#0982: Commander Decker & Ilia Probe




There’s this old adage about Star Trek movies that it’s only the even ones that are good, and the odd ones aren’t. The fact that Wrath of Khan and First Contact are numbers two and eight, and Star Trek V is, well, number five kind of supports this. That being said, a lot of the other films don’t really support the adage, with some even-numbered films being middling at best, and some of the odd-numbered ones not being the dreck everyone claims them to be. Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the first film on the franchise, often catches flak, and is frequently used as proof of the odd-movies-bad rule. In reality, it’s not a bad movie, it just wasn’t the movie a lot of people were looking for at the time. It’s one of the last of the more cerebral, slower-paced Sci-Fi movies of the ‘70s, and in a post-Star Wars world, that just didn’t fly. If nothing else, the movie gives us a nice little arc for its two original characters, Captain Decker and Ilia, who are the two figures I’ll be looking at today.


This pair was released in the fifth series of Star Trek Minimates, which happens to be the last series of the line. Way to go guys, you killed the line!


Decker&Illia2Poor Decker. Guy gets no respect. He’s supposed to be commanding the Enterprise, but he gets downgraded at the last second, and forced to serve as a first officer. Then nobody listens to him about anything, and to top it all off, his love interest gets vaporized. And he constantly gets left out of the toylines, too! Sure, Mego made him in their two scales, but Playmates totally overlooked him, and he never got one of the larger DST figures. Fortunately, he did get a Minimate, placing him above quite a few Trek regulars. The figure is about 2 ½ inches tall and he has the usual 14 points of articulation. He has add-ons for his hair and belt/tunic. Both of these pieces are new to Decker, and they do a pretty decent job capturing his look from the movie. The hair in particular is a lot more detailed than prior Trek Minimates pieces, and it’s still on par with current offerings. Decker’s paintwork does a very nice job capturing his look from the movie. The likeness is pretty spot-on, and even the simple details of the uniform are really sharp and a great recreation of its on-screen counterpart. Decker was packed with a Motion Picture-style phaser.


Decker&Illia3So you know how I said this was a figure of Ilia? Yeah, that was technically a lie. See, as noted in the section on Decker, the real Illia is vaporized about a third of the way through the movie. What this figure (and two of the other three Ilias made) represents is the probe sent by V’Ger to interact with the Enterprise crew. The probe takes on the form of the deceased Ilia as a comfort to the crew, thus allowing her actress to still be one of the film’s leads. This figure has two add-on pieces to help recreate the collar and skirt of the robe the Ilia probe spends her time wearing. While the skirt piece is a pretty decently sculpted part, the collar seems overly boxy and bulky. Ilia ends up looking a bit larger than Decker, despite her being a bit smaller in the film. The paintwork on Ilia isn’t bad, though I’m not sure it’s quite as good as Decker’s. The robe has some nice line work, and the head, while not a spot-on likeness, is a decent enough showing. Ilia included no accessories.


Like so many of the later Star Trek Minimates, I got Decker and Ilia from Record & Tape Traders for a rather hefty discount. This is actually a set I probably would have grabbed for full retail, but they seemed to go straight to clearance. Admittedly, I can see why sets like this might have led to the line’s demise. As cool as I think they are, neither ‘mate is particularly exciting, and I can’t see them having much appeal to anyone who isn’t a fan of the movie.

#0981: Egon Spengler




“If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?” Well, the song would have you believe it’s the Ghostbusters, but in reality, you’d probably call the cops. At least, that’s what I’d do. But, let’s be honest here, the Ghostbusters are the far more exciting choice. Also, they make for better toys, and that’s the most important part to me! For the last several years, Mattel has held the main toy-license for the Ghostbusters franchise (though Diamond Select has been a pretty steady contributor of products as well). While the license has been a bit dead the last few years, it’s finally returned, like some sort of…ghost. Weird. Actually, it’s not weird at all, seeing as there’s a movie titled Ghostbusters coming out next month and Mattel obviously wants to get on the marketing bandwagon for it. In addition to the stuff based on the new movie, there’s also a decent amount of merch based on the original films, including today’s focus, Egon Spengler!


EgonSpengler2Egon is figure number 3 in Mattel’s recently released Ghostbusters: Classic line. It would appear that this particular set of figures is exclusive to Walmart, but time will tell if they remain that way. The figure stands a little over 6 inches tall and has 26 points of articulation. Egon is based on his appearance in the first Ghostbusters, which is kind of the obvious choice, really. Structurally, Egon is mostly re-used pieces from Mattel’s previous Ghostbusters line. The head is taken straight from their original Egon, and while it’s not a perfect likeness of Ramis, it’s pretty close. The legs and upper arms are also from the first Egon (and by extension, the Ray and Winston figures as well). The lower arms and hands are from Mattel’s Venkman figure to give him the gloves that the prior Egon figures lacked. The torso is the one new piece here, as it’s been re-sculpted to include a removable proton pack (all previous figures had the packs permanently affixed). While the new pack obviously isn’t as snug a fit as prior figures, it’s fairly decent for the scale. The pieces all mesh together fairly cohesively, which is good, I guess. The level of detail is a little low for a figure based on a real person, but that’s pretty typical for a figure from Mattel. Points for consistency. The biggest flaw with the sculpt is that the body wasn’t sculpted with Egon in mind. Since the same basic body pieces are being used for all of the ‘busters, the body has to be sort of an amalgamation of all four of their body types, which robs them all of some of their individuality. Egon in particular should really be a little taller and skinnier than this figure is. The paintwork on Egon is passable. There’s not really anything to write home about, but it’s mostly pretty clean. I do wish his name tag were just a little better placed. In addition to the removable proton pack, Egon also includes the, uhh… Yeah, there’s really no other way to say this: he comes with the butt of the logo ghost. I guess that would be cooler if I had the other three pieces.


Egon was something of an impulse buy. I was at Walmart with my family and noticed they had several pegs worth of these figures. I knew they existed, sort of, but hadn’t really sought them out, mostly due to never being very much impressed by the prior figures Mattel had done. Egon’s always been the ‘buster I most closely identified with, and they only had the one of him, so I bought him. I must admit, I’m pleasantly surprised by this figure. He’s not perfect, but he’s far better than I’d expected him to be. Take this candy bar Mattel. You–you’ve earned it.


#0980: Arkham Origins Boxed Set




Video game adaptations of comic book characters have a somewhat rocky history. For every — there’s a Superman 64; for every Spider-Man 2, there’s an Aquaman: Battle for Atlantis. The Batman: Arkham series is probably one of the best adaptations out there, though even it hasn’t been totally immune from criticism. Perhaps the most criticized game in the series is Arkham Origins, a prequel game that wasn’t even developed by the same group as the others. Today, I’ll be looking at several figures based on that game.


Batman, Joker, Deathstroke, and Black Mask were all released as a big boxed set as part of DC Collectible’s Batman: Arkham Origins line. They were all also available individually, with Batman, Joker and Black Mask being in Series 1 and Deathstroke being in Series 2. The figures are pretty much identical in both releases.


ArkhamOrigin3Batman manages to get a slight tweak to his design for each Arkham game. Oddly, the Arkham Origins design was even more advanced than the Asylum and City designs, despite this design supposedly predating those looks. Maybe looks are deceiving? The figure is about 7 inches tall and he has 31 points of articulation, which is quite impressive for a DC Direct/Collectibles figure. The sculpt on this figure is pretty solid. It does a pretty great job of capturing Batman’s Origins look. One of my issues with a lot of the Arkham-based Batman figures is that they all seem to be stuck with pinheads, which this figure manages to mostly avoid. I mean, his head is still smaller than his biceps, but it’s fairly true to the game and, it’s also not as drastic as some of the others.  The rest of the sculpt is quite beefy (seriously, this is a beefy, beefy Batman. He has all the beef), but he has very sharp detail work, and just all-around pretty cool looking. I especially appreciate the choice of a straight hanging cape, since Batmen have a tendency to go for absurdly flowy capes. The paintwork on this figure is rather subdued, and very well carried out. Everything is nice and clean, and he’s got some really great accent work, especially on the stubble and the shadows on the grey parts. Batman included a weird gun thing that I feel certain someone more familiar with the game than me could ID. His elbows hinder him from really holding the thingy in any truly believable way, but hey, he’s a cool Batman. Who cares if he can hold some weird gizmo the right way?


ArkhamOrigin2Joker serves as a primary antagonist in (most of) the Arkham games. Seeing as he’s Batman’s greatest foe, I guess that’s not too strange a concept. While other Arkham Jokers stuck more closely to the classic Joker design, this one goes for a more subdued “real world” look. Well, for the clothes, anyway. The face is pretty standard, and clearly made to look like a slightly younger version of the guy from the prior games. The figure is about the same height as Batman and has 16 points of articulation. He’s got about half the articulation of Batman, but he’s got even more restricted movement than you’d expect. He’s not going to be doing much more than just stand there. That wouldn’t be terrible, but he’s also got some weird issues, like his arms sticking out at weird angles. Also, while the sculpt looks okay on its own, it doesn’t do a particularly good job of capturing the in-game design. Like, his whole face is just kind of the wrong shape. And his body just feels kind of soft and lumpy, especially when compared to the much sharper Batman sculpt. The paint doesn’t really help matters. The basic work isn’t terribly, but there’s a lot of bleed over. Also, they tried to vary the look of his skin with some grey accents, but it ends up just making him look splotchy and unwell. Joker includes no accessories, making him the only figure in the set not to have any extras.


ArkhamOrigin4Do you guys remember when Deathstroke wasn’t over-exposed and annoyingly shoved into tons of stories where he didn’t belong? Because I do. I actually kind of used to like him, even. Somewhere along the way to being overexposed, he also seems to have become inexplicably linked to Batman, which is a little odd, but I guess it isn’t a horrible fit. Deathstroke made his debut Arkham-verse appearance in Arkham Origins, sporting a look that was a pretty decent tactically-based update of his original comics appearance. This figure stands the same height as the other two figures and has 27 points of articulation. His overall movement is comparable to that of Batman, though he does get a different articulation scheme on the hips, which seem a little flimsy by comparison. I think Deathstroke’s sculpt is probably my favorite in the set. Not only is he a great recreation of the in-game look, but the sculpt is also loaded with lots of really cool texture work, which makes him truly look like a battle-worn gun-for-hire. My only real complaint is that the articulation could have probably been worked into the sculpt in a smoother way. The paint on this figure is also pretty solidly handled. He’s by far the most colorful and exciting figure in the lot, and the metallic used for his armored pieces is really sleek. Deathstroke has the most accessories of all the figures in the set, with a katana, a pistol, and a staff.


ArkhamOrigin5Oh great. Black Mask. He’s my faaaaaaaaaavrite. Okay, actually I don’t always hate Black Mask, as long as he gets a good story. He just doesn’t tend to get good stories, like, ever. Ah well. So, here’s Black Mask! The figure is 7 inches tall and he has an oh-so-exciting 7 points of articulation. He can like, turn his head and move his elbows less than 45 degrees, and move his legs at the hips, but not at the knees! Awesome, right? Okay, maybe not. This figure’s even worse than Joker on this front, which is just really weak. But his sculpt can still save him, right? Yeah, not so much. The head sculpt is admittedly not bad. I like that he looks like he’s actually wearing a mask, and I like the details of said mask. The rest of the figure is really just lame. The sculpt is incredibly soft and his pinstripes on is suit are so deep that he ends up looking like he’s wearing corduroy or something. Plus, his arms are stuck at a slight enough angle to make the fact that they don’t go back any further incredibly annoying. Black Mask’s paint is mostly off-black and off-white, which could be kind of striking if done right, but…it’s not quite there. I mean, it’s not bad, but it’s also not super interesting. It’s just there. Black Mask includes a pair of pistols, which are oddly chunky. Maybe they’ve been juicing.


I’ve never played any of the Arkham games. I’ve gotten a couple of the figures before, but mostly because I liked the characters the figures represented, which isn’t really the true here. That being case, why would I buy this set? Because its box was damaged and Cosmic Comix was selling it for $20. Deathstroke is definitely the best that the set has to offer, and Batman’s no slouch either. Of course, on the flipside, both Joker and Black Mask are very, very weak figures, with little in the way of redeeming qualities. So, half the set’s great, and half the set’s pretty bad. At full price (which is $60-$70), this set is a pretty terrible value. At $20? Sure, Joker and Black Mask may be a waste of plastic, but Batman and Deathstroke are easily worth $10 each.

#0979: Ant-Man & Winter Soldier




Wow, it’s been two whole months since Civil War hit theatres. Consequently, that also means it’s been about a month and a half since I saw Civil War. That doesn’t seem right. I might have to fix that. In the meantime, how about a nice Civil War-themed review? Yeah, that’ll be cool. Today, let’s stick firmly on the #TeamCap side, with Ant-Man and Winter Soldier!


Ant-Man and Winter Soldier are one of the two-packs in the second series of Hasbro’s current Captain America: Civil War Miniverse line, which just started hitting stores not too long ago. They’re yet another somewhat odd pairing, since Scott and Bucky don’t really spend much time interacting, but oh well.


AntMan&WS2Both Guardians and Age of Ultron got their own 2 ½ inch lines, but poor Ant-Man was not so lucky. Which is kinda weird, since he’s the character who it makes the sense to have available in lots of different scales (especially smaller ones). But it’s okay, because he’s got a 2 ½ inch figure now! This figure stands just over 2 ½ inches tall and he has the same 5 points of articulation as any other figure in this line. Ant-Man is based on his slightly tweaked design from Civil War, which wasn’t a bad look. I can’t really say I like or dislike this look more than his last one, since they’re ultimately pretty similar. His sculpt does a pretty nice job of capturing the design from the movie, and he has quite a lot of very sharp detail work. He’s one of the more pre-posed figures from the line, with a rather wide stance and his arms slightly angled from his side. I’m not sure exactly what look they were going for, but it’s not as odd as some of the pre-posed figures I’ve gotten over the years. The Miniverse line is generally a bit light on the painted details, which can prove a problem for those with more intricate designs, such as Ant-Man’s. That being said, this is one of the few figures in the line not to lose too many painted details. Sure, there’s still a few silver accents here and there missing, but most of the important stuff is there. Of the two figures in this set, Ant-Man is the one that gets the weird armor thing. On the plus side, it seems the armor’s main purpose is to make Ant-Man a bit larger, to simulate his Giant-Man look, making it the first of these armor sets not to be totally useless.


AntMan&WS3This is the second Winter Soldier we’ve gotten from this line of figures, but this is the first one to actually be based on his look from Civil War. Like Ant-Man, this guy stands a little over 2 ½ inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. Surprisingly enough, this figure doesn’t share any parts with his Series 1 counterpart. His sculpt is quite well-handled, with lots of excellent detailing. The likeness isn’t a spot-on Sebastian Stan, but at this scale it’s good enough. Also, as with many of the figures in the line, the feet are a bit large, but the proportions are otherwise pretty good. Bucky has a much more subdued pose than most of the line, which is actually kind of nice to see. The paintwork here is pretty simple, being limited to the head, torso, and left arm, but the application is nice and clean, and he looks about right for the movie design. Winter Soldier has no accessories, but if all he was gonna get was more goofy armor, I’m not really going to complain.


I picked up these two from Target. They were the only new set the store had in stock, which means I missed out on the Scarlet Witch set, but hey, this is a decent consolation. Unlike a lot of the other sets from this line, where there’s one good figure and one iffy figure, this set contains two pretty solid additions to the line. Definitely glad I got them!

#0978: Venom




Venom, Venom, Venom. For as many Venom figures as I’ve reviewed on this site, there’s not actually a whole lot to this guy. He’s a pretty simple concept, taking the main hero and creating a “dark reflection” of said hero to serve as a villain. Of course, it was the late ‘80s, so he was also super huge (and he got huger as time went on). In the early ‘90s, when Toy Biz started up with the Marvel license, Venom was, amazingly enough, not in their first assortment of figures. Clearly they felt bad about that, because they then turned around and released three of him in the space of a year. Today, I’ll be looking at the last of those.


VenomMSH2Venom was released in Series 3 of Toy Biz’s Marvel Super Heroes line. He was the second version of the character released in the main line (after the one released in Series 2) and the third in the overall scheme of things (following the Talking Heroes version). The figure stands just shy of 5 ½ inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation. He has no neck movement due to his action feature, which is quite limiting, but he is otherwise decently posable. The prior Venom figures had focused on bulk over all else. This figure, on the other hand, focused on making Venom tall (he’s a good ¾ of an inch taller than the Spider-Man from the same line), but not quite as bulky. The end result is a figure that looks not unlike Venom in his earliest appearances, before he had become quite as monstrous. The sculpt us actually pretty decent. It’s somewhat stylized, but not incredibly so, and he has a nice, subdued look about him, which is refreshing to see in a Venom figure. Venom’s paint is rather simple: it’s exclusively white paint on black plastic. The detailing doesn’t look too bad, though, as you can see from my figure, the paint wasn’t the most durable. Still, the pure black and white has a nice stark contrast about it, something that a lot of later Venom figures would miss out on by adding unnecessary blue highlights. Venom originally included a clip on torso piece, simulating the symbiote wrapping around him. He also had the previously mentioned action feature, which allowed for Venom to stick his tongue out when the lever on his back was pulled. It’s rather a goofy feature, but it’s also really in keeping with the character, so I guess it made sense.


Venom is the 11th of the 15 figures I got at Balticon this year. Amazingly enough, prior to this figure I did not own a single 5-inch Venom figure. This one’s not bad, and the quality of his sculpt, especially when compared to last week’s Silver Surfer figure, shows how incredibly fast Toy Biz was taking steps forward in that department.

Also, not related to me, but worth noting: this figure has become one of Super Awesome Girlfriend’s favorites. She constantly picks it up so that she can make it stick its tongue out at me. I’ve ensnared another action figure geek!


#0977: Flash




Yeah, so I’m kinda running out of things to say about the DCAU. It was really good. Far better than anything else DC’s done in a very long time. There, I got that out of the way. When the DCAU’s fourth series, Justice League, premiered most of the cast were not household names. While the Flash was decently well-known, the show undoubtedly contributed to character’s current state of popularity. During Hasbro’s run with the DC license, they only released three Flash figures over the course of a decade (and two of them were the same figure with a slight change in paint). Thanks to Justice League , when Mattel took over, Flash was amongst the earliest figures they released. I’ll be looking at that particular figure today.


FlashJLU2Flash was released in the first half of the first series of Mattel’s Justice League line, alongside Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. Both he and Green Lantern were short packed to two per case in initial shipments, so they were initially quite scarce. However, this basic Flash figure was released numerous times over the course of Mattel’s later Justice League line with virtually no changes. The figure stands 4 ½ inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. That articulation count was low even in 2002 (heck, ESPECIALLY in 2002, since that’s when Marvel Legends was started), but it both kept the figures somewhat consistent with the Kenner/Hasbro animated figures that preceded, and also preserved the figure’s overall aesthetic. The sculpt for Flash (and all of the other initial Justice League figures) was done not by anyone at Mattel, but rather by DC Direct (prior to Mattel’s holding of the DC license), who down-scaled their larger scale animation maquettes for the first seven figures. The end result is a figure that is quite faithful to Flash’s depiction on the show…mostly. Something’s always bugged me about the head, and I’ve never been quite able to put my finger on it. Other than that, the figure’s spot-on though. Flash’s paint is fairly simple. He’s molded in red, with painted details for the various yellow and white bits, as well as his face. The application is generally pretty clean, though he does have a bit of slop around the edge of his mask. In his initial release, Flash was packed with one of the light blue connecting stands that the first seven figures all came with, as well as a lenticular trading card.


Boy were the Justice League figures a long wait. Even after they finally made it to shelves (a year after the show’s premier), getting a hold of them, especially the short-packed Flash and Green Lantern, was no easy feat. I ended up lucking into Flash: there was a comic book store near the church where my aunt was getting married. My dad and I went there to kill some time and the store had just gotten in their case of these figures and had one each of the short-packs. He’s not a perfect figure, but he was the figure I wanted, and he was one of my favorite Flash figures for a few years. Even with the lessened articulation, he still looks pretty good.

#0976: Commander Gree




The Star Wars prequels are almost universally loathed. However, as bad as the movies as a whole may be, there are definitely some ideas and concepts present that were actually kind of cool, if under-explored. On the plus side, the animated Clone Wars show, was able to take a lot of those concepts and apply them to a narrative that didn’t totally suck. Possibly my favorite part of the prequels was the Clone army, who were actually given a ton of development and individualized treatment in Clone Wars. While many of the clones used in the show were new characters, the cartoon also took the chance to flesh out almost all of the named clones from Revenge of the Sith, including my personal favorite, Clone Commander Gree.


GreeCW2Commander Gree was released in the 2009 assortment of Hasbro’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars tie-in line. The figure stands about 3 ¾ inches tall and has 24 points of articulation. He represents Gree as he appears in the earlier part of the show, prior to the time skip. He’s seen here wearing his standard Phase I trooper armor, and as such, he uses the same basic parts as all the other basic clones in the line. The body isn’t a spot-on recreation of the cartoon design: the lower torso and the limbs are noticeably a little thicker, presumably to offer more stability. That said, it’s very close to what was seen in the show. Like most of the Clone commanders in the line, Gree features a removeable helmet. The helmet itself is nicely handled, and looks more or less the same as the second iteration of the non-removeable clone helmet. Under the helmet is Gree’s head, which is sporting his rather goody twin mohawked look. It’s a decent enough recreation of his look from the show, though it does look a little older than his on-screen counterpart. It’s also slightly on the small side, but that kind of comes with the removeable helmet territory. Gree gets a unique belt piece with a holster, as well as a bandolier add-on piece. These two pieces help to add a nice flair of uniqueness to him, which is certainly cool. Gree’s paintwork is handled pretty well. Early in the show’s run, the animation models were a bit less advanced. This affected Gree more than most, since his rather complex camo design was far too much to handle. So, his Clone Wars design is just the basic clone look, but with extensive green accents. The figure replicates this pretty well, and the overall application is nice and clean. Gree included a large blaster rifle, a blaster pistol, and a large missile missile launcher. Because Hasbro.


So, I don’t recall exactly where I got Gree. I’m pretty sure it was a Target. I know I got him while he was still a relatively new figure.  The Clone Wars line was definitely a fun one, and Gree is a pretty strong showing.


#0975: Scarlet Witch




I’ve been tackling a lot of characters’ first action figures as of late. Oddly enough, it’s not really been an intentional choice, just sort of something that’s cropped up. Today, I’ll be looking at the first figure of one of the quintessential Avengers, the Scarlet Witch. Though she’s been with the team since the mid-60s, and was also a recurring character in the ‘90s Iron Man cartoon (she was actually the only member of Force Works not to get a figure from that show’s tie-in line), Scarlet Witch’s first figure wouldn’t be released until 1996, when the Avengers got their own dedicated series of figures.


ScarletWitchAR2Scarlet Witch was released in the first (and only) series of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, a line which was designed to roughly tie-in with the Heroes Return event. The figure stands about 5 ½ inches tall and she has 7 points of articulation. The articulation isn’t particularly useful, sadly. You can get a bit of decent posing out of the shoulders, but even then, the arms have a tendency to pop off if you move them too much. Also, did you catch that height? Yeah, at 5 ½ inches, this figure is 6-inch scale. While that’s a prevalent scale now, at the time of her release, it made her too tall to go with couple hundred 5-inch scale Marvel figures that Toy Biz had put out. The first Scarlet Witch figure ever made, and she was out of scale with just about every one of her teammates. That’s a bit frustrating. On the plus side, the sculpt actually isn’t horrid, especially when compared to Toy Biz’s next attempt. The head is probably the best part. The hair a little thick and hard to work with, but the face is still probably the most attractive take on the character in sculpted form. The rest of the body isn’t bad, but some of the proportions seem a little out of whack. Her waist is definitely too small, but her whole torso in general feels a bit tiny when compared to the arms.  To be fair, the slightly oversized nature of the arms is preferable to the stick arms many female figures are saddled with. I do wish they were a bit less tubular, but the gloves and hands are certainly nicely detailed. Originally, this figure also had a cloth cape, which my figure no longer has. It wasn’t anything especially impressive, though. The paintwork on this figure is pretty straightforward, but also pretty good overall. My only real complaint is the nose: like McFarlane’s Carol from Walking Dead, Wanda has painted nostrils, and she would definitely look much better if they had been left unpainted. Wanda was packed with two “magic orbs” and a hex bolt.


Scarlet Witch is yet another figure from the 15 figures I picked up at this year’s Balticon. Despite how much I liked the character, I never got one of these when it was new (I had actually been holding out for the United They Stand version, which didn’t even make it to the prototype stage…). While this isn’t a perfect figure, it’s certainly better than the one that followed, and it was the best Scarlet Witch figure available for over a decade. Which is honestly kinda sad, but there it is.

#0974: Chojin Sentai Jetman Black Condor




“Jeto-jeto-jetoman! Danananana!”

Chojin Sentai Jetman Theme Song (paraphrased)

So, here’s a figure with a pretty cool backstory. Back in 1993, when Saban was looking at importing a Super Sentai series to the US, they had two possible options:  Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger or Chojin Sentai Jetman. Zyuranger was chosen for a number of reasons (the inclusion of a sixth ranger and the popularity of dinosaurs at the time being the most commonly cited) and eventually became Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. However, Jetman was a pretty serious contender, thanks to it being one of the most popular incarnations of the Super Sentai franchise. It was also inspired by Gatchaman (better known as G-Force or Battle of the Planets in the US), which gives it some pretty awesome pedigree. Today, I’ll be looking at the guy who was almost the first Black Power Ranger, Black Condor (who is under no circumstances to be confused with DC Comics’ Freedom Fighter Black Condor).


BlackCondor3Black Condor was released as part of the Super Sentai sub-set of Bandai’s S.H. Figuarts, towards the end of 2012. He’s the second of the two Jetman figures Bandai released in the line, with the first being Red Hawk. The figure is about 5 ¾ inches tall and he has 38 points of articulation. Zyuranger and Jetman’s designs weren’t too far removed from each other, and as such, this figure feels pretty similar to the Mighty Morphin’ figures I looked at a ways back. The Jetman designs are a bit sleeker, and a bit stronger, if I’m honest, and definitely feel right at home with some of the earlier Ultraman designs. This figure’s sculpt does a very nice job of capturing the look of Black Condor from the show. Like other Figuarts, the proportions have been skewed ever so slightly BlackCondor2to fit in with the rest of the line stylistically, but this guy’s not particularly far off. The overall appearance is very faithful, and the helmet in particular is the spitting image of what was seen on the show. I especially like all the little seams in the costume, as it really sells the realism of the show, and adds a nice bit of depth to a figure that could otherwise be far too simple. I also feel it’s worth noting that this particular design works a bit better with the usual Figuarts articulation scheme than the Zyuranger designs did, so he doesn’t have any compromises in terms of his design for the sake of movement. Black Condor’s paintwork is nice and crisp. The BlackCondor4color choices are bold, and the application is quite sharp. The difference between the finish of the helmet and the rest of the suit is especially cool. This is probably the best paintwork I’ve seen on one of these figures, and that’s saying something, because these guys all have some pretty top-notch paint. Black Condor includes quite an impressive array of accessories. He’s got his Bird Blaster and Bringer Sword (in both compact and extended forms), plus the combined form of those two, the Jet Hand Cannon. He also has BlackCondor7holsters for both weapons, as well as his Wing Gauntlet (with open and closed wing pieces), an alternate backplate with a set of wings attached, and five pairs of interchangeable hands in fist, trigger finger, gripping, quotation fingers, and flat-handed positions. These pieces are all pretty fun extras. I think the Wing Gauntlet’s my favorite piece included, even if the wing pieces are the wrong color (they should be black).


Remember Bio Rider? Remember how that was Tim’s fault? Yeah, well I’m blaming him for this one too. Okay, maybe that’s not fair. I’ve actually had my eye on this figure since back when I got the Figuarts Mighty Morphin’ figures. His design just really speaks to me. Since I had some gift card money, I finally got him. In the meantime, I’ve actually watched some of the source material and found it to be quite entertaining, and Black Condor in particular is super cool. I’m definitely happy to have this figure, and I wouldn’t mind if Bandai got around to releasing the missing members of the team.


#0973: Arya Stark




A reviewer believes it is time to right a review of a figure of a girl. Wait, that doesn’t sound quite right. Sorry, I was trying to be clever and topical, but I’m not sure it worked. Anyway, I’m continuing the Game of Thrones bit from yesterday, looking at another figure from Funko’s Legacy Collection. Today, I’ll looking at No One. Wait, scratch that, I’m actually looking at Arya Stark, the youngest Stark daughter. Thought she was No One, but I just got the notification of the change! Sorry, it’s hard enough keeping up with everyone’s initial names, and that’s without throwing name changes into the mix. Let’s just look at the Arya figure!


Arya2Like her brother Robb, Arya was released in the second series of the Game of Thrones: Legacy Collection. She’s figure #9, which puts her right in the middle of the second series. The figure stands about 5 ¼ inches tall and has 26 points of articulation. She seems a bit tall when compared to Robb. There’s only about a half-inch difference between the two, which going by the actor’s heights isn’t incredibly off, but it’s enough off that it bugs me slightly. I found the articulation on Arya to be a bit stiffer than on Robb, but I still haven’t run into any impossibly tight joints or breakage just yet. That being said, I’m a bit leery of the wrist joints; they seem a bit spongey on my figure. I also really wish she could get her knees into a straighter position.  As it is, she’s always got a slight crouch going on. Arya is depicted here in the look she started sporting following her father’s death, when she was attempting to pass herself off as a boy (not that she fooled that many people). It’s a good look for the character, and it was pretty much her only look for a good three seasons of the show’s run, so it was pretty well chosen. Though it appears Gentle Giant Studios put a lot of effort into this figure’s sculpt, Arya didn’t turn out quite as well as her brother. Her head definitely feels a bit too big, and the proportions of the body seem a bit too elongated for Arya. The likeness on the head is also a bit weird. From a head-on view, it’s a pretty good Maisie Williams likeness. However, from certain angles, the sculpt becomes rather cartoony, and begins to look more like a caricature than a real person. The hair doesn’t really help matters, being far thicker than it should be, and sitting rather far back on the head. On the plus side, the level of detailing on the rest of the figure is superb. I especially love the texture and stitching of the vest, which genuinely looks like a real piece of clothing.  Arya’s paintwork isn’t bad, but there are a few issues. Like Robb, the best work is one the clothing, which has some very nice accent work, and it looks appropriately grimy. The same can’t be said of her face and hands, which are surprisingly un-grimed. The paint on those bits isn’t awful, but there are some spots (most notably the eyebrows) which could have been handled a bit better, and end up hiding some of the strengths of the sculpts. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the big chunk of oddly misapplied paint on the left side of Arya’s neck. Obviously, this is a one off issue with my figure, but it’s definitely very annoying and makes poor Arya look like she’s got the plague or something. Arya’s one accessory is her sword Needle (given to her by her half-brother Jon Snow). It’s a pretty good recreation of the prop on the show (some people have complained about the color of the handle; it’s a bit bright, but it doesn’t bug me). On the show, Arya is left-handed, and that’s definitely the hand that’s meant to hold the sword. It’s not as easy to get her to hold it as it was to get Robb holding his, but I managed alright.


I picked up Arya at the same time as Robb. Arya’s been one of my favorite characters since the very first episode of the show, and I definitely wanted her in action figure form (the uncertainty of her inclusion in the upcoming 3 ¾ inch line is a big part of why I’m still not sold on those figures). Arya’s not quite as strong a figure as Robb. That said, Robb was a fantastic figure, which not every figure can be. Even with her flaws, Arya is still a pretty good figure, and she’s a nice representation of one of the show’s best characters.