#0194: Marvel’s Black Knight

MARVEL’S BLACK KNIGHT

MARVEL UNIVERSE

BlackKnight

For quite some time, I’ve felt that The Avengers was the greatest super hero team ever. Well before the team became a big hit with their recent movie, I was desperately seeking out the random trickles of Avengers characters amongst ToyBiz’s many 5 inch Marvel lines. I know lots of people don’t care for it, but Avengers: United They Stand excited me to no end because its toyline gave me access to figure versions of Falcon, Tigra, Wonderman, Vison, and Kang. Those slightly lower tier characters are what make the Avengers for me. Sure, Cap is still essential, and Iron Man and Thor are both important too (Hulk, on the other hand, really isn’t. Until recently, his status as an Avenger consisted of 3 issues. Out of 500.), but for me the Avengers were Scarlet Witch, Vision, Hawkeye, and the like. So, for quite some time, I’ve been doing my best to find the best collection of all those lesser known Avengers in one scale. Hasbro seems to be finally delivering on that, with their pretty decent roster of Avengers from their Marvel Universe line. The line has recently “ended” and was rebranded under an Avengers name, which I’m totally cool with. Before MU ended, they got out one last series of new figures, which featured today’s figure, Black Knight, one of those lesser known Avengers I discussed. For more info on him, go here.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Black Knight was released as part of the final series of Marvel Universe. He’s based on the Dane Whitman version of Black Knight, and is depicted in Dane’s first costume. The figure stands about 3 ¾ inches tall and has 20 points of articulation. He’s built on the medium sized male buck, which I believe first appeared on Captain Marvel, a few years ago. It’s one of Hasbro’s better pieces, so I’m not gonna complain, though I do wish the arms went down a bit further. He features a new head and hands, plus add-ons for the belt/scabbard and cape. He also reuses the “pirate boot” feet previously seen on several versions of Hawkeye. The new pieces look pretty good, especially the head, which seems pretty spot on to the classic Black Knight look. The paint work is pretty much the usual faire for a Hasbro release. Not perfect, but there’s no really noticeable instances of slop or bleed over, which is nice. Dane’s one accessory is his Ebony sword. It’s made of very soft plastic, so it comes out of the package pretty bent. It’s also a grayish-silver, which is odd, what with it being an EBONY sword and all. Oh well, guess the figure doesn’t have to be perfect, right?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like so many figures these days, I purchased Black Knight from Amazon. I’m very happy to have the figure because it’s the Black Knight figure I’ve wanted since I was a kid. Previous Black Knight figures were always a bit off, so I’m really thrilled by how well it turned out!

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#0193: Mark I, James Rhodes, & Mark II

IRON MAN MARK I, JAMES RHODES, & IRON MAN MARK II

MARVEL MINIMATES

Rhodes&MarkI

MarkII&TonyMinimates, Minimates, time to review some Minimates! Yep, it’s more of my favorite line of toys to review, Marvel Minimates. It’s a long running line, with almost 60 main series, plus lots of supplemental boxed sets and exclusives. And I own a very large portion of them, so there’s quite a few for me to review. Today, I’ll be looking at a set from the tie-in series for 2008’s Iron Man. It’s James Rhodes and the Mark I armor, plus the variant Mark II armor.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

These guys were released in the 21st series of Marvel Minimates.

IRON MAN MARK I

While stranded in a cave, being held captive by a terrorist cell, Tony Stark builds his first suit of armor, dubbed the Mark I, from scrap parts. That’s right, Tony Stark built it. In a cave. With a box of scraps! The Mark I is built on the standard Minimate body, which means it has 14 points of articulation and stands about 2 ½ inches tall. The figure has 10 sculpted add-on pieces: helmet, chest plate, upper arm covers, lower arm covers, thigh covers, and boots. All of these pieces look great, and have a tremendous amount of detailing. The coolest feature about the figure is what’s underneath of all those pieces: a whole Tony Stark! Add the included hair piece and spare feet, and you get a pitch perfect interpretation of what Tony wore while working on the Mark I. It’s a great touch, and this was one of the very first Minimates to implement such a feature. The paint work is very detailed and quite cleanly applied, especially on the underlying Tony pieces. This is by far my favorite figure in the set, and in fact the whole of series 21.

JAMES RHODES

James Rhodes, or Rhodey as Tony likes to call him, is Tony Stark’s best friend and confidant. This figure is kind of funny now, given that it’s based on Terrance Howard’s ill-fated portrayal of the character, and is in fact wearing the very outfit he has on during the infamous “Next time, baby!” scene. The figure is built on the standard Minimate body with two add-on pieces: hair and jacket. Both pieces were new to this figure, and both are pretty much spot on to how Rhodey looked in the film. The paint work on the figure is pretty nice, with no real slop, and some very nice detail work on the shirt and pants especially. The face isn’t quite Terrance Howard, and it seems like the skin may be a tad too dark, but it’s a valiant attempt. Rhodey included no accessories.

IRON MAN MARK II

After he returns home from captivity, Tony decides to refine the Mark I, and builds the Mark II. It’s a sleeker design, and it’s a bit higher powered. It’s also a really easy repaint for toy companies, given that it’s really just a silver version of the Mark III, the film’s main armor. So, here it is, for pretty much that reason. The figure is on the basic Minimate body, with 6 uniquely sculpted pieces: two-piece helmet, chest piece, gloves and legs. All of these pieces are well sculpted, and look accurate to the movie. Not as impressive as the Mark I, but still pretty good. The paint is fairly basic, being mostly one shade of silver, but they did put all the appropriate rivets on, which is a nice touch. The figure includes a spare set of hands and legs, and a hair piece, to allow a more disassembled look.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I really loved the first Iron Man film, and patiently awaited the release of the tie-in ‘mates. They kept getting pushed back, which was very annoying, but once I had them, they were one of my favorite series of Minimates for a very long time. I still love the Mark I, and all the amazing detail present in that little guy!

#0192: Jawas

JAWAS

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II

Jawas

Kenner’s Power of the Force II was a very important to my toy collection. The line first hit in 1995, when I was 3 and just beginning to get into action figures. Needless to say, I ended up with quite the selection of figures from the line. One of my favorite subsets of creatures from the original Star Wars was always the Jawas. For some reason, I just love those little guys! So, today’s review covers POTF II’s release of those.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Jawas were released as part of the 1996 assortment of POFT II figures. They were released as a pair to make up for their smaller stature. The taller one stands about 3 ¼ inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. The shorter one is about 2 ¾ inches, and has 4 points of articulation. In both cases, I’m counting the neck as a point of articulation, but there isn’t very much motion that can be gotten out of either. The sculpts are both pretty good for the time. The taller one is a little bit more detailed, but that’s not too surprising given the difference in size. However, the smaller one still has some very nice detail work. The paint on the pair is fairly basic, but everything is cleanly applied, with no noticeable slop on either figure. Both figures also have a light-piping feature, which allows their eyes to light up. It’s a bit obvious where the clear plastic is on the heads, so I could see some people being annoyed by this. I’m not really bugged by it, but I chalk that up to nostalgia.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I don’t remember exactly when or where I got this pair, but I know it wasn’t too long after I got Dagobah Luke. If I recall correctly, they were bought for me by my Mom, while we were out on an excursion together. I always really liked these figures, and I do seem to recall the taller one getting a spare lightsaber, and thereby being a Jedi-Jawa!

 

Incidentally, my brother Christian had a quick comment about these figures while I was reviewing them:

“This figure likes to go MARTINI too many damn times. I don’t see why they made this figure. It’s a piece of SHIET! Why do I need to feel bad about my life when I already have the war to care about?”

Yeah, he’s a bit on the strange side…

#0191: Charles Tucker

CHARLES TUCKER

ENTERPRISE (ART ASYLUM)

Tucker

So, I believe I’ve mentioned my controversial opinion of Star Trek: Enterprise on the site before, but for those who didn’t know: yes, I am a fan of it. It’s actually my favorite series after The Original Series and Next Generation. Sure, it wasn’t the greatest show, and there are some downright horrible episodes, but I do kinda like it. I think part of what I liked may have been the show’s action figures, produced by then up-and-coming company Art Asylum.  They did two waves of figures, the first based on the show’s pilot episode, and the second based on some of the crew’s away team looks. Today, I’ll be doing a review of the show’s chief of engineering, Charles “Trip” Tucker.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Trip is from the second series of the line, and is presented here in his EV, or Environmental, suit. The figure stands about 7 inches tall and has 22 points of articulation. The sculpted work on the figure is really quite nice. There’s lots of great details on the figure, and he features separate helmet and torso pieces that can be removed, which adds some very nice depth to the EV suit. The head sculpt looks pretty much spot on to actor Connor Trinneer, who played Trip on the show.  The paint work is not quite as good as the sculpt, but it’s not terrible.  The worst of it seems to be on the head, which has some pretty bad bleed over from the skin into the hair. Said skin is also very yellow, which gives Trip an unhealthy look. The paint on the EV suit is a lot better, and actually has some pretty cool details, especially on the chest piece. Trip includes a removable helmet and chest piece, and one of the weird coins that Art Asylum was including with all their figures at the time. So, yeah…

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

So, there’s actually a story to how I got this one. I was in the dealer’s room at ShoreLeave, a local sci-fi convention, and I found this figure from the resident action figure dealer. This guy was at a lot of the conventions, and had seen me lots of times before, what with me buying lots and lots of action figures. I really wanted the figure, but I didn’t have any money with me. So, one of the guys working the table walked the figure down with me so I could find my dad. When we found him, the guy walked up to my dad, who was definitely in the middle of something else at the time, and told him he needed to buy the figure for me. They offered to knock several dollars off the price as a “frequent-buyer’s discount.” My dad actually bought the figure for me, in spite of what most normal, sane, and rational people would do. Because he’s just that cool.

#0190: Ultraman Leo

ULTRAMAN LEO

ULTRA-ACT

Leo1

After doing a decently sized string of reviews from the line back in January, my Ultra-Act reviews certainly do seem to have slowed down a bit, haven’t they? The last one I did was Father of Ultra, and that was way back in February. One of the cool things about Ultraman is the plethora of different Ultras and all of their unique takes on the common design themes. Today, I’ll be taking a look at Ultraman Leo, the 7th main Ultraman, and star of Ultraman Leo. I know; what a shock.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Leo5Ultraman Leo is one of the very first of the 2014 releases for the Ultra-Act line. As per usual for this line, he’s not part of a series or the like, just a singleLeo2 release on his own. This is Leo’s second release in this line, and this one has been made to fit in a bit better with some of the more recent releases. The figure is a little taller than some of the others, though not quite as tall as Father of Ultra, standing about 6 ¼ inches tall. He features the standard 40 points of articulation that most of this line’s figures sports. Leo has been bulked up a bit from his previous figure, in an aim to keep him more in line with the current line’s releases. The sculpt is pretty good overall, and re-creates Leo’s look in the show really well. The paint apps are applied cleanly, with no bleed over or slop. Bandai looks to be trying a new technique of detailing, through a sort of air-brushing. It’s a subtle touch, but it looks pretty good and gives the figure a bit more depth. As with all other Ultra-Act releases, Leo has a large compliment of accessories, including: an extra color-timer, a pin-wheel (yeah, I don’t really know what that’s for), Ultra-Mant defense umbrella, 2 sets of nun-chucks (with and without real chain), a gold arm-band, a Leo-Kick effect, and 14 hands: fists (L and R), open gesture (L and R), open flat (Land R), karate-chop (L and R), nun-chuck gripping (L and R), umbrella grip (R), pin-wheel grip (R), Fire-Blast (R), and fire charging (works for either). That’s quite an impressive set of accessories. The color timer is standard, the pin-wheel and umbrella are definitely unique, the nun-chucks are great for letting you choose how to display them, and the hands add some real expression to the character. The piece for the Leo-kick is cool and all, but if you don’t have a stand, the best you can pull off is the “eek, my foot is on fire” look.

Leo4 Leo3 Leo6 Leo7 Leo8 Leo9

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Leo was pre-ordered through Amazon. I guess it was relatively painless, though it did mark the first time they’ve sent me an e-mail effectively saying “we have no idea where this figure is, so we can’t guarantee we’ll get this to you… ever” for something I’ve ordered. As you can see, it worked out all right. I wasn’t quite as excited for Leo as I have been for others, but he’s a good figure over all.

#0189: The Demon, Etrigan

THE DEMON, ETRIGAN

DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS

Etrigan

Ah, yes, DC Universe Classics. A line I loved and hated. I love most of the figures, but I grew to hate Mattel, the producers of the line, more and more as every series went by. This figure goes back to the happier times, way back in Series 1, before things went to crap.

The character in question is The Demon, Etrigan, a character created by Jack Kirby in 1972. He was originally Sir Jason Blood, a knight in King Arthur’s court, who was bound with the demon by Merlin. Jason became immortal, and had the ability to summon the Demon’s form by reciting “Gone, gone the form of man. Rise the demon, Etrigan!” The character had prominent appearances in Batman: The Animated Series and Justice League, if you want to check those out.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Etrigan was released in the first series of DC Universe Classics. I always have found this to be an interesting choice, given the character’s relative obscurity, but I suppose Mattel wanted to show they intended to go pretty obscure with the line. He has 23 points of articulation is is just shy of 7 inches tall. DCUC was usually heavily dependent on the Buck System, but Etrigan actually had an almost entirely unique sculpt. The only thing I believe was ever reused is the upper torso piece, which I believe was later see on some of the Collect-N-Connect figures such as Atom Smasher. Etrigan’s sculpt is a truly impressive piece of work by Mattel’s oft-used sculpting team The Four Horsemen. The skin has some wonderful texture work, and the sleeves and cape are nicely tattered. Etrigan’s lower arms and hands are a bit rubbery, but nowhere near as bad as some later entries in the line. The paint work on Etrigan looks great. All the basic paintwork is clean, no slop or bleed over. He also features several washes, which really help to bring out the details of the sculpt. Etrigan’s only accessory is the left arm of Metamorpho, the C-N-C of series 1. Etrigan doesn’t really have anything that would work as an accessory, and he’s a bit bigger than the typical figure, so it’s understandable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had initially not planned on purchasing Etrigan, or really getting into DCUC at all. The line-up was mostly figures I already had in some form or another, and most of Mattel’s previous DC work had been lackluster at best. DC Direct seemed to be killing it with their more expansive offering of DC figures. But then, Mattel announced the next two series of figures. Specifically, they announced Series 3’s Green Lantern, which quickly caught my attention. So, I gave the first series a second look, and found that several of them were actually quite good. I found Etrigan and two of his compatriots at my local Target and picked them up, effectively creating a monster. Yay.

#0188: Eric the Red

ERIC THE RED

X-MEN (TOYBIZ)

EricTheRed

Eric the Red was a famous Viking, known for being the father of—wait, sorry. That’s not the right Eric the Red. Right. Umm… Eric the Red was an alias used by X-Man Cyclops in order to infiltrate a group of villains so he could rescue the rest of the X-Men. What? Still not right? Hang on….

Here it is: Eric the Red was a member of the Shi’ar Empire, the alien race most notable for really hating the Phoenix. He actually stole the identity from Cyclops, for reasons unknown, and used Shi’ar tech to mind control Havok and Polaris into battling the current team of X-Men. Mostly, he’s known for his appearances in the 90s X-Men cartoon during the show’s version of The Phoenix Saga, which is what earned him this figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

EriktheRed2Eric the Red was released in the “Invasion Series” of ToyBiz’s X-Men line. In all honesty, I’m a bit surprised he wasn’t part of the wave meant to tie-in to The Phoenix Saga, but I guess ToyBiz was just making everything X-Men related at the time. The figure stands a little over 5 inches tall and has 7 points of articulation. That’s a bit less than the norm, mostly due to his lack of knee joints. I’m not really sure why he’s missing them, but they do cause him to be a little difficult to get to stand properly. From a sculpting standpoint, the figure’s amazing. The 90s X-Men line could be a bit odd or overly simplistic at times (doesn’t mean I don’t still love them), but this one is genuinely great. He pretty much looks dead on to Dave Cockrum’s interpretation of the character, which is really cool to see. There’s an amazing amount of sculpted detail, and I especially love how well the head’s been handled. It just looks perfect. The paint work isn’t quite as astounding as the sculpting, but it’s all well applied, and I do really like that all the red parts have been molded in metallic red. Eric included a crazy space blaster, which fit very nicely in his hand.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Eric was a Christmas gift from my parents. I received him, along with Havok, I believe. He was a very early addition to my action figure collection, and as such, I have a lot of nostalgia for this guy. It also helps that he was in The Phoenix Saga, which I owned on VHS, and that he is also just a pretty great figure. He also made for a really great bad guy for just about anyone to fight, which is always cool.

#0187: “World of the Psychic” Peter Venkman

PETER VENKMAN – WORLD OF THE PSYCHIC

GHOSTBUSTERS MINIMATES

WorlofthePsychicPeter

I think most Ghostbusters fans will agree that Ghostbusters 2 isn’t anywhere close to the level of the original, however, it’s not as bad as some will lead you to believe. One of the cool things to see was just what all of the characters had been up to since the end of the first film. Peter Venkman seemed to get the most entertaining of gigs of all the main characters, working as the host of the show World of the Psychic, where we get to see him interacting with two people who believe they know when the world will end. It’s one of the more amusing scenes in the movie, and Diamond Select Toys decided to honor it with the release of Peter from that scene in Minimate form.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Peter was released as part of the third series of Toys R Us Exclusive Ghostbusters Minimates. He was packed with the film’s main villain, Vigo the Carpathian, but my Vigo figure’s gone missing, so it’s just Peter today. Peter is built on the usual Minimate body, which means he has 14 points of articulation and stands about 2 ½ inches tall. He has two sculpted add-ons: a hairpiece, and a coat. The hair is the same piece used on the previous versions of Venkman, and the coat was a new piece, I think, but it has seen a fair number of re-uses since then. The paint is fairly basic, with mostly solid blocks of color on each piece, but he does have a decent Bill Murray likeness, this time with a more solemn expression, and he has funky red shoelaces on his shoes. Peter’s one accessory is a hairless cat, which is a great scene specific piece that could have been easily over looked.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked up Venkman and Vigo from my local TRU. I believe it was an after school trip with my Dad during my senior year. It’s neat idea for a figure, I suppose, though it’s a bit drab and it will hardly be anyone’s definitive version of Venkman. Still, I suppose it’s not too bad.

#0186: Kraven The Hunter

KRAVEN THE HUNTER

SPIDER-MAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES

Kraven

Remember my review of Unmasked Spider-Man from just last week? Good, that means this intro can be a bit shorter. Like that figure, this one hails from ToyBiz’s Spider-Man: The Animated Series line from the 90s, and also comes from one of the boxed sets ToyBiz released exclusively through BJ’s Wholesalers. This time around, it’s Kraven the Hunter, one of the classic Spider-Man foes. He was a hunter looking for a more exciting hunt, which led to him fighting Spidey on numerous occasions and eventually joining the first incarnation of the Sinister Six. Let’s see how he turned out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kraven was released in the BJ’s exclusive Monster Mayhem set, which also included 5 other figures, all repaints. Kraven stands about 5 inches tall and has 9 points of articulation, which were both standard for the line. Kraven is 100% re-use, being a repaint of the main Spider-Man line’s own release of Kraven. The previous Kraven was based on his cartoon appearance, whereas this one seems to be more comic based. The biggest difference present is this figure’s leopard patterned pants in contrast to the previous figure’s black pants. The sculpt is a pretty good one, and is pretty in line with the classic Kraven design, so I can’t blame them for re-releasing it in a more comic accurate palate. The paint work is well applied and clean overall, and it appears to be a bit more detailed than the single release figure. Kraven included no accessories, which is a shame, because his hand is obviously molded to hold one.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I acquired this BJ’s exclusive at KB Toys. Yes, you read that right. Apparently, BJ’s would only actually hold on to these sets for a short while before selling them to KB for the rest of the distribution. Hey, it works for me. Anyway, I was on a trip to the beach, I think right before my brother was born, but I don’t recall for certain. My dad took me to the nearby KB and they had this set there. I had known about its existence, thanks to the internet, but I hadn’t seen it in person. I remember being pretty happy to get it, though it wasn’t really for Kraven. Still, he’s a decent figure, and does help bring back the memories of getting the set.

#0185: Iron Grenadier

IRON GRENADIER

GI JOE 30TH ANNIVERSARY

IronGrenader

I’ve done a fair number of reviews based around Hasbro’s 3 ¾ inch re-imagining of GI Joe under the A Real American Hero name. It’s ranged from the early 2000s re-launch as GI Joe VS Cobra, which was followed by GI Joe 25th Anniversary, which was in turn followed by the tie-in line for 2009’s GI Joe: Rise of Cobra. Following the return to the non-movie themed toys, Hasbro first introduced Pursuit of Cobra, before jumping into GI Joe 30th Anniversary. No points for guessing why they went with that name. Today, I look at an Iron Grenadier, a member of weapons supplier Destro’s personal army.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Grenadier was released as part of the first wave of GI Joe 30th Anniversary. It’s a slightly tweaked version of the same figure’s release in the Pursuit of Cobra line. Both figures are a more armored re-imagining of the classic Grenadier design. The key difference between the two is this version’s lack of camo-paint on the gray parts. The figure stands 3 ¾ inches tall and has 20 paints of articulation. The articulation is a bit hampered by some of the sculpted parts, but that’s to be expected. The Iron Grenadier is actually crated from totally reused parts, but they’re a smart re-use. The head comes from the previous 25th version of the Grenadier, and the body is from the armored up version of Destro released in the Pursuit of Cobra line. This means that the troops matched the newer version of Destro, while still fitting with the previous Grenadiers, which is definitely cool. All of the sculpted pieces are really great, and tremendously detailed. The paint work is pretty good on this figure, though he is hurt by the lack of detailing on the gray parts. Given the high quality work on the rest of the figure, he almost looks unfinished. The Grenadier includes a display stand with his name and the Cobra symbol, a backpack, a smart-gun, bullets, and a bullet case. All in all a solid figure.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I hadn’t really planned on getting the Grenadier, but I decided to order a full set of the first two waves of 30th from Big Bad Toy Store, so I ended up getting him with the set. I don’t regret the purchase, as it’s a pretty cool little figure, and a great addition to the Cobra ranks. It’s not quite as good as the Pursuit of Cobra version, but it’s still good on its own merits.