#0952: Black Panther & Iron Man




It’s not really news to the regular followers of this site, but I really, really enjoyed Captain America: Civil War. While it was still undeniably Cap’s movie, the supporting players really stood out. One of the best parts of the movie was Black Panther, who was introduced into the MCU with a standout performance from Chadwick Boseman. I can’t wait to see more of this guy! Until his solo Black Panther movie hits, I’ll just have to hold myself over with some of his toys. Though I haven’t yet found his awesome looking Marvel Legends figure, I did manage to snag his Minimate, which I’ll be looking at today, along with his pack-mate Iron Man.


Panther and Iron Man were released in Series 66 of the Marvel Minimates line. The whole series is based on Captain America: Civil War. These two are also one of the shared sets between the specialty and TRU assortments.*


PantherIM2Amazingly enough, is is only Black Panther’s third appearance as a Minimate. He hasn’t shown up since Series 29! This one is, unsurprisingly, based on his movie appearance. Admittedly, it’s not very far off from his basic comics appearance, so he could really work as either version in a pinch. The figure stands about 2 ½ inches tall and has the usual 14 points of articulation. Panther’s only add-on is his mask, which is the same piece used by the last two Panther ‘mates. It’s a well-sculpted, simplistic piece, which suits the character very well. It’s too bad he didn’t get a set of clawed hands as well, but that’s a fairly minor nit. The rest of Panther’s detailing is done via paintwork, and it’s some pretty exceptional work at that. There’s a ton of small detail work to make up the unique texturing of Panther’s costume in the movie, and I love how much depth the variations of finish give him. Under the mask, there’s a fully detailed head, with painted on hair and ears. It’s not a perfect likeness of Boseman as T’Challa; for some reason he’s missing his facial hair (which appears to be the case with the Legends figure as well), and his expression is also a bit bland. But, it’s still a nice touch, and adds an extra bit of coolness to the figure. Panther’s only accessory is a clear display stand. It seems a bit light, but I’m not really sure what else they could have given him.


PantherIM3Tony Stark really likes tweaking his armor. The Mark 46 serves as his only armor during the course of Civil War (I believe this is the first time he’s only had one). It’s not too far removed from the Mark 45, which he wore at the end of Age of Ultron. However, there are a few minor differences, most of which seem to be there to help bulk Tony up so he doesn’t look too overpowered by Cap. As a Minimate, the Mark 46 is built from the same pieces as the Marks 42 and 43, minus the chest piece. That means he’s got add-ons for his helmet, gloves, pelvis, and boots, as well as a non-standard set of upper arms. It’s not my favorite set of pieces, and the selection isn’t a spot-on recreation of what’s seen in the film (there are way too many join lines), but the end result isn’t too bad. The upper arms are still very limiting in terms of articulation, but the effect is at least somewhat lessened by the omission of the chest plate. The paint does a lot to really sell this figure. The colors of red and gold chosen work pretty nicely together, and the detail lines all do a good job of recreating the on-screen armor. There’s a bit of slop on the arms, but it’s all minor and fairly unnoticeable. Under the helmet, there’s a very angry Tony Stark face. I like the change of expression, though I do wonder why he’s lacking the black eye that Tony was sporting during all of his armored scenes. Iron Man is packed with a spare hair piece, a flying stand, and a clear display stand.


I picked these two up from Cosmic Comix the week they were released. Amusingly enough, it was actually on the way to take Super Awesome Girlfriend to see the movie. Panther’s definitely the selling point of this set. He’s a new addition to the MCU subset of ‘mates, and the first shot a lot of newer collectors have had at a Black Panther Minimate. He’s also just a pretty solid ‘mate all around. Iron Man’s certainly not a bad addition, but there’s so many Iron Men out there that this one blends in with the crowd a bit. He’s really not bad, and he may well be my favorite MCU Iron Man. He’s just not super thrilling is all. Still, this is definitely a fun set!

*Amusingly enough, in a similar fashion to the Hawkeye/Vision set, the first Black Panther ‘mate was packed with an Iron Man variant.  History repeats!


#0951: Luke Skywalker – Stormtrooper Disguise




“Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?”

I haven’t reviewed any Star Wars: The Black Series figures in a while. And even then, the last handful of them have all been The Force Awakens-related. So, how about an Original Trilogy figure? Yeah, that’ll be nice. The most recurrent character in the line is by far Luke Skywalker. I mean, it’s fair; he is the central character of the first three movies. He also gets a few notable costume changes. One such change is when he steals the armor of an Imperial Stormtrooper in order to infiltrate the Death Star. It’s a rather popular version of the character, and it’s been represented in action figure form since way back in the vintage line. Now, let’s have a look at the latest version!


LukeTrooper2Luke was released as part of the pre-Force Awakens incarnation of Star Wars: The Black Series, as figure #12. He was released in the 8th assortment of figures, alongside Emperor Palpatine and the Clone Captain. As noted in the intro, this figure is based on Luke’s Stormtrooper disguise look from the second half A New Hope. The figure stands just under 6 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation. Seeing as he was running around in their armor, it’s not a shock to find out that this figure makes some pretty hefty use of the pieces used for the Stormtrooper/Sandtrooper. Luke ends up getting the arms and legs from that figure, along with the head of the X-Wing Luke from Series 1. Those pieces were all pretty good the first time around, and they’re still pretty great here. The head in particular is probably the best Hamill likeness in this scale. Luke also has a new torso and pelvis, which aid in making him “a little short for a Stromtrooper.” The end result looks pretty good, though the arms require some careful posing, as they are a touch on the long side. The paint on Black Series figures has been known to make or break the figures. Luke’s far from the worst I’ve seen from the line, and the head in particular is quite clean. That said, there’s still quite a bit of slop in the changes between black and white, which can be more than a bit distracting. Luke is packed with a standard blaster rifle, a communicator, and a removable Stormtrooper helmet. The helmet is the biggest deal here. It’s similar to the solid head seen on the normal Trooper, but obviously it’s been hollowed out so Luke can wear it. The details are a little softer here, but they don’t look terrible, and he fits in pretty well with the other Troopers.


Luke here was a graduation gift from my Super Awesome Girlfriend. On her way up to visit me, she stopped at a Walgreens and saw this guy there all alone. She picked him up, but between purchasing him and giving him to me, she had convinced herself that I already had him. Imagine her relief when she found out I didn’t actually own one! I never picked this guy up because he looked like a fairly simple re-use figure, but there’s actually a lot to like about this guy. Definitely glad to have him!


#0950: Axe Attack Thor


ThorAA1Typically, when a superhero movie gets tie-in toys, the toy company wants to be able to cram as many versions of the main character into the line as possible. This means they tend to invent a bunch of non-canon variants, each one more gimmicky than the last. This is a time honored tradition, going back to Kenner’s toys for the 1989 Batman movie. For some characters, it works pretty well, and the figures sell regardless of their silliness. For others, it’s less successful, resulting in a bunch of figures absolutely no one wants. Well, except for me, because I’m the freaking personification of the Island of Misfit Toys. So, here’s a Thor variant!
ThorAA2Axe Attack Thor was released in the fourth series of the Thor: The Mighty Avenger line, which was released to coincide with the 2011 Thor movie. The figure stands roughly 4 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation (the Thor line was one of the last movie lines from Hasbro to be fully articulated). In case you hadn’t gathered from the intro, he’s not based on any design from the movie, but is instead from the minds of Hasbro’s design team. This is the second use of this mold in this line: it was originally used for Series 1’s Battle Hammer Thor. Regardless of where the design came from, the sculpt’s actually pretty awesome. There’s lots of fun detail work, and Athens sculpt is all-around pretty sharp. The head isn’t a spot-on Hemsworth likeness, but it isn’t terribly far off, and it at the very least looks suitably Thor-like. The paint is the thing that differentiates this guy from Battle Hammer Thor. Rather than the usual silver, black, and red, this guy is a mix of blues and turquoises, with just a bit of brown thrown in. It’s not your standard Thor look, but it actually looks pretty solid. The application is also pretty great, with only a few minor issues cropping up. Thor included his gimmicky namesake weapon, which is a weird axe/sword thing with spinning blades at the top. He also includes Mjolnir, but it’s molded in a translucent blue, which goes really well with the figure.
I didn’t intend to get this figure, I really didn’t. I picked up the main Thor from Series 1, and that was enough for me. Unfortunately, due to an insane over stocking of the first series, the later series didn’t make it to stores in any timely fashion. Since I wanted Series 4’s Lady Sif figure, I broke down and bought a full set of Series 4 from Big Bad Toy Store, thus getting this guy. I ended up getting rid of most of the other figures, but this guy intrigued me enough to keep him. He’s a bit weird, but I quite like him.

#0949: Iron Man Now! & Indestructible Hulk




Okay, today’s another Minimates review. It’s also another Marvel review, another Iron Man review, and another Hulk review. None of those are particularly rare things for this site, so I’ll admit that I’m running out of things to say about them. So, umm, here’s a review of some Iron Man and Hulk Minimates?


These two were part of the 16th series of Toys R Us exclusive Marvel Minimates. The series was complementary to Series 51 of the main line, and both series were based on the “ Marvel Now!” relaunch from 2013.


IM&HulkNow3Though he didn’t get his first ‘mate until Series 6, Iron Man’s become one of the most frequently produced characters in Marvel Minimates. Fortunately, Iron Man’s had lots of diverse looks over the years, which keeps his ‘mates from getting too redundant. This figure stands about 2 ½ inches tall and gas 12 points of articulation. He’s based on his Now! look, which was also the inspiration of the Iron Man in the Hulkbuster Series of Marvel Legends. While that figure used Greg Land’s (traced) interiors for its reference (allowing for the figure to be a simple repaint), this figure seems to draw a bit more from the initial (and far more interesting) design for the armor. Iron Man has six add-on pieces for his helmet, chest plate, gloves, and boots, as well as non-standard pieces for his upper arms. The boots are re-used from Series 45’s Mark VII Iron Man, but the rest of the pieces were new to this figure. He’s a little on the bulky side, but the figure does a pretty nice job of capturing the look from the initial design sheets. Also, the shoulders limit movement a bit, but at least they’re better than the Mark 42/43/45 shoulders. The paint on this Iron Man is pretty standard. He’s got the appropriate black and gold for this design, with a few spots of red thrown in. The red is a bit sloppy in some areas, but not terrible. Under the helmet, there’s a Tony Stark face, which for some reason has random patches of black on it. I think that’s a story specific thing, but I didn’t read Iron Man’s Now! series, so I honestly can’t say. The Tony face is consistent with the other modern Tony’s we’ve gotten, so that’s good. Marvel Now Iron Man includes both a normal display stand and a rocket blast stand.


IM&HulkNow2This isn’t the first time I’ve reviewed an Indestructible Hulk Minimate, however, this is chronologically the first of the two produced. This figure presents Hulk in his less armored up appearance, which isn’t quite as exciting a design, but I guess it’s a bit more conventional Hulk. The figure has add-ons for the hair, torso, upper arms, hands, pelvis, upper legs, and feet, and he also has an extra riser piece to make him a little taller. The torso, pelvis, and upper legs are new parts, designed to replicate Hulk’s armored shorts. They’re pretty nicely sculpted, which is good. The rest of the parts are reused, which is alright for the most part. The feet don’t have any toes, which is rather odd looking. Of course, the first 15 Hulks didn’t have toes either, but that was before the move to bulked up Hulks. Hulk’s paintwork is decently handled. The linework seems a little thicker than usual, but it doesn’t look bad. The face is a little odd looking; I’m not sure exactly what his expression is supposed to be. It’s not terrible, but it’s not the greatest. Hulk includes R.O.B. (the Recording Observation Bot), a flight stand (for R.O.B.), and a clear display stand.


I picked up this pair from TRU’s online store, along with two other sets from Series 16. It was kind of an impulse buy. I can’t say this is one of my favorite sets. Iron Man’s a decent enough variant, but the armor wasn’t super long-lived, and isn’t very memorable. Ultimately, he’s a solidly done figure of a rather drab design. Hulk’s okay, but he suffers from being the lesser of the two Indestructible Hulks, and that toe thing is just weird. Not a bad set, but nothing to write home about.

#0948: Cobra Viper




To be a successful evil organization, you need to have a few metric tons of faceless goons. Nothing says evil like some faceless goons! Evil terrorist organization Cobra (the ones that fight G.I. Joe, not the ones who sell health insurance) are practically the kings of the faceless goon: they’ve got a squad of them for just about every occasion! When the basic Cobra Troopers aren’t quite enough, then it’s time to send in the *slightly* more advanced Cobra Vipers! Let’s take a look at one of them today!


Viper25th2The Cobra Viper was released in the 2008 assortment of the G.I. Joe: 25th Anniversary line. It’s the 16th version of the Viper Hasbro’s released, and it’s based on the classic Viper design from way back in 1986. The figure stands a little under 4 inches tall and has 20 points of articulation. While some of the 25th Anniversary figures made tweaks to the original designs, the Viper is a pretty shot-for-shot recreation of the original toy. The only real change is the move to slightly more realistic proportions (though that head’s a bit undersized). The general quality of the sculpt is pretty good, with lots of really nice detail work. They’ve even made his vest and goggles removable, allowing for a bit more customization and detail than the original figures offered. However, the figure isn’t without some rather notable flaws. First and foremost, there’s the hands. The Viper’s wrists are oddly contorted, which I assume is to allow him to hold his weapon, in theory at least. In practice, this doesn’t work, leaving him with very strangely positioned hands that can barely hold the included gun. Also, the separate goggles, while cool, are incredibly hard to keep in place, due to being just a touch too small for the head. On the plus side, the paint work here is pretty solid. The colors are all nice and vibrant and everything is applied very cleanly. They’ve even added some detail not present on the original, to help add a bit more depth to the design. The Viper includes his standard issue rifle and a Cobra-insignia-ed display stand with his code name printed on it. I do wish the rifle was molded in something other than that weird off-white, but it’s a fairly nice recreation of his original gun.


I actually own three Vipers, all gotten at different times. I picked up the first one loose from All Time Toys, when I was on my first 25th Anniversary buying spree. The second came from Amazon so that I could get free shipping on another order. The final one was added much later, and I believe it also came from All Time Toys, though it was packaged. Is this Viper a perfect figure? No. The hands are pretty annoying, and there’s no real fix. The goggles, however, can be fixed with a small dab of superglue, so there’s that. The Viper’s my favorite human Cobra trooper, and this figure’s definitely serviceable. Hasbro’s produced far worse.


#0947: Resistance X-Wing Fighter (w/ Poe Dameron)




In the current climate of toymaking, where the costs of plastic are trending fairly consistently upward, pretty much every new mold produced needs to justify the cost of its production. In the years past, most items had large enough initial production runs to offset the tooling costs in pretty much one fell swoop. Sadly, as public interest has moved towards more technologically advanced entertainment, the market for toys has shrunk. Initial production runs are smaller, and so to make sure they tooling costs are covered, companies do their best to get multiple uses out of the same pieces, which tends to mean repaints. Today, I’ll be looking at one of these repaints: the Resistance X-Wing Fighter!


ResistanceXWing2The Resistance X-Wing Fighter was released as part of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens line, released right at the tail end of 2015. It was available exclusively at Walmart. The Resistance X-Wing uses the same mold as Poe’s X-Wing (reviewed here). Like that set, the vehicle requires a tiny bit of assembly when it’s first taken out of the box: the nose and wing cannons need to be attached and there are a few small decals meant to be applied to the interior of the cockpit. When assembled, the fighter is 15 ½ inches long and has a wingspan of 13 inches, just like Poe’s version. Poe’s X-Wing had a pretty nice sculpt, and it’s still nice here. It remains a little undersized, but, given the re-use, that’s not a shock. It’s also slightly less of an issue this time, since the included figure sits a little lower. The nose is still made from a softer rubber (which honesty didn’t bug me with Poe’s X-Wing, but it did turn a few people off). One noticeable change is the quality of the wing cannons. The actual sculpt hasn’t changed, but the manner in which they were packaged has, so they came out of the box far less warped than the prior set, which greatly improves the overall look of the vehicle. The paint is the most noticeable deviation from the prior X-Wing. In place of the dark grey and orange of Poe’s personalized vehicle, this one gets the off-white and blue palette of the basic Resistance fighter. It looks really clean, works very well on the fighter. The application is all pretty solid too, with no major slop or the like. BB-8 is still a little under painted on the body, but consistency I guess. The action features on this fighter are the same as those on Poe’s fighter. The wing feature seems a little tighter this time around, but the missile launcher appears to be identical.


ResistanceXWing4Included with the Resistance X-Wing Fighter is another figure of ace pilot Poe Dameron. He’s based on his look from the film’s opening, which is appropriate, since that’s when Poe is seen using this style of fighter. The figure uses the body of the Armor-Up Poe, along with the head of the single release pilot Poe. While it’s not a combination that really plays up the Oscar Isaac likeness, it’s not a terrible set of pieces. The body is solidly sculpted and has a lot of really cool detail work, so I don’t mind seeing it again. The head isn’t a bad sculpt, but it is a touch generic, especially with the opaqueness of the visor.  Still, it’s a decent representation of the helmet design from the movie, and the details are all pretty well realized. From the neck down, the paint is identical to the Armor-Up figure, which is fine, since that was pretty good. The head is slightly different, since it’s replicating Poe’s more unique helmet from the beginning. The paint is nice and sharp, so that’s good. The opaque visor is a little frustratingly cartoony, but that’s more the fault of the sculpt. Though he’s sort of an accessory himself, Poe does get one accessory: his blaster rifle. It’s the same piece seen with the Armor-Up Poe, but it’s another scene specific piece. I only wish there were somewhere for him to keep it while piloting so that it wasn’t rattling around in the cockpit.


Despite loving the normal release X-Wing and loving the Resistance color scheme, I’ve passed this set up more than a few times in the last few months, due mostly to the $50 price tag. It’s not unreasonable, but it makes me need redundant pieces a bit less. Last week, I managed to find this set at a nearby Walmart on clearance. At 50% of its original value, the set felt way more worth it. If I’m honest, I think the main fighter is superior to the Poe version. The blaster issue has been fixed, and the tension on the wing feature works a bit better. The included Poe isn’t quite as fun as the other version, but his generic-ness makes him a pretty decent unnamed Resistance Pilot. Ultimately, I’m not sure this set is quite as necessary as the first, but for half its original price, it’s way worth picking up.


#0946: Green Lantern




Batman: Brave & the Bold is a show that really doesn’t get enough credit. It’s one of DC’s better outputs in recent years, giving us four seasons of episodes built around showcasing some of the more sidelined members of the DCU. While the show was great, the corresponding toyline was more than a little disappointing. Rather than focusing on the obscure characters the show had been designed to highlight, Mattel offered a litany of senseless Batman variants, with only the occasional non-Bat character. What’s more, the figures were plagued with rather pointless accessories, and every one of them had large, distracting plugs on their arms, legs, and backs, ruining the streamlined nature of the show’s designs. What does all this have to do with today’s review? Well, in 2013, after running the B:BatB line into the ground, Mattel decided to reuse some of the molds to create a line of figures based on the New 52 incarnation of the Justice League. While they were sticking more with heavy hitters, the line offered a few new faces, and, more importantly, removed the silly, gimmicky plugs. Today, I’ll be looking at the Green Lantern figure.


GLTarget2Green Lantern was released in the first assortment of the Target-exclusive Justice League line, which hit in 2013. He’s patterned after Hal Jordan’s New 52 appearance, which kinda seems a little counter to Brave and the Bold’s more classical influences. Granted, the New 52 GL design was a less glaring departure than some of the others, so he doesn’t look super out of place. The figure stands 5 inches tall and has 8 points of articulation. That’s not a lot of movement. I mean, I get that the designs can be a little hard to articulate, but they didn’t even give him (or anyone else in the line) knee movement. That’s rather annoying. Structurally, he uses a slightly re-tooled version of the basic Brave and the Bold body, which removes the previously mentioned plugs. Brave and the Bold had a rather unique styling to it, which somewhat eschewed the proportions of the characters. It was one of those styles that looks pretty good in animation, but isn’t very easy to translate into three dimensions. This base body tries its best to make it work, but doesn’t really succeed. The biggest issue is that it’s just a lot more rigid and stiff than any of the characters on the show, which makes it look super off, and calls extra attention to the weird proportions. GL’s one new piece is his head. You would think they might base it on Hal’s Brave and the Bold appearance, so as to continue the styling started with the body, but instead, Mattel’s opted to go with their own, more realistic take on Hal. The more realistic styling only further pronounces the issues with the body, which is really unfortunate. Hal’s paint manages to be pretty decent. The colors are nice and vibrant, and the lines are all very clean. I wish the ring had a bit more to make it stand out, but at least it’s there. Hal included a construct accessory, which is nice in theory. In practice, it’s less nice, since it’s re-used from one of the JLU Lanterns, and therefore is nowhere near large enough to fit over tis figure’s hands.


Being the GL geek that I am, I was a bit letdown by the lack of a Hal Jordan in the Brave and the Bold line. When I found out about this line, I quite excitedly went out and tracked down this figure. The final product isn’t quite what I wanted. He’s far from terrible, but there’s definitely some room for improvement, and the overall effort feels rather lackluster.

#0945: Weapon X




The ‘90s had a lot of big comics “events,” especially compared to prior decades, which had virtually none. I think a lot of it had to do with the success of the likes of Crisis and Secret Wars in the ‘80s, prompting the Big Two to do whatever they could to recapture some of that glory. Marvel’s efforts were primarily focused on their cash cow of the time, the X-Men, who found themselves dealing with all sorts of events of epic proportions. At one point, Marvel deemed that it wasn’t enough to make life hell for our own merry mutants, so they showed us how much worse things could have been by launching the alternate reality-based Age of Apocalypse, which examined what the X-Men ‘verse would have been like without Professor Charles Xavier. The storyline took over all of the X-Men-related books, and was generally pretty successful for Marvel. There’s been a smattering of different figures from it all over the years and today I’ll be looking at one of the four Marvel Legends to be based on the event, Weapon X! Apparently, one of the things that changed in the AoA reality was that the title “Wolverine” went to a different character, so poor Logan had to stick with his Weapon X title. Thrilling! Let’s look at the figure!


WeaponXAoA2Weapon X was part of the Giant-Man Series of Toy Biz’s Marvel Legends. It was exclusive to Walmart and was one of the last series to be produced under Toy Biz’s tenure. There were two versions of Weapon X offered: normal and burned. The difference between the two versions is the head and the stump on the left arm. The figure here is the burned version (the only one of the two I still have). Though this figure was technically a variant, he was packed in equal numbers to his regular counterpart and also featured a different Giant-Man piece, which was quite frustrating for a lot of collectors at the time. The figure is about 6 inches tall and he has 35 points of articulation. Weapon X made use of a lot of pieces from the Series 6 brown costume Wolverine. It was one of Toy Biz’s best Wolverines, and one of the best parts about it was that they really got down Logan’s short, stocky physique. The re-use here was definitely warranted. He got a new head, lower arms, and lower legs, all of which fit pretty well with the rest of the parts, and make for an overall pretty cohesive looking figure. The head is actually really cool. I’m not sure if it’s based on a specific instance of Logan getting burned, since it happens a few times, but the level of detail is pretty awesome, and it’s a nice, refreshing take on the usual Wolverine look. The other unique piece here is the stump, which has claws on this version. In the story, it was revealed that Logan’s claws had been retracted when he lost his hand, so he could still pop them out of his wrist. That’s cool, I guess. The claws suffer from a bit of warping, but are otherwise pretty cool. Weapon X’s paint isn’t bad, provided you ignore his rather doofy looking outfit. Most of the work is pretty clean, and there’s some rather nice accent work in several places. There’s a few instances of scratches or slop, but that’s relatively minor. Also, the painted on arm hair’s a bit silly in some places, but it’s overall an okay attempt. The best part is once again the head, which looks convincingly burned, while still managing to not look too out of place next to the unburned skin of the neck and arms. The only accessory included with Weapon X was the left hand of Giant-Man. Honestly, it feels like the burned head and clawed stump would have made for decent accessories to the regular Weapon X, rather than being a separate figure, but I guess Toy Biz really wanted to sell that extra Logan.


Weapon X was given to me as a birthday present by my friend Cindy Woods. I was super into Marvel Legends at the time, and this particular series was fairly difficult to get. She was so excited to find this guy for me that she didn’t notice that some jerk had stolen the Giant-Man piece right out of the side of the box (in her defense, the piece was hidden by the figure’s name tag. Also, who steals just the piece? The figures were like $8!). Fortunately, my dad was able to find another Weapon X online with the piece, so it worked out alright. On the face, this feels like an extraneous Wolverine variant that nobody really asked for. However, this guy’s fun and different enough that he ended up being my one of my favorite Legends Wolverines produced. Definitely a winner!


#0944: Bart’s Treehouse




With a whopping 27 years on the air, The Simpsons is the longest running scripted TV show in American history. During those 27 years, The Simpsons has found its way into just about every corner of merchandising, which of course includes my very favorite type of merchandise: action figures. Simpsons figures have been produced by the likes of Mattel, McFarlane, and even NECA, but the most successful, most popular line of Simpsons toys by far was Playmates’ World of Springfield line. Running from early 2000 through to 2004, the line managed to produce just about every named character from the show, alongside prominent variations of the main family, leading to over 200 unique figures produced. They didn’t stop with figures, though. One of the line’s main hooks was the recreation of some of Springfield’s more memorable locales as playsets. Each playset included a unique figure and had the ability to interact with most figures from the line. Today, I’ll be looking at Bart’s Treehouse and its included figure, Military Bart.


BartsTreehouse2Bart’s Treehouse was released alongside Series 12 of the World of Springfield line, which hit retail in the spring of 2003. The first 10 series each got two playsets, but Series 12 was when the line was nearing its end, so Playtmates had cut back to one playset per series. The Treehouse is 6 ¼ inches wide, 6 ¾ inches tall, and a little over 4 ½ inches deep. It’s not really articulated in any really conventional way, but there is a hinge on the roof, allowing it to swing up for easier access to the interior.  The construction of the treehouse is fairly basic, but that seems about right. From the screenshots I’ve found online, it doesn’t look like a horrible approximation of the in-show setting. The basic detail work is actually pretty nice. The boards are all fully detailed, with nails and everything, and there are even a few spots for posters on the walls. The actual tree bit is decent, if maybe not as exciting as the rest of the house. The bark in particular is a little on the soft side. It’s also worth noting that the entire back of the set isn’t meant to be seen, so the leaves on the tree just abruptly stop. There isn’t a whole lot in the way of paint on this set. The tree bark is all painted a rather drab greyish-brown, which is appropriate I guess. The two maps and the Krusty the Clown poster are all done via decals. They’re pretty well applied and don’t look to be going anywhere, so that’s BartsTreehouse4good. The rest of the pieces are pretty much just molded in the appropriate colors. It was a tiny bit of a letdown to find out that the bulb in the light fixture was just left green, but that’s pretty minor. In addition to the Bart figure (who I’ll get to in a second), the Treehouse includes a table (with assorted supplies on it), a pile of water balloons, and a pair of binoculars. The set also included the usual interactive feature of all the playsets in the line. There are three ports where compatible figures can be plugged into the set. By each port, there’s a button, which will play a random clip of dialogue associated with the figure on said port. The set is compatible with 51 figures in addition to the included Bart (though a good number of those are just variants of the main family), and there are over 25 unique phrases included. The sound quality’s nothing to write home about, but it’s a pretty novel little feature nonetheless.


BartsTreehouse3Included with this set is a variant of Bart Simpson, who was one of the more recurring characters in the line. This particular Bart is based on his appearance in the episode “Bart the General,” which had the Treehouse in it, so it’s a good choice. The figure is 3 ¾ inches tall and he has 4 points of articulation (the standard for the line). Overall, he’s a fairly standard Bart, with the usual orange t-shirt and blue shirt (which Bart will no doubt demand you eat). He’s in a fairly generic pose, aside from his arms, which he’s got held up and bent at the elbows, as if he’s doing the chicken dance or something. The head is the main distinctive part here: Bart’s eyes are in a more serious half-lidded position, and he’s got a bit of wheat sticking out of his mouth. He’s supposed to be serious and military, but he ends up looking a bit dopey. To aid with his military look, Bart includes a helmet, sunglasses, and a baton, all of which are pretty well sculpted and sit nicely on the figure. The glasses even cover up the weird eyes and make him less silly looking, which is good. Bart’s paintwork is overall pretty clean, with nice, bright colors, and no really noticeable slop. For the talking feature, Bart gets six different lines with this set: “I promise you victory! I promise you good times!”, “I ain’t gonna get out of the fourth grade alive”, “We are happy, we are merry! We gotta rhyming dictionary!”, “I’m gonna have to teach you a lesson.”, “There’s this boy at school who keeps beating me up.”, and “I can’t squeal. It would violate the code of the schoolyard!”


World of Springfield was all over the place when I was growing up, but the only figure I ever got was a Series 1 Bart. The playsets always fascinated me, but I just never got one, since I was a bit young for the show at the time. I was at a thrift store with my brother two weeks ago, and happened upon this particular set for less than half its original retail price. The box was super beat up, but everything was there, so I figured “what the heck?” This is actually a pretty fun set, and I’m glad to have found it. Of course, now I need to resist the urge to go back and pick up the compatible figures!


#0943: Venom




Spider-Man 3 is a movie that a lot of people don’t care for. I actually don’t mind it. In fact, I kinda liked it a lot. Is it a perfect movie? No. Honestly, it’s probably aged the worst of the three Raimi films, and even Sam Raimi’s said he feels it could have been better. It still entertains me, and that’s really all I can ask.

I actually don’t own a ton of toys from Spider-Man 3, though (apart from the Minimates), because of some general weirdness surrounding the tie-in figures. Spider-Man 3 came out in 2007, which was the year that Marvel toys switched from Toy Biz to Hasbro. Despite the prior two Spider-Man films (and pretty much everything else Marvel-related from the early 2000s on) having been pretty much exclusively 6-inch scale, Hasbro opted to release the Spider-Man 3 figures in 5-inch scale. It was a really odd move, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that the overall quality of the toys fell pretty steeply too. The end result was a large number of fans boycotting the smaller line (I didn’t boycott it; I just happened to not get many of the figures). Fortunately, Hasbro recognized the frustration, and put together a series of Marvel Legends based on the Spider-Man trilogy. Most of the heavy hitters from the films were covered, including the third film’s (somewhat maligned) version of Venom, whose figure I’ll be looking at today.


VenomSM3bVenom was released in the “Sandman Series” of Hasbro’s first go at Marvel Legends. The series was released at roughly the same time as the Fantastic Four-themed “Ronan Series,” which was between Series 2 and 3 of the main line (The SM3 and FF series served to discontinue attempts at referring to Hasbro Legends by numbered series from there on). Venom stands just over 7 inches tall and has 30 points of articulation. Of the eight figures in the series, Venom was one of the four to get a new sculpt. It’s a rather sizeable sculpt to be sure, though it’s more than a little off from the movie Venom. Topher Grace’s Venom wasn’t anywhere near as big as the comics version, but all the SM3 Venoms seemed to go with a more comics-inspired sizing. So, while this figure’s sculpt certainly has an impressive amount of detail, it’s far from movie accurate. The proportions seem a bit crazy even for a comic Venom. The arms, hands, and upper torso are huge, while the waist and legs are small to almost comedic levels; his fingers come down past his knees for Pete’s sake! The head is also quite exaggerated, far more so than it ever looked in the movie. The crazy open mouth isn’t terrible, but it’s the sort of thing that really should be accompanied by an alternate, less crazy head (similar to the most recent Legends Venom). On its own, it seems rather limiting. Venom’s paint is at least decent. He’s molded in a slightly metallic black, which looks pretty cool, and he sports a nice, subtle silver on all the webbing. The paint around the mouth is a little sloppy, but not horribly so. He could probably stand for a bit more color variety in the gums, but that’s minor. Venom’s only accessory was a piece of the Sandman Build-A-Figure, but mine was acquired loose, so he doesn’t have that.


Venom came from the same random lot of Goodwill toys as the 12-inch Spider-Man I looked at last week. Because of the rarity of pretty much the entire Sandman Series, I never saw this figure at retail. Of course, I can’t really say I would have gotten him if I had seen him. As part of a bag of figures for $10, he’s kinda cool. For full price? Ehhhh. He’s an alright figure, but is definitely from a period when Hasbro were still finding their footing.