The Blaster In Question #0026: Bigshock & Hotshock

BIGSHOCK & HOTSHOCK

N-STRIKE ELITE (MEGA)

It’s another double review. Yes, Nerf has a bit of a tendency to iterate similar concepts again and again, particularly with smaller blasters. Today’s blasters are no exception to the rule and I felt I could get away with reviewing them both at once given their similarities. This week, I’ll be looking at the Mega series Bigshock and Hotshock (gotta love Nerf naming convention) blasters. So what’s the deal with these things? Let’s have a look-see.

THE BLASTERS THEMSELVES

So why would you be carrying around one of these goofy things? Calling yourself “The Shocker! I’m the Shocker! I shock people!” Well, that would be a weird thing to do, and you’d be weird for doing it. I mean, if you really want to, then more power to you I guess. But enough movie references. These blasters were released a little over a year apart with the Bigshock coming out in early 2015 and the Hotshock releasing in the later part of 2016. Both blasters function much the same way with the Bigshock simply a Mega upscale of the N-Strike Jolt, and the Hotshock being an inline configuration of the same mechanism. They are both front-loading single shot blasters that have storage for an additional Mega dart along the top of the blaster body. They perform as well as you’d expect a compact Mega blaster to do, shooting far and hard relative to their size. Both blasters come packaged with two Mega darts.

BIGSHOCK

When you really get down to it, the only real differences between the two are aesthetic and ergonomic. The Bigshock is the shorter, stubbier of the two and is laid out the same as a traditional Jolt with the air cylinder and plunger mechanism in the grip. In hand everything feels solid and reasonably hefty considering the size of the blaster. The structural ridges along the front of the grip can get uncomfortable to hold, digging into the pads of your fingers if you grip a little too tightly. On the Bigshock, if the dart storage on the top of the blaster is empty, there is a small peep hole in front that could maybe be used as some kind of sight if you really wanted, but it’s not great.

HOTSHOCK

The Hotshock goes for more of a traditional pistol look with a longer more streamlined body. Instead of the cylinder and plunger angling down to form the grip, they simply continue straight back, parallel to the barrel with a more conventional pistol grip below. Some places where the Hotshock beats out the Hotshock are primarily in handling. The plunger catch and trigger have a noticeably more tactile click than on the Bigshock and the grip is free from hard edges or sharp corners. Unfortunately that’s really all the Hotshock has in its favor. The grip, while much smoother, is also significantly shorter and my pinky hangs off the bottom. Additionally, the multiple layers of plastic have an unsettling amount of flex to them and can creak in a tight grip. The sights are also terrible, even for a Nerf blaster, but the BigShock wasn’t much better so you can probably ignore them. It’s a nice looking blaster, but given the additional size, I’m a little disappointed they didn’t add any features.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In the end, the winner is the Bigshock in my opinion, I guess. Take that however you want. They’re both fun little pocket blasters and it’s nice to have options. In my experience, however, I felt just a little bit of disappointment with the Hotshock that I didn’t have with the Bigshock. That’s probably not helped by how long it took me to even find the Hotshock in the first place.

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#1439: Mantis

MANTIS

MARVEL LEGENDS (HASBRO)

Of all the things I loved about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (and that’s quite a long list), perhaps my favorite part of the movie was its new addition to the team, Mantis.  I’ve liked Mantis since her earliest appearances, so I was excited to see her move to the big screen, and the movie delivered a version of the character that was just so inherently likable.  I look forward to seeing more of her in future installments.  In the mean time, I’ve got a Marvel Legend version of her to occupy my time.  Let’s see how that turned out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mantis is the eponymous Build-A-Figure from the Mantis Series of Marvel Legends.  I know there was a lot of discussion about why she was chosen to be the Build-A-Figure instead of one of the more sizable figures in the set like Ex Nihilo or Death’s Head II.  Would *you* have gone out of your way to complete either of those figures?  Me either.  And that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?  I mean, here I am, and I’ve bought the whole set, so Hasbro succeeded in their main venture, which is selling all the figures.  More power to them.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and she has 32 points of articulation.  Mantis is, of course, based on her design from the film, which is a nicely crafted merging of all of her main looks from over the years.  The figure’s sporting an all-new sculpt, and it’s…it’s just amazing.  I mean, maybe not quite the same level as Gamora, but very close, certainly.  The head sports a beautiful likeness of Pom Klementieff as Mantis, and it’s one of the best head sculpts Hasbro’s ever put out.  It’s made from three different pieces, used for the hair, the face, and the eyes.  Yes, the eyes are a separate piece; they look the slightest bit off when you look really closely at them, but from a normal distance, they add a ton of depth and level to the figure.  The rest of the figure is very sharply detailed; there’s a ton of texture and folds and such in the clothing.  If I have one complaint about the sculpt, I’d say that her shoulders a perhaps a touch too broad.  That’s really minor, though.  Mantis’s paintwork is solid work all around.  It’s clean, and the colors look quite nice.  I particularly dig that metallic green they’ve used.  There’s a little bit of slop around the edges of her eyes, but that’s really about it.  Mantis, as an accessory herself, includes no accessories of her own.  Honestly, I can’t think of much they could have included with her, so I can’t say it’s a huge deal.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obviously, I got Mantis by buying all six of the contributing figures in this series, which I found all at once at Toys R Us.  Mantis was my number one want from this set.  I’ll admit to being a little miffed at first that she was made the Build-A-Figure, but aside from one figure, all of the contributing figures were ones I wanted anyway.  Not a big loss on my part there.  Gamora may be the best figure in the series, but Mantis is hands down my favorite figure in the assortment.  Would life have been easier if she’d been a single-packed release?  Maybe, but I’d much rather have gotten her as a Build-A-Figure with a dedicated sculpt than have not gotten her at all or having gotten her in some compromised form.  At the end of the day, I couldn’t be happier with this figure.

#1438: Ex Nihilo

EX NIHILO – COSMIC PROTECTORS

MARVEL LEGENDS

Alright, we’ve made it through all the figures in the series, time to look at that super awesome Mantis figure—what’s that?  One more figure?  Ex Nihilo?  Awww maaaaaan….

Who is Ex Nihilo you ask?  He’s..just this guy.  Okay, no, not quite.  His name is a latin phrase meaning “from nothing,” which is about what I feel about this guy.  He’s frikin’ pretentious-ass nothing.  He showed up during Jonathan Hickman’s run on Avengers, which means everything around him is simultaneously incomprehensible and nap-inducing.  Something about gardeners?  I can’t follow this stuff.  Let’s just look at the figure and get this over with.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ex Nihilo is figure 6 in the Mantis Series of Marvel Legends.  He uses the name Cosmic Protectors, which he shares with Adam Warlock.  That just reminds me I’d much rather be reviewing Adam Warlock.  Sorry, back on point.  The figure stands about 7 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  Ex Nihilo is based on the Hyperion body, which is really starting to show its age.  More recent figures using this body have tended to replace the torso, which is the weakest part, but this one doesn’t.  Obviously that’s far from the worst thing, but when I don’t have any attachment to the character, things like this bother me more.  He gets a new head, and I believe the feet are new as well.  They’re fine pieces.  The head is accurate to the source material, and certainly well-rendered from a purely technical stand-point.  I may not like the source, but this is still a very strong sculpt.  A strong sculpt based on a walking snooze-fest, but a strong sculpt nonetheless.  I’m definitely interested to see where else those bare feet turn up, though.  That’s right; the feet are the most interesting part.  Not super interesting?  The paint.  I mean, once again, it’s well handled, but I’d hardly classify it as exciting.  There’s a lot of gold, and then there’s some black.  Two colors?  Wooooeeeee, that’s the good stuff.  The application is clean, I guess (?), and the gold they used is a fairly nice shade.  The eyes and mouth are pretty sharp as well.  I’m really reaching for stuff here.  Ex Nihilo includes no proper accessories of his own, since that would be interesting and possibly exciting, and that ain’t how Ex Nihilo does things.  He *does* include the last piece of Mantis, which is by far the very best thing about this figure. 

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As you may have surmised, I don’t particularly like Ex Nihilo.  I wasn’t thrilled when he showed up in the line-up for this set.  I bought him for one reason and one reason only: the Mantis piece.  Is this figure well executed?  More or less.  There are some issues, and he’s got a distinct lack of character to distract from them.  Is he fun?  For people who like the character, I guess.  For me, not really.  He’s just a barrier between me and a completed Mantis figure.  Kudos Hasbro, you have proven that I will pay full price for an arm an a box full of pretentious-ass nothing. 

#1437: Adam Warlock

ADAM WARLOCK – COSMIC PROTECTORS

MARVEL LEGENDS

“Masters of energy manipulation, these supreme beings seek to defend the cosmos at all costs.”

In one of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’s five post-credits scenes, the audience returns to minor antagonist Ayesha, who sits in front of her newest creation, dubbing it “the next step in our evolution.  More powerful; more beautiful; more capable of destroying the Guardians of the Galaxy,” before eventually uttering it’s name: “Adam.”  After getting out of the film, I received a text from my boy Tim, asking what was the deal with the weird pod thing named Adam.  The best description I could come up with was “Space Jesus,” which I don’t think is a completely terrible way of describing Adam Warlock.  So, without further ado, here’s this Space Jesus action figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Adam Warlock is figure 5 in the Mantis Series of Hasbro’s Marvel Legends.  He’s dubbed “Cosmic Protectors,” which is a name he shares with Ex Nihilo.  This marks Adam’s second time as a Marvel Legend, following the one from the 2008 Target-exclusive Red Hulk Series.  That one was weak even when it was new, so an update was long overdue.  The figure stands 6 1/2 inches tall and has 32 points of articulation.  The previous Adam was sporting his Infinity Guantlet garb, but this one goes more modern, giving us Adam’s look from the 2009 relaunch of Guardians (the one that first assembled the line-up from the movies).  It’s not a bad design overall.  It keeps a lot of elements from his prior costumes, but adds a bit more flair to them.  I miss the cape, though.  Adam is built on the Bucky Cap body, which is a reasonable fit for the character.  He gets a new head and skirt/belt add-on, as well as a pair of Pizza Spidey hands for added gesturing.  The belt’s a little on the loose side for me, but it looks cool enough.  I really like the head; it feels very much in-character for Adam, and I like that the hair has a bit of a flow to it.  In terms of paint, Adam is pretty good overall.  There’s a bit more slop than we’ve seen as of late, but it’s still better than what we were getting a year ago, so I’m not complaining.  The black and red contrast well, and the gold is a pleasing shade, and doesn’t look like it’ll have a weird change in finish over time.  The head is actually orange like it is in the comics, which is a major improvement over the last Legends figure’s pale tan.  Adam is packed with a pair of the same effect pieces seen with Havok, Polaris, Wonder Man, and Shocker, this time in an opaque pale blue.  I’m getting a little tired of these pieces, truth be told.  I liked them at first, but they’re super over used.  Fortunately, that’s not the only extra included here.  No, he also has two more heads!  Granted, one of them is for the Build-A-Figure Mantis, but the other one depicts Adam’s bad alternate self, Magnus!  It’s definitely a modern Magnus (which is sensible, given the costume choice), which is probably for the best.  The afro’s just not as intimidating these days.  As much as I love the Adam head, I like the Magnus head even more.  The intense, completely insane grin just looks awesome, and is certainly unique.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Read the last several reviews?  Care to guess where I got this guy?  I almost picked this figure up several times.  I’ve always had this weird soft-spot for Adam Warlock, and this figure definitely looks cool, but I managed to hold off until I found a whole set.  While the movie Guardians definitely steal the show, there’s no denying that this is a fun figure.  I tried my hardest to like the last Warlock, but he was really not great.  This one’s so much better.  Throw in that extra Magnus head and you’ve got a real winner.  I’m honestly not sure which way I want to display him.  I may just have to track down a second figure at some point.

#1436: Star-Lord

STAR-LORD

MARVEL LEGENDS

“Cosmic calamity!  When Star-Lord blasts into battle, it’s not a matter of if things get weird, but a matter of when.”

“Cosmic calamity?”  Maybe it’s just better not to ask about that one.  Though the GotG films both succeed in no small part due to their amazing ensemble casts, there’s no denying that, at their heart, both are following the story of Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord.  Due to his central nature, Star-Lord is the luckiest member of the team in terms of toy coverage, finding himself in both of the Legends assortments for the movie.  I looked at the first assortment’s short-coated figure, which was one of my favorites this year.  But, can the second round’s long-coated variant live up to that?  Let’s find out!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Star-Lord is figure 4 in the Mantis Series of Marvel Legends.  This figure covers the the second of Peter’s three prominent looks in the film, giving us his aforementioned long-coated look.  The shorter version still ended up being the more prominent look for the sequel, but this look at least didn’t disappear quite as quickly as it did in the first film.  The figure stands about 6 1/2 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s built from the same starting point as the Titus Series Star-Lord, sharing that figure’s torso and legs, along with a new head, arms, and jacket (obviously).  The new jacket is a very nice piece, and is a stronger sculpt than we saw on the first film’s figure, or even the Titus Series Yondu.  While it’s not as sharp in detailing as the shorter version (due to needing to be molded in a slightly softer plastic), there’s still plenty of very sharp work.  The new arms look decent enough, though they do seem a little more gangly than the Titus Series arms.  My only real complaint about them is that they don’t quite sit flush at his sides.  Still, they get pretty close, and a bit of careful posing covers any remaining issues.  The new gloved hands are fun, and I had a lot less trouble getting the blasters into them this time around, which is a definite improvement.  You know what’s not a definite improvement?  The head.  The Titus Series Star-Lord head is an amazing piece, and was sporting a near perfect Chris Pratt likeness.  This one misses the mark on a few counts.  I do appreciate the more goofy expression, since that’s been missing from prior Legends Star-Lords, and honestly, I don’t think it’s the face that’s really throwing it off.  I think it’s the hair, which has been slightly changed from the last figure.  It’s hard to say if it’s that the hair’s just not as well done this time, or if it’s just been placed a little off on the figure, but it doesn’t look quite right. On top of that, the paint has also taken a slight dip on this guy.  After using newer techniques on the last Star-Lord, as well as this series’ Rocket and Gamora, this figure looks to have gone back to more traditional painting techniques.  There’s a lot more slop, the lines are a lot thicker and less lifelike, and, most annoyingly, they’ve gone back to the “smear some brown paint on the lower half of the face” style of facial hair, which looks really goofy.  Without the prior figure to compare to, I probably wouldn’t have any major issues with the paint here, but after seeing how close they can get it when they put in the effort, it’s a little sad to see a slight step down here.  On the plus side of things, the rest of the paint is top notch.  His shirt gets the print like the one we saw on the earlier figure, which is a fun detail.  They’ve also put a bit of a wash on the jacket, which makes it look appropriately worn-in.  Star-Lord is packed with the scarf we see him wearing on his way to Ego’s “planet,” as well as his Walkman, his two element blasters, and one of Mantis’s arms.  It’s a shame that he doesn’t get the headphones for the Walkman, especially since Hasbro’s already got the mold for them.  Also, while he never wears his helmet in this jacket, it might have helped this figure a bit to include that extra head, since the main issue I have with this figure is the head.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I grabbed this guy at the same time as the last three figures.  I’d seen him a few times before, but I held out for the full set.  I like the long-coat look a lot, so I was looking forward to this guy after the awesomeness that was the Titus Series figure.  The head’s definitely a let-down, and he’s got a few other minor issues that hold him back from being quite the same quality as the last one.  Still, there’s quite a lot to like about this guy, and he’s certainly an improvement over the Vol. 1 figure.  Throw one of the two heads from the Titus Series figure on this guy and you’ve got a real winner!

#1435: Nebula

NEBULA – DAUGHTERS OF THANOS

MARVEL LEGENDS

The product for the first Guardians film covered the main team pretty well, but there were a couple of poor characters who found themselves a bit left out.  Completely absent from all of Hasbro’s offerings were both Fondu and Nebula.  Yondu found his way into the Titus Series earlier this year, and Nebula has followed suit, as part of the more recent Mantis Series.  I’ll be looking at Nebula today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Nebula is figure 3 in the Mantis Series of Marvel Legends.  She has the name “Daughters of Thanos,” which she shares with her sister Gamora (who I reviewed yesterday).  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and she has 28 points of articulation.  In a bit of a change from most of this year’s movie-based Guardians figures, Nebula isn’t based on her new Vol. 2 look, but instead keeps her look from the first installment (which, to be fair, she does have for at least a little of Vol. 2’s run-time).  I’m actually okay with that, as I find her Vol. 1 look to be the slightly more interesting of the two.  Nebula is sporting an all-new sculpt, and it’s decent.  It’s a little bit of a disservice to this figure that she’s directly following Gamora, who had one of the best sculpts Hasbro’s ever put out.  This one is certainly passable, but it’s definitely not of quite the same quality.  She almost feels like she was intentionally sculpted to be sort of a half-way point between the 2014 Guardians Legends and the new ones, so she’s slightly summed down.  I felt the same way about Yondu, another figure designed to pull double-duty, so maybe I’m on to something.  It’s also possible that these two might have been sculpts that were started in 2014 and were slightly updated for Vol. 2’s release.  Regardless, Nebula’s sculpt is far from bad.  Apart from some slightly gamely proportions, there’s actually quite a bit to like.  There’s tons of texture work, especially on her robotic arm, and the head is sporting a pretty solid Karen Gillan likeness.  I wish her belt was a slightly less floaty piece, but it’s possible to get it seated so it doesn’t bounce around quite as much.  The paintwork on Nebula is once again up to par with Hasbro’s more recent work.  Everything is nice and sharp, and I really dig all of the metallic tones present here.  There’s one minor flaw: the bottom section of her elbow pad on her left arm hasn’t been painted purple.  It’s only just noticeable though, and I really only spotted it because it was painted the correct way on the alternate forearm.  Said alternate forearm is one of her accessories. It replicates her replacement claw-hand she has early in Vol. 2, thus allowing this to officially be a Vol. 2 figure.  She also includes a small blaster pistol and the other leg of Mantis.  It’s a little bit of a letdown that she didn’t get her cool batons from the first movie, but I guess what she has is acceptable.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got Nebula from Toys R Us, same as the others I’ve looked at.  I was rather bummed that she was left out of the toys from the first movie, and was glad to hear she’d be included here.  She’s a decent enough figure overall.  There are some aspects I wish were a little better, but she’s still quite an enjoyable figure, and I’m happy to have her.

#1434: Gamora

GAMORA – DAUGHTERS OF THANOS

MARVEL LEGENDS

“Though each chose their own path in the wake of their father’s rise to power, these skilled assassins forever share a familial bond.”

Thanks to the vast majority of the characters being introduced in the last film, Guardians Vol. 2 actually had the chance to go back and add a little bit more to each of its main characters.  While the overarching story of the film is still rather centered on Peter and his relationship with his newly discovered father, the film still managed to have a nice little arc for each member of the main team.  As much as I enjoyed Zoe Saldana’s performance as Gamora in the first film, it was really nice to see her get to do more than just be serious and intimidating this time around.  Her move from cold killing machine to level-headed-only-sane-man of the team certainly made her quite a bit more likeable, and I absolutely loved her scenes with Karen Gillan’s Nebula.  While her last Marvel Legends figure was decent at the time, I was anxiously awaiting another stab at the character, which Hasbro was more than happy to deliver.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Gamora is figure 2 in the Mantis Series of Marvel Legends.  She’s listed as “Daughters of Thanos” on the packaging; it’s a name she shares with Nebula, and I think this is probably the most sensible that one of these shared name deals has ever been.  The figure stands about 6 1/4 inches tall and she has 27 points of articulation.  Gamora’s based on her new Vol. 2 design, which is probably my favorite of the redesigned looks.  None of her looks from the first film really stuck with me, but I dig the cavalier, sort of adventurer/pirate thing she’s got going on in the sequel.  The figure’s sculpt is an all-new endeavor. I was actually a pretty big fan of the last Gamora sculpt when it was new, but I have to say that this one completely blows it out of the water, in every capacity.  You know how much I loved the Star-Lord sculpt, right?  Yeah, this one’s definitely on par with that.  She has a little trouble standing.  That’s my entire list of complaints, and even that one’s downgraded from the last figure.  From top to bottom, this is an awesome sculpt.  The head is a spot-on recreation of Saldana’s likeness, of a quality that rivals even Hot Toys. Her implants are sculpted this time, instead of painted, with definitely adds a lot.  The hair is not only well detailed and well shaped, it also manages to not be anywhere near the articulation-killer it could have been.  There’s some slight limitation, but it’s hardly as bad as we’ve seen in the past.  The proportions on the body are solid, and make her look more or less like a real person, which is always a plus.  The details on her costume are really sharp, and really capture the complexity of the pieces.  I like that the bottom of her jacket has a little bit of flow to it, keeping it from being too rigid, but also avoiding going too crazy.  Gamora’s paintwork keeps the good vibes going; like Rocket, she’s got the new face printing technique, which looks super nice here.  The shade of green used for her skin tone is nice and vibrant, and definitely more accurate than the last figure.  The hair also gets the subtle change in color down pretty well, and manages to not look too goofy. There’s a little bit of slop on the edges of her shirt, but that’s about it, and it’s really minor. Gamora is packed with her signature sword (which she can actually hold this time!), in bot extended and compact forms, as well as the Star-Lord-annoying gun from the opening fight scene (which, fun continuity fact, is the same gun that Rocket steals during the prison break in the first movie), and the leg of Mantis.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Gamora was at the top of my list of wants from this series.  I already liked the re-design, but I saw some early in-hand shots of the figure that just looked fantastic.  It’s actually her fault it’s taken me so long to get the rest of this series, actually.  I’d seen every other figure in the set at least once, but Gamora was always gone, so I kept holding off.  Seeing her at the TRU a couple weeks ago was what got me to break down and buy the whole set.  I really liked the old Gamora when she was new, but this one’s made me realize that figure’s flaws, and is really just an amazing figure in her own right.  If you only buy one Legends figure this year, buy this one.  She’s so worth it.

#1433: Rocket Raccoon & Groot

ROCKET RACCOON & GROOT

MARVEL LEGENDS

“A genetically engineered raccoon and a regenerating, tree-like humanoid, Rocket and Groot make for a one of a kind duo -– not sure what kind, but definitely one of a kind.”

I didn’t get much chance to mention it, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was one of my favorite movies of this past year.  I very much enjoyed the first one, so I was expecting to like the sequel, but I was actually a little surprised by just how much I liked it.  It’s possibly my favorite MCU film yet, and that’s a pretty big thing for me to say.  Despite my immense enjoyment of the film, up until recently, I had very little in the way of toys from it.  Why?  Because of poor distribution, that’s why.  But it’s sort of getting better now.  Without further ado, here’s everyone’s favorite space-fairing smuggling duo since Han Solo and Chewbacca, Rocket and Groot!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Rocket Raccoon and Groot are “figure” 1 in the Mantis Series of Marvel Legends, which is the second Guardians-themed assortment of 2017, following January’s Titus Series. Though both characters are billed in a way that might suggest this is a two-pack, this is really a Rocket figure that includes a small Groot figurine as an accessory.  So, with that in mind, I’ll be reviewing them that way.  Rocket stands about 3 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation.  Rocket is an all-new sculpt, re-using no pieces from the prior version of the character.  That’s definitely for the best; while I never hated the older figure, there’s no denying that it was by far the weakest of the original set. The articulation is definitely much improved over the prior figure; this guy actually can move his legs, which is a definite *step* up.  Get it?  …Yeah.  The articulated legs mean that this Rocket figure can actually stand a bit better than the last figure, and he’s just a lot less clunky in general.  He also largely improves the film accuracy of Rocket.  The texture on the hair is definitely of a higher detail and the overall proportions seem a bit more balanced and consistent with Rocket’s CG model.  The figure as a whole is a fair bit smaller than the last one, which is definitely a plus, since that one was a bit on the large side.  While the body certainly has a lot of improvements, the greatest leaps are definitely on the head, or should I say heads?  There are two of them around, offering us two different expressions for Rocket.  There’s a slightly more calm one, and then there’s one that’s looks like he’s going ballistic.  Both heads sport a lot more character than the prior head, which looked more like a generic raccoon.  I really like how well they’ve captured Rocket’s expressions here, and the level of detail on both heads is truly amazing.  Hasbro’s really been improving on paint, and Rocket definitely falls in line with that.  His head uses the new matrix printing stuff they’ve been trying out recently, which allows for more variation to the shades of his fur.  It’s still a bit more jarring than it would be in real life, but it’s great for the scale and price point.  The rest of the paint is respectable work all around; the application is pretty clean and it all matches up nicely with the film.  Rocket is packed with a pair of blasters (fun fact: the one in his right hand is actually patterned on the Nerf Nitefinder IX-3; thanks Tim!), as well as the torso of Mantis.  There’s also the previously mentioned Groot figurine.  This little guy’s about 3/4 of an inch tall.  He’s got no articulation, but that’s excusable at this scale.  I do wish he could stand a little better; you have to sort of bend his legs out and set him in place.  He’s depicted here in his Ravager jumpsuit, which is well rendered, and the sculpt is general is quite nice and accurate to Groot’s on-screen counterpart.  Some of the details are a little soft, but again, at this scale, I’ll forgive some of that.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I was a bit let down by the last Rocket, so I was eager to get the new one.  Since he’s the double packed character from this series, I’ve actually seen him a few times, but held off on grabbing him until I was certain I could find the whole series.  I stopped at a TRU on the way home from work with the hopes of finding some Black Series figures, and while I had no luck with those, I did find the whole Mantis Series, so I was able to grab a Rocket finally.  I remember feeling that the Vol. 1 Rocket wasn’t really worth the $20 price tag, given his lower quality and small stature.  I feel with this one the price is far more warranted.  The extra posablilty is awesome, and he’s leaps and bounds ahead of his predecessor.  I mean, I thought Star-Lord was a huge improvement, but this one makes the old Rocket look like a sad trash panda.

The Blaster In Question #0025: AlphaHawk

ALPHAHAWK

ACCUSTRIKE

Sometimes bigger isn’t always better, but if you’re going big anyway, make sure you look good doing it.  That pretty much sums up what I must imagine was the design mentality behind this week’s blaster.  I am talking, of course, about the Accustrike AlphaHawk.  We’ve already checked out the target pistol-esque FalconFire, so let’s see what the full sized rifle has going on.

THE BLASTER ITSELF

The AlphaHawk was released in 2017 as the then-flagship blaster for the new Accustrike line.  It uses a 5-round rotating cylinder like the Hammershot or Spectre REV-5.  It uses a bolt handle to prime the plunger as opposed to the more common slide or hammer mechanisms and features the ability to swing the cylinder out to the left side to facilitate loading.  Very little if any part of this blaster is new, mechanically speaking, but the tooling on the outer shell is all original.  This is perhaps the best feature of the blaster.  It’s clear a lot of care went into the design because it just looks fantastic.  Additionally, it feels great too.  The grip is very ergonomic and even has rubberized side panels for extra traction.  The bolt handles are all plastic unlike those found on the Longshot or Tri-Strike and are much lower profile plus have a spring return instead of having to be manually pushed forward again.  The AlphaHawk also has somewhat functional sights along the top with a big ring around the front post.  There aren’t any accessories included with the blaster but it does sport a rail on the top of the body and another just under the muzzle if you feel like adding any.  I personally think it looks rather smart with the scope from the Zombie Strike Clear Shot.  The performance for the AlphaHawk is pretty standard for a mainline Nerf blaster, shooting pretty far and hitting reasonably hard.  The darts are perhaps the biggest improvement, offering significantly more consistent flight paths for every shot.  Using regular Elite darts effectively makes the blaster just like any other 5 shot revolver except in a package the size of a rifle.  This then begs the question, “why would you choose a rifle with only 5 shots when there are pistols with higher capacity and equal or superior performance?”  The answer is simply “style.”  Looking at the pure numerical statistics of the AlphaHawk, it’s not that great of a blaster.  It doesn’t provide any real benefit of use for all that extra plastic, but that’s not the point.  Yes, it’s styled to resemble a sniper or marksman’s rifle, but you’re never going to get that kind of performance from a toy for kids 8+.  In this case it’s all about the feel of the blaster, and the AlphaHawk feels phenomenal.  The size does make it a little unwieldy for the traditional busting-into-your-sibling’s-room kind of attack, but it’s a ton of fun to play indoor sniper and take pot shots at them from down the hallway.  The AlphaHawk comes packaged with 10 Accustrike darts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

There are a handful of blasters out there that I feel get an undeserved amount of hate from Nerf fans.  Most of the time it’s very straightforward, but I feel like the AlphaHawk is the target of a much more subtle brand of contempt.  I’ve never heard anyone flat-out say they hate the AlphaHawk, but I’ve seen more than a handful of videos of people cutting off the barrel and stock, making it into just a revolver pistol.  If you want a revolver pistol, Nerf has a wide assortment to choose from, but I really don’t understand the point of ruining arguably the best feature of the blaster in order to get there.

#1432: R2-D2

R2-D2

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

“R2-D2 is a tripodal computer repair and information retrieval robot, or astromech droid. As an R2 unit, he is equipped with navigational starfighter interfaces, plus extensive sensor packages and numerous devices to facilitate in-flight repairs: laser arc welder, circular saw, grasper arm, and fire extinguisher. He communicates through information-dense chips, beeps and whistles and seems to take pleasure in causing anxiety for his neurotic companion, the protocol droid C-3PO.”

More Star Wars?  Really?  Listen hypothetical reader, I have a lot of Star Wars figures, and I can’t just stop reviewing them for three months every year just because there’s a big explosion of new product.  That would be insane.  Almost as insane as writing an action figure review every single day for the rest of my life.  Moving on.  One major player absent from all of the new stuff I reviewed was astromech droid R2-D2, who for the second time in a row has been left out of the initial product launch for a Star Wars film.  Fortunately, I have a whole back catalogue to fall back on.  So, here’s an R2 figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

R2 was released in the first assortment of Kenner’s Power of the Force II line in 1995.  While later R2s in the line would go for more scene-specific looks, this one is just a standard R2; no special bells or whistles.  The figure stands about 3 inches tall and he has 3-ish points of articulation.  I say “3-ish” because in addition to joints at his head and the tops of his legs, R2 also has an extending middle leg, which I guess is *sort of* articulation.  This was the first time an R2 figure got the extending leg.  It’s still sort of in a prototype stage, and isn’t as cleverly designed as later models, but it works well enough.  R2’s sculpt was new to him, and it’s not bad.  Most of the important details are there, and they’re nicely defined.  He does end up a little skinnier than he’s usually depicted, but with all the wonky proportions that were going on in this line, I think it’s safe to say that R2 got off pretty easy.  R2’s paint is passable, though not without a few flaws.  Let’s start with the head: the vac metalizing, though inaccurate to the film, is certainly a cool feature, and helps him stand out.  Of course, as is usually the case on vac metalized pieces, some of the overlying paint has had a fair bit of chipping.  The body was mostly molded in white plastic, and, as you can probably see from the photos, it was pretty prone to yellowing.  The overlying paint is fairly decent overall, though it’s important to note that the’ve left off one of the blue stripes that makes up R2’s “face.”  I only just noticed that while writing this review, actually.  Now I’ll never be able to un-see it; the sacrifices I make for these reviews.  R2 included no accessories, but he does have a pretty nifty light-piping feature in his head, which illuminates his eye when you get the light just right.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

R2 was a gift from my parents, I believe on a Valentine’s Day?  Since I was never much for lots of candy, they tended to get me a small figure of some sort instead, and that was R2.  This was my first R2 (and I believe one of my earlier Star Wars figures in general), and he’s really the only one I had until well into the 2000s.  Like the rest of the line, he shows his age, but he’s a fun figure, and certainly not bad for the time.