Spider-Man – House of M

SPIDER-MAN — HOUSE OF M

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“Quick on his feet and agile as they come, Peter Parker becomes the wrestling sensation known as Spider-Man.”

Ah, “House of M”, the second in an insanely long line of mid-00s-era events that were designed to “shake the world to its core and break the internet in half.”  Boy was that a greeeeaaat time.  My distaste for most things that Brian Michael Bendis is involved in has been no secret on this site, and “House of M” is certainly high on the list of things that have earned said distaste.  But alternate universe stories are prime choices for variants of main characters, and “House of M” has some decent ones, including everyone’s favorite web-slinger Spider-Man!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

House of M Spider-Man is figure 7 in the SP//dr Series, the second Spider-themed series (I guess third if you count the Venom set) of the 2018 Marvel Legends.  He’s the resident Spider-Man variant of the assortment.  This is the second time we’ve seen the House of M design in this scale; the last one was during Toy Biz’s final year with the license, and was part of their more action-feature-prone Spider-Man line.  This one is his first proper Legends release.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  You remember when I reviewed Pizza Spidey way back when?  Cool.  Well, this figure uses the exact same sculpt as that one.  No surprises there, since the designs really aren’t that far removed from each other, and they’re supposed to be the same guy.  Sensible re-use is sensible re-use.  The main breaking point between the two is the paint.  It’s still not crazy different, since the designs are still quite similar, but it nevertheless captures the slight differences in the costume design.  I gotta say, I actually like the red/blue used on this figure a little more than the basic Spidey, for what its worth.  House of M Spidey includes a web-line piece (which I hope to see become a standard inclusion going forward), and the left leg of the SP//dr Build-A-Figure.  That’s it.  No extra hands.  No unmasked head.  Nothing special.  This late in the game, we shouldn’t be getting any Spidey built on this body without the extra hands.  That’s kinda lame.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, dislike of “House of M” aside, I do kinda like this variation of the standard look, and I was certainly interested when he was first shown off.  The web-line in particular had me interested, since we haven’t gotten anything like that yet for the modern Legends.  The final figure gives me mixed emotions.  Just the base figure is actually surprisingly strong, but the lack of any sort of extras really, really hurts him here. I’m not sure why Hasbro opted to cut those extra hands just for this one variant is beyond me.

I purchased House of M Spidey from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re interested in buying other Legends figures, or are looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

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#1829: Grand Moff Tarkin

GRAND MOFF TARKIN

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“As one of Emperor Palpatine’s most loyal administrators, Grand Moff Tarkin devised and administered the construction of the first Death Star battle station. The governor ruled a large section of the Outer Rim Territories, including Tatooine, with an iron fist of terror and brutality.”

Though a prominent character in the franchise’s first installment, as an old guy in a grey military uniform, Wilhuff Tarkin hasn’t been the most toyetic character from the Star Wars movies.  As a matter of fact, Tarkin was the only major character to be completely absent from the vintage line.  His first action figure would come over a decade later.  I’ll be taking a look at that figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grand Moff Tarkin was released in 1997 as part of Power of the Force II’s second year.  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has the usual 6 points of articulation.  Tarkin sported a brand-new sculpt, which would remain unique to him (Captain Piett would make use of a similar selection of pieces, but they were just different enough to be…different).  It’s a decent sculpt, and an early break from the extreme proportions of the line.  I mean, sure, he’s still got a bit more bulk than Peter Cushing ever did, but compared to some of the others in the line, he was downright normal looking.  His face even sports a halfway-decent likeness of Cushing, certainly one of the best human likenesses Power of the Force II produced.  While he lacks some of the sharper detailing that a lot of the aliens from this line got, all of the important details are there, and he certainly still looks respectable.  The paint work on Tarkin is clean and fairly simple.  There’s a little bit of slop on some of the silver parts, but it’s minor.  Tarkin is packed with two different styles of blasters: one small, one mid-sized.  Not bad for a guy who never carries a single blaster in the movie.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve mentioned a few times before in these PotF2 reviews that my cousin Patrick and I sort of had this shared collection of these figures.  As such, there are a number of figures I never personally owned, which I still have some memories of.  He had a Tarkin, which was sadly lost on the beach on one of our family vacations.  That stuck with me for a while, and I never did get around to finding my own.  I got this one during a sidewalk sale at Lost In Time Toys over the summer.  Tarkin’s a decent figure.  Sure, there have been better versions of the character over the years, but for his first go, this one’s pretty darn good.

#1828: Guardians of the Galaxy

STARLORD, DRAX THE DESTROYER, & ROCKET RACCOON

MARVEL UNIVERSE (HASBRO)

“In the wake of the devastation left by the Annihilation War, the galaxy was unprotected. In a forgotten place at the edge of the universe, a group of heroes came together, determined to fill that void. From their base in deep space, the Guardians of the Galaxy protect the cosmos from threats both large and small.”

The year is 2011.  The world’s just getting comfortable with Thor and Captain America as major motion pictures.  The Avengers hasn’t shown up and blow the lid off of Super Hero movies.  Nobody knows who The Guardians of the Galaxy are, and yet, this is the year they get their first toys.  Groovy.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These three were released as one of the two debut team packs from Hasbro’s then fledging Marvel Universe.  They had done multi-packs of varying numbers up to this point, but this was when they really started to explore offering new characters and new sculpts in these sets.  The Guardians marked the debut figures for all three characters included.

STARLORD

Probably the most obscure of the characters included when this set was released, Starlord is never the less front and center, sporting his fully-covered appearance from when he first started leading the team.  It’s pretty far removed from what we connect with the character now, but was really just a slight re-design of his classic appearance.  The figure stands 4 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Starlord was built on the AIM/Ghost Rider body, which I’ve actually reviewed once before, way back at the start of the site, when it was used for Longshot.  It’s a decent body, and was certainly one of MU’s best offerings.  It works very well for Starlord’s design (to the point that Hasbro repeated this same shared body sequence for the Legends releases as well), and its all-around just a nice sculpt.  The legs can be a little finicky when you’re posing him, but other then that, the posability was really solid.  He gets a new head and belt, completing his transition into Starlord.  The head in particular is a very nice sculpt, showcasing a level of detail that a lot of figures from this line hadn’t gotten at this point.  Starlord’s paintwork is solidly handled.  The base work is pretty clean, and he gets some pretty great accenting on the bodysuit.  Not something we see a lot of anymore, but it certainly adds something to the figure.  Starlord is packed with a pair of identical guns, which he holds well in his hands.

DRAX THE DESTROYER

Drax is probably the most prominent of the Guardians, prior to their move to the big screen (which is likely why he was the one who got the Legends release the next year), and had just seen something of a revamp right before joining up with the team, so he’s sporting his then-current look for this figure.  Not necessarily a favorite of mine, as he ends up looking a touch generic, but it served to inspire the movie, which made it less so.  The figure is just over 4 inches tall, with 20 points of articulation.  Drax shares his body with the previously released Luke Cage figure.  Given their similar wardrobe choices at the time, it certainly made a lot of sense.  It’s an okay body, but definitely a lot more restricted than Starlord’s, and certainly lighter on the detailing.  He gets a new head and belt piece.  The head is fairly standard, and it’s actually a little bit surprising that it didn’t see a bunch of re-use.  The belt is a belt.  It’s decent, but hardly anything to get excited over.  Drax’s paintwork is fairy standard.  Base application is clean, and there’s some nice accenting on the upper half of the figure.  He’s not quite as eye-catching as Starlord, but that’s true to the design.  Drax is packed with a pair of knifes, which can be placed, somewhat awkwardly, in the sheath on the back of his belt.

ROCKET RACCOON

Original envisioned as something of a one-off character, Rocket Raccoon’s biggest claim to fame before the movies was earning a spot in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, which is actually a pretty darn prestigious affair.  It certainly elevated his public profile, anyway.  This figure was a wholly new offering, as you might expect, since there’s not really much you can re-use for a raccoon, right?  The figure stands 2 inches tall and has articulation as his neck and tail.  No arm articulation for this guy.  That’s a little disappointing, but he makes out better than other similarly styled figures from MU.  His sculpt is pretty solid work.  It’s dynamic, to be sure, which is certainly a plus.  He’s a bit more stylized than the other two in this set, but the folds on his uniform are close enough to those on Starlord’s that the two don’t look too out of place with each other.  Rocket’s paint work is probably the most complex of the bunch, what with all the fur detailing and the like.  He looks good, and once again matches well with the similarly uniformed Starlord.  Rocket includes a large gun, which is certainly in character.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This pack was actually my first introduction to the modern Guardians.  I was familiar with Drax, but not the other two, as I was never much of a fan of Abnett and Lanning’s writing style.  Because of that, I didn’t really have any interest in this set at the time of its release, and ended up passing on it, even while in the midst of a pretty heavy bout of Marvel Universe collecting.  It’s actually too bad I did, because its a good set, and might have gotten me interested in the characters a little sooner.  It’s even better now that Gamora and a full-scale Groot finally surfaced last year.

This set was loaned to me for review by All Time Toys, and is available for purchase via their eBay store.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#1827: Donatello

DONATELLO

RISE OF THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (PLAYMATES)

Donatello is the coolest tech wiz ever!  Being a soft-shell turtle may be a drawback in the ninja world, but with his series of battle shells and transforming bo staffs, Donnie can take on any foe!”

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are in a near constant state of reboot, and have been pretty much since they began.  Their ‘80s cartoon served to retool the comics, and was itself followed closely by the movies, which were then followed by The Next Mutation.  The less said about that the better.  With all that in mind, there’s traditionally at least some form of grace period between incarnations.  The latest reboot, dubbed Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, broke that pattern, being announced six months before its predecessor had even finished airing.  It’s still being met with some mixed reception because of that, but time will tell how it’s ultimately received.  The toys have just started hitting retail, and, like always, I’ve picked up the newest Donatello.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Donatello is part of the first basic series of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures.  He’s based on Donatello’s brand-new look from the new show.  It seems to take a little bit of influence from the recent movie designs, as well as keeping up with the 2012 show’s skinnier Donnie design.  While I’m still not 100% sold on the new designs in the actual show, I must admit, they seem to translate pretty darn well into toys.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  He’s definitely the most posable Turtle I’ve ever gotten from Playmates, rivaling the NECA releases in that regard.  He’s still got a few areas where they could improve, but at this price point, joint layout is definitely a pleasant surprise.  The sculpt is clean, sharply detailed, and about as faithful as you’re going to get in the transition from 2D to 3D.  The shell and belt are separate pieces from the main body, as has become the common practice on the more recent turtles.  He’s also got his removable exo-shell, which slots well into place.  Like the sculpt, Donnie’s paint is clean and sharp.  There’s not a ton of detail, but what’s there looks nice, and he’s certainly bright and eye-catching, especially when compared to the 2012 and movie figures.  He’s got pupils in his eyes, which is accurate to the cartoon, of course, but also notable because the first round of Turtles from any given incarnation are usually pupilless.  Not sure what changed this time.  While I’m topically not a fan of the pupils, they actually don’t bug me as much here as I thought they might.  For accessories, Don is packed with two different versions of his new and improved Tech-Bo, a pair of throwing stars, and a backpack piece, which is apparently Donnie’s battle drone Sheldon.  That’s adorable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When the 2012 series launched, I went all-in on the initial figures, and really enjoyed them.  And I enjoyed the first season of the show quite a bit too.  Then I fell out of watching it, and just sort of forgot about the whole thing.  When the reboot was announced, I wasn’t really sold, but then, I’m really only a minor TMNT fan anyway.  With the new toys hitting, I figured I’d at least pick up Donnie, since he’s always been my favorite, and I did want to give the new line its fair shake.  I have to say, this figure really surprised me.  He’s very nicely done, and I can see myself possibly tracking down some of the others.  I hope Playmates keeps the momentum going.

#1826: Garrett

GARRETT

QUEST FOR CAMELOT (HASBRO)

“Garrett dreamed of becoming a knight in King Arthur’s court when he suffered a terrible accident that robbed him of his eyesight. Angry and ashamed, he retreated to the Forbidden Forest to live the isolated life of a hermit. In his dark world, Garrett has become a fierce fighter and is ever resourceful in transforming nature’s work into booby traps for survival. His constant companion is Ayden the Falcon who serves as a set of eyes for him.  After rescuing Kayley from Ruber’s evil cohorts, Garrett is persuaded to join the race to find the enchanted sword Excalibur and return it to King Arthur”

Check it out!  As my faithful readers are undoubtedly aware, today marks five years of me running this humble little site.  In honor of such a milestone, I’ll be spending today taking a look at a figure of some significance to me.

Today’s figure hails from the 1998 animated film Quest For Camelot, an attempt on Warner Bros. part to provide some competition to Disney’s resurgence in popularity during the mid-90s.  It was…less than successful, and it’s largely forgotten by most people, but the film, to this day, remains a favorite of mine.  The movie boasted a rather star-studded cast, which included one Cary Elwes in the role of the male lead, Garrett, whose figure I’ll be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Garrett was one of six figures in Hasbro’s basic Quest For Camelot line from 1998.  Garrett had a few looks over the course of the film, but one was definitely his “main” one, and that’s the one this figure goes with.  He stands 6 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation.  The height on these figures is kind of interesting.  At 6 inches tall, he actually fits in pretty well with a lot of modern lines, but at the time of the release, Garrett was out of place with pretty much anything else available at the time.  Its especially interesting, since these figures were produced by Hasbro, who were running Kenner at the time, and Kenner were the masters of the 5-inch tie-in line.  The larger scale also gives him a slightly higher than average articulation count, though he’s still a little low by modern standards.  The animation models in the movie were rather streamlined and basic, and perhaps not the most conducive to actual three dimensional objects, so Garrett’s sculpt takes the basic design elements from the movie, and injects a bit more reality into him.  There’s some decent texture work all throughout the figure, with the best of it being on his vest and pants.  It actually looks like its made from a rougher material, as it would be in real life.  It definitely makes for a more visually interesting figure, and its impressive that they put this level of detail into him.  The paint work is definitely more on the basic side, letting the sculpted work do most of the heavy lifting.  As is the case with a number of my older figures, this one’s taken a bit of a beating, but he was pretty solid when he was new.  Garret includes his seeing-eye-falcon Ayden, his staff, a couple pieces of made-up armor, and a knife.  The armor’s goofy and totally made-up, but its otherwise a quite nifty selection.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, it’s the summer of 1998.  Your boy Ethan has just finished his first year of school, and is about to enjoy his very first summer break.  And then he takes a tumble down a flight of stairs, breaking his collarbone, and getting saddled with an uncomfortable brace that can’t get wet.  Looks like no summer pool fun for this guy.  This, it should be noted, gets him all the sympathy points, which, if you’re Ethan, translates to all the action figures.

Garret here was one of the first of a number of action figures I received to help cheer me up after I broke my collarbone when I was 5.  I got him from my Nana, just a day or two after my fall.  I’d hasten a guess that he might have been a quickly repurposed “congrats on finishing kindergarten” gift, but hey, I’m not going to complain, right?  He was accompanied by a promise that once I felt up to it, Nana would take me to see Quest For Camelot in the theatre, which she did not too long afterwards.  Garrett, like a lot of Quest For Camelot-related things, accompanied me throughout a lot of notable events, and fills me with all sorts of nostalgic fervor.  He’s actually a pretty solid figure to boot, which is always a big plus when looking back on these older figures.

Five Years

Five years.  Wow, that’s pretty big isn’t it?  Seriously, when I started this thing, I never thought it would actually make it this long.  Surely I’d have thrown in the towel by this point, wouldn’t I?  Well, despite some serious pressure from some outside factors, I haven’t given up on this whole action figure thing, and at this point, I think I’m just too far in to ever really leave it behind.

Last year, there were some sizable changes for the site.  I brought on a new full time feature, The Blaster in Question, written by my friend Tim Marron, and I also got rid of that pesky “wordpress” section of my url.  This year’s a little more low key, I suppose, at least from the reader’s perspective, but from a personal and professional side, I was quite happy to have formed a partnership with my friends over at All Time Toys.  They’ve been nothing short of awesome, and I’m excited about working with them more as we move forward.  That said, having a toy store on call for just about whatever I need is a slightly scary prospect.

Over the course of the last 365—er, 359 days, I’ve written 244, 568 words about a total of 479 action figures, 11 vehicles, and two movies.  I’m up a few review subjects from last year, and down a few words.  Am I finally learning some brevity?  Perhaps.

This year, the site’s views climbed past 211,000 views, we gained a whopping 44 followers, bringing our total count up to 169!  As always, thanks for joining us guys!  In addition, there were 42 comments this year, excluding those made by yours truly.  That’s a good number.

Switching over to the contents of those reviews of mine, Marvel Legends remained at the top of the charts, making up 78 of my reviews.  Next was the 3 3/4 inch Star Wars line, which made up 54 of my reviews, followed closely by Minimates at 48.  Hasbro was my top manufacturer, at 156 reviews, with DST following at 50, and Kenner taking third with 27.  As of today, 43.4% of my collection has been reviewed, and my total number figures climbed another 700 this year.  I gotta slow down on the buying.  I’m sure that’ll totally be happening now that I’ve got a toy store on call…

Moving away from myself, this year saw three guest reviews, as well as 39 Blaster in Question reviews.  Always nice to get somebody other than me rambling, right?


I’d once again like to take a moment to acknowledge some of my favorite review subjects from the last year.  It was definitely a high competition year, with a lot of really great stuff.  Narrowing down this list was tough, but here’s my Top 5!

#1534: CaRB

I had no prior experience with 1000toys, but this guy really caught my eye, and oh boy was he a fun figure.  What can I say? I’m a sucker for a cool robot.  I look forward to getting more from these guys!

#1609: WOLVERINE

I’ve enjoyed the 12-inch Legends since the start, but Wolverine is hands down the best thing to have come out of the line, and one of the finest Legends offerings we’ve gotten from Hasbro, period.  And this is coming from a guy who thinks Wolverine is overplayed.  This guy rules!

#1704: GRAND MOFF TARKIN

The faceprint tech that Hasbro’s introduced into their 6-inch lines is nothing short of phenomenal, and its showcased no better than with their Grand Off Tarkin release.  This guy looks so much like Peter Cushing that Lucas is undoubtedly campaigning to insert him into future releases of Rogue One.

#1739: BATMAN — THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS

My partnership with All Time has of course had a huge impact on this site, and of all the cool items they’ve loaned me, this guy was hands down my favorite.  He’s so much fun, and I still kind of kick myself for not getting one of my own back in the day.

#1803: SAURON

This last spot was the toughest of all, and I had several of this year’s Legends Build-A-Figures in it, but my favorite was definitely Sauron, who shows that Hasbro can produce unique sculpts that are every bit as good, if not better than, anything that Toy Biz put out during their tenure.

—HONORABLE MENTIONS—

#1791: NORM PETERSON

Mego’s back!  That was certainly pleasant turn of events, wasn’t it?  Well, for me, anyway.  They were kind enough to send over a Fonzie for me to review, which was pretty awesome, but the figure that really got me on-board was Norm, who really seems to capture that old spirit the best.  I hope they can make this new line work.

#1816-1821: Vipers

Grueling as it may have been to write six reviews for a single day, I sure had a ton of fun working on this whole endeavor, and learning what I could about the history of the Viper mold.  I also gained even more of an appreciation for that mold than I already had, and got to unleash a little bit of my zany side as I careened through the latter portions of that day’s reviews.  It almost makes me want to try it again…almost.


Thanks again to all my faithful readers who have stuck by me through all my crazy ramblings, and thanks to all of those who have joined me along the way.  I couldn’t do this without you guys!  Here’s to another five years!

That’s pretty much it…

#1825: Red Skull

RED SKULL

MARVEL LEGENDS (TOY BIZ)

“Trained by the black-hearted Adolf Hitler himself, the Red Skull and his fearsome visage were intended as a symbol of Nazi supremacy. During World War II, his unparalleled evil genius only could be matched by his arch-foe: the star-spangled Super-Soldier called Captain America. After failing to tip the wartime balance of power in favor of the forces of tyranny, the Red Skull spent decades in suspended animation – awakening in present day to enslave humanity and resurrect the power of the Third Reich!”

Nazis.  I hate these guys.

Back in 2014, when I was only 11 reviews in on Marvel Legends, I looked at the then-most-recent-version of Red Skull.  Now, four and a half years and 270 Legends reviews later, I’m going all the way back to the beginning, and taking a look at Johan’s very first Legends treatment.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Red Skull was released in Series 5 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends.  After three series of the “chase” figure being a variant of a main figure from the line-up, they’d introduced the concept of a secret, separate character chase figure with Series 4’s Goliath.  But, while that figure was just a simple repaint of the Marvel Collector’s Editions Giant-Man, their next go, Red Skull, would be a brand-new character with a “new” sculpt.  Why the quotes?  I’ll get to that.  As the “chase” figure, Red Skull wasn’t actually advertised at all on any of the packaging, making him an unknown offering to a great number of collectors, I’m sure.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 18 points of articulation.  Now, right off the bat, we run into the issue of articulation.  Toy Biz Legends were regularly boasting upwards of 30 points of articulation, so the Skull being below 20 is definitely notable.  What’s more, the distribution is really whacked out; 10 of those points are in the legs. Heck, he’s got toe joints, but no double joints on the knees and elbows, and even just cut joints on the shoulders and hips.  Why such odd articulation choices?  Re-used parts.  Red Skull is made up of a combination of the upper half of the X-Men: Movie Series Professor X and the Legends Series 3 Daredevil.  The Xavier body was three years old by this point, and from a line that was comparatively under-scaled.  And while the DD parts might have been a genuine Legends release, even the original felt out of place at the time of his release, and the parts also feel out of place for the Skull.  Red Skull also had a new head and hands, an add-on piece for his coat, and the Dr Doom holster stuck to his right leg, all in the name of separating him further from the figures that birthed him.  Unfortunately, even the new pieces don’t quite seem at home.  The head is too large for the body, and has no real neck to speak of.  The jacket piece, conversely, seems to sit too high on his body, leaving a good portion of his awkwardly designed hip joints still exposed, further exaggerating the largeness of the head, and the mix-and-match nature of the body.  On the plus side, the paint’s kind of decent, I guess.  The head in particular makes out pretty well.  Going for something other than a straight red seems to have worked out nicely.  Red Skull was packed with his peak cap, a pistol (borrowed from Dr. Doom), and the same display stand that was included with Cap, but in a different color scheme.  He also included a reprint of Captain America #16.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Series 5 is around the time that the magic of Marvel Legends was starting to wear off for me, thanks in no small part to this crazy “chases” thing that they introduced.  I was lucky with Red Skull.  My dad was at a comic show, and happened to find him for a somewhat reasonable price from a dealer.  Even new, he wasn’t great.  Toy Biz definitely made a lot of missteps on this one.  He’s a reminder that, as great as some of those figures were, Toy Biz’s Legends had some real stinkers.  Also, behold the start of the trend of crappy Red Skull Legends that perpetuates to this day.

#1824: Superman – Quick Change

SUPERMAN — QUICK CHANGE

SUPERMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES (KENNER)

“Danger arises in an instant – just the amount of time Clark Kent needs to transform himself into Superman, the Man of Steel.”

Following up on the success of Batman: The Animated Series, the creative team moved onto DC’s next big offering, Superman.  Superman: The Animated Series wasn’t quite the smash success its predecessor was, but it’s remained my personal favorite of the bunch.  Sadly, it wasn’t quite as well treated by merchandising.  It got its own line of figures from Kenner, mostly made up of variants of the main character.  I’m looking at one of those today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Quick Change Superman was one of the handful of Superman variants from the first series of Superman: The Animated Series from Kenner.  He’s the second of two Superman variants in this first series that could pass for a standard Superman…in one configuration, at least.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  The mechanism that allows his “quick change” feature means he has no neck articulation, but he still has the waist movement, which puts him ahead of most figures of the same stylings.  The basic figure is actually rather similar to the Capture Net Superman.  The posing of his hands is swapped, and the cape is cloth, rather than plastic, but otherwise he’s the same basic set-up, with the same strengths and weaknesses as that figure.  As a whole, a pretty decent offering.  The paint also matches pretty closely with the Capture Net offering, but my QC Superman is from later in the run than my CN, so he’s actually got eyes this time, which certainly looks far better.  Of course, mine’s also taken a bit more of a beating, so I guess it’s kind of a wash.  To facilitate his quick change feature, he’s got four clip-on pieces: a head/torso combo, one for each of his legs, and a backpack piece that clips onto the torso.  The overall end appearance is of Clark Kent, with a polo shirt, khakis, and a back-pack.  Definitely a different look than we usually see for Clark.  Maybe he’s gone hiking or something?  It’s certainly better than most attempts at Bruce Wayne.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Quick Change Superman was the first figure I got from this line, not long after getting the show’s premiere episodes on VHS, so I was pretty pumped to find him.  It was on a late-night trip to Toys R Us with my dad, while my Mom was out of town for a bit.  I remember that I got this figure and the 1960s Batman: The Movie on VHS, and my Dad and I sat up and watched the movie while I opened the figure.  He remained my standard Superman for a very long while, and even now he’s definitely a favorite of mine.

#1823: Wonder Man

WONDER MAN

AVENGERS: UNITED THEY STAND (TOY BIZ)

“Simon Williams became Wonder Man as a result of scientific experiments that bombarded his body with tonic energy. Now his eyes glow with power and he possesses superhuman strength, speed and durability. Originally an enemy of the Avengers, Wonder Man soon realized he had been manipulated into attacking the team and now he uses his amazing powers as a full-fledged Avenger. Wearing his Avengers symbol ring, this mighty hero will always heed the call, “Avengers Assemble!””

After the success of X-Men: The Animated Series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series, and the Iron Man and Fantastic Four segments of the Marvel Action Hour, in 1999, Marvel tried their luck again, with a cartoon based on The Avengers.  Titled Avengers: United They Stand, the show placed its focus on the typically more supporting Avengers, rather than the likes of Cap, Thor, and Iron Man.  Also, unlike prior Marvel cartoons, it leaned heavily on selling the toys, leading to some…interesting design choices.  It wasn’t incredibly well-received with the fanbase, and only ended up lasting a single, 13-episode season.  But, like I said, it was definitely designed to sell toys, so it got a pretty decent run of those.  Today, I’m looking at my favorite member of the team from the show, Wonder Man!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The initial assortment of Avengers: United They Stand figures were spilt into two series.  Wonder Man was officially part of the second, but they were all released at the same time, so it didn’t really matter in the end.  Anyway, Wonder Man was a big guy on the show, and that’s reflected with this figure, who stood just shy of 6 inches tall and had 9 points of articulation.  Wonder Man’s movement is an interesting mix.  He’s got ball-joints hips, and hinged ankles, which weren’t standard issue at the time, giving him a leg (heh) up, but due to his two separate action features, the arms are limited just to cut joints at the shoulders, and rather restricted ones at that.  On the plus side, his sculpt was actually a pretty good one.  The only other figure I’ve looked at from this line, Ultron, took some liberties with the show’s design (to the figure’s benefit, in Toy Biz’s defense), but Wonder Man follows the trend of the rest of the line, crafting a fairly show accurate figure.  He still departs from the show design a little bit, just so he can fit in a little bit better with some of Toy Biz’s other figures from the time, but you can definitely see where the inspiration for the figure came from.  He’s definitely a stylized figure, but I feel it works pretty well.  The head in particular really seems to get down the character’s personality quite well.  Wonder Man’s paint work is actually pretty impressive.  Not only is the base application very clean, but he’s also got some nice variation in the finish on areas such as the boots, and some very well-rendered accenting on his legs, arms, and face.  They even included the distinctive red reflection on his sunglasses!  Mine’s taken a little bit of beating, of course, but has certainly held up better than other figures from the same era.  Winder Man was packed with a life-sized version of his Avengers ring from the cartoon (not entirely sure why, but there it was), and nothing else.  It makes him one of the lightest packed figures from the line, but he’s also the largest, so I guess it works out.  He does have the two action features previously mentioned.  The first is a light-up feature, which lights up his hands and sunglasses.  Why?  Not a clue.  I’d say it was related to his ionic abilities, but those are usually purple, and these light-up red.  The second is a punching feature on his right arm.  It’s rather basic; push down the lever on his back, and the arm swings up.  Again, I have to ask “why?”  Certainly there were better, less-articulation-restricting features to work in?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I am an unabashed lover of United They Stand.  I vividly remember awaiting its premiere, and, of course, its accompanying toys.  I wanted the whole line-up, and made detailed lists of the exact order I’d be buying them in.  Wonder Man was at the very top of the list; my absolute most wanted figure in the set.  Unfortunately, United They Stand marked the first time I really ran into troubles with distribution and scarcity on such a line, so I kind of had to take the figures in the order my dad was able to find them for me.  Wonder Man ended up as the fourth figure I added to my collection, procured for me by my dad after he stopped at lord knows how many stores on his way home from work.  This guy remained a favorite of mine for quite a while.  Ultimately, he’s not without his flaws. Most of them are related to those shoulders, and just how locked in place they are.  That said, I still kinda love this figure, and I still kinda love the show he’s from.

#1822: Black Panther & Ebony Maw

BLACK PANTHER & EBONY MAW

MARVEL MINIMATES

“Hear me, and rejoice. You are about to die at the hand of the children of Thanos. Be thankful, that your meaningless lives are now contributed to the balance…”

It’s black on black in today’s set, as Black Panther faces off against Ebony Maw!  Prepare to imagine a world where these two characters actually met…

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Black Panther and Ebony Maw are part of the second assortment of the Infinity War-themed Marvel Minimates.  These two were supposed to be the Toys R Us exclusive set for this round but…well, we all know how that one went, right?  The set actually still has its TRU-exclusive sticker, presumably because it was too late in the process to get it removed before it started shipping to specialty stores.

BLACK PANTHER

Black Panther has been no stranger to Minimates.  Heck, this is his fourth just this year alone. Since Panther’s IW design was the same as his suit from his solo outing, this figure uses that same design, and is quite similar to the basic Panther from those tie-ins.  He’s built on the usual body, so he’s 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  Like his solo counterpart,  he’s got an add-on for his mask, as well as Cheetah’s clawed hands.  The paint on Panther is pretty solid work, and again, virtually identical to the last one.  The biggest difference between the two is what’s under the mask.  We’ve gotten yet another Chadwick Boseman likeness, this time with a much angrier expression than we saw even on the more energetic powered-up Panther.  I guess he’s taking things more seriously with it being the end of the world and all.  For accessories, Panther is packed with an extra hair piece to display his unmasked look, as well as the standard clear display stand.

EBONY MAW

As the member of the Black Order with by far the most dialogue and the most focus, Ebony Maw certainly stood out.  However, for whatever reason, it was Proxima Midnight who got all of the initial focus in the toy realm.  Fortunately, at least in the case of the Minimates, Maw wasn’t too far behind.  Ebony Maw is almost a completely vanilla ‘mate.  The only thing that mixes him up a bit is his skirt piece, which is a new offering.  It works well enough, adding the extra tails to his torso, while avoiding bulking him up too much.  I’m not for overly building up a ‘mate if you don’t have to, but I do feel Maw is missing…something.  Maybe a sculpted collar?  Certainly a hair piece of some sort.  His hair may have been thinning in the film, but it certainly wasn’t close-cropped, and it doesn’t look right being relegated purely to painted detailing.  I think something along the lines of Morgue’s hair piece would have really helped this figure out.  Maw’s paintwork is certainly his strongest suit.  The face is definitely the best part; it’s a pretty perfect recreation of his features from the movie.  The fact that he already lacked a nose probably helped.  The details on his uniform seem perhaps a touch bright for my eyes, but they are at least cleanly applied, and quite extensive.  Ebony Maw’s only accessory is a clear display stand.  It might have been nice to get some of those funky glass daggers or an energy effect of some kind, especially since he’s already light on the sculpted pieces as it is.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There’s no denying that this Black Panther feels more than a little bit redundant. There were two costumed versions of T’Challa in his own line, both of which are still quite readily available.  This one does attempt to be a little bit different, but not by much.  If you didn’t get any of the Black Panther movie Minimates, then I suppose this one’s a nice addition.  If you did?  Well, you’re really just here for the other half of the set.  As I noted with Corvus, the Black Order are really the only “new” part of the Infinity War assortments, which places some extra weight on them.  Unfortunately, I think Maw is another design that doesn’t translate all that well to the aesthetic, making this ‘mate somewhat middle of the road in terms of quality, and unlike Corvus, he doesn’t have a stronger pack ‘mate to carry him.