#1074: Tormund Giantsbane

TORMUND GIANTSBANE

GAME OF THRONES

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So, today is, among other things, Rogue Friday, the day when the first wave of all the product for the next Star Wars film, Rogue One, hits retail shelves.  While we’re on the subject of grand, sweeping, fantastical tales of swords, “sorcery,” evil paternal figures, loss of limbs, and incest, here’s something about Game of Thrones! (Hell of a segue, right?)  This past spring, I got into the show pretty hardcore.  I even picked up the whole assortment of Legacy Collection figures that Funko put out a few years ago.  Unfortunately, that line was rather short-lived, leaving a number of important characters unreleased.  Funko still has the license, and decided to give GoT figures another shot, albeit in a different format than before.  The figures have moved to the smaller 3 3/4-inch scale, and, though they haven’t gone quite as “retro” as the ReAction stuff, they’re decidedly more old-school than the last set of figures.  There’s a handful of figures available, but I’ve only picked up one so far: Tormund Giantsbane!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

tormund2Tormund is one of the 9 figures in the first series of Funko’s new Game of Thrones line.  All of the figures in the first series are themed around the Wall (of which there is a playset, due out some time soon), which makes Tormund right at home, being one of the Free Folk and all.  The figure stands a little over 4 inches tall and he has 9 points of articulation.  The articulation is a lot more basic than the Legacy figures, and in the case of the knees, it’s practically not there at all.  Tormund’s good for standing there, but you won’t really be getting much else out of him.  The lack of even some cut joints for the wrists seems like a missed opportunity.  Also, there’s very little attempt to work the movement into the sculpt naturally.  It’s just sort of there, where ever there may be.  Tormund’s sculpt isn’t terrible.  It’s certainly better than Funko’s prior work in this scale.  He’s less detailed than a Legacy figure, but at 2/3 the scale, that’s understandable.  Granted, I think he could be a little better, but he has a suitable amount of detailing for his size.  He does seem a little skinny for Tormund, though, especially around the neck.  The head sculpt exhibits a passable likeness of actor Kiristofer Hivju.  It’s far from spot on, and the hair seems rather tame compared to the show, but you can sort of see who he’s supposed to be.  Likenesses have never been Funko’s thing, and Tormund sort of showcases that.  The paintwork on Tormund is fairly well handled.  He’s got a lot of brown going on, which isn’t terribly exciting, but it’s accurate.  The hair sort of is an issue again; I feel like it should be more stark (heh) red than it is now.  Tormund’s only accessory is a small sword, which he holds alright, but it looks a little loose there.  At least I didn’t have to almost break his fingers to get it there, though, so maybe Funko’s learning.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

It was actually this line of figures that got me interested in the whole GoT thing.  That being said, I’ve not had much luck finding them at retail.  I found Tormund at Complete in Box, this really cool game store in PA, while out with my brother on his birthday.  I wasn’t going to get him, but Super Awesome Girlfriend decided to buy him for me (because she’s an enabler and all).  Is Tormund a fantastic figure?  No, not really.  He’s an average figure at best.  Compared to the larger figures, he’s a bit of a letdown.  This whole line seems a bit odd, because it’s hard to tell exactly what audience Funko’s aiming for with these guys.  They’ve got this sort of nostalgic quality to them that doesn’t make much sense for a line based on a show from the last six years.  That being said, if this smaller line takes off and Funko can get us some more of the characters that the larger line never offered, I could see myself picking up a few more of them to go along with Tormund here.

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#1073: Etrigan & Klarion

ETRIGAN & KLARION

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DCC)

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For the most part, Batman: The Animated Series stuck to the more…grounded (?) side of the DCU.  Sure, there were some slightly more out there concepts (Man-Bat is in the very first episode, and R’as shows up a few times), but they at least mostly stuck by things with more plausible explanations.  Superman: The Animated Series was really the first to bridge those more out there concepts, so, when Batman came back, I guess the creators were just a little more comfortable with the stranger side of things.  “The Demon Within” doesn’t even try to ease people into it or anything, throwing the viewer right into the thick of things, and just sort of hoping they won’t get too lost in the DCU’s supernatural side.  Today, I’ll be taking a look at that episode’s two focus characters, Etrigan & Klarion.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Etrigan and Klarion collectively are entry 26 in DCC’s Batman: Animated line.  They’re the deluxe item for the latest series of figures, and, along with R’as Al Ghul and Zatanna, make for a rather supernatural-themed series.  Both figures are based on the appearances of the characters in the episode “The Demon Within.”

ETRIGAN

klarionetrigan2There’s no denying that Etrigan’s supposed to be this set’s star figure.  He is the episode’s titular character after all.  Etrigan comes from a pretty nice pedigree, being one of Jack Kirby’s early creations for DC.  He’s never been much more than a fringe character, but he’s always pretty cool.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  Like Bane, Etrigan features the mid-torso joint, which I really like, and hope we continue to see on future figures.  I do wish he had rocker joints in his ankles, as it can be a little difficult to keep him standing without having his feet flat.  As far as Etrigan’s sculpt goes, I’m of mixed emotions.  Let’s talk about the good first.  Pretty much everything below the neck s pretty much spot on.  The sizing is good, and I really like the overall proportions of the figure.  The legs could maybe stand to be a little less simplistic, and the feet seem a little goofier here than they were on the show, but those are rather minor issues.  Etrigan’s cape is certainly well sculpted, but as with Phantasm, I’m worried about the integrity of the rubber over time.  Mine is already showing some signs of wear, especially on the one painted spot.  That’s concerning.  What really drags this figure down is the head.  Simply put, it’s just wrong.  It’s too big compared to the rest of the body, it’s too wide, the mouth is too small, the ears are too detached from the sides, his  forehead lacks the always present worry lines, and above all his eyes are at least twice as large as they should be and they’re the wrong klarionetrigan4shape to boot.  Any one of these issues would have been okay on its own.  Heck, all them but the eyes could have looked okay too.  But as it stands, the head isn’t even close.  The problems were present on the prototype, and I’d hoped they would fix them prior to release, but it actually looks like they just got worse on the final figure.  I’m really not sure how there was no one at any step of the process to look at this and say “that ain’t right.”  It wouldn’t be so glaring if it weren’t for the rest of the line being so accurate.  Paint is another area where I’m a little iffy.  The prototype showed him with a more vibrant color scheme, which seemed more closely matched to the episode.  The final product is rather dull by comparison.  I suppose that it could be seen as matching the episode’s darker lighting a little better, but it just seems a little bland.  Etrigan includes three sets of hands (fists, gripping, and open) and a display stand with his design sheet on it (which just further showcases how off the sculpt is).  Given Etrigan only appeared in one episode of the show, it would have been nice to get an extra head with the brand on it, since he spends a fair portion of the episode looking that way.  Perhaps they could put that in with another figure down the line and use it as an opportunity to give us a more accurate sculpt…

KLARION

klarionetrigan3Klarion the Witch Boy is a bit less known than Etrigan, but is also a Jack Kirby creation, who’s been Etrigan-related since his creation.  The show made him a little more mundane than his initial incarnation, but maybe teenager from another dimension was a bit too much for a Batman show.  The figure stands 4 3/4 inches tall and he has 20 points of articulation, which is pretty impressive for a figure of his stature, especially in this line.  Klarion’s sculpt is far more consistent than Etrigan’s.  By and large, he’s just a lot closer to his design on the show, which is a definite plus.  His sculpt is nice and sharp, and he gets a lot of the smaller details right.  For a more klarionetrigan5minor character like Klarion, accuracy is really key, and DCC’s really got this guy spot on.  Klarion’s paintwork is pretty straight forward, mostly being blacks and whites.  The application is all nice and clean, and the shades are all a pretty good match for what’s on the show.  Klarion includes three sets of hands (same configurations as Etrigan’s), his cat Teekl (who is fully articulation), a display stand, and the branding iron from “Demon Within”….which I somehow managed to leave out of the photos, and now can’t locate.  Sorry guys, Ethan’s a doofus…

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“The Demon Within” is the first episode of The New Batman Adventures I remember watching.  At the time, I didn’t know anything about Etrigan, so it was a pretty great introduction, and it’s one of my favorite episodes of the show to this day.  So, I was pretty pumped when this set was announced and snapped it up as soon as it arrived at Cosmic Comix.  There’s no getting around the inaccuracies on Etrigan.  They really hold the figure back, and I was really let down by the final product.  He’s not awful, and I do really hope DCC does that extra head thing somewhere down the line.  On the plus side, Klarion’s pretty awesome, which is good, since he’s far less likely to get re-released.

#1072: Poe Dameron

POE DAMERON

STAR WARS: ELITE SERIES (DISNEY)

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Man, it’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since The Force Awakens product started hitting shelves.  This Friday, we’ll be seeing another midnight release, this time around for the products from Rogue One.  With Force Awakens, there was a lot of product being released in a relatively short span of time, so it was a little difficult to keep track of it all.  The main characters were available in a variety of scales, from a few different manufacturers.  Of course, I’ve looked at Hasbro’s 3 3/4-inch and 6-inch lines, but the Disney Store also got in on the action, offering a line of die cast figures (die cast is just all the rage right now).  The line more or less slipped under my radar.  I knew it existed, but wasn’t quite aware of the depth of the line until rather recently, which is why I’m only just now reviewing my first figure from the line, Poe Dameron.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

poedamdiecast3Poe is from the second round of the Disney Store-exclusive Star Wars: Elite Series.  He was released to coincide with the movie’s release back in December, and was the last of the film’s three leads to make it into the line (Poe’s absence from the first series of so many of the lines is a bit odd, especially given how popular the character proved to be.  Perhaps Disney under-estimated his appeal).  The figure stands about 7 inches tall (placing him roughly in scale with most of NECA’s output, as a reference), and he has 16 points of articulation.  He’s also reeeallly heavy, thanks to all that metal.  His torso, pelvis, arms, and legs are all metal, with plastic being used for the head, hands, feet, poedamdiecast4belt/tubes, and a few of his joints.  Poe’s certainly constructed from a lot more metal than a lot of die cast items, which is actually pretty cool.  It results in the figure being a little less posable than I might like, but the sheer heft of this guy is pretty nifty, and you can still manage some decent poses.  As far as the sculpt goes, Poe’s overall not bad, but not without a few issues.  On a whole, the details seem a little soft.  I’m not sure if it’s the sculpt or the paint, but he’s got a certain animated feel too him.  I’m also not really a fan pf the left hand, which looks a little like it was replaced by an inflated latex glove, due to the weird, puffy absence of a palm.  Possibly the most notable issue is more a construction thing than anything.  In poedamdiecast2order to be properly assembled, Poe needs to have 9 visible screws on his back, apparently.  That seems a little excessive to me, but I could be wrong.  At the very least, they aren’t visible from the front.  Moving past those issues, I think Poe’s actually got a pretty decent sculpt.  In particular, the head, I feel, is a better Oscar Isaac than we’ve seen elsewhere.  It’s still not perfect (it would appear he’s the Harrison Ford of the new trio in that respect), but it looks pretty good.  Poe’s paint is alright, though it’s kind of basic in terms of color, and a little sloppy in more than a few areas.  It’s also quite thick.  Plus, I’ve already noticed one or two chips on mine, which is slightly frightening.  I’ll be interested to see how it holds up in the long run.  Poe included his small blaster, his helmet, and a display stand.  The blaster and the stand are both pretty cool, but the helmet is a slight letdown, due to the opaque nature of the visor, and the fact that Poe actually can’t wear it. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Poe from the Disney Store that was in the same mall as the Apple Store where I was buying my new computer.  I actually wasn’t aware that they had made a Poe in this line, so he was a nice surprise find.  He’s not a perfect figure but I think he might be my favorite Poe straight out of the box (my amalgamation of the two Black Series Poes is still my favorite overall, though).  Poe is still my favorite part of TFA, so it was really cool to find a new Poe to buy.

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#1071: Commissioner Gordon

COMMISSIONER GORDON

BATMAN: ANIMATED (DCC)

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Batman: The Animated Series is in many ways a defining take on the Batman mythos, with a particular definitive trait being the voice actors portraying the characters.  Of course, everyone knows and loves Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill’s Batman and Joker, but it goes beyond the two of them.  I’ve written before about how Lorren Lester is the only voice I hear when I read Dick Grayson’s dialogue in a comic, but beyond him, there’s one actor who epitomized my view on the character he portrayed: the late Bob Hastings* as Commissioner Gordon.  Hastings got down both sides of Gordon perfectly, playing him as a strict and confident leader, who was still capable of being a warm, fatherly figure to his men (and his daughter…and Batman.  He was very fatherly), something Hastings’ predecessors never quite got.  As a rather normal looking guy in a trench coat and tie, Gordon wasn’t privy to many action figures. He got exactly one during the run of the Kenner/Hasbro Batman: The Animated Series lines, and even then it was based on his later New Adventures look, of which I was never a huge fan.  Fortunately, DC Collectibles’ ongoing line of Animated figures is proving to be far more complete than earlier attempts, meaning we finally got a proper B:TAS Gordon figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

comgordon2Commissioner Gordon is figure 23 in DCC’s Batman: Animated line.  The numbering places him in Series 6, I believe, alongside Zatanna, Ra’s Al Ghul, and the Etrigan/Klarion two-pack.  It’s a little hard to keep track, especially since DCC doesn’t solicit them with Series numbers.  He’s new.  That’s the point.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and has 22 points of articulation.  One of the more notable features of the early Batman: The Animated Series designs is the certain level of fluidity they all possessed.  Sure, Batman was fairly consistent, but a lot of the other characters would have little changes in design from one shot to the next.  This was especially true of Gordon, which makes this figure sort of an amalgam of his best looks so to speak.  His body was always pretty consistent, so the sculpt has a pretty easy time capturing it.  He’s appropriately stocky, which is a nice  change of pace when compared to the others in the line.  Gordon actually looks like a pretty normal dude (well, by Bruce Timm standards, anyway).  The area with the most artistic license is definitely the head.  While the face is a pretty good recreation (it varies depending on the angle you’re viewing from), the hair is where things are really off.  In the show, Gordon had this pretty crazy cowlick at the front of his hair, which had a tendency to move around in relation to the rest of his face depending on how he was angled in any given shot (it was allegedly hard to work with, which is why his redesign removed it entirely).  Here, rather than pick a definite side for the hair, they just kind of put it roughly center and scaled it down.  It’s alright, but it means that no matter the angle, he never looks quite right.  The glasses are also a bit off, mostly due to the scale of the figure, and them needing to be permanently attached to his face.  That being said, on comgordon3the show the lenses were very definitely rectangular, and they aren’t at all rectangular here.  How did that happen?  The paintwork on Gordon isn’t anything spectacular or amazing.  It’s actually rather drab, truth be told, but that’s accurate, so kudos to them on that one.  There is one issue in regards to the chosen colors: his pants are sort of a pale beige here, when they really should be a slightly darker warm tan.  The prototype actually had a much more accurate coloring, so I’m not really sure what happened.  It’s hardly enough to ruin the figure (and, quite frankly, it’s the sort of thing that 99% of people will never, ever notice), but it’s just a little weird. Gordon is packed with three sets of hands (fists, trigger  finger, and normal grip), a revolver, a megaphone, and a display stand with his design sheet on it.  It would have been nice to get something specific to one of his episodes, but what’s there is pretty reasonable. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Gordon was purchased from Cosmic Comix, making use of a pretty nice coupon.  Of the three regular figures in this set, Gordon was the one that jumped out at me, which is kind of a bit surprising, since he’s really rather average looking.  As it stands, he’s really one of my favorite figures from this line, even with his slight inaccuracies.  Here’s to more figures like this!

*Fun fact: back in the 60s, one of Hastings’ earliest roles was as Superboy on Filmation’s cartoon of the same name, so he was with DC for the long-haul.

#1070: Sam Wilson – Captain America, Vision, & Kate Bishop – Hawkeye

SAM WILSON – CAPTAIN AMERICA, VISION, & KATE BISHOP – HAWKEYE

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES

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Wow, Hasbro sure is swamping us with Marvel Legends, aren’t they?  After a fair delay, the Giant-Man Series finally hit just about everywhere, very closely trailed by the Juggernaut Series.  The Abomination and Dr Strange series are also starting to hit in some areas as well. On top of that, there have been a number of exclusive items, with Walgreens getting two figures right on top of each other, and Walmart getting a pair of exclusives (that I still need to find).  There have also been two boxed sets: the Civil War Spider-Man set (which had a movie Spidey alongside re-decoed versions of Cap and Iron Man), and a set containing Sam Wilson as Cap, Kate Bishop as Hawkeye, and Vision…as Vision!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

This trio is exclusive to Toys R Us and is loosely themed around looks from the post-Axis Marvel Now! stuff.  Sam and Kate both follow a firm legacy heroes theme, which kind of makes Vision stick out a bit.  Of course, flip-side, Sam and Vision are both part of the main Avengers line-up, and Kate isn’t.  So, exactly who’s left out is really up to you.

SAM WILSON – CAPTAIN AMERICA

falccapviskateguy5We’ve gotten him in both Minimate and 3 3/4-inch form, so it was about time we got a FalCap Marvel Legend.  Bonus points for being the first Sam Wilson Legend since the Toy Biz run!  The figure is about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Structurally, he shares several pieces with 2014’s Marvel Now! Cap figure.  He has the arms, legs, and pelvis from that figure, along with an all-new head, torso, belt, and shoulders.  The Now! Cap parts aren’t a perfect match for FalCap’s design, but they’re close enough to work without too much trouble.  The new pieces match up well with the older parts, and are pretty decent sculpts on their own terms as well.  I wasn’t 100% sold on the head sculpt at first glance (as with so many of Hasbro’s Cap sculpts, I think it looks a little too mean for the character), but after having it in hand, I actually don’t mind it.  His hair seems a little closer cropped than his usual comics appearance, but it’s not like it’s completely wrong or anything.  All in all, it’s one of those sculpts that has some minor flaws here and there, but looks a lot better as a whole, which is what really matters.  The paintwork on FalCap is pretty solid. The shades on the colors are a bit more subdued than those on Now! Cap, which is fair, since he was probably a little too bright.  These colors look about right for Sam’s comics design, and still have enough vibrance to give him some pop.  The application of said paint is decent enough, though there’s still a bit of slop, especially on the switches from blue to white.  He could be a little better, but he could also could be far worse.  FalCap includes his mighty shield, which is all well and good, but what he doesn’t include are his wings.  Sure, he doesn’t always have them, but he does most of the time, and their omission here is a bit glaring.

VISION

falccapviskateguy3Vision’s a popular guy!  This is his third Legend in the last year, and the second time he’s been in one of these exclusive three-packs.  This time around, he’s based on his Daniel Acura-designed look from the latter half of Remender’s Uncanny Avengers run, which also happens to be the costume he’s wearing currently.  If I’m honest, it feels a little over designed, though, and I miss the yellow.  Also, the red bits make it look like he’s running around half naked.   That said, I like it a bit better then his first Now! look.  The figure is about 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built on the Bucky Cap body, with a new head and an add-on for the cape.  I was a bit disappointed with the last Vision head sculpt, so I’m happy they didn’t re-use it a third time here. This may well be my favorite Legends Vision sculpt.  It just captures the character quite nicely, and is very sharply defined features.  The cape is kind of an awkward design, but it’s been translated into three dimensions well enough.  It’s definitely a better attempt at a cape than the one Hasbro was using before (which, judging by all the currently shown figures, has been justly retired from the line).  Paint is the one real downside to this guy.  Of the three figures included in this set, this guy definitely has the sloppiest paint in the bunch.  It’s just all over the place.  I mean, he looks okay from a normal viewing distance, but up close he’s got a lot of rough edges, and there’s a few spots where the paint doesn’t really follow the sculpt very well.  That being said, the colors are at least nice and vibrant, and he stands out quite nicely on the the shelf.  Vision doesn’t get any accessories, but I can’t really think of what you’d give him, so that’s okay.

KATE BISHOP –  HAWKEYE

falccapviskateguy2At long last, Kate Bishop makes her way into the action figure world!  It took them long enough, since the rest of her Young Avengers teammates were released way back in 2006.  Of course, this costume doesn’t technically match the rest of them, and we still don’t have Cassie Lang, but let’s not kick the gift horse in the mouth here.  Kate here is sporting her more recent, jumpsuit look from the pages of the last two Hawkeye series.  It’s not a bad look (and it makes me feel a little bad that I never got one of the Now! Hawkeye figures), and it’s the one she’s been wearing for the last several years.  The figure is about 6 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  She’s built on the Phoenix body, which is definitely a good one.  It works pretty well for Kate, especially since this is the slightly more grown-up version of Kate from the last few years.  She gets a new head and lower legs, which blend well with the rest of the body.  The head does a very good job of capturing Kate, and possesses a lot more personality than is usually seen on female figures.  Kate also got a new left hand for gripping her bow, which is cool.  She has to make due with the basic open gesture right hand to be her drawing hand, which isn’t perfect, but isn’t as bad as you might think.  She also gets an add-on piece for her belt and quiver, which sits very nicely, and does a great job of completing her look.  Kate ends up with the best paintwork of the three figures in this set (which is nice, since it’s her debut figure and all).  It’s still not 100% perfect, but it’s pretty close.  Kate is packed with her bow, which is the same one included with the last few Hawkeyes, but with proper paint this time around.  Some arrows might have been nice, but the lack of them isn’t new to this figure, so it’s not hugely surprising.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I picked these guys up from my local TRU last month.  I was actually searching (unsuccessfully) for the Juggernaut series at the time, so these guys were a little bit of a surprise.  This is a set I’ve been eagerly awaiting, ever since it’s announcement.  Kate is the main draw, of course, since she’s never had a figure before, and I’m a pretty big Young Avengers fan.  She’s the strongest figure in the set, too, making her the   real star here.  That being said, FalCap was somewhat overdue, the new Vision is much appreciated, and both figures are both really solid additions to the line.  Unlike prior sets, all three figures included here are real winners, and I don’t think any of the three feels like a forced heavy hitter.

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#1069: Future Apocalypse

FUTURE APOCALYPSE

X-MEN (TOY BIZ)

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The X-Men were kinda big in the ‘90s.  Not sure if you guys knew that.  They were big enough to serve as a pretty good kick-off for the still fairly new to the market Toy Biz, who made quite an empire out of those merry mutants.  Early on, the figures were pretty straight-forward translations of the comics designs (with one or two Animated designs, such as Morph, thrown in for good measure), but as the decade progressed, they started running out of characters to scrape from the bottom of the X-Men barrel, and headed towards some slightly more gimmicky concepts, which allowed them to rehash some of the previously released characters in different and exciting ways.  One such gimmick was “Missile Flyers,” a series of four wing-ed variants released in 1997.  Today, I’ll be looking at Apocalypse from that series!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

futureapocalypse2As noted in the intro, Apocalypse (or “Future Apocalypse” as the box refers to him) is one of the four figures in the “Missile Flyers” series of Toy Biz’s X-Men line.  The figure is about 7 inches tall and he has 11 points of articulation.  His design is a bit removed from the usual Apocalypse look.  He’s far more exaggerated and mechanized than usual.  I think it’s still a comic-based design, but I honestly don’t know exactly where it hails from.  It’s certainly an interesting look for him, though it does make him look more like a Spawn villain than an X-Men character.  It’s probably all that crazy exaggeration on the proportions.  The actual quality of the sculpt is pretty top notch.  There’s a lot of great detail work throughout, especially on the mechanics of the neck.  That looks pretty darn cool!  He does have a little trouble standing, mostly due to the sheer size of his upper arms, but you can get him to remain fairly sturdy with some careful posing.  While most of the Missile Flyers figures had separate, removable pieces for their missile-firing wings that earned them their name,  Apocalypse actually had his wings worked into the main figure.  Each of the wings is on a rotating hinge, allowing them to either be deployed over his shoulders or brought down over his front to form a sort of a robe type thing.  The two halves even form a cool A symbol, like Apocalypse is prone to sport, which  is a cool touch.  The paintwork on Apocalypse is decent enough.  It’s a lot of blues, greys, and silvers, which is right for the character.  My figure’s a little worse for wear, but still pretty good.  He’s not the most colorful figure ever, but it works for him (and was a good contrast to the other figures in the set).  Apocalypse was packed with a large missile, which can be fired from the hole in the middle of his torso (that’s gotta hurt!).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Apocalypse isn’t one of my actual ‘90s purchases.  As a matter of fact, I never got any of the Missile Flyers when they were initially released, despite quite liking them.  I ultimately ended up finding Future Apocalypse at a Goodwill this past Father’s Day (along with the bunch of Masters of the Universe figures I reviewed about a month or two back).  I’ve never been the biggest Apocalypse fan, but I like him well enough that I was urged to pick up this figure, and I have to say, he’s actually pretty cool!

#1068: Green Lantern

GREEN LANTERN

MINI HYBRID METAL FIGURATION

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It hasn’t really come up a whole lot lately, but I am (or at least I was for a good long while) a pretty big Green Lantern fan.  Seeing as I’m also a pretty big action figure fan, this entails owning a whole lot of  Green Lantern figures, of all sorts of shapes and sizes.  This means occasionally branching out and discovering new lines that I don’t really collect, all for the sake of getting something GL-related.  Such is the case with Hybrid Metal Figuration, a line of super-deformed action figures based on various geeky properties.  The figures are made of a mix of metal and plastic pieces, and make use of magnets and light-up features.  Gimmicky?  Very much so, but GL looked cool, so I picked him up.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

glhybrid2Green Lantern is figure #05 in the Mini Hybrid Metal Figuration line from Hero Cross.  MHMF figures are all based on full-sized Hybrid Metal Figuration figures, but at about 2/3rds the scale and a fraction of the price.  The first five figures in the Mini line are all Justice League-themed.  This figure is about 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 21 points of articulation.  There are also a few mock joints (at the waist and the ankles) which are pretty much just there to keep him aesthetically as his larger counterpart.  Sculpturally, GL’s pretty cool, provided you’re alright with him looking more like Mickey Mouse than usual.  He’s pretty simple when it comes to detail, but that’s a very conscious choice, and there’s definitely a certain sleekness to him.  There’s also an abundance of cuteness to him.  Look at this little guy, he’s so adoreable—uhhh, I mean manly.  He’s very manly.  That’s the right descriptor, right?  Seriously, he’s a quite cutesy take on GL, but at the same time, he still seems to capture the essence of the character, which is more than can be said for some Hal Jordan figures.  as far as construction goes, the main body of the figure is metal, but the rest of him appears to just be the usual PVC.  The torso is a little hard on his joints, especially on the biceps and thighs.  The figure has a tendency to pop apart at those cut joints.  He goes right back together, of course, but it’s worth noting.  Also, the looseness of those joints means that the magnets in the figure’s feet aren’t as effective as you might hope.  He’ll stick to a horizontal surface just fine (provided he’s atop it.  No hanging upside down for him), but you can’t really stick him to the side of a fridge or something, lest he disconnects from his legs.  The figure also has a light-up feature in his eyes.  You need to remove his hair (which is a totally separate piece), and remove the back half of his head to turn it on.  It’s an interesting feature, I guess.  I’m not really sure why his eyes light up, but they’re cool.  GL’s paintwork is pretty decent.  Everything’s pretty clean (there’s some slight slop at the edge of the green, but it’s pretty minor), and I really dig the metallic green.  GL includes hands in fist and relaxed positions.  There’s also a gripping left hand, which on the larger GL was meant to hold his power battery, but since this guy doesn’t have that, is ultimately a little pointless.  Nice of the them to include it anyway, though.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Why do I have this guy?  Well, I had actually thought about buying the larger figure when it was announced, but it’s $80 price tag was enough to discourage me.  I ended up finding this guy in a Barnes & Noble.  Given that he was $15 and I had a gift card from a friend, I figured he was worth the purchase.  I’m not 100% sure who these are being marketed to, and some of the features included seem a bit off the wall, but he’s ultimately a pretty fun figure, very definitely worth the purchase!

#1067: Queen Alien (w/ Bishop & Warrior Alien)

QUEEN ALIEN (W/ WARRIOR ALIEN & BATTLE-DAMAGED BISHOP)

ALIENS MINIMATES

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For everything else it gave us (and believe me, there was a lot it gave us), easily the most definitive thing to come out of 1986’s Aliens was the Alien Queen (or is it the Queen Alien?  No one seems to agree on that…)  Heck, she even transcends the movie itself.  She’s one of the most definitive things in the franchise!  Is she the most original concept ever?  Well, maybe not.  Compared to some of what we see in the first film, she’s a surprisingly straight-forward answer to just where all those eggs came from.  But she is pretty cool, which makes it pretty easy to over look the straight-forwardness.  She’s finally made her way into Minimates form, alongside the android synthetic artificial person Bishop, and one of the Queen’s drone-y underlings.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Queen and her compatriots make up the other half of the first deluxe series of Aliens Minimates, and act as a natural counterpoint to the Ripley and Power Loader set.

QUEEN ALIEN

alienqueenmm9Where the Power Loader was sort of a glorified vehicle, the Queen is a more straight figure.  Well, at her core, at least.  The figure is about 3 1/2 inches tall when stood at full height and has 16 points of articulation, counting the tail.  The Queen is built on the standard Minimate body, albeit with a unique set of upper legs, as well as a torso extender, upper arm additions and add-ons for her head, torso/neck/tail, hands, and feet.  If I’m being totally honest, it took some time for me to be sold on the Queen being built on the basic body.  For compatibility’s sake, I can understand the desire by DST to use the same basic parts here that they use for everyone else, and there’s no denying that *a lot* of work went into making her work as well as possible.  The Queen as seen in the film was quite spindly and lanky, so I think that using at least some of standard parts is reasonable.  The trouble seems to mostly lie with the arms and legs, and the lengths DST has gone to to make them longer than they actually are.  Simply put, the elbows and knees are just too close to the main body, which results in the articulation being a lot less useful than it would be normally.  It’s not as big a deal for the arms, but the legs can make keeping the Queen standing quite a mean feat.  Since DST was already re-sculpting the upper legs, it would have been nice if the new pieces were a little bit lengthened.  Ultimately, the final product isn’t bad at all, but it certainly takes some getting used to.  The paintwork on the Queen is ultimately pretty simple, even compared to the basic Aliens from the line.  For the most part, she just relies on the sculpted details, with a little bit of painted detailing on the lower legs, pelvis, and arms.  Fortunately, the sculpted detail is pretty great on its own, so it’s not really an issue.  The Queen includes four alien eggs (two opened, two closed), a chestburster, and a clear display stand.  She also has an extra tail to swap out with her normal one, which allows her to “impale” the included Bishop ‘mate, just like in the movie.  It’s by far the coolest of the included extras.

WARRIOR ALIEN

Apone&Xeno3Nothing to see here, move along.

You’re still here?  Review’s over!  Go home!  …Okay, fine, I’ll discuss briefly.  So, this ‘mate is the same as the Warrior Alien included with Sgt. Apone in Series1, which was itself the same as the Alien Warrior from the singles.  It’s a perfectly fine ‘mate (and far more versatile than the Battle-Damaged one included with the Loader), and I certainly won’t say to another.

BATTLE-DAMAGED BISHOP

alienqueenmm2Finally!  Bishop!  It’s about time!  Seriously, Bishop was like one of the only major missing characters from the film, so it’s great to finally have him here—Battle-Damaged you say?  Ah.  So, I guess we’ll just have to keep waiting on the normal one.  Well, half a Bishop is better than no Bishop, right?  In his damaged state, Bishop is really just the upper half of a Minimate, with add-ons for his hair and watch, as well as a piece that plugs into the bottom of the torso to simulate his guts seen in the movie.  While the guts aren’t as detailed as, say, the NECA version of this design, they’re still pretty cool.  I’m actually a little surprised DST didn’t just re-use alienqueenmm13one of the guts pieces from their Walking Dead line, but I’m certainly happy to see a character-specific piece in use here!  The paintwork on Bishop is quite impressive.  He’s got a full set of normal details, which are all clean and sharp, and then a bunch of milky-white paint in various splatters, depicting his “blood.”  It’s a pretty cool, quite unique look, and it does a reasonable job of capturing his look from the end of the movie.  Bishop includes a set of legs as well, for those wanting to display him bi-pedal.  It’s not enough to make him into a normal Bishop, mind you, but it does allow him to interact with the Queen’s extra tail piece, and appear as though he’s in the midst of being torn in two.  He also includes a clear display stand, should you wish to have him just standing about with a big stain on his front.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Like yesterday’s Power Loader set, I got these guys as a birthday present from my parents.  The Queen’s alright overall.  I have my issues with her, but the final product is better than I was expecting.  The Warrior Alien is a ‘mate we’ve seen before; no surprises there.  Bishop is, surprisingly, the set’s real star.  He’s just very well done, and makes me yearn all the more for that basic Bishop ‘mate.  Not quite as strong a set as the Loader, but still very cool.

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#1066: Power Loader

POWER LOADER (WITH RIPLEY & BATTLE-DAMAGED ALIEN)

ALIENS MINIMATES

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You might think that with the onslaught of Aliens-based products in the last year or so, that I would be getting a little tired of reviewing it all.  Well, you’d be wrong.  Seriously, I’m just so happy to be a part of it all.  In the last year, I’ve gotten not one, not two, but three versions of the Power Loader (granted, one of them was from 1992.)  Anyway, the latest of the Power Loaders is from one of my favorite lines of all time, Minimates!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

The Power Loader (as well as Ripley and the Battle-Damaged Alien) is one half of the first deluxe series of Aliens Minimates, which hit around the same time as the second specialty series.

POWER LOADER

powerloadermm2Okay, so “figure” isn’t quite accurate for the Loader.  There is a bit of articulation (at the shoulders, elbows, and wrists), but as a whole it’s more of a vehicle than anything.  Nevertheless, it’s undoubtedly the star piece of this set, so it gets to go first. Sculpturally, the Power Loader is 100% new pieces.  No add-ons here, just a totally unique sculpt.  At 3 1/2 inches tall, it’s admittedly a little under-sized, but that sort of thing is gernerally expected with Minimates, where scale is something of a loose concept.  The sculpt does an admirable job of walking the line between being screen accurate and adhering to the ‘mate aesthetic.  It’s immediately evident what it’s supposed to be, but they’ve simplified a number of the details and tweaked the proportions ever so slightly, for the sake of making it fit in properly with the ‘mates it’s been packed with.  The sculpted details are more simplistic than, say, the recent NECA Loader, but hardly lacking.  Unlike many of the vehicles released under the Minimates banner, the Power Loader very much emulates the basic ‘mates in terms of construction, with the arms, hands, legs, and securing bars all being removable parts.  In theory, this allows for some interchangeability, but there aren’t any comparable items to swap with at the moment.  It’s worth noting that you can swap out the arms with a normal powerloadermm5‘mate’s arms, which is kinda fun. The only downside to this construction is the tendency of the Loader to fall apart, which can be rather frustrating.  It’s also worth noting that getting a figure placed in the Loader does require taking said figure and the Loader apart, and even then takes some careful tinkering to get everything placed right, so you probably won’t want to be swapping the figure out too much. The paintwork on the Power Loader is decent enough, though maybe not as cool as the usual work we see on ‘mates.  All the basic color work is fine (though the yellow does seem a tad on the bright side), and the details such as the caution lines looks pretty sharp.  I can’t help but feel that the yellow sections could use some sort of extra detailing, just to accent the sculpt a little better, and prevent the Loader from having so much un-broken yellow.   The Loader is packed with a pair of control grips (attached to the arms in the film, but made separate pieces here so that the ‘mate operating it can actually hold them), and a clear display stand.  If you want to get technical, I suppose you could also count the three alien eggs, and the facehugger, since it’s not like they specifically go with any one figure in this set.

RIPLEY

powerloadermm4You can’t very well release the Power Loader without having a Ripley to go with it, now can you?  Okay, yes, you can.  In fact, a lot of companies do.  But not DST!  Plus, if you want to get really technical, the Loader necessitates another Ripley, since she looks slightly different at this point in the movie than she does during the Hive storming scene that her first ‘mate was based on.  That being said, the two designs are quite close, making this figure just a slight tweak of the earlier ‘mate.  In addition to the basic Minimate body (which stands about 2 1/4 inches tall and has 14 points of articulation), Ripley uses the same hair and watch piece that all of the Aliens Ripleys have used so far.  The hair isn’t a perfect match for the film, but it’s pretty close, and it’s also consistent with the others, which is nice. As far as paint goes, a lot of this Ripley’s details are very familiar.  The majority of the body has all the same detailing that the Rescue Mission Ripley had.  Interestingly, the shirt sleeves are now molded in white with the skin tone being painted over them, as opposed to the reverse being done for Rescue Mission Ripley.  The real change, though, is the figure’s expression, with is a little angrier, and a little more intense, and, most importantly, a little more roughed-up than her prior figures.  I like that the damage to her face is consistent to the prior figure, but that she still mixes it up a bit, just to give us something new. For accessories, Ripley only includes a display stand.  However, as little more than a glorified accessory herself, that’s not unreasonable, since she doesn’t really require much while operating the Loader.

BATTLE-DAMAGED ALIEN

Drake&Xeno4I suppose it’s not really an Aliens set if you don’t get at least one of these little guys in there, is it?  The Alien included in this set, dubbed “Battle-Damaged Alien,” is actually the same figure as the Attacking Battle-Damaged Alien included with the Wave 1 Pvt Drake figure, right down to the placement of the blood splatters.  It’s too bad they couldn’t mix up the splatters a little bit for this one, since we got this same set of details several times.  That said, this figure is still just as cool as any of the Xeno ‘mates we’ve gotten so far, just slightly redundant for someone collecting the whole line.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Okay, so first off, bad Ethan.  Yes, it took me over six months to finally get around to picking up this set.  I’m such an awful fan, aren’t I?  I kept meaning to get them, I swear.  These ended up being one of the things I got from my parents for my birthday, which was pretty awesome!  The Power Loader is the main attraction, so a lot of this set’s success rides on whether or not it delivers.  While it’s not perfect, mostly due to the issues with falling apart and some minor issues with the paint, the Loader is still a pretty fun little toy, and it goes great with the rest of the ‘mates.  Plus, it’s kind of a necessity.  This Ripley doesn’t offer much that’s new or different, but that’s not really surprising.  Her purpose is really just save people the trouble of having to track down a second Rescue Mission Ripley to pilot the Loader, and in that respect, she’s pretty successful.  The Xeno’s a bit of repeat, but that’s far from the worst thing.

#1065: Luke Skywalker

LUKE SKYWALKER

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES

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Luke Skywalker is kind of the bread and butter of Star Wars: The Black Series.  He’s by far the most recurrent individual character in the line, and is thus far the only character with at least one look from each of the Original Trilogy films covered.  He’s already had two figures from A New Hope, in both his X-Wing pilot gear and his Stormtrooper disguise.  However, his main look from the film was still left unreleased.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s made sure that one of Luke’s most definitive looks didn’t get left out, and Tattooine Luke started hitting shelves over the summer.  I’ll be taking a look at him today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

lukefarmboy1Luke was released in the sixth series of the third iteration of Star Wars: The Black Series (i.e. the one launched with the Force Awakens product).  He’s #21 in the line (not that the numbers actually mean anything, of course, since Hasbro keeps restarting the counter), and he’s the first Original Trilogy figure to be released since the switch to Force Awakens product.  The figure stands just shy of 6 inches tall and has 29 points of articulation.  As you can probably tell from the pictures, Luke is constructed from a mix of sculpted elements and soft goods.  Pretty much, the underlying body forgoes the shirt, the shirt is cloth, and it’s held in place by a rubber belt.  The basic sculpt is decent enough, though not without its flaws.  The legs and boots are both very nicely detailed and textured, and there is a fully sculpted body under the cloth shirt.  However, the upper body feels somewhat under scaled compared to the legs.  The shoulders feel too narrow and the arms just a bit too short to be accurate.  Rather than re-use the X-Wing Luke head (as was done with the Stormtrooper Luke), this figure gets an all new sculpt.  It’s okay, but is noticeably smaller than the last sculpt, and does not possess as strong a likeness.  The cloth shirt is okay for what it is, but the problem really lies with “what it is.”  The choice to make the shirt a separate piece is somewhat odd.  While it’s not the first time Hasbro has done such a thing with this design, it’s never really worked before, and doesn’t really work here.  Where a sculpted piece could have captured the texture and specific shaping of Luke’s shirt in the movie, the cloth piece is too clean, too simple, and really just hangs there in a rather unconvincing fashion.  The worst thing is that, like Darth Vader before him, the cloth pieces just aren’t tailored correctly to the body, which results in his tunic continuing way too far down his legs, making it look more like a robe than it should.  It’s definitely disappointing.  Luke continues the trend of lessened paint apps on The Black Series figures, sporting only the most basic detailing.  It’s clean, well applied, and well matched to the source material, but it lacks some of the life of earlier figures.  Luke is packed with his lightsaber and a pair of binoculars, both of which can be hung on his belt.  It might have been nice to get a Stormtrooper belt and blaster, since the belt is already removable and it would allow him to match with the Series 2 Han Solo, but I guess Luke being an all-new sculpt made such extras cost prohibitive.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I found Luke here at the Walmart near where my family vacations.  Wasn’t really looking for him or anything, just killing time on my way there, but there he was.  I was actually pretty excited to find him, since I haven’t gotten a new Black Series figure in what seems like forever.  That being said, I can’t help but feel a little let down by this guy.  He’s not awful or anything, but he’s not the slam dunk he should have been.  Rather than being THE Luke to own, he’s just another figure in the pack.  X-Wing Luke will continue on as my go-to figure for display purposes.