#2190: Falcon

FALCON

G. I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO (HASBRO)

“Lt. Falcon is a second-generation Green Beret, his father having served with the 10th SFGA (Special Forces Group Airborne) from its very beginnings at Fort Bragg’s Smoke Bomb Hill. Falcon was cross-trained in demolitions and served briefly with the 5th SFGA ‘Blue Light’ counter-terrorist unit as an ‘A’ Team XO. He is proficient in Spanish, French, Arabic and Swahili and a qualified expert with NATO and Warsaw Pact small-arms.”

1987 was a big year for G.I. JoeAfter running a successful cartoon for two seasons, they hit the big time with a feature-length, fully animated feature….or at least that was the plan.  Though G.I. Joe: The Movie was supposed to be the first of the three animated Hasbro productions to hit theatres in 1987 (with the other two being Transformers: The Movie and My Little Pony: The Movie), production delays got it moved to the end of the list, and by that time, the poor performance of the other two films at the box office meant that G.I. Joe: The Movie went straight to video and TV.  The 1987 toy line-up served as the source of the film’s new focus characters, with Falcon serving as a potential new lead as the series’ old lead Duke was planned for a rather dramatic exit.  As with Hot Rod over with the Transformers, being pushed as the replacement for the prior central lead didn’t exactly enamor fans to poor Falcon, who has subsequently become something of a butt-monkey amongst the Joe fandom.  Poor guy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

As noted above, Falcon was part of the 1987 line-up of G.I. Joe figures from Hasbro, debuting alongside his movie appearance.  The figure’s bio makes no mention of Falcon’s relation to Duke as mentioned in the movie, because he wasn’t originally meant to be related to Duke.  If anything, wouldn’t it have made more sense to have him be related to Hawk?  You know, bird-themed code names and all that?  I suppose that would have meant actually devoting some screen time to Hawk, though, which the cartoon really didn’t like to do.  Back to the actual figure, though!  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  By this point, Hasbro had the construction of the line down pretty pat, so there were no real surprises with Falcon.  His sculpt was unique to him at the time of his release, but like a number of the ’87 figure, he got a Night Force re-deco the following year.  It’s actually a fairly classically Joe sculpt, going back more to the line’s roots as a proper military force.  Mixed in with the rest of ’87s colorful cast, it’s a wonder Falcon go the chance to stick out at all.  Compared to the likes of Crazy Legs, his sculpt seems a little bit softer, and has less of the unique details, but it’s a solid offering nevertheless.  Falcon’s paintwork continues the rather straightforward realworld approach of the sculpt, placing him pretty much entirely in drab greens.  There was a variation in Falcon figures and the sizing of the camo pattern; some were larger, and some were thinner.  My figure is a thin-camo Falcon, for what it’s worth.  Falcon was packed with a shotgun, knife, and backpack with a removable antenna.  Again, a fairly basic set-up, but if it works, it works.  The shotgun is at least a little more unique, and the backpack is certainly cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Much like Hot Rod, Falcon is a character that I feel a little bad for when it comes to the fan base and their hate for him, and I’ve kind of always wanted a Falcon.  That said, he wasn’t super high on my list when the large collection came in at All Time…at first.  Then this crazy thing happened.  While I was sorting through the figures, I swore I saw a Falcon.  I swore he was one of the first figures I pulled out of the box.  So did Jason, the owner.  So, when I found his filecard, but no figure to match, I was somewhat baffled.  Maybe I was losing it?  There were other filecards without figures to match, so I guess he was just never there.  But as I progressed through the collection, I eventually found his backpack, and his gun, and his knife, making the lack of Falcon even more apparent.  Just as I was about to close the whole collection up, I realized I had one vehicle to check for parts.  And I cracked open the cockpit, and wouldn’t you know it, there sat Falcon.  Not a clue what figure I thought I saw the first time, but Falcon was still in the collection.  And, after the whole mystery of finding him, I kind of felt like I had to buy him.

As touched on above, Falcon came from All Time Toys, who got in a rather sizable vintage Joe collection, the remnants of which can be checked out the Joe section of their eBay page here.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

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#2189: Daredevil – Yellow & Elektra

DARDEVIL — YELLOW & ELEKTRA

MARVEL MINIMATES

Babam!  Six years of writing for this here site, boys and girls.  How about that?  So, as I like to do every year on this occasion, I want to take today’s review to look at an item a little nearer and dearer to me and important to my collecting habits as a whole.  Today’s entry focuses on the world of Minimates, which, anyone who’s read the site for a decent amount of time can probably tell you is a world that makes up a considerable chunk of my collection.  For this review, we’re jumping back to the humble beginnings of the line, when they released a series 1 line-up that was surprisingly low-key.  Without further ado, let’s have a look at Daredevil and Elektra!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Daredevil and Elektra were part of the Daredevil/Hulk split first series line-up of Marvel Minimates, which hit alongside Series 2 and 3 in the summer of 2003.  2003 is an important year to note, as it kind of explains the line-up of Series 1, since Daredevil and Hulk were both in theaters that year, and these were sort of a loose tie-in.  This set was the one that got the variant treatment for the first line-up, with two different versions of Elektra available, and the Yellow Daredevil shared between the two sets.

DAREDEVIL — YELLOW

There were two Daredevils available in the first series.  The more standard Red DD was available with Kingpin, while this one recreates Matt’s first appearance attire, which has long been a popular choice for variations of DD.  The figure was built on the original Marvel body, which introduced the smaller 2″ scale for ‘mates.  He stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s also got the pre-c3 long feet, just like every other Marvel ‘mate release prior to Series 8.  Construction-wise, he and the red version were the same.  He gets an add-on for his mask and belt.  They were rather simplistic, but the mask in particular really works well, and clings to that ‘mate aesthetic.  The belt would be replaced by a less bulky model as the line went on, but for the time it was pretty solid.  His paintwork is probably one of the most complex of the early releases.  Of course, it also has the most room for error, which is probably why he’s got a lot of fuzzy and un-even lines going on. That being said, given the scale, it’s really not that bad.  He’s got a decent amount of detailing, including a full face under the mask, even though he didn’t have an extra hair piece to show it off yet.  What he did include was  a pair of billy clubs, painted up in yellow match the figure.

ELEKTRA

Given her prominent place in the 2003 movie, and her general place as one of Marvel’s best known female characters in the early ’00s,  Elektra’s inclusion here was kind of no-brainer.  Perhaps the craziest thing was how long it would take for her to get a follow-up.  Like Matt, this figure is built on the older Marvel body, long feet and all.  She has add-ons for her hair and skirt.  While DD’s design allowed for an easier transition to the ‘mate style, especially the more streamlined nature of the earlier releases, Elektra is less fortunate.  The blocky nature doesn’t quite go as well with here, and the hair and skirt would very quickly become some of the line’s most dated pieces.  They’re not awful, but they’re not amazing either.  Elektra’s paint does the best it can with the design, and ultimately captures all of the important elements.  No idea why she’s just got that single glove, though.  The standard Elektra was done up in her classic red, while her one-per-case variant was instead in black.  I’m not sure if the black was a specific comic thing, or if they were just aiming to get her a little closer the the movie version, but whatever the case, it doesn’t look bad.  Both versions of Elektra were packed with a pair of sais.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Back during the site’s first year, I acquired and reviewed the Spider-Man Classics Yellow Daredevil, which was something of a long-standing grail for my collection.  That figure was, at the time of his release, really, really hard to get, and would remain that way for a decent chunk of time, leaving him well outside of my price range.  My dad, who had been working very hard to find me one, eventually met a compromise when he discovered Marvel Minimates just a few days before my birthday in 2003, and saw a more attainable way of getting me a Yellow Daredevil.  And so, these guys became my very first Minimates, launching a collection of more than 1000 of these little buggers.  Who would have guessed it would grow so far?

Six Years

Six Years.  Perhaps not as outwardly notable as the five year mark was, but an important one for me.  When I started this site back in 2013, I mapped out a projected end date, which, at the time, was six years.  That seemed so far off and lofty when I started, and I genuinely wasn’t sure I’d even make it that far into this thing.  What I really didn’t expect, however, was to be this far from the potential finish line when I got here.  At current count of my collection and current rate of reviewing, I’ve got at least another five years of material here.  Now, whether I have another five years of writing in me…well, I’m not planning to give up the ghost any time soon, anyway.

Over the course of the last 365 days, I’ve written over 252,000 words about 452 figures, 5 vehicles, 2 playsets, and a not quite Nerf gun.  That marks the least amount of review subjects I’ve had in a year, and the third highest word count…whatever that means.  Guess I’m not getting to that brevity thing I was aiming for last year.  Additionally, I had two lovely fill-ins from my Super Awesome Fiancé (with help from Cheyenne on one), plus 10 reviews from Tim for the Blaster in Question.

This year, the site’s views climbed up to a cumulative total of over 280,000, roughly 70,000 of those coming from just this year, my highest yearly stats to date.  I also picked up 29 more followers, bringing the total to a whopping 198.   I had 20 comments, excluding those made by yours truly.

“But what of the content of those reviews?” no one but me asks!  Marvel Legends was force to be reckoned with this year, making up 116 of the reviews I wrote, almost a third of the total reviews.  Star Wars trails behind at exactly half that number, making 58 of my reviews.  The number three slot goes newcomer Transformers, with 28 reviews this year.  I foresee that number growing.  By virtue of being the primary manufacturer of all three of those, Hasbro takes the number one spot for manufacturers, with 202 reviews, more than half my total.  Second place is a whopping 73 reviews behind, and not even in business anymore, because it’s Kenner with 29.  DST remains in the top three with 26 reviews.  As of today, I have reviewed 53.8% of my collection.  Yay for progress.


I’d once again like to take a moment to acknowledge some of my favorite review subjects from the last year.  I hope you all appreciate how hard I had to work for this entire list not to be composed of Hasbro products.  Here’s my Top 5!

#1887: T-REX

Though not quite inside my usual wheelhouse, LeanPlay, distributers of Halftoys here in the US contacted me to provide a review, and I honestly couldn’t have been happier.  The T-Rex was just a fun little toy, and was good enough that I turned around and bought the full set of Dinos from them shortly after receiving my review sample.  I enjoy the chance to be different from time to time.

#1960: ULTRA MAGNUS

Optimus and Bumblebee may have been the ones that got the ball rolling on me getting into Transformers, but Ultra Magnus was the one that officially sold me on it.  He’s a ton of fun, and has become the standard I measure all of my other Transformers to.

#2038: THE FAUN

You know what’s a great way of making you feel good about a review you’ve written?  When the director of the movie the item’s based on re-tweets your review.  Guillermo del Toro retweeting my Faun review put me on cloud 9, and elevated the reviewing experience on a figure I’d already really enjoyed reviewing.  Additionally, buying this figure got me to finally sit down and watch Pan’s Labrynth, which I absolutely loved and am so glad I got around to seeing.

#2120: COMBAT JET SKYSTRIKER & ACE

My partnership with All Time Toys last year was a big deal for me, and its led to me getting to experience the toy world from a different side, as well as getting to mess with some cool stuff I otherwise might not get to.  When All Time got in a monster collection of G.I. Joe over the summer, I got to be the one to go through and get them all into condition to be sold, and also got the opportunity to purchase quite a few great pieces for my collection.  The Skystriker actually wasn’t one I bought for myself, but was instead purchased for me as a birthday present, and restoring it became my follow-up project after I finished processing the collection for All Time.  It was a different experience from usual, but I really enjoyed it.

#2154: NIGHTCRAWLER

This guy showing up here shouldn’t be a huge surprise for people that read his review, where I flat out stated he was my favorite Legend of the year.  This figure does pretty much everything right, and is the Nightcrawler I’ve wanted for pretty much two decades.

–HONORABLE MENTIONS–

#1888: RUST LORD

I’ve got no attachment to Fortnite whatsoever, but Max directed me to this line when it first hit, and all I can say is that it’s a ton of fun. and Jazwares has really delivered their A-game, not just with the smaller-scale line, but with their larger line as well.  The loot pinata was a cleverly designed way of getting the line started, and Rust Lord’s just a good figure.

#1993: THE RAY

Credit where credit is due.  I’ve ragged on Mattel for 6 years about the quality of their DC product, but here, on the cusp of them losing the license, they actually stepped up their game a started delivering good product again.  Ray was my first experience of this new Mattel, and I was very happy with him.  I wish we’d been getting DC figures this good for a few years now, rather than having them all crammed into the last year.


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…

#2188: Superboy Vs. King Shark

SUPERBOY VS KING SHARK

DC SUPER HEROES (HASBRO)

“It’s the battle of the beach as Hawaiian-based hero Superboy takes on King Shark!  Superboy may not have the massive might of his idol, Superman, but he does have his own special powers and abilities.  He describes them as ‘tactile-telekinesis’ which means that the Teen of Steel can affect anything he touches with his super-strength; in addition, he is also invulnerable and can fly.

Of course, all his strength may not be enough to take a bite out of King Shark!  It’s uncertain whether King Shark is some kind of mutation or, as some Hawaiians believe, the offspring of a shark-god and a mortal woman.  Whatever the case, King Shark is every bit as ruthless a predator as any real shark, with razor sharp teeth, extraordinary strength, and deadly claws on his hands and feet.”

In the mid-90s, Kenner had given Batman a couple of lines, so figured why not give DC’s other big guy a go at it.  Ta-da! Superman: Man of Steel.  It ran two basic series, two deluxe series, and two multi-packs series, and then ended with a bunch of un-released items.  A handful of those pieces would make their way out a few years later.  Among them?  A canceled multi-pack including today’s figures, Superboy and King Shark!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Superboy and King Shark were originally planned for the third assortment of Man of Steel multi-packs, due for release in ’96 (as can be noted from the date stamps on the figures), but were ultimately shelved and then repurposed as one of the four HasbroCollectors.com exclusive DC Super Heroes two-packs that surfaced in 1999.

SUPERBOY

Superboy was quite negatively affected by Man of Steel‘s early end, with two separate figures canceled.  This one got saved, and is, admittedly, the more conventional of the two that were cancelled.  As far as I know, the costume seen here was made for this figure, as were most of the variant costumes for MoS.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Hooray for that waist swivel.   It’s essentially an all-new sculpt, with a bit of a pre-pose going on.  This one serves the surfing nature of the figure well.  He’s a little larger than the original MoS Superboy, a fact I can tell by the use of a slightly retooled basic Superboy head to top things off.  It’s nice from a consistency standpoint, and nice from a “it’s a good headsculpt” capacity.  The paintwork on Superboy is pretty basic; it matches the standard colors of the character, and the application is pretty solid, if perhaps a bit roughed up on my figure.  Superboy is packed with a hi-tech surfboard, which he can peg into.

KING SHARK

King Shark!  He’s a shark!  He’s King!  And this was his first action figure!  How about that?  King Shark’s figure is another 5-incher (though it’s because he’s squatting; he’d be much taller standing) and he’s got 5 points of articulation.  His head is separate at the neck, as if to add a joint, but there’s no actual movement to be had there.  King Shark’s sculpt is a fair bit more cartoony than a lot of the others in the line, but it’s admittedly not totally out of place for a character like King Shark.  It’s certainly unique when compared to the others.  The paint work on him is rather monochromatic, but, again, fairly accurate, so I can’t really complain.  King Shark had no accessories, but given his larger stature, it kind of made sense.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was a big fan of Raving Toy Maniac’s action figure archives back in the day, and they had a pretty solid one dedicated to the Man of Steel line, where there was a whole page of cancelled items.  These guys were included there and always piqued my interest, so I was beyond thrilled when they actually made it into production a few years later.  I still really dig this set, in all of its gimmicky goodness.

#2187: Maximum Clonage

BEN REILLY, SCARLET SPIDER, & SPIDER-MAN

SPIDER-MAN (TOY BIZ)

“When the scientist known as the Jackal cloned spider-man, he intended to destroy Spidey! Now several years after Spider-Man defeated the clone, he has returned as the hero, Scarlet Spider. Fighting alongside the original Spider-Man, the spider clone seeks to uncover the answers behind the many players in the clone saga!”

Oh boy, you want a fun time?  Why not have a little talk about “The Clone Saga,” the gargantuan, over-stuffed Spidey crossover from the ’90s that forever is remembered in infamy.  Early commercial success of the story, which brought back unexplored plot threads from two decades prior, led to Marvel editorial greatly extending its run through the Spider titles, adding in all sorts of aimless and needlessly complicated plots that seemed to go nowhere.  At the crux of the story, it was revealed that the Peter Parker the audience had been following for two decades was in fact a clone, and the recently introduced Ben Reilly was the original, which was really Marvel’s first stab at the “carefree, single” Peter Parker that we would later get out of “One More Day.”  By the end of the story, Ben was dead and confirmed as the clone, and the whole thing was put to bed.  Of course, that didn’t stop Toy Biz from taking advantage of the story in order to get some toys out of it!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Ben Reilly, Scarlet Spider, and Spider-Man were released in the fall of 1997 as part of a BJ’s Wholesalers exclusive “Maximum Clonage” boxed set, which also featured unmasked Peter Parker, Kaine, Spidercide, Jackal, and Sandman, and covering the Clone Saga as a whole.

BEN REILLY

“When the clone of Peter Parker left New York City, he took the name Ben Reilly. Now, Ben Reilly has returned to join Peter Parker in his quest to find the truth behind the clone mystery. Just as much hero as the real Peter Parker, Ben creates a new super hero costume and takes the name Scarlet Spider. Fighting together as the Scarlet Spider and Spider-Man, Ben and Peter are an amazing web-slinging duo. But when the real Peter Parker loses his powers, Ben takes his place becoming the all new Spider-Man!”

One of the handful of truly exclusive figures in the set, Ben Reilly in his civilian garb has so far never been done again in action figure form.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 10 points of articulation.  Ben was built out of the main Spider-Man line’s Peter Parker figure, at least from the neck down, anyway.  It’s a guy of average build wearing a bomber jacket, jeans, and sneakers, so it’s reasonably generic.  Plus, even if it weren’t, it’s not like there isn’t a good excuse for the two to look similar.  It’s honestly a very nice sculpt, and definitely one of Toy Biz’s best civilian looks.  To differentiate himself from the original Peter Parker, Ben bleached his hair blond and got a very mid-90s style ‘do, which this figure replicates by throwing the head of Archangel III on top of the body.  While it does the hair justice, it’s a little off on the facial front, since it means he doesn’t look all that much like Peter, and he also has Warren’s super intense stare.  Still, there were worse parts choices that could have been made, and at least he was slightly different from Peter.  The paintwork further differentiated the two, changing his jacket from brown to black.

SCARLET SPIDER

“Returning from a self-imposed exile, the clone of Peter Parker reappears, now calling himself Ben Reilly.  Possessing all of Spider-Man’s powers and abilities, Reilly begins to fight crime as the Scarlet Spider.  With an all-new costume and special high-impact web-shooters, the Scarlet Spider fights with the enthusiasm of a rookie hero.  Patrolling the same streets as the original Spider-Man, the Scarlet Spider leaves no doubt for criminals their days are numbered!”

Previously offered in another exclusive release during the Overpower line, this figure is pretty much unchanged here.  This figure, just like the original release, was built using the body of Octo-Spider-Man, which would become one of Toy Biz’s favorite base bodies.  It’s not terrible, and benefits from not having sculpted weblines, meaning that Scarlet doesn’t look odd or out of place.  The downside is that the hoody is just a painted on element, rather than something new.  He does get webshooters, a belt, and pouches for his legs, which mix up his look well enough.  Ultimately, he’s sort of simple, but he’s probably my favorite figure from the set, so I really can’t complain much about him.

SPIDER-MAN

“When Peter Parker temporarily steps down from his crime fighting career, his clone Ben Reilly takes his place as the all new Spider-Man!  Wearing an exciting new costume and utilizing the impact web shooters of his Scarlet Spider suit, Reilly can tackle anyone.  Facing the threat of the evil Jackal, and the enigmantic Kaine, the new Spider-Man will have his work cut out for him!”

The “New Costume” Spider-Man had previously seen release in Series 7 of the main Spider-Man line, but saw another inclusion here, for obvious reasons.  This new costume design is definitely a favorite for toy makers, and I myself am rather fond of it, probably due to its inclusion right here.  This figure is built the same way as the Scarlet Spider, which is sensible, them being the same guy and all, but he gets tweaked forearms with the webshooters molded into place, just like his single release had.  This figure does change some things up a little bit from the single, swapping out the blue for a darker shade that’s a little more appropriate for the character.  My particular figure is also missing a chunk of the spider insignia on the front, for whatever reason.  He’s been like that since I got him.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Maximum Clonage” was my first introduction to the Clone Saga, and I got the whole set as a Christmas gift from family friend Pat Sponaugle back in ’97.  While I ended up losing most of the other figures, these three in particular have always been some of my very favorites of my 5-inch Marvel collection.  I’m glad I hung onto them over the years, and someday I really do need to replace the rest of the set.

#2186: Tron, Flynn, & Sark

TRON, FLYNN, & SARK

TRON (DST)

“When a brilliant video game maker named Flynn hacks the mainframe of his ex-employer, he is beamed inside an astonishing digital world and becomes part of the very game he is designing.  He must team up with the heroic Tron and evade the forces of the Master Control Program to find his way home and shut down the power-hungry MCP once and for all.”

Despite being at best a modest success when it hit theatres in 1982, Tron did get a little bit of toy coverage at the time of its release, courtesy of toy makers TOMY, who have us a handful of the film’s main characters.  Since then?  Well, neither the movie no its sequel, Tron: Legacy, has had a ton of luck with toys.  The original film’s titular character was fortunate enough to get a couple of figures earlier this year from DST as part of a tie-in with Kingdom Hearts, and to follow things up, they’re giving a Tron line proper a try.  Let’s have a look at those guys today!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Tron, Flynn, and Sark make up the first series of Tron figures from DST.  The line-up seen here is specifically the Walgreens-exclusive, slightly paired down line-up; specialty stores will be getting the same Tron and Sark, as well as Flynn in a red color scheme (because why not, I guess), and all three will include parts to build a Recognizer.  The Walgreens set started hitting in early September, and the specialty line-up should be arriving in the coming weeks.

TRON

Both Tron and Sark were just released in DST’s Kingdom Hearts line.  I had initially thought that these figures would be slight retools of those releases, but that’s actually not the case.  Tron is seen here sporting an all-new, more movie inspired sculpt.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall (giving him a 1/2 inch on his predecessor) and he has 29 points of articulation.  Comparing the two Tron figures, leads to the question “does more articulation mean more posability?” and in the case of these two figures, it’s kind of a toss-up.  The double joints on the elbows and the swivels on the thighs certainly are an improvement, but the hips just seem different for the sake of being different, and the added mid-torso joint doesn’t change his range in the slightest, meaning he’s got a break in his sculpt there for no practical reason.  Perhaps most frustratingly, the neck, which had a decent range on the KH figure is now greatly reduced.  That’s disappointing.  The overall sculpt is a bit less stylized, obviously, since it’s based on the movie, and not a game, so Tron has a slightly more realistic set of proportions, as well as greater detailing on a few areas of the sculpt.  The boots in particular are quite impressively handled.  That said, the head is different from the previous figure, but I can’t really say it’s any more accurate or closer to Boxleitner in appearance.  In general, while the sculpt goes for a more realistic look, I found that the sculpt made more compromises for the articulation this time, and the end result is a figure that just never looks quite as natural standing on the shelf as the previous figure.  Tron’s paintwork marks another change from the KH figure, and honestly another area of different for the sake of difference.  Rather than the grey with blue of the prior figure, this one is predominantly a light blue, with grey for the “skin” and darker blue for his tron-lines.  I suppose an argument can be made for this being more accurate to the film, but the very dynamic nature of how the characters look on screen means that either appearance reads more or less as accurate.  Tron is packed with his disk (a notable improvement over the KH figure) and a display stand.  The disk is nice to have, though it’s worth noting that his hand posing isn’t totally ideal for holding it and it has a little trouble staying in place on his back.

FLYNN

The movie may be named after Tron, but Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn is the more clear-cut protagonist (and his son is undoubtedly the protagonist of Legacy).  Despite all that, he’s far less common as a figure, and was left out of the Kingdom Hearts stuff.  Also, for whatever reason, DST decided to make the wider release version of him in red, rather than his blue that is his default look, making this figure the most desirable of the Walgreens trio by a country mile.  Yay? Flynn’s construction is very similar to Tron’s, and the two of them share the same right arm, lower torso, pelvis, hands, and lower legs.  The articulation is the same here as above, for better or for worse, but on the plus side, Flynn’s got his little toga thing from the movie, which hides the non-functioning torso joint for the most part.  Of course, then it ends up restricting his left shoulder.  You win some, you lose some.  The head, though not a spot-on likeness of Bridges, is at least distinctly a different person, so there’s that leg up on the TOMY figures.  Flynn’s paintwork very much follows the model of Tron’s, swapping out the character-specific details of course.  He’s still predominantly that light blue color.  The specialty release will, of course, swap this out to match Sark’s colors.  Flynn is packed with a disk and display stand.  They’re the same as Tron’s, but the tunic at least keeps the disk more in-place when on his back.

SARK

The legendary David Warner actually does triple-duty in the original Tron, with turns as corrupt exec Edward Dillanger, Big Brother stand-in Master Control, and dictator-esque program Sark.  Of the three, I guess Sark’s kind of the most toyetic, isn’t he?  Sark was offered in the Kingdom Hearts line, but like Tron, this figure is an all-new offering.  He shares no parts with the other two figures, and that’s probably for the best.  By and large, Sark’s articulation actually works a fair bit better than the other two.  The range on the shoulders was definitely better, and the mid torso joint is not only functional, it’s also pretty much hidden.  In general, the articulation and the sculpt mostly stay out of each other’s way on this guy.  Getting him into a basic standing pose is a lot easier here.  By far my favorite part of the sculpt is the head.  While the other two likenesses are so-so at best, Sark is pretty unmistakably Warner, even if he’s hiding behind all that goofy headgear.  Sark’s paintwork goes back to that KH styling, with the majority of things being grey, with the red highlights thrown in.  This confirms for me that I really just prefer the grey with accent color look, as it just works a lot better.  I don’t know why they opted to do it the other way for Tron and Flynn.  Sark is again packed with his disk and a display stand.  The disk is still tricky to hold, but is at least much more secure when plugged into his back.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these figures were shown, I had no idea if I’d be picking them up, because they honestly didn’t look all that different from the Kingdom Hearts releases, and I don’t believe Flynn was part of the initial line-up.  I happened across Tron and Sark while checking some Walgreenses in an out of my area location.  I almost just picked up Sark, but decided to grab the pair, and at the time had no clue about the Flynn figure.  Once discovering Flynn’s existence, I was able to get hold of him as well with an assist from Max.  I want to like these figures more than I do.  Tron is really hurt by following the KH figure.  While this one tries some new things, ultimately, the more standard faire of the previous figure is just more enjoyable to me.  Flynn is more unique, but still suffers from a lot of the same issues.  Sark is by far the best of the trio, and is the only one that really seems to succeed in what they’re trying to do with this line.  Ultimately, I’m not sure what DST’s aim was with these figures, but they’re something of a mixed bag, and a little hard to recommend.  They’re not terrible, and at least the Walgreens releases are pretty cheap, but I can’t see the specialty versions being worth $30 a piece.

#2185: Jokerz

JOKERZ

BATMAN BEYOND (HASBRO)

Batman Beyond marked something of a notable turning point for DC toys.  The license had been with Kenner for pretty much the entirety of the ’90s, and Kenner had handled the toys for both Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series.  By Beyond’s premiere in ’99, Hasbro, who had purchased Kenner in ’91, had closed down the Kenner offices and rolled everything in under their name, making Beyond‘s tie-in toyline one of their first proper DC offerings.  Their approach to it was…less than ideal.  The line was populated mostly with variants of the main character (and no actual straight standard version of him either), with practically no antagonists or supporting cast members.  The lone antagonist in the first assortment played further into Hasbro’s misunderstanding of what they were adapting…for reasons I’ll get to further into the review.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

This figure, dubbed “The Jokerz” on the package, was shipped in the initial assortment of Batman Beyond figures in early 1999.  In the show, “Jokerz” refers to the roaming gangs of Joker-inspired thugs that would serve as minor antagonists throughout the show’s run.  None of them are actually named “Jokerz.”  This particular figure is actually based on J-Man, the leader of the gang that receives a beat-down by Bruce in the show’s pilot (who, fun fact, was voiced in all of his recurring appearances by DCAU producer Bruce Timm).  Of the early Jokerz, he was the one with the most classically Joker appearance, which no doubt is why he was chosen for the spot here. The figure stands a little under 5 inches (thanks to the wide stance of his legs) and he has 5 points of articulation.  Though Kenner’s S:TAS figures had added a waist joint as a standard for most of the figures, the Beyond figures went back to the basic neck, shoulders, and hips set up.  Given the generally not-as-animation-accurate nature of this line, J-Man’s sculpt is actually fairly decent, and honestly pretty faithful to the design from the show.  The pose is kind of an issue, though; he was designed to ride a goofy bike thing for some reason, which ends up hampering the figure proper quite a bit.  Also hampering the figure?  The paint.  It’s fits within the classic “Joker” colorscheme, but doesn’t follow J-Man’s actual appearance from the show, which was far more subdued and also made it more abundantly clear that he was wearing makeup, rather than just having white skin like the original.  They’ve also put him in bright pink, in contrast to the darker purple he was sporting in the show.  J-Man was packed with an “Assault Hover-Cycle”, which was kind of a goofy looking thing that didn’t really match anything on the show.  But there it was, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Future Knight Batman (the closest the line got to a standard Batman) was a hot commodity when these figures hit.  Hot enough that I didn’t get one at first and therefore he was on my birthday list for ’99.  I actually ended up getting two from different family members, so one of them went back to the store, and I got this guy in exchange.  J-Man was a character I had something of an affinity for the show (I’m a self-professed lover of background and side characters), so I enjoy the figure for what it is.  That said, given all of the far more unique and distinctive characters from the show’s first season who went without figures, his inclusion is certainly odd.

#2184: Ch’od

CH’OD

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

“An alien from the Shi’ar galaxy, Ch’od’s monstrous, reptillian form belittles his keen intellect and heroic heart. Once a slave, he has regained his freedom, and now travels the spaceways in the company of the Starjammers, always on the lookout for other victims of tyranny in need of his aid!”

From Amphibian Man to lizard man!  Prior to hitting it big over at Marvel with his stint on X-Men, Dave Cockrum had tried to pitch some of characters he’d been holding onto for a while to Marvel Spotlight and Marvel Premiere.  Among those concepts was The Starjammers, a group of space pirates who would eventually find their way into the Marvel Universe through the pages of X-Men, where they became the crew of Cyclops and Havok’s father Christopher Summers, aka Corsair.  The line up has had its fluctuations over the years, but one of the mainstays has been Ch’od, big reptilian guy who would really prefer you stopped confusing him with Abomination.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ch’od was released in series 6 of the Toy Biz X-Men line.  He, alongside series and team-mate Raza, was the line’s first introduction of the Starjammers.  Their leader Corsair would follow shortly after in the assortment based on The Phoenix Saga.  To date, this remains Ch’od’s only action figure, but who knows, maybe he’ll get some Legends love sometime soon.  The figure stands just over 5 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  He loses out on elbow and knee articulation, I can only guess due to his relative size and build.  He does get a waist joint, though, as well as a neck joint, which was frequently one of the first joints to go for this line.  Despite his slightly less posable nature, or perhaps because of it, Ch’od actually has one of the best sculpts from early in the line, certainly the best of his particular assortment.  He captures Cockrum’s rendition of the character quite nicely, and his sculpt has a surprising level of detail and texture work for the time.  Ch’od’s paintwork is fairly basic, with minimal detailing on the face, shorts, and belt.  The rest of the figure is just molded in a bright green, which is perhaps a touch on the bright side for Ch’od, but hardly the worst choice ever.  Ch’od is packed with his white furry companion Cr’eee, who pegs onto his shoulder via a rather obtrusive peg that’s pretty much going to guarantee that you don’t ever display one without the other.  Ch’od also has an action feature, dubbed “Double Arm Hurling Action” which is pretty self explanatory, and actually works surprisingly well.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, so here’s an odd one for me: I have genuinely no idea where this guy came from.  I remember my dad having one when I was growing up.  I remember wanting to get one.  And I remember that I did *not* get one new.  A few years back, while prepping for a move, I found a box of 20-some X-Men figures I’d been missing, and Ch’od was in with them.  The timeline of when the box went missing means that he didn’t get bought during my big 5-inch buy in 2011, so I just don’t know what his deal was.  Whatever the case, I’m glad I have one because he’s a really nifty figure.  He just baffles me.

#2183: Amphibian Man

AMPHIBIAN MAN

GUILLERMO DEL TORO SIGNATURE SERIES (NECA)

“Unable to perceive the shape of you, I find you all around me. Your presence fills my eyes with your love, it humbles my heart, for you are everywhere.”

2017’s The Shape of Water was another critical success for director Guillermo del Toro, who likes to flip back and forth between fun action pieces and deeply personal, gothically-inspired fairy tales.  Shape of Water was a more personal piece, and in fact one that del Toro’s been working on in the background for several years now, originally beginning life as a pitch to Universal Studios for a reboot of their Creature from the Black Lagoon franchise, but this time through the eyes of the creature.  When Universal turned him down, he reworked it into something more distinctively his own, and ultimately passed up directing the second Pacific Rim in order to complete it.  The film’s central creature is clearly its most distinctive design, marrying the classic Gill-man with something a little more Abe Sapien-inspired (and since he was portrayed by del Toro mainstay Doug Jones, he also shares an actor with Abe).  Courtesy of NECA’s Guillermo del Toro Signature Series launched last year, the Amphibian Man has just made his way into articulated plastic form!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Amphibian Man is figure 5 in the Guillermo del Toro Signature Series line-up.  He’s the first, and likely to be only, figure from Shape of Water, and our third figure of Doug Jones in the line, following the Pale Man and the Faun.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s one of NECA’s most articulated figures ever, which is really impressive, as is the range of motion you can get out of all those joints.  For a character like the Amphibian Man, it’s kind of key for him to be very flexible, so it’s nice that NECA kept this in mind when designing him.  Amphibian Man’s all-new sculpt is quite frankly one of NECA’s most impressive, and that’s saying something for them.  Not only is it screen accurate, but pretty much no detail has been overlooked on this figure, and no real sacrifices have been made in the name of all of that articulation.  Unlike the previous Signature Series figures I looked at, I don’t feel that there’s an obvious weak point to this sculpt.  Everything is really good.  Equally impressive is the paint and color work.  I feel the need to specify paint and color, because it’s not just the paint that sells things.  The figure is molded in a slightly translucent plastic, and the paint is applied on top of that, which makes this guy look like an actual aquatic creature, and keeps his fins and gills appropriately clear.  The paint is sharp and clean, and captures the vibrant patterning on the Amphibian Man’s head, arms, and legs very nicely.  The Amphibian Man is packed with a rather impressive, rather immense selection of extras.  He gets an extra screaming head (with articulated jaw), a spare set of forearms and hands (the purpose of which I’ll get to in a second), a plate of boiled eggs, and a chunk of the labroom floor he was chained to in the movie, complete with chains and clasps for his neck and wrists.  The head is a great inclusion given how expressive the character is in the film (and also addresses my only complaint with the Faun’s accessories), and the eggs are a fun moment-specific extra.  The arms end the fins about half an inch earlier than the standard ones, making them ideal for use with the base and the cuffs included, which was a sensible choice on NECA’s part.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Contrary to what my Pan’s Labyrinth review might lead you to believe, I actually saw Shape of Water while it was in theaters, and it was the announcement of this figure that brought my attention to the Signature Series as a whole, ultimately leading to me picking up the Faun.  I loved the creature design from Shape, due in no small part to its Abe Sapien similarities, and I knew I wanted this figure as soon as it was shown off.  He makes for a really nice figure, and definitely is one of NECA’s finest.

Like the Faun and Ofelia, the Amphibian Man was purchased from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2182: Beast Morphers Gold Ranger

BEAST MORPHERS GOLD RANGER

POWER RANGERS: THE LIGHTNING COLLECTION (HASBRO)

So, the thing about Power Rangers is that the sixth rangers are always the coolest part of any given season of the show.  The other thing about Power Rangers is that the term “sixth rangers” refers to any of the additional rangers added after the start of the season…which means it might refer to the fourth or fifth ranger, in actuality.  Case in point?  Today’s “sixth” ranger, the Beast Morphers Gold Ranger!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Beast Morphers Gold Ranger is part of the second series of Power Rangers: The Lightning Collection, one of two Beast Morphers in the line-up, as well as one of two Sixth Rangers in the line-up.  He’s also the most currently relevant figure in the set, being very recently introduced in the show and all.  The figure stands 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  He’s sporting another all-new sculpt, which appears to be fairly faithful to the show.  I myself must admit to not having watched the show myself (I didn’t really keep up with things post Time Force), but he looks fairly accurate from what I’ve pulled up online.   The design is, in my opinion, one of the strongest of this particular iteration, and to my eye calls out a lot of similarities to Kamen Rider.  Similarities to Kamen Rider are never a bad thing, so that works for me. I’m not the biggest fan of the boots, but that’s just me being picky, I suppose.  The construction on the figure is mostly pretty solid, with just one overlay piece for his shoulder harness; it’s free-floating, which is better for the figure’s posability, so kudos to Hasbro for leaving it un-affixed.  The paintwork on this guy decent for the most part, though not completely without its issues.  The coverage on his visor is a bit inconsistent (and this was the better option of the two figures I had to chose from).  The other paintwork isn’t that bad, though, so the overall appearance is passable.  The Gold Ranger is packed with an unhelmeted Nate Silva head, his striker morpher in blaster mode, his striker saber, an effect piece for it, and two pairs of hands.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The thing about this Gold Ranger is that he’s not the one I wanted.  Like, I mean him no offense, but my favorite sixth ranger is the original Gold Ranger, you know, the one from Zeo.  That one was an SDCC-exclusive this year, and I therefore didn’t get it.  This one was announced shortly after, and prior to seeing the pictures, I had a brief glimmer of hope that he might be a quickly turned around re-issue.  Then this guy showed up instead.  And no, he’s not technically what I wanted, but that’s admittedly not his fault, and it doesn’t stop him from being a good figure either.

I grabbed the Gold Ranger from All Time Toys.  If your looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.