#2225: Darth Vader

DARTH VADER

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

If there’s a face of Star Wars, it’s pretty undeniably Darth Vader.  Guy kind of made the franchise, being easily the most marketable character in the bunch.  So, pretty unsurprisingly, Vader is pretty much a lock for every new style product launch.  There’s a Vader for everyone.  Understandably, this means that even the newly launched Galaxy of Adventures line also has a Vader as one of its three OT characters at launch.  That’s the figure I’ll be taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Darth Vader is the last of the basic release figures for Wave 1 of Galaxy of Adventures.  He’ll be one of the four figure carrying forward to Wave 2, a good fit, given the overall OT-bend of the second line-up.  Standing 5 3/4 inches tall, Vader is the second tallest figure in the line-up, and he has 23 points of articulation.  Vader’s articulation is somewhat restricted by his design (as is the case with pretty much all Vader figures), so he’s a little stiffer than the other figures in the line-up.  However, while he’s not going to be doing any crazy kung-fu moves or anything, there’s plenty of far more Vader-esque poses you can get him into.  Also, I will say I was particularly impressed by the range of motion on the neck, an area where most Vader figures tend to be lacking.  While other sculpts in the line are rather stylized, Vader’s is the first one to really fully take advantage of the style to push some of his character aspects a bit further.  Vader’s always daunting in size and an imposing figure, but for this one he’s actually like twice the size of Rey and Finn, with super broad shoulders, and a quite impressive silhouette.  This is a very good example of getting all of the base elements for a character design and just really ramping them up to get that really cool, almost mind’s eye take on the character.  Also, like Chewbacca, he really seems to push that Genndy Tartakovsky feel, and I am again all about that.  Boy does this guy look like a bad guy, which is, you know, what you want out of a Vader design, I suppose.  Vader’s paintwork is fairly cleanly handled.  All of the important details are there, and the application’s good.  There’s some variation to the finish on the various blacks, which looks nice.  He’s packed with his lightsaber, which is the usual fair.  He also features a “Force Slash” feature built into his waist, which again is pretty non-intrusive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Vader was honestly pretty high on my list for this line, because he’s typically a fairly good trial run type of character (which is why I have his Mashers figure).  I knew I wanted him, but I didn’t know when.  Turned out “at the same time as all the others” was the answer, thanks to Super Awesome Wife’s intervention.  Vader may well be the line’s star figure.  I mean, I like them all a lot, don’t get me wrong, but Vader’s translation into the line’s style just really ends up working, and he ends up as the most striking individual design in the set.  I can foresee a lot of people just having a Vader and no one else from the line.  Whatever the case, I do hope the strength of this particular figure might help to get some more of the old school fans to give this line a try, because it’s honestly the best Star Wars offering Hasbro’s got out there right now, and I’d like to see it succeed.

#2224: Chewbacca

CHEWBACCA

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

So far, the focus of the Galaxy of Adventures line has been on the new trilogy, specifically Rise of Skywalker.  Not a huge shock given that they hit with that film’s product launch.  That said, there are a few Original Trilogy elements in play as well, and definitely will be more of a shift to that as the line continues.  The first assortment does have two hold-overs, with today’s figure, Chewbacca, making for a nice bridge between the two trilogies.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Chewbacca is another of the six figure assortment that makes up Wave 1 of the basic Galaxy of Adventures figures.  Chewbacca is one of the four figures that will be carrying forward to Wave 2, which is sensible, since his best friend Han will be joining him in that line-up. At just over 6 inches tall, Chewbacca is the tallest figure in the line so far, which is fairly typical for Chewbacca figures.  He’s got 23 points of articulation, but he’s definitely the most restricted of the figures at launch.  It’s really more a design thing, since the hair means that areas such as the neck are never going to have the same mobility of other characters.  That being said, he actually ended up far more posable than I was expecting when I looked at him in the packaging.  Of all the figures, Chewbacca is also probably the most stylized, something I wasn’t sure I’d like at first, but ultimately I really quite like in hand.  He’s got almost a Genndy Tartakovsky style to him, which is something I’m always okay with, and also just continues the general trend of this line feeling like a slightly larger scale Clone Wars line.  The stylization also helps Chewie in the one area where Chewie figures always have trouble, which is convincingly working in the articulation.  It’s still pretty obvious where the joints are, but there’s a slightly better flow to how they’re implemented.  Chewbacca’s paintwork is some of the more complex of the line, which is actually a bit of a reverse from how it usually works out.  There are some variations within the coloring of his fur, which is especially impressive on the head, where all of the different colorations converge.  Chewbacca is packed with his go-to weapon, the Bowcaster, which takes a little bit of doing to get into his hands the first time, but stays securely, and is easier to mess with on later attempts.  He’s also got a “Wookie Slam” feature, which is similar to the other spring-loaded arm features, but with both arms instead of just one.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Chewbacca is the one figure in the first set I really wasn’t sold on.  Something about how he looked in the package just seemed off to me.  So, he was the last figure I was intending to grab.  Then Super Awesome Wife made it clear I was getting all of them on that fateful Walmart trip, and so he was along for the ride.  I’m really glad that was the case, because Chewbacca was the most pleasant surprise of the bunch.  Everyone else, I had a good sense on, but Chewie’s a lot better than he seems at first glance, and I’m just very happy with the end result.  I can’t wait to have a Han to go with him.

 

 

#2223: Finn

FINN

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

After getting a whole slew of figures and product for the launch of The Force Awakens, Finn became a character that made retailers a little less than comfortable.  He was definitely over saturated for TFA, leading to all of his figures sitting around at retail, because boy were there a lot of them, and boy did no one need all of them.  For Last Jedi, he got three figures, one of which didn’t even go to main retail.  So far for Rise of Skywalker, he’s got exactly one.  That will presumably change, but I bet Hasbro’s waiting to see if this one sits like the others.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Finn is the fourth of the six figures in the basic figure line-up for Galaxy of Adventures.  Alongside Rey, Finn is one of the two figures getting dropped from the line-up for the Wave 2 assortment, I’d guess to make sure he doesn’t build up too much at retail.  Given how many Finns I’ve seen, I’d say this is probably a smart move.  Finn is seen here in his new look for Rise of Skywalker, which is far more divergent from his established look than Kylo and Rey.  The usual jacket is gone, replaced with a similarly styled vest, his shirt is now a more neutral color than the white/black from before, and his hair is noticeably longer.  Honestly, this is best look Finn’s had, because it’s the first one to look properly Star Wars-y.  He’s still more civilian than others, but the feel is there.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  The holster restricts the right hip a little bit, but beyond that the articulation is comparable to the others from the line, which is to say it’s very good and very mobile.  The sculpt is definitely stylized like Rey, although it’s a little more subdued than Rey was.  He still follows that same model of not having a Boyega likeness, but capturing that character likeness for Finn.  He’s got that nice generic hero look about him, which certainly works well for the line.  It’s a good, clean looking sculpt.  His paintwork mostly follows the basic look, but there’s still a fair bit of smaller detail work, and like Rey the face is properly aligned and fairly cleanly handled.  Finn is packed with a small blaster pistol and a backpack.  The blaster fits well in his hand or in the holster.  He’s also got a quick draw feature that’s similar to the Jet Trooper’s.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I almost passed on this guy on the trip that ended with me getting all of the figures, but after insisting on buying me Kylo, Rey, and the droids, Super Awesome Wife also informed me that I wasn’t allowed to leave the store without buying the remaining three figures for myself, and Finn kind of fell in with that.  This is definitely the most I’ve enjoyed a Finn figure.  I think the new design definitely plays into that, but also it’s really just the most playable a Finn figure has ever been.  More than the troopers and masked figures, I think this is the type of figure that showcases the core strength of this line at making fun toys out of even the potentially less exciting characters that other lines have let down.

#2222: BB-8, R2-D2, & D-0

BB-8, R2-D2, & D-0

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

The less-than-human-sized robots of Star Wars always prove to be something of a challenge when it comes to toys, since they don’t easily fit into the assortment-based structure that Hasbro and Kenner before them like to use for the toylines.  Do you over charge for them and sell them by themselves?  Do you try to shove them in with another figure?  Or do you just go for broke and do a multi-pack of some sort?  Well, for their latest go-round, Hasbro’s throwing all of the droids into one pot and making them one single, slightly more deluxe release.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

BB-8 has been something of a marketing darling for the new trilogy of films, so it’s kind of surprising that he only had one figure available at launch.  Not world-breaking, I suppose, though, since even during the Force Awakens launch, he was surprisingly scarce.  Interestingly, in the last year, his only figures have been of the animated variety, with ToyboxResistance, and now this figure.  This one doesn’t diverge too much from the established norm for BB-8 figures, apart from being in a new scale, and even then he’s pretty close in size to the Toybox figure.  Of all the figures in the line, BB probably has the most prominent action feature, and in fact the only one in this set.  The panels on either side are attached to string, which is on a pulley system.  The can be pulled out, simulating his grabbing attachments like we saw in TFA, and there they are.  Push the button on his underside, and the head spins and the panels are retracted…in theory.  It doesn’t work super consistently on mine, but it’s not like it breaks the toy.  He’s still a pretty solid BB-8.

Easily the star piece of this set is the R2 figure.  R2’s had a lot of toy coverage over the years, ranging all sorts of quality, but this is probably the most straight-forward playable he’s ever been.  Certainly it’s the most posable.  He gets movement at the dome, “shoulders” and “ankles”, plus there’s third leg, which is articulated itself.  The cool thing about the joints on the standard two legs is that they’re ball joints, which means that they offer a greater range than we usually get out of an R2, and in fact more closely capture the movement he tends to have in the movies and cartoons.  It also makes him a lot of fun to mess with.  R2’s design is not affected much by the stylization of the line, but there are a few spots, most noticeably the eye, which are slightly changed up from his “real world” look.  R2’s paint is generally pretty good, apart from having an inaccurately colored top to his dome; it should be blue, it’s silver.  Oh no, whatever will we do?  Guess we’ll just have to live with it.

Of the three droids, newcomer D-0 has made out the best at product launch, with figures in two of the three main scales, one of which is right here.  Given how little moving parts there are for there to be on this little guy, there are a surprising number of them on this figure, with movement on the neck, the wheel, and all three of his antennae.  That’s a lot.  Beyond that, he’s a just a fairly basic little droid.  He’s a little hard to keep standing, but there are two ridges on the wheel section designed to help with that a little bit, so that’s good.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When I went on the Walmart run that ended with me having all of the figures, I was initially thinking I might get this set and maybe one basic figure.  Ultimately, Super Awesome Wife bought me this set and two basic figures.  Because that’s just how she do.  As I noted in the main review segment, R2 is definitely the best piece of this set, and after getting as many R2s as I have, I can’t stress enough that he’s the best I’ve owned.  The other two droids aren’t slouches either, just not quite as impressive a package as R2.  Still, this is definitely a good set, and putting all of the droids together was a smart move on Hasbro’s part.

#2221: Rey

REY

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

It has been far less time since I reviewed a Rey figure than it had been since I reviewed a Kylo, in no small part thanks to her inclusion in all three main styles of figure at launch.  So, I’ve already taken a look at a Rey from the new movie.  And I already know I’ll be looking at another.  This one’s going to make for a good middle, though, I promise.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rey is another figure from the six figure line-up of basic Wave 1 figures from the Galaxy of Adventures line.  She is one of the two that will be dropped from the line-up for Wave 2 in order to make way for Han and 3P0.  Not to worry, though, because she’s going to be showing back up in the two-pack with Kylo, meaning she shouldn’t prove hard to get.  Like her smaller figure, Rey is seen here in her new Rise of Skywalker attire, which is noticeably different from her prior looks, while still staying “on-brand.”  The figure stands just shy of 5 inches tall and she has 23 points of articulation.  Rey’s articulation is slightly more restricted than the last two figures, but not by a whole lot, and I again found her much easier to work with than her VC counterpart.  Only the hips really have any trouble, and that’s more due to the skirt piece than their own design.  She’s also probably the hardest of these figures to keep standing, but still nowhere near as troublesome as the VC guys, or even the Black Series for that matter.  Rey is by far the most clearly stylized of the figures I’ve looked at so far, with a much more streamlined set of features, especially on the hair and face, which go for a far more cartoony style.  She doesn’t have a Daisy Ridley likeness to speak of, but they’ve still managed to hit all of the notes of the Rey likeness, if that makes any sense.  Rey’s paint work is rather nicely implemented.  Mostly, it’s pretty basic, and in fact a lot of it is just properly molded colors, but the work on her face is especially clean, and in all of the figures I’ve looked at, that’s pretty consistent across the board, a nice change of pace compared to the really wonky applications I’ve seen on the other two styles of Rey out there.  It may not be as lifelike, but it sure is less likely to fail them.  Rey is packed with her lightsaber and blaster, both of which fit quite nicely into her hands (and the gun can also go nicely into the holster).  She also has a slashing feature in her waist joint, which like the Jet Trooper and Kylo, doesn’t have too much impact on her posability.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Rey is a figure I almost picked up a handful of times before actually getting her.  She honestly had been calling out to me as far back as Force Friday, but I just kept passing, until Super Awesome Wife intervened and insisted on buying her for me.  While I do feel she shows the limitations of the style just a bit more than the other two, I do still really like this Rey, and I certainly was a lot happier with her than the VC figure, which cost me $3 more, I should point out.  Rey is another fairly solid toy.

#2220: Supreme Leader Kylo Ren

SUPREME LEADER KYLO REN

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

So, uhh, hey, I might have gotten some more Galaxy of Adventures figures.  In fact, I may have gotten all of the Galaxy of Adventures figures.  And I may be planning to review all of them over the course of the next week.  Buckle up guys, because we’re getting real adventurous with this here galaxy.  It’s been a good while since I’ve reviewed a Kylo Ren figure, which is only surprising given how many freaking Kylo Ren figures there are.  Well, unsurprisingly, there’s one in the Galaxy of Adventures line and he’s the one that’s next on my slate of reviews.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (because he got that promotion at the end of Last Jedi) is another of the six basic figures that make up Wave 1 of the Galaxy of Adventures line.  Kylo will also be available in a two-pack later on, which will ditch the cape and add an unmasked head.  Kylo is seen here sporting his “all-new” look for Rise of Skywalker, which is to say he’s got the same thing he was wearing last time, but he’s repaired his helmet and started wearing a hooded cloak again.  It’s really not wildly different from his prior looks, so he’s definitely staying on-brand.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Kylo isn’t quite as mobile as the Jet Trooper I looked at yesterday, but he’s still pretty darn posable, especially when the cloak is removed.  Of course, then he doesn’t have the cloak on any more, hurting his menacing points just a touch.  You win some, you lose some.  He’s once again very stable on his feet, even while wearing the heavy cloak piece, which is always a nice change of pace for a Star Wars figure. His sculpt adheres to the style of the line, but again this is less noticeable, given Kylo’s general design.  It’s the proportions that sell it once again.  Honestly, Kylo has a design that sort of lends itself to this sort of sharpening of the look; there’s a definite flow to it that just really works, and that all-black thing is definitely in his favor.  The level of detail is still impressive for an animated figure, with all of the quilted elements of his uniform being nicely rendered, and the folds and textures of this gloves and boots looking quite nice.  It’s also nice that the cracks in the helmet are sculpted in, rather than just being painted.  The cloak is a removable element and is molded to fit around the figure, much in the same fashion as the old PotF2 Jedi Luke.  It stays in place alright on its own, and certainly cuts an impressive silhouette.  The paintwork on Kylo is fairly basic again, though there’s an impressive amount of variety contained within the various shades of black. The tiny bit of red on the helmet makes for a nice little dash of color.  Kylo is packed with his signature lightsaber, which he can easily hold in either hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

After picking up and really enjoying the Jet Trooper figure, I decided I wanted to pick up the rest of the line.  My initial plan was to pick them up one at a time as I saw them, and after a particularly rough day, I stopped by Walmart on my way home from a dinner with my parents with the intent of picking out one figure.  Super Awesome Wife was with me, however, and had different plans, picking up all of the figures on the shelf, dividing them evenly between the two of us, and telling me I wasn’t leaving without them.  Kylo was among the ones that she grabbed.  He’s a really nice figure, and probably my favorite Kylo that I own.  He lends himself well to the style.

#2219: Jet Trooper

JET TROOPER

STAR WARS: GALAXY OF ADVENTURES (HASBRO)

For the last four films, each Star Wars product launch (at least from Hasbro’s end) was built around two main components, aimed at two different markets.  For the adult collectors looking for higher-detailed sculpts and the best posability, there was the 6-inch Black Series line, and for those looking to stay truer to the old Star Wars roots, there was the 5 POA 3 3/4-inch line.  I found that to be a pretty good balance, but it didn’t sit with the adult collectors who were attached to the Vintage Collection-styling that merged the Black Series articulation with the 3 3/4-inch scale, so those higher end 3 3/4 inch figures have been slowly making their resurgence over the course of the four movies.  For Rise of Skywalker, they’ve replaced the basic 3 3/4-inch line entirely, which creates a slight marketing issue, since those figures really aren’t all that kid-friendly like the 5 POA ones were.  So, to maintain a more kid-friendly line, Hasbro’s launching yet another scale…yay?  Galaxy of Adventures is a series of cartoon shorts re-telling stories from the franchise, and Hasbro had been running a 3 3/4-inch line of re-issued main characters to tie into it, but has now replaced that with a more dedicated line.  The primary focus of this new line (at least at launch) is Rise of Skywalker, and that follows through on the first figure I’m looking at, the Jet Trooper.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Jet Trooper is one of the six figures that make up the first basic wave of Galaxy of Adventures figures.  Believe it or not, he’s the only troop builder in the set; there is as of yet no basic Stormtrooper of either First Order or Imperial variety in the line at this time.  It’s also our first official look at the standard Jet Trooper, after having gotten the Sith derivation in the VC line.  The figure stands 5 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  The Jet Trooper is a surprisingly mobile figure given the price point of these guys.  While it’s not quite at Black Series level, it’s certainly more practical than the VC articulation I’ve encountered recently.  Perhaps the most impressive inclusion are the ankle tilts, which make this guy really stable.  Remember how one of my primary complaints with the recent VC figures was lack of stability?  Really wasn’t an issue with this guy.  Beyond that, let’s talk about the sculpt itself.  The whole line is definitely stylized, to match the cartoony style of the animated shorts.  For a fully armored character like the Jet Trooper, it’s a bit less immediately evident, but you can still see the signs of it in the general proportions of the figure.  He’s a little skinnier than his real life equivalent, and the angles on some spots of the armor are a lot sharper.  On the scale of cartoony Star Wars figures, he’s closer to Clone Wars and Rebels than to Mashers or Toybox, and I’m honestly alright with that.  Despite being stylized, the Jet Trooper’s sculpt still has a bunch of small detail work going on, though, especially with the fully-detailed undersuit for his armor, and quite a bit of detailing on the figure’s helmet.  The paintwork on this Jet Trooper is fairly similar to the smaller Sith Jet Trooper, but obviously swapping out white plastic for the red.  It’s cleanly applied and even includes the writing on his chest plate. The Jet Trooper is packed with a blaster rifle, which he has no trouble holding.  He’s also got a spring-loaded feature in his right arm, which is a “quick draw” feature of sorts.  It’s pretty low-key in its implementation, with no buttons or releases, and it doesn’t impact posability, so it gets no complaints from me.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When these figures were shown alongside the rest of the Triple Force Friday offerings, I really didn’t know how to feel about them…well, that’s actually not true.  I really wanted to hate them, because they replaced the 5 POA line, which was the one I most enjoyed.  Because of this desire to hate them, I passed on them when doing my Friday morning run.  It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I finally decided to give them a try, in part due to a positive review from Max.  I picked up this guy first, because I liked his general look the most of the starter figures.  Honestly?  He’s a really good figure.  I just can’t help but enjoy him.  No, it’s not the 5 POA line, but he honestly left me far more satisfied with my purchase than any of the VC figures I picked up, and he’s going for $3 less than those, making him a pretty awesome value.  I hope that the size-shift doesn’t scare people off of these guys, because they’re probably the best value out there right now.

#2218: Mercer

MERCER

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

“The Renegades don’t answer to anyone but themselves. They don’t officially exist. They can function with very little restraint but if they are compromised, they’re on their own.

Mercer was the only Cobra Viper that ever defected to the Joes and survived. He had joined Cobra for the adventure and the promise of material gain but soon grew disaffected with the Cobra philosophy. He escaped Cobra island by hot-wiring a hydrofoil and outrunning his pursuers across the Gulf of Mexico. Mercer is proficient with all Cobra small arms and explosive devices.”

In 1986, GI Joe got their first real-life celebrity member in the form of professional wrestler Sgt. Slaughter, who would serve as a high-stakes drill instructor for the team when Beach Head just wasn’t enough.  In 1987, both the toyline and the movie would give Slaughter his own specialized team of hard-hitting trainees, dubbed Sgt. Slaughter’s Renegades.  The three man team was made up of Red Dogg, Taurus, and today’s focus, Mercer, a turncoat Cobra Viper.  Gee, I wonder why Ethan likes this one…

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mercer and the other two Renegades were released as a special three-pack as part of G.I. Joe‘s 1987 line-up (except for in the UK, where Mercer and his teammates were available individually).  They were one of a pair of three-packs based on characters introduced in the movie.  There were plans for a third, but they were scrapped after the less than stellar performance of the Cobra-La pack.  Mercer stands 3 3/4 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  His sculpt was all-new to him, and apart from the head being re-used for another Mercer figure in 2006, the parts would remain unique to him.  Mercer’s design is important, since it has to read as a Cobra uniform without actually being one.  Now, why it’s not just a broken down Viper uniform is really anyone’s guess, but I’d say Mercer’s not super keen to get mistaken for the enemy.  He’s got a lot of similarly styled elements to the Viper figure, with the vest and the quilted elements on his pants.  That said, he definitely reads as just a little bit more heroic than a Cobra operative.  All things considered, though, Mercer’s sculpt does seem a little more basic and light on the details than some of his compatriots, with the hair being noticeably devoid of detail.  He’s still more detailed than the line’s earlier works, but compared to some of the figures that hit the same year, the fact that his hair’s so smooth does stand out as a little odd.  He also shows the line’s shift towards more exaggerated proportions, with his arms being quite bulked up, and his torso getting more of that V-shape that later figures would receive more regularly.  With the proportions, it is a little more excusable for a character like Mercer, since the Renegades are supposed to be a little more hardened, though.  Mercer’s paintwork is decent enough, keeping with the sculpt’s “suggest Cobra, but not actually Cobra” aesthetic.  He does end up a little oranger than he looked in animation, but it’s at least a deep orange, not a safety orange.  Mercer was packed with a pistol and a backpack, both of which are missing from my figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m a huge fan of the Vipers, so it’s not much of a surprise that I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Mercer (the other two Renegades I can kind of take or leave).  When piecing together the huge Joe collection that came into All Time, I was a little sad that the Renegades weren’t included (though not as saddened as the time Red Dogg and Taurus came in without a corresponding Mercer.  That one really stung deep).  As luck would have it, I happened upon Mercer at Yesterday’s Fun while on my summer family vacation, so I wasn’t without him for too long.  Honestly, after going through so many Joes in the last few months, Mercer is perhaps not as exciting as I’d hoped, but it’s still cool to have him.

#2217: Bruce Banner & Hulk

BRUCE BANNER & HULK

MARVEL MINIMATES

The very first assortment of Marvel Minimates is perhaps a bit odd-ball when looking back on things.  No Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, or even X-Men.  Nope, it’s two sets of Daredevil and one set of Hulk.  Why this particular line-up for the debut?  Well, the first series of Marvel Minimates hit in the summer of 2003.  Do you know what else hit in 2003?  Movies for both Daredevil and Hulk, and though those films may not be looked back on particularly fondly these days, they did make their title characters recognizable to a general audience, thereby making them a moderately reasonable starting point.  Today, I’m looking at the slight outlier of the line-up, the one Hulk pack in the lot, pairing off both the Hulk and his human alter-ego, Bruce Banner.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bruce Banner and Hulk were, as noted above, part of the first series of Marvel Minimates.  It’s worth noting that the numbering was really little more than clerical on the first three series of the line, with all of them hitting pretty much at the same time, but nevertheless, these guys were technically among the first.

BRUCE BANNER

Alter-egos were popular fodder for the early ‘mates, with Hulk, Spider-Man, and Wolverine all getting their civilian counterparts right out of the gate.  Banner makes the most sense, I suppose, though, since he’s so visually different, and the internal struggle between the two halves is so important to the story.  While Bruce has had a lot of different appearances over the years, this one opts for something more in line with how he looked on the cover of his first appearance, with glasses and a lab coat.  It’s certainly a bit more visually interesting than just plain civilian clothes.  The figure uses the old-style ‘mate body, complete with long feet, so he stands roughly 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation.  He’s got two add-on pieces: one for his hair/glasses, and one for his jacket.  The hair/glasses combo is different from how things would be handled later, since glasses tend to just be printed on the faces now.  Additionally, the glasses are opaque, which gives him a very different, far more stylized appearance than later figures.  I myself have always been a pretty big fan of this look.  The jacket’s a little on the bulky side, but if you don’t like it, the shirt and the arms are both white, so you can remove it without it looking too weird.  Banner’s paintwork is rather simple, with some detailing for his face, his tie on his shirt (complete with tie clip), and a belt buckle on his pelvis.  Banner included no accessories.

HULK

Definitely the selling point of this set, and honestly the more dated of the two offerings.  Hulk represents the old style of doing things, back when ‘mates were still firmly planted on the philosophy of using the least amount of extra parts possible for each figure.  For larger characters, such as Hulk and Venom, this left them looking…kinda small.  Compared to Hulk, puny Banner wasn’t very puny.  Hulk’s only add-on was his hair piece, which is a decent enough part, although it does come off a lot, since the pegs weren’t implemented until Series 8 of the line.  It’s simple, but feels classically Hulk.  His paint is a little more involved than Banner, with detailing on the front and back of his torso, as well as remnants of his torn shirt running all along the sides of his pelvis, and torn legs to his pants running along the shins.  The feet and lower legs are painted green, rather than molded, which looks noticeably of a different shade.  Also, for some reason, the shade of purple on the pants is different between Hulk and Banner, something I never really understood.  Like Banner, Hulk had no accessories.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

When my dad brought home the Yellow Daredevil and Elektra set for me back in 2003, he also brought with him a Hulk and Banner set for my younger brother, which gave me a taste of the set.  I would eventually get a pack of my own as a birthday present from some family friends that same year.  I still have those two, but they’re a little worse for wear these days, so I actually picked up a replacement set when All Time got in a Minimate collection a few months ago.  If I’m honest, the Hulk in this set never did a lot for me, but conversely the Banner has always been one of my favorites from the early line up.

#2216: Barricade

BARRICADE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE (HASBRO)

While I have mostly left the discussion of Transformers that are really just re-decos to other reviewers, I did touch on it a little bit back when I reviewed Red Alert.  Of course, the difference between the likes of Red Alert and the Seekers and today’s re-deco is that while the former grouping is all characters who are classically re-decos, the latter isn’t even a classic character at all.  The Decepticon Barricade was first introduced into the lore in the 2007 live-action film, in a role that was originally meant to go to Soundwave (which is why he interacts with Frenzy), and was designed as a subversion of good-guy Prowl’s usual role as the police car.  In 2012, fan artist Guido Guidi did a G1-styled illustration of Barricade patterned after Prowl (sensible, what with them having the same alt-mode and all), which Hasbro liked enough to make it an official thing. And here we are with a G1-style Barricade figure, a re-deco of a Prowl figure.  Yay?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Barricade is the third and final unique figure in the fourth deluxe class assortment of Siege figures, with the Weaponizer Six-Gun figure getting a re-pack in the final slot.  In his robot mode, the figure stands 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 22 workable points of articulation.  For the most part, Barricade is sculpturally identical to the Prowl figure from Deluxe Wave 2.  Prowl was my surprise favorite from that line-up, and a lot of that has to do with how the body was implemented, so it means that Barricade’s already starting from a strong point.  He does get a new head, which he will be sharing with the Generation Selects Smokescreen figure.  It’s suitably different from Prowl’s head, while still hitting a lot of the same notes.  Whatever the case, it injects a little bit more variety into the Prowl mold, which is probably a good thing, since we’re getting four figures out of it.  Barricade’s main change-up is the colors, which for his robot mode are quite different, since he’s got a lot of purple, which is admittedly a very Decepticon color to have. He’s almost an inverted color scheme to Prowl, who was predominately light with dark, where as Barricade is dark with light.  Barricade’s alt-mode is pretty much the same as Prowl’s, as it should be, but again the colors are changed up, and the inverting is even more noticeable here.  Also, unlike Prowl, who was clean of damage, Barricade has wear right on either side of the front of the car, indicating he likes to run other vehicles off the road a lot.  That’s a nifty touch, and far more character-specific than the other damage we’ve seen.  Barricade does change things up a bit on the armaments front.  Rather than getting the same blaster as Prowl, he gets a pair of shoulder-mountable cannons, which can be combined into a handheld weapon.  Classically, the cannons are actually a Prowl thing, but they were missing from the last figure.  Fear not, though, as they will be coming in white with Smokescreen, meaning Prowl will be able to have them again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I liked Prowl a lot, and so that was enough to sway me on Barricade I guess.  Well, that and Max setting the whole assortment aside for me.  That helped too.  I don’t have a ton to say about this guy.  He didn’t surprise me, because I knew what I was getting.  What I was getting was a solid toy, though, so that’s always a plus.

Barricade came from my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.