#1583: Animal Man & B’wana Beast

ANIMAL MAN & B’WANA BEAST

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS (MATTEL)

Mattel’s DC Universe Classics was really all about the odd-ball characters.  And it’s hard to get much more oddball than the pair of characters I’m looking at today.  Born out of the ‘60s fascination with animal themed heroes, both Animal Man and B’Wana Beast have picked up their respective fanbases over the years, and, believe it or not, they’ve both manage to gain multiple action figures.  Weird, right?

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Animal Man and B’Wanna Beast were part of DC Universe Classics, released in 2009 as the Matty Collector-exclusive “Justice of the Jungle” two-pack.  This was the last of the four such two-packs released this way in 2009, and ultimately the last two-pack in this particular venture for Mattel.

ANIMAL MAN

“When a teenage Buddy Baker went hunting in the Adirondacks, he found more than big game – he found an alien spacecraft! After being exposed to its strange radiation, Buddy found he could take on the powers and characteristics of any nearby animal – down to regenerating severed limbs, like an earthworm. He has faced many surreal menaces, traveled through space, and seen his entire reality torn apart more than once, but he always remains plain old Buddy Baker, family man and occasional hero – an oasis of sanity in the stranger corners of the DC Universe.”

Buddy Baker sort of follows the Ant-Man model of super hero creation.  His initial appearance wasn’t quite of the super heroic variety, instead just following the story of a stuntman who gained animal powers.  It wouldn’t be for another year that he’d get his costume, and even then he was A-Man, not Animal Man.  He was just a fairly run-of the mill forgotten hero, until Grant Morison relaunched the character in the ’80s, bringing the character to critical acclaim and giving him his own unique flavor.  Animal Man’s first figure was via DC Direct’s 52 line, but that one was admittedly less on the whole “action” front, so this one was appreciated.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  He’s built on the medium sized male body, which is a decent enough fit for Buddy.  He gets a new head and arms, as well as an add-on piece for his jacket.  The head is possibly the most detailed head sculpt we got out of this line.  There’s a lot going on there, between the fully detailed eyes beneath his goggles and the insane amount of detail that’s gone into his face.  While it certainly helps him to stand out from the pack, I do feel all of those lines on his face do age poor Buddy just a touch more than I’d like.  Obviously, I’m okay with him looking a bit more experienced than some of the DC heroes, but this does feel like it goes a little far.  Still, an impressive piece nonetheless.  The jacket served to mask some of the same-ness that this line was really running into with the base bodies, and was very nice recreation of Buddy’s signature denim jacket.  The texturing and the small detail work on all of the zippers and stuff is really top-notch.  The paintwork on Animal Man is decent enough; he hails from the line’s best period in this regard.  The base application is pretty sharp, and there’s even some pretty nice accent work.  The only real issue is the slight mismatching of the oranges on the legs, but that’s quite minor.  There were no accessories for Animal Man, which, while a slight bummer, wasn’t much of a surprise.

B’WANA BEAST

“While in Tanzania, Mike Maxwell found himself trapped in a cave high atop Mount Kilimanjaro. In his attempt to survive, he drank the cave’s water – which, unknown to him, was infused with a strange elixir that increased his muscle mass, making him much stronger. When Maxwell donned an ancient helmet, he discovered he could merge any two animals together into a new, hybrid form called a chimera. B’wana became a fighter for animal rights as the jungle’s premier hero.”

Despite being definitely the more obscure of the two, B’wana Beast actually has more figures than Animal Man, with this being one of four.  It was his first (though not by much) and is to date his only comics based figure, but still, that’s pretty impressive.  Like his pack-mate, this figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 23 points of articulation.  He too is built on the medium-sized male body, which is fine, except for one small problem: no nipples.  B’wana Beast is supposed to be shirtless, but the sculpt doesn’t quite reflect that.  Mattel had done a shirtless torso prior for Series 6’s Hawkman, but I suppose the wing attachment was too difficult to remove.  Oh well.  On the plus side, B’wana Beast does get a new head and shins, as well as a new add-on piece for his loin cloth.  The pieces are all very nicely sculpted.  The helmet definitely takes its cues from his JLU counterpart, and manages not to look totally dumb, so that’s cool.  Also, despite just looking like the same cuffed shins introduced on Series 1’s Red Tornado, B’wana Beast’s shins are totally new, featuring a pretty nifty fur texturing.  B’wana Beast’s paint is very nice; not only did they manage to pull off the cheat spots on his shorts, boots, and mask without getting messy, but they also did a pretty solid job accenting his skin tone, making him look appropriately tanned for someone who runs around outside in nothing more than a loincloth and boots.  Like Animal Man, B’wana Beast has no accessories.  Still not surprising, but still disappointing.  No cool chimeras? For shame!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite Mattel’s claim that these sets didn’t perform as well as they’d hoped, this set was sold out in less than two weeks.  Not a lot of time for someone without their own expendable income to get them, so I didn’t.  Instead, I wound up picking them up around Christmastime in 2012, using an Amazon gift card I’d gotten over the holiday.  I paid a bit of a mark-up, but they were worth it to me.  Neither figure is without its flaws (the biggest for both being the complete lack of extras), but both figures are amongst the strongest that Mattel produced for this line.

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#1582: Chief Hopper

CHIEF HOPPER

STRANGER THINGS (McFARLANE)

The central characters of Stranger Things are really the kids, who do a lot of the important things and generally end up moving the plot forward all on their own.  However, they’re still just kids, and they do occasionally need some adult supervision, which frequently comes in the form of the town sheriff, Chief Jim Hopper.  In a world full of stange things, Hopper’s the one who stands back and goes “hey, that thing over there seems a little strange.”  What’s *not* strange is that Hopper got an action figure, which I’ll be looking at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chief Hopper is the second of the two basic figures in the first series of McFarlane Toys’ Stranger Things line.  Where Eleven was very season specific, Hopper (by virtue of being an adult actor who doesn’t change much from season to season) is more of a catch-all sort of a figure.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation (though the waist on my figure was fused when he came out of the packaging, so he spent a lot of time at 23).  Hopper’s articulation is definitely an improvement over Eleven and even the Borderlands 2 Jack.  The hips here use the later Walking Dead styled joints, which allow for a lot more mobility.  It is a bit funny, though, that in the last week I’ve looked at three McFarlance figures that are ostensibly in the same style and each of them’s had a completely different hip articulation scheme.  Obviously, you have to tailor a bit to design, but this does seem a little goofy.  The improved mobility of this figure is certainly a plus, but I must admit, the hip joints aren’t exactly easy on the eyes, especially when moved out of their “default” position. If they want to use this style of joint (which I don’t think is a terrible idea), they need to refine it a bit.  The rest of the articulation is a bit better worked in, so they didn’t totally blow it.  I think hips just confuse them a bit.  Hopper’s sculpt is definitely a solid piece of work.  Apart from the hip issue, it’s a very well crafted sculpt.  The detailing on his sheriff’s uniform is quite sharp, and the head’s likeness of actor David Harbour is spot-on.  There’s no confusing who this guy is.  The paint on Hopper isn’t super exciting or anything, but, like the sculpt, it’s pretty decent.  The best work is on the face, which looks pretty lifelike (though it doesn’t photograph the best).  The rest of it’s just pretty standard stuff, but it’s rather cleanly applied, and everything matches up with the show pretty well.  Hopper’s not quite as well accessorized as El, but I’d guess that has to do with his larger stature.  He still gets his revolver, a coffee mug (hey, pair this with the waffle included with Eleven and we’re slowly getting a balanced breakfast!), and a display stand.  His solicits mention his hat being removable, but it’s not, nor does he get the extra un-hatted head that the original packaging renders showed.  That’s a bit of a bummer, as I’d have liked the option to display him without the hat.  I’m guessing McFarlane might be saving that head for a later release.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As with yesterday’s Eleven, this figure was purchased based on a request by FiQ-Fan Hubert from Poland.  Hopper actually proved to be what pushed me over into McFarlane’s camp on these offerings.  As cool as Funko’s set was, I really wanted a figure of Hopper.  Initially, I was only going to grab him, but I am weak, and I ended up with both figures.  I really like this figure a lot.  Issues with lessened accessories aside, Hopper’s really the stronger of the two figures.  Here’s to hoping the rest of the line follows his example.

#1581: Eleven

ELEVEN

STRANGER THINGS (McFARLANE)

As far as Netflix original product goes, I think Stranger Things caught a lot of people by surprise.  Most caught by surprise?  Toy makers, who had no idea that this little online show would gather such a demand for product.  Funko were the first on the scene, by virtue of picking up every license under the sun, but McFarlane Toys has been pretty quick with their follow up.  They’re moving at a slightly slower pace than Funko, but producing a slightly higher-end product.  I’ll be taking a look at their first version of central character Eleven today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Eleven is one of the two figures (three of you count the deluxe Demogorgon) in the first series of McFarlane’s Stranger Things line.  This is a Season 1 Eleven, specifically depicting her after she’s taken in by the boys.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and she has 18 points of articulation.  The articulation on Eleven is a bit more restricted than Handsome Jack, mostly in regards to the hips, which are just swivel cuts here.  It makes her a little hard to keep standing, but ultimately she’s still pretty mobile.  Eleven’s sculpt is generally pretty solid.  The body has fairly realistic proportions, and the texture work and depth on her clothing is decent.  I particularly like the work on the shoes, right down to the slight disheveled nature of the laces.  I think some areas, the skirt of her dress in particular, do end up a touch soft, but it’s not awful.  I’d also prefer if said skirt piece had been made from a softer material, as well, since the thick hard plastic sort of looks off.  There’s even a clear cut at the waist where the new material could have been swapped in.  Her head sports an okay likeness of Millie Bobby Brown, but not quite a spot-on one.  There’s just something slightly odd about it.  I think her face may be too wide.  It certainly looks better from some angles than from others, though, and if you can get the head into a good downward tilted death-glare sort of look, I think the likeness greatly improves.  In terms of paintwork, this figure definitely has its plusses and minuses.  The face is pretty decent, especially the eyes and mouth, which are pretty lifelike.  However, the decision to go for the bloodied nose look seems a little strange, especially if there’s no alternate head or anything.  As far as the clothing, the wash on the jacket and the shoes looks good, and adds some necessary wear to them.  That said, the same effect doesn’t work so well on the skirt, which just looks like someone smeared spaghetti sauce along the bottom of it.  I think a cleaner look for that particular article of clothing probably would have looked better.  Eleven is packed with a wig, an Eggo waffle, a radio (with an extra hand to hold it), and a display stand.  Not a bad assortment of extras at all.  The wig sits a lot better than I’d expected it to, though it just makes the issue of the permanent stream of blood from the nose even more prominent.  The waffle is fun, but I don’t know that we ever see her with just a single waffle; I think the box would have hold the idea a bit better.  The radio’s an important piece, and I’m glad that got included.  The stand is also important, since, as noted above, she can have a little difficulty standing on her own.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Eleven marks my first reader requested review.  Hubert, a FiQ-fan from over in Poland, contacted me a little while back asking if I might be taking a look at any of these guys.  I like the show and knew I’d pick up some of the figures at some point, but I hadn’t made up my mind as to whether I wanted to try Funko or McFarlane’s line.  After picking up Handsome Jack and being a real fan of that figure, I ended up coming across both Eleven and Hopper at Target, so I figured I’d be a nice reviewer and give them a chance.  There are some definite flaws with Eleven, but I generally like her, and I’m happy I grabbed her.  Thanks for the suggestion Hubert!

#1580: Storm

STORM

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“Super-villains have learned that this co-leader of the X-Men is perhaps the most dangerous X-Man of all because Storm has the amazing mutant power to control weather! With a quick mental command, Storm can create anything from a simple summer shower to a raging hurricane. By raising her arms she can command the winds to carry her anywhere. She is a master of unarmed combat, though she prefers to use lightning bolts and wind to stun and disarm super-villains.”

When launching their X-Men line in the ‘90s, Toy Biz jumped right into the thick of it, covering some of the most popular team members right off the bat.  Naturally, Storm, one of the very best known X-Men for quite some time now, found her way into that initial set, for better or for worse.  I’ll be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This particular Storm figure had a handful of releases.  She was originally released in Series 1 of Toy Biz’s X-Men line, wearing the black costume from the top of this review.   She was then part of the 1993 re-paint assortment, where she was done up in silver.  Then, in 95, she got another release, this time in white, as part of the X-Men: Classics assortment designed to tie-in with the Animated Series.  Regardless of color scheme, all three versions of Storm stand just shy of 5 inches tall and have 8 points of articulation.  Storm’s not really all that posable, thanks to the slightly wonky layout of the articulation.  Not only does she have the dreaded v-hips, she’s also got a rather similar scheme to her shoulders, plus her neck is rendered motionless by her light-up feature.  The actual quality of the sculpt is rather on the rudimentary side, as was the case with all of the Series 1 X-Men figures.  She’s wearing her Jim Lee-designed leather outfit, which was current for the time, and has the benefit of being rather stiff and squared off by its very nature.  This masks some of the stiffness of the sculpt, I suppose.  Still, it’s hardly the best Storm that Toy Biz put out.  As this figure was re-released, she slowly acquired more and more cape.  The original release has no cape (which would make Edna happy).  The silver gets a more wispy sort of a thing, and the last release finally gets a proper cape, much more true to her comics design.  There were three different paint schemes for this figure, with pretty much the same application across the board, apart from the main base color of the plastic.  The application is generally pretty simplistic on all three of them, but it works.  The white and silver ones both have an extra bit of yellow detailing, which offers some more pop, I suppose.  All three figures include the same light-up feature, which illuminates the lighting bolt on her chest.  They also all three include a lightning bolt piece that can be held in her hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got these three at various different times, none of them during my childhood.  The white one was the first one, picked up during my 5-inch renaissance back in 2011.  As the latest, I think that’s the best of the three.  The other two were both picked up in the last year, as I set out on my quest to complete my 5-inch X-Men collection.  They’re not terribly different, and unless you’re crazy like me, I don’t suppose there’s much reason to own all three.

Blaster In Question #0044: Mediator Barrel

MEDIATOR BARREL

MODULUS

Wow, it sure is interesting how earth-shattering personal events can affect your ability to blog about toy guns.  I almost didn’t make it to this week’s deadline, but here I am, so let’s move on and try to stay positive.  I feel like every time I start to review a Nerf blaster that resembles a shotgun in any way, I want to reference White Wedding by Billy Idol but I don’t think I have thus far, so let’s give it a crack.  Hey, this week’s blaster, who is it you’re with?  It’s with the Modulus Mediator.  Hey, this week’s blaster, who’s your only one?  It’s uhh… oh god… No, NO!  Staying positive, Tim, POSITIVE!  Alright, maybe enough of that, let’s have a look at the blaster.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

Hey, this week’s blaster: SHOTGUN!  Ok, now that’s out of the way.  The Mediator Barrel blaster/accessory thingy was released in 2018 under the Modulus line as one of the three components that make up the Mediator XL blaster, each sold separately.  We’ve already seen the Mediator core blaster, so what’s so special about the barrel?  It’s actually a convertible blaster that can switch between a standalone shotgun kind of blaster or an underbarrel shotgun attachment to any Nerf blaster with a barrel attachment lug.  This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this concept, especially in the Modulus line, but what is interesting about the Mediator Barrel blaster is the firing mechanism.  Normally with stuff like this, it’s used either a standard plunger and trigger setup or a manually actuated plunger, but this time, it seems like the people at Nerf decided to use an older system where the pump builds air pressure inside the system and a button on the blaster releases it in a blast, firing all of the darts at once.  It was certainly an unexpected choice, but I can’t say I have any problems with it.  It seems to work just fine.  I will say I’m a little bummed they couldn’t find a way to put the firing button on the actual grip, but I suppose it’s still functional.  The shell work is completely new to the blaster and features the female end of the barrel attachment setup as well as a big grey button that allows you to pivot the pistol grip in line with the blaster, turning it into a barrel extension piece.  I’m also kind of disappointed in the aesthetics of the barrel/pistol grip.  I would have preferred something that looks more cohesive with the rest of the blaster, especially when folded flat, but as it stands, it’s just a grey tube with some minor contouring.  As a standalone blaster, the Mediator Barrel is just a mediocre, one-shot shotgun with the trigger on the side of the blaster.  As an attachment to another blaster, it’s actually pretty alright.  When paired with the Mediator, the lines and colors flow together reasonably well which helps solidify the notion that they are parts of the same blaster.  The attachment lug that connects the two isn’t the tightest fit, and so there is a little bit of wobble, but stuff like that happens, especially with the bigger, heavier barrel extension pieces, so I’m not super mad about it.  As far as range and power are concerned, neither are the best, but I don’t think that was ever expected.  It shoots reasonably hard up close, but with this blaster more than others, it feels like the shots lose power over distance quicker.  If you’re planning on using it against your younger siblings, it’s best as either a sneaky ambush shotgun blast as a standalone, or as a coup de grâce  after a volley of shots from a primary blaster.  The Mediator Barrel comes packaged with 3 Modulus Elite darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It’s a nice day to start again.  It’s a nice day for a white blaster.  Well, it’s really more of an accessory with a gimmick.  That’s what I’ve taken away from this.  It’s not that great of a blaster because it’s not meant to be just a blaster, but as far as attachments go, it’s pretty cool.  What I’m getting at is that it doesn’t like to be alone, it’s meant to be with another blaster to really reach its full potential.  Sure it said some things that didn’t come out right, but it’s really trying to- wait, no, that’s something else.  Stay positive, Tim.  It’s a cool blaster.  I like it for what it is.  Happy thoughts.

#1579: Han Solo – Millennium Falcon Gunner Station

HAN SOLO – MILLENNIUM FALCON GUNNER STATION

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

Two weeks ago, I discussed Kenner’s deluxe offerings from their Power of the Force II toyline.  Specifically, I looked at Luke Skywalker and the Millennium Falcon gunner station.  That particular item was designed to work in tandem with another of the deluxe offerings, Han Solo, packed with another of the gunner stations.  I’ll be looking at that particular item today!  And awaaaaaaay we go!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As with the prior set, Han and the Gunner station were released in 1997 as part of the third set of deluxe Power of the Force II figures.  This Han was based on his end of the movie gloved and headset-ed look, which has been the source of a few Han figures (such as the previously released 30th Anniversary one).  The figure stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation.  For whatever reason, he lost the waist movement.  Don’t know why, but there it was.  This figure is rather similar in construction to the first PotF2 Han, but he doesn’t actually share any parts with that figure.  He’s still got some of the wonky proportions, and the head isn’t the best likeness of Harrison Ford, but he’s definitely a bit toned down from the earlier offerings.  I’d place him about on par with the Bespin Han figure, where he’s still within the general confines of the line’s style, but looks a fair bit more like an actual human being.  That’s certainly a plus.  The paint work on Han is fairly standard stuff.  Nothing exceptional, but it’s certainly passable work, especially for the line.  There’s less slop here than on the corresponding Luke. The color palette matches the other Hans from the line, so he was certainly consistent.  Han didn’t include any small accessories, but he still had the gunner station, which was identical to the one that Luke came packed with.  If you had both stations, they could be connected by the platform running behind them.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Luke when he was new-ish.  They also had the Han at that time, but I was a silly small child who only wanted Luke and not Han, so he went unpurchased.  It was only recently that I finally acquired this guy.  Lost In Time Toys had him out during one of their sidewalk sales in December, so I was able to pick him up for a pretty low price.  He’s a pretty solid offering for the time.  I could have seen him becoming my default Han had I had him back in the day.

#1578: Black Panther

BLACK PANTHER

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

“T’Challa wears a glowing suit made of Vibranium technology as the warrior hero Black Panther!”

Hey, hey, guess what was released in theaters today!  Yes, Black Panther finally made its way to the big screen!  In honor of T’Challa’s big debut, why not have a look at another of the many toy offerings surrounding the film’s release?  For today’s review, I’m going to be looking at another variant of T’Challa himself, once again based on his comic-book origins.  Let’s have a look at how he turned out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Panther is a Walmart-exclusive Marvel Legends release, just like the last comic Panther.  While he’s not officially tied to any particular series of the line, he started hitting right around the same time as the Okoye Series.  Thanks to Walmart’s weird distribution style, he actually ended up arriving at a lot of stores less than a month after the last Black Panther-exclusive.  Hopefully, this doesn’t lead to issues of shelf warming for either of them.  The last Panther opted for a very classic take on the character but this figure goes for his most recent redesign from the “All-New, All-Different” relaunch.  It’s generally not terribly far removed from his other looks, but there are some minor tweaks.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  The last two comic Panthers were built on the Bucky Cap body.  This figure mixes things up a bit, moving T’Challa to the Spider-UK body.  This means he’s also the first non-Spider-Man on the body, which I suppose is pretty cool.  It’s a nice base body to be sure, and I think it’s quite a good fit for Panther.  I’m not sure which base body I prefer for him, honestly.  Of course, his more recent design has also been drawn with a generally more stocky appearance, so I think this might be a case pf both bodies being totally valid choices.  The figure gets a new head, as well as the hands from the Rocket Raccoon Series Panther, and an add-on piece for his necklace.  The head is a pretty solid piece, and a decent translation of artist Brian Stelfreeze’s more streamlined take on Panther’s mask.  While the swept back ears take a little bit of getting used to, it certainly makes for a distinctive figure.  The hands fit well on the figure, and in fact look a bit better scaled to this particular body.  I was admittedly a little surprised by the return to these hands after they were left off of the last comic Panther, but they’re still decent pieces.  The necklace I can kind of take or leave.  It looks fine, but it’s a bit too loose fitting for my taste.  As far as paint goes, this guy’s a bit different from prior Panther figures.  Recently in the comics, T’Challa’s begun to experiment with tactical applications of Vibranium’s energy output, resulting in this glowing look when his suit is fully activated.  There’s a bit of a Tron-lines thing going on all throughout the figure.  He’s very pink (Does that make him the Pink Panther?  Only Inspector Clouseau can know for sure). The line work is all pretty clean, and it certainly helps him to pop a bit on the shelf.  Panther includes an extra head without the pink details, as well as a spare set of hands in fists, and two energy effect parts.  The hands and energy parts are definitely fun, but the head baffles me a bit.  It’s just the same head without the extra detailing.  When placed on the body, it looks kind of out of place, and it’s too large to look right on the last Panther body.  I would have much rather have gotten an unmasked T’Challa. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I initially found this figure while still finishing the Okoye Series.  I passed on him at the time, since I had just gotten the other two Black Panther figures, and wasn’t 100% sure I liked the look of this one.  After finishing the first set, I saw this guy again, and I decided I liked him enough to pick him up.  While he’s still not my go-to version of the character (that’s still the last exclusive figure), there’s no denying that this figure is sill pretty fun.  I’m glad I went back on my initial decision.

#1577: Dark Nemesis

DARK NEMESIS

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“A survivor from a parallel Earth ruled by the evil Apocalypse, Dark Nemesis now seeks to take over the world of the X-Men. Hoping to start his empire with the Nation of Japan, Dark Nemesis enlists the other-worldly space ninja Deathbird and her advance Sh’ar technology for his plot. With a mind-controlled ninja Sabretooth enforcing Dark Nemesis’s will even Ninja Wolverine and Ninja Psylocke may not survive against his unbelievable power.”

Today, I fully intended to review the Wolfenstein II Terror Billy figure.  It’s been on the schedule for a couple weeks, and everything.  So, why am I not reviewing Billy?  Well, see, Monday night, I dropped my camera and broke it beyond repair….Yeah, wasn’t a great evening.  I’ve got a replacement on the way, but in the mean time, I’m back to reviewing stuff I’ve already got pictures of on hand.  Dark Nemesis just happened to be one such figure, so tangerine jelly bean over here gets reviewed today.  Woo!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Dark Nemesis was released during Toy Biz’s ‘90s X-Men line.  He was in the eighteenth series of the line, which was inexplicably ninja-themed.  Which apparently was the perfect assortment for Dark Nemesis, cuz he’s always been so tied to the whole ninja thing, right?  It’s worth noting that this character got a name-change from comics to toy.  In the comics, he’s called “Holocaust,” which was rightfully deemed a bit much for a line of toys aimed at children.  So, instead, he was given his pre-Horseman of Apocalypse monicker of “Nemesis” plus the Dark descriptor.  Because the kids dig dark, or whatever.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 6 points of articulation.  He gets no elbow movement (which was fairly standard for figures of this build), and due his design also has no neck movement, so he’s a little bit on the stiff side.  But, then, the character was never super mobile either, so it’s not too terrible, truth be told.  His sculpt was unique to him, and it’s a fairly decent recreation of Nemesis’ oh-so-dated design.  I like the internal skeleton thing a lot, and the whole clear plastic construction in general is pretty cool.  They’ve also played down some of the more  crazy aspects of the design, which was probably a step in the right direction.  In terms of paint, a lot of the design relies on the previously mentioned clear plastic, bit he’s got a healthy helping of red accent work, which does a pretty astoundingly good job of capturing Nemesis’ admittedly unique color scheme.  There’s a very cool energy effect, which I think really helps him to pop.  Dark Nemesis is packed with one accessory: a projectile-launching staff.  It’s not really something the character was known for, nor does it really fit the ninja theme of the assortment.  Odd choice.  I guess it’s better than nothing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite actually being familiar with the character around the time this figure was released (I knew him from his appearances in X-Man), I didn’t get this guy new.  In fact, I only just got him in Novemeber.  I found him loose at House of Fun, and grabbed him to help complete my 5-inch X-Men collection.  He’s not the most playable figure, but he’s still pretty fun, and he certainly looks unique on the shelf.

#1576: Handsome Jack

HANDSOME JACK

BORDERLANDS 2 (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“After taking over the Hyperion corporation, Handsome Jack declared himself dictator of Pandora, and takes full credit for finding The Vault. Nestled in his geostationary “H-shaped” moon base, Jack can send supplies and troops down to Pandora, and most importantly can keep an eye on Vault Hunters at all times.”

In preparation for today’s review, I went back and looked at all of the other reviews I’ve done on Valentine’s Day, just to see how I started them off.  Did you know that in the four years I’ve been running this site, I’ve only once directly referenced the actual day in my review?  Weird.  Well, in our own odd way, Super Awesome Girlfriend and I are celebrating the holiday by sitting down and reviewing some action figures from a property we both love: Borderlands!  Her review of Tiny Tina went up earlier today, and I’m following it up with a look at the other half of the set, Handsome Jack!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Handsome Jack is the second of the two figures in the first series of McFarlane’s Borderlands 2 line.  These two were originally meant to be part of the overarching Color Tops line that McFarlane had running, where each figure was given a number, but it appears that whole idea was dropped in favor of just doing a bunch of dedicated lines.  Borderlands already has two more series confirmed, so that seems to have worked out alright.  Jack stands 7 inches tall and he has 22 points of articulation.  There was some concern when these figures were first shown that they would be little more than glorified statues (especially given the early offerings from Color Tops), and they were even solicited as only having 12 points of articulation.  While Jack’s not going to be pulling off any crazy kung fu moves or anything, he’s actually quite posable, on par with McFarlane’s Halo and Walking Dead offerings.  My only real complaint is how limited the hips are.  They do alright for minor tweaks to his stance, but that’s about it.  I suppose his elbows could also offer some more range, but I more fault the design of the character for that one.  The actual sculpt is definitely a solid recreation of the in-game model for Jack.  The clothing is all properly dynamic in how it lays on him, and his proportions match well with the character’s scrawny physique.  Jack includes two different head sculpts.  He’s packed wearing the better of the two sculpts, though curiously, it’s the non-standard one.  It gives us a glimpse at Jack’s unmasked face, seen by the player only after defeating Jack in the final battle.  There’s just a ton of character to it, with all of the scarring and the slight sneer to his expression.  His standard head isn’t bad, but something feels ever so slightly off about his face.  It doesn’t seem quite as sharp and angular as it should be, and his expression doesn’t look quite as intense as it should be.  He looks more bemused than maniacally evil.  On the plus side, both heads sport a perfect recreation of Jack’s wacky hair, which really sells who he’s supposed to be.  The paint work on Jack is pretty strong all around.  The base colors are nice and bright, as they should be, and they’ve done quite a nice job of capturing the signature comic-book-y-styled outlining of the series.  There’s a little bit of slop, especially on the forearms as they change from sleeve to skin, but the general appearance is very strong.  In addition to including an extra head, Jack is also packed with a Hyperion Inspiring Transmurdera SMG, the Vault Key, a display stand, and a code for 5 golden keys in-game.  The SMG seems ever so slightly on the large side, but is otherwise pretty cool, as are the other two physical extras.  The code is really only useful if you’re an active Borderlands 2 player, but fortunately I am.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Super Awesome Girlfriend’s the whole reason I even know what Borderlands is.  Without her, I don’t believe I would have ever played the game myself (I’m at best a moderate gamer).  When these figures were first announced, I knew Super Awesome Girlfriend was getting a Tiny Tina, since Tina’s one of her favorites.  I wasn’t certain about Jack, but I thought I might pick him up, if nothing more than to support the line until they got to the characters I really wanted.  In the mean time, I’ve done a play through of the Pre-Sequel, where I ended up playing Jack’s Doppleganger, and grew pretty attached to that character.  Given the closeness of design, it’s certainly easier for me to appreciate this guy, especially since I tended to play my Doppleganger with the scarred head like the one included here.  Jack’s a pretty great figure in his own right, and he gives me hope for the line as a whole.  I’m definitely down for the figures they’ve announced so far, and holding out hope that we’ll see all of the main Vault Hunters.  Honestly, I’d just settle for an Axton.  That’s not too much to ask, right? 

Guest Review #0050: Tiny Tina

TINY TINA

BORDERLANDS 2 (MCFARLANE TOYS)

“All around the Sta-actus plant, the stalker chased the bandit, the stalker thought ’twas all in fun – POP! Goes the bandit!” ~Tiny Tina

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody! If you haven’t noticed, your main squeeze and I are reviewing action figures together to celebrate. Today, Ethan will be reviewing Handsome Jack while I’m reviewing Tiny Tina, who is the coolest character of all of Borderlands.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Before I get into the nitty gritty of the figure, I’m gonna try and give a brief introduction to the character. Tiny Tina is an NPC from the Borderlands game series, she first appears in Borderlands 2 and she appears to have a really close relationship with the vault hunters, specifically Roland. She’s a young girl whose parents were murdered during an experiment done by Hyperion, the main bad guys of the game. On top of all that, she’s the best demolition expert on all of Pandora and has a crazy personality to match—her dialogue is also fantastic!

Now, on to the figure! Tiny Tina stands at about 6 inches tall without her stand, with the stand she about .25 inches taller…maybe? I’m terrible at guessing but she’s about the same height as a few of my Marvel Legends, so that’s good enough for me. As far as I can tell, this figure has about 22 points of articulation, but I’m not 100% sure because she was a bit stiff in some areas specifically her right leg. Actually, I’ve come back with a correction, there are 24 points of articulation…oops!

One of the reasons why I like Tiny Tina so much in the game is because not only is her personality absolutely chaotic, but her outward appearance is as well. Her character design is so asymmetrical that it should make me uncomfortable, instead it makes me love her more. I think they did well in recreating her chaotic personality in the design of the figure. The one thing about her design I wish were different is the face they chose, I don’t think it quite matches the character’s personality and instead makes her seem a bit more deranged than just comically crazy.

Overall, I really like the paint job and sculpting of the character. I really enjoyed how they were able to incorporate the various holes, stitches, and patchwork into the clothing. The holes are actually there and not painted on, same with the stitches—you can actually feel them there on her clothes. I also liked how rough they made the bottom of her skirt, not only does it look all cut up but it feels like it too! For the most part the paint is alright, though it’s not my favorite thing about the figure. I thought they did a decent job of emulating the animation style of the game. Where the paint suffers the most is in some of the detailing. There are some places where the paint doesn’t quite match the paint, like the brush wasn’t quite aligned with the figure so the pattern is right it’s just a bit off to the side. There are also other places where the paint bleeds a bit over the line, which granted isn’t something that you notice right away unless you’ve been staring at it for an ungodly amount of time—like me! Mostly the detailing is pretty cool and spot on, I really enjoyed how they made the various lines on the figure stand out much like they do in the game.

Finally, there’s the figure’s accessories. Now, knowing Tiny Tina I thought she would’ve come with her explosives or maybe a ridiculous looking gun. Instead, she comes with a jagged bloody axe that looks like it should weigh more than she does (as a character and not a figure) and is almost as tall as her, standing at about 6 inches. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like this piece because I don’t remember seeing anything about an axe, unless it came from her DnD expansion pack,”Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep”. However, after displaying her with the axe I realized that it quite grew on me. It has an interesting design that quite matches that of the owner, jagged, oddly designed, and held together by duct tape. I think it’s a really cool design, and I like the detailing that went into the piece, including the dripping blood and the vault symbols. Now all I want is an animation of Tiny swinging this massive axe around like the crazy child she is! The other accessory she comes with is a basic stand that has the games logo and a textured top too appear as if she’s standing on dirt, without coloring it. I have mixed feelings about the stand. I find it to be rather basic, but with the design of the figure you really need it to help her stand. Because her right leg, the one without the sneaker, is so stiff or doesn’t have the right joints at all it makes it really hard for her to stand. This Tiny Tina is very left foot dominant, which is fine, but without the stand it’s nearly impossible for me to keep her upright and on top of that I’m a little worried about her right leg. So if you’re going to design a figure that really needs its stand, at least make the stand more interesting and less like a last minute addition!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve been a Tiny Tina fan since the moment of her conception and so when I heard that McFarlane was making Borderlands figures I was super excited. When I found out that they weren’t going to be statues I think I actually screamed. And when they were finally released, I believe I threw my card at poor Ethan and screamed that we needed those figures NOW! There was also more screaming when the package came and then I believe the dogs howled when I finally opened up her box…

Even though I’m a bit annoyed with her stand and one leg, I’m actually really happy that I have a Tiny Tina now. She’s still a fantastic figure that I love having on display on my side of the bookshelf! And I can’t wait to add more of the cast to my collection so that my crazy bomb-loving child won’t be alone. To say that we’re more than ready to support this new line of figures is a little bit of an understatement.

“Get-outta-my-shop-or-I’ll-punch-yo-butt. That’s-how-Tiny-Tina-roll.” ~Tiny Tina