#1983: Phoenix

PHOENIX

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“The embodiment of the life force of the universe itself, the mysterious Phoenix Entity merged with the telekinetic X-Man named Jean Grey, transforming her into Phoenix! As Phoenix, Jean possessed nearly unlimited telepathic and telekinetic abilities – but the scope of her powers overwhelmed, corrupted and eventually consumed her. But, in the manner of her namesake, Jean later rose from the ashes of her demise, alive once again!”

Jean Grey’s spot in the X-Men has long been a tricky one.  She was a founding member of the team, and stuck with them until the “All-New, All-Different” team took over in Giant-Size X-Men #1.  Jean only actually departed for four issues, before returning for a rematch with the Sentinels that ended in her gaining the powers of the Phoenix Force.  She then remained a major player until “The Dark Phoenix Saga” ended with Jean sacrificing herself to save the day…from herself.  Then, like some sort of mythological bird that I can’t remember the name of, she rose from the ashes a few years later.  From that point forward, she was still a prominent member of the team, but never quite seemed in phase with the rest of them.  This kind of reared its head in tie-in materials as well.  For the ’90s X-Men toyline, it took three years to get a single Jean Grey figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Phoenix was the central figure of the “Phoenix Saga” assortment, the eighth series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  The assortment was designed to tie-in with the cartoon’s re-telling of the “Phoenix Saga,” and as such featured a number of pivotal players from it (and also Warstar, but we’ll talk about him later), and would not only be the first assortment to abandon a strict numbering system for assortments, but also has the notoriety of being both the last assortment to be released on the slimmer character specific card backs and the first to be released on the newer generic cards, via two separate releases.  This was not only Jean’s first figure in the line, but also her very first action figure in general, which was a pretty big deal.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation.  Like a good number of this line’s early figures, she lacks any sort of neck articulation, due to a light-up feature in the hair.  Of course, given the shaping of said hair, it’s unlikely that she would have had much movement going on anyway.  Jean’s sculpt was new to her, but would see an inevitable re-use for a Dark Phoenix figure (pictured with Wilson 4) in 1996 as part of the KB Toys-exclusive Marvel Universe line.  It’s really not a bad sculpt, especially for the time.  The proportions are decently balanced, and not terribly unrealistic, and kind of breaking from a lot of female figures for the time, she’s not hideous or horribly distorted, which was a pretty big deal.  Compared to the Rogue figure from the assortment prior, she’s definitely superior, and she blows the Series 1 Storm figure completely away.  There have been better Phoenix sculpts since, but it took them a good long while.  The paintwork is fairly basic stuff; the colors are bright and fairly eye-catching.  The green could maybe stand to be a little darker to better contrast with the yellow, but it’s not terrible.  The clear plastic for the hair actually works pretty well, especially when you have the right lighting.  The Dark Phoenix figure is pretty much the same paint, but palette-swapped.  The yellow parts are now gold, which was an interesting choice, but perhaps not the wisest, as it again leaves the two parts of the costume without much contrast.  Phoenix was packed with a launcher stand, re-used from the X-Force line’s Cannonball (yes, Cannonball had a figure before Jean Grey; try not to dwell on it).  It’s not the most thrilling extra, nor is it super specific, which is probably why the Dark Phoenix figure dropped it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jean Grey has been my Dad’s favorite member of the X-Men pretty much since he started reading X-Men.  After discovering the Iron Man line on that fateful trip to Service Merchandise, he discovered the X-Men line via this figure (well, his copy of this figure, anyway), which he found at a dealer’s table at a con for the total insane crazy no one would ever pay this much for an action figure price of $20.  But hey, it was Jean Grey’s first figure, and he wasn’t going to pass it up, so he did not. …And then KB Toys did their buyout of Toy Biz figures, and you could get pretty much everyone in the line for under $5.  Not one to dwell on such things, my dad get me a Phoenix of my own, which I got alongside a Blackbird for the rest of my figures, if I recall correctly.  She was amongst 23 X-Men figures of mine that went missing for a few years during my high school/college days, but was discovered during “The Find” and has been on active display since then, because she’s just genuinely my favorite Jean Grey in my collection.

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#1982: Ultraman – B Type

ULTRAMAN — B TYPE

ULTRAMAN FIGURE-RISE (BANDAI)

Hey, how about a look into two things I haven’t looked at in a long time?  It’s been over a year since I reviewed anything Ultraman related (the end of Ultra-Act and subsequent transition into Figuarts has been a rather major contributor to that), and three whole years since I’ve reviewed any model kits, but now I’m just throwing caution to the wind and looking at an Ultraman model.  I know, crazy stuff for me, right?  Just stepping way outside my comfort zone for this?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultraman (B Type) is the first in Bandai’s newly launched line of Ultraman-themed Figure-Rise kits.  They’ve previously offered kits for Dragon Ball Z and Kamen Rider, and it’s not a huge shock to see them move onto another immensely popular license.  So far, it appears this line will be taking its cues from the currently running Ultraman manga, which sequelizes the original show, while working in elements of its successors in a new timeline.  This figure is the main Ultraman from the series, Shinjiro Hayata, son of the original Ultraman, wearing his second set of powered armor (as noted by the “B Type” at the end of the name).  The kit is billed as 1/12 scale, so the final figure stands a little over 6 inches tall, meaning he scales pretty decently with the Figuarts stuff.  He’s got 31 points of articulation, so he’s not quite on the same posability level as most of those figures, but he’s not terribly far off either.  Of all the models I’ve built, Ultraman is definitely the most intense.  As in “took multiple sessions to complete him” intense.  He’s made up of a lot of small, little pieces, that all click together very carefully.  While this may be a little stressful on the assembly side, it pays off on the appearance front.  This is definitely a sharp looking figures. Details are well-defined, and he’s a good match for the source material’s very machined appearance.  If I have one complaint, it’s that the figure’s not quite as sturdy as I might have liked.  I’ve had no breakage issues, of course, but the torso assembly pops apart with regular handling (mostly by design, to be fair).  He’s more a pose and set figure than a mess around with him figure.  Paint’s a no-go on these sorts of sets, so there are a few different ways to handle variations of color.  For the most part, this guy goes with the “mold it in the right color” method, meaning there’s a lot of very precise part assembly.  However, there are also some pretty extensive decal applications mixed in with that.  Again, they can get a little stressful, but the end result pays off, and you’d be hard pressed to discern these decals from actual paintwork.  Of course, time will tell as to their longterm hold-up.  Ultraman is pretty well accessorized for a thing I built myself.  He’s got five interchangeable hands (fists, open, and a trigger finger for his right side), a Specium Ray effect, two Specium Slash effects, alternate forearm guards for use with the Specium Ray, alternate guards with Specium Blades deployed, the MARS-133 rifle, and a display stand.  Pretty much, he’s on par with a Figuarts or Ultra-Act release.  He has one more feature: he lights up.  There’s a battery pack with LEDs attached that’s installed in the torso (hence how easily it comes back apart).  Using the included tool, you can turn it on and off.  It illuminates his eyes and color timer, and with a push of the button you can even switch the color timer from blue to red, which is fun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Is it allowed to be Max’s fault two days in a row?  This one’s a borderline example at the very least.  He wanted one of his own, and they come in cases of two, so he needed another buyer.  Well, hey, I like Ultraman, right?  Admittedly, I was looking to get back into the model building anyway, and I didn’t yet have a Manga-style Ultraman, so why not give it a try?  He’s an intense build, but I do really enjoy the final product, and I think he’ll slot in pretty well with the rest of my Ultras.

I picked up this set via All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1981: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS: BUMBLEBEE (HASBRO)

Alright, I’m gonna level with your guys: you might want to get comfortable with the Transformers reviews.  Because there’s probably going to be a substantial uptick in them going forward. Read them at your own peril.  It’s okay, though, because I’m going to ease everyone into them, you see.  I’m not just jumping into Transformers willy-nilly. I’m going to be placing a lot of focus on the one Transformer that’s not odd to see around these parts: Soundwave!  Yes, he’s without a doubt my favorite Transformer, and as with all of my favorite characters, I’d like perhaps to own every version of him.  A man can dream.  And chipping away at that dream is today’s figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is part of the overarching Transformers: Bumblebee line that came out of December’s Bumblebee film, in which Soundwave made a brief appearance.  He’s from the Energon Ignighters Power Plus Series‘ third wave, which just started showing up in the last month or so.  It features this guy here, alongside Autobot Ironhide.  He’s ostensibly based on Soundwave’s look in the film, but it’s a much looser interpretation than others.  I’ll touch on that in a moment.  Unlike most of the Transformers I’ve looked at on this site, where it’s a robot figure that turns into a vehicle, this one is kind of an inversion.  The vehicle mode is the real focus, with the robot mode there as more of a gimmick.  In the film, Soundwave doesn’t have a vehicle mode (that we know of), so this one makes one up for him, settling on a van that’s actually a pretty sensible choice if you don’t want to go for the classic cassette player, since it still kind of keeps that music theme going.  It fits the overall retro feel of the rest of the Bumblebee stuff, to be sure.  In van mode, Soundwave measures 4 1/2 inches long, 2 inches wide, and 2 inches tall.  All four wheels are actual, working wheels, and the back doors of the van are designed to spring open when the top of the van is pressed down, revealing some impressive looking speakers.  Paint on the van-mode is mostly pretty sparse, but he does have a decal in particular that I love: the mural on the side.  It features a cheesy ’70s-esque painting of a jaguar and a bird, homaging Soundwave’s usual companions, Ravage and Laserbeak, which I just think is the coolest thing.  Soundwave includes an “Energon Ignighter” piece, which is the gimmick for the whole line.  It drops into place through the roof of the van, activating the spring-loaded doors and allowing for a motorized pull and release movement.  Fitting with the overall theme of this release, the ignighter is shaped like a boombox, which is another fun touch.  Soundwave’s transition from van to robot is a fairly simple process, largely consisting of turning him over so that you can see the hidden robot that was under the van.  His appearance is certainly inspired by the classic Soundwave look, just like the movie, but I can’t really say the two designs are all that close.  If I had to guess, I’d say he was probably patterned after early designs for the character.  Whatever the case, he’s still pretty recognizeable as Soundwave, which is the important thing.  He’s not particularly poseable; you can pretty much only move him at the elbows, though there’s some slight shifting to be had in the shoulders as well.  Like I said, the robot’s not really the main focus of this release; he’s more a gimmick than anything.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: this is Max’s fault.  No, really, I swear it is.  See, he preordered one of these for himself on Amazon, but then found one in-store, and decided to grab that, but was unable to cancel his order.  So, boom: extra Soundwave.  Shame he doesn’t know anyone who would want a Soundwave… In actuality, I had actually wanted to track one of these down, because I dug that sweet van art.  It’s gimmicky, and not going to be anyone’s #1 version or anything, but for a Soundwave fan like me, he’s a fun addition to the collection.

#1980: Force Link 2.0 Starter Set (w/ Han Solo)

FORCE LINK 2.0 STARTER SET (W/ HAN SOLO)

SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (HASBRO)

When Hasbro launched their tie-in offerings for The Last Jedi, they launched alongside them a new play gimmick…well, an old play gimmick with a shiny new coat of paint, anyway.  Dubbed “Force Link,” it allowed for all compatible figures and vehicles to enhance their playablitity with sound effects and dialogue.  The whole thing required a reader to activate, and I reviewed that reader back when it was first made available. It was an amusing enough gimmick, but the whole thing ran into trouble just a few short months after its release, since Hasbro had failed to build in figures beyond the TLJ offerings planned when the reader debuted.  Not wanting to completely abandon the concept, but also not wanting to make all of the prior figures obsolete, they used the launch of Solo to offer up a “2.0” version, designed with updates in mind.  This, of course, meant another reader, and thereby another starter set, which I’ll be looking at today.

THE SET ITSELF

The Force Link 2.0 starter set was released alongside the rest of the Solo-themed product in April of last year.  Not quite the grand hurrah of prior toyline launches, but there it was.  The set includes the new version of the reader, as well as standard Han Solo figure.  Both of these items remained unique to this set throughout the line’s run, unlike the first starter set.  As with the first set, the three AAA batteries needed for the reader’s operation are not included.

FORCE LINK 2.0 READER

If you read my review of the first Force Link reader, then there’s not much new about the basics of this one.  It operates using the same NFC partnering between the reader and the figures.  The basic physical design is also the same, albeit with some slight cosmetic changes that better match it to Solo‘s aesthetics.  This mean’s it’s operation in conjunction with the figures is also the same, for good and for bad.  It’s still a tight fit on the wrist, and getting the figures to work as Hasbro intended doesn’t so much go; I again found holding the figures up to the reader directly to be more efficient.  There’s one new feature, which is kind of the selling point of the 2.0, but is also it’s biggest problem.  The new reader is tied-in with a Force Link app (which can be downloaded onto mobile devices), allowing for periodic updates.  This is supposed to fix the issue of the prior reader’s fixed selection of characters to interact with by allowing for new figures to be added via these updates.  So, what’s the problem?  Well, right out of the box, the reader is compatible with the Han Solo it comes packed with…and no one else.  No launch figures, no 1.0 figures, nothing.  Every figure beyond Han will simply give you a “Firmware Update Required” message.  You have to download and launch the app, pair the device to your phone and go through a rather frustrating interface process, all to start a very lengthy firmware update (Hasbro says it can take up to an hour, and mine stuck right to that).  The fact that they couldn’t even have the 1.0 and initial figures ready to go is a real problem, and it’s further hurt by the updates not actually being available when this thing hit shelves.

HAN SOLO

The second half of this set is a Han Solo.  But not just any Han Solo; it’s actually the standard Solo Han Solo.  Yes, unlike the first Force Link reader, which supplied us with a Kylo variant, this time Hasbro decided to make it a more worthwhile figure.  For those planning to buy the set, this is great, since they don’t have to worry about some extraneous offering.  For those not?  Well, it kind of means that Hasbro made a Solo line without a single-carded Han Solo, which, in retrospect, may not have been their finest move.  Moving past that, though, how is the line’s standard Han Solo?  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation.  He’s rather similar in design to the Han included with the Falcon, but obviously with the jacket added.  He uses the same head, legs, and hands, with a new torso and arms.  It’s a nice, sharp sculpt, and definitely my favorite of the various Hans available in the line.  His paintwork is clean, which is good, since you actually can’t see him in the box.  In fact, he’s probably the best of the Hans…again.  He’s packed with his usual blaster pistol, which he can hold or keep in his holster.  His Force Link sounds are:  “They call me Han Solo.”  “We’ve got company!”  “Blast ’em!” “This better be worth it.” “I don’t run from a fight.”  “Huh, I’ve got a really good feeling about this.” “Okay, stay sharp!” “Wa-hoo!” and then a blaster sound.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It took a $10 off coupon to get me to buy the first Force Link starter set, so it’s probably not a huge surprise to find out I wasn’t eager to drop full retail on a second one, especially so soon after the first.  So, I clearance-waited on this one, which paid off quite nicely for me, since I was able to snag it for $4 just after the holidays.  Not great for the prospects of the concept continuing, of course.  I can see Hasbro really trying with this set, with the potential for updates instead of having to buy a new reader with every movie, and the avoidance of double-dipping on Han figures like they had with Rey and Jyn.  Unfortunately, the need to update right out of the box, coupled with how mind-numbingly frustrating the update process can be really hinders the fun factor on the reader.  The Han’s a nice figure, but he was stuck in a $30 set, and that’s a real hard sell.  And, ultimately, the fact that you couldn’t get a Han Solo figure in his own toyline without dropping $30 minimum really shot the line as a whole in the foot, which is a real shame, since they weren’t bad figures at all.

#1979: Mystique

MYSTIQUE

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

An expert of duplication – and duplicity – Mystique uses powers of shape-shifting to assume others’ identities and complete covert missions.”

Though considered an X-Men character by pretty much every metric, Mystique’s first appearance came in the pages of Ms. Marvel (which was, at the time, being helmed by Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, the then-current writer and just-departed artist of X-Men).  She wouldn’t run into the X-Men until 1981’s “Days of Future Past” story, which had her forming  a new iteration of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  Since then, she’s been pretty well interweaved with the team and all their exploits, and has become one of the franchise’s most bankable characters.  Despite all of this, she’s actually not the most prevalent character when it comes to toys.  She’s got a few, but not as many as you might expect.  I’ll be looking at the latest of those today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mystique is the second offering in the latest Walgreens-exclusive theme of Marvel Legends, which appears to be all about the ladies of X-Men, since she follows Magik and precedes Emma Frost.  She’s the third Legends release of Mystique, following Hasbro’s first go back in 2012.  Of course, that was a modern take on the character.  Our last classic Mystique was back during the Toy Biz days, a whopping 14 years ago.  And that figure wasn’t even good *for the time*, to say nothing of how it looks now.  To say an update was needed is something of an understatement.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  She’s built on the Phoenix body, which is a decent enough choice for Mystique.  Certainly better than either of the last two figures.  Mystique gets a new head sculpt, as well as an add-on piece for her skirt.  Both of these pieces are nicely rendered, with the head in particular being a really solid piece of character work.  The paintwork on Mystique is pretty standard fare at this point, but that certainly isn’t a bad thing.  It’s cleanly applied, nice and bold, and eye-catching.  The standard straight white works better than the attempts at shading we’ve gotten over the years.  There’s also some quite nicely handled and very subtle accent work on her hair, which I can definitely appreciate.  Mystique is packed with two styles of gun: a handgun and the futuristic tommy gun from Chameleon.  Both are molded in gold plastic and fit nicely in her hands.  She is also packed with two extra heads.  The first is a re-use of Rogue‘s, but painted up to be in mid transformation.  It works well on this figure to show off her shapeshifting, or, if you have the Rogue figure already, it also makes for a nifty reveal figure.  The second head is a toy debut for a major X-Men player.  Yes, it’s leader of the Shi’ar Empire, and the once-love-interest of Charles Xavier, Lilandra.  Kind of an interesting choice for a Mystique figure, but it sure does look nice on the recent Silver Sable body.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I actually had that truly terrible Toy Biz Mystique back in the day…for about 30 seconds, before she promptly sprung apart at the mid-section in an irreparable fashion.  So, no Mystique for my collection.  This one was a very welcome addition, and she’s a very nice figure, and I’m also really digging the extra Lilandra head, because how cool is it to finally have a Lilandra?

#1978: Thanos, Iron Man Mark L, & Doctor Strange

THANOS, IRON MAN MARK L, & DOCTOR STRANGE

MARVEL LEGENDS — MARVEL STUDIOS: THE FIRST TEN YEARS

Despite being the central piece of the Tenth Anniversary celebration for Marvel Studios, Avengers: Infinity War was initially absent from the dedicated line of MCU figures from Hasbro, due largely to the initial MCU line figures hitting at the same time as the initial Infinity War offerings.  It wasn’t completely left out though, coming in right at the end with a boxed set based on the film.  So, what thrilling new, untouched characters did we get?  Well, none, actually.  New looks?  Again, no.  So what’s the point?  I’ll get to that.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Infinity War set is item 10 in the Marvel Studios: The First Ten Years sub-line of Marvel Legends, and contains Thanos, Iron Man, and Doctor Strange, meaning it’s a set entirely based on the battle on Titan.  All three figures in the set are slight reworkings of prior figures.

THANOS

As the central character of Infinity War, Thanos’ presence in this set is rather sensible, I suppose, though it is perhaps a little undercutting to the people that went to the trouble of actually building the Build-A-Figure.  This figure is a reworking of that one, reviewed here. As I noted the first time I reviewed it, it’s an okay sculpt overall, but not without its issues.  Fortunately for this figure, a couple of those problems have been addressed.  The figure comes pre-assembled, so the issues of falling apart don’t occur.  Additionally, his kind of gassy looking expression has been replaced with two different heads.  The first has a simple grimace, while the second has an angry teeth-baring expression.  Both are much better suited to Thanos than the one included to the BaF, and look like pitch-perfect recreation of his look from the movie.  Additionally, his gauntlet hand is a new piece; rather than the fist of the prior release, this Thanos’ hand is in an open gesture, which feels like a more classic Gauntlet pose.  I actually like this a lot more than I’d expected to, and it adds a lot to the figure’s posing options.  Lastly, the paint on Thanos has been changed, to better match the film.  The skin in particular is a lot nicer looking, being lighter, more lively, and flatter in its finish.  The rest of the paint is a bit brighter, slightly more contrasting, and just generally more exciting to look at.

IRON MAN MARK L

As cool as Iron Man’s armor was in Infinity War, none of the figures really captured the full extent of said coolness, his Legends release included.  This one doesn’t really fix that, but let’s see what it does.  He’s a re-working of the Thanos Series Iron Man, which is the same suit, so I guess it makes sense.  I actually liked that one a lot, despite it not being completely film accurate.  This one swaps out the torso for a new one, which loses the mid-torso joint, but in exchange gains a light-up feature on his arc reactor.  It’s gimmicky and somewhat restricting, but it’s still pretty fun.  This Iron Man includes the same accessories as his predecessor, extra hands and blast effect pieces.  No cool nano creations or anything, which is sad, but not a huge surprise.

DOCTOR STRANGE

Despite his decently sized role in the film, Doctor Strange was actually not featured in the Legends line-up for Infinity War.  As such, this figure goes back to Strange’s figure from his solo outing, reviewed here. This figure’s actually pretty substantially changed compared to the other two figures in the set, since the initial figure was based on early designs, rather than his final film look.  This one amends that, with a new head, cape, and right forearm.  The head sports a much better likeness of Cumberbatch, especially his disheveled self from the movies.  The new cape also captures the proper shaping of the movie much better, plus it actually pegs into his back this time, so it doesn’t shift all over the place like the original.  The new forearm has the Time Stone effect sculpted on it.  It’s a little warped on mine, but still looks pretty cool.  It’s not removable, and there’s no standard forearm to replace it, so you have no choice but to have him using it.  That’s really the only flaw against this figure.  Strange’s paintwork is also a bit different from the last release.  The most major change is the printed face, which certainly looks more lifelike.  He also changes up the overall color scheme of his costume, following Thanos’ lead by making the overall design brighter and more contrasting.  Doctor Strange is packed with a spare left hand, as well as another magic effects piece, which looks a little odd in conjunction to the Time Stone effect.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When this set was unveiled, I will admit, I was quite underwhelmed, since I had the original releases of all three figures and all.  It didn’t really matter, though, since it never really showed up around me.  Or so I thought.  The set showed up at Super Awesome Fiancee’s store, and was actually there long enough to get decently clearanced. Being the ever-supporting Fiancee that she is, she of course bought it for me.  I knew going in the Strange was going to be my favorite, and that proved true.  I didn’t anticipate how much I was going to like the Thanos figure, who is just across the board an improvement to the BaF.  And, while Iron Man may not blow his predecessor away like the other two, I actually like the light-up feature a fair bit, so I’m happy enough to have him.

#1977: Rogue & Colossus

ROGUE & COLOSSUS

MARVEL MINIMATES

The X-Men are a team with distinctive eras.  The late ’80s, just preceding the Jim Lee-designed re-launch of the ’90s, was known as the Outback-era, when the team find themselves in the Australian Outback.  It was during this era that Rogue really came into her own on the team, and Colossus found himself a more prominent figure than before.  How fitting that the pair would make their way into Marvel Minimates‘ Outback-inspired Series 47.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This pairing was part of the aforementioned Series 47 of Marvel Minimates, which arrived at retail in late October of 2012.

ROGUE

“Unable to touch others, Anna Marie saw her mutant ability to absorb memories, powers and life energy as a curse. But after fighting the X-Men as part of the evil Brotherhood, she later sought them out to ask for help and eventually joined the team.”

Rogue has been a prominent member of the team since Marvel Minimates‘ launch, so she had found her way into the line-up four times before this figure’s release.  This one stands out as distinctly different than the others, calling back to before yellow became a prominent color in her palette.  The figure makes use of one add-on piece for her hair, which was new to this figure.  It’s a nice piece, definitely capturing her ’80s ‘do well.  The squared-off nature of the style actually lends itself quite naturally to the blocky stylings of the Minimate base body.  Beyond that, she’s just a basic ‘mate body, which suits the design.  The figure’s paintwork is clean, and eye-catching.  The metallic green pairs well with the black, and the detail line-work is all sharp and captures her look from the comics well.  Rogue is packed with a flight stand, simulating the powers she got after accidentally drained Ms. Marvel.  We’re still one assortment out from the display stands becoming a standard inclusion.

COLOSSUS

“Piotr Rasputin’s ability to turn his body into organic steel makes him super-strong, nearly indestructible, and able to throw objects a great distance at great speed. When the object is his teammate Wolverine, this maneuver is known as a “fastball special.””

This release marked Colossus’s fourth time as a Minimate, though his first in 33 series, making his re-release quite warranted.  This figure also pulls double-duty, filling a Colossus-shaped hole in both the Outback line-up of this wave, and the Jim Lee looks of Series 34.  He comes packaged in his Lee-designed look, which is really just a minor rework of his original design. Colossus uses add-ons for his hair, torso cap, torso extender, hands, and boots.  All of these were new to this particular figure, and for the most part, they’re pretty decent offerings.  The new hair isn’t that far removed from the prior piece, but is sharper in its detailing and shaping.  The new gauntlets and boots match up well with the design, and fit nicely to the body.  The only slightly troublesome piece is the torso.  In an effort to bulk him up, they’ve made it a whole cap, rather than just focussing on his tunic like prior figures.  The end result makes him look a little bit pudgy, though it’s far from terrible. Colossus’s paint is solid work.  It’s bright and eye-catching, and the detail lines, especially for his metal skin, looks really sharp.  There’s some slop on his torso piece, but otherwise its pretty cleanly done. To facilitate the double-duty being pulled by this figure, he includes a plethora of swap-out add-ons, including a new torso cap, gauntlets, boot cuffs, and standard hands and feet.  It all swaps out to create Colossus’s less covering ’80s look.  He also includes two extra right hands, designed to allow either version of Colossus to perform his signature “Fastball Special” with this wave’s Wolverine, as well as a clear display stand to help keep the two balanced.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was pretty excited for this whole line-up at the time of its release, though this particular set was a little lower on the totem pole than its compatriots.  This Rogue is somewhat removed from the version that most people would consider definitive, but the figure is still a well-put-together ‘mate.  Colossus’s main look may be slightly flawed, but the ability to get a second look out of the figure makes him a strong, and necessary figure.

#1976: Mon Mothma

MON MOTHMA

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“The senior senator of the Old Republic went underground to form the Rebel Alliance following the rise of the evil Empire. She was instrumental in the Rebel’s struggle for freedom.”

Hey, look at that!  It’s Mon Mothma, better known as the only other woman in Star Wars…well, at least until 1999.  Okay, that’s not strictly accurate.  She’s not the only other woman; she’s just the only other one who actually spoke on screen.  She’s never been a super prominent character or anything, but the aforementioned lack of other speaking females outside of herself and Leia does make her rather memorable.  She’s also had no less than three film appearances, and none of them have been part of the same trilogy.  How about that.  She’s never been the most toyetic character, but she did find her way into the Power of the Force line in the ’90s, and I’m gonna be looking at that figure today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mon Mothma was released in the 1998 assortment of Power of the Force figures, and made her action figure debut here.  Not a huge surprise, given she’s not the most action oriented character.  Mostly, she just stood there.  This figure depicts her in her official standing around robes, as seen in the film.  Nice.  She does this standing around at a height of 3 1/2 inches and she has 4 points of articulation; since she just stands, but does not walk, she does not have any joints at her hips.  Mon Mothma’s sculpt is actually pretty darn decent.  She’s not at all pre-posed, nor does she suffer from odd or exaggerated proportions.  Her head even sports a passable likeness of actress Caroline Blakiston, which is more than can be said for most of the human figures in this line.  Or any Star Wars line, for that matter.  Likenesses aren’t classically their strong suit.  Her robes are rendered via two separate pieces.  The underlying robes are sculpted as the figure’s body, with the upper robes being a separate overlay piece.  This not only allows her some extra mobility (since the upper robes are a softer plastic), but also adds some additional depth to a sculpt that could have been rather on the soft side.  Mon Mothma’s paintwork is reasonable.  It’s not thrilling or anything, but that’s kind of the nature of the beast, since she’s by design rather monochromatic.  Mon Mothma wasn’t running around blasting or slashing things, so she doesn’t get any sort of offensive armaments.  However, she does get a little pointing stick like she has in the movie, allowing her to dispense valuable knowledge.  And, as we all know, knowledge is power, so really, she doesn’t make out all that badly, now does she.  Bet she could take on the entire Imperial fleet with that bad boy there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Mon Mothma was a slightly rarer figure when she was first released, so I didn’t have one growing up.  Nor do I really think I would have sought out one, because she’s not a very play-oriented sort of character.  But, in my mission to get a complete run of PotF2 figures, I was definitely going to need her.  Fortunately, my friends at All Time Toys were able to help me out on that front, and got me a loose one for my collection.  She’s hardly the most thrilling figure the line had to offer, but the more mature collector in me still rather appreciates her.

#1975: Arnim Zola & Hydra Supreme

ARNIM ZOLA & HYDRA SUPREME

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

A clandestine ally of Hydra, Supreme Leader Captain America reveals his true allegiances and joins forces with Arnim Zola to bring Hydra to a position of dominant world power.”

Hey, you know what I just haven’t reviewed enough of recently?  Marvel Legends.  They’re just so scarce around these parts.  Oh, no, wait, they’re the other thing.  Abundant.  Very abundant.  Well, they’re about to get moreso, because, hey, more Marvel Legends.  Today, I’m swinging on over to the Hydra side of things, with a look at head scientist Arnim Zola, alongside the Cosmic-Cube-altered Hydra Supreme version of Captain America.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Arnim and Hydra Supreme were released back in January as the “Hail Hydra” set, the latest Marvel Legends two-pack.  It’s technically an EE-exclusive, but can also be gotten through a number of other retailers, since EE does wholesale and all.  The two figures are both inspired by 2017’s Secret Empire event.

ARNIM ZOLA

A fairly classic Cap villain, Arnim is a fairly prominent fixture, both in the comics and the movies.  He’s also not a stranger to Legends, having been a Build-A-Figure shortly after the Return of Marvel Legends line began.  This release is largely a re-release of that one, with a few minor tweaks.  The figure stands about 7 inches tall and has 27 points of articulation.  The sculpt is largely a re-use of the Build-A-Figure, but he gets a new head (resembling his slightly more streamlined appearance from recent years), as well as swapping out his puffy-sleeved arms for Colossus’ more conventionally armored ones, all resulting in an ever so slightly more modernized take on Zola.  While some of the articulation is a little stiffer than more modern releases, he’s still pretty suitably posable, certainly posable enough for a character like Arnim.  The paintwork is another change between the two Arnims.  Where the first one went for a bolder, brighter, more comics-inspired palette, this one again angles more for a modern take, with a darker, metallic appearance.  Even the face is more modern, with a more intense, cackling expression.  Admittedly, I think I prefer the color scheme and face of the prior figure, but this one’s certainly not bad.  Arnim is packed with a small device of some sort, as well as the more boxy head from the original release.

HYDRA SUPREME

The Hydra Supreme is like the standard Hydra, but with tomatoes and sour cream.  At least, it is when you play by Taco Bell rules.  Specific Hydra rules may be *slightly* different.  But I like to hope that the indoctrination of Steve Rogers included adding extra toppings to him.  And maybe giving him a nice Baja Blast, as well.  This figure depicts the Cosmic-Cube-ified Steve Rogers from the very end of Secret Empire, when he’s given up the heroic patriot charade entirely.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  At first glance, he appears to be be an all-new sculpt, but he actually has a sizeable amount of re-use.  His arms and lower legs are from Taskmaster, and his hands are from the Bleeding Edge armor Iron Man.  That leaves the head, torso, and upper legs as new pieces.  The end result is quite a cohesive looking figure, who is also quite accurate to the source material.  Since he’s drawn from Bucky Cap-based pieces, he’s perhaps a little smaller than Steve should be, but, admittedly, it doesn’t seem too far removed from how he was depicted in the comics.  Maybe being evil is a good weight loss program. His colors are decidedly on the Hydra end of the spectrum, as they were in the book.  It’s certainly a different look for the character.  Hydra Supreme is packed with a unique shield, based on his design from the comics.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I hadn’t gotten back into Legends yet when Zola was a BaF, so I never did get him built.  I was happy to see him offered up again here, since he’s a pretty important piece of the mythos.  Arnim’s a decent figure in his own right, but the surprise hit for me is definitely the Hydra Supreme, who’s just a really fun figure.  I’m hoping we might get to see him recolored as a Civil Warrior down the line.

#1974: Leonardo

LEONARDO

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE MOVIE (NECA)

Okay, so at this point, you can’t really be surprised by the subject of today’s review.  I looked at the other three, obviously I was going to round out the full set of Turtles and look at brother number four, Leonardo, the leader of the team.  I don’t really have a ton to say about Leo as a character, but I will say that the order of this week’s reviews correspond with my rankings of the for Turtles, so make of that what you will.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Leonardo is the fourth of the GameStop-exclusive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie figures from NECA.  He too is based on his appearance in the first TMNT film.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and has, you guessed it, 21 points of articulation.  Leo is once again a scaling down of the 1/4-scale release from last year, and just like that figure, he shares most of his parts with his three brothers.  Hey, if you’re gonna commit to it, commit to it, right?  He gets a new head, showcasing Leo’s more reserved and disciplined nature.  Perhaps it’s not the most exciting expression, but it’s certainly true to the character and versatile as well.  He also gets a new belt/shoulder-strap, which, like Donatello’s, sits a little higher than I’d like.  Of course, it’s not quite as high as Donnie’s, and it’s still film accurate, so I can’t complain too much.  I mean, I *can*; it’s my site and all; but I won’t.  The new straps have sheaths for Leo’s katanas, and it’s definitely the most easily utilized storage of the bunch.  Leo’s paintwork is pretty much the same song and dance as it was for his brothers, but obviously with blue for his mask, what with it being his main color and all.  Leo is packed with his twin katana, two sets of hands (gripping and relaxed), two styles of ties for his mask, and another slice of pizza.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

If you’ve read the other three reviews, then you know that Leonardo, like the rest of the set, was gotten for me by my Super Awesome Fiancee, who put a lot of effort into securing me a complete set of these figures.  The larger scale figures weren’t my thing, but I always appreciated the work put into them.  These smaller releases are pretty great, and I hope they aren’t too hard to get in the long-run.